Duel Between Bush and Saddam?

Iraqi Official Suggests a Duel

"An Iraqi vice president offered a unique solution to the U.S.-Iraq standoff: a duel between George W. Bush and Saddam Hussein.

"Taha Yassin Ramadan said the duel could be held at a neutral site and with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan as the referee."

I wholeheartedly endorse this proposal, although kickboxing would be far more enjoyable than a duel. Dubya is in phenomenal physical shape, and would whoop Saddam's ass. But I would support such a proposal on only one condition: that it be televised, and not on pay-per-view.

Travelling without focussing on process.

Derrick on why he likes transit: "What is something that you feel is relaxing but most people don't? Riding buses, SkyTrain, any other form of public transit. I love travelling without having to focus on the process."

Couldn't agree more. I hate the fact that it can take me 3 times as long to get anywhere as it would by car (and the smells!), but transit is cheap as hell, and I can (and do!) read books or space out or whatever, and never have to worry about how I'm getting there.

President Gore?

Why invade Iraq? Wise Rummy explains by Maureen Dowd

A satirical jab at the plans to invade Iraq. I'm surprised the Post printed this. Oh well.

"'Why is President Gore running against me again?'"

"President Gore" is a nice touch.

Erections Inside the Womb

Brad Evenson: “A month before birth, most boys sprout an erection for about 60 minutes a day. This state of sexual arousal peaks at three hours a day for a 20-year-old male (although mostly as he sleeps). Men copulate an estimated 50 billion times a year, producing 1 million litres of sperm a day, a rate of production roughly equal to the maple syrup flow of Quebec on a spring morning. A single ejaculation is adequate to fertilize all the women of Europe.”

This quote seemed tacked on to an article relaying the bad news that in a million years or so, men as a gender may no longer exist. But it's interesting, non?

Another Fluff Piece From Eckler

Rebecca Eckler: “If you're a woman in New York, it's easy to meet men. All you have to do is plop yourself down on a bar stool and men will talk to you. Except, my engagement ring is kind of a repellent, which is a good thing, because I'm not here to meet a man and they're not keen to hang out with a woman with an engagement ring.”

Another fluff column from Eckler, but she knows that it's what the National Post is paying her to do. Hers, if I extrapolate from the only person that I know has a similar problem, is not a unique problem: a woman who is in a committed relationship but who wants to meet new people.

Timberlake's Admission

Justin Timberlake Makes A Very Personal Admission Yahoo! News Story

Goddamn, what some people will do to get their music played. Well, he didn't go down below the equator with Britney Spears to get his music played, but still, admitting it just to get an extra 30 plays a week?

I'm not sure I'd admit to that kind of thing. Well, it's more who he did it for than that he did it, because I think everybody has someone they'd be willing to brag about (in my case Zhang Ziyi, Uma Thurman or maybe even Catherine Keener). Okay, we're well within the realm of TMI, so let's stop now.

Kinsley on the Rationales for War

Michael Kinsley: “The Freudian/Oedipal theorizing about finishing the job his father left undone is entertaining but silly. So is "Wag the Dog" speculation that Bush is staging a war for political reasons: The political risk of a bloody disaster surely outweighs any short-term patriotic boost. The lack of any obvious ulterior motive, in fact, is the strongest argument for taking Bush at his word.”

Kinsley dismisses almost outright two favourite arguments used by the left: that he's finishing the job for daddy; and that deflection away from scandals (in this case, scandals about companies, with tangential involvement of the government) back home are the motive for a strike against Iraq. The last paragraph of the article is the highlight.

It's funny how both Kinsley and Joe Klein note that Gore won the popular vote of the last election, which is entirely irrelevant. And I find it odd that people, like Weisberg (who tries to make the case against the case against war), are saying that "[t]he White House is proposing a radical new military and diplomatic doctrine for the United States—the right to intervene, unilaterally and pre-emptively, whenever we see fit." It's only really the first time they've said so publicly, and it's refreshing (although slightly dishonest in suggesting it's a new thing) in that they are acknowledging what has been policy for at least the last 50 years.

