Charles Oliver - Econ/Media-Boy
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Charles C. Watson - Science/Tech-Boy
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Ron Campbell - sushi-bait.
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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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Shoutin' across the Pacific
Chiizu taberu koufuku shiteiru saru ga kangei-saremasen.
Friday, May 31, 2002
Why They Hate Us. The things Western women will do just to play in the band.

posted by Charles at 8:38 PM

Gov't Says Economy Has Bottomed Out. Again. This has become an almost-monthly declaration by the Japanese government. But the number of jobless heads of households hit a record high 1.08 million in April.

The jobless rate was highest among men and women between 15 and 24 years old, at 11.6% and 10.3% respectively. That may explain why so many young adults are still living with their parents.

posted by Charles at 6:18 PM

There's not much to this story. But I have to say I realy liked the headline.

posted by Charles at 6:12 PM

Cynthia McKinney may be in trouble. A new poll shows that she's weaker than she would like, and her primary opponent is stronger than many expected.

posted by Charles at 10:57 AM

The Turks Get It. Here's an interesting column on what's wrong with Islam by a Turkish-American Muslim.

posted by Charles at 10:54 AM

Japan Dropped To Latvia Level. Moody's has downgraded government bonds issued by Japan to the same status as those from Latvia and Poland. After more than a decade of trying to revive its economy through fiscal pump priming, the Japanese government has run up debt levels that have never been seen in the industrial world.

Despite wishful pronouncements from the government, unemployment rose for the 13th straight month in April. Moody's doesn't think the government can turn things around.

posted by Charles at 10:51 AM

Ron, you'll appreciate this story. It involves big trucks and right-wing political groups.

posted by Charles at 10:33 AM

Russian Women. Okay, for decades Russian women were the object of an awful lot of fat and ugly jokes. (Remember the Yakov Smiroff bit where he would say "In Russia, we have a saying 'A woman is like a bus'," then move on to another topic.)

So now we have a Russian Miss Universe, Oxana Fedorova, who is drop-dead gorgeous, can strip and reassemble a Kalashnikov in minutes, has a black belt in judo, is studying to be a lawyer, loves Dostoevsky and is an officer in the Russian police.

And she's not much of an anomaly. Anyone who spends much time in strip clubs can find quite a few girls from Russia and Ukraine who are absolutely gorgeous, speak English with just the cutest trace of an accent and clearly are a step or two above the other strippers in intelligence and education.

Playboy has featured several Russian and Ukrainian girls as centerfolds over the last few years. Probably the most notable is Victoria Zdrok, who claims a Ph.D. in psychology and a law degree.

While they haven't achieved the acclaim that those young Brazilians have, there are several notable models from the former Soviet Union who speak several languages and boast degrees in physics and philosophy and Russian literature.

And if one is to believe the ads certain magazines, there are scores of fairly attractive Russian women with MDs and Ph.Ds in particle physics who are waiting to meet American men.

When did Russian women stop being the butt of jokes and become superwomen?

posted by Charles at 12:30 AM

Thursday, May 30, 2002
Go Bruins.The Army turns innocent minority kids into soulless killing zombies. That's the opinion of at least one columnist for The Daily Bruin.

Shirin Vossoughi writes

My proposal for the next reality TV show: give cameras to some kids in war-torn Afghanistan, a few women in Japan's Okinawa and the people of Iraq and the Philippines. Have them tape-record the death and destruction, sexual abuse and displacement caused by the U.S. military. Show the tape to America's youth alongside Army recruitment ads and adequate information about higher education. Then let America's youth decide if the military is right for them.

Sure, and why not show the Dutch and French citizens who welcomed U.S. GIs who liberated them from the Germans? Why not show the Afghans who welcomed the U.S. troops who overthrew the Taliban? And why not show the Iraqis whose only complaint about the U.S. military is that it didn't finish the job 11 years ago?

I don't know which of the girl's premises is more foolish, that the U.S. Army is composed of killers who blindly follow orders or that college is the only route to success in life?

I certainly hope the average UCLA student is more capable of critical thought than this poor girl.

posted by Charles at 9:40 PM

Teen Sex, Amish Style. It seems the Amish have something called bed courtship where unmarried teens are allowed to sleep together.

"It's more or less condoned," an elder says, sounding like Bill Clinton. "Not that they're going to have sex, but they are going to get pretty intimate."

I'm sure.

The Amish have long practiced something called rumspringa, which lets teens loose at 16 to do whatever they want: drive fast cars, stage all-night drunken parties, even get involved with drugs. When they've had their fill, the theory goes, they will return to be baptized into the church and join the Amish way of life.

And guess what? Despite all of the temptations of the modern world, 90% of Amish youth do join the Amish life after their wild partying ends. That's the highest retention rate in the church's history.

Could it be that much of the teen sex, drinking and drug use that cultural conservatives decry is just non-Amish youth enjoying their own rumspringa?

posted by Charles at 2:44 PM


More fallout

The simple 72hr fallout trajectory map showing where the center of the debris from an exchange of nukes between India and Pakistan might go should be updating periodically, and is now a much "prettier" picture. Again, this isn't using our more sophisticated algorithms, but you get what you pay for . . .

Targets selected were: several in the Kashmir area, Lahore, Islamabad, Karachi, Delhi, Ahmedabad, and Bombay.

posted by Chuck at 1:22 PM

T for Texas. My pal Virginia Postrel says before we terraform other planets, we should do something about Texas.

I drove across Texas just a few weeks ago, so I think I know what's she's talking about. For those of you who've never made the trip, from around Van Horn to Odessa, there are no hills, valleys or mountains. It's a desolate place filled only with sagebrush and sand. The flatness of the land is interrupted only by the occasional oil well and the Sonic drive-ins you find every five miles.

I actually rather liked it.

posted by Charles at 10:17 AM

What does a multi-billionaire do after a lifetime of whoring and bad investments that cost him several billion dollars? He converts to radical Islam. The Sultan of Brunei, best known for paying hundreds of millions of dollars to bring Western beauty queens, centerfolds and actresses to his tiny nation to watch him play badminton, has reportedly given up his hedonistic ways. His brother Prince Jefri, who reportedly banged more of the women the Sultan hired, is in prison after losing about $14.5 billion of the family's fortune. (Note to self: Never let your ne'er-do-well younger brother handle the family finances.)

posted by Charles at 9:57 AM

Cloning And Abortion Are The Same Issue. So why does everyone pretend that they aren't? Consider the debate on SB 790, the bill authored by Sen. Sam Brownback that would ban all cloning.
"Why is the right-to-life movement saying this is the most important vote of this Congress?" said Sean Tildon, a spokesman for the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. "It's because if Brownback is enacted, you will have given more protection to clonal embryos than to sexually produced embryos, and that's incredibly powerful if you want to oppose abortion."

But when pressed on this issue the major right-to-life groups deny that cloning and abortion are in anyway linked. And the big pro-abortion groups seem to believe them. They largely stayed silent in the debate.

This has produced all sorts of confusion. Sen. Mary Landrieu claims to be pro-choice. But she backs the Brownback bill.

"I think it's far-fetched," said Lindsay Ellenbogen, Landrieu's press secretary. "(Therapeutic cloning) would allow the creation of life for the express purpose of destroying it, and that's something the senator can't support."

But the Brownback bill essentially defines life as beginning at conception and grants the anti-abortion movement its basic premise. No matter how you feel about cloning and abortion, this debate is a bit odd. It seems as if both sides are dancing around the central issue, refusing to state their real beliefs.

posted by Charles at 9:45 AM

Wednesday, May 29, 2002
Eurowhining:The Guardian says the U.S. Constitution is pretty much worthless.

The US constitution is a uniquely powerful document, but whether it has really done anything for the cause of freedom is open to debate. It accommodated slavery for longer than European states, turned a blind eye to the Jim Crow segregation laws for decades, and did nothing to stop McCarthyism. Nowadays it is being used as a vehicle for the proliferation of guns and a shelter for racists. It clearly takes more than a document to negotiate the treacherous currents and eddies of human liberty.

That last sentence is undeniably true. A written consitition is worthless if the people lose their zeal for liberty.

But the U.S. Constitution, and the spirit of the American people, kept fascism and socialism from arising in this country. Europe can't say the same.

Yes, the Constitution does protect the right to bear arms. And the Guardian's sneers aside, that's a good thing. Given the fact that European crime rates are soaring, even as U.S. rates drop, they can no longer pretend that their attempts to restrict gun ownership reduce crime.

Yes, the Constitution protects hateful speech. But it doesn't protect hateful, violent action. Our system isn't perfect. But right now, what continent is seeing synagogues set afire? What continent has ghettoes seething with hatred for outsiders?

In it's zeal to smear the U.S. constitution, the Guardian even gets history wrong. Whatever one thinks of civil rights laws, they were written to enforce the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. The Constitution didn't turn a blind eye towards the evils of Jim Crow, but many of the nation's rulers did, just as many Europeans turned a blind eye to the nature of Nazism until German forces were in Paris, just as many Europeans turned a blind eye towards the true nature of the Soviet Union and just as many Europeans today turn a blind eye to the true nature of Yassar Arafat.

The political system set up by the Constitution eventually brought a halt to the excesses of "McCarthyism." And quite frankly the repression of civil liberties in the name of anti-communism was never that great anyway.

posted by Charles at 11:01 PM



For those who've asked, here is what some of the fallout projections look like. This is from a very simple (and therefore available) algorithm. Click to view the readable picture. It shows the low, medium and high altitude drift at hourly intervals over the next 72 hours. Given the size of the Indo-Pak weapons, high altitude fallout shouldn't be much of a problem.

posted by Chuck at 4:53 PM

More Drugs, Less Crime In England the south London borough which is piloting a scheme to treat cannabis offenders more leniently has seen the number of robberies and muggings halved in the last six months.

