30.4.04

Numbers for those casualties you keep hearing about

The guy at the Memory Hole, who's been doing some guestwriting for boingboing and has written or co-written a lot of the Disinformation books, put a link on his site to this obscure Defense Dept. page, which gives an amazing amount of detail on military casualties from Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.

Enough numbers to make my head hurt.

... one other thing.

... you know those disposable cameras you end up with sometimes? well, TechTV (via Endgadget) has a use for them: turn them into stun guns.

I mean, I know we're all about politics here... but still. This is pretty damn amazing (then again, for my final project in AP Physics in high school, I built a universal garage door opener... so take this amazing business with a grain of salt).

S&M dreams with John Ashcroft...?

Thanks to Wonkette for being, well, the greatest thing ever to hit political gossip... and for giving us things like this... i mean, woah. or is it wow? who knows. go watch john ashcroft get, well... just go watch it.

MPAA decides propaganda is the way to go.

... so, WiredNews is carrying this story, about how the MPAA is now teaching middle schoolers about how bad file sharing really is. Striking at the heart of the resistance, I guess...

Headlines Charlton Heston doesn't like to read

DEA Agent Shoots Self During Gun Safety Class. (Seen on Drudge Report.)

Top 10 worst album covers

This is really quite funny.

London: Rain

Actually, there was just rain all day yesterday. Today it's gray and raining on and off, but not right now.

Right now, I'm back at the same internet cafe where my bag got boosted (despite being strapped around the seat I was sitting in) last time I was in London.

To be fair, it's not really that small-world a thing. The internet "cafe" I'm sitting in happens to be the Tottenham Court Road easyEverything which is pretty much the backpacker internet place to beat all backpacker internet places. There are hundreds of terminals - I honestly couldn't even give you a guess, 400 maybe, but row after row after row. Quite remarkable.

The nice thing: you get a code for each time you buy time, and can log off and then log in again later to use up the remainder of your time.

The pisser: the time is only valid at the same location (there are several easyEverythings through London).

Anyhow, London is of course great. Walked around all day (10 a.m.-6 p.m.) yesterday, drank a litre point five of water and had a Lucozade, slept 10 hours and no jet lag despite two hours' sleep on the red eye on the way over, charitably afforded me courtesy Virgin's wine-at-dinner policy and a temporary reprieve by the screaming infant two rows up.

Time running down, so that's all for now. Reviewing this post, it's basically just me saying, ha-ha, I'm in London, which I suppose would be the core of any post. That or making fun of the English. Which I'll do next time.

29.4.04

Modern day 'charity girls'

I first saw this on BoingBoing. Operation Take One for the Country. Right. Speaks for itself...

And I'll reserve judgment on this excerpt as well:

Last time we talked she indicated that she has commitments from some sororities at University of Arizona, Arizona State U., U of Nevada Las Vegas, and U of California Riverside...

Bush Courts White Vote; G.O.P. "Shocked"

Check out this image that is currently featured on Bush's re-election home page.

Look at all those white people! There are even some women! You're really in touch with Americans of every stripe, aren't you Mr. President?

Follow up to Global Health Conference news...

I am concerned (not troubled, yet) by this strange development. As of yesterday, GlobalHealth.org had an article up about the U.S. government withdrawing its financial support. Now, look what happens when you Google that site for the phrase "HHS withholds funds." The story comes up, but the article/link is dead.

Several possibilites: someone decided the article was politically dangerous (disconcerting), the U.S. reinstated the funding (unlikely), or something I haven't thought of. Further, the article does not appear on the recent news page, nor on the main page.

28.4.04

This is bullshit...

Our government last year pledged unprecedented support to fighting HIV/AIDS in Africa. This decision by the Bush administration was praised by conservative pundits hoping to spin him as a caring and compassionate president genuinely concerned for the health and stability of Africa. However, most people don't know that a third of that money has been earmarked for faith-based organizations that promote abstinence-only sex education (which CLEARLY doesn't work) and very few family planning innitiatives. And don't even get me started on the ways in which the Mexico City policy and American drug companies restrict to the point of worthlessness the rest of these allocated funds.

The latest example of George Bush failing Africa and the global community came this week when the administration announced that it would withdraw all government funding (Dept. of Health and Human Services, USAID) for the 31st annual Global Health Council Conference in Washington DC this June. This was the direct work of Republican congressmen and conservative lobby groups who claim that the conference promotes abortion. They argue that this money could be used for lobbying, and also point the finger at Moveon.org, a low-level, first-time sponsor of the conference.

Basically, I think this is bullshit, as I'm sure most of you do. But this hits me particularlly hard because this is my field of work. I went to the GHC conference last year and found it to be an amazingly educational experience. The conference attracts government officials, health care workers, non-profit groups, students, grass-roots activists and medical professionals from all over the world, many of whom are working on the front lines of a crisis that Americans don't want to think about and are witnesses to a deathtoll the magnitude of which we can barely comprehend. I had forgotten that our police state extended into my close-knit, idealist little world of international public health development. I hadn't realized that the free exchange of ideas and solutions to the most harrowing challenges facing the most vulnerable of the world's populations was a direct threat to anti-abortion groups. And silly me, I didn't realize that because a pro-democracy grassroots organization critical of our current administration had affiliated itself with this global institution, that our government would reactionarily withdraw over $170,000 worth of much needed support. Like I said, bullshit.

Get Your Moron

Good bits from the most recent Get Your War On:

If "elitist" just means "not the dumbest motherfucker in the room," I'll be an elitist!

[Bush's] mind is like one of those spinning cages where you pull out the winning lottery numbers—but there's only four goddamn balls in his little cage: "Freedom," "Democracy," "Terror," and "Stay the Course." He opens his mouth, one of the balls drops out. That's not a conversation, that's Keno.

Plus Rees drops a Space Ghost reference. (Side note: Space Ghost now available on DVD.) The last three strips are so-so.

Pennsylvania Redistricting

Upheld by the Supreme Court, but the door was also left open to future legal challenges to gerrymandering. The predictable if disturbing graf:

Four court conservatives would have gone even further, by limiting future legal attacks on gerrymandering, the practice of drawing voting districts to favor a political party.

Kennedy dissented with them on that point, but went along with them to allow the current gerrymandering to stand. In a case that held promise for its even being heard, a typically disgusting partisan split is the result. Ugh.

Ed.- Check out the Pennsylvania districts maps here. Shame you can't see the whole state too well. -degs

Morning News Roundup

First let me note that though I might make another post or two today, tonight also marks my departure from the country until 10 May. I will post sporadically RE: my travels and if a news story is really REALLY necessary to comment upon, but otherwise, annoy Degs, Rinn and Styer if you want content.

Now, on to the day's news.

-The Op-Ed pages are again brimming with indignation (and rightly so) over the GOP smear machine's campaign against John Kerry's war record. Harold Meyerson has a column, "Prince Hal vs. King Henry," that puts into pretty stark relief the ridiculousness of Kerry v. Bush on war records. First two grafs:

In the course of the past week an odd double standard has emerged in the presidential campaign. Every sentence and gesture of the young John Kerry has been scrutinized -- and often deliberately misinterpreted -- for signs of insincerity, self-promotion, lack of patriotism and fledgling Francophilia.

The sentences and gestures of the young George W. Bush, on the other hand, remain shrouded in obscurity. You don't build a record if you don't show up, and that's exactly what Bush did during the Vietnam War.


Wes Clark has a straightforward but effective column in the NYT, with one brutal dig:

I believe those who didn't serve, or didn't show up for service, should have the decency to respect those who did serve — often under the most dangerous conditions, with bravery and, yes, with undeniable patriotism.

-"South Park" has, in its own way, jumped the shark, though in this case it's by gaining respectability. The front page of the NYT features a picture of Cartman, and there is a guffaw-inducing Arts profile of the show and "Mr. Parker and Mr. Stone."

-Terrorist attack in Syria followed by a gun battle between state security forces (and this is Syria - those state security forces don't fuck around) and the terrorists. Follow this story - Syria is an odd duck, a real Stalinist security state with a minority ethnic population brutally ruling over a multi-ethnic society (hmmm...sound familiar...?). Syria, however, is in an interesting spot - as the article notes,

Syria permits radical groups like the Palestinian Islamic Jihad to operate offices in the capital and has in the past provided sanctuary to Kurdish militants, it also maintains a network of overlapping security and intelligence agencies to monitor them.

