Jens 'n' Frens
Idle thoughts of a relatively libertarian Republican in Cambridge, MA, and whomever he invites. Mostly political.
"A strong conviction that something must be done is the parent of many bad measures."
-- Daniel Webster
Professor Instapundit links to a piece by a former "human shield".
Saturday, March 22, 2003 :::
I became increasingly concerned about the way the Iraqi regime was restricting the movement of the shields, so a few days later I left Baghdad for Jordan by taxi with five others. Once over the border we felt comfortable enough to ask our driver what he felt about the regime and the threat of an aerial bombardment.
... Jake, one of the others, just kept saying, "Oh my God" as the driver described the horrors of the regime. Jake was so shocked at how naive he had been. We all were. It hadn't occurred to anyone that the Iraqis might actually be pro-war.
The driver's most emphatic statement was: "All Iraqi people want this war." He seemed convinced that civilian casualties would be small; he had such enormous faith in the American war machine to follow through on its promises. Certainly more faith than any of us had.
Perhaps the most crushing thing we learned was that most ordinary Iraqis thought Saddam Hussein had paid us to come to protest in Iraq. Although we explained that this was categorically not the case, I don't think he believed us. Later he asked me: "Really, how much did Saddam pay you to come?"
Read the whole damning thing.
::: posted by Steven at 11:13 PM
On Thursday, the Palestine Liberation Front released a statement announcing the identity of the first verified casualty: PLF "1st Lieutenant" Ahmed Walid Raguib al-Baz was killed in Baghdad, "while confronting the treacherous US air bombardment on Iraq".
The PLF is the terrorist group that, among other triumphs, hijacked the Achille Lauro back in the 1980s and pushed Leon Klinghoffer, a wheelchair-bound American Jew, into the Mediterranean.
What was a PLF terrorist doing attending a war council of Saddam's inner circle in Baghdad? Well, I leave that to all the experts who've assured us that Baghdad has no ties to terror groups.
::: posted by Steven at 8:34 PM
Salam Pax hasn't posted in a while. I hope it's just a communication problem.
::: posted by Steven at 7:28 PM
I've selected several favored basketball teams that either lost today or are behind. Actually, I guess Missouri wasn't favored, but it feels like a "favorite loss" since they came so close.
Incidentally, Kate refers to the score you'd get from picking the favorite as the "monkey score". I think of it as the selection committee's score, since they seeded the teams. I'll leave the actual construction of the joke to you.
::: posted by Steven at 7:25 PM
Rob Morse of the San Francisco Chronicle describes the mentality of the protesters:
Think globally, ruin people's day locally.
San Francisco is the most anti-war city in America, but the protesters were determined to make us pay for this war anyway.
San Francisco is stuck with a $500,000-a-day bill for police enforcement. That's money that never will be spent on the homeless or health care for the poor.
"This nothing compared to what people are going through in Baghdad." That was how protesters justified their actions.
Very good -- you guys aren't as bad as Saddam Hussein. Link from the Volokh conspiracy.
::: posted by Steven at 1:36 PM
Iraqi conscripts are shooting their officers. As I've been looking for, Iraqis killed by Iraqis.
One Marine joked: "Oh no. They're surrendering at us from all sides."
::: posted by Steven at 1:05 PM
Friday, March 21, 2003 :::
I got some chewing gum, partly because of a recent remark that the United States can "walk and chew gum at the same time"; this in response to the concern that the United States might be distracted from the war on terrorism by the war in Iraq, much as it was distracted from the Revolutionary War by the battle of Saratoga. (It won both.)
Have a good weekend, y'all.
::: posted by dWj at 5:59 PM
Jonah Goldberg writes quite well on Iraq today, and on those who would continue her internal repression.
::: posted by Steven at 3:55 PM
Oil for April delivery has fallen more than another dollar today, and is now below $27. It flirted with $40 during one session last week, and was over $36 at the start of this week.
