Friday, March 31, 2006

Maybe It's Just Me

But Jonah Goldberg is increasingly starting to bug me. The details are still murky and it’s hard to appreciate how he's never expirienced a life-threatening trauma. And maybe Retardo's right about the Oedipal Complex. And maybe the media’s selectively choosing what to show of his statements. But it would be nice to hear him say something remotely sensible, particularly considering that, while he spends his life in total comfort attempting to justify his self-obsession with ever more inappropriate cultural references, other people directly involved in a war he advocated are getting taken hostage or murdered in cold blood. I’m very glad he’s alive, but I’m getting a very bad vibe. More, no doubt, to come.

Update: And yes There is. (Link via Oliver Willis). Strange silence at the Corner. Will get stranger still. Instead, we get some pathetic grandstanding. If Carroll had reacted in exactly the way Jonah thinks she should have than the translator's death wouldn't even warrant a mention.

However, it's good to know that Goldberg pouts through a mouthful of DingDongs and complains that his First Amendment rights are threatened when someone calls him a rude twit. And here I though it was the left, with its obsession on identity politics, that constantly claims victimhood.

Local local...

I'm not the world's biggest baseball fan. However, I do love my home team and I think this arrangement is better for both the O's and the city (Via Gilliard). The last thing we needed was some scandalous potty mouth tarting up our city. In other news, tickets for the Charm City Roller Girls' first bout go on sale tomorrow.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Chevy commercial

Via crooks and liars:

Chevy's got a website where you can make your own commercials. I guess they didn't anticipate this.

I love this so much. I made my own but I'm not tech-savvy enough to figure out how to find it. I was hoping someone smoother than me (like Jay) might help out.

Anyway, make your own ... Go to the comments section of the C&L post and watch others. Some are really great!

If Loving This Is Wrong I Don't Wanna Be Right...

I'm sure other Baltimoreans have already seen this. But it's new to me. Via skippy it's our own David Hasselhoff's "Hooked on a Feelin'".

Who Says?

Who says liberals don't emphasize good news from Iraq? Not only did I hear news of Jill Carroll's release, but I've read about it on several of the blogs I regularly visit. I'm sure there's more. But as Steve at No More Mr. Nice Blog points out, there's just no pleasing some people.

Jacob Weisberg: Psychic Plagiarist

So I have a mostly favorable review of Kevin Phillips' American Theocracy in the pipeline. I did have one mean thing to say but Jacob Weisberg at Slate clearly crept into my subconscious and stole it right out of brain brain. To wit:

The hostility to Wall Street implicit in the last notion is part and parcel of a condescending, aristo-populism that recalls Gore Vidal without the twinkle...Have I mentioned that Phillips is an appalling writer? His prose is cliché-ridden, self-referential, maddeningly repetitive, and dull enough to kill weeds.

Yeah, the style is really bad. But the arguments are better than Weisberg would have you believe.

Update: Stirling Newberry at BoP dispenses with one of Weisberg's objections. And Ian Welsh (also at BoP) dispenses with a few more.

F For First!

We beat Cooper to an insight. Dig:

There's been a certain amount of grumbling and objection to the film from the cultural and political right claiming it glorifies terrorism, violence and bloodshed. Poppyock. For the defenders of the war in Iraq, for those who would support the unleashing of the firepower of the U.S. armed forces to overthrow tyranny in Iraq, why on earth would they be squeamish about the violence perpetrated by one man aimed at overthrowing those who smothered the oldest democracy in the world? Could it be some sort of hypocrisy? Oh, of course not!

Wondering What The Germans Think?

Well, turns out when their not thinking how nice it would be to own some land in Poland, Germans some times think about the Good Ol' U.S. of A. Spiegel On-Line has several interesting articles on their front page regarding German U.S. relations and Iraq.

Check it out, IF YOU DARE!


Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The Ballad of Chuck And Frank

Via Retardo at Elementropy we find Charles Krauthammer, in the mode of a character in a second-rate Mario Puzo knock-off, complaining that Francis Fukuyama "fabricated" a statement - the one which caused Francis to become a neo-former-neo-con. It's not just a fabrication , mind you, but as CK writes:

A convenient fabrication -- it gives him a foil and the story drama -- but a foolish one because it can be checked.

I don't understand. What's one more nobel lie between neo-friends? I thought convenient fabrications - especially ones which provide necessary drama (or, if you ask David Brooks, "poetry") - were an essential part of the program. Guess once you leave the inner-party they revoke your dramatic licence and you're stuck judiciously studying - and accurately reporting - the events in which history's actors engage. Poetry for the privileged but reality for the rubes. And when you leave the party you can bet you're just a rube. Someone explain to me (again) how these guys were such stalwart anti-communists.

disappearingink may get a wish granted

I'm hoping that with today's announcement that plan disappearingink linked to isn't just a "404".

