Various bits of flotsam that washed up on our computers, before we moved to a better blog system in November 2004. Now a repository for YouTube videos and testing new tools. Go to for more recent content.

Saturday, February 28, 2004

Chiang Kai Shek

'Chiang Kai-shek': Before the East Was Red
Jonathan Fenby's biography of Chiang Kai-shek attempts to assess the character of the enigmatic leader. [New York Times: International]

What kind of man was Chiang Kai-shek? Answering the question correctly was central to some of the main strategic and military decisions of World War II, since in the dark days after Pearl Harbor the forces under Chiang's command -- even if motley and disorganized -- were holding down hundreds of thousands of Japanese troops on the Chinese mainland. If Chiang caved in, those Japanese troops could be shipped out to reinforce their comrades in the Pacific and Southeast Asia.

In the spring of 1943, President Roosevelt cared enough about the answer to summon back from China the two senior officers who knew Chiang the best, Joseph Stilwell and Claire Lee Chennault. Their assignment was to brief the president on the situation in China, and to meet with the combined chiefs and Winston Churchill in planning future strategy in the Far East. Chennault wrote in his memoirs that when asked by Roosevelt for his opinion of Chiang, he replied: ''I think the generalissimo is one of the two or three greatest military and political leaders in the world today. He has never broken a commitment or promise made to me.'' Stilwell was less forthcoming at his meeting with the president. But in a letter to his wife, written after his return to China, he was pungent: ''Back to find Chiang same as ever -- a grasping, bigoted, ungrateful little rattlesnake.'' In a diary entry written 10 days later, Stilwell called Chiang a ''Jovian Dictator, who starves his troops and who is the world's greatest ignoramus.''

Tony Blair, rough sleeper

Blair 'slept rough' on park bench
The prime minister once slept rough in a North London park, his wife tells astonished guests at a Number 10 homeless charity reception.

The young leader-to-be left the family home to travel to London and realise his ambitions as a rock star, the Sunday Mirror reports.

[BBC News]

Friday, February 27, 2004

Dylan tidbit

From a Rolling Stone article by Michael McClure"I reread Robert Duncan's small book Seventeenth Century Suite. Duncan has vowed not to commercially publish any of his new poetry for 15 years, so that no pressure would direct him to write anything other than what he wishes most deeply. By canceling formal publication he was essentially vowing to please only himself. Robert made an edition of 200 copies of Seventeenth Century Suite and gave them to friends for Christmas gifts."

Bush Gossip

Bush daughter's night out

Babs lets her hair down drinking
and dancing at Chelsea Fashion Week shindig


Girls just wanna have fun - even the President's daughter.

Barbara Bush put on quite a show when she stepped out Wednesday night with her "very good friend" Fabian Basabe, a preppy party-hopper dubbed one of the city's most eligible bachelors.

They hit the dance floor at a swank soiree for fashion designer Jennifer Nicholson (daughter of Jack) at the Chelsea hot spots Sette and Viscaya.

First Daughter Barbara wore a flouncy, cleavage-baring slip dress over jeans and high heels, while Basabe, son of an Ecuadoran businessman, had on a sweater and polo shirt.

The 21-year-old Yale senior - who was busted with her twin, Jenna, for underage drinking in Texas in 2001 - sipped margaritas at a table littered with Veuve Cliquot champagne bottles.

Then she and her date showed off dance moves they could have picked up from the sword-wielding belly dancer gyrating on the bar. It was all captured exclusively by Daily News photographer Richard Corkery.

With drag queen Lady Bunny at the turntables, Bush straddled Basabe's leg, gazed into his eyes and let him dip her to the floor. She hung off him like a dangling chad.

And you thought Jenna Bush was the wild one.

The club was mobbed with boldfaced names like Grace Hightower (Mrs. Robert DeNiro) and Ivanka Trump (the original apprentice).

