Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Soriority's are shallow? Vain? Yer shittin' me.


Sure are a lot of words in the English language that mean falsifying or lying. This from the osx thesaurus entry for mendacious.


It sounds almost exactly how I make them, but I just got really hungry reading this great description of breakfast burritos...

Monday, February 26, 2007

Changing Your Mind

OB, from ButterfliesAndWheels:
I was thinking earlier today about religion as a meme, and the familiar point that (as Steven Weinberg summarizes it in the TLS) 'the persistence of belief in a particular religion is naturally aided if that religion teaches that God punishes disbelief.' I was thinking about the fact that what that means is that religions that do teach that are a racket, in a quite literal sense. A racket, and also circular. 'Believe in this god because it will punish you if you don't.' 'But why should I believe that?' 'Because it will punish you if you don't.' 'Yes but why should I believe that it's this god that will punish me, what if it's actually a different one that will punish me for believing this one?' 'Because this one will punish you if you believe that.' And so on. That's one of the problems with Pascal's flutter, of course. So anyway, it's circular, and a racket. And it's a very nasty racket at that - one of the nastiest that could be imagined.

Why? Because it systematically and deliberately disables one of the core human abilities: flexibility: the ability to change our minds.
(via Dawkins)


Glenn Greenwald eviscerates Lieberman on yet another "This Time's Different" op-ed in the Wall Street Journal:
On what conceivable basis is Joe Lieberman accorded even the most minimal respect or credibility? He is obviously a person who will say anything at any time in order to defend this war, and, now that everything he said in the past is revealed to be completely false, he does not have even an iota of integrity or honesty to admit any of that. Instead, he stands up and pretends that he never said any of those things -- he actually pretends that he knew all along that our military strategy was wrong -- and simply makes the same promises and commitments as he has been making all along with a sense of entitlement that he has credibility on these matters and should be listened to.


George Bush was re-elected, and Americans tolerated the occupation of Iraq long after it was clear that things had gone terribly awry, because the Joe Liebermans in our country continuously lied about what was taking place there, falsely assuring Americans that things were going well, that we were on the precipice of success, that the press accounts of the violence and chaos there were fiction and were merely the by-product of a politically biased media seeking to embarrass the President by concealing the great progress we were making -- progress which Lieberman insisted he witnessed himself during his visit.

Prince Pickles

Japan's new army mascot is called Prince Pickles:
“Prince Pickles is our image character because he’s very endearing, which is what Japan’s military stands for,” said Defense Ministry official Shotaro Yanagi. “He’s our mascot and appears in our pamphlets and stationery.”

The Metropolitan Police Department tries to lighten its stern image with Peopo, which looks like a cross between a rabbit and a space trooper.


Here's my what-to-investigate-now list, as written down during the Oscars...

Alan Arkin films
Pan's Labyrinth
Dom DeLuise films
John Candy films
older Randy Newman albums
older Robert Palmer albums
Walter Mathau
Bosom Buddies
Children of Men
[Borat, The Departed, Little Children, Marie Antoinette]
Milena Canonera (costume designer from Marie Antoinette)
The Accused
The China Syndrome
Guillermo Del Toro
Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow (w/ Sophia Loren)
Life is Beautiful
The Lives of Others (winning foreign language film last night from Germany)

Friday, February 23, 2007

Harmless Whip Scorpion

Harmless Whip Scorpion, originally uploaded by BenDownLow.

The finest whip scorpion pic I've seen yet...

Hat Tip to NY1

NY1 is so great. After my complaint email the other day about their parroting of the NY Post story touting a "push poll" that says "Americans Want Victory' or some shit like that, NY1's Steve Paulus wrote me back with another thoughtful, personal response...

Thanks for the feedback. Your point about the Post "poll" was raised in
our newsroom before we read your email. We have to be careful to
ALWAYS examine the source of any story.

Thanks again,

Steve Paulus
General Manager, NY1
A class act, that station.

Puretracks Reminder

Must remember to check back with Puretracks in a few weeks...Sounds good.

Other Music has promised to roll out an MP3 store soon, too, and that would be a blast. I like a lot about Other Music, but actually going there is not one of those things.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

I Hope I Never

I hope that I never have the occasion to write these words when I'm introducing my own new book:
My friends Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity have been gracious enough to write the foreword and introduction...
From TomDelay.com.

Media Matters on Push Poll

Media Matters has more on the flawed GOP poll that the NY Post used as the basis to their cover article "America Says Let's Win War," which I wrote about yesterday.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

An animated GIF masterpiece. Diddy and Bjork on the phone.

(Via, BoingBoing, who a) has more info, and b) says its been around a while)

Face the NY Post With Skepticism

I write to NY1 again:
I know that the (marvelous) In the Papers segment is just a light-hearted survey of what's going on in the papers, but I had to point out that this morning the NY Post suckered you into coverage of what it called a "poll." It was the front page story "FINISH THE JOB," leading to this story.