Update: Here's the leaked report and the Raw Story report of the leak. I'm unclear if the brochure is the plan itself or just a summary. It seems a little slight to be the full plan but maybe that's the idea.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Recuse Dis

One of my favorite things ever in life is watching some fanatical ideologue with more zeal than sense (c.f. Zell Miller) reach their inevitable point of crack-up. And so it goes with Scalia (link via FDL and America Blog). One wonders if maybe it wasn't just them horrible ol' liberals who got Scalia's goat; maybe he knew this was in the pipeline.

Does RUFNKM own me?

No. Hell no!
6.25 %

My weblog owns 6.25 % of me.
Does your weblog own you?

Meta-Geek Blogging

Good Math, Bad Math's post on logic - specifically the introduction - got me thinking about a related topic. I've always been frustrated at the ease with which people accuse others of hypocrisy, inconsistency or being illogical (see for instance my post from a few days ago). I think the accusation tends to follow from erroneous assumptions about both the system being used to judge the arguments as well as the underlying model. I think I've come up with a resolution. It's a formal system for judging not only arguments but any activity. When it's applied to a variety of models, it works really well. I'll first introduce the basics of the system, then some refinements, and then show how it can be applied to a few models.

We'll use a version of the typed Lambda Calculus to construct the system. The Lambda Calculus is a formal system used to perform computations in terms of the application of functions to arguments. The typed version places constraints on what values arguments may take. The Lambda Calculus is one fundamental model of computation that is popular for specifying the semantics of computer programming languages. Since the system we'll be developing is an algorithm, the Lambda Calculus is well suited for our task.

The system partitions actions performed by people into one of two classifications. First, we assume the existence of three type classes, which can be thought of as sets. The first, denoted P, is the set of all people. The second, denoted A, is the set of all actions which people can perform, and third is the set J of judgments, the members of which are just the strings "Good" and "Bad". Given these sets, our job is to construct a function F which, given an element 'p' of P and an element 'a' of A will result in one of the members of J ("Good" or "Bad"). More formally, we write

F :: (P, A) -> J

for the type of a function F which takes any pair consisting of a person and an action and results in a judgment.

Now that we've specified the type of the function, we need to actually define the function itself. For this, we're going to introduce another type U, which is the set of all subsets of P. Given this set we can assume the existence of a variable 'u' which is a member of U. We will also assume the existence of a primitive function called isMember which results in 'true' if some element 'p' of P is in 'u' (remember, the variable 'u' is itself a set) and 'false' otherwise (we take boolean to be the set that consists of just 'true' and 'false'). We'll show the typing of isMember, but not the implementation since the implementation is irrelevent (we've also left out the implementation of 'u' - if one were writing this function for execution on a computer, it would likely be a list, but again, that is irrelevent to the application of the system) Thus:

u :: U
isMember :: P -> boolean
F(p, a) = if isMember(p) then "Good" else "Bad" .

And there is our function, and thus our formal system*. We can demonstrate the use of the system with some simple applications. In these demonstrations we'll show the steps of reduction (application) in the function. In further demonstrations we'll assume that the reductions are understood. In our first, we let 'u' be the empty set:

F('jayinbmore', 'shaves in the morning')
=> if isMember('jayinbmore') "Good" else "Bad"
=> if 'false' "Good" else "Bad"
=> "Bad"

or in English:

If 'jayinbmore' is a member of the empty set, return "Good" otherwise return "Bad".
Since 'jayinbmore' is not a member of the empty set, return "Bad".

Note that with 'u' being empty, we can use any person as the argument 'p' and we will always get "Bad" as a result. Thus we can rephrase the above statement in English as:

It is bad when anyone shaves in the morning.

Here is another example. In this case, we let 'u' be the set consisting of just the members of P.

F('jayinbmore', 'shaves every morning')
=> if isMember('jayinbmore') "Good" else "Bad"
=> if 'true' "Good" else "Bad"
=> "Good"

Conversely to our first example, in this case any argument 'p' will result in "Good", so we can rephrase this in English as:

It is good when anyone shaves in the morning.

Note that the results of the function depend heavily on the contents of 'u'. In fact, the function is meaningless without specifying the contents of 'u', so in order to use our system, one requirement is that 'u' is specified. We call this condition "'u' specificity'" or "U.S." for short.

