Thursday, March 31, 2005

Are You Gonna Go My Way?

Let's hope the World Bank is one of those organizations that can function despite the best intentions of its President.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

This Week In McCarthyism: Discover The Bouillabaisse

Yesterday our pal Badtux ruminated on the latest craze in destroying critical thought: David Horowitz's academic bill of rights (capitalization omitted, not for stylistic reason, but just because the "bill" is a stupid idea that doesn't deserve the appearance of formality granted by proper grammar). Badtux and I must be two moonbats sharing a moonbeam; that same day I spent some time actually browsing discover the network to discover what the frontpage folks have to say about some of the writers I like. What I discovered is just how sub-par an enterprise it is.

As others have noted, the design is terrible, but that's hardly the worst offense. A 13 year old hacker working during breaks from Grand Theft Auto could generate far superior tech. I tried to launch the graphical map purporting to document the links between all of those deemed traitors, a new feature that didn't exist last time I visited, and it crashed my browser. When I rebooted the browser and went back, it took so long to load the map - I waited at least 4 minutes for exactly nothing to happen - that I got sick of it and actually went back to work. Thanks for killing my lunch break, you incompetent boobs. Note to Horowitz's hackers: SQL + Server Side Python + A Working Knowledge Of Set Theory will only benefit. One could excuse the horrible tech under the assumption that the tech is only icing on the content-cake. Unfortunately for the Horowitz crew, a large part of the content is supposed to be the "links", and without a way to display them, there's no "network", only a soup.

Then there's the writing in the individual entries. An old friend of mine once told me the following story: "My sister, she has no sense of direction. Just yesterday she walked out the front door and...Look, forget it. She just has no sense of direction." I feel the same sense of impatience trying to describe how bad the writing is. It's just bad. Cliche's, innuendo, gossip and stray facts are clumped together in unreadable clumps. It's painful.

Finally, we have the reasoning. Plenty of people, including me, have written about this. However, one point was driven home when I read the entry on Barbara Ehrenreich. Some point is made that "progressives like her" have killed one hundred million people. Excellent. If this is the standard of reasoning we are now allowed to apply, "conservatives like Horowitz" are far more directly complicit in the deaths of millions of Iraqis, just to name one population that was terrorized by someone Ronald Reagan - and Horowitz, by extension - supported.

This makes me wonder if Horowitz is trying, yet again, to make amends for his past. Perhaps he should realize that all the harm he keeps doing means he ought to get the hell out of public life, since no matter how far he swings in either direction he ends up speaking in defense of murder. It also makes one wonder if that thing he so despises, a liberal education, might do him some good.

Monday, March 28, 2005


If you're reading this post, you've just been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in Medicine!

The Friend of My Enemy(Who is Also My Frenemy) Is An Effin' Weirdo

This blog didn't do a whole bunch of the NaderBash durring the campaign, largely because 3/5ths of RUFNKM put our money where our mouths were and did it in person in the presence of people that mattered. In fact, we spent a good deal of ArtScape 2004 instructing said people in the finer points of the art of "getting the eff away from me before you get hit with someone's shoe". Best response from Nader supporter: "Ok ok but...dude, he wants to legalize weed, man!"

But now, via Phyrangula we learn that the appropriate time has arrived(Cooper has a bit more, but in regards to Randall Terry, the third wheel on this tricycle of tryin' my effin' patience). Nader has gone and thrown his dog into the Schiavo fight. This in and of itself isn't a reason to go after Ralph specifically;see this post by eebmore. But no, he's gone and joined forces with the Discovery Institute. ARE YOU EFFIN' KIDDING ME?

In what can suitably be called an "Only In America" moment, an outrageous spectacle over a tragic, but mostly private, issue has managed to draw some ideological lines in the sand and allowed for a clean seperation between the sane, the cynical, and the unhinged. And what's this? Ralph Nader is firmly in the unhinged camp. Sure, Wesley J. Smith is an old pal of his. But Mr. Smith is also a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute, an organization bent on trumping science with ideology. At first I thought it was a strange confluence that they'd even turn up on the scene, but it actually makes sense. The only verifiable evidence in any of this mess, aside from the obvious desire of Congress to make a collective ass of itself, is that Terry Schiavo is a vegetable. So of course the Discovery Institute would get on the other side of the evidence. And because his entire career is based on going out on what are increasingly ill-considered limbs, Nader adds his voice to the cacophony not in aid of any light, but to generate more heat. What I want to know is this: when is he going to just get up behind a megaphone and announce, election or no election, that he's legalized weed?

A final aside: What's with the revolutionary fervor of the "Save Terry" folks? You'd think the Supreme Court had just stolen their votes or something. I have one request of them. Get over it! For the good of the country! I beg you! Look into your hearts and heal this nation!

Funny Guys In Lab Coats

Via Light of Reason we discover that someone on staff at Scientific American is funny. Really funny.