But a very cursory glance at the odd story, which runs contrary to all other recent polling, reveals the reason. The "poll" was done by a Republican strategy firm called Public Opinion Strategies, who doesn't even pretend to hide their intentions. From their website, http://www.pos.org/ :

"About half of our research is dedicated to winning elections."

...and on their About Us page they write that they are not "a passive participant that simply produces numbers."

The story here is not about American public opinion, as (the honorable) Pat reported it this morning, but rather that the NY Post is reporting a Republican PR firm's work as public poll. That is unethical.
I really don't care what the Post does. But I do care how it gets covered.

NY Post Reports False Poll

The NY Post is so depressed, they're not even trying. Public opinion is moving away from their false stories, and so they're not even pretending that their stories have any rational basis.

They have a front page story today that reads "Finish The Job." The article begins:
February 21, 2007 -- In a dramatic finding, a new poll shows a solid majority of Americans still wants to win the war in Iraq - and keep U.S. troops there until the Baghdad government can take over.

Strong majorities also say victory is vital to the War on Terror and that Americans should support President Bush even if they have concerns about the way the war is being handled, according to the survey conducted by Public Opinion Strategies.

The poll found that 57 percent of Americans supported "finishing the job in Iraq" - keeping U.S. troops there until the Iraqis can provide security on their own. Forty-one percent disagreed.

The article is packed with clearly non-neutral language from the poll.
Despite last November's electoral victories by anti-war Democrats, the survey found little support among voters for a quick pullout of U.S. forces.

Only 25 percent of those surveyed agreed with the statement, "I don't really care what happens in Iraq after the U.S. leaves, I just want the troops brought home." Seventy-four percent disagreed.

Two of the other options also present talking points.
The next most popular policy, favored by 27 percent, was expressed by the statement: "The Iraq war is the front line in the battle against terrorism and our troops should stay there and do whatever it takes to restore order until the Iraqis can govern and provide security to the country."

The fourth option, favored by 23 percent, was the statement: "While I don't agree that the U.S. should be in the war, our troops should stay there and do whatever it takes to restore order until the Iraqis can govern and restore security to their country."

This is what's known as a Push Poll. The results are not important (despite the Post's treatment of this as an actual poll, and, sadly, my dear friend Pat Kiernan from NY1 reporting this as "news") - what's important is the message communicated through the "options." The range of options does not properly represent th range of possible opinions. It is skewed towards a certain viewpoint.

But most importantly, who is this polling group called Public Opinion Strategies? Strategies? From their website:
About half of our research is dedicated to winning elections. Our political client base includes 18 U.S. Senators, eight Governors, fifty-four Members of Congress, and numerous state legislative caucuses. The other half of our work is involved in complex public policy battles, working with industry coalitions, government entities and private companies. This work extends to corporate image, community relations, and crisis management research for local companies, Fortune 500 corporations and industry associations throughout the country.
Your goal is political, then why the fuck could this poll possibly be covered as news?

Hilariously enough, their About Us page writes this:
Here's who we are not: a passive participant that simply produces numbers.

* We are strategic partners.
* We use data to make decisions.
* We don't hesitate to have an opinion, make a judgment, and then live or die by the results.
My friends, that is what a poll IS: "a passive participant that simply produces numbers."

And secondly, regarding that final bullet point - how'd that election work out for ya? Does the "dying" by the result start soon? Are your clients satisfied with your advice during the last election?

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Diceman Recometh

Ken Levine:
ICE UNDISPUTED – Premiering March 4th, VH-1 unveils a reality show following Andrew Dice Clay around. If a show I pitched to VH-1 was rejected and I read that they picked up an Andrew Dice Clay series I think I’d kill myself.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Always Helpful

Kotaku posted a set of pictures (actually, from a Something Awful forum) related to the question of how much overlay interface is too much. On the above photo, i heartily enjoyed Luke Plunkett's comment:
More games need ninja meters. Actually, all games need ninja meters.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Been a while since I've posted a good old chelicerate. And, to kill a couple of birds, this one's from another beautiful post from BibliOdyssey.

How Can You Have Commitment If You Don't Eat Your Faith?

Seemingly remarkable article at Time.com called "The Religious Right's Era Is Over." He writes:
Evangelicals — especially the new generation of pastors and young people — are deserting the Religious Right in droves. The evangelical social agenda is now much broader and deeper, engaging issues like poverty and economic justice, global warming, HIV/AIDS, sex trafficking, genocide in Darfur and the ethics of the war in Iraq. Catholics are returning to their social teaching; mainline Protestants are asserting their faith more aggressively; a new generation of young black and Latino pastors are putting the focus on social justice; a Jewish renewal movement and more moderate Islam are also growing; and a whole new denomination has emerged, which might be called the "spiritual but not religious."
But the author, Jim Wallis, never passes up an opporunity to point out that the only thing worse than the Religious Right would be an atheist:
Most people I talk to think that politics isn't working in America and believe that the misuse of religion has been part of the problem. Politics is failing to resolve the big moral issues of our time, or even to seriously address them. And religion has too often been used as a wedge to divide people, rather than as a bridge to bring us together on those most critical questions. I believe (and many people I talk with agree) that politics could and should begin to really deal with the many crises we face. Whenever that happens, social movements often begin to emerge, usually focused on key moral issues. The best social movements always have spiritual foundations, because real change comes with the energy, commitment and hope that powerful faith and spirituality can bring.
(My emphasis)

