April 2006 Archives

Bush of a Thousand Days repost

Yayyy, Frank Rich is back from vacation, with some perspective on our misleader, and his mis-adventures in Iraq.

Frank Rich: Bush of a Thousand Days

President Bush's victory jig on the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln and the publication of the so-called Downing Street memo bracket all that has gone wrong for this president.

LIKE the hand that suddenly pops out of the grave at the end of “Carrie,” the past keeps coming back to haunt the Bush White House. Last week was no exception. No sooner did the Great Decider introduce the Fox News showman anointed to repackage the same old bad decisions than the spotlight shifted back to Patrick Fitzgerald's grand jury room, where Karl Rove testified for a fifth time. Nightfall brought the release of an NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll with its record-low numbers for a lame-duck president with a thousand days to go and no way out.

The demons that keep rising up from the past to grab Mr. Bush are the fictional W.M.D. he wielded to take us into Iraq. They stalk him as relentlessly as Banquo's ghost did Macbeth. From that original sin, all else flows. Mr. Rove wouldn't be in jeopardy if the White House hadn't hatched a clumsy plot to cover up its fictions. Mr. Bush's poll numbers wouldn't be in the toilet if American blood was not being spilled daily because of his fictions. By recruiting a practiced Fox News performer to better spin this history, the White House reveals that it has learned nothing. Made-for-TV propaganda propelled the Bush presidency into its quagmire in the first place. At this late date only the truth, the whole and nothing but, can set it free.

All too fittingly, Tony Snow's appointment was announced just before May Day, a red-letter day twice over in the history of the Iraq war. It was on May 1 three years ago that Mr. Bush did his victory jig on the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln. It was May 1 last year that The Sunday Times of London published the so-called Downing Street memo. These events bracket all that has gone wrong and will keep going wrong for this president until he comes clean.

To mark the third anniversary of the Iraq invasion last month, the White House hyped something called Operation Swarmer, “the largest air assault” since the start of the war, complete with Pentagon-produced video suitable for the evening news. (What the operation actually accomplished as either warfare or P.R. remains a mystery.) It will take nothing less than a replay of D-Day with the original cast to put a happy gloss on tomorrow's anniversary. Looking back at “Mission Accomplished” now is like playing that childhood game of “What's wrong with this picture?” It wasn't just the banner or the “Top Gun” joyride or the declaration of the end of “major combat operations” that was bogus. Everything was fake except the troops.

“We're helping to rebuild Iraq, where the dictator built palaces for himself, instead of hospitals and schools,” Mr. Bush said on that glorious day. Three years later we know, courtesy of the Army Corps of Engineers, that our corrupt, Enron-like Iraq reconstruction effort has yielded at most 20 of those 142 promised hospitals. But we did build a palace for ourselves. The only building project on time and on budget, USA Today reported, is a $592 million embassy complex in the Green Zone on acreage the size of 80 football fields [see also Taylor Marsh's article at FireDogLake]. Symbolically enough, it will have its own water-treatment plant and power generator to provide the basic services that we still have not restored to pre-invasion levels for the poor unwashed Iraqis beyond the American bunker.

YouTube test

i don't have much video on this site, even though I have plenty laying about, but I don't see a downside to having a YouTube account, so this is a test

Coal plants spew more mercury

Again, thanks for voting for pollution, Red Staters, and Red Stater-wannabes.

Mercury pollution from coal-fired power plants is increasing nationwide, even as the Bush administration touts an overall decline in toxic chemicals released by industry into the environment.

Though total mercury emissions decreased less than 2 percent from 2003 to 2004, the amount blown into the air by power plants increased 4 percent, a Tribune analysis of newly released federal data shows.

Coal plants in 28 states, including Illinois, put more mercury into the air during 2004 than the year before, offsetting lower amounts of the hazardous metal from plants elsewhere.

The increase is of particular concern in states like Illinois that rely heavily on coal to generate electricity, environmental groups say, because mercury tends to fall back to earth close to its source, and it takes only a small amount to contaminate waterways.

Coal plants spew more mercury

...Heightened awareness about the dangers of mercury exposure has led politicians in Illinois and several other states to propose their own limits on emissions from power plants.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich is pushing state rules that would give coal plants in Illinois three years to reduce mercury pollution by 90 percent.

Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm recently moved to force coal plants in her state to make similar reductions by 2015. Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Georgia also are considering state rules.

Utilities contend the proposals would be too costly and provide few if any health benefits. They back the national proposal, which would give the industry until at least 2017 to cut emissions by 70 percent and let companies trade the right to pollute.

Utilities always complain that environmental policies cost too much, always, without fail, while simultaneously bragging in their prospectus how profitable they are. Bleh.

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Say Uncle, Rummy

MoDo makes note of a salient point: if things are going so groovily in Iraq, as claimed by the Tinkerbell crew in the White House, and their minions, why do our officials sneak in unannounced, and restrict their movement to within the Green Zone?

Maureen Dowd: Say Uncle, Rummy Rummy was ordered to go to Iraq by the president, but he clearly has no stomach for nation-building, or letting Condi run the show.

Even some State Department officials thought it was like watching a cranky, eccentric uncle with an efficient, energetic niece.

Rummy was ordered to go to Iraq by the president, but he clearly has no stomach for nation-building, or letting Condi run the show. He seemed under the weather after a rough overnight ride on a C-17 transport plane from Washington into Baghdad. And Condi's aides were rolling their eyes at the less than respectful way the DefSec treated the SecState as she tried to be enthusiastic, in her cheerful automaton way, about what she considers the latest last chance for Iraq.

A reporter in Baghdad asked Rummy about the kerfuffle when Condi talked of “thousands” of tactical errors in Iraq. Rummy later noted that “I don't know what she was talking about, to be perfectly honest” and that anyone who said that had “a lack of understanding” about warfare. She's just a silly girl, after all.

He could have taken the opportunity to be diplomatic about the diplomat, but he's incapable of that, so he just added more fuel to the fire.

“She's right here, and you can ask her,” he said, pointing to Condi, who said she had not meant errors “in the military sense.” She must have meant mismanagement in the civilians-mucking-up-the-military sense.

The former “Matinee Idol,” as W. liked to call him, is now a figure of absurdity, clinging to his job only because some retired generals turned him into a new front on the war on terror. On his rare, brief visit to Baghdad, he was afraid to go outside Fortress Green Zone, even though he yammers on conservative talk shows about how progress is being made, and how the press never reports good news out of Iraq.

If the news is so good, why wasn't Rummy gallivanting at the local mall, walking around rather than hiding out in the U.S. base known as Camp Victory? (What are they going to call it, one reporter joked, Camp Defeat?)

Censorship of photographers continues

Such insane reactions to seemingly innocuous acts like taking photographs. Unreal.

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | My terrorism act
I never guessed when I bought my camera last summer, a few days after the July 7 bombings in London, that I might come to be seen as a terrorist threat.

rest of article here

previous coverage

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The Crony Fairy

Paul Krugman has some fun today:

Paul Krugman The Crony Fairy

The United States will regain effective government if and when it gets a president who cares more about serving the nation than about rewarding his friends.

Ha, good luck with that wish.

The U.S. government is being stalked by an invisible bandit, the Crony Fairy, who visits key agencies by dead of night, snatches away qualified people and replaces them with unqualified political appointees. There's no way to catch or stop the Crony Fairy, so our only hope is to change the agencies' names. That way she might get confused, and leave our government able to function.

That, at least, is how I interpret the report on responses to Hurricane Katrina that was just released by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

The report points out that the Federal Emergency Management Agency “had been operating at a more than 15 percent staff-vacancy rate for over a year before Katrina struck” — that means many of the people who knew what they were doing had left. And it adds that “FEMA's senior political appointees ... had little or no prior relevant emergency-management experience.”

But the report says nothing about what caused the qualified people to leave and who appointed unqualified people to take their place. There's no hint that, say, President Bush might have had any role. So those political appointees must have been installed by the Crony Fairy.

Rather than trying to fix FEMA, the report calls for replacing it with a new organization, the National Preparedness and Response Agency. As far as I can tell, the new agency would have exactly the same responsibilities as FEMA. But “senior N.P.R.A. officials would be selected from the ranks of professionals with experience in crisis management.” I guess it's impossible to select qualified people to run FEMA; if you try, the Crony Fairy will spirit them away and replace them with Michael Brown. But she might not know her way to N.P.R.A.

Gas Pump Geopolitics

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Tom Friedman may be right that gas prices should be higher, but with our current leadership (on both sides of the aisle), I don't see any creative solutions being developed any time this century. Gas prices aren't quite the 'third rail' that Social Security is, but are sure close. I foresee plenty of pandering instead.

Personally, I'd rather America was a country that encouraged public transportation, taxed suburban drivers for entering downtown in an auto, built bike lanes everywhere, etc., etc., yadda yadda. I have access to a company car, but haven't owned my own vehicle since the early 90s, so perhaps I'm not the best judge.

Marathon 14 gallons

Anyway, here's Friedman (and an excerpt from a NYT editorial below).
Thomas Friedman: Gas Pump Geopolitics

If we want to make wind, solar and biomass more competitive, gasoline has to cost more.
In recent days critics have accused President Bush and his new chief of staff of doing nothing more than shuffling around the deck chairs on the Titanic, as they shift, hire and fire senior White House officials while the president's popularity continues to plummet. Personally, I think that is a totally unfair charge — unfair to the captain of the Titanic.

After all, he knew where he was going. His lookouts just couldn't see the iceberg spar lurking beneath the surface in their path until it was too late. This administration, and its captain, have been staring the iceberg right in the face for years — it's called dependence on foreign crude oil. It has been totally visible, for miles and miles. And yet the Bush team has just kept sailing right into it, refusing to ask the American people to do anything hard to put America on a different energy course.

What is this iceberg staring us in the face? It is the fact that energy, broadly defined, has become the most important geostrategic and geoeconomic challenge of our time — much as the Soviet Union was during the cold war — for four reasons:

Reefer Medicine

Henry I. Miller (a doctor and a fellow at the Hoover Institution, who headed the Food and Drug Administration's Office of Biotechnology from 1989 to 1993) mouths one of the fundamental problems the pharmaceutical industry has with medical marijuana. Namely, that major drug companies don't manufacture herbs, and thus cannot make their normal massive profits on the sale of natural remedies that consumers could just grow on their own patio, if legal. Dr. Miller hides his disdain for natural remedies behind talk of fixed dosage and other scientific buzz words, but his position is still fairly obvious.

(note to self: don't try blogging before the days first coffee, no matter how pressed for time)

Henry I. Miller, Reefer Medicine

The F.D.A.'s position that smoking cannabis is an appropriate treatment is not a case of politics over science.

LAST week, the Food and Drug Administration staked out its position on the long-standing controversy over the medical use of marijuana — and made a lot of people smoking mad. The F.D.A. endorsed a multi-agency study that found that “no animal or human data supported the safety or efficacy of marijuana for general medical use.” This came as an affront to those who claim that cannabis is an appropriate treatment for ailments from nausea and vomiting to muscle spasticity and intractable pain.

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Infrared Digital Tattoo You

Wow, do I ever wish I had an extra grand or so to modify an extra digital camera so as to enable it to shoot infrared. Maybe when I get big I'll replace my Nikon D70 with a newer model and convert the D70. When I get real big.

SportsShooter.com - Tom Dahlin: Trade Secrets: 'Tattoo You'

One of my better assignments last year was for the Minnesota Timberwolves basketball team. My general instructions were to 'shoot some different stuff''. They were looking for unique images beyond the standard through the glass, overhead, and post remotes stuff we all shoot so much of. I gladly accepted the assignment, as I was also tired of shooting the games the same way each night.
A little background on the gear is probably in order here. The camera I used is a Canon D60, which is the successor to the D30 and precursor to the 10D. I bought a used one for around $500 and sent it to www.irdigital.net for conversion to a pure infrared camera. At the time, the modification cost about $350. This conversion removes the hot mirror IR blocking filter covering the camera's sensor, and replaces it with the opposite - a filter that blocks visible light and passes IR. The advantage of this is that the camera becomes much more sensitive to IR then an unmodified camera, requires no opaque filters over the lens, and allows one to use the camera exactly as if it were a regular model.

Read the entire article

Timberwolves infrared Photo gallery here, more info here, and a DIY manual and FAQ for the inner geek in you here.

My puny attempts at digital (Photoshop) infrared here (or here for non-flash)
Bridge Milwaukee IR2

link from Rob Galbraith's Digital Photography Insights blog..

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May 1 rally

I assume this rally will pass right by my office, so photos should be forthcoming. Viva!

Union Park is where I sometimes shoot hoops, very early in the morning, if I get up in time.

Haymarket Riot memorial, old version.
Haymarket Riot memorial plaque, in memory of May Day.

Immigration rights rally, march planned Thousands of protesters are expected to march through the streets of Chicago in support of immigration rights reform next week. More than 500,000 people are expected to show up for the march on Monday, May 1. The group will start with a rally at Union Park at 10 a.m. and head to Grant Park. Many businesses are encouraging their employees to go.

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How Bob Marley Caught Fire


The album Catch a Fire by Bob Marley and the Wailers is easily one of the best 20 albums ever. The Deluxe version, recently released, has both mixes: the original mix, and the edition put out on Island Records that made Marley a global icon.

Catch a Fire
Catch a Fire

Before the Legend
Before the Legend

WSJ.com - How Marley Caught Fire
Wall Street Journal editor Christopher John Farley drew on original interviews with some of Mr. Marley's closest associates and family members for his new book, “Before the Legend: The Rise of Bob Marley.” An adaptation:

The reggae star Bob Marley never sold out, but he understood the importance of selling well. He came to terms with the necessity of marketing at an early age.

He began his music career in 1962 in Trench Town, a ghetto area of Kingston, performing the jittery Jamaican dance music known as ska, before settling on reggae -- a warm, rhythmically mesmerizing music that was also born and bred in Jamaica. Initially, he made so little money that he relocated to America for a short time to work in an automobile-assembly plant to support his family.

Most music executives in the early 1970s saw Mr. Marley as too edgy for mainstream acceptance. He spoke with a thick Jamaican accent; he was also a vocal believer in Rastafari, a religion whose creed includes the wearing of dreadlocks, the smoking of marijuana as a sacrament and the divinity of Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia.

But Chris Blackwell, the British-born founder of Island Records, sensed Mr. Marley's star potential. In 1972, he repackaged the group that had been known as Bob Marley and the Wailers, giving a rougher rock 'n' roll edge to their gentle reggae grooves and presenting them as a black band even while adding white backup players. The transformation helped spark Mr. Marley's ascension from local hero to global icon.

David Brooks vs Multiculturalism

David Brooks is just an idiot. What else can I say?

David Brooks: The Death of Multiculturalism - New York Times

In 1994 multiculturalism was at its high-water mark, and Richard Bernstein wrote “Dictatorship of Virtue,” describing its excesses: the campus speech codes, the forced sensitivity training, the purging of dead white males from curriculums, the people who had their careers ruined by dubious charges of racism, sexism and ethnocentrism.

Then two years later, the liberal writer Michael Tomasky published “Left for Dead,” which argued that the progressive movement was being ruined by multicultural identity politics. Democrats have lost the ability to talk to Americans collectively, Tomasky wrote, and seem to be a collection of aggrieved out-groups: feminists, blacks, gays and so on.

That's because over the past few years, multiculturalism has faded away. A different sort of liberalism is taking over the Democratic Party.

Multiculturalism is in decline for a number of reasons. First, the identity groups have ossified. The feminist organizations were hypocritical during the Clinton impeachment scandal, and both fevered and weak during the Roberts and Alito hearings. Meanwhile, the civil rights groups have become stale and uninteresting.

Interesting assertions here, Mr. Brooks. Do you have any evidence regarding fevered yet weak feminist groups? And stale and uninteresting civil rights. Hmmm. Do you mean uninteresting to you? Or what?

Stuck With Bushy

Bob Herbert seems resigned to 2 more long years before regime change occurs. Has he not heard of section 603? Maybe I'm foolishly optimistic, but better that than resigning myself to 2 more years of mis-rule.

George W Bush Pimple

Bob Herbert: Stuck With Bush - New York Times

If George W. Bush could have been removed from office for being a bad president, he would have been sent back to his ranch a long time ago.

If incompetence were a criminal offense, he'd be behind bars.

But that's just daydreaming. The reality is that there are more than two and a half years left in the long dark night of the Bush presidency — nearly as long as the entire time John Kennedy was in office.

The nation seems, very belatedly, to be catching on to the tragic failures and monumental ineptitude of its president. Mr. Bush's poll numbers are abysmal. Republicans up for re-election are running from him as if he were the bogyman.

Callers to conservative talk radio programs who were once ecstatic about the president and his policies are now deeply disillusioned.

Dumpster diving

Can we get an amen? Err, I mean linguini?

I thought so.

WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING | Chicago Tribune Back in the day, Jack Anderson was a one-man truth squad who wrote a ripsaw column carried in 1,000 newspapers. The Iran-contra scandal during the Reagan years, Nixon administration fundraising illegalities and other hidden trickery were daily specialties.

In today's blogosphere and news channels cycles, there's no equivalent--and maybe even less memory of Anderson's stature.

But this amnesia shouldn't undercut the outrage due the FBI, which wants to Dumpster-dive in the late muckraker's records. It's a meritless fishing expedition that should be called off. -- San Francisco Chronicle

The SFC continues

Site Traffic Solipsism redux

Monitoring ones traffic is one of the threads of the woof (or is it weave?) of blogging. It's all part of the fun. I mean, we aren't doing this to become wealthy lay-abouts.

I noticed that I got a big bump in daily traffic when I moved from blogger to movabletype, but have no explanation as to why. Most of my inbound links are from folks looking for a specific topic or image, while it looks like a lot of your traffic is from people coming directly to your home page (ie, I probably have more traffic because I have over 3000 blog posts of cut 'n' paste - much of it unavailable elsewhere without paid subscription, but folks come to your page to read the content of what you write).

If I had a point, I've forgotten what it was. Sorry. :)

Paul Kahan and brewpub

Update 7/2008:

More details

Paul Kahan and Donnie Madia’s new beer and pork place is finally given a name: the Publican. Not sure of the location exactly, but it looks like it is on West Randolph Street somewhere.

or Fulton.

original post:
Apparently, Paul Kahan is opening (soon) a brew-pub, excuse me, a gastropub, specializing in beer and pork, or something. I know D is never stepping foot in there, at least if I quote her that phrase.

Red snow at night
Blackbird patrons hailing midnight cabs

Hungry Magazine - All Things Tasty

If Paul Kahan was a musician, he’d be a critic’s indie darling. Kahan makes a career of flying below the radar, all the while turning out sublime cuisine. Even though he won the James Beard award for Best Chef Midwest and was named Food and Wine Best New Chef in 1999, he skipped the limelight, avoided writing ego driven cookbooks, and focused on his craft.
..Fans of Kahan will be excited to hear he may be opening a gastropub in Chicago later this year. In our podcast we talk about the vision for this new concept, sustainable agriculture, meat cures, the power of chefs, the influence of architecture on food, and whether chefs take themselves too seriously.

Flash slideshow available, Podcast/MP3 and slideshow.

Cranky note: not a huge fan of Blackbird. Have eaten there twice, and was not impressed. Plus they are frequently inconsiderant neighbors. So there. Still interested in this new pulled pork and amber ale place.

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Impeachment rumblings

Impeachment rumblings from the citizenry up through local legislatures. From my keyboard to your monitor to FSM's noodly appendages....

Via Gordon at Alternate Brain, we read:

On Tuesday afternoon, Rep. Dave Zuckerman (Prog.-VT) dropped the third of three nearly unreported bombshells on the Bush administration. Zuckerman, along with 12 fellow lawmakers, introduced a formal resolution for the Vermont state legislature to call on the U.S. House of Representatives to impeach President George W. Bush.

With this resolution, Vermont joined the California and Illinois state legislatures, already embroiled in impeachment debates of their own.
The legal basis for these unprecedented state-level actions was discovered when, according to Steven Leser, Illinois Rep. Karen A. Yarbrough “stumbled on a little known and never utlitized rule of the U.S. House of Representatives.” The rule was written in a book formerly known as Jefferson's Manual, which, according to C-SPAN, “is a book of rules of procedure and parliamentary philosophy … written by Thomas Jefferson in 1801 … [used by the House] as a supplement to its standing rules.” Section LIII, sec. 603 states, “There are various methods of setting an impeachment in motion … [one of them is] by charges transmitted from the legislature of a State …”

Each of the three resolutions mentions Iraq lies, torture and illegal spying, with slight variations in tone and specifics. Assemblyman Paul Koretz's California resolution (which includes Dick Cheney) and the Illinois resolution both include the leak of Valerie Plame's identity, while Vermont's focuses almost exclusively on Bush's most salient transgression, his illegal spying on Americans. The spying charge leads the other two resolutions' list of charges as well.

