Thursday, November 29, 2007

Sadly, No takes stock of our situation.
Watching the unfolding train wreck that is the 2008 preznidential campaign, I’ve come to the depressing conclusion that every major candidate makes me want to throw up at least a little bit. The major Republicans spend every single one of their debates arguing over who’s the crazier asshole, while the major Democrats nearly get into fist fights over which one of them is most likely to get coveted endorsements from David Broder and Tom Friedman. What I’m really looking for is a leader who will get up on the podium and say, “I hate everything about Washington, DC. As president, my first act will be to remodel the entire Washington Monument into a grand middle finger statue in order to properly reflect the contempt and disgust I have with our political class. From the Iraq war to the FISA mess to the bankruptcy bill to the Military Commissions Act… can’t you stupid insane clowns do anything that isn’t insanely and clownishly stupid??!!”

And after he delivered that crazed tirade, he’d preferably instruct Barrack Obama to forcibly implement Sharia law. Just because.

But seriously: there are times when I want to throw up my hands and say “Screw it!” and vote for a Ron Paul-Kucinich Kucinich-Paul Unity ‘08 ticket. Because while each one of them is, respectively, a wee bit flaky or crazy, I’m pretty sure they’re both sincere. Face it, folks: people who claim to have seen UFOs and who want to return America to the gold standard aren’t trying to deceive the American public by telling them what they want to hear. So when Paul and Kucinich say that they’ll end the stupid-ass Iraq war, I actually believe them, because in reality they’re saner than every damned Villager candidate who is too fearful of offending their overlords at AEI, Brookings and the Washington Post op-ed page. So bring it, peeps. Unity ‘08, starring Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul.
Me, in my own head: "Wow, NYC, settle down about the end of the Broadway strike! You're going on about this as if there had been a hostage situation that finally ended!"

Imagined Response: "Well, in a way there was."

Me: "No there wasn't."

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

In GOP debate, YouTube questioner asks the candidates to list the details of the guns they currently own. Each now tries to tell the most down-homey story about their guns. Truly pathetic little bunch.
Rudy Guliani learned a second word! Now he knows the word "9/11" and "Ronald Reagan."
What the hayyyyll?

CNN Tells Us That Romney Plays Football

Well put commenter "M.R.":
Romney didn't take "some time off the campaign trail" Look at that giant banner in the background. The football field is the campaign trail!

Posted By M.R. in L.A., CA : November 28, 2007 1:12 pm
Dinosaur Comics wonders out loud today.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Atrios, with the uncanny knack for simply describing the world we live in.
There have frequently been moments in the discourse surrounding our unfolding Iraq disaster when "only crazy people think that" magically transforms into "of course everyone always knew that" in an instant.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Mouth of Alex Williams

Alex Williams, in his piece "Jolly and Green, With an Agenda," in the Fashion section of the Times today, likes to listen to himself write.
The holidays have always been an emotionally combustible time for families, bringing together a sometimes volatile mix of siblings, crotchety grandparents and ill-behaved children. But in recent years, a new figure has joined the celebration, to complicate the proceedings even further: the green evangelist of the family — the impassioned activist bent on eradicating the wasteful materialism of the holidays.

Otherwise known, at least to skeptical traditionalists, as the new Grinch.

This Grinch, however, is not out to spoil Christmas, but merely to use it as a platform to advocate ecological responsibility. Perhaps emboldened by the “Live Earth” benefit concerts and Al Gore’s Nobel Peace Prize, this is the family member who is the first to point out, over the bountiful Christmas dinner, that the 2.6 billion holiday cards sold each year in the United States could fill a landfill the size of a football field 10 stories high, or that those conventional lights on the Christmas tree contribute up to nine times as much greenhouse-gas emissions as the leaner-burning L.E.D. models; or that some Christmas-tree growers use as many as 40 different pesticides, as well as chemical colorants, on their crops.

The question that an increasing number of families face is whether the proselytizing green member of the clan adds spice to the proceeding, like, say, a cup of whiskey in a bowl of eggnog, or an explosive element, like that same cup of whiskey tossed into the fire on Christmas morning.
This is the same Alex Williams who wrote in September, in a piece called "Brooklyn's Fragile Ego-System":
The number of trendy boutiques, bistros and music clubs in Brooklyn may have spiked in the last five years, but its infrastructure of cool still represents only a fraction of that found in Manhattan. Its new identity is moored to a finite number of shops, restaurants, luxury condominiums and, yes, celebrities. If even one leaves, a void is created. Could the borough’s new status vanish as quickly as it ascended?
Can't wait for the novel, I have to must say!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Awesome. John Stossel uses Thanksgiving as a chance to bash sharing communism.
Every year around this time, schoolchildren are taught about that wonderful day when Pilgrims and Native Americans shared the fruits of the harvest. "Isn't sharing wonderful?" say the teachers.

