Strong opinions, weakly held

Month: May 2003 (page 2 of 10)

Christopher Hitchens and George Orwell

Christopher Hitchens has made much hay by incessantly pushing the fact that George Orwell is as relevant today as he ever was. It perplexes me then that he would start an article off by referring to our invasion of Iraq as an “intervention.” If that’s not a weasel word, I don’t know what is.

Deficits as far as the eye can see

Well, President Bush signed his tax cut yesterday. Hello, permanent deficit spending.

Update: a reader sent this important Jonathan Chiatt article on the dangers of deficit spending. Personally, I’m not an anti-deficit absolutist, but I think that slashing government revenue to give a payback to the rich at a time when many important government programs are already threatened we’re increasing military spending is foolhardy.

Clearing up murky Iraq questions

Spinsanity remains an incredibly valuable site. They posted a useful piece today, sort of an Iraq aftermath FAQ. One thing they leave out is that while the initial estimates of how many artifacts were stolen from Iraq’s national museum were much too high, the fact remains that the National Library and Archives was also looted and then burned to the ground. The current revisionist spin that downplays the cultural losses arises from ignorance or denial.

The union busters at Whole Foods

Shop at Whole Foods because they have good deli meat or a broad cheese selection, not because it assuages your conscience.

Try a little bitterness

James Howard Kunstler’s Eyesore of the Month feature is a wellspring of vituperation against Modernist architecture, television, cars, and plenty of other things. Quite entertaining, and a bit disturbing to boot (in my opinion, he goes over the top when he digresses from his rants against admittedly hideous buildings to gratuitously slamming a portly fellow sitting in front of a McDonalds for no obvious reason).

SCO to Hell

In the WWF, I believe they’d refer to this as the smackdown.

The Orphans of Invention

Ellen Ullman: The Orphans of Invention

Precision weblogging

I usually don’t write that much about weblogging here because, you know, who cares? However, there’s a habit common to many webloggers that kind of bugs me, so I’ll post about it here in hopes that at least one person who exhibits this habit will see the light. Oftentimes, I go to a weblog and see a citation that says something like “Slate says that Al Gore is only three feet tall,” or “The New York Times says Bush plans on criminalizing the use of words longer than five letters,” only to see that the link goes to something like Kausfiles or an opinion piece by Paul Krugman.

What I wish is that people would make it a habit to cite the writer of articles rather than the publication that they appear in, or better yet, both, when pointing to something. In my opinion, even bylined news stories should be cited by the name of the writer, but that may be an extreme position (and it’s not one I adhere to all the time, either). For magazine articles and op-ed pieces, the byline is by far the most important thing. A magazine like Slate or even Newsweek has all sorts of writers who bring their own set of biases to the table. Once you follow the link, you know who wrote the story anyway, but I think that sloppy citing can be a symptom of sloppy thinking, the kind that leads us to tired assumptions about the liberal media or various other accusations of media conspiracy.

Preferences are evil

For future reference: a concise explanation of the evils of preferences in applications. It seems like it’s only been recently that I’ve been exposed to the idea that more options are not necessarily a good thing in applications. Generally I like to tweak my applications, so preferences are something I like, or at least put up with. Then I think about the fact that even though I know exactly how to configure Microsoft Word so that it doesn’t screw things up when I try to write, I hate going in and doing it, and it all makes sense.

Home pages?

Tim Bray asks whether home pages are going away. He says:

Lauren starts up with a blank page; she relies on RSS and bookmarks. Her browser sure does start up fast. Maybe that’s the future.

These days, Google is my home page, but I’m not sure why. I could just as easily type in my queries in the location bar. A long time ago, I set my wife’s home page to about:blank, and not long ago I reinstalled Windows on that computer. IE set MSN or whatever as its home page, and my wife asked me not long after to set it back to about:blank. So, yeah, I’d say the home page is going away. Strange given that much of Netscape’s value was at one time derived from the fact that Netscape browsers all started with the same piece of real estate as the default home page.

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