Morning Fun

What RUFNKM looks like every morning before we get ourselves sorted out.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Good Job, You Sissy Theocrat Fanatics(also Jerks)

Yes, I know, we're supposed to be good-natured and civil here at RUFNKM. This breech of protocol is brought to you by the state of Ohio. ARE YOU EFFIN' KIDDING ME? What the eff is the matter with these people? No burden is too harsh for a woman to bear so long as god's will, in the form of socking it to the queers, is carried through. I really wish the unintended consequences were slightly different. For instance, it would have been really cool if an interpretation of the law existed that prevented a man from being another man's roommate, thus destroying one of the essential features of the middle class bachelor lifestyle.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

My Name Is Your Fait...

One of the central arguments in What's The Matter With Kansas concerns the necessity of having the cultural conservatives constantly outraged. The reasoning goes that if they are constantly outraged, they are constantly mobilized, and this is good for the real beneficiaries of the Republican majority. A corollary of the central argument is that the best way to keep the cultural conservatives outraged is to have them constantly lose on their most emotionally hot issues. They get railed up, they get within what feels like inches of victory only to have it snatched away. Anyone wondering if Sunday's Bad Musical would eventually fit this pattern can now smirk and say yes.

It sure looked like our good friends in Congress were finally going to deliver on some Culture of Life issue. But in the end, all hopes are now sliced to ribbons by an activist judge who is a Clinton appointee. The enraged culture of lifers just can't win and in the tortured pseudo-English of Ann Coulter, "it's all liberals' fault." Whatever the true nature of the judge's political leanings may be do not matter. What matters is that he's now going to be subject to a barrage of slime - and with any luck a few death threats - from culture of lifers with no sense of irony. But those same culture of lifers know who their friends are and will energetically support them, if for no other reason than to sock it to those damn omnipresent liberals once again.

Update: Via Atrios we learn the predictable insist on living down to expectations.

Monday, March 21, 2005

The Greatest Show On Earth

I have no opinion regarding the particulars of the Schiavo case. Why? I am not a doctor, nor an ethicist and am honestly of two minds on the subject anyway(as I am on abortion and euthenasia in general). This leads me to have no opinion because I think it's every American's constitutional duty to not have an opinion on something about which they have no understanding. Even further, the world would be a far better place if those who don't have an understanding of a subject would just keep their effin' mouths shut. Evidently Congress feels differently.

There may have been a time when the hallowed halls of Congress were populated by great and wise people of perception and wit - I have my doubts, but it's possible. However, if those days ever existed they are most certainly gone. If politics is theatre then this was the grand finale to what is possibly the worst Andrew Lloyd-Webber musical of all time. Each member of the chorus got a solo filled with empty platitudes and trite melodic content, leaving the audience cold and begging for the thing to end but unwilling to walk out because the ticket price was so high. Despite the lack of content and the excruciating cadences, the house organ for elite liberal opinion conferred the term "eloquent" on the script because most of the performers recited nearly complete sentences.

I've seen performers beaten nearly unconscious for smaller wastes of time and lesser insults to the intelligence of an audience. Why any of these jerks is still on the national stage defies imagination. I want my money back.

For a little more, and some evidence of great hypocrisy, start here.


The left wants to change the system. The right wants to change individual people. If the left wins, the new system is going to run aground because of people who didn't want to change along with it. If the right wins, reformed people are going to run aground trying to advance themselves through the same old system, which will not have room for all of them.

This is why I taste bile when I see either side getting sanctimonious. The parties sit around blaming each other, and the problem really lies with hordes of Americans who have no coherent political belief system.

Friday, March 18, 2005

World Wide Wolfowitz

There's been quite a bit of shouting - including some from us(and I highly recommend you check the Indie500 roll for more if you want) - over Bush tapping Wolfowitz to head the World Bank. Both Cooper and Corn mention the similarities with the situation with McNamara. But as noted yesterday in the NYT, this is not quite an apt analogy. In fact, Arthur at LoR makes note of a far more striking analogy, which sums up much of my feelings on the subject now.

Back when I was more of a doctrinaire far leftist, I considered the World Bank - along with its sister the IMF - just another international institution dedicated to global capital's domination of the working people of the world. Therefore, in my view at that time it didn't matter who was running it. This had much to do with the conditions it set for aid to third world countries with regard to economic policy. These days I tend to think that although it's not an ideologically neutral organization - it's still all about the dolla's - it at least has the possibility of doing good humanitarian work and its initial mission was actually laudable. It was set up as part of a network of global institutions that was intended to prevent the development of conditions which lead to the rise of Hitler and WWII. So in my new "mature pragmatic" outlook, it's pretty damn distressing that Wolfowitz will end up heading up the place.

This has very little to do with whether or not one thinks Wolfowitz is evil or how one feels about the Iraq war. You could forget all about objecting to the Iraq War and look back at what Wolfowitz predicted would happen, and how wrong he was. His skills as a policy architect and implementor as well as a day to day manager of large projects appear to be incredibly lacking. It may well be that he thinks the World Bank's project is a good one, and that he may do whatever he thinks is the right thing. He might even express goals with which I agree. But when it comes right down do it, he's a wooly-headed academic with very little actual nitty-gritty policy implementation ability. To put this in perspective - and put aside accusations of "partisan objection" - let me say that if they had tried to put in charge some wooly-headed lefty academic such as Eric Alterman, say, I'd have the same attitude. Yes, it's a good thing to have the person you intended to run an organization believe in the mission of said organization, and there's some indication that Wolfowitz does. But that's clearly not enough, and I would think that there are people far more qualified to do the job.

