June 2006 Archives



Several photos of a fairly recent Dan Flavin exhibit, culled from the mighty B12 photo archive (triggered by honoria).

Flavin pillars
Flavin pillars Dan Flavin exhibit at the MCA www.mcachicago.org/MCA/exhibit/current-txt.html

Not supposed to take photos (for some blasted reason), but somehow a few dozen photos managed to make it onto my camera.

Flavin Blues
Flavin Blues

Flavin tunnel
Flavin tunnel

Not Easy Being green
Not Easy Being green Dan Flavin exhibit www.diacenter.org/exhibs_b/flavin-exhib/index.html

Flavin triangle
Flavin triangle

Flavin yellowizer
Flavin yellowizer

a quickr pickr post

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Friday Photo-funne

Meaningless Phrase
Meaningless Phrase SoNo. Oh, so so lame. Chicago is not New York, we are not the second city, we are just who we are.

By this convention, my office is in SoFu (south of Fulton).


Random Beach Scene

Random Beach Scene
A photographers work is never done.

Father's Day 2006
Father's Day 2006 three generations out for a Sunday stroll last Fathers' Day.

Blue Cafe at dusk
Blue Cafe at dusk yeah, yeah. Tangentially inspired by this thread/photo www.flickr.com/photos/andrerabelo/70458366/

(found via Kottke)

Or in other words, if I like the photo, even if it is technically flawed, that's important too, yadda yadda.

(click to embiggen)

a quickr pickr post

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Presidential candidates are insane

Today's deep thought courtesy of Gore Vidal.

Dreaming War: Blood for Oil and the Cheney-Bush Junta
“Dreaming War: Blood for Oil and the Cheney-Bush Junta” (Gore Vidal)

Gore Vidal
“Any American who is prepared to run for president should automatically, by definition, be disqualified from ever doing so.”

full disclosure, unless the Constitution is changed (for Governor Gropen-fueher, or whomever), I can never become President, and I am extremely not bitter about it. I can think of 2347 jobs right off the top of my head that I'd rather do than be President (or even Resident).


delicious links


Minor site notes:

1. discovered that NetNewsWire, the essential RSS reader (one of a handful of programs which automatically launches every time I reboot, and stays running as long as my computer is on, ie, always), does a bang-up job of linking to del.icio.us (which is the social linking service, with an inane name). All that is required is a right click on the link.

2. Per the tutorial found here, I was able to figure out how to create an automatic, daily entry. I had tried to figure out the del.icio.us cryptic instructions several months, but gave up in frustration. Last night I tackled it again, and made it work apparently.

I had added my most recent 17 del.icio.us links in my sidebar (towards the bottom), but I think an actual blog entry is cooler. Kottke calls his “Remaindered Links”, which is a pretty accurate description. Eric Zorn calls his “Land of Linkin”, Henry Abbott calls his “Bullets”, you get the idea. I don't have a catchy title, so there isn't one. This entire blog doesn't have a very catchy title, in fact, I am growing to despise the clunky, awkwardness of it, so why should the remaindered links be any different?


links for 2006-06-30

Reporter discovers corruption and dishonesty and businesses taking advantage of people. Maybe the Washington Post could hire Mr. Ashford, and send him on another assignment, investigating what happened to our country?

WSJ.com - Homeless Reporter Gets Job, and Story, Evicting Others Early one morning this spring, Jake Ashford woke up, as usual, in an alley behind a downtown office building. He might have taken his schizophrenia medicine, or perhaps not. Sometimes, he says, he skips a dose.

Next, the 43-year-old Mr. Ashford headed to the headquarters of a nearby charity for a shower and breakfast. Then he joined a group of men getting into one of several unmarked vans cruising the neighborhood and began his career as an undercover reporter for Street Sense, the city's newspaper for the homeless.

Mr. Ashford's work that day helped the paper break the biggest story in its three-year history, an exposé of businesses that allegedly recruit the homeless to evict people from rental homes -- and allegedly pay them less than the legal minimum wage to do so. In light of the article, the National Coalition for the Homeless, an advocacy group, and a team of attorneys from the Washington office of Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton say they are investigating whether to sue the eviction firms.

Street Sense was founded in 2003 by Ted Henson, then 23, and Laura Thompson Osuri, then a 26-year-old reporter for American Banker, an industry daily. Both were troubled by the plight of the homeless and together they raised money from friends, family and foundations to launch the paper. Mr. Henson, who bussed tables at night so he could put in days at Street Sense, now works as a labor-union researcher and volunteers on the paper's board. Ms. Osuri left mainstream journalism and works as Street Sense's only salaried employee, earning $40,000 annually.

The monthly paper, run out of a rented room at the downtown Church of the Epiphany, follows the general business plan set by many of the 24 publications in the North American Street Newspaper Association, a trade group of papers focused on homelessness. Street Sense is sold by a roving crew of 45 vendors, most of them homeless, who pay 25 cents a copy and sell the paper on the street for a dollar. A diligent vendor with good curb appeal can make $60 a day, Ms. Osuri says. Last month, the vendors sold 11,500 copies out of a run of 13,000.

Born in Lumberton, N.C., he says he served in the U.S. Army in Germany in the 1980s and married a German woman. After a divorce, he returned to the U.S., beset by schizophrenia, he says. An African-American with flecks of gray in his black beard, Mr. Ashford says he was hired off the sidewalk by All American Eviction, a Washington company, and paid $15 for six hours of work -- well below the $7-an-hour legal minimum wage in the District of Columbia.

First, he and others, escorted by U.S. marshals who accompany eviction crews, emptied a rowhouse, Mr. Ashford says. As the crew worked, he says, the tenants -- a woman and five children -- arrived home to find their furniture on the curb. Next, the crew emptied a one-bedroom apartment while the tenant was away. Afterward, Mr. Ashford borrowed a cellphone, called Ms. Osuri and pretended to order pizza, his coded way of informing her where she could photograph the evictee's belongings piled along the sidewalk.

Ms. Osuri's article accused All American Eviction and East Coast Express Eviction, also based in Washington, of recruiting and underpaying the homeless to carry out evictions. Accompanying it was a first-person account by vendor James Davis, describing life on an eviction crew. “As I approached the little girl's room, she was standing inside clutching her dolls,” he wrote. “Right there and then I walked out and decided this would be my last eviction. I just couldn't do it. Here I was homeless myself at the time about to make two more people homeless.”

When the issue hit the streets, Cleary Gottlieb attorney Lee Berger picked up a copy from a homeless vendor and read it on the subway ride to work. By the time he arrived, he says he was so angry about the allegations that he rounded up fellow lawyers and called the homeless coalition's Mr. Stoops, who also sits on the Street Sense board.

Nelson Terry, chief executive of East Coast Express Eviction, told Street Sense that he hired workers through a temp service, not off the street, according to the article. Street Sense noted that the rates charged by the temp service he named are several times higher than what East Coast Express Eviction charges clients.

East Coast Express Eviction managers didn't return calls from The Wall Street Journal. A man who answered one call said the firm had stopped doing evictions. On another call, a different man quoted a $200 price for a two-bedroom eviction.

Joking aside, these companies are scum. How low can you go? I realize property is sacrosanct, and the Repo Man is a folk hero (ahem), but still, would it really destroy these businesses to pay a livable wage for such crappy, emotionally draining work? Or at least minimum wage? Who do they think they are? Wal-Mart?


Photo week in review

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some snapshots from last week

Two Thieves
Two Thieves hanging on a wall, West Loop

Hypnotize look at the purty lights

Yin Yang
Yin Yang wall overlooking the highway

The ABCs of Chocolate
The ABCs of Chocolate across from Blommers. Too bad I despise the odor of over-roasted chocolate.

Construction Season Rag
Construction Season Rag Tis the season for construction, da da da dee da da

a quickr pickr post


Bugsy Siegel


Speaking of chortles, Josh Marshall has a spot-on analysis of the Bugsy Siegel fainting spell, perhaps brought upon by the smell of potted meat.

Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall June 27, 2006 12:35 PM ... You may have heard that a few days ago, in TNR online Lee Siegel called the blogosphere “hard fascism with a Microsoft face.”

When I heard about that I figured it was a throwaway line, albeit a bit overdone and self-serious. But no, Siegel's really serious about this. He is in earnest! And on Friday he followed up with a deeper analysis with the weighty title “The Origins of Blogofascism”. There's even the beginnings of a sociological analysis and a historical one too.
More generally, I think the blogosphere, in contrast to more staid venues for writing, is something like the much more popular and participatory sort of theater culture you had in the 19th and well into the 20th century (you may remember seeing some hint of this funned up in old Bugs Bunny cartoons) where, if the audience didn't like what they were hearing or seeing, they started booing. Or hooting. Or heck, maybe tossing raw vegetables. You get a sense of [Lee] Siegel's reaction when he grandly opines that the blogosphere, “radiates democracy's dream of full participation but practices democracy's nightmare of populist crudity...”

Siegel then does a quick character sketch of Markos Moulitsas as one of these “rootless men”, ready, I guess, to congeal in to some sort of html freikorps ...

read it yerself

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Dorkweed Dolan's Debacle on 33rd Street

Amazing as it seems, there are Dauphins springing out all over....

I chortled at debacle of Dorkweed Dolan and his amazing incompetence. Funny also that one of the worst managed teams in the NBA is also in the nations leading media market.

Howard Beck has the background story:

...Last Thursday, James L. Dolan, the Knicks' owner and the Madison Square Garden chairman, fired Coach Larry Brown after a disastrous, deflating and, at times, comical season. Thomas, the team president since December 2003, was named Brown's replacement.

What Dolan did not announce then, but did yesterday in a meeting with reporters, is that Thomas's job — both of his jobs — are on the line. His deadline for making “significant progress” is next spring.

“This is his team, he made this bed,” Dolan said during an hourlong interview with reporters who regularly cover the team. “At this time next year, Isiah will be with us if we can all sit here and say that this team has made significant progress toward its goal of eventually becoming an N.B.A. championship team. If we can't say that, then Isiah will not be here. I say that with him right here.”

As Dolan made that pronouncement, Thomas sat emotionless, his arms in front of him. He lifted his hands close to his chin and interlocked his fingers. When he at last spoke, Thomas sounded more resolute than enthusiastic.

From Harvey Araton the set-up (and dauphin explanation) (Times Select Only)
“I'm not shying away from it,” Dolan said, when asked about widespread questions regarding his competence. “I understand people think that; they perceive that we're in a bad situation, and they have to look at ownership because ownership's responsible. And that's the job I took. And when I don't want it, eventually I won't take it. But right now I want it, still want the job, and still plan on doing the job.”

A person who has held an executive position in the Cablevision empire recently told me that Dolan's father, Charles, gave him the Knicks and Rangers to run because he considered the sports teams and the Garden to be the company toy department, where the least potential damage could be done.

• But the father defended the son yesterday in a letter published in SportsMonday of The New York Times, calling him, in part, “unafraid in facing unpopular problems.”

Then again, those who have been the most unsparing in their critiques of James Dolan weren't invited to yesterday's interview. Too bad.

and from Richard Sandomir, the pay-off:

TV Sports: Debacle on 33rd Street as Dolan Protects Turf

While James L. Dolan might be more comfortable in a small group, he still owed it to fans to describe his anti-Brown case to a wider audience.

Len Berman, the sports anchor for Channel 4, was displeased at being left out. “By excluding portions of the media,” he said, “it's telling fans to take a hike, which is what they've been doing for years with the teams they've put on the floor.”

“I felt uncomfortable,” Berman said after watching the interview. “You need to have a feel for things, to make your own conclusions, instead of being handed a tape.”

He called the Garden's use of MSG as the only TV outlet a “socialist-style setup.” It was a bit like getting the state version of news from Vremya, Russia's (and the Soviet Union's) equivalent of the NBC Nightly News, while not letting reporters from other networks ask questions.

While the Garden cannot do without Knicks fans, it could do nicely without most members of the inquiring news media. Here's a plan to shield the Garden from pesky reporters: restrict their access by creating Manhattan's first official demilitarized zone, a 10-foot-high, 2,000-foot-long fence that would stretch from 31st to 33rd Streets and from Seventh to Eighth Avenues.

I asked a fencing consultant, Chuck Naegele of Clarks Summit, Pa., for a quote. For $300 a foot, or a mere $600,000, he said the Garden could buy micromesh fencing that would not allow small projectiles, like mini-digital tape recorders or notebooks, to be thrown through it. Nimbler reporters would be further repelled from unauthorized entrance into the Garden by layers of razor ribbon costing $300,000.

“That's really nasty stuff,” Naegele said.

Electrifying the fence and the building would be options, but the whole project (depending on the availability of alligators) may cost the Garden less than Dolan's $5.1 million in salary and bonus from Cablevision in 2005.

There may be times when the Garden will invite some reporters to cover Knicks games and require them to wear ankle bracelets and be escorted by armed members of the Knicks' public-relations staff.

Too funny. Glad I've never been a Knick fan.

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Bill Moyers for President redux

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I miss Bill Moyers. By no definition could I be called a religious person, but I shall probably watch this series anyway.

Only two topics could bring Bill Moyers back to PBS--what are they?


Returning to PBS, Bill Moyers presents this seven-part series that explores issues of faith and reason through
insightful discussions with some of today's leading authors. BILL MOYERS ON FAITH & REASON takes viewers on a rare journey deep into these writers' works and their own experiences to plumb new ways of thinking about the role of religion in shaping the world. These conversations offer revelatory observation on the long-running argument between believers and non-believers, as well an enlightening perspective on the fear, violence, and intolerance that grip our times. Check local listings for details or watch a free preview.


I assume Mr. Moyers will discuss the incredible disconnect between the precepts of Christianity as espoused in the Bible and the Christianity as is practiced by the so-called Republican Evangelicals (the Christian Taliban).

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Wind that shakes the Barley


Noted, for future Netflix-ion, once the film gets an American distributor, that is. Allegedly trailers are linked to here, though I haven't made time to watch any of them.

The IFC Blog: All we are is barley in the wind
Romney, attempting to approach “The Wind That Shakes the Barley” purely from a cinematic perspective (and coming up with a strange and apologetic review), finally concludes that “This is Loach's most provocative film in ages, and it's also among his most dramatically compelling. And it is so for reasons that transcend the strict limits of its argument: Loach might question the terms of this analysis, but if 'The Wind That Shakes the Barley' demands to be seen, it's as much for its poetics as for its politics.”

(Independent) While few of Loach's regular viewers would have problems accepting his views on the Spanish Civil War or Nicaragua, it's harder for the average liberal broadsheet reader to accept unquestioningly this film's presentation of the heroism of the early IRA and the brutality of British forces in Ireland in 1920. And whether or not the portrayal of British violence is accurate, the question that a critic must ask - at the risk of seeming a bourgeois aesthete - is whether this portrayal is dramatically effective.

London Times:

This is Loach at his creative and inflammatory best. The scale of his historical thriller about the armed struggle to get the British out of Ireland in the early decades of the 20th century dwarfs anything the veteran director has attempted before. The budget barely extends beyond brown tweeds and flat-caps, but the ambition is awesome. If anger fuels Loach’s best work, he exceeds himself here. His view of the colonial Brits as greedy, swaggering sadists is unhindered by a single complimentary frame. The controversy is as ripe as rotten stilton, and Loach’s critics are up in arms.

I don't know contemporary British society well enough to pass judgement, or even comment intelligently (but when has that ever stopped a blogger?), yet it seems as if quite a few of the critical reviews of this film, by English reviewers, are because the British motives and practices in 1920s Ireland are presented in less than flattering light. Nationalism still exists, and only a fool would ignore the pernicious effects of nationalistic pride on citizens, be they movie critics or not.

I know my interest has been piqued. Not only as a descendent of Irish folk, but also as an amateur historian, and film school drop-out.

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Burning the Bill of Rights


Of all the inane legislation spewed out by the 109th Congress, anti-flag burning has got to be one of the stupidest. Does every little thing need to be subject to the meddling of Congress? Back when the Republicans were more talk than power, they claimed to be for 'less governmental intrusion'. Of course, we all know that was just a talking point without basis in reality, but still: please keep your zarking nose out of the Bill of Rights!

Editorial: Burning the Bill of Rights :
Senate Republicans are trying to torch a hole in the First Amendment's free speech guarantee by passing an amendment to the Constitution that would allow federal and state authorities to punish flag-burning.

And note to any fledgling Presidential candidates, if you support this bill, or worse, propose your own variant (Hillary Clinton for example), don't bother asking me for my support, because it will most certainly not be forthcoming. I want leaders, not panderers.

As an alternative to the amendment, two of its opponents, Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton, Democrat of New York, and Robert Bennett, Republican of Utah, have proposed a statute against flag-burning instead. Unquestionably, passing a law to address this nonproblem is preferable to rewriting the Constitution. But in crafting a bill with a comparatively narrow reach, its sponsors have not cured the affront to free speech. For that reason, it deserves to be defeated.

Raw Story says Hillary is against the Republican ammendment, for what that's worth (not much if she is proposing her own variant!!)

The vote will likely be the closest it has ever been. High profile Democrats Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NV), Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) and Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) all oppose the amendment. Fourteen Democrats support it, according to the Associated Press.

A Kerry spokesman called the vote a “Republican tar baby.”

“Democrats shouldn’t take the bait and go into the fetal position trying to have it both ways,” Kerry spokesman David Wade told RAW STORY. “Our job is to put the GOP on the defensive. Period.”

“American soldiers being killed in Iraq, record gas prices, health care costs soaring, and this is how they choose to consume the peoples’ time?” Wade added. “Flogging an amendment opposed by generals like Colin Powell and Medal of Honor winners like Bob Kerrey? Bring it on.”

At least one prominent Republican opposes the amendment. Speaking Sunday on ABC's “This Week,” Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said the first amendment -- protecting the freedom of speech -- takes precedence.

“I think the First Amendment has served us well for over 200 years,” McConnell said. “I don't think it needs to be altered.”

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I said it before, and I suppose I say it again: our national media has become an unfunny joke.

This NYT article skims over the issue, but my loyal readers, all seven of you, are smart enough to read between the lines.

Marketers Say They Pay for Play in News Media

Payment for naming products in news articles and programs was once unthinkable. A recent survey indicates, however, that product placement is creeping into news.

Especially since one of the consequences of editorial Pay for Play is soundly sleeping (it is after 8 PM, right?) at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington DC.

Don't forget Karl Rove delayed announcement of the Operation Iraqi Liberation new product roll-out until after the summer was over.

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Potted Meat is a friend to Hitler

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especially spam, but any potted meat will do.

When you ride with Meat you Ride With Hitler

(borrowed from Michael Berube, and you should really click through the link, especially if you are aware of Lee Siegel and his blogofascia fascination with Kos.)


Bush Condemns Report on Bank Records

Oh, right. As if any terrorist organization, other than the made-up ones in Miami who needed instructions from their FBI handler every step of the way, doesn't already have a sophisticated infrastructure, and doesn't already expect their every action to be scrutinized, including financial transactions. Color me skeptical.


Bush Condemns Report on Bank Records

President Bush called the disclosure of a program to secretly monitor the transactions of suspects “disgraceful.”


Bush Condemns Bank Record Search Leak

President Bush said today that a secret program to search global bank records for terrorism-related transactions was “fully authorized” under U.S. law, and he denounced the public disclosure of the program as “disgraceful.”

No, more likely some Republicans (and Democrats like Joe Biden) have fielded irate phone calls from large corporate donors wondering if this database will exist long enough for the IRS to get their investigators access to it? Or long enough that the next administration will be able to use it in 2009. I would imagine some rather powerful folks are quite disturbed by the news that the clowns currently running the country have created such a compilation of data.

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Playing Politics With Iraq

Bob Herbert wonders exactly what the mission is, currently, in Iraq. Are the soldiers just pawns in a cynical election game? Impeachment is too good a solution - I say the Dauphin and his handlers need to be run out DC on a rail.

Bob Herbert: Playing Politics With Iraq

If the election is looking ugly for the G.O.P., a certain number of troops will find themselves waking up stateside instead of in the desert in September and October.

If hell didn't exist, we'd have to invent it. We'd need a place to send the public officials who are playing politics with the lives of the men and women sent off to fight George W. Bush's calamitous war in Iraq.

The administration and its allies have been mercilessly bashing Democrats who argued that the U.S. should begin developing a timetable for the withdrawal of American forces. Republicans stood up on the Senate floor last week, one after another, to chant like cultists from the Karl Rove playbook: We're tough. You're not. Cut-and-run. Nyah-nyah-nyah!

“Withdrawal is not an option,” declared the Senate majority leader, Bill Frist, who sounded like an actor trying on personas that ranged from Barry Goldwater to General Patton. “Surrender,” said the bellicose Mr. Frist, “is not a solution.”

Any talk about bringing home the troops, in the Senate majority leader's view, was “dangerous, reckless and shameless.”

But then on Sunday we learned that the president's own point man in Iraq, Gen. George Casey, had fashioned the very thing that ol' blood-and-guts Frist and his C-Span brigade had ranted against: a withdrawal plan.

Are Karl Rove and his liege lord, the bait-and-switch king, trying to have it both ways? You bet. And that ought to be a crime, because there are real lives at stake.

The first significant cut under General Casey's plan, according to an article by Michael Gordon in yesterday's Times, would occur in September. That, of course, would be perfect timing for Republicans campaigning for re-election in November. How's that for a coincidence?

