Friday, May 21, 2004


I'm in town for what looks to be a very interesting workshop on "Colonial and Semi-Colonial Infrastructures in East Asia." I forget how endearingly quirky this place is.

Harvard Yard Posted by Hello

Blackened Chicken at the Border Cafe is still good and cheap! Posted by Hello

Thursday, May 20, 2004


Josh Chafetz finds it in India.
India is over 80% Hindu. Last week, they kicked a Hindu nationalist party out of power. A plurality was won by the party led by an Italian-born Catholic. She then stepped aside in favor of a Sikh (who happens to be largely responsible for instigating the economic reforms that have made the Indian economy take off the last few years). The new Prime Minister was officially appointed by India's President, who is Muslim
I agree with his assessment: "kinda cool."


Mark Cuban, (yes, that Mark Cuban) doesn't much care for the media's relenteless pursuit of the tantalizing headline

The question I had then, is the same question I have now? What is the goal of these media outlets? How do they define what is “newsworthy.” It sure appears to me that the newsmedia has evolved from “all the news that is fit to print” to “How much free publicity can we get from this story?”

We are now in an era where media searches for stories that will generate media coverage of the story. Stories are written not for the value they bring the readers, viewers or listeners, but rather the volume of coverage they will bring.
In many cases, I can't say that I disagree with him.


Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan named NBA coach of the year by the Sporting News.
Sloan received 12.5 of 24 votes cast by his fellow NBA coaches, finishing ahead of Memphis' Hubie Brown, who received 9.5 votes. Jeff Bzdelik, Denver Nuggets and Stan Van Gundy, Miami Heat tied for third with one vote apiece.
Other than the fact that he was insufferably annoying as a color commentator on TNT, I have nothing against Hubie Brown who has done an incredible job with the previously hapless Vancouver/Memphis franchise. But Sloan was stuck with a team whose entire combined salary was less than the average individual salary of an NBA player, a team that everyone expected to have to fight to get to double digits in wins. And he took that team to the brink of the playoffs in the tough Western Conference (if memory serves, the Jazz would have been seeded fourth or fifth if it were an Eastern Conference team). So, kudos to grumpy Jerry.

A rare smile for Jerry Sloan Posted by Hello

Wednesday, May 19, 2004


I am teaching an experimental course on urban legends and invented traditions this summer. As part of the course, the class has begun a blog: GW Urban Legends. If Urban Legends are your thing, feel free to drop by


The Marmot has a dramatic photo that would seem to indicate that it is.


check out the posts and links here (thanks to Instapundit for the link). Will all the good news in the world matter in the end? Perhaps. It is possible that things might look rather different a few years from now. On the other hand, I'm far from sure whether the U.S. has the political will to see this thing through (or whether seeing it through is even possible).

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Experimenting with Bloggerbot

Inch'on Chinatown Posted by Hello


Check out the photos of "everyday objects of contemorary Korean history" over at Hunjangui Karuch'im. If the first ramyon produced in Korea was made in 1963, does this mean that Koreans didn't eat too much of the stuff before then? Or did they import it from Japan?


Gene Simmons of KISS has sounded off on Islam.
Simmons, touring Australia, said during an interview on Melbourne's 3AW radio said Islam was a "vile culture" that treated women worse than dogs and that the West should “speak softly and carry a big stick.”
Let's recapitulate: this is the guy calling Islam a "vile culture" (more beautiful photos here, and here). And I'm sure that in the hey-day of KISS, Mr. Simmons' treatment of women was nothing short of exemplary. With friends like these . . .

Monday, May 17, 2004


The Center for American Progress recently announced a "Claims vs. Fact Database" which purports to "chart conservatives' dishonesty and compare it with the truth." I sent them the following e-mail note:
Dear Center for American Progress,

I am a subscriber to your e-mail Progress Report and have enjoyed and
benefited from reading it.

I am, however, a little troubled by your latest venture: the "claims vs. fact database." I welcome the effort to collect and publish various
claims made by conservative politicians. Getting this type of
information out in the open is one of the obvious advantages to the
internet, the advent of blogging etc. However, I wonder why you have
chosen to focus only on the claims of "conservatives" rather than
politicians and pundits in general. Surely you do not sincerely believe
that conservatives have the corner on the market in obfuscation,
mendacity, and duplicitousness. Most objective observers would have to
conclude that these characteristics transcend political party or

In my opinion, a far more useful service would be one that collects and
collates the false or misleading claims made by ALL politicians and
punidts. This would allow people who attempt to be non-partisan (like
me) to make better informed judgments about both sides. Failure to do so leads one to question the good faith of the whole enterprise.

Just my two cents

Three weeks later, I received the following reply:
Dear Kirk:

Thank you for contacting the Center for American Progress. We
appreciate your comments regarding our Claim vs. Fact database. (You
can access the database here:

The Claim vs. Fact database is designed to compare conservative rhetoric with reality. We welcome constructive criticism and contributions to this ongoing project. If you would like to add something to the database, please send the claim and fact along with supporting documentation.

Once again, thank you for sharing your thoughts. We look forward to
hearing from you again.


Your friends at the Center for American Progress

Let's see: it took them three weeks to send me a form letter that didn't even begin to address the main point of my letter. Color me impressed!


that the "Saddam Hussein" presently in American custody isn't the real Saddam but one of his many doubles. I hadn't heard of this before. A Google search reveals conspiracy mongering from some of the usual sources like this, and this. I suppose it is possible but I wonder how the American military, the same military that can't seem to stop its own soldiers from taking photographs of prisoner abuse, could keep a lid on this for this long.


So says the ever cryptic and source-less Japan Today.
Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on Monday gained U.S. President George Bush's support for his planned visit to North Korea on Saturday, while pledging to urge its leader Kim Jong Il to be actively involved in the six-nation talks on the North's nuclear ambitions, Japanese officials said.
Two years ago, the Kim-Koizumi summit seemed poised to peel Japan away from its close support for Washington's policies toward North Korea. But the abduction issue took on a life of its own in the Japanese media and all hopes for rapprochement (and the big $20 billion pay out to P'yongyang to atone for past sins) faded. Will the DPRK get any closer to progress this time around? Well, today's KCNA doesn't include its usual dose of Japan-bashing (only a mild piece on Japanese trade unions and legislation attempting to ban certain North Korean ships from calling on Japanese ports).

UPDATE: Some see the Koizumi trip (or at least its timing) as stemming more from domestic concerns than from foreign policy ones:
The May 22 Pyongyang visit was announced, coincidentally, on the same day, Friday, that Koizumi confessed he had missed seven years of payments into Japan's state pension fund, joining a list of lawmakers involved in a widening scandal which has led to resignations by a key minister and the head of the main opposition party, according to Japanese media.

Media reports suggested Koizumi had rushed to fix the Pyongyang visit in a bid to take the upper hand in domestic politics despite opposition from many in the ruling party and a more cautious plan laid out by the foreign ministry in Tokyo.

"An ambition to use the progress in talks with North Korea as leverage to take control of politics after the Upper House election is a reason behind why Koizumi rushed to decide the Japan-North Korea summit," the Mainichi Shimbun said.

Sunday, May 16, 2004


How do I know? I took the following test and passed with flying colors:
In the photo there are 2 identical dolphins. Look at both dolphins
jumping out of the water. A closely monitored, scientific study of a group at St. Mary's Hospital revealed that in spite of the fact that the dolphins are identical, a person under stress would find differences in the two. If there are many differences found in the two dolphins, it means that the person is experiencing a great amount of stress. Look at the photo and if you find more than one or two differences you may need a vacation.

The photo is here.

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