Archive for January, 2004

Professor Keiger’s Writing Prejudices…

January 29, 2004

…should be your writing prejudices. Check them out.

(They remind me that I need an editor sometimes.)


Sunday evening at MFAH

January 25, 2004

As part of its “Revivals” film series, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston showed Leni Riefenstahl’s film about the 1936 Berlin Olympics, Olympia I.

Olympia I is a stunningly beautiful film.

Except for the parts which have Nazis in them.

There’s no harm in seeing it, though — the few bits of obvious propaganda are more risible than dangerous. More than 90 percent of the film is a celebration of the Olympics, and Riefenstahl’s ability to glorify the Games is impressive. The film is as relevant to the Olympics of 2004 as it was to the Olympics of 1936.

I’m looking forward to seeing Olympia II — the second part of Riefenstahl’s film — which the MFAH will show in two weeks.

The Wonderful Wizard of 16 to 1

January 24, 2004

I had always thought of “The Wizard of Oz” as a fairy tale (or as the video for “Dark Side of the Moon”).

In fact, it is an allegory of…bimetallism?

Read on…



January 21, 2004

Kevin Drum (CalPundit) notices how a key Bush administration phrase has evolved over the last year:

March 2003: Weapons of mass destruction.

June 2003: Weapons of mass destruction programs.

October 2003: Weapons of mass destruction-related programs.

January 2004: Weapons of mass destruction-related program activities.

Dean and Iowa

January 20, 2004

In 1996, Arizona voted for Bill Clinton in the general election, between voting for Bush 41 in 1992 and Bush 43 in 2000. At the time, some speculated that Arizona voters had been so alienated from Bob Dole by the negative television advertisements run by the Steve Forbes campaign in the Republican primary (which Forbes won) that they wouldn’t vote for him even nine months later.

If Howard Dean wins the Democratic nomination, I wonder if he’ll have a similar problem with Iowa? The state has voted for the Democratic candidate four times in a row, but Gore carried the state by only 4000 votes in 2000.

(For that matter, what would Iowans in the general election think of Wesley Clark as the presidential candidate? He didn’t campaign in Iowa at all.)

The Perfect Fog

January 19, 2004

The Dean campaign’s Perfect Storm drizzled out tonight in Iowa. I think I know one reason why.

One year at Ohio State, an ideologically driven group went all-out to win the student government presidential race. It had money, it had organization, it had eager volunteers; on paper, it had a formidable campaign.

Its campaign had one fatal weakness, though: The volunteers were so focused on efficiently and passionately pushing their message that they didn’t listen to the people they were talking at. They never noticed the effect their stridency had. The harder they tried, the more they hurt their cause.

Like Dean, this group’s candidate team finished a distant third.

From what I’ve read, the Dean volunteers in Iowa were inspired and uplifted by the experience of sacrificing for a deeply felt common cause, and it pains me to fault their idealistic efforts. But I suspect that they (and Governor Dean) would have been better off if they had been inspired and uplifted instead by the experience of listening to and learning about the people of Iowa.

Massages in Houston

January 19, 2004

If you live inside the Loop, and you’d like to get a massage, I can recommend the West Gray location of Serenity Now.

The New Republic and George McGovern, Part 3

January 18, 2004

With his endorsement of Wesley Clark, George McGovern perhaps answers those who compare McGovern to Howard Dean.

Still, though, the similiarities between this account of the McGovern campaign in 1971 and what we’ve seen of the Dean campaign are interesting:



January 16, 2004

Future historians may well mark the mid-1980s as the time when Japan surpassed the United States to become the world’s dominant economic power. […] America’s GNP may remain larger than Japan’s well into the 1990s (depending on exchange rate measurements), but there are many reasons to believe that Japan will extend its lead as the world’s dominant economic power in the years ahead.

— Ezra F. Vogel, “Pax Nipponica?”, Foreign Affairs, Spring 1986, pg 752.

According to the 2004 World Almanac, the United States in 2002 had a $10.4 trillion economy, while Japan had a $3.6 trillion economy, when measured in American dollars.

According to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, the American economy grew 57.5% (after adjusting for inflation) between 1986 and 2001, measured in American dollars. According to the Japan Statistical Yearbook 2004, the Japanese economy grew 42.5% (after adjusting for inflation) during the same time period, measured in Japanese yen.

At that rate, “America’s GNP may remain larger than Japan’s” well into the 2090s.

The New Republic and George McGovern, Part 2

January 14, 2004

In 1971, The New Republic noted an aspect of George McGovern’s personality that I see as the biggest difference between him and Howard Dean:

Next to his “radical” image, McGovern’s biggest liability is the feeling he doesn’t project strength, that he’s a “provincial,” that he doesn’t possess a room when he walks in nor incite fear or unrest in his colleagues. The personal commitment is there. But is the tough negotiator in an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation? Using the gavel doesn’t seem to appeal to his innate sense of fairness. On TV, he’s at his best when the cameras catch him in a rare moment of anger. In short, he comes across as decent but unobtrusive and uncommanding.

— from “The Workhorse Candidate: McGovern’s Campaign”, The New Republic, 30 October 1971, pg 20.