Mark Twain

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Don't know exactly how I landed here, but funny nonetheless:

Mark Twain - Wikipedia entry:

“Only one thing is impossible for God: To find any sense in any copyright law on the planet.”

“Suppose you were a congressman, and suppose you were an idiot. But I repeat myself.”

Letters from the Earth : Uncensored Writings (Perennial Classics)
“Letters from the Earth : Uncensored Writings (Perennial Classics)” (Mark Twain)

Gutenberg Project has plenty of open source literature including Twain to browse through

The JFKonspiracy


Apparently, Kathy McCarty, of the seminal band

Bent by Nature

Glass Eye

hesitates right upon the brink of being known as a JFK Conspiracy buff.

From the Chronicle:

The Austin Chronicle Features: The JFKonspiracy

By far the defining moment of my trip to Dallas happened while listening to a speech given by Beverly Oliver, an eyewitness who actually was there. On November 22, 1963, Oliver was 19 years old. She was one of the bystanders closest to the motorcade and is easily visible in the now-famous Zapruder film. Like Abraham Zapruder, she also was filming the presidential motorcade with a home movie camera -- but because of her position, it is likely that her film showed both the Texas School Book Depository and the Grassy Knoll. It probably won't surprise anyone that her film was confiscated by “government agents” (one of whom she later identified as FBI agent Regis Kennedy) and that her film has never been seen or heard of again.

Read more here.

Oh, and apparently, Glass Eye is back together as band. Yayyy! I suppose I'll have to send some dough Austex way, and pick up this new album forthwith. I used to be a Glass Eye proselytizer, sneaking in as many Glass Eye tunes into the Magnolia South playlist as possible. Ahhh, memories.

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Gesture drawings redux

Ask the universe a question, and sometimes the universe listens....

ACTlab TV I showed my gesture drawing video to Joseph Lopez from http://actlab.tv/ and he says it's exactly the content they are looking for. “I want hundreds of those,” he said which fits my mode of gesture production perfectly. He's willing to give me some video editing training and my own page on ACTlab TV for self-portrait//art training homemade videos. I'm going to visit the ACTlab TV summer camp HQ this week as the next step. But first I have to shoot a few more gesture drawing sessions and read deeper into the imovie instructions.

Soon Honoriartist will become a video artiste as well....


Respeck the Kingpimp

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Re-reading BoBo's ridiculous column in the dead pulp edition of Sunday's NYT, sobered and caffeinated, and am struck by just how inane the entire premise is. DKos and Markos Moulitsas Zúniga may be many things, but leader of the blogosphere (y!sctp) is not one of them. Even the idea that Markos could issue edicts and all of the liberal, progressive and even Democratic bloggers will obey is ludicrous. Perhaps the mouth-breathing right wing establishment works that way, echoing Republican talking points, but not the left. We are all too independent a group to even be considered a group, and unless I missed the memo and subsequent vote, we have no ordained leader who speaks for, and controls us.

The lefty blogosphere may have a few over-lapping interests, like the removal of the Rethuglicans from controlling the three branches of government, and the fourth estate, but if you read a thousand left-leaning blogs, you get a thousand perspectives.

Of course, there have been times when DKos, Eric Alterman, Atrios, or any of the higher traffic blogs for that matter, pointed out some injustice, or foolish, dangerous statement uttered by some schmoe on the right, and suddenly folks like David Brooks get inundated with letters, faxes and emails informing, criticizing and insulting the recipient. However, each blogger and blog reader made up their own mind whether or not a response was required. There were no edicts issued.

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Respect Must Be Paid

For some reason, David Brooks, the same 'lofty thinker' who blames feminism for loss of male interest in reading (or something, I never could figure that column out) has waded into the potentially career ending morass happening at The New Republic (Gilliard has an overview)

David Brooks: Respect Must Be Paid

They say that the great leaders are gone and politics has become the realm of the small-minded. But in the land of the Lilliputians, the Keyboard Kingpin must be accorded full respect.

The Keyboard Kingpin, a k a Markos Moulitsas Zúniga, sits at his computer, fires up his Web site, Daily Kos, and commands his followers, who come across like squadrons of rabid lambs, to unleash their venom on those who stand in the way. And in this way the Kingpin has made himself a mighty force in his own mind, and every knee shall bow.

I think Mr. Brooks has been chasing the dragon or something. I almost hear echoes of the “Stately Pleasure Domes”, that is, if written by an idiot.

The Kingpin's first enemy was the Democratic Party establishment, and it pleased him to see Howard Dean take it on. When the Dean campaign hired the Kingpin and his co-author and onetime business partner Jerome Armstrong as paid campaign consultants, this was an appropriate sign of respect, and the Kingpin did lay his hand of blog approval upon the Dean campaign (while disclosing the connection).

When Sherrod Brown, the Democratic Senate candidate in Ohio, hired Armstrong last year to help with his campaign, this was also a sign of respect. The Kingpin had instructed his Kossack cultists to support Brown's Democratic primary rival, Paul Hackett. But the Kingpin switched sides and backed Brown over his former anointee.

The Kingpin often directs his wrath at the centrist Democratic Leadership Council. But the centrist Democrat Mark Warner has also hired Armstrong as a consultant, and the Kingpin has graciously exempted Warner from the seventh circle of Kos hell. Warner is frequently celebrated on Daily Kos as something akin to the second coming of F.D.R.

And so it is in the realm of the Kingpin. Those who offer respect get respected.

gesture videos in development

Honoria explores the art of gesture drawings.

honoria in ciberspazio - gesture videos in development
There is a need for dynamic drawing videos on the web. When I taught life drawing, I searched the web for videos showing artists creating gesture drawings. My online students don't understand the pace and flow of a 30-second drawing unless they can actually see the makings of a gesture. I found two tiny clips that have been helpful but I would like to find more gesture drawing videos. I found a funny parody of a life drawing class that would amuse students in a real class. My online students would not understand the humor because they don't experience the interrelationship of a class of art students with a model. Below is a list of life drawing related videos I found. Please add to the list if you find other life drawing videos.

Interesting concept. I'll have to explore this further. She has more here

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We Need Chloe!

I have never watched this tv show, so don't know really what MoDo is talking about, other than in context. Osama bin Who?

Again, the convenient discovery of these wanna-be terrorists seems more like a clumsy attempt to change the subject from the news that the US has everyone's bank records, and that your tax-shelter might not be as secure as you think it is.

Ms. Dowd has more:

Maureen Dowd: We Need Chloe!

Better to have a panel in praise of Jack Bauer from the television series

24 - Season Two


than admit we have no real Jack Bauers to find Osama and his murderous acolytes.

You'd think Michael Chertoff would have something more important to do.

The hapless homeland security chief could snatch more money away from American locales most likely to be hit by Al Qaeda. Or let another wonderful city fall into a watery abyss. Or go on TV and help cable news hype the saga of the Miami gang of terrorist wannabes who look like they couldn't find the local Sears, let alone the Sears Tower.

These guys were so lame they asked an informant for boots, radios, binoculars, uniforms and cash, believing he was Al Qaeda — and that jihadists need uniforms.

Instead, the cadaverous Chertoff was gallivanting on stage yesterday morning with some fictional counterterrorism experts from “24.” The producers, writer and three actors from the Fox show appeared at an event sponsored by the Heritage Foundation, at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center.

Drawing on his old scripts, Mr. Reagan was a master at mixing fiction and fact, but he was a piker compared with the Bush crowd.

The audience included Clarence Thomas and his wife, Ginny, who held a dinner at the Supreme Court Thursday for the Tinseltown terror brigade. Rush Limbaugh, who said that Dick Cheney and Rummy were huge fans of “24,” was master of ceremonies for the panel, titled, “ '24' and America's Image in Fighting Terrorism: Fact, Fiction or Does It Matter?”

It doesn't in this administration.

Better to have a panel in praise of Jack Bauer than admit we have no real Jack Bauers to find Osama and his murderous acolytes. Better to pretend that rounding up a bunch of Florida losers whose plan was more “aspirational than operational,” as one F.B.I. official put it, is a great blow in the war on terror than to really turn our intelligence agencies and Homeland Security into the relentless, resourceful and fearsome organizations they are in fiction — and should be, given the billions spent on them.

Lulled by our spy thrillers and Tom Clancy novels, we used to take for granted that our intelligence agencies were just as capable as heroes on the screen. Jack Ryan, either the Harrison Ford, the Alec Baldwin or even the Ben Affleck version, could have gotten Osama single-handedly in the two hours allotted.

Even though they still haven't captured the fiend behind 9/11, W. and Dick Cheney still blend fact and fiction by using 9/11 to justify their wrongheaded venture in Iraq.

Terrorism and bank records

I wonder how the Republican's core constituency of wealthy, white men, who have the financial wherewithal to employ accountants, utilize tax-shelters and perhaps hold off-shore bank accounts, I wonder how this group is going to react to the idea of the federal government having a database containing all financial records of the world banking industry. Might make a few nervous, especially if a few years from now, the IRS or the Treasury Department gets to browse this database too. I bet they are less sanguine about it than Diamond-Dick Cheney professes to be.

World's banks let U.S. plumb books

In response to the Sept. 11 attacks, the Treasury Department sought to enlist a reluctant ally. The world's banking industry long had been loath to give up data on its customers, so U.S. investigators issued a subpoena for just a narrow slice of information from a worldwide financial consortium.

The reply stunned Treasury officials.

The consortium couldn't extract the bits of data U.S. terrorism analysts were looking for; instead, it offered something far more generous.

“They said, `We'll give you all the data,'” Treasury Secretary John Snow said Friday during a news conference in which he defended the program of reviewing confidential information on money transfers.

And just like that, intelligence teams that once had to scrape for scraps of data from individual banks were given keys to the international banking kingdom--access to a vast database of detailed records on billions of bank-to-bank transfers worldwide.

But the enthusiasm for cooperating had limits. Two years into the program Snow referred to as the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program, the banks were getting increasingly antsy.

“In 2003, [they] began to ask the question of how long this would go on,” said a former senior government official familiar with the program who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The Treasury Department had repeatedly sought to assure SWIFT that the records were being searched only for terrorist-related clues. But SWIFT executives “made the point that oral assurances were no longer enough,” the ex-official said.
But nearly five years after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the program continues, and each month the Treasury Department issues a new subpoena to SWIFT under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. That produced the most expansive database on international financial transactions the U.S. has ever possessed.

So, seems like a perfect time to change the subject, and find some terrorists somewhere to hopefully distract the nation:

Chicago Tribune - Terrorism and Bank Records:

While [Al the Pal] Gonzales and other officials heralded the arrests as a win for proactive law enforcement, there also were signs that the timing and content of the announcement was calibrated for maximum political benefit.

The announcement of the arrests eclipsed reports by major newspapers that the government was secretly tapping a database of confidential international bank transactions in order to track terrorist financing. Unlike many other anti-terrorism surveillance measures, the clandestine monitoring program is controversial because it is not overseen by a judge.

At the same time, Republicans in recent days have renewed their embrace of national security as an issue to emphasize in midterm congressional elections this fall.

and on the same subject:

Muslim leaders on Friday denounced the seven men arrested in Florida as members of a religious cult and implored the media not to refer to them as Muslims.
The media may be reluctant to say the individuals are not Muslim because the media might be seen as “watering down the fight against terrorism,” Rehab said.

“That should not be the case,” he said. “We should step up and fight these individuals without having to pull Islam as a religion, and Muslims as a people, [into] the struggle.”

Abdul Malik Mujahid, chair of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, agreed that the descriptions of the group's faith did not sound like Islam.

“They were reading the Bible, not the Koran. They called their place of worship a temple instead of `mosque.' These are not things that Muslims do,” said Mujahid. “So associating them with Islam and Muslims, I think, is not only factually wrong, but will continue to contribute to Islamophobia, which is a form of racism.”

The idea of the group targeting the Sears Tower is ironic, Mujahid said, as the building was designed by Muslim architect Fazlur Khan.

Yeah, good luck with that. These nutjobs will be called Muslim because that is easier for the national press scribes to type. Facts are not really important after all, sometimes they can be dangerous things.

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Afternoon deep thought

as I am deep in my cups, furiously typing addresses at FedEx (back up, yayyy)

Oh, God!
“Oh, God!” (Warner Home Video)

George Burns
“It takes only one drink to get me drunk. The trouble is, I can't remember if it's the thirteenth or the fourteenth.”

The Sunshine Boys
“The Sunshine Boys” (Herbert Ross)

George Burns wiki, if you forgot his smirk.

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FedEx down

Umm, this is a problem.

FedEx unplanned outage message
English: FCL is temporarily unavailable. We are making some changes that we hope will improve your online experience with FedEx. Please try again later.

D & I have been working until 10 pm for nearly 2 weeks creating a new media kit for a new client (who is actually paying us a retainer! Yayyyy! Not enough to cover our monthly 'nut', but at least there is some cash coming in, a welcome change. ), and today we have 14 of these media kits nearly ready to go out. Yesterday we got the first 4 out. Our client has supplied us with their FedEx number, but if FedEx online remains unavailable for very long, I may cry.

From the TMI Department (feel free not to read further) - I guess I am getting old: my body's ability to recover from lack of sleep is certainly declining. Working till 10 pm usually means not falling asleep until midnight or later, often in a drunken stupor; our day usually starts around 7 am (East coast clients) the next day. I've upped my intake of various vitamins and adrenal-replenishers (magnesium, B complex, some tinctures that D has available, some Chinese herbals of unknown ingredients), but that only helps to a degree.

OK, now my whining is complete, hope FedEx is back up. If not, it might be beer o'clock (or vodka o'clock)....

Nope! Damn it!! Where's that Pellegrino!

---couple hours later, yayyy, back up, except for this recurring error message:
fedex error Error trying to validate certificate from ehg.fedex.com using OCSP - server error
(Error trying to validate certificate from ehg.fedex.com using OCSP - server error)

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The World Is Hot

I suppose Tighty-whitey Tom doesn't write his own headlines, but jeez, couldn't the editorial room come up with something a little less inane, like water is wet?

Anyway, Mr. Friedman has a few interesting things to say about the global climate, albeit without mentioning the One World Global Economy he is apparently so fond of, or Al Gore. Quite a feat.

Thomas Friedman: The World Is Hot

Machu Picchu, Peru

For Peru, global warming is not just “an inconvenient truth.”

It's a daily reality, particularly for the residents in the spectacular Urubamba River Valley, the birthplace of Incan civilization. Watching the sun rise from atop the Incan ruins at Machu Picchu, you can look around 360 degrees and see Andean mountains everywhere. The highest of them were always described in the guidebooks as “snow capped.” Today, they're more “snow frosted.”

They still have snow, but there is a lot of rock now showing through on many of them. If these trends continue, in a few years they'll just be described as “steely gray.” The great Andean glaciers are melting, receding at about 100 meters a decade.

“When I first started trekking to the Andes mountains 30 years ago, many climbing expeditions would reach the top by climbing straight across the glaciers,” said my traveling companion, Alfredo Ferreyros, the father of Peru's ecotourism industry, now head of Peruvian operations of Conservation International. “Now, expeditions have to negotiate crevasses and increased risk of avalanche, because of the instability of the snow pack. That's because of changes in temperature and fluctuations in precipitation.”

Nearby, in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, Jose Ignacio Lambarri, who owns a 60-acre farm, is also feeling the heat. He grows giant white corn, with kernels that used to be as big as a quarter. This corn, which is exported to Spain and Japan, grows in this valley because of a unique combination of water, temperature, soil and sun. But four years ago, Mr. Lambarri told me, he started to notice something: “The water level is going down, and the temperature is going up.”

As a result, the giant corn kernels are not growing quite as large as they used to, new pests have started appearing, and there is no longer enough water to plant the terraces in the valley that date from Incan times.

More of the same by god

Speaking of site traffic, I noticed someone from Kearneysville WV searching for these keywords: Republican Plan in Iraq.

Ha, good luck finding it. As far as I can make out, the plan consists of simply declaring that Iraq is a part of the holy War on Terror, thus making it true in the same way that I can declare my penis contains multitudes, albeit mostly in another dimension. Well maybe bad example, but you get my point.

If anyone can figure out what the Republican Plan in Iraq is, other than a tool for elections, I'd like to know. I wonder what the families of the 2,500 dead soldiers (and the families of the 250,000 dead Iraqis) think of the Rethuglican plan, not to mention those lucky enough to still be walking the front lines.

Josh Marshall has more thoughts along this line:

Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall

I'm a bit confused. I'm hearing a lot of reports about Republicans chanting about staying in Iraq forever, the danger of ever withdrawing our troops. There's Cheney. There's Frist. I can't say I've done a systematic scan of all media. I'm just saying what I've happened across during a day of work. And I'm not seeing any Dems. Not hearing any clear message.

What Republicans want is More of the Same.

That's the motto. More of the Same.

The president says he wants to stay in Iraq for at least three more years. Virtually every Republican agrees. Three more years. They approve the course the president has set.

They're for More of the Same. They don't have a plan. They just want to stay indefinitely.

They're just for More of the Same.

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Democrats and Iraq resolution

From the NYT:

On Iraq, Kerry Again Leaves Democrats Fuming

Democrats who wished their nominee would take a firm stand in 2004 now oppose his call for a fixed date for the withdrawal of troops.

The Democrats' exasperation has increased in the last week, as they postponed a vote on Mr. Kerry's amendment to try to fashion a broader consensus among themselves. Democrats up for re-election asked him not to propose a fixed date. But Mr. Kerry, several Democrats said, was unwilling to budge from that idea, even though his co-sponsor, Senator Russell D. Feingold of Wisconsin, seemed willing to compromise for the sake of consensus. In the end, Mr. Kerry agreed only to extend his deadline, from Dec. 31 of this year to July 2007...

Mr. Feingold, Mr. Kerry's co-sponsor, said: “There should be no political considerations, there should be only considerations for the security of the American people. I believe the American people, even in conservative states, are willing to see this end.”

He said that a year ago he was the only senator calling for a withdrawal. “This is building,” he said. “The American people are actually way ahead of the Senate on this.”

and the ChiTrib

Senate Democrats put up a divided front on the Iraqi war Wednesday while Republicans stood firmly by President Bush in a debate that put in sharp relief how the conflict may play as an issue in this year's campaign for control of Congress.

While Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) called for a withdrawal from Iraq of all U.S. forces by July 1, 2007, other Democrats rallied behind a non-binding proposal urging Bush to submit a plan for phased redeployment of troops by the end of the year.

The GOP ridiculed both approaches. But the war is unpopular, according to public opinion polls, and Democrats played to their strength in that regard as they used the Senate floor as a forum to reach voters.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), an opponent of a firm date for withdrawal and a leading candidate for the 2008 Democratic nomination for president, backed the non-binding resolution.

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.)... opposed the Kerry withdrawal plan in favor of the non-binding approach offered by Sens. Carl Levin of Michigan, Jack Reed of Rhode Island, Dianne Feinstein of California and Ken Salazar of Colorado.

Although critical of the Bush policy, Obama said “we need to exit Iraq, but not in a way that leaves a security problem behind. ... We did not think through going in. We should think through going out.”

Actually, if one presents a resolution to give free puppies to all 8 year olds, but then omits the actual date when one can pick up the free puppies - then isn't the resolution just a joke? A cruel, unfunny joke. From my perspective, the pandering class (Clinton, Obama, Salazar, yadda yadda) think just saying the magic phrase 'free puppies' is enough, and it isn't. We need the details to convince ourselves whether their intentions are serious or just blabber-blubber.

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America in 2026

Bob Herbert seems to like John Edwards. Ignoring the voter fraud and election shenanigans for a moment of speculation; if the Democratic ticket in 2004 had been reversed, with Kerry as VP and Edwards as Presidential candidate, I wonder what would have happened. Kerry is/was just so freaking cautious and seemingly 'poll-driven' about every sentence spoken publically, kind of like Barack Obama, or as Herbert puts it, “poll-tested, freeze-dried political pap”. Of the candidates and faux-candidates for 2008 that I am aware of right now, Edwards is probably second to Feingold on my short-list.

America in 2026 - Bob Herbert Have we become too selfish and cynical? Or is the U.S. — despite being shaken by terror and distressed by the unending conflict in Iraq — ready to roll up its sleeves and renew its commitment to some of the goals and themes that once formed the basis of the American dream?

John Edwards is betting on the latter. In a major speech today at the National Press Club in Washington, Mr. Edwards, the former North Carolina senator who was John Kerry's running mate in the 2004 presidential election, will ask:

“What kind of America do we want — not just today, but 20 years from now? And how do we think we can get there from here?”

It's a speech that's different from the poll-tested, freeze-dried political pap we've come to expect from politicians. For one thing, Mr. Edwards, who's part of the growing pack of Democratic marathoners seeking the party's 2008 nomination, wrote it himself. For another, he unfashionably (and unabashedly) appeals to the better angels of the electorate.

“It's wrong,” he says, “to have 37 million Americans living in poverty, separated from the opportunities of this country by their income, their housing, their access to education and jobs and health care — just as it was wrong that we once lived in a country legally separated by race.”

Latin America's Choice

Friedman goes global, but with his underpants FedExed, no doubt.

