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[Archive]

:: Monday, April 28, 2003 ::

Some possible (subtle) changes to the men's college basketball game, as early as next season. It might include moving the 3-point line further out, and widening - or changing the shape of - the lane.

I'm not quite knowledgeable enough about the game to weigh in on whether this is a good or bad thing, but a thought did occur to me. As I understand it, men's and women's college basketall are essentially two different sports - a rules change in one game won't carry over to the other game. That's why the 35-second shot clock in the men's game and 30-second clock in the women's, and other subtle differences. But as far as I know, in the vast majority of colleges and universities in the United States, the men's and women's teams play on the same court - so it's impossible to change specifications like the position of the 3-point line in the men's game and not have it impact the women's game. Maybe the article is just misleading and the men's and women's basketball authorities came to this decision in tandem. But if not, isn't the women's game just being pulled along by the whims of the men's game? If the women's basketball rules committee came to this decision, would men's basketball let itself be pulled along for the ride?
:: Twistre 6:54 PM [+] ::
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I've noticed a view over the past several months that seems to pervade the online Democratic-leaning pundits. Many people seem to feel that the Democrats are being ravaged by a Republican corps of pundits and media lords, led by Karl Rove, who are using a superhuman grasp of psychology and the media's effect on the public to twist the public's view of reality. The American people aren't sufficiently media-savvy, this viewpoint goes, to see through this manipulation by the GOP-controlled media - and when the media lords add insult to injury by creating the blatant lie of the media being controlled by liberal interests, it simply gives pundits ammunition to dismiss this viewpoint as preposterous whenever some poor liberal pundit tries to articulate it.

I can see why this viewpoint is appealing to a lot of people. Everybody experiences some visceral gratification when they are percieved as an innocent victim. And I believe that the idea of the liberal media, although not lacking in truth, is a ridiculous oversimplification. But. This view assumes that the Democratic politicians who are the victim of this horrible nationwide smear campaign are (a) utterly passive, and (b) as stupid as turnips.

This is why I never bought the argument that Al Gore was done in in 2000 by a relentlessly negative media campaign. Certainly the Bush people were more adept than Gore at using the media to their advantage (look at how successfully they used the Democratic myth of Bush as the retarded fratboy) but for me to believe Gore was the unlucky victim of bad press fed to the media by GOP attack dogs, I'd have to believe Gore is the sort of person who lays his hand on a hot stove, screams in pain, pulls it away, then puts his hand back on the stove, screams again, and then continues to keep his hand on the stove until his arm ends in a blackened stump.
:: Twistre 5:10 PM [+] ::
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:: Friday, April 25, 2003 ::
It seems Calpundit has the same questions I do about President Roh's name. I've never quite understood the explanation given for No being spelled Roh - it apparently being because N often has an R sound (which is quite true - the "no" in street names - Jongno, for instance - often comes out "ro.") Because the N in Roh's name is still pronounced N. So it should be No, or at least Noh, in Roman transliteration.

Of course, Romanization of Korean names is pretty iffy (Park ought to be Bak and Lee ought to be - you ready for this? - "I") but the pronounciation usually comes accross okay. So why "Roh?"
:: Twistre 7:15 PM [+] ::
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Could it be possible that Rick Santorum is singlehandedly unraveling Andrew Sullivan's loyalty to the Republican Party? I haven't seen Sullivan so incensed at any one person, Democrat or Republican, since Trent Lott. But at least Bush and much of his party publically repudiated Lott. Does Sullivan stand only for himself at this stage, or for a number of GOP-leaning independents?
:: Twistre 6:44 PM [+] ::
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Yes, it's a fourth-grade prank, but this is damned funny too.
:: Twistre 6:36 PM [+] ::
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:: Wednesday, April 23, 2003 ::
An unfair, mindless partisan cheap joke, which I would never dignify by linking to.
:: Twistre 5:26 PM [+] ::
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Andrew Sullivan on Rick Santorum. Doesn't this smell like Sullivan's ceaseless attacks on Trent Lott a few months ago? Yet again, Sullivan is going to mystify those who have gotten locked into the mindset of viewing him as a partisan shill. I have gotten the impression that Sullivan would really like to like the GOP. He really would. But he has a moral conscience that doesn't allow him to look the other way when the party he wants to believe in disappoints him. If there is a shred of partisanship in him, it's in the apparent fact that he holds the GOP up to a much higher standard than he does the Dems. When he attacks a hateful statement by a Democrat, I always get the sense that he is doing so in the context of attacking the hyprocrisy of those partisan Dems who claim to hate intolerace but simply turn a blind eye when one of their own says something unforgivably stupid. But when he attacks Republican intolerance and stupidity, it's with a melancholy air of "why can't these guys become a party I could be proud of?"

