Friday, October 26, 2007

Where Was That Again?

Until reading Ben McGrath's profile of Scott Boras in the October 29 New Yorker, I had always thought of Saul Steinberg's cartoon map of the world as merely whimsical. Apparently, though, New Yorkers really do have distorted views of the geography of the rest of the world. How else to account for McGrath's descriptions of Stockton, CA, 83 miles away from San Francisco, with Oakland and Mount Diablo between them, as "just outside of San Francisco," and of Boras's headquarters as being "just off the Pacific Coast Highway, in the shadow of John Wayne Airport?" John Wayne airport must cast a long shadow, being no nearer than three miles from the PCH. It's ironic that these descriptions appear in an article that emphasizes Boras's tendency to stretch the truth.

The Patsies

For terrorism to be effective, the terrorist needs a victim willing to be terrorized. Introducing, Fox News and its audience. All it takes to set these people off is a four year old suggestion that terrorists could set forest fires.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Brain Eating Amoeba

You know I love this kind of story; a brain eating amoeba that lives in warm lakes and enters the body through the nose. What's not to like?

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Letting the Terrorists Win

There's nothing in this passage that hasn't been said on the internet and in the alternative press, or in a thousand ball parks and bars in the last six years. I just like the way Gibson says it so colloquially and succinctly here.

From Spook Country, by William Gibson (GP Putnam's Sons, 2007)

"A nation," he heard himself say, "consists of its laws. A nation does not consist of its situation at a given time. If an individual's morals are situational, that individual is without morals. If a nation's laws are situational, that nation has no laws, and soon isn't a nation." He opened his eyes and confirmed Brown there, his partially disassembled pistol in his hand. The cleaning, lubrication, and examination of the gun's inner workings was ritual, conducted every few nights, though as far as Milgrim knew, Brown hadn't fired the gun since they'd been together.

"What did you say?"

"Are you really so scared of terrorists that you'll dismantle the structures that made America what it is?" Milgrim heard himself ask this with a sense of deep wonder. He was saying these things without consciously having thought them, or at least not in such succinct terms, and they seemed inarguable.

"The fuck --?"

"If you are, you let the terrorists win. Because that is exactly, specifically, his goal, his only goal: to frighten you into surrendering the rule of law. That's why they call him 'terrorist.' He uses terrifying threats to induce you to degrade your own society."

Brown opened his mouth. Closed it.

"It's based on the same glitch in human psychology that allows people to believe they can win the lottery. Statistically, almost nobody ever wins the lottery. Statistically, terrorist attacks almost never happen."

Nine years ago, when the global war on terror was just a glean in a neo-con's eye, the Edward Zwick picture, "The Siege," was making much the same point (via Andrew Sullivan).

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