Up until now we have only achieved "U.S." by specyfing either the empty set or the entirety of P to judge actions. This is very useful for judgments of the actions of everyone. However, we can see far more interesting results when we assign to 'u' some non-empty subset of the members of P:

u = { 'Men' }
F('jayinbmore', 'shaves in the morning') => "Good"

We see here that P has implicitly been partitioned into two non-empty subsets, 'u', which encompasses all men, and another, anonymous set, which consists of those members of P which are not men. When such a partitioning exists - that is, when both 'u' and it's converse are non-empty - we say that we have a condition called "Total Heterodoxy Emergent Mode" ("T.H.E.M.").

Thus, we have defined two very important conditions under which our system best operates. When both "U.S." and "T.H.E.M." conditions are met, we have a very powerful system for judging actions of people. I call this system the "Blogospheric Algebra for Learning Kinds of Actions' Nature" or "B.A.L.K.A.N." for short, and the application of the system is called "Balkanization".

As we can see, the conditions for Balkanization insist that both 'u' and it's converse be defined. I believe this demonstrates why hypocrisy is so easily thrown around as an accusation. The parties involved are implicitly engaging in Balkanization, but they have not agreed on (or fail to understand) the "U.S." and "T.H.E.M." conditions. A perfect instance is the post of mine I linked. I assumed that part of being a member of the party founded on moral absolutes meant if you claim you have a set of principles you should live by them. But correct Balkanization reveals my error:

u = {'Wealthy Republicans'}
F('Ben Domenech', 'makes living off the taxpayer') => "Good"

As you can see, the above specification of 'u' results in both "U.S." and "T.H.E.M." conditions, and thus we see that there is in fact no hypocrisy at all. Another instance also involves Ben Domenech. Ben resigned from the Washington Post due to accusations (and eventual proof) of plagiarism (there is, in fact, tons more, but that one came via NRO so...). Some have taken note of Mr. Domenech's own words on the subject of plargiarism and suggested this has an air of hypocrisy. Well, if we Balkanize the situation we realize this is not the case:

u = {'Ben Domenech'}
F('Ben Domenech', 'engages in plagiarism') => "Good"

But enough with poor Ben. Let's try it with something a little larger scale. Back in 1998 some people said that Bill Clinton should be impeached because he broke the law. Other people disagreed. Now, with the NSA wire-tap program, we know that George Bush has broken the law, and in general, the people who said Bill Clinton should be impeached are defending George Bush, and the people who disagreed with the Clinton impeachment think Geroge Bush should be impeached. How to resolve this? We should see by now. We Balkanize! Our first case:

u = {'Republicans'}
F('Bill Clinton', 'breaks the law') => "Bad"
F('George W. Bush', 'breaks the law') => "Good"


u = { 'Democrats'}
F('Bill Clinton', 'breaks the law') => "Good"
F('George W. Bush', 'breaks the law') => "Bad"

Now I'd like to tackle a situation a little more complex. It's now well known that America is really divided into "Blue States" and "Red States" and that this division is as a result of many irreconcilable cultural differences. For instance, it's common knowledge that people who reside in Red States drive American made SUVs and that people who reside in Blue States drive Volvos. It is also well known that both types of vehicles use internal combustion engines and thus force their drivers to rely on an ever dwindling oil supply. However, both sides can (and often do) claim moral superiority and thus allow themselves the luxury of their tastes. How to capture this supposedly "illogical" state of affairs? Again, we Balkanize!

u = {'Citizens of the United States'}
F('Person who drives an SUV', 'spends money on gasoline') => "Good"
F('Person who drives a Volvo', 'spends money on gasoline') => "Good"

The reader may protest that we haven't characterized the situation at all! However, take note of a very common condition: Despite appearences, two elements of P may in fact be subject to the same judgement. As should be expected, sometimes the application of a system reveals underlying truths which are not obvious given the definitions. When the assumptions suggest that two 'p' are subject to different judgements, but correct Balkanization shows that they are not, we call this the "Standard Technique for Unification of Potential Inference Division" ("S.T.U.P.I.D."). In our above example "S.T.U.P.I.D" Balkanization would lead us to assume that people who drive Volvos are subject to different judgements than people who drive SUVs, but correct Balkanization shows us they are not. While this may not reflect the reader's prejudices, it does accurately reflect, for instance, the views of oil company executives.

And this concludes our survey of Balkanization. Sorry the exposition was so long. However, if nothing else, I hope to have demonstrated that when correctly applied, mathematics is a great help.

*The observant reader may wonder "Why is an action 'a' an argument to F when it's not used in the definition? Doesn't this make the outcome totally independent of the action?". The answer to that is "exactly".

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

More Hits Plz Or: Ooo, Please Give RUFNKM Some Of That Blogswarmy Goodness!!!!