...Enter the blogs. On Jan. 24, well before the Illinois legislator Karen Yarbrough stumbled over this state legislature loophole, blogger arbortender of DailyKos had unearthed the rule that another writer dubbed “Jefferson's Revenge”. Fellow blogger Kagro X took the baton, and the blogs have been pushing the story and building the momentum ever since, from Vermont's various town- and countywide resolutions to the Illinois bombshell, through California's and now Vermont's state-level proposals. According to Steve Leser, Democratic state legislators in Wisconsin, New Mexico, Nevada and North Carolina are also considering either impeachment or censure proposals.

In any case, the three states already debating impeachment represent nearly 50 million Americans, or roughly 16 percent of the total U.S. population.

read more on section 603 here

Regime change really begins at home. What's your state legislature doing?

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Movie literate


Jim Emerson has a list (his list) of 102 movies a serious/semi-serious film junkie should see.

I remember I tried to represent key examples of all important genres, movie stars, directors, historical movements, and so on -- like an overview of the 20th century in 101 movies. Yes, there are many more I'd like to add, but remember, this is only a primer. How many have you seen? (Hot titles [at the above referenced page] should link to Roger Ebert's reviews.)

I've marked the ones I've seen with a “*”, and movies I've seen recently with a “**”. Movies that are one my Netflix queue already are marked with N (I may or may not have already seen these). Movies I haven't seen have URLs linking to Amazon ('cause it's the easiest to create with my blogging software)

Oh, and while I've watched a gazillion of these movies, this list would not be representative of my list of 100-movies-you-should-see.

  1. *2001: A Space Odyssey
  2. * The 400 Blows
  3. *8 1/2
  4. **Aguirre, the Wrath of God
  5. * Alien
  6. *All About Eve
  7. * Annie Hall
  8. * Apocalypse Now
  9. * Bambi
  10. *The Battleship Potemkin
  11. The Best Years of Our Lives
  12. The Big Red One
  13. *The Bicycle Thief
  14. *The Big Sleep
  15. * Blade Runner
  16. N Blowup (saw this so long ago, I want to watch it again)
  17. * Blue Velvet
  18. *Bonnie and Clyde
  19. *Breathless
  20. **Bringing Up Baby
  21. Carrie
  22. * Casablanca
  23. *Un Chien Andalou
  24. *Children of Paradise / Les Enfants du Paradis
  25. * Chinatown
  26. * Citizen Kane
  27. * A Clockwork Orange
  28. The Crying Game
  29. *The Day the Earth Stood Still
  30. Days of Heaven
  31. * Dirty Harry
  32. **The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie
  33. * Do the Right Thing
  34. *La Dolce Vita
  35. *Double Indemnity
  36. * Dr. Strangelove
  37. * Duck Soup
  38. * E.T. -- The Extra-Terrestrial
  39. **Easy Rider
  40. * The Empire Strikes Back
  41. *The Exorcist
  42. * Fargo
  43. * Fight Club
  44. *Frankenstein
  45. *The General
  46. * The Godfather, The Godfather, Part II
  47. * Gone With the Wind
  48. * GoodFellas
  49. * The Graduate
  50. Halloween
  51. * A Hard Day's Night
  52. *Intolerance (but it's been so long I forget most of this one)
  53. It's a Gift
  54. * It's a Wonderful Life
  55. N Jaws
  56. ** The Lady Eve
  57. * Lawrence of Arabia
  58. * M
  59. * Mad Max 2 / The Road Warrior
  60. * The Maltese Falcon
  61. ** The Manchurian Candidate
  62. * Metropolis
  63. * Modern Times
  64. * Monty Python and the Holy Grail
  65. * Nashville
  66. **The Night of the Hunter (saw this last week, review forthcoming)
  67. * Night of the Living Dead
  68. * North by Northwest
  69. * Nosferatu
  70. * On the Waterfront
  71. N Once Upon a Time in the West
  72. N Out of the Past
  73. * Persona
  74. * Pink Flamingos
  75. * Psycho
  76. * Pulp Fiction
  77. * Rashomon
  78. * Rear Window
  79. * Rebel Without a Cause
  80. * Red River
  81. * Repulsion
  82. * The Rules of the Game
  83. * Scarface
  84. The Scarlet Empress
  85. N Schindler's List
  86. The Searchers? never even heard of this
  87. * The Seven Samurai
  88. *Singin' in the Rain
  89. *Some Like It Hot
  90. *A Star Is Born
  91. *A Streetcar Named Desire
  92. *Sunset Boulevard
  93. * Taxi Driver
  94. *The Third Man
  95. NTokyo Story
  96. * Touch of Evil
  97. * The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
  98. * Trouble in Paradise
  99. *Vertigo
  100. * West Side Story
  101. *The Wild Bunch
  102. * The Wizard of Oz


So that's ten films I haven't seen (including Carrie and Halloween), plus an additional four on my Netflix movies-to-be-seen-soon list. Umm, I think I watch too many movies. You may now resume your norml life.

Via Kottke, of course.

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Drive by snapshots


proving the old adage: you can take photos from a moving vehicle, as long as you aren't too picky about results....

Simkins Furniture store, Dempster, Skokie, IL.

Ah, the days of hand lettered signs (which may exist only in my imagination)....

Cheery Red Tomato club members
Not sure of the occasion, but there were hundreds of similarly dressed folk prancing on Michigan Avenue.

Cheery Red Tomato club members2
Not sure of the occasion, but there were hundreds of similarly dressed folk prancing on Michigan Avenue.

Walls redux
posters, West loop

Waiting for the Bus
waiting for the bus all day.

posters, West loop

bridge in Ontario
Somewhere near Lake Superior. PhotoCD scan of 35 mm negative. Taken 1995, I think.

a quickr pickr post

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Minor housekeeping note

I'm not completely sure if category archives are worth keeping, but there they are. Inertia and all that. I've altered a couple. I've subdivided up my photo archive because it was becoming cumbersome to load. I haven't completely finished moving everything, but there is now a new category Photos 2005 and Photos 2004, meaning of which should be self-explanatory. Also, postings that used to be in the category basketball are now listed under NBA.

Thin skinned no more?

Tony Snow, currently a Fox News public yeller/commenter, and apparently going to take over Scott McClellan's job as public liar, has made quite a few pointed remarks about Bush and his mis-administration. For such a notoriously thin skinned public official, interesting that Bush is going to hire someone who has publicly criticized him, even if it was on Fox News.

Think Progress » Tony Snow On President Bush:
  • ‘An Embarrassment,’
  • ‘Impotent,’
  • ‘Doesn’t Seem To Mean What He Says’
  • ...“On the policy side, he has become a classical dime-store Democrat. He gladly will shovel money into programs that enjoy undeserved prestige, such as Head Start. He seems to consider it mean-spirited to shut down programs that rip-off taxpayers and mislead supposed beneficiaries.”

more here

maybe it is because Snow has a gigantic, Easter Island size head?

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A Prius in Every Pot

Ha, good opening line by MoDo.

Maureen Dowd: A Prius in Every Pot

It's taken over five years, but George W. Bush finally made a concession speech to Al Gore.

He conceded that America needs to conserve, by buying hybrid vehicles and developing new energy sources.

Trying to calm the yips in his party and the country over exploding gasoline prices, the president sounded a bit like a wild-eyed Ozone Man himself yesterday, extolling the virtues of alternative fuel derived from cooking grease, sugar, grass, wood chips, soybean oil and corn.

But then he got ahold of himself. “You just got to recognize there are limits to how much corn can be used for ethanol,” he said, standing in front of a bucolic mural. “After all, we got to eat some.”

You could run a fleet of S.U.V.'s on the gas that W. was spewing about fuel. Bill Clinton would have been more likely to crack down on fast food than W. and Dick Cheney would be to crack down on Big Oil.

Even the usually supportive Wall Street Journal editorial page chastised Republicans for putting on “Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi fright wigs” to shout about corporate greed and market manipulation.

SubEthaEdit viral campaign

MacZOT and TheCodingMonkeys are experimenting with a viral advertising campaign to get the word out about SubEthaEdit, a software for Collaborative Text editing.

MacZOT and TheCodingMonkeys will award $105,000 in Mac software
If enough people create these links, SubEthaEdit will be available free (to 3,000 users).
What is BlogZOT?

BlogZOT! uses the power of blogs to create value for all Mac users. In today's example: Each qualified blog entry reduces the price of SubEthaEdit from $30.00 to $0.00 by $0.05 per entry. For each entry, that's $166+ given back to the Mac community.

BlogZOT instructions. Please READ them as we won't have time to answer emails about BlogZOT until after it's over.

1. You can purchase SubEthaEdit on MacZOT.com at anytime today using the Buy button above at the current price.
2. If you'd rather pay less, you can help by getting bloggers to post a comment about SubEthaEdit being the BlogZOT 2.0 on MacZOT.com
3. BlogZOT 2.0 will run until the end of the day 11:59 pm in California or until 3,000 copies of SubEthaEdit have been awarded to BlogZOT participants.
4. Bloggers who participate and enter a working email will receive a SubEthaEdit registration if the goal of reducing the price to $0.00 is accomplished.

SubEthaEdit from CodingMonkeys

BLOGZOT 2.0 on MacZOT.com

I've heard of this software before, and even downloaded it once because it sounded interesting, but never have used it. Yet.

Wouldn't it be great to edit the same document, live, in realtime, together with everyone in your group? With SubEthaEdit you can. The idea of collaborative editing has been researched for years, with notable results. But now for the first time it has been implemented in a way you actually want to use: While doing complex calculations under the hood to ensure correct behavior with mulitple users, to you SubEthaEdit is just as easy to use as a traditional text edtior.
Using Mac OS X's unique Rendezvous features you don't have to edit long lists of preferences anymore, configuring servers and clients. It's as easy as editing a local file, just click the share button and type away.


Freedom means

creationists are welcome to throw $25 million dollars down the toilet if they wish, as long as they keep their back-asswardness to themselves, and avoid the 'poisoned' fruits of evolutionary science (vaccines, produce and meat found in the grocery store, etc.), usage of the mathematical formula of pi (the Bible 1 Kings 7:23 rounds it to 3, instead of 3.1428), yadda yadda. If the creationists could consistently reject these things, within a generation or two, we wouldn't hear about them much anymore.

Genesis of a museum

Creationists, saying all the answers are in the Bible, put their beliefs on display in $25 million facility

The recent fossil discovery of a 375-million-year-old fish that could lurch ashore on bony transitional fins--apparently a long-sought missing link between sea creatures and land animals--made a spectacular splash in evolutionary science circles. But it created nary a ripple on the placid American campus of Answers in Genesis, where an enormous museum chronicling the biblical six days of creation is rising fast amid rolling fields.

While mainstream scientists shake their heads, marketing research indicates Answers in Genesis may be welcoming up to 250,000 visitors a year after the museum's scheduled debt-free opening next spring, according to Michael Zovath, vice president of the Creation Museum. Admission fees remain to be determined.
“The 250,000 people going to it will go back to their legislators and pressure them to vote for Jesus,” said Volney Gay, director of the Center for Religion and Culture at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. “There's a suspicion of science and a suspicion of intellectuals in general.”

Said Ham: “What we see is if you can get information to people, their worldview will be changed, and the way they vote on issues, on a school board or whatever, will reflect that change.”

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MTBE and Republican missteps

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Nonsensical, anti-Democratic party histrionics aside, Denny Pelosi has a couple of interesting things to say. Another fault line in the Republican “big tent” is becoming apparent. The problem is that too many Republicans are simply incompetent at law making, and are only good at rewarding their business friends. When even the WSJ editorial page is criticizing Republicans, yadda yadda.

Republicans can blame business all they want for high prices, but sounding like liberal Democrats won't save them in November.
Few things are less becoming in a political party than desperation, as Republicans are now demonstrating as they panic over rising oil and gas prices. If blaming private industry for Congress's own energy mistakes is the best the GOP can do, no wonder its voters may sit out the November election.

Oil prices hit $75 a barrel last week, while gas has reached a national average of about $2.85 a gallon. The Republican response has been to put on Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi fright wigs and shout about corporate greed and market manipulation. House Speaker Denny Hastert and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist fired off a letter to President Bush yesterday demanding the Federal Trade Commission and Justice Department investigate “price fixing” and “gouging.” Senator Arlen Specter wants to go further and impose stricter “antitrust” laws for oil companies, as well as a “windfall profits” tax. Mr. Hastert also delighted the class warriors in the press corps by lambasting recently retired Exxon CEO Lee Raymond's pay “unconscionable.”

WSJ.com - Denny Pelosi

Greek style roasted Rice

Typical frat-house hijinks. Err, well, maybe not the same kind of Greeks. Bad joke. War crimes don't have a statute of limitation (just ask Henry Kissinger), perhaps Ms. Rice won't be lounging on a beach on Chios anytime soon.

Trials of Henry Kissinger
Trials of Henry Kissinger

Condi-Greece REUTERS/Yiorgos Karahalis

Athens police have fired teargas during a clash with anti-war demonstrators protesting against a visit by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Some protesters hurled petrol bombs, sticks and stones in return.

Ms Rice is meeting Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis as part of a five-day trip to Europe that also includes Turkey and Bulgaria.

Thousands of protesters are said to have gathered in Athens. Some 5,000 riot police have been deployed.

Television pictures showed protesters throwing petrol bombs and using sticks as riot police advanced, the air thick with tear gas.

The protesters were trying to reach the buildings where Condoleezza Rice is meeting Mr Karamanlis and her Greek counterpart, Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyianni, but many retreated under the police pressure, reports said.

Self-styled anarchists trailing the demonstrators continued fighting police, burning cars and smashing shop fronts.
“We are not protesting just against Rice, but the imperialist, war-mongering US government,” school teacher Panayiotis Hiundis told Reuters.

A senior figure from Greece's Communist Party accused Ms Rice of using the one-day visit to drum up support for an offensive against Iran, which the US accuses of trying to build a nuclear bomb

Condi Greece2 Condi-Greece REUTERS/Yiorgos Karahalis

BBC NEWS Clashes in Athens as Rice visits


Potheads and Sudafed

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John Tierney makes sense again, must be some weird astrological confluence or something.
Seriously, Tierney points out a fault line in the conservative “big tent”, namely the insistence of some that politic expediency trumps concerns over Big Gov-ment, especially with regards to the (phony) drug war.

John Tierney: Potheads and Sudafed - New York Times

Police officers in the 1960's were fond of bumper stickers reading: “The next time you get mugged, call a hippie.” Doctors today could use a variation: “The next time you're in pain, call a narc.”

Washington's latest prescription for patients in pain is the statement issued last week by the Food and Drug Administration on the supposed evils of medical marijuana. The F.D.A. is being lambasted, rightly, by scientists for ignoring some evidence that marijuana can help severely ill patients. But it's the kind of statement given by a hostage trying to please his captors, who in this case are a coalition of Republican narcs on Capitol Hill, in the White House and at the Drug Enforcement Administration.

They've been engaged in a long-running war to get the F.D.A. to abandon some of its quaint principles, like the notion that it's not fair to deny a useful drug to patients just because a few criminals might abuse it. The agency has also dared to suggest that there should be a division of labor when it comes to drugs: scientists and doctors should figure out which ones work for patients, and narcotics agents should catch people who break drug laws.

The drug cops want everyone to share their mission. They think that doctors and pharmacists should catch patients who abuse painkillers — and that if the doctors or pharmacists aren't good enough detectives, they should go to jail for their naïveté.

This month, pharmacists across the country are being forced to lock up another menace to society: cold medicine. Allergy and cold remedies containing pseudoephedrine, a chemical that can illegally be used to make meth, must now be locked behind the counter under a provision in the new Patriot Act.

Don't ask what meth has to do with the war on terror. Not even the most ardent drug warriors have been able to establish an Osama-Sudafed link.

Netflix Swings to Profit

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Netflix swung to a profit and revenue nearly doubled as the DVD rental company continued to boost its subscriber base.

Netflix has enjoyed rapid subscriber growth as customers migrate toward its mail-order DVD rental model. In February, the company announced it was testing a $5.99-a-month subscription plan as it works to further boost subscriptions, reduce cancellations and increase profitability.

Netflix said it added 687,000 subscribers in the first quarter, bringing its total customer count to 4.87 million.

Marketing costs fell slightly, though the company still spent an average of $38.47 for every new subscriber, compared with $38.68 in the year earlier quarter. Churn, or the rate at which customers leave the service, fell to 4.1% from 5% last year. Churn includes free subscribers as well as paying subscribers who elect not to renew their monthly subscription service during the quarter.

Netflix Swings to Profit


On a related note, the other day, while, umm, daydreaming, I doodled and noodled my monthly costs for Netflix, per movie watched/returned. Over the last 6 months, averaged more than 12 movies returned per month, or about $1.61 per film. If you like to watch movies, and own a DVD player, Netflix is damn good deal. Plus Netflix has a much better selection of films than most local retailers. The quality of film-watching is much, much better.


More Jack Anderson Files


The New York Times editorial board asks:

Editorial: The Anderson Files

Is the public really best served in the age of high-tech terrorism by having F.B.I. agents rifling through a dead reporter's files?

No fracking way! Are Jack Anderson's papers really that important? I doubt it.

The reasons should be clear to anyone who values the free exchange of ideas. First, much of the substance in those documents has been published. Second, whatever is classified is probably old, and may not have deserved to be classified in the first place. At a recent hearing, Representative Christopher Shays, a Connecticut Republican, said there was widespread agreement among secrecy experts that 50 percent to 90 percent of material currently withheld from the public should not be classified. Finally, the F.B.I. should not have the right to rummage through the files of a journalist, living or dead.

I've done a small amount of rifling through government files (spent most of a year at the LBJ library in Austin working on my senior thesis re: the rise of the surveillance state), which is mostly as boring as it sounds, and there really is no excuse for classifying 98% of the crap that gets classified. The government is supposed to be servants of the citizenry, not the other way around. Is it really going to become a crime to be able to read memos and phone logs from past administrations?

I'm guessing most of Mr. Anderson's papers that are in dispute are from the 50s-70s, and not much past that. What could possibly be contained in these documents that would provide such a security risk to the current occupants of the White House? Feh.

F.B.I. officials say “no private person” may possess classified documents provided to that person “illegally.” That sounds as though some in the administration are trying to turn the old and ambiguous Espionage Act into something approaching an official secrets act. It raises fears of a government merely stamping something secret and making it illegal for a journalist to possess it.

This administration always excuses its obsession with secrecy by citing national security. If that's the larger issue, is the Anderson estate really a priority? Is the public really best served in the age of high-tech terrorism by having F.B.I. agents rifling through a dead reporter's files from Iran-contra, the Keating Five and Watergate?

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Trade Deficit

One of those topics which actually should be discussed more often, imho. If the U.S. continues to have such an unbalanced economy, eventually something is going to happen, and it won't be pretty for all of us paycheck to paycheck types.

Paul Krugman - CSI: Trade Deficit

It's a mystery how we've been able to run huge deficits, year after year, with so few visible adverse consequences.

Forensics are in. If you turn on the TV during prime time, you're likely to find yourself watching people sorting through clues from a crime scene, trying to figure out what really happened.

That's more or less what's going on right now among international finance experts. The crime in question is the U.S. trade deficit, which according to the broadest measure reached an amazing $805 billion last year. The mystery is how we've been able to run huge deficits, year after year, with so few visible adverse consequences. And the future of the U.S. economy depends on which of two proposed solutions to the mystery is right.

Here's the puzzle: the trade deficit means that America is living beyond its means, spending far more than it earns. (In 2005, the United States exported only 53 cents' worth of goods for every dollar it spent on imports.) To pay for the excess of imports over exports, the United States has to sell stocks, bonds and businesses to foreigners. In fact, we've borrowed more than $3 trillion just since 1999.

By rights, then, the investment income — interest payments, stock dividends and so on — that Americans pay to foreigners should be a lot larger than the investment income foreigners pay to Americans. But according to official statistics, the United States still has a slightly positive balance on investment income.

How is this possible? The answer, almost certainly, is that there's something wrong with the numbers. (Laypeople tend to treat official statistics as gospel; professional economists know that putting these numbers together involves a lot of educated guesswork — and sometimes the guesses are wrong.) But depending on exactly what's wrong, the U.S. economy either has hidden strengths, or it's in even worse shape than it seems.

Big Music Firms on their way out

File headline under Department of wishful thinking....

