July 30, 2003

The Hyde Park perspective   {Comments: 0}

Slate's James Suroweicki has an interesting article about the whole free-market experiment in counter-terror intelligence. He details some of the market's successes as a predicive tool and argues that in this case it has been unfairly dismissed. I'm incline to agree - when I first heard about the project (in the context of calls for its dismantling) it sounded like it had some promise as a legitimate indicator. This is, after all, an area where markets excel, and there's every reaqson to think the project would have led to a more precise risk assessment by the Pentagon. I certainly would place more stock in it (forgive the expression) than I do in the yellow alert flashing across my FOX News ticker.

Of course, I sympathize with those who think it would be unseemly to have people profit from an attack. But I'm not convinced this isn't happening already - and I also think the issue could be handled more delicately. I reject the proposition (from BigOldGeek, and probably others) that the market would actually help bring about an attack. Making an investment and then perpetrating the relevant attack wouldn't just be incredibly stupid, it would be completely out of character for our fanatical friends.

More on publishers   {Comments: 0}

Comments and other stimuli (from real life) have had me considering my post from the other day about the publishing industry and its motivations, etc. I have to admit, there is a tremendous selection out there now, and more than ever before, thanks to the near ubiquity of Borders and the internet (just discovered abebooks.com, truly the store to end all stores). But in the same way that the tremendous proliferation of available news still has people watching the same few networks, having more books within reach doesn't mean we're reading more different things. It makes me wonder whether the current publishing boom might simply be unsustainable - in the case of news, where cheap airwaves and the internet have made publishing literally a matter of a click or two, reporting and content have become the limiting factor. This is part of the reason blogs have emerged, and probably the main reason they started as so much delight in form (ie the primacy of the link) rather than in content. But with books, we don't have an annointed electronic format, so economies of scale still push publishers toward quantity rather than diversity.

Anyway, I still think it's deplorable that NU Press is closing the spigot on foreign lit in translation, but I guess it seems kind of absurd to be complaining about this in the middle of a publishing bubble and at a time of unprecedented availability and selection. Bemoaning the publishing industry's bestseller focus seems equally absurd, because the whole industry is on the verge of a massive transformation, as new technologies become available. Will this mean a complete democratization of artistic production?

Multiple choice   {Comments: 0}

A - B - C - D

July 28, 2003

The work of the devil   {Comments: 0}

A good friend/tireless reader puts me onto the bizarre (yet wonderful) phenomenon of the flashmob - sort of a postmodern protest feel with some performance art retrofitting. Blogger cheeesebikini has extensive coverage and links. For interested New Yorkers especially there's more information here as well. Nothing yet in Chicago, sorry to say (but not that surprised).

UPDATE: PG points out (via comments) that there is something going in Chicago after all.

July 27, 2003

Foreign borrowings   {Comments: 0}

As a student of foreign literature in particular, I find this phenomenon pretty disturbing. This part especially:

"A lot of foreign literature doesn't work in the American context because it's less action-oriented than what we're used to, more philosophical and reflective," said Laurie Brown, senior vice president for marketing and sales at Harcourt Trade Publishers. "As with foreign films, literature in translation often has a different pace, a different style, and it can take some getting used to. The reader needs to see subtleties and get into the mood or frame of mind to step into a different place. Americans tend to want more immediate gratification. We're into accessible information. We often look for the story, rather than the story within the story. We'd rather read lines than read between the lines."
Obviously there's the whole "Americans are contemptuous of other cultures" angle, but the idea here is just that the philosophical, the reflective, the subtle, the cerebral are absent from our literature. Anecdotally at least, this seems to be true. I spent a good bit of my wknd trying to unearth some good Latin American fiction (if anyone can recommend even a moderately esteemed Bolivian author, I'd be forever in your debt), and what I ended up with was a lot of wonderfully challenging experimental writing that for the reasons above would never pass muster at a major American publishing house - stuff influenced by Borges in the same way American authors are influenced by... Raymond Chandler?