::: posted by dWj at 3:33 PM
Dean and I have moved up in the rankings (if the link doesn't work yet, it should be showing us in first and third place).
I have yet to have picked a favorite and see them lose. St. Joe is currently on the way to changing that.
If you're looking for real-time scores, BTW, I've been accomplishing absolutely nothing by monitoring the Sportsline scoreboard and listening to the radio discussing what might be happening in Iraq.
::: posted by Steven at 12:47 PM
I believe the western Christian church uses March 21 as the first day of spring for the purposes of calculating Easter; the Jewish calendar makes less allowance for fine corrections to the length of the year, and has drifted to April 3 or so as the earliest date for the passover moon.
I was discussing this once with a Jewish friend; we were in a large but crowded cafeteria, and he made a (light-hearted, right?) critical comment about western Christians sometimes celebrating Easter a month before Passover. I responded with the explanation I just gave here, and as one of those random quiets happened to interrupt the din of the dining area, I said loudly (trying to speak above that missing din), "It's the Jews' fault."
::: posted by dWj at 12:38 PM
Happy Spring, BTW. That started about 16 hours ago, as I understand.
::: posted by Steven at 12:25 PM
More men's basketball: Iowa at Iowa State tonight in the NIT.
::: posted by dWj at 9:59 AM
If basketball isn't frivolous enough for you, check out these Japanese pseudo-"See-Through" skirts.
::: posted by Steven at 1:36 AM
MORE NCAA: It's been joked that economists successfully predicted nine of the last five recessions. Today, I picked seven of the four upsets. If only Wisconsin-Milwaukee had made their last-second shot...
As you might guess, I spent most of the evening watching basketball and the war. Basketball is better.
::: posted by Steven at 12:40 AM
Thursday, March 20, 2003 :::
Kate has released Kitchen Cabinet NCAA tournament pool scores through eight games. She also mentions a few quirks of our picks -- though if I'm the only fruit loop who picked BYU to win three, she didn't mention that. My other loss was San Diego. If the tournament ignored seeds, I wouldn't have picked them, and they both fought valiantly (San Diego almost pulled it off), so I don't feel too bad. And I already have a couple good wins in the second set of eight games to make up for BYU.
::: posted by Steven at 9:54 PM
Derb writes on American and the rest of the world's failures to understand each other:
They don't understand. — How a-n-g-r-y we are. It was our proud buildings that were brought down on 9/11. It was our office workers, airplane passengers, firemen and cops who got killed.
If you lived in France, you might not put such a high value on life, either.
Even when we have blundered, it has been with good intentions. France fought in Vietnam to preserve her imperial standing and keep her planters in business; we fought in Vietnam to hold the free world's line against communist dictatorship. Every pronouncement from our leaders about possible war with Iraq comes with a rider that we shall do our utmost to avoid harming civilians. When did any other nation prepare for a military expedition with such oft-repeated declarations? When? The Chinese going into Vietnam in 1979? The Russians going into Chechnya in 1994? The French in Algeria? Iraq attacking Iran? The Libyans in Chad? When? When?
Incidentally, I know someone who doesn't believe the media at all. I mean, that's a fine first approximation, but I tend to assume that discrete facts (i.e. quantized, digital; when an exact number is reported, for example) are generally true, and that sweeping arcs of stories tend to be correlated in some way with the truth, though I know that details considered unimportant are relatively unreliable. When it's reported, though, that Elizabeth Smart's abductor had a knife, I assume at least that there was a blade of some sort, or something he presented as if it were a knife, not that it was merely made up, intentionally or not. He does not believe this. He grew up in Eastern Europe, under the subjugation of the Soviet Union. If the governments of Eastern Europe support us, but their people do not, they at least have an excuse; they have no credible access to facts.
::: posted by dWj at 2:22 PM
There are many things in this world that we never imagined, and you can find most of them in China.
