September 30, 2005

Submitted Without Comment

By a 53-39 vote, Sen. Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat, failed in an attempt to restore money cut by the House for those programs, including one that would help poor people buy heating fuel this winter.

But Sen. Ted Stevens, an Alaska Republican, will try to win passage of Harkin's amendment next week by attaching it to an unrelated bill to fund the U.S. military in fiscal 2006.

The Legend Grows

These kids today love that Ron Burgundy movie. Finally saw it on HBO tonight - far better than I expected. And, I discover, my co-workers are quoting the movie routinely.

[After a gang war against the other area news teams.]

Ron Burgundy: Boy, that escalated quickly... I mean, that really got out of hand fast!
Champ Kind: It jumped up a notch!
Ron Burgundy: It did, didn't it?
Brick Tamland: Yeah, I stabbed a man in the heart!
Ron Burgundy: I saw that! Brick killed a guy! Did you throw a trident?
Brick Tamland: Yeah, there were horses, and a man on fire, and I killed a guy with a trident!
Ron Burgundy: Brick, I've been meaning to talk to you about that. You should find yourself a safehouse or a relative close by. Lay low for a while, because you're probably wanted for murder.

Freedom's Just Another Word for Soft on Crime

Justice Breyer's book is out, and it is brief yet dull. It's not a chatty little tome, it's dense and closely argued, a progressive argument culminating in a coherent pragmatist manifesto. The Washington Post says you can read it in a sitting, and you can, if you can sit for eight hours with a pot of coffee close at hand.

I have a strong sense that only a true constitutional scholar can really understand many of the points he's trying to make here - this is, after all, a man who has ruled both for and against the public display of the Ten Commandments on government property, a decision turning, I'm sure, on some very neat mental gymnastics.

One item has caught my eye, however.

Citing the Swiss philosopher Benjamin Constant, Breyer draws a distinction between "ancient liberty" (he calls it "active liberty"), in which the people have significant participation in their government (as in the Athenian democracy); and "modern liberty", which emphasizes the rights of individuals to conduct their lives as they see fit.

If I understand him, he views both as needing restraint: excessive 'ancient liberty' leads to mob rule, while excessive 'modern liberty' leads to a soft and hedonistic body politic, unable to summon up the vital essences of energy and manful striving that are the lifeblood of a dynamic and purposeful nation.

Your basic enlightened Supreme Court Justice should hold both concepts in his mind as he parses the arguments for and against the latest Arkansas law prohibiting french kissing by underage drug users within 1 mile of a school or playground.

Anyway, 64 minutes of Breyer goodness is here, and a Slate review is here. I'm actually enjoying the book - it's nice to hear from a judge who doesn't claim to have an infallible system for interpreting the constitution.

Alternate Curious George Titles

I've read 'em all, folks, and here's how they should really be named:
  • Curious George Does Hard Time
  • Curious George Gets Messed Up On Drugs but Scores a Movie Contract Anyway
  • Curious George Chokes an Ostrich
  • Curious George is an Expendable Little Astronaut
  • Curious George Owes the Newspaper Company a Lot of Money
  • Curious George Learns that 'T' Stands for 'Tomahawk'
  • Curious George Cheers Up Some Kids by Destroying Their Hospital

They Got...Scooter!?

The Economist sums up:

"Mr DeLay’s indictment is not the only ethical problem hampering the Republicans. Bill Frist, the Senate majority leader, is being investigated about a stock sale he insists involved no inside information. Karl Rove, President George Bush’s chief strategist, is fighting accusations that he leaked the name of Valerie Plame, an undercover CIA agent (see Rove profile). On Thursday, the vice-president's influential chief of staff, Lewis “Scooter” Libby, was revealed also to have told a reporter that Ms Plame worked for the CIA. And Mr DeLay’s problems are not limited to Texas: a lobbyist chum of his, Jack Abramoff, has been accused of a variety of dodgy doings involving Indian casinos and influence-peddling. The administration's seemingly endless corruption, coupled with its singularly incompetent governing, means its future is likely to be much like its present, marked by shame, dishonor, ignominy and disgrace."

OK, I made that last part up.

Delay, Safavian, and Abramoff: What's a little Mob Murder Between Buddies?

Oooh. I hadn't quite put this all together. It's looking a lot bigger than laundering campaign contributions (Delay), or selling a bit of stock on inside info (Frist, which sent Martha Stewart up the river,) or Rove and Scooter (felony disclosure of a CIA agent).

Abramoff was the GOP's most powerful lobbyist and loving candyman. Connections everywhere in Congress and industry (say, Tyco). How does federal conspircacy for murder strike you, all to buy out a casino interest (are you listening Ralph Reed?) ?


Paul Krugman NYT (9/29/05): (FAIR USE! FAIR USE! You 49.95 Bastards!)

David Safavian is a former associate of Jack Abramoff, the recently indicted lobbyist. Mr. Safavian oversaw U.S. government procurement policy at the White House Office of Management and Budget until his recent arrest...Mr. Safavian is charged with misrepresenting his connections with lobbyists -- specifically, Mr. Abramoff -- while working at the General Services Administration. A key event was a lavish golfing trip to Scotland in 2002, mostly paid for by a charity Mr. Abramoff controlled. Among those who went on the trip was Representative Bob Ney of Ohio.

Tyco paid $2 million, most going to firms controlled by Mr. Abramoff, as part of its successful effort to preserve tax advantages it got from shifting its legal home to Bermuda. Timothy Flanigan, a general counsel at Tyco, has been nominated for the second-ranking Justice Department post.

Mr. Abramoff was indicted last month on charges of fraud relating to his purchase of SunCruz, a casino boat operation. Mr. Ney inserted comments in the Congressional Record attacking SunCruz's original owner, Konstantinos ''Gus'' Boulis, placing pressure on him to sell to Mr. Abramoff and his partner, Adam Kidan, and praised Mr. Kidan's character.

Last week three men were arrested in connection with the gangland-style murder of Mr. Boulis. SunCruz, after it was controlled by Mr. Kidan and Mr. Abramoff, paid a company controlled by one of the men arrested, Anthony ''Big Tony'' Moscatiello, and his daughter $145,000 for catering and other work. In court documents, questions are raised about whether food and drink were ever provided. SunCruz paid $95,000 to a company in which one of the other men arrested, Anthony ''Little Tony'' Ferrari, is a principal.

Tom DeLay, who stepped down as House majority leader after his indictment, once called Mr. Abramoff ''one of my closest and dearest friends.'' Mr. Abramoff funneled funds from clients to conservative institutions and causes. The Washington Post reported that associates of Mr. DeLay claim that he severed the relationship after Mr. Boulis's murder.
And today:

Detectives say that there are new developments in the investigation into the mob-style murder of well-known South Florida businessman Gus Boulis.Investigators said Friday that reputed Gambino family crime associate Anthony Moscatiello is ratting on the other two men arrested, but he is not implicating himself.Moscatiello received thousands of dollars in Sun Cruz checks, money that investigators said they believe was the payoff for the murder of Boulis.Moscatiello, along with Anthony Ferrari and James Fiorillo, are charged with gunning down Boulis back in 2001.
Hmm. I think the lesson here is, if you lie down with Abramoff, you get up with the Sopranos.

And the GOP's bagman is also a bit of a hitman.

September 29, 2005

List of the World's Emergencies

The actual news is listed at Reuter's AlertNet: today's summary of significant world emergencies.

As an example, here is Asia:

Typhoon Damrey
Aceh uprising
Afghan reconstruction
Cambodia recovery
Chechnya war
China floods
East Timor nation-building
Encephalitis in India
Georgia, Abkhazia, S. Ossetia
HIV/AIDS in Asia
India's northeastern clashes
Indian Ocean tsunami
Kashmir dispute
Moluccas violence
Nagorno-Karabakh conflict
Nepal insurgency
North Korea famine
Philippines-Mindanao conflict
S. Asia extreme weather
Sri Lanka conflict
Thailand violence
Uzbekistan crisis
Vietnam Montagnard crisis

I am too overawed even to click on the Vietnam Montagnard crisis. And Bird Flu is listed separately.

