More Great Afghan-Freedom Photos: I think Shiloh Bucher must have been a photo editor at some point….
11/24/2001 10:26:37 PM
Something for the In-Laws to Ponder: I’m gearing up for what will obviously be an interesting trip to the Continent for Christmas. Already practicing my soothing lines, like “Well, actually, America’s a pretty big country, and it’s hard to make generalizations.” Andrew Sullivan, in his latest column, puts that particular sentiment nicely:
Whatever America used to be, it is today a bewilderingly complex place — of religion, culture, race, ethnicity, lifestyle. Any crude description of the country has to be humble in front of this varied tableau. Whatever else it is, monochrome, crude and unsophisticated it is not. Via Jeff Jarvis.
11/24/2001 10:21:08 PM
Thanksgiving, Norway, and Warblogging: I keep telling myself, when I read one of Bjørn Stærk’s frequent spasms of clear-headed eloquence, that I could write that good at age 22. It isn’t true, of course, and I also wasn’t writing in a second language….
Apparently it's Thanksgiving today, which doesn't mean anything to me at all, (my only childhood memory of Thanksgiving involves a Pink Panther comic, a time machine, turkeys and people in weird clothes), but among the many things I'm thankful for is the internet. […] Some of my optimism for the future comes from knowing that, from this year on, every major conflict involving a nation connected to the web will have tens, or hundreds, or thousands of warblogs, covering it from left, right, inside, outside, ahead and behind. I don't like to boast, but I'm a bit proud of this: They tore down the World Trade Center, and we responded by creating something new. They attacked us with ignorance, we replied with curiosity and informed criticism. We didn't want to leave the 90's, but we accepted the irreversible, and turned it into something good. Via Joanne Jacobs.
11/24/2001 08:08:16 PM
Liberated Kabul Shows How Humans Actually Prefer Freedom: From The New Republic’s Peter Beinart:
This is the same message we heard last week in Afghanistan. And we should remember it the next time relativists say that Muslims support bin Laden's vision of society, not America's. The truth is that Islamism is like communism: Because it strips people of their basic right to be left alone, it will engender resentment once it gains power. Islamists rarely win elections, and they never win reelection. And if they cling to power anyway, America should help overthrow them--secure in the knowledge that the people of the Muslim world, like the people of Eastern Europe before them, would want nothing less. I wish I was more aware at the time of how the Left explained Central Europe before 1989. I’ve always thought, incidentally, you could have great fun devoting a book to the political discourse and art released in the U.S. and U.K. in 1989, only to be proven irrelevant and funny-sounding by December…. (Via hyperblogger)
11/24/2001 05:48:57 PM
‘Flame War’ Yields Dialogue of Sorts: A week ago, in the Guardian, Nick Denton described the exchanges between websites such as this one and Saudi organ Arab News thusly:
In this current conflict, we are witnessing a flame war, in which the ease of online communication first promotes bitterness. We can only hope that the understanding comes later. A week or so later, Arab News Editor in Chief Khaled Al-Maeena describes the humanizing effects of his intense interaction with U.S. readers:
Once I had responded thoughtfully to some of the more emotional and critical e-mails, I was amazed at what followed. The writers toned down their rhetoric; they were no longer abusive and ideas began to circulate and be exchanged. The anti-Arab and anti-Islamic tirades were quietly forgotten and slipped into the realm of regrettable past mistakes. A dialogue had begun and in it, there was understanding and concern — and a willingness to admit that, however painful it might be, perhaps America too had its faults. Well, it’s not exactly acknowledging any Saudi culpability or mis-governance, nor is it like letting women drive, but it’s interesting. (Via Jeff Jarvis)
11/24/2001 11:33:39 AM
We Need a New Daily: L.A. may be the capital of the music industry, but you wouldn’t know it by the abysmal record stores around Hollywood. Unless you are looking for a specific back-in-the-day punk record on vinyl, or special high-end DJ re-mix, you’re basically screwed – it’s either hold your nose and visit a Virgin/Tower monstrosity, or roll the dice (and lose) with one of the many mediocre indie stores taking up space nearby.
All that changed Saturday, when the legendary Amoeba Music store of Berkeley/Frisco fame opened on Sunset Blvd. across the street from the Cinerama Dome. This development, to paraphrase David Remnick, is “unambiguously thrilling.” Unless you’re the L.A. Times, of course.