So I quit the blogosphere for like a month or two. The reason? Well, in an echo-chamber it's sometimes hard to hear yourself think. So I hooked up a D-Cell battery to some copper wire and taped the exposed ends to the "b" and "l" keys on my keyboard so that every time I'd try to type either "blogspot" or "blogines" into my browser I'd get an electric shock. But last week the juice ran out of the battery, and I've started reading (and posting) again (I've also been hoping there really was a controversy surrounding "V For Vendetta", but that's proved more or less fruitless). This week was my chance to get back in the saddle, to figure out what the biggest of the big deals were, and what do I find?

Ben Domenech. Before yesterday if you'd said the name I'd have replied with "Ben Who? Oh, wait, I think you've mispronounced his surname." But now there's lotsa folks talkin' about him (and that's just the tip of the iceberg) and what his new blog-thing at the Post says about our discourse and wondering how a former Bush staffer gets such a high profile gig. (The obvious answer - "Most mainstream media gets most of its sub-par editorial commentary from former Hill staffers who have not much to offer c.f Will George F., Safire William, Matthews Christopher, Kristol William and Cadell Pat" - seems to have escaped everyone. Speaking of which, it truly is a scandal that part of the government service racket includes not only ease of movement between government service and lobbying but between government service, lobbying, and punditing. I mean, the "government to media to lobbying" circle is like welfare for the well-off yet eternally mediocre, no?)

So, in yet another ham-fisted attempt to gain hits by hitching our waggon to bigger'n'better'n'us, I'm going to use this subject as the "dipping the toe in the shallow-end" exercise. What I couldn't help notice was that this Domenech dude claims he's a Red-Stater, which I think implies he's a conservative, which I think implies he's one of them that thinks government should be smaller because it just rips off the taxpayer or something. So I shouldn't be suprised at all that, when not sucking at the tit of money-losing foundation-funded journals, his professional experience consists of sucking at the tit of the nanny-state (can I get a refund on the part of my tax-money that went to paying his salary?). Nor should I be suprised that he comes from a family of nanny-state tit-suckers since his daddy was a Hill staffer too. None of this is suprising at all, because, as everyone knows, you don't get fame-n-fortune by walking the walk. You get it from the taxpayers. Just ask George H. W.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

H for Heh

I really wasn't trying to get into this, but Oliver Willis points to a review of "V For Vendetta" in which the writer doubles himself into knots attempting to prove that the movie is some form of Liberal Pro-Terror Propoganda (and that it's anti-Christian and anti-Conservative and anti-Bush to boot). This is, of course, a typical symptom of the "Offended Winger Syndrome" wherein said Winger gets all knicker-twisted over something which has nothing to do with them. I gotta ask the reviewer, "Why ya'll gotta take everything so personal?" It's a movie about a guy in a goofy mask who tries to blow up near-future Nazis. It's not the Wachowskis fault this guy thinks they're talking about him.

Also, the comment thread is truly delicious, containing as it does gems like this:
Like Fahrenheit 911, it reinforces the Left's skewed view of reality.
Uhm, how exactly does a work of fiction reinforce a view of reality (unless of course one can't separate reality from fiction)? Oh. Gotcha.

Filled With The Passion Of The FSM...

Via Pharyngula we find that two pro-ID bills are under consideration in the Maryland House of Delegates. There's also a petition one can sign in response. I actually don't mind the second so much, as long as the "humanities classes" where ID is taught have course headings like "Comparative Creation Myths" and as long as those same classes also allow for discussion of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Dude! This Dude Totally Rules

Excellent new blog called Good Math, Bad Math. On the roll as of five minutes ago.

Hollywood Prevails

Like any good otaku who came of age in the 1980's, I've been awaiting a screen adapdation of "V For Vendetta" for nearly two decades (and now that it's done, where the eff is "Watchmen"?). I'm not as interested in the political statements it may or may not be making; while the work is intrinsically political, most of the statements are universal so any connections to today's landscape - either perceived by the audience, concocted by critics, or intended by the filmakers - are not nearly as relevant to me. I was 16 when "V" was released in the US as a graphic novel and it managed to hit exactly all the right buttons for "my" culture. It was a comic book, but it took on political issues, told a complex story and in its combination of high and low culture references and cinematic visuals showed (along with Frank Miller's "Daredevil") many comic dorks of my generation that comic books could be "serious art" - never mind that on a recent re-read lots of it comes off as sophomoric pretension. So I'm more interested in how successfully the movie translates this landmark artifact from my adolesence to the screen, and all the arguments about what it says about what's a terrorist, who's a freedom fighter, and all the rest are just so much babble by people who have an ideological stake in what is just a piece of (maybe good, maybe bad) art. Reviewing polemics is generally a stupid activity anyway - you either agree or disagree with the statements being made and agreement or disagreement says nothing about the quality of the work. I'd also posit that propoganda is generally so obvious as such that it fails as art anyway (c.f. "Farenheit 9-11" or "Triumph of the Will" for that matter).