Unlisted: Iceland. I am happy to report no major crisis in Iceland. I might even buy a ticket.

Something Old, Something New

Well, we're now three games into the NFL season, so I thought I'd see how the quarterbacks are faring. You might recall that Dr. X evaluates quarterbacks using IAYPA - Interception-Adjusted Yards-per-Attempt. It is a modified form of the YPA measure, taking the form:

(Passing Yards-(50*INT)) / Attempts

This imputes a 50-yard penalty for each interception thrown. It rewards QBs who throw long successfully without turning over the ball - the definition, to my mind, of a good player at the position.

In practice the measure is a little severe, and tends to overrate gutless throwaway artists like Neil O'Donnell, and underrate he-man risk-takers like Bret Favre. At some point I will have to undertake a rigorous study and determine the optimal correction factor, but for now it's 50 yards based on a statisical analysis I saw in 1988.

So, who looks good? The top players on the measure are:
  • B. Roethlisberger (11.5 yards per attempt) - Hasn't thrown a pick this year. That, folks, is a Professional Foot-Ball Player. No one else is in double-digits.
  • D. Bledsoe (7.7) - Not...dead...yet... The Cowboys are 2-1 and Bledsoe is completing 65% of his passes. But evil Drew showed up last week and threw two interceptions. I've seen this before - Bledsoe can still absolutely dominate, but his disaster games are becoming more and more frequent.
  • K. Collins (7.5) - John Madden was right: Randy Moss is good. Collins hasn't thrown an interception all year, and is third in the league in IAYPA. Daunte Culpepper? 5th-from-last with an IAYPA of 3.7. Given the choice of great attitude or great ability, take the ability.
And here are the three QBs most likely to be replaced if they have another bad game:
  • D. Carr (1.9) - Apparently not all his fault, due to porous offensive line. He's taken 13 sacks, second only to Mark Bulger (15).
  • J. Harrington (1.7) - Na na nah nah, na na nah nah, hey-hey...
  • K. Orton (1.6) - League-leading 6 INTs. Unadjusted YPA of 5, lowest in the league.
Others of interest:
  • T. Brady (6.9) - Standing out quietly with the 7th-best rating in the League.
  • D. McNabb (6.9) - Think how well he'd play with all his limbs attached.
  • M. Hasselbeck (6.8) - Can't complain about championship-caliber play at the position YTD.
  • D. Brees (5.3) - Last year's Cinderella Story, comin' out of nowhere, is dead average this year.
  • M. Vick (5.0) - Looking very mortal so far.
  • T. Rattay (3.8) - I want to believe, but throw me a bone here. 5 picks YTD.
We'll have another look around midseason.

Good News, Bad News

Judith Miller's going to testify, which will probably take down one of our least favorite people. Good-bye First Amendment, however.

This is different. It's spontaneous, and it's called "wit."

Yet I have to envy banter such as this:

[Enoch] Powell suffered cries of "Judas" after the then Tory MP opposed Britain's entrance into the EEC and urged people to trust Labour to renegotiate entry, days before the Tory government lost the 1974 election. During a speech in Shipley, a heckler cried: "Judas!" Powell shouted back: "Judas was paid! I am making a sacrifice!"

The Handcranked Laptop

Nice. A sub-$100 laptop for the kids and the hoi polloi ,* featuring a hand crank when the power's not around.

I have often felt that starting XP makes my Dell feel as if it is powered by steam and small boiler, or a rusty clockwork mechanism, or perhaps a misdirected lemming in a tiny brass wheel who finds it difficult to get up in the morning. It would nice to have a charging handle to spend those 3 or 4 minutes while it whirs and simmers and the weight chain is adjusted, rather more productively.

*Although we at are using the greek phrase hoi polloi in its correct meaning of "the common people," rather than the incorrect but more hoi-polloish meaning of "the hoity-toities," "the fancy-living types," the "ravenous blood-sucking leeches fattening their stomachs on the backs of the masses," or "THE ARISTOCRATS!," it does not, in and of itself, indicate that we are insufferable smarty-pants. That may be established by independent means.

September 28, 2005

Those Three Magic Words That Made My Day

Tom DeLay indicted.

"DeLay is the first House leader to be indicted while in office in at least a century, according to congressional historians."

Slate's ranking of the DeLay scandals (from April) is here.

Arctic II, Now With Duck

I am ashamed of myself. Plus, the duck is at least 17 feet high.

The Latest From the Leonardo Da Vinci HMO

Leonardo Da Vinci's carefully observed drawing of a heart changes heart surgery for the better, when a British doctor pays attention.

September 27, 2005

Right Wing Religious Pedophiles of the Last Frontier

Pseudo-frontier family and side-show Alaska christian right-wing darlings the Pilgrims flee the homestead on shockingly predictable incest charges.

How many stories in Alaska are like this: the sociopathic would-be cultist building the moral society on the frontier, sucking in a family or ten, abusing isolated children, shutting down the lives of dependent women in fantasies of domination.

This delusional, land-grabbing son-of-bitch with his frontier family fantasy was a moral train wreck, a liar, a cheat, an egomanic, a pedophile. So of course the Alaska far right-wing love this dry hump as a brother and a symbol.

September 26, 2005

'Maxwell Smart' Dies - Administration Seeks to Appoint New CIA Director

Don Adams, of Get Smart, passes away.

Missed it by that much.

Mark Tansey: The Innocent Eye Test

It's okay to laugh. It's so wry I could make a pastrami sandwich with it.

Mark Tansey has a set of paintings (these are from the 1980's) with comments on modern art scholarship - the equally funny and god forbid informative "Triumph of the New York School,"
should appeal to Dr. X in particular, but it requires this key code of famous figures in the aesthetic struggle between Picasso, the brilliant fauvists and musty surrealists and the rise of post-war American art lead by Pollack under the useful but asinine (as my father would say, with his contempt for pretentious, broadly declarative sentences posing as scholarship) critic Clement Greenberg.

Greenburg, correctly promoting an exciting group of American painters post-war: De Kooning and Motherwell among them, was simply wrong about how space functioned in these paintings- his central thesis about good art being that which was honest by destroying the illusion of space was a conceit that had little to do with the actual paintings. They're abstract, but they ain't flat, kids. They use every other trick in the book to establish space - overlapping, focus, line weight, physical mass, particular color fields.

And yet as enjoyable and smart as Tansey's pieces are, they're kind of problematic, because they feed into the corrosive tendency of art historians to give primacy to the word - they feel like illustrations of the debates of art historians rather than the art itself. Whatever that might be. It feels a little like the comments of a jester, captured in war and sold to the court.

Key Career Moment

See if you can pick up the key phrase in the following sentence, heard recently:

"Well, they're a bit fussy - they definitely want a Bollenbach, but this one's long and horizontal and so they're not sure if it's the right one for their space.

Long may these complications multiply.

September 25, 2005

Sharks with Frikkin Laser Beams...

...can't hold a candle to dolphins with toxic dart guns. Which are on the loose.

Music I Can Stand

With some serious help from Jack's Big Music Show (hereafter JBMS), here are some little-known newish artists who I have heard sound good with my own ears:
  • Anne Harris - Plays "Prudence the Music Genie" in an early episode of JBMS. I have not heard her albums, but can testify that: 1) She can fiddle; 2) She can yodel; 3) She's as hot as crawfish in aSzechuan wok. Both she and Richardson (below) are big in Chicago, which is probably why we haven't heard her much out here.
  • Cathy Richardson - I know nothing of her, except this: if she sings any other song with the bluesy power of "Every Animal Has Its Groove", it is worth hearing. Stellar vocalist, can find her way around a guitar neck just fine. Not exactly undiscovered, since she played Janis Joplin Off-Broadway, but it's the first time I'd heard her.
  • Laurie Berkner - I cannot top the reviewer who said: "The queen of kid rock. . .the kind of kids' singer whose songs parents sheepishly play even when their children aren't around... Unlike with some other kids' musicians, it's possible to attend a Berkner concert, listen to one of her CDs, or watch her on TV without wanting to gouge out your eardrums with a screwdriver."
  • OK, this is not from a children's show. But with all my Alaskan and Washington friends, why wasn't I told about Death Cab for Cutie? They are good.
So the crisis has passed. We've got tunes again.