The way I read that paragraph, it goes like this: Politics can't do, it, and "the misuse of religion" is part of the problem. Again, politics is failing, and religion is too often a wedge. But politics should face these issues. At that point, social movements start. And the only effective social movements will have "faith and spirituality" at their core. How in God's Name does that follow?

This a prime example of what Glenn Greenwald calls "desire (masquerading as belief)."

He then goes on to list a few social movements that he implies would never have succeeded without their religion to provide the "commitment and hope," like the abolition of slavery in the US and Britain, the civil rights movement in the US, the overthrow of communism in Europe, democracies in Latin America, the end of apartheid in South Africa,
...how the Dalai Lama keeps hope alive for millions of Tibetans; and, today, how the growing Evangelical and Pentecostal churches of the global South are mobilizing to addresse the injustices of globalization.
What about the good ol' Prohibitionists? Or the Pro-Life movement? They sure have committment. Hell, is this category just "attempts to transform society that have been faith-based?" There are plenty you could pull out and add to Wallis's list that makes the whole "social reform needs religion" thing sound quite equivocal.

The scientific community is largely atheist. Are you saying they have no commitment? No hope? Or is it just that ol' Hitler-y thing where they have the power but not the responsibility?

Wallis's whole point actually seems more susceptible to this criticism ("robots have no ethics") often leveled at scientists. He wants to get the religion machine going, fire it up and start the flame burning for "commitment" (and, in the case of Protestants, "aggression"), but feels that in the past this faith-based commitment got, um, too hot? So just don't run the machine too strong.

History shows that no one - not even Buddhism - can keep the religion machine from runing too hot.

Seems to me that a greater problem than lack of commitment is over-commitment. Witness the US political world right now. It is not for lack of trying that the progressive movement has not been able to avoid the attack on Iraq and keep the government accountable. But there are forces like Bush saying God told him to attack Iraq that yes, perhaps, carry even MORE "commitment." But that level of commitment has another name, and religion generally gets credit for the most ability to inspire it: fanatacism.

I do like to believe the suggestion in the article, that many folks (and there are MANY) who think of themselves as religious, are feeling that their religion is being given a "bad name" and want to reclaim it. Go for it. Christianity is Love. I'll enjoy watching the purging of religious hypocrisy from within in this country.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Rep. Tim Ryan Rocks It!

Go, Tim!

Kurtz: Malkin is a "Hard Right Punch"

In a bizarrely PR-like "article" profiling Michelle Malkin, Howard Kurtz in the Washington Post talks about how "tough" she is. It's called "A Hard Right Punch," as if to suggest that she's just a strong fighter. My main objection to the article is that it caricatures the oh-so-easy criticism of her positions by painting it as racial and gender stereotypes. There is absolutely no need to resort to that kind of thing with Michelle.

The article begins with this:
Michelle Malkin has seen her head electronically grafted onto a photo of a bikini-clad body.
...and immediately the debate is reduced to some schoolchildren mocking someone they don't like, not someone whose words stifle intelligent debate and criticism.

Beyond mentioning criticism of her as being racially and gender-motivated, Howie drops this little paragraph:
Not surprisingly, it gets pretty hot in her kitchen. The liberal blogger Atrios (Duncan Black) called Malkin a racist over her views on immigration and said anyone who promotes her site "may as well be promoting the Klan." A Web site called Malkin Watch runs a cartoon of her in a Nazi uniform. In comments on her own blog -- a feedback loop she has since restricted -- one person called her "lyin' pond scum" and another asked why she believed "she will be treated as white when God chose to make her yellow?"
Come the fuck on. Mention is also made of those who post her home address - shameful and out of line, certainly - but doesn't provide the context for this event, her own posting of the contact info of students in San Francisco. An excellent recounting of the event is here. General JC Patriot, a favorite blogger of mine, was one who posted this map of the general area of her home, and he recounts his regret for the error in judgement here. Kurtz writes only:
After a few liberal sites posted her home address and phone numbers last year, Malkin received a wave of harassing calls. She responded with a defiant post, headlined "I AM NOT AFRAID OF YOU." Malkin and her family have moved elsewhere in Maryland.

"No one likes to receive the kind of attacks she gets," Preston says. "She has had to take some security precautions to make sure it doesn't rise to the level of threatening her family."

I was just about getting to point where I started to realize that it was best to ignore these fanatics, but then something like this Kurtz article gets published, and I realize that it remains important to continue to expose the absurd positions that are simply called "strong" and left at that.

