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24 July 2000

Something's waiting
Down a mugger's alley
To see what's on my mind

Take a deep breath
Start walking faster
It's dark but I'm not blind.
-- "Only the Future", Joe Jackson, Night Music, 1994

Lewis Carroll on the Internet:

'Twas, and the
  Did and in the
All were the,
  And the

", my son!..."

(See the complete poem, with illustration) is domain-squatting on several of the unused .com, .net and .org variants. I can't decide how annoying that is. Maybe only a little.

I'm surprised nobody's put anything useful at a gimble.___ address. Maybe it could be an open-source project's name or something (like, and are registered, but don't have any associated web page. Humph. seems like an excellent (and available) domain for something, but I don't know what. Many Os, Rs and Gs.

For fans of The West Wing, TV Guide had a cover story on them last week. I peeked at the magazine in the store, but decided I'd rather save the buck and go read it on their site instead. Maybe they got a few cents out of the banner ads they showed that I didn't pay attention to.

  • House Call [TV Guide]
    When Aaron Sorkin, the creator of The West Wing, visited the Oval Office, he ended up getting a mini-tour of the White House from National Security Adviser Sandy Berger. "[And] he's telling me he's upset because there is no national security adviser on the show," Sorkin says. Later, Albright scolded Sorkin -- she wants a woman secretary of state added to the cast. "I'm a writer; I'm used to arguing with network brass, so there was a half-second impulse to argue," says Sorkin, "but then I just went 'Yes, ma'am. I'll take care of that, ma'am.' And then I sat back and realized I was chewed out by the national security adviser and the secretary of state. All in the same day."

There were several sidebars and photos in the print version that don't seem to be online. Oh well. I'm happy with the free version; too bad for them.

This seems like a pretty good idea, but I wonder about how easily it can be enforced:

  • House looks to quash spam [USA Today]
    The legislation, which passed 427-1 ... requires those sending unsolicited commercial electronic (UCE) mail messages to provide a valid return electronic mail address so recipients can serve notice that they want to be taken off the mailing list.

    The single no vote was cast by Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas.

    The bill number is H.R. 3113

It was quite helpful that USA Today included the House Resolution number... here's the version of the bill that was referred to the Senate.

I visited the Lincoln Memorial recently and was very impressed by the 'other' inscribed speech, his Second Inaugural Address. There's some fine prose in there. Try to imagine the first paragraph out of any modern nitwit liar Presidential candidate's mouth.

  • Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address [National Park Service]
    Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with, or even before, the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invoked His aid against the other.

Lincoln was shot twenty-eight days after giving the speech.

Back in 2000, see some excerpts from recent stump speeches by Bush and Gore:

  • On the Stump - July 20, 2000 [Online NewsHour]
    [B] I think the fact that I have come from outside of Washington, DC, gives me a positive perspective about the role of the federal government and the state government, and that's an incredibly important perspective to have.

    [G] I want to be elected President to fight for the working families of this country, for your future, for your communities.

I don't get Gore's continual emphasis on doing things for "working" families. Is Gore going to ignore "non-working" families? And how does he define the term? What about single people?

I think it's just a noise word we're supposed to feel vaguely favorable toward. Like much of both men's output.

Joel Spolsky deconstructs Microsoft's .NET white paper:

  • Microsoft Goes Bonkers [Joel on Software]
    This stuff is so abstract it's impossible to criticize. Who doesn't want an operating system that supports productivity? Great feature! Get me one of those spiffy new operating systems with the productivity feature!

    It almost seems as if Microsoft .NET doesn't fill a single customer need, it only fills Microsoft's need to find something for 10,000 programmers to do for the next 10 years. We all know it's been a long time since they've thought of a new word processing feature that anybody needs, so what are all those programmers going to do?

Tell it, man...

Michael Moore on the presidential race:

  • Bush and Gore Make Me Wanna Ralph [Michael Moore]
    You wanna tell me there's a choice here between two guys who both support NAFTA, WTO, the death penalty, the Cuban embargo, increased Pentagon spending, sleazy HMOs, greedy hospital chains, 250 million guns in our homes, more bombing of Iraq, the rich getting richer and the rest of us declaring bankruptcy?