::: posted by dWj at 2:22 PM
I'm told anti-war types are cutting swastikas in American flags outside the MIT student center. That ought to convince people to join their cause.
::: posted by Steven at 2:08 PM
WRKO radio just interrupted their interruption of regular programming.
::: posted by Steven at 1:31 PM
Colby Cosh writes about "weapons of mass destruction" as a catch-all.
We've got a lot of people awful worried that the "nuclear taboo" has fallen apart. But any society that has lived through the introduction of contraceptives should know that taboos don't survive the reason for having the taboos. Before Soviet Communism fell, it was taken for granted that the use of a nuclear weapon anywhere would be the occasion, in short order, for a full-out exchange between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R.; the taboo went hand in hand with the doctrine of mutually assured destruction. That situation simply doesn't exist anymore. The survival of the species isn't at stake in any one leader or general's decisions, so of course the taboo has relaxed. Why is there indignation about this? Wasn't the enslavement of half of Europe an awfully large price to pay for having a "nuclear taboo"? Every time somebody expresses this coded nostalgia for a second superpower, it's a little "screw you, buddy" whispered in the ears of several million Czechs, Poles, Hungarians, Ukrainians, Bulgarians, Romanians... and Russians themselves.
Since the Catholic Church tried to ban the crossbow, there have often been weapons considered somehow too evil for civilized warfare; they usually came into wide use before long.
Eep to that, but I do think we're kidding itself if we think we can contain nuclear weaponry forever. I hope the administration is considering how to handle a nuclear-infested world, because it's coming soon.
Cosh doesn't think chemical weapons belong in the same category as nuclear bombs and contagion. He's probably generally right. As with many taboos, it may just be too broad -- not all chemicals are the same. The US refused to sign the treaty to ban anti-personnel land-mines, on the grounds that with our "smart mines", complete with expiration date, would have to be eliminated, even though they are less dangerous than the alternatives they'd be replaced with. And yesterday, Instapundit pointed to this post indicating that we could save more lives if we hadn't signed a treaty barring chemical weapons.
::: posted by Steven at 1:28 PM
Those who will not venture out when there is a criminal walking down the street should not complain when somebody else acts as the policemen. The reason why the United States takes on so many responsibilities around the world is because others shirk those responsibilities.
That's William Hague, the deposed Tory leader.
::: posted by dWj at 12:51 PM
Some comments on Volokh's comments:
- If the war doesn't set a bad "precedent", per se, it could make foreign nations more likely to believe that we would attack them. Mind you, that's part of the point — we're trying to deter something here — but it also is true that preemptive strikes make sense only when trying to preempt something, and that someone might be interested in attacking us out of fear where they would otherwise feel there was nothing to fear.
- "When China is deciding whether or not to invade Taiwan, it will focus on its own interests, not on being consistent with what other governments have done," he writes, and it bothers me to see these comments separated by a comma. I have too many arguments with people who focus on one single consideration, or assume that, for example, Hussein will focus on one single consideration, rather than weighing factors against each other. Volokh doesn't quite say that, "Because China will focus on its interests, it won't consider whether its actions are in any sense just," but the way this is phrased seems to suggest this line of thinking. (Some of his factors for precedent to make a difference, later in the piece, make it clear that Volokh does not mean this, but I think can easily be read into this phrasing.)
- I think the massive ordinance air bomb and so forth might cause China to care a little bit at least what the United States thinks (and what it thinks it can argue to the United States).
On balance, as much as that might look like rebuttal, I think the precedent concern is a weak argument against the war; if we are clear why we are doing it, it is far outweighed by the deterrent effect alone. Cancel off the risk of near-term loss of life against the continuing threat we're arresting and the liberation of the people of Iraq — I do believe that the life of a free Iraqi is worth more than that of a subject Iraqi — and I think we have a case for action.
::: posted by dWj at 12:50 PM
I'm trying to post this late enough that you can't steal my picks, but if you could, I'd like also to point out that I picked Texas Southern to win the anacrusis, so you don't want my picks. (I haven't posted my picks, but I may do that. I have submitted them to Kate and the Malcolms.)
