July 31, 2009

Best to play it safe, I should think

July 30, 2009

Just thinking...

Is there any other president in my lifetime who could have pulled this off?

Nicely calculated - a slow news day at the end of July, all three networks zoomed-in on the President, the Vice President, and their two Irish buddies, mending fences over a round out in the sunshine.

Nice day to be an American.

July 29, 2009

Asian cinema review

I have long admired the sensitive thespian stylings of Stephanie Che.

She is a beautiful and accomplished actress, and her range runs all the way from hot but emotionally distant ingenue (Beast Cops), to hot but emotionally distant sadistic office manager (Virtues of Harmony II), to hot but emotionally distant evil concubine (Virtues of Harmony), to hot but emotionally distant incredibly hot chick in Iceland (A Man Like Me), to hot but emotionally distant, but, in the end, understanding, wife (Men Suddenly in Black).

In this interview she won't shut up about how cool Anthony Wong was on her first acting job, and...oh screw it, here's the final fight scene from Beast Cops.

Eisengeiste: we report, you decide.

A Giant Leap For Duct Tape

From the "There, I fixed It" blog, a great little story from Nasa about the duct tape repairs on the moon buggy.

"We Haven't Even Learned Everything About Blue Yet"

A favorite quote from a prof in grad school has in interesting application: blue dye may be an effective treatment for spinal injuries.

Aaaaand welcome, gentlemen, to America

Gates and officer are related.

Aren't we all, but that's another story.

Say it once, say it loud...

July 28, 2009

Justice is served

Colbert reports on a kid who went too far.

Merciless Rivers!

July 27, 2009

Hasselbeck fit, trim, ready for action

From Peter King:

Matt Hasselbeck is working out twice a day on vacation. That's a good sign. Last year, Seattle's season went down the drain when Hasselbeck's back acted up in the summer and never settled down. Now he's got Croner with him at his family vacation home in central Washington, on the Columbia River, and Croner's putting him through the kind of two-a-days that should serve him well.

This is the fourth year Croner has worked with Hasselbeck, who turns 34 in September, and the trainer said Friday, "He looks by far the best he's ever looked since I've been with him.''

Hasselbeck's eight pounds lighter now (at 234) than he was a year ago, and he said one of the things that has helped him this offseason is the simple length of it. Because he didn't play much last year, and because Seattle didn't make the playoffs, and because he had his back well-diagnosed by January, he's been in the weight room more, and longer, than in the past. "I'm not worried about my back at all,'' Hasselbeck said. "The only thing my back cannot do is sit in a three-hour run-game-install meeting without getting up and moving around. Of the things I'm worried about -- new coach, new offense, some new teammates -- I can promise you that health is not one of them.''

Hey, in July - I'll believe anything.

Funny thing

I haven't seen someone in the U.S. behave disrespectfully toward our Nation's flag for years and years...unless you count this sort of thing. Not like when we were kids, and you couldn't turn around without bumping into some flag-burning hippie.

We got over it. But now desecration seems to be ok for conservative political commentators.

An official response from Eisengeiste: Leave the flag out of it, you son-of-a-bitch.

July 26, 2009

Oldtimey, relatively, now

For some reason, my iTunes Genius has begun to recommend (only at the complete and total loss of my personal privacy) John Anderson songs. I had forgotten about this fine singer, lurking in the back of my digital library, who has ably represented real country music over the course of his career. Here, he sings a couple of fine gen-yoo-ine country songs, ca. 1983:
Then, when they had him pegged as a New Traditionalist, or a Country Roots guy, or whatever, he broke a mess of rules with Swingin'. It is still a potent instrument - he recently used it to rock Charleston, WV, among other places.

He has a new album out, to mixed reviews (look, the Voice is always there, the material can be a little hit-or-miss). And, as you probably know, he's playing Buck Owens' Crystal Palace in Bakersfield August 15th.

Road trip!

You're welcome

Palin now free to serve her true constituency - America.

Attention America: How to Apologize

Kick me if I'm wrong, but this sounds like an actual apology, rather than a typically tiresome and worthless non-apology apology we've come to expect from corporate America. From Jeff Bezos at Amazon on the 1984 debacle:

"This is an apology for the way we previously handled illegally sold copies of 1984 and other novels on Kindle," he wrote on Amazon's site. "Our 'solution' to the problem was stupid, thoughtless, and painfully out of line with our principles. It is wholly self-inflicted, and we deserve the criticism we've received. We will use the scar tissue from this painful mistake to help make better decisions going forward, ones that match our mission."

For an excellent example of how to apologize, please see John Cleese's instructional tape, below.

July 25, 2009

Yesterday: I Predict Killer Robots Will Be Justified By Companionship

New York Times, today.