Now, treating marijuana users more leniently may not have led to the decrease in crime. But part of the reason that police started going lightly on drug users was to concentrate resources on violent and property crimes. So maybe that plan worked.

But at the very least, we can say that not arresting pot users didn't lead to more crime.

posted by Charles at 4:19 PM

The Hurricanes Go For The Cup. The Canes will be in the Stanley Cup finals. For those of you unfamilar with the team, here's a bit of useless trivia. At home, the team plays a recorded "Whooo!!" when the Canes score. The voice on that tape is professional wrestler Ric Flair, a Charlotte native and perhaps his profession's greatest performer of the last 25 years. The practice of playing Flair's trademark yell when the home team scores started with the NBA's Hornets.

posted by Charles at 3:43 PM

Sorry I haven't updated until now. I've been working on Brickbats. While searching for material, I found a short article in today's Atlanta Journal-Constitution on how terrorists are continuing their jihad behind bars. It counted more than 20 attacks on guards and other crimes commited by Muslim terrorists who are now in prison. It says Al-Qaida training manuals have a section on causing problems while in prison. The story isn't on line, however.

posted by Charles at 3:38 PM

I Can't Point Any Fingers. As many as a million Japanese -- most of them young men -- are voluntary shut-ins, either literally cloistered in their rooms or refusing to work and avoiding all social contact for periods ranging from six months to more than 10 years. The vast majority of these men show no signs of mental illness.

Experts site many reasons for this, but I can think of one big reason, and it's summed up by this sentence describing one couple's attempt to get their 25-year-old son out of his room:

In an attempt to get their son to communicate with them, Abe and her husband have decided that from now on, they are not going to slip an envelope under his door with his $400 monthly allowance.

Any thoughts on this, Ron?

posted by Charles at 12:44 AM

Tuesday, May 28, 2002
The Multiracial Society: Mike Sugimoto has some interesting thoughts on the demands sometimes placed on multiracial individuals.

Why is it that a person, as a member of an ethnic group, is sometimes more important than a person individually, and why do we insist on trying to group people into these large and increasingly arbitrary categories? What does that say about us?

posted by Charles at 11:42 PM

A Victory For the Good Guys: The state of California won"t force high schools to give up Indian names and mascots for their athletic teams.

posted by Charles at 10:46 PM

Sex Tips from Donald Rumsfeld. Forget the Playboy Adviser and Dr. Ruth, Rummy is the real expert on the subject.

posted by Charles at 9:19 PM

Multiculti Action Stars: Someone writes to ask whether the multiracial action hero/sex symbol is really a new phenomenon. After all, he says, Burt Reynolds was once a big star and he’s part Indian.

Burt Reynolds wasn’t just a big star. He was the biggest box office draw of the late 1970s and early 1980s. And he played an awful lot of Native Americans. (Despite all of Burt’s jokes about the title, Navajo Joe was one of the best films he made.) But I don’t know if he actually is part Indian.

There are two other examples of multiracial action stars that I can think of. Bruce Lee was one-quarter German. And Chuck Norris claims Cherokee heritage, which is quite believable for the Oklahoma native. Chuck has played several characters who were themselves part-Indian, most notably Texas Ranger Cordell Walker.

Lee had an undeniable cross-racial, cross-cultural appeal. But I don’t think his audiences, in the U.S., regarded him as anything other than Chinese. (I’d be interested in knowing if his Chinese audiences regarded him differently.)

Norris was a big draw overseas. I don’t think he had quite the same ability to draw among non-whites in the U.S. And even if he did, I just don’t think anyone saw him as anything other than a white guy.

Why? Well, part of it is marketing. Movie studios are getting savvier about courting ethnic markets and playing up the multi-ethnic backgrounds of today’s actors to sell them to various groups. And part of it is society. You have more multi-ethnic, multiracial people who can identify with multi-racial stars.

posted by Charles at 8:08 PM

Life, the Universe and Everything. I'm more than a bit leery of people who say they have a theory that explains it all, no matter how brilliant that person is. But I really can't stand those who claim that there is one "master narrative" to explain the world. For that reason alone, I hope Stephen Wolfram is onto something.

posted by Charles at 7:47 PM

Action Hero. A few weeks ago, I posted a piece on The Scorpion King as an unheralded breakthrough movie because of its multiracial leads. Well, the LA Times today gives that movie its due.

The Times also throws in Vin Diesel as another example of the new multiracial star. In interviews, Diesel has usually referred to himself as “Italian and a lot of other things.” But Diesel’s spokesman told columnist Ted Casablanca that Diesel has Italian, black, Irish, Dominican, Mexican and German ancestry. That makes Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s Samoan-Black-Caucasian roots seem pedestrian. (Of course, Johnson’s father was from Canada, so I guess we could include Canadian on his list, too.)

As I noted earlier, men like Johnson and Diesel and women like Kelly Hu are the face of the future in the U.S. That’s going to make life interesting. But it is also going to make a lot of people uncomfortable. There are people who define themselves by their racial or ethnic affiliation. And there are organizations whose existence is defined by putting people into narrow racial boxes. They don’t have a place for an Italian-black-Irish-Dominican-Mexican-German actor who calls himself “multicultural” when asked about his race. They don’t have room for a Black-Samoan-white wrestler whose taste in music runs more to Elvis Presley and George Jones and Merle Haggard than hip hop. These people and these organizations want multiracial persons to choose one race and define themselves by it. And many multiracial persons show no desire to deny any part of their heritage or to allow anyone else to define who they are.

posted by Charles at 2:23 PM


Japan shows some backbone.

Sometimes you gotta love the xenophobia. I appreciate that this country can send people packing on the mere suspicion of hooliganism. No courts, no lawyers to muck things up, just a simple, "Turn around, Ian, and get back on the plane."
Japan's campaign against World Cup violence began on Monday when two British men were deported because one of them was suspected of being a hooligan.

James Benedict Rayment, 34, from Banbury, Oxfordshire was detained at Tokyo's Narita Airport after arriving on a flight from Istanbul, according to immigration officials. His name was on a list of potential trouble-makers based on information supplied by the British police.

The two were "physically restrained", according to the report, and were due to have been sent back to Istanbul.

The World Cup came to America back in 1993 (I might be off a year or so) when I was living in Orlando. And, I swear, if you were not already aware of the fact that the games were being played in the city there was nothing to tip you off that something of world-wide (sans America so it don't count) import was taking place. I think that's because the stadium was right in the middle of the Orlando projects... and that was one tough neighborhood. Most of your soccer rioting, at least that done by the Brits and the French, seems to take place in 'soft,' middle-class areas. In those neighborhoods the populace is scared to react to the threat of mobs and the local police are hesitant to strongly confront them (i.e. not worry too much about property damage incurred while pacifying the gangs).

Orlando's major turf fights for drug sales were taking place just a block away from the soccer stadium. I think the guys who normally get caught up in this "spot of violence and fun" understood that the local (heavily armed) gangs would cut them down in a heartbeat if they tried to pull the same crap as they would back home.

The point here is the hooligans were operating outside their element and that's why nothing happened in Orlando. Likewise Japan is a pacifist and mild-mannered seeming bunch. But if these guys come here and try to take advantage of the "weak" Japanese by attempting to trash game sites they're going to be in for a rude surprise.

The police will come down hard and, even more importantly, the justice system will make them pay in spades. They'll find out just how far away from Europe they are when they're detained without charges, denied the advice of counsel, forced to do hard labor and made to pay massive fines for their release (usually along with having to write a letter of apology... I love that bit of grinding your nose in it). The Japanese will not accept mobs of rioting foreigners on their soil. And Japan won't give a dingo's kidney about European charges of human rights abuses by their police and courts if they feel they are being threatened in their own country.

Should be fun.

posted by Ron at 12:15 PM


India and Pakistan

I'm working on some simulations of where the plume and fallout from a nuclear exchange between India and Pakistan will go, for a client with business interests in the region. No need to say it's a very messy situation; very dense populations, and their targeting probably isn't the best.  Some estimates floating around are 12 million or so dead.   The Washington Times played with the CATS model and discusses their results.  My runs show 90% limits at 3 to 50 million, with up to 100 million long term casualties for a 20 device exchange (each side firing 6 at military and 4 at civilian targets), depending on where the fallout goes.  The plume and fallout are the key question.  Could cause problems over much of SouthEast Asia - Bangladesh, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines, etc. Maybe even get some up towards Japan (Hey Ron: how long can you hold your breath?).

The Times article ran a scenario using a 43KT Indian strike.  I don't think either side has a device over 25KT.  Both sides seem to inflate their yields by a factor of 2, and I sure don't believe the 43KT "Thermonuclear" claim made by India.

In the end I don't think they will do it.  Both sides are making a lot of noise, but my guess is that India will have to start it, and they have the most to lose. They are crazy, but not quite that crazy.

posted by Chuck at 8:42 AM

Monday, May 27, 2002
I'm no Maradona fan. But something is seriously screwed up in Japan. (Not like we haven't heard that before on this blog.) Seriously, Maradona has only himself to blame for his troubles, but isn't screwing up his life punishment enough?

posted by Charles at 11:37 PM

And these people are our best allies? More proof that the British are not to be completely trusted.

posted by Charles at 11:28 PM

15 out of 16. That was my score on this test. I'm not sure whether that is good or bad.

posted by Charles at 10:57 PM


Accountability Part 2

Reader D Anghelone made the following comments regarding my post on accountability that I feel should be responded to on the "big page", because it is a widespread and bogus attitude. The numbers are mine, the words are his:

1) I think your demand for government to do more than can be done is precisely what grows government.
2) Your call for accountability would be reasonable if you were more explicit in stating which domestic or foreign hides you would have on the wall.