Its facade of calm, however, began to show cracks recently as restive Kurds in northern Syria clashed with the police, leaving at least eight people dead. The unrest spread briefly to Damascus last month, and Kurdish sources have said dozens of people have been caught up in a sweep of arrests.


Syria has strongly supported Hamas and other Palestinian terror organizations, and allows Hezbollah to occupy strategic parts of Lebanon to carry on a proxy war with Israel, coordinating with Iran to supply Hezbollah.

At the same time, Syria is strongly secular in its government and leadership - the Ba'th party is in control (remember them?), and subscribes to an Arab nationalist, not Islamic, worldview. But Syria differs from Iraq in several key ways, the chiefest of which seems to be that whereas Iraq's presence on the world stage was one characterized by bluster, overstatement/outright lies and antagonism, Syria has been remarkably nimble diplomatically. They fought with coalition forces in the first Gulf War; they have shared intelligence with the U.S. on al-Qaida; and were even able to talk down the foaming-at-the-mouth neocons from invading. Not to mention their curious relationship with fundamentalism Iran.

For almost two decades, Syria has been able to maintain internal security by playing the external chaos of the rest of the Middle East expertly; now, this may signal a change in that. I'm not sure. It certainly seems that Syria would be one of several nations especially riled up were there to be an independent (or very autonomous) Kurdish state.

-Arlen Specter held on to beat wingnut Jim Toomey in the PA Senate primary. dKos coverage here. I agree especially with Kos' assesment that,

And, in my estimation, it's a victory for Joe Hoeffel, who now gets to face a bloodied and poorer sitting senator representing a bitterly divided party (the latest Q-poll indicated that 48 percent of Toomey voters would not vote for Specter in the general).

That shows you just how polarized things are - Specter was endorsed by Bush and Santorum (who's apparently now the former holiest of holies for wingnuts), and still he's not conservative enough for almost half of Toomey's voters. Whoo boy.

That's all for now.

27.4.04

We Have Always Been at War With Eurasia

First two grafs of a Salon.com piece on the coming American totalitarian state:

U.S. Supreme Court justices listened skeptically last week as Solicitor General Ted Olson argued that foreign detainees being held in U.S. military facilities in Guantánamo Bay have no right to seek relief from U.S. courts. Wednesday, Olson will be back before the court, this time arguing in two historic cases that the government has the authority to lock up U.S. citizens, too -- without charges, without a lawyer, without a trial, without any rights at all -- simply by declaring them "enemy combatants" in the administration's war on terror.

Having government agents sweep U.S. citizens off the streets and into prison cells, holding them incommunicado for as long as the government likes -- it sounds like a dark fantasy of life in a totalitarian state, the kind of thing we're supposed to be fighting against in Iraq. But this is no fantasy. In the cases of Jose Padilla and Yaser Hamdi, the Bush administration is advancing a vision of governmental power that is both far-reaching and unprecedented, at least in the United States of America. And it is a vision -- like the one the administration articulated Tuesday during Supreme Court arguments on the secrecy of Vice President Cheney's energy task force -- that leaves sole discretion, sole authority, and almost unfettered power in the hands of the executive branch.


There is no joke here; there is no overstating how bad this is.

I'm All for Multiculturalism...

...and would be the first to admit I don't really know the first damn thing about traditional Libyan formal dress. Still, Col. Qadafi really looks like he's attending Hogwarts Graduation in this picture.

If You're Reading This, You Already Know

That we now have comments. Or rather, the possibility thereof, as nobody has actually made a comment yet. I'm not begging for comments here, just saying that some people asked for them, and...well, I guess that's the danger of having a blog editorship as large as or greater than a blog readership.


Humor

My life would not be worth living if I could not laugh. Here's a pretty good editorial cartoon by Clay Jones from 16 April.

E-Government (2 of 2)

Deserving its own post, this subject is relevant to my professional life and demonstrative of the Bush administration is general.

In 2002, the Department of Education revealed a new policy for content on its website. The gist of the new policy is that all ED web material accessible by the public would strictly "reflect the priorities, philosophies, or goals of the present administration." I.e., old material—though essential for researchers, librarians, and historians—would no longer appear on the ED's site. This is an affront to every notion of an open and free democracy. Here is some coverage of the issue, albeit a bit old:

E-Government (1 of 2)

Many government agencies, elected officials, and other entities of the law have very good web pages. The Library of Congress and FirstGov come to mind. It's unfortunate, though, that some people simply can't get it together.

For example, why does the Supreme Court's website suck? And why doesn't supremecourt.gov work? (It could re-direct you, at a minimum. (All that takes is some government hack registering the URL and setting up a few lines of HTML.)

I Heart Stupid Surveys

Headline: Britons: Food, tea, queen make us British.

Ever Get that Feeling...

...that you've reached the end of the internet - that you're just going over the same dozen sites over and over again? Me too. But I know there's a lot more out there - the problem is that (especially with Google and how it works), the more we go over the well-worn paths, the harder it is to even realize that there are others.

So, in that line of thinking, and as a public service to the readers of Mingle until Departure (both of you), I have started a serious invesigation of the "Dark" Web. There's a reasonable amount of scholarly material on the subject, and I'll address it as I begin to understand and process it, but really the function of the project is to find cool websites and, by blending those sites with my analytic-yet-intense news-processing prowess, inadvertantly stumble upon the meaning of life. Or something.

For starters: this.

26.4.04

Where did you stay in DC? Uh... the bus.

I'm very tired. My legs kinda feel like jello, and my feet are blistered. I haven't really slept much in the past 36 hours and I'm a bit confused as to what meal I'm hungry for right now. The bus ride was kinda terrifying and about 8 hours too long for comfort.

But I just got back from the most amazing 12 hour event ever EVER. I'm a bit dazed that I spent only one single day in DC, but it was a great day! According to March for Women's Lives organizers there were 1.5 million people on the Mall in DC yesterday and I was there. I was there in my pink Stand Up for Choice shirt, carrying my Another Queer for Choice sign, and covered in assorted buttons and stickers. I saw a giant red cloth uterus, babies in strollers, grandmothers in wheelchairs, teenage boys, old men, signs telling Bush to keep out of mine, punk dykes, people of color, huge puppets, and delegations of marchers from all over the country. One of my favorite signs was held by a young man in his twenties and said, "Bush: Keep Your Damn Laws Off My Wife, Jerkass!"

From my vantage point midway down the mall, I heard Hillary Clinton urge us all to take our anger and committment to the polls in November to get Bush the hell out of Washington. I also heard Julian Bond of the NAACP, Cybill Sheppard, Moby, Alix Olsen, Anna Gasteyer, etc, etc. I missed Howard Dean and Gloria Steinem and Barbara Boxer. But I don't care. Just being there and seeing all those people from all possible backgrounds and walks of life was amazing and exhilarating and overwhelming. I called my mother from the middle of Pennsylvania Avenue and over all the noise shouted that I wished she could be there marching with me. She replied that she was watching us on C-SPAN and walking on the treadmill and was so proud that I was there making history. I'm pretty damn proud of myself too. And pretty damn tired... I hope everyone else who made it to the March had an equally amazing day!

Ed.- Degs and I were at the March, as well. After a joking "Cool, I'll see you there" conversation before the March, we actually did run into each other, which was cool. Anyhow, I echo all of Rinn's thoughts. I was also pretty impressed by the degree to which the people stayed on message (i.e., no extraneous anti-globaliztion bullshit like at the typical WTO/IMF protest), and how well-organized the March was. Some union print shop(s) also had a pretty good day. -jkd


Music to my ears (eyes)

From Gmail:
You are currently using 2 MB (0%) of your 1000 MB.

this is not helping my insomnia. at all.

... sometimes, I can't sleep and end up reading things online until I get sleepy. This is a bad idea, because then I start reading about things like peak oil and get scared.

The part about the entire world running out of oil soon... yeah, that scares me a bit.

Ed.- There are also a lot of experts who are of the opinion that given the continuing development of alternative energy technologies, we're actually never going to run out of oil. That is, economics will simply dictate us switiching over to other energy sources before we run out of oil. I'm not enough of an expert to know who's right, but my money is more on us blowing up the planet before either of these things happen. -jkd

24.4.04

On the Impotence of the FEC

Headline: "Republicans Fined for Posing as Democrats"

Well, good that they got caught and are being punished, right? Yeah, for something that happened in 1998.