That said, it's probably a good idea to dispense with the political stuff first since clearly more people care about that than they do about whether or not the movie's any good. It's actually in the politics that the movie is most faithful to the comic. The message is not pro-terrorist, but anti-totalitarian with a bit of "a pox on the populi" for allowing fear and the temptation of secure comfort to overwhelm the desire for liberty. In other words, it's a warning shot fired at a chickenshit populace that would allow external threats to freak them out so bad that they'd willingly submit to a regime which not only incessantly monitors, manipulates and coerces the populace, but heards blacks, Jews, Arabs, gays and anyone else deemed "dangerously different" into concentration camps for the purposes of genetic expiriementation and eventual death. If there's any pro-terrorist message it's that some acts of violence against such a state are justified. If this is a controversial statement then we ought to re-think our response to the Germans in WWII or, if current rationales are to be believed, the Iraq War. We also ought to re-think our own nation's existence; we engaged in acts of sabotage and terror and then fought a war that killed far more people than "V" does over something far less oppressive. In any event, if someone wants to dig up a piece of pop-culture that will really tick them off due to its accidental relevence to today they might try Dune instead. Even though it's 30 years older than "V", it's far more relevant to today. Jonah Goldberg or Michelle Malkin or Christopher Hitchens might even get a kick out of digging up Frank Herbert's corpse, giving it a severe beat-down and then burning it since the bastard had the unmitigated nerve to write an "objectively pro-jihadi piece of agitprop" back in 1956.

So how does the film measure up? It's a mixed-bag generally. Part of the problem is that, as Allan Moore himself has said, his books are explicitly constructed to be untranslatable to film. In the case of "V" there are several places where the script of the movie lifts directly from the book and this merely demonstrates the stilted nature of Moore's narrative style. In other places the Wachowskis have emulated Moore's style to a fault. It's obvious that the Bros. W. are dyed-in-the-wool comic geeks and have attempted to stay faithful to the style and substance of the work; but that style tends toward long-winded monolgues over subtle suggestion. We knew this from the second and third installments of "The Matrix", though, and it's far less offensive here.

Where they have taken liberties with the story it is again hit or miss. Some of the important elements of Moore's fascist dystopia are missing. The inevtible collusion between common thugs and the leadership of the state as essential to fascist success is something often left out of popular discourse on the subject, and the absence of it is something of an unforgivable oversight. The elegant "organs of state" structure of the regime is also missing. In the comic each of the essential functions of the control aparatus is anthropomorphized: visual survailence is "The Eye", audio survailence "The Ear", investigation "The Nose", propoganda "The Mouth" and enforcement "The Finger", with each section having as its minister a distinct character. Thus the sobriquet "Fingermen" for the police/enforcers makes a little more sense than in the movie, where we just hear the name. We also don't learn much about the other ministers other than Finch of the "The Nose" whereas in the comic each one was essential to the resolution of the story.

The germination of the state, however, is more successful in the movie. The Wachowskis have wisely replaced the nuclear near-miss and resulting chaos of the comic with a bio-chemical attack. This is more chilling than Moore's vision, because in the comic the "Norsefire" conglomerate siezes control, where in the movie the populace, out of fear, elects them. The modification of the "Leader" character is also effective. In the comic, he was a subdued though fanatical neurotic, whereas in the movie he's a blustering demagogue - far more appropriate. Likewise, the transformation of Lewis Prothero from the comic's "Voice of Fate" (he's meant to fool the populace into thinking his voice is that of the malevolent computer "Fate") into a Bill O'Reilleyesque yack-show pundit (who's physical likeness to Christopher Hitchens is probably unintentional but still satisfying) is incredibly effective.

While Natalie Portman gives a first-rate performance as Evey and her new backstory is superior to that of the comic, I don't like how they resolve her involvment with "V". There's an essential duality in the comic which, while explored, isn't quite as cool. I won't go further into the details because it'd be a spoiler. I will say that I liked the old ending a little better.

Another instance on improving the book is in the character of Finch, the man in charge of investigating and apprehending "V". In both the comic and the movie he is cast as the talented everyman. He's internally conflicted; he has doubts about the nature of the regime he serves, but he knows he's "gotta eat" and has a talent which allows him to do so. Through his investigations into "V" he learns more about the history and nature of the regime he serves and his doubts grow. Eventually he transforms from reluctant participant to willing outcast. In the movie, the pacing of the investigations is much improved over the comic, and one annoying scene of the comic, where Finch takes LSD in order to "get in the his(V's) head", has been removed. The investigation, instead, takes a far more natural "police procedural" course and is the better for it. Steven Rae does an excellent job through all of this, making Finch the true center of the story.