It just seems a shame to me to waste an important job on someone who hasn't shown they deserve it. Let's hope that the Moose (and Alterman for that matter) is right about this, and I am wrong.

Update: And since I already linked there twice in this post, notice that an Altercation reader agrees with me(scroll down to the letter by Samuel Knight).

Update II: Fixed the precognitive date screw-up. I will not have published this tomorrow, but I did start it yesterday and finished it today.

Update III: Never let it be said that RUFNKM is not fair and balanced. Here is a snippet of an interview with Wolfowitz.

Update IV(in a record of updates for RUFNKM): Ian Welsh at BoP has an additional take that is quite insightful.

Now Now Georgie

You brought your mother out on the hustings for a failed policy initiative? ARE YOU EFFIN' KIDDING ME? I eagerly await an opportunity to have my dad fly out here and come to the office with me to aid in a particularly difficult debugging session. Oh wait, no I don't. Because I actually take pride in my own ability to do my job.

Hey Horowitz, I'm Crushing Your Head!

In a recent email to a friend I remarked that if this blog had only one effect it would be to do to David Horowitz what Mencken did to William Jennings Bryant. Despite the fact that it may be a little on the side of over-reach, it seemed worthwhile. However, why should I bother, since David Brock seems to be doing a fine job of it? I'll simply say that if anything this points up what a total phoney Horowitz is, despite his claims to intellectual purity. Remember that the mark of a true intellectual is that if more and more evidence contradicts your point of view, you're willing to change it. Need I note that Horowtiz has only done so once?

HBO Will Not Diminish The Glory Of Their Deeds

Via young wonk Yglesias we get the fantastic news that our hometown, err, pride(?) The Wire has been renewed for a fourth season. I still think Matt ought to get off his liberal elitist butt and come visit our fair land while the show is still on air, or at least learn a little about how similar or different the Baltimore of the Wire is to the real Baltimore. But the fact that his love for the show contributes to our local economy is better than nothing.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

We Keep Saying It

Via MaxSpeak we find that somone else(namely Billmon) has noticed the parallels between David Horowitz and extreme Communism. Just because he's changed political affiliations does not mean anything else has changed, especially his ponderous pseudo-revolutionary language.

When are we going to learn?

"When are we going to learn?" I had the unfortunate luck to wake up to Senator Trent Lott, with the accent that seems to drive me nuts lately, speaking these words in regard to drilling for oil in ANWR.

His position is that we need to drill for our own oil in Alaska: "What scares me the most is, what if the OPEC countries decided, ‘We’re going to cut the [oil] supply dramatically? ... America would be on its knees in 30 days. We cannot have that."

No Trent, we can not have that. But the answer, you effin' hillbilly, is not to ruin Alaska for 6 months worth of oil. The answer is to develop, or to allow the release of, non-oil based technologies. Let's end Americas heroin-esque addiction to oil and concentrate on all the clean, renewable energies available to us.

When ARE we going to learn?

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

And In This Corner Of The Web...

I got email today informing me that Wes The Man has a spankin' new website for his PAC. There's a great community section and his own blog. Quite cool, all in all. Our links to WesPAC have been updated to reflect the new url, and the blog is blogrolled(although someone oughtta tell him he needs a feed, but that's a quibble). I assume - and hope - this is all buildup to a run in 2008. In any case, check it out.

Ah Sweet Justice

My least favorite phony intellectual pundit gets caught with his pants down, not once but twice.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

What does violence have to do with peace?

On January 30, in a Belfast bar, Robert McCartney looked the wrong way at a woman. Or maybe he didn't. But a handful of IRA thugs thought he did. They took him outside and beat him to death with steel pipes. They cut his belly open for good measure.

Then they went back to the bar, locked the doors, and told everyone that it was part of important "business" and they had better keep their mouths shut.

Everyone in the neighborhood knew who did it, but no one squealed. McCartney's brave sisters raised a huge stink and brought public pressure on the IRA to give up the names. What did the IRA do? They offered to shoot the men involved in McCartney's death.

Awwww, such sweeties. Guyyyyyys, you shouldn't have!

In Belfast, progress is being made toward peace. I can understand the IRA's reluctance to give its guns up; why should they trust the same people they were recently defending themselves against, especially when they are such a minority there? But something has to give. Agreements and treaties mean nothing until everyone decides they are ready to take the ultimate gamble: give their trust to their former enemies and lay down their guns. At the least, the IRA can stop making ape-like overtures like this one.

As someone who has always leaned toward pacificism, but has always been too "realistic" (i.e., lacked the conviction) to go in whole hog for it, this incident nudges me to the left.