But all eyes were on Bush as she made the rounds, with Secret Service agents tailing her at a discreet distance.

"She hopped around," said one guest. "She's very friendly, uninhibited. She wasn't exactly Paris Hilton, but she's fun. She's not afraid to have a drink."

Christiaan McPherson said he took Bush for a spin - and gave her high marks.

"We got into it, and she was a lot of fun," he said. "She knows how to shake her shoulders."

The genie-themed shindig was hosted by first cousin Lauren Bush, socialites Amanda Hearst, Tinsley Mortimer and Elisabeth Kieselstein-Cord and PR man R. Couri Hay.

Basabe didn't want to talk about his relationship with Bush, and the White House never comments on the private lives of the presidential progeny.

But from the pelvis-pounding dance they did, it sure looked as if Basabe had joined Bush's coalition of the willing.

"He's very attractive, and they were dancing, shall we say, closely," a partygoer told The News. "Some might say dirty dancing."

Bush and Basabe, 25, an aspiring actor featured in E! Entertainment Network's "Young, Rich and Famous," have been quietly close for some time.

"You could say he's her very good friend," one insider said.

Gotham magazine put him on a list of eligible bachelors, and the Learning Channel hired him for its "Faking It" series.

The "it" boy has said he was "promised" to lingerie-empire heiress Martina Borgomanero, but was "semi-single" and dating other people

Tinsley Mortimer

Chimp news

Chimp playtoy here

more aWol

The few who continued to dog Mr. Bush about his military service � most notably reporters at The Dallas Morning News � found their paths blocked in myriad ways. This time, it was Al Gore's handlers, not Ms. Richards's, who lacked enthusiasm for this particular avenue of attack. The vice president had served in Vietnam, but he couldn't claim war hero status, and any talk of military service inevitably reminded voters of Bill Clinton, who hadn't served at all.

�What's more, Mr. Bush's military service file remained incomplete � as it had in 1994. Some reporters got their information from time-consuming Freedom of Information Act requests, others took what they were handed by opposition researchers � in my experience, the unfortunate norm in most modern campaigns. If there was a release of documents comparable to the one made by the administration earlier this month, no one around here recalls it.

What journalists had in the way of a paper trail led to suspicions that Mr. Bush's military record had been altered in preparation for a presidential bid � something that James Moore, the reporter who asked the Vietnam question in the 1994 governor's debate, suggests in a forthcoming book. Also, many people who were chatty in 1994 clammed up in 2000, perhaps fearful that they would alienate the future president or his famously long-memoried family. Without conclusive documentation or an attributable source, most reporters were stymied.

It took Walter Robinson of The Boston Globe to look at Mr. Bush's file with a fresh eye; Mr. Robinson was the first to report, in May 2000, that Mr. Bush did not perform flight drills while in Alabama, and that the commander of the Alabama unit didn't remember him showing up for duty. But even that story was soon eclipsed by others in the heat of the campaign, most notably the revelation, late in the game, that Mr. Bush had been arrested in 1976 for driving under the influence. The issues surrounding his military service disappeared for another four years.

In some ways, then, the president is right: questions about his military service have been raised every time he's run for office. But it's also true that the story still seems woefully incomplete and that there have been clear inconsistencies in the answers Mr. Bush and his associates have given about his time in the Guard. (Mr. Bush's associates said that he didn't take his 1972 military physical because his doctor in Houston was unavailable and that he lost his flight status because the plane he was training on was phased out � statements that have been shown to be debatable at best.) It's also disconcerting that each election cycle comes with a new set of "complete" documents.

Perhaps 2004 will be the year that details of George W. Bush's time in the National Guard � indeed, his life in the early 1970's � finally get filled in. This time around, there are certain factors that might put added pressure on reporters, editors and news organizations to complete the story. After all, the questions about Mr. Bush's service are being raised while we are at war and while the president is facing a genuine war hero as a potential opponent. Maybe this year, 10 years after Mr. Bush's first political victory, the lingering questions will finally disappear.

