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May 2004 Archives

May 1, 2004

Mission Accomplished?


Let's not forget the President's action hero show on the deck of the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln one year ago today.

A picture is worth a thousand words, they say. How's the mission going 365 days later?

May 2, 2004

Competency gap?

In her New York Times column today, Maureen Dowd was right on the money in pointing out the apparent failure of the Bush Administration to grasp the human cost of its Iraq adventure. In addition to their well-documented reluctance to have coffins of the war dead photographed upon arrival in the United States, it now becomes clear that the policy-makers don't seem to have a sense of just how costly this conflict has become:

Asked during a Congressional budget hearing on Thursday how many American troops had been killed in Iraq, [Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul] Wolfowitz missed by more than 30 percent. "It's approximately 500, of which I can get the exact numbers approximately 350 are combat deaths," he said.

As of Thursday, there were 722 deaths, 521 in combat. The No. 2 man at the Pentagon was oblivious in the bloodiest month of the war, with the number of Americans killed in April overtaking those killed in the six-week siege of Baghdad last year.

(For the entire Dowd column, click here.)

Pretty discouraging detachment from reality for someone who was perhaps the prime architect of the Iraq war.

May 3, 2004


My 2 worth: you won't find better political commentary than Tom Tomorrow's weekly offering, This Modern World, which can be read online here. It's topical, scathing, and extraordinarily witty. New cartoons appear each Monday on the Salon.com web site.

May 4, 2004

Inspired amateur disc jockeys, rejoice!

Apple's recent iTunes upgrade (version 4.5) has the nifty feature of being able to "publish" your favorite music playlists for other users to peruse. Click here for details. The caveat is that the songs on your playlist have to be drawn from the iTunes Music Store catalogue, but with over 700,000 downloadable choices, assembling that perfect iMix can't be too hard.

May 6, 2004

Catholic politicians

Some conservative Catholic activists have been pushing the Church to deny the sacraments to (Democractic) candidates who favor abortion rights. Some of their bishops have jumped on board this train. In fact, today's papers report that New Jersey governor Jim McGreevey, a regular churchgoer, will forgo Communion to comply with the wishes of the Bishop of Newark.

What's disturbing about this is the selective manner in which Church teachings are being used to put Democratic political figures in the crosshairs. Will the same conservative bishops and laity apply pressure for supporters of the death penalty--the existence of which is clearly at odds with the Church's position--to be denied Communion? The Vatican also has condemned the war in Iraq; will (Republican) lawmakers who are Catholic find themselves pressured to reconcile their public position on the war with their status as Catholics in good standing?

It seems to me you can't have it both ways: if forces within the Church want to play politics with the sacraments, they ought to do so consistently, not just with those issues that dovetail with the conservative agenda.

May 7, 2004

Heads oughtta roll

This sickening business involving the humiliating and dehumanizing treatment of prisoners in Iraq is a black eye on our country. (The gruesome details are documented here.)

These events--to say nothing of recording them photographically--represent an appaling lack of discipline on the part of at least some of our troops, casting a pall over the mostly honorable and dedicated men and women who fill the ranks of our armed forces.

Adding insult to injury is the stink of cover-up in the wake of the horrors committed on the Iraqi prisoners.

I am glad our president formally apologized for what happened. But there needs to be swift justice dealt to the offenders and to those responsible for their conduct up the chain of command. Our foreign policy has been seriously undermined and our national reputation has sunk to new lows in a part of the world where we cannot afford any more enemies.

What were they thinking?

May 9, 2004

It must be all those pills

Rush Limbaugh must be in the running for Moron of the Month. Here--verbatim--are his remarks on the treatment of Iraqi detainees:

"All right, so we're at war with these people. And they're in a prison where they're being softened up for interrogation. And we hear that the most humiliating thing you can do is make one Arab male disrobe in front of another. Sounds to me like it's pretty thoughtful. Sounds to me in the context of war this is pretty good intimidation -- and especially if you put a woman in front of them and then spread those pictures around the Arab world. And we're sitting here, 'Oh my God, they're gonna hate us! Oh no! What are they gonna think of us?' I think maybe the other perspective needs to be at least considered. Maybe they're gonna think we are serious. Maybe they're gonna think we mean it this time. Maybe they're gonna think we're not gonna kowtow to them. Maybe the people who ordered this are pretty smart. Maybe the people who executed this pulled off a brilliant maneuver." (Thanks to the excellent War Room '04 column over at Salon.com for this gem)

I couldn't make up stuff like this. Who listens to this guy?

Another argument for Macs

Read this review of a new product upgrade for the Mac OS that will make Windows users green with envy. The unlikely source of this software suite? None other than Microsoft!