If you believe that it is right to take up arms to defend your "nation" or "people" or whatever you like to call it, and you are not an imperialist, then you probably excuse the IRA's violence earlier in the century. Catholics were being murdered in Belfast, and the "legitimate" police and justice system weren't able to help them. The IRA was needed to ensure justice.

But what happens to the fighters when peace finally comes? What happens to people who have been trained to kill when there is no longer a need for killing? In Central and South America, paramilitary operatives still have guns and the skills to use them, and they often turn to crime. It's easy enough--find a bus full of tourists on a deserted road and rob them. In Belfast, IRA members do the same: they use means that they had formerly considered justified, only now towards selfish ends.

This is what happens when we use violence to resolve conflicts. We train people to kill so that we can have no more killing. But we don't--maybe can't?--retrain them for peace when the conflicts are over.

This line of thinking leads to one conclusion only: don't use violence in the first place.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Freedom On The March

You can't effin' smoke in bars there, but you can be gay and get married. This is a good thing. And let's hear no more talk of "activist judges". Interpreting a law's relationship to the Constitution is what judges are supposed to do. If we didn't want them doing that, we'd have to re-write the Constitution and chuck out the judiciary. It's fast becoming my opinion that "judicial activism" is yet another euphamism for "the government working the way it's supposed to but coming up with results I don't like".


It is indeed satisfying to read a scientist feeling urges to physically assault someone, expecially when that someone is advocating Intelligent Design. He could have just asked the guy, "ARE YOU EFFIN' KIDDING ME?" It's far more theraputic.

So That's What He Was Planning

TPM delivers some good news for practical progressive types in Maryland. All I have to say is "Yay!"


First, coinkydink. Klipper, I was just discussing The Aristocrats with a friend last night. If there's any reason a child should hear that joke, it's because it will help his critical thinking skills. Children are too innocent and full of wonder to be offended at that joke. The first thing they would think is, "I don't get it." It has an anti-punchline, and it would force a child to ask why it was being told in the first place. It takes a certain amount of sophistication to understand that joke, a type of sophistication that would serve someone well in understanding the non-vulgar aspects of our culture.

Okay, I'll be honest--I'm just amused by the image of a child's face as someone tells him that joke.

On a related note (that note being vulgarity and offensiveness)...

I want to know what the RUFNKMers would think about sabotaging a certain contest at a certain early summer festival in a certain neighborhood in Baltimore. In this contest, middle and upper-middle class white folks do their best imitation of the accents of their lower class white neighbors. I can't say I've never used that accent, but I think it's pretty rude to make a spectacle out of it like that. They'd argue that it's all in good fun, we all get along, it's not demeaning. But it is demeaning. It's making fun of the way they talk, reminding them that it's unsophisticated and ignorant. Plus the fact that what people say during the contest is so damn saccharine. "Let's go downy oshun, hun" and other cliches. It ignores so much of what is really said in that accent.

I was thinking of two ways to sabotage the event. First would be to enter the contest and do Yuppie-Speak instead. "You know what's really wrong with this city? Not enough dog parks! It's really a tragedy." "Have you had the guacamole at Joy America? It's to die for!" "Did you hear Wine Source got in a new bottle of Zin?" "I love that new song they're playing on WTMD!" What would really be good would be to imitate yuppies slamming their lower class neighbors: "This neighborhood is great, but I can't stand the white trash. They're always littering and screaming." "I know! Honestly, I think they're dealing drugs from the house across the street from me."

The other act of sabotage would be to use the Baltimore accent, but actually say the things you've heard people with that accent say. This, of course, would be exceedingly misogynistic, racist, and vulgar. How do you think the residents of this certain neighborhood would react if someone entered the contest and started dropping Ns and Bs and MFs and FYs? Or if a couple got up there with a small child between them and started cussing each other out? It might sound something like this.*

Or someone could tell a Baltimore version of the Aristocrats. "That would be so Baltimore!"

* I found this a year ago on this Internet--someone secretly recorded a street argument and posted it to the web. Not safe for work.

A Part Of America Therein

Via Yglesias, we get a survey, my answers below:
bold the states you've been to, underline the states you've lived in and italicize the state you're in now...

Alabama / Alaska / Arizona / Arkansas / California / Colorado / Connecticut / Delaware / Florida / Georgia / Hawaii / Idaho / Illinois / Indiana / Iowa / Kansas / Kentucky / Louisiana / Maine / Maryland / Massachusetts / Michigan / Minnesota / Mississippi / Missouri / Montana / Nebraska / Nevada / New Hampshire / New Jersey / New Mexico / New York / North Carolina / North Dakota / Ohio / Oklahoma / Oregon / Pennsylvania / Rhode Island / South Carolina / South Dakota / Tennessee / Texas / Utah / Vermont / Virginia / Washington / West Virginia / Wisconsin / Wyoming / Washington D.C /

Go HERE to have a form generate the HTML for you.

Yglesias claims his answers make him a standard bluestater. I dunno what my answers make me, except maybe, er, American?

Tell It All, Brothers And Sisters!