Mimi Swartz, an executive editor of Texas Monthly, is the author, with Sherron Watkins, of "Power Failure: The Inside Story of the Collapse of Enron."

Georgie missing

Over the past few weeks, President Bush has responded to recurring questions about his National Guard service by saying that the subject is old and tiresome. According to Mr. Bush, reporters conducted a thorough investigation of his time in the Texas National Guard when he ran against Ann Richards for governor in 1994, and again when he ran against Al Gore in 2000. The complete Guard records, the president told Tim Russert on "Meet the Press," were "scoured."

This came as news to me, as I lived in and reported from Texas during those times and feel that questions about the story � Mr. Bush's life story � linger 10 years after his first political victory. Why they linger is a more complicated question, one that has as much to do with the press as it does with the president.

Let's start at the beginning, with the 1994 governor's race between Ann Richards and Mr. Bush. Like many of George W. Bush's early opponents, the Richards team made the mistake of underestimating him. Ms. Richards's consultants and campaign strategists tried to portray Mr. Bush, initially at least, as a son of privilege who couldn't possibly be taken seriously. (Later they tried to spin him as a Machiavellian business mastermind; that didn't work either.) Mr. Bush's military record emerged as a weapon in the son-of-privilege arsenal, but the story had weak legs.

This was partly because the records that the consultants and reporters possessed were incomplete � they were torn, with Mr. Bush's name and other crucial pieces of information blacked out � but also because the Richards campaign backed off the issue. As many people in Texas and beyond now know, Mr. Bush's Guard unit included more than a few sons of the state's rich and powerful, including Lloyd Bentsen III, son of the state's august Democratic senator. As Patrick Woodson, one of Ms. Richards's campaign consultants, told me earlier this month, "We were unofficially told that because of Bentsen's kid the Guard thing was not on the table."

Then, too, the questions about Mr. Bush's military record were not focused on what he did in the Texas Guard but on how he managed to get in at a time when the waiting list for the National Guard, for instance, contained more than 100,000 names. Local reporters could coax one former Democratic state official into admitting, off the record, that he had interceded on Mr. Bush's behalf at the request of either a prominent Dallas businessman or George H. W. Bush, who was then a member of Congress. But the official's story � the source was later revealed to be former Lt. Gov. Ben Barnes � was subject to change and there were no documents to support his claims.

Late in the campaign, James Moore, then a reporter with KHOU-TV in Houston, put the question to Mr. Bush in a televised debate: had he received special treatment while other young men had fought and died in Vietnam? The candidate's less than illuminating answer: not that he knew of. But by then most Texans had made up their minds to vote for Mr. Bush � he trounced Ms. Richards, and the issue, not surprisingly, went away.

Until 2000, at least. Mr. Bush's military service was an issue in the campaign, but, again, for various reasons, the digging didn't go very deep. Why? First, George Bush was a very popular governor. Ann Richards had run a divisive, partisan Statehouse. Mr. Bush, in contrast, was a genial host, and an efficient one. He wasn't the lightweight reporters had expected; he unified the Legislature, and he kept his campaign promises. His door was always open to the press � yes, he gave reporters nicknames � and many journalists were surprised that he could discuss tort reform as easily as he could talk about the Texas Rangers pitching staff. Not surprisingly, the state's political reporters took the governor seriously as a presidential candidate long before the national press did.

But that loyalty created a new set of problems. Historically, journalists for the local daily don't do very well when the hometown pol makes a play for higher office. The Boston Globe, for example, has done a superb job investigating Mr. Bush's Guard record; it's my feeling, though, that the paper wasn't as impressive in its coverage of Michael Dukakis during his 1988 presidential run. (It was the local alternative weekly, The Boston Phoenix, that was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for its campaign coverage.) And in Mr. Bush's case, many representatives of the Texas press corps � consciously or unconsciously � fell prey to the seductive notion that they were on a nickname basis with a man who might become the leader of the free world.