From the article:

In announcing the agreement late Thursday, the FEC said Plesha and the committee sent out 40,000 letters and made 10,000 phone calls just before the 1998 general election urging registered Democrats not to vote for Ball's opponent, Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Calif.

Not in the article? Any mention of election results, though by connecting the dots you see that the GOP lost, anyhow.



23.4.04

This is Why Academia is the Funniest Thing There Is

LINK

... why is the GOP the only organized party around?

Among my many other frustrations with the Democratic Party is their seeming inability to be organized. Or rather, I'm a bit envious (and scared) of the highly-organized structure that the GOP has created... this article from Alternet is just another example.

Dave Eggers would appreciate this...

So there's this company in Port Angeles, WA that makes things like laptop bags and t-shirts. Recently, they've been playing a little joke...

... if you don't read French, well, clearly you need to master your international languages before you can play here. But, as this is my first post on here, I'll make an exception (also, I don't speak Spanish)... "Nous sommes desoles que notre president soit un idiot. Nous n’avons pas vote pour lui." translates to "We are sorry that our President is an idiot. We did not vote for him."

Although they say it was orginally a joke on the president of their company, Tom Bihn, people are taking it somewhat different ways...

22.4.04

Further Developments in Mike Danton Case

This just keeps getting more and more complicated.

How to Tear the Country Apart (episode 964)

(via dKos) There's a bill that just passed the Michigan Legislature that will allow health care providers to "refuse service to anyone on moral, ethical or religious grounds." This was picked up by 365Gay.com, a gay news service, and clearly the bill would allow (and seems aimed at) "NO GAYS ALLOWED" signs to spring up at church-run (i.e., most) hospitals.

But if you look at the wording of the bill, it's far more troubling than just that - and that is pretty fucking troubling.

Let's dissect: "refuse service to anyone on moral, ethical or religious grounds."

Okay, so say you think/know someone is an IV drug user, or prostitute? No service.

Or how about if you think that, based on religious grounds, that the person is a sinner doomed to burn forever in Hell (say, because they're Jewish)? No service.

Or how about if you have a moral and ethical objection to their political affiliation and beliefs (say, because they're a Democrat)? No service.

As the article points out, the Senate is also GOP-controlled, though who knows if that means it'll actually pass. Michigan does have a good progressive governor (Jennifer Granholm, who, P.S., is a total babe, but sadly not available for presidential service, as she was born in Canadia), who presumably would veto such a bill - as long as it isn't passed with a veto-proof majority.

A couple of notes about Michigan.

a.) Al Gore carried Michigan.
b.) Michigan has two Democratic Senators.
c.) From what I hear, there are some unions in Michigan.
d.) Michigan has what is probably the biggest Arab-American population in the U.S.

Now, yes, Michigan was famously a center of "Reagan Democrats", primarily high-salary Catholic UAW members (you know, when they still had jobs putting cars together...). And this whole gay rights/marriage wedge issue seems like it might actually be succeeding in drawing some traditionally Democratic voters to the traditionally more, hmm, zealous brand of imposing religion in the public space favored by the evangelicals who control the Republican party these days.

But - this bill is really some seriously fucked up shit. This is 1930s Germany shit, and I don't say that lightly. I really suggest you read the whole text of the bill -- it's mostly legalese, but not that long, and it's good to know the whole story of it.

I don't see any possible way this bill would get signed into law, unless passed veto-proof. And I CERTAINLY don't see any way this law would stand up to any level at all of Constitutional scrutiny.

That this bill could even get introduced - let alone passed by a Legislature in a yes, battleground, but definitely Dem-leaning state - is really, really, really, REALLY terrifying. This is not the America I imagine when I close my eyes - this is the America when I close my eyes, sleep, and have nightmares.

Define Irony

This.

Gmail Update

"As an active Blogger user, we would like to invite you to be one of the first to try out Google's new email service, Gmail.

Would you like to give it a whirl? YES / NO"

The answer, of course, is heck yes.

Apparently GoogleHAL has been keeping track of the blog, and, seeing the glowing review of Gmail I delivered the other day, decided I would make a perfect beta tester.

I, too, have a Gmail beta account. Sometimes corporate collusion (in this case, Blogger & Google) really works out for the consumer. And me. - degs

Mercs

VERY good article on mercenaries in Iraq. The more I think and read about these guys, the less I like that they're there. A friend of mine who served in our forces in the former Yugoslavia had a lot of stories about mercs and contractors, none of them particularly glowing. To my eyes, it borders on criminal to be shelling out better than a month's wages for an enlisted man/woman to each of these guys for a day's contract, all while they're not held to any codes of conduct or chain of command.

Poker update

Finally finished in the black (fourth try).

On the year: + $34.

Best play of the night: three 2's beating two pair (aces-2's). Or maybe the semi-bluff, taking a big pot with a pair of 10's.

"Liberal" NPR

On "The Diane Rehm Show", guest-hosted by Terence Smith (of "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer"), there was a panel discussion on the election. The panel and show description, from WAMU's website:

President Bush has a much bigger campaign war chest than Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, but Kerry and his supporters raised more money than Bush in the first three months of this year. A panel talks about how the candidates are raising and spending money, and how it's affecting the race.

Thomas Edsall, political reporter for "The Washington Post," specializing in campaign finance
Glen Justice, reporter for "The New York Times"
Ed Gillespie, chairman of the Republican National Committee


The panel is two reporters and THE FRIGGIN' CHAIR OF THE RNC! And NO DEMOCRATS! I swear, the next person who calls NPR "liberal", smack them upside the head.

21.4.04

Animal News

-Three-eyed, two-mouthed calf born in Texas. Extra mouth and eye work, apparently.

-And of course, the big news of the day, a mouse was born without DNA from a father, by combining DNA from two female mice. This had been done before, but never with mammals.

This also fits in nicely with an interview I heard last week on NPR (can't find the link, I'll try to find it later), with Bryan Sykes, author of Adam's Curse. The book is about how the Y chromosome is deteriorating - is, even at this point, mostly vestigal and full of unused junk - and will disappear within a couple hundred or thousand generations. Sykes views this as a good thing, as he blames all of humanity's ills on men. Really, he was just pretty pedantic and obnoxious, and not all too convincing (at least as to the Y chromosome being the root of all evil - the science, I dunno).

Compassionate Conservatives

via dKos: Republicans want to assassinate gay marriage supporter

One of their own, at that.

Maybe they meant character assassination? - degs

Tech News: GMail

Ha'aretz, of all places, has a review of GMail (via BoingBoing) that reveals a few more clues as to what it'll be like. Generally, I continue to be intrigued and impressed. I think for a lot of reasons that GMail is going to be a paradigm-shifter for e-mail - people really aren't going to care if a computer is scanning their e-mail, if they get 1GB storage for free, rather than paying Yahoo! $20/yr. for 10MB. And for high-end users - they already know that, if someone wanted to be reading their free e-mail account, they would be, so might as well get 1GB of storage on a new, not-spammed-yet, account.

On Another Note:

People still do not understand what happened with the Dean campaign. Anna Quindlen is on "The Diane Rehm Show" right now, and, while praising Dean for injecting energy into the race, standing up when no other Democrat would, still says "I feel he didn't have the temperment, the experience, the grasp of the issues...etc." and then also turning around and saying she doesn't feel Dean gets enough credit for changing the race.

Sorry, sorry...two Dean rants in one day. And I've been so good lately...it's just frustrating that people STILL DON'T GET IT.

ITEM! American Culture!

As if VH1's "I Love the 80s" weren't bad enough...we now see the full-on commodification of sarcastic/ironic/elitist hipster culture. Good. Now, perhaps, it (sarcastic/ironic/elitist hipster culture) will die the bloody death it deserves.


Quality humor

Genuinely funny things are hard to come by (sometimes). As a remedy, you should read McSweeney's. Yesterday there was an hilarious piece up about Saddam being interrogated.

I sent the author (Brian Sack) an email and found his own page, which is also quite funny (this in particular).

Anatomy of the Media's Whorishness

This is a very good article in the NYT this morning, that is almost shockingly straightforward about the media's role in creating scandals. First four grafs are the money:

WASHINGTON, April 20 — Aides to Senator John Kerry's presidential campaign said on Tuesday that they would release all of his military records, including evaluations by his Navy commanders, a day after the campaign had refused to make the documents public.