You know, being an unproffessional writer attempting to develop one's skills is a daunting task. As in other disciplines, I've found that it's often good to place limits on parts of the technique in order to hone other parts. The self imposed limits for this blog are cursing and easy cliche's. Otherwise, I'd just sound like Rude Pundit(which is not a bad thing, but I'm not all that innarested in hanging around in someone else's niche).

Evidently not so with proffessional writer Marc Cooper, at least not when it comes to the Bankruptcy Bill. This is quite close to what I would have written had those self imposed limits been absent. There we have the "jackasses" of the Democratic Party and the disgusting if apt imagery of Harry Reid sitting in a toilet stall handing toilet paper to corporate America as they, erm, defecate on the American people. I suppose sometimes it's a superior move to just tell it like it is, technique be damned. Did I mention it's worth reading?

Free Speech No More?

The question(part of a larger discussion) was this:

Just how far can free speech go before people say “No More!”?

The example provided was South Park’s "The Aristocrats".

I wasn’t offended by this. If people really do those things that Cartman says, it’s weird and not any of my business.

“But what about the children?”, we are told to ask. “
What of the baby being ****** and being used to be ****** with?” “What of the poor children hearing about it?”

If we find out that somewhere a baby is being ****** or being used to **** with then we should stop the people doing it and they should be made unable to have, or to come near, children. For as long as they shall live.

If the children manage to hear Cartman say this, they’ll think it’s weird behavior and they’ll decide if it’s funny or gross. Let’s give them(and ourselves) some watching South Park are already potty-trained.

Dirty words or images aren’t going to hurt anyone. “Belief” is what hurts people. When someone believes in something there is no stopping them. They’ll hurt anyone...unless what they believe in is “not hurting others”....and they’ll still hurt someone inadvertently.

“Belief” is what’s important.

That’s why America needs to believe that Social Security is about to belly flop.
Why America needs to believe that Iraq had something to do with 9/11 and gay marriage will somehow hurt them.

More importantly(less sarcastically), it’s why Americans need to believe that a single-payer, universal health care plan will cost equal to or less than what they’re already paying and allow everyone to enjoy it.

I want Americans to believe we can quit smoking and lose weight without paying money to a PO BOX for a pamphlet, a patch or a pill.

I want commercials on TV that tell me to believe in myself. A commercial that tells me to believe in the possibilies and the potential I have already, not the potential I can buy for possibilities defined by companies trying to sell me their stuff.

That’s free speech!

So, while I don’t actually want Cartman talking disgusting I’m glad I got to see it. If I find I don’t like it I’ll not listen to it again.
If I don’t want my children to watch it, I’ll make sure my children don’t watch it.
I won’t stop anyone else from watching it and if I think it’s funny, I’ll share it.

Just like some people share versions of Christian Love that I don’t find Christian or Loving. I choose to disagree.

It seems to me that children should be taught “belief” and be free to hear anyone’s speech.

Friday, March 11, 2005

What Party of the Little Guy?

This post began yesterday as a critique of the bankruptcy bill, but started mutating into an outline of why I think the legislative branch - and the Democractic members of it - is failing in its purpose as a representative body. Now that the bill has passed the Senate, it seems a moot point to a large degree. However, there are a few things that still need saying.

If we ever needed proof that we are not represented by our own government, this is it. No one wanted this bill except the consortium of credit card companies that drafted it, but it still passed the Senate 74-25. Why? Because Senators know who pays for their campaign war-chests. Yes, this is yet another go-around on the ridiculous wheel that is our political system, where in order to keep a job meant to serve the people of the country, our elected leaders enact laws that punish instead. Effective democracy? ARE YOU EFFIN' KIDDING ME? I do wonder when the Senate will start enacting legislation on behalf of whatever countries loan us money. Can't be too far off.

I know I'm the one who's always saying we should expect nothing less from our current crop of elected leaders. This bill, however, is particularly brazen. It is also pointlessly cruel, given the circumstances of over half the bankruptcies in the country. Couple that with the fact that even after all the proposed amendments to make it less vindictive failed, 18 Democrats still voted for it, and you realize that it's no laughing matter.

Because of this, I'm going to have to side with Fixer, those who Fixer quotes. The Democratic Party needs to be the party of the people, and if it can't be that, we need a new one. Yes, this is old news, but it's sadder now because these days it doesn't have to work like this. Dean showed the way to building a campaign war-chest without taking huge corporate donations. And I also wonder, if a candidate can't get the financial support of ordinary citizens, maybe they don't have any business running in the first place.

Friday Puppy Blogging

Originally uploaded by jayinbmore.
Latest member of the park-pack club. She pays her dues in cute.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Putting your money where your foot is

"Who deserves to make money from what?"

I asked myself that question recently, just after I asked myself, "Should we put entrenched newspaper columnists in the stock, or just take away their salaries?"

The Internet has made the newspaper columnist obsolete. In the boring world of sociology, we call this "cultural lag": when material culture (communications) moves faster than non-material culture (hiring practices). It's the same reason most weddings are so boring: we use the same format we've used for a hundred years--back when the bride's and groom's family and friends lived in the same town and knew each other--and crammed a bunch of random co-workers, sorority sisters, and midwestern cousins into it, usually with a bad seating arrangement, topped with awful dance routines. If I ever get divorced, my divorce party is going to be exactly like everyone else's wedding.

