Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Pimp My Golfcart

Friday, August 8th, 2008

Pimp it purple!

Pimp it purple!

Yesterday we had occasion to examine the delightful article from the Frankfurther Rundschau by Dietmar Ostermann about the Hummer SUV. Sad to say, Ostermann could not avoid the conclusion that this Monster Car’s days seem to be numbered. But fear not! Hope for resurrection is at hand, as we learn today from Der Spiegel (With the Hummer to the Putting Green) – if you can accept a cut-down model designed to roam on the manicured grass of golf courses, and with electric drive, that is. (more…)

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We’ve Heard of Him Before Here

Wednesday, April 20th, 2005

“Ratzinger? The name sounds familiar,” I said to myself when I heard word about the Roman Catholic supremo who henceforth is to be known as Benedict XVI. And in fact this weblog had a discussion only last August of an interview the then-Cardinal gave with the conservative French newspaper Le Figaro. To my amazement, I discovered that I actually agreed with much of what he said then.

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Two-Wheeled Excuse

Wednesday, April 6th, 2005

Allow a rare personal note here, which at least will be of interest to those of my readers still around who happen to wonder what really has been preoccupying the EuroSavant the last couple of months, keeping him mostly away from his keyboard.

The answer is on this page. Hint: search for “Amsterdam.” It’s probably inevitable that I’ll inflict more about this on you at a later point; in any event, it is quite an all-absorbing side-project, and is likely to become so again.

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Has the Comment Spam Dragon Been Slain?

Tuesday, January 25th, 2005

Administrative entry here, as much as we try to keep them few-and-far-between. Over the past month-and-a-half or so I’ve really been plagued by comment spam. You can read some background here about what this has all been about – what it is these nasty people are trying to gain by this behavior – together with my past warning here that I would have to turn comments to this weblog off every so often to ward away this plague. Like when I went to bed: things really got old the first couple times I failed to do that and so woke up and logged-on to find unbelievable amounts of comments to delete in the early-morning hours.

The problem here was the possibility, or even the likelihood, that readers would want to leave legitimate comments but would find that not possible, with the comments feature temporarily turned off. Those comments would quite likely then be lost, rather than saved for a later time when comments might be turned on. (I know that I, for one, wouldn’t bother to try again later to contribute if I was stymied the first time.) Well, I’ve upgraded the software now, and it seems that it once again is possible to leave comments on while still avoiding comment spam (knock wood).

Just wanted you to know. We now resume our regularly-scheduled (hah!) blog . . .

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Comments Temporarily Turned Off

Wednesday, December 8th, 2004

Sorry, I’ve need to turn the comments off for a little bit on this weblog. Some new antipathy on my part for comments is only half the reason: comments of any kind from interested readers are always welcome, but the waves and waves of script-generated comment spam that I am currently suffering under are certainly not. I gamely do my best to go through and delete each one of these, but when I open my e-mail and the amount there to be deleted is in triple-figures, then I have to find another solution.

I want to keep this closed-comments duration to a minimum, so I’ll shortly be enabling them again – sticking my finger outside, in a manner of speaking, to see if things are relatively “safe” again. In the meantime, if you want to leave a comment and find that you can’t, go ahead and e-mail me and we can certainly arrange something.

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Track Me Back, Jack!

Friday, December 3rd, 2004

The EuroSavant site here was acting strangely for a while today: no archive links, for example, and what is more important, nothing showing up when you clicked any “More” link to get any given full weblog entry. Apologies for that. It had to do with the installation of a software update, and should happen again rarely, if indeed at all.

One thing that update did fix was my trackbacks. I only recently noticed that none of my beloved readers could trackback to any €S entry, because the pop-up window would not provide a trackback URL address. Sorry that I realized that so late, but of course I was never in the habit of trackbacking myself! That’s also fixed now.

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Travel Time

Tuesday, October 26th, 2004

EuroSavant heads east, into Internet-café-only Internet access and thus doubtful posting. But I’m back just in time for the aftermath of Election Day.

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Please, People

Saturday, September 18th, 2004

Yes, it’s true that I have been off-line for a number of days. Please, people. Have you ever heard of Jews?