Anyway, I'm not meaning to sound like a comp lit snob, I've read and loved my share of neurotic Chandler knockoffs. But I think the enterprise of world literature is broader, more challenging, and frankly a bit more human than anything American culture has to offer. It's too bad about Northwestern University Press... I suppose now I'll have to start a foreign lit blitz of my own. Well, you can always start here.

July 24, 2003

Half the sins of mankind   {Comments: 0}

Was talking yesterday with a friend about the relative lack of high-profile female bloggers; with another friend separately about the same with American fiction, especially before the past twenty or so years. For the first problem at least, ms.musings has a solution. The new blogrrrll there has some great selections, I'll be taking note, and you should too. I know I've mentioned it before, but the ms.musings blog itself is highly recommended.

Interesting and also embarassing for me was the discovery that frequent commenter and blogger PG (for Pallavi Guniganti) is female - I have posted previously about "him" which, well, isn't good. It's completely inexcusable, I know, but I find myself casting about for some explanation (the worst: we have the same initials). In any case, I humbly repent. Let me take this as an opportunity to plug Pallavi's blog, which is one of the best I've come across, and a pretty much daily read even in these times of profligate laziness.

July 23, 2003

Other worlds   {Comments: 0}

Studying Aymara this summer has me increasingly isolated from world events. One of my classmates, upon seeing the headline that Saddam's ruthless sons were dead, remarked only that "ruth" is a bound morpheme, ie you can't be ruthful, only ruthless. Meanwhile car problems have kept me from listening to my beloved NPR; I've been doing fiction instead, certainly a way better use of my time. And when the news does catch my ear, it's usually some feature piece about the bodhron or the CIA.

On Monday, I suppose I'll discover a whole new world of the arcane at the Lilly Library in Bloomington IN, where apparently they have a 17th century Aymara vocabulary, one of the earliest known to exist, and also the 1951 foundations of an English-Aymara dictionary that still hasn't come into being. I was finally able to purchase a couple of Spanish-Aymara dictionaries though - you too can satisfy your hunger for foreign language esoterica at Schoenhof's Bookstore.

Anyway, all this is, I suppose, meant in way of an apology for not sticking to whatever promised topics are there in the box to the right. Politics and analytical argument seem to be concerning me less and less, to the point where I may have to go and change my motto. Even this post, what is it about? Truthfully, I set out to write about Dianne Feinstein and DC vouchers, but I couldn't get properly revved up. Book reviews? Salad recipes?

Good night.

July 22, 2003

Even if the popcorn is stale...   {Comments: 0}

My girlfriend and I have a running argument about the food (especially fast food) industry's complicity in Americans' massive weight gain of the past two decades. I usually come down on the side of blaming big corporations and the capitalist system (big surprise there) and she's a little more circumspect - and of course there's always a bit of subtext revolving around my own weight, which of course fuels the argument on my side etc etc. But in any case, this will help the cause:

Traditionally, the prescription for shedding extra pounds has been a sensible diet and increased exercise. Losing weight has been viewed as a matter of personal responsibility, a private battle between dieters and their bathroom scales.

But a growing number of studies suggests that while willpower obviously plays a role people do not gorge themselves solely because they lack self-control.

Rather, social scientists are finding, a host of environmental factors — among them, portion size, price, advertising, the availability of food and the number of food choices presented — can influence the amount the average person consumes.

"Researchers have underestimated the powerful importance of the local environment on eating," said Dr. Paul Rozin, a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, who studies food preferences.

Give moviegoers an extra-large tub of popcorn instead of a container one size smaller and they will eat 45 to 50 percent more, as Dr. Brian Wansink, a professor of nutritional science and marketing at the University of Illinois, showed in one experiment. Even if the popcorn is stale, they will still eat 40 to 45 percent more.