They miss the point.

Because of sharing, the first Thanksgiving in 1623 almost didn't happen.

The failure of Soviet communism is only the latest demonstration that freedom and property rights, not sharing, are essential to prosperity. The earliest European settlers in America had a dramatic demonstration of that lesson, but few people today know it.

When the Pilgrims first settled the Plymouth Colony, they organized their farm economy along communal lines. The goal was to share everything equally, work and produce.

They nearly all starved.
"If the passenger with the IPhone would be kind enough to use it to check the weather at our alternate, calculate our fuel burn due to being rerouted around the storms, call the dispatcher to arrange our release, and then make a phone call to the nearest Air Traffic Control center to arrange our timely departure amongst the other aircraft carrying passengers with IPhones, then we will be more than happy to depart. Please ring your call button to advise the Flight Attendant and your fellow passengers when you deem it ready and responsible for this multi-million dollar aircraft and its passengers to safely leave."

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

390 Million-Year-Old Sea Scorpion Found, Man-Size

Fuck yeah.
The creature, which has been named Jaekelopterus rhenaniae, would have paddled in a river or swamp.

The size of the beast suggests that spiders, insects, crabs and similar creatures were much larger in the past than previously thought, the team says.

The claw itself measures 46cm - indicating its owner would have been longer even than the average-sized human.

David Brooks: The Last 25 Years of Music Is At Fault In This Way

Good gravy, this is an irritating article, wherein Brooks blames someone or other for the terrible fragmentation in culture today and how, without the Rolling Stones around to unite us, music stinks, and young musicians don't know their past.

Classic Brooks Dumbass Statement #1:
Technology drives some of the fragmentation. Computers allow musicians to produce a broader range of sounds.

Classic Brooks Anti-"Elite" Rant #2:
People who have built up cultural capital and pride themselves on their superior discernment are naturally going to cultivate ever more obscure musical tastes. I’m not sure they enjoy music more than the throngs who sat around listening to Led Zeppelin, but they can certainly feel more individualistic and special.
Sure, unity's great, David. Education on the past of music is great, but I would *never* turn to you to understand the history and present of the musical landscape.
So the beta of Firefox 3 is out. I was excited to check it out, because this version is supposed to demonstrate greater mac-like interface elements. Software interface design is important to me, and I live with the functional limitations of Safari because all the other osx options are so awkward and ugly.

But check out this screen - the "Places Organizer," which I think is the bookmarks organizer. Ick! Sure, this is a beta, but come one.

It does finally have aqua widgets - which would have been nice 2 years ago, before Apple began ridding the os of such things.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

(IcanHas, of course)

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Shoot Me.

(an ad I found on the yahoo weather site)

Not directly related at all, but this ad reminded me of this old classic.
More on the terrible effects of Typhoon Sidr on Bangladesh, from the excellent Dr. Jeff Masters.
The story gets worse and worse.
BAGHLANI-JADID, Afghanistan (AP) -- Up to two-thirds of the 77 people killed and 100 wounded in a suicide bombing last week were hit by bullets from visiting lawmakers' panicked bodyguards, who fired on a crowd of mostly schoolchildren for up to five minutes, a preliminary U.N. report says.

Shitty AP Coverage of the Flying Spaghetti Monster

I know it's hard, but...
(AP) -- When some of the world's leading religious scholars gather in San Diego this weekend, pasta will be on the intellectual menu. They'll be talking about a satirical pseudo-deity called the Flying Spaghetti Monster, whose growing pop culture fame gets laughs but also raises serious questions about the essence of religion.
(my bold)

Right. A "pseudo-deity." As opposed to...? Say it.

"A real deity."

I would love to see the AP's official list of non-pseudo deities.

I imagine the writer was trying to make some point along the lines of the unique properties of a language like Esperanto, but as written, this is bunk.

It doesn't end there, however, and on the whole I was pretty disappointed with the article. As I said, I know it's tricky to cover exactly what the FSM represents, since it cuts to the bone about the undebatable pedestal we tend to let religious beliefs sit on. But this kind of coverage is so oddly irrelevant.
Lucas Johnston, the third Florida student, argues the Flying Spaghetti Monsterism exhibits at least some of the traits of a traditional religion -- including, perhaps, that deep human need to feel like there's something bigger than oneself out there.

He recognized the point when his neighbor, a militant atheist who sports a pro-Darwin bumper sticker on her car, tried recently to start her car on a dying battery.

