31 August 2002


The last four places i lived are (not in order) 27 William St. (this summer), Randolph Hall (sophomore and junior years), 1930 Hearst Ave (here in Berkeley), and Senior house (senior year).

Incidentally William Randolph Hearst Sr. also paid for the lampoon building, the inside of which I still have never seen despite living next to it for three years.
The baseball season may continue, but the year's most interesting story is over. Today Curt Schilling walked 4 batters in a 5-0 loss giving him 21 wins and 27 walks and virtually ending his unprecedented bid to have more wins than walks in a season. Prior to this past week he had 21 wins and 21 walks in 27 games started. Suddenly two games later he still has 21 wins but now has 27 walks.
Although the vast majority of our hits still come via Matt Yglesias, it appears we have reappeared on google. So what searches turn up this site?

Mantis Determine Sex
screems de harry potter
cutting down on masterbation
banished erotic euro movies

Best of all: "perfect mix tape for a girl", although we don't still appear on that search.

And believe it or not, someone went through 29 pages of links on "Citrus County" to find a link to our site. What is this person doing with their time??

Furthermore these google hits have come from as far as russia and japan. It really makes one wonder at how many google searches there are in a day.

30 August 2002

No strike! No strike! Go Twins!

I moved my sister in to college yesterday. This was a weird experience. Then I went to a bar in Philadelphia with Meyeon and about 30 Penn med students. Also a weird experience.

Alec, does your news by any chance have to do with a letter from -----?

28 August 2002

Speaking of punctuation marks in the large stream of money....

On Tuesday I'm starting work on Wall Street. Details to follow.

25 August 2002

Quote of the day:

"The people are just punctuation marks in the large stream of money"
--david speyer explaining the answer to a combinatorics problem involving successive people betting moneey

Life here is good. Moving in everything went fine, and we now have a furnished room. Having a bed is great. Internet next week, and i'll start posting again more often. Classes start tommorow so I'll have more stories... If only my intro German teacher turns out to be another Julie... Life here is also very nerdy, we spend much of the day talking about math and have started a tradition where the last person to sleep has to leave a problem on the white board for the first person to wake up.

24 August 2002

Is there anybody...out there?

I guess this really is "Life without ethernet connections."

Pixar did it again...Monsters Inc. is really clever and well worth seeing. Though this is probably old news to most readers of this page.

21 August 2002

Various reactions to my car:

My aunt: "It's adorable!"
My sister: "It's really ugly."
My dad: "Wow."
My step-sister (who may have to drive it to school): "Oh my god."
My grandfather: "What's this stuff?" (It's called rust.)

I'm at my dad's now, where there is both ethernet and a freshly tuned piano. What more could one want?

20 August 2002

Now for some stories about Citrus County...

(Bessie wrote me and asked if my county of residence is actually called Cirtus County. Yes, it is.)

Interesting story number one: I live a few blocks away from the house where Ted Williams spent his last days. The court battle over his remains is happening here, which means we still get daily updates in the paper (not much has happened). My polling precinct (I registered to vote in Florida) is the Ted Williams Museum and Hitter's Hall of Fame. I'm planning to take a walk around the museum for free after voting on Sept. 10. It's unconstitutional to charge a poll tax, right? The funny thing about Ted Williams living here is that the locals have a very different perspective on the matter. It seems, for one, that he wasn't particularly well-liked by his neighbors. The development where I live, Citrus Hills, paid Williams to come live here and be a sponsor, so it wasn't like he was a normal resident. I asked one of my co-workers what everyone thought about the Ted Williams controversy, and she started talking about some post office. When I expressed confusion, she said she thought I was refering to the controversy around renaming a post office after Ted Williams (I guess a lot of people objected so the idea got put on hold). When I said no, I'm actually interested in the controversy that people elsewhere in the country are interested in, she just said, "Oh, the freezing thing? That's sick."