Mr. Kerry won a Silver Star and three Purple Hearts in Vietnam.

The Boston Globe raised questions last week about the circumstances of his first Purple Heart. Mr. Kerry said on "Meet the Press" on NBC on Sunday that his military records were available for reporters to review at his campaign headquarters here. But when a reporter for The Globe showed up on Monday morning, the campaign withheld several documents, including evaluations by Mr. Kerry's commanders and some medical records.

The matter was developing into a political problem when campaign officials said Tuesday afternoon that they would release all the documents that the Navy sent Mr. Kerry last month when he requested his complete file. Officials said they would begin posting the documents on the Web site for the campaign (www.johnkerry.com) on Tuesday evening and that the full record would be scanned in by Wednesday afternoon.


The best part is "The matter was developing into a political problem..."; what is going on here, is that the NYT is making something true by saying it. If it says something is a political problem, well, they're the fucking NYT, it is a political problem.

I am someone who used to write newspaper stories and edit a newspaper - not for a living, but for my life, which is just as good, I think. I can tell you that even more important than advancing whatever political agenda I had, as slickly and imperceptably as I could, the most satisfying thing I could do in any piece was just nailing someone. There is nothing better, from the point of view of most ink-stained wretches, than catching someone - anyone, someone you agree with or (even better) disagree with, but really anyone - in hypocrisy, self-contradiction, scandal, impolitic comment, or what have you.

The point here - and this is a pretty obvious one, but worth making again and again, especially when such vivid evidence is available - is that newspapers (or any media outlet) do not respond to the news, they create it. They decide what the news is, and how you receive it. Political bias comes into play - but as Alterman points out, time and again, American media has a conservative, not liberal bias - but really, the most important thing is entertaining copy.

For a while last summer, the reason Joe Trippi was the master of the universe was that - as a Democrat - he had finally figured out how to feed the media a constant stream of interesting copy, resulting in endless free media for Howard Dean. Clearly, this is also a counterexample, showing that you live by the sword, die by the sword, etc.: "the story" of Dean became the story, and then...

But ANYways, that's a longer story for another time. Point being, keep your eyes open when consuming the news, to see what the story really is. Today's WaPo editorial is a great example of a failure by the Kerry campaign to own the issue space, and thus the dominant narrative has become, "Kerry is a flip-flopper" (which is true, but that's hardly the point, now is it? It certainly needn't be). Just read the conclusion, even:

We believe a successful political outcome [in Iraq] is still possible; others disagree. But Mr. Kerry's shift on such a basic question after just a few months is troubling and mistaken.

20.4.04

Picture=xWords

Our new ambassador to Iraq, famed war criminal John Negroponte, in a picture that has to be seen to be believed.

Huge News

That, quite frankly, I don't want to get into the minutae of. Short story: there's a memo leaked by someone from within the CPA (Coalition Provisional Authority) about how FUBAR things are in Iraq. I mean, no duh, but it's very very VERY big news that someone who's clearly a huge partisan - because, of course, there's nobody in their employ who isn't - not only is willing to concede just how bad things are, but is willing to leak this report. This is huge. The report can be found here. And really, that's all I want to say about this. This Iraq shit is exhausting - just when you think these assholes have gone as far beyond that pale as you can...they outdo themselves, again.

And yet - the presidential race is a dead heat.

This shit ain't going to be easy.

Money=Speech

So the Supreme Court would have it. And thus, this.

Spy on your Bush-lovin' Neighbors

I'm sure you all already know about this site but it scares me. I don't like the idea that everyone can stalk each other's political donations. Perhaps its all about openness and transparency. But our government has proven that there's a time and a place for that and it isn't now. Now is about being scared and secretive and longing for the cool cool breeze of civil liberties that blow up north of here, round about Quebec. Ah, sweet Frenchy Quebec.

I hope to see all you lazy fuckers at the March on Sunday. When I say that I hope to see you, I really mean, I hope you will be there. Since I don't know who most of "you" are and I don't know what you look like, it's really unrealistic that I will see you. But you'd better be there anyway, dammit.

Digital music players

(From Slashdot, more or less.)

PC Magazine has a review of 14 digital music players (I guess it's incorrect to label them all MP3 players, since they're not). Two Editors' Choice selections: Apple's iPod Mini (hard drive) and the iRiver iFP-390T (flash card).

I'm awaiting two things before buying anything -- the iPod price cut and a high-speed connection at home.

Ed. - Keep an eye on Buy.com for the Auvi SA100 in a couple months - you'll prolly be able to find it for less than $50, and once it's that cheap it doesn't make sense not to have it.

I Was Planning on Saying This, but...

Weingarten's chat beat me to it:

Damascus, Md.: I found it interesting that two comics this week dealt with the "realities of war", to use an overly used phrase: Monday's "Doonesbury," which is not surprising (I am betting B.D. doesn't make it), and Monday's "Get Fuzzy," which isn't where I would have expected to see it.

Any luck with getting Peanuts axed?

washingtonpost.com: Doonesbury, (April 19)
Get Fuzzy, (April 19)

Gene Weingarten: These are an amazing pair of cartoons.

Another chatter notes that he finds that Get Fuzzy seems manipulative and a postured departure from the normal strip, but that Doonesbury is promising to be important. I agree, completely. For one thing, Trudeau’s exposition – in and out of consciousness, yesterday and today – is genius. I am transfixed. I have access to two weeks’ worth of Doonesburys, but I have chosen not to look. I want it to take me, day by day.

I am guessing that Darby Conley’s will pale by comparison, which is a shame for Conley. Because his idea was good. He just got trumped.

Liz, can we link to today’s Doones, too?

<30>

Today's Doonesbury and Get Fuzzy.

Also please note that, though overshadowed by the far superior Trudeau, Conley has done exactly what I said he would.

These two Doonesbury are truly affecting; make sure to keep reading the rest of the week.

WaPo Smackdown!

Very, VERY tough coverage from two WaPo articles today that together paint the picture not only of an administration isolated from reality, but from each other. Woodward shows Cheney to be a madman in a way even I hadn't thought previously; and Richard Cohen shows Dubya as a self-righteous Christian warrior. A good companion to Saletan's piece of last week.

Mapquest sucks

I mean, it really does. The maps are cumbersome, ugly, and inaccurate.

Enter RandMcNally.com. Nice interface and nice maps. I cannot stress this enough.

Rand McNally = good. Tell your friends.

19.4.04

Tech News

Apparently there's a race for the DVD-replacement format already.

Key grafs:

With all these alternatives, there's a "very good chance" that there won't be one successor to the DVD, but several, says Sistla. The Blu-ray may dominate Japan, the cheaper EVD the rest of Asia, and the HD-DVD could be the format of choice in the United States and Europe.

...

Also, what made the DVD popular isn't just the quality advantage over videotape, but also the addition of special features. So far, Kleinman hasn't seen any similar must-have advantage planned for the new formats.

If there's a pent-up demand for a new disc, it's probably on the recording side, Kleinman believes. There's no cheap or easy way to record HDTV broadcasts, something recordable versions of the new discs would address.

Sony is already selling a Blu-ray recorder for HDTV satellite broadcasts in Japan.


Basically, what happened here is the movie and personal electronics industries fucked themselves by getting the DVD so right. It's just too good a product, and very quickly achieved universality because it's high-quality, portable, clearly superior to the previous alternative, and now, easily copied. Hence, there is no wonder that it has become the universal standard - it just makes sense.

Being fucked by themselves into a low-margin (well, not really very low - lower margin, and still decreasing) format that everyone loves, the studios and consumer electronics makers (the big ones, at least) now wish to turn around and...fuck you again, with multiple formats, replacement purchases, and several years of absurdly high margins on products. Back to $500 players, or more, and say hello to a new price floor of $40 movies.

Eh-eh. Not happening. They fucked themselves, and Kleinman in the article gets it right - nobody, save for hard-core audiophiles (a large market, but not one worthy of executing a total format change for) will want these things, unless they do something new and better. Recording HDTV - that is what they'll do. Replacing DVDs, they will not. DVDs were quite clearly and for many, many reasons very much better than tapes - these new DVDs version 1.2 are marginally better, maybe, for some people, some of the time. Not a compelling sell. A format change is still several years off.

