Wednesday, November 30, 2005

It would take 139.67 cups of coffee to kill me

Check out this fun little calculator, which come to us via my great anthropologist friend at technotaste.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The Elderly: America's Future From The Past

Well, my neighbor recently turned seventy-nine years old. I know this because for about the last month when I've chatted with him he's said, "I'm seventy-nine years old." He used to say, "I'm seventy-eight years old." When I first met him he would say, "I'm seventy-seven years old." Those were the days. The days about 2 years ago.

Children engage in this sort of repartee, and it's endearing, because you know it will stop soon. With my neighbor, who I'll call John (since that's his name. He can't figure out how to reset his odometer so I doubt he's reading this blog), I also know it will end soon. It's not endearing though. It's a haunting reminder of my own mortality.

Today, after establishing his time on the Earth for all passers buy, I was asked to assist in the reading of a letter. This is a task I am frequently called on to assist with. It's not so much the reading he has trouble with. It's the interpretation that is becoming difficult.

The letter today was informing John his last check would arrive next month to pay off a debt owed to him. It went on to say that he should stop arriving in person to collect this debt, as a restraining order has been received.

John is a big fan of Westerns. Right now I can hear the rapid-fire gunshots; that can only mean a stagecoach heist is in full swing; floating through my window. The first time I met John, he showed me his extensive collection of Western movies numbering several thousand videotapes and several hundred DVDs. The collection is accompanied buy a handwritten cross-referenced cataloguing system that is made up of well over one hundred single spaced marble-backed note books and an extensive collection of fully functional old west shootin' irons.

John likes to practice fancy spins and trick draws. Of course, he is seventy-nine years old (if the word on the street is to be believed), and those irons ain’t getting any lighter, so he drops them often.

Generally, when I'm not interpreting threatening legal notes, John quizzes me on my favorite silent film and cowboy picture actors. To date, I have not heard of any of them. John is not deterred. He shows me a new style of gun slinging he's picked up from former Olympian and cowboy great Earnst Von Haffenshclaff (I call him this because a truck went buy and I couldn't make out what John actually said and have long since learned to just roll with these situations and, if forced, spout a platitude like, "You can't trust any of 'em") before sharing an anecdote.

Apparently John's niece ran afoul of her boyfriend and he slashed her tires. Well, a Hampden Cowboy like John isn't going stand for that kind of mistreatment of a lady, specially if'n she's kinfolk! So John tells me, "He slashed her tires," in a voice that is some where between Clint Eastwood, Will Farrell doing George Bush, and Jessica Rabbit with laryngitis. "He's a bad man, and I don't cotton to that! I was gonna shoot 'im, but I'd go to jail, protectin' my property so I figgered, I'd get him real mad, angry, see. Make him draw to me, but I'd draw first. Send 'im straight to Boot Hill!"

There were allot of flaws in John's plan that I didn't point out. I didn't point out, that the guy probably wouldn't "draw" and if he did, John probably wouldn’t out draw him, or at least out draw him and keep hold of his six-iron (the pistol, he'd be really screwed if he brought a golf club). I also didn't point out that Boot Hill is in Tombstone Arizona, and they probably wouldn't send a dead guy from Baltimore to Arizona for burial. I also didn't point out that Boot Hill hasn't been used for new graves in quite some time.

Of course, odds are, John would be the one pushing up daisies, so there is a chance that this guy, upon gunning down John would have taken his keys and cash and driving to Tomb Stone Arizona in one of the most ill-conceived getaways of all time. I find this scenario highly dubious, however, and am reasonably sure it's not what John was getting at.

Instead, I simply said, "Guy like that, shouldn't be on the street. But you can't shoot him."

"Yeah?" asked John.

"Nope," I replied.

He seemed a bit sad about this. I think we all know that Hampden could use a bit of frontier justice, just not sure John is the martial to bring order to these parts.

Funny thing about the elderly, for the most part, Asian people are from the country we were at war with when they were coming of age. John changed the subject, referring to our new Vietnamese neighbors. "Korean fellers just moved in. Was gonna be a gay couple, but we got these Koreans instead."

"I think they are the gay couple," I replied

"Nah, their Korean."

For a moment, I was envious. Ahh, to live in such a world! A world where things break because they're not made in America (instead of the opposite). A world where people or things can have no more than one exotic label (Gay Asian? You waltz with the devil, my friend! Spicy Tuna? Did that meal come here on a rocket ship?) Then John told me about his plan for the day.

He wanted me to tell him how to get to a far away shelter where he could get a new cat without having to pay eighty dollars. This seemed sound logic, as cats are four for a nickel where I come from, but his need for a new cat suprised me. Apparently, John got new hardwood floors last year. His current cat is old, and she's wearing out the floors. This one blew my mind.

My vision of pleasant dotage quickly shifted focus. I saw a darker, more likely me standing on the same porch talking to a confused thirty-something neighbor. "You like super-hero pictures? Not the modern smella-vision ones that are acted out by trained ferrets, movies like they were meant to be! Acted by human actors and Chelize Theron (who I believe is from Krull Space), thems were the days!

"The paramour of my young niece," I'd state in a voice some where between Christopher Reeves circa 1978 and Christopher Reeves, March 2003, "punctured the hover belt of her fly-o-cycle and such actions shall be avenged! That man is a dastard and yet I can not fire my eye lasers to incinerate him! I will have to simply challenge him and when he attempts to use his time shift powers against me, I'll swoop him and deliver him to the proper authorities!"

The wheels will grind in my new neighbor’s noggin. "Should I tell the old man that he has never been able to shoot eye lasers and that even if he could, he would be no match for the time distorting powers of the local thugs? Nah, just humor him and get inside." I'll be left there, standing on my porch, watching the rocket police zoom buy on their way to the mechanized donut hut, before turning and wading waste deep in schnauzers back into my home.

First off, I'd like to point out that I am not an age-ist. Some of my best friends are incredibly old (for arguments sake, anyway) I tell this story not out of spite or cruelty. I tell it to provide you with a moral.