Regarding point 1: Say what? "... do more than can be done ..."? How exactly do you come to the conclusion that preventing the 9/11 attacks was impossible? The threat was there. The warning signs were there. The means to interfere with if not actually prevent the attacks were there. Yet no action was taken. This isn't a case of 20/20 hindsight: there have been warnings about attacks for several years from the Bin Laden group, not to mention the small matter of several prior attacks. Given that we had the intel and the means to act on that intel, how exactly is insisting that the leadership of this country do its damn job going to grow government? Whenever government fails, it is said to be because it doesn't have enough resources. That's almost always bull. It is more likely the failure of individuals who are not held accountable because to do so might embarrass the bureauocracy. You have apparently fallen for this fallicy.

On point 2: That's a fair comment, but not having direct access to the classified information that would be needed to make such an assessment, I can't be exact as to which hides, "foreign or domestic", should be on the wall. Here is a start, not necessarily in order:
1) the DCI
2) the CIC of the DIA
3) the head of the FBI terrorism unit
4) The Tailb (the only hide we currently have most of)
5) The FAA security head
6) Organizations that have supported Al Qeada (many in Saudi Arabia)
7) Congress (well, the voters have to do that)

My primary point was that there isn't even a token effort at addressing the domestic failures. Excuses are being made - such as those offered by Anghelone - that nothing could have been done. And, worse, excuses are being set up for the next failure. Just listen to the VP's remarks regarding future attacks.

posted by Chuck at 9:58 AM


Where is the accountability?

Here it is, eight months after Sept. 11, nearly 3,000 dead American Civilians on the deck, and nobody has paid the price. There isn't even a serious public effort to try to find somebody to take the blame, much less actually find out what went wrong. It would be tempting to say it is a by-product of our society - that success or failure isn't as important as "doing your best", and since everybody was trying really hard to protect us it doesn't matter that they failed miserably.

Supposedly Republicans stand for governmental accountability, yet it seems that our current administration is more concerned with protecting the bureaucracy than with insuring accountability. Where is the hide on the wall? Honor would seem to demand that somebody be held personally accountable for failing to intercept the attacks. Yet we don't even have the obligatory offering up of the junior or mid-level scapegoat. This is obscene.

It is interesting to compare these events with those surrounding Pearl Harbor. Michael Gannon's book, "Pearl Harbor Betrayed", is an excellent review of the intelligence and policy failures that led to the surprise attack. I don't remember the source, but I seem to recall a historian say "History doesn't repeat itself, but different people make the same stupid mistakes over and over" . This is especially true when there is no price to be paid for failure. And, in my view, not interecepting the 9/11 attacks was the textbook definition of a failure.

posted by Chuck at 8:20 AM



Who the hell came to this site through a search for "Chirac," "nude" and "paparazzi?"

posted by Charles at 12:08 AM

Sunday, May 26, 2002

Jane Fonda

No matter what else you might say about her, she makes a great ex. According to Bo Derek, Jane called her just after she and Ted Turner split and tried to fix them up. I've never had an ex-girlfriend do anything for me like that. I usually can't even get my CDs back from my exes.

posted by Charles at 11:51 PM


From Ozzie To Ozzy

Paul Cantor takes on The Osbournes. As usual, he does a great job. Still, it's a bit odd to see cultural conservatives jumping on the Ozzy badwagon. Cantor gets it right. But some conservatives are really tone deaf. Remember Dan Quayle saying that

"In a weird way, Ozzy is a great anti-drug promotion. Look at him and how fried his brains are from taking drugs all those years and everyone will say, 'I don't want to be like that'"?

Quayle apparently didn't know that Ozzy seems to display pretty sound judgment or that his wife has said his slurred speech and minor tremors are due to prescription medicine he has to take.

But let's assume Quayle is right about the effect of drugs on Ozzy's brain. Isn't it instead more likely that kids are going to look at Ozzy's mansion, limos, swimming pool, fairly attractive wife and multi-million dollar book and TV deals and say "You mean I can party like hell for 20 years and still end up living the good life in Beverly Hills? All righht!!!"?

posted by Charles at 8:10 PM



I’d thought about saving my thoughts on this film because we’ve had so much sex talk on the blog over the last couple of days. But if I wait much longer the film will probably be gone from theaters.

By now everyone has likely read other reviews and knows the basic storyline. Connie Summer (Diane Lane) cheats on her husband Edward (Richard Gere) with Eurotrash Paul (Olivier Martinez.). It’s based on a much better French film called La Femme Infidele.

What else can I say about the film? Well, it was an Adrian Lyne film, so if you like his work, you’ll probably like this. It’s not as good as Fatal Attraction, but better than Nine and a half Weeks. I’d say it’s on a par with Indecent Proposal. Critics have raved about Diane Lane’s performance, and she is – as always – very, very good. Richard Gere is not as bad as some critics have said.

But most of the critics I’ve read have said that the basic story is just unbelievable. Connie Summer just doesn’t seem unhappy enough to cheat on her husband, especially with an obvious piece of sleaze like Paul. And why should she be unhappy? Her husband has a good job and clearly makes a good living. He seems attentive, if a bit dull. And he looks like Richard Gere.

Those critics have obviously forgotten Gere’s earlier films such as Breathless and American Gigolo. Go back and watch those films and you’ll find that parts of Gere’s body don’t measure up to the standard set by his face. (That's why I never bought those rumors he was gay.) I guess Gere's gear was so unimpressive that people have forgotten about it. I figure the character played by him in this film shares that shortcoming.

Adrian Lyne’s films always have some central message. And the message in this one is that it doesn’t matter how romantic you are, how good looking you are or how wealthy you are, if you have a little willy, your wife will eventually cheat on you with some well-endowed guy, even if he’s French.

I think it was Plato who said “Muscles, money and looks matter. But women really want a bigger man.” Unfaithful simply dramatizes that piece of wisdom.

posted by Charles at 5:55 PM


Keyboard Jihadis

I really love the way these guys wallow in their conspiracy theories and hatred of the West from the safe confines of East Orange, New Jersey, London, England, and Toronto, Canada.

They hate living among the unbelievers, but you don't see them emigrating to Muslim lands to make them stronger. That's probably because they don't have any skills to actually build a better society. And besides a true Islamic society wouldn't put up with their cranky, spoiled asses for very long.

posted by Charles at 5:25 PM


Pregnant Teens

RiShawn Biddle and Richard Bennett continue their debate on this topic on their respective blogs.

posted by Charles at 4:43 PM


Lesbians, Lesbians, Lesbians

Eugene Volokh joins the ranks of us trolling for hits with a thoughtful post on teen sex. And he ups the ante with a lengthy post on lesbians. Specifically, he wants to know why more fathers don’t want their daughters to be lesbians.

It turns out this is a topic Ron and I have discussed before at considerable length. Actually, before our respective financial reversals, we ran up many huge trans-Pacific phone bills discussing lesbians. (That’s not a joke.)

Ron and I agree with many of Eugene’s points. Both Ron and I are single and childless. (That may be either a cause of or a result of our long discussions of lesbianism.) But we agreed that if we had a daughter we wouldn’t want some guy pawing at her.

So to answer Eugene’s question, why don’t more men want their daughters to be lesbians?

Actually, many, many men would want their daughters to be lesbians. They just don’t want them to be dykes or to have sex with dykes.

Let me explain. Most men get their early knowledge of lesbianism from those girl-girl pictorials in Penthouse magazine. As depicted there, lesbianism looks great. What father wouldn't want that for his daughter?

But as one grows up and actually meets real lesbians, he finds they are more likely to look like centerfielders than centerfolds. Lesbianism, like communism, works better in theory than practice. Men don’t want that for their daughters.

The thought of a guy having sex with his daughter may upset a father, but he's not actually there to witness the act. Yet he'll notice her wallet chain every time he sees her. It's a constant and visible reminder she's not daddy's little princess.

Put simply, a man believes that if his daughter is going to hook up with some beefy person in Levis, a plaid shirt and a bad haircut, it might as well be a guy.

Men hope their daughters will grow up to be Miss America, not members of the U.S. Olympic softball team. Men don’t really want to take their daughters to a Backstreet Boys concert. But there’s no way in Hell they’ll take them to see the LPGA championship.

That's my take on the matter.

posted by Charles at 12:27 AM

Saturday, May 25, 2002

The Winning Team

While Islam is growing in the West, Christianity is still growing swiftly in the Third World. And Pentecostalism is one of the fastest-growing forms of Christianity.

Historian and religious studies scholar Philip Jenkins, author of "The Next Christendom," says the major conflict of the 21st century may not be between Islam and the relatively secular nations of the West but between Islam and more fundamentalist Christian nations of the Third World.

In a worst-case scenario, he pictures Christian and Islamic countries of the southern hemisphere locked in religious conflicts reminiscent of the Middle Ages. "Imagine the world of the 13th century armed with nuclear warheads and anthrax," Jenkins writes.

And the conflict may not be just between Islam and Christianity. Pentecostalism is growing rapdily in Latin America, and this is leading to more conflicts between Protestants and Roman Catholics.