The only possibilty for these things to catch on is if they become must-haves for HDTV recording, the new VCRs - a real possibilty. Even then, however, they become mass consumer commodities, have to be backwards-compatible, and very quickly are merely value-added DVDs.

Really, Really....

This is becoming a very...interesting story:

A center for the St. Louis Blues was charged in San Jose, Calif., on Friday in an alleged plot to kill an acquaintance he feared could ruin his career, the FBI said.

Mike Danton, 23, was arrested at Norman Mineta International Airport around 8 a.m. -- hours after his team was knocked out of the NHL playoffs Thursday night by the San Jose Sharks.

According to a criminal complaint filed in federal court in Illinois, Danton told a female friend that a hitman from Canada was coming to kill him and asked the woman if she knew someone who would kill the person for $10,000.


King Kaufman has some commentary on it here; I tend to agree with him when he says,

the description of the relationships involved were so vague and the subject of possible homosexuality was avoided so artfully that I figured there must be something there.

The first article on espn.com read:

The complaint alleges that Danton actually was trying to kill a male acquaintance after an argument Tuesday in which the two fought over Danton's "promiscuity and use of alcohol." The complaint said Danton feared the acquaintance, who is not named, would talk to St. Louis Blues management and ruin Danton's career.

In a telephone call recorded by authorities, the acquaintance asked why Danton wanted to kill him. According to the complaint, Danton broke down and sobbed, and explained that he ordered the killing because he "felt the acquaintance was going to leave him.


The reaction piece also notes:

Danton, formerly known as Mike Jefferson, has been estranged from his family for some time and changed his name to Danton in the summer of 2002.

As Kaufman points out, alcohol use and promiscuity are generally seen as, well, pretty good things in professional athletes. Plus, "afraid he would leave him" and changed his name.

Right. So - the reaction by teammates has been pretty interesting:

"I don't know a tougher guy than him, I don't know a guy that goes in the corner and gets killed and that will drop his gloves with a guy who's 40 pounds heavier in a flash," Weight said. "He's tough as nails.


No higher compliment on the ice, than being tough - and even though this might be a "he can't be gay, he's tough" situation, this could also be a "okay, he's gay, so what, he's tough." Which would be...well, not awful. Hockey clearly has a different culture than, say, football or basketball, though I never would've put my finger on the difference as necessarily connoting "less homophobic."

Kaufman in his piece argues that the reaction, or lack thereof, to the gay aspect of this story, is a good sign. I agree.

However, the bizarre details of this situation may unfortunately further connect gays with being weird, different, unstable, etc. The psychic traumas and pressures that come from a life in the closet - not to mention a family so disapproving that a man feels it necessary to change his name , and a lifetime in a vigorously heterosexual, homophobic profession - are hard to overstate. Let's hope that that is what people end up taking aay from this story, not that, say, gays are psycologically unstable.

The Onion gets it right. Again.

Go.

Hate Being a Party-Pooper, but....

Seriously, WHY ARE PEOPLE NOT CARING ABOUT THIS SHIT?!? Woodward's new book details the administration's pre-war collusion with Prince Bandar, House of Saud.

Tom Tomorrow sums it up best.

To sum what's discussed, and what was on "60 Minutes" last night - Dubya colluded with the Saudis, who supported/harbored the terrorists who perpetrated 9/11 before the latest Iraq war, to assure there would be lower gas prices around election time.

Every time I think they've gone further beyond the pale than ever...they prove me wrong. Well, no, not wrong - they just beat their own record.

A short, small recap:

1.) ignored multiple, detailed warnings about terrorism, pre-9/11
2.) lied about links to 9/11 terrorists (not to mention WMDs...) to get into the Iraq war
3.) planned the war with people who supported the terrorists whose imaginary link to Saddam was a big part of the rationale for the war
4.) blew the cover of the CIA antiterrorism agent wife of a man who pointed out some of this stuff
5.) orchestrated top-shelf character assassination campaign against own former counterterrorism chief when he tells the truth about what happened (e.g., whispers about "weird" personal life, trumped-up perjury charges on the floor of the Senate, etc.)

Somehow, I don't think Woodward is on the Bushies' Christmas car list anymore...he was useful when the press only covered the nice things he said in his books - keep in mind, Dubya did admit that terrorism wasn't his top priority pre-9/11 in Bush at War, the press just didn't, you know, care about that back in 2002, when they were playing all nicey with his pleasure areas.

Texas Congressional Massacre

I just wanted to point this out one more time -- look at the Texas Congressional district map taking effect this election year. America's founders are rolling in their graves, I am certain. Looking at the map recalls mental images I have of badly gerrymandered districts in government textbooks. A Washington Post article on today's decision to not hear the case.

A better model, perhaps, is that of Iowa. "Under Iowa law, a nonpartisan arm of the legislature draws the maps, using computer programs to create compact and contiguous districts that disregard partisanship and incumbency." Attention Texas legislators: please take notes. There will be a quiz in 2010.

I wasn't going to include this, but it seems relevant. Anyone who hasn't read the Joby Fortson memo ought to.

Monday Movie Roundup

I've seen three movies (and slept through a fourth) since I left for San Diego on 10 April. Two airplane movies, one in the theater, and one (which I slept through) in my hotel room.

Airplane movies generally don't bother me unless they are definitively bad. My westbound flight was the predictable Mona Lisa Smile. It was inoffensive, occasionally funny, and easy enough to stomach (much like United's breakfast). And by comparison, it blew away my eastbound flight Paycheck, starring that guy who was in Good Will Hunting (the dumb one). Pretty bad, but watchable in between naps.

Last Thursday I saw Dawn of the Dead. I am not usually a fan of the horror genre, but this movie is really superb. Granted, it is a zombie movie, but the filmmakers really embrace the genre, are aware of its limitations, and the result is a very good, sometimes very funny, movie. Yes, a zombie movie. It wasn't that scary, as it was relatively easy to remove yourself from a zombie movie set in serene Wisconsin, but the suspense was pretty good and there are some wonderfully gratuitous car crashes and car-related horror movie events. I won't describe them fully, as you should really see this movie, but trust me -- it's worth your while.

One memorable-but-predictable line: three main characters run into three other characters before becoming one big survivor group. Leader of group A wants to follow a drainage ditch to some sewer system. Leader of group B says that's a bad idea. "We tried it. When there were eight of us." Ha! The writers know they are writing horror and they must be laughing at that line. Not your father's horror flick.

Slept through most of Intolerable Cruelty. Would like to see again.

18.4.04

Page 2

Which you should be reading already, by the way. But a particularly choice piece on the NBA playoffs by Bill Simmons here. Especially:

This whole C-Webb thing ... yikes. Nothing would surprise me here. He could pull out a gun like the running back in "Last Boy Scout" and I wouldn't be surprised...The Spurs handle L.A. in Round 2, kickstarting a chain of events in which Malone and Payton flee the premises, Kobe heads over to the Clippers, Jackson retires and Shaq either retires or drops 40 pounds and vows revenge on the entire league.

As much as I hate Shaq, I am also mesmerized by him. The above scenario makes me giddy. The Lakers part; the Webber thing is just bizarre.

Ridonkulous

Barry Bonds...y'know, maybe he was on the 'roids, maybe not, but that don't account for this. The man is, by a really really long distance, the best player in baseball. Plenty of players have been druggies, but it's been a long time since anyone was as far ahead of the rest of the game as Bonds is - 'roids never gave Canseco a batting title. Seriously, look at the stats, it's sick.

Weekended

Among other things,

-(via Atrios) the Rev. Sun Myung Moon (owner of the Washington Times and other publications and head of the Unification Church) has way, WAY too much power. See, I KNEW Rangel was on the crazy train when he endorsed Wes Clark...

-it was really, really beautiful this weekend. No link, just sayin'.

-the O's swept the Blue Jays in Toronto with their 3,4 and 5 pitchers to take sole possession of first place in the AL East, the best division in baseball.

-good article by Achenbach in the WaPo magazine on the C&O Canal, something very near and dear to my heart.

-actually, today is your lucky day, as you get a double-dip of Joel, with a great article on a not-enough-commented-upon topic (and one, come to think of it, that is also near and dear to my heart): this administration's butchering of the English language.