Keep a tabletop in the office stocked with cookies and candy, and people will nibble their way through the workday, even if they are not hungry. Reduce prices or offer four-course meals instead of single tasty entrees, and diners will increase their consumption.

More seriously, I've always been a little bit skeptical of arguments that take responsibility away from individuals for their own actions, call me an existentialist, I don't know. I remember years ago being totally flabberghasted by the way the big tobacco was crucified for basically letting people handle their own affairs - I wanted to start smoking as protest even. But it seems to me now that responsibility is a more complex animal, especially when there's an assymetry of consequences ie when corporations have incentives to create a less healthy environment for individuals and don't have to face any consequences. It will be interesting to see how these data are interpreted, and whether liability will become an issue. It's good to see companies like Kraft taking steps to change their approach, and I think inasmuch as the big tobacco lawsuits created an atmosphere where this kind of responsibility is on the radar screen, I think they must have been a success.
July 21, 2003

And all the king's men   {Comments: 0}

Haven't weighed in on the whole Iraq debacle in a while, I actually find the situation pretty depressing and to a certain degree events simply speak for themself. But maybe a little bit of persepctive: looking back on the neocon plan for Iraq - for the whole Middle East, really - it's hard to see the American presence there as anything but an unquailfied disaster. I'm not talking about WMD - obviously that whole line of argument presents a problem for those who advocated the war, but it wasn't the central motivator for the neocons. They were more concerned with things like changing the balance of power in the Middle East, becoming the darlings of the Arab street, creating a base of uncontested US military strength in the Middle East, and controlling Iraq's oil. But none of these things have really happened - Saddam Hussein is still there, somewhere, and people are still afraid of him; oil prices haven't fallen as expected (even with pumps offline there should be some anticipatory price drop); the Iraqi people are becoming resentful of the American presence, and their resentment is manifesting itself not just in in terms of American casualties (which, after all, we hear are caused by a diminishing faction of Saddam's loyalists) but also as home brewed, free speech style protests. And while I'm happy that the Iraqi people are free to protest their government/lack thereof, that sure as hell wasn't the neocon plan. For a while it looked like there would be a positive outcome for the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, but now things seem to have stalled somewhat, and the Bush administration really isn't pushing that in the way that it was.

A lot of people are talking about the WMD scandal, with all of Bush's carefully misspoken declarations and all of our Freudian misprisions. (I'll probably come back to this soon, with all the black irony of the DPRK case.) They imagine that the Bush people have gotten what they wanted and now just have to play the game of belatedly getting their prewar ducks in order. But I think the Bush people are really sweating it, not because of this WMD stuff or because of the elections (I don't think Iraq by itself will cost them in 2004) but because their whole ideological basis for this war was ill-conceived, and they know it. There hasn't been a radical trasnformation of the Middle East; we haven't won unprecedented credibility in the Arab street; our military is under seige and we're begging other nations for help; we're expanding a force that was supposed to be overkill; Saddam Hussein is still alive; we don't seem to have disarmed anybody; democracy isn't working, and there aren't any serious prospects for it either. No, this war has won them nothing but a bloodthirsty public's transitory favor.

July 18, 2003

For your viewing pleasure   {Comments: 0}

My roommate from college has been doing a quote of the day (QOTD) over email since 1994, with pretty much remarkable consistency. The quotes are usually funny or harshly striking/badass rather than touching or sentimental, which is fine by me... maybe at some point I can get him to let me syndicate them here? Quoting daily seems like a fairly common blogging apparatus, especially outside the strictly political blogosphere - eg my sister also has something daily, but in a slightly different vein.

This week QOTD has featured vicious reviews of movies involving Freddie Prinze Jr, who as you can imagine is a pretty rich target. Most of the quotes though are coming from Rotten Tomatoes, which is looking to me more and more like the indispensible movie site. Check it out...