He ends the piece thusly:
It is as though eternal vigilance is the price of being Michelle Malkin: No slight can go unanswered, no insult allowed to stand. Blogging is an addiction, she says, but not one she is looking to kick.

"You have to accept that you'll never have many friends," Malkin says. "It's a lonely existence."
Sounds like George Bush to me.

Oh, No! I Ran Out of Bullets! I've Been De-Funded!

Glenn Greenwald, from Monday - an essential point:
This unbelievably irrational, even stupid, concept has arisen and has now taken root -- that to cut off funds for the war means that, one day, our troops are going to be in the middle of a vicious fire-fight and suddenly they will run out of bullets -- or run out of gas or armor -- because Nancy Pelosi refused to pay for the things they need to protect themselves, and so they are going to find themselves in the middle of the Iraq war with no supplies and no money to pay for what they need. That is just one of those grossly distorting, idiotic myths the media allows to become immovably lodged in our political discourse and which infects our political analysis and prevents any sort of rational examination of our options.

I've Been Wanting to Say This for While

Exception: A friend's wedding invite from a few years back. ;-)

Virgil Goode On The Surge Resolution And Muslims

Stunning. Virgil Goode, who told us to watch out for more Muslims becoming Congressmen in the US, now uses his five minutes in the House to tell us that if we don't escalate in Iraq, we may see "In God We Trust" replaced by "In Muhammed ["Moo-hammit"] We Trust." He warns us that the "green flag of the crescent" will fly over the capitol.

And then has the gall to talk about the "tolerance and trust" that we've brought to Iraq in ousting Saddam, and how he thinks that they may soon have a "First Ammendment."

Don't miss this guy. He's like something out of a movie.

Thursday, February 15, 2007


I'm puzzled why some religious people seem to get upset by more outspoken atheists. I can turn on the teevee and be threatened with damnation and hellfire. Who cares if Sam Harris thinks you're stupid? If atheists want to engage in their own brand of proselytizing, good for them. I'm not especially interested in it, but what's wrong with it? There are Christian missionaries all over the world.

A Leak Doesn't Mean Some Hero Got a "Scoop"

Glenn Greenwald may be behind the Salon wall now, but that wall's pretty thin. It's no Times Select. Just turn off your AdBlocker for a sec, refresh the page, and click the ad to may your way into his brilliant writing:
[Media sources like CNN, NY Times, and the Washington Post] are now flagrantly violating their own 'principles' regarding anonymity literally on an almost daily basis, as one 'report' after the next does nothing but pass along official Bush talking points under the guise of 'leaks' from vaguely defined anonymous Bush officials.

There are two serious and obvious dangers generated by reports which rely upon anonymous government sources -- (1) it allows the government to disseminate false and misleading claims without any accountability, and more importantly, (2) it elevates rank government propaganda to the level of 'investigative reporting' by implicitly bestowing it with the appearance of journalistic approval.
As I've said many times before, it just seems like Glenn can keep up with his mind better than I can (my own mind). His writing is a testament to the English language. This is called clear explanation:
From Watergate forward, readers instinctively view information "leaked" by anonymous sources as more credible than formal government statements, since it seems logical that anonymity would be used only when government sources are contradicting, or exposing the falsehood and corruption behind, official government claims.

For that reason, to report official government claims under the guise of anonymity -- as though those assertions are the by-product of some brave leak or vigilant journalistic investigation -- is really to mislead readers. But a substantial amount, if not the majority, of reports based on anonymous government sources is now nothing more than glorified government press releases which access-hungry reporters are (willingly) tricked into viewing as some sort of scoop and therefore passing it on willingly as though it is journalistically verified fact.
Keep it in mind, and just look at these clowns.

Free Your Mind

Along the lines of my overwhelmed post yesterday, I almost killed myself last night watching Republican congressmen in the House "debate" saying, over and over, something like "I've actually been to Iraq, and I've seen all the successes and progress there firstghand. i spoke to Colonel so-and-so, and you know what he said to me? He said, Congressman, why do the democrats want us to fail? Why have they given up on our mission and the troops? Why don't they believe in Victory?"

I had to watch Beauty and the Geek to clear my head.

Brad at Sadly, No! describes a heart-warming time-out from the madness. But then runs headlong into the G.I. Joe lover Glenn Reynolds on the way back.

I love Brad's response: "What the hell, man?"

But the point of the post is made by a quote from Roy Edroso, on monitoring and commenting on wingnuts:
Refresh my memory: Why did I start writing about them?

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Too Much To Take

I'm feeling utterly sick to my stomach today with...