-a weak weekend for comics, save for a funny-enough Sunday "Boondocks" and Saturday's "Get Fuzzy." Sunday's "Get Fuzzy" wasn't bad, either. Conley and McGruder seem to be in a similar place right now - obviously clever, but constrained by the scope of their strips. However, from where I'm standing there appear to be two differences between them - and neither is that "Boondocks" is an edgy political strip. Well, a little.
Conley and McGruder seem to be on opposite trajectories right now. It's hard to overstate just how funny McGruder was, and so quickly, and how funny he can still be. But he's really fallen off, and Conley has really been getting a lot better.
Conley is stuck in the "Garfield" single-guy-with-a-cat-and-dog format for now, but is doing things that Jim Davis never did, and it's my guess that he's going to shape up the format of the strip a good deal in the near future to allow for expansion.
McGruder is also stuck, but his is a prison of his own making. In a strip format that has borrowed the best elements of "Peanuts", "Bloom County" and "Doonesbury", McGruder somehow has managed to pigeonhole himself - the never-ending "Riley's-a-thug" jokes, the Whitney-Bobby jokes, the BET jokes, the "Most Embarrassing Black Person Awards" (done especially poorly this year, basically a week-long sulk by McGruder on not wanting to do them again). Yes, we get it, black people have a different set of cultural signifiers than white people. The same joke still gets old after the 20th telling, though.
I do give him credit for realizing some time back that he needed to expand the strip, and attempting to do so by adding Cesar - but that addition has in the last year come at the almost total deletion of Jazmine and Cindy, making the strip nearly entirely male. When Cindy does appear, she is a caricature of whites-aping-black-culture, and not the cute neighbor girl Huey can't bring himself to realize he likes, and neither exists as the counterbalance to let Huey know how ridiculous he is sometimes.
I think I can understand - McGruder is being dropped for bullshit "controversies", and digging his heels in further - but in the process he/Huey is losing his sense of humour. Unfortunate.
So, here's hoping McGruder straightens out and Conley continues developing.

-This is from last weekend, but still worth a read if you didn't get the chance: Dean bitch-smacks Nader.

-I read Shopgirl, by, yes, THAT Steve Martin. Very good. Funny, clearly, and then in the in next (or sometimes the same) sentence he'll make a terrifyingly astute observation about the shitty parts of human nature.

There are other things I could talk about but won't.



16.4.04

O-Matic

You know ... "O-Matic" is the kind of phrase I thought would go the way of the Edsel: good try, spin again, better things are coming. Sadly, I am wrong. Here are two examples I've run across recently, each notbale in its own circles.

The Washington Post's "Veep-O-Matic 2004"
Select some criteria, [poof], and out comes your vice presidential candidate. Of course, Bob Shrum isn't using it.

Score-O-Matic
A web-based live scoring system for ultimate tournaments and, to a much lesser extent I'm sure, soccer tournaments. It's pretty cool -- you can call in with a cell phone and update the scores in real time. You can add audio commentary (with your celly) and even photos.

If Andy is so smart and techie why doesn't he volunteer for the poster position? We have bitter and cynical political posters, haphazard cultural observation/public health updates poster (moi), and now we can have techie guru poster as well. Enh?

update: I am sad, angry and depressed though. Damn you JKD, it's all your fault!

15.4.04

God wins at the box office

Apparently, you get more money by praising the Christian God in your films. Or something like that. First item here.

Styer

via Andy:

...so, i think you need a tech contributor for your blog there, tiger.

too much politics makes everyone just sad, angry, and depressed.
instead, you should be thinking about this: www.vizoo.com


or this:
-------------------------
NASA Develops Mind-Reading System
By Chris Blohm on March 18, 2004 10:36 PM

A computer program which can read words before they are spoken by
analysing nerve signals in our mouths and throats, has been developed by
NASA.

Preliminary results show the button-sized sensors, which attach under
the chin and on either side of the Adam's apple and pick up nerve
signals from the tongue, throat, and vocal cords, can indeed be used to
read minds.

"Biological signals arise when reading or speaking to oneself with or
without actual lip or facial movement," says Chuck Jorgensen, a
neuroengineer at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field,
California, in charge of the research.

The sensors have already been used to do simple web searches and may one
day help space-walking astronauts and people who cannot talk
communicate. The sensors could send commands to rovers on other planets,
help injured astronauts control machines, or aid the handicapped.

In everyday life, they could even be used to communicate on the sly -
people could use them on crowded buses without being overheard, say the
NASA scientists.

--------------------------

or even this:
http://www.robolympics.net/boingboing/

today we've learned that:
holograms are rad.
soon NASA will be reading your mind.
and fighting robots are going to be the dogfights of the future.

14.4.04

Inside Washington $#@&!

From Josh Marshall's blog, submitted without comment:

It's become a bit impolitic in Washington to question whether the president really
knows what he's doing or whether he has any sort of a detailed handle on what's going on
on his watch.

Oy

1984.

Bush's "Brain"

William Saletan has a terrific (i.e., terrifying) piece on the "thought" processes of Dubya. Ideas have consequences.

9/11 Commission Hearings

Now, a CIA counterterrorism deputy chief has also apologized for the "failure" (his words) of the government to stop 9/11. He said something to the effect of, we did the best we could, we failed, I'm sorry.

This makes Dubya's non-apology of last night ever more absurd.

Update: It wasn't a deputy - it was George Tenet.

Flash

Mooch suggests a new Flash animation.

It's okay.

Now, look at this one.

Clearly, one of these is a LOT funnier. Here's an old Weingarten chat on why that one is funny - not specifically funnier than the other, but funny in its own right. The reason the other is not funny is that it lacks the qualities of humour the funny one posseses.

Also, the Weingarten chat is a particularly superb one; feel free to read the whole thing.

13.4.04

Pattern of Restriction

Dan Savage on l'affair d'Howard Stern being a bellweather (among several others) for an American sexual devolution (government-sponsored, of course). LINK

Digest this for a while

The...I don't even know how to put it. The full transcript of Bush's Q&A is here; the statement he read before it is here, both courtesy ABC News.

Below is the absolutely most...most...
Just read it.



QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President. In the last campaign you were asked a question about the biggest mistake you'd made in your life and you used to like to joke that it was trading Sammy Sosa.

You've looked back before 9/11 for what mistakes might have been made. After 9/11 what would your biggest mistake be, would you say? And what lessons have you learned from it?

BUSH: [Long, long pause -Ed.] Hmm. I wish you would have given me this written question ahead of time so I could plan for it. (Laughter.)

John (sp), I'm sure historians will look back and say, gosh, he could have done it better this way or that way. You know, I just — I'm sure something will pop into my head here in the midst of this press conference, all the pressure of trying to come up with an answer. But it hasn't yet.

I would have gone into Afghanistan the way we went into Afghanistan. Even though I know what I know today about the stockpiles of weapons, I still would have called upon the world to deal with Saddam Hussein. See, I happen to believe that we'll find out the truth on the weapons. That's why we set up the independent commission.

I look forward to hearing the truth as to exactly where they are. They could still be there. They could be hidden like the 50 tons of mustard gas in a turkey farm.

One of the things that Charlie Duelfer talked about was that he was surprised at the level of intimidation he found amongst people who should know about weapons, and their fear of talking about them because they don't want to be killed. You know, there's this kind of — there's this — there's a terror still in the soul of some of the people in Iraq; they're worried about getting killed, and therefore, they're not going to talk.

And — but it will all settle out, John. We'll find out the truth about the weapons at some point in time. However, the fact that he had the capacity to make them bothers me today just like it would have bothered me then. He's a dangerous man. He's a man who actually not only had weapons of mass destruction — the reason I can say that with certainty is because he used them. And I have no doubt in my mind that he would like to have inflicted harm or paid people to inflict harm or trained people to inflict harm on America because he hated us.

You know, I hope I — I don't want to sound like I've made no mistakes; I'm confident I have. I just haven't — (chuckles) — you just put me under the spot here, and maybe I'm not quick — as quick on my feet as I should be in coming up with one.


Good that they were taking things seriously

These are Dubya's comments from the day after he was told "that supporters of Osama bin Laden planned an attack within the United States with explosives and wanted to hijack airplanes."


Jukeboxes

So now this is getting around (via Matt Yglesias) about jukeboxes allowing you to jump to the front of the queue. Let me just point out that I thought of this years ago.

