Thursday, August 28, 2003

National Lampoon's Animal House was released in 1978. In honor of the film’s 25th anniversary, the new “Double Secret Probation Edition" of the Animal House DVD was released this week, causing stories by many news organizations. The New York Times examines the movie's influence in this article. MSNBC interviews several of the Animal House actors here. This National Public Radio story includes video clips, music and recorded interviews. Finally, the ACME Animal House site has just about all the information you could ever want on the film.

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

On the eve of what would have been Jack Kirby's 86th birthday, Elvis Mitchell and Michael Chabon discuss the influence of the "King of Comics" in this New York Times article.

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Neal Stephenson's new novel Quicksilver will be released in September. The book is set during the 1600s and includes both fictional characters and historical figures such as Isaac Newton. It is the first of three books in Stephenson's Baroque Cycle. The other two novels are scheduled to follow Quicksilver at 6-month intervals. Stephenson discusses his new book and other things in this Wired interview.

This article by Timothy Ferris discusses the life of Isaac Newton.

Monday, August 25, 2003

As reported in this Salon article, the request by Fox News for an injunction against Al Franken's new book, “Lies: And the Lying Liars Who Tell Them-A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right,” was refused by U.S. District Judge Denny Chin on Friday. "There are hard cases and there are easy cases," said Chin. "This is an easy case. The case is wholly without merit both factually and legally…It is ironic that a media company that should seek to protect the First Amendment is instead seeking to undermine it."

Ben McGrath discusses the question "So what was Fox thinking?" in this New Yorker article.

This MSNBC article includes an excerpt from Franken's book and a video interview with Franken.

Sunday, August 24, 2003

Peter Berkowitz argues that George W. Bush is really a moderate in this Boston Globe article. The American Prospect's weblog TAPPED responds here.

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Jim Holt discusses whether parallel universes exist in this Slate article.

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Thanks to his appearance on The Simpsons, Dr. Stephen Hawking now has his own action figure.

Monday, August 18, 2003

Paul Krugman explains how deregulation helped cause last week's blackout in his New York Times column, and Tom Oliphant explains the political obstacles to fixing the problem in his Boston Globe column. If you are worried about power grids around the country, check the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's Current Energy site for the status of five regional power grids. The site plans to have power grid information for the whole country soon. This National Post article discusses the cultural history of urban darkness.

Sunday, August 17, 2003

I don't quote the Chairman of the Republican Party of Alabama very often, but I'm quoting him below because according to this Washington Post article, Alabama politics have taken an unusual turn this year.

"We've got a conservative, evangelical Christian, Republican governor," Alabama Republican Party Chairman Marty Connors said, enunciating each word as if to get his head around the details, "trying to get a massive turnout of black voters to pass a tax increase so he can raise taxes on Republican constituents."

Thursday, August 14, 2003

You may remember Troy McClure from such films as "Hitler Doesn't Live Here Anymore" and "It's a Wonderful Belt." How about "Gladys The Groovy Mule" or "The Revenge of Abe Lincoln"? Those films are just a small part of McClure's career. The Simpsons Archive has compiled a complete list of McClure’s work in this surprisingly extensive filmography.

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Here's something you don't see everyday. It's a wooden mirror.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Fox News has sued Al Franken over the title of Franken's new book, "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right." Fox claims to have registered the phrase "Fair & Balanced" as a trademark in 1995. Fox's complaint is surprisingly nasty. It refers to Franken as "shrill and unstable", "either intoxicated or deranged", and a "parasite." I don't know why Fox would sue Franken at all. Prior restraint suits almost always lose. All they've done is give Franken free publicity for his book. Here are articles about the case from the New York Times and the Washington Post. Franken responds in this Associated Press article.

Monday, August 11, 2003

Two new books, The Clinton Wars by Sidney Blumenthal and Living History by Hillary Rodham Clinton, have attempted to put the Clinton presidency in perspective. Unfortunately, most reviews of these books ignore the broader issues these books raise and instead concentrate on refighting the impeachment or personal attacks on Bill and Hillary Clinton. However, a few thoughtful reviews have appeared. The two most intersting reviews I've read are Gary Wills' review in the New York Review of Books, and Todd Gitlin's review on the openDemocracy website.

Sunday, August 10, 2003

This Washington Post article presents new information on how the Bush administration manipulated intelligence on Iraqi weapons programs to justify war with Iraq. It finds that:

"The new information indicates a pattern in which President Bush, Vice President Cheney and their subordinates -- in public and behind the scenes -- made allegations depicting Iraq's nuclear weapons program as more active, more certain and more imminent in its threat than the data they had would support. On occasion administration advocates withheld evidence that did not conform to their views. The White House seldom corrected misstatements or acknowledged loss of confidence in information upon which it had previously relied."

Thursday, August 07, 2003

Karen Kwiatkowski is an Air Force Lieutenant Colonel who recently retired. During her last three years in the service she worked for the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s Under Secretariat for Policy. Kwiatkowski explains what has gone wrong with U.S. Middle East policy in this article from the Akron Beacon Journal.

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

This Boston Globe magazine article by Charles Pierce examines the history of polygraphs, and discusses whether lie detectors really work.

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Some members of the Bush administration are surprised by the problems the U.S. is having in post-war Iraq. They wouldn't be surprised if they had asked James Dobbins, the former special envoy to post-Taliban Afghanistan, who has written a book that argues that "nearly everything this administration has said and done about postwar Iraq is wrong." They also could have asked the "Army's Most Decorated Soldier", Colonel David Hackworth.

Monday, August 04, 2003

During the Great Depression, the Federal government funded the Federal Writers' Project to provide work for unemployed writers, editors, and researchers. Saul Bellow, John Cheever, and Studs Terkel were among the more than 6,600 people who participated in the project. In this New York Times article, historian Douglas Brinkley discusses the Federal Writers' Project. Some of the Federal Writers' Project's oral history interviews are now available online at Library of Congress's American Life Histories web site.