A judge ruled two big music firms misled investigators over how they learned about rivals' online pricing agreements.

A federal court ruling Friday highlights the pressure global music companies face on multiple fronts over whether they collude to set wholesale prices, particularly to online services.

Judge Marilyn Hall Patel, of the U.S. District Court in San Francisco, found that two of the four big music companies, Vivendi Universal SA's Universal Music Group and EMI Group PLC, deliberately misled federal investigators by obscuring the degree to which they sought -- and gained -- information about their competitors' pricing agreements with online music services.

If they aren't successful in appealing the ruling, the music companies could be hurt in their efforts to fend off investigations by the Justice Department and by New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, as well as a consumer lawsuit seeking class-action status, all of which focus on pricing collusion.

Judge Patel described Universal's efforts to gain information on competitors' pricing as an “ongoing unlawful scheme” which it sought to hide from Justice Department investigators and held that EMI, too, had misled investigators on the same issue. She ordered the companies to produce documents they had witheld either in whole or in part.

Big Music Firms Dealt a Legal Blow

From my vantage point, the large music companies are dinosaurs, more concerned with quarterly profit than with enabling musicians to create quality music.

Knicks are a national laughingstock

When even Richard Cohen is using the New York Knicks as a setup to a punch-line, you know your team is a joke.

WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING | Chicago Tribune 'Tis a pity George Bush did not own the New York Knicks instead of the Texas Rangers. History might have been different. His cocky approach to war in Iraq might have been tempered by the knowledge that money and power [don't] always guarantee victory.

Sometimes, as Don Rumsfeld has memorably noted, things happen. -- Richard Cohen in The Washington Post

A friend re-gifted (with our full approval) an exercise bike, barely used. Even though the bike was manufactured 1989 or so, and hence has crappy software, run by a 9 volt battery, it is still perfect for watching the NBA playoffs in my back office room, on my crappy donated television (albeit a television that has a DirecTV Tivo box attached). Nothing beats exercising, drinking beer (Bell's Amber Ale at the moment), and enjoying the NBA season that matters (to fans). Well, dozens of things actually are more fun, or maybe even more if I stop to list them all, but still....

My main kvetch re: the NBA playoffs, why does it invariably start just as spring arrives? Yesterday I chose life, and didn't watch any games that were TiVoed. Today, got out early, enjoyed some fun in the sun, yadda yadda, and made it back home by 4 pm. Why can't the NBA season end in the doldrums of winter? Especially since this is the only sport I actually pay attention too. Couldn't the NFL and NBA switch seasons? Holding the NBA playoffs in December-January would be sweet.

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Italy owes wine legacy to Celts

Wine slurping is in my genes, dammit!

DaVinci Wine (or Whine, depending)

...But for two history buffs with a passion for the tipple, northern Italy has the barbarians to thank for its long wine-making tradition.

Luca Sormani, from Como, and Fulvio Pescarolo, from the tiny town of Robbio near Milan, have traced the region's wine culture all the way back to its Celtic roots and have started making it according to ancient methods.

Celtic tribes from farther north -- known to the Romans as “Barbari” -- conquered northern parts of Italy about 2,500 years ago, settled there and started draining marshes, cultivating land and growing vines.

Standing in a vineyard on a man-made hill in the middle of table-flat rice fields in western Lombardy, Sormani recalled how he spent years studying the history of the area, which led him to the idea of recreating a Celtic farm.

“In (the northern towns of) Vigevano and Mortara we live as if we had no history, as if one day we found ourselves here and going to work in Milan. I did not like it. I wanted to find out where we came from, who we were,” said Sormani.

“And not being a philosopher or poet or a writer, being an agronomist, I started my research from agriculture.”

His project took off in 2000 after he met Pescarolo. They used their own savings to build a replica of a Celtic farm, based on ancient manuscripts.

They wanted to relive the history of the Celts by discovering their habits and tastes and, in a typical Italian way, the pleasures that Celts found in food and wine.

Six years later, the pair can enjoy the most treasured fruit of their labors: Celtic wine, produced according to ancient recipes from grapes grown using Celtic methods.

Italy owes wine legacy to Celts, history buffs say - Yahoo! News

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Marijuana science vs political posturing

part the seven millionth.

A Food and Drug Administration statement denying any medical benefits of marijuana reinforced the divide between U.S. officials and the states that have approved the drug's use in certain cases.

Talk about your understatement. The DEA and various anti-drug warriors in this (and previous) administration don't believe in science anymore than they believe in the almighty Pasta-in-the-sky.

“It's consistent with the long-held federal view on this medicine, and that is that marijuana is the equivalent of heroin and cocaine,” said Nathan Barankin, a spokesman for California's attorney general, Bill Lockyer. “California voters disagree.”

Full disclosure, I've partaken of all three drugs, and they are certainly not equivalent. I've known plenty of folks who have ruined their lives with either heroin or cocaine, but never even heard of anyone who was a slave to the herb to the extent that their life was subsumed by the drug. Not to belabor the point, but I've also known plenty of people who have used (even heavily) heroin and cocaine and never had problems.

Several officials in the 11 states that allow medical marijuana disputed the F.D.A.'s contention that there was no research supporting the drug's medical use. They noted, in particular, a 1999 review by the National Institute of Medicine, part of the National Academy of Sciences, the nation's most prestigious scientific advisory panel, which found marijuana to be “moderately well-suited” to some conditions, including wasting disease from AIDS and the nausea that often results from chemotherapy. ... The Food and Drug Administration issued its announcement in response to calls from opponents of medical marijuana in Congress, and it was welcomed by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, which has long made marijuana its top priority.

This is the federal government's position: drugs are evil because we say they are, and any scientist or citizen who has the temerity to suggest otherwise is an idiot or a dupe of the anti-prohibition forces. The FDA (and other three-initial federal agencies) have a long, long history of allowing, nay insisting, that political expediency trumps science.

Can I have my country back? The country where citizens were free to conduct their lives without interference by the nanny-state?

Complete article here F.D.A.'s Report Illuminates Wide Divide on Marijuana, and a brief discussion of marijuana science here.

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Friday's Walk-about

Friday's lunchtime stroll yielded these shots, among others

Shadow Juggler
I can only juggle two orbs at once though, still learning.

Wall, tree, vines and shadows

Arches of a former republic
Bricked up windows (I assume), Lincoln Park.

Subtle Fire
Lion detail, someone's front gate, Lincoln Park.

Star Light
Fearfully sorry for the bad pun, but somebody had to do it.

Sidewalk Art number 57
57 reasons for being

of course, embiggening is just a click (or two) away.

a quickr pickr post

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Great Revulsion

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Oh we could hope, even pray to the great fusilli in the sky, but don't forget Diebold.

The 2004 election now looks like the high-water mark of a conservative tide that is now receding.

“I have a vision — maybe just a hope — of a great revulsion: a moment in which the American people look at what is happening, realize how their good will and patriotism have been abused, and put a stop to this drive to destroy much of what is best in our country.”

I wrote those words three years ago in the introduction to my column collection,

The Great Unraveling

The Great Unraveling

It seemed a remote prospect at the time: Baghdad had just fallen to U.S. troops, and President Bush had a 70 percent approval rating.

Now the great revulsion has arrived. The latest Fox News poll puts Mr. Bush's approval at only 33 percent. According to the polling firm Survey USA, there are only four states in which significantly more people approve of Mr. Bush's performance than disapprove: Utah, Idaho, Wyoming and Nebraska. If we define red states as states where the public supports Mr. Bush, Red America now has a smaller population than New York City.

The proximate causes of Mr. Bush's plunge in the polls are familiar: the heck of a job he did responding to Katrina, the prescription drug debacle and, above all, the quagmire in Iraq.

But focusing too much on these proximate causes makes Mr. Bush's political fall from grace seem like an accident, or the result of specific missteps. That gets things backward. In fact, Mr. Bush's temporarily sky-high approval ratings were the aberration; the public never supported his real policy agenda.

Paul Krugman: The Great Revulsion

Friday photos from the archives

Everything old is new again. Or something.

Old Timey
Portrait of your humble narrator at some masters-of-disguise party or something. I forget. Borrowed vintage fez and vintage wire-rim glasses (clear glass) from a friend who collects such things. Smoking jacket and pipe belonged to my girlfriend's long dead father.

Aged in Photoshop of course.

May Day 1995
May Day is approaching. Taken at the Division-Milwaukee Blue Line stop.

35 mm print, scanned.

Leaning Enchanted Rock 1998
Rock formation and leaner, Enchanted Rock, outside of Austin, TX. Probably 1998.

35 mm print, scanned.


Leonine Pensive
Cortona, Italy (I think - maybe Assisi). 35 mm print scanned.

a quickr pickr post

(embiggening is just a click or two away)

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Julia Roberts, Hack


James Wolcott is not impressed with Julia Roberts' Broadway performance:

What is it about Julia Roberts that reduces grown men to such goops? ...
I only cite Roberts' disposition/demeanor back then because it's accurately reflected in her cover shot for New York. Look at that face, devoid of light and lightness, with nothing going on behind her expressionless expression.

I'm with Wolcott, 106%, or even more. I have never understood the appeal of Julia Roberts. I don't think she is very pretty even, if I am allowed a moment of shallowness, much less a competent actress. Has she ever been in a good movie? Wolcott mentions

Mystic Pizza

Mystic Pizza

which I could only stomach about 30 minutes of before I had to find a bucket. Pretty Woman is just stupid, Erin Brockovich was ok, but more because of the subject matter, not because Roberts portrayed Brockovich with any insight. I think she has gotten such a stellar name because her movies made a lot of money, not because they have any real artistic merit. I mean, she learns her lines I suppose, but beyond that - bleh. Are there Julia Roberts' performances I should see to convince me she is more than a vapid talent? The floor is open...

read more Wolcott here: James Wolcott: The Theatah, The Theatah


Letter writing 101, summer school edition

From the Department of What's Really on Your Mind?

Another typical day in the Republican headquarters of the Show Me State, fundraising and cursing at constituents....

The letter Rep. Jo Ann Emerson sent to one of her constituents read like any other a 20-year-old legislative correspondent might prepare for a member of Congress: Thank you for writing, your concerns are important to me, blah, blah, blah. Then came the kicker: “I think you're an asshole.”

As the Associated Press reports, Emerson, a Republican from Missouri, says she has no idea how the insult made its way into her letter to a Centerville, Mo., resident named Bill Jones....As the AP notes, Emerson not only signed the letter to Jones but added a handwritten postscript as well: “PS -- please forgive the delay in responding, motherfucker.”
A copy of the letter made its way to the Missouri Democratic Party, which faxed it to the AP.

War Room - Salon.com

I'm guessing an intern transcribed what the Congresswoman actually said, but forgot to cut out the naughty-bits.

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Radio Sucks for a reason

In a nutshell, this is why commercial radio sucks.

WSJ.com - FCC Escalates Investigation Into Alleged Radio Payola The Federal Communications Commission is stepping up its investigation into alleged payola practices at four of the largest U.S. radio corporations after attempts to reach a settlement stalled.

An FCC official with direct knowledge of the investigation confirmed the agency had requested documents this week from Clear Channel Communications Inc.; CBS Radio Inc., a unit of CBS Corp.; Entercom Communications Corp.; and Citadel Broadcasting Corp.

The agency wants to learn more about accusations that radio programmers received gifts, cash and other items in exchange for playing certain songs at radio stations without publicly disclosing the deals.

The music industry monoliths desperately want to 'create' the next flavor-of-the-month pop monstrosity, hence payoffs to the radio broadcasters, hence the general suckiness of what gets played. Cycle of mediocrity, indeed.

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NBA All Overpaid Team

Sam Smith, Mark Cuban's favorite sports gossip columnist, in his season wrap up, makes a list of alleged superstars who missed the playoffs, or as I like to call them, the All Overpaid Team.

Sam Smith - High, low points of NBA season | Chicago Tribune
Where have all the stars gone? Kevin Garnett, Tracy McGrady, Yao Ming, Stephon Marbury, Steve Francis, Paul Pierce, Joe Johnson, Allen Iverson, Chris Webber, Ray Allen, Rashard Lewis, Zach Randolph, Baron Davis and Jason Richardson are home for the playoffs, counting paychecks that average more than $10 million per year.
Jalen Rose could be on this list too, to make it an even 15 man roster. Larry Brown is the coach, natch.

In other words, none of these guys are really worth the label of superstar, with the subsequent massive salary attached. In my made-up NBA collective bargaining agreement, only 2/3 of a player's annual salary would be guaranteed, the rest of the salary would be paid if the player's team made the playoffs. A reward for team success in other words, so there would theoretically be more teams like the Phoenix Suns, Detroit Pistons, Chicago Bulls, San Antonio Spurs, Dallas Mavericks, and less collections of theoretically talented individuals like the New York Knicks, Portland Trailblazers, et al, who are a black eye on the sport. Ha.

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Bogus fishing expedition

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Insanely bogus request. Democracy thrives in the open, public sphere, not with every damn document forever classified and hidden from historians.

FBI wants in on any Jack Anderson secrets
Jack Anderson turned up plenty of government secrets during his half-century as an investigative reporter, and his family hoped to make his papers available to the public after his death last December--but the government wants to see and possibly confiscate them first.

I'm waiting for Murray Waas to weigh in, even though this is not his particular 'beat', he did have some nice obituary notes re: Jack Anderson. (no relation to us, that I am aware of. Of course, I don't know any Andersons, so who the frack knows).
(Not sure why there is link-rot at Whatever Already, so have to make do with my puny excerpt)

update, found it

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I wish I was this rich

I wish I was this rich

I wish I had enough clout and/or wealth to be able to illegally park 3 out of 5 limos in tow zones or in front of fire hydrants for over 3 hours on a busy street with nary a police car stopping to investigate. Must be nice to be so politically well connected.

These are two of the limo drivers, who happened to walk into my frame. I'm sure the decision to park so ostentatiously was not their choice, but rather their passengers who couldn't bear the thought of having to wait outside, in 65 degree spring weather, while the limousine drove up. Illinois license number 7265-LY, LY meaning livery probably. 7019LY was another, and 7325LY was the one directly in front of my garage door.

Laws are for peons anyway, not for important folk who eat at Blackbird.

Is it petty of me to even care? Yes, probably. C'est la vie. I hate the caste system in America.

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marijuana science

Ah, the joys of a wake-n-bake. Err, ummm, I mean, Cecil Adams takes a glance through recent cannabis research, discovering that some scientific studies are able to navigate the federal dictate that the weed is pernicious scourge, or whatever it is the kids are saying these days, but some scientists prefer getting more future grant money.

Hookah for breakfast

The Straight Dope: Still smokin’: What are the long-term effects of marijuana?
a staggering amount of research has been done--a search on marijuana in PubMed, the federally funded online medical-journal database, turns up close to 4,000 articles in the last ten years alone. Start reading up on the subject, though, and you quickly realize that however fine the wheels of science may grind, they sure grind exceeding slow. Believe it or not, some of these guys are still arguing over whether weed causes reefer madness.

Read more here, plus Mr. Adams' original 1985/1997 column, here

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More cash down the money hole? Maybe Scottie McClellan could apply since he's apparently out of work at the moment. A position as ONDCP spokesmonkey seems tailor made for McClellan's patented brand of robotically repeating bland talking points, coupled with no real ability to affect anything.

Advertising Age When the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy launched in 1999, it had an advertising budget of $195 million. That annual figure has now declined to $99 million. The anti-drug ad program -- already under fire by critics who question whether or not it works to curb drug abuse -- is now being criticized because its budget difficulties may prevent it from wielding enough media weight to make its national advertising effective. Some in Congress want to shut the campaign down. Its director [John Walters] wants Congress to increase its funding and says there is 'no excuse' for not doing so.
The drug office claims the campaign still reaches teens between three or four times a week.

But it's managed that by taking draconian steps. Not only are the Super Bowl spots it once ran gone, but the campaign has ceased running ads aimed at parents and reduced the number of messages aimed at minority groups.

Moreover, the drug office started hoarding its ad time rather than give part of it over to other public-service groups for messages related to drug prevention-an agreement originally made to mollify public-service groups worried that their ads would get bounced by paid anti-drug ads.

and of course, the ONDCP foolishly focuses on the demon weed, per instructions from the Bush White House.

The Partnership, which wasn't entirely happy about the focus on marijuana that the Bush administration brought and moved to make its own public service efforts on other drugs, now concedes it has worked [uhh, yeah. I'll believe that when GWB pardons Saddam Hussein]. “It's no secret that we had reservations about [marijuana]. We pushed for a bigger repertoire,” said Mr. Clarkin. “I have to say that the results appear to vindicate the focus on marijuana.”

Others question the measuring tool for success or whether the ad campaign has had much to do with any change. And some worry that kids using illegal drugs may just have moved on from marijuana to abuse of prescription or over-the-counter medications.

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Decider Sticks With the Derider

MoDo has some fun today, and also votes for regime change at home.

Maureen Dowd: The Decider Sticks With the Derider

The generals criticizing Donald Rumsfeld want him to resign because he made arrogant mistakes that will be taught in history classes forever.

At first Rummy was reluctant to talk about the agonizing generals' belated objections to the irrational and bullying decisions that led to carnage in Iraq. The rebellious retired brass complain that the defense chief was contemptuous of advice from his military officers and sabotaged the Iraq mission with willful misjudgments before and after the invasion.

“I kind of would prefer to let a little time walk over it,” Rummy told reporters at a Pentagon briefing yesterday. But seconds later, he let loose a river of ruminations, a Shakespearean, or maybe Nixonian, soliloquy that showed such a breathtaking lack of comprehension that it was touching, in a perverse way.

He flailed and floundered through anecdotes from his first and second stints at the Pentagon, arguing that he drew criticism because he was a change agent, trying to transform the lumbering military bureaucracy.

He talked about things that most people wouldn't understand — how 30 years ago he chose a M-1 battle tank with a 120-millimeter cannon and turbine engine instead of the 105-howitzer and diesel engine the Army had wanted. He babbled on about reforms in the Unified Command Plan, the Defense Logistics System, the Quadrennial Defense Reviews and the National Security Personnel System and about going from “service-centric war fighting to deconfliction war fighting, to interoperability and now towards interdependence.”

Iraq Iran dialectic

Tommy Friedman wonders if there aren't other choices behind door number three. He hasn't given up on our Iraq adventure yet, just wants regime change at home first.

Thomas Friedman: Iraq II or a Nuclear Iran?

If our choice is another Rummy-led operation on Iran or Iran's going nuclear and our deterring it through classic means, I prefer deterrence.

If these are our only choices, which would you rather have: a nuclear-armed Iran or an attack on Iran's nuclear sites that is carried out and sold to the world by the Bush national security team, with Don Rumsfeld at the Pentagon's helm?

I'd rather live with a nuclear Iran.

While I know the right thing is to keep all our options open, I have zero confidence in this administration's ability to manage a complex military strike against Iran, let alone the military and diplomatic aftershocks.

Blogging definitions

Jason Kottke and his guest-blogger, Greg Knauss, discuss the blogging dialectic.

Writers and editors
After reading Greg's thoughts, Meg reminded me that Rebecca Blood had made a distinction between filter-style and journal-style bloggers in Weblogs: A History and Perspective. If you want to generalize outside the realm of weblogs, they're both talking about the difference between writers and editors.

I'm certainly well defined as residing in the editor/dj mode of blogging. Mostly because I have another couple jobs that subsume my time, and actually pay me livable wages, well, nearly pay livable wages. I tend to blog like I talk, which is more in aphoristic, sentence form than in paragraph, essay form. [redacted rambling paraphrased anecdotes and life-history]. I can write my way out of a paper bag, or so I delude myself into believing, but fail to see it as a requirement for blogging.

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Thomas Hawk takes lots of photos of downtown San Francisco, some of them quite good. Apparently though, photography is equated with terrorism in building management's minds, for pasta-only-knows reasons best ignored.

Thomas Hawk's Digital Connection: Photographing Architecture is Not a Crime, Thomas Hawk vs. Building Security Episode 118 So today there I was minding my own business shooting 45 Fremont in downtown San Francisco when all of a sudden a Shorenstein Company employee security guard decides to give me the finger in my photographs of the building. Next thing you know I get the typical hassle. Except normally when the guards come out all polite like and all this guy instead comes out middle finger a blazing and telling me that I'm not allowed to photograph the building from the public space.

He goes on to tell me how he doesn't like to have his photograph taken, etc. (hint, if you don't like your photograph taken, probably best not to come swaggering out of a public building middle finger a blazin', remember any old asshole can have a blog these days). And insists on telling me how if I want to photograph the building I'm going to need to get approval from building management. blah, blah, blah.