My Father Disliked Gertrude Stein and the Dislike Became the Notes in the Book Picasso by Gertrude Stein

I was thumbing through my father Burt's 1959 edition of Picasso by Gertrude Stein. It gets off to a bad start in the first sentence. Dad's notes are in red.

"Painting in the Nineteenth Century was only done in France and by Frenchmen, apart from that, painting did not exist, in the Twentieth Century it was done in France by by Spainairds."

"Really the composition of this war, 1914-1918, was not the composition of all previous wars, the composition was not a composition in which there was one man in the centre surrounded by a lot of other men but a composition that had neither a beginning nor an end, a composition of which one corner was as important as another corner, in fact the composition of cubism." -NONSENSE! -A TRIPE!

"...there are so few people who understand and later when every one admires you there are still the same few who understand, just as few as before." THIS EXPLAINS GERTIE: SHE WOULD LIKE TO POSE AS ONE WHO UNDERSTANDS - BUT SHE DOES NOT!

"...but for a painter to be able to paint, the painting must first of all be done, therefore the egotism of the painter is not the egotism of the writer.." SOPHISTRY + STUPIDITY

"To be sure science had discovered many things, she would continue to discover things, but the principle which was the basis of all this was completely understood, the joy of discovery was almost over." WHAT A FATHEAD!

"This gaiety lasted until he left Montmatre in 1912. After that not one of them was ever so gay again. Their gaiety then was a real gaiety. "UNMITIGATED BILGE!

"It is then that it is known as beauty on account of its quality if fecundity, it is the most beautiful beauty, more beautiful than the beauty of serenity. Well. " WELL, HELL!

"...stimulated his feeling for calligraphy which is always there in a Spaniard always since Spaniardshave had for such a long time Saracen art always with them." GOOD ENGLISH, WOT?

" must never be forgotten that the only way Picasso has of speaking, the only way Picasso has of writing is with drawings and paintings." NUTS
"To recapitulate. From 1914 to 1917 cubism changed to rather flat surfaces, it was no longer sculpture, it was writing and Picasso really expressed himself in this way because it was not possible, really not, to really write with sculpture, no, not." NOR TASTE WITH YOUR ELBOW.

September 24, 2005

New Work at Seattle Art Museum Rental/Sales Gallery

Afterimage: Sara
65" by 48" oil on canvas

This new work is of Sara Graves at the Ballard studio over the course of this summer. A partial way to look at this is to think of a Dekooning (Excavation) pushed back into a classical painting space. There is also a clear riff on the early Duchamp paintings, as well as the futurists.

I assure you, however, I have no interest in machine worship and the rise of Mussolini.
This is in a way a rounding of a certain circle, a kind of rearguard defense of the human hand and eye and body and memory, posited either indifferently or against the rise of the half-conscious presumption of techonological superiority, depending on my mood. All of this makes it uncomfortably conservative in an almost romantic defense of humanism.

I don't hate technology - but I am alarmed at its increasingly unexamined ubiquity. The simple legitimacy of human senses and experience is suffering a torture of a thousand cuts.

More discussion of this and 3 other new and revised pieces at

I APOLOGIZE for the poor quality of the photos - I really need to get a semi-proper digital camera.

September 23, 2005

"Sorry, Only Closet-Cases Who Prefer Little Boys Need Apply"

Vatican to Ban 'New Gay Priests' -BBC News

September 22, 2005

Outline of a Space RPG for Next Year

To be played in "episodes" lasting 2-3 hours. Each episode would roughly approximately the action covered in a 1-hour Star Trek episode. Like a TV show, there would be a mix of regular characters and guest stars.

The players would be the crew of a small craft, probably an armed long-range scout ship similar to this or this. This is big enough to matter in multi-ship actions (leading a detachment of torpedo ships on a raid, for example), but small enough that the players would represent a significant proportion of the officers. And this ship is fast enough to escape more heavily-armed craft, and powerful enough to dispatch shuttles and lightweight pirate rabble.

But the main mission would be exploration, the meat and potatoes of the original Star Trek. A starship has disappeared in the Camel Nebula - investigate. What is the source of the unusual energy emissions coming from that solar system? Why does there appear to be no animal life on that otherwise viable-looking Class M planet? What have all transmissions from the prison colony stopped?

I am thinking the system could be GURPS Traveller, but I'm open to suggestions.

Or the Support of the People

A U.S. general says today, in defense of the latest space jammer system, "you can't go to war and win without space."

I'm just trying to recall exactly what orbital space jamming system Ho Chi Minh used.

One Man Stands Against the Tide

Robert Novak on his heroic defense of our President at a meeting of rich Republicans. Hereafter to be known as "The Battle of Aspen."

September 20, 2005

I Have a Young Gentleman Caller

My young gentleman caller phoned just before bedtime (his, not mine) to report "At the zoo, the cassowary was hiding behind another plant." My gentleman caller is young Dr. X, jr., aged two years and nine months, and I am quite smitten.

September 19, 2005

Avast Right Pirating Conspiracy: More Seamanly Cursing In Traffic

Hail, and Well Met, Me Hearties! Tis Talk Like a Pirate Day!

E'en as I sailed with the marnin' tide at 3 bells in the forenoon watch, I found meself a-cursing and a-caterwauling at the broomcocks, popinjays and biscuit brains what set their courses all ahoo, pushing me trim little black brig out' the channel, all aback, or even floundering agin a lee shore with nary a fevered-yellow eye cocked for a honest letter o' marque. A black curse on the snuffling lubberly bilge rats and all their twice-poxed snot-brain'd bairns.

Now be this here Puget Sound, and rather than break the curious local mariner's code of silence with a hammer on the ol' ship's bell, I had to content meself a-hollering in the fog at the tailors and butchers and divers landfolk who couldn't tell the North Pacific from the tinkle in their toss-pot.

SO here be a few of me oaths that it pleas'd me to take to mind:

(the limo dude on the phone) "Hold Your Course, Ye Great Fat Black Tub of an Indiaman, and get yer helmsman's neck out of yer master's paisley'd breeks! I've seen sharper tubs of goat's butter, ye gormless wee scrap o' lemur skin! Off and A-way with ye!

(The slow sewage truck) Great Beelzebulbs Thrice-Used Bathwater! Helm's hard to larboard and hold your nose for the sweet love of life! It's a 400 ton quarter-galley, and the ocean herself be taking on water!

(The speeding white pickup) Buckets of boney landmarks! (also an art joke)

(the Hummer) Get that Flemish Fop-Buss out my sight, ye Bastard son of a wall-eyed tailor! I'll hove to and see your scuppers run with gore and yer oath as a scullery maid to a cabin boy!

(The drifting van) By Neptune's impacted wise-teeth, watch yer leeway, ye malaodorous moon-faced leper! Ye've near chipped me gingerbread work! Keep the channel or I'll toss o'er a bag of emeralds and tell me hearty lads it's up your buttered arse!

I Hear Sing Sing is Lovely This Time of Year

The Tyco Boys are going to do hard time. Very hard time, as in up to 25 years, 8 years minimum, to be served in a maximum security facility such as Attica or Sing Sing. They also have to pay restitution, and fines of tens of millions of dollars. These law professors argue for less harsh sentences, on the grounds that they would be unlikely to be repeat offenders. I think the same line was tried at Nuremberg, with similar results.

In case you're keeping score:
  • The Tyco Boys - 2 @ 25 years plus restitution and fines
  • Ebbers - 25 years
  • Olis - 24 years
  • Rigas - 15 years
Scrushy, of course, was found not-guilty, and now dogs the tracks of his successors.

I give Ken Lay a 1-in-6 shot at acquittal, over/under on the sentence is 20 years.

When I was a kid I read about the big tycoons from the Depression who were bankrupted and imprisoned. A teacher told me that was a sign of how ruthless the times were, how few safeguards were in place, and how hungry people were for vengeance after the economic impact of the crash on their lives. We mutually agreed it was good we lived in modern times and would never see such a thing again...