(more at link)

Thursday, February 26, 2004



Dorothy Parker

I love a martini at dinner,
or possibly two at most;
but if I have three
I'm under the table,
and after four
I'm under my host.

Dorothy Parker

RSS feed

It could be as easy as

added link

Added a link to what is currently loaded on my iPod. If it works like it should, maybe updated. If not, oh well.
Check it
From the good folks at KavaSoft

Political corruption numbers


Wednesday, February 25, 2004

useless widget

redux here

From macosxhints

I finally found an OS X program called nowPlaying that will allow me to export the song title and artist of a particular song into an image file AND automatically upload it to an FTP server (or .Mac account or a WebDAV server). The file could then could be used as a dynamic image for a message board or Blog. The website is in Japanese, but if you scroll down to the bottom of the page, you'll find the download link [376KB] for v1.2. Don't worry -- the program is in English.

Some of the nicer things with this, as opposed to signing up to a account are that:
It doesn't hang iTunes when a server is broken. (eg. when is bogged down)
It displays the song titles in Unicode, meaning that if your songs have Japanese, Chinese, Korean, or just have non-English characters (Klingon maybe?), then the PNG file will be displayed with those appropriate characters. will just display the title as "Unknown" or something like "[][][][]~engrish text~" which each box represents a non-English character.
You can customize the PNG templates without paying anyone as opposed to's yearly fee. (The How-To doc is in Japanese but all you need to do is make a PNG file and create your own .plist file based on the How-To doc and that should be it!)
This might be useful for someone wanting to show what's playing in iTunes as an image signature for messageboards and stuff. Here is an example of an output PNG file using the Sky Blue theme ... hope you find it useful!

Kung Tunes

Authored by: robmck on Wed, Feb 25 '04 at 10:45AM

Also see Kung Tunes, which I've used to do the same thing, although it just produces HTML (or javascript, or whatever you want,) and not an image (as far as I know; it's been a few months since I looked at it.) Automatically uploads your formatted file every X minutes, or every time you change tracks, or whatever. You can list as many previous tracks as you want, formatted however you like.

Use 'Now Playing' to create graphical iTunes web tags

Authored by: ubik on Wed, Feb 25 '04 at 10:55AM

Hehehe: Uchu no Stellvia! Good anime, good song! ^_^

[ Reply to This ]

Use 'Now Playing' to create graphical iTunes web tags

Authored by: seven5 on Wed, Feb 25 '04 at 11:21AM

Also check out Recent Tunes:

I prefer Recent Tunes over kung tunes for a lot of reasons. I got sick of kung tunes being an actual app with a gui, and being in my dock. This is something that really needs to just be a background process. Also, kung tunes uses applescript and is dog slow. And recently it has seemed to get even slower at creating the file to upload. I was begging for a new app and Freshly Squeezed Software filled the request...

Check it out. i love it.

[ Reply to This ]

Use 'Now Playing' to create graphical iTunes web tags

Authored by: seven5 on Wed, Feb 25 '04 at 11:23AM

Also, the nice thing about using text files over images is that you get to throw some php in there. Check out my music section on my right side bar at:

I use php to create variables for my current song and then use the Amazon web services to find and display the album art.




Apparently, YaxJournal cannot handle foreign fonts, such as the symbol for the British Pound. Note to self.

Saturday, February 21, 2004

Automatic window resize

From my old page, in case I need it again
" script "

replace " with "<" or ">", as appropriate

not sure about these numbers, but they're close.

easy to give up

So, the problem was I had the font color the same as the background. All this freaking time I could have posted, posted, posted. Oh well. Now I'm using the Livejournal instead, and am happy with it, except for the fact that comments are limited to livejournal users.

test post

I have had this account for over a year, and have never used it. Partially because this isn't as easy as it should be, and partially b/c I'm lazy