I've paid less attention to college basketball this season than any time in recent memory; I paid occasional attention to the Ivy League when I thought Princeton could win it, but most of what I really know has come from half an hour of sports radio on Sunday night and some perusal of scores. I'll keep the discussion a bit away from issues specific to this year, then, though ignorance is certainly not a complete barrier to my willingness to discuss specific teams to some extent as well. (There is no discussion of the quantum topology problem introduced by the committee's BYU snafu.)
The bracket scoring, of course, is a bit different from what I'm used to; in past years when I've filled out a bracket, upsets were not given the Kate bonus, but the scoring also differed in that each game was worth twice as much as those in the round before it. The last three games of the tournament are worth half as much as the sixty preceding them, and if the team you pick to win the championship loses in the first round, you're out half your points in one blow (assuming, as has always been the case, that generally unspoken restrictions are applied). I don't like tails wagging dogs, so kudos to Kate on keeping the ratio sane.
This does, however, upset my normal strategy, which is to work backward; I start with who I think will win the tournament, then who I expect to lose to them in the finals, then I pick the other two regional winners, and so on. These picks are based partly on difficulty of region — if a team is in a difficult region, it's quite possible they won't be around for the championship — but it's mostly a top-down approach, and I've had decent success with it. This year the dog wags the tail, and the bulk of the points will be picked up in the mid-rounds; this is accentuated by the Kate bonus, because the seeds of teams tend to decline exponentially as the tournament progresses. This argues for the bottom-up approach that I expect most people use anyway, and it accommodates looking at match-ups, for which, as I said, I've come to this season particularly ill-equipped.
Now, 12-seeds are often the subject of derision, but this is an at-large seed; a team with a 12 seed is better than an NIT team, and is better than the sixth best team in a 5-berth conference, the fourth best in a 3-berth, etc. These are solid major-conference teams, not teams that should be in a national championship tournament, but teams that can beat low top-25 teams. 13 and 14 seed teams are NIT teams. 15 and 16 seed teams are cannon fodder. Based only on the seed, the 15 and 16 seeds aren't good enough, even with 16-1 odds, to justify picking a first round upset. Even if they were, that would remove the high seed from consideration for future rounds, which you might not want to do if the benefits are marginal. (On the other hand, if you're picking the higher seed to go out in the second round, there's no such cost, and you're back to considering only the odds of the first round matchup. An example: Syracuse against either Oklahoma State or Penn in the second round I expect to be sufficiently prone to an upset that I don't want to advance Syracuse farther than the second round. This leaves me to take the match against Manhattan on its own. On the other hand, where I might like SIU to beat Missouri, certainly with 6-11 odds, I think Missouri has a better chance of making it to the third round — they did just almost win the Big 12 tournament, and have a good tournament history — so I'll take Missouri in the first round because I have to. See also my national champion.)
It's well-established that people tend to estimate probabilities as closer to 50% than they really are; a terribly unlikely event will be given 1 in 4 odds, where the person guessing really would be a bit surprised if it happened one out of four times. I've maintained before that people are surprised by upsets in college football in particular more than I think they should be; this is kind of opposite to the other effect. My reconciliation of these is that I think people might be better at assigning probabilities to sports events than they are at other things, even if they are thereby underestimating how surprised they would be. Much of what I say is speculation, but this deserves its own special red flag; I have very little even crude anecdotal evidence for this, aside from the observation that top ten teams lose to unranked teams on a fairly regular basis and everyone seems to have forgotten the last time it happened. In any case, I've allowed myself, for filling out these brackets, to believe in the possibility of upsets. I probably should have gone out and actually researched how many of what seed have won in the first round, the second round, and so on; I largely just decided that a number of lesser teams were closely enough matched with their opponents that I'd hope for enough upset bonusses to compensate me for when I'm wrong. Thus I advance 3 12-seeds and 3 14-seeds to the second round, along with 2 13-seeds. In the next round, we give Roy Williams his exit sooner than we might anyway, and we pick Gonzaga, not because it's as good as Gonzaga, but because it's better than UCLA (and against a 1-seed, Kate's really pumped up those odds). We'll see how that works out for me.