Believe it or not, my hometown paper decided that the important angle on this story was not how a terrific, innovative non-mega-chain music retailer is helping revive a neighborhood considered until recently to be a borderline ghetto, but rather how the big bad competitors might put a few crappy stores out of business:
Whether you were looking forward to the Bay Area's largest and most respected independent record store setting up shop in Hollywood depended on which side of the sales counter you stood. Most L.A. indie sellers had been eyeing the transplant with a mixture of curiosity and dread. Already struggling in a down market, they can only hope Amoeba doesn't cut the pie into such small slivers that they are driven out of business. Maybe if any of these sad sacks paid good price for some of my old vinyl collection, and had anything I might like to trade for, I might shed a tear. But they don’t, ever, and now I have a great store with a half-million titles and a generous buying policy. If there’s any downside, it’s that a suddenly thriving Hollywood no longer has any place to park. Oh well, guess I’ll have to take the metro.
Sorry to ramble off-topic, but it strikes me that this type of reporting is indicative of something or other – oh yeah, mediocrity! – that plagues my hometown newspaper (and yours too), and infects what should be factual news stories with flat-out weird opinion. Consider the concluding graph:
Whether Amoeba will put any of the area's other record stores out of business remains to be seen. With more than 20 million people living within driving distance of L.A., there should be room enough for everyone. There is no doubt Amoeba has raised the bar for other stores in the area. In a best-case scenario, it will stimulate the market, not corner it. “There should be room enough for everyone”? What the hell is that? This is capitalism, not a field trip. My best-case scenario would be that Amoeba provides free taxi service, and that the useless record store down the street be converted into a proper beer garden, or margarita patio.
11/22/2001 02:47:40 PM
What Next for the War on Terrorism? A Historical Survey: Provocative military historian Victor Davis Hanson examines several hinge moments where armies decided to either press on to Total Victory (sometimes leading to surprising defeat), or fall back into victorious peace, sometimes lasting, sometimes not. I won’t spoil his conclusion here; it’s worth seeing yourself. (Via Rallying Point)
11/22/2001 01:58:57 PM
A Warblog Thanksgiving: Shiloh Bucher reprints some juicy Thanksgiving histories and provides a possible pilgrim menu; Andrew Hofer examines common myths about our nice holiday. Chris Scheer encourages us to give (it’s the “20 Clicks” column on the left). Both Greg McIlvaine and Glenn Reynolds thank Leo Fender (and their families and wives); Reid Stott is thankful that he lives in a country that, “even when deeply wounded, does not lash out blindly, as a government, or as a people.” Happy Thanksgiving, humans!
Meanwhile, back in the real world of left-wing commentary, Tom Turnispeed condemns “America's Message of Greed and Violence for Thanksgiving and Ramadan as We Leave the Children Behind.”
11/22/2001 10:19:12 AM
Have a Happy Thanksgiving, and a Fine Turkey Day: When you first start writing songs, they’re usually Weird Al-style numbers to whatever hit’s being played on the radio. My first in a string of stinkers was written in 8th grade Geography class, to Duran Duran’s “Hungry Like the Wolf.” You know, I’m in Geography, I’m havin’ a good time/I’m trying to think of words that will rhyme/doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo, etc. Next, (if you’re me, or Jeff Whalen) you move on to birthday songs about your pals. My favorite of that genre was the chorus to the Ken Layne birthday song: I’ve walked through the desert snow/I’ve come so far to know/that the sun don’t shine/on you every time. He got me back by rewriting that song better, and then cooking up a Westerberg-style one about me with a chorus that included: twenty-four ain’t no big deal/old enough to know it’s wrong, but still young enough to steal. The final phase, before either graduating on to some kind of songwriting adulthood or slinking off into retirement, is writing goofy holiday songs. Whalen’s first DIY EP contained riveting songs about Easter, Christmas and Hannukah; four years later we co-wrote a corker called “Arbor Day,” which premiered live on Bratislava’s Radio Ragtime … on Halloween day, 1994. But my longtime sentimental favorite of the genre was a terribly goofy country song in C called “Thanksgiving,” co-written in Prague with Jeff Solomon 10 years ago today in a Kobilysy closet.
I had mostly forgotten about the song, let alone the terrific night that produced it, until reading Amy Langfield’s moving little remembrance today. Ha! We’re not such hippies a decade later, but we still enjoy weird company and a proper drunken feast. Tomorrow night we’ll gather on a fine compound overlooking the Glendale Narrows and facing the San Gabriel Mountains, with various Germans, French, Czechs, Cajuns, movie directors, rock stars, bums, computer geeks, theater actors, temp workers, aerospace engineers, a dozen dot-com layoffs, teachers, students, lawyers, Libertarians, Greens, Republicans, Democrats, atheists, clergymen, Jews, Catholics, anti-Scientologists, potsmokers, non-potsmokers, war-hawks, pacifists, a half-dozen webloggers, and about 25 guitar players. And you can bet we’ll do that stupid song, now that Amy (who will be in New York) has remembered it. Tony's right -- we do have a lot to be thankful for.