What is the moral, you ask? What's the point? Well, if my neighbor weren't seventy-nine years old, I'd be totally freaked out by him. As it is, he's kind of cute. This is the advantage of oldness. Plan for it and start now lest you to end up squandering your remarkable harmlessness on a cold porch in Hampden threatening local hooligans. Shoot the moon, my friends! Have an outfit ready and begin concocting a story now. Tell it to yourself each night before you go to bed so that by the time your real life fades, this new one shall be in place.

I was raised by gypsies who hid my identity from the overlords who sought my head for I am the rightful king of Paraguay (see RUFNKIDDINME Tenet #4)! My fortune is vast, yet I am to old to make the journey to collect it! I can give you this map, and these 5 ancient riddles to guide you on your way! Good luck, young neighbor (who is way too loud and young and annoying and will probably die in a gyrocopter accident trying to find my non-existent treasure. Tee-Hee!) and may fortune be on your side!

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Maybe they'll monitor us now, too!

Everybody needs to read about Social Contract Theory.

Why?

Because "The Social Contract of our Democracy demands certain responsibilities of the citizens. As Wynton Marsalis says, there are a lot of things you simply have to know to successfully participate in a democracy. Comparing democracy to jazz, Marsalis says that one needs to be educated and have the ability to communicate in order to participate. Jazz is about communication, dialogue, and respect for one’s peers. So is our Democracy.

If one possesses the ability to listen, speak, and learn then they should be able to navigate the established channels of our Democracy. If the established channels are so clogged with bureaucracy or corruption that the educated and open-minded citizen is unable to progress, then civil disobedience is required. If civil disobedience doesn’t work, revolution is a moral imperative."

Why else?

Because of this via Crooks and Liars and Daily Kos.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

One mighty sepulchre

A little perspective, from Thanatopsis by William Cullen Bryant:

All that tread the globe are but a handful to the tribes that slumber in its bosom.

Would that our leaders had thoughts such as these of those they've sent to the globe's bosom.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

More eponymy

Those PDB's sure are pesky - whole, Bin Laden wants to attack thing - but that was historical.

New one: On September 21, 2001, ten days after 9/11, President Bush - you know, the guy who kept mentioning Iraq and Al Qaida, and whose VP and various other minions did for, what, until recently - anyway, so on September 21, 2001, Bush was told in a PDB that there was no link between Al Qaida and Iraq.

That's right. 10 days after September 11, 2001, Bush was told Iraq and Al Qaida were not linked, and this information was made known to Cheney, Rice, and Powell. I'm not sure about Powell, but I am pretty damn sure (as should be anyone with a memory or internet access) that Rice and Cheney sure as hell talked up the Iraq-Al Qaida connection - shit, Cheney still will if you let him talk.

So they flat out lied. For, what, about 4 years?

Astounding.

And Yglesias speculates that the outing of Plame may have been some perverse kind of Cheney-inspired payback for the CIA daring to gather intelligence that he didn't like.

More and more conspiracies turn out to be true everyday.

Never was a link; never was evidence. No chemical weapons, no aluminum tubes, no yellow cake...man, why did we invade again? I hope it wasn't to get rid of torture - we can't even get the White House to back a ban on it after Abu Ghraib.

And then, sweet merciful mother of crap, leaders of the Sunni, Shiite, and Kurdish communities in Iraq said that resistance to American forces is legitimate.

Are you effin kidding me?

I'm Branded Sad Today: RIP Link

Via the the Brain, and it's a serious bummer. One of my all-time musical heroes, uber-primitivist and rocker extraordinaire Link Wray has passed away. To say that Link showed the way for people with more attitude (and reckless abandon) than dexterity to play rippin' guitar would be to damn him with feint praise. However, it's not hyperbole to say that every track on the "Mr. Guitar"compilation is effin' essential. He combines feedback, fuzz, bare-bones rhythmic accompanyment to evoke both raucous danger and sentimental lyricism out of guitars that were probably found in someone's trash. He used the most bare-bones compositional technique but managed to wring an infinite amount of variation out of it - true rock-n-roll genius. His greaser-punk image is also one of the purest rock archetypes. Consider John Waters' "Crybaby". Duane Eddy is clearly one of those rich kids singin' "Sh-Boom", while Link's one of the greasy punks out on Turkey Point. C'mon, you know where you'd rather be. Rumble In Peace, Link.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

testing, testing

A new prenatal test for Down's Syndrome detects the condition several weeks earlier in the pregnancy, sometimes as early as 11 weeks.

Early screening would give women carrying an affected embryo the option of having an abortion earlier in the pregnancy when the risks to the mother are lower, or allow them more time to prepare themselves should they carry the pregnancy to term.

An op-ed in the New York Times today raises some troubling questions about this test, and testing in general. First, there's the claim that 80 percent of women who get a positive test choose to have an abortion, which is chilling to those with Down's who are capable of understanding the issue. It's also chilling because high abortion rates associated with these tests will mean there are less people with these conditions, which will probably mean research money will go to testing and not to cures and therapy.

Then there's insurance. Will insurance companies continue to insure disabled children if their parents refused to get the test? Will insurance companies realize that abortion is less expensive than treating a disabled child? Will testing become so expensive that these kinds of disabilities occur primarily among the poor?

The most chilling statistic is the five percent of the new prenatal Down's tests that return false positives. Who would want to make a decision based on this test knowing that there is a five percent chance it's wrong?

The op-ed about the Down's test ends on a hopeful note:

Even as genetic tests appear to have lowered the number of Down syndrome births, he said, social conditions for people with the conditions have improved markedly.

"We're in the midst of a gentle social revolution," said Dr. Crocker, and, he believes, it may just outpace the scientific one.


That's a stretch. Has society ever been even one step ahead of science? Medical advances are moving much faster than the public discussion that keeps them under control. And that's before money and politics comes into play and perverts the discussion. Just wait until this issue works its way into the Roe v. Wade debate.
--
Then there's the yesterday's Times editorial about rapid AIDS testing. Pretty soon, we might be able to test at home for AIDS. Getting a positive back on this test would be pretty traumatic for someone to handle alone--it may be best delivered by a doctor or counselor. But the Times says that trauma is worth it--the alternative is people spreading AIDS because they don't know they have it.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Like Watching A Middle-Aged Executive Trying On A Pair Of Nipple-Rings

*
Sometimes it's the little things. If you want something important, then watch Murtha's press conference on why we have to end the Iraq War now (and how we go about doing it). Then visit Shakespeare's Sister for info about the gonzo-fight in Congress over Murtha's resolution and the Republican response...