Why, then, do I end up with Kentucky? For one, they assured me on sports radio that Kentucky is invincible. (See previous comments about forgetting about the last big upset.) It really seems to me that Illinois has a good chance of making the final four, but so does Duke, and Arizona, and even Kansas; I don't want to place that much faith in the team I pick to win that region. I see Kentucky or Pittsburgh coming out of their region, and probably Kentucky; if there were no final four, I might go with Pitt because of the 2-1 odds. As we get farther into the tournament, though, if we really believe the higher seed is better, you're asking for more and more stars to align when you pick, say, Louisville. That gets rough.
And that leads to a point I like to make, for example in a long post after the Fiesta Bowl: no team comes in with better than a 50% chance of winning a tournament this big; it is significantly more likely than not that the best team will not win. If we really wanted to know the best team, we wouldn't take several teams that have lost six of their last ten games and suggest that, if they win their next six, they must be better than the team that won sixteen in a row before losing the wrong game in overtime. But, of course, what we have is exciting, and isn't supposed to be sane; that's why they call it March Madness.
::: posted by dWj at 12:01 PM
If an argument Why this war doesn't set a bad precedent, as the msn homepage advertises it, weren't interesting in and of itself, one by Eugene Volokh surely is.
::: posted by dWj at 12:00 PM
I hope and assume we've planned our response to any invasion by Iran.
::: posted by dWj at 11:54 AM
I learned last night that special efforts were taken in the first gulf war to take out the power in such a way as to make it easiest to bring back on line when the war was over. That we care more about Iraqi civilian casualties than Hussein does no longer needs pointing out; we wage war in such a way as to limit death and destruction, which would be hard to explain to Hannibal. Modern Western culture is inherently superior to other cultures, not least because of the genteel manner in which we kill people and break things.
::: posted by dWj at 11:54 AM
Watched the local PBS news discussion for the first half hour after the deadline, then retired upstairs with magazines that arrived last night; after reading a while, decided to turn in, but while finalizing arrangements for that I flipped on the radio to catch not sixty seconds of talk of something going down in Baghdad before on came President Bush. I spent the next couple hours trying to tell me to go to bed, that the world would still be there in the morning and that if it wasn't there's nothing I could do about it, but the sleep thing wasn't working until after the man with the mustache made his television appearance.
I certainly wouldn't want to echo thoughts expressed by the senior Senator from Byrd (the state formerly known as West Virginia), but, of course, the war is a sign that something went wrong. My pastor — not of the church I currently attend, but I still claim him — is divorced, and tells that, when he came to town, a number of couples sought him out, apparently hoping he would "bless" (his word) their divorce. They were surprised that he hastened to explore other options first. Sometimes, he says, divorce may be the best option, but it always comes from a brokenness, and the attempt needs to be made to fix the brokenness first. Even for twelve years.
This, I think, is how Daschle could have said exactly what he said without catching whatever he caught for it; express the universal regret for war, the point that war, even where necessary, represents a breakdown in the proper functioning of the world order, and imply that other actions previously taken by the administration might have prevented that breakdown.
::: posted by dWj at 11:54 AM
Shuttle data recorder discovered
Searchers in Texas found a flight data recorder from the shuttle Columbia intact on Wednesday, a source familiar with the investigation told NBC News.
It hadn't frankly occurred to me that a space shuttle would have a "black box".
::: posted by Steven at 4:35 AM
Colby Cosh is too enraged to comment on his city's police letting burglars off the hook while proscecuting the guy who shot the bastards.
