• GQ Filler

    Just got the latest issue of GQ . 436 pages of ads. Content doesn't begin -- begin! -- until page 120, with the letter from the editor. Nowhere in that letter does the editor apologize for the magazine's decision to give up on writing and go with a scruffy-hunky-model-in-strange-lighting format. And we don't just have ads -- there are folds out, pull-out, leaflets, different paper stocks, and all manner of trickery ensuring you can't simply turn pages until you find a byline. The magazine has to be deboned on the fly. And that, of course, fucks up the binding, so all pages, ads and the few not ads, begins falling off. Bastards.
  • Three Objections

    Matt's got a TAP column today laying out his objections to CAFE standards. Readers will be unsurprised to know I find it unconvincing. But who knows -- I may be wrong. So here are three objections for the gas tax, and maybe if advocated could answer there, I could better understand their case:
  • Forced March of the Penguins

    Via John Cole , George Will gets this just right. "March of the Penguins" raises this question: If an Intelligent Designer designed nature, why did it decide to make breeding so tedious for those penguins? The movie documents the 70-mile march of thousands of Antarctic penguins from the sea to an icy breeding place barren of nutrition. These perhaps intelligently but certainly oddly designed birds march because they cannot fly. They cannot even march well, being most at home in the sea[...] The penguins' hardiness is remarkable, as is the intricate choreography of the march, the breeding and the nurturing. But the movie, vigorously anthropomorphizing the birds, invites us to find all this inexplicably amazing, even heroic. But the penguins are made for that behavior in that place. What made them? Adaptive evolution. They have been "designed" for all that rigor — meaning they have been shaped by adapting to many millennia of nature's harshness. "Tedious" isn't the right word for the...
  • Fear It

    Your world is about to get sleeker . Apple is bringing out an ipod cell phone. Someday, someone will write a history of mobile devices that explains why teeny-tiny cameras that focus worse than a midget after a bender were a more logical accompaniment for phones than music players, which many of us carry in our pockets anyway. And when that book is written, next week's unveiling of Apple's later market-mover will be lionized as the day sense returned to cell phone manufacturing. Unfortunately, it will also be known as the day we all switched to Cingular, even though their service totally sucks. But I guess you take the good with the bad. If my phone is going to reduced to a useless rectangle in my pocket, it may as well look like a present from the martians and hold my entire music library.
  • I Have Failed to Cure This Problem I Have Made Up

    Tierney knows not of what he speaks . Although, now that I think about it, in posts that start with the word "Tierney", the rest of that sentence is generally assumed. So never mind it. In any case, The Times ' token libertarian (and how come no major papers need a token green on staff? Don't they reliably attract more votes than libertarians?) has aimed his non sequiturs at hybrid cars and the collision, as you would expect, claimed coherency as collateral damage. Tierney apparently travelled to LA and rented a Prius so he could drive in our carpool lanes and write about how superior he felt. Unfortunately, that gig only works when your audience is in New York. As any Angeleno will tell you, our carpool lanes may as well not exist. Fairly often, they're worse than the other lanes (because movement in and out is restricted save for certain, small junctions). When traffic is clear -- it happened for about 10 minutes last October -- the carpool lane is, you guessed it, slower than the...
  • Gas Tax vs. Cafe Standards

    There's been a lot of CAFE bashing lately, and much of it, I fear, is a bit misguided. Brad Plumer (who I don't mean to single out, he's just the most recent) joins in with a post blasting CAFE in favor of a gas tax, maybe with some means-tested rebates to ease up on the regressivity of it. A few things: • First, gas taxes are a very direct way of influencing fuel consumption, but it's not clear that, at attainable rates, they actually do influence fuel consumption. Raising the tax by the small, incremental amounts that could (and by could, I mean in a hypothetical world where this was somehow a viable policy option) pass would likely do little to stem consumption. That's because, as it turns out, gas hasn't even been near the top price folks are willing to pay. Most simply bear the burden, preferring to pay more rather than disrupt their lifestyle. The place gas taxes make a difference is, in the end, among the poor, but if we put in rebates like Brad is suggesting, it won't affect...
  • Partisans Anonymous

    Can't argue with this : Finally, we've decided that syndicated columnist Ann Coulter has worn out her welcome. Many readers find her shrill, bombastic and mean-spirited. And those are the words used by readers who identified themselves as conservatives. And thus ends Ann's tenure at the Arizona Daily Star . A few months ago she was on Time's cover, now she's kicked off a Western regional's op-ed page. This, of course, should be expected. Coulter, and others like her, are the red bull and vodka of political pundits. First time you see her she makes you feel weird, but good. Second and third times, there's still novelty, but you're a bit surprised by how strong she is. Give her a couple more chances and you love her -- there's never been a columnist this awesome! You could read her forever! The next morning, you wake up blinded, aching, hating yourself. Just knowing that you indulged in Ann hurls (sorry, bad word choice) you into a pit self-loathing. More to the point, you hate her for...
  • Perspective, People

    T.A Frank on the recent shooting of Suge Knight, and his associate's plea to not make a big deal out of such an ordinary event: Anytime you get a lot of people together, there's going to be the odd shooting or two. If the papers wrote about me every time I hosted a large event and the stray bullet or two went flying, there'd scarcely be room for anything else. Word.
  • States Matter

    The last year has not been a good one for choice : This year's state legislative season draws to a close having produced a near-record number of laws imposing new restrictions on a woman's access to abortion or contraception. Since January, governors have signed several dozen antiabortion measures ranging from parental consent requirements to an outright ban looming in South Dakota. Not since 1999, when a wave of laws banning late-term abortions swept the legislatures, have states imposed so many and so varied a menu of regulations on reproductive health care. Three states have passed bills requiring that women seeking an abortion be warned that the fetus will feel pain, despite inconclusive scientific data on the question. West Virginia and Florida approved legislation recognizing a pre-viable fetus, or embryo, as an independent victim of homicide. And in Missouri, Gov. Matt Blunt (R) has summoned lawmakers into special session Sept. 6 to consider three antiabortion proposals. A...
  • Politics of Terrorism, Comparative Edition

    Tony Blair's unending cycle of Bush-related problems gained a new twist this week with a leaked document from the head of the Foreign Service warning Blair that British policy in Iraq and the Middle East was feeding Islamic radicalism and doing wonders for recruitment. That's not necessarily surprising, one needs only the barest flicker of sentience to intuit that every time we blow up an Iraqi wedding or refuse to disavow permanent bases we give some Islamic extremist that last push towards violence. What is interesting, though, is the cultural difference between the politics of terrorism across the Atlantic and the way it plays out here. To wit: Blair has consistently denied a link between Britain's participation in the U.S.-led war in Iraq and the July 7 bombings, which killed 52 people, along with the four presumed bombers, and injured 700 others on three London subways and a bus. Blair has said the accused bombers -- all young Muslim men, several of them British citizens -- were...