Could it be that the “O” in “MAO” stands for, say, “Oreshkovic”? And the “M” for “Micah”? Had you thought of that?

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Sistani: Just What the Americans Ordered

Friday, August 27th, 2004

Over on his excellent weblog “Informed Comment,” Prof. Juan Cole has already posted his boxscore for the three-week-old Najaf confrontation that is seemingly coming to a close through the intervention of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani. The losers: the Americans and their Iraqi interim government. The big winner: Sistani. And for Shia insurgent Muqtada al-Sadr it all was a “wash.”

I don’t quite see things that way. I think this is quite an excellent outcome for the American side, even the same sort of “divine intervention” for them that the remnants of the Mahdi Army hiding within the Imam Ali shrine (falsely) claim to be for themselves. True, I am no learned professor, and I don’t watch, hear, or read the Arabic press. (I did know Arabic in the past, but that was a while ago; that capability is now, let’s say, in remission.) But the following argument I offer for your comment and refutation. (more…)

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Road-Trip

Thursday, July 29th, 2004

For the first time in a long time I’m taking another road-trip in connection with the SegwayEuroTour. Back with my next entry on Monday, maybe on Sunday. I’ll try to grab the URLs for a review of John F. Kerry’s big night at the convention – what, in the German press? In the Hungarian press? I always welcome suggestions. The problem simply is that, due to time-zone considerations, the candidate is scheduled to wind up his acceptance speech about two yours before my train departs for points east. Any contribution I would be able to make in that intervening time would be instant analysis of the rawest, worst sort.

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Have Gun, Will Swallow

Monday, July 19th, 2004

Here at EuroSavant we’re proud to serve as a bridge and guide to European happenings and European opinion. But just today the thought occurred that maybe it’s time to occasionally – very occasionally – reverse that polarity and turn that “bridge” around to examine the US. The added benefit here is that, since American articles are generally in English, as is EuroSavant, readers can be directed to them without so much additional explanatory commentary. (I do not think that I’ll create a US weblog-entry category to add over there on the left, however.)

This article from the Washington Post was the specific prompt for this; its upshot (so to speak) is that, if you’re sitting in a restaurant (or any other business) just south of the nation’s capital and happen to notice fellow patrons around you wearing guns on their hips – who are not uniformed police – don’t think anything strange is going on. That’s legal, it seems, although some business are thinking of declaring themselves “weapons-free zones.” No, just take in the sight and marvel at it (but carefully and unobtrusively, please!), and just feel it as those stereotypes you’ve held (or maybe have been fighting against) of America as a “Wild West” society presided over by a cowboy president get a shot – so to speak – in the arm.

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Accidental Constitution Accidentally Erased?

Monday, June 21st, 2004

A couple of readers have recently reminded me of a long-ago promise, still unfulfilled, to read Peter Norman’s book on the European Constitutional Convention, The Accidental Constitution, and then review/comment upon it on these pages. Those are timely reminders, too, in view of last week’s Brussels summit that finally produced a modified draft Constitution that all the assembled governmental representations could agree on. (Within the next two years we’ll see about the very different question of whether the national legislatures and/or voters of each of the twenty-five member-states can agree on it too, a very different question.) The Constitution issue is alive and interesting again, and this book should indeed cast valuable light on the issues involved.

I blame Proxis, the Belgium-based Amazon-clone from whom I ordered this book back in the first week of December (that’s 2003). It wasn’t available right away, which I can understand, so they put the order on hold – and apparently they were able to keep that order on hold for over five months, as the book apparently continued to be unavailable. Put another way, via their website they advertised a book which it turned out they couldn’t actually deliver, within five months at least and who knows for how much longer? (I finally canceled this order a while ago.)

I’ll still be glad to continue to use Proxis, but this is still rather annoying; I was counting on the actual arrival of the book to function as the most excellent kind of reminder that now I needed to read it, for myself and for the benefit of all my €S fans. Now I’ll have to try again. I think I’ll order it this time via that EuroComment site which is the very link I give above to those of you needing more information about this book.

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Play the EuropaQuiz!