Latin America's Choice - Thomas Friedman There are a lot of ways to describe Latin America's challenge today. Some will tell you it's the age-old question of overcoming the staggering gap here between rich and poor. Some will tell you it's rooting out corruption and misgovernance. But I come at this issue with my own perspective, and I would describe the big question facing Latin Americans this way: Are they going to emulate India or get addicted to China?

This question was, at least implicitly, a subtext of the recent election here in Peru. But it's true throughout this continent, which has always been better at mining its resources than mining its people.

FCC and Media Ownership round 12

WSJ.com - FCC Opens Debate On Rules Limiting Media Ownership A divided Federal Communications Commission kicked off a review of media-ownership caps, launching what is expected to be a long battle over the merits of such limits in the Internet age.

The FCC will consider whether to loosen or remove rules that restrict the ownership of radio and television broadcasters, as well as the ownership of broadcast and newspaper properties in the same market.

The review is likely to stretch into next year, but advocacy groups, which helped to scuttle the FCC's last attempt in 2002 to establish new ownership rules, have mobilized for a fight. Those earlier rules were struck down by the courts.

...wait for it:

The FCC's two Democrats complained Mr. Martin could be angling to fast-track a proposal on broadcast and newspaper cross-ownership limits. They noted that a long-stalled FCC study into how local coverage was affected by out-of-town owners hadn't been completed and was only a small part of the review. Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein, a Democrat, called the proposed effort “thin gruel to those hoping for a meaty discussion of media-ownership issues.” Mr. Martin countered that Democrats were “rushing to judgment” on the FCC's plans.

The FCC will hold six public hearings throughout the country. Separate meetings organized by interest groups, however, begin next week in Mr. Martin's home state of North Carolina. The FCC's two Democrats are expected to attend; Mr. Martin isn't.

Mr. Martin and his Republican colleagues held together yesterday on the media-ownership proposal. The chairman was in the embarrassing position this week of pulling off the meeting agenda another controversial item, involving requirements that cable operators carry more than one channel from local broadcasters.

The FCC had rejected the proposal twice, but Mr. Martin gambled he would be able to push it through with the panel's new Republican majority. However, the newest commissioner, Republican Robert McDowell, informed the chairman last weekend that he doubted the FCC's authority to impose the requirement, an FCC official said.

Eric Idle said it best
(mp3 here)

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Hydraulic hybrid

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In all the years this blog/web-zine has been in existence (nearly 10 years!), I do believe this is the first time I've ever written/noted anything positive about the EPA. Good for them. As an urban resident, I'm quite happy about any vehicle that reduces emissions.

WSJ.com - EPA Unveils New Hybrid Truck, Which Is to Be Tested by UPS The Environmental Protection Agency rolled out a “hydraulic hybrid” delivery truck that it says will boost fuel efficiency by 60% to 70% in stop-and-go city traffic.

The truck has a system, patented by the EPA, that turns the energy from braking into stored energy that helps to turn the rear wheels. The test models will be delivery trucks used by United Parcel Service Inc., which helped design the prototypes. The U.S. Army, Ford Motor Co. and International Truck & Engine Corp., a unit of Navistar International Corp., are among those interested in pursuing the technology, according to the EPA.

...The EPA's system is different because it stores the energy in a hydraulic system that compresses nitrogen in a tank. When the compressed nitrogen is released into a second tank, it pushes the hydraulic fluid through a pump motor that turns the truck's rear wheels....EPA tests predict the hybrid-hydroelectric systems will add $7,000 to the cost of trucks when they are mass-produced.

He added that the system also reduces brake and engine wear. According to the EPA, the technology, when fully operational, will allow the truck's engine to operate at maximum efficiency and will automatically shut down engines when the hydraulic drive system has enough stored energy to power the truck. The trucks won't have a conventional transmission or drive-train system.

Mr. Johnson said any royalties earned by the EPA's patent will be used for research.

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AT&T will Share Personal Data

Just in case you ever planned on doing anything that you didn't want AT&T or the government to know about....

WSJ.com - AT&T Revises Privacy Policy, Says It May Share Personal Data AT&T Inc. said it clarified its privacy policy for Internet and television customers to state explicitly that subscriber information is a business record belonging to the company and may be turned over to law enforcement in some cases.

AT&T also indicated that under its revised policy, which takes effect tomorrow and is being emailed to its more than seven million Internet customers, the San Antonio company plans to track customers' TV-viewing habits. Some privacy advocates said they were troubled that the policy appears to be an attempt to broaden company control over customer information.

The policy revisions come as AT&T as well as other phone companies fall under criticism, and as it faces lawsuits claiming it had inappropriately turned over customer records to the government. AT&T has denied any wrongdoing.

AT&T's new policy states: “While your account information may be personal to you, these records constitute business records that are owned by AT&T. As such, AT&T may disclose such records to protect its legitimate business interests, safeguard others or respond to legal process.”...The new policy also states that customers must agree to it before using the broadband and TV service. AT&T's old policy didn't include such a requirement.

...Some privacy advocates objected to the policy. “The public needs to be deeply concerned that AT&T is asserting proprietary ownership over a record of what they do by calling it a business record,” said Mark Cooper, director of research for the Consumer Federation of America.

AT&T's new policy, earlier reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, indicates it will track “information about viewing, game, recording and other navigation choices” for its TV services.


Fukuyama, Hannah and Zegna

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MoDo thinks about The Big Idea, and whether it is worth anything.

Fukuyama, Hannah and Zegna - Maureen Dowd
As he launched a progressive journal to ponder big ideas that might help the wretched Democrats stop driving on Ambien and snatch back a little power, Andrei Cherny sought advice from a conservative pundit.

“Who's on your tie?” the pundit asked, explaining that Reaganites had been able to sum up their philosophy in the 80's by wearing Adam Smith and Edmund Burke ties.

Mr. Cherny did not say. (John Stuart Mill?)
So far, Democrats have been more famous for who gave the tie — Monica draped Bill with a Zegna — than who gazed from it.

John Fahey

In response to an earlier posting about one of my musical heroes, John Fahey, a reader suggests

...I saw you mentioning the Resurrection Tribute, so I was wondering if you've heard the “John Fahey and Friends - Friends of Fahey Tribute” that came out on Slackertone Records a month later. I love this album, think it's very respectful and gracious towards one of the most overlooked geniuses in the 20th century. Would love to know what you think of it.

Friends of Fahey Tribute
John Fahey and Friends - Friends of Fahey Tribute

sounds good to me!


Hiding Behind the Enemy

Whatever happened the noble ideal of 'shiny city on the hill', or whatever the phrase was? Not just applicable to the U.S., of course, but to any nation that has a notion to call itself 'civilized', in a very specific, Enlightenment meaning.

Company C : An American's Life as a Citizen-Soldier in Israel
“Company C : An American's Life as a Citizen-Soldier in Israel” (Haim Watzman)

Haim Watzman: Hiding Behind the Enemy ...But morality in combat is not just an abstract principle. It is an element of an army's strength. It is also essential to the society that sends the army into battle. If the safety of soldiers becomes the standard according to which an army designs its missions, the army will not have the courage to take risks. An army that does not take risks will be easily beaten by an opponent that does.

It's not unreasonable for a society to demand that its army observe moral standards, even if the price to be paid is that more soldiers will be killed.

...Laws and moral rules are another set of constraints. Soldiers sometimes chafe at them because, unlike hills and bullets, they seem like artificial and unnecessary barriers. In a purely military sense, armies could better do their jobs if they could ignore the civilians on the battlefield. But we don't allow them to ignore civilians. And truth be told, I've never met a soldier who thinks armies ought to be able to maim and kill civilians with impunity.

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Senate rejects hike in minimum wage

I have a lot of sympathy for folks who scrape by on minimum wage. I've done it, and it is a real struggle, and I don't even have progeny. A surprisingly large number of “Red Staters” would be much better served economically if they aligned their political interests away from the Republican party.

Senate rejects hike in minimum wage

A battle over whether to raise the minimum wage is spilling into the hard-fought congressional races, with several Democratic challengers staging campaign events on the issue and Democrats promising to hike the wage as one of their first acts should they win control of Congress.

The fight heated up Wednesday as the Senate rejected a proposal by Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) to boost the minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25 an hour over the next two years. The vote was 52-46 in favor of the higher wage, with eight Republicans joining Democrats to back the change, but that left proponents eight votes short of the 60 necessary to prevail under a parliamentary deal between the two parties.

Democrats have tried several times to raise the minimum wage since the last increase in 1997, and they are portraying themselves as allies of ordinary hard-working Americans. “This battle will continue all across America until at long last justice is done,” Kennedy said. “It's time for the Republican leadership to stop its obstruction and get out of the way.”
Meanwhile, Democrats have begun attacking Republican lawmakers for accepting annual cost-of-living increases while denying a raise to ordinary workers. Since 1997, the last time the minimum wage was raised, congressional salaries have risen by about $35,000.

Plus, in weeks like this one, I feel like I am back working for minimum wage, and it sucks.

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Kennedy planning on litigation

From Tim Grieve at Salon we read of Robert Kennedy's planned next step:

Public Relations News, Features, and Analysis - PR Week This month, Rolling Stone ran an investigative feature claiming that Republicans used a systematic combination of voter disenfranchisement and fraud, centered in Ohio, to rob John Kerry of a win in the 2004 presidential election.

PRWeek: How did you come to write this piece?

Robert F. Kennedy Jr: I had not paid much attention to this issue. And then a number of books came out, and I read them because I [wanted to use them] to interview people on my radio show. And then I read the [Rep. John] Conyers report, [a 2005 Congressional inquiry into the election], and started talking with people in Ohio. And at one point, I said, “Holy cow, this is real.” And then I talked to [RS editor] Jann Wenner about it. I encouraged him to do a piece, and he said “We'll print one if you write it.”

Kennedy: I've been meeting with attorneys... to devise a litigation strategy. And I would say that very soon we'll be announcing lawsuits against some of the individuals and companies involved.

PRWeek: Who exactly would that litigation be targeting?

Kennedy: I wouldn't say, right now.

PRWeek: The election is over. Is it too late now?

Kennedy: There's another election soon. And as the Times [just] reported, the same people are up to the same shenanigans.

Rolling Stone “Was the Election Stolen” article footnotes here, and article itself here

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In a nutshell, here is why General Motors got bent out shape by Thomas Friedman's recent diatribe. GM is so used to controlling a complacent press that they were shocked when suddenly they could not publish whatever they wanted.

From AdAge:Editorial wall is an unfunny joke

Study results released last week by “PR Week” and PR Agency Manning Selvage & Lee indicated that nearly half -- 48.9% -- of senior marketing executives admit they have paid to have commercial messages integrated into print and broadcast editorial content. Those findings from a national survey added fuel to the fiery debate raging over the church/state wall that is supposed to keep editorial and commercial activities independent of each other. One side argues this separation is crucial to maintaining a media company's credibility and the trust of its readers and viewers. The other side argues the explosion of alternate digital media controlled by consumers, as well as the disrupted landscape wrought by continuing, widespread media fragmentation, have forever changed the rules of what is acceptable, and that marketers and journalists have to “work together” in ways that they wouldn't have considered before.
And, apparently, such standards are no secret to consumers. Indeed, a study done in October 2005 by MS&L's sibling media agency Starcom MediaVest found that 65% of consumers thought editorial mentions of a product had been paid for.

Exactly. Especially when certain political ideas and policies are included in the definition of “product”. Otherwise, why would the Dauphin even be in office?

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Mark Cuban had a long night

and is probably still wearing the patented Mark Cuban frowny-face.

I don't think Selena Roberts has much respect for Mark Cuban. I also think publicly planning parade routes after Dallas won the first 2 games of a 7 game series was bad karma.

Dallas Followed Cuban's Lead in Losing Its Cool - New York Times ...[Mark] Cuban, the suspicious mind who watched as his Mavericks’ homecoming banner end up draped around the interlopers at American Airlines Center after the Heat won Game 6, 95-92.

The casting was all wrong, though. Cuban often mistakes his dot.com wealth for world wide self-righteousness. If he would have paused from his various profane rants over his perception of Heat bias — which cost him a $250,000 league fine yesterday — Cuban would have discovered he was the saboteur of his team’s poise as well as his own status as Stern’s secret love.

It’s true: Cuban had Stern at “Hello.” Although Shaquille O’Neal received his lifetime achievement reward for being shoved to the curb in Los Angeles and Pat Riley finally reclaimed his slicked-back coaching sheen, Cuban’s antics during the finals undermined Stern’s plan to develop the Mavericks’ owner into a league darling, too.

Cuban is a niche marketing hope for a league that has lost suburban fans who feel alienated by players they find too urban, hip-hop and, well, too unlike them.

Cuban is a demographic treasure: a white, 40-something male and a self-made billionaire who is acting out a middle-aged guy’s fantasy by sitting behind the bench of his own sports franchise.

He is the dreamboat of techies, too, with the haircut of a band geek and the wardrobe of a couch fan. And yet, he is cool enough to mingle with George Clooney at the Oscars. He is wired enough to court Dan Rather for his television network; and he is so popular, he landed on the stage as a guest of David Letterman’s.

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National ID Cards for Cattle

Remember when the national meme was how the Republicans were the 'responsible' and 'competent' party? I don't think anyone will make that claim again anytime soon, at least with a straight face.

WSJ.com - U.S. Falls Behind In Tracking Cattle To Control Disease When the first U.S. case of mad-cow disease was discovered in December 2003, then-Secretary of Agriculture Ann M. Veneman pledged to hasten creation of a national identification system for tracing livestock quickly during a disease outbreak. She said she asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief information officer “to make it his top priority.”

Today, more than two years later, the U.S. still has no national ID system for most farm animals, including chickens and beef cattle.

anytime the phrases market forces and voluntary system are used in this context, then the program is an acknowledged joke.

Although the agency expects nearly all newborn farm animals to be included in the system by 2009, it has abandoned the idea of mandatory participation, leaving critics to cast doubt on that projection.

As recently as April 2005, the USDA's draft plan for a national ID system called for mandatory participation. But USDA officials insist the agency was never committed to that idea, and that in response to industry feedback they decided to go with a voluntary system. They express confidence that market forces, including pressure from big beef buyers and export markets, will help drive cattle owners to register their animals.

What exactly are these mysterious market forces, and why would the beef producers find them enticing? Sounds like a lot of empty verbiage to me.

Hey, I know, let's give away money our government doesn't really have to multi-national companies, and help politicians get re-elected. Win-win! Except for the rest of us, and the trees, but we don't have lobbyist groups.

Timber Becomes Tool in Effort to Cut Estate Tax

House Republicans hope a tax cut for timber companies will win Democratic support for their latest attempt to reduce the estate tax.
The provision would reduce the corporate capital gains tax, which is assessed on sales of timber, to about 14 percent from 35 percent. Two of the timber industry's strongest advocates are the Democratic senators from Washington — Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell — who both voted with other Democrats against blocking a filibuster on the estate tax.

The Weyerhaeuser Corporation, the giant paper and forest products company, is based in Federal Way, Wash., and the state is a major timber-producing area.

Other Democratic Senators — Mark Pryor and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas and Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana — were co-sponsors of a similar timber tax cut last year.

But James Manley, a spokesman for Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Senate Democratic leader, said most Democrats would oppose the new compromise as vehemently as the previous proposals.

“If there's a bill that is fiscally responsible and fair to the middle class, then we're for it,” Mr. Manley said. “But this bill would cost well over $700 billion in the first 10 years after it takes effect and it would only benefit the wealthiest individuals and households.


Shyness is nice

but it can stop you from doing all the things in life you'd like to....

The Rewards of Being Shy -- Hochman 2006 (613): 3 -- ScienceNOW : Shy people may be quiet, but there's a lot going on in their heads. When they encounter a frightening or unfamiliar situation--meeting someone new, for example--a brain region responsible for negative emotions goes into overdrive. But new research indicates that shy people may be more sensitive to all sorts of stimuli, not just frightening ones.
Frightened is a word too loaded with connotation, but there certainly some germ of a truth here. There are plenty of situations where my mind circles endlessly around the negative consequences of a particular choice or action, especially in the context of social situations. If I am required to speak in public to strangers, I can usually psyche myself up, create an actor's screen-play to work from, and nobody really knows what goes on inside of my head. However, give me a joint or two at a party of friends/acquaintances, and forget it. My brain becomes so hyperactive that I don't want to waste effort making my tongue move: I'd rather go off in the corner and work on Fibonacci number sequences, figuratively at least, unless the pot is really good in which case I'll be calculating PI. Wine is a much better social lubricant for me.

This concludes the confessional portion of the album.

(lyric from Ask Ask, link from Kottke)

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Some new tunes

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Shameless stealing the idea from Geoff, here are the CDs currently cluttering up my desk, waiting to be mentally categorized and absorbed. Probably my haul from mid-April till now, with perhaps a few exceptions momentarily living elsewhere in the office. Yes, I spend too much money on music, but, on the other hand, I don't use needles. Pick your poison, and enjoy the frack out of it. Plus, added bonus, some of it is a write-off for client research, and office expenses. Ahem.

Of course, the generated HTML is in a table, and will probably choke somebody's web browser, and will fail to validate at W3C, c'est la la.....

powered by frazy.com

if you actually click, and click through to Amazon, some schmoe at Frazy.com gets the filthy referral lucre.




Syriana (Widescreen Edition)

Finally going to see this flick, I must have moved into my queue at the right time, as the DVD was just released yesterday. As the years plod on, and I slide into doddering cranky middle-agedness, I see less and less first run movies in the theatre.
Netflixed: Syriana : George Clooney (who gained 30 lbs. for the role) plays CIA operative Robert Baer in this first-person account of the agency's false confidence regarding what they considered to be the bright future of Middle East after the end of the Cold War. Based on the best-selling book See No Evil: The True Story of a Ground Soldier in the CIA's War on Terrorism, the movie also stars Matt Damon, Amanda Peet and Greta Scacchi

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I see London I see France

From my new Flickr friend, Greg Palast, who apparently is an economist on the side, as well as being a stellar investigative journalist.

Armed Madhouse : Who's Afraid of Osama Wolf?, China Floats, Bush Sinks, The Scheme to Steal '08,No Child's Behind Left, and Other Dispatches from the Front Lines
“Armed Madhouse : Who's Afraid of Osama Wolf?, China Floats, Bush Sinks, The Scheme to Steal '08,No Child's Behind Left, and Other Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Class War” (Greg Palast)

[New York] Von Eckardt, our chief investigator, joined me and Krugman in the green room. She’s a big fan of Paul’s and couldn’t wait to hear two of her favorite economics writers talk privately about the great issues of the day.

“I wring them out as absolutely tight as I can,” said Krugman, “and by the morning they’re just a little damp but you can still wear them.”

I had a different technique for stretching the supply of underwear on book tours: Wear them into the shower or, in a pinch, turn them inside out.

“There’s one guy that has a clean pair Fed-Ex’d to him every day and he puts the dirty ones in a return envelope.” The “guy,” of course, had to be Thomas Friedman.


Actually, I thought it was all quite informative.

more fun bits at the Armed Madhouse travel blog (which has horrible formatting, but what the frack, who am I to discuss formatting after doing nothing else for what seems like 18 hours straight? My eyes won't even focus)

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Picasa Web Albums are lame-o

Speaking of incoherence, Google saw fit to bestow a Picasa web album for me, a weenie-Mac-head. So, apparently, I can upload photos (selected randomly from my 'uploaded to flickr' folder), just can't use the Picasa software, for what it's worth. Here is my desultory gallery.

Have yet to devote the time to install Parallel Desktop and/or Bootcamp on my MacBookPro, so a web album t'is all there is. Don't really see the oomphah at the moment: why is Picasa Web album any better/worse than other free photo storage sites? Actually, seems quite a lot less interesting than Flickr (great community/tagging) or even Tablo (interesting templates). Can't print anything, combine photos in interesting ways, nor even find like minded folk. What really is the point? D+, Google.

Picasa Web Albums: Test This MoFo

to be updated if necessary (or if Google cancels my account for being a kvetcher)

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I was never sure why I was pulled aside at airports and given special screening the first 9 times I flew, post 9/11 (yes, I started keeping count), but I've always wondered what triggered the extra scrutiny. Was it an early, flawed version of TIA? My atheistically secular liberal lifestyle? Those photos of me at protest rallies? I hope it wasn't due to racial profiling, because I am of certain Irish/English/German nationality, confirmed via DNA samples as being a descendent of an English colonist to Jamestown in the 1700s, albeit one with swarthy skin and a dark complexion, and perhaps an angry eye.

Where am I going with pointless anecdote? Pasta only knows. Too long of a day/week/month for coherence, sorry.

Anyway, here's what I wanted to link to:

Salon.com Technology | Ask the pilot

The 19 skyjackers succeeded not because we failed to flag them -- in fact several of the cabal, including Mohammed Atta, were singled out by the CAPPS-1 (for computer-assisted passenger prescreening system) program then in place -- but because they knowingly anticipated what levels of resistance they would face, from previously gathered intelligence available to check-in staff, and, most important, physical resistance (or lack thereof) from passengers and crew aboard the four doomed Boeings. The attackers took advantage of the skyjack paradigm as it existed at the time. They did not exploit a loophole in airport security; they exploited a loophole in our mind-set and expectations. And whatever can be said of terrorists, they're generally not stupid; the more narrowly we profile, the easier the system becomes to skirt. Routine, as any security or antiterror expert will tell you, is weakness. The trouble with profiling isn't necessarily that it's racist or discriminatory. The trouble is that it doesn't work.

