Detail of "Subway Map Floating on a New York Sidewalk", by Francoise Schein.
Staggering, penetrative insight from the New York Times: sports fans like to wear clothes with their team's name.
Here's an interesting WaPo feature on a seven-foot-wide house, the narrowest house in Alexandria, VA. (and perhaps the country? It's even skinnier than the Millay house in the Village.)
Check out this wingnut Republican editorial in the Seattle P-I. Note that recommendation #1 for the Republican Party, in order to win in 2008, is to "commit to the U.S. Constitution", and that recommendation #2 is to abolish the 16th Amendment.
They just don't get it, do they?
(Hat tip to August Pollak.)
Container shipping turns 50 today...and that's more important than it sounds. From the FT:
It may not be printed in red on your calendar, but April 26 is an important date in economic history. Fifty years ago, the Ideal-X, a war-surplus oil tanker with a steel frame welded above its deck, loaded 58 aluminium containers at a dock in Newark, New Jersey. Five days later, the ship steamed into Houston, Texas, where trucks took on the metal boxes and carried them to their destinations.
This was the beginning of the container revolution. By dramatically lowering freight costs, the container transformed economic geography. Some of the world's great ports - London and Liverpool, New York and San Francisco - saw their bustling waterfronts decay as the maritime industry decamped to new locations with room to handle containers and transport links to move them in and out. Manufacturers, no longer tied to the waterfront to reduce shipping costs, moved away from city centres, decimating traditional industrial districts. Eventually, production moved much farther afield, to places such as South Korea and China, which took advantage of cheap, reliable transportation to make goods that could not have been exported profitably before containerisation.
Containerisation is a remarkable achievement. Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of its history is that no one foresaw how the box would change everything it touched, from ships and ports to patterns of global trade. Containerisation is a monument to the most powerful law in economics, that of unanticipated consequences.
Nothing better than a good fisking, is there?
Mr. Henninger, I had the good fortune to review your column, in which you express, at length and in some detail, your extreme distaste for people publishing their own opinions on the Internet. I wanted to let you know that I am glad that you have published your own opinion on this matter. On the Internet.
Also, you ask, "At the risk of enabling, does the Internet mean that all the rest of us are being made unwitting participants in the personal and political life of, um, crazy people?" Your example aside, I think not. . .How could you lower the legendarily high standards of the Wall Street Journal's editorial page by making such an accusation without factual evidence to back it up? . . .
Referring to the growing trend towards "uninhibited speech", you lament, "On the Web and on the street, more people than not talk like this now." Truly, these outbreaks of free speech are a scourge and a disappointment. Your examples of this reckless tendency for people, even poor or uneducated ones, to say whatever they want serve an important purpose. The litany of transgressions helps call attention to how these cannibals-in-training are inflicting their "thoughts" on anyone without filtering, or indeed, without even asking you.
Go read the whole thing.
Nice NYT package on the Empire State Building's 75th anniversary, from this past weekend.
What's next, sedating passengers and stacking them like cordwood? Using these sorts of diagrams for ideas?
(Memo to airline executives: No, I'm not serious.)
ADDENDUM: The current "Ask the Pilot" column shows that actually, buses can be decidedly more comfortable than some airplanes...and having done a few overnight Turkish bus rides myself, I'm inclined to agree. (However, I'd rather have individual earphones rather than iron-cone PA speakers at rest stops blaring arabesk pop music.)
Two Talking Points Memo posts from the past weekend are worth highlighting here.
In the first, Josh Marshall highlights a WaPo revelation of the White House political operation going on a witchhunt at CIA...because, I guess, only people that agree with you ideologically are fit to tell you what you want to hear:
The Post buried the lede in its piece today on the continuing fall out from the firing of CIA officer Mary McCarthy.
Says the Post in the second to last graf ...
The White House also has recently barraged the agency with questions about the political affiliations of some of its senior intelligence officers, according to intelligence officials.
CIA officers don't work under the same civil service rules as most government employees. But I still don't think this sort of political purge activity is permitted.
Not that we should be surprised about this. When Porter Goss took over as DCI he brought over with him a number of GOP political operatives. Take the CIA head of Public Affairs Goss installed: Jennifer Millerwise Dyck. She was a flack from the Bush-Cheney 2004 campaign. Before that she worked for Goss on the Hill. And before that she worked for Ari Fleischer at the House Ways and Means Committee.
The administration's response to the ills of the intelligence agencies has been to further politicize them, to put them under more reliable political control. And that's not surprising either since, from the White House perspective, the failures of the intelligence agencies weren't not getting it right on WMD and other issues. It was getting it more right and then wrong and then talking about what had happened to the press.
This last graf is the key one here: Intelligence agencies are about telling the truth to the people who make the calls, and making sure they have up-to-date, solid, reliable information on which to make important decisions. It shouldn't be about only presenting the data you think the brass want to hear -- it should be about telling the brass what's going on...you know, the truth.
Except for the fact that, for the current Republican Administration, truth is ancillary -- a casualty by the wayside on their path to remaking the world in their neocon ideology. (A casualty on the wayside, just like these guys.)
ADDENDUM: I also like Kevin Drum's take:
A note to the White House: if you stop breaking the law, that would be a pretty good way to stop leaks too.
And, in another post, Marshall confirms the 60 Minutes scoop in which the former CIA head of covert European operations gave us pretty solid evidence that the Bush Administration cherry-picked the available intel leading up to the war, ignoring those pesky facts that didn't fit into their messianic ideology:
So why didn't we hear about any of this in the reports of those Iraq intel commissions that have given the White House a clean bill of health on distorting the intel and misleading the country about what we knew about Iraq's alleged WMD programs?
Think about it. It's devastating evidence against their credibility on a slew of levels.
Did you read in any of those reports -- even in a way that would protect sources and methods -- that the CIA had turned a key member of the Iraqi regime, that that guy had said there weren't any active weapons programs, and that the White House lost interest in what he was saying as soon as they realized it didn't help the case for war? What about what he said about the Niger story? . . .
Now, quite a few of us have been arguing for almost two years now that those reports were fundamentally dishonest in the story they told about why we were so badly misled in the lead up to war. The fact that none of Drumheller's story managed to find its way into those reports, I think, speaks volumes about the agenda that the writers of those reports were pursuing.
"I was stunned," Drumheller told me, when so little of the stuff he had told the commission's and the committee's investigators ended up in their reports. His colleagues, he said, were equally "in shock" that so little of what they related ended up in the reports either.
What Drumheller has to say adds quite a lot to our knowledge of what happened in the lead up to war. But what it shows even more clearly is that none of this stuff has yet been investigated by anyone whose principal goal is not covering for the White House.
See? Little things like "facts", "truth" and "the way the world works" don't matter to the Administration. All that matters to them is that they get to do what they want. There are no other considerations for them. Not to the truth. Not to the voters. And certainly not to the Constitution.
Thomas Hawk has an interesting essay up about how to find great shots on Flickr. In it, he mentions a nifty toy called Scout, which lets you plug in a Flickr user ID and see which shots have made it into Flickr's "Explore" feature, which displays the 500 "most interesting" photos uploaded to Flickr each day.
("Interestingness" is derived from a
top-secret algorithm magic donkey that looks at number of views, favorites, comments, et cetera.)
Anyhoo, Scout is part of the great collection of Flickr toys at flagrantdisregard.com. And it's fun to plug in your favorite photographers' usernames and see which work of theirs Flickr deems most interesting. Here's mine.