Monthly Archives: February 2008

February 29, 2008, 5:20 pm

A Yolo lad.

February 29, 2008, 5:07 pm

More Obama Music Videos

Perhaps this is all over the tubes. But it’s the first I’ve seen of it. And I think it’s much more interesting than the one below. Not least because of the subtitles (Vietnamese and English — you’re welcome). Also because it’s a remarkably hard-hitting piece of advocacy art. Obviously, this one is for the Texas market.

February 29, 2008, 1:57 pm

Colonial History: Nothing but Massacres?

As presented by EotAW, it may seem that the colonial period in North America was nothing but a string of massacres. Well, that’s not true. There were also plagues, whippings, and outright warfare. But then, after the Revolution, everything got better.

Regardless, on this day in 1704, French troops and their Native allies sacked the town of Deerfield, Massachusetts, among the most harrowing episodes of Queen Anne’s War. The attackers killed close to 50 villagers and forced those who survived, more than 100 others, to make a forced march to Quebec. Many of the captives were later ransomed or returned to Massachusetts. But several of them, most famously Eunice Williams, chose to live out there lives in Indian country. Williams’s father, Deerfield’s minister, John Williams, published a memoir of the ordeal, The Redeemed Captive Returning to Zion.

There have been other books about…

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February 29, 2008, 9:41 am

Less Good Than Last Time

A few thoughts:

1) The chanting is scary. Really, it scares me. I’m unsettled by it.

2) If Obama’s elected, this video’s existence will cause me to lobby agressively for a special tax bracket for celebrities: 93% of income. That would be a popular measure, I’m pretty sure. And it would guarantee a second term.

3) Once again — just as in the first video — the candidate is much more interesting than the stars are. But this time, Obama doesn’t speak until about the 2:30 mark. That was a bad choice by the producers. At least I think so.

4) This is for Texas? I’m assuming that must be the case.

5) The Dipdive folks should have quit while they were ahead.

[Editor's Note: If you want a better version -- you're a masochist? -- go here.]

February 29, 2008, 6:30 am


The novelist Nicholson Baker writes affectingly about loss here—about, that is to say, lost knowledge; the elimination of entries from Wikipedia.

As I am most fond of Nicholson Baker for his article on fingernail clippers I suppose it should come as no surprise that he loves Wikipedia; as I am secondarily most fond of Nicholson Baker for his article on the evils—evils! I do not use the word lightly—of libraries’ deaccessioning and destroying newspapers (which gave rise to this collection), I suppose it should come as no surprise that he hates the wanton deletion of articles from Wikipedia. After all, newspapers take up a lot of space—you can at least make a case for getting rid of them; Wikipedia articles not so much. Still, people are busily determining what you should not know:

There are some people on Wikipedia now who are just bullies, who take pleasure in wrecking and…

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February 28, 2008, 3:49 pm

"The ghost word dord." A cautionary tale.

On this day in 1939, as the world fell apart overseas, an alert editor at the G. & C. Merriam Company in Springfield, Massachusetts noticed an oddity in the company’s flagship dictionary, the New International: a word, on page 771, without an etymology. The culprit, dord, carried a one-word definition: density.


February 27, 2008, 5:01 pm

The constitution is constitutional.

On this day in 1922, the Supreme Court of the United States, in the case of Leser v. Garnett, ruled that the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, enfranchising women, is constitutional. How could it be otherwise?

Well, maybe if you’re an adamantine states’ righter (and, yes, male chauvinist pig) and you don’t think the federal constitution can overrule a state constitution: “The only ground of disqualification alleged was that the applicants for registration were women, whereas the Constitution of Maryland limits the suffrage to men.” In such cases, you might argue that the state legislature cannot vote the ratification of a federal amendment that defies the state constitution, which gives life to the state legislature.

Not so fast, said the Supremes. The state legislature is the state legislature except when the federal Constitution wants it on the phone: “the function …

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February 27, 2008, 2:05 am

Barack Obama: Good for the Jews. Tim Russert: Bad for the Jews. And for America.

Tim Russert spent a portion of tonight’s debate bringing to life the hateful spam I occasionally get that might as well be titled, “Muslim Obama Will Kill Jews.” And while I agree with all of the prominent (and, as it happens, Jewish) bloggers (here, here, here, and elsewhere for all I know) who are saying that Russert really plumbed the depths with this line of so-called inquiry, the bigger shame was that there were actual issues of interest to American Jews left undiscussed with Obama tonight.


