James Taranto: idiot

James Taranto is a columnist for the Wall St Journal Online; he’s a funny writer and an evil reactionary bastard.

Mr Taranto also exemplifies the war-hawk tendency to believe that there are a fixed number of terrorists, who can only be dealt with by being killed. He says, "mentoring a child or dropping off groceries at a food bank has never produced one dead terrorist".

No, but those of us who aren’t idiots don’t have ‘making dead terrorists’ as our key anti-terrorism goal. Rather, we want to deter people from becoming terrorists in the first place – even if this sounds a bit liberal and wet compared to blowing up Arabs.

So what…? Well, this is just a hunch, and I haven’t read the scientific literature on the subject… but as an example, I’d be surprised to learn that most of the murderers in North Ossetia had happy and loving upbringings.

Posted in Uncategorized

Boo, and indeed, yey

It’s disappointing that the Bush National Guard memos appear definitively to be fake. However, on the plus side, it’s good to know that all the criticisms raised by lunatics like Charles Johnson have also been definitely proven false (also here).

As a bit of a typography geek, I was underwhelmed by Johnson’s notorious animated GIF. It showed that two documents typed in the same typeface using the same spacing and then shrunk to a very low resolution looked quite similar; this barely even *implies* anything about authenticity, never mind proving it.

Based on a similar gut feeling, Hunter at Kos (linked above) investigates all the blogosphere criticisms of the documents: it’s clear that they could reasonably have been created in Lt Col Killian’s office in 1972. The key evidence that they weren’t comes from the WaPo interview with his secretary: she says that in real life, she didn’t use the kind of typewriter that would produce such a document. Even though they existed, and not just as enormous print-shop typewriters.

As Matt Yglesias says, the rightybloggers have no right to be at all triumphalist about their achievements here. They’re just as wrong as Dan Rather was (just as incorrect in this case, I mean; obviously the ‘we must slay all the Muslims’ crowd are far more *wrong* than Mr Rather…)

Update: the Johnson document doesn’t work when blown up big at all – there are some really obvious differences (from Juliusblog)

Update 2: heard an interesting rumour that Microsoft deliberately modeled Word’s type spacing on an IBM Executive, so that major corporates who switched to word processing could keep a consistent corporate image. Can’t find any credible sources for this as yet – any confirmation or denial would be appreciated. Incidentally, I really don’t care whether or not the documents are real; the issue is more one of not letting liars like Johnson pretend they were right.

Posted in Uncategorized


David Adesnik at Oxblog neatly sums up why we shouldn’t let our sympathy with the Russian people turn into anything other than contempt for their corrupt, despotic, incompetent leader.

Highlight: "Imagine our response in the United States if Al Qaeda continued to launch attack after attack while the Bush administration did nothing more than shut down the New York Times and CBS. That is the only way to understand what Putin has done". But go read it all.

Posted in Uncategorized

Britain in ‘still sane’ shock

The country’s most entertaining newspaper columnist has a truly spectacular new article online. Melanie Phillips, for it is she, blasts the British public for not being as mad as her.

Mel was looking forward to appearing as a panelist on a current affairs radio show show. Sadly, the Evil Left Wing Conspiracy reared its ugly head and spoiled her afternoon.

To start with, the panel was terribly biased. It featured a former Green Party leader, a Muslim feminist, the editor of the Financial Times, and Mel. Now, that might sound like a fair spectrum of opinion – but three of them oppose the Endless War On Whoever We Fancy Invading Next, so count as secret communist dhimmi saboteurs in Mel’s book.

Worse still, the British public are equally biased: "when [Green] Jonathan Porritt claimed… that the idea of a concerted Islamic war against the west was ‘bordering on the insane’ and was merely a fiction concocted by the likes of George W Bush… the audience burst into applause."

Terrible news, Mel. I know – why don’t we dissolve the public and elect a new one which supports your conspiracy theories?

Posted in Uncategorized

What the fsik?

Laban Tall has a confusing post about Robert Fisk. Or at least, I’m confused by it: I assume he means it to sound perjorative, but it actually comes across as complimentary.

He quotes Mr Fisk at his mother’s funeral: "But I also remember, at the service in the chancel of the little stone Kentish church, that I angrily suggested that if President Bill Clinton had spent as much money on research into Parkinson’s disease as he had just spent in firing cruise missiles into Afghanistan at Osama bin Laden (and it must have been the first time Bin Laden’s name was uttered in the precincts of the Church of England) then my mother would not have been in the wooden box beside me."

Says Laban, "That little anecdote says more about Robert Fisk than all of his Indie pieces put together."

I’d agree. To me, it says that he understands that disease kills far more people, in far more horrible ways, than wankers like Bin Laden. It says that he isn’t blinded by the War on Terror lunacy which claims that a few thousand crazy Islamists are the only threat worth bothering with. It says that he picks butter over guns – and it’s hard to see how that isn’t the best choice.

And I’m aware that Mr Fisk isn’t the most scrupulous journalist, and I don’t read his budget newspaper. In this context, that doesn’t matter in the slightest. He *gets it*.

(and yes, that was a deliberate attempt to regain the maturity high ground from the neocons and their fellow overgrown kids playing at being soldiers, who think that ‘getting it’ means ‘thinking we should bomb more Muslims’).

Posted in Uncategorized

Once again…

A UK rail worker has been suspended for making an (admittedly rubbish) joke about dyslexia. While his employers are the worst culprits in this insanity, they claim in their defence that "We had three complaints in two hours" about the joke.

It’s definitely time to implement my plan of detention in a mental health facility for anyone who makes an ‘offensiveness’ complaint, about anything. Irrespective of context.

Posted in Uncategorized