Also, these jukeboxes that allow you to "download" songs, are, as Degs points out, prolly not really downloading anything but just have mp3s on hard drives. Otherwise, they'd have much better selections (i.e., nearly infinite).

That is all.

12.4.04

yet another "Remember when this was important?" moment

Bob Barr is trying to bring back the defamation suit he launched against Bill Clinton, James Carville and Larry Flynt. Serioulsy, do you even remember the time when this was what was going on in this country? I do, kinda.

Monday Movie Roundup

Last week, I saw a lot of movies. Here's what I think of them.

Hellboy: As I've noted already, I think Hellboy is great - the best comic book adaptation to the big screen, in my mind, since Batman (the first one, at the very least, and I might add the unfairly-maligned second film, as well). And I really liked both Spiderman and X-Men 2, but found Hellboy to simply be a very compelling film. Again - see it, if you haven't yet.

The Ladykillers: The first thing I noticed about this film, some months back when the first commercials started, was that there was no mention of it being a Coen bros. film - it was, in fact, being marketed as a slapstick racial farce. Which it really isn't - there's a little physical slapstick, but most of the humour is an affected scatalogical slapstick and/or Tom Hanks' bizarreness. I had heard very mixed things about the film going into the theater, but left satisfied. More than satisfied, actually - I left having thoroughly enjoyed the movie, and thinking that I needed to see it again just to try to understand the particular ways in which the Coen bros. were fucking with me that I didn't pick up the first time.
I'll probably pick up on this again later, but every time I see another Coen bros. film I am struck by their ability to translate American vernacular understanding of human foibles onto the big screen. They're not intellectuals, and don't wrestle with big ideas or struggle for "authenticity" - they just get it somehow.

Monsieur Ibrahim: I won't say much, except to say that this is a very good way to spend two hours. It's a movie that genuinely takes its time - and that's not a euphemistic way of saying it's slow.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind: A little late to the game in seeing it, I know, but really it's just an amazing film. Beautiful, touching, human, well-acted, and never lets go of you. Immediate entrant into "One of the best films I've ever seen" pantheon.

Also, I saw Slackers (plural, not the Linklater one) again on TV the other night. A really, truly creepy and funny movie. Good rental.


I'd like to say I've been quiet for a while because I've been storing up pithy anecdotes and witty commentary on the state of the world...

But no. I've been paralysed by righteous anger and seething fury over the fact that a) Bush justs sucks so much that his picture or any mention of him in the media reduces me to inarticulate growling. b) Condi Rice scares the shit out of me. And she looks really mean. Why does she have to be so mean? c) 5,000 people die every day from AIDS. 5,000. Why doesn't anyone give a god damn? Because most of them are Africans. I hate America. and d) Women's rights are so consistently trampled upon in this world. And so often we let it slide so we don't step on anyone's religious freedom toes. The Taliban? No, those crazy Amish. Insane.

Oh, and I've been watching a lot of Alias.

That is all.

10.4.04

Truly Unbelievable

Okay, even I never thought it'd get this bad - but apparently, not only was Condi stretching the truth and indicting herself as a fool when she said "nobody could have imagined using planes as missiles", she was actually fully lying.
From the NYT:

President Bush was told more than a month before the attacks of Sept. 11,
2001, that supporters of Osama bin Laden planned an attack within the United States
with explosives and wanted to hijack airplanes, a government official said
Friday.



Full story here.

Interesting how every time there's some "crackpot" theory on what this administration knew/was doing, a couple months later that theory ends up being, well...pretty much correct.

Before the war in Iraq started, there was a consensus among most people - even those opposed to the war - that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. And of course they did not, and of course the administration, as it turns out, probably knew this.

And again, nearly everyone - even opponents of this administration, e.g., myself - would previously have admitted that, while the administration in restrospect hadn't paid enough mind to terror threats pre-9/11, you couldn't really blame them for 9/11, that there were all of these structural holes in the U.S. terror-defense apparatus that al Qaeda was able to exploit.

But now - now that it isn't a matter of people several rungs down the ladder with possible theories being ignored - which was egregious enough - now that it's a matter of their having been specifically warned about this exact kind of attack...well...I mean, what are we supposed to do with this? Clearly, this administration long ago lost all credibility with anyone who was paying attention a long, long, long time ago. But this is even worse. How the hell do we make this stick?

Let me repeat this: President Bush was told more than a month before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, that supporters of Osama bin Laden planned an attack within the United States with explosives and wanted to hijack airplanes

Okay?

Once more:

President Bush was told more than a month before the attacks of Sept. 11,
2001, that supporters of Osama bin Laden planned an attack within the United States
with explosives and wanted to hijack airplanes

Giving Sausage-Making a Bad Name

Want to know how shit really goes down on Capitol Hill? No, of course not. But here's how.

9.4.04

Stuff to Read/Watch/Hear

-Jim Hightower, one of my faves - c'mon, an unapologetic liberal from Texas? Him and Molly Ivins, can't go wrong with either of 'em - has a nice weekly news roundup of cutting through the bullshit here.

-Is it just me, or does Kathleen Edwards sound a LOT like Lucinda Williams?

-See Hellboy. Go. Now.

-Atrios links to the Onion's point/counterpoint on the Iraq war from last year. Um, y'all know how much I hate 'I told you so'...well, yeah.

-Dubya is lazy, as it turns out. Add that one to the list...

-Do yourself a favor and don't see The Alamo. I haven't, and won't, but my spidey-sense is tingling on this one, and it's saying "these are two and a half hours of your life better spent...doing anything else." And I normally like Billy Bob.

-Also don't see The Whole Ten Yards - I know, you prolly wouldn't've anyhow, but given Matthew Perry's absolutely vomit-inducing, self-absorbed performance on "The Daily Show" earlier in the week, it's best to never again see anything he might be associated with. Ask Degs' roommate about "Friends."

-Pick up the latest issue of The New Yorker, if you haven't already. Really good stuff, great story from Jonathan Lethem.

-Seriously, now that I actually have Terroir Blues (Jay Farrar's most recent album), I can't turn that shit off. Fan-friggin'tastic.


Crazy Asshole Friday!

Apparently Jeff Skilling (y'know, the muthaf***er former Enron CEO) is feeling the pressure of a possible impending prison sentence (hahahaha just kidding), or maybe he's just friggin' nuts. This is really, really funny actually.
The money graf, of course, is the final one - why is that always true of AP stories, that what they deem the least important is actually the most? yeah, liberal media, man:

Skilling is accused of participating in widespread schemes to mislead government
regulators and investors about the company's earnings. He has pleaded innocent to all 35
federal counts against him, and posted his $5 million bond with a cashier's check.

Nigerian money scams

Sometimes I read Craigslist. Sometimes I read the Best-of page. That's where I found this choice transcript.

8.4.04

It's a mad mad mad mad world leader



Looks like she's about to breathe fire.

Photo by Dennis Cook (AP)
Linked from washingtonpost.com


Thoughts on the future

I have a job right now. It is not bad. The pay is decent (and would be good were it not for the inflated Washington, D.C., area housing cost). I dick around a fair bit and my co-workers are nice enough. However, I still have my eyes on the horizon. Here are some jobs I would apply for if I had my wits about me:Maybe these jobs will be available in November, at which time I will have fulfilled my 12-month obligation to the A----. It also depends on what kind of raise I get in June and where I [can tolerate living/would like to move].

*I was going to audition for Dream Job but I was out of town.

6.4.04

Mac p2p Client

So, I'm probably late to the game with this, but I just found an amAZing p2p client for the Mac: Acquisition. SO much better than Limewire.

Sometimes I eat french fries with a fork

So what??

...and, now back to the Bad News

A pretty convincing argument that the economic 'recovery' is hanging by a thread. Good thing we're not homeowners, eh?

More Good News

Gosh, getting pretty positive around here. Long story short: Nader was unable to get 1000 people to show up at one location, in order to get on the ballot in Oregon. He say's he'll try the other way to get on the ballot there, by collecting 15,000 signatures. But this is good news - if he's having trouble getting people in OREGON, then maybe we can cut him off at the knees before he does any real damage. Full story here (via Kos).

5.4.04

Stuff I Missed Over the Weekend

McCain rips the GOP a new one here (via Alterman).

