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17 December 1999

He said I have no opinion about this
And I have no opinion about that
-- "Crazy Love, Vol. II", Paul Simon, Graceland

I'm short on time, so very little commentary today, just links keeping up with the news.

Some links were copped from KLBQ ("knobby low boy quarterly") (no idea what that means), a fine young log.

Almost forgot: in case you're interested, tonight (Friday) on ABC's Nightline, Bradley and Gore face off.

  • Playing the Jesus Card by Maureen Dowd [NY Times]
    This is the era of niche marketing, and Jesus is a niche. Why not use the son of God to help the son of Bush appeal to voters? W. is checking Jesus' numbers, and Jesus is polling well in Iowa.

    When you take something deeply personal and parade it for political gain, you are guilty either of cynicism or exhibitionism.

    Genuinely religious people are humbled by religion and are guided by it on the inside. They don't need to wear Jesus on the outside as a designer label.

  • The 'better' home for Elian? by Ellen Goodman [Boston Globe]
    Imagine what would happen in domestic disputes if the best interest of the child were simply to be ''better off,'' if custody were determined on the single basis of the higher standard of living?

    If we turn the custody dispute into a debate about the relative merits of a country, says family law professor Martha Minow, "that's the end of parental prerogative. If that's the right question, we should simply kidnap all the children in Cuba and bring them here."

I don't read Reason magazine; the only issue I've seen was not that reasonable or sensible. (Deceptive name, I'd say.) Even so, Jessamyn's quoted in it and it offers some more inside-Seattle perspectives:
  • The Broken Blue Line: How to start a riot [Reason]
    Of the handful of people arrested for looting, all were Seattle locals and all had criminal records.

    Beware of police preaching crowd control. It seems strange that the police would beat bystanders, lock up journalists, and gas whole neighborhoods, while leaving it to ordinary citizens to prevent vandalism and looting. But it actually makes a perverse sort of sense. The officers were told to guard the convention center and control the crowd, not to protect people and property.

    Beware of boosters chasing cameras. ... "It was complete ego that they brought [the conference] here, the chance to be on the cover of every newspaper as the mayor of the city that was hosting the WTO." By inviting the conference and dismissing the chances of violence, Matthews argues, "the commissioner and the mayor put the citizens at risk to advance their political careers."

What do you do if you're approached by the police? Even if you're an ordinary law-abiding sort, Seattle shows that you can't count on that to keep you out of trouble. The ACLU "Bustcard" gives some helpful guidelines:

  • ACLU Freedom Network: Your Rights and the Police [ACLU]
    Don't resist even if you believe you are innocent.
    Don't complain on the scene or tell the police they're wrong or that you're going to file a complaint.
    Write down everything you remember ASAP.
    If the police knock and ask to enter your home, you don't have to admit them unless they have a warrant signed by a judge.

Mac users rejoice: Finally, finally we get speech-recognition products. Three, in fact! (They require a Beige G3 or newer and plenty of RAM, but that's not surprising.) Dragon and another (I forget) are coming, but the first one is out and getting fairly good marks:

It's under $100, even. Woo hoo!

In other Mac news, O'Reilly is coming out with two MacOS-related books: Mac OS in a Nutshell and Crossing Platforms: A Macintosh/Windows Phrasebook (if you already know one platform, it guides you through learning the other by building on what you already know...there's been a need for this book for years).

Apple has arrived, man.

Garry Trudeau says goodbye to Peanuts:

  • 'I Hate Charlie Brown': An Appreciation [Washington Post]
    "Peanuts" was the first (and still the best) postmodern comic strip. Everything about it was different. The drawing was graphically austere but beautifully nuanced. It was populated with complicated, neurotic characters speaking smart, haiku-perfect dialogue. The stories were interwoven with allusions from religion, classical music, psychiatry and philosophy. And such was Schulz's quiet faith in the power of observational truth, he often passed up punch lines in favor of aphorisms and little throwaway codas - literary devices rarely seen in a gag-oriented medium.

Finally, a bit of local news: Oh, how I wish it were April Fool's Day and these were jokes! But no, these articles are for real:
  • All opposed say 'Neigh' [Riverfront Times]
    Missouri, it turns out, is one of 26 states that do not bar human beings from having intercourse with animals.

    The Alliance for Animal Legislation is talking with state lawmakers about sponsoring a bill that would ban interspecies intercourse, and even though it is not legislation most politicians would vote against, the alliance, as of our deadline, has not pinned down a sponsor. "I wouldn't touch that with a 10-foot pole," one legislator told The Riverfront Times

  • Missouri: Where Men are Men and Sheep are Nervous by Ray Hartmann [Riverfront Times]
    It is not my custom to judge others' sexual orientations and practices, and I've never been accused of being a prude. But I think I've found a place to draw a line in the sand, an issue on which to sign up for a Religious Right-style crusade against indecency: That would be sex with animals.

    Yes, friends, in a state that outlaws as sodomy any consenting sexual activity between people of the same sex -- or, for that matter, oral sex for anyone -- there is no legal prohibition as to what ought to be the crime of bestiality.

    Why even raise such a disgusting subject? Here's why: Missouri has received international publicity, as recently as September and in no less than the Times of London, as a place where "sex with animals is not illegal." ... It seems that there's quite a row in the United Kingdom over a television documentary on something called zoophilia, the sick-and-wrong practice of loving animals in a sexual sense. And in this lovely context, guess who turns out to be the Show-Them State? It's us.

    Almost as incredible as this entire topic is the fact that the humane organizations are having difficulty finding a legislator to correct this absurdity.

This seems like a no-brainer. Pass a law already, eh?

(By the way, who knows where these articles will relocate to after next Wednesday, 12/22; the RFT's archiving and searching system is at best inscrutable, at worst flat-out useless.)

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