Friday, May 28th, 2004

Check out this EuropaQuiz page! (But first disable your pop-up blockers; the reference is thanks to the Daily Czech.) It’s a fun game, it’s free, the questions are indeed challenging – and you can win the prize of having the travel and stay of yourself and a friend to Strasbourg, from 19 – 21 July to attend the inaugural sitting of the new European Parliament, paid for! The whole contest is of course sponsored by that same European Parliament (motto, in the 20 various EU languages: “We’re the one and only!”)

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€S to Denmark for the Weekend

Thursday, May 20th, 2004

EuroSavant will be away doing missionary work on behalf of the Segway in Copenhagen this weekend. You can read about what this is all about, and previous city-visits, here. Back on Monday, 24 May.

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Brief EuroSavant Hiatus

Thursday, April 29th, 2004

As regular readers (or those who attempt to find something to read?) will have noticed, the €S posting-frequency has lately slowed a bit. I don’t know whether it’s disappointing to you, but it certainly is to me, as even the cursory run through the various European presses that I’m able to do these days reveals all sorts of articles dealing with the various aspects of the imminent EU enlargement by 10 countries. Especially in those new member-states themselves: worries about prices rising, criminals now being able to move more freely internationally, etc. And of course Czech president Václav Klaus doing all he can to throw cold water on the celebrations, even as he is to be found half-a-world away, visiting China.

The true super-readers, i.e. who follow both my websites in parallel (the other one being SegwayEuroTour, which has very little to do with EuroSavant other than a focus on Europe), will realize that one site is currently losing to the demands of the other. That is, it is currently a busy time for me on the SegwayEuroTour: I am going to be able to experience the EU enlargement ceremonies personally, in Prague (even as I can’t find the time to write about it for you, at least before-the-fact), and then the next weekend I’ll be taking the SegwayEuroTour to Berlin.

After that, though (i.e. after about 9 May), the SegwayEuroTour takes a break, so I’ll be able to roll up my sleeves and get back seriously to reviewing the European press to find interesting things to present to you and comment upon. By that point we can even expect to experience the first wave of articles along the lines of “This is what it’s like in the EU?! I want to go back!”

I wanted to put this notice here to stop people from visiting my site in vain, when there is not actually any new content there to see (although you can always browse my archive of articles over there on the left!). The best solution for that, though, is of course RSS, i.e. making use of that white-on-orange “XML” mini-box I have over there at the top-left. If you aren’t familiar yet with RSS, maybe you’d like to learn about it – try here, to name but one place on the Net that can instruct you. (Although, by the way, the RSS reader that I use is Abilon, from Active Refresh. It’s free, of course, and it’s good – the only minus is that it comes with all sorts of feeds pre-installed, which then you have to go through and delete, those that you don’t want to get, anyway.) Wherever you go to find your own RSS Enlightenment, you’ll soon realize that RSS means that you let new content come to you, so you don’t have to go out and needlessly chase it all the time.

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Easter Break

Friday, April 9th, 2004

EuroSavant will be off-line for the Easter holidays, back on Tuesday, 13 April. It’s in fact going to be a rather interesting Easter weekend, to include being interviewed by a number of Flemish newspapers; details, if I’ve piqued your curiosity, you can find here.

Until then: What other disfunctional Central European government have I got left to discuss? Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, wild-man Lukashenka’s Belarus – I’ve already covered them all. Oh yes, there’s the recent removal-by-impeachment of Lithuanian president Rolandas Paksas. But that was an instance of the new democratic system actually working as advertised!

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Lukashenko Watch: “Opposition Threatens Public Safety”

Friday, April 2nd, 2004

Wild-man Alyaksandr Lukashenko, who happens also to be “President” of Belarus, is at his antics again according to this recent report from the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Newsline:

President Alyaksandr Lukashenko said on 31 March that his recent directive “On Measures to Enhance Public Safety and Discipline” met with support from most Belarusians, aside from drunkards, crooks, undisciplined workers, and the opposition, Belapan reported [that’s the “Belarusian information company”], quoting the presidential press service. Lukashenko reportedly said the opposition is guided by the principle, “The worse for the people and the government, the better for the opposition.” The president charged that the opposition seeks sociopolitical destabilization in the country and poses a threat to public safety.

(more…)

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What’s A Gold Medal Worth?