Well, this guy got off on the wrong foot with me in the first place so I politely inform him that despite his objections that I'm on public property and as such have every right to photograph whatever I want and if he'd like he can feel free to call the police and the three of us can have a conversation. Of course he asks me why I need to be such an asshole and I remind him that he was the one giving me the bird, etc. etc. All I am is a lowly photography hobbyist but that since he was being so nice and all that he could look forward to his photo being on the internet.

He asks me if I *really* want him to call the police. Again, I answer nicely, yes. At this point he goes back inside. I go around to shoot the other side of the building and his boss comes out and he's pissed. You're not allowed to photograph this building he says. “Says who,” I say. “Says me, I'm the owner,” he says, you're on my property.“

Now I've seen Walter Shorenstein, San Francisco's real estate mogul, before and this guy definitely ain't Shorenstein. So I object. I remind Mr. fake Shorenstein that I'm on public property and that I have every right ot shoot the building. He asks me why I'm shooting the building and (only because I'm pissed at this point) I tell him that this is none of his business. Now with this he flips it. Some third party seems it's his business to chime in and sides with the security guard and tells me, you know he's right, your not allowed to take photos of this building (um. ok Chet).

The security guard then seems fit to chime in, post 9/11 you know. They don't want photos of the building.

read more, including photo of the enraged security guard, here.

As I mentioned last week, I had a small run-in with a Boeing security guard, but in that instance, I ducked and ran because I didn't have time to argue, and I was standing on Boeing property. Next time, I'll at least take a photo of the security guard for posterity.

Randolph Street Bridge

The problem is that in our climate of fear and mistrust, photographers are being besmirched as evil-doers, and not enough of us are standing up for our rights as citizens.

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I am uh Decider

I can't help but hear this childish, petulant phrase as spoken by Jon Stewart of the Daily Show, in his faux Texan/Bush voice, complete with the maniacal little giggle, and hand chops.

The Swamp - The Decider.

“I hear the voices, and I read the front page, and I know the speculation,’’ Bush said, appearing openly irritated by a question about Rumsfeld shouted by a reporter in a Rose Garden ceremony.
”But I am the decider,’’ said Bush. “And I decide what is best. And what’s best is for Don Rumsfeld to remain as secretary of defense.’’

Heh heh heh.

The Jon Stewart - Bush voice is sort of similar to Beavis and Butthead too, I wonder if that's intentional.

”And on Friday, I stood up and said, I don’t appreciate the speculation about Don Rumsfeld,’’ said Bush

in other words, how dare anyone second guess me??!! I am the Dauphin, MoFo, and don't you forget it. You always know when Bush is speaking without notes because his sentences become monosyllabic and emphatic, largely without clauses.

Remix version here


John Kass on Ryan

I've always enjoyed reading the columns of John Kass, even though he frequently puts his foot in his mouth/keyboard, and even though he frequently speaks as a Republican. Good political writing doesn't require party affiliation to be effective anyway.

Anyway, Kass has been consistently critical of George Ryan while singing hosannahs for Peter and Patrick Fitzgerald. Fitzmas indeed. One can pray to all things noodly that U.S. Atty. Fitzgerald is as successful in his 'other' investigation as he was in the Operation Safe Roads
(75 convictions so far).

Chicago Tribune | This verdict no ordinary act of justice

...The bipartisan Illinois political combine--the one controlled by Ryan and Daley--is on the run. It has been on the run since former U.S. Sen. Peter Fitzgerald (R-Ill.) ruined his political career by demanding that the White House appoint a federal prosecutor without any political connections to the combine.

U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald (no relation) is still here. He hasn't been removed, yet. And now is the time for ordinary people to have their say.

Ordinary people who become jurors don't usually make fortunes in public relations. So they don't spin out the too-often-repeated lie that politics as usual is no crime, just politics. Ordinary people don't bestow millions upon millions of tax dollars on their friends in government deals, or send $100 million in affirmative-action contracts to white Outfit-connected stooges, or smirk and play dumb as their family becomes wealthy beyond imagining.

They don't hire unqualified 19-year-old city building inspectors, or build a patronage army in violation of federal court orders to crush any dissenting voice, or purchase millions of dollars worth of office furniture from an 11th Ward family with clout.

Ordinary people don't take free vacations to Jamaica as George Ryan did, or pretend to live on $77 in cash while gambling and drinking and steakhousing their way across the country. They don't squeeze the janitors and the cleaning ladies for Christmas money.

And there's another thing that ordinary people don't do: They don't cover up investigations into the deaths of six children who were burned alive in a crash by an unqualified truck driver who bribed his way to a commercial driver's license.

Kass concludes with this tidbit of witnessed vitriol:

...But on Monday, Ryan displayed the proper combine attitude, by blaming the jury.

“The decision today is not in accordance with the kind of public service I've given to the people of Illinois over 40 years,” he said.

Clearly, George wanted a payoff. He didn't get the deal he wanted, although I figure that if he receives 10 or 15 years in prison, he'll have been paid in proper coin, since he's a convict now.

As he walked out of the federal building to make his escape in a vehicle, an angry bicycle messenger with prison written on his face started taunting the former governor. The bike man was telling Ryan not to drop the soap in prison, telling him not to become beholden to other guys by smoking their cigarettes.

It was brutal. It was ugly. And Ryan couldn't help hearing.

“You better not take their smokes, you get your own, know what I'm sayin'!” he shouted, straddling his bike, laughing. “Know what I'm sayin'! Governor! Governor!”

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Travel vs sleep

Travel is for the birds, and other creatures who can get by with minimal sleep.

shadow government colorized
shadow government, colorized


Corruption and Republicans

Surprisingly, George Ryan (R) ex-govenor of IL was found guilty on ALL 18 charges. Whoa. I guess Steve Earle's love for Mr. Ryan didn't count.

(click to play Steve Earle song excerpt, or failing that, go here)
Steve Earle Ryan Excerpt

Anyway, another Fitzmas:

A federal jury convicted former Gov. George Ryan today on all charges that as secretary of state he steered state business to cronies in return for vacations, gifts and other benefits for himself and his family.

On their eleventh day of deliberations, the six-woman, six-man jury found Ryan, 72, guilty on 18 counts of racketeering, mail fraud, false statements and tax violations. Warner, 67, was convicted on 12 counts of racketeering, mail fraud, extortion, money laundering and evading cash-reporting requirements.

The racketeering conspiracy charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison.

..The charges against Ryan largely stemmed from his scandal-scarred tenure as secretary of state. But he was accused as governor of lying to FBI agents, arranging a lucrative make-work lobbying deal for a friend, lobbyist Arthur “Ron” Swanson, and leaking the selection of a state prison site to Swanson, who improperly profited on the tip.

Ryan also diverted state resources and staffers to half a dozen political campaigns, including his 1998 election as governor.

Prosecutors alleged that in 1995 Ryan helped arrange to be paid secretly by former U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm's ill-fated presidential campaign, funneled the money through a company operated by a trusted operative and passed on nearly $10,000 to four daughters.

...Among the wide-ranging charges against Ryan, prosecutors alleged as secretary of state he gutted the office's investigative arm in 1995 to stop its agents from looking into shady fundraising practices of his campaign apparatus.

One investigator testified that Dean Bauer, Ryan's handpicked inspector general, refused to let him investigate a 1994 crash outside Milwaukee in which six children of Duane and Janice Willis were killed.

The fiery accident occurred when a heavy piece of metal undercarriage fell from a truck and punctured the gas tank of the Willis van. The truck driver, Ricardo Guzman, had paid a bribe for his commercial driver's license in Illinois and could not understand warnings from other truckers, in English, that the piece was dangling dangerously from his rig.

Trains and Needles

Couldn't decide which photo montage I liked best, so here they both are, with a couple of bonus weekend snapshots for good measure.

It's all in the Motion
It's all in the motion

Trains and Needles
Trains and Needles

Mutual Disgust
Mutal Disgust.
Walls and Vines, living together in sin.

Ogden School
Nice font. Named after this guy,william-butler-ogden

(as always, embiggening is just a click or two away)

-update: I guess Gaper's Block decided for me.

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Enemy of the Planet

Krugman changes focus from junk politics to discuss junk science, and the real reason GWB's posse claims global climate change is in need of further debate.

Paul Krugman: Enemy of the Planet To understand why Exxon Mobil is a worse environmental villain than other big oil companies, you need to know about how the science and politics of climate change have shifted.

Lee Raymond, the former chief executive of Exxon Mobil, was paid $686 million over 13 years. But that's not a reason to single him out for special excoriation. Executive compensation is out of control in corporate America as a whole, and unlike other grossly overpaid business leaders, Mr. Raymond can at least claim to have made money for his stockholders.

There's a better reason to excoriate Mr. Raymond: for the sake of his company's bottom line, and perhaps his own personal enrichment, he turned Exxon Mobil into an enemy of the planet.

To understand why Exxon Mobil is a worse environmental villain than other big oil companies, you need to know a bit about how the science and politics of climate change have shifted over the years.

Global warming emerged as a major public issue in the late 1980's. But at first there was considerable scientific uncertainty.

More Rummy Rum Rumblings

The Wall Street Journal gets into the Rumsfeld rumble in the bumble.

WSJ.com - Rumsfeld's Control Of Military Policy Appears to Weaken
Five years ago, when Donald Rumsfeld took over at the Pentagon, he quickly moved to assert greater civilian control over senior military officers. But now, well into the Bush administration's second term, there are signs that his firm grip on the Defense Department is slipping as some uniformed officers increasingly chart their own course.

Well before the recent calls by a half-dozen retired Army and Marine Corps generals for Mr. Rumsfeld's resignation, there was an increasing challenge to his ideas about warfare from within the senior officer ranks. It seems likely to persist even assuming Mr. Rumsfeld survives the retired generals' criticism -- which it appears he will, given a recent strongly worded statement of support from President Bush.

While there is no sign the military leadership inside the Pentagon is ignoring or defying Mr. Rumsfeld's orders, senior military officials in a number of cases seem more willing to go their own way, even if that means publicly questioning or quietly trying to undo some of Mr. Rumsfeld's initiatives. “Many of his war-fighting concepts are turning out to be impractical. People are walking away from them,” said Robert Killebrew, a retired colonel who spent much of his career as a strategist within top commands inside the Army. He described Mr. Rumsfeld as “increasingly a spent force.”

Much of the disenchantment grows out of the initial war plan for taking out Saddam Hussein. Officers who are critical now say the strategies Mr. Rumsfeld championed, particularly his focus on faster, streamlined forces to make warfare more efficient, sowed the seeds for some of the problems encountered later.

The areas where senior military officers seem to be exerting more influence run the gamut from basic manpower and military procurement to how the U.S. military interacts with allies and potential adversaries in the Middle East and Asia.

Chicago Traffic lights

Chicago's lack of timed traffic lights was probably the second driving-related thing I noticed when I moved here, second to the weird two lanes merging into one at every stoplight. Finally, more than ten years later, the city is making rumbly noises about correcting the situation.

Exit Strategy - a symphony in red, gold and blueExit Strategy - a symphony in red, gold and blue

Traffic signal goal is perfect timing Chicago transportation officials say technology will help synchronize current poorly coordinated lights at intersections throughout the city

Badly timed traffic signals rank among the chief traffic complaints of commuters and lead to frustration, gridlock, wasted fuel, worsening pollution, lost productivity and road rage.

The good news is that Chicago transportation officials at the Traffic Management Authority are focusing on solutions and new technology--as if timing were everything.

By the end of 2006, about 60 more intersections will have signals that are interconnected and synchronized with other nearby signals, according to Yadollah Montazery, assistant director of the city's Office of Emergency Management and Communications, which oversees the Traffic Management Authority. The upgrade will bring the total to about 460 intersections.

Synchronization involves sequencing the traffic lights to maximize traffic flow through a series of green lights. About 2,000 of Chicago's 2,800 signalized intersections have synchronized traffic lights.

Signal interconnects often include synchronization. But interconnects allow inclusion of cameras and sophisticated technology to monitor and improve in real time how well an intersection is working because the traffic signals are physically linked by fiber optic cables.

“Typically we have seen a 15 percent improvement in travel times on corridors where signals are interconnected,” Montazery said.

The federal government knows the tremendous benefit of interconnecting traffic signals, which is why it provides cities with 80 percent of the funding for design and construction, he said.

Chicago's traffic management goal includes having the ability by the end of the year to remotely adjust the red-and-green cycles on about 200 of the existing 400 interconnected signals by using cameras positioned above the streets and computers inside the traffic authority's headquarters in the West Loop.

More changeable message boards are also being installed alongside some of the interconnected signals so motorists will be alerted before they get to the problem areas--and take alternate routes.

Montazery said being able to adjust traffic signals in response to situations, rather than changing signal timings only at predetermined hours each day, will improve traffic flow around accidents, crime scenes and special events.

In the suburbs, Lake County is leading the way in using intelligent transportation systems to relieve congestion and get the most capacity out of roads. The county launched a $7 million system in February to interconnect traffic signals along state, county and municipal roads.

The Illinois Department of Transportation is working with Cook, DuPage, Will and Kane Counties to develop similar systems that could one day form a regionwide network.

Approximately 100 of Chicago's 2,800 signalized intersections are equipped with actuated signals, said Brian Steele, spokesman for the Chicago Department of Transportation. Actuated signals use sensors buried in the pavement to determine how much red, green and green-arrow time to give based on where the traffic flow is heaviest.

Other types of “smart” traffic technology, however, still need some tutoring. In 2001, Chicago tested self-setting traffic signals at about a dozen River North intersections. The signals were designed to gauge congestion and automatically adjust based on the traffic flow.

But the experiment was stopped after several months because the system could not process the high volume of traffic data quickly enough to relay instructions back to the traffic lights in a timely manner, Montazery said.

read more at Jon Hilkevitch's page

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OS X on Dell

No matter how many times the point is brought up and refuted, certain folks speculate on unsupportable rumors again and again. Running the Mac OS on cheap PCs is one of these easily refutable points.

Doesn't stop Jim Coates from suggesting it anyway.

Chicago Tribune | No bias here, just support for equal Mac OS 10 access ...There was much speculation about how Microsoft would welcome the move [to Boot Camp] because in order to experience the rapture those two tech writers must purchase a copy of Windows XP. Stock analysts suggested that droves of Windows users would flock to buy expensive Macintoshes so they could enjoy the sublime design and uncanny ease of use from an iMac, MacBook Pro or Mac Mini, yet still do the work they did before on a dull beige box weighted down with Windows.

Microsoft said it was delighted to sell more Windows copies, and Apple executives happily forecast that waves of new customers would be created once Windows users got to experience the delightfully designed Macintosh way.

Then came Michael Dell with the other side of the story. Why not put OS 10 on a far cheaper Dell Windows PC instead of a costly Mac? You'd get the best of both worlds and shell out far less.

In an e-mail to Forbes magazine, Dell said: “If Apple decides to open the Mac OS to others, we would be happy to offer it to our customers.”

Apple's response was quick and negative. Apple will not sell OS 10 for installation in non-Apple hardware. It will sell software to run Windows on Macs but not the other way around. Will Jobs flip-flop on Dell's offer just as he did when it was Windows on a Mac rather than Mac on Windows?

I don't care what Dell thinks about my ilk, I'm on his side now.

Binary beat readers can participate in the column at www.chicagotribune.com/askjim, or e-mail jcoates1@aol.com. Snail-mail him in Room 400, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611.

Sorry Jim. You may be a nice guy and all, but you are pretty dense on this topic. Here's why.

If one examined the financials of Apple Computer, one would discover that selling hardware is what Apple Computer makes their margins with. If Apple allowed Mac OS X to run on Dell Computer's beige Republican boxes, Apple would probably go out of business within a year or two. Whatever the profit is on a sale of Mac OS X ($20 or even $50), it pales compared to the 30% (give or take) profit on the sale of a $3,000 Apple-built laptop (in the neighborhood of $900).

Don't quote me on these exact figures, but they are close to accurate anyway. If you do the math, Apple would have to sell 45-50 copies of their software just to equal the profit on one laptop. Plus field the telephone calls from consumers when suddenly the hardware doesn't comply with Apple specs, and causes problems. Hmmm, just don't see that happening as long as Steve Jobs and his current team are in charge.

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Hong Kong Artwork submission

If only I'd made a stop to Hong Kong. One day....

passing along to interested parties:

Call for Artworks Depicting Hong Kong I have a client who is seeking contemporary artwork depicting Hong Kong. The only requirements are that the works be two-dimensional and 5' x 5' or smaller. Photography, paintings and collage will all be considered.

If you would like your work to be considered, you may send digital images to info@.... Please limit Email submissions to three or fewer images. You may also send CD's, slides or hard copies to the gallery mailing address below.

There is no specific deadline for this project, as I will continue looking until the client is satisfied.
Thank you for your interest.

Christopher Johnson
Johnsonese Gallery LLC
2149 W Armitage Ave
Chicago, IL 60647

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Iraq, Done Badly

When even David Brooks, who apparently has a special computer terminal logged in to the database of Republican orthodoxy, calls for your resignation, then it is probably Presidential Medal of Freedom time for Rumsfeld, err Rumsfailed.

Rumsfailed via Freeway Blogger

Of course Brooks prefaces his criticisms with free oral sex, consisting of at least half of his allotted column space.

David Brooks: The Good Fight, Done Badly

Though Donald Rumsfeld is a perfect warrior for peaceful times, his virtues turn into vices during wartime.

In 1955 Sloan Wilson published “The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit,” and in 1956 William H. Whyte published “The Organization Man.” Both books captured the spirit of the times, when young men graduated from college and were absorbed into large, anonymous corporate organizations.

Whyte described the bland conformism that prevailed in these bureaucracies. The young men, he wrote, don't see the system “as something to be bucked, but as something to be cooperated with.” The Organization Men, he said, are technicians, not innovators; conformists, not rebels. They are “obtrusive in no particular, excessive in no zeal.”

At about this time, smarter and more daring young men were also entering the work force. But these renegades rebelled against the organizational mediocrity they saw around them. They may have looked and dressed like all the other corporate cogs, and they tended to go into business like the others. But inside they were hostile to stultifying organizations, and contemptuous of protective, slow-moving bureaucracies. They saw themselves as anti-Organization Men, as bureaucratic barbarians who would crash through the comfy old routines and wipe out corporate sloth.

Donald Rumsfeld, who graduated from Princeton in 1954, was of this type. Athletic, heroic, he never met an organization he didn't try to upend. He made it to Congress in the early 1960's and challenged the existing order. He was hired by Richard Nixon and quickly reorganized the Office of Economic Opportunity, slashing jobs and focusing the organization. He wrote to Nixon that he would upset the education bureaucrats and destroy “their comfortable world.”

As his career went on, he took his streamlining zeal to the Pentagon, and then to G. D. Searle & Company, where he dismissed hundreds of executives, spun off losing businesses and streamlined the bureaucracy.

Rumsfeld's style appealed to political leaders who were allied with the corporate world, but hostile to self-satisfied corporate fat cats. Nixon loved Rumsfeld, and George W. Bush, the rebel in chief, quickly hired him.


As a birthday resolution (screw New Years - that's played out), I want to learn to take better photos. I take decent photos, sometimes even good ones, but I'd be uncomfortable presenting a one-man show of my art, for instance. There is always more to learn in any case.

If any of my seven readers has cogent suggestions as to good photo books, I'm all ears.

My camera-eye is pretty good, but my knowledge of shutter speed, depth of field, and color density leaves much to be desired. I plunked down for Thom Hogan's book on my particular camera, and am figuring out how to bracket a scene (which boils down to under-and-over exposing the subject, then merging the result).

Typical of the introvert - simultaneously over-confident in one's own abilities and self-doubting. Oh well.

Os Mutantes

Cool! Just pray to the various and sundry weather gods that the temperature is tolerable. We're misanthropes on the best of days, but when the weather and humidity conspire to beat us senseless, moving to the Yukon sounds like a passable solution. Standing cheek to jowl in a humid press of daze doesn't, no matter how spectacular our musical anticipation.

Os Mutantes
Os Mutantes

Pitchfork: Daily Music News
The Pitchfork Music Festival, taking place July 29 and 30 in Chicago's Union Park, isn't only going to be two days of happy people getting drunk and rocking out. It's also going to be an historic event.

We are honored and delighted to announce that Brazilian Tropicália gods Os Mutantes, reunited and performing live for the first time since 1973, will play the second day of the Pitchfork Music Festival. The psych-rock pioneers have scheduled just a handful of shows this summer, and we have been lucky enough to score their only American festival appearance. As Os Mutantes themselves once said, everything is possible--including getting to see a group of living legends play on the same bill as members of the younger musical generation they helped inspire, all for a ridiculously low ticket price.