Despite his concerns, Dr. Horvitz said he was hopeful that artificial intelligence research would benefit humans, and perhaps even compensate for human failings. He recently demonstrated a voice-based system that he designed to ask patients about their symptoms and to respond with empathy. When a mother said her child was having diarrhea, the face on the screen said, “Oh no, sorry to hear that.”

Great. Just great. Robots' great advantage: wealth creation and life extension. Oh yay, some version of long-lived super-rich people destroying irrelevant, non-wealth producing inferiors with flesh-eating robots.

And now, the serious point. You have to assume with any technology that it will disseminate to criminals and unethical political actors without severe controls. Worse, it can prove very hard for otherwise decent minded people to resist a temporary rapid benefit, and lose something much bigger. An example is nuclear weapons; Edward Teller's increasingly insane schemes, like the serious attempt to use H-Bombs to dig out ports, came along with plans for an atomic doomsday plane that spit out h bombs and lethal radiation indefinitely. They had to be fought.

The world is heavily stressed by nuclear techonology control as it is, and it still isn't working well, but this is an example of what I have come to think should be done. As the economic and social power made possible by advanced technology rises, the day of very strong, international treaty-level controls on AI, bio-tech, and robotics is coming.

And I might add that I am still waiting for strong evidence that we will survive the invention of the electric lightbulb and the internal combustion engine.

Dans les arcanes secrètes de Washington

I can read just barely enough french to get the gist of things, and was puzzling through Francois Hauter's next article in the major series on Obama's America, when I came upon this most curious image, which I did not recognize for some time.

Obviously photoshopped (and a bit crudely I might add), it has the look of an opposition research brochure. It is also, the more I look at it, somewhat hilarious. Also, for some reason, the nameplate on the desk begins "WWW."

July 24, 2009

Night music


I think I've got this figured out

I'm just trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together. Finally, finally...I think I see the big picture. Consider:
So it's pretty clear that we are moving into an environment in which robots eat, and humans are the main stop on the the buffet line. Moreover, some or all of these robots will require neural net capability, which can be cheaply supplied by using cloned monkey brains. This much is self-evident.

But who, or what is behind this concerted multi-pronged research project?

The artificial brain is the tip-off. With so many cheap wrench-ready cloned brains around, who needs an artificial one? I'll tell you who - someone who wants immortality.

Yes, someone is planning to migrate out of wetware, into hardware. Someone with a lot of money, an enormous ego, a soul-crushing desire to exterminate all who oppose him, and no moral compass whatsoever. Which doesn't narrow it down much, I admit.

But there is one other nuance that absolutely identifies the mastermind, and once you hear it you'll totally agree that it could not possibly be any other person.

I'll explain the rest tomorrow, after my plane lands...oh, and I've got a fresh take on the whole JFK assassination thing that I can't wait to share with you!

Back by popular demand

My mailbox is flooded requests for more Family Matters links. Well, I suppose one more can't hurt. Behold...the immortal duelling accordion scene!

July 22, 2009

Synthetic brain to be used for peaceful purposes

...at first...

With heavy heart...

Dr. Kapital tweets:
Harvard financial crisis. Endowment in half, still gargantuan.

If I may editorialize on Dr. Kapital's behalf, I share David Brooks' enthusiasm for the President's plan to increase funding to community colleges. These schools work miracles, and they don't need a lot of money (in the greater scheme of things) to do their best work. Perhaps Harvard could donate some of that excess space for community college classes?

My Opponent Hates Pie

A discussion of the issues on the facebook page.

July 20, 2009

And, he was uppity and disrespectful

[Henry Louis Gates Jr.] was arrested on a disorderly conduct charge after police said he "exhibited loud and tumultuous behavior." He was released later that day on his own recognizance. An arraignment was scheduled for Aug. 26. Police refused to comment on the arrest Monday.

July 19, 2009

Every astronaut's worst nightmare

...the broken toilet.

You can relax

The robots are vegetarian. Nothing to see here, move along.

July 18, 2009

Back to the Garden...

Used to be, baseball was just a game. Honus Wagner, Babe Ruth, Lefty Grove, you could name any of the greats who played before the the 1960s - they understood they were lucky men, paid real cash to play a kid's game. They played ball, and they were on the radio, and boys and men loved them...but it was pretty well understood that baseball was not for deep thinkers.

As late as the 1950s college men were rare in baseball. Jim Brosnan, one such rarity, penned The Long Season, an account of his 1959 tour as a pitcher with the St. Louis Cardinals and the Cincinnati Reds. Both it and the sequel, Pennant Race, remain among the best baseball books ever written...but they are well-crafted diaries, not to be mistaken for serious literature.

Nor did they aspire to be. In 1959 baseball was still light entertainment. A preeminent aspect of American culture, to be sure - 'the national pastime' - but nothing complicated. A baseball game was a good way to kill an afternoon, not a metaphor for tragicomic America or a portal to enlightenment.