Capitalism Has a Certain Allure

1980: Fishing Village
2005: Bigger than NYC

September 17, 2005

And Now, a Word from E.L. Doctorow

I fault this president (George W. Bush) for not knowing what death is. He does not suffer the death of our twenty-one year olds who wanted to be what they could be. On the eve of D-day in 1944 General Eisenhower prayed to God for the lives of the young soldiers he knew were going to die. He knew what death was. Even in a justifiable war, a war not of choice but of necessity, a war of survival, the cost was almost more than Eisenhower could bear. But this president does not know what death is. He hasn’t the mind for it. You see him joking with the press, peering under the table for the WMCs he can’t seem to find, you see him at rallies strutting up to the stage in shirt sleeves to the roar of the carefully screened crowd, smiling and waving. Triumphal, as he-man. He does not mourn. He doesn’t understand why he should mourn. He is satisfied during the course of speech written for him to look solemn for a moment and speak of the brave young Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. But you study him, you look into his eyes and know he dissembles an emotion which he does not feel in the depths of his being because he has no capacity for it. He does not feel a personal responsibility for the thousand dead young men and women who wanted to be what they could be. They come to his desk not a youngsters with mothers and fathers or wives and children who will suffer to the end of their days a terribly torn fabric of familial relationships and the inconsolable remembrance of aborted life….They come to his desk as a political liability which is why the press is not permitted to photograph the arrival of their coffins from Iraq. How then can he mourn? To mourn is to express regret and he regrets nothing. He does not regret that his reason for going to was, as he knew, unsubstantiated by the facts. He does not regret that his bungled plan for the war’s aftermath has made of his mission –accomplished disaster. He does not regret that rather than controlling terrorism his war in Iraq has licensed it. So he never mourns for the dead and crippled youngsters who have fought this war of his choice. He wanted to go to war and he did. He had not the mind to perceive the cost of war, or to listen to those who knew those costs. He did not understand that you do not go to war when it is one of the options, but when it is the only option; you go not because you want to but because you have to. This president knew it would be difficult for Americans not to cheer the overthrow of a foreign dictator. He knew that much. This president and his supporters would seem to have a mind for only one thing---to take power, to remain in power, and to use that power for the sake of themselves and their friends. A war will do that as well as anything. You become a wartime leader. The country gets behind you. Dissent becomes inappropriate. And so he does not drop to his knees, he is not contrite, he does not sit in the church with the grieving parents and wives and children. He is the President who does not feel. He does not feel for the families of the dead; he does not feel for the thirty five million of us who live in poverty; he does not feel for the forty percent who cannot afford health insurance; he does not feel for the miners whose lungs are turning black or for the working people he has deprived of the chance to work overtime at time-and-half to pay their bills—it is amazing for how many people in this country this President does not feel. But he will dissemble feeling. He will say in all sincerity he is relieving the wealthiest one percent of the population of their tax burden for the sake of the rest of us, and that he is polluting the air we breathe for the sake of our economy, and that his is decreasing the safety regulations for coal mines to save the coal miners’ jobs, and that his is depriving workers of the time-and-a-half benefits for overtime because this is actually a way to honor them by raising them into the professional class. And this litany of lies he will versify with reverences for God and the flag and democracy, when just what he and his party are doing to our democracy is choking the life out of it. But there is one more terribly sad thing about all of this. I remember the millions of people here and around the world who marched against the war. It was extraordinary, that spontaneously aroused oversoul of alarm and protest that transcended national borders. Why did it happen? After all, this was not the only war anyone had ever seen coming There are little wars all over the world most of the time. But the cry of protest was the appalled understanding of millions of people that America was ceding its role as the last best hope of mankind. It was their perception that the classic archetype of democracy was morphing into a rogue nation. The greatest democratic republic in history was turning its back on the future, using it’s extraordinary power and standing not to advance the ideal of a concordance of civilizations but to endorse the kind of tribal combat that originated with the Neanderthals, a people, now extinct, who could imagine ensuring their survival by no other means that pre-emptive war. The president we get is the country we get. With each president the nation is conformed spiritually. He is the artificer of our malleable national soul. He proposes not only the laws but the kinds of lawlessness that govern our lives and invoke our responses. The people he appoints are cast in his image. The trouble they get into and get us into , is his characteristic trouble. Finally the media amplify his character into our moral weather report. He becomes the face of our sky, the conditions that prevail: How can we sustain ourselves as the United States of America given the stupid and ineffective warmaking, the constitutionally insensitive lawgiving, and the monarchal figure of such moral vacancy as to make us mourn ourselves.

[I think he could have written speaches for Roosevelt. Now, I mourn the passing of the great intellects fo the 20th century. -LoM]

God Intelligently Designs Glide-Breaching Mobulas

Perfect as they are, there is no chance this species will ever evolve into anything else. Rumors that it preys on swamp rabbits are unconfirmed.

Quiet Down Kids, Daddy's Listening to Your Show

If you can, check out this new kids' show. The music is great, esp. running the sound through our stereo. I sometimes have to yell at the kids to shut up so I can listen, but it's great.

Jack is very similar to the Sum of All Monkeys, but his dog plays the drums, so that's different.

Official site, with previews, is here.

Incredible is One Word for It

Without ever leaving home, Gerald Martin lived out one of the most remarkable survival stories of Hurricane Katrina. Rescuers who found him Friday, as they searched his neighborhood by boat, were astounded at his good spirits and resiliency after 18 days without food or human contact.

"It's an incredible story of survival," said Louie Fernandez, spokesman for FEMA...

A Tip o' the Hat to the First Sea Lord

In preparation for Talk Like a Pirate Day, I'm cribbing from your old posts to catalog your pirate vocabulary, which is second-to-none. Seriously, I agree with Cap'n Slappy that you should write a book, set up a website, or give training seminars to executives.

September 16, 2005

Public Service Announcement

AmAnSet's Set Free has been released in Europe, is receiving good reviews, will available in the U.S. 9/20.

The Laws of Stupidity

This is a great read, found through a link on the greatest website ever.

"A stupid person is a person who causes losses to another person or to a group of persons while himself deriving no gain and even possibly incurring losses."

Like a politician who foregoes necessary investment in dikes, resulting in a massive loss in popularity and permanent damage to his reputation when they fail. For example.

One More on Roberts

Chuck Schumer went to Harvard Law, too. Here's how he sums it all up.

Note how clever, and how empty Roberts's response is.

I'm very tired of clever and empty. But I take comfort in the fact that people on the Right are also nervous about him.

In Defense of Our President

OK, for 30 seconds I am going to take the other side. Josh Marshall is shocked, shocked that the party in power would favor its cronies in the Louisiana reconstruction.

Oh my God, there's money involved, and patronage! If LBJ or Clinton were running the country I'm sure that the entire effort would be bid out in totally objective fashion to contractors with absolutely no political affiliation. Come on.

Another thing. People don't like Bush (see below). I don't like Bush. But let's recognize him for what he is - based on his speech last night, he is the greatest domestic-spending Keynesian president since FDR. He's saying: we'll rebuild it better, on Uncle Sam's nickel, and it will be good. We'll spend more on this than the Iraq War. We'll put special effort into job training and decent housing for poor folks (who cares if that last bit is true, this is politics).

The Bull Moose notes, disapprovingly, that "we now have a Republican president selling guns and butter." Ignore him! You go W!

The "Gulf Opportunity Zone" they are going to create is vintage Democratic policy, a classic case of bad capital allocation to support political talking points. They want to encourage growth, which is fine. But it's dumb enough to build homes and industry in an environmentally fragile area that is prone to hurricanes and floods. But for the Federal government to subsidize it...under a Republican administration...that is breathtaking, and right up there with the finest efforts of the Carter administration. Your tax dollars will finance ice cream stands built on flood plains - better ice cream stands than stood there before!

My hat's off to whomever wrote the speech, and to Bush for his conversion to Democratic ideology.

Rove is Doing So Well, Let's Give Him More Important Jobs

"U.S. consumer confidence plummeted to a 13-year low in early September, battered by record high gasoline prices and the full force of Hurricane Katrina, a report showed on Friday."

