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February 08, 2003
More on that Feb. 15 business
The city of New York is still refusing to grant United for Peace and Justice a permit for their march and rally.
There's an online petition to "Allow New Yorkers the right to say NO to war!" here.
There are 2,189 signatures on it right now. Even allowing for slow Saturday traffic and the reluctance of many of you to compromise your anonymity, I think we can push that number up a little bit, don't you?
For someone with time on their hands...
Hesiod has a suggestion.
Your meme for the day
That "Axis of Weasel" thing that was going around bothered me--not as an ideologue, but as a writer. Axis of Weasel? Singular? It's an axis of one weasel?
Poorly constructed satire always annoys me. Especially when it's so easy to fix: Axis of Weasels. Plural. Not hard to understand--especially when that's how it read on the original (left wing) protest sign, before the phrase was co-opted by the warblers.
At any rate, this works much better, I think (speaking as a writer and an ideologue):
February 07, 2003
Gun advocates shoot selves in feet
Metaphorically speaking, of course.
Few were amused. From City Hall to the streets of East Harlem, whose residents are predominantly Hispanic, the Libertarians were branded racists and accused of exploiting an issue and a neighborhood where the toll of gun violence is far from child's play.
Just call me Mister Softee
I know the dog lovers among you have already done more than your share, raising (along with Wil's readers) close to $5,000 for Hearts & Homes (which is still looking for an adequate space, by the way--I'll keep you posted if I learn anything).
And I don't want to turn this site into an online animal shelter.
So, no pressure here. But if you do happen to be feeling charitable, it sounds like these folks could use a little help.
The Center for Public Integrity has just posted this. You'll be hearing a lot more about it in short order, I suspect.
(WASHINGTON, Feb. 7, 2003) -- The Bush Administration is preparing a bold, comprehensive sequel to the USA Patriot Act passed in the wake of September 11, 2001, which will give the government broad, sweeping new powers to increase domestic intelligence-gathering, surveillance and law enforcement prerogatives, and simultaneously decrease judicial review and public access to information.
(Update)--a particularly noteworthy provision:
Section 501, ìExpatriation of Terroristsî: This provision, the drafters say, would establish that an American citizen could be expatriated ìif, with the intent to relinquish his nationality, he becomes a member of, or provides material support to, a group that the United Stated has designated as a ëterrorist organizationí.î But whereas a citizen formerly had to state his intent to relinquish his citizenship, the new law affirms that his intent can be ìinferred from conduct.î Thus, engaging in the lawful activities of a group designated as a ìterrorist organizationî by the Attorney General could be presumptive grounds for expatriation.
...and beat. But I wanted to extend sincere thanks to all the Buffalovians, or Buffaloviators, or whatever you call yourselves, who braved the weather last night to watch the cartoonist rant. Your hospitality was much appreciated.
And a more-important-than-usual Unscientific Poll Watch: some jackasses are trying to rev up the good old days of McCarthyism and blacklists. Go here, right now, and vote in favor of actor David Clennon's right to speak his damn mind. (It's one vote per logged IP, and you have to give an email address. I know that sort of thing is likely to bother some of you, but there's always Hotmail. I think this one matters. Given the cowardice of the networks, this guy's career might well be on the line here.)
Afterthought from a reader: "Please suggest that readers not only vote, but that they add posts to their own blogs to get their readers to vote. Right now it's 2:1 for firing him. Gotta do all we can. First amendment and all that..."
Consider yourselves asked.
Afterthought two: the folks at MWO, who know a thing or two about rallying the troops, suggest contacting CBS directly with support for Clennon. Go here, and then click "feedback" (it's kind of hidden at the very bottom of the page).
February 06, 2003
Shuffling off to Buffalo
Contrary to erroneous reports elsewhere on this site, I was not in Buffalo two days ago, but will instead be there tonight. (Woldeman Theatre at the University of Buffalo North Campus, at 8 p.m., in case any of our friends from the frozen northland are reading this).
Blood of the lamb
"Bush is very much into the apocalyptic and messianic thinking of militant Christian evangelicals...He seems to buy into the worldview that there is a giant struggle between good and evil culminating in a final confrontation. People with that kind of a worldview often take risks that are inappropriate and scary because they see it as carrying out God's will."
On a related note... it's been awhile since I had to spend my Sunday mornings listening to Baptist preachers rail on about the evils of the modern world, but an alert reader caught this line in the State of the Union address:
"Yet there's power, wonder-working power, in the goodness and idealism and faith of the American people."