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2004

Great commentary today from NYT sports-writer George Vecsey: Athletes Who Use Drugs Are Cheating the Fans. Go ahead, check it out and read about one Johann Muehlegg, who had all three cross-country skiing gold medals he won at the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games taken away from him for “use of a banned substance.” German name, huh? (actually, more Austrian) – except that he was competing at Salt Lake City for Spain, a country he found it more convenient to pledge his allegiance to – for whatever reason: tax? – notwithstanding that he couldn’t speak a word of Spanish and probably wouldn’t know a tapa from a tortilla. (Of course not! The latter is Mexican, anyway.)

What if I submit the assertion that this Johann Muehlegg in Utah in February, 2002 (and whenever else) prostituted his body – not to mention his nationality – far more seriously and disgracefully than, say, any of the women sitting behind the rose-colored windows around three kilometers or so away from where I now sit in Amsterdam? At least he looks (properly) like a fully-credentialed idiot, holding up two of his bogus gold medals in the Associated Press photograph that heads Vecsey’s commentary. Check it out. And then stop wondering why many people, myself included, have stopped being willing to take the Olympic Games seriously.

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Ads-a-Comin’!

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2004

Let me ask you something: For the whole time (and I mean over the decades) that you’ve been reading €S, you loyal reader you, hasn’t that big empty space up at the top-right of the page ever struck you as somewhat awkward? I mean, I have used it to post the occasional message, display the occasional reader’s poll, but generally that prime-territory, eye-level space has just remained empty.

Well, this ties in, you see, with the perennial question of finding some “business model” to sustain EuroSavant – in other words making this whole on-going thing worth my while in terms beyond and a bit more pragmatic than the general joy I experience at unearthing some juicy article which otherwise would languish under-appreciated by the wider world (because it had the unfortunate fate to be created Danish, say, or Hungarian – yes, on rare occasions), presenting it to you, and adding my own side-gloss to the whole affair.

The obvious solution is to start posting advertisements up in that prime right-hand-corner real estate, and I think I’m going to arrange for that soon. I also rather think that I’ll work with the good folks at Blogads, rather than with Google’s Adsense. Nothing against Google, you understand – but I have reason to believe Blogads will be a tighter, more-intimate operation, and I’m also impressed with the clients they have already signed up, including Talking Points Memo and Matt Welch.

Anybody object? Speak now – to my usual e-mail address, whose link is always there at the top-left, just below the logo – or forever hold your peace! It won’t be just any ads: it’ll be ads that particularly appeal to and are interesting to this weblog’s clientele – if I can just figure out who that is (other than family, of course, and the usual hangers-on). Anyway: Coming to a top-right-hand corner near you soon!

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Lukashenko Watch: “Ideology Within the Workplace”

Tuesday, February 24th, 2004

Here’s the latest on our favorite European dictator (come to think of it – the only European dictator left!), Belarus’ Alyaksandr Lukashenko, again from the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Newsline. The entry is short, so I’ll just go ahead and quote it in its entirety:

Belarussian President Signs Edict on Ideology Within the Workplace. President Lukashenko signed an edict on 23 February stipulating that the heads of companies and enterprises will be responsible for the ideological schooling of their workforces, Belapan reported. The edict specifies how many people can be employed by local “ideology departments” and the procedure for appointing ideology officers within organizations. A statement released by the president’s press office read: “An ideologist must enjoy the credibility of the staff, be able to explain issues of interest to his or her colleagues, and help [the workers] address their own problems.”

That’s right: We’re in effect talking here about the old Soviet concept of political commissars. In the 21st century. In a land that many place as being within Europe.

Belapan, by the way, is the “Belarussian Information Company.” I tried clicking on the link I found on that page (it’s the English-language homepage) to check out the article whose headline was “Belarus’ membership of EU not ruled out, British ambassador says.” (Hey, I like hysterical humor-writing as much as the next guy – whether it’s intentional or not.) But that revealed to me that you only get access to such articles if you pay for a subscription. Somehow a subscription to the Belarussian news agency is not something I have in mind, as much as that attitude could hurt what seems to have become this weblog’s on-going Lukashenko-watch. (Do I need to set up a separate “Belarus” category over there in the list in the left-side column, so interested readers can separate out the Lukanshenko articles from the rest?)