Yeah, worse than after 9/11.

Notes on Education

I've been reading a terrific bunch of biographies lately: Talleyrand, Thomas Paine, super-hunk Benjamin Franklin and now Madame Germaine de Staёl (courtesy of Dr. X).

I'll complain later about how these biographies have left me still confused about the French Revolution (hey, we're building a republic and people can vote and the King is on board, oh, no wait, there's Robespierre and...sacre vache!...blood in the streets and secret police and the guillotine and wtf...Napoleon as emperor...what happened?) and just offer up some juicy notes on the education of Benjamin Constant, or, how to raise an unhappy genius.

(Clumsily exerpted from Mistress to an Age by J. Christopher Herold)

When Benjamin was five.
Benjamin's first tutor regularly beat him, then smothered him with caresses to extract his promise not to tell. He also taught him a game--to invent an alphabet, a vocabulary, and a grammar. The language thus invented turned out to be Greek, and Benjamin had progressed in it considerably when [the tutor], caught in one of his sadistic fits, was chased from the household.

When Benjamin was seven.
His second tutor...was a fanatic atheist who tried to rape the daughter of Benjamin's music master and then took his pupil to live with him in a bordello.

When Benjamin was eight.
Benjamin was put to board with the music master who left him to his own devices where he spent eight to ten hours a day in a local lending library which specialized in antireligious propaganda and pornography. He read La Mettrie (good) and Crébillon (not so good).

When Benjamin was ten.
His next tutor was an ex-lawyer, escaping some scandal in France, who assigned Benjamin the task of copying one of his tracts. But he didn't like Benjamin's penmanship so Benjamin spent much of a year copying the Preface, over and over again.

Next came a defrocked monk who was good-natured and competent and so he was fired, when he then killed himself over an unhappy love affair.

Benjamin wrote: "What do I care what the ancients thought since I am not going to live with them...I sometimes see an English girl of my age whom I prefer to Cicero, Seneca, etc. She teaches me Ovid, whom she has never read or heard of but whom I discover in her eyes. I have written a little novel for her." He was, I repeat, about ten years old.

When Benjamin was twelve.
He learned to gamble. Not well.

When Benjamin was thirteen.
His father sent him to Oxford University. After two months they kicked him out, apparently because he was thirteen.

When Benjamin was fourteen.
He enrolled at the University of Erlangen, where he studied for eighteen months. During this time, he kept his first mistress. It seems that she was free with her favors to everyone but Benjamin.

When Benjamin was sixteen.
He began two years of study at the University of Edinburgh but lost so much money playing faro that his father sent him to Paris to live with the journalist Jean-Baptiste-Antoine Suard. Instead, Benjamin moved into a hotel and continued losing at the tables. So, his father enlisted another tutor who convinced Benjamin that his education could be best furthered if Benjamin treated them both to a bordello tour of Paris.

This is getting long so I'll just mention some highlights up to his twenty-first year. His mistresses increased in age from 27 to 35 to 60-something. He tried to gain the support of the mother of a girl he wanted to elope with; when the mother's lover found him on his knees in the mother's bedroom, he demanded an explanation and Benjamin, instead, drank a bottle of opium. He boozed it up with the lieutenant his father sent to bring him home, got him drunk, borrowed money and skipped to England. He bought two dogs and monkey. He traded the monkey for another dog. He got syphilis. While recovering, he read about fifty volumes of Restif de La Bretonne's naughty novels and started writing his History of Polytheism which is, apparently, still in print.

Those of us responsible for the education of children, please take note.

The Best Website Ever

Is here.

September 15, 2005

God Intelligently Designs Tongue-Eating Bug


If You Want to Get Mad All Over Again

This will do the trick.

Ahoy! Cap'n Slappy Signals Anew!

Capn' Slappy of Talk Like a Pirate Day, bless his seafaring pirate's heart, has replied, me hearties, commenting on B) the Pirate's report on the federal response to Katrina and A) the piratical insult plan!
Walter Kennedy
William Kennedy's Flag

Yo Ho First Sea Lord!

Now THAT'S some fine cursin'! Ye should write a book! "A-cursin'
th'-cruisin'!" It'll sell a billion copies and folks'll read it while
they're drivin' - thus makin' the roads safer because they'll be off
their cell phones.

For thems what lack cursin' skills, ye can still always honk, flip and

Cap'n Slappy
On Katrina...
Thank ye for yer report!

So let me get this straight ... ye think it was a tad slow. Right? I
agree with ye! I agree with ye like a pair o' monkeys what's decided to
fling coconuts on unsuspectin' beach combers from a well-positioned
coconut tree; like a keel-haul crew what's haulin' someone none o' them
likes much anyway sos they slow it down some, like all the women who
have ever suffered through Cap'n Slappy's attempt at sexual conquest
with his half-backed pick-up lines.

I agree!

Cap'n Slappy
Thankee, Capn' Slappy, and a tossback of the ol' rumpot for ye! Fair winds and fallen maids!

Plague ridden mice escape!

Actually not that big a deal since bubonic plague is pretty common in the wilds of the Western United States.

But in the grand tradition of nursery rhymes, it does make for good(?) entertainment:

Three plagued mice, three plagued mice,
See how they infect, see how they infect,
They all ran out from the scientists' knife,
Causing concern and very much strife,
Have you seen such a threat on your life,
As three plagued mice?

Traffic Trouble? Talk Like A Pirate Day Traffic Insults #2

Last year, the scurvy'd blaggards at Talk Like a Pirate day linked to us on my suggestion that pirate insults be employed in traffic instead of traditional insults, as they cheer'd both insulter and insultee alike, and tunr'd an angry moment aside. As my national service to celebrate Talk Like A Pirate Day, please suggest a traffic situation in the comments area of this post; I will then offer a rightwise pirate insult.

It is very satisfying to call, say a slow Lexus full of metrosexuals, "a slab-sided dandy scow," or a weaving mini-van a " groggy one-eyed chimp at the tiller of that herring-buss," or to threaten "to raise yer bastard entrails for a preventer-stay, ye bilge breathin' twice-poxed quarter-shrimp," to the pick-up that cut you off on the way to Bellevue.


A. A VW van struggling in the left lane up a hill. "Ahoy! Out of the Larboard Channel, ye Ungrateful Dead! Ye've manned yer capstan with kittens and dressed yer mainmast in tie dye, and I load a bow-chaser with rat meat and rake yer sticker'd stern and clean the twigs from yer beards, ye sun-baked toss-pots!"

B. Cut off by an overdecorated mid-priced sports car. "Heave-to with that gilded chum bucket for lovelorn sea-chumps!"

Today this clown in a silver BMW tailgated me, passed me on the right, then cut me off, eliminating the 15 feet of space I had prudently left in front of the car in front of me. ...Oh no, that was me doing that to someone else...

Damn me' eyes and raise me naked to the crosstrees! What d'I take meself fer? The incontinent Earl of Lateness in a couch and six with me pregnant ugliest daughter off to be wedded to the Sultan of Persia? Where be I a-going in such an unholy fuss? Have I been brought unawares to her Majesty's tender justice with my letter of Marque in me other purse and me head on a pike to stimulates the conversation on Sunday walks on the Thames? Consarn me for lubberly sea- whelk and a dandy Jim Pants O' Fire!

D. On the drive home from work a black BMW (I sense a theme here) whose driver was glued to a cell phone swerved two lanes to get in front of me in a left-turn lane, then slowed to a crawl for the last 20 feet, finally making a U-turn as the light that I would have made turned red.

AHOY! HOLD YOUR COURSE, Ye Bilge-brained Earl of Spoiled Rat Sandwich, I'll TAN yer hide fer me small clothes! MAKE YOUR SIGNALS AFTER MANOUVERS, ye devil's own fool! Shove off or prepare for BOARDING, ye buttered arse-knave! Yer only wind is going through through yer ears, and ye'll hear the sweet gun-music of the WHOLE fleet if ye don't HOVE-TO on my lee and clear the channel! Pollute me eyes again , and I'll break yer Teutonic sea-lawyer's brig for grapeshot and send me lads for plunder on yer bastard family lands.