That all began to change in the 60s and 70s, as a new generation of writers reinvented baseball journalism. In 1960 that bitch John Updike went to a ballgame at Fenway Park in Boston - Ted Williams' last. The 28 year-old novelist casually tested the possibilities of sports-writing with an essay still regarded as a classic.
Fenway Park, in Boston, is a lyric little bandbox of a ballpark. Everything is painted green and seems in curiously sharp focus, like the inside of an old-fashioned peeping-type Easter egg. It was built in 1912 and rebuilt in 1934, and offers, as do most Boston artifacts, a compromise between Man's Euclidean determinations and Nature's beguiling irregularities...


Updike made his mark, to be sure. But it wasn't until the early 70's that the stakes really started to rise. Two books appeared in 1972 that have stood the test of time: Roger Kahn's The Boys of Summer and Roger Angell's The Summer Game. Carefully researched and well-written, they showed how much the average baseball writer was leaving on the table.

Apart from their quality, the two books didn't have much in common. Kahn's was a meditation on the meaning of the Brooklyn Dodgers, Angell's a mosaic-like series of essays written (originally for The New Yorker) over ten years' time. Angell, the stepson of E.B. White, might have been the better writer. Kahn probably had the better story. But both books demonstrated that you didn't have to just write about baseball. You could use baseball to write about other things...big things.

The effect was compable to Messner's "fair means" solo climbs of the era: no one could do it the old way and claim to be top-of class anymore. Both books sold well and long. Literary agents began scanning alertly for baseball writers who could actually write.

The floodgates opened. Literary types were suddenly free to write about baseball without fear of ridicule. Sportswriters, often derided as hacks, could aim higher and gain recognition for their intellectual gifts. One of the best, Thomas Boswell, named his 1983 collection of essays How Life Imitates the World Series. He got away with it because it was a good book. So was the sequel, Why Time Begins on Opening Day.

(A good anthology of 'literary' baseball essays is here.)

Well, what wise men do in the beginning, fools do in the end. Suddenly, people who knew little about baseball and were perhaps not in the same league as Updike, Kahn, and Angell, decided they could write baseball literature, too. The field grew more crowded, and the conversation slipped from the summit, descended some distance, bounced off George Will and David Halberstam, then descended further (if that were possible) into weighty, philosophical, ponderous, incoherence.

Which reminds me of a little joke.
An Englishman, an American, and Bob Costas have been taken prisoner in a Latin American dictatorship, and are to be executed. They are offered the opportunity to say a few words before the firing squad does its work.

The Englishman steps up and says "I am sorry that I can only die once for Her Majesty, and urge you to consider a more progressive form of government."

Thanks, they say, and then kill him.

Then they turn their attention to Bob Costas. Costas says "I'd like to make a few remarks about what baseball has meant to the American spirit, and how inspiring the great players of the 1950s..."

"Excuse me...!" says the American. "Would you mind shooting me first?"

Baseball's intellectual pretension index may have peaked with the appointment of A. Bartlett Giamatti as Commissioner in 1989. For the literary fan, it was as great a triumph as could be hoped for. A former professor of Comparative Literature and president of Yale, Giamatti was, for his short tenure, the thinking man's Commissioner.

"It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone."

It looked like an opportunity to redeem a sport that sometimes seemed to be veering out of control. In the preceding ten years baseball had seen farcical events like the White Sox' infamous Disco Demolition promotion and the Pine Tar Incident, not to mention a crippling strike in 1981 and the Pete Rose gambling scandal.

The effect was cumulative, but in those days, if you were tracing the decline and fall of baseball, you would probably have to start with the events of Disco Demolition Night. The brainchild of Steve Dahl and White Sox executive Mike Veeck, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

The Sox had a doubleheader at Comiskey against the Tigers. Drawing about 6,000 per game, they decided to offer $0.98 admission to anyone who brought a disco record to the game to be destroyed. Between games they'd put all the records in a box in center field and blow it up. They figured they'd double their usual crowd, maybe pull in 12,000.

Weren't they surprised when 90,000 people, almost double the stadium's capacity, showed up. Things got a little out of hand. Folks started climbing in over the walls, and smoking marijuana, and throwing their disco records from the stands. The Sox and Tigers did manage to finish the first game (4-1 Tigers, Pat Underwood got the win with a fine performance).

Before the second game they blew up the records in center field, and that made a big hole in the grass, and then a couple thousand fans rushed the field and destroyed a batting cage, and set stuff on fire, and all the bases disappeared, and the riot police had to be called in, and you can see how this sort of thing gets blown up out of proportion on a slow news day.


A faceless bureaucrat forfeited the second game, something that has not happened in the American League in the 30 years since. No fool, Veeck knew he was out of major league baseball. "The second that first guy shimmied down the outfield wall, I knew my life was over!"

(Olbermann recaps here.)