Which data points are we supposed to use? Formulating some religious-ethnic template becomes extremely unreliable. Most of the world's Muslims aren't Arabs. Not all Arabs are Muslims. Nearly half of Lebanon is Christian. Iranians aren't Arabs. Neither are Turks. Plenty of Syrians have red hair and green eyes. The Bali bombers weren't Middle Eastern, they were Asian. And the blabbermouth reactionaries who scream for ethnic profiling were mum when USA Today reported that al-Qaida was actively recruiting white Chechens.

read more of Patrick Smith's invariably interesting column.

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Purty Fotos

Busy day for me, creating media kits, excel charts, yadda yadda, look at some purty Fotos instead

Cloud Beacon
Cloud Beacon Near Diversey Harbor

Not Tonight Dear
Not Tonight Dear I have an appointment

Evening Rolls in
Evening Rolls in over Diversey Harbor

St James is infirm
St James is infirm Lincoln Park somewhere.

Lake Point Tower
Lake Point Tower sun setting over the lake, pretending we were tourists....

Bicycle Repair Man
Bicycle Repair Man she had high heels, and was faster on the bike than he was.

A Golden Reason to Cry
A Golden Reason to Cry Sunset dapples on the water of Lake Michigan

Olive Park
Olive Park walked by this park a hundred times, never noticed who it was named for - Medal of Honor recipient, Milton Olive. More on Mr. Olive, here

Lake Point Tower faux tourist
Lake Point Tower faux tourist another 'pretending we are tourists in our own town' shot.

a quickr pickr post

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I'm feeling a little 'unrefreshed' this morning, but couldn't less this pass without note:

Smithsonian removes electric-car exhibit
Just weeks before the release of a movie about the death of the electric car from the 1990s, the Smithsonian Institution has removed its EV1 electric sedan from display.... The upcoming film “Who Killed the Electric Car?” questions why General Motors created the battery-powered vehicles and then crushed the program a few years later. The film opens June 30th.

GM happens to be one of the Smithsonian's biggest contributors. But museum and GM officials say that had nothing to do with the removal of the EV1 from display.

One wonders.

(from Slashdot Science)

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Department of PR vs reality

Another entry into the category of PR and public perception not quite equalling actual performance.

WSJ.com - BP's Accidents Put Its Celebrated CEO On the Hot Seat : For years, John Browne has been lionized for turning BP PLC into an oil powerhouse while embracing the green movement years before it was cool in the executive suite. Business groups showered him with management awards; Vanity Fair featured him in its recent environmental issue alongside such green darlings as Al Gore and Julia Roberts.

Now, though, a different group of image makers is taking aim at BP and its cigar-puffing, opera fan of a chief executive: American regulators and activist investors who say BP isn't living up to its environmental and safety promises.

An investigative agency looking into a deadly blast at a BP refinery in Texas last year is considering questioning Lord Browne in its probe of the accident. Federal officials in Alaska have opened a criminal investigation related to a BP oil spill at Prudhoe Bay, and a top Labor Department official lashed out recently at the company after inspectors found serious safety problems at another refinery in Ohio.

Meanwhile, so-called socially responsible investors -- a growing group who makes investment decisions by gauging a company's track record on everything from environmental to social issues, like inclusive hiring -- are starting to ask tough questions of a chief executive officer they have long admired.

“Is this a systemic problem or a series of one-offs? The jury is still out,” says Robert Barrington, London-based director of governance and socially responsible investments at F&C Asset Management PLC, which has about £112 billion ($206 billion) under management.

But perhaps as important for a company that packages itself as “Beyond Petroleum,” BP's corporate reputation -- and Lord Browne's personal one -- is taking a hit. The bashing comes as Big Oil finds itself under attack from politicians in Washington and Europe over high oil prices.

...Lord Browne, who won a peerage from Queen Elizabeth II, has taken a personal rap on the knuckles as well. At its annual shareholder meeting earlier this year, Peter Sutherland, BP's nonexecutive chairman, said the board fully backed Lord Browne. But the compensation committee, made up of independent directors, doled out a smaller bonus for 2005 compared with the year before, partly because of the problems. Lord Browne took home a pay package valued at £6.5 million, 14% more than in 2004. But his bonus was reduced to £1.8 million from £2.3 million.

Meanwhile, Don Holmstrom, an investigator for the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, says he doesn't rule out calling in Lord Browne for questioning in his continuing Texas City review. Mr. Holmstrom says that because the refinery had a history of accidents before the explosion, “we want to know specifically what was done, what was put into place, what action was taken” on the corporate level to improve safety beforehand.

A federal agency that probes chemical-industry accidents, the board doesn't have the power to levy fines. It typically delves into the technical causes of accidents, so an interview with Lord Browne would be unusual. Still, Mr. Holmstrom says he has already interviewed other corporate brass and has yet to decide about Lord Browne.

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Come on, I don't wanna work anyway. From my 'New Rips' playlist (added to library in the last 6 months, played less than 3 times), so nothing here is overplayed. Top of mind response below the jump.

Seeds for a Geo-Green Party


Thomas Friedman has been smoking some good green stuff if he thinks a third party is viable, especially since the two corporate parties (Republicrats and Democans) control the election machinery, and most of the money spigots. Still, would be nice, in some alternative universe, if there was a major political party who cared a twig or branch about planet Earth instead of lining their own pockets with power, and lining the pockets of their campaign contributors with cash.

Thomas Friedman: Seeds for a Geo-Green Party Geo-Greenism might attract a big enough following to frighten both Democrats and Republicans into finally doing the right things.

The recent focus of the Republican-led Congress on divisive diversions, like gay marriage and flag burning, coupled with the unveiling of Unity '08, an Internet-based third party that plans to select its presidential candidate through online voting, has intensified the chatter that a third party, and maybe even a fourth, will emerge in the 2008 election.

Up to now, though, most of that talk has been about how a third party might galvanize voters, using the Web, rather than what it would actually galvanize them to do. I'd like to toss out an idea in the hopes that some enterprising politician or group of citizens — or Unity '08 — will develop it. It's the concept I call “Geo-Green.”

What might a Geo-Green third party platform look like?

Its centerpiece would be a $1 a gallon gasoline tax, called “The Patriot Tax,” which would be phased in over a year. People earning less than $50,000 a year, and those with unusual driving needs, would get a reduction on their payroll taxes as an offset.

The billions of dollars raised by the Patriot Tax would go first to shore up Social Security, second to subsidize clean mass transit in and between every major American city, third to reduce the deficit, and fourth to massively increase energy research by the National Science Foundation and the Energy and Defense Departments' research arms.

Most important, though, the Patriot Tax would increase the price of gasoline to a level that would ensure that many of the most promising alternatives — ethanol, biodiesel, coal gasification, solar energy, nuclear energy and wind — would all be economically competitive with oil and thereby reduce both our dependence on crude and our emissions of greenhouse gases.

Republican War on Science

Chris Mooney's book, the Republican War on Science, is about to be released in paperback. I tried to get him to make available all changes/additions/addendums available to those of us who purchased the book, via comments on his blog a while ago, but I guess the logistics would be difficult. I may buy the paperback anyway, and re-gift the hardback. It is a good book.

The Republican War on Science
“The Republican War on Science” (Chris Mooney)

The Intersection: Paperback Pre-orders
Paperback Pre-order

Our President the asshole

clink link for video

Think Progress » President Bush To Legally Blind Reporter: ‘Are You Going to Ask That Question with Shades On?’
Wallsten is legally blind. Wallsten tells us he has a rare genetic disorder called Stargardt’s Disease. The disease is a form of macular degeneration that can be slowed “by wearing UV-protective sunglasses and avoiding exposure to bright light.”

Tim Grieve has this follow up:

Bush has now called Wallsten to apologize. “He said, 'I needle you guys out of affection,'” Wallsten tells the Associated Press. “I said, 'I understand that, but I don't want you to treat me any differently because of this.'” Wallsten says he told the president to “needle away.” Bush's response: “I will. Next time I'll just use a different needle.”

Here's a different idea. Maybe Bush could make it up to Wallsten by, you know, answering the question he asked him when the “shades” jokes were over. Wallsten asked the president if, during the course of the Valerie Plame investigation, he “learned anything that you didn't know before about what was going on in your administration.” “And,” Wallsten asked, “do you have any work to do to rebuild credibility that might have been lost?”

Bush's response: “I think that -- first of all, the decision by the prosecutor speaks for itself. He had a full investigation. Karl Rove went in front of the grand jury like -- I don't -- a lot of times. More times than -- they took a hard look at his role. Secondly, as I told the other Peter, I'm going to tell you that there's an ongoing trial, it's a serious business. And I've made the comments I'm going to make about this incident, and I'm going to put this part of the situation behind us and move forward.”


Oh the humanity

Kottke went further than me, and actually typed up his reasons for ignoring Ms. Acid Snatch whenever possible:

Mike Luckovich Coulter

Please stop! (kottke.org) I know everyone's upset about her new book. I'm not going to use her name, but you know who I'm talking about; she's blonde, leggy, confident, radically conservative, radically full of shit, and you hate her with the fire of a million suns. But she's also a huge troll....

(cartoon via Mike Luckovich)

Apparently, B12 has mentioned Ms. Acid Snatch a couple of times, in the context of the Frog March, and in the context of allegations of Vulgar Pigboy drug parties. Oh, and when Ward Churchill had his moment in the sun. For these transgressions, we are doing penance, by eating lots of spaghetti, and drinking beers for lunch. Whoo hoo! Secular liberalism!!

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From the Department of Jerry Kleiner

Jerry Kleiner Way

We could start an entire category archive on Jerry Kleiner, but until that day arrives, this will suffice:

We made our semiannual call to Jerry Kleiner to see what he was up to, and, as usual, his answer was: a lot. “I’m negotiating with several spaces in Vegas for a Carnivale, and a new project in New Jersey called Xanadu,” says Kleiner. “And I think I’m going to open in Hyde Park in September. That’s going to be a contemporary American place with some of my twists on traditional American stuff.

And I have this old Al Capone brewery [2110 S. Wabash Ave.] where I’ve been working on the garden now for 16 months. Incredible landscaping, like a European setting. We just haven’t defined the food yet.” As long as it’s not small plates, we’ll be happy. “I’m not doing small plates,” he promised. “What is with Chicago? Everyone jumps on the bandwagon at the same time. In fact, that’s a good name: Not Small Plates. That’s what I should call it.”

a few snippets from the B12 Kleiner archive:

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If we just close our eyes

If we just close our eyes, then all bad news will never have happened. At least, if you work for the Bush White House that is. If we learn any facts, then the terrorists win. Or some such twaddle.

Reporters covering suicides at Guantanamo are expelled
Editors at three U.S. newspapers protested to the Pentagon Wednesday after their reporters were expelled from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where they were reporting on the weekend suicides of three prisoners.

Journalists from the Los Angeles Times, The Miami Herald and The Charlotte Observer all received permission from a local commander to be at the detention facility. But the three reporters and a photographer from the Charlotte paper left the island Wednesday on orders from the Pentagon.

But the three newspapers that managed to have reporters at Guantanamo said the military should be doing everything possible to increase public knowledge about the controversial island prison.

“Expelling [Los Angeles Times reporter] Carol Williams and her colleagues represents a Stone Age attitude that only feeds suspicions about what is going on at Guantanamo,” said Times Managing Editor Doug Frantz. The Los Angeles Times is owned by Tribune Co.


Blockbuster Sues Netflix

Hey, if you can't compete on the merits of your business, there's always litigation....

WSJ.com - Blockbuster Sues Netflix
Blocksucker Sues Netflix

Blockbuster Inc. said it filed antitrust counterclaims against Netflix Inc., alleging Netflix's lawsuit against Blockbuster's online service is based on “unenforceable patents.”

The Dallas video-rental company filed its counterclaims against Netflix in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, the same court where online DVD-rental service Netflix filed its patent-infringement suit in April challenging the video-store chain's recent Internet expansion.

The Netflix suit focuses on the online wish lists that prioritize the DVD desires of people who subscribe to either Netflix or Blockbuster's Internet service.

Blockbuster's suit says Netflix, of Los Gatos, Calif., is trying to enforce patents “obtained through deceptive practices in an attempt to monopolize the online rental business.”

The claims also allege Netflix failed to inform the Patent Office of previous patents and previous business methods of other companies.

Netflix spokesman Steve Swasey said the company has filed its claims on the matter and will vigorously defend its patents. “It is up to the courts to decide,” he said


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Benefit of being D list blogger

Another benefit of not being a Big Time Blogger is I don't really have to worry about crap like this:

One more reason to be wary of feeding trolls at Pandagon What a lot of us suspected—that conservative trolls that seem to generate knee-jerk right wing talking points are just plants that are put there by the endless stream of right wing money earmarked for propaganda—looks like it’s probably true.

I get a handful of weird comments, but obviously, and thankfully I am not on anyone's radar.

Also Dr. Peter Rost has been keeping track of his visitors, and is getting paranoid:

And there is more info on this group. The RENDON GROUP has been called “The guerilla marketing and PR firm that brought us Ahmad Chalabi, created the Iraqi National Congress, pushed 'bad intelligence' about Iraqi WMDs to the Media, US State Department, and DoD, and staged PR events, like the fall of Hussein's statue, for the US media enclave that was confined at the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad.”

I did notice a few visits yesterday from the Edelman Group, specifically on both of my Wal-Mart posts (here and here), and plenty of visitors from General Motors as well in re the Thomas Friedman columns. Nothing too odd though, if I was Wal-Mart's PR firm, I'd have software which monitored the blogosphere (y!sctp) too. I notice visitors from Congress every time I mention how much of a pandering putz Senator Barack Obama is, why should Armando's favorite box store be any different?

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Flickr Cracks Down on Screenshots

That's sort of lame. I wonder why the sudden interest in enforcing lame Terms of Service?

Flickr Cracks Down on Screenshots In a warning shot for Web 2.0 “buzz” marketing, a little-known policy keeps images from virtual world Second Life out of public listings on the popular picture-sharing site.

At stake is a little-known Flickr policy of flagging accounts that contain mostly non-photographic images and preventing images from those accounts from appearing in public areas of the site, including search.

As a result, many screenshots on Flickr are AWOL -- at least as far as the general public is concerned. That's angering and confusing

Happened to me in the past, though I was told it at the time it was because my photos were “too professional”, which is code for BS. You've seen my photos, and nobody in their right mind-eye is accusing me of being a professional.

The problem as I see it, is that Flickr doesn't tell a user the reason for the sudden disappearance, so there isn't a mechanism for correcting whatever the problem was. Also, there is a button to “Flag” a photo, if two people “flag” any photo, the account is put into purgatory. (There was a specific example from flickr friend yuridojc, but apparently the photo has been deleted. In his case, the photo was an artfully posed nude, beautifully composed portrait, but it showed a woman's nipple. Somebody objected, and his account was suddenly AWOL).

I'm sad about the new rule enforcements re screen shots, especially since I have invested time, effort, and even money into flickr, so moving all of my photos will be distressing.

“It's such an odd move on (Flickr's) part to alienate such a large part of their user base,” said Snapzilla creator Cristiano Diaz.... “It's hard to understand the motivation behind that.”

Perhaps there is pressure being applied directly from Yahoo, and maybe selling out wasn't the best choice for the community of flickr, even if it was for the bank account of founders Caterina Fake and Stewart Butterfield.

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General Motors vs Tom Friedman


As follow up to the previous broo-ha between GM and Thomas Friedman (earlier discussion here and here), Friedman has a few points to make. Again, Friedman is absolutely right: why can't GM be forward thinking about gas milage, instead of fighting to continue 'the old ways'? We'd be happy if suddenly GM dropped Dick Cheney and the Energy Task Force from their collective rolodexes, and instead subsidized the purchase of hybrid cars. Dream on, right?

Thomas Friedman: G.M. — Again

As long as G.M. is giving away $1.99 gasoline for its gas guzzlers, I will be a harsh critic.

On May 31 I wrote a column accusing General Motors of acting irresponsibly by offering unlimited gasoline at $1.99 a gallon for one year to anyone who buys certain of its midsize sedans, big S.U.V.'s or gas-guzzling Hummers in California or Florida. At a time when we are at war in the Middle East, with an enemy who is indirectly financed by our energy purchases, it seems to me that every American, and every American company, has an obligation to reduce oil consumption. No one should be making a huge gas-guzzling Hummer, and no one should be driving one, and no one — certainly not G.M. — should be subsidizing people to drive them.

After the May 31 column appeared, G.M.'s vice president for global communications, Steven J. Harris, and his colleagues denounced my argument in a formal statement and on G.M.'s corporate blog. This is an important issue, so let me respond to their response.

To begin with, I would much prefer to see G.M. thriving and growing American jobs — not selling itself off, limb by limb. But as long as G.M. is giving away $1.99 gasoline for its gas guzzlers, I will be a harsh critic. Pardon me if — at a time when China is imposing higher mileage standards than America — I don't want to join the many congressmen and senators in drinking G.M.'s Kool-Aid and not demanding that it become the most fuel-efficient automaker in the world. If more people in Washington insisted that G.M. focus on building cars that could compete in a world of $3.99 gasoline, rather than creating an artificial universe of $1.99 gasoline, G.M. would not be worrying about bankruptcy today.

G.M. says that the cars chosen for its $1.99 gas giveaway were chosen because of “their outstanding fuel economy and great consumer appeal.” It also says that G.M. makes more cars that get an E.P.A.-estimated 30 miles per gallon on the highway than any other company.

Fact: G.M. also sells more cars that get 9 to 11 m.p.g. — the Hummer — than any other company. And even though G.M. justified the $1.99 program as giving consumers a chance to drive some of its most fuel-efficient cars, it did not include its best-selling, most fuel-efficient model, the Chevy Aveo (35 m.p.g. highway), in the program, but did include seven gas-guzzling trucks. G.M. still does not have a family-friendly hybrid on the market (one is due this summer) — nine years after Toyota introduced the 45-m.p.g. Prius hybrid, which G.M. scoffed at at the time.

Christian Taliban strikes again

From Adweek, we read of the power the Christian Taliban has over the FCC. All it took was the complaints of two viewers to get a record fine levied on CBS:

'Trace' in Eye of the Storm : Virtually none of those who complained to the Federal Communications Commission about the drama Without a Trace actually saw the episode in question, CBS affiliates said as they asked the agency to rescind its proposed record indecency fine of $3.3 million.
All of the 4,211 e-mailed complaints came from Web sites operated by the Parents Television Council and the American Family Association, the stations said in a filing on Monday.
In only two of the e-mails did those complaining say they had watched the program, and those two apparently refer to a “brief, out-of-context segment” of the episode that was posted on the Parents Television Council's Web site, the affiliates' filing said.

“There were no true complainants from actual viewers,” the stations said. To be valid, complaints must come from an actual viewer in the service area of the station at issue, the filing said.

and piling on, because he is aware of his power

L. Brent Bozell, president of the Parents Television Council, said, “Everything the PTC has said is accurate.

The FCC in proposing the fines of $32,500 upon each of 103 CBS stations said they had ”broadcast material graphically depicting teenage boys and girls participating in a sexual orgy.“

CBS stations said the episode included flashbacks aimed at portraying risky behavior that showed actors in ”sexually suggestive positions“ but without nudity or coarse language.

So, apparently, the power of email complaints is magnified if one is a member of a repressive minority. Not good news for the rest of us. I wonder if we could get the Dauphin's meaningless press conferences off the air if we were a member of the PTC? And really, only 4,211 ditto-heads stormed the FCC bastille? Seems like Atrios or DKos could whip up that sort of frenzy fairly easily.

And to think we've given up on television as puerile: we've been missing out on orgies!

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New Dylan Album Modern Times

Not yet available at Amazon (or elsewhere, so no samples or MP3), but allegedly, the forthcoming Bob Dylan album is called Modern Times.

The Collection: Oh, Mercy/Time Out of Mind/Love and Theft

“The Collection: Oh, Mercy/Time Out of Mind/Love and Theft” (Bob Dylan)

Bob Dylan's first album of new songs in five years will be called 'Modern Times' and released on August 28, according to an inside source at his US record company, Sony-BMG.

A number of hand-picked journalists were given a playback of the album in New York City last week but were required to sign legal undertakings not to talk about what they heard. One record company source described the album as similar in style to 2001's 'Love & Theft'. Another source claimed the dozen songs include “at least three masterpieces”.

Mr. Dylan also is not a Britney Spears fan, nor apparently is he a Coldplay fan:


Bob Dylan has launched a withering attack on contemporary rock bands in the programme notes for his latest American tour.

“I know there are groups at the top of the charts that are hailed as the saviours of rock'n'roll and all that, but they are amateurs. They don't know where the music comes from,” he wrote, adding, “I wouldn't even think about playing music if I was born in these times... I'd probably turn to something like mathematics. That would interest me. Architecture would interest me. Something like that.

Though, since he doesn't actually name names of these so-called sucky bands, perhaps I'm projecting. Ahem.