Star Wars trivia?   {Comments: 0}

Heard recently (in my Aymara class) that Greedo, the green skinned bounty hunter from Star Wars, is actually speaking Quechua. A quick Google search comes up with more votes for backwards Quechua than Quechua proper, but it's somewhat interesting either way. Too bad they're doing the new movies with thick racist accents rather than honest to god foreign languages.

July 15, 2003

Unplanned parenthesis   {Comments: 0}

Sorry for the lack of posts - the weekend was a hellish melange of painting the spare bedroom, attending a wedding of someone I hardly know, and running into "old friends" I didn't particularly want to see. Meanwhile a not-so-old friend dropped in more or less unexpectedly after cleaning up at some chess tournament in Elmhurst. So, I've been entertaining (but not for you, unfortunately). I should be back tomorrow with posts on all kinds of things, but probably something about Iraq, I really need to get back to that...

July 10, 2003

Smile!   {Comments: 125}

The Chicago PD announced today that it will be putting surveillance cameras on the streets to help fight crime in some bad areas, as well as at some busy intersections to snag wayward drivers:

The camera units will be marked with Chicago Police Department logos, be bullet-proof, weather-proof and remote-controlled by joystick with the ability to zoom and pan 360 degrees, and have night-vision capabilities so they can be monitored 24 hours a day, officials said.

"We designed them this way to ensure we are visible, and the criminals know we are out there," Hillard said. "We're not going to tell you where they're going or how many there's going to be installed, but they will become obvious to the criminals when they see us out there."

I don't know whether this sort of thing is an effective deterrent or not. Clearly it will help reduce crime that's localized to certain areas, but at some point won't people just do their dirty work somewhere else? Obviously they want to be somewhat vague about how many cameras there are and where they'll show up, but the west side is a pretty big place. Will this eventually lead to cameras everywhere? With traffic, this approach might be more effective, since to run a red light you pretty much have to do it at the light. But dealing drugs for instance is a little more flexible in terms of the where.

The Illinois chapter of the ACLU has apparently come out in support of this policy, which surprised me at first. But given the scope of Chicago's crime problem and the fact that the program as advertised doesn't infringe anyone's civil rights, I guess it makes some sense. Not that you can't make a solid argument against it - last December when a traffic camera system was installed in Washingtn DC the citizenry (and the ACLU) made a lot of noise. More recently, they've come up with some creative solutions.

The more disturbing side of this whole thing is that in some cases they will be recording the footage for later analysis. Does that mean it's going to be made available to federal law enforcement? Depending on how ubiquitous these cameras are, this could be a pretty disturbing development, and as I suggested before, there's every chance that more cameras will be needed down the road, as criminals starts to game them. And what happens when somebody is attacked on camera but nobody happens to be watching at the time, and we end up with a murder that could have been prevented with more surveillance?

MORE: BigOldGeek adds at least two cents.

You can trust him   {Comments: 0}

Apostropher, who's been awfully good lately, links to this fascinating/disappointing story about the provenance of this story, which seems to have been edited after the fact (Apostropher has some of the original here). The even more interesting story would be: who was this guy? Makes me feel a little less animosity toward journalists to see what they have to wade through to put a story together - ie it's not just the journalists who are making stuff up.

July 9, 2003

In other blogs   {Comments: 0}

Ms Magazine has a blog up, not sure how long it's been there but I know people have been reading it because they keep mentioning it to me. The latest is a long piece about Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, decrying the whole backwards notion that the film has something to offer in terms of a coherently positive feminine role. Definitely check this out.

Also, from a couple weeks back there is good rundown of the reviews for Liz Phair's new self-titled album, most notably the NYTimes review by Meghan O’Rourke, to which Liz Phair herself responded. I have to side with the reviewer on this one - the album was pretty much a galactic disappointment...

I'm adding the Ms Magazine blog to the blogroll, along with a couple others I've been meaning to put up.

Political endorsement   {Comments: 0}

For readers in Chicago, check out Barack Obama on Channel 2's Eye on Chicago this Sunday (July 13) at both 10am and 10:30pm. Obama is trying to get the Democracic nomination to run for US Senate in 04.