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“A Clue” on the Upcoming US Election

Saturday, February 21st, 2004

Sorry, it looks like I’m continuing here in a recent mini-trend of escaping what I’ve termed my usual €S “brief” and pointing out to you notable contributions in the (gasp!) English-language on-line media.

In this case it’s really a matter of an on-going “contribution,” i.e. an e-mail newsletter I can really recommend, namely A-Clue.com, written by Dana Blankenhorn, an IT business analyst of long experience. It’s weekly, and unfailingly a very informative and also entertaining read. And, I say again, it’s free.

What caught my attention in particular in this week’s issue was the following political commentary which, because Mr. Blankenhorn gives his subscribers permission “to forward this newsletter widely,” I assume he won’t mind my reproducing below:
————————-



November 2

November 2 dawned clear and cold. But even where it rained, people took it as a bad omen.

Exit polls were out by 10 AM, on Drudge and the National Review. Despite a 40% approval rating, despite a 20% approval rating for Congress, President Bush and the Congress had been returned to power overwhelmingly. Senator Kerry, soon to be Senate Minority Leader Kerry, had won just two states, Hawaii and (ironically enough) Vermont. He had fallen in his home state of Massachusetts 53-47. Surveys indicated few found much real difference between the candidates. Both were Yale men, from the same secret society called Skull & Bones. Both were backed entirely by corporations. Why not go with the devil you know?

How could this be, people asked. And what happens now?

What would happen is that economics would take over where politics had failed. The dollar would continue falling and Russia would lead moves to start making more loans in the more-stable Euro. The economies of China and India would rocket along, the former beset by growing social unrest, the latter by religious strife, but all this allowing yet-more nations in Southeast Asia – like Vietnam and the Philippines – some time in the economic sun.

Australia and New Zealand processed a tsunami of visa applications from white Americans, many of them college-educated, all claiming a fear of persecution. In Canberra the Howard government urged continued processing, suggesting (sub rosa) that this would offset growing immigration from Asia and the Muslim world. In Auckland experienced LA techs took 1/10th their former salaries to work on Peter Jackson’s “King Kong,” hoping against hope he might sponsor their staying.

The “brain drain” of American intellectuals, who would not be replaced by foreigners for the first time, was hardly noticed at the time. But the air of American triumphalism would be short-lived. For it’s intelligence, the “high bandwidth mind” as they say at Microsoft, that is the great engine of economic growth in a post-industrial age. With fewer of these on-hand, American power, influence, and the American lifestyle would slowly wither away.

Even as the Republic was replaced by an Empire, the American Century had ended.



————————-
Pretty interesting to read, at least for this American working and building a life in Amsterdam.

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Those Dirty “Terrorists”

Friday, February 20th, 2004

Alyaksandr Lukashenko is the name of the personage who is a Belarussian funnyman and at the same time the last remaining dictator in the European political space (although Vladimir Putin is making a strong run at providing some competition). Forget that “Alyaksandr”: that’s just one attempt at a transliteration from what is ultimately a name spelled in Cyrillic. No, to really give Lukashenko his due, you need to put a little line through the initial “L” of his last name, which makes it into the Polish L;, so you pronounce it like the Poles do: Wukashenka. While you’re reciting that silly word, for a silly but dangerous person (the president’s political opponents in Belarus have a habit of disappearing without a trace), it somehow seems appropriate to think of a clown.

Anyway, according to recent reporting from RFE/RL Newsline (Lukashenko Lambastes Kremlin for “Terrorism” – it’s English-language), this was President Wukashenka’s comment on his government’s recent dispute with the Russian energy company Gazprom over natural gas supplies to Belarus, in which the two parties have not been able to come to terms, so that the contract has lapsed: “I think it’s an act of terrorism at the highest level to take natural gas away from a country that is not totally foreign, from people half of whom have Russian blood in their veins, when it’s minus 20 degrees outside.”

That’s right: your opponents on the other side of what is turning into a nasty business dispute are “terrorists at the highest level.” Not to mention your political opponents – well, at present they’re still only “supporting the terrorists.” (And I’m by no means referring here solely to Belarussian politics.) And when people die in some political dispute (e.g. Palestinians in the occupied territories), it’s “genocide.”