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Our building's roof deck makes a cameo in this video

Current TV // Joe Hanson // What's Wrong With Abstinence?
What's Wrong With Abstinence? What should they teach in sex ed class - abstinence, contraception or both? Joe gets to the bottom of things in his own educational video and snags a guest appearance by Bino White.

(probably shot with this camera)

Unfortunately, that is the extent of our involvement.

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Fraud, corruption and government agencies

Hmmm, where have we heard this sort of sordid tale before? Oh right, like 500 gazillion times. Though to be fair to Dr. Sunderland, he did have to keep up the payments on his second summer home in the Bahamas.

WSJ.com - NIH Scientist's Pfizer Links Probed

A senior scientist at the National Institutes of Health may have improperly transferred human-tissue specimens to Pfizer Inc., while receiving several hundred thousand dollars in payments from the company, according to a report being issued today by the staff of a congressional committee.

Investigators for the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, in a 26-page report, said a branch chief at the National Institute of Mental Health, Trey Sunderland, had provided to Pfizer more than 3,000 samples of human spinal fluid and plasma, beginning with a 1998 agreement between the NIH scientist and the company. The specimens had been taken from patients with Alzheimer's disease and from volunteers without the affliction.

According to the House report, the samples were NIH property, but “records and interviews provide reasonable grounds to believe that Dr. Sunderland personally received $285,000 in compensation from Pfizer” for providing the company with access to the samples.

Dr. Sunderland had drawn the scrutiny of the House panel for his dealings with Pfizer two years ago. In June 2004, the same House panel said that Dr. Sunderland had received more than $500,000 in payments from Pfizer from 1999 to 2004 for outside consulting and speaking without any record of prior approval for these activities or disclosure in his government financial-report filings.

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Wal-Mart hates America

Haven't gotten the most recent New Yorker, but apparently Lambert at CorrenteWire has.

Thanks, Wal-Mart! There is a built-in tension between commerce and security. Big importers (Wal-Mart is by far the largest American importer), shipping lines, and terminal operators all fear the extra costs involved in strengthening port security. Wal-Mart, working through a Washington lobby that it dominates [RILA], has worked hard and successfully to defeat a series of post-9/11 legislative proposals to increase container and port security.

Of course, it’s highly unlikely that a loose nuke in a shipping container will make its way to Bentonville, Arkansas!

more New Yorker Port tales here.

I guess Armando has been busy

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Republican plan for Iraq

Yes, by passing a resolution equating the Iraqi War with the already branded “War on Terror”, it shall be true.

Capitol Hill showdown on Iraq GOP crafts resolution in support of war; Democrats call for timetable to withdraw troops In a contentious debate scheduled for Thursday, House Republicans are trying to shore up support for the war in Iraq and embarrass Democrats as lawmakers face voters increasingly unhappy about the conflict.

House leaders have proposed a resolution equating the war in Iraq with the global war on terror, calling it the “central front” and declaring that it is not in the national interest “to set an arbitrary date for the withdrawal or redeployment of United States armed forces from Iraq.”

Somehow, the fact that the idiots in Congress even are wasting time like this is reason enough to pass term limit legislation. Or IQ testing, or something. If the Congress passes a resolution proclaiming that Pi = 3, as is written in the Bible, will that make it true? Well, perhaps bad example, as the Christian Taliban and their minions in Congress are busily drafting that amendment right now in all probability.

Not to mention any time that our high school wrestling coach cum Speaker of the House is involved, the proceedings are an acknowledged joke. Even the Republicans know better than to give important tasks to Denny-boy Hastert.

To underscore the seriousness with which Republicans view this debate, House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) will kick off the discussion by noting that it is better to take the war to the terrorists “so we don't have to fight them in American neighborhoods.”

Hastert rarely speaks on the floor, and by tradition, House speakers only vote on the most important of issues.

“Our nation deserves an open and honest debate on the future direction of our military involvement in Iraq,” said Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.). “Instead, Majority Leader [John] Boehner and the Republican leadership have crafted a resolution for debate focused on trying to embarrass Democrats. It is the Republican leadership that ought to be embarrassed for its three-year failure to exercise its oversight responsibilities. Apparently, the American people will still have to wait for a serious debate on Iraq that is aimed at correcting bad policies instead of bad poll numbers.”

Rep. Ike Skelton (D-Mo.), ranking minority member of the Armed Services Committee, sent a letter to Boehner describing himself as “distressed” over the resolution and its focus on the war on terrorism rather than the Iraq war itself.

“I think you well understand that the war in Iraq is a separate conflict, an insurgency with terrorist elements and sectarian violence,” Skelton wrote. “We promised and owe the American people a focused and dedicated debate about our policy and the future of American commitment in Iraq.”

Republicans finalized the language of the resolution Monday night, with Democrats essentially shut out of the process. They will not be allowed to offer amendments to the resolution, nor will they be able to offer any sort of substitute language.

The House is expected to debate the resolution for eight to 10 hours, with members of different committees addressing separate aspects of the conflict. For example, GOP aides said members of the Intelligence Committee will talk about “tangible intelligence successes” in the war on terror. Members of the International Relations Committee, led by Chairman Henry Hyde (R-Ill.), will discuss political achievements in Iraq.

Boehner, the Ohioan who was the driving force behind holding the debate, said it would address a key question: “Are we going to confront the threat of terrorism and defeat it, or will we relent and retreat in the hopes that it just goes away?”

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Wal-mart vs Chicago

Wal-Mart is posturing against this proposed “living wage” amendment.

Wal-Mart likes Chicago, but not city's wage plan | Chicago Tribune
A Wal-Mart official said Monday that his firm could be interested in building “10 or 20” stores on city sites during the next five years, but he added that passage of a minimum wage measure by Chicago's City Council could have a chilling effect on the company's plans.

So, let's see, either 10-20 Wal-Mart stores sprout up in Chicago, causing irreparable changes to the character of The Big Spud, beating down the city's economy, destroying established small businesses, etc., or Chicago passes an amendment whereupon entry-level employees of billion dollar companies have to actually receive a slightly above poverty level wage, instead of a poverty level wage. Hmmm, I think I'll go with option B please. Screw Wal-Mart.

Ald. Ricardo Munoz (22nd), who supports the big-box ordinance, said that passage would not change Wal-Mart's plans.

“We won't lose them,” he said. “Wal-Mart wants to come into Chicago because they see the market. They see how much is being spent in Chicago proper. They want to be here. They just have to pay a living wage.”

Yes, that's the secret underlying fact: Wal-Mart needs to continue building new stores so Wall Street is happy with revenue growth and related issues, and the rural market is pretty saturated already. In other words, the urban markets are Wal-Mart's only hope at making Wall Street happy.


Some of All Fears

Krugman is 1000% correct: the American-hating left doesn't really exist except as a strawman for the chattering classes, and the political talking heads with empty bags of rhetoric (like Obama, for instance). Even those far, far on the left don't “hate America”, we just want America to be a benevolent force in the world, not a bully.

Paul Krugman: Some of All Fears Who are the “Some Democrats” who hate America?

Back in 1971, Russell Baker, the legendary Times columnist, devoted one of his Op-Ed columns to an interview with Those Who — as in “Those Who snivel and sneer whenever something good is said about America.” Back then, Those Who played a major role in politicians' speeches.

Times are different now, of course. There are those who say that Iraq is another Vietnam. But Iraq is a desert, not a jungle, so there. And we rarely hear about Those Who these days. But the Republic faces an even more insidious threat: the Some.

The Some take anti-American positions on a variety of issues. For example, they want to hurt the economy: “Some say, well, maybe the recession should have been deeper,” said President Bush in 2003. “That bothers me when people say that.”

Mainly, however, the Some are weak on national security. “There's Some in America who say, 'Well, this can't be true there are still people willing to attack,' ” said Mr. Bush during a visit to the National Security Agency.

The Some appear to be an important faction within the Democratic Party — a faction that has come out in force since the killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Last week the online edition of The Washington Times claimed that “Some Democrats” were calling Zarqawi's killing a “stunt.”

Even some Democrats (not to be confused with Some Democrats) warn about the influence of the Some. “Some Democrats are allergic to the use of force. They still have a powerful influence on the party,” said Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institution after the 2004 election.

Joe Klein, the Time magazine columnist, went further, declaring that the Democratic Party's “left wing” has a “hate America tendency.”

And when Senator Barack Obama told The New Yorker that Americans “don't believe that the main lesson of the past five years is that America is an evil hegemon,” he seemed to be implying that influential members of his party believe just that.

But here's the strange thing: it's hard to figure out who those Some Democrats are.

Those Pesky Voters

Bob Herbert follows up on Robert Kennedy's article, which for some reason has been attacked from the left as being truthful or something. Wonder how the left will react to Mr. Herbert?

Bob Herbert: Those Pesky Voters

The lesson out of Ohio on Election Day 2004 is that the integrity of the election process needs to be more fiercely defended in the face of outrageous Republican assaults.

The election was bound to be close, and I knew that Kerry couldn't win Florida. I had been monitoring the efforts to suppress Democratic votes there and had reported on the thuggish practice (by the Jeb Bush administration) of sending armed state police officers into the homes of elderly black voters in Orlando to “investigate” allegations of voter fraud.

As far as I was concerned, Florida was safe for the G.O.P. That left Ohio.

Republicans, and even a surprising number of Democrats, have been anxious to leave the 2004 Ohio election debacle behind. But Mr. Kennedy, in his long, heavily footnoted article (“Was the 2004 Election Stolen?”), leaves no doubt that the democratic process was trampled and left for dead in the Buckeye State. Mr. Kerry almost certainly would have won Ohio if all of his votes had been counted, and if all of the eligible voters who tried to vote for him had been allowed to cast their ballots.

Mr. Kennedy's article echoed and expanded upon an article in Harper's (“None Dare Call It Stolen,” by Mark Crispin Miller) that ran last summer. Both articles documented ugly, aggressive and frequently unconscionable efforts by G.O.P. stalwarts to disenfranchise Democrats in Ohio, especially those in urban and heavily black areas.

The point man for these efforts was the Ohio secretary of state, J. Kenneth Blackwell, a Republican who was both the chief election official in the state and co-chairman of the 2004 Bush-Cheney campaign in Ohio — just as Katherine Harris was the chief election official and co-chairwoman of the Bush-Cheney campaign in Florida in 2000.

No one has been able to prove that the election in Ohio was hijacked. But whenever it is closely scrutinized, the range of problems and dirty tricks that come to light is shocking. What's not shocking, of course, is that every glitch and every foul-up in Ohio, every arbitrary new rule and regulation, somehow favored Mr. Bush.

Clash News I did not know


Made in Medina
Rachid Taha

This album, my only exposure to Mr. Taha, is quite good.

Salon's Thomas Bartlett writes:

Rachid Taha

This is the Algerian rock/pop/rai star Rachid Taha's cover of the Clash's “Rock the Casbah” -- the verses translated into Arabic, the choruses left in English, and the whole thing decorated with the standard trappings of Arabic pop. It's an intensely charged cover, not a simple tribute, complicated as it is by Taha's belief that Strummer and Co. got their unacknowledged inspiration for the song from his '80s French band Carte de Séjour, which they heard after Taha himself gave them a tape in 1981

MP3 available here

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Weekend photos stroll action

100 percent natural
100 percent natural well, depends upon the meaning of natural (fungible word)

That's what dreams were made for
That's what dreams were made for only viewable in my nightmares. Sorry.

Hidden Meanings
Hidden Meanings Chicago lakefront, from my archive.

(Taken with an Olympus C3040Z, manipulated in Photoshop)

Emptiness skyline view, West Loop. Unknown propeller plane model, though venture to guess WWII era.

Big Bowl
Big Bowl a frequent dining location

Roast-o-Matic at the Wells St. Art Fest

Snausages at the Wells St. Art Festival

a quickr pickr post

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Yale and Juan Cole

I do not know Professor Cole, except via his astute commentary regarding the Middle East, as promulgated at his blog, Informed Comment. D (and several of her close friends) graduated from the University of Michigan, but that was long enough ago that she doesn't care much about the institution anymore. That said, Professor Cole was unfairly smeared for daring to voice an opinion contrary to the prevailing opinion held by the right wing in Israel, and their lobby in the US.

Note: we know a few liberal Israelis, and they have opinions regarding the West Bank which are close to those espoused by Professor Cole, as we understand them, so it isn't as if every intellectual in Israel is in mental lockstep. No, the problem is the inordinate amount of clout the NeoCons have over American policy and polity.

Professor Cole writes:

I am not going to talk about the Yale affair per se. But I did want to clear up some misimpressions I've seen here and there.

read more Informed Comment here.


How Hispanics Became the New Gays

Frank Rich notes the farce of the Defense of Bigots act, its subsequent failure, and how immigration 'reform' is going to be used as a bludgeon against Hispanics.

Frank Rich: How Hispanics Became the New Gays If the president doesn't lead, he will have helped relegate Hispanics to the same second-class status he has encouraged for gay Americans.

HE never promised them the Rose Garden. But that's where America's self-appointed defenders of family values had expected President Bush to take his latest stand against same-sex marriage last week. In the end, without explanation, the event was shunted off to a nondescript auditorium in the Executive Office Building, where the president spoke for a scant 10 minutes at the non-prime-time hour of 1:45 p.m. The subtext was clear: he was embarrassed to be there, a constitutional amendment “protecting” marriage was a loser, and he feared being branded a bigot. “As this debate goes forward, every American deserves to be treated with tolerance and respect and dignity,” Mr. Bush said.

That debate died on the floor of the Senate less than 48 hours later, when the amendment went down to an even worse defeat than expected. Washington instantly codified the moral: a desperate president at rock bottom in the polls went through the motions of a cynical and transparent charade to rally his base in an election year. Nothing was gained — even the president of the Family Policy Network branded Mr. Bush's pandering a ruse — and no harm was done.

Except to gay people. That's why the president went out of his way to talk about “tolerance” at this rally, bizarrely held on the widely marked 25th anniversary of the first mention of an AIDS diagnosis in a federal report. Mr. Bush knew very well that his participation in this tired political stunt, while certain to have no effect on the Constitution, could harm innocent Americans.

When young people hear repeatedly that gay couples aspiring to marital commitment are “undermining the moral fabric of the country, that stuff doesn't wash off,” says Matt Foreman of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. Most concretely, the Washington ruckus trickles down into sweeping assaults on gay partners' employee benefits and parental rights at the state level, as exemplified by a broadly worded referendum on the Virginia ballot this fall outlawing any kind of civil union. Had Mr. Bush really believed that his words had no consequences, he would have spoken in broad daylight at the White House and without any defensive touchy-feely bromides about “tolerance.”

Mr. Bush prides himself on being tolerant — and has hundreds of photos of himself posing with black schoolkids to prove it. But his latest marriage maneuver is yet another example of how his presidency has been an enabler of bigots, and not just those of the “pro-family” breed.

yes, patting them on the head at every opportunity, while kicking them in the ass via budgetary choices.

Gender Gap at School


I've been trying very hard not to preface postings with meaningless phrases like, this guy is an idiot, but I can barely restrain myself in regards to BoBo's latest:

David Brooks: The Gender Gap at School

There are three gender-segregated sections in any airport: the restrooms, the security pat-down area and the bookstore. In the men's sections of the bookstore, there are books describing masterly men conquering evil. In the women's sections there are novels about ... well, I guess feelings and stuff.

The same separation occurs in the home. Researchers in Britain asked 400 accomplished women and 500 accomplished men to name their favorite novels. The men preferred novels written by men, often revolving around loneliness and alienation. Camus's “The Stranger,” Salinger's “Catcher in the Rye” and Vonnegut's “Slaughterhouse-Five” topped the male list.

The women leaned toward books written by women. The women's books described relationships and are a lot better than the books the men chose. The top six women's books were “Jane Eyre,” “Wuthering Heights,” “The Handmaid's Tale,” “Middlemarch,” “Pride and Prejudice” and “Beloved.”

Ok, stop there. So, airport women readers read kissy-feely Harlequin romance novels, yet on the other hand, in some British survey, books chosen by women are 'a lot better than the books the men chose.' You've lost me there, Dave. I don't know if it is just because my liver is still cloudy from the festivities of last night, or that Mr. Brooks cannot maintain his argument from paragraph one all the way to paragraph three. I'm going to choose option A (my brain is still lacking the proper ratio of caffeine and electrolytes) because I assume the New York Times employs editors.

Brooks goes on to lament that men don't read anymore because, I'm paraphrasing, feminism has robbed men of their ability to focus on a page of written text. Yeah, ok.

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GM and Rubbish


From Brad DeLong, we read:

FYI Blog: The Ban on `Rubbish’ in The New York Times : By Brian Akre
GM Corporate Communications

I’ve spent much of the past week trying to get a letter to the editor published in The New York Times in response to the recent Tom Friedman rant (archived here) against GM

Ah yes, the same petulant GM who pulled all advertising from the LA Times because they didn't like a bad car review (also see here). I don't know how many millions GM spends at the NYT on advertising (probably quite a few), but since when does that mean you get the “right” to get a published letter to the editor? The Times hasn't seen fit to publish any of my letters either.

Monthly Retainers

Ad Age Small Agency Diary » Remembering the Days of Monthly Retainers I don’t want to sound like one those old guys always recalling the past, but I remember (fondly) when my agency routinely signed clients on for monthly retainers. It was pretty much standard practice, and neither I nor my clients thought much of it. It was an expectation that they would pay a monthly fee for services rendered. Period. And it actually wasn’t too many years ago.

No freaking kidding! I'm still studiously avoiding naming names, but some of our clients give us so many tasks, we frequently end up working for sub-minimum wage. No fun. No fun at all. We make a commission (15%-20%) on business we do manage to bring in, and that's great. What is not so great are all the projects we work diligently on that never come to fruition, either because of wishy-washy clients or other reasons. No retainer means these hours were pissed away, and will never be accounted for, either in regained sleep or in financial remuneration. Yadda yadda.

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Skipped over Nagourney's article this morning, while slurping coffee before work; even though it is a fairly condescending overview of the Las Vegas Yearly Kos convention, I liked this analogy. I despise talk radio (radio in all forms, really: I'm a better DJ than Clear Channel), but avidly consume the political blogs (even, for all my criticism, DKos) every day.

Gathering Highlights Power of the Blog - New York Times :

And a well-known columnist from a major metropolitan newspaper — this one — was repeatedly stopped by bloggers requesting that she pose for photos with them, as they expressed admiration for her work. (That would be Maureen Dowd.)

As became clear from the rather large and diverse crowd here, the blogosphere has become for the left what talk radio has been for the right: a way of organizing and communicating to supporters. Blogging is nowhere near the force among Republicans as it is among Democrats, and talk radio is a much more effective tool for Republicans.

“We don't spend a lot of time in cars, but we do spend a lot of time on the Internet,” said Jerome Armstrong, a blogging pioneer and a senior adviser to Mr. Warner, who has been the most aggressive among the prospective 2008 candidates in courting this community.

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Blackberry as modem

From MacMerc we read:

As far as I can tell, no one has yet come up with a way to tether a BlackBerry 8700 to a Mac (running Mac OS X) to use it as a modem. This works on the PC, so it’s likely a matter of reverse engineering to get it working on OS X. ...

I’ll throw in $50 to get things started… if you’d like to sweeten the pot, PayPal some cash to paypal AT alexking DOT org with “BlackBerry Bounty” in the comments.

Current bounty total: $60


The working solution must work on both MacBooks (including Pro) and PowerBooks and it must work with a BlackBerry 8700 on T-Mobile and Cingular.
If the solution is not made available for free (ie. is packaged as a commercial product), anyone who contributed to the Bounty must be given a free license.

Of course, our crackberry doesn't use T-Mobile or Cingular n/k/a AT&T, but if the hack works, seems like it would be trivial to make it work with other carriers.

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Natural Fungible term

Sorry, just liked this sentence because I had to look up the meaning of fungible.

When It Comes to Meat, 'Natural' Is a Vague Term

Probably the most confusing and fungible word in all of food labeling is the term, natural.

From my built-in dictionary in OS X:

fungible |ˈfənjəbəl|

of goods contracted for without an individual specimen being specified, able to replace or be replaced by another identical item; mutually interchangeable : money is fungible—money that is raised for one purpose can easily be used for another.
ORIGIN late 17th cent.: from medieval Latin fungibilis, from fungi ‘perform, enjoy,’ with the same sense as fungi vice ‘serve in place of.’

Still reading Michael Pollan's great book, Omnivore's Dilemma

The Omnivore's Dilemma : A Natural History of Four Meals

“The Omnivore's Dilemma : A Natural History of Four Meals” (Michael Pollan)

so am hyper-aware of the presence of corn everywhere. More on that later, hopefully.

If a package of beef does not say grass-fed, then it is probable the animals ate a diet high in corn and other grains, which some animal experts think is much less healthy for both the animals and humans. Cows have evolved to eat grass; only since the industrialization of agriculture in the last 60 years have they been served diets of things like corn and soybeans.

In contrast to the slippery word “natural,” the term “organic” can be applied on to meat that adheres much more stringent standards. The animals must be raised without the use of antibiotics, growth hormones and chemicals used to kill parasites and they must be given feed that has been grown without pesticides or chemical fertilizers. Farms that sell organic meat must be regularly inspected and certified by an inspector approved by the Agriculture Department, all of which helps to make organic meat more expensive and harder to find than merely natural meat.