Excellent news, courtesy of Gaper's Block

Also recommend, if you can find:

Os Mutantes

“Os Mutantes” (Os Mutantes)

Mutantes (Os Mutantes)

“Mutantes” (Os Mutantes)

(more on Os Mutantes)

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Corn Cob up yers

Err, well, a euphemism from my yout', meaning an uptight person. Anyway, Michael Pollan's anti-corn screed is getting mucho sympathetic press. We'll probably read it this summer. Don't forget that ADM[*see below] is a big recipient of farm subsidies, and a big manufacture of high fructose corn syrup, another plague upon our nation (and many other nations as well).

Michael Pollan
Michael Pollan

Capitalism on the Cob - New York Times
Capitalism on the Cob By DAN MITCHELL MICHAEL POLLAN'S new book, “The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals,” describes a nation that is the victim of “a plague of corn.” The No. 1 legal crop is “the perfect capitalist plant,” he said on “Fresh Air” on NPR this week.

About a third of Mr. Pollan's book is taken up with corn. It is the “keystone species” of the “industrial food chain” that feeds most of us, he said in an interview with Truthdig.com.

America, Mr. Pollan says, has “a national eating disorder.” To describe it, the book traces the creation of four meals: one “industrial,” two “organic,” and one procured by the author himself as a “hunter-gatherer.”

There are problems with each, but the industrial meal, not surprisingly, is the most troublesome. He traces it from an Iowa cornfield to its final form — fast food scarfed down in a moving car.

All along that journey, corn wreaks havoc. The overuse of nitrogen fertilizers leads to occasional “blue baby” alerts in Des Moines warning parents that nitrate-loaded tap water could render their babies' brains unable to receive oxygen. Those same fertilizers flow down the Mississippi into the Gulf of Mexico, where they seasonally create a “dead zone” the size of New Jersey that is dangerous to sea life.

By virtue of its being “paved over” with corn, Iowa is, in its way, the most developed state in the country, he told NPR. On the market, corn is cheap, Mr. Pollan points out. But the costs — to the environment, to the economy, and to the health care system — are enormous.

“We eat so much corn that, biologically speaking, most Americans are corn on two legs,” Bonnie Azab Powell, a journalist, wrote on NewsCenter site of the University of California, Berkeley

previous coverage
Dead Zone
Genetic Engineering
Cannabinoid Moment

[*The Archer Daniels Midland company, super-briber to the political world, was involved in the most publicized corporate crime of 1996. Caught in a sting by Justice Department investigators, A.D.M., the planet's largest grain processor, pleaded guilty to charges of conspiring to fix prices for two products: lysine, a feed supplement for livestock, and citric acid, used in soft drinks and detergents...

Along with a bargain fine, Archer Daniels got a sweetheart deal: In exchange for pleading guilty and promising to help the Justice Department in its expanding investigation, A.D.M. was granted immunity against charges of price-fixing in the sale of high-fructose corn syrup, which, along with the corn-derived fuel ethanol, is A.D.M.'s leading product.

Also part of the deal was Justice's promise that its investigators wouldn't even bother to interview Dwayne Andreas, 78, who as chairman and chief executive has for decades treated A.D.M. as his personal fiefdom. His 47-year-old son, executive vice president and former heir apparent Michael Andreas, having been secretly taped in a price-fixing conversation with an Asian “competitor,” was indicted for conspiracy; at the very least, his career at A.D.M. is over. But old man Andreas once again proved himself to be a masterful escape artist. Could this talent possibly be explained by the more than $4 million he and his family and A.D.M. have given to Washington politicians since the seventies, most notably Kansas Republican Bob Dole (in return for billions of dollars in subsidies)? It also didn't hurt the elder Andreas's chances of getting special treatment that he personally donated $155,000 to the Democratic Party in 1993 and $100,000 in 1994, and was co-chairman of a dinner that raised $3.5 million for Clinton's presidential campaign in 1992.

Over the years his generosity has sometimes been suspect. He was acquitted of giving Hubert Humphrey an illegal $100,000 contribution in 1968; he slipped a thousand $100 bills into the Nixon White House in 1972, the year in which the term “money-laundering” entered the nation's vocabulary; and in that same season, a $25,000 check from Andreas somehow sneaked into the bank account of a Watergate burglar. But the old man has never tripped badly enough to earn a criminal record--except in 1993, when he and his wife paid an $8,000 fine for exceeding federal limits on political contributions.

Considering that it operates in one of the world's most piratical industries, A.D.M. has, like Andreas himself, led a charmed life, suffering only a couple of legal wounds: a 1978 conviction for fixing prices on grain sold to the Food for Peace program and a no-contest plea in 1976 to the charge of short-weighting and misgrading corn for export.

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Stats and the NBA part 234

We feel statistics will increasingly play a role in the NBA; the problem currently is that the metrics are not sophisticated enough for any team to rely solely on statistics. Partially the dearth of data dating back to the beginning of the modern era impedes the effort to build sophisticated statistical models with, but of course this will of course be rectified going forward. However, anyone who thinks they can build, manage and coach a team using only statistics is insane. I don't even think this is a goal of any team - teams are just trying to be smarter about which players are really worth big bucks, and which players are only good for rotisserie leagues and the New York Knicks.

WSJ.com - The Story That Stats Don't Tell, by Russell Adams
Like several other teams in the National Basketball Association, the Boston Celtics have increasingly sought help from stats-obsessed number crunchers, who have transformed other pro sports. The hope: use statistics to make smarter decisions about which players to sign and how to use them.

It didn't do much for the Celtics this year. The team, with 32 wins and 46 losses going into Friday's game, will be sitting at home when the playoffs start next week.

Heading into the postseason, the stats push in basketball is a long way from being a secret weapon for success. Some of the league's biggest stats mavens are shooting airballs. Aside from the Celtics, the Seattle SuperSonics and the Orlando Magic have also become more reliant on number crunching -- and both have had subpar seasons.

Inspired by the success of stat heads in baseball and football, more basketball teams have been rushing to hire some of their own. In the most recent example, the Houston Rockets this month brought on a 32-year-old with an MBA from MIT, Daryl Morey, to be their assistant general manager, the highest position yet given to a someone with a pure stats background.

The Dallas Mavericks, owned by Internet entrepreneur and billionaire Mark Cuban, hired a company called 82games.com to help them push the envelope on data mining. The company has recently started looking at more obscure measurements, such as the ease of the shot that an assist leads to. An assist that results in a layup is considered of higher value than a pass that leads to an outside jump shot.

Some of the teams that rely on statisticians to make personnel decisions have done well this year, including the Mavericks, San Antonio Spurs and Phoenix Suns. And, to be sure, basketball teams don't rely on statisticians nearly as heavily as baseball teams do.

Bush and his BFF Rumsfeld

Such a strangely stubborn President. I cannot recall a Chief Executive who refused to ever admit making a wrong decision, or one who refused to fire subordinates who had clearly lost the support of underlings, staff. Unless of course, this is a prelude to a 'spend more time with family' moment for Rummy.

Rumsfeld Gets Robust Defense From President - New York Times By JIM RUTENBERG and MARK MAZZETTI

President Bush strongly endorsed Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on Friday, in an effort to quell widening criticism from retired generals who have urged Mr. Rumsfeld to resign.

..In defending Mr. Rumsfeld, Mr. Bush seemed to have been asserting his standing as commander in chief, sending a signal to the generals that criticizing the defense secretary is the equivalent of criticizing his own stewardship of the war.

yeah, gotta love that. Remember generals, you're either with us or a'gin us. I'd prefer to have a Guinness, thanks anyway.

Top story also in the Trib, which is substantially more critical:

By Mark Silva
Facing open revolt among several retired generals calling for the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, President Bush dug in his heels Friday with an unrelenting show of support for his most powerful Cabinet member.

The outcry for Rumsfeld's removal has opened a new and vulnerable front in the public criticism of the war in Iraq and placed the White House on the defensive. Yet Bush will be hard-pressed to oust Rumsfeld, analysts said Friday, because that could be seen as a concession the president is unwilling to make: That the war itself has gone badly off-track.

yep. Everything is just valentines and lollipops. Why didn't you see those photos from downtown Istanbul? Err, I mean, Baghdad I mean.

The Tribune continues:

Reflecting the political pressure, Bush interrupted his Easter weekend with his family at Camp David to issue an unusual written statement in support of the defense secretary he calls “Don,” signaling that he has no intention of firing Rumsfeld despite the onslaught.

...In addition, some of these retired general officers are accusing the defense secretary of refusing to heed dissent among his war commanders, raising an additional problem for the president. Bush, in the face of an increasingly unpopular war, has insisted that he will follow the advice of generals “on the ground” in determining how rapidly the U.S. might draw down forces.

Retired Army Maj. Gen. Charles Swannack told CNN this week, “I don't think our generals feel comfortable providing Secretary Rumsfeld their honest beliefs.”

In becoming the seventh retired general to speak out, Swannack, who retired last year after commanding the 82nd Airborne Division in Iraq, said: “He has micromanaged the generals who are leading our forces there to achieve our strategic object. I really believe that we need a new secretary of defense.”

..Retired Army Gen. Barry McCaffrey, among the first to publicly challenge Rumsfeld, said of the defense secretary in a recent interview with the Tribune: “My summation is he is a patriot. He is brilliant. He is charismatic. ... But his judgment is terrible, and he has gotten his president and the country into trouble.”

MoDo even weighs in, writing less flippantly than usual.

Maureen Dowd: The Rummy Mutiny

When Donald Rumsfeld was 10, his operating principle, as described by his dad, was: “If it doesn't go easy, force it.” Not much has changed in the last 63 years. Goodness, gracious! Will that dadburn Rummy ever follow any of his own rules?

Rumsfeld's Rules offer many wise axioms that Washington's most famous infighter is ignoring as he engages in the Mother of All Infighting Battles against rebellious generals.

One rule advises: “Preserve the president's options. He may need them.” Others include “It is easier to get into something than to get out of it” and “Try to make original mistakes, rather than needlessly repeating” the mistakes of your predecessors.

History will long dwell on how America made the same bloody errors in Vietnam and Iraq within a generation, trading the arrogant, obtuse, wire-rimmed Robert McNamara for the arrogant, obtuse, wire-rimmed Donald Rumsfeld.

more MoDo below the jump

Simpsons and Linguistics

I've lost the true-calling of Simpsonology - don't bother obsessively rewatching episodes, slowing down the frame-rate to pick up the sly in-jokes on store fronts, but I still recall most of the episodes discussed in this very funny linguistic Simpson's essay.

HeiDeas: Beyond embiggens and cromulent
Everyone knows (4th para) the Simpsons is really all about linguistics — and these links are just what I could come up with in a few quick searches here and there....It doesn’t include the timeless classics embiggens and cromulent — see this Linguist List post for discussion of them — and it doesn’t include Bart’s prank calls to Moe, although they are relevant for their phonological and phonotactic properties, because they’re already well-documented. This list begins with the examples from my original post (also on Beatrice Santorini’s excellent linguistic humor web page), and then goes on to the ones I’ve collected since. The episode numbers are mostly those provided on the The Simpsons official home page, though I don’t know if I've been 100 per cent consistent.

read rest here

via Kottke


Happier than the morning storm

More serious spring fever which translates as other than a few moments taking cloud photos, and a few moments in Photoshop, I haven't done jack shite of work today. Whoo hooo!! Grammar is for fools, yo.

Arrogance and Thor.

Happier than the Morning Storm
Happier than the Morning Storm

Happier than the Morning Storm part 2
Happier than the Morning Storm, part 2

(as always, photo embiggening is only a click or two away)

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Weapons of Math Destruction

I hope Mr. Krugman doesn't submit his articles with the headline already chosen. This particular snowclone was funny when Billmon did it, but that was a few centuries ago. Speaking of Iran, err, Iraq, anyone remember these gems? How many will get recycled for the current fiasco?

Trust us, trust us, we must increase the folks who trust us. Ahem.

Anyway, yadda yadda, free Krugman and all that.

oh, and let's pray to Pasta-fazul that this phrase continues to be appended:
Thomas L. Friedman is on vacation.

Paul Krugman: Weapons of Math Destruction
Now it can be told: President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney based their re-election campaign on lies, damned lies and statistics.

The lies included Mr. Cheney's assertion, more than three months after intelligence analysts determined that the famous Iraqi trailers weren't bioweapons labs, that we were in possession of two “mobile biological facilities that can be used to produce anthrax or smallpox.”

The damned lies included Mr. Bush's declaration, in his “Mission Accomplished” speech, that “we have removed an ally of Al Qaeda.”

The statistics included Mr. Bush's claim, during his debates with John Kerry, that “most of the tax cuts went to low- and middle-income Americans.”

Compared with the deceptions that led us to war, deceptions about taxes can seem like a minor issue. But it's all of a piece. In fact, my early sense that we were being misled into war came mainly from the resemblance between the administration's sales pitch for the Iraq war — with its evasions, innuendo and constantly changing rationale — and the selling of the Bush tax cuts.


I've lived with D since April, 2000, and last night was the first time we didn't have a Seder dinner for Pesach. She was raised in a kosher (Conservative) household, so I'm sure she's feeling a little guilty, but we simply didn't have time to make (or eat for that matter) a multi-course dinner and Seder plate by sundown. We had a 7 o'clock cocktail instead (Pellegrino mixed with either scotch - her, or vodka - me)

I actually like the whole ritual of the seder, but it remains pretty alien to me. Can't get enough of good charoset, and any ritual dinner that includes drinking copious amounts of wine is a-ok with me. Maybe tonight we'll be able to squeeze dinner in.

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Racing out the door

Foyer Morago

Nothing quite like racing out the door at 9:31 pm to beat the 9:45 FedEx drop-off deadline. Probably the only time that I am not a cautious driver, weaving in and out of traffic, stereo pumped up, adrenalinized. Luckily Chicago has that weird extra right hand lane that merges back into one, so I can pass people at traffic lights at least.

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Wag the Camel Toes

MoDo has a healthy obsession with Camel Toes. Err, um, Iran. A less nuanced view than Krugman, but whatcha gonna do? Flaunt it if ya got it.

Maureen Dowd: Wag the Camel Talk about a fearful symmetry.

Iran was whipping up real uranium while America was whipped up by fake uranium.

Obsessed with going to war against a Middle East country that had no nuclear weapon, the Bush administration lost focus on and leverage over a Middle East country hurtling toward a nuclear weapon.

That's after the Bush crew lost focus on and leverage over an Asian country that says it has now produced a whole bunch of nuclear weapons.

To paraphrase Raymond Chandler, if brains were elastic, these guys wouldn't have enough to make suspenders for a parakeet.

While Dick Cheney was getting booed as he threw out the first pitch for the Nationals — it bounced in the dirt and Scooter wasn't even there to catch it — Iran was jubilantly welcoming itself to the nuclear club and spitting in the eye of the U.S. and U.N.

Speaking before a mural of fluttering white doves, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad bragged that his scientists had concocted enriched uranium. They will now churn out nuclear fuel as fast as they can.

Friends and bridges

| 1 Comment

Everything is metaphoric, if you squint long enough, or if you smash your face against brick hard enough.

Or something. Perhaps this wasn't a good week to quit sniffing drainpipes and reciting the alphabet.

Friends (infrared)

Joined at the hip. Birdsill Holly related.

Canyons and Contrails

Canyons and Contrails, oh my.

Stare and Stare

Stare and Stare. Disbelief can be a verb. Don't ask me how though.

Randolph Street Bridge
Randolph Street Bridge

It all washes away eventually.

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King of the Ocean

Lest anyone forget about the strange career of Sun Myung Moon, right-wing nutjub, and king maker, who apparently supplies raw sushi to the majority of the country. Am I going to have to change my diet again?

Despite controversy, Moon and his church moving into mainstream Two decades after serving time in federal prison, Rev. Sun Myung Moon had so effectively worked his way back into the political establishment that some congressmen attended his “coronation” on Capitol Hill.

In an unusual ceremony held in March 2004 in the Dirksen Senate Office Building, Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.) donned white gloves and placed a gleaming crown atop Moon's head. Moon informed the group that Hitler and Stalin had, from beyond the grave, proclaimed him “humanity's savior, messiah, returning lord and true parent.”
Inside the church, though, followers saw the coronation as evidence that world leaders were recognizing Moon as a messiah. “Members of the U.S. Congress gathered to crown me as the king of world peace,” he said in a sermon in May of that year. “How can this possibly be a human work?”

The ceremony was another example of Moon's evolution into the American mainstream, including having former President George H.W. Bush speak at the 1996 launch of a Moon-affiliated newspaper in Argentina, news accounts show. In 2005, another Moon-affiliated company donated $250,000 to President George W. Bush's inaugural committee.

and True World Group (mentioned in a recent WSJ article about sushi, excerpted below) is apparently well on its way to taking over the sushi distribution of the entire country.

From the Chicago Tribune:

In a remarkable story that has gone largely untold, Moon and his followers created an enterprise that reaped millions of dollars by dominating one of America's trendiest indulgences: sushi.

Today, one of those five Elston Avenue pioneers, Takeshi Yashiro, serves as a top executive of a sprawling conglomerate that supplies much of the raw fish Americans eat.

Adhering to a plan Moon spelled out more than three decades ago in a series of sermons, members of his movement managed to integrate virtually every facet of the highly competitive seafood industry. The Moon followers' seafood operation is driven by a commercial powerhouse, known as True World Group. It builds fleets of boats, runs dozens of distribution centers and, each day, supplies most of the nation's estimated 9,000 sushi restaurants.

Although few seafood lovers may consider they're indirectly supporting Moon's religious movement, they do just that when they eat a buttery slice of tuna or munch on a morsel of eel in many restaurants. True World is so ubiquitous that 14 of 17 prominent Chicago sushi restaurants surveyed by the Tribune said they were supplied by the company.

Over the last three decades, as Moon has faced down accusations of brainwashing followers and personally profiting from the church, he and sushi have made similar if unlikely journeys from the fringes of American society to the mainstream.

These parallel paths are not coincidence. They reflect Moon's dream of revitalizing and dominating the American fishing industry while helping to fund his church's activities.

“I have the entire system worked out, starting with boat building,” Moon said in “The Way of Tuna,” a speech given in 1980. “After we build the boats, we catch the fish and process them for the market, and then have a distribution network. This is not just on the drawing board; I have already done it.”

In the same speech, he called himself “king of the ocean.” It proved not to be an idle boast. The businesses now employ hundreds, including non-church members, from the frigid waters of the Alaskan coast to the iconic American fishing town of Gloucester, Mass.

Records and interviews with church insiders and competitors trace how Moon and members of his movement carried out his vision.

Jazz weekend

Saturday, as part of my weekend birthweek debauch, snuck into the Underground Wonderbar just before 8 to avoid paying cover charge. I was pleasantly surprised at how good the band was - played 2 hours of classic jazz standards. Recognized Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus, Charlie Parker, and at least one tune from John Coltrane.

Bruce Mak, Bo Berry, et al BW
Jazz band consisting of Bruce Mak, Bo Berry, et al

Underground Wonderbar
view of the bar, sans flash.

Bruce Mak and drummer
Bruce Mak and drummer-who-just-cut-off-seven-years-worth-of-dreads and whose name escapes me.

Jazz Band BW
Bruce Mak, Bo Berry on sax, and friends

Jazz club
your humble narrator having a celebratory birthday smoke (bummed some Drum tobacco from the bass player). Yeah, yeah, so chastise me. I enjoyed smoking it nonetheless. I've always been a sucker for hand-crafted objects, whether furniture or cigarettes.

Afterwards, stumbled over to Le Colonial for some French-Vietnamese appetizers.

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Immigration arguments


Fun for the whole family....

La Queen Sucia: More Stupidity in my In-box Since posting about the media's sloppy and inaccurate handling of the immigration issue more than a week ago I have been innundated with mail - most of it smart and grateful, but some of it so ill-informed and hateful it shocks me. And I thought nothing could shock me anymore.Today I spent the morning responding to one typical missive sent from “Michael,” and I wanted to share my findings with you. And him. Michael? This one's for you, buddy.I have placed Michael's points and comments in italics, and my responses in bold. Ready? Set? STUPIDITY!

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Dead zone in Gulf traced to fertilizer

As discussed by Michael Pollan, most of the Gulf of Mexico pollution can be traced to corn. Farmers err on the side of too much nitrogen fertilizer, and the excess run-off goes down the Mississippi RIver and wreaks havoc in the Gulf. Yet while conservation budgets get sliced, farm subsidies are sacrosanct.