Wukashenka’s crazy, and he’s got no one around him to inform of that or call him to account, but that only means that his use of this increasingly-common political tactic in these insecure times is particular blatant. Others do the same thing, but disguise it more subtly.

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National Guard LT Bush

Tuesday, February 10th, 2004

EuroSavant today briefly departs from its usual brief (i.e. the foreign on-line press; don’t worry, I’ve got a juicy additional entry of the more customary sort planned that I should be able to get in today, or else tomorrow), to eagerly join in the chorus that is starting to resound in the blogosphere about President George W. Bush’s National Guard (non-)performance in 1972 and 1973.

Yes, Michael Moore termed our sitting president a “deserter,” but that’s the sort of heavily-laden word that really should have its full impact saved for application to people or events that truly justify it (it’s like “genocide,” for instance, only a bit less serious). So, even at worst, President Bush was no “deserter”: he did not abandon his military duties anywhere near the then-field of battle in Vietnam. Mr. Moore was merely indulging here in his usual hyperbole. On the other hand, it’s clear that there is a serious gap where there should be some sort of record of LT Bush, National Guard aviator, performing some sort of military duties in 1972 and 1973 to justify the expense taxpayers at the time undertook to train him to fly – not to mention the officer’s oath he took. Military service is a well-documented experience indeed, as I can tell you from personal (officer’s) experience – for what that’s worth; those documents just have to be there, if indeed there was anything happening during that period to actually document. (more…)

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€S to US

Sunday, January 18th, 2004

I’m headed off to a two-week trip to the US, back in early February. But I’ll still be able to get on-line most of the time – of course! – courtesy of those whom I’ll be visiting. So my EuroSavant posting – and let’s not forget the meticulous scanning of the on-line European press that lies behind that – should continue; it will just be a question of the time I can devote to that. Actually, it’s quite likely that my frequency will be just as good/bad as has marked January, although no way will I attain the daily posting rate I reached in December before Christmas, when vital, interesting things (e.g. the EU IGC) were actually going on.

I’ll be making a total of three round-trip flights on this journey: six occasions to remove jacket, belt, shoes, etc. and fight as best I can against the presumption that I’m a terrorist who means to do the airplane harm. What fun! I feel like taping this Dilbert cartoon somewhere prominent on the outer surface of a handbag, but I hear that US Transportation Security Administration personnel have even less of a sense of humor about their assigned functions than Scott Adams does about allowing people to reproduce his cartoons directly on their websites.

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Coming Attraction

Wednesday, December 31st, 2003

I’m in the middle of the holiday slowdown, as regular readers will have noticed, basically due to being other places and doing other things. But there’s one thing I know I can already look forward to in January, and EuroSavant visitors can look forward to it, too. Peter Norman, long-time European correspondent for leading newspapers such as the Wall Street Journal – Europe and the FT, closely observed all the sessions of that European Convention that drew up the proposed Constitution/Constitutional Treaty (right, the one which, somewhat altered, could nonetheless not gain the required unanimous agreement from all current and soon-to-be EU member-states at the summit earlier this month in Brussels). He did so partly in order to write a book about that process, which is now out: The Accidental Constitution: The Story of the European Convention, EuroComment, 2003 ( here’s further information about the book from EuroComment’s site).

I like to buy my books from Proxis.com (based in Belgium), mainly because they’re often cheapest there (but this is a complicated question; I can’t go into details here), there’s free delivery within the Benelux for orders over €12, and customer service is pretty good. On the other hand, sometimes they don’t have a book immediately in stock, which has been the case here, so that I’m still waiting for the copy of The Accidental Constitution that I ordered and presumably will finally get it within a week or two. In a sense, then, the failure of that Brussels summit (not to mention the general haziness and confusion about where the EU goes from here) was actually good news, in that it keeps the insights into the Convention and the Constitution itself that I’m sure I’ll gain from reading Norman’s book at the cutting-edge of current relevance – although even if the Constitution had been accepted, the book would obviously still be worth reading.