Anyhoo...columnists.They're obsolete. With all the different and increasingly complex issues the average Engaged Citizen must consider these days, why do we have the same people weighing in on all of them? These people are paid to talk, not to know anything. If they are paid to know anything, they are paid to know extremely little about a lot. I don't mind Krugman on economics, or George Will on baseball (okay, I do, but for balance's sake...), but I can't bear to read one more inch of print on David Brooks's opinion on stay-at-home moms or the pathetic things Maureen Dowd does to keep her boyfriends around.

The only reason these people are still in the papers is because the wiring of our brains. If we see a face often enough, we develop a connection to it. The more exposure your brain has to anything, the harder that thing is wired into your brain, and more likely it will attach itself to other associations in your brain, including emotional ones. You're loyal to your local baseball team for the same reason that you keep reading those columnists. You've seen them so often that you've developed a connection. This is what makes a celebrity different than any other person. People become enamored of celebrities because they see their faces so often. You're exposed to it over and over again, and it becomes familiar. Why does your 11 year old daughter dress like a slut? Because the celebrities she follows dress like sluts. In reality, is that celebrity any different than any other human being your daughter knows, say her cousin or her dentist? No. It's just that she and the people she associates with see the celebrity much more often than their cousins or dentists.

The same with these columnists. Our brains want to see them there, just because they've been there before, and they match well with other things in our brain. But should newspapers really pay people to say what they think about something they don't really know much about? Especially when any semi-literate bag-of-bones (say, me) can set up a blog and express his opinion for the world to hear?

No, they shouldn't. Newspapers already accept op-eds from experts on certain issues. They should do that exclusively. Get rid of these hacks. Let them set up their own blogs and find something useful to do in the world.

The media and the blogosphere can't get enough of themselves right now, and everyone is making it seem like journalism needs to reinvent itself to make room for blogs. The truth is, only larger organizations have the resources and layers of review to do good, in-depth journalism. If we leave journalism to the blogs, to move past the occasional fact-check takedown and do real, accountable journalism, they are going to have to build up an organization to the point where they are no longer a blog but practically (gasp) mainstream media.

What blogs are doing is keeping the larger, self-accountable organizations more honest, and making the paid blabberati obsolete.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

From A Waffle Into A Pancake

I've spent an awful lot of time oscilating between misguided idealist, incompetent, and evil when it comes to how I feel about Paul Wolfowitz. Reading this over at Sullywatch pretty much pins it at "evil". What's most relevent to the Sullywatch peoople (and taking a cue from Hitchens - two columns in a row on cliche-elmination? ARE YOU EFFIN' KIDDING ME?), can we please please please do away with this horrible cliche' that never applies to anyone on whom it's used) is that Sullivan uses the term "unimpeachable integrity" in conjunction with Wolfowitz. And we have to second their objection with an ARE YOU EFFIN' KIDDING ME? Why is it we as a society have such a yen to bestow the honor of the term on public officials when it is in those exact people it is clearly the rarest of element? Especially a guy like Wolfowitz.

For Immediate Release: New Baltimore Based Public Policy Thinktank

Ever watched C-SPAN or cable news or listened to NPR and heard "analysis" on issues of the day from some talking head or other? Ever noticed that often times said talking head is described as a "Senior Fellow from the (insert the pretentious name of some partisan thinktank or other), a non-partisan research group dedicated to (insert neutral terminology meant to disguise bitter partisansan agenda here)"? Well, we here at RUFNKM have. We've also grown resentful of the new class of pundits - those who are granted spiffy-sounding titles like "Senior Fellow" and given lots of money to flack for various causes. Think-tanks are welfare for the over-educated, under-talented but politically motivated. But those titles do connote a depth of knowledge and a certain air of gravitas. In short, we're jealous, and we want the excuse to pull down loads of cash and get on TV. Also, last night Klipper mentioned he'd prefer the left use blogs for proactive organization.

To that end, we're forming a new thinktank ["More like drunk tank, you pretentious jerks!" sayeth the editor], and granting ourselves the titular and media relations perks that accompany it. In other words, we're pleased to announce the formation of Americans Yearning for Effective Kindness Managment, a Baltimore based, non-partisan, blog-centric public policy thinktank. We are dedicated to promoting the managment of effective forms of kindness.

Our top staff of premier researchers includes the following Senior Fellows:

  • disappearingink - Senior Research Fellow in High and Low Culture. Also supplies the wine and cheese.

  • Jo Momma - Senior Research Fellow in Education Policy. Also supplies the cider.

  • Dave G - Senior Research Fellow in Social Policy and Cuisine. He also supplies the good beer.

  • Klipper - Senior Research Fellow in Natural Resource Utilization. Will drink whatever you're serving, but prefers good scotch.

  • jayinbmore - Senior Research Fellow in Technology Policy. What? Only a 12 pack of Natty Boh? Are you people insane?

