Bald Eagle Picture

1.5.2002

7:38 PM
Edmund Morris has no regrets over adding fiction to Dutch, his biography of Ronald Reagan. Morris is back in the news because of the second volume of his three-part biography of Theodore Roosevelt. Theodore Rex is selling very well since part one, The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt came out in 1979.

I just started reading Rise and am already impressed with the intellect and psychological character of young TR. The man was a voracious reader and he never let his bouts with asthma or diarrhea hold him back from doing what he wanted. Just reading about TR's relentless energy makes me tired.

"Reagan's Biographer, Unapologetic, Inserts No Fiction Into Roosevelt's Story"

Sean Hackbarth |



7:07 PM
Andrew Hofer's idea about licensing Blogger to ISP (how about web space providers?) makes great sense. Blogger, like e-mail, would be a service the ISP would provide subscribers. It would be like the difference between Napster and the Gnutella. A licensed Blogger wouldn't be strapped by a central server. By doing that pressure would lessen on Ev's servers, and he could focus more on making Blogger better instead of just keeping it functioning.

At the very least, Ev should consider making users pay for Blogger with the condition being that it will be less prone to outages.

"Helping Blogger?"

Sean Hackbarth |



6:33 PM
Professor Marc Herold claims that 3767 Afghan civilians were killed by U.S. bombs as of 12.06.01. The tone of Herold's piece is anti-American. He uses quotes to try to claim moral equivalence between the terrorists who attacked the U.S. and the military who responded to those attacks. That doesn't mean almost 4000 Afghans civilians were killed, it just explains his sympathies.

"A Dossier on Civilian Victims of United States' Aerial Bombing of Afghanistan"

Sean Hackbarth |



5:40 PM
I read the military portion of the administration's summary of the first 100 days of the war on terrorism (needs a real name!) and no mention was made of casualties. Yesterday, Army Special Forces Sgt. 1st Class Nathan Ross Chapman became the first U.S. soldier killed in action. Other soldiers have died away from combat, and CIA agent Johnny Spann was killed in a Taliban prison riot. No total U.S. dead was listed. Also, I've read nothing on the amount of causualites of our Afghan allies. There have only been sporatic guesses about civilian casualties, but no definitive numbers have been collected about them either.

On another note: the report says that 460 people are being held by the INS. What about the claims that 1000 people have been detained by the government? This just might be some spin by the administration. The only mention of detainees is the 460 by the INS. That doesn't include any arrests by other law enforcement agencies. Another possibility is that administration critics are just using hyperbole and outright lies to advance their cause. Tactics like flagrant exaggeration is common in the environmental Left with who many war critics sympathize.

Sean Hackbarth |



4:21 PM
Maybe Stephen Ambrose, America's most revered living historian and Wisconsin native, has pumped out too many books in too short a time (four in the past year according his web site). Maybe it's all the side projects he's worked on (including Saving Private Ryan and HBO's Band of Brothers) Maybe it's just a sign of age, although 66 isn't that old. The Weekly Standard's Fred Barnes makes a good case that Ambrose's lastest book The Wild Blue has passaged copied almost verbatum from Thomas Childers' The Wings of Morning.

This accusation comes after Putlizer Prize winner Joseph Ellis admitted to lying to students for years about his Army career and his civil rights work. In addition, Michael Bellesiles' book on the history of gun ownership in America is receiving tremendous criticism because much of the research appears to be made up.

Ambrose can withstand this intellectual scandal. He's beloved by millions of readers, by WWII veterns, and by their families. Even Childress doesn't want to go after Ambrose because he's done "an awful lot of good work."

Ambrose has done more than any other writer to praise the courage and sacrifices made by those soldiers. That goodwill will protect him, but from now on, a cloud of doubt will surround any of his future work.

"Stephen Ambrose, Copycat"

"Author Accused of Plagiarism"

Sean Hackbarth |



1:32 AM
While children were opening presents and getting ready for Christmas Day church services, 611,000 New York City tv viewers kept their eyes on a burning hunk of wood. WPIX will air it again next Christmas.