As soon as I have read it, I’ll let you know what it says and what I think. But it’s quite a big volume, and of course it treats all sorts of interesting subjects on the EU’s present agenda – so that it’s likely that that discussion will be good for perhaps three or more weblog entries. Note also that this will be contrary to the usual weblogging paradigm, namely “post shallow, post often,” in that it’s going to require a bit of time and effort to digest what Norman has to say, and then to report on it in an interesting way. “Post deep,” in other words: but I trust that, in the meantime, I should be able to keep up some sort of schedule of postings on other €S topics.

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EuroSavant Reader Feedback Poll!

Thursday, December 18th, 2003

[Update: The readers’ poll that I posted on this site mentioned in this entry, asking readers’ preferences regarding long vs. short EuroSavant postings, ran through 26 December 2003, and so is now closed and has been removed.]

I’m off elsewhere for this upcoming weekend, friends – back next Tuesday (23 Dec.) in fact, to resume blogging then.

But please do take just a little bit of time to take my first EuroSavant Reader Feedback Poll, which you should see staring you boldly in the face just above (at least in the halcyon days when this entry – this one right here – was in its radiant youth, which we’ve just found out will last until next Tuesday).

So far, EuroSavant has been all about long entries, a fact which readers for any length of time will surely acknowledge. After all, the national press-survey is this weblog’s quintessence. Doing one such always takes up a very big block of time – logically, since I have to find all that stuff, read it in its foreign-language incarnation (yes, that requires the occasional dictionary-reference) while taking notes, decide which elements are the most interesting/important, and then put together a text to post that strings those important elements together in a logical way, telling a story, while adding gratuitous comments and exclamations according to whim to try to result in something worth reading.

A lot of time – a lot of text. I’ve taken recent steps to make that “lot of text” more friendly to see once the visitor clicks the “More…” link, but if its sheer expanse deters him or her from actually reading it nonetheless – i.e. from reading what it has just taken me hours to write – then we’re in your classic “lose-lose” situation.

I’ve had the occasional short weblog entry, when I’ve brought up and discussed only one or two foreign articles. Sometimes that was all that I saw worth writing about that particular day (such as that day not long ago when I was in a strange mood, interested only in clams’ reproductive parts); sometimes I couldn’t bear (or couldn’t schedule) another multi-hour time-block to do the more-typical EuroSavant-type entry. But if that’s the sort of thing that my readers are interested in/only have the time or patience for, then I can certainly do much more of it.

Thus, the poll. And naturally I would also be pleased to hear from you directly – in the “Comments” section of this entry if it’s something you want everyone to be able to see, to my e-mail address (“E-mail Eurosavant” at the top-left) if it is not. S’il vous plaît . . .

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Spare Us the “Dreams and Glory”

Wednesday, December 17th, 2003

It’s a bully pulpit, this weblog, here at my disposal on those occasions when I want to react publicly to something I’ve read on the Net. By the nature of things, though, that inevitably means a bias against excellent articles that I might otherwise want to recommend to you, if they’re not European and in a foreign language – it’s not worth going “off-Eurosavant-topic,” you see – and towards pointing you to terrible articles that I just have to argue against. And so it would be with regret that I would let you know of the column Dreams and Glory by David Brooks, were it not for the audience of millions that its posting yesterday on the New York Time’s Op-Ed pages inevitably assured it. (However, in a couple of days it disappears behind the Times’ “paid content” wall, so I’ll try to include many representative quotes for those who are reading this late.) (more…)

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Any Mollusk Experts Out There?

Thursday, December 11th, 2003

Sorry: Did anyone catch my reference to “love-mussel” in my rather off-topic post of last week? I was rather proud of that one; I even kept my door open for a while, braving the onrushing Dutch winter, just to be able to listen for the collective gasp that I expected to issue soon after I hit the “post” button on that sucker.

Was it shocked silence instead? Everyone gaping speechlessly in amazement at their computer monitors? Or are you all rather shellfishly clamming up on me? So far no pearls of wisdom of any sort have reached me at all.

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Microsoft 3D Pinball for Windows – Space Cadet

Thursday, November 27th, 2003

Your EuroSavant today is still striving to regain his old equilibrium, to leave Kajagoogoo behind (Don’t understand? Please, don’t ask!) and resume his usual serious, even solemn, consideration of phenomena in the various European national presses. (Thanks to all those who e-mailed their suggestions about a €S “blogathon,” by the way – I’m still weighing that idea.)