...the blaming the media for the Iraq debacle

...the idea of this mythical "stomach" that the US needs to have for the War on Terror

...the irrational shift to Iran as our new Enemy, despite most US soldiers being killed by Sunnis

...continuing attempts to paint dissent as traiterous, and suggestions that Democrats or war-protestors wanting the US to "lose/fail/die"

...the hypocritical bullshit from "Christian" Bill Donahue about the "bad words about Catholicism" from the Edwards campaign's hired bloggers (and their subsequent resignations after threats to their persons and families)

...calls from the Right to just start assassinating people in other countries that we're Hating this Week.

...the continuing doublespeak attempts by Republicans to reframe the escalation as somehow supporting the troops and the election as something other than objection to Bush foreign policy

...NBC News saying you can't be anti-war and still support the troops

...the discourse on Obama's race and Glenn Beck still having a job

...MOTHERFUCKING Bush saying that it's "insurgents" that are trying to turn American opinion against the war

I don't even have the heart to quote and debate it today. I feel like our country is being torn apart in ways that will take decades to heal.

YouTube and FOX

Remember how FOX demanded the personal details from YouTube of a user that uploaded copies of the show 24 before it aired? YouTube has relented.

From Arrington, thoughtful commentary:
Some observers hoped when the subpoenas came to light that Google’s history of resisting US government subpoenas would lead to non-cooperation in this case. The moral high ground is clearly far smaller in this case, though. YouTube has handed over user names before upon request prior to its acquisition.


...I wonder how YouTube users will feel about the company’s disclosure of personal information. While there was a fair amount of concern raised when the subpoenas were issued, I’m going to guess that most YouTube users will tolerate or even support the company’s decision. Perhaps the rest will stop linking their personal information to accounts used in illicit activities. Privacy experts report that it’s the simple things that get most people burned.


Dont' miss the xkcd Valentine's Day message.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Kuo on Bush

David Kuo:
In an exhaustive C-SPAN interview airing this morning (and available online), President Bush discusses Iraq, his presidency, and his legacy. This exchange made me wonder if it was April Fool's Day yet:
Q But I'm talking about ideology. You have Reagan Republicans today. Are there -- will there be Bush Republicans, and can you define the ideology of a Bush Republican?

THE PRESIDENT: Compassionate conservatism, the use of government to help people in the private sector advance compassionate goals, like the faith-based initiative....
If President Bush can't see that abject failure, if he truly believes that this is his legacy, one is left to seriously consider his grip on reality. I have no doubt that he means what he says in the interview and that he really, truly believe this will be one of his great legacies. That is what makes his quote frightening. That he continues to believe this against despite the bottomless gulf between what he believes and reality is really frightening.

As I documented in Tempting Faith and wrote here for Beliefnet in 2005, Bush's "compassionate conservatism" and the faith-based initiative have been among the great charades of the modern presidency. The effort's failures have been so vast (promises of $8 billion a year targeted to help faith-based and secular 'community' organizations have resulted in less 10% of that over the last six years; cuts of more than 100 domestic policy programs; scores of billions in funding cuts for anti-poverty programs; Katrina) virtually no objective observer in Washington calls the efforts a success, let alone something that would inform an ideology. It isn't a close call. That he can't - or won't - see that does not bode well for the rest of his presidency and should motivate us to pray ever harder for him as our president.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Race Into the Open

It is always preferable to have views and sentiments -- even ugly ones -- aired out in the open rather than forcing them into hiding through suppression. And part of the reason people intently run away from discussions of race (just as they stay away from discussions of Middle East political disputes, specifically ones involving Israel) is because it is too easy to unwittingly run afoul of various unwritten speech rules, thereby triggering accusations of bigotry. That practice has the effect of keeping people silent, which in turn has the effect of reinforcing the appearance that nobody thinks about race (which is why nobody discusses it), which in turn prevents a constructive discussions of hidden and unwarranted premises.

For that reason, scouring people's comments about Obama and race, in search of evidence of even minor deviations from speech mores, is not really constructive. But it is notable just how many implicit assumptions about race lurk beneath these observations.

And it is even more notable how freely these patronizing sentiments are being expressed in the context of Obama's candidacy, often -- as in Biden's and Simon's case -- expressed as though they are compliments (he is so clean and articulate, he is so non-threatening, he seems like one of the moderate ones, he isn't really "militant"), because the speakers are not even consciously aware of the implications of those assumptions. It can be unpleasant to watch people struggle with these awkward discussions, but, on balance, anything which forces these issues more out into the open is probably a positive development.

Too Brash

Like a giggling nerd on the night of the release of the 4th Star Wars movie, I dug into the NY Post website, looking for their opinion on the Dixie Chicks revenge. And I was not disappointed. Besides the hilarious fact that the Post doesn't even mention the Grammy's in any way on the cover of today's edition, someone named DAN AQUILANTE (Post Music Critic), writes the following about their performance of the song that received Song of the Year award, "Not Ready to Make Nice":
That tune, which snagged top honors as song of the year, was too slow and mopey at the start and too brash at the end. The ex-blonde, now brunette vocalist Natalie Maines made the song even less attractive by contorting her kisser into the angry scrunch-face during most of the tune.
Heh. "Less attractive."