The fine print   {Comments: 0}

NPR reported today (no link, but this opinion piece confirms) that fully one third of the US aid to Africa to fight the AIDS epidemic must be used for abstinence-only programs. Obviously I don't agree with the ideology that's pushing this; it belies a sick moralistic attitude toward AIDS victims that really amounts to cultural blackmail. And while abstinence may in fact be the best way for an individual to avoid contracting HIV, that doesn't mean that pushing it will be as effective against the epidemic as other programs. It's so typical of this administration to walk all over cultural nuances and order up deeply flawed foreign policies for domestic political consumption. Just what does a five billion dollar abstinence program look like?

July 8, 2003

Book collecting   {Comments: 0}

The prof I was closest to as an undergrad was seriously into book collecting, so much so that now he's become the director of the Lilly Library at IU, where he continues to collect everything from pop-up books to the original manuscript of On the Road. I'm actually hoping to make it down to Bloomington sometime this summer to take a look at some of the Spanish-Aymara dictionaries and other Aymara vocabulary materials in the collection - there's quite a history to some of these documents, and some of the most significant ones are at the Lilly. No Aymara-English dictionary though; that doesn't exist yet.

I came across a bit of a collectors item (to me, at least) today at Potbelly of all places, on my way home from class. It's an old (the edition is 1961, but it's not the first) intro economics text by Paul Samuelson, one of the University of Chicago's finest economists. I read a couple of articles by Samuelson for my political economy class last year and they were quite dense, but not so this text. Instead it's as an intro text should be, but with that pleasantly condescending air that I imagine all textbooks from that era had. And it's a historical document - it provides a wonderful snapshot of the state of the art at that time, complete with charts and graphs and references to President Eisenhower. There's the explanation of how the US income tax was progressive, with the top tax bracket paying 87 cents on the dollar to the govt - and then the insight (new to me) that almost nobody paid that rate, because the tax system created incentives to invest rather than earn monster salaries. And then there's the chapter entitled "Fiscal policy and full employment without inflation." Sounds like one to read and enjoy.

July 7, 2003

Uka jach'a uru, jutaskiway   {Comments: 1268}

A good friend brought this (also here) to my attention, it's a worm you should watch out for, one that brings up pictures of Aymara leader Evo Morales, a Bolivian cocalero (takes over your addressbook too, of course). It's aparently not the first politically motivated worm, but I mention it because I'm studying Aymara at the moment. (No, I did not come down with the worm.)

I can't claim to know anything about the plight of the Bolivian coca farmer, but this is what it says about the political mess that seems to have led to the Evo Morales phenomenon:

Bolivia is one of the world's largest producers of the coca leaf, the raw material for cocaine. The government of Bolivia, with financial encouragement from the United States, has initiated a crop-eradication programme. However many of Bolivia's poorest farmers, led by Morales, are incensed because the coca leaf is often their only source of income. The dispute has become bloody, with armed conflict between the army and some coca leaf growers.
It's actually more than just a simple matter of money - the eradication of the coca plant has major cultural implications for the Aymara people too. They chew it on a daily basis, and it probably has more cultural significance than for instance alcohol has for us - after all, they use it in part to sustain themselves at altitudes of 2 miles plus. Given this context, eradication seems like a bad idea - or at least a problematic, culturally troubled idea. It's not really that practical, anyway - aren't these kinds of things impossible to enforce, what with the amount of money real producers can bring in?

By the way, I also intend to post some Aymara language links in the near future. Studying the language has been a lot f fun just for its own sake, but I've also discovered that Aymara has all kinds of greater significance for the project of modern linguistics because of some truly unique properties. All this has had me a little preoccupied, browsing JSTOR, etc.