I Need to Use the Bathroom, For Freedom

Captured by the BBC: George W. Bush at the UN conference. "I think I may need a bathroom break. Is this possible?" the pencil-written note, addressed to Condi Rice, reads.


This is a cool application...Verticalresponse appears to have already hacked the map, and appears in the middle of SF Bay...

September 14, 2005

Good Fun, if the Stakes Weren't So High

Listening to the confirmation hearing of a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is something you can do only once or twice in a lifetime, and I have to admit I'm enjoying it immensely. Yes, it's a Kabuki dance, but a good one. Roberts is a strong candidate on many dimensions - he is obviously bright, articulate, has a restrained personal demeanor, and even the Democrats give him credit for his incisive legal mind.

Not that I'd vote for him, since he thinks the Constitution allows the mandatory arrest of 12 year-old girls for trivial offenses. It's quite an opinion - I especially like the part about the plaintiff having no standing since she's unlikely to be arrested again and therefore would not be again exposed to the policies objected to in the litigation. A masterpiece of compassionate conservatism - "sorry little girl, but the Police can do that whenever they want." Carefully footnoted, of course.

I also wouldn't touch him with a ten foot pole because of his evident love of executive power. (Clinton was going to hire him to argue for executive privilege when his personal lawsuit vs. Paula Jones went before the Supremes in the 9o's). Democrats who are worried about abortion with this guy aren't thinking big enough - worry about Democracy.

Anyway, here is a great exchange from today with Schumer, who is nobody's fool:

SCHUMER: But let me ask you a few other questions here because I think you're cutting back a little on what you said yesterday, at least, if you look at the whole picture here and your unwillingness to disagree with Justice Thomas.

But let me ask you this about judges in general. You sit on a court, correct?


SCHUMER: OK. And sometimes you dissent. And that's routine, not just for you but for every judge.

ROBERTS: It's rare on our court, I'm happy to say.

SCHUMER: Yes, it is. It is. That is true. I've noticed that. But it happens in courts all the time.

OK. And in doing so, the dissenting judge is criticizing the majority opinion, right? Disagreeing with it? And I take it this happens on the Supreme Court quite often? And, in fact, there aren't that many unanimous Supreme Court cases on major cases these days.

ROBERTS: Actually, one point that statistics always show that more cases were unanimous than anything else.

SCHUMER: But there are a lot of dissenting...

ROBERTS: There are a lot.

SCHUMER: And every justice on the Supreme Court has dissented in many cases; meaning they disagreed with the opinion of the court, right? And nothing is wrong with that? There is nothing improper, nothing unethical?

Let's go to commentators. Non-judges are free to criticize and disagree with Supreme Court cases. Correct?


SCHUMER: In speeches, law review articles, it's a healthy process, wouldn't you say?

ROBERTS: I agree with that. Yes.

SCHUMER: And you did this occasionally when you were in private practice?


SCHUMER: OK. Nothing unseemingly about that?


SCHUMER: OK. And how about lawyers representing clients? Lawyers representing clients criticize cases and legal briefs all the time. That's what they do for a living.

And that's part of being a good lawyer.

And you signed your name to briefs explicitly criticizing and disagreeing with Supreme Court decisions?

ROBERTS: On occasion, yes.

SCHUMER: In Rust v. Sullivan, for example, your brief said that, quote, Roe was wrongly decided and should be overturned, unquote. Right?


SCHUMER: OK. But in this hearing room, you don't want to criticize or disagree with any decided cases? That seems strange to me. It seems strange, I think, to the American people that you can't talk about decided cases -- past cases, not future cases -- when you've been nominated to the most important job in the federal judiciary.

You could do it when you worked in the White House, you could do it when you worked in the Justice Department, you could do it when you worked in private practice, you could do it when you gave speeches and lectures; as a sitting judge, you've done it until very recently. You could probably do it before you just walked into this hearing room.

And if you're confirmed, you may be doing it for 30 years on the Supreme Court. But the only place and time that you cannot criticize any cases of the Supreme Court is in this hearing room -- when it is more important than at any other time that the American people, and we the senators, understand your views.

Why this room should be some kind of a cone of silence is beyond me. The door outside this room doesn't say, check your views at the door.

So your failure to answer questions is confounding me. You've done it in instance after instance after instance after instance.

What is the difference between giving your views here in this hearing room and what judges do every day, what professors do every day, what lawyers do every day?

In each case, they have to state their opinion. They have to do it as part of their job, if you will -- writing a brief, rendering an opinion, writing an article.

In each case, they're stating their views, which might bias them. You've done it.

Yet, only here you can't state your views. If the argument -- and, by the way, there's a very god countervailing reason that you should state your views, because, as the founding fathers so constructed, this is the one time you go before an elected body before a lifetime appointment.

And it seems to me this is something of an argument of convenience. Senator Specter said it well. He said you'll answer as many questions as you have to to get confirmed. That may be the actual fact, but it's not the right thing to do, in my judgment.

And so, please tell us why is the bias, why is the fact that you have already stated an opinion, any different when you sit in this room in terms of jeopardizing your future as a judge than it is when you're doing all these other things that you've done?

(This goes on for another 10 minutes or so, with Roberts occasionally responding to Schumer's rhetorical questions.)

ROBERTS: The only point I would like to make, because you raised the question how is this different than justices who dissent and criticize, and how is this different than professors -- and I think there are significant differences.

The justice who files a dissent is issuing an opinion based upon his participation in the judicial process. He confronted the case with an open mind. He heard the arguments. He fully and fairly considered the briefs. He consulted with his colleagues, went through the process of issuing an opinion.

And in my experience, every one of those stages can cause you to change your view.

The view you ask then of me, Well, what do you think, is it correct or not? or How would you come out? That's not a result of that process. And that's why I shouldn't respond to those types of questions.

Now, the professor, how is that different? That professor is not sitting here as a nominee before the court. And the great danger, of course, that I believe every one of the justices has been vigilant to safeguard against is turning this into a bargaining process.

It is not a process under which senators get to say, I want you to rule this way, this way and this way. And if you tell me you'll rule this way, this way and this way, I'll vote for you.

That's not a bargaining process.

Judges are not politicians. They cannot promise to do certain things in exchange for votes.

And if you go back and look at the transcripts, Senator, I would just respectfully disagree. I think I have been more forthcoming than any of the other nominees. Other nominees have not been willing to tell you whether they thought Marbury v. Madison was correctly decided. They took a very strict approach.

I have taken what I think is a more pragmatic approach and said, if I don't think that's likely to come before the court, I will comment on it.

A Man for Our Times

This fun article lists 10 obscure comic book characters who deserve their own movie. All meritorious, but they overlooked the one most relevant to our times, the one whose story most needs to be heard: The Foolkiller!

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September 12, 2005


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"You want to talk about the cavalry riding to the rescue, the Canadian Mounties got here the second day. The feds, we didn't see those (S.O.B.'s) until the fifth or sixth day."

SINBUFU (Situation IS Normal, BUsh Fucked Up)

The actual NEWSWEEK Katrina recap headline: "How Bush Blew It." Written by 19 (!) people.

The picture is of an autocratic, cold, man of ultimately limited energies and imagination, intolerant of dissenting opinion, and building a buddy bureaucracy to match.

September 11, 2005

Modern Rules of War

Sun-Tsu 3000 -Today's Rules of War:

The wise general does not heed the words of his own cable news channel.

One cause: one victory. Many vaporous causes, and victory will dance in the fog.

When inclined to ask, ask not. When inclined to tell, tell not.

War for any treasure should cost somewhat less than the value of the treasure. 500 billion buys much oil in peace.

When men fail, it is necessary to trust robots.

Yesterday's threat is today's priority and tomorrow's defeat.

Arrows, stones, and X-Band Radar Guided Missile Systems do not create their own special laws of physics.

The general who copes with the desire of fools, and turns aside their greed, will taste victory. The general who fondles his officers, will retire early.

Three martinis will sell a missile system. A well placed whore will annihilate the enemy.

The head of general who enters the field of battle dressed prematurely in the mantle of victory will decorate the table of his enemy.

