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Friday, December 30, 2005
BlogAfrica 2005 Quiz -- I got a 70% with a lucky guess or two. How much attention have you paid to Africa this past year?

Monday, December 19, 2005
The Curry House Glossary of Indian Restaurant Curries -- I eat Indian food all the time, but I didn't know all of these. Especially helpful is the distinction between how a curry is traditionally made and what you can expect to find at restaraunts. I love 'em all -- except for dopiaza, of course. Oh, posting will be VERY irregular for the next two weeks since I'll be out of town.

Thursday, December 15, 2005
Peacekeepers begin Eritrea pullout -- This is not good. Eritrea is angry that the UN hasn't "forced" Ethiopia to implement the provisions of the two countries' peace treaty. But peacekeepers cannot "enforce" anything -- that's left for robust peace enforcement missions or outright military intervention in war. By harassing and expelling the UN, Eritrea will gain attention but will lose forces that may prevent another war. In the event of another war, I predict swift defeat for Eritrea.

Foreign Policy: The Top 10 Stories You Missed in 2005 -- This is a pretty good run-down of some major foreign policy events that didn't make front-page news. If your eyes (like mine) tend to glaze over at the thought of another round of EU negotiations, then you'll be pleased to find that each event is summarized in one paragraph. The article is extremely informative and mercifully brief. Yes, there will be a quiz.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005
Internet encyclopaedias go head to head -- This article in the prestigious journal Nature compares the accuracy of science articles in Wikipedia and Britannica. Britannica wins, but not overwhelmingly, with about 25% fewer errors in the average entry. I would assume that the worst Wikipedia entries are probably ones dealing with sensitive political issues, especially relatively obscure historical or philosophical material that happens to be relevant to the massive slugfests over abortion, Israel, Bush, etc.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005
The sexual revolution sweeps across China -- This article seems unremarkable at first -- it's another one of those "values are changing" stories that could be written about almost any country. But once you get several paragraphs into the story, the sheer magnitude of the changes in China becomes apparent. Fifteen years ago, only 16% of Beijing residents had premarital sex. Today the figure is 70%! In only five years, the fraction of abortions which are performed on unmarried women has increased from one-fourth to two-thirds. I suspect this data has a strong urban bias, especially if the author's implication that the Internet is responsible for the change is correct. Even so, this must be a profoundly distressing development to middle-aged and older Chinese, as the younger generation discards the moral standards that guided eralier generations when they were young.

Monday, December 05, 2005
Venezuela 'landslide' for Chavez -- Turnout was only 25% as opposition parties boycotted the election and urged their supporters to stay home. Every single seat in the Parliament was won by Chavez or his allies. This is bad. I don't know who to blame, but this effectively ends democratic debate in Venezuela, since only extra-legal opposition is now possible. Even without his allies, the President now has the two-thirds majority he needs to amend the Constitution and remove its two-term limit on the Presidency. Chavez should use the opportunity to open an initiative-and-referendum system for major policy changes, since this is the only tool that can demonstrate that a majority of the country supports or opposes a policy. He should also negotiate with the other parties for a new set of elections in which all but the most recalcitrant parties would feel obliged to participate. He will, of course, do none of the above. The result will be increased polarization of the electorate and a real possibility of violence triggering an authoritarian response or revolution. And I say all of this as someone who was glad to see him assume power and who basically supports his social agenda. Power corrupts.

Sunday, December 04, 2005
Decision of the Day is my "new favorite" when it comes to legal blogs (I just can't bring myself to use the dreadful term "blawg"). The reason is simple: interesting case selection combined with great writing. It may lose its top-dog spot to Scotusblog in the spring when the Supreme Court's decisions really start rolling out, but for the rest of the year this one will be the best of them if it continues on its current path. Other recommendations: Appellate Law and Practice -- Get the latest decisions from the Circuits. Caveat: The most prolific poster is someone called S.COTUS, whose posts are often unintelligible due to his/her grammar problems. PrawfsBlawg -- Some of the posters at this legal professors' blog are quite good; others are not. I rather like the mix of legal commentary, political rants, and professorial dilemmas but your mileage may vary. Crime and Federalism -- I may not always agree with the politics of this blog, but it provides a fascinating window into real criminal jurisprudence (as opposed to the idealized cases that make Supreme Court decisions).

Thursday, December 01, 2005
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer: Behind The Scenes -- Fascinating back-story about the Burl Ives Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer special (my favorite Xmas special). Learn about song changes, deleted scenes, and the new digitally restored version of the classic! OK, I know. It's not exactly earth-shattering. Still, who would have guessed they'd have deleted scenes and alternate takes from a stop-motion film?

Porn 'does not make sex objects': "Queensland University Professor Alan McKee, who led the study, said researchers compared the way women and men were represented in each video. They noted such things as who initiated the sex, whose pleasure was paid attention to, whether people in the videos got to speak about what they wanted during sex and whose perspective the videos were presented from. 'We were surprised at just how active and in control the women were in these videos,' Prof McKee said today." Um, OK then.

Indian Air Force, in war games, gives US a run -- This is an interesting article about some recent wargames between the US and India. Apparently the Indians in Soviet/Russian fighters outperformed at least some Americans in US fighters. The author doesn't mention it, but of course the US Air Force has an interest in convincing reporters that Russian jets are much better than current US fighters. The Air Force is pushing hard for a new air superiority fighter (the hideously complex and expensive F-22) but the air supremacy the US enjoys in its wars makes it difficult to convice people to spend billions on new models. So expect a trickle of articles from Air Force sources that warn of the obsolenece of current US hardware.

Fighting Evil, Quoting Nietzsche -- An interesting article keyed to the anniversary of Alan Moore's Watchmen graphic novel. It's an impressive piece of work for someone who (like me) thinks of comics as primarily repetitive, infantile, and intellectually barren. For me it served as the "gateway comic" into Neil Gaiman's Sandman series and a handful of other graphic novels. Sandman is better art, but the Watchmen deserves credit for popularizing the adult graphic novel.

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