May 10, 2004

Keeping up with the Joneses

The Information Superhighway has given us a nifty way to see which presidential candidates have garnered financial support from people you know. It is, after all, a matter of public record! Click here to check out your friends and neighbors.

May 17, 2004

I'm back

Last week was not a good one for blogging, what with preparations for the New England tennis tournament, Alumni Weekend at Choate, and the general chaos of boarding school life. I'll be better this week.

This says it better than I could have

From "The War Room" column on Salon.com today:

Bush celebrates Brown vs. Board

From the Associated Press:

"President Bush on Monday renewed his call for Congress to pass a constitutional amendment banning gay marriages. On the same day that Massachusetts began issuing licenses to gay couples, Bush said in a statement, 'The sacred institution of marriage should not be redefined by a few activist judges.' In the statement, read aboard Air Force One by White House press secretary Scott McClellan while traveling to Topeka, Kan., Bush said that 'all Americans have a right to be heard in this debate.'"

The reason Bush went to Topeka today was to mark the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling that ended racial segregation in schools. Good to know the president celebrated the end of one form of discrimination by calling for yet another form of discrimination to be enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.

-- Geraldine Sealey


Tilting at windmills

Though most Americans probably have no idea, Dennis Kucinich is still on the campaign trail for the Democratic nomination. This sort of spirit is refreshing--if perhaps a little bit out there. Check it out here.

May 19, 2004

Food for thought

Viewing this site is both enlightening and scary. Partially hydrogenated oils--a.k.a. "trans fats"--are among the very worst things you can put into your body. And yet they are ubiquitous in the American diet. Fortunately, the tide is turning, as labeling is beginning to reflect trans fat content in food and manufacturers of processed foods and restaurants are exploring healthier alternatives.

May 21, 2004

Highway robbery

Just paid $2.10 a gallon for regular gas when I fueled up my (gas-guzzling) Ford Explorer. Not a lot of fun.

It will be interesting to see what effect sustained high gasoline prices might have on the presidential election unfolding in the months to come.

Of course, it seems the "blue states" (e.g., California and the Northeast) are bearing the heaviest burden of the high prices.

May 24, 2004

Okay, time for the state map

A few weeks back, I did the world map. Here is the "states visited" map. The sections of the U.S. map above that are in red indicate the states that I have been to at some point in my life.

Make your own map of your travels by clicking here. You can make a map of countries in the world that you've visited, as well.

May 27, 2004

"Never have so many people written so much to be read by so few"

Good piece on blogging in the "Circuits" section of today's New York Times. (Click here to read it.)

As I've been thinking about the function of this corner of cyberspace--and about blogging in general--it's increasingly clear that this isn't really broadcasting at all; it's narrowcasting. The very technology that empowers so many of us to air our thoughts, our whims, our primal screams, or whatever, has thoroughly fragmented the marketplace of ideas. There are so many voices in print, on the airwaves, and on the Internet, demanding our attention, that we tend to focus only on a handful of "reliable sources" in the course of our busy days. People's appetite for news and opinion thus tends to drift toward vehicles that are comfortable and familiar: conservatives tune in to Rush Limbaugh and Fox News, just as liberals prefer NPR and the Times' Op-Ed page. And so the national dailogue becomes more shrill, more partisan, and less engaging in an America divided into "red" and "blue" camps. In many ways, we are better served than we were the days in which we all got our take on the world from Walter Cronkite's evening broadcast; but on the other hand, we've lost something precious: a common vocabulary with which to discuss the issues of the day.

It's the same in popular music. One can make a compelling case that the old system of recording contracts was exploitative and crassly commercial. But the advent of downloading music has turned the industry on its head precisely due to fragmentation of the marketplace: a listener can zero in on exactly the artist, the very song, he knows he already likes. Without the investment by record companies in building the reputations of new artists, common tastes are harder to develop. So everyone gets just what he or she wants to listen to, but the role of music in forming the glue of community is diminished in the process.

May 30, 2004

Beautiful day . . .

The sky is clear and the sun is shining. Hard to sit in front of a computer screen indoors today. A week to go in the school year!

May 31, 2004

Memorial Day

Today is one of my favorite holidays (Thanksgiving is the other one). In part this is because it's traditionally regarded as the beginning of summer. And I have fond memories of the small town parades of my childhood. But I also like what the day represents: we citizens are asked to consider notions of duty, sacrifice, and love of country in an era when such ideas may be out of fashion. (Plus there's no expectation of having to buy gifts!)

About May 2004

This page contains all entries posted to As Far As You Know in May 2004. They are listed from oldest to newest.

April 2004 is the previous archive.

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Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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