Corn porn is just bonus (borrowed from NoNoJoe, but I used to have the same iron-on).

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Bloggers Double Down

MoDo discusses DKos, and the cult of personality that seems to be developing. Will journalists ever be replaced by bloggers? Doubt it - for the most part, bloggers need material developed by someone else to work with.

Maureen Dowd: Bloggers Double Down
Even as Old Media is cowed by New Media, New Media is trying to become, rather than upend, Old Media.

If I had to be relegated to the Dustbin of History, I'm glad it was in Vegas.

I, Old Media, came here to attend a New Media convention of progressive political bloggers aiming for a technological revolution that would dispatch mainstream media to the tumbrels. It was the journalistic equivalent of mingling with your own pod replicant in “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.”

“Bloggers meet mainstream media,” crowed one young man, as he had a friend take a picture of us together at the Riviera Hotel. His friend chimed in: “Where the rubber meets the road.”

Old media and new circled each other “like kids at a seventh-grade dance,” said Jennifer Palmieri, a Democratic operative.

Markos Moulitsas, the 34-year-old provocateur from Berkeley who runs America's most popular and influential political blog, Daily Kos, said in a keynote speech that “the old media are no longer the gatekeepers” and that “Republicans have failed us because they can't govern; Democrats have failed us because they can't get elected.”

Despite being labeled failures, Democratic presidential hopefuls and lesser pols lined up to kiss the Polo-sneaker-clad feet of Mr. Moulitsas and his fellow Blogfather, Jerome Armstrong. Hillary was not there. Triangulation makes you a troll, in the argot of this crowd. “Oh my God,” Mr. Moulitsas said when asked about her. “No way!”

But Mark Warner, Wes Clark and Jack Carter — Jimmy Carter's son, who is running for the Senate in Nevada — are holding blog bashes. Tom Vilsack, Barbara Boxer and Howard Dean were there. Bill Richardson, wearing a white T-shirt under a blue jacket, jeans and silver jewelry, flew in for a breakfast with the Kossacks in a Riviera skybox.

“We should be the party of space,” the governor of New Mexico said, trying to sound futuristic. “I'm for space.” Told that Mark Warner was there, Mr. Richardson said, smiling a bit: “Warner, is he here? I don't care.”

John Laesch, who is running to unseat Denny Hastert in Illinois, was ubiquitous, even kneeling before one blogger in the hall, seeking a “Netroots” endorsement.

Technology has enabled the not-meek to inherit the earth, and Democrats and others who refuse to drink the cyber-Kool-Aid will, Mr. Moulitsas said, go into the old “dustbin of history.”

The fast-talking former Army artillery scout with the boyish demeanor and dark brown buggy eyes is no one to take lightly. Some may think the Internet messiah who put Mr. Dean on the map in 2003 is “a fame hound, a loudmouthed nerd at the back of the room,” as The Washington Monthly wrote. But others, including adoring conventioneers who called the scene at the debut YearlyKos gathering “magic” and “a rock concert,” see him the way Ana Marie Cox, née Wonkette, described him this week in Time.com: “He's the left's own Kurt Cobain and Che Guevara rolled into one.”

I tracked down the cult leader, wading through a sea of Kossacks, who were sitting on the floor in the hall with their laptops or at tables where they blogged, BlackBerried, texted and cellphoned — sometimes contacting someone only a few feet away. They were paler and more earnest than your typical Vegas visitors, but the mood was like a masquerade. This was the first time many of the bloggers had met, and they delighted in discovering whether their online companions were, as one woman told me, male, female, black, white, old, young or “in a wheelchair.”

Mr. Moulitsas assured me he didn't see himself as a journalist, only a Democratic activist. “I don't plan on doing any original reporting — screw that. I need people like you,” he said, agreeing that since he still often had to pivot off the reporting of the inadequate mainstream media to form his inflammatory opinions, our relationship was, by necessity, “symbiotic.”

Simpsons Power of Ten

Probably my all time favorite Simpson's bit - the Power of Ten. And now I have my own copy. Am I going to copyright hell now? But, but Mr. Groeing, I like the Butthole Surfers too!!

Simpson's Power of Ten spoof

(Kottke of course)

original here on YouTube which is also fascinating.

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Beer O'Clock

Beer O'Clock

Minutes crawl, and the hours jerk!

Quite tasty way to end a long, long week. In fact, I wish I had bought two pints, because this one is almost finished. Damn it. India Ale is a product of colonialism, but I still like it (British troops drank lots of beer, transporting it to India via 6 month ocean voyage was troublesome to the beer at least, until the shippers/brewers figured out to add extra hops as a preservative.). The hoppy-ness is quite refreshing.

Read more at the wiki.

In fact, every Samuel Smith beer that I've imbibed has been good.

Yes, I'm stealing the Disgruntled Chemist's bit, but so what. He does a better, more thorough job than me - I just want to drink it down.

(if you didn't recognize the source of the Clash quote)

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Email from Enron

All I can say is, Oh My Sweet Pasta!

Pogue’s Posts - Technology - New York Times Blog - Looking Through Enron’s Inbox
A company called Inboxer offers corporations something called an Anti-Risk Appliance that “quickly finds privacy violations, offensive and inappropriate content, intellectual property, compliance issues, and other dangers in employee email. It combines sophisticated content detection with easy-to-use real-time executive reports, one-click investigation tools, and instant alarms.”
So how does the company give you a free sample? By making available all of the e-mail that was gathered during the legal discovery process in the Enron trial!
And now all of that e-mail is publicly available online for you to search, using Inboxer’s software, of course. As a reader puts it: “It’s ridulously interesting (and addictive) to peruse the company’s sometimes illicit e-mails. They even created a couple of contests to see who can find the best messages in a bunch of categories: Funniest jokes sent by Enron employees, most offensive, etc.”

Talk about online privacy! Maybe we'll get to read some of Armando's corporate email after all.

Busy at the moment myself, so I can't while away the hours reading thrice-forwarded “two ducks, Grandma Millie and a Rabbi walk into a bar” jokes, but they are here, no doubt.

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The DeLay Principle

| 1 Comment

Krugman wishes he had a large, gilt-framed photo of Tom DeLay's smirking face to dance upon. Come to think of it, so do we.

Paul Krugman: The DeLay Principle
These days, the state owes a peculiar obligation to men of great wealth.

The federal estate tax had its origins in war. As America moved toward involvement in World War I, Congress — facing a loss of tariff revenue, but also believing that the most privileged members of society should help pay for the nation's military effort — passed the Emergency Revenue Act of 1916, which included a tax on large inheritances.

But today's Congressional leaders have a very different view about wartime priorities. “Nothing is more important in the face of a war than cutting taxes,” declared Tom DeLay, the former House majority leader, in 2003.

Mr. DeLay has since been dethroned, but the DeLay Principle lives on. Consider the priorities on display in Congress this week.

On one side, a measure that would have increased scrutiny of containers entering U.S. ports, at a cost of $648 million, has been dropped from a national security package being negotiated in Congress.

Now, President Bush says that we're fighting a global war on terrorism. Even if you think that's a bad metaphor, we do face a terrifying terrorist threat, and experts warn that ports make a particularly tempting target. So some people might wonder why, almost five years after 9/11, only about 5 percent of containers entering the U.S. are inspected. But our Congressional leaders, in their wisdom, decided that improving port security was too expensive.

On the other side, Bill Frist, the Senate majority leader, tried yesterday to push through elimination of the estate tax, which the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center estimates would reduce federal revenue by $355 billion over the next 10 years. He fell three votes short of the 60 needed to end debate, but promised to keep pushing. “Getting rid of the death tax,” he said, “is just too important an issue to give up so easily.”

So there you have it. Some people might wonder whether it makes sense to balk at spending a few hundred million dollars — that's million with an “m” — to secure our ports against a possible terrorist attack, while sacrificing several hundred billion dollars — that's billion with a “b” — in federal revenue to give wealthy heirs a tax break. But nothing is more important in the face of a war than cutting taxes.

Two weeks in a row, almost a trend whoo hooo..

From the “Albumizer” playlist
(track number greater than 0; rating is not 1 star; bit rate higher than 128 Mhz; Genre does not include Spoken Word),
top of the mind commentary below.

  1. Waits, Tom- 16 Shells From A Thirty-Ought-Six [Live]
    Big Time

  2. Arcade Fire, The- Neighbourhood #1 (Tunnels)
    Uncut: Gimme Danger

  3. Pickett, Wilson- She's Lookin' Good
    Greatest Hits

  4. U-Cef Feat. Dar Gnawa- Hijra (Trad Mix)
    Morocco: Rough Guide to the Music of

  5. Grand Champeen- The Angels' Share
    Battle Cry For Help

  6. Ellington, Duke- Moon Mist
    Duke Ellington - The Private Collection Volume I: Studio Sessions Chicago 1956

  7. Dylan, Bob & The Band- This Wheel's On Fire
    The Basement Tapes

  8. Arkarna- House on Fire
    Fresh Meat

  9. Ho'opi'i, Sol- Most Of All I Want Your Love
    Master Of The Hawaiian Guitar, Volume One

  10. Booker T & the MGs- Soul Sanction
    Hip Hug-Her

1. Big Time is just an ok T Waits album. Love this song though, even if the original swings harder.

2. a band of the moment. Expressive voice, decent polyrhythms. I'd see them live, as long as David Bowie isn't there. Kidding, Mr. Bowie!

3. The recently deceased sometimes get framed in large, golden pictures, and sometimes sell more albums. Party music for sure.

4. Morocco is on my list of places to visit, on the short list in fact. This song is a funky blend of modern and old music. Good stuff, though I have no idea what they are singing/rapping about. I love the arpeggio guitar style, need to learn it for myself.

5. Not sure how I heard of this band. Keep hoping that they will grow on me, and they have not. Why is it still on my playlist? Want this album? Send me postage, and it's yours.

6. Love the elegance of his tunes

7. In proper mood, this song almost brings me to tears. Not this morning: too much to do, too much coffee to drink to waste time marveling at the power of an expressive voice. This particular version may have come from the “Real Basement Tapes” bootleg.

8. Who? Meh. Some club-y remix of something I've never heard.

9. This guy practically invented slide guitar. Monster, monster talent.

10. The house band for tons of R&B classics (including Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, Albert King, etc). If you hate organ, sorry.

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The Corner Office in Bangalore

Ha, if only. Probably wouldn't be having the inane push to lower estate taxes on millionaires if the over-compensated CEO class in America suddenly disappeared, or was transplanted.

LAWRENCE ORLOWSKI and FLORIAN LENGYEL: The Corner Office in Bangalore
It's time to begin outsourcing chief executives. ... Several orders of magnitude separate the compensation of American and overseas chief executives; the Federal Reserve notes that while a typical American chief executive in 2004 got a compensation package 170 times greater than that of the average American workers, in Britain it was 22 times and in Japan 11.

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Fixer, at Alternate Brain writes:

I'm helping my pal Erin and the students in the political science department at the State University of New York/Stony Brook (right up the road from me) with a survey they're doing. They're looking for a large sample and asked if I could help them rustle up some victims volunteers to take the survey. It only takes a couple minutes and you'll be helping our young people

The Religion and Politics in American Life Survey
This survey is about attitudes towards religion and politics. Some people think that this country is becoming too secular. They want to see more people in government who share their values. Other people think that religious groups have too much influence in politics. They would rather keep religion and politics separate. We are very interested in your thoughts on this matter.What do you think about religion and politics in the U.S.?

Click here to take the survey:

I took the survey yesterday - while it is a little too preoccupied with empty, undefined phrases like “newer lifestyle”, and buzz words like breakdown of our society, and a few questions leave too much room for interpretation, it flows fairly well, and I finished in a couple of minutes.

Still, these are really minor quibbles from someone who has seen a lot of surveys (before we got fired, another story for another time, after we settle it all out, hopefully without litigation), and if you have a few spare moments, go ahead and give your input.

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Armando and karmic payback


Speaking of the blogger, Armando, apparently his abrasive manner was his own downfall:

From Pandagon, we read:

A major Right wing site has chosen to support a troll’s campaign started at this site to out me.

The writing is on the wall. I will likely be giving up blogging as a result.

If people were wondering about why I was so adamant about this, I hope this explains it.

I have never written about my clients and whenever I had a conflict, I disclosed it. But people of ill will have no decency or limits.

If I sound bitter, it is because I am quite bitter about this.

We're of two minds on the matter- if one wants to remain anonymous while blogging, one should be able to, without mindless partisans printing information you wish to keep private. Of course, one should then probably avoid using one's own first name, or identifiable characteristics about one's profession (Digby, for instance, is still anonymous to all except those who know her).

On the other hand, Armando has frequently been short-fused, quick to hurl insults, and undoubtedly has made plenty of enemies, on either side of his ideologic position (which I would posit to be slightly to the left of Joe Lieberman). In fact, Armando and his minions are a large reason we don't really pay much attention to DKos these days. When the liberal blogosphere (yes! skippy coined the phrase) was in its nascent stages, say spring of 2003, DKos was a frequent stop for our browsers. Now, not so much. If we wanted to read center-left commentary, we would subscribe to the American Prospect, or worse, the New Rethuglic.

We are also slightly confused as to why having one's name attached to legal representation of Wal-Mart means one can no longer blog. Perhaps, in order to retain Wal-Mart as a client, Armando has had to pretend he's a member of the good ole boy club during client lunches and corporate outings, and make jokes about smelly liberals? Not sure. Maybe it was about working (and charging) billable hours while simultaneously posting at DKos?

Also not sure why he couldn't just use a different pseudonym.

Blah blah blah. T'is been a long day.

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Chicago CSA

Never heard of a C.S.A. Farm, but the idea sounds incredibly intriguing. Michael Pollan has more details:

Michael Pollan - On The Table What’s for Dinner?
One of the biggest changes I’ve made in my eating was to join a C.S.A. farm. C.S.A. stands for community supported agriculture, an awkward name for an elegant scheme. C.S.A. farms are a little like magazines: you “subscribe” to them, on an annual or monthly basis, and in exchange for a fee ($60 a month in my case), you receive a weekly box of produce, which you can pick up either from the farm or from a drop-off location or, for an additional fee, have delivered to your door.
... (To find a C.S.A. near you, go to localharvest.org or the Department of Agriculture’s C.S.A. Web page; see also the other Web resources listed in my earlier post, “Food From a Farm Near You.”) ...America’s first C.S.A. was started in the 1980’s in Western Massachusetts; the concept began in Europe a few years before that.

I glanced at our local list and recognized a few farm names from the farmers market we frequently go to. I will try to convince D (who probably won't need much convincing) that the $30-40 month is money well spent. In a different era of my life, I would have had the time to also do some work on the farm (usually get a lower price if you actively participate in the farming process), but am really too busy to commit to that, even though my body and spirit aches for some non-urban activities.

Pollan goes on:

Actually the folks at Full Belly [the farmers Mr. Pollan purchased from] — who include a helpful and nicely written newsletter, The Full Belly Beet, with each box — sounded a little apologetic about some of those late winter, rutabaga-heavy boxes. But as the newsletter explained, the winter rains were brutal and unremitting this year clear through April, delaying spring planting and devastating some of the crops, including the peaches and strawberries. So we got more root crops than usual and, to make up for it one week, a gorgeous bunch of flowers.

But that’s the point: as “shareholders” in a C.S.A., we share equally in the farm’s bounty and shortfalls, its triumphs and disasters. The word shareholder is not empty in this case; certainly it more closely describes the relationship we’ve entered into than the words “consumer” and “producer” would. As John Peterson, the C.S.A. farmer from Illinois who is profiled in the new documentary “The Real Dirt on Farmer John,” describes it, the “C.S.A. is a new socioeconomic form in which the farm and consumer enter into a sort of partnership, an alliance to take care of each other’s needs.” For the farmer, the C.S.A. relationship means a reliable cash flow through the growing season (with money up front to help pay for planting) and shareholders who share in the risks and rewards of an enterprise that will always be at the mercy of the weather. For the shareholder, it means the freshest possible food received at the end of the shortest possible food chain.

More important, the C.S.A. reconnects you as an eater with the source of your food, offering a vivid reminder that, whatever we eat, we eat by the grace of farms and farmers, of the land, the weather and the season — not supermarkets. The C.S.A. means I also eat in the knowledge that I’m doing my small bit to defend a gorgeous patch of bottomland along Cache Creek outside the tiny town of Guinda from the oncoming wave of sprawl that threatens to engulf California’s entire Central Valley into one big, wall-to-wall housing development.

Eating from the C.S.A. box constitutes the very opposite of industrial eating, that sort of unconscious consumption based on our desire to eat whatever we want whenever we want it — tomatoes in January, strawberries in October — food that’s been cleaned, cut up, processed, cooked, everything but chewed and digested for us. That food chain offers convenience, sure, yet in the end it depends on ignorance — of the cost of eating that way, and of all the labor, energy and technology it requires. To eat from the C.S.A. box, with its newsletter chronicling the week’s doings on the farm, is to eat in a fuller knowledge of all that’s involved in getting food to our plates, including the necessity, and pleasure, of cooking. (Most C.S.A. newsletters offer recipes.) There’s a lot more going on than the exchange of money for food.

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Other People's Blood

Bob Herbert discusses the “Chicken-hawk” syndrome.

Bob Herbert: Other People's Blood For the smug, comfortable, well-off Americans, it doesn't seem to matter how long the war in Iraq goes on — as long as the agony is endured by others. If the network coverage gets too grim, viewers can always switch to the E! channel (one hand on the remote, the other burrowing into a bag of chips) to follow the hilarious antics of Paris, Britney, Brangelina et al.

The war is depressing and denial is the antidote. Why should ordinary citizens (good people, religious people, patriots) consider their role in — and responsibility for — the thunderous, unending carnage? Enough with this introspection. Let's go to the ballpark, get drunk and boo Barry Bonds.

The nation is in deep denial about Iraq. For years the president and his supporting cast of arrogant, bullying characters have tried to put the best face on this war. They had no idea what they were doing when they ordered the invasion of Iraq, and they still don't. Many of the troops who were assured that the Iraqis would welcome them with open arms are now dead. And there's still no plan.

Paul Wolfowitz, who fashioned the phony intellectual underpinnings of this catastrophe, told us that Iraqi oil revenues would cover the cost of reconstruction. He was as wrong about that as the president was about the weapons of mass destruction. (And as wrong as Dick Cheney was last June when he said the insurgency was in its last throes.)

Here are the facts: The war so recklessly launched by the amateurs in the Bush White House has already taken scores of thousands of lives, and will ultimately cost the United States $1 trillion to $2 trillion.

Another copy-wrong

Another tale of copyright/DRM run amuck in the hands of a litigation-wary America. I would have been even more livid than this woman. What a crock of corporate double talk!

Pogue’s Posts - Technology - New York Times Blog - Picture This: Common Sense

OK, I know we’re all in a freaky gray-area digital age, feeling our way through the warring interests of convenience and copy protection.
But c’mon, people–must we lose every shred of common sense along the way?

The tale:

Today, a cheery/hilarious/frightening story from reader Jeanine Weekes Schroer that really rings the bell on the Ridiculous meter:

“I just had an extremely frustrating experience with the Yahoo/Target photo service, where you upload pictures on Yahoo to pick up prints at Target (in an hour, if you’d like).

”I had uploaded ten pictures (random stuff); I asked for a mix of 8 by 10s, 5 by 7s, and 4 by 6s. One was of my husband’s boat, because he loves it, and another was of my husband fishing near our home, because I love him.

“I showed up at Target’s Photo Center in my small town. The very sweet young girl found my envelope, but it had a note attached to it. The note said, ‘Ask for Copyright release for the 2 pictures lying on the dryer rack.’

”She called for assistance, because she was unsure what to do. The person who answered her call ALSO called for assistance, because she also did not know what to do. A third woman arrived.

“She told me that because of copyright concerns, Target reserves the right not to sell any picture that appears to be professional. She said, ‘Anyone can just download any picture they want, and we’d be liable. I’m sorry, we will not sell you the prints.’

”I proceeded to explain to her, as I had to the sweet teenager and the assistant, that one is a picture of my husband, and the other has ME IN IT with a camera! Surely that doesn’t appear to be professional staging. The manager reiterated, ‘I’m sorry.’

“I asked her if there was any paperwork I could fill out, swearing authorship of the pictures. She reiterated, ‘I’m sorry.’ Then she wandered off.

”They made lame intimations that they could do it if I had the original prints or film (but it was a digital camera, so no such monster), or if I could bring digital media with the pictures on it. I explained that the pictures were both more than a year old and no longer maintained on any memory card.

“It seems to me that they have not worked out a system for best serving the consumer, protecting copyright interests, and fending off lawsuits. I was furious and vowed in a letter never to use their photo system again–and never to go to Target again.

plenty of good commentary in response to this ridiculousness here


De Niro donates to HRC

The Harry Ransom Center (in Austex) is growing its collection of 20th c.e. artifacts.

