A Little Something to Fight the Poison

Friday, May 09, 2003
WHERE I'VE BEEN: Technically, here as always. But I've been working at a fairly non-stop pace at grading, keeping my students from freaking out over their exam, and obsessive finishing up a conference paper on the concept of desert and Rawls. This last thing may be a bit Quixotic, since it's a piece of leftover business that I've sort of wanted to do something with for past few years and not at all related to my dissertation.

I've also been continuously checking on the development of crazy theories on the emotionally draining Alias finale at Television Without Pity, as well as taking Norah Jones' Come Away With Me through an IV. She may go into the "thanks" section of my paper, if it goes anywhere...

Anyway, I'll have more of my usual slightly snarky centre-left commentary up in the next day or two...
Sunday, May 04, 2003
TWO. HOURS. OF. ALIAS! Eric's weekend should get a lot happier tonight, with enough Jennifer Garner spyfun in the season finale to last him for the summer (in theory). Eric also humbly requests that you yourself watch the 120-minutes worth of goodness, tonight at 9PM on ABC.






It was enough...
SLOUCHING TOWARD LAS VEGAS: Hey, Mr. Bill "I'm Virtuous and You're Not" Bennett! skippy has a message for you: take your moral posturing and bite me and my assemblage of news pieces regarding your delicious hypocrisy/blind spot! "mr. morality"'s apparent mega-expensive gambling addiction* would be like skippy excoriating someone in all caps.

*Having tried last night, unsuccessfully, to drown my miseries by indulging a bit more heavily than usual in my one current active vice--occasional forays into small stakes poker--at a rather big stakes campus table, I should note that I don't find gambing in moderation an unreasonable thing (although I'm not sure if I understand people who continuously play games that have a negative expected value--I hate losing too much). Like just about everyone else on the 'Net--including the very incisive Dr. J.M. Marshall--I have a problem with Bennett's very active attempts to sanctimoniously impose his conception of personal virtue on American public life and discourse. And I'm not terribly impressed by his use of his reputation as a moralist to slam the character of opposing politicians by inveighing on the degenerate nature of their private lives.

SOMEWHAT EXPENSIVE ASIDE: OK, OK, my war story: I was playing incredibly well, even though I knew my opponents outclassed me, channeling my bitterness into a fine-tuned aggression, and I was so up on those kids when I chose to make a terrible call. I'm not sure what happened to my usual very sound dishonourable morality of leaving when I'm ahead...but you haven't lived until you've made a US$285 call that you were pretty sure you'd lose (KK vs. AA pre-flop, for those of you who know the lingo...I totally knew he had The Rockets...sigh). And I know (at least, I should know) that it's no excuse to say that almost all of that amount would have been profit, had I just laid down my cards and left the table. Actually, I take some of that back--now that I've done it, I've concluded that you can live just fine without ever making that kind of call...

Presented by Tom Burka, of course.
AMERICANS ARE FROM MARS, THE REST OF THE WORLD IS FROM...some place that's significantly less full of hubris. This latter group includes Coalition ally Britain and its New Labour government, in whom I have significantly more faith than your average lefty. Even if, it may have been better for everyone involved if Blair hadn't been so gung ho about Iraq. Here's the latest tidbit supporting my "moderating force" thesis, from the The Financial Times (via the perceptive Tacitus):
Ole Wohlers Olsen, Denmark's ambassador to Syria, will head the effort to establish a civilian administration in the Basra district, one of the four administrative regions into which postwar Iraq has been divided by the US, writes Clare McCarthy in Copenhagen.

Mr Wohlers Olsen, 61, a fluent Arabic speaker, is married to an Algerian doctor and is the only serving Danish ambassador to have converted to Islam.
It's amazing that relatively few people on either the left or the right find it significant that Blair and Bush really are coming at this from practically different bloody planets. There's just no comparison between this pick and Bremer and Garner. And it's part of a continuing theme. The British press has been doing an incomparably better job has than the U.S. media at presenting Coalition missteps, but even with this heightened scrutiny, it seem evident that the Brits have done a far better job at not offending local sensibilities, and perhaps more importantly, not massacring civilians.

I'm thinking that the American left should just forget about drafting Clark; they should instead try to get Blair to run against Bush--on either ticket. yeah, Blair would need to really turn on his charm to win the Republican primary, but I think could do it. He'd probably win the general elections in a landslide, and the whole world would be much better off.