Minutiae
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The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws.
--Cornelius Tacitus (c. 116 A.D.)

Friday, August 16, 2002
"One should always be a little improbable." -Oscar Wilde: Phrases and Philosophies for the use of the Young.
posted by Rachel 8/16/2002
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I didn’t mention it here at the time but a few weeks ago I found my first white hairs. Not grey, WHITE. And not just one either. It seems that I’ll have an Elvira streak by the time I’m 30. When I was in High school I would have thought that this was the coolest thing. So dramatic! Now it’s just alarming. I’m not really old enough for weddings and mortgages and car payments and grown-up-jobs and white hair already. When did this happen. Prom was just last week ferchrissake!
posted by Rachel 8/16/2002
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How the NYT flavors the news.
posted by Rachel 8/16/2002
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Fascinating! Is this Jack the Ripper? Is a 113 year old mystery close to being solved?
posted by Rachel 8/16/2002
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The ugly American. Here’s one man’s response to the notion that America only acts out of our selfish corporate interests. We do more to aid people in need around the world than anyone else. Just like we do more of everything than anyone else.
posted by Rachel 8/16/2002
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”We should remember that in all the recent crises of the past, America has stood nearly alone. By 1942, Europe and most of Asia were fascist, the other continents neutral at best. England was our sole democratic ally. During the Cold War -- despite periodic appeasement in Europe and the venom of the elite Left -- the U.S. stopped the spread of Soviet communism and finally bankrupted its murderous hegemony. In neither case did the League of Nations or the United Nations offer much assistance; both passed sanctimonious resolutions while millions were butchered in silence by Hitler, Tojo, Stalin, and Mao. Our recent encounter with Milosevic was thus predictable.
The reason that we so often must stand by ourselves is that the United States really is different. Our Constitution singularly preserves the sanctity of the individual; American culture is truly a revolutionary society that has empowered millions of free and freed peoples without regard for religion, race, or background -- and so unleashed economic and military power never before seen. The common anti-American slurs of exceptionalism" and "unilateralism" are, in fact, compliments of the highest order.
Clarity
If the past is any guide to the present, Americans -- hard to arouse and rightly reluctant to go to war -- will finally have enough of the present nonsense and so seek clarity out of the chaos. We will probably act alone against Iraq. We will defeat the fundamentalists and end the terrorist havens. As before, we will let Europeans stew in their own juices of resentment and inaction. And we will at last rediscover that democracy -- as was true in postbellum Germany and Japan -- must follow any victory over autocracy, as aftershocks in the Middle East will approach the magnitude that we witnessed in Europe in 1945 and 1989.
Expect most other nations publicly to condemn us as harshly during the ordeal as they will privately thank us in the aftermath. But then, they, not we, are once again on the wrong side of history.”
-Victor Davis Hanson

posted by Rachel 8/16/2002
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Lileks was on MPR's Midmorning yesterday to discuss "the Blogging phenomena" between 10 and 11. I would remind everyone that they may listen on the web.
posted by Rachel 8/16/2002
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There’s a world polyester shortage? Polyester might be gone by 2008? Is it too much to hope?
posted by Rachel 8/16/2002
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“When in doubt apply more rules.” That seems to be the response of numerous government agencies who have been spanked for falling down on the job. The worse the spanking the more rigid the rule-following now. (See: airport security) Because you can’t come up with a formula to synthesize excellence or success so instead you come up with more rules. The problem is that no amount of inflexible unthinking $8/hour-employee-tailored rules will ever match the ingenuity of someone bent on evading the rules. Clearly you can’t rely on the discretion of these employees so you eliminate any room for discretion and in doing so you make yourself look ridiculous and open yourself to confiscating nail-clippers and GI Joe 1-inch toy guns, or expelling children for Tylenol and butterknives.
posted by Rachel 8/16/2002
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Jane galt provides a reason to be terrified of the prospect of Saddam getting his hands on nukes that I hadn't even considered. It breaks MAD. It takes the assured out of the equation because with more than a few nuclear powers, there's no obvious instant responsibility for a nuclear strike. It's possible that Saddam might think that he could slip a nuke to terrorists and never be found out.
"For example, had a suitcase bomb gone off in New York in 1948, we would have known who was responsible. Had it gone off in 1959, we would have had two conceivable suspects. Now? How sure can we be? Sure enough to mount a nuclear response? The moment that there are enough players to mitigate the assured part of mutually assured destruction, the likelihood of a detonation begins to grow rapidly."
Shudder.
If I had a magic wand I would definitely destroy "the one ring."

posted by Rachel 8/16/2002
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Camile Paglia provides a sound accounting of how a formerly sympathetic-to-the-palestinians-and-muslims-in-general person evolves into a pro-Israel anti-fundamentalist-Islam hawk.
We were naive, but we're learning.
posted by Rachel 8/16/2002
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If only this was a joke. This is the textbook list for my survey of US history class:
Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
How the Other Half Lives: Studies Among the Tenements of New York
Women's Rights Emerges Within the Antislavery Movement
Southern Horrors and Other Writings; The Anti-Lynching Campaign of Ida B. Wells
Changes in the Land: Indians Colonists and the Ecology of New England
A People and a Nation: A History of the United States

Do we detect a certain slant here?

posted by Rachel 8/16/2002
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Buying textbooks is poop.
posted by Rachel 8/16/2002
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Argh. Wretched Blogger. I paid them money to upgrade to Blogger Pro. I want a spell check and preferential server use. Instead they broke my blog and now I can't publish. I never had problems with the free service.
posted by Rachel 8/16/2002
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Dude. Japanese tastes are really weird. See what they do to ice cream. They have similar weird Jello flavors.
posted by Rachel 8/16/2002
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A lawyer explains why the church is vulnerable to a RICO prosecution. I’m intrigued by what that would do to the church. If one diocese gets nailed it becomes almost inevitable that many others will follow. If a RICO case offers a plaintiff triple damages, and there are hundreds of plaintiffs… I know the Boston archdiocese is already talking about bankruptcy. Which would put the financial running of the church in the hands of the courts. The church can be forced to sell assets. They might be forced to shut down certain operations like schools or charities. But the church is a non-profit they can’t be forced into bankruptcy by creditors. So what would they do? Does the Vatican have enough money to cover the awards of every victim in the US and do they want to set that kind of precedent in light of the fact that it’s not a uniquely American problem?
posted by Rachel 8/16/2002
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Aaaaugh! Benno stole my rotary cutter and used it to cut paper!
posted by Rachel 8/16/2002
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