Ransom Center: We are pleased to announce that actor, director, producer Robert De Niro has donated his remarkable collection of film-related materials to the Harry Ransom Center. With materials from the late 1960s to the present, the archive includes annotated scripts, notes, research materials, and an extensive collection of the costumes De Niro wore in his films.The paper portion of the collection, more than 100 boxes, includes scripts and books with handwritten notations, correspondence with film notables such as Martin Scorsese and Elia Kazan, background research, and the notebooks De Niro kept while working on his films, all showing the evolution from text to moving image. The costume portion of the collection includes more than 3,000 individual costume items and props from many of De Niro’s films.
more details on the collection here

As an aside, while an undergrad, I sometimes went to the HRC and read from their collection of Philip K Dick (and other sci-fi writers) first edition paperbacks, some of which were out-of-print at the time. I pretended to be a researcher, took the yellow legal pad and pencil, and whiled away afternoons instead of studying. Good way to get into air conditioning.


Sharpened Edges and Commerce

After You've Gone
After You've Gone On Taylor Street and Loomis.

Not sure if the Jane Addams Homes are scheduled to be demolished or not, but I wouldn't be surprised.

Didn't look for these WPA sculptures as we were too hungry, and headed to Rosebud, to explore.

Industry and Commerce
Industry and Commerce

Taylor Street, west of Loomis.

Used infrared action as jumping off point.

Edges and corners
Edges and corners

Wall, Michigan Avenue.

Beacon Michigan Avenue.

Digital cameras still have a ways to go, in my opinion, before they are as adept at capturing usable images in low light as traditional film cameras are.

a quickr pickr post

(embiggening a click or two away)

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Cellphones that work please

Count me in with Steve Johnson: I don't care about fancy-pants new features on my phone.

Chicago Tribune | Hypertext Before the survey that was just released, , I would have sworn Americans had reached their fill of overstuffed cell phones. Rather than the “more” that the survey (commissioned, suspiciously, by a cell-phone company) claims we want, I would have bet that we, as a people, were sensible enough to want our cell phones to actually do less. I know I do.

My ideal phone serves the following functions: 1. Makes calls. 2. Receives calls. 3. Does not hide itself under couch cushions, in junk-drawer crannies, beneath car seats, etc.

All the rest is marketing-department frippery that needlessly jacks monthly bills or initial phone costs.

Yes, I'm suspicious of this survey too. In my own non-commissioned survey, nobody wanted their phones to do anything else other than have better battery life and better reception.

Plus there was a tidbit excerpted in the current Newsweek of a projection (IDC Research maybe? too lazy to look at the moment) that consumers are going to spend $1 billion dollars on anti-virus and anti-spyware software for their phones in the next few years.

Ummm, no thanks.


Damien, Demons and Dubya

MoDo discusses the Dark Lord, and manages to get a shot at Pander-y Clinton. The Republicans are much more comfortable with villains of their own stage-managed creation instead of actual villains like Osama bin Laden.

Osama Who
(image courtesy of the Freeway Blogger)

Maureen Dowd: Damien, Demons and Dubya As I write this on 6-6-06, with a new Damien demonically wheeling through movie theaters trying to kill his mom in a remake of “The Omen,” let us now speak of famous bogeymen.

The Bushes have always been good at using bogeymen to their political advantage.

Lee Atwater, the devilish strategist for Bush Senior, turned an obscure criminal named Willie Horton into the Candyman in 1988, whipping up the fear that if Michael Dukakis were elected, hordes of swarthy skels would be freed on weekend parole and swarm into your neighborhood.

W.'s supporters beat back the McCain threat in the 2000 South Carolina primary by spreading gossip that the Arizona senator had fathered a black baby — a creepy distortion of the fact that he and his wife had adopted a little girl from Bangladesh.

Karl Rove, an Atwater acolyte, had a closetful of bogeymen whisking W. past the finish line in 2004: terrorists who might strike again, gays who wanted to get hitched, stem cell research, Darwin, Dan Rather, and a Swift-boated John Kerry.

W. prefers tactical bêtes noires to real ones. (Hillary followed his lead by joining conservatives to support a constitutional ban on flag burning.)

This is really the best argument for Netflix: the ability to rent any movie currently on DVD, and not just the 1,000 most current titles, as selected by your local video rental chain store.

What Netflix Could Teach Hollywood
Five million families now have a Netflix account, making it one of the most impressive companies around.

Yet “The Conversation” was on its way to the movie graveyard just a few years ago. Since video stores have room for only a few thousands titles, some didn't carry it, and it was slowly being buried under the ever growing pile of newer films at other stores. It would have been easy a decade ago to imagine a time when few people would ever watch “The Conversation” again.

Then came Netflix. The Internet company with the red envelopes stocks just about all of the 60,000 movies, television shows and how-to videos that are available on DVD (and that aren't pornography). Just as important, for the sake of “The Conversation,” Netflix lets users rate movies on a one- to five-star scale and make online recommendations to their friends.

The company's servers also sift through the one billion ratings in its system to tell you which movies that you might like, based on which ones you have already liked.

The result is a vast movie meritocracy that gives a film a second or third life simply because — get this — it's good. Last year, “The Conversation” (average rating: four stars) was the 13th-most-watched movie from the early 1970's on Netflix.

Its return from oblivion is a nice illustration of a brainteaser I have been giving my friends since I visited Netflix in Silicon Valley last month. Out of the 60,000 titles in Netflix's inventory, I ask, how many do you think are rented at least once on a typical day?

The most common answers have been around 1,000, which sounds reasonable enough. Americans tend to flock to the same small group of movies, just as they flock to the same candy bars and cars, right?

Well, the actual answer is 35,000 to 40,000. That's right: every day, almost two of every three movies ever put onto DVD are rented by a Netflix customer. “Americans' tastes are really broad,” says Reed Hastings, Netflix's chief executive. So, while the studios spend their energy promoting bland blockbusters aimed at everyone, Netflix has been catering to what people really want — and helping to keep Hollywood profitable in the process.

Not that we don't like to watch current cinema (we saw King Kong for example, which was one step above unwatchable), but Netflix caters to our inner film historian.



In honor of 6-6-6

| 1 Comment

reposted without comment, because really what more could one say? The truth hurts sometimes....

Norwegians Confused by Bush Salute (AP): AP - President Bush's “Hook em, horns” salute got lost in translation in Norway, where shocked people interpreted his hand gesture during his inauguration as a salute to Satan. That's what it means in the Nordics when you throw up the right hand with the index and pinky fingers raised, a gesture popular among heavy metal groups and their fans in the region.

Bush is Satan

Jenna hailing her dark lord as well
Jenna is Satan spawn

Geoff has a musical and film tribute, all of which is of some familiarity to me. Ahem. Though, to be honest, I haven't listened to Slayer in many years (my iTunes library only contains the track, Chemical Warfare, video here, for nostalgia reasons, though apparently it has been played 13 times so far). Used to have quite a collection of Metal Blade LPs, but they've since been relegated to the dust bin of my memory. blah blah blah redacted because my bottle is nearly empty and so is my brain.


Mercury and you

Wired Magazine has published a contrary article, taking the stand that eating mercury-laden fish is better than not eating fish at all. Color me skeptical.

I have no evidence that the author, Gretchen Cuda, is a paid hack, other than this article, so feel free to make up your own mind based upon evidence on hand. She might just be trapped in the false “Fair and Balanced” dialectic.

Wired News: In Fish Fight, Science Loses Joyce Nettleton, a nutrition scientist, has some contrarian advice for pregnant mothers worried about mercury risks of fish: Not eating fish could be the bigger threat.

One of the main nutrients in fish, an omega-3 fatty acid called docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, is essential to fetal brain development, she says. “The public hears about the risk of mercury and they think, 'Why take a chance?' People don't think they could be harming themselves by not eating fish. But I do.”

Fishing industry money and support are feeding a growing challenge to the assumption that a heavy diet of fish can slow and even severely harm the normal development of fetuses and young children. With billions of dollars at stake, observers worry that the debate is fast turning fish-mercury poisoning into the latest political casualty of science, alongside cloning, stem-cell research and teaching creationism in schools.

Here's the first red flag (after the title, that is. How is science losing in the fight to keep mercury out of our bloodstream? Curious choice of phrasing):

Regulators currently seem split on the dangers of mercury in fish.

So, who exactly are these Regulators? Well, one is the World Health Organization who cautions against consuming too much mercury. The other is the notoriously corrupt, inept and business friendly EPA and FDA.

In Ms. Cuda's attempt to be fair and balanced, she writes:

The fishing industry stands to lose a lot economically if fish consumption declines. Coal-fired power plants, the primary source of mercury contamination in fish, wish to avoid regulations that could lead to costly environmental cleanups or measures to reduce mercury emissions.

So fisheries have recruited scientists and authors whose research supports the numerous health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, touting their ability to reduce the incidence of heart disease and stroke, as well as improve memory and brain function in both healthy individuals and Alzheimer's patients.

Nettleton is the author of three books on omega-3 fatty acids, qualifying her as an expert on the subject. At the same time, she has strong ties to the fishing industry. She's a member of the Tuna Nutrition Council and has received funding from pro-fishing organizations including the National Fisheries Institute and the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute.

Yes, so writing a couple of propaganda tomes is all it takes to be considered an expert these days. Gee, I wonder if these books have been peer-revieewed? Critiqued as being ghost-written by the fishing industry? If I was a reporter, I might ask these questions.

David Martosko, director of the Center for Consumer Freedom, which runs a website called FishScam, says environmentalists are needlessly scaring women away from fish. “If women are really terrified of eating fish, then that is a terrible outcome. There is real danger of causing harm to your child if you are cutting out fish out of your diet while pregnant.”

Martosko's organization calls itself a “nonprofit coalition dedicated to promoting personal responsibility and protecting consumer choices, supported by undisclosed restaurants, food companies and concerned individuals.” The center's nonprofit status means it doesn't have to reveal who gives it money, and news reports have questioned the group's true interests. The Center for Media & Democracy calls the center “a front group for the restaurant, alcohol and tobacco industries.”

oh, and there's this:

A 2001 study conducted in the Seychelles Islands, where most women eat fish twice every day -- more than six times the Environmental Protection Agency's limits -- reported no adverse effects from prenatal methylmercury exposure.

The study's authors, who include Phil Davidson and Dr. Gary Myers from the University of Rochester School of Medicine, have been accused of bias because their study was partially funded by interest groups.

In 2004, the Environmental Law Reporter dug up evidence (.pdf) that that the Seychelles study received $591,000 in research funds from the Electric Power Research Institute, the United States Tuna Foundation and the National Fisheries Institute.

Anyway, draw your own conclusions. If you wish to drink a cup of mercury every night before bed, I'm not going to stop you. Just make sure to follow it with a cilantro salad or soup. We still eat fish frequently, albeit not canned tuna, but then we aren't preggers either.

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Harassment at 45 Fremont Street

Thomas Hawk has gotten into another scrape for exercising his right as a citizen who happens to take photographs of street scenes in San Francisco. He is soliciting feedback as to his assaulter's identity, who may or may not be a Bechtel employee.

Thomas Hawk's Digital Connection: Photographing Architecture is Still Not a Crime, Police Harrasment at 45 Fremont Street
Photographing Architecture is Still Not a Crime, Police Harrasment at 45 Fremont Street

San Francisco is an uptight place, no doubt. Granted I don't take as many photos in a month as Thomas Hawk takes in a day, but he sure seems to piss off a lot of penny-ante rent-a-cops while walking the streets of SF.

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Perhaps not the best, but still a band well worth paying attention to. Goes without saying that I've ordered this album already, unheard.

Rather Ripped
Rather Ripped

Sonic Youth: The Best Band in the Universe The best band in the universe do their Brecht thing with hooks (By Robert Christgau)

Forget “edge,” or whatever the edgy are calling it these days. I wish we could forget their non-youth in the bargain, but that wheeze will remain with us—they create from what they know. So let me put it this way: Sonic Youth are the best band in the universe, and if you can't get behind that, that's your problem.
One concept the non-old have trouble getting their minds around is the difference between taste and judgment. It's fine not to like almost anything, except maybe Al Green. That's taste, yours to do with as you please, critical deployment included. By comparison, judgment requires serious psychological calisthenics. But the fact that objectivity only comes naturally in math doesn't mean it can't be approximated in art.

What matters to me is how these unresolved intimations are allayed and disarmed by the uncharacteristic lightness of music that nevertheless gets strange when you listen hard.

Edges dull; the shock of the new gets old. But great bands keep creating from what they know, and figuring it out as they do. Try to see 'em at CB's Tuesday. They'll come up with something you don't expect, guaranteed.

Salon recently made available a track for download

This is the first single from “Rather Ripped,” the upcoming record from the veteran alt-rock heroes, their cool factor magically untarnished by age and changing fashions. They're at their tightest and most focused here, and glossy too, with those inimitable microtonal guitar parts still hinted at but essentially smoothed over, just as the feedback is repressed except for a brief burst.
(maybe available directly here?)

So who is the best band currently touring? Pasta-damned if I know, but the mighty Sonik Tooth are certainly in the running.

Also from the same issue of the Village Voice, albums guides for some jazz masters, sure to be on Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore's vinyl wall of shame (photo of which to be scanned later), such as

1. Thelonious Monk

The Thelonious Monk Guide
He recorded the same songs over and over and never wore them out.

Can't go wrong really. I haven't heard a Monk album that was less than stellar, though apparently Monk's Blues is such an album. Personally, am ordering this TMonk Trio album to replace a vinyl copy played to stylus needle-wearout and beyond:

Thelonious Monk Trio (20 Bit Mastering)

Thelonious Monk Trio

[1954, OJC]

A trumped-up drug conviction and draconian cabaret laws would rob Monk of his ability to perform in New York for several years following the Blue Note sessions. Greater exposure through associations with Riverside and Columbia awaited. But Monk's transitional dates for Prestige showcase brilliant work and continue his progress with a steady stream of memorable tunes, including “Little Rootie Tootie,” “Reflections,” and the audaciously loose-limbed “Bemsha Swing.”

2. Sun Ra

Magic cities and other planes of there, all disguised as jazz

I need more Sun Ra in my life, I believe.

What a singular talent.

Jazz in Silhouette

Jazz in Silhouette

[1958, Evidence]

The wondrous thing about Sun Ra was always that you could never tell who his space circus was going to offend. By making jazz seem strange he turned it into art at a time when most thought it was a fashion accessory. His cross-dressing avant-gardism could expose the real cool jazz guys as closet high modernists, yet at the same time appeal to moldy-fig fascists like Philip Larkin. But this is his one album that everyone agreed was real jazz. It introduced “Enlightenment,” the first of the Chicago-based Arkestra's “space marches,” during which the whole band of Space Egyptians paraded around the room singing. The deeply tinted ambient exercises like “Ancient Aeithopia” are here, exotica that lead back to Duke Ellington's “Pyramid” or “Menelik.” But lest you be too hip, Sun Ra would have the last word: “This is the sound of silhouettes, images and forecasts of tomorrow disguised as jazz.”

3. and the magnificent 'Trane
The John Coltrane Guide

From sideman to mesmerizer to evangelical to interstellar space

I already own nearly all of these, so I'll pull out this quote from one of my favorites:

A Love Supreme

A Love Supreme

A Love Supreme (Deluxe Edition)
[1964–65 (2002), Impulse]

“Among the pious I am a scoffer: among the musical, I am religious” —George Bernard Shaw. Try thinking of the holy visitation in the grips of heroin withdrawal that Coltrane describes in the liner notes as a born-again experience, and this becomes his evangelical testimony. Coltrane's most celebrated work, and rightly so. (Along with dry runs, the in valuable bonus disk preserves Coltrane's only live performance of the work.)

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Gay Veterans Honored In Chicago

Sort of ironic that this was announced just now.

cbs2chicago.com - Gay Veterans Honored In Chicago Gay veterans were honored for their bravery in Chicago's Loop Friday. Mayor Daley declared June 2 Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered Veterans of America Day.In his declaration, the mayor asked all Chicagoans to recognize the vets for their dedication to the country and their contributions to the city. Chicago is the first city in the country to officially honor gay soldiers.

Not only is it commentary on The Dauphin's new pledge to protect teh gay from the divorce problems of rest of us (or it the other way around? so confusing), but also whatever happened to “Don't Ask, Don't Tell”? Is the military's continuing adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan causing this policy to be cast aside too? Won't somebody think of the children? /Church lady voice

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Oh, it is fun to pile on. Especially on the Ralph Reed-loving Microslobs. Eeww, not in that way you perv!

Visual Tour: 20 Things You Won't Like About Windows Vista ...make no mistake, the new Windows lacks a gotta-have-it feature, unless it's the increased security that protected-mode browsing, built-in spyware protection and the new User Account Controls provide. To my way of thinking, security shouldn't be something you have to pay for. What's more, it seems like Microsoft is building some of the most ambitious security components of Windows Vista not for its customers, but for itself.

...Where does Windows Vista fit among many of the PC-based operating systems of today and the last couple of decades? With Beta 2 running on multiple test units, I feel comfortable predicting that Windows Vista will not outpace Mac OS X Tiger for overall quality and usability. It's hard to beat Apple's top-notch GUI design grafted onto an implementation of Unix variant, BSD. Mac OS X has excellent reliability, security and usability. That isn't to say that its user interface wouldn't gain if Apple adopted some other best ideas of the day, but Apple has the best operating system this year, last year and next year. It'll be interesting to see what the company delivers in its 10.5 Leopard version of Mac OS X.

Meanwhile, I'm placing Windows Vista as a distant second-best to OS X. I see Linux and Windows 2000 as being roughly tied another notch or two below Vista, with XP being only a half step better than Win 2000.
Even though there are many great aspects of Windows Vista, taken as a whole, this next one could be Microsoft's first significant operating system failure in quite some time -- at least, as it's configured in Beta 2.

Here are the 20 Vista behaviors and functionalities that could turn off Windows users. Windows newbies may not mind some of these things, but they will definitely try the patience of the millions of Windows users who've got real experience and muscle memory invested in Microsoft's desktop operating system.

...Everywhere you look, Microsoft has copied things that Apple has offered for quite some time in OS X. The User Account Control features, especially with the Vista Standard log-in, look a lot like Apple's user interface design. Too bad Microsoft doesn't let you lock and unlock things (leaving those settings permanent) the way Apple does. More than 15 years later, Microsoft is still following Apple in operating system design and bundled materials. With some notable exceptions (including IE7+, where it copied Mozilla, and the Windows Sidebar, where it bests Apple, Google and everyone in user-interface design), Microsoft is belaboring the point by reinventing the wheel, often with an overall reduction in productivity and usability.

I have no problem with Microsoft copying Apple's or any other company's best interface designs. We all win when that happens, and I wish Apple would steal the best things Microsoft does right back. What's really strange is when a company lifts good ideas and makes them worse, not better.

The bitter end

After more than 15 years reviewing Windows operating systems, I didn't just suddenly begin hating Microsoft or Windows. (Although I have to admit, OS X is looking better and better of late.)

read more if you are interested in giggling, or if you are planning or being forced to upgrade to Longhorn/Vista in the near future (that is, once the software is actually released!)

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Political commentary as well

I think Mr. Orwell meant to include political commentary in this list as well, especially the kind spluttered out by Snitchens.

George Orwell “In certain kinds of writing, particularly in art criticism and literary criticism, it is normal to come across long passages which are almost completely lacking in meaning.”
from Politics and the English Language

A Collection of Essays
George Orwell

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Spyware is a scourge

Even though this story is thinly sourced, shall we say, it is plausible enough.

MICROSOFT executives love telling stories against each other. Here's one that platforms vice-president Jim Allchin told at a recent Windows Vista reviewers conference about chief executive Steve Ballmer. It seems Steve was at a friend's wedding reception when the bride's father complained that his PC had slowed to a crawl and would Steve mind taking a look.

Allchin says Ballmer, the world's 13th wealthiest man with a fortune of about $18 billion, spent almost two days trying to rid the PC of worms, viruses, spyware, malware and severe fragmentation without success.
He lumped the thing back to Microsoft's headquarters and turned it over to a team of top engineers, who spent several days on the machine, finding it infected with more than 100 pieces of malware, some of which were nearly impossible to eradicate.

Among the problems was a program that automatically disabled any antivirus software.

“This really opened our eyes to what goes on in the real world,” Allchin told the audience.

If the man at the top and a team of Microsoft's best engineers faced defeat, what chance do ordinary punters have of keeping their Windows PCs virus-free?

from Australian IT, via MacDailyNews

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Monday drags on

The Monday of our discontent....

Big Cock
Big Cock or rooster, as it is called in some parts of the world.

Night Sky over Abn Amro
Night Sky over Abn Amro Red white and blue.

Green Is the Color of my True Loves Hair
Green Is the Color of my True Loves Hair one of my true loves, anyway.

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YouTube video tour of the 80s

Blogrolling seems to be on the Frist at the moment (busily slaughtering cats or something), so am posting this link here instead of on the sidebar. Probably to vanish at some later time, so link away!

Milinkito :: El que tuvo, YouTube : 'Los Ochenta'
 Los 80 -
The 80s - The Eighties

(from FDL, which has tons more suggestions in the comments)

(blogrolling apologizes here)


Repetition is motion

or something. Don't know how often I could listen to these, seeing as I cannot listen to the original more than once a decade. My brother is about to embark upon a fortnight driving vacation from Austin to California, via the Grand Canyon, and who knows where else; I suggested he make a playlist consisting of just these cover versions of Led Zeppelin's radio staple,Stairway to Heaven, as a sort of torture experiment for his travel mates. That way they'll have a ready-made excuse for road rage, or whatever, if they happen to get pulled over by some gung-ho state trooper in Arizona.