So if you're one of us who's allowed blogging to ruin your life, you're probably already aware of the new con-blogger circle jerk calling itself OSM(tm) Open Source Media (formerly "Pajama's Media"). For those who haven't let their lives be so ruined, it's the latest attempt by clueless pseudo-technophiles to challenge the dominant media paradigm and harness the power of the synergistic capabilites of the flow of ideas and information, and the liberating empowerment offered to netizens by the interactive new media zeitgeist in order to uh...disseminate right wing talking points and (maybe) make some money. ** Lest they be accused of being completely ideologically stilted, they managed to convince two of my favorite bloggers (and Nation contributors), David Corn and Marc Cooper, to contribute. Compared with the rest of the roster (including Malkin, Little Green Facist Charles Johnson, Instapundit, some weirdo who actually uses the name "Atlas Shrugged" and writes in the style of a less literate Ayn Rand to boot), I'd say fair and balanced all around!

As noted by a onetime partner, the venture is ill-defined, mismanaged and quite likely destined for financial failure. Proving their adeptness in this brave new world, they failed to use basic internet technology to discover that the name was already taken, and when confronted with this they made up a reason for their mistake. Still, they're on the cutting edge conceptually, unless you ask Tiny Nibbles. Ah well, if the name and concept are a joke, the editorial content won't make for easy laughs. I can't wait for the inevitable fall of old media.

So why does this particular geek have his hackles raised? One could be forgiven for thinking it's the offensive attempt by middle-aged know nothings attempting to claim some tech-credibility and enliven their moribund venture by injecting it with a little slashdot jargon - "Ohhh those scruffy hackers be jammin'!" One would be wrong. Although that in itself is pretty bad, what's ticking me off is in their about section they reference the Free Software Manifesto while at the same time having a copyright policy so restrictive it prevents me from quoting either the about page or the policy. Although they claim fealty to the "open source" philosophy they want nothing to do with it. You want real "Open Source Media"? Publish under the Creative Commons License and be done with it. Otherwise you are missing the point. The point of all of this open source business is that there is a good done for society by placing ideas and artifacts in the public sphere and thus making them available to everyone. This is not what "OSM(tm)" is about. Instead they're misusing and attempting to appropriate a positive term (from our culture, assholes!) to puff up their sense of self-importance (a minor irritant) and engage in standard issue right-wing whining about how the dreaded "MSM" doesn't have virulent enough right wing opinion. And I find that incredibly annoying. Please, guys, don't poison the well and stop with the tech-triumphalism. You're just jerks in front of a computer screen. It doesn't make you special.






*: I stole (maybe paraphrased?) this from a description of the New Republic during Andrew Sullivan's tenure as editor.

**:The center-left version of same, run by the David Bowie of punditry, Arianna Huffington, has been operational for a few months. I prefer the far superior, both technically and topically, Blogtimore, Hon.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

This is funny

51 Cheny lies on Iraq...from the man who said today that people in Washington need to be truthful.

Remember when he flat out lied on national television, claiming he had never met John Edwards before their debate, only to have it shown by photographic, video, and transcript evidence that he not only met Edwards at a prayer breakfast, but thanked him personally for coming? That was cool. I mean, you've got to have some balls when you'll flat out lie, knowing there is video evidence of you lying.

I suppose it might say something about the state of contemporary American journalism that he can get away with such things, but that's just because I don't understand the nuances of journalistic ethics.

It's not the sex, though - it's the lying. Unless you're a Republican. Then it's okay.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

I'm confused

So first I thought US forces didn't use white phosphorous projectiles in Iraq, or at least only used them for illumination; then it turns it we did, but only a few, and everyone else uses them.

Sort of like how we don't do torture, according to the Great Leader, which is so true that the Senate's passage of a bill to prevent torture of detainees is opposed by the White House and Dick Cheney.

But it's the Democrats and critics of the war - i.e., the majority of the American people - who are playing with the facts and rewriting history. Even though the commissions Bush will cite as vindicating him had no authority to investigate why intelligence went wrong, and members of Congress did not have access to the same intelligence he did, and even though, today, the committee headed up by Roberts that is supposed to be investigating this mess calmly ignored a deadline it set for itself to move forward.

Right...

Now, maybe I'm confused because of my social scientific background, but would it be biased for a journalist to point out that, given events we know to have occurred and statements we know were made, Bush and Cheney are lying? How is it possible that they and their lackeys can just keep repeating things for which there is abundant evidence of falsehood?

BTW, we learned today today that Cheney did in fact meet with oil executives in formulating his "energy policy" (i.e. handouts to oil cronies), White House and oil industry denials notwithstanding. Good thing Ted Stevens didn't have them sworn in, cause then they could go to jail; I mean, not like he would know they were going to lie, being from a big oil producing state or anything like that.

Jesus Must Have Grabbed My Pogo Stick

Cause I was looking for my pogo stick to hop off a bridge and it's gone. After reading this, I'm betting Christ is using it.

For those of you too timid to check links, Republican CongressWoman and Fourth Horse-Person of the Apocalypse Katherine Harris had some important duties when she was Florida's Secretary of State. When she wasn't busy rigging elections, she had natural disasters to fight, and what's a better match for a natural disaster than a super-natural solution! Well, there are probably several, but Katherine is a busy horsewoman.

In 2001 there was a terrible citrus canker threatening Florida's multi-billion dollar O.J. empire. Some would consult botanists or, umm, citrus canker, umm, guys. Not Our Gal Katherine! She ordered a state sponsored study to test the "celestial drops" promoted by a Kabbalah Rabbi and a cardiologist (Glad to see he's working in his field. Remind me not to have a heart attack in Florida.). They actually did a study to study the effects of holy water on plant diseases.


Wow. Some might heed the words of the head of Florida's Bureau of Entomology, Nematology, and Plant Pathology, Wayne Dixon, when he said the, "product is a hoax and not based on any credible known science." Katherine Harris, however, was not about to let some "scientist" use "logic" and "proven technologies" when a system endorsed by Madonna is available!