`Dead zone' in Gulf traced to farm counties
Study: 15% create 80% of killer runoff A new study on Monday found that a relatively small percentage of rural counties--many of them in Illinois--are contributing to most of the fertilizer pollution that is creating a summertime “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico, where massive algae blooms snuff out most aquatic life.

Counties that represent 15 percent of the Mississippi River basin, which stretches from Montana to western Pennsylvania, account for 80 percent of the spring surge of fertilizer pollution that washes into the river, according to the report by the Washington-based Environmental Working Group.

Among the counties cited in the study are some of the biggest corn-producing counties in the nation, including McLean, LaSalle and Iroquois in Illinois.

Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group, said the analysis makes a strong argument that more federal money should be shifted from farm subsidies to conservation programs in the areas that contribute the most fertilizer runoff into the river.

Cook noted that thousands of farmers have been denied funding for conservation programs because there wasn't enough money to pay them.

The report noted that subsidy payments were about 500 times greater than conservation payments in the worst polluting counties.
Cook suggested that if a small percentage of the land in the most heavily polluting counties were restored into wetlands or buffer strips, much of the nitrogen pollution from fertilizer could be filtered before it reached the Mississippi. He also said that subsidies should be contingent on whether farmers use fertilizer in responsible ways that reduce runoff.

The study was released at a time when Congress and the Bush administration are preparing to rewrite the 2002 Farm Bill, a package that included generous farm subsidies as well as conservation programs that reward farmers for environmental stewardship.

But as the budget deficit has soared in the years since, Congress has repeatedly cut conservation programs to make up for the shortfall while mostly preserving funding levels for farm subsidy payments.

Oh well, there's always Mars, Biatch, after this planet is destroyed.

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Molly Ivins discusses DeLay

I'd buy Molly Ivins flowers too.

As a non-practicing atheist, I've read my share of the Christian holy books, canonical or not, just to get a grasp of what the dominant American religion dictates of its adherents. The false pieties of the Rethuglican Christians seem as evil as nearly anything else they do. If Christ does come back with a sword of destiny, or whatever the Book of Revelations claims, fake Christians like DeLay and George Bush will be the first to be decapitated.

Molly Ivins

...I never minded DeLay being a tough guy -- it was his syrupy claims to carry the banner for Christianity that I found offensive, as he frog-marched the House toward being a cash-operated special-interest machine. The idea of putting pressure on lobbyists to give only to Republicans, pressuring lobbying firms into hiring only Republicans and then letting lobbyists sit at the table during committee meetings where legislation was written -- it was just screaming overt corruption.

...To get a real sense of DeLay's cynicism and recklessness, forget the stuff the press loves, like the “free golfing trip” to St. Andrew's. Instead, take note of the following example.

The Northern Marianas Islands are a U.S. protectorate (so it can label goods “Made in the USA”) in the Pacific being used as a sort of labor gulag, with workers imported from China and elsewhere and paid pitiful wages. Jack Abramoff had a contract with the government of the Marianas to lobby against stopping the flow of immigrant labor to the islands and to prevent a minimum wage bill (mandating a level higher than the island's standard $3.05 per hour) from getting to the floor of the House.

The islands are home to classic sweatshops. In 1996 and 1997, Abramoff billed the Marianas for 187 contacts with DeLay's office, including 16 meetings with DeLay. In December 1997, DeLay, his wife and their daughter went on an Abramoff-arranged jaunt to the Marianas. DeLay brunched with the Marianas' largest private employer, textile magnate Willie Tan.

Tan had to settle a U.S. Labor Department lawsuit alleging workplace violations. According to the book “The Hammer” by Lou Dubose and Jan Reid, among the violations common on the islands is forbidding women to work when they are pregnant, thus leading to a high abortion rate.

Evidently, DeLay didn't have time to look into such allegations, since he was busy playing golf and attending a dinner in his honor, sponsored by Tan's holding company. According to The Washington Post, it was at this dinner that DeLay called Abramoff “one of my closest and dearest friends.” He also reminded those present of his promise that no minimum wage or immigration legislation affecting the Marianas would be passed.

“Stand firm,” he added. “Resist evil. Remember that all truth and blessings emanate from our Creator.” He then went with Tan to see a cockfight.

This is why DeLay's professions of Christianity make me sick. He was there. He could have talked to the workers. Instead, he chose to walk with the powerful and do real harm to the very people Jesus mandated we especially care for.

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George Bush is Messianic

No matter the denials and claims of “wild speculation” by the White House, we should all be worried.

The New Yorker: THE IRAN PLANS
Would President Bush go to war to stop Tehran from getting the bomb? by SEYMOUR M. HERSH ... A senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, who did not take part in the meetings but has discussed their content with his colleagues, told me that there had been “no formal briefings,” because “they’re reluctant to brief the minority. They’re doing the Senate, somewhat selectively.” ... “There’s no pressure from Congress” not to take military action, the House member added. “The only political pressure is from the guys who want to do it.” Speaking of President Bush, the House member said, “The most worrisome thing is that this guy has a messianic vision.”

Which Congressman on the House Appropriations Committee (listed in order of seniority at this link) would discuss this with Mr. Hersh? Have to check into that soon. Could be a Republican, but probably a Democrat (like Murtha, for instance).

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Our corporate welfare state

Poor, poor pitiful defense contractors are apparently unable to keep their bloated contracts from bloating even more.

WSJ.com - With New Rules, Weapons Projects Set Higher Costs

The Pentagon said the costs for 36 big weapons systems -- including marquee warplane, submarine and ground-vehicle programs -- have jumped by at least 30% and some by more than 50%, but officials attributed the growth in cost to new reporting rules, not mismanagement.

A report released Friday was the first review of major weapons programs since Congress tightened terms for calculating cost increases. The new law requires the Pentagon to compare current unit prices with original cost estimates, in addition to more recent revised projections. The Pentagon found that 25 programs had grown by at least 50% over original costs, while 11 programs were between 30% and 50% more expensive. “It's not fair to say that this reflects on how we are doing in the past few years, given the broad time span” under consideration, said Cheryl Irwin, a Pentagon spokeswoman.

For example, the prices of Lockheed Martin Corp.'s F-22 stealth fighter and Boeing Co.'s C-17 cargo jet rose more than 50%, but their original baseline costs were set years ago. The majority of affected programs date from the 1980s and 1990s, Pentagon officials said.

Legislators say the new law brings transparency to congressional oversight of the Pentagon. Defense contractors complain it fails to take into account inflation or technological and program changes that inevitably occur in long-term weapons development. Even younger programs, such as Boeing's $165-billion Future Combat Systems modernization project for the Army and Northrop Grumman Corp.'s Global Hawk unmanned spy plane, surpassed the law's 50% cost-growth threshold because of program restructurings and delays.

Of course, there really are no consequences to having cost overruns, so who cares? In fact, the smart companies probably planned to inflate prices by 50% because of this little caveat, added no doubt after some Congress members enjoyed nice steak dinner paid for by someone from K Street:

The programs with the biggest cost growth won't be canceled, and they face little, if any, immediate impact. Under the new law, programs with more than 50% cost growth can reset the baseline to their estimated price on Jan. 6, 2006, when the fiscal 2006 National Defense Authorization Act became law.

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Marilyn Monroe exploited still

Poor Marilyn, she's been dead longer than I've been alive, and people are still fighting over the right to exploit her corpse.

WSJ.com - A Battle Erupts Over the Right To Market Marilyn
More than 40 years after her death, Marilyn Monroe's photos are used to hawk everything from T-shirts and posters to coffee mugs and key chains. Now, the late actress is at the center of a bitter legal dispute over who controls the rights to her profitable image.

Licensing her famous poses and pout have made more than $30 million in fees for two of the litigants. They are Anna Strasberg, the wife of Ms. Monroe's former acting coach, and her Indiana-based business partner, a professional peddler of dead peoples' images. Seeking to share in the Monroe spoils are the families of four photographers who snapped famous Monroe pictures, but who have earned far less in licensing fees.

The central issue in four Monroe-related lawsuits, now pending in Indiana, New York and California is seemingly simple: At the time of her death, was the actress a Californian, or a New Yorker? The answer is worth millions.

As the majority owner of Ms. Monroe's rights of publicity -- which permit the licensing of celebrity images for commercial purposes -- Ms. Strasberg insists the star was a Californian. The photographers, who own copyrighted images of Ms. Monroe, have asked the courts to declare that she was a New Yorker. If the photographers prevail, they could potentially wipe out much of Ms. Strasberg's Monroe business.

The reason: unlike copyrights, which are protected by federal law, publicity rights are a creature of state laws, resulting in a legal patchwork. Some states, including New York, refuse to acknowledge or protect the publicity rights of dead celebrities, so they cannot be bequeathed in a will. California does grant postmortem publicity rights, making it possible for heirs to pursue profits for decades.

Ms. Monroe was born and raised in California, and moved to New York to study acting in 1955, seven years before her death of a drug overdose. In New York, she met Lee Strasberg, director of The Actors Studio, a school attended by many famous actors and actresses. Ms. Monroe came to depend on Mr. Strasberg until her death.

In her will, the actress, who died with no spouse or children, left much of her $800,000 estate to Mr. Strasberg. She left a smaller portion to her psychiatrist, Marianne Kris.

rest of this sad tale here
[oops, sorry]

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Reckless, dishonest and still President

Paul Krugman is, rightfully, suspicious of the Dauphin's motives regarding Iran. I haven't yet read the Seymour Hersh article referenced below, I usually receive my New Yorker Wednesday.

Paul Krugman: Yes He Would
Given the combination of recklessness and dishonesty President Bush displayed in launching the Iraq war, why should we assume that he wouldn't do it again?

“But he wouldn't do that.” That sentiment is what made it possible for President Bush to stampede America into the Iraq war and to fend off hard questions about the reasons for that war until after the 2004 election. Many people just didn't want to believe that an American president would deliberately mislead the nation on matters of war and peace.

Now people with contacts in the administration and the military warn that Mr. Bush may be planning another war. The most alarming of the warnings come from Seymour Hersh, the veteran investigative journalist who broke the Abu Ghraib scandal. Writing in The New Yorker, Mr. Hersh suggests that administration officials believe that a bombing campaign could lead to desirable regime change in Iran — and that they refuse to rule out the use of tactical nuclear weapons.

“But he wouldn't do that,” say people who think they're being sensible. Given what we now know about the origins of the Iraq war, however, discounting the possibility that Mr. Bush will start another ill-conceived and unnecessary war isn't sensible. It's wishful thinking.

As it happens, rumors of a new war coincide with the emergence of evidence that appears to confirm our worst suspicions about the war we're already in.

Credit Cards and the Surveillance State

Well, not really the State, yet, more like a corporate surveillance state.

WSJ.com - Why Some People Put These Credit Cards In the Microwave When Brenden Walker got his new MasterCard PayPass ATM card in the mail last month, he headed to the gas station to try it out.

To test the card's “Tap N Go” convenience, he passed it in front of the scanner, which activated with a beep and displayed the word “authorizing...” on its LCD screen.

That was quite enough for Mr. Walker. Without completing the transaction, he put the card down on the pavement and took a hammer to it.

“I gave it a couple of good whacks,” he says.

The PayPass card, which contains an embedded radio chip, had worked perfectly. Other companies have their own versions: Exxon (SpeedPass), American Express (ExpressPay) and Visa (Contactless and Blink). In each case, the cards use an embedded electronic chip with miniature antenna. When activated by a scanner, the chip transmits the user's account information via radio signals. In just the wave of a hand, the purchase amount is automatically drawn from an account.

But Mr. Walker, a 37-year-old software engineer in Canton, Ohio, is one of a growing number of computer and technology experts who are becoming anxious about possible abuses of the technology. Mr. Walker fears that thieves will be able to eavesdrop on the radio transmission and buy gas at his expense. He also figures that he himself could walk past the pump and accidentally pay for somebody else's gas, though the card companies say he would have to get within two inches of the scanner to accomplish that feat.

In any event, he wants no part of it. Hammering the card destroyed the chip. “I tried it again and...nothing,” he says. “I might as well have been holding up a salami sandwich.

I haven't been offered any of these new cards (having atrocious credit probably has a direct correlation. Retiring for a year to work on an unsuccessful novel does lead to extremely poor cash flow let me tell you), but I'd be a little suspicious of the Philip K Dick inspired nature of credit cards that monitor their putative owners to the credit card's real owners - the banks.

Plus with our old friends at the TIA collecting information from every possible source, it just doesn't sound like a good use of technology. Is it really that hard to slide a credit card through a card reader?

Immigrant rally to start at the Haymarket Riot memorial

Haymarket Memorial in snow
Haymarket Memorial in snow

Chicago Tribune | Immigrant rights rallies set for Monday: In Chicago, where an estimated 100,000 people marched through downtown last month in one of the largest of dozens of recent pro-immigrant rallies, no mass demonstrations are planned for Monday. Instead, organizers will use the day to gather steam for another downtown march planned for May 1--May Day--meant to emphasize the historical contribution of immigrants to the nation's economy. The May 1 march will go past Haymarket Square, site of the 1886 Haymarket riot in the fight for the eight-hour workday, and end inside Daley Plaza, said Joshua Hoyt, executive director of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.
Possibly will add photos from tomorrow, depending upon how busy of a day Monday turns out to be.... Haymarket old memorial

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Modern Muzak

Read with interest David Owen's rumination on modern Environmental music aka Muzak.

The New Yorker: Soundtrack of your life, by David Owen: ...The syrupy orchestral “elevator music” that most people associate with [Muzak] scarcely exists anymore. Muzak sells about a hundred prepackaged programs and several hundred customized ones, and only one—“Environmental”—truly fits the stereotype. It consists of “contemporary instrumental versions of popular songs,” and it is no longer terribly popular anywhere, except in Japan. (“The Japanese think they love it, but they actually don’t,” a former Muzak executive told me. “They’ll get over it soon.”)

All of Muzak’s other programs are drawn from the company’s huge digital inventory, called the Well, which contains more than 1.5 million commercially recorded songs, representing dozens of genres and subgenres—acid jazz, heavy metal, shag, neo-soul, contemporary Italian—and is growing at the rate of twenty thousand songs a month. (Some record labels now upload new releases directly to the company, which, like a radio station, pays licensing fees for the songs it uses.)

The Well includes seven hundred and seventy-five tracks recorded by the Beatles, a hundred and thirty by Kanye West, three hundred and twenty-four by Led Zeppelin, eighty-four by Gwen Stefani, a hundred and ninety-one by 50 Cent, and nine hundred and eighty-three by Miles Davis. It also includes many covers—among them, versions of the Rolling Stones’ song “Paint It Black” by U2, Ottmar Liebert, and a late-sixties French rock band with a female vocalist (who sang it in French) and approximately five hundred versions of the Beatles’ song “Yesterday,” which, according to Guinness World Records, is the most frequently covered song in the world.

There are so many songs out there that if I listened to just one I’d never know whether it was Muzak or not,“ McKelvey, who is twenty-six years old, and has the kind of soft, persuasive voice that would sound good on late-night radio, told me. ”But I could tell if I listened to the flow of a few. The key is consistency. How did those songs connect? What story did they tell? Why is this song after that song, and why is that one after that one? When we make a program, we pay a lot of attention to the way songs segue. It’s not like songs on the radio, or songs on a CD.

Take Armani Exchange. Shoppers there are looking for clothes that are hip and chic and cool. They’re twenty-five to thirty-five years old, and they want something to wear to a party or a club, and as they shop they want to feel like they’re already there. So you make the store sound like the coolest bar in town. You think about that when you pick the songs, and you pay special attention to the sequencing, and then you cross-fade and beat-match and never break the momentum, because you want the program to sound like a d.j.’s mix.“ She went on, ”For Ann Taylor, you do something completely different. The Ann Taylor woman is conservative, not edgy, and she really couldn’t care less about segues. She wants everything bright and positive and optimistic and uplifting, so you avoid offensive themes and lyrics, and you think about Sting and Celine Dion, and you leave a tiny space between the songs or gradually fade out and fade in.“ [no wonder I hate shopping in certain places!! I'm never entering an Ann Taylor store again! not that I ever have]

When I was working at the Mag, putting myself through university (no college loans! Yay! no money from my parents! yay! Well, I did sneak a few cans of beans once and a while when everyone was at work, and sometimes borrowed their washing machines too), I made mix tapes for the restaurant. Certainly a form of artistic expression, blending music and mood, and sneaking in the occasional Butthole Surfer interlude, or Glass Eye song along with the jazz, blues, folk, bluegrass, reggae, Afro-pop, and groove-friendly popular music available in the early 90s like the Smiths, the Rolling Stones, Camper van Beethoven, Dylan, Velvet Underground, et al. Luckily, the Mag's clientele, like so much of Austin, had open ears, and could tolerate my idiosyncrasies, for the most part. I got up to I think number 63 of 90-minute tapes (excluding 1-9, cause these were made before I started working at the Mag, and thus weren't really for public consumption) before management decided to stop my tapes from playing (I never found out exactly why, but in retrospect, I remember some thug from ASCAP repeatedly showing up, and inquiring as to the whereabouts of Kent Cole, the owner of the Mag).

Nor can a business legally use a consumer broadcast of any kind as background music, unless it pays a licensing fee. (The same rules apply to digital music. The ninety-nine cents you pay to download a song from iTunes doesn’t give you the right to play that song to customers over the sound system in a restaurant.)

So, in an alternative universe, I might have worked for Muzak.

...A business’s background music is like an aural pheromone. It attracts some customers and repels others, and it gives pedestrians walking past the front door an immediate clue about whether they belong inside. A chain like J. C. Penney, whose huge customer base includes all ages and income levels, need a program that will make everyone feel welcome, so its soundtrack contains familiar and relatively unassertive popular songs like ”Kind and Generous,“ by Natalie Merchant. The Hard Rock Hotel in Orlando, which appeals to a more narrowly focussed audience, plays ”Girls, Girls, Girls,“ by Mötley Crüe, and cranks up the volume. (Imagine how teen-agers would perceive the jeans and t-shirts at Abercrombie & Fitch—not a Muzak client—if those stores played country-and-Western hits.) Audio architects have to keep all this in mind as they build their programs. They also have to be aware of certain broad truths about background music: bass solos are difficult to hear, extended electric-guitar solos annoy male sports-bar customers, drum solos annoy almost everyone and Bob Dylan’s harmonica can make it hard for office workers to concentrate. Audio architects also have to screen lyrics carefully. They removed the INXS hit ”Devil Inside“ from many of the company’s playlists after a devout Christian complained, and they are ever vigilant for the word ”funk,“ which almost everyone mistakes for something else

Though, I had a lot more freedom to program what I wanted to hear, I would probably chafe under these restrictions.

Miles Davis and Jimi Hendrix

My mom bought me the Miles Davis box set, The Cellar Door Sessions for my birthday.

The Cellar Door Sessions 1970 (Miles Davis)

“The Cellar Door Sessions 1970” (Miles Davis)

Haven't had a chance to listen yet, but in reading the liner notes, I was struck by the thought that one of the greatest musical tragedies of the early 70s was that Jimi Hendrix never got to make an album with Miles Davis. They had talked about it at some length apparently, with Keith Jarrett, and maybe Michael Henderson and the rest of Miles Davis' crack funk-jazz band of this era, but they never got around to actually recording/playing before Hendrix died, at least that I'm aware of.

Electric Ladyland
Electric Ladyland

remains one of my favorite albums, especially in the moody, jazzed up sections. However, Hendrix received so much praise for being a bad-ass guitar wizard that I think he allowed himself to get lazy in subsequent years, playing down to (or occasionally up to) the level of his jam buddies. If Hendrix and Miles had recorded an album, there would have been no way that Miles, as serious a musician as has ever been born in the States, would have accepted anything other than stellar work, and Hendrix would have obliged.

The Cellar Door sessions

This music reveals a truly muscular Miles Davis at the top of his form as an improviser and as a bandleader with the most intense and nearly mystical sense of the right place-the right time-the right lineup. These shows, played in a club instead of a concert hall, provided a virtual laboratory for possibilities Davis was exploring. The money for the gig was nearly non-existent compared to what he was used to making playing halls, so he paid the band out of his own pocket.

..What happens as the band plays each night is that the sense of adventure grows, while the utter relaxation and confidence in each member is carried through to Davis who pushes the buttons and in strange, nearly wordless ways, communicates what he wants on-stage, and the other players give it to him. There are so few rough moments here where someone drops a line or doesn't quite make it; when it does happen on that rare occasion, some other member picks it up and goes with it. And DeJohnette's drumming, in his virtual mind-lock with Henderson, is some of the best playing of his career.

Hendrix would have fit right in. A real tragedy this collaboration never occurred.