As she turned the key, she murmured under her breath: "Come on Spaghetti Monster!"
A. In what delusional word do you believe that FSM represents a "deep human need to feel like there's something bigger than oneself out there?" Absolutely not. It's about the authority vested in some myths, and how that authority gets there. The whole thing springs from a bit of skepticism over this "deep human need" shit.

B. "militant atheist?" Where'd you get that language?

C. When your atheist neighbor whispered "Come on Spaghetti Monsters!", you thought that that indicated that the atheist believed there was something "bigger" than herself, and she was unconsciously asking the Spaghetti Monster to help her car start? Thus indicating her hypocrisy or something and proving that all humans are "religious?" Actually, that does seem to be the overall lazy premise of the article:
In short, is an anti-religion like Flying Spaghetti Monsterism actually a religion?
This misses the point entirely.
I've been meaning to post this for a while now, so...

I read Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz via Daily Lit a couple months back, and found the following passage pretty fascinating:
And Ozma has an enchanted picture hanging in her room that shows her the exact scene where any of her friends may be, at any time she chooses. All she has to do is to say: 'I wonder what So-and-so is doing,' and at once the picture shows where her friend is and what the friend is doing. That's REAL magic, Mr. Wizard; isn't it?
Could you conceive of such incredible technology?

Friday, November 16, 2007

You can donate to the relief efforts for the victims of the terrible Cyclone Sidr in Bangladesh here.
Andrew Sullivan:
Isn't it remarkable how eager the Republicans are to declare the Democratic race over?
Absolutely. It's like they don't want to waste any of their mud on folks that won't end up running. They don't understand that the primary period is a valuable time for a political party, while we work out what we stand for and what we believe in. The goals of the party are more important than what Personality we decide is "faultless" (or, in the case of the repubs hoping that the candidate gets locked down soon, "always wrong").

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Who do I want to listen to answer the question "Can America rise above the divisions of the 1960s?" Not the Wall Street Journal, that's for sure.

Why weren't you fuckers complaining about a lack of civility and bipartisan cooperation when Bush and the Repub congress were steamrolling the country in the last 5 years?
To the degree and manner that you do, please pray for Bangladesh.


4-part video interview with Kevin Shields in a pub, on (among other topics) the new My Bloody Valentine record - which he calls coming out "this year."

One great quote from Part 2:
We didn't use reverb, and flanges, and choruses, and delays, and stuff like that, you know what I mean, there was none of that. I just used one effect, which was that reverse-reverb thing. And that was only because I could get that simultaneously up-front dryness as well. And yet it was all liquidy.

Saturday, November 10, 2007


About 20 years too late, I'm finally getting around to checking out The Cramps (thanks, Rob!). They're a bit more rockabilly than I usually like (witnessing the rise of Union Pool was enough to make me cringe from that for a while), but I'm digging them all right.

The truth is, though, I have no choice but to love them, since one of their albums has what may well be my very favorite album cover of all time. I loved this image for at least a decade before I even knew who The Cramps were!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Oh, Judith Warner.

I'm sure your article itself will argue why it exists, but that would necessitate me reading it.

Gothamist: Exactly What Makes James Lipton So Irritating? By the numbers.
Great thoughts from the Bad Astronomy Blog about the freakout that erupted around the Best Science Blog Weblog award this week.
Again, let me be clear: I applaud McIntyre’s efforts to work through this. He has clearly done some good, and I have said so in previous posts. An argument can be made that my use of the term “denialist” for him may be too strong, but it still does seem to me after reading more of his site that he comes at this from the angle of trying to tear down arguments made for anthropogenic GW while not going after the antiGW claims.

That’s where I stand. I wish this hadn’t become such a foofooraw, but there you have it.

So: tomorrow or the next day the votes will be tallied, one of us will take the prize, and that will be that. Good.

I have learned quite a bit from this, as I’m sure others have as well. For my own part, I will try to be even more diligent about categorizing others. I have also been exposed to a whole slew of sites I didn’t know about, which is an obvious side effect of this whole awards thing, and that’s good. And maybe when this all blows over we can go back to trying to figure out what’s real and what isn’t.
Absolutely beautiful insect-et-al photography by Igor Siwanowicz. (via Dark Roasted Blend)

This being Chelicerata, I've chosen a beautiful shot of an Amblypygi.

Links to Links to Links

Oh, boy, My Bloody Valentine new album rumors!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Matthew Yglesias, in discussing pundit commentary on Pakistan, notes a pattern:
How many times have I read a column making an argument like 'Iraq is all fucked up for reasons A, B, and C but given the price of failure we have no choice but to close our eyes and hope really hard that A, B, and C vanish for some reason'? It's really foolish, a way of trying to present oneself as wise and knowledgeable about difficult questions without putting anything out there that one can be held accountable for if things don't work out.