This weekend I got to participate in a charity bowling tournament on a team that my Congresswoman had sponsored. I had never seen a bowling tournament before so I didn't know what to expect. Before the thing started, the announcer came up to our team and told us that a lot of people wanted to meet the congresswoman so we would be introduced to the crowd. We were shepherded into the bar where we waited to be announced. The only other people in there with us were...the five pro bowlers who had come out to participate in the tournament as an outreach thing! We sort of looked at each other, both groups wondering why we had been thrown together, but we started talking and the bowlers were actually very nice. Then we all got announced and we went out and bowled. Our team avoided getting the trophy for worst score and no one got hurt, so it was a successful day.

Tonight, for all you country fans out there, we're having a fundraising concert with the Bellamy Brothers (no, I didn't know who they were either). I hope you bring your dancing boots! I've been put in charge of parking, so I might have some fun with traffic patterns.

I'm also trying to purchase cassettes for my car, which has a tape deck. So far I haven't seen any music stores and Wal-Mart has a great selection if you want George Jones or Lynyrd Skynard (sp??) greatest hits.

Coming soon: the wacky foibles of our school board candidates...

19 August 2002

Hey folks, I'm back. I made it from Baltimore to Minneapolis (1200 miles) with little incident other than forgetting my lunch at Noah's house and having my muffler almost fall off. But Noah's dad secured it to the chassis with coat hangers, and it was all ok. I attended Beatlefest in Chicago yesterday, which was quite an event. They had movies, memorabilia, t-shirts, and the Battle of the Beatle Bands (most of them were very bad). My favorite part, though, was sitting under the stairs with three guys with guitars and maybe 30 other fans in various states of drunkenness (I wasn't) all singing along to whatever song people wanted to hear.

I arrived home to find my sister packing up for college...she goes off next week, with me accompanying her. So tomorrow I get to spend hauling boxes to UPS.

My mom just got home, so I should go. More later perhaps.

18 August 2002

This is just a random comment, but 2002 is shaping up to be a great year for movies. Admittedly, we've only had a couple of standout films so far this year (Minority Report being the most obvious), but the upcoming release schedule is so rich that even if half of them hit the mark, we're talking about a real bouquet of goodies. I have a theory that a Star Wars film, even if it isn't all that good, has a sort of gravitational pull that draws great movies into its immediate orbit, just like The Phantom Menace did three years ago. Just look at this roster (ranked roughly by my own level of anxious anticipation): Gangs of New York, Punch-Drunk Love, Catch Me If You Can, Adaptation, Solaris, Frida, Red Dragon, 8 Mile, etc., not to mention wild cards like Chicago, Jonathan Demme's Charade remake The Truth About Charlie and George Clooney and Charlie Kaufman's Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, as well as high profile sequels like The Chamber of Secrets and Die Another Day.

Oh yes, and The Two Towers. God, I wish I were still a film critic....
For some reason, the new version of Netscape won't display the text of Deadly Mantis, although I can still read the most recent entries while in editing mode in Blogger. Alas, this meant that I missed Noah's entry on paternal annullment, although judging from the reaction, he seems to make an interesting point. I'll try to figure out why Netscape is being uncooperative, and hopefully get back to you about it later.
Back to paternal nullification...

Someone agrees with me. Best quote:

I will say that this guy is absolutely wrong about not proof-reading his entries or using a spell-checker, but as for substance, I think he's spot on.

Gulity as charged... (where's those irony tags?)

Its a combination of two things, the fact that I could never write without lots of errors anyway, and the fact that I've gotten so used to a spellchecker and blogger non-pro doesn't have one... Anyway, as a math graduate student I feel that not being able to spell or type without numerous typos represents in this medium the necessary absentmindedness needed to play this part. (Speaking of playing the part of a math graduate student, the other evening I was playing Go in a cofee shop...) I guess I don't take my blogging seriously enough to run it through a spellchecker... When we come down to it, I guess its just laziness.

But I'm glad to see someone agrees with the substance. Someone else still doesn't. I'd like to respond to one of the points made in that post:

We don't make sperm donors pay because there was a prior agreement not to. And frankly, there's not much difference between procreative and non-procreative sex. Intentions are difficult to determine, and accidents do happen. Bright line rules work best.

