the diary thing. 02.12.02 .move
boxTHIS SITE IS GOING TO MOVE sometime in the next month. Iíll post a notice when the new URL is active, and try to keep both sites going for a week, at least, before shutting this one down. Nevertheless, be prepared for a change of bookmarks. I can't believe it, but I'm actually excited about this.

The reason is simple enough. The Quest for Megs that began last month has not gone well, thanks to my ISP being unable to keep track of what different respective departments have done with my account. Lately, files Iíve uploaded to the movie review section of the site have prompted error messages Ė "files contain no data", or something like that. (As I write this entry, I have no idea as to whether it will ever make it online successfully. An act of faith, like so much else in life, I guess.) No one in technical support can explain why, except to hint that Iím out of server space. I explain to them that I (supposedly Ė I mean they swear itís there, but Iím suspicious) added 2 Megs last month, and that the likelihood of me filling those two Megs in a few weeks is pretty thin. Iíve been bounced from technical support to accounts to billing and back again; Iíve been told that "we donít support FTP, sir." As if thatís anything like a satisfactory answer to a customer whoís been buck-passed for almost a month. 

Iím sure itís as simple as running out of space. Iíd just like someone at my ISP to admit it, though, but so far theyíve been utterly unhelpful. Itís obvious enough that Iíve reached a fork in the road as a web person, obliged to leave behind the amateur realm of free webspace, courtesy of my dial-up service provider, for separate high-speed service and web hosting. 

And so this site moves, after four years. Which means I have four years of links to go over and change. Does anyone have any idea how this can be done without the steamroller of tedium driving me into a screaming, wild-eyed fit? And what the links other journals have kindly provided here, over the years? Iíll have to hope that theyíll be generous enough to go back and change them. If not, well, the web is a house built on sand, slipping very quickly downhill, or at least it feels that way most days.

Iíll be buying a domain name, finally. Something obvious like "rickmcginnis.com", I guess, though part of me has always coveted "pepys.com" (thought itís taken, of course), if only for the subtle joke. Useless for marketing myself or my work, needless to say, but the ultimate diary site name, as far as Iím concerned. I have to (finally) admit to myself that the diary isnít supposed to be the main feature on this site Ė my photography has always been, in theory, the priority Ė though hit-wise the diary has always been the clear winner. Still, must be practical.

Iíll probably finally re-organize the site, re-design some bits, streamline the files a bit. With luck, Iíll have a new computer in a month or so, with Photoshop onboard to build some nicer graphics. The portfolio section will expand quite a bit in the next few months. More on that later. Stay tuned.

"Keep what you have; the known evil is best."

- Plautus
Let me know what you think of this trial re-design of the entry pages.
SO IT TURNS OUT THAT the "axis of evil" line in the State of the Union speech was the work of a Canadian, David Frum, according to a proud e-mail circulated by his wife, Danielle Crittenden. Itíll be the high point of Frumís life so far, I imagine; his "thousand points of light" and "evil empire" rolled into one, the backroom flourish that turns him into Peggy Noonan overnight. I think itís a tired bit of rhetoric, an ill-chosen phrase, to say the least, and nowhere near as clever as it deserves to be. 

Iíve been pretty candid about my opinion of Frum, but here goes again. Frum is a nasty piece of work, a terrible little blowhard, the kind of mean, tireless suckler on the dessicated teat of power that flourishes on the charisma-free margins of the left as well as the right. A silver-spoon child of rich, liberal parents, his journey to the right was archetypical enough to make him a poster boy for a generation seemingly dedicated to eradicating compassion from public life. A generation I also belong to, which makes my aversion to Frum a point of principle. 

Heís a canny barometer of public opinion, though Ė a useful talent for the ambitious. Thereís nothing original about regretting the excesses of the Seventies, but you can make a name for yourself by conflating that decadeís bad taste, poor aesthetics, whip-shy politics and moral exhaustion with the whole of the left. His book on the Seventies was crank politics at its best, and reminded me of the Simpsons gag, where the unveiling of a statue of Jimmy Carter moves a member of the Springfield mob to cry out, "Heís historyís worst monster!" Heís the kind of conservative pundit whoís made a career of equating all human weakness and lapses of taste with a liberal attack on "western values", his basic assumption being that only doctrinaire conservatives hold the key to a sound, moral society. His formula is simple enough: velour shirts = wife-swapping = feminism gone mad = fashionable Maoism = weakness on terrorism = collapse of Western Civilization.

As an op-ed writer, Frum was eager to demonize the totem demon of his day, the welfare mother, confident that his own upbringing made him eminently qualified to prescribe solutions for social problems he could never hope to understand. In any case, the welfare mother was just another trope, a symbol one need never bother to comprehend, since a new one would come along soon enough. Frum, like every political pilot fish, knows that as long as youíre on the crest of a political wave, you need never justify yourself. 

