The Spectacle Blog

Sen. Eugene McCarthy, RIP

By on 12.10.05 | 6:41PM

The 1968 Democratic, anti-war presidential candidate and Minnesota senator died today. Other obits: Washington Post and Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

So did Richard Pryor.

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Re: Re: BBSes

By on 12.10.05 | 6:06PM

You know, John, now that you mention it, he does overdramatize, but I think that's a necessary consequence of geek memory. What I take most issue with is his reference to BBSes as havens for the oppressed -- suppressed is more likely; people with a computer and a modem had a leap on others, and the understanding of how it worked even more so. I don't recall too much of a scintillating underground, such as the , but I was raised in Stamford. No doubt, Julian and his hax0r (hacker) friends were clearly into more interesting boards.

I never had that Damascus experience Julian's talking about -- I doubt others did. When we first started dialing into these things, we were poking around thinking we were really smart for getting those kinds of sounds out of our computer. Sure, John, you may have created your own, but did you suddenly feel as though God had struck you dumb, your metanoia allowed you a new identity?

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R.W. Bradford, RIP

By on 12.10.05 | 5:53PM

The founder of Liberty, where I was an editorial intern in 2002, has died. Read the tributes by Jesse Walker and Brian Doherty, who knew Bill longer than I did.

Working at Liberty was often terrible -- Doherty's line about it being "more like being manservant to a wealthy eccentric than a journalism intern" is dead on. And I did the job very poorly, ultimately quitting midway through my internship with an email. But the long conversations with Bill were well worth the experience. He was a walking encyclopedia of the internal wranglings within the libertarian movement; he knew everybody, and had their number. (Murray Rothbard did not invent libertarianism in his living room!) I'm very, very glad to have known him, and sad to hear that he's gone. My condolences especially to his wonderful wife Kathy.

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Is the 9th Circuit Managing National Forests?

By on 12.10.05 | 8:49AM

Judicial activism knows no bounds. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against logging in the Lolo National Forest (Montana) yesterday, basing their decision on policy minutiae rather than the law.

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Blackhawks, Apaches and Such

By on 12.9.05 | 11:05PM

BAGHDAD AND CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq -- Sorry this is a bit late folks, but this old man was pretty beat last night. We had dinner with Gen. George Casey, the overall commander, late last night. It's now about 0730 in Baghdad and we're leaving shortly to visit the Iraqis' army-in-training.

Their army in training is only a small part of what Iraq is doing to defend itself. Their active army is, as I saw yesterday, something in being. Note to Dr. Dean: you're not needed at home, but the docs in the hospital I visited yesterday can always use a couple of extra hands. Those Iraqis you think aren't fighting for themselves are showing up for treatment, and not for runny noses. The guy in the ICU I saw yesterday had been shot in the stomach. Our people (those docs are fabulous) are giving him the same care our people get (except that he won't be evacuated to the States within hours of being hit). Our troops are surviving really grievous wounds because these docs are working endlessly, skillfully, and with the Air Force's support getting patients back to the States often within a day of being wounded.

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Re: BBSes

By on 12.9.05 | 9:46PM

I actually ran a BBS briefly; it was called A Perfec World, and no one besides me seemed to think that misspelling "perfect" was particularly funny. (I was trying to gently spoof the Zeitgeist -- other local boards were called Elysium and El Dorado -- but I don't think anyone really got the joke.) I also had a soft-spot for the BBS cousin, the DDial; I frequented the legendary Point Zer0 Chat (mentioned in Wikipedia's entry on DDials), though always as a "non" (that is, I never paid the fee to join).

Looking back, I have to say I think Julian over-romanticizes the period just a bit. Some of the really successful boards amounted to the internet writ tiny and reduced to its most adolescent and frivolous core: a raging Mac vs. PC flamewar. There's a reason the Web killed 'em off.

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Re: BBS Revisited

By on 12.9.05 | 4:07PM

J.P., like any self-respecting nerdy kid I too frequented bulletin board services in the early '90s. Now that I think of it, I've been using the Internet for political debate since 1994, when I frequented local BBS's in Missoula to favor Sen. Conrad Burns in his reelection bid. Otherwise, most services had fun games, etc.

But priests telling folks to gather 'round the computer? Bite your tongue! These are pastors -- men of the cloth but not the collar.

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Bulletin Board Services Revisited

By on 12.9.05 | 3:11PM

Julian Sanchez has a great story up (I was late in getting to it, though I try reading him often) about our Internet's humble and cultish origins. Here's an excerpt:

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Mitt Romney’s Balancing Act

By on 12.9.05 | 2:51PM

Pro-life or not? Gov. Romney is having a hard time making up his mind. He advertised himself as pro-abortion friendly to get elected in Massachusetts, then earlier this year sent signals to the right that he's an undercover pro-lifer. Now he's vacillating in the same week. Earlier this week, he supported an exemption in the new requirement that hospitals distribute the Plan B morning after pill for hospitals that objected on moral or religious grounds (i.e., Catholic ones). After his lieutenant governor slammed the position, Romney's legal counsel interpreted the statute yesterday so as not to exempt such private hospitals.

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Lions and Witches and Wardrobes, Oh My!

By on 12.9.05 | 1:29PM

True to Lewis. True to the story. Most of all, true to the best spirit of movie-making.

Last night's lucky audience at the Springfield AMC Theater -- the first people in the DC area to see The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe -- were not disappointed. Cheers, laughs, chills and lumps in throats abounded. One of those rare movies that will be a "must buy" when it is released on DVD.

The performances were A-one (the four kids were perfect and the Cockney-accented Beaver was spot on), as were the effects, the landscapes, the score and the dialogue which hewed closely to that of the book. On film. it remained one of those true children's stories that can engage and enthrall the adult imagination as well.

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