Wednesday, 11 August 2004

Mystery of the day

Why does the bread I buy seem to come in loaves with an odd number of slices?

What he said

Alex Knapp on prison rape jokes:

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I don't care what the context or who it is--prison rape is no laughing matter. This is especially true in the case of a person who, although a scumbag, has not been proved to be a murderer in a court of law.

Prisons are nasty, brutal places, and dehumanize all parties involved. I don't know that there's a viable alternative to prison--especially for hardcore violent offenders, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't try to figure one out. Jokes about prison life don't really make matters better, and the overall feeling that prisoners somehow "deserve" what they get (even though non-violent offenders are the most common victims) is nothing short of disgusting.

And on an unrelated note, the new site design at Heretical Ideas looks great! Kind of a Scott McCloud look. I don't care for the way the links change fonts when I mouse over them, though.

California Feint

Robert Garcia Tagorda questions the Bush team’s strategy of talking up its chances in California, noting (correctly) that Arnold Schwarzenegger is hardly offering up his 65% approval rating for a coattail effect. However, a look back at 2000 would be instructive—in that campaign, too, the Bush campaign talked up its chances in California and devoted more than token resources to the state, which forced the Gore campaign to follow suit, diverting ads from the battleground states that Bush was truly focusing on.

One suspects that Kerry will not fall for the same trick again, and—unlike in 2000—his surrogates supporters ABBers at and other 527s can devote virtually unlimited resources to counteract any Bush spending in the state without hurting the campaign elsewhere, while the Democratic party organization is more free to devote resources to get-out-the-vote efforts than in the past (mainly because it can’t spend its money on much else, thanks to McCain-Feingold). But, nonetheless, it’s not a completely bad strategy, because there’s absolutely no way Kerry can win the White House if he loses California.

That sunny dome! those caves of ice!

Saparmurat Niyazov, the megalomanical dictator of Turkmenistan, "has ordered the construction of a palace made of ice in the heart of his desert country, one of the hottest on earth."

Perhaps he fancies himself as Kubla Khan from the poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge:

The shadow of the dome of pleasure
Floated midway on the waves;
Where was heard the mingled measure
From the fountain and the caves.

It was a miracle of rare device,
A sunny pleasure dome with caves of ice!

UPDATE: Great minds think alike.

The perils of campaign spam

James Joyner received spam* from the Kerry campaign. Hilarity ensues.

Redistricting initiative in California

Professor Bainbridge links the text of the California anti-gerrymandering initiative. It looks more-or-less like a good idea to me, but the selection procedure for the “special masters” looks overly complicated. But, I suppose, that’s the way California politics works…

Monitor this

Unlike James Joyner, I don’t see a problem with plans by the OSCE to observe this November’s presidential election. Indeed, I think I’d put this one under the category of leadership by example: if we expect thugocracies and ex-thugocracies to admit OSCE observers to assure free and fair elections (consider, for example, the ousting of the Sandinista government from Nicaragua in 1990, which would not have been possible without outside election monitors), the least we can do is allow them to observe our elections too.

The predictable refrain is that this will somehow help the “liberal media” paint this election as illegitimate. My gut feeling is that, even if the media were so inclined, they’ll certainly be able to find plenty enough evidence of corruption and malfeasance by election officials on their own.

Elsewhere: Alex Knapp largely agrees with me, while Robert Garcia Tagorda cheekily says it’s Bush multilateralism in action.