We are all available for commentary in all media formats. If you wish us to appear on a broadcast, do not hesitate to drop us an email. We are also available for speaking engagments, but for these we have a list of requirements and larger fees.

We are also offering a limited number of Adjunct Fellowships! If you are an expert in your field and feel it is a "good fit" with our policy aims, please leave your name and a description of your research area in the comments section. Thanks!

Update: Congratulations are due to Price at Now I Don't Want To Get Off On A Rant Here... on his induction! He is now an Adjunct Senior Fellow in Christology, Conservatology and Black&Tan consuption. Please join us in saying "Welcome Aboard!"

Update II: Congratulations are also due to Benn Ray on his induction! He is now an Adjunct Senior Fellow in the field of Xerox-based Publications, Smut and Offensive Comix. He is also a Bourbonologist.

Baudrillard Call Your Office

If this story claiming that Saddam's capture was faked is true, I will hereby renounce all of my claims against post-modern analysis of the media and become instead its greatest advocate.

Although one thing puzzles me. Based on the soldier's description, Saddam's capture involved a showdown and a firefight. Wouldn't this have been a far more compelling story? "Brave US Marines Engage In Firefight - Capture Saddam!" It certainly would be the more exciting TV movie. Finding him in a hole seems such a poetically-just ending to the once fearsome dictator that faking it seems so sophisticated. Maybe it was Wolfowitz who cooked it up.


Last night Klipper was down in the dank offices of RUFNKM and mentioned that maybe I'm being a little on the obsessive side of Horowitz watching. He's probably right, but I've felt I had good reason. Well, I have no need to mess around with it anymore, because the internets have provided a never-ending mock-fest. To wit:John Holbo at Crooked Timber has provided us with Discover The Nutwork. Finally! I knew it was only a matter of time.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Of Horowitz, Fishes And Barrels

Warning: This post contains cursing, but we're only quoting David Horowitz, so we feel our mouths are not so fouled - at least not as fouled as his.

One of the pleasures of being a sporadic Horowitz watcher is when you get to point out when the blustering in which he engages in an attempt at scathing wit backfires on him. Take for instance this email exchange with the proprieter of Mixing Memory. In a response to one rather sensible suggestion, Horowitz instructs his recipient, "Don't be an asshole."

I know I've referred to his (thoroughly witless) speech at the Commonwealth Club before, but it just provides so much tasty fodder (because it's such quintessential Horowitz) that it's too good to pass up. If one listens to the audio of his speech (I wouldn't suggest one do it unless one enjoys the sound of a cat being tortured, but the people who transcribed the speech edited out many of his asides thus leaving the text appearing much more dreary - if more sensical - than the speech as delivered) one will find him complaining that "this is the problem with liberals! No manners!" Some people in the audience had the audacity to interrupt and walk out on him. My question is, when did Miss Manners approve of the use of the word "asshole" in polite conversation?

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Puppy Blogging: Late Edition

Originally uploaded by jayinbmore.
Akane discovers a stick that is both fascinating and delicious.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Strange Days

I know how the technology works, so it shouldn't suprise me, but seriously, The Republican Party Of Kentucky blog in our sitemeter referrals?

More Solidarity

When Donkeys Kick

You gotta love NewDonkey's description of Grover Norquist(my least favorite political personality, Coulter be damned):

We all know Grover's many ideological and rhetorical vices, but for all his legendary power and influence, he's essentially just another Washington jive-ass thriving at the intersection of money and politics.

Take note: RUFNKM lifts the curse word ban in posts - as long as said curse word is "jive-ass".

Just When You Think You Can't Utter It

In the midst of a very well reasoned argument against one of Sullivan's typical howlers Mark Schmitt commits one his very own self.

But here's a brilliant, serious, decent person, not flacking for anyone, and this is a strange blind spot, both on the philosophical point and the naive belief that George Bush would ever favor any kind of tax simplification.

Brilliant? Serious? (Not flacking? Errr..."Bell Curve" anyone?) ARE YOU EFFIN' KIDDING ME? Reading Sullivan's blog is an exercize in discovering someone's strikingly pedestrian thought process isn't limited to essay length babble they manage to get into print.

Pass The Punishment On To The Consumers!

I do not at all understand the purpose of the bankruptcy bill. I mean, I do in the sense that it's a punitive attack on people who have a streak of bad luck masked as yet another government sponsored attempt at promoting "personal responsibility". I say "Physician, heal thyself. Then you might be able to lead by example instead of fiat". But maybe that's just me.

I know plenty of people who've lost jobs and had to live on credit cards for lengthy amounts of time before finding other work. Some of them had to declare bankruptcy. I don't see how screwing these people over will teach them to better manage their money. If they learn any lesson at all, it's "don't get laid off". The other lesson they learn is that our system is rigged to punish the unfortunate, while the fortunate get rewarded just because. If credit card companies are feeling the pinch(which I seriously doubt) because bankruptcies are up, maybe we ought to find ways to, oh, make the economy more hospitable to consumers(like, you know, jobs programs or something).