The more things change...

posted by Charles at 3:21 PM


Will Japan Disappear?

Given current birth rates, the Japanese population will start to shrink in 2007. When he gets back online, Ron can talk about this trend more fully. But part of the problem seems to be that it's so expensive to raise a child in Japan. And the nation resists using immigration to bolster its population.

So the population will start to shrink, even as life expectancy continues to climb. You already have a relative few young people working to support growing numbers of aged. That situation is only going to grow more severe.

posted by Charles at 10:42 AM


Teaching Them A Lesson

Seven teachers and two counselors from Piper High School's staff of 31 teachers and counselors have resigned. The Kansas City school made headlines last year after the superintendent ordered a science teacher to change the failing grades of students she found had plagiarised material.

School officials say the mass resignation has nothing to do with that controversy. Many teachers disagree.

posted by Charles at 10:28 AM

Friday, May 24, 2002

Teen Sex Again

RiShawn Biddle points out that teen pregnancies are on the decline.

posted by Charles at 10:39 PM


I Laughed When I Read This

But I also found it a bit disturbing.

posted by Charles at 10:26 PM


I'm Sorry, I'm Sorry

Some of you didn't appreciate my crack about the South.

To recap, these are the people Jonah Goldberg said shouldn't be having sex: poorly-educated people with raging hormones and bad or no jobs, little life experience and few life skills, who mostly live with their parents.

I said if you took out the part about living with their parents that describes a large part of the South. It was a joke. I'm sorry some of you didn't appreciate it.

But I was also trying to make a point. Let's imagine a 17-year-old young man who dropped out of school after the 10th grade. His parents never made it past the 9th grade.That man has never traveled more than, say, 200 miles from the place he was born. He's just got a job sweeping the floor at a textile plant. On Mondays, he makes it to work on time, but he often has a hangover from the partying he and his girlfriend have done over the weekend. Speaking of his girlfriend, she's just 15 and she plans to drop out of school when she turns 16 and she legally can. The two of them plan to marry, and she'll work in a glove mill. Oh, and by the way, they are already having sex.

Sound like just the sort of people Jonah was advising not to have sex.

Well, I grew up in Georgia, and it also sounds like the many of the adults I grew up around during their youth. Most, but not all, of those people managed to make lives for themselves, raise families and generally do okay. That's because they were treated as young adults, not kids. If the boy missed work, he got fired, and daddy didn't take him back in.

Perhaps, as Glenn suggests, Jonah and I are talking past each other. But I just don't think teen sex or premarital sex is inherently bad or unnatural or psychologically harmful. And I think history proves that point.

posted by Charles at 5:35 PM


Oh, Hell

I guess I was wrong. Here's one more note on Jonah. He uses a quote from The Winter's Tale to show that concern about teen sex isn't new. Of course, the quote is ripped out of context. It was muttered by a shepherd who was pissed off that some young men scattered part of his flock. Even without that context, it's clearly a blanket condemnation of youth, not just youthful sex.

But how can anyone possibly use Shakespeare to condemn teen sex and overlook the play Romeo and Juliet? That play certainly seems to romanticize teen sex and romance.

Juliet was just 14 when she and Romeo spent the night together, and Romeo wasn't much older. And remember when Paris asks Lord Capulet if he may woo Juliet? Lord Capulet tells him he won't allow Juliet to marry until she is 16. (Incidentally, one of Shakespeare's own daughters married at age 16 or 17.)

posted by Charles at 1:23 PM


One Final Note On Jonah

He writes

Glenn, if it makes you feel better, think of "Teen" as a catchall phrase for poorly-educated people with raging hormones and bad or no jobs, little life experience and few life skills, who mostly live with their parents. People -- of any age – who fit this description shouldn’t be having too much sex, if you ask me.

Take out the part about living with their parents and Jonah is basically arguing that many Southerners shouldn't be having sex.

posted by Charles at 10:44 AM


More Teen Sex

Conservatives are already blasting Glenn for his stand on teen sex. Over on The Corner, Jonah Goldberg writes

The idea that Western Civilization, American culture or any modern culture for that matter, doesn’t see something distinct about "teen sex" strikes me as plainly false. Yes, people used to have sex at a younger age, but they also used to get married at a younger age too. Reynolds surely knows that for most of humanity’s non-prehistoric history, society thought ill of folks who got it on before marriage, especially very young people. That doesn't mean such things never happened, but the standard was real.

First, he argues that Western civ used to see something distinct about teen sex. But he offers no proof of that assertion. Indeed, I don't think he can prove that.

In fact, he quickly acknowledges that people used to get married much earlier than they do today. Then, he quickly again moves on to an assertion that for most of our non-prehistoric history people frowned on people having sex before marriage.

Jonah is on firmer ground here. But not quite as firm as he thinks. It’s more accurate to say that societies frowned on promiscuity and births outside wedlock.

But sex without marriage was more respected than Jonah might think. In many European countries, especially the Germanic ones, "trial marriage" was once and for a very long time popular and accepted.

In rural Germany, trial marriages persisted well into the 19th century. Peasants would live with a partner, sometimes for as little as one night, to see if they were compatible. And there was no limit to the number of trial marriages one could engage in.

In England and Scotland the custom of trial marriage lasted until well into the Middle Ages. These marriages were more serious affairs than those in Germany. (No pun intended). The couple would announce a formal engagement and were expected to live together for some time, usually at least a year. And serial trial marriages were frowned upon. But unless they had a child, there was no shame in the couple not going through with the marriage.

In rural parts of Scandinavian counrties, a form of trial marriage persisted well into the 19th century.

In these places, in the spring, young boys would begin to serenade the young girls. The girls decided whether or not to invite the boys to join them in their sleeping chambers, and also whether to invite them to return. When it happened that a boy and a girl became romantically interested in one another, it was proper for their friends and family to allow them to meet together alone. The couple was supposed to follow a prescribed routine whereby the boy would stay the night with his girlfriend, but sleeping with his clothes on and above the covers. Step by step, visit by visit, he got under the covers, and then under the covers with his clothes off, and then, well, you figure it out. At that point the couple announced to their families their intent to be betrothed. The betrothal would eventually lead to marriage, but only after a pregnancy had ensued. Marriage, then, was a condition of parenthood not a prerequisite for sexual intercourse.

Of course, Jonah is right about one thing. The fact that some things were once thought proper in many places and for a long time doesn't make those things proper today. But the fact that the human race survived during periods when teen sex was not taboo should give pause to those who say it is inherently harmful.

Removing any taboo from teen sex, as a single policy, would indeed be disastrous. In fact, I would argue that is exactly the situation we have right now. We have people making important decisions who have never been allowed to make decisions.

My argument is that we should treat teens as adults in all matters, not just sexual ones, which is also what I think Glenn suggested. As I pointed out, we've already taken the step of treating them as adults when they commit serious crimes.

As I noted earlier, English common law treated people as young as 13 as adults. Maybe we wouldn't want to go quite that far. And maybe we should gradually broaden the rights and responsibilities of teens. We'd give them more of each as they grew older. But we should give them more freedom and hold them more accountable for their actions at an earlier age than we do now. In terms of government policy, we should take steps such as reducing the drinking age back to 18, perhaps even lower for wine and beer. We should abolish or at least lower the maxium age for mandatory school attendance laws and reduce or eliminate laws that forbid teens from working full-time jobs. Give me time, I'll think of more things.

But the general message that parents, government and society should send to teens is "You're an adult now. It's up to you to act like one because we are going to treat you as one. You'll have a lot of freedom, but if you fuck up, you, will pay the price, physically, emotionally and financially."

posted by Charles at 10:34 AM


Teen Drug-War Victims

And some background on the man President Bush named ambassador to Italy.

posted by Charles at 8:36 AM


Teen Sex

Instapundit points out that for much of human history what we now call teen sex was simply called sex. Until relatively recent times, people were considered adults, with all the rights and responsibilities that involves, at around the age of 13 or 14. Starting in the late 19th century, Western nations began to raise the age at which we considered people adults.

The impulse behind this was benign. Rising standards of living were starting to make it unnecessary to set children to work and start families of their own. So why force them to?

But this increasing infantilization of what are really young adults has produced a disastrous effect. Even as we increasingly regulate and regiment their lives, we fail to hold them responsible morally for their actions. They are just children, you know. I think that much of what is wrong with teen sex is due to that fact. If teens don't see that sometimes bad things happen to those who are sexually active, especially those who are promiscuous, it's because we as a society try to shield them from the negative consequences of their actions in all areas of life. If they make bad decisions, it's because parents and society don't allow them to make many decisions that really carry weight until they are in their late teens.

In at least one area, we've recognized the folly of treating young adults as children. In the last 20 years, we've, rightly, started to treat teens as adults in criminal matters. Refusing to hold them responsible even for violent crimes led to a skyrocketing juvenile crime rate. Raising the punishments teens face and making it more likely they'll do time with adult felons has cut into teen crime. Maybe we should recognize just how truly wise that policy is.

posted by Charles at 8:25 AM

Thursday, May 23, 2002

Japan's Next Big Cultural Export?

Ron, maybe you'll arrive back in the U.S. just as American women embrace otome.

posted by Charles at 4:06 PM


Cobb County Hasn't Evolved

I must say that I really liked the lede to this story. This article picks up on some important information about ID proponent Phillip Johnson. ID advocates usually try to be coy about exactly who the designer was who created life. But

An internal memo, reportedly lifted from Center for the Renewal of Science & Culture, called "The Wedge Strategy" surfaced in 1999. Johnson has spoken and written about the "Wedge" publicly, as Southeastern Louisiana University philosophy professor Barbara Forrest points out in her chapter of Intelligent Design Creationism and Its Critics, but the "Wedge" document provides a convenient thumbnail for design's plans. It lays out a five-year strategic plan, as well as a three-part strategy -- 1. Scientific Research, Writing and Publicity. 2. Publicity and Opinion-making. 3. Cultural Confrontation and Renewal.