Leopard Corners

There are certainly some rough edges to the new Mac OS, Leopard, but there are also many things to be happy about in it.

Most new menu items, including contextual menus, have rounded corners. But note here how the upper left corner of the included sub-menu does *not* have a rounded corner. It visually suggests the relationship between the two menus, better than two self-contained interface pieces, each with 4 rounded corners. Someone had to notice this issue, make the suggestion, and a group had to successfully decide to do it. Bravo, Apple, for the little things!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Associated Press:
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Veterans make up one in four homeless people in the United States, though they are only 11 percent of the general adult population, according to a report to be released Thursday.
This is a staggering statistic, and terribly sad. It should should hopefully throw a little water on the War As Heroics bullshit that's so deeply ingrained in our country.

Being in a war fucks you up. Deeply.

GWB should fall to his knees and beg the forgiveness of those he was responsible for sending.
Sad, but good to remember. Kos.
[W]e go to D.C. with the weak Democrats we have, rather than the strong Democrats we wish we had.
Sadly No yesterday posted a pretty awesome BlogsForBush double-take post yesterday:
I discovered a lengthy anti-Bush comment preceded by the following taunt:
I don’t think you have the b***s to allow this post to the blog. Let’s see.
Well, guess what? The comment was published… But I’ve taken it down.

But Mark keeps up the stoopid this morning, with this one:
The Border Fence is Working
At least in the small area its been completed, according to this new story.
The Kung Fu I've been practicing in my head totally saved me in when I was punched in a fight the other day - at least in the part of my body where I wasn't punched!

Fakery, or Defending Quayle and FEMA

Jonah Goldberg is, um...objecting to Saturday Night Live's mockery of the fake FEMA press conference (and the blocked promotion for the director who ran it) because, um, Weekend Report is fake news itself? And Colbert was a jerk for running for President, or something.

Really, Jonah, this is stretching it. The topics just flow and drift as you start with a failure of a group tangentially related to Bush, and end up relating it to the litany of faults you find with the mentality of the "hip, iPhone crowd."

But how about you get to the heart of it?
The problem of parsing fact from fiction, news from entertainment, has been inherent to broadcast journalism from the beginning. Radio newsman Walter Winchell got his start in vaudeville. But in the modern era, I blame "Murphy Brown," the show about a fictional TV newswoman who talked about real newsmakers as if they were characters on her sitcom. When Brown had a baby out of wedlock, Vice President Dan Quayle criticized the writers of the show. Liberals then reacted as though Quayle had insulted a real person - and so did the fictional Brown, whining about how she'd been personally attacked. Ever since, journalists and politicians have been playing themselves in movies and TV series, perhaps trying to disprove the cliche that Washington is Hollywood for ugly people.
Murphy Brown ruined America! An old classic.

Update: I guess when reality makes you look like a fool, the only option left is to focus on the "fakeness" of media! Michelle gets into it, too, with her latest spin on "faux hate crimes" and everything else she can think of that proves that all the shit we're pissed about can't actually be trusted to exist.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

200 year-old sketches from the Swedish East India Company, via BibliOdyssey (which provided this detail of a chelicerate):

Indy Fails

Sad but true.
To paraphrase Wolfman: In Raiders of the Lost Ark, the Nazis' big plan is to locate and open the Ark of the Covenant. Indiana Jones tries to stop them at every turn. He fails. Because at the end of the film, the Nazis still get the Ark and open it. Look at it this way: if you remove Indy from the film, the outcome is the same. The Nazis go to Marion Ravenwood in Tibet and get the headpiece of the staff of Ra. They already know where the Map Room is, so — possessing the actual headpiece which will give them the right height for the staff — they find the Well of Souls easy-peasy, put the Ark on a truck, and drive it to a submarine bound for the island. (Or, they could've flown it there as planned.) Then, they open the Ark and everyone dies.

While I can't lay claim to this theory, it saddens me to say that I wholeheartedly agree with it. All Indy does is slow them down and cause a little property damage. He never stops them from getting the Ark. And, I guess, he saves Marion's life. But the Nazis win. (Oh, and by the way, remember that fertility god statue Indy was after in the film's open? Belloq gets it.) Not only is Indiana Jones a completely reactive character, his actions dictated entirely by what other people do, he's a big honking loser.
Marv Wolfman, to whom this EW writer attributes the theory, is this person.
2007 is the most deadly year for American troops so far in Bush's War.

And there are still two months left.