"Yule Log Wins Christmas Morning Ratings in New York"

Sean Hackbarth |

1.4.2002

11:40 PM
As part of a settlement of a federal lawsuit, the State of Wisconsin would change the name of its Supermax prison. (Rep. Mark Gundrum suggested the "'Jon Litscher Kittens and Rainbows Suites" in honor of Secretary of the Department of Corrections Litscher.) Inmates who filed the suit think it's demeanding to be considered the "worst of the worst." Also part of the deal is a ridiculous idea to have the state pay for bus trips for families of the prisoners.

"Supermax Deal 'Coddles' Prisoners, GOP Lawmakers Say"

Sean Hackbarth |

1.3.2002

9:27 PM
This may be my only comment on the Summers-West spat, and it's actually a response to Charles Ogletree's statement that Harvard president Larry Summers must be more forceful in his defense of afirmative action. Ogletree said,

It's absolutely critical that the president make an unequivocal public statement in support of affirmative action. That would be encouraging for those scholars who came to Harvard and were recruited because this was going to be the premier institution of black intellectual inquiry.

I've heard no news that Harvard would be dismantling its affirmative action program, but Ogletree thinks that if Summers doesn't state his love for racial preferences loudly enough then that will damage "black intellectual inquiry." Two members of Harvard's Afro-American Studies department are Henry Louis Gates and William Julius Wilson. Both of them are Left-of-center, but still respected scholars in their fields. Cornel West is more known for his awful hip-hop and his political activities than his scholarship. David Horowitz points out West's intellectual emptyness, and Leon Wieseltier in The New Republic wrote that West's books are "almost completely worthless." West is probably doing more to damage black intellectual inquiry than anything Summers has (or hasn't) done. [Thanks to Andrew Sullivan via InstaPundit]

"At Odds With Harvard President, Black-Studies Stars Eye Princeton" [via Kaus]

Sean Hackbarth |



8:52 PM
I'm impressed with myself that I almost watched the entire first half of the Rose Bowl. Miami is making it look like they're playing a video game. A Nebraska victory could have made loud case for a serious determination of college football's national champion, but calls for a playoff won't be listened to for another year.

Sean Hackbarth |



8:48 PM
Another 100+ story skyscraper would be a big middle finger to bin Laden, but Mayor Bloomberg doesn't think it's economically practical. Market forces must be allowed to work in the reconstruction of Ground Zero, but that doesn't mean a tasteful, aestheticlly pleasing complex of buildings and a memorial can't be erected. The Autumn 2001 issue of City Journal offers up a vision of the rebuilt area.

"110-Story Skyscraper Unlikely in NY"

Sean Hackbarth |



5:08 PM
I've added another commenting feature to TAM. I hope this holds up better than the previous one. One benefit already is I've discovered Rate Your Music.

YACCS

Sean Hackbarth |



3:24 PM
Nine Packers made the Pro Bowl.

Sean Hackbarth |



3:22 PM
Not surprising, but Sen. Lieberman and other Senate Democrats will open hearings on Enron's collapse. [NOTE: I'm still a proud shareholder.]

The Governmental Affairs Committee will investigate how federal regulators didn't see the house of cards Enron really was.

I'll give you a simple explanation: Enron's leadership along with their accountants all went along with moving debt off the books to partnerships and claiming earnings in an unconventional way. No one cared as long as the stock price went up. Regulators had no reason to suspect the company's collapse. Enron was the darling of the energy world.

The end result of Enron's misdeeds was bankruptcy. The feds couldn't do more than what the market did. The stock market lost all trust in the company and the stock caved. The only serious question I see is if some Enron executives knew about the coming collapse and sold their stock, leaving other investors (including Enron employees) with huge losses. The attempt to link Enron to the Bush administration a la Whitewater will fail in its brazen partisanship.

"Senate Panel to Investigate Enron"



Sean Hackbarth |

1.2.2002

1:49 AM
The weblogging phenomenon is only a few years old and some people are putting together a Blog-Con 2002. Vegas in August would be hot, but this could be interesting.

Sean Hackbarth |



1:06 AM
Bad Elements examines the thoughts and feelings of Chinese exiles. Author Ian Buruma worries about China's future move from Communism to liberty.

"Bad Elements: Gang of One Billion"

Sean Hackbarth |



12:36 AM
Mr. InstaPundit writes this fine defense of "evil" book superstores.