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Updated, 2/11: Hoax.

CompUSA's whistling dixie. Or something.

Buy a Zune and get a $15 iTunes Gift Card!

Confuse the Hell Outta Me

I was deeply deeply into the debut album by a band called Ikara Colt a few years back, but could never quiet make out the rant that ended the album ("Chat and Business"). He said something about "trained animals" and "confuse the hell out of me..." Well, i've finally remembered that the internet exists in the same moment when I remembered that I didn't know a particular lyric, so here is a selection of lyrics from "Video Clip Show," by Ikara Colt.
people amused by trained animal
confuse the hell outta me
people amused by trained animal
confuse the hell outta me

people amused by trained animal
confuse the hell outta me
people amused by trained animal
confuse the hell outta me

people amused by trained animal
confuse the hell outta me
people amused by trained animal
confuse the hell outta me

AL Gore Wants to Kill All Babies

We've officially reached a New Day in rightwingnut responses to global warming. It's acknowledged to exist, and even accepted as human-caused, but then called "too expensive" to do anything about.

Despite his article's title, "Don't ruin economy over tiny temp rise," Mark Steyn actually drags his feet on accepting the human causes, puling out that old tedious rhetorical point that somehow it hasn't occurred to scientists that there are cycles in nature. You dumbfuck, have you ever met a scientist? What do you think they do?

And pointing out that at one point in the past, scientists thought that the planet was getting colder - that's irrelevant. At one point in the past scientists thought dark-skinned homo sapiens were biologically inferior. At one point in the past scientists thought the fucking heavens rotated around the earth.

But by the end he seems to step tentatively into the new position (demonstrated so deftly by Jonah Goldburg the other day), and really nails it.
So, faced with a degree rise in temperature, we could destroy the planet's economy, technology, communications and prosperity. And ruin the lives of millions of people.

Or we could do what man does best: adapt.

You do the math.
It doesn't make any sense at all. It just looks, from the distance, like a conclusion, and like some kind of BOO-YAH! moment.

In honor of the 3-year anniversary of the landing of the two Mars rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, NASA releases its Best Mars Photos, laid out nicely in a gallery sequence by CNET.

Sorry We Could't Get That to You Sooner

What if this was YOUR congressman?
During the hearing, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) — one of the 87 percent of congressional Republicans who do not believe in man-made global warming — questioned the authors of the report about a period of dramatic climate change that occured 55 million years ago. “We don’t know what those other cycles were caused by in the past. Could be dinosaur flatulence, you know, or who knows?’
I wish the "objectors" would say what's really on their mind, cuz they're sounding completey insane now.

(via ThinkProgress)

Friday, February 09, 2007

Nothing gets past PZ...

One of the scientists in that video is a Dr. Francis Collins, Director of National Human Genome Research Institute.

Here he is playing the guitar for Bushie at something called a National Prayer Breakfast.

Call me skeptical of a scientist that hangs out with shrub. And even brings his damn guitar.

Bad Sign

You know the kind of dead-brained tripe you're about to read when a TomDelay.com article on global warning starts with:
In one of the coldest weeks on record in the Washington region...
It's like starting an article about evolution with:
Do you think that you could find a Lamborghini, fully-formed, in the middle of the rainforest and suggest that it just grew there by chance?"
Tom ends his comment with a policy suggestion that sure makes me glad that he got kicked out of a position of power in my government:
Here's a good idea. Instead of spending all that taxpayer money on a committee without any authority, the House Democrats should adopt a baby polar bear instead.
Riight. Good one, Tommy. And you want to influence how we raise our fucking kids? Get your goddamned hands off the vulnerable minds of this nation, you bastard.
Roger Ailes (not that one): "I worry that our cable networks lack sufficient resources to cover both the death of Anna Nicole Smith and the diaper-wearing astronaut story at the same time."

Jonah Goldburg: Global cooling costs too much

The LA Times is printing this? Strawmannissimo!

Jonah Goldberg:

Global cooling costs too much

What would you prefer -- increase temperatures by less than a degree, or give up all the world's wealth?
But let me just add that in the great scheme of trade-offs in the history of humanity, never has there been a better one than trading a tiny amount of global warming for a massive amount of global prosperity.
Given the option of getting another 1,800% richer in exchange for another 0.7 degrees Celsius warmer, I'd take the heat in a heartbeat. Of course, warming might get more expensive for us. (And we might do a lot better than 1,800% too.)
Frankly, I don't think the trade-off is worth it — yet. The history of capitalism and technology tells us that what starts out expensive and arduous becomes cheap and easy over time. Lewis and Clark took months to do what a truck carrying Tickle-Me Elmos does every week. Technology 10 years from now could solve global warming at a fraction of today's costs. What technologies? I don't know. Maybe fusion. Maybe hydrogen. Maybe we'll harness the perpetual motion of Sen. Joe Biden's mouth.
Got it, Jonah. Thanks.