If anything, I'm biased towards the Democrats (though at this point, only slightly so). But I find Sullivan's attitude quite refreshing.
:: Twistre 5:24 PM [+] ::
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:: Friday, April 18, 2003 ::
A neat discovery on a different ancient front than the Baghdad looting. This could be pretty interesting.
:: Twistre 7:43 AM [+] ::
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:: Thursday, April 17, 2003 ::
Slate on the Baghdad museum looting, by Meghan O'Rourke. This is just sick. And I hope I don't hear any person say that this is a symptom of some deep societal rot in Iraqi or Arab society, showing how much they do not value their own history. This could happen in any society where large numbers of people are suddenly allowed to display the primal rage against authority that had been building but forcibly supressed for so long. More educated Iraqis weren't the ones smashing stuff (though they may have been stealing items - of course having ancient treasures stolen is far preferable to having them smashed to pieces).

Barring any evidence to the contrary, I think most likely the American military authorities simply didn't care. This isn't a case of not being able to see the future - this is a case, as I said the other day, of the Americans just not giving a crap. And it will turn out to be a terribly short-sighted form of not giving a crap, if this does turn out to be the black mark that O'Rourke fears.

ANOTHER VIEW: Calpundit links to a John Derbyshire column suggesting that the looting may not entirely be a bad thing, insofar as many relics may end up safer than they had been in the museum. Putting aside the echoes of Western imperialism in his column that Calpundit brings to the fore, Derbyshire is building his argument on the assumption that the most important pieces in the museum are now not lying in smithereens on the ground. It's an important distinction - it's not really as terrible a blow to our cultural heritage if these pieces have merely been looted, to turn up again, perhaps, in years or decades. And it's actually rather heartening to think that much of the early looting was done with sensitive equipment, rather than by smashing glass cases - anything stolen by an expert thief was most assuredly not subsequently smashed to pieces. (I hope we can assume that the Akkadian royal mask currently pictured on Slate is in one piece and well cared-for, somewhere.) But what of the subsequent looting by Iraqi mobs eager to take out their rage at the remnants of Saddam's rule? I hope it's possible that, in the coming days, we learn that reports of even that destruction have been exaggerated.
:: Twistre 7:05 PM [+] ::
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A different take on the Baghdad museum looting by Jim Hoagland at the Washington Post. But it puzzles me too. He seems to hint that the museum was largely not the victim of random looting - that much of the destruction was to cover a Baathist trail out of Baghdad - that some of the museum's treasures have been spirited away elsewhere. But he never quite tells us what he is getting at.

I'm getting the sense from the accounts I've read that something as-yet unexplained happened just before Baghdad fell - that the highest levels of the Iraqi government simply disappeared, to parts unknown. (Out of respect for my own ignorance, I will not name possible countries Iraq's leaders may have fled to, especially not ones begining with S and ending with A.) I suppose it is possible that the second decapitation attack, the one just a day or two before the fall of Baghdad, somehow wiped out Saddam, his sons, and his entire inner circle. But I can't help but feel that, had that happened, we would have seen much more chaos among the remnants of the Iraqi regime.

There is evidently a huge amount we have yet to learn about just what happened - and may still be happening.
:: Twistre 7:23 AM [+] ::
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The more intellectual forums at the Brunching Shuttlecocks message board are great. I don't post there much, not least because if the regulars figured out just how flaky I really am when it comes to staking out a position and consistently defending it, things could get unpleasant. But I lurk there constantly, and today I'm going to reprint a quote, totally without the person's permission or even knowledge, that helps to sum up a lot of what's been bugging me about American political discourse:

I mean, is there any more abused word than "liberal" in modern America-Centric politics? When someone claims that the "left", composed of "liberals," opposes "liberal democracy", it doesn't take a genius to realise that we need to start inventing some new words.