I'm the first to admit if Kabbalah (and a team of high priced surgeons) can keep Madonna looking that good well into her forties, I'm sure some lil' ol' citrus canker is nothing! I'm also the first to admit, I cross myself with holy water, I pray each night before I go to bed and I throw salt over my shoulder after a spill. What I don't do is commission a study to find out how many accidents I didn't get into after not crossing under a ladder.

On the flip side, it's nice to know the Nation isn't being run exclusively by a bunch of fanatical right-wing crazy Christian nuts. There are also some fanatical right-wing crazy Jews in the mix. America truly is a melting pot.

S.O.L.

I Always Liked Dustin Hoffman Better Anyway...

So Woodward knew more about TurdBlossomGate than he was letting on. The lesson here is one Somerby keeps trying to teach us: We can't have an honest press corps - and thus honest discourse - when the top members of that press corps care more about their privileged status than they do about being straight with the public.

On the whole baseball front, I think the following passage is somewhat telling:

William Jeffress Jr., one of Libby's lawyers, said yesterday that Woodward's testimony undermines Fitzgerald's public claims about his client and raises questions about what else the prosecutor may not know. Libby has said he learned Plame's identity from NBC journalist Tim Russert.

"If what Woodward says is so, will Mr. Fitzgerald now say he was wrong to say on TV that Scooter Libby was the first official to give this information to a reporter?" Jeffress said last night. "The second question I would have is: Why did Mr. Fitzgerald indict Mr. Libby before fully investigating what other reporters knew about Wilson's wife?"

This leads me to think maybe this new development is more defensive strategery than it is anything else.

Update (See Also Dept): Marc Cooper pulls far more "Wooden" puns than are healthy for a soon-to-be New Media star. But he makes a good point anyway.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Wait, What? I'm a Humanist?

Via Rox Populi, from whom I steal all the best quiz links. This is nearly right.


Haymaker




You are one of life’s enjoyers, determined to get the most you can out of your brief spell on Earth. Probably what first attracted you to atheism was the prospect of liberation from the Ten Commandments, few of which are compatible with a life of pleasure. You play hard and work quite hard, have a strong sense of loyalty and a relaxed but consistent approach to your philosophy.


You can’t see the point of abstract principles and probably wouldn’t lay down your life for a concept though you might for a friend. Something of a champagne humanist, you admire George Bernard Shaw for his cheerful agnosticism and pursuit of sensual rewards and your Hollywood hero is Marlon Brando, who was beautiful, irascible and aimed for goodness in his own tortured way.


Sometimes you might be tempted to allow your own pleasures to take precedence over your ethics. But everyone is striving for that elusive balance between the good and the happy life. You’d probably open another bottle and say there’s no contest.

What kind of humanist are you? Click here to find out.

Ann Coulter and Christopher Hitchens Must Be Pissed

Seems no matter what they write, they just can't stop Bill Clinton from enthralling people, or it would appear to some, having an effect on the world. I wonder what Shrubya's thinking. "Damn, what's a guy gotta do? I invaded two countries and unleashed a centuries old ethnic conflict and that's not as influential as gettin' a blowjob?"

Bye Bye, L.L.

Lewis Lapham, the man whose metaphors were such a reach that he must have rubber arms, is retiring as editor of Harper's.

What's wrong with this picture?

Blogging Under The Influence

So Matt Stoller, over at BoP, says he's blogging drunk. Our question to him: Never mind blogging - how do you stay sober at all in The United ShurbCo Emirates? And who blogs sober anyway?

Monday, November 14, 2005

Tonight is the night!

Don't forget about the RUFNkiddingme field trip

Joseph Wilson, former United States ambassador to Iraq before the first Gulf War in 1991, a career diplomat who served under five presidents and now a noted critic of the second Bush administration—especially in the wake of the “outing” of his wife, Valerie Plame, as a CIA agent—will discuss “Speaking Truth to Power and the Consequences” on Monday, Nov. 14. Wilson is the featured speaker for the second annual Citizenship Forum, presented by the University of Baltimore’s School of Public Affairs. This event will take place at 7 p.m. in the Langsdale Library Auditorium, 1420 Maryland Ave.

See ya' there!

Oh Jeez

Post hoc rationalization number 356.a subsection 2 for the invasion of the Iraq was the whole "fight them there" thing - that is, we'd invade Iraq, and all the bad guys would go there, and we could kill them, making the world safe for whatever it happened to be that day.

Turns out, unfortunately, that all those terrorists that went to Iraq are now leaving to kill people outside of Iraq.

Isn't this the opposite of what was supposed to happen? Are you effin' kidding me?

Caveat: I know that in pointing this out I am giving aid and comfort to our enemies and showing my lack of support for the Great Leader's perpetual war on whatever he calls it that day..

Friday, November 11, 2005

Once Again Bipartisan

Glenn Reynolds(InstaPundit), he of the incomparable wit consisting of quoting people and then following up with the 20 year old pre-usenet BBS ripostes "Heh" and "Indeed" (which has always caused me to question his credentials as being technologically "with-it" when he thinks such has-been jargon is either unique or new), has received some blogospheric heat today. Responding to Democrats who want an investigation into the uses of pre-war intelligence, he accused them of "acting unpatriotic". When prodded by a reader for a definition of "patriotism", he responded:

I think it starts with not uttering falsehoods that damage the country in time of war, simply because your donor base wants to hear them.

I could hardly believe my eyes, and in the spirit of bipartisanship unknown 'round this blog, I could only shout "Hear hear! Someone's finally calling out Dick Cheney!" Then I realized he was probably talking about Harry Reid. And thus, my "Hear hear!" is now more of a "Heh". Or is that "Indeed"? Neither actually, it's more "are you effin' kidding me?".

Live! From Rockville (the Dullest Place In Maryland): A Random Ten!

Among other things, there are no bars to speak of, near as I can tell.
Ready! Steady! Shuffle! Post!


