January 5, 2004

Just heard "conservative commentator" Andrew Sullivan (who apparently also has a blog of some sort) on NPR's "Talk of the Nation" discussing the topic of gay marriage and the likelihood that a constitutional amendment banning such unions might become an issue in this year's election. After one 26-year-old caller argued for a live-and-let-live perspective — "who would it hurt?" he asked — Sullivan noted that this was a fairly typical view for people "under 40." Younger people, Sullivan said, are… Read more

January 2, 2004

Here is an interesting and conventionally well-executed business story on corporate sick time policies. This is a "business" story, designed for that section of most newspapers that also includes the daily stock market reports. The "business" section is, essentially, the "capital" section for most papers. Capital is quite important — a vital component of "business." But it is not the only component nor, by far, the most populous. Yet newspapers offer no corresponding section providing regular coverage of labor. And… Read more

December 31, 2003

Inspired by New York Times columnist William Safire's wacky predictions for the new year, I submit the following list of my own, which may or may not be less plausible than Safire's. I invite your own implausible predictions in the comments below. 1. A senior administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, describes another unnamed senior administration official as a "whiner who doesn't have the balls to go on record." A third senior administration official, speaking on condition of being… Read more

December 30, 2003

Left Behind, pp. 22-37 One of the most successfully conveyed early characters in Left Behind sadly disappears from the novel once our heroes have left the plane. We never actually learn this character’s name, and he never becomes more than a broad, comic stereotype. Yet he is semi-successfully rendered as a broad, comic stereotype, which may make him the book’s most notable literary achievement. (My reading of this character may be overly charitable in that I pictured him as played… Read more

December 30, 2003

Between the holidays and a stack of papers I still haven’t finished grading, I’ve missed some items I need to go back for, such as Tim Rutten and Russell Baker on the distorting effect of affluence on news coverage. Here’s Rutten: To the extent any bias is generally operative in the news media today, it is the middle-class quietism that the majority of reporters and editors share with other Americans. They are the suburban voters who now cast the majority… Read more

December 29, 2003

With nobody hitting the jackpot for the multistate Powerball lottery this weekend, the prize rolls over and may be as high as $210 million for Wednesday night's drawing. I'll take this opportunity to revisit my earlier calculations (aided by my actuary brother) regarding whether or not Powerball constitutes a "fair game." The idea of a fair game is that a good bet is one in which the odds of winning are roughly equivalent to the potential payoff. Take for example… Read more

December 29, 2003

Throughout the 162 games of summer WFAN is the default setting on my car radio. The reception for the New York station isn't the greatest here in the Delaware Valley, and I have little occasion to tune it in during the long, dark winter that begins in late October and doesn't end until pitchers and catchers report in about six weeks. I thus had not heard the sad news before reading it in The New York Times Magazine that Doris… Read more

December 28, 2003

The news coming out of southeastern Iran is horrifying. Estimates now range from 22,000 to more than 30,000 dead. Thousands more have lost everything and are without shelter in the winter cold. Atrios provides a link to the National Iranian-American Council, which offers suggestions for how you can help the earthquake victims. I was pleased and encouraged to see this report from the BBC, "US aids 'axis of evil' Iran." The United States has put aside political differences to send… Read more

December 26, 2003

Left Behind, pg. 30 The in-flight phone embedded in the back of the seat in front of Buck Williams was not assembled with external modular connections the way most phones were. Buck imagined that Pan Con Airlines would soon be replacing these relics to avoid complaints from computer users. But Buck guessed that inside the phone the connection was standard and that if he could somehow get in there without damaging the phone, he could connect his computer’s modem directly… Read more

December 23, 2003

After "It's a Wonderful Life," my next favorite semi-sappy holiday tradition is reading this Anne Lamott piece. It's set in an AA meeting "full of low-bottom drunks and junkies — people from nearby halfway houses, bikers, jazz musicians …" Anyway, just go read it. And happy holidays. Read more

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