And, as I've said, it's always this Grail-ish "technology" thing that's our saviour with the "right."

You can read the whole thing here.

Busy Busy Busy summarizes Jonah's position:
I do think my judgment is superior to Al Gore's when it comes to climate change.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Don't Lecture Me

My hero, Glenn Greenwald: Blog news:
I know this point has been made before, but this Edwards 'controversy' and the accompanying lectures are really just too much to bear. We should absolutely not be hearing sermons about civility in our political discourse and how much one has 'grown up' from someone [Jonah Greenburg] who is about to release a book 'documenting' how his political opponents 'advocate[] policies and principles remarkably similar to those of Hitler’s National Socialism.'

The tiniest amount of shame and self-awareness would prevent a lecture like that. But that is what this whole 'Edwards controversy' is -- protests over incivility from a political movement that spent several years talking about the spots on Bill Clinton's penis and which, as its principal debating weapon, routinely labels their political opponents traitors, lunatics, cockroaches, and Nazis -- or 'the C word.' That the press falls for it without pointing out the practices of those who are complaining is, quite candidly, just maddening.

NYTimes: Allied With Democrats, Lieberman Easily Aligns With Republicans - New York Times

Lieberman, in a - New York Times article: "I’m a feisty, happy warrior."

No, Joe, you're not a warrior. A warrior is a person who dies because you're too "happy."

Violence Begets Violence

Jeb Koogler, from Foreign Policy Watch, addresses the "Let the Civil War Burn Itself Out" theory (popping up here and there these days) of what to do in Iraq.

GO, Froggy!

Endless Forms Most Beautiful, indeed...

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

2007 Hat

It's cold in NYC these days. Everyone's wearing their warm hats, or "tuques," as my good Canadian friends call it.

Saw a guy last night on the way home wearing a hat that read "2007" on the front.

What an odd thing to have on a hat, I said to myself. I wish I had one that read "1993." For instance.

Does he buy a new hat each year? Has he had the 2007 one for a few years, waiting for the right time? Or did he wear the 2007 one even before this past January?

"Her Beloved Sloth"

Japan Probe finds this clip from Japanese TV of a woman and "her beloved sloth," going on a trip and eating dinner.

There isn't a lot of video footage of sloths around, so I treasure this gem.

I'd get allergy shots for a pet sloth. I'd need a lot more horizontal poles in my house - that's for sure.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Jobs on DRM

Steve Jobs writes about DRM and iTunes, and seems to lean towards getting rid of it entirely.
The third alternative is to abolish DRMs entirely. Imagine a world where every online store sells DRM-free music encoded in open licensable formats. In such a world, any player can play music purchased from any store, and any store can sell music which is playable on all players. This is clearly the best alternative for consumers, and Apple would embrace it in a heartbeat. If the big four music companies would license Apple their music without the requirement that it be protected with a DRM, we would switch to selling only DRM-free music on our iTunes store. Every iPod ever made will play this DRM-free music.

Why would the big four music companies agree to let Apple and others distribute their music without using DRM systems to protect it? The simplest answer is because DRMs haven’t worked, and may never work, to halt music piracy. Though the big four music companies require that all their music sold online be protected with DRMs, these same music companies continue to sell billions of CDs a year which contain completely unprotected music. That’s right! No DRM system was ever developed for the CD, so all the music distributed on CDs can be easily uploaded to the Internet, then (illegally) downloaded and played on any computer or player.

In 2006, under 2 billion DRM-protected songs were sold worldwide by online stores, while over 20 billion songs were sold completely DRM-free and unprotected on CDs by the music companies themselves. The music companies sell the vast majority of their music DRM-free, and show no signs of changing this behavior, since the overwhelming majority of their revenues depend on selling CDs which must play in CD players that support no DRM system.

So if the music companies are selling over 90 percent of their music DRM-free, what benefits do they get from selling the remaining small percentage of their music encumbered with a DRM system? There appear to be none. If anything, the technical expertise and overhead required to create, operate and update a DRM system has limited the number of participants selling DRM protected music. If such requirements were removed, the music industry might experience an influx of new companies willing to invest in innovative new stores and players. This can only be seen as a positive by the music companies.
How odd to read an intelligent piece on DRM from a "big corporate CEO."
Holy Crap! Walmart has a new video downloads service launching today. The TV episodes are at 320x240! Yeah, good luck with that.

I know that's the size of the ipod, but a) these won't play on the ipod, and b) iTunes sells their TV eps at 640x480. That's four times better resolution.

Atheists Are Terrifying

I've started reading Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion. I had given it as a gift to my Dad, and he liked it so much that he sent me a copy to read myself. I'll have more to say about it later, but Pharyngula posts this morning about the serious Hatred that atheists face in this country, as illustrated by some nonsense over at CNN.

Auto Court off Lone Pine Road: Cranbrook School

Lovely sunlit shot of my childhood home.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Life In Austin

An astonishing piece of video propaganda about the nuclear family, God and capitalism.