  1. Big Black - Bad Houses

  2. Spasm - 12XU

  3. M.A.R.R.S - Pump Up The Volume

  4. The Jamaicans - Ba Ba Boom

  5. Bauhaus - The Passion of Lovers

  6. Shriekback - Gunning for the Buddha

  7. My Bloody Valentine - To Here Knows When

  8. The Fall - Clear Off!

  9. Pink Floyd - A Saurcerful of Secrets

  10. Jolie Holland - Old Fashioned Morphine


I wish to thank the Shank for that last track. If it's good enough for Billy Burroughs it's good enough for me, indeed.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Twice the Dickheady Goodness

First: "Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson warned residents of a rural Pennsylvania town Thursday that disaster may strike there because they "voted God out of your city" by ousting school board members who favored teaching intelligent design."

Yet more proof that Pat Robertson is a lunatic. Didn't God tell him Bush would win by a landslide?

The normal pattern follows (as we saw when he called for Chavez' assassination) - he "clarifies": "Later Thursday, Robertson issued a statement saying he was simply trying to point out that "our spiritual actions have consequences."

"God is tolerant and loving, but we can't keep sticking our finger in his eye forever," Robertson said. "If they have future problems in Dover, I recommend they call on Charles Darwin. Maybe he can help them."

Funny thing, sticking finger in God's eye...I thought he was incorporeal, and that speaking of him in physical terms is akin to idolatry. (Sorry, I've been reading the Bible.)

It's always worth reminding people that Pat Robertson knowingly did business with one of the most brutal and murderous dictators in recent African history; if only this was something his audience knew.

So, dick number 1.

Dick number two - sort of a collective dick, less than an individual.

So Scott McClellan, in the daily lie fest on October 31, let his guard down and told the truth.

"At the Oct. 31 briefing, David Gregory of NBC News stated the following question to McClellan about White House aides Karl Rove and I. Lewis Libby: "Whether there's a question of legality, we know for a fact that there was involvement. We know that Karl Rove, based on what he and his lawyer have said, did have a conversation about somebody who Patrick Fitzgerald said was a covert officer of the Central Intelligence Agency. We know that Scooter Libby also had conversations."

The official White House transcript states that McClellan's response was "I don’t think that's accurate."

But two outside news agencies, Congressional Quarterly and Federal News Service -- which provide transcripts for a fee -- both reported the response as "that's accurate."

Not only do they report that - if you hear the audio or watch the video, you'll hear, quite clearly, Wormtongue saying this.

Never fear, though; the White House will right the record and replace what everyone there heard, and what everyone watching saw and heard, with what has to be heard to maintain our fervor for our war with Oceana.

Every day seems to bring yet a new low - and today, it's flat out of 1984.

Are you effin' kidding me?

What's next - the vice president is going to be working behind closed doors to make it okay for the US to commit torture?

UPDATE:
Oops...just saw the previous post...

Who controls the present ... part 2

How perfectly Orwellian.

Comedic Juggernaut Menaces Baltimore!

Run for your lives! He's Coming!

Who's coming?

He is!

Who's He?

SuperOceanLad!!!!

Actually, SuperOceanLad's mild mannered hilarious alter ego Jim Meyer is performing at the Baltimore Comedy Factory tonight, November 10th through the 11th and 12th!

It will be the comedy event of this weekend in Baltimore!

S.O.L.

Diamonds Aren't A Bushmen's Friend

Well, we get to witness a milestone. My parents were alive when the first man set foot on the moon. I will witness the last nomad's free footprint in Africa.

The Bushmen of the Kalahari, also known as the San people, have roamed Southern Africa for at least 30,000 years, perhaps as long as 100,000. Today, most of the 50,000 San have been relocated to 63 towns. According to a BBC report I heard about an hour ago, less than 30 Bushmen remain on the Kalahari Game Reserve, an area about the size of Denmark.

Water pumps have been dismantled, hunting privileges have been revoked and, allegedly, some have been forcibly relocated at gunpoint. Within the year, if not the week, the last hunter/gatherers in Africa will be no more.

The government of Botswana claims shock at world reaction. They claim they are doing what they think is best for the San, modernizing them. The government must be crazy, or maybe just greedy. The region is blessed with rich mineral deposits and apparently a wealth of diamonds. A San claim to mineral rights could cripple mining attempts.

Not sure there's much to do. Not sure why I'm writing this. Just another example of something, something I can't quite put my finger on, but I dread its loss, draining out of the world. Since the first Homo sapiens walked the earth 300,000 to 500,000 years ago (or in 1963 if you're a creationist), people have walked across Africa, have followed game and seasons and patterns that have endured since the very dawn of humanity. Maybe this week, we'll see that go.

For more info, here's the BBC, Mother Jones and Survival International, which has some more information and a petition for what it's worth. I think there will be more coming up in the next few days.

S.O.L.

Are you effin' coming on the field trip?

It's time for an RUFNkiddingme field trip

Joseph Wilson, former United States ambassador to Iraq before the first Gulf War in 1991, a career diplomat who served under five presidents and now a noted critic of the second Bush administration—especially in the wake of the “outing” of his wife, Valerie Plame, as a CIA agent—will discuss “Speaking Truth to Power and the Consequences” on Monday, Nov. 14. Wilson is the featured speaker for the second annual Citizenship Forum, presented by the University of Baltimore’s School of Public Affairs. This event will take place at 7 p.m. in the Langsdale Library Auditorium, 1420 Maryland Ave.

Get your permission slips signed and let me know if you need a ride.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Saints Preserve Us

\Sport in America has often been portrayed as a tonic. It's been credited as a stage for social change, a healing salve in times of trouble. After 9/11, many New Yorkers pointed to the Giants resuming play as a symbol of their city moving on. The Yankees World Series appearance paralleled New York rising from the ashes.

New Orleans is having quite a different experience. In the aftermath of the greatest American tragedy of my lifetime New Orleans Saints owner, Tom Benson, is planning to move the team to greener pastures. There have long been rumblings that Benson wished to move the Saints, who have been a part of New Orleans since their founding in 1967, wished to relocate. Now, with the disaster, he is expected to invoke an "act of God clause" to void the Saints lease.

God gets blamed for a lot of things, the crusades, Pat Robertson, and the 69 World Series to name some of the worst, but he's blameless on this one. This one is all about one man's greed.

Many of us in Baltimore remember the sight of Mayflower moving vans stealing our beloved Colts. That is a wound that, for many, will never fully heal. This week marked the 10th anniversary of Art Modell announcing the theft of the Browns. Both of those events hurt, but neither came at a time like this, with a city struggling for its life.

