Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Don't Tread on Me

Empirical research has been harnessed to prove what no one ever doubted:  we feel our own pain more acutely than the pain we inflict.
Or, as the old saying goes, "Tragedy is when I stub my toe.  Comedy is when you fall down a manhole and die."

Breakin' Up Is Hard to Do

As I've said here and here about Iraq:
Split the country up already. Let the Baathists keep Baghdad, give the oil to the Shia and Kurds, keep around 30,000 troops in the Kurdish part to prevent civil war and discourage them from pissing off Turkey.
Now former U.S. Ambassador Peter W. Galbraith is saying the same thing:
As an alternative to using Shiite and American troops to fight the insurgency in Iraq's Sunni center, the administration should encourage the formation of several provinces into a Sunni Arab region with its own army, as allowed by Iraq's Constitution. . . . . This would be best accomplished by placing a small "over the horizon" force in Kurdistan.
Yes! Yes!!

Monday, July 24, 2006


My new webcomic love is Jonathan's Rosenberg's Goats.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Paleobiologists to NFL: Watch out, Sapiens

From Nicholas Wade's NYT piece today on trying to reconstruct the Neanderthal genome:
If the Neanderthal genome were fully recovered, it might in principle be possible to bring the species back from extinction by inserting the Neanderthal genome into a human egg and having volunteers bear Neanderthal infants. There would, however, be great technical and ethical barriers to any such venture.
Translation:  This is awfully cool, and, if possible, will happen.

Friday, July 14, 2006

NYT Gets the Scoop!

NYT is the first to report... that...
Envelope, NYT editorial (with a red "X" across it), and unknown powdery substance.
It'd really've stung if the Post had got the story before them.

Friday, July 07, 2006

The Park Is Mine

This blog isn't my diary, so don't expect I'm going to fill it with important personal things.
Maybe good news, but if I have some kind of major tragic event, it's not going to be on the damn blog so the Internet can comfort me.
Just a disclaimer before I mention something bad.
On the afternoon of the 4th of July, my Dad was walking home with some shish kebab skewers for the grill.  He was on the block where my family lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn, a block from Prospect Park.  Two teenage guys tackled him from behind, then stood over him and demanded his cash (but not his wallet).
Dad, who is quite sensible, gave the SHPOSes his cash-- which was a significant amount of money-- and the two ran off (in opposite directions, I think).
Two people were nearby, and quickly approached my Dad to find out what had happened.
A police car was driving up the street at the same time, and chased after one of the muggers-- and the NYPD (78th precinct, maybe?)caught the guy in no time a few blocks away.
The other guy ran the opposite direction--into the park--with the cash.  Of course, on the 4th of July, the park is full of families having barbecues.
I really, really hope these guys didn't step away from a family barbecue to knock over my Dad.
Some of New York's Finest went into the park and asked if anyone had seen a teenager wearing whatever mugger #2 was wearing (a white or black do-rag, I think, and some other distinctive clothing) running through.  People pointed the guy out, and, one-two, the whole dipsh*t crew's locked up.  Mugger #2 (or maybe both muggers?) confessed immediately, and said he'd thrown the cash into the bushes when he ran.
I was in Manhattan with Tenderfoot at some friends' apartment when Dad called me after leaving the precinct house.  He was quite calm.
I'm still upset.  For the past month or two, teenage guys have been mugging people in Prospect Park.
My parents live half a block from the park.
These guys could have seriously hurt my Dad (he seems to have no serious injuries).  They could have attacked my Mom or my sisters.
NYPD, don't make me pull some "The Park is Mine" / "First Blood" action.  Okay, don't make me fantasize about it.
Cruising RMPs along the main road through the Park won't catch muggers.  Don't let the park-- which is one of the nicest spots in Brooklyn-- turn into some Pirates' Cove.
Do a damn sting.  Call in "21 Jump Street," I don't care.
Vigilantes like The Whaler and BROKK!!! are funny ideas.  My Dad buying a gun is not.

I Spent 16 Months In A Secret CIA Prison And All I Got Were These Lousy White Shotes

So... the NYT reports on the story of Laid Saidi, an Algerian who worked for an Islamic charity in Tanzania and was "renditioned" by the CIA, imprisoned and tortured for 16 months, then released.  Here's the tragi-comic part:
In prison, Mr. Saidi said, he was interrogated daily, sometimes twice a day, for weeks. Eventually, he said, his interrogators produced an audiotape of the conversation in which he had allegedly talked about planes.

But Mr. Saidi said he was talking about tires, not planes, that his brother-in-law planned to sell from Kenya to Tanzania. He said he was mixing English and Arabic and used the word "tirat," making "tire" plural by adding an Arabic "at" sound. Whoever was monitoring the conversation apparently understood the word as "tayarat," Arabic for planes, Mr. Saidi said.

"When I heard it, I asked the Moroccan translator if he understood what we were saying in the recording," Mr. Saidi said. After the Moroccan explained it to the interrogators, Mr. Saidi said, he was never asked about it again.

Reminds me of that old joke--
Man at door:  I am ze Viper.
Person inside:  Who?!
Man at door:  I am ze Viper!
Person inside:  WHO?!
Man at door:  I am ze VIPER!!  I come to vipe ze vindows!

Monday, July 03, 2006

All The Lonely People

This NYT article (yes, it's memailed, or it's at number 7, anyway) describes a recent study by some sociologists that shows most adults have few or no friends-- fewer than they did in the past.
Well, that's depressing. Especially when I think about how long it's been since I've hung out with a lot of my friends.
I have a pretty active social life... considering the schedule of a law firm associate.  But reading this article reminds me that spending time with family and friends is a more important than another hour of poring over other peoples' e-mails and spreadsheets...
On that note... I'm out of here!

Y Unearthed

So, Tenderfoot found volumes 1 and 2 of Y: The Last Man.
Now I can lend them to friends and leave them hoplessly addicted.

Poker Strikes Again

Maine gets the Hold 'Em bug.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

You Say Tomato / I Say Harpoono

Deborah Tannen (author of something about moms and daughters) has a great (MEMAILED!) piece in the NYT comparing the reactions of women in Greece and New York to public molestations by men.
According to Tannen, Greek women are much more likely than Americans to smack, slap, kick, punch, curse, or stone their molesters.
My mom told me about a friend of hers who used to ride the subways with a long hatpin in her purse, and would stab it into the thigh of men who groped her.
Excellent, excellent.
It ain't a harpooning, but it's a step in the right direction.