Archive for August, 2004

Wussup Andrew?

Monday, August 30th, 2004

Andrew Sullivan appears to have completely bought in to the mainstream media’s Bush-orchestrated “smear” theory of the swift boats controversy. Does he seriously believe that 254 naval officers and enlisted men, admirals and medal of honor winners, are uncredible Republican operatives? Bush didn’t make Vietnam the central issue of the Kerry campaign. Kerry did that. The swifties are, and have been, understandably angry about John Kerry’s 1971 characterization of them as war criminals. They would be doing this regardless of John Kerry’s opponent. Several of their allegations, most notably concerning the Christmas in Cambodia fantasy, have been proven correct. Most of the rest of their allegations are unproven, one way or another. They have every right in the world to express their opinions, and they have the credentials to be taken seriously. The unsupported ad hominem attacks against them and the unquestioning acceptance of Kerry’s unsubstantiated charge of illegal RNC coordination have become the mantra of the mainstream media. That someone like Sullivan, with his fearlessly independent analytical mind, would so casually join in the chant, is astounding to me.

Time Will Tell

Saturday, August 28th, 2004

Simon Schama begins his magisterial book on the FRENCH REVOLUTION,
Citizens, by relating the reply of Chinese Premier Zhou En-lai to a
question about the significance of those 1789 events: It’s too soon to tell.

Mom Corrects Me

Saturday, August 28th, 2004

My mother objects to my characterization of her as a life-long atheist. I should have known better. Here is her statement:

From: BettySeward@aol.com
Date: August 25, 2004 12:00:19 PM CDT
To: jns@pubblog.com

It’s not true that I’m a “lifelong atheist”.  I was brought up in the Congregational Church and attended Sunday School and later church until I left home.  I sang in the church choir all through college.  In Watertown where your father and I met, my first date with him was after a rehearsal of the all-city church choirs singing The Messiah.  So I went from acceptance to indifference to doubt, and finally to atheist.  I guess you could say I’m a “recovered Christian”.

Love,
Mom

Waiting for History

Saturday, August 28th, 2004

I would love to say something insightful (or even inciteful) and profound about the whole Najaf Al Sadr holy shrine of Imam Ali engagement, but the truth is I have no idea whether it has been handled brilliantly or badly. In order to say anything intelligent about it I would have to be, not only a military expert, but an expert on all the ins and outs of Iraqi Shiite politics, and knowledgeable about the psychology and relative strength of all of the competing and cooperating Iraqi subcultures. People with these qualifications may exist, but I’m not aware of any. I’m not sure that anyone really knows for sure if things are going well or badly for the U.S. in Iraq. We’re there. We’re doing the best we can. And only time will tell whether it was a bold, brilliant, noble endeavor, or a big mistake. I and others are betting on the former. Many are betting on the latter. None of us knows for sure.
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Apple to Dominate Music Downloads

Friday, August 27th, 2004

Piper Jaffray is the first analyst to agree with me that Apple is already set to dominate the emerging music download market.

Christians are alright

Sunday, August 22nd, 2004

Candace and I went to the Station Inn the other night, because we heard that Pat Flynn was playing with some other people. Pat is a masterful guitar player and he plays on Candace’s CD, so we didn’t want to miss it. When we got there, Pat was in the middle of an incredible mandolin improvisation and the band was really cooking. There was Dave Pomeroy on bass, Kenny Malone on percussion, a fabulous fiddle player, and a great dobro player, whose names I didn’t get, and a guy playing a really hot harmonica.

The harmonica player turned out to be Buddy Greene. I hadn’t heard of him, but Candace knew about him. He not only played great harmonica, he also turned out to be a great singer, a great song writer, and a very funny guy. The music was as good or better than anything I have heard since coming to Nashville, which is saying a lot, and the jokes were funnier too. They were having a great time, and so was I, and so was the audience. It was a full house.

The audience, while appreciative, was kinda quiet compared to me in my somewhat inebriated state. When I looked around, the people seemed a little straighter than the usual crowd at the Station Inn, but I didn’t really think about it. Gradually it became clear that Buddy Greene is a Christian, and this was a church crowd that had come to hear him. Now I am on record as loving Jesus, but I have always shared the liberal prejudice against church-going Christians, especially Southern Christians, especially born-again Southern Christians.

But now I’m gonna have to reconsider. Here I was right in the middle of a whole bunch of ’em, and they were not only really nice, well-behaved people, but they had better music and better jokes. Maybe they’re on to something.

The Limits of Logic

Friday, August 20th, 2004

I’m a programmer. I’ve spent my life programming computers, in a dozen different languages, on all kinds of computers, from Atari game machines to IBM 360s. I’m like those guys who have spent their lives playing guitar, or being machinists, or cabinet makers. If you play guitar all your life, and master your instrument, you see the world that way. You see the world as a giant guitar that you have to learn how to play. I have spent my life constructing complex logical patterns. That is how I see the world. This is both useful and frustrating.

Useful because logic is an unexcelled way of analyzing factual situations. Frustrating because human behaviour is not logical. Love, politics, war, economics, art, religion. These are disciplines that defy and transcend logic. I, like all humans, live my life within them, in spite of their alogicality. But I am brought back again and again to the view with which I am embued: logic. I am offended by illogic, in any sphere. I recognize that logic is not all there is. Nevertheless, I can’t subscribe to any notion that does not include it, at some level. It is an inevitable concomitant of my profession. Here are some things which I find to be illogical:
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The Wedding

Wednesday, August 11th, 2004

We have a few photos, more on the way. Here’s a QuickTime slide show(2.9 MB). If you need QuickTime for Windows, you can download it here.