Many will say that football is business and that's what businesses do. Well, obviously I think businesses shouldn't do that, but football is different. It's not just a business. The NFL, while not officially enjoying Anti-Trust Exempt status like Major League Baseball, gets cut quite allot of slack by We The People, slack that wouldn't be cut for "just a business." If the NFL and other major sports want the perks of that special place they've got, they should have to pay the cost.

Part of that cost is place loyalty. What would the Saints be without New Orleans? If the NFL wants to look like it has a heart (after all, it is a non-profit believe it or not), they've got to stop this move. Whatever it takes. If the NFL won’t do it, Senate better scare the bejesus out of 'em! Bring them in for a little chat about anti-trust violations; see if they still want to play hardball.

I don't have allot of hope that that will happen, but I can say this, if the Saints move, the NFL will not see dollar one from me, and I hope some of you as well.

S.O.L.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Sigh

I'm feeling a bit let down my my home town today. I rode my bike to the train station today. It was a nice bike - a celeste Bianchi Eros purchased with the proceeds from the theft of my last bike. As I locked the poor guy up, there was some lady babbling/muttering to me stuff I couldn't understand. In retrospect, I think it had something to do with bike theft. I was polite - said goodbye and got on the train. That was the last I saw of my bike.

My time on the train was something different. Just as we were about to go into the first tunnel out of Penn station, I looked down at the ground, just to the north of the station and saw this busted open wooden box with what appeared to be a hand (maybe attached to a person) in it. I wasn't completely sure I'd seen it, and I didn't want some poor guy to get woken up and kicked out on my account, so I said nothing. On the trip back this evening, I looked as we came out of the tunnel to see what I could see, but I wasn't sure.

Not wanting to be the callous kind of person who sees a dead body and doesn't say anything about it, I went to the Amtrak police, who didn't seem convinced, (neither was I) but said they'd check it out.

Then I went out to get my trusty bike, and get home in time for half price burger night at the Golden West. Only my trusty bike wasn't there. In fact, the only thing that remained was the bottom half of my U-Lock just lying on the pavement by the bike rack. I felt a little like crying. I went back to the Amtrak police, who really thought I was nuts now, but they couldn't do anything. Some fellow bikers helped me figure out how to get home.


What I learned -
1)The number 11 bus will take me most of the way home from the train station. All I have to do is walk across Hopkins and through the woods in the dark.

2) My MARC monthly pass will get me on just about any public transportation in Maryland. It almost makes it worth the $148 that I pay with my student discount.

3) Motherfuckers in this town will steal anything, even if its got a big ass lock on it.

4) Nobody gets excited at the prospect of a dead body anymore.

So...if you're a bike thief and stole my bike from penn station today, please know that I miss it. So give it back. Its too big for you to ride it anyway.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

bush flamethrows eagles


bush flamesthrows eagles
Originally uploaded by Klipper.
From The Onion

Bush Orders Mass Bald Eagle Slaughter To Stop Spread Of Bird Flu

"Executive Order 1342A, which calls for the annihilation of the bald eagle, specifies that each carcass shall be wrapped in a single American flag, doused with gasoline, and burned."

Culture Wars and Journalists

Every now and then, normally when some expert has a new book to sell, we hear about some "culture war" that is supposed to be going on as we speak. We're told that this is new and unprecedented, that it shows how polarized we are, etc., etc.

Mo Fiorina wrote a very good book arguing, using (gasp!) social science (opinion polls, surveys, election studies, etc.) that the journalists and talking heads are wrong. In fact, his results are bound to make bad copy and bound to undermine the he said/she said format upon which media relies: we are, by and large, all wishy-washy fencesitters on most issues.

Never daunted by evidence against poorly selected anecdotes, the media charges on - no matter how good things may be, we're assured every few weeks or months, depending on whether American Idol is distracting us, some new outrage occurs that just goes to show how bad things are, and then the usual suspects come out and blame the usual causes. It's sort of a silly spectacle, given the fact that it was during the Clinton years that so many of the indices that we would expect to see going up during cultural decline actually went down.

The latest installment - sex in schools! Sex in schools! Won't someone think about the children?

Students - mostly high school, it seems - are having sex in schools at what is surely a high and unprecedented rate!

But wait - "Actually, it's not so new. According to some teenagers, sex on school property is more frequent than adults might imagine. And some adults who work with teenagers said it's happening more often these days.

There's anecdotal evidence to support that."

Really? What evidence? I read through the article, which had FOUR AUTHORS, plus a researcher, and here's the evidence I saw: 5 instances throughout the DC metro area over what they present as 2 years, involving a total of 18 students at 5 different high schools. I have neither the time nor the inclination to calculate how many high schools and high school students there are in the DC metro area, and even if we grant, pretty generously, that they only found out 1/10 of the number of instances (let's say there were 50 instances involving 180 students), I have a tough time getting riled up at what by any reasonable measure is statistically insignificant. It is hardly the "trend" they say it is. In fact, without actually doing, you know, research, into the number of instances reported over a time period (how you calculate trends) we can't say anything about it except that over the last 2 years, 5 instances were reported involving 18 students. We can't say it's going up, going down, or staying constant - we can't, literally, say anything.

But I'm sure we could say things about other statistically measurable phenomena. For instance, students getting hit by cars. How many high school students were hit by cars in the same time period? Surely more, and surely a less clumpy distribution - there's a high school student getting it by cars crisis! With a pretty low effort, obituaries in a newspaper - say, the Washington Post - could be culled for a period of time - say, 10 years - instances could be counted, trends observed, and better yet, we could calculate if the variation had anything to do with other variables.

I guess this is asking a lot of a team of four journalists and a researcher. Not like they get paid to do this stuff.

Four authors and one researcher, and that's your evidence? Please. If this were an undergraduate paper in a stats or political science course, I couldn't see it getting more than a C based on argument and evaluation of evidence.

So what are we supposed to take from this? Well, we feel righteous indignation, we feel angry, we demand results and accountability, we get something to talk about, but most of all, we get titillated, and have some sense of controversy and excitement in what are our (speaking as the Post's general readership), in fact, pretty safe, tame, and predictable lives. What we don't get is anything resembling actual evidence that this in any way a problem apart from an extremely small and hardly widespread non-random sampling over a two year period.

