Deep Throat Revealed
Now I can sleep more easily at night knowing that Mark Felt -- an FBI pro who truly believed in the efficacy of illegal break-ins -- really was Deep Throat and it wasn't that horse's ass Al Haig after all.
Happy Birthday, Library Square!
Vancouver's fabulous Colosseum-inspired Public Library is celebrating its 10th anniversary today. Bravo to our brave city for such an enlightened public space.
This morning on the radio, I listened to the architectural critic from the local rag tear the building apart. He said that Vancouver had become a laughing stock among architects for its choice of library design. It was featured, apparently, on the front cover of a noted architectural magazine over the headline "Outrage!" This is codswallop and simply shows how out of touch many architects are with ordinary people's thoughts and feelings.
The people chose this design in a competition that we were privileged to vote on. Even the critic this morning had to admit that the atrium has become one of the best used and most loved of Vancouver's public spaces. Visitors from out of town continue to extol the building.
Who cares what the ivory tower architects think! The people love it and that's all that counts. May the Vancouver Public Library continue to shine on our city for generations to come.
New Monkey Reports Show Critical Bias
There are exciting reports from Tanzania of a monkey species new to science. The highland mangabey is a medium-sized monkey, about 3 feet (90 cm) tall with a long tail, long brown fur, a black face, hands and feet. Adults make a distinctive, loud, low-pitched "honk-bark" call. They live in mountainside trees at elevations of up to 8,000 feet (2,400 meters). Reports say that the highland mangabey is the first new species of monkey identified in 20 years.
"This exciting discovery demonstrates once again how little we know about our closest living relatives, the nonhuman primates," said Russell Mittermeier, chairman of the Primate Specialist Group of IUCN-The World Conservation Union's Species Survival Commission. "A large, striking monkey in a country of considerable wildlife research over the last century has been hidden right under our noses."
Not quite true. The reports themselves say that local hunters were well aware of the monkeys and had described them to the scientists prior to their "discovery" by science. They had, in fact, "been hidden" under the noses only of the scientists. The implication that what natives know is of little importance has a long and troubling history. In a small way, the highland mangabey story is just another example of Columbus "discovering" America even though tens of millions of people were already living there.
We denigrate and ignore (consciously or otherwise) the knowledge of "primitive" peoples at our peril.
Vietnam (etc.) Redux
A posting I wrote to celebrate Vietnam's Liberation Day on April 30 has led to a spirited exchange of comments with a reader who seems to have majored in The Myths Of Modern History. I have decided to bring this to a posting because some of the points I want to make deserve more light than the dark closet of commentland.
My post of April 30 was a celebration of the rights of self-determination that Vietnam won after more than a generation of, first, anti-colonial, and then civil, and finally, anti-imperialist war. The commenter apparently doesn't like the idea of self-determination for any group with which he (?) disagrees. He began his arguments with some bad history and when I corrected that, he has tried to shift the basis of the debate. He suggests (a) that South Vietnam had as much right to exist as any other country; and (b) even if that was not so, I have no right to be supporting what he calls a "murderous and brutal" regime. These points deserve a response.
With regard to South Vietnam's supposed right to exist, I would note that Vietnam is the country we are talking about and it surely has a right to exist. The regions of South and North Vietnam were established by the Geneva settlement as nothing more than truce placeholders required to bring about a cease-fire after the French were booted. Neither "country" was supposed to exist beyond the nationwide elections that were promised in the agreement. The regime in the south refused to carry out that promise because they knew that Ho would win the election -- thus firmly establishing their anti-democratic credentials. The civil war began as a direct result of the southern regime's refusal to honour the Geneva agreements. I am not aware of any legitimate historian who disputes that. South Vietnam's "right to exist" was based on a fraud.
Second, and more important to me, is the suggestion that I somehow support communist or socialist regimes. No genuine reader of this site will be under any illusions that I am anything but an anarchist. I do not support socialist or communist governments (which are in reality state capitalist enterprises) anymore than I support the faux-democracy that rules in the west (where in a mockery of "free enterprise" public money is used to support private profit). Both sets of government are odious and anti-human in my view. A pox on both their houses!
As for "murderous and brutal", I would ask my sparring partner why his favoured government indulged in massive chemical warfare in southeast Asia, supported the death squads in El Salvador and Guatemala (to mention just two instances of hundreds), and currently supports -- economically and militarily -- the brutal oppression of the Uzbek people? It sounds like he prefers selectivity over consistency.
In passing, our commenter remarks that "the 'puppet regimes' of South Korea and Taiwan are prosperous democracies, and have been for years. The same can’t be said for 'united' Vietnam." This shows that the fellow not only gets history wrong, but he can't even keep up with today's news. Contrary to his remarks,Vietnam's economy is booming. According to that well-known Communist mouthpiece, USA Today, Vietnam has one of the fastest growing economies in Asia. CNN agrees. The Economist states:
Vietnam ... boasts Asia's best-performing economy. It has grown by an average of 7.4% a year over the past decade and is likely to achieve a similar figure this year. Better yet, the boom has lifted many Vietnamese out of poverty. As recently as 1993, the World Bank considered 58% of the population poor. By 2002, that had fallen to 29%.
This, of course, is in contrast to the United States where poverty continues to increase and where the divide between rich and poor widens daily. I could go on and on about the depravities of the western capitalist system, but that's enough for today.