::: posted by Steven at 4:21 AM
IHT: No-flags order causes a flap along the front line
They are not, these officials say, an army of conquest, intent on claiming Iraqi land or treasure for the United States, but a liberation force. They are concerned that streams of American flags would be seen as provocative.
One could not unreasonably claim that the American flag is a flag of liberation, but this is probably a reasonable policy. What I wonder, though, is whether there's a pre-Ba'ath Iraqi flag, akin to the Russian tri-color which was illegal and popular before the end of the USSR (and which I believe is now the official Russian flag).
::: posted by Steven at 12:25 AM
This is interesting.
The European Union has uncovered a bugging operation aimed at 5 of its 15 member countries, the organization said today.
Listening devices were found late last month in a headquarters building that houses the offices of the French, German, British, Austrian and Spanish delegations, officials said.
It's from the New York Times, so I can't vouch for its accuracy. Link from the Corner.
::: posted by Steven at 12:19 AM
Wednesday, March 19, 2003 :::
The die is cast; the deadline is gone. Pray.
::: posted by Steven at 8:05 PM
My kind of women.
::: posted by Steven at 7:14 PM
How surprised are we that a French corruption scandal involves a character who calls herself "the Whore of the Republic"?
I didn't think so.
::: posted by Steven at 7:10 PM
No "blood for oil". Link from Kitchen Cabinet, which acquired it elsewhere.
::: posted by dWj at 1:11 PM
Killer virus breakthrough:
Clue may point to cause of illnessWell, hooray then.
SCIENTISTS AT THE Institute for Medical Virology at Frankfurt University said samples from two people who contracted severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, resemble a paramyxovirus, the family of microbes that causes measles, mumps and canine distemper. There is no treatment for that virus group.
::: posted by dWj at 1:10 PM
Tuesday, March 18, 2003 :::
Supposing Hussein does agree to go, then what? (Cf. here and here.) Who goes around destroying WMD? Who takes over? Who ensures the peace? Who gets access to records showing repeated French violations of the embargo, and documenting Hussein's deliberate mismanagement of the food for oil program?
::: posted by dWj at 5:55 PM
Of what Orange was William? Was/is that a town or an estate or something? Is there a connection to the color back there somewhere?
::: posted by dWj at 5:00 PM
War precipitates clarity as well as confusion, and the war against Iraq already has clarified this: The United Nations is not a good idea badly implemented, it is a bad idea.
— George Will
::: posted by dWj at 3:44 PM
It looks like Kate won't let me fill out my bracket the way I'd like. If I think Penn has one upset in them, but not two, but that if Oklahoma State makes it past Penn they can cruise past Syracuse — let's be clear that my contempt for the Big East rivals that of the selection committee — then it makes clear sense to pick Penn to make it to the second round but Oklahoma State to make it to the third. It's a probability thing; I can't get a perfect score with an atavistic pick, but I hedge my bets and improve my most likely score.
Of course, even with that kind of freedom, how one wants to fill out one's bracket depends on one's goals. If I'm in a pool with 10 people and don't distinguish between second and tenth — I want to maximize my chance of first place, no matter what — I should take correlated risks that either pay off big or completely sink me. If I'm looking for a good "expected value" type of score, though, I play it more conservative. That's probably the way I'm going with this thing, in part because I don't know how many people I'd be trying to beat otherwise.
Incidentally, from that standpoint it's my experience that just picking the higher seed is a good strategy; that strategy typically beats most entrants but will never win, at least in my experience. Of course, with Kate's scoring system, that's all different. I'm not sure it's what I would have come up with, but it's different enough to be interesting to me; throw out a degree of the intuitive rule set you've developed for picking brackets over the years.