I’m still not quite all the way back there yet. Exhibit A: What I’ve done today is add over to my list of articles on the left-hand side a document I first wrote last February, on “Mastering Microsoft 3D Pinball for Windows – Space Cadet.” You see, I have a lot to say on that topic (or at least think that I do, gained through long experience – although I can’t say it was “hard” or “bitter”). I know that it is not necessarily true that my usual EuroSavant audience will be interested in the topic, but that’s OK: That is aimed more at the traffic Google (and whichever other search engines) will be able to send me of people looking for something on the Net about Space Cadet Pinball. I myself have looked for such material before; there’s precious little of it out there, so I thought that I would make this contribution. By the way, Google (and others) has already shown itself to be very handy in sending traffic my way that is looking for comment/coverage about my usual topics (you know: Stability Pact, Poles in Iraq, etc.)

Actually, I wrote the piece last February, for a private audience, but have just decided: “What the heck, Philip! You’ve now had these months of exclusive access to this tome of pinball revelation – whether you’ve diligently made use of it to start posting astounding Space Cadet session point records on your machine or not, this information simply can’t be withheld from humanity for too much longer. So here it is!” – with some revisions to reflect further Space Cadet experience since.

A final note: As I say, I’m posting the piece as a permanent article over to the left, meaning that it won’t shift downwards and disappear after a few days like the typical weblog entry must do. (Although all of my weblog entries are perfectly accessible, via the search function or the archives.) On the other hand, that would also mean that the article would not have some useful elements of a weblog entry that I think it should have: primarily, a comments function, although TrackBack and PingBack could be useful, too. So I’m putting the two together: This weblog entry will provide the comment/TrackBack/PingBack functionality. The article will have a permanent link to this entry and:

This weblog entry will have this permanent link to the Mastering Microsoft 3D Pinball for Windows – Space Cadet article.

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Latest Money-Making Blog Idea: The “Blogathon”!

Wednesday, November 26th, 2003

Fresh off posting a weblog entry which dealt in part (minor part) with the “destruction of value” all of this web-publishing is wreaking on traditional publishing, and the difficulty in actually extracting any money from it, I run across this idea from Darren Rowse’s Living Room >> A space for Life weblog: the blogathon! (If interested, you’ll have to click there and then scroll down for the relevant entries; he doesn’t make permalinks to individual entries available.) Yes, next month Darren is going to spend 24 hours straight just sitting in front of his PC blogging, the point being to be sponsored to do so, all for the financial benefit of the charity International Needs, and specifically for a project they have ongoing in the Philippines to provide poor families with income-providing pedicabs. If you want (and want to sponsor), you’ll be able to get him to discuss anything about himself you might be interested in – or anything about Australia, which is where he lives.

Intriguing . . . I tend to spend much-too-much time in front of the computer myself, especially on the weekends. (Cue link to IAD: Internet Addiction Disorder. But how could MAO otherwise be the well-informed, well-connected press Euro-guru that you all know and love?) It would likely take less prolonging than you might believe (or hope!) to push this to a full 24 hours. Whaddaya think? Is this an idea for the (self-professed, buy-domain-name, buy-your-version-of-Truth) EuroSavant?

But, if I do do this, don’t get your hopes up about getting me to write about me. As that song went – I’m too: shy-de-shy, hush-hush – I-doo-I. (Yes, there was such a song, back in the ’80s; it’s playing in my head right now as I write. I guess I need to do the Google exercise of tracking it down, so I can provide all you doubters out there – who think that my mind has been sucked away and into my computer monitor by now – with the name of the group and year.) The various European presses never fail to provide more than enough grist for the EuroSavant mill, thank you very much: you should see the topics “that got away,” because I had to choose one thing among the many to write about on a given day.

[Hey girl – move a little closer! Important update: I found it! – and not via Google either, but rather via Rhapsody, an on-line music service, owned by RealNetworks, that I can really recommend. The song was “Too Shy,” the group (and it gives me no pleasure to have to write this): Kajagoogoo And Limahl. The year: 1982. So there.]

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