Though deluded, expensive, and useless, a 747 armed with a giant laser is pretty cool. But do not mistake this for the path to glory.

(Additions Requested.)

Now That's Arrrt!

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Someone has put up a ton of old Pyle pirate art. Enjoy.

Still Breakin' Hearts

Here are the Football Outsiders' picks to win in the NFC:

Aaron Eagles Vikings Panthers Seahawks Cowboys, Bucs
Al Eagles Bears Panthers Seahawks Cardinals, Cowboys
Mike Smith Eagles Vikings Panthers Seahawks Packers, Bucs
Mike Tanier Eagles Vikings Panthers Seahawks Rams, Falcons
Ned Eagles Vikings Bucs Seahawks Panthers, Rams
Russell Eagles Vikings Panthers Seahawks Cowboys, Rams
Ryan Eagles Packers Panthers Cardinals Vikings, Seahawks
Tim Eagles Vikings Panthers Rams Cowboys, Seahawks
Vivek Eagles Vikings Panthers Rams Cardinals, Falcons
Will Eagles Lions Saints Seahawks Rams, Panthers
DVOA System Eagles Lions Bucs Seahawks Panthers, Cowboys
CONSENSUS Eagles Vikings Panthers Seahawks Rams, Cowboys

And, of course, the Seahawks (along with the Vikings and Panthers!) lose the opener.

The Prepared Golfer

Some people make golf out to be a difficult game. This is nonsense - golf is a game easily mastered, once the right equipment is employed. Here are the clubs in my bag, which allowed me to win the Hunter's Point Amateur Open in 2003:
  • Orlimar Tri-Metal 3 Wood - As the review says, "this club can hit the ball a long ways." This is the club I use when I want to hit the ball far.
  • Irons? I threw the irons out of my bag! I replaced #s 1-5 with the Callaway Big Bertha Heavenwood Hybrid-Graphite Shaft, and iron shots are a breeze. I've had people walk off the course and leave their betting money behind after seeing that one in my bag!
  • Yes, there are people who think the big manufacturers are the place to go for superior golfing performance. Those people are losers. When I go to the bag for a mid-range iron shot, I use The Perfect Accuracy from The Perfect Club Company. Look at that man's face - is that the face of a loser? I ask you.
  • Face Forward FR2 Wedge - As everyone knows, a strong short game is the key to victory in golf (just think of all the golf champions who were known for their incredible short games). When I'm within 100 yards of the hole, I grab my FR2 and get ready to score!
  • Callaway Odyssey 2-Ball Putter - "Drive for show, putt for dough." Three-putts are a thing of the past with this baby. I hit the ball, it goes in the hole, simple as that. Although I might still go with one of those really long ones that look strange. But why be eccentric for its own sake - excellence is the name of the game here.
So now you know. You don't have to lose. Losing is a habit born of a reluctance to spend money on innovative new golfing products. Don't let it happen to you!

Rehnquist an Addict?

I had not heard this tale.

"Obviously the lede of the chief's obituary should not have read, 'William H. Rehnquist, a man with a jones for Placidyl, died yesterday. He also served as chief justice of the United States for 19 years.' But the reluctance to explore this part of Rehnquist's life at any length illustrates a general rule of journalism: Most obituarists prefer the airbrush to the sharpened pen when it comes to the famous and powerful."


"The terrorists had seen it coming [and prepared] tunnel complexes to be used as escape routes," Major-General Rick Lynch said in Baghdad.

I believe it was Sun Tzu, thegreat military thinker, who wrote: "Do not print your plan of attack in the news-paper."

He also said "there is no instance of a nation benefitting from prolonged warfare," but who's listening?

September 10, 2005

No Confidence: Another Call for Bush to Resign

The latest Newsweek poll has Bush's approval ratings at 38 percent. This is one point lower than Nixon at his worst, 20 points lower than Clinton during the depth of the impeachment hearings. It's so bad it also tends to stain the presumed, and still questionable, legitimacy of the last election.

Already weak, regarded widely as dishonest about war, President Bush's failure to lead in a time of national crisis - in planning, management, anticipation and execution- has cost him the confidence of the people of the United States. This means he has lost his ability to effectively govern; he and his entire cabinet should leave in order to restore basic confidence in the American government, domestically and abroad. The fact that he is throwing money at the problem now is immaterial. George W. Bush has failed one time too many.

I realize we do not have an easy system for allowing this; we are not a parlimentary democracy. But this government is intolerable; if we are to preserve our domestic trust and our international stability, we require a new government.

If Bush has any honor, he will leave. So, he will not.

Impeachment was impossible, uncontemplated - now it's only unlikely, and that might change as the dissembling and corruption pile up. With the political weakness from incompetence, if the special prosecutor indicts Rove over the Plame affair anytime soon, a collapse of this government is possible.

Cheney will have to resign. A plan might be wise.

I wonder what Gerald Ford is up to.

After We're Done With FEMA

The cops in an around New Orleans have a lot to answer for:
  • Rumors that hundreds quit...are true.
  • Rumors that they impeded people trying to evacuate, fired shots over their heads, and stole their food and water...are true.
  • Rumors that people were forced out of hotels into the streets, where they were at the mercy of gangs and the elements...are true.
  • In the UK, Sky News is claiming British tourists were told to flash their boobs to be rescued...unconfirmed.

About Time

Someone other than the ACLU files a lawsuit defending free speech.

And wins.

Guess He'll Get a Medal Too

One of my favorite, and most useful, movie quotes comes from "Broadcast News" when Albert Brooks describes some of the evil among us:

"What do you think the devil's going to look like if he's around? C'mon, no one's going to be taken in by a guy with a long, red, pointy tail! . . . He will be attractive. He'll be nice and helpful. He'll get a job where he influences a great, God-fearing nation. He'll never do an evil thing. He'll never deliberately hurt a living thing. He'll just-bit by little bit-lower our standards where they're important. . . . Just coax along flash over substance. Just a tiny little bit."

Except for the "tiny little" part, I find myself once again thinking of this quote when I consider this man, Michael Brown, the still-not-out-of-a-job FEMA-Fuck-up:

Fortunately, he's in the crosshairs of lot of people, some of whom have brought some interesting facts to light.

His FEMA bio and the White House press release regarding his appointment say he was an "assistant city manager with emergency services oversight." Time Magazine learned that he was an assistant to the city manager, essentially an intern while he was a college.

His FindLaw entry says he was named "Outstanding Political Science Professor" at Central State University in Oklahoma, but according to the university, he was never on the faculty there, he was only a student. In fact, no one at the University seems to have know about the award and no one can confirm other honors he claimed from his time as a student.

His FindLaw entry also claims that from 1983 to the present Brown has been director of the Oklahoma Christian Home, a nursing home in Oklahoma. But Time called up the place and was told that Brown is "not a person that anyone here is familiar with." The nursing home hasn't had a board of directors for a few years, but even when they did, he didn't serve on it. Time checked with staff at FEMA and was told "he's never claimed to be the director of the home. He was on the board of directors, or governors of the nursing home." However, an employee at the center since 1981 said Brown "was never director here, was never on the board of directors, was never executive director. He was never here in any capacity. I never heard his name mentioned here."

Shall we take up a collection to get his law license yanked? The Progress Report thinks so.

In Honor of My Nightmare

I dreamt last night that they put Cheney's face on the $100 bill.

September 09, 2005

Yes, Really

"They bought their tickets. They knew what they were getting in to. I say, let 'em crash."
-- Counterpoint commentator in the movie Airplane

"Oh mother don't be so sentimental...things explode every day."
-- John Cleese on Monty Python's Flying Circus

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"I understand there are 10,000 people dead. It's terrible. It's tragic. But in a democracy of 300 million people, over years and years and years, these things happen." --GOP strategist Jack Burkman, on MSNBC's "Connected," Sept. 7, 2005 (Source)

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The Vertiginous Thrill

If you stumbled in here from Newsweek, sorry. We didn't have time to pick up, things have been busy at work, and then this. You know how it goes.

At first glance you might view some of the entries in this blog as critical or even cynical. But that is not our intention. Because ultimately, we are idealists. Disappointed idealists, yes, but still holding up, in our own minds the possibility of something better. A lot better.