To all of you great people out there – Happy Thanksgiving! You’ve helped make these last nine weeks bearable and even invigorating. Thank you all for reading, and writing e-mails despite my bad answering etiquette. I'll be blogging & writing through the holiday, for those of you connected at home. To quote Ben Sullivan (and you really have to see his glazed face when he says it), “It’s the best Thanksgiving … ever!”
11/21/2001 11:02:00 PM
Rev. Tony’s Thanksgiving Message:
im very grateful for my friendships, and my job, and my pad, and my health. and the freedom to live in this great country where lesbiansim and DSL are not only tolerated, but prevelant as all hell. enjoy your cranberry sauce, amigos. Picture ain’t bad, either.
11/21/2001 09:07:55 PM
PhotoDude Reid Stott, on Warblogging: I know, I know, he hates that word, but I have a trademark to exert….
This war is the first time Americans could easily publish their opinions about the war, or even their experiences in NYC on 9-11. Once individual Americans required that the medium be supplied to them to be heard, by being interviewed by a newpaper or TV reporter, or by having their letter to the editor published. You once had to attract the attention of the media in some way to get your viewpoint before a large audience. In my opinion, this is the root of burning flags, or people in effigy. It ensures coverage.
That kind of thing is not required any longer.
11/21/2001 09:02:11 PM
Great News, if True: The Taliban and Al Qaeda inside besieged Konduz have agreed to surrender without a fight, reports CNN. A two-week bloodbath would have been hard on the stomach, and any settlement letting the murderous Bin Ladenites go free would have been even harder. (Via Den Beste)
11/21/2001 08:38:49 PM
Ben Franklin, Cartoonist: Meanwhile, the best thing I’ve seen all day is this ridiculous cartoon, allegedly drawn by crazy Benji himself.
11/21/2001 08:31:37 PM
Sullivan ‘Lacks Historical Perspective,’ Says Historian: My chum Christina Ziegler-McPherson did not share my unbridled enthusiasm for Andrew Sullivan’s pursuit of happiness column. Here’s a mere snippet from the Letters Page:
While interesting and well-written, its biggest flaw is a complete lack of historical perspective and a failure to recognize how language has changed over time. Sullivan never even considers that the meaning of the term "happiness" might have been different for the Founders than it is for him today. Update! Professor Daniel Jacobson rises to Sullivan’s defense!
Update II: Ken Layne says the Founders loved their booze, and knew damned well what "happiness" meant!
11/21/2001 02:49:14 PM
U.S. Becoming Fascist, Says Minister: As apparent proof, Kristine Holmgren allots the first half of her column to describing in disgusting detail a recurrent nightmare, in which she is “held captive in the front seat of a shabby sedan by a fat, dark haired man with a gun. … I squirm as my obese captor brags about how easy it was to trap me.” Then, she busts a little history:
Fascism crept upon post-World War I Europe with the same soft, calm footsteps it is using these days in the United States. As always, it begins with a loss of empathy and demonizing of the poor. A splash of patriotism here. A dab of nationalism there. Here a little affluence, there a little poverty. My Thanksgiving pledge: to stop laughing at people like this, and instead address the legitimate fears clouded by the hyperventilation. Ashcroft is no friend to the Bill of Rights, and threatens to do even worse in one year than the very bad Reno/Clinton gang did in eight. As soon as I finish a story or two here, we’ll delve into all that.
Then one day, a shot rings out, a tower tumbles, an airline halts. The economy shivers. Rights are suspended and tyrants rule.
11/20/2001 10:57:31 PM
Return of the Scientific Method: Steven Den Beste recently issued an open challenge to any anti-war advocate willing to engage in a "blog debate." It has not been answered. (To see some interesting contortions and arguments from anti-war-ish people who rejected the offer, read the Metafilter thread.) What SDB is trying to do, is to honestly make his own ideas stronger by having them criticized, while truly seeking out a rational anti-war argument. It’s all about ... the Scientific Method:
Scientific Method is the single greatest triumph of western thought. And the key to it is the concept of criticism. The idea is that if someone proposes an idea, they should present that theory and all the evidence that supports it. Then others will consider that theory and the evidence, and try to reproduce or extend it if they can, and in particular will search for other evidence that disproves it or mistakes in its logic. If, after a period of time, the theory stands on its own in the face of this, and if it results in further good theories and explanations, then it is added to the cumulative knowledge base of science as a whole. The longer that a theory is part of that base, the more highly it is trusted. And the foundation of it all is criticism, the fact that people do their best to disprove it. He’s not the only warblogger out there who feels that way. Mr. Rallying Point has an ode to the Scientific Method just today, and I know I’ve seen at least five others in the past week or so. I don’t know if this is a libertarian thang, or just a pent-up expression of people wanting curious open-minded people they can trust to attack the day’s confusion. Whatever, it’s nice to know there are a couple dozen places you can go where the “pundit” will cheerfully admit every mistake, and argue things with a bit of rigor.