His meagre talent has remained intact, buffed to a high gloss by his newfound proximity to power as a Bush speechwriter. Popular nostalgia for the moral sureness of the Second World War has been catalogued to death; Frum only had to rummage around the bottom of the duffel bag to find a hoary scrap of threadbare noun to recycle. Victory in Afghanistan had been quick Ė too quick, perhaps, for public opinion to remain sufficiently ardent. A new enemy was required, and language sufficient to keep us inspired.

The enemy was disappointing, the work on the ground in the aftermath of his defeat inevitably regarded as dreary stuff, at least by the victors. Bin Laden Ė the demon at the heart of the enemyís strength Ė didnít even have the decency to follow the script. There was no suicide in the bunker Ė fervently imagined in our media, at the hand of his own sons, even Ė and no humiliating gibbet in Kabul's town square for his corpse. He didnít even oblige us with capture and a trial, though that was no doubt the least desirable of outcomes. Like any good demon, he vanished like a vapor, borne on the winds toÖwhere? Iraq, surely, or Iran, though evidence is scarce. The hell with evidence. 

Perhaps the wind shifted, and his malign spirit has found a home in North Korea. Itís hard to imagine bin Laden finding hospitality in Kim Il-Jungís dreary, secular, bad dream of a communist utopia, but that isnít the point. The whole thrust of the "axis of evil" is the image of bin Laden as a virus, or a demonic possession finding its host in the vulnerable body of a sinner. Itís hard for me to resent Bush for all this overheated rhetoric. Iím certain he actually means it, just as much as Iím sure Frum, a cynical, bilious little suckjob, doesnít. (link: hereís someone who hates Frum even more than I do.)

I KNOW IT ALL SOUNDS a bit melodramatic, but Iím just trying to rise to the level of rhetoric Frum has put in his bossí mouth. "Letís roll" didnít really catch on, despite the best efforts of everyone from the op-ed writers at the National Post to Neil Young. (You can make up your own vision of a "Canadian conspiracy" here.)  "Youíre either with us or youíre against us" was simple enough, but it suffered from a prolixity that doesnít market well. Besides which, itís really nothing more than a recycling of John Foster Dullesí high Cold War foreign policy, boiled down to a schoolboy's dare.

Iím not trying to diminish the unsavoury, threatening nature of the governments of Iran, Iraq, or North Korea. I wouldnít want to live in any of these countries, but they seem to have been drummed into the "axis of evil" by a coin toss, or a dart tossed at a wall map. Iraq was the default candidate, but I canít help but remind myself that it was once a valued friend of the U.S. when newly fundamentalist Iran was the enemy. Choosing Iran seems like reckless brinksmanship Ė a generation after Khomeiniís revolution, it was undergoing a liberalization that might be over now that itís on the shit list. 

North Korea is a Stalinist basketcase state that relies on international food aid for survival, much of which comes from the U.S. It has no friends in its neighbourhood, and might eventually have shrivelled away, with some judicious, long-term diplomacy. But diplomacy is a dirty word these days, a virtual synonym for spineless, ghost of Chamberlain-at-Munich, UN-style political "appeasement" of the kind that, itís assumed, led to 9/11. More well-pawed, inadequate WW2 metaphors, I know, but itís been that kind of a war. 

The only thing all three states have in common is the potential for nuclear capability, as well as chemical and biological weapons programs. Trying to selectively force the nuclear, biological and chemical genie back in the bottle Ė which is what the U.S. is trying to do, all talk of a war on terrorism aside Ė seems a quixotic kind of game. After all, they did a pretty bad job of preventing India and Pakistan from developing nukes, a far more immediate threat to world peace, and a recent intelligence failure that, in hindsight, might have warned us about CIA and NSA shortcomings leading up to 9/11. 

Itís also a bit inconsistent, considering that China has been an erstwhile ally of North Korea, and sold Iran biological agents. (Just as the U.S. under Reagan sold anthrax cultures and more to Hussein's Iraq.)  But of course, China is a favoured trading partner, in spite of -- or perhaps because of -- the vast array of priority battle plans filed at the Pentagon anticipating war with the Peopleís Republic. Weíre willing to take a lot from China, far more than weíre willing to take from "rogue states" like the evil axis, even if, in the case of Iran at least, theyíre ruled by elected officials, and loosely fit the definition of a democracy, far more so than China, in any case.

PERHAPS IíM BEING UNREALISTIC, asking for consistency, a semblance of logic, even, from Bush and his administration. I know Iím way out of line, expecting a higher level of speechifying. I really ought to stop imagining that someone like Karl Rove or Dick Cheney has anything resembling my own tastes or value system. After all, they hired Frum, where I would have encouraged him to find his own level Ė writing angry letters to the editor of his community paper, preferably. Perhaps I ought to stop taking politics so personally.

Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of Americnn Empire, Chalmers Johnson (Owl) buy it

Ramones, Ramones (Rhino) buy it
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