Archive for October, 2004

France and England Sittin’ in a Tree

chirac-blair.jpg Chirac’s fi’na bitchslap somebody! Can you blame him? Blair had so much promise and pissed it all away to impress his boy Bush. So, does this bout of smacky-face mean they won’t be going for drinks?

image grabbed from the times

Battle of the Unfittest

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The ads just keep getting uglier and uglier. Way to get to the basement and start digging! If Kerry wins, the terrorists have won — if Bush wins, we’re in for Vietnam round 2. Kerry flip-flops and Bush flop-flips. Oh, and by the way, both guys are unfit to lead! It’s pretty easy to come to the conclusion that we’re going to end up with an idiot no matter what, isn’t it?

Sure, we can lament that democracy ain’t what it used to be, but perhaps another answer lies in a bit of risk management:

So we have two risks. We have the risk of continuing with a presidency of palpable incompetence and rigidity. And we have the risk of embarking on a new administration with a man whose record as a legislator inspires little confidence in his capacity to rise to the challenges ahead. Which is the greater one?     – Andrew Sullivan (TNR)

I don’t know about you, but a little legislative inadequacy is sounding pretty damn good over here. Need more convincing? Read Bush’s Lost Year.

image by jellisvga

Viagross

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Is it me or is the new Viagra ad more than a little disturbing? I don’t know if it’s the logo forming devil horns or just feeling sorry for the poor wife after seeing his expression but, man, that spot produces major queasiness. I’m just trying to watch a little baseball here — some restraint please? :-(

It doesn’t help these products have miles of warnings that create unwanted mental images. For instance, this gem: “Patients who experience erections lasting 4 hours or more should be instructed to seek immediate medical assistance.” Did you really need your mind’s eye visualizing that? Didn’t think so…

Feeling masochistic? Check out the full ad at viagra.com (windows media) and revisit Bob Dole’s stint hawking and popping pep pills.

NYC: Ecological Anti-Disaster

green-apple.jpgNew York City is a pretty awful ecological mess, right? I mean, how could the overcrowded, smog-ridden, skyscraper encroached, light polluted, grimy subway entangled behemoth be anything but? Well, as David Owen’s article in this week’s New Yorker (October 18 issue) takes pains to explain, looks can be deceiving. Take the following snip for example:

Because densely populate urban centers concentrate human activity, we think of them as pollution crisis zones. Calculated by square foot, New York City generates more greenhouse gasses, uses more energy, and produces more solid waste than most other American regions of comparable size. On a map depicting negative environmental impacts in relation to surface area, therefore, Manhattan would look like an intense hot spot, surrounded, at varying distances, by belts of deepening green. If you plotted the same negative impacts by resident or by household, however, the color scheme would be reversed.

Why? Largely because densities of people have nice properties like reducing energy consumption in transportation (public transit becomes viable) and at home (lower apartments heat higher ones). Green Apple indeed. Owen says it much more eloquently, though, as he makes the counter-intuitive yet compelling argument (with support from the likes of The Sierra Club) that suburbs are the real ecological disaster.

The article isn’t online, but WNYC’s Brian Lehrer recently interviewed Owen on the topic (realaudio link). For more on the evils of sprawl, see Suburban Nation and Jane Jacobs’ classic.

Hate Crime and Punishment

A recent perversely funny story brought up the not so funny topic of hate crimes around the water cooler. One question that came up in particular is: Why is the punishment for hate crimes so much more severe than that for non-hate crimes? If someone is beaten to a pulp, does the reason really matter so much? Shouldn’t the attacker receive the same kind of punishment no matter what the motivation?

Well, no legal scholars were involved, but a little background reading on the subject produced this thoughtful quote from the University of Ottawa that everyone seems to agree on:

Because they are directed both at a group and an individual victim, hate crimes carry an element of harm that is not present in other kinds of offending.     – Julian V. Roberts (DJC)

While largely similar on hate crimes, Canadian law features a key difference from the US code, that is, hate speech is protected as free speech in the US but not in Canada. There are clearly good arguments on both sides: freedom vs. intimidation. Some of the older folks in our discussion, however, stated that over time they had moved from the youthful idealism of believing everyone should have their say to growing weary of morons spewing venom with regularity. Curtailing free speech should never be taken lightly but here it sure sounds like wisdom.

For more, see the CCJS Report, HateWatch, and Partners Against Hate.

“I Told You!”

saddam-told-you.jpgSo, Saddam didn’t have the WMDs after all, eh? Shocker there. It is nice to see CNN having what seems like a little fun with it on the front page, though. They’ve got a ways to go before the equal the cleverness of Rock, Paper, Saddam but, hey, baby steps right?

Too bad the real Saddam totally sucks.





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