"Irreverence is the champion of liberty and its only sure defense."
- Mark Twain

"Anyone who combines politics and baseball is an idiot, because everyone knows that ping-pong is the greatest sport. Oh, and I'm really a Communist who hates NASCAR and listens to Joan Baez in the dark.
-- Glenn Reynolds

About the author
Andre Vladimir Sebastian is a figment of your imagination. Honestly, you really could have done better than him, now couldn't you? Next time, put a little effort into it.

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Pretending to be a quality blog since 3/09/2003.

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Point, Shoot, Doh!
If you're thinking about getting a camera phone, you must read this. Forbes reports that you can exchange pics only with someone who uses the same carrier you do.

Despite the fact that 10 million camera phones are expected to ship by the end of this year, the communiqués featured on TV are actually only possible between people who use the same carrier.

And even then, the process doesn't quite work as advertised. Quite a few keypad clicks are required to see the photo sent. "The thing that people want, where you send a picture and it pops up on someone else's screen, doesn't exist yet," says IDC analyst Keith Waryas.

  posted by AVS @ 3.9.03


Big Trouble In Little Indonesia
Radical Islamists are making headway in Indonesia. Reports The New York Times:

The end of the Suharto government gave an important impetus to the most extreme of Indonesia's Islamic groups, Jemaah Islamiyah.

Many of its members, young men in their 20's and 30's, had been forced into exile in Malaysia, and from there had gone for training at Qaeda camps in Afghanistan. After 1998 they returned home to the freer atmosphere of a more democratic Indonesia. They used familiar stamping grounds — mostly small religious boarding schools, like Al Mukmin in the village of Ngruki in central Java — to regroup, and plot their terror attacks.

  posted by AVS @ 3.9.03

Following Instructions
African AIDS patients are better at taking their drugs on time than are American AIDS patients, reports The New York Times. That's encouraging for Africa; Discouraging for America. If you don't take your drugs on schedule, the virus can become resistant to them, and the last thing we need is an increase in drug-resistant HIV

  posted by AVS @ 3.9.03

So, on Aug. 22 I posted that the French health care system was largely to blame for the astronomical number of deaths-by-heat in that country this summer. On Aug. 25, Virginia Postrel made the same point. Shortly thereafter, InstaPundit plugged Postrel's post, as if it were a novel theory. I sent Mr. Reynolds a quick email noting that I got the story first and he may want to update. No response. Silly me. I should've known better than to try to hang with the cool kids.

  posted by AVS @ 3.9.03

Israel declares "all out war" on Hamas. It's about time.

  posted by AVS @ 1.9.03


Hamas Hit List
Hamas has copied the U.S. Department of Defense and has created a deck of cards featuring its most wanted Israelis. Actually, it's a wanted poster with each wanted person displayed as a face on a playing card. One major difference between the American deck and the Hamas deck is that Hamas wants to kill everyone pictured on its deck. Ariel Sharon is featured as the most wanted, though apparently his card is a joker.

  posted by AVS @ 1.9.03

Dispassionate Marxists
The Nation cracks me up. In an article on the autobigraphy of Marxist propagandist Eric Hobsbawm, who happens to be a historian, Nation writer Terry Eagleton pens this beauty:

"I have lived," Eric Hobsbawm remarks, "through almost all of the most extraordinary and terrible century in human history"; but he has lived through it as one of that century's most eminent Marxist historians, and the dispassionate gaze of the historian is reflected in his title.

Now, how can one be a "Marxist historian" and have "the dispassionate gaze of the historian" at the same time? Either you're passionate about your Marxism, or you're a dispassionate historian, but you can't be both. And Hobsbawm is decidedly a passionate Marxist.

Eagleton has this metaphorical gem a few lines later: "Hobsbawm has also clapped eyes on Stalin."

There are a lot of things one can do with the eyes, but clapping, even metaphorically, isn't one of them.

The writing actually gets worse, and after a few more graphs I stopped reading. I'm in the middle of Bernard Lewis' "The Middle East", and it soon became clear that there was no way I could justify wasting another second on Terry Eagleton when Lewis and 1,000 years of Islamic history were just lying there on the coffee table, unlearned.

  posted by AVS @ 31.8.03


Canadian Gays Say 'Do I?'
Here's an interesting New York Times story on the ambivilance many Canadian homosexuals have about marriage, especially now that they are legally allowed into the institution. It's not really news that there is a split between gays who want to "mainstream" their relationships by getting married and embracing what is more or less a conventional middle class life and gays who want to live their whole lives rebelling against all conventional social norms. The Times story covers this social phenomenon as it unfolds in Canada, where gays in long-time relationships now have to decide whether to fold themselves and their relationships into the institution of marriage or remain on the outside in defiant opposition to the dominant heterosexual culture. The editor of a Canadian magazine for gays put it this way:

I'd be for marriage if I thought gay people would challenge and change the institution and not buy into the traditional meaning of `till death do us part' and monogamy forever. We should be Oscar Wildes and not like everyone else watching the play.

One sociologist made the point that some gays are fearful that the ability to marry will put social pressure on them to abandon hedonism. He wrote in the magazine whose editor is quoted above:

I can already hear folks saying things like: `Why are bathhouses needed? Straights don't have them. Will queers now have to live with the heterosexual forms of guilt associated with something called cheating?"

The presence of this fear gives credence to arguments of Andrew Sullivan and others who say that marriage will serve as the same kind of calming, civilizing force with gays as it does with heterosexuals. It will be fascinating to see how this struggle plays out in Canada. Will marriage be a taming influence, or will most gays either reject it or attempt to sabotage it? I would think that over time it would lead to more commitment and monogamy, or at least to the wider acceptance of those ideals. But who knows? This is a wide-open social experiment, the outcome of which is not wholly predictable.

A few other asides: It should be no surprise that, as the Times put it, "Gay men seem more apprehensive about marriage than lesbians." Heterosexual men are more apprehensive about marriage than are heterosexual women, too.

Also, there is this line from the story, referring to gay couples: "and generally, couples with children, or thinking of having children, express more interest in marrying." Thinking of having children how, exactly? The Times never explains.

  posted by AVS @ 31.8.03

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