Finally there is the character of "V". Quite honestly, the Wachowskis are probably the only people who could have got this right, and if they hadn't, they should have been forbidden from making another movie. Luckily, this is where the film is most successful. They've utterly nailed the look, from the flowing black cloaks to the eerie perpetually smiling Guy Fawkes mask to the precision of the knife work. His voice is that of Agent Smith from "The Matrix", a perfect juxtaposition, and it sounds just right giving all those soliloquies about liberty, culture and vengence. They've also nailed his movements, where all you see is the flowing cloak, the face, and suddenly the results of the action.

All in all, I'd say I was pretty satisfied. I'm not sure the movie is as important as some are making it out to be, but it's about as faithful an adapdation of a great comic as is possible.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Aquapundit! Want's You to Know

And knowing is half the battle. The other half is the half with the shooting and the hiding and such. Seems that Rumy sucks at both halves. I bet there's another half that he sucks at to. He may be the first person to suck at nine halves of his job. Anyhoo, don't just take it from me, take it from retired Army major general Paul D. Eaton who was in charge of training the Iraqi military from 2003 to 2004.

In today's NY Times general Eaton calls for Rumsfeld's removal. Numerous reasons are given, but this summation says it all, "he has shown himself incompetent strategically, operationally and tactically, and is far more than anyone else responsible for what has happened to our important mission in Iraq. Mr. Rumsfeld must step down."

Read the whole thing and if you've got a support the troops sticker on your bumper, think about how this fits in.


Friday, March 17, 2006

Happy St. Patty's Day!

Well, that greatest of holidays is upon us again, St. Patrick's Day! Let us not forget the true meaning of St. Patty's day, however. Let us reflect upon St. Patrick driving the snakes out of Ireland, then, he knocked over to the pub, drank a river of whiskey and pissed Guinness. In so doing, he absolved alcoholics of shame for one glorious day each year.

Yes that's right folks and that day is today. St. Patty's day, a day when green beer is a good thing and not a sign to clean the taps. It's a day when midgets can convince regular folk they've got magical powers simply by wearing green. It's a day when you can eat corned beef in honor of a Catholic Saint on a Friday during Lent. It's a day to puke with co-workers and drool down the cleavage of fat girls in bars every where. It's a day of holiness, a day that will be remembered longer in your liver than in your brain.

So drink up, Drunk-Os, and hoist a pint for me the only Irishmen under the Sea

And Now a Limerick

There once was a feller from Hampden
Who's liver smelled worse than a peat fen.
He awoke with a fright
For during the night
He'd buggered fourteen angry mermen.


Incredipundit! Meets The New Boss...

Via the Duck we learn that the new National Security Strategy document is out. Before reading the linked commentary at TPM, I took a gander at the chapter headings and thought "Wow, this looks like an old Clinton foreign policy speech." Turns out the guy at TPM(a Brookings fellow) thinks the actual contents bear strong resemlence to Clinton policy. I wonder how the Freepers and their ilk feel about this.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

If You Can't Get Your Kids to Brush...

Maybe you should try some creative plumbing. I guarantee when I was twelve I'd have had no problems brushing after every meal if the taps ran guiness. Actually, who am I kidding, when I was twelve the taps would have needed to run berry breeze wine coolers, but I'd have learned to love the beer.

You know, the city is redoing all the pipes around here, maybe we could work out a deal. If I do want water I can just run the taps through a britte filter.

I wonder what The Plumbers Code has to say about this one.


Local Interest

So late last night regular reader Steve and I were chatting city politics and we agreed that Mayor Jessamy was a great idea. We ain't the only ones who think so.

Monday, March 13, 2006

SUPRISE! U.S. in Violation of Anti-Descrimination Treaty

There's a saying among students of the past that history doesn't repeat itself, but that it often rhymes. Take for example the case of the Western Shoshone, whose scenic tribal lands are threatened by U.S. Government plans to privatize them. The U.S., many will remember, has a long history of reniging on treaties made with American Indian groups. In this case, the Feds, who are charged as "trustees" of Western Shoshone lands want to cash in on some of the mineral wealth there.

Sound messed up to you? Well a recent decision by the United Nation Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) thinks so. The decision condemns federal privatization attempts as violations of an international anti-discrimination treaty.

Response from members of the Western Shoshone Delegation:

We have rights to protect our homelands and stop the destruction of our land, water, and air by the abuses of the United States government and the multinational corporations. The situation is outrageous and we’re glad the United Nations Committee agrees with us. Our people have suffered more nuclear testing than anywhere else in the world and they’re continuing underground testing despite our protests. Yucca Mountain is being hollowed out in order to store nuclear waste. We cannot stand for it – this earth, the air, the water are sacred. People of all races must stop this insanity now in order to secure a safe future for all. - Joe Kennedy, Western Shoshone.