But this is just the sort of thing that feeds the culture war imbeciles - John Leo, for instance, Novak on occasion, and even, on occasion, the illustrious David Brooks.

So be afraid, very afraid! Now they're having sex in high school, next they'll be worshipping the devil and sniffing glue!

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Lets Find The Protest Spokesmodel

Just saw her again. You know the chick. The one with the dreadlocks and eyes burning with nineteen years of righteous anger at the patriarchy. She has a bizarre speach impediment where she can only speak in sentences that begin, "One, two, three, four!" She must have a hell of a trust fund cause she makes it to all the big protests and gets on the cover of every news paper.

I guess she's just real photogenic, because she always upstages the soldiers and veterans. She's really eloquent too, because her quotes like, "Bush Lied! People died!" and "We don't want your racist war!" always get picked over the long winded statements of rabbis, priests and ministers. The only person who can compete is the pro war guy who was driving buy and is greatfull that Iraqis finally have all that freedom. Actually that guy's pretty good, like those 9 guys who showed up to speak out against the protestors and for the war. They always get the last word and they always get a close up. Pretty amazing you never get the wide angle shot of the 5 pro war guys surrounded by 50,000 protestors.

Anyway, I wan't to find this chick. Shouldn't be a problem, the papers always do.

Window Dressing

Whether it is Plato, Aristotle, Seneca, or Jesus, ancient ethical thought stressed the importance of inward transformation in order to achieve goodness (and hence happiness.) It's not enough to follow rule X, or "know" that Y is wrong - you have to have the right kind of internal ordering within your soul/desires that will enable you to be just or good over time and consistently. That is, being good is a matter of character.

So it's kind of funny, in a way, that Bush is ordering his staff to go to ethics seminars next week:

"President Bush has ordered White House staff to attend mandatory briefings beginning next week on ethical behavior and the handling of classified material after the indictment last week of a senior administration official in the CIA leak probe...

A senior aide said Bush decided to mandate the ethics course during private meetings last weekend with Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. and counsel Harriet Miers. Miers's office will conduct the ethics briefings."

Bad tree bad fruit/good tree good fruit parables aside, are you effin kidding me? The highest aide to the Vice President has been indicted, the former chief procurement official has been indicted, Rove has been implicated in the leak of a CIA operative's identity, and may be indicted, and this just in - Ken Tomlinson, the Goebbels appointed to Stalinize federal funded broadcasting, is under investigation for "accusations of misuse of federal money and the use of phantom or unqualified employees, officials involved in that examination said on Friday."

Factor in the Republicans being indicted and investigated around the country who have strong links to Rove, and you begin to think - gee, isn't it a bit late to have an ethics seminar?

As I've posted before, it's a bit strange, very ironic, and just a little puzzling that the latest fixation has been on the blow of the Plame investigation to Bush's perceived honesty - again, I'm not sure how that was an asset of his, what he did, apart from say he's honest and decent, to show that he actually is honest and decent. A lot of this comes from the lip service he pays to religion - an interesting revelation came out in Senate hearings this week on Scanlon and Abramoff - a memo that shows Republican electoral srategy pretty clearly was read into the record:

"The wackos get their information through the Christian right, Christian radio, mail, the internet and telephone trees," he wrote. "..bring out the wackos to vote against [it] and make sure the rest of the public lets the whole thing slip past them."

Now, this pretty much confirms the beliefs of those of the Tom Frank school of Republican manipulation of religious beliefs - strange, of course, it hasn't been picked up much by non-blog media.

I have to wonder about the faith of a man who, we can assume without much of a jump, has an inkling of this strategy - it would be strange if he didn't, given his chumminess with Delay and his reliance on Rove.

And I have to wonder if he's quite grasped the import of the good tree/bad tree parable.

Friday, November 04, 2005

The Meme's The Thing: Friday Random 10

Players on shuffle? Ready - POST!

  1. Lungfish - Interdimensional Seams

  2. Minutemen - The Glory of Man

  3. The Red Krayola - One Minute Imposition

  4. Big Black - Cables[live]

  5. Th' Faith Healers - Moona-ina-Joona

  6. Durutti Column - LFO Mod

  7. Wire - Over Theirs

  8. Link Wray - Girl From North Country

  9. Oxes - [Untitled Track]

  10. Rolling Stones - Miss Amanda Jones


Unlike the titular heroine, I do not look at all delightfully stoned.

Big Time

Now I'm not claiming any particular abilities as a political prognosticator, but I really think - given first this and then this(warning, streaming mp4 video) and this and finally this - that someone has decided it's time to throw Dick Cheney to the wolves.

They Finally Cop To It

Delay aide Mike Scanlon lays out in nice crisp language the conservative electoral strategy. Tom Frank is vindicated! To wit:

"The wackos get their information through the Christian right, Christian radio, mail, the internet and telephone trees," Scanlon wrote in the memo, which was read into the public record at a hearing of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. "Simply put, we want to bring out the wackos to vote against something and make sure the rest of the public lets the whole thing slip past them."

Ever get the feeling you've been cheated? No? How about played for saps? Well, welcome to our world.
(Link from Daily Kos.)

Thursday, November 03, 2005

My New Favorite Private Joke

My current workplace has mandated 6 day 60 hour work weeks with no extra compensation. Why's this funny? I get to hear several fellow employees - all of whom proudly voted for Bush (and one of whom called me all manner of names when he heard I voted for Kerry) - complain about how unfair this situation is. It's even funnier when they emphasize what a toll this will take on their families. I can't wait to see how they'll figure out a way to blame this one on "the liberals".

Further Hilarity Update:So the one who likes to call me names tried to have a little chat with me about how he thinks this situation is totally bogus and I cut him off with, "Dude. Wadja think would happen? We're behind on our deadline, and this ain't no union shop." I've waited my entire career to be able to say that.

Update(Links To Funnier Post Than This): Go read (and listen to)this post at RUFNKM contributor disappearingink's personal blog.