Another Step To A Socialized Economy
The United States claims to stand for free enterprise and capitalism. That has been false for many years -- a huge percentage of American industry is dependent on government handouts and business. Now, with a judge's ruling that the big airlines can renege on their promises of pensions to their workers -- with the taxpayer having to pick up the multi-billion dollar tab -- the US takes a further step to the full socialization of the economy.
The American economy -- already one of the least efficient in the world (look at the trade and budget deficits) -- would collapse immediately if the US taxpayer stopped paying the bills. One day, I hope, the taxpayers will understand that and take the appropriate action to end the bs.
Arianna Huffington vs Matt Drudge
As many of you will know, Arianna Huffington has just launched a new "liberal" group blog that has attracted contributions from a wide variety of luminaries. Matt Drudge -- the far-right Florida-based couch potato who believes that just because his blog gets so many hits that he is somehow important -- is so scared of this new phenomenon that he has scoured the gutters for any anti-Huffington stories he can find. I guess he is concerned that Arianna threatens his market share.
What the unimaginative Drudge fails to recognize is that Arianna's blog is completely different than his. For one thing, it actually has content. The Drudge Report has rarely been anything other than a long list of links to other people's creative work. Drudge creates nothing, he merely lists -- like a telephone book. Even the execrable Instapundit makes an attempt to surround his links with a little bit of context, but not the lazy Mr. Drudge.
Matt Drudge will probably always have more readers than Arianna Huffington but, just as the heavily used New York telephone directory will never compete intellectually with the New York Times, the Drudge Report cannot compare itself to real writing.
Brief Notices XVI
A recent selection of items I wish I had more time to expound upon.
Stefan Kanfer has written a marvelously amusing and informative history of vaudeville in City Journal. Focusing on the period after vaudeville had been separated from burlesque by Tony Pastor, the essay quite rightly treats the impressarios (Keith, Hammerstein, Albee and others) as equal in importance to the roster of stars (Marx Brothers, W.C. Fields, Jack Benny, etc) who trod the stages.
Slate has a wonderful review of an exhibition of Chinese restaurant ephemera at the Museum of Chinese in the Americas in New York. "One's visit begins with an absence: the never-photographed first Chinese eateries in America, known as "chow chows," which sprang up in California in the mid-19th century to serve Cantonese laborers. True holes in the wall, they were marked, as per a Chinese tradition, with yellow cloth triangles. No menus have survived, if ever there were any; who knows but that they served stir-fried buffalo."
As an old fart myself, I look back in wonder at the changes in computing that have happened just in my working life. Of particular interest to me is the development of Graphical User Interface, or GUI. I recently came across this good if incomplete survey. Looking further, I found the excellent entry at Wikipedia, supplemented by this interesting collection of screen shots. Perhaps most interesting of all, and a marvel that is has come down to us, is Doug Engelbart's original 1946 presentation that kicked off the whole GUI idea.
Fascism Rises Against The Bride
The Smoking Gun today contains a long set of letters received by the Duluth, Georgia, police department giving suggestions on what crimes the runaway bride Jennifer Wilbanks should be charged with. A great many say she should, at the very least, be sent a bill for the search parties that went looking for her. Such ideas are the spawn from which fascism grows.
The people who say she should be billed for the search are suggesting that an adult does not have the right to go wherever they want whenever they want without having to tell anyone about it. Or, to put this the other way around, they are saying that you are obliged to tell someone everything you are doing. Think about that for a while. These dunces say that you -- yes, you -- have to tell someone what you are doing all the time. They are saying that we do not have the freedom to simply disappear if we want to.
A more logical and freedom-loving viewpoint would have the family who called for the search to be billed, not her.
I can see -- though don't agree with -- some form of sanction for lying to the police when she was discovered, but that's it. She is an adult. She doesn't have to tell anyone where's she's going, and she can stay away as long as she wants. Why should she have to pay the bill caused by others who won't allow her (or you and me) that freeedom?
North Korea's Nuclear Bombshell Reveals US Hypocrisy
There are reports that North Korea may be preparing to test a nuclear device. Once again, Kim Jong Il has the rest of the world hanging on his every action. Once again he has won the diplomatic battle because he controls the entire plot.
The great advantage of being a pariah state is that one doesn't have to worry about what anyone else says. Especially, when the others doing all the talking are hypocrites. Nuclear non-proliferation is America's policy -- but only so long as it suits them. North Korea is doing nothing that hasn't been done before by India and Pakistan and Israel. But it plays into the USA's plans for global hegemony to allow these to countries to play the nuclear card and to deny the same to North Korea, and Iran.
Can you imagine what America would do if North Korea had nuclear-armed submarines sailing around just as the aggressively destructive Israelis do? Can you imagine the outraged consequences of North Korea selling nuclear technology to third world dictators as Pakistan and its intelligence community has done? And yet Israel and Pakistan are close allies of the US, receiving billions upon billions of US taxpayers' money to continue their nuclear adventures.
Hypocrisy, hypocrisy, hypocrisy! And all paid for with dollars stolen out of the working populations' pockets.
Lest We Forget
May 4th, 1970
"Tin soldiers and Nixon's comin'.
We're finally on our own.
This summer I hear the drummin'.
Four dead in Ohio".