I worry about heading in this direction. Alec, if you ever write a futuristic dystopia screenplay (I think this is probably more of a when than an if), include the following idea. Before sex people a character pulls out a stack of forms saying the following:

I (name of sexual partner) being of right mind, free from the influence of drugs or alcohol, and under no coercion agree to engage in sexual relations including intercourse with (name) on (date) between the hours of (hour) and (hour). I certify that to the best of my knowledge I carry no sexually transmitted diseases and I have been tested within the past (number) months for such diseases. I acknowledge that the purpose of this intercourse is solely for pleasure and in the case of birth control failure I release (name) from any obligation to raise or financially care for any child which results from this intercourse.

Possibly with some more clauses: be creative.

I first had this idea when I was thinking about the issue of sex with someone under the influence of alcohol being considered rape by Harvard. This is even true if one plans on having sex anyway without getting drunk, in which case its clearly not coercive. Solution? Simply sign a contract consenting before getting drunk.

Somehow I really hope this isn't a road we go down as a society. However, would such a contract satisfy Win Fitzpatrick?

(Both of these posts via comments on Matt's page.)

17 August 2002

And frankly, I'd love to see Noah's top 10 list of conversations he wishes he had on tape, although I presume it'd be too personal to post.
This is a fascinating site, courtesy of Fark: Clear Channel College Entertainment. It lists the availability and price of musical artists for performance at your local college, ranging from about $5,000 for Vanilla Ice to a hefty $200,000 for Creed. The best bargains I saw were definitely Suzanne Vega for $10,000 and Aimee Mann for $15,000. By means of comparison, Carrot Top goes for $30,000. There's something seriously wrong with this world of ours....
Speaking of blank tapes...

Today, with the job search in New York not going quite according to plan, I auditioned to become a teacher with Kaplan. As part of the audition process, I had to come up with a five-minute "how-to" speech on a non-academic subject, prepared beforehand. My topic was "How to make the perfect mix tape." I think it was probably the best talk of the day, and while I didn't have time to go over more than the basics, I think they appreciated my adaptation of the Aristotelian plot pyramid (exposition, inciting incident, rising action, climax, and falling action) to describe the structure of an ideal mix tape. Or maybe it was just my high test scores that did the trick.

So yeah. I might end up teaching the SAT part-time for Kaplan. Stay tuned for details...

16 August 2002

I think I'll have to incorporate Matt Yglesias's "Irony Tags" (see this indy article) into my dream IM program (which currently mostly involves adding a little sheep for when one feels sheepish, and a blushing but smiling face, as well as a few other things I don't remember now).

The only question here is what should the irony tags look like?
I find Sarah Hatter's blog fascinating, just because there's something about her personality, at least in writing, which is exactly what the part of me formed during my highschool years likes in people. So reading her weblog always combines nostalgia and fascination. This entry in particular is one of those ones that makes me desperately want to have known this girl 5 years ago.

Several of my friends were going to this guys birthday party and we weren't sure what to get. It was the day before the party and I wasn't particularly good friends with this guy, he was just in my social group. Anyway, four of us were at border's trying to find something to get, and one of us joked "let's get him these blank tapes." Somehow this resulted in us staying up till the wee hours of the morning in Ben's basement recording our conversations and anything we chose to speak onto the tape which then became a present.

I wish I still had a copy of that tape...

I want to make a top 10 list of conversations I've had in my life which I wish I had on tape... However, no one but me would appreciate it, so I won't post it here...
Today is a very happy day. The King's management finally signed basketball hero, Mike "I got quintuple teamed by the Lakers in OT of game 7" Bibby for 7 years.

Now I just need to track down Chris and figure out the terms of our bet on the Lakers vs. the Kings next year. I'm going to get him to pay for some Kings tickets for me...

15 August 2002

Here's a great article on one of the few ways one can actually make money with mathematics.
Since we got our first blogosphere link from a blog which I do not read regularly, I think I owe a response.

Win Fitzpatrick of Homeobox responded (in this post) rather negatively to my post on paternal nullification (as did all of the commenters on Matthew Yglesias, despite Matthew's generally positive response (Matthew? Matt? Yglesias? I'm still not comfortable reading posts which refer to me as "Snyder"). So I figured I'd clarify the argument for paternity annulment, since my original post was rather cursory.