But Disco Demolition Night was just one manifestation of the underlying problems. Too much weird stuff was happening, and baseball just wasn't living up to the somber luster the literary journalists had imbued it with. Perhaps, if Giamatti had lived, he could have "restored the honor and dignity of the game," and prevented some of what came after. But he was dead after less than six months in office, his demise hastened, some said, by the stress of the Rose affair. The Steroid Era was just around the corner.

I loved Giamatti and what he stood for. His untimely passing still hurts a little. He seemed like a genuinely nice guy who cared for the game and understood that it was beautiful. But as I get older, I realize I simply cannot agree with him about the meaning of baseball.

I became a fan when baseball was still light entertainment, and with that comes the expectation that watching it will be, on average, fun. Yes, a smart person can make it deep. But a smart person can make tennis deep, too, or golf, or building a house, or eating oatmeal. Baseball itself is not all that deep. Just as Shakespeare was a playwright, and the Beatles were a band...baseball is a game. And in the first instance, games are meant to be fun. Over the past 20 years, between the money and the drugs and the strikes...baseball wasn't as much fun as it could have been.

I mean, Major League baseball...you can still have fun at a minor league game. It wasn't a tough decision during our family vacation a few weeks ago to skip the Minnesota Twins and their airless, grassless venue, and go across the river to watch the Saint Paul Saints at Midway Stadium.


It is a lyric little bandbox of a ballpark. Everything is painted green and seems in curiously sharp focus, like the inside of an old-fashioned peeping-type Easter egg. It was built in 1982 and rebuilt in 1995, and offers, as do most Minnesotan artifacts, a compromise between Man's Euclidean determinations and Nature's beguiling irregularities

We had a wonderful time, along with about 6,000 other fans. The Saints keep it family-friendly, and I never had to worry about some drunk screaming obscenities or starting a fight next to my young kids (one reason we haven't been to a Giants game this year). The Saints (team motto: "Fun is Good") have 'ushertainers' in costume walking through the crowd, and a PA announcer who gently mocks the other team by pretending to doze off as he introduces their cleanup man. Between innings they have silly contests and karaoke, and practice random acts of kindness. Plus, we all got St. Paul Saints wiffle-ball bats.

Frankly, I was won over before the game started. I don't think I've ever done this - I went down to the souvenir stand and bought a team hat.

The Saints play good baseball, too. They are not affiliated with a major league club, but their level is, to my eyes, high AA, and some of their players have gone on to careers in the majors. Squaring off against the Sioux City Explorers they executed well, played heads-up ball, and showed Sioux City what a St. Paul fastball looks like.


I had not known until recently that Updike had, in his later years, revisited his 1960 essay. "The crowd and Ted had always shared what was important," he wrote - "a belief that this boys' game terrifically mattered."

Updike was wrong, too. The game hardly matters. The things around the game - the fathers and sons, the laughter, the shared joy and sadness - those are the things that matter. It's not that baseball teaches us about life, or is a metaphor for human destiny. It is part of life, and a chance to have good fun. That's what matters.

Ask Mike Veeck, the owner of the St. Paul Saints.

FunIsGood300jacket.jpg picture by DoctorX

A nice story

Homeless hold places in line for lobbyists.

See? It's all working out.

Quoted in Le Figaro! What the Hell Did I Say?

The gracious Monsieur Hauter, who is precisely as one hopes a french chef and journalist should be, met with several of us a couple of months back, and has published this article in Le Figaro that says something or other in french, which either makes us the toast of Paris, or some now internationally-infamous chowderheads. Most likely, a combination.

Notre périple dans l'Amérique de Barack Obama commence dans l'Alaska, le moins peuplé des 51 États américains, où le drame du saccage écologique se joue entre une poignée d'habitants et un territoire grand comme trois fois la France, riche en pétrole, zinc et baleines.

Plus l'on s'éloigne de notre civilisation en se réfugiant dans un monde sauvage, plus l'on croit échapper à ses excès et à ses travers. C'est évidemment une illusion. L'Alaska est l'un des confins de la terre. La région est, pour les Américains, «a big empty space» (un grand espace vide), dont le gouverneur était jusqu'au 3 juillet dernier une volaille nommée Sarah Palin. Celle-ci s'est rendue célèbre en proférant nombre de sottises pendant la dernière campagne présidentielle. «Si je dis que je viens d'Alaska, tout le monde rigole», me dit le peintre Jamie Bollenbach. La ville la plus proche d'Anchorage est à trois heures d'avion. Se rendre à New York prend une journée.....

...Il ne fallait pas compter sur l'ex-gouverneur Sarah Palin. Elle est «pro-business» , c'est-à-dire qu'elle ne fait rien pour fixer des limites aux industriels qui s'attaquent aux ressources de la région. Ils règnent donc sur l'Alaska. «Ici, le monde politique a été complètement corrompu par le pétrole», m'explique Charles Wohlforth, un journaliste écrivain. Bill White ajoute : «Aucune petite communauté ne peut affronter une injection massive de 40 milliards de dollars opérée par les pétroliers. Ici, cela a tout changé. Il n'y a pas un seul fonctionnaire de l'environnement, dans le Grand Nord ; et c'est évidemment politique.»...


