A conversation between James Fallows and Ralph Nader in Slate starts out with this from Fallows:

‘I was among the Nader alums who admired your entry into politics but resented your effect on the last presidential race. There is nothing new to say on this subject. I will never get you to agree that those 90,000 Nader votes in Florida gave Bush the election. You will never convince me that they didn’t. So, I won’t reargue the point—and I’ll try to keep from asking, about each Bush appointee or policy, “Happy now, Ralph?” But since we’re old friends who haven’t actually spoken since the election, I put it on the record here.’


XP Updates Start to P.O. Users: ‘One of the purported user-friendly features of Microsoft’s new operating system is turning out to be user-annoying.

As many as three times a week, on average, XP users see a little window pop-up at the bottom of their computer screens announcing the availability of another new update for their system. This plethora of patches has left many users wondering whether their hard drives are big enough to handle “Trustworthy Computing.” ‘ Wired


Organ transplant advances:

Blood filtering allows unmatched kidney transplants: Remove the antibodies from a transplant patient’s blood and they can receive a new organ from any donor. More than a hundred patients, most of whom had been told they had no hope of ever receiving a kidney transplant, have been successful recipients with the new procedure, developed by a team at Johns Hopkins. And: ‘ Two Japanese researchers have revealed the first details of their claim to have grown tadpole eyeballs from scratch in the lab. They say the eyes are functional when they are transplanted into tadpoles, and even work when the tadpoles metamorphose into frogs.

“None of the eyes were rejected and none dropped out,” said Makoto Asashima, of the University of Tokyo. “All of the frogs can see.” New Scientist


Sound and Fury

Listening to: When I Was Cruel. He’s back! with 2/3 of the Attractions! “You don’t become more reasonable — you become less reasonable. But it’s expressed more as absurdity. It doesn’t have to be just fury and mindless insult. And on this album, most of the negative things are intended for myself.” Questions for Elvis Costello: “The musician on why he’s still angry, why he doesn’t make money on his records and why he can’t understand his own lyrics.”

Sometime last year, you reached a point where you’d been Elvis Costello for longer than you were Declan McManus. Did you mark the date?

No, I didn’t. I don’t see that as my identity. It’s not on my passport. It’s a show-business alias. Like Count Basie — he wasn’t really a count. Though my driver’s license might be Costello.

And your first wife goes by the name Costello.

Only professionally, though.

Hmm. This is beginning to sound like an Elvis Costello song. Have you written any lyrics that you read now and say, ”What does that mean?”

Oh, yeah. But you know Monet? I look at his paintings without my glasses and they’re in focus and 3-D. I think that about words.

NY Times Magazine

Actually, the recording does disappoint, after several listenings. I agree with this deflating review by Ira Robbins in Salon:

“Endurance presents a different challenge in rock than it does in jazz, blues or pop. Physicality, youthful allure and creative momentum are less relevant to the aging titans of those musics than to rockers struggling to beat the clock. Credible artistic careers of 30 or 40 years, the rule in many realms, are the exception in rock. Costello’s reinvention as a vocalist was a prudent move, and this belated attempt to have it both ways is proof. If he hasn’t lost the ability to rock with conviction, at the very least he’s shown that it’s no longer a simple matter of choice. “It was so much easier when I was cruel,” he sings, and he’s undoubtedly right.”


‘Prof. Harris Mirkin could not have devised a better test for his controversial theory of sexual politics.

In 1999, Dr. Mirkin published an article in an obscure academic journal likening the “moral panic” surrounding pedophilia to the outrage of previous generations over feminism and homosexuality.’ Scholar’s Pedophilia Essay Stirs Outrage and Revenge [as you might imagine…].

For the record, Dr. Mirkin, who has grandchildren 2 and 7, said he had never had sexual contact with a child. Incest and rape, he said, are always wrong. He agreed that priests and teachers who touched children sexually were abusing their authority.

But he questioned whether some people accusing priests these days were making up stories in search of a payday, and he said he believed that much of what was called molestation was really harmless touching.

He said he resented that teachers were leery of hugging children for fear they might be accused of abuse. He imagines, he said, most adolescent males have fantasies similar to his, as a 12-year-old delivery boy, of being seduced by a female customer, and he wondered whether it would have been so bad had it come true.

In the article, an 18-page essay with 38 footnotes published in the Journal of Homosexuality, Dr. Mirkin argued that the notion of the innocent child was a social construct, that all intergenerational sex should not be lumped into one ugly pile and that the panic over pedophilia fit a pattern of public response to female sexuality and homosexuality, both of which were once considered deviant. NY Times