-McDuff
:: Twistre 6:46 AM [+] ::
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:: Tuesday, April 15, 2003 ::
More stories of repugnant looting from Baghdad. Not that it matters, but it's quite likely that it's the more destructive sort among average Iraqis who are responsible for this, simply not caring amidst their rage against the fallen regime that these old treasures have no symbolic association with Saddam whatsoever.

But why, exactly, hasn't the only authority left in the city, the American and British military, been doing enough to prevent the looting? It's extremely easy to point fingers at Rumsfeld & Co., saying that they should have anticipated this level of mayhem, and accusing them of incompetence. But that, I feel, would be disingenious. True incompetence is unlikely; a simpler explanation is that they really just don't give a crap. I really, really hope Iraq's educated elite forgives my country for this.
:: Twistre 6:51 PM [+] ::
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Boy, I've been lazy here lately. But then, that's what happens when a friend from China visits. While I've been hiking around the mountains near Gyeongju, I have not been in an Internet cafe.
:: Twistre 6:45 PM [+] ::
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:: Wednesday, April 09, 2003 ::
Reading articles like this one, I'm growing less and less convinced that Saddam Hussein is calmly relaxing in a bunker somewhere thinking, "All the pieces are falling into place nicely. My plan is working perfectly."

I'm mighty relieved that it appears this war may end without huge American casualties, carpet-bombing of Baghdad, Syria getting involved, etc. (And I sadly admit that the preceding sentence may turn out to be incredibly naive within a few days.) Of course, once the Allies are running Iraq, the hard part begins. Let's see what happens.
:: Twistre 6:05 AM [+] ::
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:: Monday, April 07, 2003 ::
SARCASM SARCASM SARCASM CNN.com headline: At least 6 killed in battle for Baghdad.

I must say, that's an astonishingly low figure. Kudos to the Allied military planners. Out of curiosity, how many of the 6 were Iraqi troops, and how many were Allied troops?
:: Twistre 8:17 PM [+] ::
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Article by Mary Lynn F. Jones in The American Prospect arguing the case that George W. Bush will be unemployed come January 2005.

Of course, we can't forget the famous October 1995 editorial in the Wall Street Journal stating that Clinton would lose to any Republican candidate who didn't "drool on stage." I hate to say it to optimistic partisans, but the 2004 election will likely be decided by events that - get ready for a shocker - haven't happened yet. A lot of my partisan Democratic friends have said, with gloom in their voices, that Bush is going to be reelected in 2004. There is no uncertainty in their voices - it's like they've gotten their hands on newspapers or encyclopedias from the future that they have been instructed to keep secret.

The 2004 election campaign hasn't happened yet. George W. Bush is not Bill Clinton. Nor is he his father. He's also not a retarded chimpanzee - and in my opinion, if the Democrats keep pretending he is, they'll have him around to beat up on until 2009.
:: Twistre 5:31 PM [+] ::
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:: Sunday, April 06, 2003 ::
A thought has occured to me. Unless Saddam Hussein is hauled before some kind of international tribunal alive, I will probably spend the rest of my life suspecting that he's safe and sound and living it up on the French Riviera, or someplace in Saudi Arabia, or God knows where. And I don't think I'm the only one. I hate to say it, but if the Pentagon were to announce Saddam's death, my BS detector would begin sounding an alarm at this point.
:: Twistre 9:14 PM [+] ::
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:: Friday, April 04, 2003 ::
Michael Kelly, 1957-2003

Well crap. I've been reading Kelly since I started reading the Washington Post my freshman year at college. To be honest, he often made me hurt from rolling my eyes too hard - but he was never boring, and usually brilliant as hell. I for one will miss him.
:: Twistre 4:53 PM [+] ::
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:: Wednesday, April 02, 2003 ::
Thoughtful scariness from Gary Anderson, at the Washington Post.
:: Twistre 5:34 AM [+] ::
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