À part New York, toujours en marge de «l'Amérique profonde», ce discours de solidarité mobilise la jeunesse du pays. Jamie Bollenbach, un vieux militant des associations de défense des libertés civiques à Seattle, explique «l'explosion d'Obama» auprès des nouvelles générations : «Ces jeunes sont meilleurs que nous, mieux formés, et pourtant ils vivaient avec une impression d'échec, car ils avaient le sentiment de ne pas pouvoir changer les choses. Il leur manquait cette énergie que l'on attend de la jeunesse !», dit-il, avant d'ajouter : «Aujourd'hui ces jeunes qui ont toujours grandi attachés par des ceintures de sécurité à l'arrière des voitures, veulent s'enrichir autrement. Obama a lancé un mouvement culturel.»

Dans les cabinets de conseil, les recruteurs n'en reviennent pas : «Les jeunes disent soudain qu'ils se verraient bien avec une triple carrière dans les affaires, la politique et l'engagement envers la communauté. Ils veulent tout : consommer et remplir des buts plus nobles», note un dirigeant de McKinsey, qui requiert l'anonymat. Alison Silver, journaliste politique, ajoute : «Dans les années soixante-dix, les élites allaient vers Hollywood. Puis ce fut l'industrie de l'Internet. Puis la finance. Aujourd'hui, c'est la politique.»

Gratuitous Polysics


These kids today aren't all bad.

Their interrogation and subversion of robot propaganda is particularly relevant to our interests.

Dave Dederer has a new(-ish) blog


July 17, 2009

Aston vs. Bullet Train

A fine job by the TopGear gang.

July 16, 2009

Willie Brown: Palin is Smart

His defense of her decision is here.

Never quite knew what to make of Willie Brown. Don't really agree with him on much. But without him, would California be where it is today?

(Stares thoughtfully into the distance.)

July 15, 2009

I need one of these

Mattel Football, 1979. Don't pretend you don't remember.

The 10 greatest minutes in television history

...well, my favorite ten minutes, anyway. If I were in charge, this would be required viewing for the Citizenship Exam.

We are all Aunt Oona.

Deep thought

Despite the similarity in the spelling of their names, 'Palin' doesn't rhyme with 'Stalin'.

July 14, 2009

Not technically robots

...since they are remotely controlled by monkeys...using their minds. I, for one, welcome our new monkey-robot overlords.


July 13, 2009

Eisengeiste Football League 2009

I'm looking at setting up our league again for the upcoming season. Before I do so, I want to get a commitment from our participants that you will actually compete this time. Last year, we heard some pretty lame excuses, and I don't want them repeated this year.

"Cyborg Crickets Could Form Mobile Communications Network, Save Human Lives"

...at first...

And how will the Republicans try and block this nominee?

Obama picks Dr. Regina Benjamin as U.S. surgeon general.

Dr. Benjamin, is well known for running a low-cost clinic for years and helping out her local community with free health care.

She's been the recipient of a MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant, as well as a distinguished service medal from some foreign leader.

I'm guessing that last one is what's going to trip her up with Republicans. Obvious ties to a foreign, religious radical are rarely looked on favorably.

Either that or her profligate spending when she mortgaged her own home and maxed out her credit cards to keep her clinic running after some sort of minor setback.

Anyone else care to predict the talking points for her opposition?

July 10, 2009

Surely this guarantees victory

Mora and Goodell climb Ranier. Only question mark seems to be the quarterback position - if Matt is good to go, well, yes, playoffs. It says so here.

But even if he is healthy, there is a lack of depth at the position... And, frankly, the offense is light on impact players - they really could use a game-changer - a breakaway threat, maybe someone who could run the wildcat in the Red Zone.

Not too many of those guys out there of course, especially not many with playoff experience.

Sure he's tough to coach, but Mora and Knapp have coached him before...you can't leave players off your team just because they have strong personalities...

C'mon Jim, the phones right there...dial the number...you know you want to...

July 09, 2009

This is better than the Tour de France

Annnnnd...now it's Ensign with new disclosures of hush (?) money paid to his mistress's family...

Mr. Sanford, Ms. Palin - your move!

(Stanley Fish defends Palin and Sanford here.)

Anselm Kiefer On Stage

Anselm Kiefer, the German painter, creates a fascinating looking play I'd like to see. His references to bombing destruction has an relationship to my interest in the WWII Allied air effort campaign; Kiefer makes art about renewed life from the twisted metal, concrete and dust; I'm looking at the sky, aluminum, violence, menace and salvation.