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Angels in America

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John Tierney has a reasonable column today, asking why Republicans want to keep hard-working, assimilating immigrants from becoming Americans.

John Tierney: Ángels in America
If America could absorb my grandfather, why keep out today's immigrants?

Ángel Espinoza doesn't understand why Republicans on Capitol Hill are determined to deport Mexicans like him. I don't get it, either. He makes me think of my Irish grandfather.

They both left farms and went to the South Side of Chicago, arriving with relatively little education. My grandfather took a job in the stockyards and lived in an Irish boardinghouse nearby. Espinoza started as a dishwasher and lived with his brother in a Mexican neighborhood.

Like my grandfather, who became a streetcar motorman and then a police officer, Espinoza moved on to better-paying jobs and a better home of his own. Like my grandfather, Espinoza married an American-born descendant of immigrants from his native country.

But whereas my grandfather became a citizen, Espinoza couldn't even become a legal resident. Once he married an American, he applied, but was rejected because he'd once been caught at the border and sent home with an order to stay out. Violating that order made him ineligible for a green card and eligible for deportation.

“I had to tell my 4-year-old daughter that one day I might not come home,” he said. “I work hard and pay taxes and don't want any welfare. Why deport me?”

Divine Right of Bushes

MoDo on the Dauphin and his lil' Scooter. Can we impeach yet? Censure even?

Maureen Dowd: Divine Right of Bushes:

If W. wants the information out, it's good for the country to make it public. If W. doesn't want the information out, it's bad for the country to make it public.

So the aide turns out to have been loyally following his leader's dictates, rather than going around the boss's back to peddle secret information.

Scooter is a “good Judas,” as it turns out, just as Judas himself was, according to a 1,700-year-old Christian manuscript found in the Egyptian desert that asserts that Jesus wanted Judas to betray him, so he entrusted his disciple with special intelligence.

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No comment required

because this news story is telling enough.

U.S. Won't Seek a Seat on the U.N. Rights Council
The United States said Thursday it would not be a candidate for the new United Nations Human Rights Council, which was approved last month by the General Assembly with Washington nearly alone in opposition.

Felice Gaer, director of the Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights, said it was a mistake for the United States to wait for future elections to run.

“All key decisions about serious reform issues, from the curtailment of inappropriate bodies to whether and how countries are scrutinized, will be made in the first year,” she said.

Among the Republican critics who had counseled joining the panel were Senator Norm Coleman of Minnesota, who has frequently called for Secretary General Kofi Annan to quit; Senator Richard G. Lugar of Indiana, the Foreign Relations Committee chairman; and Representative Henry J. Hyde of Illinois, who is sponsor of a bill that would withhold United States dues from the United Nations.

When Senator Bill Frist of Tennessee, the majority leader, proposed a resolution on March 31 calling for an American boycott of the new council, Representative Christopher H. Smith of New Jersey, another Republican detractor of the United Nations, put out a statement urging the resolution's defeat.

Human rights groups speculated that the United States was worried that revelations of abuses of detainees in Iraq and of clandestine prisons abroad had raised fears in the Bush administration that it could not get the 96 votes in the 191-member General Assembly needed for election.

“It's unfortunate that the Bush administration's disturbing human rights record means that the United States is today hardly a shoo-in for election to the council,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch.

The new council was approved on March 15 by a 170-to-4 vote, with Israel, the Marshall Islands and Palau joining the United States in opposition.

Ok, the Marshall Islands and Palau don't really count because they are basically U.S. colonies. So basically, just Israel and the U.S.

Wexler got a shot at the Administration into the story, but had to fellate Warren Hoge to do so. Satisfactory for neither party. I didn't say that.

Robert Wexler of Florida, singled out Mr. Bolton for isolating the United States and thwarting the United Nations human rights effort.

“This decision reflects the colossal diplomatic failures of Ambassador Bolton,” he said. “It's a national disgrace for America that we will not be a present in guiding and leading that council in a productive direction, and that under Mr. Bolton's leadership at the U.N. the world's single superpower cannot muster up the necessary votes to win an election.”

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Boot Camp Redux

Pasta-damn, I hope Mr. Gruber is correct in his analysis! This addresses my fear: companies like Adobe and Microsoft will stop developing Mac OSX versions because with Boot Camp, you can instead now use a Windows version of any software program.

God forbid my bank makes this (faulty) assumption.

The Gap already wrote off all Mac users as not worth the time to make a standards compliant site. But I can do without the Gap. I cannot do without Adobe, Microsoft, et al.

Also, for those six of my seven regular readers who don't know: Classic is Mac OS 9, which runs as a virtual OS within OS X. I personally haven't used it in a long time (last time: reading legal, estate documents formatted in Word Perfect).

Daring Fireball: Windows: The New Classic
... And this points to the rather delicious conclusion that Apple is casting Windows, including Vista, as the new Classic.

Boot Camp portends Apple’s intention to become a Windows-only PC manufacturer no more than Classic served as a hedge against Apple’s commitment to Mac OS X — that is, not at all.

The fear that Windows-on-Mac-hardware implies the eventual death or marginalization of Mac OS X is baseless. Sure, third party developers could start using “Just boot into Windows” as their answer to questions regarding Mac support, but this is no more likely to be popular or successful than it was for developers whose OS X strategy was “Just use Classic”.

This is a move of supreme confidence — Apple relishes the comparison between Mac OS X and Windows XP, and Microsoft has shown enough of Vista via its widely-available beta seeds that Apple quite obviously isn’t afraid of that comparison, either.

Windows is so ubiquitous that the vast majority of Mac users are already quite familiar with it; I see no chance that Boot Camp is going to cause any Mac users to realize that they’ve been missing out on something better. But from the other side, Apple is confident that most Windows users who give Mac OS X a shot are going to prefer it — again, much in the same way that most long-time Mac users preferred Mac OS X to the old Mac OS.

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Fat Tire Chicago Inaugural


I really wanted to like this Ale.

Fat Tire

I've been detoxing for a couple of weeks, in anticipation of my upcoming birthday. Not to Geoff's level, nor to the extreme of my most recent program (or whatever you call it), just avoidance of alcohol, sugar, flour, meat and limiting myself to one pot of espresso in the morning (as opposed to my usual 2, plus more in the afternoon), as much as possible. Last time I was more diligent, this time I did have a couple of business dinners (wine, and pasta), and a business lunch (coffee), plus I think I had some chicken in there somewhere.

So, blah blah blah, I decided that this evening, erev birthday, as it were, was as good of a time to drink this beer as any. Except the bouquet is horrible! Bleh. The beer itself is pretty good, interesting multi-faceted palate, pretty color, a B+ in fact. Much better tasting than the beer I made myself recently.

But the smell has a hint of bleach, the odor of old sweat-socks, and pinch of nervous energy. I don't know if it is horrific enough that I will never drink the ale again, but maybe. Oh well. I think I have some Jameson's somewhere. And a little brick of [redacted 'cause ya never know]. I'll be a'right. Me, Billie Holiday, Francis Ford Coppola, Ravi Shankar, William Wordsworth, and even Russell Crowe, Walter Winchell and Jackie Chan, and probably some other schmoes remember the day too.

Note, even though I'd like to beer blog, like the Disgruntled Chemist, I cannot in all honesty promise to follow through. I mean, I was supposed to listen to all of my CDs, and look how far I've gotten (somewhere in the middle of the S's - after starting from Z)

Update: not to mention Albert Hoffman's little problem child was first synthesized April 7th.

Big Brother and Ad Metrics

Holy Spaghetti!

WSJ.com - Ad Measurement Is Going High Tech ... A number of established audience-measurement companies and industry newcomers are developing tools to better gauge the connection between media exposure and consumer behavior. The audience-measurement job is more complicated these days because of an explosion of media offerings in and outside the home.

A dark horse in the race is Integrated Media Measurement Inc., a start-up led by some prominent technology entrepreneurs that is using specially adapted cellphones to measure what consumers listen to and see. The company has developed software that helps the phones take samples of nearby sounds, which are identified by comparing them against a database.

Besides television and radio, IMMI, as the San Mateo, Calif., company calls itself, says the technology can track exposure to CDs, DVDs, videogames, sporting events, audio and video on portable gadgets and movies in theaters. The closely held company has been testing its system for nine months with about 200 consumers in Sacramento, Calif., and hopes to help answer some tricky questions. They include:

• How often are TV shows watched outside the home?

• Which songs prompt listeners to change radio stations?

• Which movie trailers get viewers to go to the theater?

Sort of obtrusive, no? Though, old methods are still mostly stuck in the analog world of pen, pad and voluntary collection, and thus ripe for an update. This is a trillion dollar business after all, and measuring effectiveness is a mantra of corporate advertising.

(As long as there is an option to op-out: for instance, I could foresee in the future a reduced cell phone bill if one participated in one of these data collection services. I hope I would never be forced to participate because my cell phone company sold me out, or I might have to figure out how to the game the system, like I do whenever asked for demographic information at a newspaper website, for instance. )

Mad Cow and GWBs White House

Boggles the mind how anti-science the Bush White House is. Many of their clients, the corporations, rely upon science to make their profits, why cannot the Bushies let scientists make rational public policy decisions? Apparently, many in the cattle industry wishes to avoid the science of statistics (while relying heavily upon the science of anti-biotics), no doubt because they hope to avoid negative consequences and negative press by wishing there are no risks. Bleh. The Tinker Bell theory of policy making seems to be pretty popular these days.

Stop: Don't Test Those Cows! - New York Times
Late last month, Creekstone Farms, a Kansas-based beef company, sued the United States Department of Agriculture. The reason? Creekstone wants to use tests for mad cow disease on all of the cattle it slaughters, and the U.S.D.A. won't let it.

In contrast, the U.S.D.A.'s testing program for mad cow disease tests only high-risk cattle — those that die on the farm, can't walk or are obviously sick. In other words, the department tests about 1 percent of the 35 million cattle that are slaughtered in this country every year. It believes, based on its statistical models, that testing 1 percent is plenty.

Why would the U.S.D.A. stop a cattle company from voluntarily meeting a higher standard than the one required by law? The very idea sounds counterintuitive. But then so does the agency's rationale. The U.S.D.A. argues that 100 percent testing would not guarantee food safety because mad cow disease can be hard to detect in younger cattle — the very cows that a premium beef company like Creekstone is most likely to slaughter.

To us, this sounds like nonsense — as if we were more likely to be safe by following a testing plan based on statistical modeling of the beef supply than by actually testing all the cattle.

The U.S.D.A. should test every cow that goes to slaughter. The cost is not prohibitive. Fear is the problem. The current testing program for mad cow disease is intended to produce, at best, a snapshot of the likelihood of the disease. The program rests on assumptions that reflect, as assumptions tend to do, only what we know already, and we do not know nearly enough about mad cow disease.

The fear is that broad testing may reveal a higher rate of infection and destroy consumer confidence, with a devastating impact on the cattle market. Which leaves us where we are now: relying on what we don't know to make us feel safe.

Mmmm, mad cow. Makes my brain all tingly.

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Tritium spills

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We're number one! We're number one! Ok, that joke is pretty old by now. I wonder what nuclear power apologists think about this latest news? Initially, Dean Armstrong argued that Exelon was doing everything they were supposed to do. Could it be possible that Exelon actually tried to hide their errors and omissions? An energy corporation untruthful and duplicitous? Nahh, I'm sure they are all good eggs, fine upstanding corporate citizens. Nothing to see here.

Chicago Tribune | State No. 1 in tritium spills
Illinois has more sites where radioactive tritium has leaked than any of the other states--ranging from New York to Arizona--where spills have been reported. ... The task force will look at tritium spills from 1996, the year of the first Braidwood leak, until now. By Aug. 31, it will consider potential public health effects, how the NRC responded and how the leaks were publicly disclosed.

The task force was established nearly two months after 22 organizations, including the Union of Concerned Scientists, filed a petition with the NRC seeking information on about 100 U.S. sites that handle radioactive water.

They include nuclear power plants, research reactors and nuclear-fuel recycling facilities that handle “dirty water,” or water that contains tritium and sometimes other radioactive substances, said David Lochbaum, director of the Union of Concerned Scientists' Nuclear Safety Project.

The petition calls on the NRC to require all site operators disclose how they handle contaminated water, monitor for its leakage and prevent it from migrating off site at levels in excess of federal limits.

Lochbaum said the organization's goal is to establish monitoring at all of the sites, so tritium never reaches levels in drinking water that pose a public health threat.

Exelon Corp. has taken heat in recent months from Braidwood plant neighbors who say they should have been told years earlier about four tritium spills between 1996 and 2003.

The spills were disclosed this year, weeks after Exelon announced it found tritium in groundwater outside the plant at levels exceeding federal limits, a discovery made after the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency pushed Exelon to check for groundwater contamination.

Exelon then tested local private wells and found elevated levels of tritium in one--at levels well below federal drinking water limits.

The company then announced it found a new leak at Dresden Generating Station in Grundy County. An earlier, repaired leak at Dresden, found in 2004, left tritium in on-site groundwater at levels more than 500 times the federal limit, according to state EPA documents.

And because I am a liberal through and through, and thus able to discuss 9 sides to every argument, I'll add that Dean Armstrong probably isn't a full time nuclear apologist. He's just a useful foil for my worrying ways, and someone who thinks the potential liabilities of nuclear power are exploited by news media, and he's likely right. Unless of course, an energy company employs him as some sort of consultant. Then he's just a tool.

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Urban photos

Playing with another flickr tool - here are 25 of my most recent photos tagged with “Urban”.

unfortunately, the URL isn't built in to the table, instead, there are links to larger versions as a sort of footnote.

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Flickr tool and Natural Light

playing with a new (to me) flickr tool, Quickrpickr. These are photos with the “NaturalLight” tag, sorted by interestingness (arbitrarily decided by Flickr software). I'm not necessarily sold on the Flickr interestingness algorithm - seems more arbitrary than artistic. Of these photos, perhaps half I would rate 3 stars or better (out of 5).

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Boot Camp


Oh, for sure this will be installed on our next Mac. Are you kidding?

Apple - Boot Camp

Boot Camp lets you install Windows XP without moving your Mac data, though you will need to bring your own copy to the table, as Apple Computer does not sell or support Microsoft Windows. Boot Camp will burn a CD of all the required drivers for Windows so you don't have to scrounge around the Internet looking for them.

At startup, hold down the option key (alt) to choose between Mac OS X and Windows.

Run XP natively

Once you’ve completed Boot Camp, simply hold down the option key at startup to choose between Mac OS X and Windows. (That’s the “alt” key for you longtime Windows users.) After starting up, your Mac runs Windows completely natively. Simply restart to come back to Mac.

Not sure exactly when a new Intel-Mac machine is budgeted for (haven't finished yearly budget/projections), but at least now there's a reward at the end of that slog.

I like this oh-so-subtle dig at Microsoft:

Macs use an ultra-modern industry standard technology called EFI to handle booting. Sadly, Windows XP, and even the upcoming Vista, are stuck in the 1980s with old-fashioned BIOS. But with Boot Camp, the Mac can operate smoothly in both centuries.

plus this warning that Windows is still much more prone to viruses and the like:

Word to the Wise

Windows running on a Mac is like Windows running on a PC. That means it’ll be subject to the same attacks that plague the Windows world. So be sure to keep it updated with the latest Microsoft Windows security fixes.

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Netflixed Fitzcarraldo redux

Finally got a chance to watch this movie, and it was worth the wait (had to get another copy as the first froze at about the 30 minute mark). From my film-school dropout perspective, the commentary by Werner Herzog was nearly more interesting than the film. Especially in the context of Klaus Kinski and his rage. Herzog admits ambivalence about not having Kinski killed (Kinski had so pissed off the native tribes they offered, in all seriousness, to kill Kinski - Herzog replied that he still needed to finish the film). Kinski is an amazing actor, such intense eyes, though I would have hated to live next door to him. Apparently everyone on the set despised him. Some amazing cinematography, as would be expected. Strongly recommended.

Fitzcarraldo (Werner Herzog)
“Fitzcarraldo” (Werner Herzog)

Fitzcarraldo In this intoxicating, one-of-a-kind film, obsessed opera lover Klaus Kinski dreams of building a concert hall in the middle of the Amazon jungle. To realize his vision, he must haul a huge riverboat up (and down) a mountainside with help from a local Indian tribe. Fitzcarraldo is another weird gem from German director Werner Herzog's offbeat oeuvre.

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Two Worn-Out Diplomats, One Fold-Out Bed

MoDo must have slept in, and missed her deadline. I can't think of any other explanation. Jet lag is a real bitch.

Marueen Dowd: Two Worn-Out Diplomats, One Fold-Out Bed
Is Hillary Clinton too sexy? Is Katie Couric too leggy?

I'm just back from London, where the Brits were fascinated with the Condi Rice and Jack Straw two-for-the-road odyssey, the exchange of visits to their hometowns, Birmingham and Blackburn, and the rebuff of Condi by Paul McCartney and a Blackburn mosque.

British journalists loved hearing about how Condi exercises alongside diplomatic reporters in hotel gyms, not at all self-conscious about working out in form-fitting shorts and T-shirts.

The British are used to iron ladies, perhaps not pumping iron but trying to iron out world affairs. In his quaint new book, “Manliness,” the Harvard professor Harvey Mansfield cites only one woman with that exalted trait: Margaret Thatcher, who told the first President Bush not to go wobbly on Saddam. Teaching other women to be assertive, Mr. Mansfield frets, might be “like teaching a cat to bark.”

The struggles of the relentless American diplomat and the charming British diplomat to knock heads in Iraq and get the government to govern, with the war spinning into sulfurous sectarian fighting, was less mesmerizing to many reporters than the pair's gender-benders.

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Netflix vs Blockbuster pt 2

We are long time Netflix subscribers (since 9-2001, which is sort of a memorable date for some reason), and obviously are Netflix supporters, but this patent thing is getting ridiculous.

BBC NEWS | Business | Netflix sues Blockbuster on DVDs California-based Netflix has two patents protecting its business, which lets subscribers pay a monthly fee and then rent out DVDs via its website.

It wants Blockbuster's similar service halted and the court to award damages.

...Netflix, founded in 1999, was one of the first companies to offer this service, and has a patent protecting the way it allows customers to select their films, get them sent out, and then return them for more.

Its second patent covers the way customers can keep the films for as long as they want without being charged extra and how they can rejig their list of preferred films.

Analysts said that it may prove tricky for Netflix, which has close to five million subscribers, to enforce their patents. Blockbuster wants its postal service to reach two million subscribers this year.

WSJ adds:

The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, focuses largely on the online wish lists that prioritize the DVD desires of about 5.4 million people who subscribe to either Netflix or Blockbuster's Internet service.

Netflix also believes its patents cover perhaps its most popular feature -- the option of renting a DVD for an unlimited time without incurring late fees.

That change, introduced by Netflix seven years ago, became so popular that Blockbuster last year stopped charging late fees for tardy rental returns to its video stores. Dallas-based Blockbuster once pocketed hundreds of millions of dollars annually from those late fees.

“Blockbuster has been willfully and deliberately copying Netflix's business methods,” Netflix spokesman Steve Swasey said.

A second patent issued Tuesday to Netflix apparently triggered the lawsuit. Netflix believes the additional patent covers an even wider range of automated interaction with its customers.

Netflix hopes to obtain a court order that would force Blockbuster to change the way its online rental service operates or require the company to pay patent royalties -- a potentially huge bill, based on other recent patent disputes.

ok, I had to look - the first movies I rented back in Sept 2001 were

Requiem for a Dream

Requiem for a Dream




the Lady Vanishes

the Lady Vanishes

(B+, C+, and B+ respectively).


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Viva Studs Terkel!!!

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Unsolicited advice to the booking agents at the Daily Show with Jon Stewart: if you have Studs Terkel scheduled as a guest, don't waste an entire segment trying to pin Opportunist McCain to a previously uttered position. You just are making the pigs jealous, and wasting good mud. Or something.

McCain obviously will appear on the Daily Show as many times as he is physically able; Studs Terkel was born in 1912, and is many, many multiples more interesting than McCain will ever be.

That is all.

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It all comes down to you


It all comes down to you

an experiment with empty space, circa 1999 (rapidly fading 35 mm print, scanned because I cannot locate my damn negatives). Central Camera printed the original, so I can blame the fade on them at least.

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Oxygen Bar Hype

Oxygen bar t'aint gonna help, pushers notwithstanding.

Chicago Tribune | Facing Facts 101
It's time to face the truth about oxygen and what it can do for your complexion: nothing.

This won't be welcome news to the scads of spa-goers and celebrities who think oxygen is the new fountain of youth.

