Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Art of Losing

Roger Angell is the best prose writer about baseball. Here he quotes one of Elizabeth Bishop's greatest poems, One Art. Sadly he entirely misses Bishop's irony, the unbearable force driving the poem. Torre has (by the front office's standards anyway) lost and lost for years now, and his mastery of winning was questionable. It seems to me that in walking away from his players and millions more dollars than any other manager makes, and in attacking the team's ownership (and hence the team) in doing so, he has reached the pinnacle of losing.

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Dodd goes from 0 to default in one hold

Dodd insists on no retroactive immunity for the telecoms.

In other news, the Obama campaign is catching up to the late 20th century.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

SCOTUS Declares Bush the Nobel Peace Prize Winner

Shaming Calvin Trillin

In this 2004 verse on the war, Calvin Trillin provides a good example of what Bob Somerby is talking about in today's version of his eternal refrain: the entire media had it in for Gore. Trillin's first verse starts:
We chose, in this millennium's first test,
Between two lesser heirs, who at their best,
If they'd been born as sons of other pops,
Might hope to be elected sheriff, tops.
(At school, Bush was a dunce, there's no denying.
Young Gore did not stand out--and he was trying.
A frat-house honcho, Bush reprised that part;
Young Gore portrayed a piece of chain-saw art.

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Monday, October 08, 2007

I reflect that God is just

Just awful:
Last Monday, in terse legalese, the court denied Mr. Williams’s now posthumous request that it consider his case. “The petition,” the docket entry said, “is dismissed as moot.” Moot, in other words, because the petitioner is dead.
Dead because he was executed before his case could be heard.

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Sunday, October 07, 2007

Brad DeLong's intellectual cowardice

From one of my comments in the censored discussion here:

Profesor DeLong, what about Goldberg's argument makes you so emotional that you feel obliged to censor a plain summation of it from someone who (in a censored section above) expressed a lack of interest in the question of W/M's motives? If you're right, then make your case - it shouldn't be hard if the opposing side is obviously wrong. To carry a point you refuse to even begin to argue by censoring any discussion of it is, it seems to me, intellectual cowardice.

One of my censored comments:

Goldberg is probably fairly described by US standards as a centrist on I/P questions, having written a book sympathetic to but critical of both sides. In the essay in question he calls for a fair, well-sourced, reasonable book criticizing AIPAC.

"But in practice they cannot be debated because people who supported them would tend to be labeled antisemitic and their arguments discounted on that basis."

Would you discount an argument on that basis? Would you discount any argument saying something is anti-Semitic because it says that?

The Goldberg argument is basically: the text is fundamentally flawed in logic and evidence and approach, and blames a small set of (in large part) rich or prominent Jews for manipulating the US into a war and causing OBL to attack us, and uses arguments based on e.g. the fact that Howard Dean's wife and kids are Jewish - hence as a fraudulent work unfairly attacking the influence and works of Jews and making arguments based on the identity of Jews, it is anti-Semitic.

In fact it seems to me that some (not the above) of the criticism of those saying the text is anti-Semitic is made to silence any push-back at all.

Anyway I don't find the question of whether the text is or isn't anti-Semitic of much interest compared to the question of whether the thesis is of - I think Dan Drezner said "piss-poor" quality - or whether I have the wrong e.g. 10-parameter model of why we invaded Iraq or why OBL attacked us.

Another (which I failed to copy) noted that I believed we have a lot of data about the reasons for 9/11 and the Iraq invasion - enough to dismiss claims of unitary causes. I should also note that it's too bad that some excellent commentary by Ragout was deleted. His or her principled reaction:
Brad DeLong,

I am not that interested in whether M&W are antisemitic. What I would like you to do is delete the posts where *your* words appear under *my* name.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Psalm 23 and Coolio

Odd juxtaposition - last week there was an article by James Wood in the New Yorker about Robert Alter's new translation of Psalms, with some interesting discussion of the famous 23rd. And this weekend Mrs. R. and I watched an episode of _Angel_ in which there's a snippet of the powerful "Gangster's Paradise" by Coolio (excellent video here). The song starts with the opening line of the 23rd Psalm, but except for the mordant "paradise" (and possibly something of gospel in the mournful chorus), God is conspicuously absent.

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