The argument is not that men have exactly as much of a right to annul paternity as women do to an abortion. The argument is that every argument for abortion has a analogue (albeit sometimes weeker) which argues for paternalt annulment. I'm not claiming that a right to control your bank account is equivalent to a right to control your own body, but that doesn't mean we don't have some right to control our bank accounts.

The question at hand here is why is it reasonable to force a man to pay for the rest of his life for a child which he did not want to have. If you argue that by choosing to have sex he has agreed to live with the consequences, then you are on slippery ground because you could make the same argument that a woman agrees to part with certain rights to control her own body when she chooses to have sex. Perhaps the argument for men is weeker, but that doesn't make it incorrect.

We don't make sperm donors pay child support, why should we make a man pay child support when he thought he was engaging in non-procreative sex?

If sex does not commit a woman to bear a child this produces, then why does it commit a man to pay for the child this produces? (Notice I am not saying that bearing a child is the equiavlent of paying for a child, only that the act which produces the commitment is the same.)

I'm not saying that you can't come up with a good answer to that question, only that it is very difficult to come up with a good answer to that question which does not also give a decent argument against abortion.

I wish I could find a link to the article which made this argument originally, it was quite a brilliant article, and I don't want to pass off these arguments as if they were my own.

13 August 2002

I think Dave will appreciate this column on Delaware.
I don't think I've ever agreed more completely with a post on any weblog than I agree with this post by Matthew Yglesias.
I'm in berkeley, its august and I'm wearing pants... The blank appartment with no furniture is depressing, as is the knowing almost no one in the city, but i'm sure things will improve at this point...

There's a post by Michelle Boardman of the Volokh Conspiracy about a wonderful example of the funny logic one can go through in concluding what God's will is from your circumstances.

So the only movies on Nat, Alec, and my movie lists were L.A. Confidential and Casablanca. Not a bad pair at all... I was surprised Nat didn't mention God of Gamblers or Being John Malkovich.

That's all for now... More updates when more has happened beyond sleeping on a too thin air mattress which my mom used while missionary slumming in Belize this summer.

12 August 2002

Nat gets a 5.

Cambridge decided to give me housing today. This is nice. Unfortunately, they won't tell me when I'm supposed to get there.
Hey y'all, I'm back. And yes, I'm saying things like "y'all" and "yes ma'am" because that's the way they do things down here. Where's down here? Inverness, Florida. We're somewhere between Gainesville and Tampa, about an hour from each and an hour from Orlando to boot. The major cash crop in the area is old people. I've got plenty of great stories but not much time on the internet because my only connection is at work and I'm a busy kid. So, all I'm doing today is my top ten list:

1. Casablanca
2. Saving Private Ryan
3. L.A. Confidential
4. Rocky
5. Silence of the Lambs
6. UHF
7. American Beauty
8. This is Spinal Tap
9. A Day at the Races
10. Hoosiers

I would do a nice honorable mention list but it would go on too long so I'm just going to mention Judgement Night, Commando, and 8 Heads in a Dufflebag as movies I wanted to include.

That's all for now, stay tuned for Nat's wacky adventures, broadcasting out of Citrus County.

10 August 2002

One of baseball's not so famous records of mass managerial panic was just beaten. Bonds has been intentionally walked 46 times this season.

Seeing the Orioles-Twins game at Camden Yards last week with Dave and my family made me miss Red Sox baseball. Don't get me wrong, Camden was great (I highly recommend the cheep seats under the scoreboard, only $13, but really quite close to the field) and it was a fun game... But there's nothing quite like a stadium full of people chanting "Yankees Suck" when the Yankees aren't even there...

Why do I bring this up? Pedro Martinez is currently working on a 31 inning scoreless streak. That's right, more than three complete games worth of pitching with no runs given up. Its great to see God's gift to baseball healthy again.
Off the subject of movies, Indepundit has linked to the post with the letter from Dr. Omeish, but it is buried deep within a long rant attacking Dr. Omeish. This seems to make exactly the point which was made by the blog Uncertainty Principles in this post where the author of the blog says,

the inevitable correction will be less "newsworthy" than the initial screaming allegations. "Georgia Democrat Cleared of All Charges" will be in small type below the fold, and the finest hackers in the world would be unable to make such a link appear on InstaPundit or "Best of the Web," while the original loathsome smear will linger forever.