I haven't yet seen someone argue for invading Iraq in terms of 'opportunity cost', one of the few things I remember from Economics class in university. Opportunity costs are the costs of not doing something other than what you're currently doing (or about to do). (As an aside, some economists will tell you that efficiently-running businesses actually run at zero profit, if opportunity costs are taken into account.) Invading Iraq is favourable only if the costs of doing so outweight the costs of not doing so. So far conservatives firmly believe striking Iraq will save much in the future (e.g. keep Israel intact; get rid of someone not openly hostile against the United States but with some muscle to back it up), while those on the Left will argue many things: that the United States is being unilateralist (and nation-states are wont to do); that, as Klein argues, the outcome is less than certain, because of the complexities involved.

The best arguments against a war, which take into account President Bush's political interests (do you think he really listens to people who don't want to further his political interests?), are that in the political realm, it gains Bush nothing domestically, and something Photodude touched on earlier. The first President Bush lost to then-Governor Clinton because he failed to spend his political capital. The second Bush gained a huge amount of political capital from September 11th, and has so far failed to do Something Big with it. He risks doing the same with Iraq.

Low Voter Turnout Not So Bad?

George Jonas: “When few people bother to vote, it may not be due to their alienation or civic disengagement. It may be due to their confidence that any one of the political parties and persons seeking their mandate can do the job. In contrast, when voters consider that times are hard or ominous; when they regard one or more of the contending parties as menacing, and when they think that their choice of government might vitally affect their essential interests, few are likely to stay home on election day.”

I'm in in the unusual position of agreeing with Preston "Refoooorrrm" Manning, who in a speech “made it clear, though, that he considered voting virtuous.” (New political slogan: "Voting is Virtuous!") This article illustrates one of the reasons I like the media outlets like The National Post and Slate. A lot of their columns have a similar theme: either "What you think is bad is in fact good" or "What you think is good is in fact bad."

Totally unrelated: the September issue of The Atlantic Monthly, as I found out last night, is unfathomably good. Even the letters to the editor (with replies from the authors of the articles the letter-writers were referring to) rocked my world.

Universities Are Not Job Trainers

I just want to bring to the fore a comment to the post about university education for those who don't read the comments (and if you don't, are you mad?!). Steve Tannock


This is one of those things my friends and I argue in circles over and over again. I'm of the mind that university is not there to train you for a job. It is there to train you to think, to reason, to argue, to analyze, etc. It's training is abstracted and intellectual. In a certain sense, regardless of what your major is, you come out with a similar set of skills. Where the problem lies is that the non-arts majors all come with a certain amount of skill-training as well. A biologist comes (or should come) out with all the same intellectual tools that a poli-sci major comes out of school with. However, in maby [sic] ways a biologist is immediately far more employable to the average corporation than a political scientist. Why? For one, the skill-set provided by most science degrees is quantifiable, whereas those in the liberal arts are not.

Many would argue that universities are missing the point in this day and age: with the costs involved with education, they should be 'better preparing' students for the professional world. I would argue that these people are missing the point. What we need, perhaps, is more respect for trade & technical schools, as well as better regulation for them. Go to university, get a political science degree, learn how to think. Go to a trade school to get trained for a job. Perhaps apprenticeships should become more normal again (although internships are essentially the modern equivalent).

If you want to be trained in a skill, don't go to university. You're not helping it, it's not helping you. If your desires are a little more abstract, by all means, go: but don't expect them to prepare you for a job afterwards.

Well said. University students should educate students in how to become better citizens, of your community, city, province, country and world. Besides, we arts students are constantly told that employers look for imaginative, critical people who can analyze and solve problems. So it's win-win (again, if you have the money and the time).

Google News

Jack Shafer: “The Google News page exceeds every editor's dream—to produce a first-rate publication without the meddling interference of reporters—by making the editors themselves extraneous as well. Instead of assigning humans to gather and present the news, Google News delegates the task to software developed over the last nine months by five Google engineers (presumably all human).”

I like the idea behind Google News, which I've known about for some time and have used to search news stories (especially when someone said "hey, did you hear that..." and I hadn't). I liked the older design, however (which was very similar to Kottke's proposed redesign). The new design now requires scanning horizontally as well as vertically. And the photos make it a little to busy for my liking. I'll probably warm to it, but not soon.