    ... before you all send me a lot of mail about how weird Ralph is 'cause he doesn't own a car or is a "sell-out" 'cause he's got a few million dollars, let me say this: I used to work out of his office, and Ralph is definitely one of a kind. In a future letter I will write of those experiences but, for now, let's just agree that Ralph is at least half as crazy as Jesse Ventura - and about a hundred times as smart. I'd say he's also saved about a million or so lives, thanks to the consumer and environmental legislation he has devoted his life to.

I don't agree with all of Moore's positions (or Nader's), but, well, his title says it for me.

More Moore, this time on the Supreme Court argument:

  • Ain't Fallin' For That One Again [Grassroots]
    Terrorism has scored its first victory on U.S. soil by assassinating enough doctors and firebombing enough clinics so that no one wants to perform an abortion. So if you live in one of the 86% of counties where not a single doctor will do an abortion, let me ask you this: what good is a "right" to an abortion if you can't get one?

    I will go so far as to say that George W. Bush, if for some reason he is magically elected, will NEVER do ANYTHING to make abortion illegal. ... For crying out loud, if 70% of the country favors legal abortion, trust me, that party boy is NEVER going to cook his goose on this issue. ... He already has the majority of women supporting him in the polls, in part because a lot of women are confident he will not upset this apple cart.

    The New York Times two weeks ago did a study of Bush's court appointees in Texas and found that he did NOT appoint right-wing crazies, but rather moderates or moderate conservatives who have upheld legal abortion in Texas and struck down some cases that tried to put restrictions on a woman's right to choose.

John B. Anderson (independent Presidential candidate in 1980) on Ralph Nader:
  • Ralph Nader Is a Reformer, Not a Spoiler []
    My counterargument, based on the advice of Erasmus, was simply this: When confronted with a choice between two evils, do not choose. I felt that a systemic problem in our political process could only be addressed by taking a new direction.

    Call it the third way. The electoral system monopolized and controlled by the two majority parties was then, and continues to be, irretrievably broken. More important, the two-party system is not constitutionally ordained.

    The "domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge natural to party dissension," [George Washington] said, "is in itself a frightful despotism."

    Yes, it is unlikely that Mr. Nader will become president. But why shouldn't his views be heard? Mr. Nader advances issues that the major parties are unwilling to even broach.

From Robot Wisdom, a nice review of Harry Potter 4 (including some theorizing about why the series is such a hit) from somebody who knows a bit about writing.

  • Wild About Harry by Stephen King [New York Times]
    Harry is the kid most children feel themselves to be, adrift in a world of unimaginative and often unpleasant adults ... who neither understand them nor care to. Harry is, in fact, a male Cinderella, waiting for someone to invite him to the ball.

Also from Robot Wisdom, a long, interesting review of different accounts of the lives of the Marx Brothers:

  • The Triumph of Marxism by Geoffrey O'Brien [NY Review of Books]
    The Marx Brothers create a world because they have no other choice. They start from no plan or idea but proceed by groping and trying out, grabbing at any material that offers itself.

    For a long time Groucho's persona was a comic German, until the sinking of the Lusitania made Germans less than comic. The German bits became Yiddish bits, until these were sloughed off in turn and he made the crucial transition into a character not dependent on dialect. (Chico, on the other hand, stuck with his Italian persona to the bitter end.) It took years, likewise, for Harpo to understand that he had no gift for verbal comedy and remake himself as a silent clown.

    The Marx Brothers were not interested in eliciting sympathy. Even the sentimental trappings of the later films -- where the brothers figure as benign eccentrics rescuing star-crossed lovers, and the infantile ecstasies of Harpo assume an ever more self-consciously beatific aura -- cannot altogether conceal a persistent kernel of exhilarating heartlessness. Not malice: simply comedy in its most cold-eyed state.

    His routines remain an unsurpassed compendium of parodistic possibilities, shifting as quickly as the inflections of Groucho's voice and body language: mock-grief, mock-terror, mock- piety, mock-sternness, mock-bonhomie, the ten thousand shadings of unctuousness and inane good cheer. The speed of reception is taken for granted...

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-- They Might Be Giants

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