“We are Shoshone delegates speaking for a Nation threatened by extinction. The mines are polluting our waters, destroying hot springs and exploding sacred mountains—our burials along with them--attempting to erase our signature on the land. We are coerced and threatened by mining and Federal agencies when we seek to continue spiritual prayers for traditional food or medicine on Shoshone land. We have endured murder of our Newe people for centuries, as chronicled in military records, but now we are asked to endure a more painful death from the U.S. governmental agencies —a separation from land and spiritual renewal. We thank our past leaders for their persistence and courage and the CERD for this monumental step - Bernice Lalo, Western Shoshone.

Thanks to Paula Massouh for bringing this development to the attention of RUFNKM.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

March Playlist

Call me a nut:

Bela Fleck and The Flecktones - Live Art
DJ Green Lantern Presents Fort Minor - We Major
George Benson - Irreplaceable
Keith Jarrett - La Scala
Keith Jarrett - The Koln Concert
Keith Jarrett - The Melody at Night, With You

Friday, March 10, 2006

Inching Toward Actual Activity

While visiting the RUFNKM editorial offices last night, S.O.L. asked why the hell I hadn't earlier linked to this piece by Steve Clemmons on "The Unitary Executive". Read The Whole Thing.


In the interest of reaching across party lines (and in the spirit of Friday frivolity) to find common ground with geeks of all political persuasions I offer this.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Now When I Say, "I Gave Her The Old Hairy Lobster,"

I may mean it literally. Just FYI, though apparently your ground scientists are just finding out about these, your boy SuperOceanLad has been on it for years. In fact, that guy pictured there, that's Bill.


OK J, I Get It

The other day while flushing money down my toilet I reached an impasse. No more of my hard earned cash would fit in my toilet. At first, as I stood there, shin deep in toilet bounty, I was sad, but then it hit me. All this time, stuffing benjamins into the crapper I've been hurting only myself, how could I serve a greater ill?

At first I thought of going outside and pushing over an old person but that's too local. Next I contemplated donating Clay Aiken albums to troops over seas, but that was too cruel, then I found the sweet spot. I could donate to Scooter Libby's defense fund! Huzzah! Finally a charity we can all agree sucks.

Who exactly is this for? Is it the guy who thinks, "Man, I could give some dough to the Red Cross, but they'd just build houses for Katrina victims." Maybe the bloke who passes the armless legless pan-handler and thinks, "Puh-lease! Get a job you nugget! Do I look like some bleedin' heart liberal? I'm going to put this money where it can make a difference, into the pocket of a Yale educated millionaire attorney who's committed treason!"

I don't understand these peoples world. I mean, the guy's still going by Scooter. He's been indicted on charges stemming from exposing a CIA operative and he still gets to go by Scooter? I get a speeding ticket and "Jimmy" becomes "James." How does he get to keep freakin Scooter?

Just to show you how out of touch these schmucks are, they've lead their charge with a web banner quote from Dick Cheney who says, "Scooter Libby is one of the most capable and talented individuals I've ever known." First off, that's not saying a whole bunch. I mean, Cheney found GW AWOL in a titty bar slumped over a coke mirror trying to figure out how to tell daddy about his DWI and thought, "This guy is presidential." Beyond that, right now, Dick Cheney is about as popular as Karl Malden at one of W's powder parties. Seriously, with an approval rate of eighteen percent according to poles he's less popular than Josef Stalin.

You know, I don't think I've ever invoked the name of this blog before, but seriously, SERIOUSLY! ARE YOU EFFIN KIDDING ME?


P.S. Karl Malden had a huge nose.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Rooms To Let-A Little More Than Fifty Cents

Not that you can afford it at $300-$700 per night, but you might want to rethink any plans to visit the Waldorf-Astoria this summer. It looks like Unite-Here has got all of their ducks in a row for a big labor crack up in hotel land, and Hilton, the Waldorf's owner, is a prime target. Apparently, despite the first-class pricetag and unprecedented revenues, Hilton can't manage to honor contracts with the folks who do the dishes and change the sheets. Fortunately, labor is ready with an extra large strike fund, and have timed their contracts nationwide to coincide, strategic thinking that the rest of the labor movement would do well to learn from . Thanks to Rob at AAAunite for the story.

In case you are planning to stay in a hotel sometime soon, check out the Union Hotel Guide for a labor-friendly place to rest your weary head.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Beer Blocks Gamma Processes

So we can all rest assured that Dave G will never become The Hulk. Turns out science has finally gotten around to proving all of Ben Franklin's quips and quotes. Now that we know that beer makes us happy, we just need to prove God loves us.