July 08, 2009

Poems of the Arctic!

There are strange things done in the midnight sun

By the men who moil for gold;

The Arctic trails have their secret tales

That would make your blood run cold;

The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,

But the queerest on CNN,

Was that day of strange zeal by Lake Lucille,

Self-cremate did Sarah Palin.

The Audacity of Mope

Emo Bunny doesn't expect you fascists to understand his art.

July 07, 2009

Take That, Capitalism

It appears that the Government may have come to the remarkable conclusion that regulations in the energy markets might be just ducky.

Bully for the Republic, I say!

July 06, 2009

4th Dimension, Visualizations

A fascinating pop science video introduction to visualizing 4th dimensional polyhedrons.

To me there is something of an aesthetic and to a lesser extent geometric echo between these and some of the compositional elements I'm interested in in my work, where I am trying to evoke a sense of a person passing through both observed time and the memory of that time.

The still object of a painting often does not represent stillness any more than it represents flatness. It is a two dimensional object that tends to create illusions of both space and time, but perceptually and emotionally, rather than mathematically- however, I notice some interesting similarities between the actual path of my 2-d lines, particularly while being made, and the path of the 2-d video representations of a 4th dimensional polyhedron passing through the illusion of 3-d space, which of course is actually represented by 2-d space.

The math? Sorry, not in my job description.

In a Minor Break in the Micheal Jackson News, Obama Chills Russia Out

What seems to be a very significant agreement with Russia on nuclear arms reduction.

July 05, 2009

Speaking of the National Stage

Actually, there was an Alaskan woman who had a positive contribution to our country this weekend.

The Bitch is NPD

Sarah Palin made a lot more sense to me after I read this, in Todd Purdum's Vanity Fair article:

More than once in my travels in Alaska, people brought up, without prompting, the question of Palin’s extravagant self-regard. Several told me, independently of one another, that they had consulted the definition of “narcissistic personality disorder” in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders—“a pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy”—and thought it fit her perfectly.

Oddly, Bill Kristol's criticism of the article singled out that paragraph:

Is there any real chance that "several" Alaskans independently told Purdum that they had consulted the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders? I don’t believe it for a moment. I’ve (for better or worse) moved in pretty well-educated circles in my life, and I’ve gone decades without “several” people telling me they had consulted the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

All I can say to Kristol (apart from "This republic cannot endure any more of your jokes, Sir!") is "Clearly, you've never worked for a narcissicist." Because, if he had, he'd know that the DSM article makes the rounds. (I have, and it did.) Further, if I were a political consultant, one who'd worked my way up, I'd have the DSM for NPD memorized, because it's a singular occupational hazard. In politics, you don't want to work for an NPD, because they aren't going anywhere.

The first reason NPDs aren't suited to politics is that they make too many enemies. Part of Palin's original popularity was that she was willing to "stand up to the corrupt Republican establishment." Another way to look at this is that she wasn't sane enough to make play nice with the Republican establishment. Her being elected Governor in the first place was a fluke, and her getting the GOB veep nod was a fluke, squared. She had no future, and has no future, as a politician.

The second reason NPDs fail at politics: they can't take criticsm. It drives them to do even crazier things, and I think we've just witnessed one of them.

I've said it more than once, and I'll say it again: within five years, she'll be selling real estate.

A couple of interesting notes

I can't even keep up, but these caught my eye:

Palin possibly envisioning third-party presidential run

Palin's Douchebag Threatens To Sue Us!

Palin's attorney, Thomas Van Flein, threatens to sue progressive bloggers like Shannyn Moore for publishing rumors about a possible federal indictment for embezzlement. I've done so too; so to keep things legally safe, I should clarify that Sarah Palin is an ignorant, unstable, self-aggrandizing evil crypto-fascist BEE-Atch who according to rumors may be facing a federal indictment for embezzlement.

July 04, 2009

And then...it got even weirder

(CNN) -- Alaskan Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell, who will succeed Gov. Sarah Palin after she leaves office this month, called Palin Alaska's greatest gift to the United States on Saturday.

"I was very surprised at first," he said of Palin's decision to resign, which he said she told him Wednesday.

"But then as she began to explain why she was doing it, I began to see it was Sarah Palin, once again, moving to put Alaska's interest first," Parnell told CNN.

Ahem, three points to make here...
  • The only Alaskans who have actually accomplished something on the national stage (as opposed to embarrassing the entire State) are Carlos Boozer and Trajan Langdon.
  • Quitting as governor midway through your first term is not "putting Alaska first", unless you're a Democrat. Lisa Murkowski agrees, saying: "I am deeply disappointed that the governor has decided to abandon the state and her constituents before her term has concluded."
  • Both Palin and her putative successor have alluded this weekend to the brevity of life. Umm, anything else either of you would like to tell us?

Programming: correct!

