This is an archive page.

May 04, 2002
We, the undersigned

Next time someone asks you to sign an online petition, reflect that at, there's a petition demanding that Peter Jackson change the title of the forthcoming second movie in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Two Towers, explaining that "The title is clearly meant to refer to the attacks on the World Trade Center."

The Two Towers, by J. R. R. Tolkien, the second part of The Lord of the Rings, was originally published in 1954.

As of this moment, the "Rename The Two Towers to Something Less Offensive Petition" has 1,110 signers.

I love the Internet. I signed both of the online petitions in opposition to banning therapeutic-cloning research, the mostly-conservative-libertarian one and the mostly-progressive one. (They're not contradictory, and they both deserve your support.) But honestly, sometimes effective political activism requires stepping away from the computer.

Moral clarity, part 5,271,009

We're installing a king in Afghanistan. Michael Kinsley recalls that the United States of America used to be the hope of a world weary of kings.

We might not want a king ourselves. But Afghanistan, you see, is what one calls a "traditional" culture in which they take innocent pleasure in pretending that some doddering 87-year-old is better than everybody else because his father was, too. Still, the United States of America was long associated with the idea of rejecting kings. And that "branding strategy," as the business world calls it, worked pretty well. When we find ourselves installing kings instead, the course of human events has taken a strange turn.

May 02, 2002
Falling rocks, &c

Yes, we're tinkering again with CSS and other dangerous substances. Yes, we know there are problems with MSIE 5.x, and we're working on it.

UPDATE: Okay, the heck with that for now. I'd like a three-column layout, but not enough to kill this page for everyone who uses MSIE 5.x for Windows. Further testing will be done offline.


Electrolite and Making Light have outstripped the limits of our current Panix hosting plan, so we're looking for an arrangement that doesn't entail the kind of surcharges we're currently paying.

Among the several options we're looking at is Blogomania. If you've had any dealings with them or an opinion about their competence, probity, and likely longevity, we'd like to hear from you.

May 01, 2002
Another quote for Jamie Kellner

Who, as you'll remember, is the TBS chairman who claims that TV viewers who skip commercials are committing "theft":

"There has grown up in the minds of certain groups in this country the notion that because a man or a corporation has made a profit out of the public for a number of years, the government and the courts are charged with the duty of guaranteeing such profit in the future, even in the face of changing circumstances and contrary public interest. This strange doctrine is not supported by statute nor common law. Neither individuals nor corporations have any right to come into court and ask that the clock of history be stopped, or turned back, for their private benefit.
It's spoken by the judge in Robert A. Heinlein's first published story, "Life-Line" (1939). Remembered by Sal Manzo, a poster to Steven den Beste's U.S.S. Clueless. (Den Beste has some good comments of his own here.)

Says it all

Ted Barlow again:

One of Bush's first actions in office was to step up enforcement of the rule that denied federal financial aid to students who had been convicted of drug possession. Clinton had relaxed this rule, but Bush, a lifetime teetotaler who struggled financially to put himself through school, had the moral authority to apply such a law, which by definition only punishes poor and middle-class students.

And for our next trick, the other foot

You know something? Like an increasing number of American liberals, I'm off the reservation about guns. The conventional "gun control" positions keep flunking various reality tests. Concealed-carry doesn't correlate with increased gun crime; quite the reverse. The permit system in places like New York City leads, unsurprisingly, to the kind of corruption through which record-industry insiders with gangster connections can carry a gun, but I can't. Meanwhile, banning guns outright seems to keep people from using guns about as well as banning drugs keeps people from using drugs. It may or may not be true that Americans are crazy about guns, but it seems pretty clear that the "gun control" approaches we've tried mostly serve to disarm the law-abiding while leaving criminals armed to the teeth. (Indeed, it turns out that when guns are outlawed, only outlaws...ah, you've heard it.) And on the personal level, most of the people I personally know who own guns are solid citizens, nothing like the violent lunatics of anti-gun demonology.

All that being the case, imagine how impressed I am by America's leading gun organization when I read things like this:

The National Rifle Association's annual convention in Reno, Nev., degenerated on Sunday into a session of gay-bashing, with one commentator referring to anti-gun talk show host Rosie O'Donnell as a "freak" for her recent admission that she's a lesbian.

During a two-hour panel discussion attacking the media for distorting the views of gun-rights proponents, all but one speaker took an opportunity to slam gays and lesbians -- including O'Donnell -- in some manner. [...]

Schlussel also referred to straight actor Jude Law, who she said admitted to hesitating before handling a gun for one of his films, as a "girly man."

I've argued that the gun argument is too often simply a front for culture war: nice liberals don't like people who like guns. But this is the other side: a cheerful hate-off among homophobic fatheads. That'll convince lots of Americans.

It's hard to imagine an organization that's done more over the years to damage rational discussion of guns than the NRA.

Tactically shutting up

I don't always agree with Steven den Beste, but this is a good example of why I read him with respect.