Thursday, March 02, 2006

Can Kenny Loggins Write the Town Anthem?

If you thought the town in Footloose sounded like too much fun, maybe you'd like to relocate to Ave Maria. The town being created by Tom Monaghan who made billions off bad pizza when he founded Dominos will be free of porn and contraceptives. WooHoo! I know where SuperOceanLad will be vacationing. Anywhere but Ave Maria.



The long wait for FEMA continues. Way back in September, our state – along with about 20 others – applied for and successfully received monies from FEMA to develop an Immediate Services Program (ISP) to provide crisis counseling for Katrina evacuees. SAMHSA – which reviews grants and makes recommendations on grants to FEMA – approved our ISP in a jiff, as they did with all the other states who applied. The thing is however, ISP’s are only awarded funds designed to provide services for 60 days. Our ISP has now lasted 6 months. In other words, we don’t have any money left.

About 2 weeks ago, FEMA did announce the award of Regular Service Program (RSP) grants to 6 states - Mississippi, Arkansas, Indiana, Utah, New Jersey, and Maryland. The RSP provides enough funds to provide crisis counseling for up to 9 months. Our state, and remarkably - some states like Texas that have been inundated with evacuees – haven’t heard back from the feds yet. We have come very close now to shutting down the state program unless we get the federal funds soon.

So we are holding our breaths for the magical email announcing the award for our RSP. It couldn’t come at a better time. Fat Tuesday came and went. In the words of one evacuee, the response of our government has been like “a kick to the balls.” Some of the evacuees made it out before the flood. They had houses and cars and jobs they left behind. Now they are in limbo. Its been 6 months and because there is yet a comprehensive plan for New Orleans’ future, people don’t know if their neighborhoods will be rebuilt or turned into some sparkling, artificial version of what New Orleans should be in the minds of commercial developers. They’ve been blowing in the wind for half a year now and still don’t know if they should wait to go back or stay here and start new careers.

Then there are those people who stayed and watched the city die. Not because they wanted to but because they didn’t have homes or cars anyway to get out. These people have been forced to start new lives here since they can’t leave. But just getting the basics is still problematic. In my city, there aren’t a whole lot of jobs available in the first place, and those that are available are usually low-paying second and third shift service jobs. But guess what – the local public bus system here only runs until the early evening. Good luck getting a night job unless you can pay taxi fare every night. And of this latter group, it wouldn’t be unfair to say that the majority are suffering from some form of PTSD. There are some common themes: The sound of helicopters, wading through flood waters covered with a slick sheen of oil and gas and dead animals that were once house pets, and last but not least, the experience of what people call “the bridge.”

The other challenge is sustaining the charity 6 months after the flood. Back in September, the churches here mobilized. Some of them really stepped up and offered great things to evacuee families: used cars, rental assistance, furniture – the works. I have nothing but respect for these churches. Then there were those minority of churches that provided evacuees a plastic bag containing toilet paper, a toothbrush, toothpaste and a “Good luck…go with God my son” (and don’t come back) blessing.

Equally saddening is the occurrence of what can be referred as “mistaken charity expectation syndrome.” This is when a church stepped up back in September, eager to offer all sorts of aid to an evacuee, and then found out later that the evacuee they agreed to adopt isn’t a sparkling example of human-kind but actually has some adjustment and coping problems. Gosh what a surprise that some evacuees are falling back on alcohol to self-medicate after living through the destruction of a city. But instead of working with an evacuee to get him or her help, they cut them off completely because their religious sensibilities are offended by alcohol use and the evacuees don’t measure up to the perfect little golden charity case.

We are now currently working to develop a training so faith and community groups here know that if they are going to offer help to evacuees, they should realize that everything isn’t going to be a rosy, perfect scene out of the movies. I have hopes for this training, but am not optimistic that it will make a huge difference. Don’t get me wrong – a number of churches here have done a very good job and they should be applauded, but the failures have been horrendous. We are also trying to reinvigorate the community response. Municipal elections are coming up in New Orleans shortly. I’ll be happy if we can get some churches here to make renewed commitments to some pretty simple and inexpensive yet important things: sponsoring subscriptions to the Times-Picayune for relocated evacuees so they can learn about what’s going on down in the gulf, providing reading services and literacy classes for those that can’t read, and better yet, organizing to help displaced evacuees obtain and receive absentee ballots for the upcoming election.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

More on the impending apocalypse...

This well-written but fairly terrifying article came with this morning's Post headlines. It seems that unseasonably warm temperatures have alowed a voraceous pine-eating beatle to destroy a massive swath of central British Columbia forest, an area three times the size of Maryland and nearly twice the annual logging take. Interesting how despite all we're doing to destroy the planet on our own, mother nature seems to be bent on helping us out.