So far, the Center is batting two-for-three with only the scientific research lagging. The document, which uses language similar or identical to other Center writings, also makes clear the Center's position in the fight it's waging. It "seeks nothing less than the overthrow of materialism and its cultural legacies."

In Johnson's 2000 book The Wedge of Truth, he goes further: "The 'Wedge of Truth' ... enables people to recognize that 'In the beginning was the Word' is as true scientifically as it is in every other respect."

Neither Johnson nor the Center for Renewal will confirm whether "The Wedge Strategy" belongs to the Center for Renewal, a fact that rankles Skip Evans, the network project director for the National Center for Science Education.

"Can you imagine the National Science Foundation being asked, 'Is this your document? Did you guys write this?' And then they say, 'We're not going to say,'" Evans asks rhetorically. "That's the way political organizations operate."

I especially like this article's take on press coverage of the ID controversy.

This is one case where the mainstream press's adherence to the quaint but antiquated idea of objectivity has actually helped obscure the truth for a public that's scientifically illiterate.

A vast majority of the hundreds of stories written about intelligent design since 1998 use the Holy Grail of journalistic forms, the point-counterpoint. Take the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's April story about the Cobb textbook flap. As sidebars to the piece, a conversation with Berkeley's Johnson is featured on the left side of the page while a Georgia State biologist gets the right side. The juxtaposition gives a weight to the intelligent design community that it doesn't carry in the real world.

"Promoting a false equivalence really doesn't help, and there is a false equivalence between these ideas," says Kenneth Miller, a Brown University biologist and co-author of one of the biology textbooks Cobb students will read in the fall. A representative story might have 10,000 biologists who support Darwinian evolution and one intelligent design proponent.

Meanwhile, a search of media online archives for the words "wedge strategy" turns up only six stories, so newspapers have generally neglected to mention intelligent design's designs on society. And the media rarely ever takes the time to investigate any of the claims made by IDT adherents even though it's pretty easy to do.

Frankly, that's a failing of the press on a lot of issues. They cannot or will not distinguish between real experts and quacks. They feel that by simply quoting both sides of a story, they have done their job. They too often don't take the time to evaluate those statements. I've been guilty of this myself. Sometimes on a story that demands a quick turnaround all you can do is get a quote from both sides and rap it up. But sometimes it's just laziness that prompts that sort of coverage.

posted by Charles at 2:27 PM

Wednesday, May 22, 2002

No Comment

I simply present this story because some of our readers have an interest in science.

posted by Charles at 10:23 PM


Boycotting Cannes

Other bloggers have attacked the American Jewish Congress for calling for a boycott of the Cannes film festival. And they may have a point. Is it really fair to hold the organizers of the festival responsible for attacks against synagogues and other anti-Semitic violence? The French film community and the city leaders of Cannes likely aren’t behind the attacks.

But I’m still in favor of the boycott. Why? Well, for one, Cannes has come to be dominated by the American and European “intellectuals” who regard America-bashing as the best way to prove one’s mental and moral superiority. Take Sean Penn, who told reporters at Cannes that: “We now have a president who thinks in terms of good and evil and that comes from watching too many Hollywood movies.”

So the attack on New York wasn’t evil? In fact, thinking “in terms of good and evil” is wrong. So can we condemn, say, the Holocaust? How about the Cold War blacklisting of Communists that Hollywood still loves to dwell on? Was that not evil?

I can see how a man with a criminal record of assault would say that thinking in terms of good and evil is immature.

Speaking of evil, Michael Moore’s documentary “Bowling for Columbine” — about the culture of guns and violence in America — has received rave reviews and a 13-minute standing ovation. It is widely considered to be the front-runner for the prestigious Palme d’Or award. And Moore’s numerous anti-American diatribes have been lapped up by the press at Cannes.

And the festival is largely irrelevant anyway. At one time, it was a place where independent companies could market their films to national buyers. But most films that play Cannes now already have distribution lined up.

The awards are also largely meaningless now. Last year, the Palme d’Or went to The Son’s Room. Did you see it? I see an awful lot of films. I never saw it. The year before the award went to Dancer in the Dark. I saw that one. It was neither Lars Van Trier’s best film, nor the best film at Cannes that year. Dancer got some publicity, attracted some audience. But that was likely due more to the fact that it starred Bjork than to the fact it won at Cannes. You’d have to go back to 1994 to find a Palme winner – Pulp Fiction – that really broke into the mainstream.

So if you wanna go spend a few weeks on the French Riviera in the spring, by all means go ahead, but skip the Hollywood riff-raff and Eurotrash at Cannes.

posted by Charles at 3:40 PM


Those Peace-Loving Saudis

Here's a good story on how Saudi charities are trying to undermine traditional Muslim practices in Bosnia and replace them with a strict form of Wahabbism.

In conjunction with the mosque building, the Saudi High Commission, one of the largest Islamic charities and a group suspected by Bosnian and NATO intelligence of having some ties to terrorist groups, has also recently used its money and influence in ways that alarm local officials.
According to Rasim Kadic, a Bosnian deputy minister who monitors Islamic radicals and possible terrorist connections, the High Commission rebuilt a damaged mosque last fall in a rural section of Bosnia that had been the scene of intense fighting between Muslims and Croats, usually Catholic. Since the war, the United Nations has been attempting to repatriate the Croat population, which had fled to safer Croat-controlled areas to avoid the fighting. In a widely distributed letter announcing the re-opening of the mosque, the High Commission included a sentence that was in essence a thanks to Allah for allowing the local Muslims to live in an area rid of ethnic Croats.

Any serious war on terrorism is going to have to attack Saudi agents and their efforts to undemine secular governments across the world, just as Cold Warriors had to deal with Soviet agents. But I haven't seen any indication that the Bush administration has a plan for countering Saudi organizations and influence, either at home or abroad.

posted by Charles at 2:54 PM


Some Meeting

A pretty good profile in The New Republic of Alberto Gonzales is marred by its lede.

One weekend in early May, Alberto Gonzales, President Bush's White House counsel and longtime confidant, found himself motoring out to a Ritz-Carlton in the Virginia suburbs to hang out with creationists and Christian reconstructionists. Gonzales spoke before some 500 members of the Council for National Policy (CNP), an umbrella group of social conservatives that includes major figures such as James Dobson and Gary Bauer, as well as some of the fringiest elements of the right--including Henry Morris, who has devoted his career to the proposition that evolution is a myth; and R.J. Rushdoony, a reconstructionist who advocates replacing the American legal system with the injunctions of the Old Testament.

What's the problem with this passage, other than it being a bit windy and dull?

R.J. Rushdoony died in February 2001. I don't think that he's still a member of the CNP.

posted by Charles at 11:55 AM


Meet the New Boss

The Village Voice asks why we are throwing more money at the FBI. After all, the agency failed to put the pieces together and prevent the 9-11 attacks. And it has a recent history of screw ups and blunders from its part in the Ruby Ridge fiasco to the Waco disaster.

But these recent foul ups may be nothing new. After all, this was the agency whose head steadfastly denied the existence of the Mafia for decades. Only after the New York state police raided a meeting of national syndicate bosses in Apalachin in 1957 did J. Edgar Hoover admit the existence of the mob.

While Hoover showed little concern about the Mafia prior to 1957, he had agents in Hollywood collecting salacious gossip about TV, movie and music stars. He continued that "investigation" until his death.

posted by Charles at 11:43 AM

Tuesday, May 21, 2002

Take That Ivy League

Playboy has finally given us the definitive list of the universities with the best looking women. The University of Georgia, where Ron and I went to school, is ranked 10th. We didn't get a very good education, but we made up for it in other ways.

Six of the top 10 schools were in the South. And they say that allowing cousins to marry is bad.

posted by Charles at 11:12 PM


Jango Fett

Was played by a New Zealand actor named Temuera Morrison. I first saw him in a movie called Once Were Warriors, which looked at life among contemporary Maoris. I highly recommend that film. I've heard Morrison got his start playing hunky good guys on NZ soaps. You'd never know it from his performance in Warriors.

posted by Charles at 8:02 PM


If You Came Here For Gloomy Japan News…

Check out this article. Actually, the fact that many Japanese school girls prostitute themselves in order to buy the latest in fashionable clothes has been known for a few years. Some surveys indicate that the percentage of female Japanese high school students who have had sex for money is well into the double digits.

This phenomenon is relatively new, dating back no earlier than the early 1990s.

Why have so many young girls who suffer no real economic need turned to prostitution? Ron can probably give a better answer, since he actually has lived in Japan. But in his absence, I thought I’d try.

As Ron has noted earlier on this blog, the Japanese birthrate has plummeted. Japan is filled with one-child families, and parents spoil their children. Whatever the parents can afford, they give to their children. Tokyo’s youth spend an average of $150 a month on cell phone bills alone, for instance. So they grow up believing that they should have everything they want.

At the same time, the economy is in a shambles. The official unemployment rate is only about 5%. But that’s because companies keep a lot of unneeded workers on the payroll. (Regulation and tradition encourage this practice.) By some estimates the real unemployment rate may be triple the official number.

Young people simply aren’t getting hired. More and more adult children are living with, and off, their parents.