The compassion of our country   {Comments: 0}

Letting Americorps slip into disrepair (or even oblivion) is a seriously bad idea. This has been an enormously successful program, with tens of thousands of volunteers each year making valuable contributions in every imaginable area. Now legislative minutiae have left it with only half the funding necessary for the coming year, despite support from the president and scores of petitioners.

That'll teach you   {Comments: 0}

Haggai links to Fareed Zakaria's excellent suggestion that we internationalize not just the humanitarian aid to Iraq, but some of the policy decisions as well. This might alleviate some of the pressure our forces there face, and lend the legitimacy of international institutions to the whole debacle. The only problem with this approach, it seems, is Bush's unwillingness to forgive our European allies for protesting an illegal war. Meantime we're footing the bill in coin, blood, and contempt from our neighbors.

July 6, 2003

A seam of online middle-class resentment?   {Comments: 0}

Apropos of Dean's impressive internet campaign take, EJ Dionne suggested today on This Week that the internet is doing for liberalism what talk radio did for conservatism 10 years ago. I wonder how others feel about this. If for instance we were in the middle of a Republican primary right now, would some candidate on the Right have demonstrated similar internet prowess? A year ago the blogosphere seemed to be dominated by conservative and libertarian ideologies; now this seems to be less true, although there isn't really a good metric for this kind of thing. I definitely don't have the sense, though, that the liberal line lights up cyberspace the way conservative bluster blares on my AM dial.

Rethinking California   {Comments: 0}

Well, it's looking more and more like California will actually recall its governor. What's really bizarre about it is the way in which his replacement will be selected - basically anyone who wants to pay the $3500 registration fee can be on the ballot (which will take the form of an afterthough question to referendum on Davis's recall), and a simple plurality will be needed to win. Depending on the number of candidates, this means the winner could take office with the votes of only a tiny fraction of California's population. The mechanism is especially favorable to those with good name recognition; this is why there's so much speculation that Arnold Schwarzenegger will be California's next governor.

The whole referendum system has really destroyed California - according to a recent NPR piece 90% of the state's budget is locked into entitlements or programs mandated by referenda, so that neither the governor nor the legislature has that much power in the first place. Given this context, it seems strange to hold the governor responsible for the huge budget problems California faces now - won't a recall just serve as an indictment of California's whole political structure? The power of any new governor will be further eroded, making it even more difficult to address the serious problems facing the state. The referendum in this instance is being used specifically to demand more accountability from elected officials, but ultimately it just takes away their power, localizing it not in the hands of the people, but in the hands of those who have the money to run massive media campaigns for a population of tens of millions. It's a disastrous policy that just works to undermine any kind of stability in government institutions.

July 2, 2003

By airplane to the rocket   {Comments: 0}

Saw the TMBG documentary the other day, Gigantic: A Tale of Two Johns it's called. I thought it was excellent and highly reommend it to anyone with even a passing interest in the Giants. It was probably worth the entry fee just to see what Ira Glass looks like, and there are plenty of other great celeb interviews (I'll definitely be picking up something by Sarah Vowell first chance I get).

My only complaint was that there was almost nothing from the album John Henry, which may be my favorite, and which seems worthy of mention just because of its unique horn-powered sound. Instead, the film basically skipped from the wild success of Flood to the present, with some dismissive talk about problems with the label in the meantime. Too bad!

A new foreign policy?   {Comments: 0}

I'm completely fascinated by the Bush administrations attitude toward Liberia - they're obviously sending up trial balloons for an investment for forces, and it seems so straneg given what we've seen in the past couple years. After all, Liberia has no oil, no WMD program, and no apparent terrorist threat. Meanwhile, there's been a complete lack of interest in other African intervetions, notably in Congo where situation is much more complicated. And as far as I understand the neoconservative ideology, it doesn't really recommend committing blocks of American troops to West Africa.