Excellence is possible, you know. There's no reason a government can't bring to its mission the same commitment as the New England Patriots bring to a football game, an artist brings to his creation, or a ballet dancer brings to "The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude".

We see excellence every day. It's a product of attitude, skill, determination, and persistence. John Wooden has said "A man or woman who strives conscientiously to become the best that he or she is capable of becoming can stand tall on Judgment Day. That person will be judged a big success regardless of whether he or she has accumulated riches, glory, or trophies."

Is it too much to ask that a few of these people be present in our government?

Bloggermann on the Right

Keith Olbermann on the anger from the right.

September 08, 2005

Two Bits of Verse

Two bits of verse rattling around my head. Can't make 'em go away, so I'll put them up here:

It's time to taste what you most fear
Right Guard will not help you here
Brace yourself my dear
It's a holiday in Cambodia
It's tough there, but it's life...

And some Hardy:

Channel Firing

That night your great guns, unawares,
Shook all our coffins as we lay,
And broke the chancel window-squares,
We thought it was the Judgement-day

And sat upright. While drearisome
Arose the howl of wakened hounds:
The mouse let fall the altar-crumb,
The worms drew back into their mounds,

The glebe-cow drooled. Till God called, `No;
It's gunnery practice out at sea
Just as before you went below;
The world is as it used to be:

`All nations striving strong to make
Red war yet redder. Mad as hatters
They do no more for Christ's sake
Than you that are helpless in such matters.

`That this is not the judgement-hour
For some of them's a blessed thing,
For if it were they'd have to scour
Hell's floor for so much threatening...

`Ha, ha. It will be warmer when
I blow the trumpet (if indeed
I ever do; for you are men,
And rest eternal sorely need).'

So down we lay again. `I wonder,
Will the world ever saner be,'
Said one, `than when He sent us under
In our indifferent century!'

And many a skeleton shook his head.
`Instead of preaching forty year,'
My neighbour Parson Thirdly said,
`I wish I had stuck to pipes and beer.'

Again the guns disturbed the hour,
Roaring their readiness to avenge,
As far inland as Stourton Tower,
And Camelot, and starlit Stonehenge.

Secret Operation Planned

Shh, don't tell the insurgents, but we might attack them soon.

Reminds me of World War I, when even the French peasants would ask the British how preparations were coming for the upcoming offensive. Not a recipe for success.


Striker: My orders came through. My squadron ships out tomorrow. We're bombing the storage depots at Daiquiri at 1800 hours. We're coming in from the north, below their radar.

Elaine: When will you be back?

Ted: I can't tell you that. It's classified.

Newsweek: call Dr. X!

We've been re-blogged in the mass media.

Bonus. Check sitemeter for fun audience facts.

A Thought from the President's Reptile..Er Mother

In-fucking credible. Babara Bush quoted in the NYT about the evacuees.

"And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway," she said, "so this is working very well for them."

Just like 9/11. People in New York were also stunned with the amazing opportunities offered by the sudden violent death of their children, wives, husbands, and friends, the destruction of their homes, the loss of their jobs and communities.

September 07, 2005

One Word:


More Coffee Please

My office looks like the web on the bottom.

Get Me Off This Rock

I remember Andy Long used to walk around the school saying "get me off this rock." Here is a 5 mb file of the view of earth from the departing Messenger probe.

The Restless Conservatives

On the right, there is increasingly a sense of discontent - an ugly feeling that they've been had. A few samples:
This article questions why the leading critics seem to be Republicans. But it's really not a mystery. The pathetic FEMA response hit Republicans where it hurts - their vanity about their management capabilities, their obsession with national security, and their triumphalism.

For Democrats, it's just another example of the administration's hubris coming home to roost. But for Republicans, it's the moment when you can't even pretend anymore.

September 06, 2005

Major Disasters of the Bush Administration (From the Daily Show, 9/6/05)

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"Quick, Send Some Hacks"

From Aaron Brown on CNN:

Correspondent Ed Henry: And now CNN has just obtained a memo this evening that's going to add even more grist for the mill. This memo was reported on earlier by the Associated Press. And it basically is a memo from the FEMA director, Michael Brown, to Mr. Chertoff basically asking for more than 1,000 volunteers right after the storm hit, for more than 1,000 volunteers to rush to the Gulf region in order to deal with the aftermath of Katrina.

BROWN: I want to go back to your meeting in a second, but just a couple more things on the memo.

I wouldn't exactly use the word rush. He gives these 1,000 Homeland Securities officials two days to arrive on the scene, according to the memo, which I looked at just before coming up. That included one day of training before they headed for the Gulf. And he said that one of their responsibilities would be to ensure that FEMA was portrayed in a positive light, some concern about the P.R. impact of the storm itself.

The memo was written five hours after the storm made landfall in New Orleans.

Recommended Reading

I'd read the sequel, but dodged the original. To my delight I find that, despite the hype, Kitchen Confidential is not overrated.

The part about running around Vassar with a samurai sword, however - preposterous. The administration wouldn't stand for such a thing. I had three friends who did it and all received the most severe reprimands. One was even asked to send his sword home. So please, Mr. Bourdain, let's stick with the facts.

Marxism - The Next Big Thing?

Very enjoyable Philosophy Talk today on Marxism (rebroadcast Thursday at 8 pm on Oregon Public Broadcasting). It will eventually be archived here.

Having learned about Marxism at Stanford at the same time I was learning libertarian philosophy (from the same professor), I wasn't surprised to hear our hosts were sympathetic to and respectful of aspects of Marx's work. John Perry scored big points with both his critique of Marx as overly utopian (the fatal flaw, in my opinion, but also a key factor in its successes) and with his proposal for a system of philosopher-dominated do-nothing government known as "contemplocracy."

Philosophy talk blog is here (isn't Typepad cool?).

Urban Renewal, the FEMA Way

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/cheap but couldn't resist

NOLA Econ Questions

The BBC carried a heart wrenching video of about six kids, from about 2 to 14 being rescued yesterday, their mother and sole parent lying deceased in the bedroom.

Aside from all the other horror of it, and far more to come, I was thinking about their likely disinheritance, assuming the house was owned. It looks like NOLA will be rebuilt and reoccupied, but if it is, how will orphans like this avoid losing their primary economic asset - the family house? It would be cruel in the extreme for this family to lose it's one asset; if nothing else is there a system in place to keep their equity?

1. Will most of the impoverished homeowners lose their property, due to foreclosure and new bankruptcy laws? In other words, will there be a vast property grab by, basically, white Americans?

2. Will the disaster, with it's huge impact on housing, stave off or eliminate the possible real estate deflation nationwide?

3. Are oil companies, which are doing very, very nicely for themselves right now, sending aid proportionate to their sudden prosperity?

On top of everything else, I am looking for an immediate federal commitment to protect the long term property rights of the predominantly poor and african american population, throughout the region. Too often, disasters are pretexts for transfers of property wealth away from low and middle income people, who must immediately spend resources on food and shelter and cannot absorb the schock.

The recovery of New Orleans, but one utterly gentrified, is a possible and unacceptable outcome.

September 05, 2005


BBC NEWS | UK | Britons describe hurricane ordeal

"Jenny Sachs, of Sheffield, told how soldiers had to smuggle her out of the Superdome in secret."

You Can Fool Some of the People...

Thinking just about the President of the United States ... Do you approve or disapprove of President Bush's response to Hurricane Katrina?

Approve: 38%
Disapprove: 55%

(And falling.)

September 04, 2005

The Rumsfeld Joke

They sent Don Rumsfeld to Louisiana. He's there to turn the bayou into a quagmire.

I would copyright this joke, but I believe it now belongs to the world.


Is the headline I like to imagine Paul 'Righteous Hammer" Krugman would have named his latest column if it wasn't for rather more propitious copy editors.

If you missed the infuriating, depressing interview of Homeland Security Secretary Chertoff with Tim Russert, read any part of this transcript, and try to keep from screaming in rage. Russert nearly did.

Broussard, Jefferson Parish president, broke down sobbing in a later part of the interview, pleading for help.

Fire these political hacks.