People have a certain amount of intuition for probabilities, but not too much, generally. On a not-unrelated note, the sum of shares of shared responsibilities shouldn't necessarily add up to one; if a number of people contributed to an event, the blame each person gets should be based on his marginal contribution to the probability that it was going to happen, and that can be less than 1 or greater than 1, easily by a factor of several times. That's not the way most people think, though; they see a pie of blame and want to partition it like something concrete. In cases of civil litigation, of course, there are practical reasons to pretend this is valid; if a victim is going to be compensated, the total damages awarded should come out near the loss, and courts can't simply pull money out of the air to correct a deficit, no matter how much anti-corporate juries might like to believe it. There's a similar problem on the surplus side, in that many actors may have contributed substantially to an event; the situation I can think of in which this practical constraint doesn't quite apply is covered by the notion of joint and several liability, where a tortfeaser with large pockets can be made to cover what a "judgment-proof" co-defendant is unable to pay. I don't entirely know what I'm talking about, but insofar as I do, the civil law seems to do okay on this front.
What was I talking about? Oh, probablility. Uh, go Packers.
::: posted by dWj at 1:25 PM
If there is to be a terrorist attack, I'd like to point out that Chicago makes a worse target than some places for a small-scale chemical weapons attack, because so little of our public transportation system is underground in confined areas. I'd especially like to point that out to the terrorists; wouldn't you much rather go after D.C.?
::: posted by dWj at 1:25 PM
Congressman Mark Kirk suggested last night that last night was the real beginning of negotiations with Hussein; whatever the odds are against him complying now, they were even lower before the threat was imminent.
I'm a little bit worried about additional terrorist attacks, but I largely agree that they would have happened by now. I'm even more confident, though, that if we have terrorists deployed, they're interested in acting sooner or later regardless of what we do, and that, at worst, we hasten their actions.
I hope whatever it is we do is the right thing.
::: posted by dWj at 10:03 AM
Dahlia Lithwick writes:
I've discovered that the principal hardship of pregnancy lies in months of pretending that you are a rational, competent professional, even when you are, in truth, a sweaty preverbal beast.
Pregnancy? I thought that was the human condition. Apparently, I've been pregnant for years.
::: posted by Steven at 12:16 AM
Monday, March 17, 2003 :::
We're at code orange. On Saint Patrick's day, as someone in the Corner pointed out.
There is a temporarily increased risk of terrorism. And if there is a terrorist attack this week, even if it doesn't work well, Bush will get blamed. But it will probably be better than what would have happened. And I consider it pretty unlikely, on the grounds that if Saddam could already attack us, he would have done so.
::: posted by Steven at 10:36 PM
I offer the following prediction: the majority of casualties in the coming war will be Iraqis killed by Iraqis.
::: posted by Steven at 10:12 PM
If you were Saddam Hussein, wouldn't you take credit for this weird new pneumonia and promise more of the same unless we back off?
Even if not him, I'm surprised we haven't seen some terrorist group take credit for it.
::: posted by Steven at 10:10 PM
Bush's speech was not particularly remarkable. He said basically what he should have said. He might have delivered it a little better than usual.
::: posted by Steven at 10:04 PM
Brackets. Unless you wanted this.
::: posted by dWj at 3:56 PM
The Mercantile Exchange has made plans:
CME Preparing to Extend GLOBEX Trading Hours in the Event of a Major Geo- Political DevelopmentOne supposes they have particular "Geo-Political Development[s]" in mind.
To accommodate the risk management needs of the trading community, CME is preparing to enable trading during the current regular GLOBEX shut-down period of 10:00 PM to 11:00 PM CST on the date of any major development regarding the geopolitical situation, should such an event take place prior to 9:30 PM.
::: posted by dWj at 2:15 PM
:What did you do, skate through a mud puddle?
:Well, I wouldn't really call it a puddle...