The NYTimes has a terrifying article on how this administration has, from the word 'go', been incompetent. Josh Marshall has good commentary on the article.

Josh also has good talk on our Puppet-in-Chief's need to testify before the 9.11 Commission with, and only with, Dick "Evil" Cheney.

Gene Weingarten's column from the WaPo magazine.

McGruder seems like he might be pulling himself out of a long funk; this past Sunday's is great, as was this from last week.

And, this is from today, but I found it enchanting.

Tempest in the Blogosphere

Jeez, what you can miss in a weekend...
Long story short: Kos made some comments about the contractors who were killed and mutilated in Iraq ("Screw 'em" were part of his exact words), then retracted them. Anyhow, it's caused quite a furor, right-qing bloggers in an uproar about how liberals hate America (Kos especially, what with his having been in the Marines, that breeding ground for anti-Americanism). The usual. The best treatment of the whole thing, and its implications, is here; Kos' response/retraction to the affair is here.

I'll have more on this later.

Some Really Truly Fantastic News

And you know there isn't much of that, these days. But, if you are someone who Actually Enjoys Living life, then this is some of the best news in a while.

Return to the Fold

As I turned on NPR this morning, I caught the last 45 seconds of a piece on Kurt Cobain. As I have been pointing for some months, this year will be (now is) the 10-year anniversary of Kurt offing himself. The piece finished, and I thought - yeah, it really has been 10 years. It feels like 10 years.
I'm not going to get into any discussion about Kurt or heroin or rock'n'roll or any of that, just wanted to point it out, and maybe you might want to listen to Bleach or something today.

But what I REALLY want to talk about is the piece that directly followed the one on Kurt. Namely, an "Intersections" (what I guess is "Morning Edition"'s code word for "art we don't understand") piece on Mike Mignola, and Hellboy. It's a great piece, and has interviews not only with Mignola (and a cool clip from Blade), but also with Guillermo del Toro (who gets called "the Mexican horror auteur", which is a pretty cool nominative). Anyways, it manages to stuff a very unpretentious discussion of vampires and monsters into the normal NPR interview package, no tongue in any cheek, and that ain't nothing.



1.4.04

This Weekend

Light and/or no posting from Degs and I.

Andy Styer's Gift

via andy:

so here.
i think you need this.
or rather, we all need this.

http://www.loveinwar.com/

travel blog

Jupiter, Florida (26 Mar - 30 Mar, 2004)
Since my reading materials were stowed away and you can barely use electronic devices on a 40 minute flight, I perused the SkyMall catalog on my flight home, as I have been known to do on occasion. Among the normal, tailored-to-affluent-white-men items I discovered the Personal Patriot, a Palm anthology of the most important documents and speeches in U.S. history. I am not shitting you when I say the ad copy reads:

From the full text of the US Constitution to George W. Bush's address to Congress after the attacks of 9/11, the words that have inspired Americans for more than two centuries are here ...

Yes, yes of course! Because anything said by George W. Bush certainly qualifies as one of the two most important documents in American history!! I swear to god, some days I feel like I'm in an Onion article or a story on the Daily Show.

NB: There is no doubt that the tragedies of September 11, 2001, were among the most significant events in U.S. history. But maybe, just maybe, when you have space to advertise only two of the many items in the collection, you perhaps ought to consider the Declaration of Independence, or the Emancipation Proclamation, or the I Have a Dream speech, or FDR's first inaugural address, or ... you get the idea.

Yes, we get the idea, but I'll continue - or the Gettysburg Address, or Washington's Farewell, or FDR's speech after Pearl Harbor, or Federalist 10, ...
And can you just imagine - as I did - what that post-9/11 speech would've been like if written and delivered by someone more familiar with the English language...like, for instance, Al Gore, or (be still my heart) Bill Clinton? -Ed.

Bad Rinn!

Sorry, I'm a bad poster.

1) You're right, I didn't link to the specific boing boing story. I'm evil. And I don't feel like finding it now. So I'll distract you from thinking about it with the design for my new tattoo. Yee-ha.
2) YASNS- Yet Another Social Networking Service. Sorry, I'm a bit of a dork and I love me some acronyms. My job uses them a lot and I've started letting them slip into my daily life.
3) JKD, I've never been your houseguest. Well, unless you're counting your junior year... at BUG house... did I pay rent there?

Yes, for the record, that is what I'm counting. -Ed

Morning News Roundup

Good article by Joel Achenbach in the WaPo on the change in American culture - the "numbing down" of America.
Also good Achenbach over the weekend on Richard Clarke, here.

A typical Kurtz atrocity, his Media Notes Extra column today.
Some choice samples:

"...Bush's allegedly spotty National Guard service."
"Seeming to embody liberal anger, Rhodes launched into an extraordinary diatribe about why the president continued to speak to a second-grade class after two planes hit the World Trade Center, and said he then flew to Nebraska because he was "scared . . . Republicans have been drinking this Kool-Aid for a really stinking long time."
At another point, Rhodes said conservatives and radio rivals "want us to fail. I got news for you, it ain't happening."
The marketplace will be the judge of that."


Really Howard? The marketplace? Not if you have your way about it.
Does anyone even remember a time when people pretended there was something more important in news coverage than whether it turned a profit? I mean, am I the only person who's still outraged by this shit?

Oh, and everybody listen to AirAmerica Radio online here.

Also, and I can't believe I forgot to mention this yesterday - Wednesday's WaPo featured one of the most disgusting "Reliable Source" columns I can remember. No, that's not quite it. It's one of the most disgusting "Reliable Source" columns I can imagine. The gist is this: Marianne Pearl, widow (WIDOW) of slain Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl (remember, teh one kidnapped, tortured and executed by terrorists in Afghanistan) is involved with Eason Jordan, CNN news executive and married man. Really, this shit made me wretch. Write a letter to the Post and tell them that, you know, there are some boundaries. Please.

letters@washpost.com

What else...

Ah, yes, BigOil is getting the go-ahead to further destroy the tundra. Apparently, they've been whinging over a shortened drilling season due to increasing temperatures; the drilling season is half what it was 30 years ago. I laughed out loud at the absurdity of this when I heard it on NPR and cried inside when the entire report went by without any mention that, you know, maybe there was some sort of CONNECTION between oil extraction and higher temperatures. Sigh. I can't find the link, but in similarly depressing news, BigOil is also getting new off-shore contracts in Alaska.

Update:
I have sent a letter to the WaPo RE:Leiby's column. Now, again, all together now, everyone read the column and write to the Post:

letters@washpost.com

you've bin haden

I love April Fool's Day. My favorite move must have been when I was in high school (1996 I think) and Taco Bell took out full page ads in the Washington Post and the New York Times. The ads proclaimed that due to government deficits, Taco Bell had acquired the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia. Their bell logo would subsequently feature a crack in the bell. Hilarious.

Today, perhaps, you've been had on one of two Google stories. One says say that Microsoft has bought out Google (also on Wikipedia). Expect this to surface elsewhere. Another choice item is a Google job offer, linked from Google's main page.

Music JKD is Listening To

So, because I care:

Oingo Boingo "Dead Man's Party"
You may or may not have known this, but none other than Danny Elfman was a founding member of Oingo Boingo. And on top of that, for a band with an archetypal '80s band name, their music holds up really well, the guitar riffs in "Dead Man's Party" especially, and even the horn sections don't sound particularly cheesy.

Jay Farrar "All Your Might"
The single from his latest album, Terroir Blues (which I don't have yet, the album in toto), this is a very very good song. Farrar used to be in Son Volt, and you can tell, but this song is a decidely bluesier and more electric song than typical Son Volt fare. You can even download it for free, here.

Dizzee Rascal "Fix Up, Look Sharp"
Good song from the only album I've ever broken down and bought from iTunes, Boy in Da Corner. Dizzee Rascal is - he's British, and he's black, and he has very very strange beats.

The Mavericks "Would You Believe?"
These guys just know how to make a song, and craft a melody. You can't fake that shit. And even if you "don't like country," you'll like this, as it's not some bullshit Kenny Chesney travesty, it's just a good song.

Stars "Look Up"
I am a total wuss but I just love this song. It's real pretty.

Other music I am listening to, that everyone else is also listening to: The Darkness, The Postal Service, Fountains of Wayne, Blackalicious, Starsailor, Norah Jones.

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