Probably it has something to do with the fact that the US has a special relationship with Liberia, one which goes all the way back to that country's founding and about which very few Americans are even aware. (France, which has led the charge in Congo, has similarly deep relationships there.) But the Bush administration hasn't exactly been conscientious when it's come to keeping our relationships current. I'm guessing part of the reason Europe is calling for American intervention now is that we've trampled those transatlantic ties - an American intervention would line up closely with European policy and bring a renewed sense of solidarity on the international stage, thereby increasing European prestige and input. And this - as opposed to Congo - is the place where it can happen, owing to the historical relationship between the US and Liberia.

Bush, on the other hand, is probably more interested in domestic problems - this whole swing to Africa, just like his AIDS announcements in the State of the Union, is about alleviating some of the pressures associated with the Iraq situation by playing up the humanitarian side of intervention. This is especially important now that they're failing to find the WMD in Iraq - a consistent policy of intervention worldwide takes the steam out of that whole critique. Even more importantly - and I do think this is key for the Bush strategy - is that a Liberian intervention can play well with Black voters. There's an opportunity here to exploit the history of Liberia on politically favorable terms with a Black electorate that already tends to support Bush's security policies. I think they see this as a chance to tip the scales and create some votes in 04.

Obviously all this is fraught with danger, these kinds of peacekeeping missions are the hardest kinds, and there isn't much potential for dramatic successes a la landing on the USS Abraham Lincoln. But almost all of Bush's foreign policies seem to be calculated long-shots, so it fits. My guess is they're feeling pretty good after the early succsses in the Middle East, so it's time to take another gamble. Let's hope it works in the interests of the Liberian people.

So that's how they do   {Comments: 0}

In the desert outside Jaisalmer (the one where they do their nuclear testing, apparently) last summer I was totally amazed to see these dung beetles moving backwards, usng their hind legs to roll pieces of dung several times their size. Now it seems they (or at least their African counterparts) navigate with the help of the moon.

Speaking of India, I have a friend who's a dung beetle, or at least he's on my shit list. Last year I accompanied him to India for a month while he criss-crossed the country researching his first novel. Just this week, after a year of work, he sent me the first chapter, and it has me pretty disturbed. A couple of the characters are pretty clearly caricatures of yours truly, although they may have been sliced and spliced to protect the innocent. At one point an email surfaces which is clearly a revised version of one I myself wrote to him - and the context isn't particularly endearing.

But I suppose whining is a little childish, and calling him a dung beetle is a little like spitting into the wind... where, after all, would I fit into that metaphor?

Bring them on?   {Comments: 0}

Via Metafilter, here is our president daring the Iraqi resistance to attack American troops, and Ari Fleischer backpeddaling furiously to try to explain the remark.

July 1, 2003

The terrorists have won!   {Comments: 0}

Witness, from the New York Times:

French wine sales to the United States, once French winemakers' most promising market and now one of their greatest competitors, are going down the drain.

"It's clear from our American distributors that there is a hesitation to promote French wines for the time being," said Bruno Finance, sales manager for Yvon Mau, one of Bordeaux's largest wine merchants. He said French wine was losing its share of some other markets. "But as of today, the only place there is such a big loss is in the U.S."

My dad must buy a case of wine every time he comes to Chicago, but on the last visit he didn't even look at a cheap French wine I suggested (Domaine Clavel Les Garrigues 1999, if you're interested) because nobody at home will drink it. Tells you something about Indianapolis.

Truthfully, for the most part I've hardly ever been excited about a French wine - that is to say, good French wine is apparently way out of my price range. But interestingly, if French wines are priced higher than similar wines from, say, the US, won't this infomral freeze-out just push up prices here?

MORE: Jeff Cooper's gone and reviewed an 85 Bordeaux for his wine of the week.

Chicago blogmap?   {Comments: 0}

Does anybody know of a Chicago blogmap? I can't find one, and I'm seriously considering putting one together. I've been doing a lot of smalltime scheming with respect to upgrading/reinventing this site, and a blogmap could be a fun summer project. Anyone interested in going in with me - eg someone with programming competency beyond html?