(Via Pharyngula)

I particularly like this diagram.

Snickers Thinks Violence Against Gays is Funny

That "two men Snickers-kissing" ad from the Superbowl is actually the front-end of a web-campaign to let visitors pick their favorite video ending - like one of them beating the shit out of the other with a wrench. For real.

That is totally fucked up, Snickers. And it doesn't stop there.

Haunted Monastery on a Steep Cliff

Dark Roasted Blend has stunning photos of Sumela Monastery in Turkey, built into the side of a cliff in the year 386.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

There Is Always A Tall Man In Front of Me

The Helsinki Complaints Choir

(via William Gibson's blog)
Beauty and the Geek participant Megan, "playboy Bunny":
I think if perfume has been tested on animals, it's okay to use on animals.

Boing Boing: People of Massachusetts Should Be Furious with City Officials

Apparently, the Massachusetts Attorney General is officially referring to the cartoon network ads as "hoax devices," and Mark Frauenfelder takes one more opportunity to say what needs to be said
Instead, the ones to blame are the Boston city officials, whose astoundingly incompetent response to the report of a suspicious device triggered the panic. The people of Boston should be clamoring for the resignation of the mayor and the head of the department of security for being the only city in the ten-city ad campaign that didn't notice the signs hanging in plain sight for two full weeks and then misidentifying them in a way that caused widespread panic.

Ahh, family fun. The promise of technology is making us healthier and happier and closer to those we love.

This odd pic is a promotional image from something that was presented at the recent Consumer Electronics Show. As Sci-Am Observer writes
I can't even remember what this was. The family in the photo seem just as baffled as me. "Huh?" says the guy in the fisherman's cap. "Wha?" responds his not-quite-ready-for-TV wife.
Full size image from the Dream Machine site here.

Stop Me

As The Onion would say, Jesus Fucking Christ. 508,540 "forcibly stopped" by police in NYC in 2006.

Are we safe yet?

"The number was up from 97,296 in 2002, the last time the department divulged 12 months’ worth of data."

Yup - the year directly after 9/11, when we were all freaking out about terrorism in NYC, was less than 20% of the "forcible stops" from 2006. Christ.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Oh, Right, Like the High Tariffs on SUVs?

And still the Bush Administration continues to point to "technological advancements" that will reduce carbon emissions. That mean industrial pay-offs.

Bill, We Can HEAR You. This Is Being Recorded.

Yow. The sound of desperation.

This is Bill Gates talking this other morning about Vista. The interviewer asked him about the reviews that say that many of the new features are already in OSX.
Levy: In many of the Vista reviews, even the positive ones, people note that some Vista features are already in the Mac operating system.

Gates: You can go through and look at who showed any of these things first, if you care about the facts. If you just want to say, "Steve Jobs invented the world, and then the rest of us came along," that's fine. If you’re interested, [Vista development chief] Jim Allchin will be glad to educate you feature by feature what the truth is. I mean, it’s fascinating, maybe we shouldn't have showed so publicly the stuff we were doing, because we knew how long the new security base was going to take us to get done. Nowadays, security guys break the Mac every single day. Every single day, they come out with a total exploit, your machine can be taken over totally. I dare anybody to do that once a month on the Windows machine. So, yes, it took us longer, and they had what we were doing, user interface-wise. Let’s be realistic, who came up with [the] file, edit, view, help [menu bar]? Do you want to go back to the original Mac and think about where those interface concepts came from?
RJ Eskow at Crooks & Liars:
How would you feel if you lived in Boston (as I did for a year), and the entire city was thrown into a panic because of some "devices" left around by some guys promoting a cartoon?

I'd feel like my security was being safeguarded by morons. These were Lite Brites - children's toys that light up. The Mayor and the rest of the city government threw the city into a panic, when they could've solved the "crisis" by talking to a ten-year-old.
Boing Boing posted this photo from blogger Ed Atkins:


Thursday, February 01, 2007

Video of the Hair Conference

As The General puts it, This doesn't seem to please the press.

Only About Hair

I sure hope that this "Aqua Teen Hunger Force"/Boston-freaking-out shit gets resolved in an intelligent way, that some judge realizes that the goal of protection and safety is being lost in this nonsense. The fools who escalated this all to a full clampdown of Boston should be questioned, and they should re-examine their protocol for Dealing With The Unknown. Come on, think it through a bit. It has its middle finger up.

But my main reason for this post is to share this marvelous photo and caption from the story on CNN. It appears that the judge in the case is aware that intent is important here, to the degree that the "perps" could be guilty of "Creating a Panic."

But check out this great stuff:

And, from the article:
Asked by the judge to describe what the figure on the light box was doing, Grossman said, "Colloquially, he was flipping the bird, your honor."
If you lived in Boston, would it make you feel safe to know that it would take the police 3 weeks to notice and then act on something they felt was a network of bombs?