As it turns out, the "power, wonder-working power" bit is a reference to an old hymn, "There is Power in the Blood of the Lamb."
Would you be free from the burden of sin? There's power in the blood, power in the blood; Would you over evil a victory win? There's wonderful power in the blood.
I was talking to a publisher at a small press book party not too long ago, and I asked him about the print run of the guest of honor's book. The publisher looked at me sheepishly and said, "Officially, 40,000. In reality, 10,000."
He went on to explain that this was how the business works, as far as he could tell: everybody lies, and everybody knows it. If you announce in Publisher's Weekly that you've got a first run of 40,000, everyone does the mental calculation and says, "Ah, a 10,000 run." If, however, you announce that your first run is 10,000, they assume you've made a couple of copies at the local print shop and you're standing out on a streetcorner somewhere trying to sell them.
I have no idea how true or how pervasive this is--I've been putting out books for twelve years, and my own publishers have never let me in on this little secret, nor, as far as I can tell, have they ever tried to mislead anyone about my own miniscule print runs.
Which leads me to blog stats.
I'm not fixated on numbers, but since the blog just had its first birthday, and a happy bouncing boy it is, I was curious how the traffic was looking these days.
My ISP gives me the different numbers for visitors, page views, hits and so on, but it doesn't make any differentiation for "unique" visitors, something I've seen other bloggers refer to. I'm guessing that some web stats programs log visitors' IP addresses, but even at that, wouldn't everyone on a dial up connection count as a new visitor each time they came to the site, since dial up users are assigned a different, temporary IP address every time they log on? And since there are still a whole lot of people using dial up accounts, doesn't that mean that these numbers are always wildly inflated, no matter what?
So having said all that: for January, 2003, this site had 450,723 visitors and 662,769 pageviews. (I ignore "hits," given that a single visitor to a single page can generate a couple dozen.) In February, 2002, those numbers were, respectively: 138,070 and 314,079.
As I say, everybody hypes. I don't know what these numbers mean. For all I know, I've only got two readers, who have simply grown much more enthusiastic over the past year and now visit this site 225,361.5 times a month apiece. But however many of you there are, I am grateful that you keep coming back, particularly given the sometimes sporadic quantity and quality of the postings here. Which leads me to another point: if you haven't done so already, please go to the links page and work your way through the blogroll. You'll find a lot of people who put a lot more time into their blogs than I put into this one.
Update--one of my two readers elaborates on the blog numbers game:
I'm sure you'll get a lot of opinions on this, but the only correct one is this : There is no such thing as an accurate "Number of unique visitors" stat, unless the host can account for what person is attending what IP address (I can do this for my site, because I know my mom's IP address, and that pretty much takes care of it.) For instance, I generate hits on your blog from 6 different IPs. One of those IPs is shared with hundreds of thousands of T-Mobile customers. The other is shared with the 300 people at my work. The other four are static. And I don't even demonstrate the headache of dynamic IP, which is the biggest problem.
I suspected as much, which is why I'm not as fixated on the subject as some bloggers seem to be...
February 05, 2003
...that stuff'll just get you arrested.
No, you want to make a statement, clams are clearly the way to go.
United for Peace update
From the United for Peace site:
We are, however, facing a major fight over our basic democratic right to public protest. At our February 4 meeting with lawyers for New York City and the NYPD, our request for a march permit was again refused. We have asked to assemble near the United Nations, march directly past the U.N., and then continue through Manhattan to a rally at Central Park. We are consulting with our lawyers and will announce our next step late on Wednesday, February 5.
My fellow New Yorkers, and my fellow leftie bloggers, might want to help get the word out on this one.
Here's more, from the Associated Press:
NEW YORK ó An anti-war group sued the city today for denying it a parade permit to march past the United Nations next week.
News flash--Bush administration admits tax cuts caused deficit!
From Slate's Chatterbox:
The Bush talking point on the present budget deficit is that it was not caused by tax cuts. To be sure, White House budget chief Mitch Daniels has conceded that the budget will remain in deficit for the next decade. But he has never spoken out loud the words, "Our 2001 tax cut helped create the present deficit." Here is how a Feb. 3 White House fact sheet lays down the Bush line:
We have a really strong case and we'll make it someday, honest
Funniest talking-head quote on the Powell speech thus far: "sure, there was no smoking gun, but there was tons of smoke." Too true, too true. Maybe a better way of putting it is that there was no smoking gun, but plenty of hot air.
