• Regime Change in Baghdad

    By Neil the Ethical Werewolf Ezra has already mentioned the bizarre events that took place in Baghdad on Monday. A bunch of armed Shiite militiamen entered Baghdad's municipal building, deposed the mayor, and installed their own guy in office. The deposed mayor is unharmed -- apparently he wasn't in the building at the time -- but he has officially resigned, and he's fleeing the country. There's a bunch of things to be said about this. How well can we be doing in providing security when thugs can just march into City Hall, kick out the old mayor, and install a new one? How can you have a stable democracy when anybody with enough guns can put whoever they want into power? How can we convince Sunnis to buy into the new Iraqi government when Shiites are using weapons to put people into office? But the thing I really want to address is the way that this shows the error of so much right-wing talk about regime change.
  • Gaming and Gender Roles

    Posted by Nicholas Beaudrot of Electoral Math Shakes' essay on female figures in video games brings all sorts of interesting thoughts to the foreground. This graf in particular caught my eye:
  • Ask the Audience: What Should We Call Ourselves?

    Posted by Nicholas Beaudrot of Electoral Math I'll add some substantive material soon enough, but for now, we need your help. As Ezra mentioned , he's turning over the reins to several of us on weekends, or at least slowing down from his weekday pace of seven or eight posts a day. I'm super-psyched for this arrangement, but our intrepid team of guest bloggers is missing a key ingredient. We need a nickname. Number-themed nicknames (like "the Far-Flung Five" or "The Dirty Half Dozen") are probably not a great idea, since it members will come and go during vacations, finals, dissertation defenses, etc. But other than that there are no rules. Put your suggestions in the comments.
  • Familiar Face

    Shakes here… Yesterday , Ezra explored the Mystery of the Missing Spokesperson for the anti-war movement, and, in doing my best to turn this weekend wildness into a salon, I’m picking up on that discussion. The truth is, Ezra and Gary Hart might both be on the wrong track. Cindy Sheehan isn’t, at Hart suggested, emerging as the spokesperson for the anti-war movement, nor is her role quite as unimportant as Ezra suggests. She is, instead, a rallying point, or, perhaps more accurately, a relatable icon, for the second wave of anti-war folks—those who have turned against the war, a departure from an earlier held position. But because this president has so inextricably tied himself, as a leader and as a man, to this war, the anti-war second wave is comprised of people who have turned against the administration, and it’s notable that many of them are turning against the war because they have turned against the administration , rather than the other way around.
  • Breaking Up With Mario

    By Ezra Apropos of Shakespeare's Sister's brilliant essay on girl gamers (which is right below this post and is your assigned reading for the weekend), can someone explain to me why the Gamecube has ceased having video games released for it? So far as I can tell, nothing decent has come out in the last six months, and nothing good is coming out until November. That's a 9-month drought for the system. If I'm wrong on this, I'd love to know it, but otherwise, is it time to bite the bullet and get an X-Box/Playstation? Which one? Which one's got better online play? C'mon nerds: this is your moment! Update: Wait, so Sony and Microsoft are both bringing out new systems? Should I be waiting for those? Which?
  • Game Girls

    Shakes here... Lance Mannion is a sexist. At least, he thinks he is , or suspects that he might be, because he doesn't like that, in one of his son’s video games, Batman beats up a girl. Batman does not hit girls , he says, but of course what he really means is that Batman didn’t used to hit girls. Because, in fact, he does hit girls nowadays. And that’s the problem, as Mannion sees it. …I don’t think that showing the villainess being as kick-ass tough as the hero teaches boys and girls that women can be forceful and independent and that they have the strength to take care of themselves. I think it just teaches kids that it’s ok to hit girls. He’s right. On both counts. Kick-ass femme fatales are undoubtedly less a teaching tool than a reflection of game makers trying to expand their market beyond teenage boys, and, perhaps (less cynically) also the result of increasing numbers of women game designers, who, like the rest of us, want to have the chance to play the bad guy once in...
  • Spending More Time With the Family

    Digby thinks the furor NARAL created with their ad was planned, that the pull was all part of the strategy. I'm not so sure. Particularly now that they've fired their ad director, a move that speaks of a campaign gone wrong, not right. Maybe NARAL can still spin this into a victory and use it for the long-term purposes Digby's identifying, a phoenix from the ad's ashes. But today, for now, it looks like they're doing some wailing and gnashing of teeth over at headquarters. (Via The Corner )
  • Weekends

    I'm going to be switching up how weekends work around here. Instead of having one or two guest posters at a time, I'm giving a bunch of my favorite weekenders all-access passes, so they'll be around whenever the Sabbath finds them with some time to spare and something to say. Since there'll ultimately be six or seven guesters participating, it should keep up a healthy content flow. It'll also allow things to be a bit more salon-like and discussion-based on weekends; you guys get enough of my pontificating during the week. For now, the four confirmed are Nick Beaudrot , Daniel Munz , Shakespeare's Sister , and Neil Sinhababu , and they'll be around this weekend. By next Friday, I should have the full lineup ironed out. Enjoy.
  • Beware of Nutrition Labels

    Was just looking at my Planters Honey Roasted Peanuts label and thinking, "Wow, 150 calories for 39 pieces, that's pretty damn good." "Huh. Why 'pieces' and not 'nuts'?" "They're half nuts aren't they? That's what they mean by pieces. Fucking Planters." Aside from the decidedly unshocking news that I don't think about very interesting things, let this be a warning to you: labels lie, and if they seem too good to be true, they probably are.
  • The Mystery of the Missing Spokesperson

    I think I should say a bit more about the Gary Hart piece I plugged yesterday. What's interesting here isn't his skewering of the Bush administration or his lionization of Cindy Sheehan, but his diagnosis of what's wrong with the antiwar movement today: where will the expanding majority of Americans look for a representative, a spokesperson, a voice for their anger, frustration, and distrust at being misled? The circumstances suggest it should be a Senate or House Democratic leader, a recognized authority on foreign policy constantly seen on the Sunday talk shows, certainly one of the many “leaders” lining up to seek the Democratic Party’s nomination for president in 2008. Strangely, no one in any of those categories comes to mind. Their voices are silent. He's right. And it's strange. For some reason, no William Fulbright has emerged, no George McGovern or Eugene McCarthy or RFK has stepped forward to focus the call for withdrawal. We've got this big rally, and most of America has...