The posts in Uncertainty Principles go much too far in attacking people for rasing some very fascinating and important questions and that the author of Uncertainty Principle far too quickly indulges in ridicule and ad homeinem attacks. However, the point that the retraction is less newsworthy than the story is worth remembering.

(Full disclosure (because I find disclosures so amusing): The fact that this news is not given a high profile in Indepundit results in less trafic being sent to this site.)
So I've seen 4.5 on Alec's list, and 8.5 on Noah's (I fell asleep halfway through Vertigo.) The Fugitive and Toy Story 2 are both infinitudes better than Being John Malkovich.

Nat, come back!

09 August 2002

I still haven't seen enough films to feel like I can make a legitimate top 10 films list... But since today is the day for them, I figured I'd give it a try:

1. High Fidelity
2. Vertigo
3. The Silence of the Lambs
4. Dead Poet's Society
5. The Wall
6. L.A. Confidential
7. Casablanca
8. Say Anything
9. Memento
10. Being John Malkovich

Right now I think 11 would be The Fugitive, although its always tough to leave Toy Story 2 off a list like that... I hope Nat finds a connection soon so that I can stop feeling guilty about passing up The God of Gamblers. I figure Citizen Kane and the Godfathers have had enough ego boosts that they can live through getting slighted...
Here's some more details about the donations to Representative McKinney. (For my earlier post follow this link.) The American Muslim Foundation donated $2,500 on "sept. 11th" according to Indepundit, reported here and here. I figured there's no reason bloggers can't do their own original reporting, so I emailed the AMF and asked them about their donation and what prompted it. (I actually said "In particular I am interested in following the increase of political donations on and immediately following Sept. 11th 2001. I am writing you because the President and Vice-President of the AMF both made significant contributions to political campaigns that week and I was hoping to get a better idea of how this tragedy personally
prompted members of your organization to a stronger civic commitment.")

The Vice President of the AMF responded to say:

Thank you for writing ..

The donation was made on Friday, Sept 7th, 2001 and the office of the
Congresswoman filled their disclosures on the following week ... which
happens to be the unfortunate day of Sept 11.

I hope that answers your question.

Dr. Mohamed S. Omeish

As reported earlier in the blogosphere such misdating is technically illegal, however, I suspect it is rather standard practice and I tend to believe the explanation given in this email.
And of course, I couldn't let today go by without posting a list of my own ten favorite movies:

1. Blue Velvet (d. David Lynch)
2. Chungking Express (d. Wong Kar-Wai)
3. The Third Man (d. Carol Reed)
4. The Red Shoes (d. The Archers)
5. Vertigo (d. Alfred Hitchcock)
6. Eyes Wide Shut (d. Stanley Kubrick)
7. Casablanca (d. Michael Curtiz)
8. Citizen Kane (d. Orson Welles)
9. L.A. Confidential (d. Curtis Hanson)
10. The Last Temptation of Christ (d. Martin Scorsese)

And my greatest shame as a critic and human being is that I still haven't seen The Rules of the Game. I should do something about that.
Forget the AFI List, this is the real deal: the Sight and Sound critics' poll of the greatest movies of all time has been announced. This poll is conducted once every decade, and it's usually considered the gold standard of movie lists. This is the one that matters. I'm especially excited about it because the list has been a milestone for me in many ways: it was reading an article about Roger Ebert about the Sight and Sound poll when I was about seven years old that really started me thinking about movies, canons, and all sort of issues, so the announcement of this decade's list has sentimental significance for me in more ways than one. I'm also slightly disappointed that I'll have to wait another ten years for the possibility of participating in the next poll, either as a writer or director....

Without further ado, the critics' top ten are:

1. Citizen Kane
2. Vertigo
3. The Rules of the Game
4. The Godfather I and II
5. Tokyo Story
6. 2001: A Space Odyssey
7. (tie) Battleship Potemkin
7. (tie) Sunrise
9. 8 1/2
10. Singin' in the Rain

On the official Sight and Sound site, you can also see the directors' top ten, and perhaps best of all, the individual top ten lists of 144 critics and directors, including Cameron Crowe, Sam Mendes, Quentin Tarantino, etc., which is fascinating stuff.