We were playing 20 questions in the car today. The clue was: a man who is old.

The 4 year-old said: "John McCain?"

Something Awful Apologizes For Bringing Down Sarah Palin

Recommended reading.

July 03, 2009

Obama's good, but this is mastery

I've been collecting things - movies, music, books, articles - that my boys are too young for now, but which will be compulsory for them at some point in the next few years. Suggestions welcome.

This is very high on that list.

Don't mess with true love

I link to Marshall's brilliant and probably correct advice to Mark Sanford: Just go be with her!

Politics, power, family, one's position in society - all of these things are important. But I cannot shake the feeling that Sanford really loved that woman in Argentina. Really loved her.

And I'm having a tough time visualizing success for his return home to "learn how to love" his wife again. Jenny Sanford, former Wall Street executive, has said "I believe enduring love is primarily a commitment and an act of will, and for a marriage to be successful, that commitment must be reciprocal." Uhhh, I don't know...I've been married for eight years, and if I had to choose words to describe my love for my wife, I'm not sure "act of will" would be among them.

(As for commitment, I am in favor of it. My one little caveat there would be that it must not only be reciprocal - it must be bearable by humans.)

So Sanford walks away from something resembling genuine love, and back to a disaffected wife who is running her thoughts on him by a sympathetic press ("I admire her investment-banker steel" says Ruth Marcus). I'm just trying to think if there is any logic system extant under which that plan makes sense.

Prince Humperdink put it best...
You truly love each other and so you might have been truly happy. Not one couple in a century has that chance, no matter what the story books say. And so I think no man in a century will suffer as greatly as you will.
Whichever path Sanford chooses, he will deserve, and get to live with, the consequences.

Jon Stewart is less understanding.

A happy little book

Illustrated by Sendak, this edgy little book of nursery rhymes is excellent. The current favorite around our house:
Tom tied a kettle to the tail of a cat;
Jill put a stone in the blind man's hat;
Bob threw his grandmother down the stairs -
And they all grew up ugly and nobody cares!

Palin: Was It GOP Blackmail?

I'm hearing some background from knowledgeable Alaskans on Palin, but I stress, only speculation: the theory is that GOP heavyweights associated with Mitt Romney have some kind of serious yet unreported dirt on Palin, and gave Palin options: resign gracefully, and get out of Romney's way, or get buried with full force. No evidence save her shaken look and performance, and the bizzare timing; but Romney is the immediate beneficiary.

Let me restate: there is no direct evidence for this, but I give the possibility some credibility, because the resignation of a sitting governor in a serious position to run for president is not a trivial matter, because there are other investigations bubbling around her, and because her explanation made very little sense. What was the compelling reason to resign 2 and a half years in? Wicked Photoshoppers at Something Awful were mean to Trig? She wanted to save the state from her lame duck status? Resignation suggests folding to outside pressure.

I would at least suggest scrutiny of Romney's behavior now.


Tonight's leading candidate for an oncoming Palin scandal is an investigation for embezzlement related to the infamous Wasilla sports complex that threw the tiny town into serious debt while Palin was Mayor, and the materials and labor for construction of her large lakeside house.


Holy Socks! She Bailed Because of Something Awful?

"I think much of it had to do with the kids seeing their baby brother Trig mocked by some pretty mean-spirited adults recently." - Gov. Palin, in resignation speech.

Here is the photoshop contest thread in question.

On Palin: Our Official Guess

Based on the timing and the priceless, rambling, unprepared press conference that stressed helping the cause while out of office, our official guess is that necessity rather than ambition is driving Palin's resignation, and you can expect some sort of new ethical nastiness emerging very soon.

Today's Urgent Headlines Today: Why Is Sarah Palin Resigning?

-Vows to Break Record Set by Octomom.

- Devoting More Time to Looking at a Picture of Jesus Next to the Bathroom Mirror

- Jealous of All the Attention Michael Jackson is Getting

- Has Been Called to do the Lord's Work in Fighting Health Care Reform

- Blowing Unspent Federal Stimulus Money in Vegas

- Schedule Conflict With XM Magazine Photo Shoot

- Needs More Time to Haunt John McCain Like a Dark, Soul-Sucking Shadow

- Running for Long-Coveted Position of Dairy Queen

- Felt a Strange Compulsion to Locate, Visit Russia

- Jealous of All the Attention Mark Sanford is Getting.

- Taking Recreational Drilling Rig to Yosemite

- Going with the Flow and Entering Professional Comedy

- To Spend More Time With Family, Figuring Out How To Use Them For Personal Gain

- Fearful of What Will Happen As World Respect Is Restored to the United States and Must Take Action

- Wants to Fulfill Lifelong Dream of Losing A Republican Presidential Primary in Own State.