Saturday was beautiful, and I got to go outside to play. Lots of children about; a three-year-old girl at the library was fascinated to see me putting on my rollerblades, and I saw at least two instances of a bicycle-built-for-one-and-a-half that I'd never seen before; it has three wheels (so is strictly a tricycle, I suppose, but an in-line one), with a normal front and a seat for a halfling in back. I also saw some kids on a skateboard jumping a ramp, and they tried to invite me over, but I declined; perhaps I should have tried on one of their helmets and given it a shot. A couple a half years ago, new to a neighborhood, I was walking home from the train and came to rope jumpers in the sidewalk who invited me to give it a go. I put down my bag and jumped for a minute or so, at the end of which I learned from the applause that something of an audience had generated across the street.
::: posted by dWj at 2:08 PM
Male sweat brightens women’s mood
In a study to be published in the journal Biology of Reproduction, researchers collected samples from the underarms of men who refrained from using deodorant for four weeks. The extracts were then blended and applied to the upper lips of 18 women, aged 25 to 45.
Ew. Also, I wonder whether it being male sweat made a difference. Female sweat might have worked as well. Oh, and did I say, "ew"?
Link from Dave Barry.
::: posted by Steven at 1:15 PM
Senator Kerry had expected to miss the annual Saint Patrick's Day breakfast held in South Boston, where politicians traditionally "roast" each other. But he showed, and made a few decent cracks.
The article leaves out some background on the relationship between Romney and Bulger -- Romney is trying to eliminate Bulger's job, and the whole office of the UMass president. He thinks the separate campuses (campi?) can run and raise money without a system-wide president.
::: posted by Steven at 10:48 AM
Instapundit has an anecdote of bias, which anecdote he read in the Washington Post (sloppily worded, but I'm trying to be clear that the Post wasn't demonstrating bias, but reporting it).
When a group called the Young Conservatives of Texas was preparing to protest a Bill Clinton appearance in the state, Steve McLinden, a Fort Worth Star-Telegram reporter, used the paper's e-mail to send the group this message:
"Ah, the heartless, greedy, anti-intellectual little fascists are mobilizing again. (Let me guess. All you frat boys saved up your allowances and monies from your McDonald's jobs for those Beemers you'll be driving to the protest, and those new jackboots you'll be sportin' en route)."
Editor Jim Witt let McLinden go that day and apologized to the group. "Obviously, reporters have opinions," Witt says. "But we expect our reporters not to express those opinions unless they're columnists."
Props are due that editor, depending on how much backlash he felt before excising his paper's credibility problem. If he sacked the reporter the same day the email was sent, he seems to have done good.
New readers should see Dean's assertion that the media isn't biased liberal so much as urban/coastal. I.e., the network newscasts from New York City are simply demonstrating a New York City point of view. I think he has a good case.
We should, of course, be careful about assuming pervasive bias based on anecdotes. But they are so much more interesting than statistics.
::: posted by Steven at 10:32 AM
A friend writes from Cambodia:
On the night of January 29th, a motley crew of rioters sacked, burned, and looted the Thai Embassy along with several other Thai-owned business across Phnom Penh. These actions came in response to comments allegedly made by a Thai soap opera actress calling for Angkor Wat to be returned to the Thais. The comments, which were later shown to be wholly fabricated, sparked a wave of anti-Thai sentiment and some good ole opportunistic looting thrown in for good measure. A press picture showing a "protester" shouting anti-Thai slogans while carting off three DVD players basically sums up the story.
::: posted by dWj at 10:05 AM
Kate Malcolm refers to Princeton's victory over UCLA in 1996, which I'll claim to have predicted; the top headline in the Daily Princetonian the next day read "David 43, Goliath 41", which is one of my all-time favorite headlines.
::: posted by dWj at 10:04 AM
Sunday, March 16, 2003 :::
As I mentioned yesterday, the BU women's basketball team made the NCAA tournament. In the first round, they've been paired against... UConn.
I'm not sure who I'm cheering for, but I know who will win.
::: posted by Steven at 6:35 PM
Dave Barry found the Bonsai Kitten web site, which I believe is run by residents and/or alumni of Senior House, an MIT dorm.
::: posted by Steven at 5:02 PM