Many Japanese youth see no future, so they’ve adopted an attitude that may be favorably called “live for today” and may be unfavorably called nihilistic. For females, who have long been discouraged from having careers out of the home, this mindset must be particularly intense.

So if they want the latest shoes or handbags or electronic devices, many don’t see any harm in selling sex to get them.

So what’s the lesson?

Cultural conservatives like to talk a lot about the values needed to preserve a free and prosperous society. While I disagree with their particular positions, I think they are right to focus on cultural issues. A free market and a free society don’t exist in a vacuum. There’s a reason they emerged and flourished in some nations rather than others.

But the relationship between values and freedom and economic growth doesn’t flow in just one direction. Poor economic policies can undermine important values. We saw that in the former Soviet Bloc nations, where competition for truly scare resources brought out a meanness in people. And we see that in Japan where 12 years of economic stagnation have undermined hope and fostered nihilism.

Waddaya think, Ron?

posted by Charles at 7:36 PM


Doctor, Doctor, Give Me The News

San Francisco HIV/AIDS specialist Marcus Conant, MD, wants to be able talk to patients about the pros and cons of medical marijuana. But the federal government threatens to yank the DEA license of any physician who recommends marijuana. So Conant and other California doctors have sued to stop that policy.

"It's an issue of freedom of speech," Dr. Conant said. "I am not advocating doctors should hand out marijuana. But if a patient comes in and says 'My mother is throwing up from chemotherapy and I've heard that it does help,' I can't say, 'Yes, I've seen it help' or 'Here are the side effects.' "

George Bush promised us compassionate conservatism and a respect for States rights and decentalized government. So how does he justify a federal crackdown on doctors who prescribe medical marijuana. Well, he doesn't. He and AG John Ashcroft don't try to justify their actions. Bush seems to have a bit of the common man when he is campaigning. But his style of governing is pure imperial presidency.

posted by Charles at 3:32 PM


Axis of Evil

Al Qaida, Hamas, Hezbollah and other terrorist groups met in Lebanon in March to talk about joint action against the U.S. and Great Britain.

It isn't clear if we knew about the meeting at the time it happened or found out later. But if the government knew about the summit at the time it took place, I want to know why we didn't lob a few missiles into the building.

posted by Charles at 1:58 PM


Socialist Theocracy

Forget terrorist attacks. the important thing is to protect government subsidies for religious groups.

posted by Charles at 1:46 PM


Good Ol' Boys, They're All the Same

John Shelton Reed tells us what Southerners love about New York.

posted by Charles at 12:22 AM

Monday, May 20, 2002

Islam Watch

Other bloggers have already linked to the Islam Questions & Answers site. But since some of you may not have had the time to go through the entire thing, I thought I’d give you some of the highlights.

The responses come from Shaykh Muhammad Saalih al Munajid.

Q: What is the way of solving the Palestinian issue which becomes more complicated each day?

A: A solution cannot be reached in this matter unless it is regarded as an Islamic issue and the Muslims cooperate to find a solution, and wage an Islamic jihad against the Jews, until the land is given back to its people and the Jewish immigrants go back to the countries from which they came, and the original Jewish inhabitants stay in their towns under Islamic rule, not communist or secular rule. (Italics mine.)

Q: If a woman uses a massager on her vagina, is this considered masturbation. What is the ruling concerning using this if the woman is under alot of stress and sees good-looking men at work but her husband is living in another country?

A: You have to keep away from everything that leads to a provocation of desire, for these means will no doubt ultimately lead you to fall into doing the “secret habit”, which is haraam. What counts is doing that which leads to a climax, whether that is done directly by the hand or by using a machine whose vibrations lead to a climax. So strive against yourself (jihaad al-nafs) and do not do that. You must keep away from and avoid places where you may mix with men, because that is haraam according to sharee’ah, because the Shaytaan will make you commit evil actions so long as you meet with them every day, especially since your husband is absent.

Q: I want to become Muslim, but my family gather to celebrate Christmas, and I want to go and greet them. This is not with the intention of celebrating or joining in, but simply to make the most of the opportunity of my relatives getting together. Is this allowed?

A: No, it is not permitted. If Allaah blesses her with Islam, then the first thing she must do is to distance herself from her former religion and its festivals.
And Allaah knows best.

Q: I work in the army of a non-Muslim state, and there are wars between them and the Muslims. What is the ruling if they send me with a division of this army to wage war against the Muslims?

A: We want to emphasize to you the necessity of finding other employment and of leaving service in the army of the kaafirs, because that implies helping them, strengthening them and increasing the numbers of their fighters and supporters – unless your work can bring some benefits to the Muslims, such as giving information and secrets of the kaafirs to the Muslims so as to help the Muslims… (Italics mine.)

Q: Is it permissible to say “ Jazaak Allaahu khayran (may Allaah reward you with good)” to a non-Muslim if he does us a favour or helps us in some way?

A: It is not permissible to pray for good for a kaafir, because he does not deserve it.

Q: Why is it forbidden to sleep on ones belly?

A: The reason for this is that it was forbidden by the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), who left no good thing but he told us about it and left no evil thing but he warned us against it.

Well, that settles it.

posted by Charles at 8:02 PM


The Empire Strikes Back

Here's the transcript of a missing scene that will be in the DVD release.

posted by Charles at 3:48 PM


The PM gets it right

Since most of my work is at the intersection of scientific research and public policy, I'm often frustrated by the ignorance of basic science that virtually all journalists and political leaders display.

British PM Tony Blair, coming as he does from the euro-socialist crowd, isn't normally my favourite politician, but sometimes he is "spot on". As quoted in this Times Article, Mr. Blair takes on the "anti-science fashion" many on the left have towards topics such as medical research on animals, and those on the right have towards environmental research.

posted by Chuck at 12:33 PM


Islam Is a Religion of Peace

Here's a follow up to a story I posted several days ago about how Muslim "refugees" are treating non-Muslims who are being housed with them in Australian detention centers.

Minority religious groups in Australia's immigration detention centres are being persecuted and physically assaulted by Muslim asylum seekers, according to Amnesty International, the human rights group.

I'm a fairly pro-immigration person. But it seems to me that if someone isn't willing to abide by values such as tolerance and peaceful coexistence with others, a nation has a right to refuse to admit that person and send him packing, even if he faces persecution himself at home.

posted by Charles at 10:55 AM


Dark Shadows

One of the great joys of my childhood was getting home from school in time to see this series. Of all the 60s sf/horror TV shows, this was my favorite. I'm glad to see the Sci Fi Channel bring it back.

Salon does a good job of explaining why some of us loved the show. But I think the piece is wrong when it says most fans are female. Yes, it is the rare sf/horror show that attracted a large female audience. But most of the fans I've met at conventions were men. (And why not? Lara Parker, who played the evil Angelique, was one of the sexiest babes in 60s TV.)

But the piece is dead on about why the big-budget 1991 remake failed.

And that's because its limitations made "Dark Shadows" the intimate spook show it was. The flat look of the videotape, especially in the early black-and-white episodes, contributed to the foreboding mood. The lack of realistic exterior scenes and the soap opera necessity of setting most of the action indoors (usually with a raging storm outside) gave the show a heart-thumping sense of claustrophobia and entrapment, of horror burrowing into confined spaces. "Dark Shadows" may not have been a masterpiece of sleek special effects, but it was a masterpiece of haunted house lore, a campfire story that tricked us into imagining gore that wasn't there. "Dark Shadows" scared the living daylights out of us, in the lengthening shadows of the afternoon.

posted by Charles at 10:41 AM

Sunday, May 19, 2002

A Janitor's Lessons In Leadership

I found this story a while bacK. And I've been meaning to share it with you for some time.

The 10 rules probably work in any sort of organization.

posted by Charles at 10:39 PM


Marine Literacy

A career Army guy I used to know once said that Marines are an odd mix of neanderthals and intellectuals. My limited experiences with Marines suggests that the same could be said of many of the individual Marines.

Here's the Marine Corps reading list.I find it particularly telling that A Bright Shining Lie by Neil Sheehan, How We Won the War by Gen. Giap and The Best and the Brightest by David Halberstam are on the list. I'm heartened that Ender's Game and Starship Troopers are on the list. And I'm amazed that Guns, Germs and Steel is there.

posted by Charles at 10:28 PM


Rewarding Questionable Behavior

In 1999, the issue of standardized testing flared up in Gwinett County, Georgia. Superintendent, J. Alvin Wilbanks was intent on using the district's own specially designed Gateway test to establish himself as a leader in the nationwide standardized testing movement. But many parents opposed the test, and Wilbanks didn't take kindly to parents who dared question either his wisdom or his test. So Wilbanks went after the Concerned Parents of Gwinnett.

In April 2000, things escalated sharply after a copy of the test was stolen and mailed to the news media. The school district's own police force, which reports to Superintendent Wilbanks, launched a criminal investigation.

That's right the school police. Turns out they have the right to seek warrants and arrest people.

But they used that power incompetently and perhaps corruptly.

The officer in charge of the case was undoubtedly an intimidator. Jim Keinard talked freely of sending a lot of people -- mainly CPOG members -- to jail. According to interviews with several CPOG members whom he interrogated, Keinard claimed to have ironclad evidence against "suspects" that two years later he has yet to produce. He warned that families could be destroyed, and careers ruined.

When Keinard interrogated Terry Knight and her husband, the Knights tape-recorded the session. In the recording, Knight is told repeatedly of evidence that placed her in the middle of the theft ring. She is told that fellow parents in CPOG were going to jail, and if she didn't cooperate, she would go to jail as well.