- Running for Governor of a State that Will Truly Appreciate Her, Like West Tennessee

- Surprise Provision in Doritos Endorsement Contract Prohibits Continuing to Serve The People

- Jealous of All the Attention John and Kate Plus Eight Couple is Getting

- Entering Tour De France

- Was Finally Accepted as Freshman at University of Washington

- Jealous of all the Attention Pauly Shore is Getting

Palin Not Running Again


P.S., way to get scooped, Anchorage Daily News.

Brief Rant Favoring Extreme Partisanship

Welcome Sen. Franken.

At this glorious moment of generalized schaudenfreudery, there are many calls for the Democratic Party not to overstep itself, not to push too hard on health care, not to become arrogant, to look for balance, common ground etc, to include all parties at the table, etc.


The President makes something this case frequently, but what Obama means by this and Joe Liberman means by this are two rather different things. It is the latter I am done with.

The Republican Party as such has earned a right to be ignored and/or crushed, for as near as I can tell, the rest of my natural life.

I would be more disposed to the concept of political balance if I could honestly name a single policy, in the last thirty years, espoused by the right generally and the Republican party leadership specifically that has, in any significant way, personally benefited me. I can't think of one.

I can however think of many of their policies that have severely injured people I know and care about, sometimes literally, sometimes calling half-legal medical services begging medical advice for a friend just hit by a car, watching people dragged off into the gaping bowels of the prison industry, sometimes noting the frightening change in the color of the sky.

If I had to guess, most of the people I know have less money in real terms than they otherwise would have, have less access to health care, have less affordable housing, less access to college educations, less benefit from college educations, less benefit from apprenticeships, worse public schools, far less predictability, satisfaction and reliability in work, work longer hours at for lower wages, have fewer legal and social freedoms, have less independence in their working lives, have in fact a nation in decline (until with any luck the last few months), and not the least of it, have a rapidly deteriorating planetary ecosystem.

Unless Obama can break us out of the deep ditch these assorted Social Darwinist policies have dug us, most American children have a deeply craptastic future to contemplate before they are spit out into the tender mercies of the world economy in a severely deteriorating world ecosystem in 20 years.

I should say now that I have hope that the President's leadership is significant, and there really is hope. More to the point, there really is no functional alternative to hope. And so I am utterly out of patience with obstructionists operating purely from a habit of personal gain, scanning their surroundings for yet another mark, looking for new wealth at the suffering of their fellow countrymen, a wealth intended to be piled on pointlessly on existing wealth arising 99 times out of 100 from pre-existing privilege.

But what is our Republican heritage now? A cultural divided country. Less expensive, lower quality manufactured goods at the cost of decent wages? Gas was historically cheap I suppose. And what a complete disaster that is. De-regulating phones and travel, well, those were cheaper, at costs to wages and perhaps irreversible costs to the environment. We did get loads of high interest credit cards, and easy loans on wildly distorted property values while our real wages declined. Food is also cheaper, at least by the calorie. Please note my fat ass.

I can go on. But the U.S. was severely weakened in this period, and the truth is the earth is starting to die.

As it is, after many, many years of hearing these arguments, and until the Bush Administration trying very hard to respect the other side, I've completely given up on the idea that compromise and respect for the right-wing policy makers is beneficial. The growth in right wing racist violence, endlessly winked at by half-assed fascists in the media, might be a bit of trigger there.

Compromise among the great diversity of genuine beliefs and cultural values in America, I am all for. But for the Republican power structure, the leadership as it is? If the opportunity presents itself, and it might, I recommend a policy of political isolation and eventual eradication. If from its ashes a Libertarian and a Christianist party (particularly localized ones), I'm all for it; I will be delighted to battle them in the realm of actual ideas. These are genuine American political cultures.

But for the crypto-fascist, ego-capitalist, aspiring tyrants, liars, idolaters and tools, by which I mean the contemporary Republican party? I have no time to argue with grifters and con-men. I support whatever works to crush this cancer, velvet glove or iPhone fist.

50 Terrible Vehicles

If your magazine publishes a "worst of " list the writing better be breezy and sharp, like a dust-devil full of scalpel blades.

There was a time when 90 horsepower was a lot, and that time was 1932. Fifty years later, it was bupkis, especially under the hood of Chevy's beloved Mustang-fighter, the Camaro. As the base engine for the redesigned 1982 Camaro (and Pontiac Firebird), the 2.5-liter, four-cylinder "Iron Duke" was the smallest, least powerful, most un-Camaro-like engine that could be and, like the California Corvette, it was connected to a low-tech three-speed slushbox. So equipped, the Iron Duke Camaro had 0-60 mph acceleration of around 20 seconds, which left Camaro owners to drum their fingers while school buses rocketed past in a blur of yellow.

July 02, 2009

Not funny, exactly, but interesting

Top 10 ironic ads

July 01, 2009

The meanest of blog posts

contain nothing more than a link to another blog an an exhortation that everyone should follow it and laugh.

But here were are.