Sure, Barnes & Noble (my employer) and the lot are great "third places," but they can be a pain when trying to shuffle customers out when it's time to close the store. The company's survival is secure since there are people who would never leave if the store was open 24 hours a day.

"Community by the Book"

Sean Hackbarth |



12:16 AM
Best prediction for 2002 (so far) comes from Jonah Goldberg:

National Review Online will feast on the rotting carcass of a defunct Salon.com.

I hope it comes true. Does anyone read Salon anymore?

"The 2002 Forecast"

Sean Hackbarth |

1.1.2002

11:23 PM
In Bias, Bernard Goldberg, ex-CBS News reporter confirms the feelings held by millions of news watchers: that news stories slant to the Left and give conservative ideas short shrift. The bias comes from reporters' cultural isolasion and elitism. It also comes from a strange perception of the world. Dan Rather thinks the NY Times editorial page is "middle of the road." After reading Goldberg's story, I see little hope of the media reforming itself. The institituion cannot handle criticism. The biggest weakness with the book is Goldberg's angry tone. He was unjustly pushed aside at CBS News over a Wall Street Journal op-ed, but the bitterness gets tiring.

Sean Hackbarth |



12:00 AM
Happy New Year!!!

Sean Hackbarth |

12.31.2001

11:55 PM
Books are the medium that have the longest memory. Tattered remains of ancient texts are still with us today. The ideas they contain can persuade and move people to fight and die for them. The feelings and emotions they emit can bring the strongest man to tears. This year's crop of books covered the lives of great Presidents, and they went to the darkest parts of the human mind. Here are the TAM Awards for Best Non-Fiction Books 2001.

1. The Noonday Demon by Andrew Solomon
The book's subtitle is "An Atlas of Depression," but it's much, much more. His study of melancholy emerges from his own breakdowns. The science, politics, history, and sociology of this mental illness is covered in rich, sympathetic detail. The National Book Award winner is both enlightening and deeply moving.

2. John Adams by David McCullough
McCullough revives the reputation of our second President. He tells the story of a patriot with an incredible mind who sacrificed much for his infant nation.

3. When Character was King by Peggy Noonan
Noonan offers this gift to the Gipper. The book gets to the heart of what made Reagan great: it was his steadfast character and his faith in the goodness of the American people. It's totally sympathetic, yet honest in its approach.

4. Big Issues by the editors of Forbes ASAP
This collection of essays examine life in our new digital age. Peggy Noonan predicts a terrorist attack on New York City while Tom Wolfe writes about biotechnology and the death of the soul.

5. Friedrich Hayek by Alan Ebenstein
This is the first biography of the most important economist of the 20th Century. Ebenstein does an adequate job of covering the important parts of his life and offering the reader a sample of the rich thought of this great classical liberal.


Sean Hackbarth |

12.30.2001

10:58 PM
Way back on 9.14.01, I kind of predicted Rudy Guliani would be Time's Man of the Year. There is a question mark after my pronouncement. It was just a guess, but a small pat on the back to myself even though it wasn't the best choice.

Sean Hackbarth |



10:39 PM
The end of the year means best of lists. I've been doing them since TAM's birth. I'll start with the TAM Awards for Best Music and move on to the book awards tomorrow.

Music makes the day brighter. Music tugs on the heart strings. Music also helps you cope when you're not getting along with reality. It's fair to say that songs have the ability to satisfy our emotional needs. In 2001, serious, adult pop music proved that catchy songs didn't have to come from only teeny-bopper girls and boy bands. In the right hands, pop music can be intelligent, emotional, and catchy as hell. Electronic dance music continued to flex its muscle by being the soundtrack to our technological age. While authorities were going overboard and scaring people about the dangers of raves and ecstasy, the repetitive rhythms and computer-created grooves filled movie soundtracks, commercials and sports features on ESPN and Fox.

The events of 9.11 haven't seemed to affect the music scene yet. The biggest affect has been the increased sales of patriotic songs. Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA" became a battlecry for the first time since the Gulf War. It even may be fortunate for a highly political band like Rage Against the Machine that they lost their lead singer and haven't performed recently. The public may reject their anti-authority and radical messages in light of the terrorist attacks. I haven't been able to play their well-done, but angry debut album since 9.11. Their sneering and bashing of government and corporate interests is too closely related to the anti-West fury of Osama bin Laden and his Islamist brethren.