In the ultimate threat to a mother, Keinard tells Knight more than once that if she doesn't cooperate, her children could be taken from her. Knight responds, as she does throughout the tape, by saying she knows nothing about the theft.

To make matters worse, Keinard was confused about who he was talking to and was threatening the wrong "Terry."

But the scandal hasn't hurt Wilbanks. He has been appointed to a committee to draft federal regulations for state standards and testing, the only district school superintendent in the country given that honor.

posted by Charles at 10:10 PM

Saturday, May 18, 2002

Next they'll say Warhol was just a hack.

Charles - I remember the trip. At the time, Howard's only claim to mainstream fame was the cover of the Talking Heads album (and it was 'albums' back then... a time when cover-art actually mattered... a more elegant art-form from a more civilized age). I remember walking through this crowded little shantytown of pictures and sculptures and paintings and hand-painted text. Tracts of painted text on everything! Each picture had a novella's worth of words covering it. If you stopped to pick up a rock or cement slab you'd find the text spilling on underneath, just gobs of pseudo-religious, stream of consciousness wording. And in the middle of this labyrinth-like garden sat Howard... busily writing words on some new painting and surrounded by four or five works in progress.
What struck me was that he was not working for show. You, your friend and I were three of the five people at the site that afternoon... Howard wasn't having an exhibition as such... he was just doing what he did everyday and we were welcome to come and have a look-see. I remember when I asked you if this quirky, homegrown, low-skill stuff had any future you said, "He may not be rich now, but wait until he dies."
Sort of one of those, "So what's the point?" moments.

On a personal note -- I'm still without a phone or an employment plan. I'm typing this at work but am determined to get out and enjoy the weather today. After four days of monsoon rains and chilly temps, spring has made a return appearance.

Hope to be more active when the line's installed.

posted by Ron at 10:16 PM


Howard Finster

Sorry I haven’t updated before now today. This was the Howard Finster memorial weekend in Pennville. I went to the Paradise Gardens.

If you remember, Ron, I took you there several years ago. At that time, Finster was still alive and didn’t charge an admission fee. Today, it’s $5, but the people running it have really cleaned the place up.

I went to elementary and junior high school at Pennville, just a few blocks from the Gardens. Everyone knew about the place, and everyone in Chattooga County knew him. He was well-liked, but many people thought of him as something of a kook. And the Gardens? Well, let’s just say that some people thought that it would all be bulldozed after his death.

But of course, the outside world discovered him. His artwork became highly collectible. He became famous. And the Gardens are now something of a tourist attraction. But there are still people in Chattooga County who say he was just a kook.

posted by Charles at 6:58 PM

Friday, May 17, 2002

McKinney Poll

The Atlanta Journal Constitution asks Does the White House admission vindicate Rep. Cynthia McKinney? Remember, McKinney accused the White House of knowing in advance the specifics of the Sept. 11 attacks and doing nothing to prevent them in order to start a war. That isn't at all the same as having some vague warning of possible hijacking sometime in the future.

posted by Charles at 1:54 PM


The administration blows it

The Bush team is painting itself in to a corner. They seem to be trying to distinguish between traditional hijacking and the Sept. 11th hijacks. Dumb, very dumb. Are they saying normal hijacks, where only the people on the aircraft are at risk, are OK, but if you use the aircraft as a weapon system it's different? It doesn't matter what the hijacker is going to do once he gets on the aircraft: you stop him before he gets on. If, that is, you take airline security seriously, which we still do not.

posted by Chuck at 12:24 PM

Thursday, May 16, 2002

Knowing Anna

The photographer who took those topless photos of Judith Soltesz-Benetton says he mistook her for Anna Kournikova because both women had the same sized nipples. Bob Guccione says he thought the photos were of Anna because she had ribs that looked like those of Ms. Benetton. Guys, I knew from the first time I saw those photos they weren’t of Anna Kournikova. You know why? I looked at the face.

posted by Charles at 11:26 PM


Were we warned?

Of course we were. This flap over the Bush Briefings and other warnings of potential attacks pre Sept 11 proves the point I was trying to make regarding information and the post Sept. 11 efforts to pass more intrusive law enforcement measures. In my experience, law enforcement and the intelligence community already has more information than it can process. Collecting more isn't going to help much, and may in fact make things worse. To quote my post of a couple of weeks ago (always an exercise in hubris):

The tools to prevent terrorist attacks have always been there. I can't wait for the congressional hearings to really crank up on this - that will be a depressing comic opera. The failure to prevent the recent attacks had nothing to do with data collection or intelligence. The whining about lack of humint data is also, IMNSHO, vastly overrated. The problem is in the analysis end, and the completely gutless, sniveling, moronic inability to act on the information we had.

Update: Condie Rice (the best National Security Advisor we've had since Dick Allen) said yesterday that while we had warnings of potential hijackings, we had no idea they would turn airplanes in to missles. Well, that's not quite true and also irrelevant: stop the hijack, stop the attack. Besides, even in my current "out of the loop" status, I had heard rumors of such plans. The problem was not that we didn't have the information, but not believing or correctly interpreting the intel we had.

posted by Chuck at 7:16 PM


Vader Is the Hero of Star Wars

So argues Jonathan Last. He's right about one thing, we are never told what the rebels against the Empire stood for. Actually, I think this article just shows how little thought George Lucas gave to these movies. Still, it will confirm everything the Rothbardians think about the neocons.

posted by Charles at 1:14 PM


Islam and Freedom

Here's an interesting article by Jamie Glazov. Did you know the devil can hide in your nose?

posted by Charles at 12:56 PM


Go Libertarians

I'm all for anything that might lead to the defeat of Max Cleland.

Libertarians plan to field candidates and pour resources into a select few races not in order to win office but rather to siphon away enough votes to defeat targeted incumbents. They are zeroing in on both GOP and Democratic incumbents who oppose the decriminalization and legalization of drugs and who face potentially tough reelection contests in November.

I'm afraid the only way to get the big parties to take libertarian ideas seriously again is to act as the spoiler in a few races. On the whole, I'd hate to see Bob Barr, one of the LP's other targets, go. But Cleland can't be replaced by anyone worse.

posted by Charles at 11:14 AM


A Request

Let's see what sort of readership we have.

I'm trying to find Tommy Reynolds. He was the program director at WTVC channel 9 in Chattanooga in the 1970s. A co-worker of his told me Reynolds moved to Huntsville in the 1980s, but he lost track of him after that. If anyone knows if Reynolds is still alive and can put me in touch with him, please e-mail me.

posted by Charles at 12:16 AM

Wednesday, May 15, 2002

More Thoughts on the PA, Strategy, and Tactics

Joe Katzman and Ron both had interesting comments on my post on PA strategy. The "macho explanation" explains some, but not all, of the PA tactics, and I too am uncomfortable with it as a comprehensive explanation. Ron's description of other comments on Jenin were interesting - from what I've seen, Israeli tactics were maybe B or B+, but given the stellar quality of the PA troops, I agree with the comment that the IDF doesn't have much to worry about.

Lets look at this from another angle. Leaving aside the issue of who to support in the whole Arab/Israeli mess, how is the PA doing? While there are certainly severe differences between the Palestinian Authority (PA), Hamas, and Hezbuallah which would likely erupt in civil warfare were a Palestinian state created, the PA is the key player. I think the PA is running the show, and could probably reign in the other two groups if they really wanted to, although I'm not 100% certain about that. It appears that the three groups are coordinating their actions to some extent, at least for now. Since the PA is the "legitimate representative of the Palestinian People", one has to ask:

  • What does the PA want? (Objectives)
  • What is their strategy and what tactics are they using? (Methodology)
  • Do these methods make sense? (Analysis)

Objectives: lets take them at their word. They want to create a Palestinian state encompassing the West Bank, Gaza, Jerusalem, and the lands currently occupied by the Zionist Entity, aka Israel. I know, I know, the foreign language pronouncements of the PA grudgingly acknowledge Israel, but the core philosophy of the PA (and certainly the other two major players, Hamas and Hezbuallah) have always called for the annihilation of Israel. Also see Charles' Fatwa Watch posts. So their objectives seem pretty straightforward.

Methodology: Here things get fuzzy. They seem to be pursuing at dual track strategy of limited negotiations combined with terror attacks against primarily civilian targets to pressure the Israeli's to make concessions. Again, I don't believe the suicide/murder bombings are some spontaneous response to the occupation: these attacks appear to be as a result of a strategic decision by the PA.

Analysis: The strategy of limited negotiations, then pulling out at the last minute due to real or trumped up intransigence by the other side is an age old technique to use if negotiations are merely a front, as is poking your partner with a sharp stick while talking nice. But I just don't understand why the PA thinks the bombings are a good tactic to implement that strategy. World Opinion (certainly EU, UN, CNN, ABC, NBC, and CBS opinion) is firmly with them and against Israel. The PA could kill as many Israeli soldiers as they liked, using whatever tactics they wished, and would be applauded. Targeting civilians causes the apologists to struggle for explanations, and isn't likely to pressure the Israelis in to doing much other that what they are now: digging in. And while Enlightened World Opinion will always be pro-PA, the bombings have seemed to have cost them more than they have gained. To subdue Israel, the PA must try to reduce US support. The bombings seem to have done just the opposite, especially in a post 9/11 environment. From a strategy standpoint, wouldn't the PA have been better off accepting Wye, further reducing Israeli occupation and strategic maneuvering room, then using real or imaginary problems with the remaining settlers keep pushing? There are enough radicals on both sides to provide constant tinder for conflict, if either side wants to start something. I don't see that Wye would have done anything but put Israel further at a disadvantage, and the PA further towards it's goals.