As a bonus, I'd add some tracks from Hairway to Steven too. A little Butthole Surfer action never hurt.

WFMU's Beware of the Blog: Stairways to Heaven, Stairways to Hell (MP3s)
Here are 101 versions of the song that doesn't remain the same, depending on whether it's the the Australian music hall version, the Gilligan's Island version, the backwards version, the backwards splice-and-dice quarter note version, the glass harmonica version, the Doors version, the reggae version and on and on (all MP3s).

via the Rock and Roll Report

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Supporting Our Troops Over a Cliff

Quagmire? Whatever does Mr. Rich mean? Not only that but this entry is link-happy: almost like a blog or something.

Frank Rich: Supporting Our Troops Over a Cliff :

The sunshine of last weekend, splendid as it was for a cookout, could not eradicate the dark reality that we keep sending our troops into a quagmire.

THE sunlight was brilliant in New York City on Memorial Day weekend, and the sailors deposited in town by Fleet Week looked brilliant in it. Nothing, including the atrocities of Abu Ghraib and Haditha, has shaken American affection for the troops. Nothing should. These men and women go to war so we can party on. Since 9/11, our government has asked no sacrifice of civilians other than longer waits at airline security. We've even been rewarded with a prize that past generations would have found as jaw-dropping as space travel: a wartime dividend in the form of tax cuts.

“It shocked me that the country was not mobilized for war,” said Maj. Gen. John Batiste, who retired after his stint as a commander in Iraq and became an outspoken critic of Donald Rumsfeld. He told The Wall Street Journal that “it was almost surreal” that the only time some Americans “think about the war is when they decide what color magnet ribbon to put on the back of their car.”

Should we feel guilty? Yes. The sunshine of last weekend, splendid as it was for a cookout, could not eradicate the dark reality that we keep sending our troops into a quagmire. At Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day, the president read a poignant letter that First Lt. Mark Dooley, killed by a bomb last September in Ramadi, wrote to his parents. What Mr. Bush did not say was that now, nine months later, insurgents rule Ramadi. As he spoke at Arlington on Monday, the Pentagon was preparing to announce that 1,500 emergency reinforcements were being sent from Kuwait to Anbar province, home to Ramadi, Haditha and Falluja, to try to stanch the bleeding.

There is more than a little something wrong with this picture. The president reiterated his Plan for Victory in Iraq as recently as his appearance with Tony Blair on May 25: “As the Iraqis stand up, we'll stand down.” He said then that the Iraqis were “taking more of the fight” and “more territory” and “more missions.” The State Department concurred: Iraqi security forces are participating in “more than 80 percent of operations.”

So let's do the math. According to our own government, more Iraqis are standing up — some 263,000 at latest count. But we are not standing down. We are, instead, sending in more American troops. Where have we seen this shell game before?

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Al Gore interviewed by Terry Gross

I've had my criticisms of Al Gore over the years, but one cannot deny that the man is intelligent, and would have made a much better President than the half-man/half-monkey currently in residence at the White House. Just listen to this wide-ranging interview with Terry Gross, and imagine how GWB would have fumbled through these questions, or any question of substance.

Listen to the interview here, and Duncan Black aka Atrios has typed (or asked Ms. Atrios to type) a transcript, available here at the moment. Shouldn't the President of the United States have an IQ over 90?

A telling excerpt, in regards to An Inconvenient Truth

An Inconvenient Truth

An Inconvenient Truth

GROSS: Over the years, when you were in politics, you were sometimes mocked for your environmental positions. George H.W. Bush called you “ozone man” and said if the Clinton/Gore ticket won, we'll be up to our neck in owls and out of work. Are there other ways that you think the issue was spun over the years to make environmentalists and people who are interested in reversing the effects of global warming seem like kooks?

Vice Pres. GORE: Sure, and that's another reason that it has been difficult to communicate the truth, the inconvenient truth if you will, about this planetary emergency. And that is that some interests--political, business and ideological that strongly resist the truth here--have used every means at their disposal to confuse people, to put out misinformation. Much in the way the tobacco industry tried to confuse people about the scientific linkage after the surgeon general's report in 1964 showing that smoking cigarettes causes lung disease. They were able to confuse people about the validity of that science and continue the pattern of abuse for almost four decades. And basically the same thing has been going on now, and the disinformation, the ridicule, the intentional confusion, all that's part of a political strategy.

GROSS: Well, how much of your--how much of the anti-environmentalism and the resistance to moving against global warming, how much of that do you think is coming from, for instance, the oil-related industry that has a vested interest in keeping a certain status quo and how much of it do you think is coming from people who don't believe the science or who don't get the science?

Vice Pres. GORE: Well, I think they go together. It comes from both sources. And I would add in a third source. There's a concern on the part of some ideological conservatives that some on the progressive side have engaged in hyperbole over the years, over the decades, in trying to stampede the people in the Congress to enact some new regulatory initiative by exaggerating the seriousness of this or that crisis that we have faced. And it's a `boy cried wolf' story in that respect. I think some of them are genuinely suspicious of any description of an impending catastrophe. And I understand that. This is different, and I think some of them are now awakening to it, but as for the first two causes, I think that any change is inconvenient. And the prospect of making a transition in the technologies we use and some of the patterns we follow in our lives, that's something that people don't like to think about. But at the core of it, there are millions of dollars being spent every year by a small group led by ExxonMobil and a few other companies that support pseudoscientists that almost never publish in any peer-reviewed journal but put out disinformation and in the process try to confuse, first of all, the news media, into thinking that they are obligated to say the majority feel the earth is round, but some feel it's flat. And really the consensus on global warming is as strong as it gets in science, and the naysayers are so isolated and so without any support or respect in the mainstream science community. It is partly the oil company disinformation campaign that keeps their message out there.

GROSS: Let me mention a study that you cite in your documentary and your book, “An Inconvenient Truth.” This is a study from the University of California at San Diego. A scientist there named Dr. Naomi Oreskes published in Science magazine a study of every peer-reviewed journal article on global warming from the previous 10 years, and then in her random sample of 928 articles, she found that no articles disagreed with the scientific consensus on global warming. Then another study on articles on global warming that were published in the previous 14 years in the press, specifically published in The New York Times, Washington Post, LA Times and Wall Street Journal found that more than half of those stories gave equal weight to the scientific consensus and to the view that human beings played no role in global warming.

So just to sum up the scientific journals, the scientists agreed about global warming, but in these four, you know, major American newspapers, equal weight was given in half the articles to the opposing view that human beings are not causing global warming. So what does that say to you? How do you interpret that?

Vice Pres. GORE: Well, it's astonishing. And that image in the movie and in the slide show that has preceded the movie is probably the one slide that has evoked more post-presentation commentary when people come up afterwards and ask questions than any other. And it does highlight the gulf between science and popular culture. C.P. Snow wrote years ago about the two cultures. I guess that gap is even wider now. But I think it illustrates something else in this instance. It illustrates the vulnerability of our marketplace of ideas, our public conversation, if you will, to manipulation by the kinds of techniques that were innovated early in the 20th century and were labeled propaganda. They're more sophisticated now, they're part of corporate PR strategies, they have been refined, and the nature of the news media has also changed, not in all media but in a lot. And, as a result, I think we're vulnerable to this kind of manipulation. I think we've seen it in other areas as well.

Before the vote on the Iraq war, 77 percent of the American people genuinely believe that it was Saddam Hussein who was responsible for hijacking the planes and flying them into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania, and there have been times in our past when we've been vulnerable to being misled over an extended period. But not like now, and when there's a very well-funded, determined, unethical corporate campaign of disinformation, it can have a much larger impact on the impressions put into the minds of the American people than is healthy in a democracy.

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Teaching Remedial Decency

Bitter irony, indeed.

Maureen Dowd: Teaching Remedial Decency Before the war, America railed against the Iraqi leader for slaughtering innocent Iraqis. Now the Iraqi leader is railing against America for slaughtering innocent Iraqis.

Iraq is blustering about sending away American troops to make life better for Iraqis, after American troops were sent in to make life better for Iraqis.

With fury swirling over the Haditha massacre and the shooting on Wednesday of two women, one of whom might have been pregnant and on the way to a hospital, Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki laced into the American military, accusing it of regular attacks on civilians that were “completely unacceptable” and pledging his own inquiry on Haditha.

“They crush them with their vehicles and kill them just on suspicion,” he said, adding that some in the military “do not respect the Iraqi people,” and that assaults on unarmed civilians will help determine how long American troops are welcome in Iraq.

Bold talk from a tenuous government dependent on U.S. forces to prop it up during a sectarian bloodfest.

It's a bitter irony. And not even a terribly illuminating irony, since Saddam truly had a regime of butchery and the American military is not in the business of atrocity, even if an undeniable atrocity was committed and even if the war has become something of an atrocity.

“It's one of those things where we have become the enemy,” John Murtha said ruefully on CNN.

American troops are under spectacular emotional pressure. They go out every day, not knowing Arabic, not understanding the culture, not knowing who the insurgents are, not knowing when they can go home or which of their buddies will be blown up before their eyes by an unseen enemy.

Chris Floyd banned from Daily Kos

I do believe DKos has been infiltrated by DLC members, or else Markos has had a Christopher Hitchens moment. The quality of discourse at that site has been in decline for quite some time; banning Chris Floyd because he dared to criticized the Democrats' utter cave-in over the Hayden vote is petty, at best. I thought liberals were the group who supported freedom of speech? Of course, DKos is a personal site, able to do whatever Markos decides, still a disappointing choice.

The Smirking Chimp - Chris Floyd banned from Daily Kos How odd, to dump Chris Floyd. Nobody would expect him of all people to be shy in his criticisms, and the rubberstamping of Hayden by both sides of the aisle was certainly worthy of Floyd's acid.

Chris Floyd's Hayden comments here

(via Life and Deatherage)

update, reading this crazed Armando attack on Dori Smith is really even worse. The cult of orthodoxy-at-all-costs seems to have poisoned the DKos pond. Bleh. The Jim Jones disease has struck, apparently.

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Friday Random Ten - Old Shoes edition

I got bored with this little game of Random Ten Friday, but decided to resurrect it to test out an Applescript posted at MacOSXHints. Here are my results.
  1. Hoagy Carmichael- Stardust
    Uncut - Mob Life
  2. Uncut Magazine sampler of jazzy tunes heard in gangster movies. Not my usual genre, but does certainly make me thirsty for scotch, and I've got a mighty thirst /Dena Kasalis faux-Irish voice.

  3. R.E.M.- Belong
    Out Of Time
  4. ahh, R.E.M., wherefore art thou? Why have you forsaken me with album after album of dreck? This song not bad. Sort of dreamy, from when R.E.M. didn't suck.

  5. Uncle Eck Dunford- Old Shoes And Leggins
    Anthology Of American Folk Music (1-A)
  6. hoe-down tune recorded for Victor records in the 1920s

  7. Danger Mouse & Jemini- What U Sittin' On? (Starring Cee Lo And Tha Alkaholiks)
    The Wired CD: Rip. Sample. Mash. Share.
  8. conceptually, great. Creative Commons and all that. Meh. This track seems a bit lacking

  9. Vivaldi - Vivaldi: Concertos for Strings
    RV 418 III. Allegro- Anner Bylsma - Tafelmusik - Jeanne Lamon
  10. yes, there are strings, but can you dance to it?

  11. Axton, Hoyt- Jambalaya (On The Bayou)
    Country Anthem
  12. Not as good as the original, or as the Clifton Chenier zydeco version, but still o.k. Sort of plodding, country two-step backup band. Do love Mr. Axton's voice.

  13. Sinatra, Frank- Love And Marriage
    Sinatra 80 All The Best (Disc 2)
  14. can't listen to this without thinking of that inane television comedy. Sorry, Frank, skipping this one.

  15. Tarbox Ramblers- Were You There?
    A Fix Back East
  16. I'd see these guys live, I bet they put on a good show. Cosmic American with a good, grumbly guitar drone and some fiddled dissonance.

  17. Big Star- For You
    Third/Sister Lovers
  18. This album has not grown on me like the first two Big Star releases, though I haven't owned it very long. A few too many cliches on this saccharine track for my taste. Meh.

  19. Billy Bragg- King James Version
    William Bloke
  20. Love the opening line: trapped in a haircut he no longer believed in. I actually like this album quite a lot, though this isn't my favorite song on it

There you have it: nothing absolutely spectacular on this list, but only one skippable song, which even that, if you've never heard it before, you might like. 8 rated 3 stars, 2 rated 2 stars, if you're curious. If you aren't, don't read that sentence. Ooops, you already did, didn't you. -also, apparently, there was a side mission: to find the conservative message (sic) in these songs. I'm too lazy to do so at the moment. Maybe later.

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Keynote used for Inconvenient Truth

I've dabbled with Keynote, but usually we are working with pre-existing MS Powerpoint presentations sent to us that we modify as needed. However, the next time I am building a presentation from scratch, I'll probably use Keynote. I've been slowly converting various templates and sell-sheets into Keynote's companion, Pages, which works a hell of a lot better for simple layout than MS Word. Occasionally, I'll try InDesign CS2, but often it is overkill for a simple page or two piece.

Apparently, Al Gore is a fan of Keynote, and used it for his movie:

Apple - Key to “An Inconvenient Truth”
“I’m guessing it’s the first time that a feature film or documentary has ever been made with Keynote as its basis,” says Lesley Chilcott, coproducer of the Sundance Film Festival hit

An Inconvenient Truth
An Inconvenient Truth

More here about the design team.

Link via Kottke

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Math Instruction groaner

An oldie, but goodie, origin unknown.

Teacher Arrested

At New York's Kennedy airport today, an individual, later discovered to be a public school teacher, was arrested trying to board a flight while in possession of a ruler, a protractor, a setsquare, a slide rule, and a calculator.

At a morning press conference, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said he believes the man is a member of the notorious Al-Gebra movement. He is being charged by the FBI with carrying weapons of math instruction.

“Al-gebra is a fearsome cult, ”Gonzales said. They desire average solutions by means and extremes, and sometimes go off on tangents in a search of absolute value.

They use secret code names like 'x' and 'y' and refer to themselves as unknowns, but we have determined they belong to a common denominator of the axis of medieval with coordinates in every country. As the Greek philanderer Isosceles used to say, “There are 3 sides to every triangle.”

When asked to comment on the arrest, President Bush said, “If God had wanted us to have better weapons of math instruction, He would have given us more fingers and toes.”

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Surveillance State

Part the 432nd. Why should this be any different than the telecom-gate scandal or other similar programs? I'm sure the actual program is much, much worse than the FBI claims. Anytime the word terrorism is used as a code word, I assume civil liberties to be at risk again. Same with child porno. Nobody wants to impede prosecution of either of these evils (child porn or terrorism), but then once the proverbial doors are opened, the rest of us get spied upon too.

Firms Wary About Holding Customer Records
The head of the FBI says Internet companies should retain customer records for two years to help the federal government investigate not only porn but also terrorism.

Law enforcers and industry representatives were expected to meet Friday, a week after Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and FBI Director Robert Mueller first raised the issue with executives from several Internet service providers, including AOL, Comcast Corp., Google Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Verizon Communications Inc.

Top U.S. law enforcement officials have told Internet companies they must retain customer records longer to help in child pornography and terrorism investigations, and they are considering asking Congress to require preservation of records.

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Was the 2004 Election Stolen, MoFo!

| 1 Comment

I admit that I have a subscription to the crappy magazine that Rolling Stone Magazine has become, and periodically think of canceling my subscription in disgust after another pop-tart is splayed on the cover. But then, every six months or so, Rolling Stone magazine runs a thought provoking article, such as this heavily footnoted jeremiad by Robert Kennedy, Jr.

Rolling Stone : Was the 2004 Election Stolen?
Was the 2004 Election Stolen?

Republicans prevented more than 350,000 voters in Ohio from casting ballots or having their votes counted -- enough to have put John Kerry in the White House. BY ROBERT F. KENNEDY JR.
...But despite the media blackout, indications continued to emerge that something deeply troubling had taken place in 2004. Nearly half of the 6 million American voters living abroad(3) never received their ballots -- or received them too late to vote(4) -- after the Pentagon unaccountably shut down a state-of-the-art Web site used to file overseas registrations.(5) A consulting firm called Sproul & Associates, which was hired by the Republican National Committee to register voters in six battleground states,(6) was discovered shredding Democratic registrations.(7) In New Mexico, which was decided by 5,988 votes,(8) malfunctioning machines mysteriously failed to properly register a presidential vote on more than 20,000 ballots.(9) Nationwide, according to the federal commission charged with implementing election reforms, as many as 1 million ballots were spoiled by faulty voting equipment -- roughly one for every 100 cast.(10)

Read the article yerself, and more here (footnotes excerpted below for some reason. My inner historian I suppose. Also, we must all fight against the dreaded link-rot. Too many of these referenced articles are not easily read online. I've added a few links from my own google searches from various sources where I could )

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Secretary, Protect Yourself

Krugman writes a rather shrill letter to the Treasury secretary-designate, Henry Paulson, yet isn't quite as critical as Max. I know exactly nothing about the man, other than a suspicion Mr. Paulson calculated the economy and economic infrastructure couldn't get much worse in the next two years, and hey, at least they paint an oil portrait of cabinet members.

Paul Krugman: Secretary, Protect Yourself

To: Henry Paulson, Treasury secretary-designate

So you decided to take the job, after all. It's no surprise that they wanted you. As the joke that's making the rounds puts it, they're so desperate they're scraping the top of the barrel. But most of us are surprised that you accepted.

No doubt you received assurances that like Robert Rubin, but unlike your predecessors in this administration, you'll get to be a real Treasury secretary. And you probably believe that those assurances can be trusted, if only because the Bush people currently need you a lot more than you need them.

But Paul O'Neill, who received tremendous acclaim from the news media when he was appointed Treasury secretary, must have believed the same thing. The fact is that you'll be treated well as long as you are perceived as someone who adds credibility with people outside the administration, and not a moment longer. Yet I'm sure you're already under pressure to say things that will fatally undermine your credibility.

Insurgency Out, Anarchy In


I'm assuming Friedman is using the phrase “last throes” ironically, or else he is still a putz.

Thomas Friedman: Insurgency Out, Anarchy In

The insurgency in Iraq is in its “last throes.” Unfortunately, it's being replaced by anarchy in many neighborhoods; not democracy.

President Bush has told us that the question of whether to withdraw from Iraq is one that his successor will have to deal with — not him. I don't think so. Mr. Bush is not going to have that luxury of passing Iraq along. You see, the insurgency in Iraq is in its “last throes” — just like Dick Cheney said. Unfortunately, it's being replaced by anarchy in many neighborhoods — not democracy. And I don't believe the American people will put up with two and half more years of babysitting anarchy instead of midwifing democracy.

The report that U.S. marines were involved in a massacre of Iraqis in Haditha — which the Pentagon needs to clarify fast — is a tragic reminder that a foreign occupation by U.S. forces can't go on for years. Most U.S. soldiers in Iraq have done heroic work, but occupations that drag on inevitably lead to Hadithas.

Right now we are paying for all the Bush team's missteps in Iraq: allowing looting after the fall of Baghdad, disbanding the Iraqi Army without an alternative security force or enough U.S. troops in place, fostering a culture of torture at Abu Ghraib and then letting the politics in Iraq drift for months without any outcome.

not to mention certain widely-read columnists at national newspapers who helped enable our mis-Administration to perpetrate the Iraq war fraud. Suppose that isn't Friedman's point, directly, but he still wants the US to slog out a victory, for our civilian military leaders to somehow 'salvage Iraq', whatever the frack that means.

Friedman continues:

Jean Renoir: French Cancan

In an absinthe and hashish sort of mind, which leads to a fictional version of 19th century Paris, albeit one by noted French director Jean Renoir. Could be mid-50s technicolor dreck, as are so many musicals from this period, but we shall see, literally. The Criterion Collection usually doesn't bother restoring movies that are worthless. Plus, bonus of Edith Piaf!

Stage and Spectacle - Three Films by Jean Renoir
French Cancan

Shipped: Jean Renoir: French Cancan
Nineteenth century Paris comes vibrantly alive in director Jean Renoir's exhilarating tale of the opening of the world-renowned Moulin Rouge. Jean Gabin plays the wily impresario Danglard, who makes the can-can all the rage while juggling the love of two beautiful women -- an Egyptian belly-dancer and a naive [sic] working girl turned can-can star. This celebration of life, art and the City of Light includes a rare cameo by Edith Piaf.

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FCB and Draft merge

Not totally unexpected, but still, some people are quietly sobbing as they update their resumes today.

Advertising Age - Interpublic Merges FCB and Draft :

NEW YORK NEW YORK -- Interpublic Group of Cos. has finalized plans to merge two of its largest units, marketing-services agency Draft and ad agency FCB, according to the company.

The combined unit will be called Draft FCB Group, and Howard Draft, founder and CEO of his eponymous agency, will serve as the new unit's chairman-CEO. Steve Blamer, who last year took the reins of FCB, is leaving the company following a transitional period. FCB's worldwide creative director, Jonathan Harries, will become worldwide chief creative officer of the new entity.

It also marks the end of a 133-year-old journey for FCB as a stand-alone brand

Hoovers overview on Foote Cone, and on Draft

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