In other words, pretty much what you expected.
Iraq is working on developing missiles with a range of 1,000 kilometers ó about 620 miles ó or more, putting Russia and other nations beyond Iraq's immediate neighbors in potential danger.
There you have it. Right thinking Beagles everywhere must surely comprehend the clear and imminent danger posed by a nation which might, someday, possibly be capable of launching a missile six hundred miles. (But isn't Russia capable of defending itself--no! stop! mustn't think! thinking is for sissies!)
Hi ho, hi ho, it's off to war we go.
I caught a bit of the O'Reilly Factor during dinner last night, during which Bill berated Jeremy Glick, a signatory of the Not in Our Name ad whose father died in the 9/11 attacks. I couldn't find a transcript on the Fox site, but happily, one came in over the transom (probably pulled off Lexis, so no link available).
This is how Bill O'Reilly behaves when faced with genuine disagreement:
O'REILLY: You are mouthing a far left position that is a marginal position in this society, which you're entitled to.
The last few seconds of that exchange were really something to watch. I don't think I've ever seen a shouting head actually tell his guest to "Shut up! Shut up!" or to tell his producer to "cut his mic."
February 04, 2003
Protecting our delicate sensibilities
Presented as a small public service: an artist's conception of the news photograph they didn't want you to see tomorrow.
The "Guernica" work by Pablo Picasso at the entrance of the Security Council of the United Nations has been covered with a curtain. The reason for covering this work is that this is the place where diplomats make statements to the press and have this work as the background. The Picasso work features the horrors of war. On January 27 a large blue curtain was placed to cover the work.
Sounds like truth in advertising to me.
A report from the front
Salon's Michelle Goldberg attended the Conservative Political Action Conference over the weekend:
To attend CPAC is to crash through the looking glass into a world where passionate worship of the president is part of a brave rebellion against government, where Sweden is a hellish dystopia and Tom Daschle a die-hard Marxist. It's to realize that, despite the conservative hold on the White House, the Congress and the Supreme Court and the utter dejection among Democrats, right-wingers still fancy themselves an embattled minority facing an army of wily, ruthless leftists, who they hate with the righteous fury of the downtrodden.
Please stand by
Once again, there appears to be some problem with the scheduled Tuesday appearance of the cartoon at Working for Change. I'm looking into it, but they're out on the West Coast, where it is currently 6:30 in the morning, so it'll probably be a few hours before things are straightened out.
I remember when I lived in California, people on the East Coast thought nothing of calling me at 6 or 7 in the morning. They seemed to believe that the world revolved around them, that it was nine or ten in the morning, for chrissakes, so why the hell wasn't the lazy Californian even out of bed yet?
Now I'm on the other side of the time difference, and it'll probably be noon, for chrissakes, before we get this thing taken care of.
Update: it's up now.
February 03, 2003
There's a peace rally scheduled for NYC on Feb. 15, but they're having a little trouble getting the necessary permits:
The reason we have not yet been able to provide a location for this event is simple: With less than two weeks left before Feb. 15, the City of New York has still not granted our request for a permit to march and rally. We have another meeting with the police on Tuesday, Feb. 4, and remain optimistic that an agreement will be reached.
More. Given that February 4 is tomorrow, some of you may want to help get the word out on this today.
Ann's got some books to sell
As noted previously in this space, Ann Coulter's next book is called "Treason: Liberal Treachery from the Cold War to the War on Terrorism." Which means that you can expect to see a certain, er, recurrent motif in her work for awhile, I suspect:
The Democrats' jejune claim that Saddam Hussein is not a threat to our security presupposes they would care if he were. Who are they kidding? Democrats adore threats to the United States. Bush got a raucous standing ovation at his State of the Union address when he announced that "this year, for the first time, we are beginning to field a defense to protect this nation against ballistic missiles." The excitement was noticeably muted on the Democrats' side of the aisle. The vast majority of Democrats remained firmly in their seats, sullen at the thought that America would be protected from incoming ballistic missiles. To paraphrase George Bush: If this is not treason, then treason has no meaning.
Democrats don't support a boondoggle missile defense system? Then they're traitors, by god, traitors! They're guilty of, ahem, treason!
Ann just wants to sell books. But the slippery slopes of history are always greased at first by opportunistic slimeballs.
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