As for other tactics, the PA has had several years to equip and train their troops. A few dozen two man sniper teams, operating over the last year against Israeli military and government targets, could have inflicted more casualties and just as much disruption as the bombings, without the rallying effect in Israel or the admittedly minimal degradation in world opinion. Such coordinated attacks against "legitimate" targets would probably have provoked an Israeli response similar to the one we have seen over the last few weeks - but without the backing of the US or the relatively subdued world response. So we remain with the question: why the suicide bombers? Why the poor performance of the fighters in Jenin and elsewhere on the West Bank? Urban fighting is a terrible environment for an aggressor. The PA should have cost the Israelis dearly. So I again come back to culture. Does the PA think that if they shed enough of their own blood Allah will grant them victory? Are they hoping the rest of the Arab/Islamic world will eventually be shamed in to coming to their aid? (Fat Chance). Are they just stupid? Is G-D looking out for Israel? I just don't get it.

posted by Chuck at 4:03 PM



Sorry I haven't updated until now. I've been writing more Brickbats.

I think I've been the only blogger to point out that some of the monks in the Church of the Nativity weren't exactly hostages of the Palestinian terrorists who took refuge there. I noted some press accounts that implied the Catholics, but not the Armenians and Orthodox, actually helped plan the action. This report seems to confirm what I had written.

"You can see what repayment we got for 'hosting' these so-called guests," said Archbishop Ironius, another cleric, as he showed reporters the main reception hall of the Greek Orthodox Monastery.
"All the media concentrated on the Franciscan [Catholic] quarter, where little damage was done," the archbishop said. "Why? The Franciscans actually let the gunmen in, then guided the gunmen to our rooms."
Archbishop Ironius showed onlookers where the militants had broken in to the monks' quarters by smashing locked doors while, he said, the monks were praying downstairs.
"The Franciscans then blocked their own rooms' doors with iron bars," Archbishop Ironius said.

Another shining moment for the Roman Catholic Church.

posted by Charles at 2:16 PM

Tuesday, May 14, 2002

Getting Down To The Nitty Gritty

Britain's Police Minister, John Denham, was upbraided for using the term nitty gritty.

His comment immediately brought a rebuke from Pc Chris Jefford of the Met's Directorate of Training. He told the minister: "As a serving police officer, if I used the term nitty gritty, which you used a moment ago, in our modern politically correct society I would be facing a discipline charge.

"Nitty gritty is a prohibited term in the modern police service as being a racist term."

A number of delegates mentioned the word "slavery". Mr Jefford said police had been told "nitty gritty" was thought to have been a term used to describe slaves in the lowest reaches of slave ships.

The problem is that this allegation just isn't true. The phrase seems to date back no earlier than the 1950s and seems always to have had its current meaning.

BTW, the idea that the word squaw is a synonym for cunt is also false.

posted by Charles at 10:51 PM


Japan Sinks Even Lower

International credit-rating agencies are expected to downgrade Japan's credit again. If they do, Japan will have a lower rating than Botswana.

Anyone want to buy a copy of Chalmers Johnson's MITI and the Japanese Miracle?

posted by Charles at 9:57 PM


Tolerance And Property

Some thoughts on the importance of tolerance from an Objectivist perspective.

posted by Charles at 8:57 PM


The Irish Again

Things aren't looking good for the IRA.
A senior IRA leader and key ally of Gerry Adams travelled to Colombia on a false passport to meet terrorists who were being trained by the Provisionals in return for drug money, The Telegraph has established.

When will the IRA be placed on the president's list of terrorist organizations?

posted by Charles at 8:55 PM


Creating Growth

Several months ago, when I still worked at Investor's Business Daily, I proposed a story looking at research that showed places with the highest concentration of gays also tended to be high-tech hotpsots. Basically, it was going to look at the relationship between "bohemian values" and economic growth.

My editor was a social conservative who really didn't want anything positive in the paper about "bohemian values," much less gays, so he vetoed my idea.

But this story from The Washington Monthly makes the case more thoroughly than I could have.

Talented people seek an environment open to differences. Many highly creative people, regardless of ethnic background or sexual orientation, grew up feeling like outsiders, different in some way from most of their schoolmates. When they are sizing up a new company and community, acceptance of diversity and of gays in particular is a sign that reads "non-standard people welcome here."

The creative class people I study use the word "diversity" a lot, but not to press any political hot buttons. Diversity is simply something they value in all its manifestations. This is spoken of so often, and so matter-of-factly, that I take it to be a fundamental marker of creative class values. Creative-minded people enjoy a mix of influences. They want to hear different kinds of music and try different kinds of food. They want to meet and socialize with people unlike themselves, trade views and spar over issues.

As with employers, visible diversity serves as a signal that a community embraces the open meritocratic values of the creative age. The people I talked to also desired nightlife with a wide mix of options. The most highly valued options were experiential ones---interesting music venues, neighborhood art galleries, performance spaces, and theaters. A vibrant, varied nightlife was viewed by many as another signal that a city "gets it," even by those who infrequently partake in nightlife. More than anything, the creative class craves real experiences in the real world.

They favor active, participatory recreation over passive, institutionalized forms. They prefer indigenous street-level culture---a teeming blend of cafes, sidewalk musicians, and small galleries and bistros, where it is hard to draw the line between performers and spectators. They crave stimulation, not escape. They want to pack their time full of dense, high-quality, multidimensional experiences. Seldom has one of my subjects expressed a desire to get away from it all. They want to get into it all, and do it with eyes wide open.

Creative class people value active outdoor recreation very highly. They are drawn to places and communities where many outdoor activities are prevalent---both because they enjoy these activities and because their presence is seen as a signal that the place is amenable to the broader creative lifestyle. The creative-class people in my studies are into a variety of active sports, from traditional ones like bicycling, jogging, and kayaking to newer, more extreme ones, like trail running and snowboarding.

Clearly, cities and regions that can attract creative persons and nurture them are going to be in the best position to prosper in the 21st century. But tolerance, diversity and skepticism of traditional ways of life may not be enough to sustain a culture. In fact, taken to an extreme, bohemian values could lead to a breakdown in society. If, for instance, we mistake aggressive panhandling or music played at nuisance levels as signs of a lively neighborhood, we make it diffcult for a truly vibrant street life to exist.

A growing economy, and a healthy culture, seems to depend on finding the right mix of bourgeois and bohemian virtues.

posted by Charles at 4:52 PM


Armed School Officer Saves Girl

In Arlington, Washington, an armed student took a girl hostage.

Meanwhile, sheriff's Deputy Mike Anderson, the school's longtime resource officer, was sitting a few classrooms away in a leadership class with the school principal, Catherine Matthews.

A student who was in the hallway saw the teen pulling the knives out of his pockets and told office staff members, who dialed the leadership class on the intercom and notified Anderson and Matthews.

The principal entered the classroom first, and she was threatened by the armed student, Jorgensen said. Anderson then drew his gun, pointed it at the teen and ordered him to drop the knives. The teen complied and was arrested without a struggle, Jorgensen said.

posted by Charles at 3:47 PM


I'll Be Watching You

Sorry I haven't updated the blog today until now. I've been taking care of some financial matters, and I'm waiting on a phone call from a newspaper about a possible job, so I'll keep this brief.

It seems that researchers in Scotland have come up with a cookieless web-monitoring tool that they claim can collect enormous amounts of data on Web surfers while remaining nearly undetectable.

Some researchers say there's nothing novel about this. But we'll have to wait and see when it is officially unveiled. But it certainly sounds scary.

posted by Charles at 2:05 PM

Monday, May 13, 2002

We Report. You Decide

But Fox News never said "We report accurately."

FAIR takes the insufferable Bill O'Reilly down a peg. They have an obvious left-wing slant. But the group still scores a few legit points.

During an interview with National Organization for Women president Kim Gandy (O’Reilly Factor, 2/5/02), O’Reilly claimed that "58 percent of single-mom homes are on welfare." When Gandy questioned that figure, O’Reilly held firm: "You can’t say no, Miss Gandy. That’s the stat. You can’t just dismiss it. . . . It’s 58 percent. That’s what it is from the federal government."

But by the next broadcast (2/6/02), O’Reilly was revising his accounting: "At this point, we have this from Washington, and it’s bad. 52 percent of families receiving public assistance are headed by a single mother, 52 percent." Not only is that a different number, it’s the reverse of the statistic he offered the previous night-- not the percentage of households headed by single mothers that receive welfare, but the percentage of families receiving public assistance headed by single mothers. That’s a distinction that O’Reilly did not attempt to clarify; he seemed unapologetic about emphatically putting forward an inaccurate statistic the night before.

The following night (2/7/02), O’Reilly came up with more solid figures, but they bore no resemblance to his original numbers: About 14 percent of single mothers receive federal welfare benefits, he now said-- less than one-fourth of his earlier claim. (He suggested that food stamps ought to be considered a kind of welfare, but that only gets him to 33 percent-- still 25 percentage points short.) O’Reilly explained that "it’s really hard to get a stat to say how many single moms percentage-wise get government assistance," though he’d found it easy enough to pull one out of the air just three nights earlier.

Anyone can make a mistake, as those who read this blog regularly know. Good journalists are no different, but the good ones admit the mistake and correct it. I've never seen O'Reilly admit to a mistake. But, to be honest, I rarely can watch more than a few minutes of his show.

posted by Charles at 6:45 PM

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