February 26, 2008, 3:24 pm

George M. Fredrickson.

The picture I would like to show you of George Fredrickson is a picture I don’t have but remember well, a picture I hope some suitably-situated obituarist will retrieve from the original dust-jacket of The Inner Civil War, a picture of a square-jawed George in 1965 with the Kennedy haircut and a straight-stem pipe, looking as if he had just stepped out of the ExComm. That was the George who wanted to punch his weight with the greats, the George who could write

I am convinced that the few who have a genuine interest in ideas and a powerful urge to find meaning and coherence in their experience are able to tell us more about a crisis of values, with its inevitable confusion and ambivalence, than the many who avoid difficult issues and are content to speak in outdated clichés.

His intellectual journey took him far from that statement, which he later said left him feeling “slightly…

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February 26, 2008, 8:32 am

Simply Grand

On this day in 1919, Congress created Grand Canyon National Park. I’m going to save the early history of the Park Service for another day, when it makes a bit more sense and I don’t have this horrible flu.


February 25, 2008, 5:17 pm

Hey, kid, get off my lawn!

I know, I know Yglesias to-be-sure’s here, where he says, “TR is a complicated, multi-faceted figure” but he goes on to accept John McCain’s appropriation of TR as a crazy imperialist devoted to unilateral uses of American power. TR wanted to see the Hague Court “greatly increased in power and permanence.” It’s, to say the least, missing the point to call Roosevelt a warmonger.

Which is all a bunch of academic harrumphing about “nuance” and “journalism!” (and pot-kettling, to be sure) and I wouldn’t have said anything—except that just this morning, the kid was also saying “There was, I would note, a similar assassination fad around the turn of the previous century associated with anarchism, but eventually extending out of any particular ideological niche. That’s how William McKinley got killed….” Harrumph. Nuance. Journalism! Bah.

Look, all I’m really saying is, don’t let…

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February 25, 2008, 1:02 pm

Funny Money

On this day in 1862, Congress passed the Legal Tender Act, authorizing the Treasury to print $150 million in paper currency — so-called greenbacks. Opponents of the bill, largely Democrats, claimed the law was unconstitutional (“to coin money,” they argued, literally meant making only coins), ungodly (the Almighty had created gold and silver; turning away from those precious metals thus spurned the divine), and impractical (inflation would, in short order, render paper money worthless, throwing the Union economy into an inflationary spiral like that plaguing the Confederacy).


February 24, 2008, 12:00 pm


From earlier this month, a picture of Patience with her gift-wrapped library. Do not open until 2011. Which will take, er, patience. Probably also fortitude, but she didn’t show up for the shoot; bad hair day. (Yes, I know you think they’re both male lions. But see here, dear reader. You can’t judge a lion by its hairdo. The world is full of stranger things than are dreamt of in your philosophy.)

February 23, 2008, 9:34 pm

First black communist president. Who's also a terrorist. And not just because he's a Muslim.

Okay, the Clintons are being banished from the Kelman family Hanukkah card list. Race-baiting backfired, accusations of plagiarism came off as a bit silly (since, y’know, Hillary is far guiltier of that “crime” than Obama), so now it’s time to fall back on the War on Terror. The black man can’t be trusted to keep you safe! Because he’s angry! And black! And radical! From Justin Rood’s piece for abc on the Clinton camp’s allegations that Obama is part of the Weather Underground:

The Hillary Clinton campaign pushed to reporters today stories about Barack Obama and his ties to former members of a radical domestic terrorist group…

“Wonder what the Republicans will do with this issue,” mused Clinton spokesman Phil Singer in one e-mail to the media, containing a New York Sun article reporting a $200 contribution from William Ayers, a founding member of the Weather Underground, to…

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February 23, 2008, 12:42 pm

John McCain: The Last American Man

Ezra Klein tries to explain the press’s (particularly the boys in the corps) lust for John McCain. I’ll lift a bit of his post rather than paraphrasing his argument:

The qualities we most admire in others are those we don’t have, or fear we don’t have, in ourselves. The press isn’t impressed by smart, cerebral candidates because the press is full of smart, cerebral, people, who sort of believe they are smarter and more cerebral than the politicians they cover. There’s almost a resentment there, and it comes out in the reporting which often tries to show that the reporter is smarter because they can take down the candidate. They can win the debate, poke flaws in the argument, identify inconsistencies.

What very few (male) reporters feel comfortable with is their personal physical courage. Their ability to fare well in a bar fight, or make a credible threat to someone stalking their…

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