(Typo fixed, NJS)

08 August 2002

Dahlia Lithwick has an article on abortion and father's rights which oddly enough never mentions the obvious solution to this problem: make a legal procedure for men to go through which will annull paternity. There was a great article on this idea a year or two ago in some major publication, but I've forgotten where it is and couldn't find the link through google. The basic idea of the article was that men shouldn't be forced to be father's against their will even if they want to still have sex, and thus there should be a simple legal procedure to annul paternity which takes place in the same time period as abortions. Furthermore to level the playing field you'd have to get this done at a place which also offered abortions. Most of the article consisted of repeating pro-choice arguments with woman replaced with man and medical replaced with legal.

It is kind of odd that women can have sex without having to be responsible for a child for the rest of her life, while men can be forced to provide for this child.
Apparently some mathematicians/computer scientists in India have discovered a polynomial time algorithm for primality testing. This was reported at slashdot a few days ago but I usually doubt slashdot when it comes to math reporting. Anyway the New York Times picked up the story today and quote an MIT prof. who read the paper and so its likely to be actually correct. The link for the paper is at this site, but I haven't read it yet.

So what does this program actually do and why does it matter? Well it checks whether a given number n is prime or not. This in and of itself is not surprising, the simplest way to go about doing this would be to take every number from 1 to the square root of n and check and see if any divide n. Methods like this are way too slow. The method given in this paper works in "polynomial time," meaning the amount of time it takes is less than some polynomial function of log n (the number of digits of n).

Why does this matter? Well for one thing it doesn't. We already have many algorithms which can come up with something which is virtually gauranteed to be prime (say one in a trillion odds) in polynomial time. For all practical purposes this is good enough. Thus this solution is only of theoretical interest.

What practical purposes are there for primality testing? The encryption schemes which, say, internet purchases are based on require having a number which is the product of two large primes. In order to find such large primes one needs a good primality test.

The real holy grail in this area would be a way of factoring numbers in polynomial time. A primality test only tells you if the number is prime or composite, it doesn't give an actual factorization. In order to break the RSA encryption one needs to factor a number which is the product of two large primes. If one could do this in polynomial time it would suddenly allow many of the codes which e-commerce depends on to be easily broken (and thus would probably break the DMCA).

07 August 2002

Oh, wow: Junk faxes spur record $5.4 million fine.

I won't explain to our larger audience why this article on CNN.com got my attention, but Dave, Nat, Noah and at least one other person (frequently mentioned in this blog) should be able to figure it out.

06 August 2002

Matthew Yglesias blazes with a rightous fury over plans to read the Gettysburg Address at the 9/11 commemoration (in this post). He says,

It must have been hard for Abe Lincoln to come up with something suitable to say on that occassion, but I'm pretty fucking sure he didn't mark it by re-reading a 150 year-old speech. Nope, methinks he wrote something original. A classic piece of oratory... Was 9/11 not a big enough deal to be worth the effort of someone trying to come up with some new text?

Although I agree with his point, we should keep in mind that the Gettysburg Address was not the headlining event of that day, it was nearly forgotten. Yes 9/11 deserves a new text and a classic piece of oratory, but don't expect that classic piece of oratory to be the headlining event of the main commemoration. Expect it to be something that we nearly forgot at the time, but that will grow over time...
I watched MIB again recently and one thing you learn from that movie is that very small guns can be very dangerous. Apparently the security guards at LAX have learned the same lesson. The article is here but I can't read it because the sun is porn according to our filtering program. I ran accross the link at this weblog.

05 August 2002

This article from the New York Times Magazine on the grooming of future pop sensation Amanda Latona is absolutely fascinating. Latona is a lovely former Miss Teen Florida with a strong voice who doesn't write songs or play an instrument, but who is already being remodeled to be the next Britney Spears...or Pink...or Shania Twain...or Gwen Stefani...depending on whether teen-pop...or angsty pop...or country...or rock...is what twelve-year-old girls are buying next year. Best quote, by Latona just before a photo shoot: "I really want this album to be a classic. That's why these photos are so important."

Dear god, why aren't I famous yet? Oh, right....
Google lists about 88,300 instances for the phrase "sea change." Ubiquitous? Damn straight.