11/20/2001 05:59:55 PM
‘The Pursuit of Happiness’: Terrific, thoughtful Andrew Sullivan column on those four magical words. Too good to exerpt.
11/20/2001 04:50:15 PM
Meanwhile, on the Marginalized Right: The L.A. Times checks in with Jerry Falwell, and finds him as incoherent as ever. In all the din over the gang-tackle of the Lunar Left, I’m not sure people have really noticed to what extent the wacky Religious Right has been forcefully shoved out of the picture by sensible, irritated Republicans. The ACLU and People for the American Way are going to have to invent new bogeymen for their fundraising mailers. Unfortunately for us, John Ashcroft seems to be sinking to the occasion.
11/20/2001 10:03:49 AM
Letting Facts ‘Adjust One’s Perception’: That’s what The Observer would like to see, just once, during this endless debate:
What is unforgivable is refusing to take stock of the situation and adjust one's perception of this different world, however slight the change. And that has been the universal response of all commentators, Left or Right, pro- or anti-war, to the events of last week. Via Nick Denton.
The urge to prove that they have been right all along is so much greater than the need to adapt to new circumstances. So it is the circumstances that are adapted to fit the pre-existing line. All sides will say that it is a question of morality. But the suspicions remain that deep down it is a matter of pride.
11/20/2001 09:52:00 AM
Unforgiving Mark Steyn, on the Media Gloomies:
Funnily enough, in all their droning about it being impossible to colonise Afghanistan, the Leftie know-it-alls failed to notice it was already a colony: the Taliban was propped up by bin Laden's money, Islamabad politicians and military recruits from Pakistan and the Arab world, plus a few British and American Muslims. The dead in the streets are mostly foreign Taliban soldiers killed by Kabul civilians. If they were foreign British soldiers, most Western Lefties would be delighting in a popular uprising against a colonial oppressor. […] Via Damian Penny.
Let's make it easy for Professor Schlesinger and Co, and spell it out. In liberated Kabul, people are very happy. In Pakistan, anti-American protests are poorly attended. In Iran, the Ayatollahs are more worried about pro-American demonstrations. In the recent Bangladesh election, Islamic fundamentalists got less than five per cent. In repressive Saudi Arabia, the House of Saud has instructed its vile press to support America. Two months after the bloody attacks on American cities, the government that supported the men who did it has been overthrown and its troops are corpses in the dust. It's early days, but that alone is cause for all Americans - and Britons - to rejoice. Even journalists.
11/20/2001 09:48:27 AM
Good Photo Page: The wonderfully named Shiloh Bucher of Dropscan fame has a photo-blog of sorts documenting all the cool stuff Afghans can now do, like go to the movies, or show a little skin, or watch a hot 16-year-old babe on the teevee.
11/19/2001 09:46:42 PM
‘First, You’ve Got to Stop Bullshitting’: The Rev. Tony Pierce writes a heartfelt and wise letter to the people of Afghanistan.
11/19/2001 11:48:01 AM
Tasty Batch of Fresh Content on the Letters Page: On the “nasty little rats” of alt media, the dark clouds on the horizon, rebuilding Afghanistan, misreading Mao, and (the horror!) my apparent readiness to join the Republican Party. I’ll be adding a few more as the day creeps along.
11/19/2001 10:58:24 AM
Four Journalists Feared Dead After Ambush: Harry Burton and Azizullah Haidari of Reuters, Guido Santevecchi of Corriere della Sera, and El Mundo’s Julio Fuentes are feared dead after being stopped by gunmen on the road between Jalalbad and Kandahar, pulled out of their car, and shot. I know media-bashing is fashionable this season, but let’s not forget to thank the people brave enough to cover the dangerous situation inside Afghanistan.
11/19/2001 10:02:00 AM
Five British Turncoats Killed in Afghanistan: Remember the stories about young British Muslims who wanted to fight a holy war against the infidels? Well, up to 10 of them are dead now. (Also via the excellent Rantburg)
11/18/2001 01:36:30 AM
Al Qaeda Arabs Massacre Taliban Afghans in Kunduz: Bin Laden’s boys apparently slaughtered 150 Talibanistas who wanted to defect, and are holding 100 prominent local citizens as human shields. It’s war, so there will be many conflicting reports about brutality in the coming days. But the colonialist Al Qaeda forces must know they are surrounded and have zero popular support, so I'm guessing they will fight until half or more of them are killed. (Via Rantburg)
11/18/2001 01:28:15 AM
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