No more analysis about the intersection of the real world with music. Here are the best albums of 2001.

1. Jimmy Eat World Bleed American
An unfortunately title for a very good album. JEW put punk crunch, very catchy pop hooks, and bittersweet lyrics together to form a beautiful collection of songs. Think of JEW as Weezer but who don't try to be funny, or as Blink-182 with more soul. The title track shows the power of the band, while the closing song "My Sundown" drips with raw emotion.

2. Pete Yorn Musicforthemorningafter
Out of no where comes Mr. Yorn's roots pop. Bob Dylan, the Counting Crows, John Mellancamp, and the Eagles are heard in full effect. He takes accordions, acoustic and electric guitars, and a moody voice (that reminds me of the lead singer from Coldplay) and brews a wonderful American musical concoction. There's solid riffs in "For Nancy" along with a sprinkling of a drum machine. "Murray" echoes classic Eagles with a great chorus. Yorn makes serious pop music that makes you feel what he felt in making it.

3. Daft Punk Discovery
Maybe cheesy 80's electro should have ended with the Reagan administration, but the French duo add fabulous hooks, incredible production, and a poinancy to make this album the choice for dance music fans. Discovery starts out with "One More Time," a fitting title to start a Daft Punk album. It's one more time to take a delicious pop hook, apply a beat, cover it with a luscious vocal and let it loose upon the world. The song speaks of celebration. I will play it loudly upon hearing the news that bin Laden is captured or dead. That will be a time for celebration. "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger" is my pick for best produced song. The vocals are chopped up and mapped onto keyboards and guitars. You hear the instruments, but you also hear the words. It's mind bending. "Digital Love" and "Something About Us" track to the romantic side. Cheesy, yes, but completely addictive.

4. New Order Get Ready
Sure Bernard Sumner and the gang are getting older, but they put together a great album of pop, rock, and dance. Sumner's lyrics show his vulnerability. "We're like crystal. We break easy," he sings on the song "Crystal." The band deftly unites dance beats to rock. It's what they've done their entire career and it still works.

5. Various Artists Platipus Beginners Guide
The only dance compilation on my list is this from Platipus Records. The trend this year was to move to darker, more minimal, more serious dance grooves. The best of the bunch was John Digweed's latest Global Underground effort. Max Graham's Transport 4 delved into that relm but retained some of the catchy melodies that made trance the biggest thing in dance music. The problem with the new "progressive house" sound is it takes itself too seriously. The music is well made, but it's very serious and business-like. The point of it is to dance seriously because it's serious music. The focus is on texture, moodyness, and rhythm. What's lost is a fun melody; something to wave your arms in the air to. The Platipus mix ignores the trends and offers dance music fans beats and melodies while at the same it it doesn't insult one's intelligence. From Albion's "Air 2000" through Art of Trance's "Madagascar" the music shimmers. The beats rock, there are hooks, and the songs retain trance's trademark airiness.

Sean Hackbarth |



12:30 AM
I first met Bob McTeer, the Dallas Federal Reserve president at a conference on Frederic Bastiat in France last summer. McTeer was back in France last month. This time at a meeting devoted to Adam Smith. In his speech, he dubbed Bastiat the "French Adam Smith." He also commented on the state of the U.S. economy. While the U.S. is in a recession, there will be a recovery. "In summary, history, monetary policy, fiscal policy, lower energy prices, and reduced inventories and better information offer hope for recovery. I'm not saying recovery is at hand or is imminent. I see no hard evidence of that yet."

McTeer said that the economy was slowing down pre-9.11, but the biggest economic effects of the terrorist attack will be increased "overhead" costs. Money that would have been spend on non-security goods and services will now be spent on soldiers, smart bombs, metal detectors, and security guards.

Remarks before the conference, "Adam Smith and Economic Development in the 21st Century"

Sean Hackbarth |

ABOUT
When I'm not pondering the fate of the universe, I'm reading, writing, or selling books. Here you'll find comments on politics, culture, books, and music. Not necessarily in that order.

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