Oh yeah, and what's the deal with the People's Party Of Supporting The Troops voting against exemptions on means testing for members of the military? If 16,000 active duty military have had to file for bankruptcy in a single year, maybe we just aren't paying them enough. And if we really can't afford to pay them more, why not cut them a break? I guess service is its own reward.

Update:Think Progress has a very nice summary of what's wrong with the policy, as well as a cogent description of how this legislation is "ShurbCo As Usual".

He Sure Don't Sound Like No Libertarian I Ever Met

I found this post at Incoherent Blather both incredibly coherent and well worth reading. I think the contrast between socialism and conservatism(as opposed to liberalism and conservatism) is right-on. I especially like the notion that economic liberalism is a pragmatic program, where conservatism and socialism are both strictly ideological. The older I get, the less attractive I find pure ideology unless it's backed up by some evidence.

Of course, the right in this country has spent years trying to paint "liberal" into the corner actually occupied by socialism, because it makes "debate" easy. But everytime I hear some idiot (like that guy Walden on WBAL who claims he likes to "ponder") claim Barbara Boxer and Nancy Pelosi are "socialists" and "far left", I just want to scream "ARE YOU EFFIN' KIDDING ME? I used to BE a socialist, and neither one of them would be allowed in the door of the club!"

Thursday, March 03, 2005

More Reasons To Love Maryland


Via Wonkette we learn January 26th was apparently "Capture An Illegal Immigrant Day" for the Young Conservatives of Texas. Oddly enough - and although it went unreported here(see below for why) - January 26th was also RUFNKM's "Slap A Dingbat Rich Kid Bigot Upside The Head" day. Unfortunately we didn't get many pictures. We all spend our wednesdays working for a living so we didn't have a whole lot of time to devote to such inflammatory gestures. Also, we had trouble getting a readable font for the t-shirts with "Dingbat Rich Kid Bigot" on the front and "Slap Me Upside My Head If You Can" on the back. When we finally did overcome our difficulties(around 9pm), we discovered only one person we knew wanted to wear the damn shirt and when they were hit on the head something like 20 times, they got sick of it and went to the bar to get drunk. Oh well. Wish us better luck next year!

Sigh and a "Hmmm"

Laura Rozen reports that according the WSJ Wolfowitz is out of the running for the World Bank post. For this, we offer a sigh of relief. The "Hmmmm" is that Carly Fiorina is up the job. I'm not Fiorina's biggest fan, but it's for very obtuse reasons that have very little to do with her qualifications for the post.

RUFNKM Call For Papers

Could one of the college edjumakated members of this blog please post on this? It seems completely lame on its face and it comes from Horowitz, so clearly its grounding in any sort of evidence is tenuous at best. However, since I spent a grand total of 3 semesters at a junior college in Cupertino taking mostly CompSci classes and ignoring everything else, I may have a somewhat skewed view on the Academy. I never experienced any political bias in any of the classes I took, unless you count as political bias being given a "C" on a programming project due to a refusal to comment code or abide the instructor's source formatting rules. At the time I viewed it more as a religious issue but then again I hadn't programmed professionally yet.

My Yankee Parents Would Be Ashamed

Via Pharyngula I came across this "are you a yankee or a rebel" quiz. It bases the outcome on how one describes certain entities and pronounces certain words. I came out 51% Dixie, which seems almost exactly right since I live in Baltimore. What's odd is that my folks are both noreastern yankees of an extreme variety(my mother makes John Kerry sound like a hick), and I spent more time in California than anywhere else. My only explanation is that I went to elementary school in inner-city Detroit. I assume the age range at which people tend to pick up their standard locutions is the same as the one when people attend elementary school.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Supreme Court Season!!!!!

When the supreme court announced yesterday that it was cruel and unusual to execute people who had committed capital crimes as youth, NPR 's Nina Totenberg reports, Justice Scalia dissented from the bench. The decision, he said, makes a mockery of the framers of the constitution. Arguments that the framers deserve to be occasionally mocked notwithstanding,

Ignoring arguments that the framers deserve occasional mockery, and that the decision reasonable and takes us down the road to more humane criminal justice, I ask the following question: which is a bigger mockery, the aforementioned or the one that the Scalia's side of the court made of the both the constitution and the American electorate when they crowned George W Bush president in 2000? Jes' wondrin'.

Stay tuned...they're talking about the Ten Commandments today.

Update(from jay):Sysyphus Shurgged has a post on this topic using more of Scalia's rhetoric on other cases to demonstrate exactly how much of a total effin' hypocritical cynical jackass pragmatic he is.

Mashed, Totally Mashed

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

More Negroponte

David Corn has a column describing and link to "Negroponte's Sins Caught On Film".

Good News

Via TAPPED we learn that the Supreme Court did something sensible and nullified death sentences for people under the age of 18. Guess the dissenters and receive the "good for guessing the obvious!" award.

Things that make you say...

ARE YOU EFFIN' KIDDING ME? (via Mark Schmitt). My guess would be this is just like Norquist wanting to take over the government so he can destroy it.