Madonna, for one, enjoys oxygen facials, her rep confirmed recently. The singer has reportedly installed oxygen machines in all of her homes, so she can bathe her complexion in the element -- known on periodic tables the world over simply as O.

A tasteless, odorless gas, atomic number 8, oxygen is also the big thing in spas across the country. In Chicago, for instance, one Michigan Avenue oasis offers a $145 “Rejuvenating Oxygen Facial,” which, according to the spa's Web site, is “the application of medical grade oxygen gas and antioxidants through a plastic hose directly onto the skin” that “will begin to nourish immediately.”

But here's the thing: (1) Your face doesn't need more oxygen, and (2) your face cannot use whatever oxygen you may insist on giving it.

some boring advice from Dr. Memar:

About this oxygen fad, Omeed Memar, a dermatologist and clinical associate professor at Northwestern Medical School says, “It's another snake oil.”

Then what's an aging beauty to do? “Good skin happens from the inside out,” Memar says. “Eat well, reduce stress, don't smoke, don't sun. Don't harm your skin, but also feed it.”

Feed your skin, as Grace Slick once sang. Or something.

And this concludes the “Reading the Tribune so you don't have to” portion of today's broadcast. Tune in tomorrow as we cull from the Wall Street Journal......ahem.

Marketing of Politicians

Yeah, yeah. Nice speech.

Chicago Tribune | Obama scolds Bush on environment, energy proposals Obama said he initially was hopeful when Bush said during his State of the Union address in January that the U.S. must end its reliance on oil, “but then I saw the plan.”

“His funding for renewable fuels is at the same level it was the day he took office. He refuses to call for even a modest increase in fuel-efficiency standards for cars. And his latest budget funds less than half of the energy bill that he himself signed into law--leaving hundreds of millions of dollars in underfunded energy proposals,” Obama said.
“This is not a serious effort. Saying that America is addicted to oil without following a real plan for energy independence is like admitting alcoholism and then skipping the 12-step program.” Obama said the Bush administration has practiced a “stubborn refusal” to admit a need for change.

But what the hell does this mean?

Obama's comments came as part of a series of policy addresses to show the breadth of his interests after a year in office.

Sounds like more policy by sound-bite to me.

Whiners on parade

Ohh, boo-fucking-hoo. If you don't want to operate a coal plant, because the expenses of running one are so astronomical, then, hey - shut it down!

Chicago Tribune | Local pressure put on mercury output

Doug McFarlan, a spokesman for Midwest Generation, said the company opposes the state rule because the public health benefits would not be significantly greater than those under federal standards, which the company's plants already follow.

He also argued that emissions-reduction technology hasn't been proven capable of reducing mercury by 90 percent in three years, and the costs of installing the equipment--about $2 million to $3 million per unit--would strike a severe blow to the company's business.

“It crunches capital expenses into such a short time frame that it puts the competitiveness of these plants into jeopardy,” McFarlan said, while federal standards allow the costs to be spread over several years.

Backed by exhaust stacks protruding from a power plant in the distance, environmental advocates and city and state officials gathered at a Waukegan park Monday to support a proposal that would force Illinois coal-fired power plants to severely limit mercury emissions.

Citing the health risks mercury poses for nursing women, young children and women of childbearing age, Gov. Rod Blagojevich in January called for new standards that would require utilities to cut mercury emissions from their Illinois plants by 90 percent by July 2009.

“This is one of these issues where it's clear-cut that we can take steps now to decrease the effect on our children,” said Dr. Eric Whitaker, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health. “The reality is that we're going to pay for it now or we're going to pay for it later in terms of human costs.”

Waukegan Generating Station, a three-unit coal-fired plant owned by Midwest Generation, served as the backdrop for Monday's news conference. The plant, which sits on the edge of Lake Michigan in the northeast corner of Waukegan, has operated in the city since 1923. It is rated to put out electricity for up to 800,000 households and employs 190 people.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the plant emitted about 255 pounds of mercury into the air in 2003, the last year for which statistics are available. That year, according to the EPA, the plant ranked seventh among coal-fired plants in the state for mercury emissions.

And of course, public investment and private profit, courtesy of the Mayor of Waukegan

Waukegan Mayor Richard Hyde said he supports the governor's plan but said utilities would probably need help covering the costs of installing new equipment.

“Somewhere along the line, someone is going to have to make grants available and somebody should help them,” Hyde said.

So the local government wants the taxpayers to fund the scrubbers, and the energy company still whines about the cost. Gee you'd think the energy industry is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy if you listened to all their whining.

Here's my solution - all executives for all coal power plants, and other polluting industries have to live within a mile of the plant, with their families, and attend local schools as well.

Coal-fired power plants account for much of the mercury released into the atmosphere. The chemical finds its way into oceans, lakes and rivers through precipitation and poses a danger to humans through consumption of contaminated fish. Studies have shown that mercury can cause learning disabilities in children and neurological problems in adults.

Illinois ranks fifth in the nation in mercury emissions. State environmental protection officials estimate that about two-thirds of mercury that falls in the state comes from sources within state borders.

Supporters of the state rule argue that activated carbon injection systems, the equipment that plants would install to filter out airborne mercury, would be capable of reducing mercury emissions by 90 percent in three years.

That is more than mandated by the Bush administration's mercury rule, which now requires Illinois to reduce mercury emissions by 47 percent by 2010 and 78 percent by 2018, said Ron Burke, the associate director of the Illinois EPA.

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Assholes on parade

I'm usually a non-violent person, but I would really like to punch Fred Phelps, hard, in the throat. Or worse. If there is ever a guy who needs a severe ass-whipping, Fred Phelps is your guy. What a freaking slime mold.

Chicago Tribune | Lawmakers rush to blunt anti-gay church Army Pfc. Amy Duerksen was 19 when she died last month in a U.S. military surgical hospital in Baghdad, three days after being shot in an accident. By all the accounts of her family, friends and superiors, she had been a model soldier, an impassioned patriot and a deeply devout Christian.

But none of that mattered to the six members of the Westboro Baptist Church who drove all night from their headquarters in Topeka, Kan., to show up here outside Duerksen's March 17 funeral waving hateful placards.

“You're Going to Hell,” read one of the hand-lettered signs. “Fag Vets, God Hates You,” read another. “Your Pastor is a Whore,” said a third.

“This family got what it deserved for sending their daughter to defend this evil nation,” said Elizabeth Phelps, 43, who was leading the small knot of protesters. “They ought to thank us for being here to tell the world the truth.”

For nearly a year, members of the virulently anti-gay Westboro Church have been crisscrossing the nation, holding more than 100 similar, confounding protests outside the funerals of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq. By their logic, a wrathful God is punishing America for tolerating homosexuality by killing U.S. soldiers in Iraq. Every funeral, they believe, is a warning from God to repent.
Ultimately, legal experts predict, the laws attempting to restrict funeral protests will end up enriching Rev. Fred Phelps, the 76-year-old leader of Westboro Baptist, because of the damages he can win if he prevails in court. “That's the great irony of these bills--they are going to put the citizens of these states in the position of paying money to Fred Phelps,” said Charlie Mitchell, state legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, which is monitoring the funeral-protest laws but has yet to decide whether to intervene with lawsuits. Lawsuits are precisely what Phelps says he plans--and he relishes the publicity that the laws are bringing to his church. “All these legislatures and Congress all riled up--you got to love it,” Phelps said in a telephone interview. “You can't buy this kind of attention to our message.”

One would almost think that the Republicans responsible for the impending new legislation banning Phelps are actually working in concert with him, so as to fund his vileness. Or else, they are just stupid, which is probably the truth.

You hear about these protesters, but when you actually see them and hear what they are doing, it is more than protesting,“ said Rep. Michael Rogers (R-Mich.), who is sponsoring a bill in the House to restrict protests outside national cemeteries. ”They are jeering and taunting and harassing these families and it is pretty vile. We have to do something to let these families grieve peaceably and give them dignity.“

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Damn there goes my five year plan

In my dream country, government wouldn't be so concerned about the personal habits of its citizens.

Chicago Tribune | Canada's pot plan goes up in smoke
Marijuana possession will remain a crime in Canada, the country's new conservative prime minister said Monday in announcing the demise of legislation that U.S. authorities worried would weaken anti-drug efforts.

Under the bill, drawn up by the previous Liberal Party government, getting caught with about half an ounce or less of marijuana would have brought a citation akin to a traffic ticket.

While possession of marijuana would have remained illegal, the bill was intended to prevent young people from being saddled with a lifelong criminal record.

Conservative Party Prime Minister Stephen Harper, speaking to the Canadian Professional Police Association, said the bill would not be reintroduced when the new Parliament convenes for the first time Monday.

Harper also said his government would move to impose longer jail sentences and heavier fines on marijuana growers with large operations

Marc Emery of Vancouver...believes Harper is more interested in mandatory jail sentences for drug crimes.

“That will just fill up the jails,” he said. “That's a dead end, a policy that they've got in the United States that they want to bring here.”

For the record, I hardly ever partake of any illicit drugs, and haven't for many years (you can check my blood/DNA sample that you probably already have on file, Mr. Patriot Act/TIA man), I just don't like our current anti-drug hysteria. I also have found that people who take a puff now and then are usually more interesting people to know.

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Roses for Helen

From the “I Wish I had Heard of This sooner” Department.

Would certainly have sent Ms. Thomas flowers, she deserves them, and more.

Roses For Helen

Helen Thomas receives roses Blessed are the peacemakers.   The bounty of beautiful roses from such wonderful people has lifted my heart and will remain in my memory for the rest of my life.  Thank you for caring that others may live.
Helen Thomas

Article here

The roses kept coming - and coming - and coming - to the Hearst Newspapers office in downtown Washington on Thursday, until they filled a large conference room to overflowing.

By the time the Federal Express delivery was complete, there were 108 dozen roses, nearly 1,300 in every color. They were the result of an e-mail campaign to show support for Hearst columnist Helen Thomas after she grilled President Bush about his Iraq policy at last week's White House news conference.

The [roses were] the brainchild of Clarity Sanderson, a 31-year-old Democratic activist from Sandy, Utah, a suburb of Salt Lake City, who was motivated by the sharp exchange between Thomas and Bush, and by an op-ed article Thomas wrote about the exchange in the Salt Lake Tribune.
Thomas shared her roses with Hearst bureau chief Chuck Lewis and other colleagues and sent the bulk of them to wounded military personnel at Walter Reed Army Hospital.

A class act, all the way.

Photos here (scroll down)

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We've discussed John Opportunist McCain before, here's a follow up op-ed piece, also from Paul Krugman:

Paul Krugman: John and Jerry Now that Senator John McCain has made up with the Rev. Jerry Falwell, either he isn't a social moderate, or he's a cynical political opportunist.

Well, I'll be damned. At least, that's what the Rev. Jerry Falwell says. Last month Mr. Falwell issued a statement explaining that, in his view, Jews can't go to heaven unless they convert to Christianity. And what Mr. Falwell says matters — maybe not in heaven, but here on earth. After all, he's a kingmaker in today's Republican Party.

Senator John McCain obviously believes that he can't get the Republican presidential nomination without Mr. Falwell's approval. During the 2000 campaign, Mr. McCain denounced Mr. Falwell and the Rev. Pat Robertson as “agents of intolerance.” But next month Mr. McCain will be a commencement speaker at Liberty University, which Mr. Falwell founded.

On “Meet the Press” yesterday, Mr. McCain was asked to explain his apparent flip-flop. “I believe,” he replied, “that the Christian right has a major role to play in the Republican Party. One reason is because they're so active and their followers are. And I believe they have a right to be a part of our party.”

Cool Tat, Too Bad It's Gibberish


Demon Bird Moth Balls sort of rolls off the tongue, doesn't it? Maybe Marv Albert (or better yet, Steve Kerr) could use it on the next Phoenix Suns national telecast.

even Kenny “the Jet” Smith could pipe up in response to Ernie Johnson's recap, on the TNT Inside the NBA show, “Demon Bird Moth Balls!”, while Charles Barkley giggled. Anything, as long as it gets said at least once on live television.

Cool Tat, Too Bad It's Gibberish - New York Times Sports Illustrated recently featured a spread on N.B.A. players' Chinese tattoos, quoting the Chicago Bulls center Tyson Chandler as saying he checked with Yao Ming of the Houston Rockets before getting a tattoo meaning “love.” ... Marquis Daniels, of the Dallas Mavericks, thought he was getting his initials in Chinese characters but what his arm actually says is “healthy woman roof,” Mr. Tang said. Similarly, Shawn Marion of the Phoenix Suns was under the impression that his nickname, “the Matrix,” was tattooed on his leg, but Mr. Tang says the inscription translates as something like “demon bird moth balls.” ... Errors are common enough to be good business for tattoo removal specialists, and to fuel a blog, www.hanzismatter.com, which posts photographs of botched tattoos accompanied by sardonic commentary from Tian Tang, a Chinese-born engineering student.

The blog takes the name Hanzi Smatter from the Chinese term for the ideograms that are composed of as many as 30 strokes and take years of practice to write fluently. Hanzi are also used extensively in Japan, where they are referred to as kanji, and to a lesser degree in South Korea.

Maybe because I'm an old fart, but if I ever did get a tattoo in a foreign language, I'd make sure the tattoo meant what the tattoo artist said it did. Probably a moot point, as I don't have any tattoos at the moment, nor intentions of adding one. Though, I do drink tequila occasionally, so (nearly) anything is possible. Also, I studied Chinese for three years in college, so could look some phrase up in a dictionary. Sanskrit is more undulating and fluid than Hanzi anyway, seems to translate better onto a skin canvas.

Tattoo Kangnuumian

Marquis Daniels “Healthy Woman Roof” tat

Although the first two characters 康 and 女 are recognizable, the last character is only a partial that represents “roof”. Even if the characters were phonetically transliterated, they are still way off from “MAD”.

What does his tattoo really mean?

“Healthy Woman Roof”

the Matrix

Tattoo Shawnmarion Moniaozhang-1

The three “Chinese lettering” Mr. Marion sporting does not really translate as “The Matrix” in Chinese.

魔 = demon, evil spirits; magic power
鳥 = bird
樟 = camphor (a plant where its chemical exact is used for making moth balls)

The movie “The Matrix” is translated as 黑客帝国 (“Hackers’ Empire”). “Matrix”, as in mathematical and logical condition, is translated as 矩陣.

plus a few others

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Loneliness and light


Before the Rain blues

larger here

Probably because I was ruminating about that hole in my brain.

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Immigrants and the Economics of Hard Work

Do immigrants take jobs away from native-born Americans? Apparently, a complicated question.

Immigrants and the Economics of Hard Work - New York Times IT is asserted both as fact and as argument: the United States needs a constant flow of immigrants to perform jobs Americans will not stoop to do.But what if those jobs paid $50 an hour, with benefits, instead of $7 or $10 or $15? “Of course there are jobs that few Americans will take because the wages and working conditions have been so degraded by employers,” said Jared Bernstein, of the liberal Economic Policy Institute. “But there is nothing about landscaping, food processing, meat cutting or construction that would preclude someone from doing these jobs on the basis of their nativity. Nothing would keep anyone, immigrant or native born, from doing them if they paid better, if they had health care.”

While Mr. Bernstein would agree that the least-educated American workers are at a disadvantage, he does not favor curbs on immigration. Even the least-skilled Americans benefit from the presence of a large pool of immigrant workers, Mr. Bernstein said. He said that the 11 million illegal immigrants are consumers, too, creating demand for goods and services and the jobs they produce. He also said their willingness to work at low wages helps keep inflation in check, benefiting the nation as a whole.

“It's quite clear that immigrants lead to lower prices of goods and services, and the lower inflation helps boost the economy, and that helps all Americans,” Mr. Bernstein said. “You have a significant increase in the labor supply due to immigrant inflows, yet the wage effects seem isolated among the least educated, and they're not huge.”

Joel Kotkin, a fellow at the New America Foundation, a public policy institute, said that the American economy is large enough to absorb most of the new immigrants without pushing too many native-born Americans to the margins.

But he said the situation could change dramatically if the economy were to enter a downturn, particularly in the housing sector where thousands of immigrants are laborers. If the housing bubble popped, Mr. Kotkin said, competition for the remaining jobs would be fierce and could stoke anti-immigrant sentiments. He recalled the anti-immigrant proposition approved by Californians in 1994, when the state was mired in recession. “The important factor is the state of the economy,” he said. “An economy that is growing rapidly can absorb these people more easily than one that isn't.”

I do know that all the racist bluster about immigrants is just that, policy by sound-bite. If the government really wanted to stop illegal immigration, for whatever reason, the solution would be to seriously fine the businesses that hire illegals. Take away their corporate charter or something equally as drastic. If say, Wal-Mart was forced into receivership, do you think other corporations would take the risk?

Reminds me of the 'Drug War' - lots of talk, but if the bloviating class (politicians and so forth) wanted to reduce the importation of illegal drugs, the real answer would be to go after the banks who store the trillions of dollars of drug profits. Freeze the assets of JP Morgan Chase, Banco Popular, BCCI, etc., and see how quickly the illegal drug trade dries up (or drugs become legalized as they should be). Of course, the worldwide economy would crash and burn, but this is all hypothetical anyway.

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A Depression Switch

Of course, this treatment came too late for my (biologic-donor) father. His electric shock treatment didn't seem to really help, but that was many years ago, when psychiatry didn't believe in the dictum, do no harm.

A Depression Switch?
By implanting electrodes in the brains of patients, doctors seem to have successfully reversed some severe depressions — and provided a new way of thinking about mental illness.

Avoiding work is an artform

Continuing to procrastinate (there's always Sunday, right?) by delving deeper into my photo library. A few more snapshots for your viewing pleasure. As always, embiggening is just a click away. Ok, maybe two clicks away (click 'all sizes' for largest size)

Industrial Temple
Industrial Temple, photographed from a moving car, South Loop (Roosevelt Bridge).

Fun With Exposures
Fun with Exposures.

Tension. Ladder dipping into Lake Michigan, near Belmont Harbor.

3 more, below the fold

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Tuva Tunes for Truth

err, something. Personally, have been a big fan of Tuvan throat singing since watching the spectacular movie, Genghis Blues on IFC late one night.

WSJ.com - Tiny Tuva Is Making Big Sound in World Of Off-Beat Music

Andy Cruz was with his family at a cultural festival in Milwaukee last spring when he heard the sound.
“I was watching a martial-arts demonstration, when all of a sudden I heard this, uuuuuuuiiiiiieeeeerrrrrrraaaaaahhhh,” says Mr. Cruz, 39 years old. “It was a deep, growling voice that raised the hackles on the back of my neck.”

What made the sound even more striking was that the voice producing it simultaneously emitted a soft, high-pitched melody, like the tweeting of a bird. It came from a man in a long robe and sash on a nearby stage. Mr. Cruz and his 8-year-old son, Theodore, were so enraptured by the singing that they signed up for a workshop at the festival that afternoon.

Mr. Cruz, like a small but growing group of other Americans, had succumbed to the spell of throat-singing, or khoomei, an otherworldly musical tradition from a remote region called Tuva, which is wedged between Mongolia and Siberia.

Tuvan throat-singing first gained notice in the West in the late 1980s and early 1990s, as Tuva opened to the outside world amid the decline of the Soviet Union. Its earliest devotees were mainly folk-music scholars and musicians.

Lately, this once-obscure vocal art has found a more diverse following. Fans congregate at workshops, bars and concerts, and swap tips and audio clips on the Internet. Some are even moving to Tuva, where throat-singing's international popularity has spawned a flourishing music industry.

New Age types are attracted to its spirituality. Rock bands use throat-singing to augment their sound. Country-Western fans hear in the music of the nomadic, horse-loving Tuvans echoes of lonely cowboys on the range.

Others, like Mr. Cruz, enjoy the challenge of making unusual noises. He now practices the two-tone singing during his night-shifts as a boiler operator at a Milwaukee medical center -- shrugging off the odd glances from co-workers. He's starting to discern multiple tones in various sounds, such as a buzzer in his boiler room. “It's opened my ears to a whole different way of listening to things,” he says.

Genghis Blues
“Genghis Blues” (Roko Belic)

Also good is the band Huun-Huur-Tu (suggested by reader Chicago Sage a while ago), not to mention




Yat Kha

Yat Kha

and probably more.

Sixty Horses in My Herd (Huun-Huur-Tu)
“Sixty Horses in My Herd” (Huun-Huur-Tu)

Fun with black and white

Because I really don't want to start working, being as it is Saturday and all. Procrastination is a gift, nearly equal to the gift of fire.

Cadillac Palace BW
Cadillac Palace Theatre

Step Into the Light
Step into the light

Curves and Cops version 2
Curves and Cops

Old Mountains
Old Mountains

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