04 August 2002

Sea Change Watch:

Several months ago Alec complained about the phrase "sea change" and how annoying and common it was. All the rest of us at the table noted we had not ever heard it used. A month ago I ran accross the phrase for the first time and posted it here. Today I found this post on Instapundit which ends:

"There's a sea change in attitudes going on."

I'm still not convinced this phrase is as ubiquitous as Alec claimed, but now I have heard it twice...
Nat was over for dinner last night and it was great fun. Anyway I ran accross an article today which reminded me of one of the subjects of conversation which came up over dinner: parents suing teachers. I can't imagine being a parent and having the school tell me my kid was cheating and my first thought being "let's sue the bastards" not "didn't I teach you better than to do stupid things like that?" (I can even understand thinking "didn't I teach you better than to get caught doing something like that".)

02 August 2002

The blogsphere scoop of the day is indepundit's uncovering of some odd donations to Cynthia McKinney's campaign on Sept. 11th. For more info go here and here.

I did some of my own investigations into the matter and compared these donations to her war chest to those to other representatives over the same time. For a list of Georgia's state reps i looked here. Of all 11 of these representatives only two received any donations on Sept. 11th: Rep. Cynthia McKinney as documented in indepundit, and Rep. John Isakson who recieved the following donations:


(To check these go to open secrets and insert the Representatives name and have it sort by date.)

Thus in the entire state of Georgia on Sept. 11th a total of $18,100 were raised between all 11 representatives. Of this money $13,850 (or 77%) went to Representative McKinney. Furthermore, of the $18,100 raised that day exactly $13,850 came from out of state donors, exactly the money which went to Representative McKinney.

I don't have much in the way of analysis of this situation, but if one is going to claim that these donations were unusual it is important not just to compare the 9/11 donations to McKinney's campaign to other days, but also to donations to other campaigns. Such a comparison clearly shows that something unusual is going on here.

(On the other hand, it is not unusual for Representative McKinney to receive large donations from out of state Arabs and Muslims before Sept. 11. Here's an old article on her relationship to the Muslim community.)
Finally saw Road to Perdition, which includes the year's best line of unintentionally funny dialogue:

Tom Hanks (to his son): "If anything happens to me, go to Reverend Lynch at First Methodist and tell him what happened. Don't go to Father Kelly!"

As for the rest of the movie, it's the sort of lovely, well-crafted film that's so careful and cold that it makes you wonder why this story needed to be told in the first place -- a question that wouldn't come up if the movie were more of a turn-on, or had even the slightest spark of energy or life. On the bright side, you do get to see Jude Law deliver an impressive impersonation of an Edward Gorey cartoon. But in the end, there's more excitement and interest in ten minutes (any ten minutes) of L.A. Confidential than in all of Road to Perdition, if only because L.A. Confidential wasn't afraid to embrace the pulp along with the pretty pictures.
I'm packing all day and so I don't have so much time to blog, but last night I had this wonderfully cinematic moment of singing "the end of the world as we know it (and i feel fine)" at TGI Friday's karaoke night on my last night out with friends in cambridge.
My favorite columnist, Dahlia Lithwick of Slate's Supreme Court Dispatches, has an op-ed in the nytimes on the Moussaoui trial. Key quote:
"we must try Mr. Moussaoui for whatever crimes he committed, and not for the crimes we wish we could avenge."

01 August 2002

Speaking of Springsteen...

So yesterday I bought his new album The Rising, and I've been listening to it for most of the day while running errands around Queens and Manhattan. The very prospect of a Springsteen concept album about 9/11 and its aftermath is a frighteningly perfect idea, but the real beauty of the album comes from listening to the work of a singer-songwriter whose art seems utterly natural and unforced. I mean, I've been listening to studio rock bands like Radiohead for so long that I'd forgotten how pure, how perfect rock music can be when it's just about a man and his music. Standout tracks so far include "Lonesome Day," "Into the Fire," "Waiting on a Sunny Day," "The Fuse," and...well, about half the damn album, actually.

In short, I have a hunch that this is one of those albums that will continue to grow and evolve in my head for a long, long time, and I highly recommend it.