Mike Brown Thwarts Fashion Disaster

Self proclaimed "Fashion God" and part-time former FEMA Chief Mike Brown has come under fire for his handling of events in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Now, with thousands of e-mails from government officials during the aftermath of the storm made available, many will choose to focus on the failures.

Most in the Liberal Media will surely latch on to quotes like; "Can I quit now? Can I come home?" claiming that such quotes smack of a man not cut out for this leadership roll. They will point out pleas from hard working FEMA employees like Marty Bahamonde who wrote, "I know that you know the situation is past critical.... Hotels are kicking people out, thousands gathering in the streets with no food or water. Hundreds still being rescued from homes.... Estimates are many will die within hours...We are running out of food and water at the dome."

Man of action Brown quickly responded, "Thanks for the update. Anything specific I need to do or tweak?"

Some might point out that a man who makes $148,000 a year and commands the resources of the United States Government yet has trouble finding a dog sitter may not be the guy you want running the nations disaster response agency. They might imply that one who fails to be able to manage his doggie walking resources may be a bit over his head when orchestrating rescue teams, the Coast Guard and the National Guard.

Surely some one will point to another e-mail that when faced with an alarming medical crisis, Brown was told, "Mickey and the other medical equipment people have a 42 foot trailer full of beds, wheelchairs, oxygen concentrators, etc. They are wanting to take them where they can be used but need direction. Mickey specializes in ventilator patients so can be very helpful with acute care patients. If you could have someone contact him and let him know if he can be of service, he would appreciate it. Know you are busy but they really want to help."

They will fail to note that Brownie forwarded that e-mail with a note reading "Can we use these people?" and he did that after only 4 short days! Keep in mind, that original e-mail came on Friday afternoon. We all know what those Friday afternoon e-mails are like. PAIN!!! Cut the guys some slack! He got back to it just before lunch on Tuesday people! OK, even I may have to admit Brownie may have dropped the ball on this one. Those guys with the trucks would TOTOALY have been perfect for watching his dog.

Some will commiserate with Carol Springman who wrote Brown and said, "I don't know who is ultimately running this government nightmare show but please get your acts together NOW!" She went on to criticize the woeful treatment that pets were receiving in the affected areas. Well, if there is one thing Mike Brown, horse lover, understands it's the plight of animals. This one he forwarded to his underlings right away "I want us to start planning for dealing with pets."

This, my friends, is a man of action! This is a man who rolls up his sleeves and gets things done, well, after being advised so in an email entitled, "Your Shirt." "Please roll up the sleeves of your shirt...all shirts. Even the president rolled his sleeves to just below the elbow," wrote FEMA press secretary Sharon Worthy. "In this crisis and on TV you need to look more hard working...ROLL UP THE SLEEVES!"

People will point to the guy who hired Mike Brown, who was that again? Oh yeah, President Bush and wonder why on Earth he would say, "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job."

Well, they fail to point out that this was a man who was dealing with a major crisis. I mean Howard Pike had just informed him that ABC news was sniffing around a rumor that Brown had been forced out his position with the Arabian Horse Association. He had to console his press secretary who was existing under horrid conditions forced to eat nothing but fast food for 3 straight day until she could get to a REAL restaurant! He actually took time to send a hand, suggesting an order at the Whataburger, "Order a #2, tater tots, large diet cherry limeade." Not to mention this whole storm thing and yet he continued to do what mattered. He looked good on camera.

When others would have been to busy with directing shipments of M.R.E.s, medical teams and evacuations, Mike Brown was proactive! He had time to ask Worthy, "Tie or not for tonight? Button-down blue shirt?" When some would have been so exhausted from the long days and nights toiling to save thousands of lives they would have thought only of sleep before getting back to the job, Brownie had time to field e-mails about his wardrobe, "You look fabulous," and Brown replied, "I got it at Nordstrom’s. Email McBride and make sure she knows! Are you proud of me?" adding later, "I am a fashion god."

Ahh Brownie! You truly are doing a hell of a job (and still getting paid for it). I wonder, when the president received an e-mail telling him he needed to appoint a new FEMA director if he simply replied, "Go with a #2."


S.O.L.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Caveat Emptor

Let the buyer beware, as they say in Rome.

So 35% is pretty effin bad - not as bad as Nixon, but pretty damn bad as far as approval ratings go.

Seems like just yesterday that mouth-breathing readers of cue cards around the country were talking about Bush's mandate. Now, even David Broder has called Bush out - President Pushover.

What has changed since he was reelected? One could say, Well, cronyism has been exposed in Katrina, and more humiliatingly, Miers; the war in Iraq ain't going so great despite mission being accomplished; the White House was involved in all kinds of shadiness leading up to the Iraq war - but what's changed? I mean, this was all there during the run up to November 2004. Granted, Kerry wasn't such a great candidate in retrospect - even Gore put up a better fight. But is any of this really new?

There's all this talk about Bush's "credibility gap," the decline of his treasured "credibility." What made him credible apart from him telling us he was credible? Why did anyone think he was credible? Because he promised to restore honor and integrity to the White House? Bang up job there. Because he said Jesus was his favorite philosopher? I don't see Bush showing much sign of internalizing the Sermon on the Mount.

I suppose we could say that, for whatever reason, the media (apart from Josh Marshall) have collectively strapped one on and started to ask actual questions; I'd be tempted to feel badly for Scott McClellan if he weren't such a contemptible yes-man with less backbone than your average earth worm.

Anyway, just an interesting question in my mind - is the new perception of Bush a reaction to specific events? Has there been a lurking tension there all along, one that has come to the fore due to his perceived weakness? Or were people not that confident in him to begin with, but saw not voting for him or not supporting him as harmful to our troops? (This was Josh Marshall's thesis at one point.)

What's striking, though, is that his numbers continue to plummet despite his best effort to try and control the news cycle - Miers backfired; Alito doesn't seem to be having much effect given Reid's maneuver, and he can't seem to get Libby and Rove out of the headlines, even when he does what he always does in time of trouble - try to polarize the country, stir up anger, and rally his base. It's remarkable that a president whose party controls both houses is in such dire political straits. Remarkable, and delicious.

A suggestion on how to get his approval ratings up: fire Rove. Anyone want to give me odds on this happening?

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

We Couldn't Think Of A Better Way To Say It

So, we say "what Fixer said."