August 31, 2005

Compare and Contrast

Nero, fiddled while Rome burned:
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POTUS, strummed while thousands drowned in New Orleans:


One crucial difference: the latter event actually happened.

A black day in American history.

August 30, 2005

The difference between "looting" and "finding"...

...and the difference between

Also, apparently the difference bewteen Resident and Looter.

August 28, 2005

Happy 3rd Eisenjahr

To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought,
When all is one and one is all,
To be a rock, and not to roll.

- Alfred Lord Zeppelin

Light a Candle for New Orleans

It may not be there in the morning.

"For years, forecasters have warned of the nightmare flooding a big storm could bring to New Orleans, a bowl-shaped city bounded by the half-mile-wide Mississippi River and massive Lake Pontchartrain.

"As much as 10 feet below sea level in spots, the city is as the mercy of a network of levees, canals and pumps to keep dry.

"Scientists predicted Katrina could easily overtake that levee system [and] leave more than 1 million people homeless.

" 'All indications are that this is absolutely worst-case scenario,' Ivor van Heerden, deputy director of the Louisiana State University Hurricane Center, said Sunday afternoon."

The Last Word on Detroit

This aerial view of Detroit and (across the river) Windsor, Ontario is great, as is the accompanying commentary.

Of all the things I have read about the death of Detroit, this makes the most sense - they built too many highways. They sliced up the city into dozens of isolated little neighborhoods, which withered and died. And, due to idiotic funding policies, they keep rebuilding the highways instead of tearing them down.

Think about the blessing the '89 earthquake was for San Francisco. The destruction of the Nimitz led to the complete redevelopment of the waterfront.

Here is what one little neighborhood of Detroit looked like in 1953 (scroll down to see it), and here is how it looked in 2001. Here is a photo:

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August 27, 2005

Eisenquote - Earl Warren

"In these days, it is doubtful that any child may reasonably be expected to succeed in life if he is denied the opportunity of an education."

My Hopes Are Not High

One would think that after five years of continual ass-whipping, the Democratic Party of California would be thinking through its priorities. So, after looking over our state, its moribund public education, its comically regressive property tax policy, the horrific conditions of the poor and homeless in San Francisco and LA, Attorney General Bill Lockyer (who want to be governor) has identified an enemy we can all line up against: French Fries.

You see, apparently most people don't know fried foods are bad for you. This leads to obesity and higher healthcare costs when they get diabetes and heart attacks. I can almost buy it, except for a few problems:

1) Warning labels? Since when has a warning label ever successfully discouraged people from doing something they wanted to do?

2) It's kind of hard to read a warning label if you can't fucking read.

3) Let's say the labels work. I'll bet you'll still have a bunch of fat people because in most of California you can't go to the fucking bathroom without getting in your car and driving there. Seriously, go out to Hercules or Sacramento, set your odometer to zero, and see how far you have to drive to get to a Safeway.

I have no love for Governor von Muscledick and his doomed agenda, but it's important to understand that even though his approval rating is low, the California Assembly's approval rating is even lower.

This state has serious problems. A real Democrat would think about how to better plan our cities, feed the poor, educate children, and improve healthcare. If this is the best Lockyer can do, he deserves our deepest contempt. An idiot Democrat is the GOP's best friend.

The Once and Future Adak

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This smart little town, busy with 4000 people in 1991, furious then with construction of a key US submarine base, is all but empty - Adak, Alaska. With an unused high school, elementary school, and big swimming pool, Adak is down to 300 people, now owned by an Aleut corporation.

I like the optimism of Adak's website - not only was the bulk of this city built fresh in the late 1980's and early 1990s, and is all still in excellent shape, this is one of the few towns with a complete SOSUS network under its control, still able to monitor submarine traffic throughout the north Pacidic. It was a center for submarine monitoring operations when it was all but abandoned by the Navy in the early 1990's, due to the Cold War draw down.

It was a bit of a multi-billion boo-boo.

But fear not, we've got another one. We're towing an incredibly expensive (built in Texas and towing around the Horn, which was supposedly cheaper than building in Adak) and useless X-Band missile tracking floating radar unit there to guide the non-functioning missiles in Delta Junction that will fail to intercept the intercontinental ballistics that North Korea won't fire at Anchorage, because frankly there are much easier ways to destroy Anchorage (insert your own joke) and anyway there are certain limitations with the laws of physics the Pentagon has been poo-poohing in building this $53 Billion dealy-bob.

Still, that leaves Adak, an all-but empty perfectly modern city in the middle of the North Pacific, ready for something. Waiting.

Please refer all enquires to the Godot Development Group.

August 26, 2005

Battleship Island and the Idea of Death

I was showing my wife the ruins of Detroit - so unusual, I said, to see a modern city utterly ruined. "No, there must be others," she said, "type 'abandoned city' into Google." I did. The first hits were, as you might expect, Pripyat (Chernobyl's home town). Then there was this interesting essay on urban planning, then a disturbing photo essay on Bhopal.

But then we stumbled on this photo essay of a place we'd never heard of, Battleship Island, off the west coast of Japan. Once a thriving coal mining community, it was abandoned when the coal ran out. The site includes pictures from 1974, when the island was alive, and then again in the 90's by which time it had taken on a notably Alaskan character.

The photographer had a bit of an epiphany when he did a series of photos of the seawall on Battleship Island. This commentary is both beautiful and educational. If nothing else, I think I now understand Waking Life a little better...

An Eisengeiste Quote

. . .Dort, wo man Bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man auch am Ende Menschen.
- Heinrich Heine


Gallup confirms. Bush's approvals are at 40%, and Gallup runs a little conservative. 56% do not countenance the flea-blooded scurvy-toothed jakes-licking dog.

These are, simply put, Nixon 1973 numbers.

It grows, it grows... a long lost feeling of

Ye Gim-Crack'd Balsa-Stemmed Mutton Face!

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Talk Like a Pirate Day is coming up and I am constrained to stuff with a rich stew of pirate insults, because, A, pirates are ever more popular, and 2, I had two incidents with me handy Civic that would have been greatly improved by cursing like a pirate. But I had fallen out of the habit.

The first was an ordinary bilge-breather bit of frat-flotsam, cod-pieced in an actual cod, swaying in his ass-beamed pick-up like a drunken latern in a choppy gale. I should have said: "Curse Be on Ye! Too bad for yer dried up 50 year salt-pork of a wife that finger's the only bit of ye that sticks up proper."

The second was that my car was rear-ended by a casket delivery truck. Yes. A brush with death if ever there was one. Where to start?

"By Beelzebub's Ungainly Bowels! Beset Astern by the Ferryman's own Ferries Ferrier! You Yellow-Eyed, Syphylitic Witch's Nethers! A lubbery move, Sirrah, lubbery! A whelp of a ship's boy fed on old linen and a hog's head of ale could make his course a-better! Who filled yer rum-pot with stale weasel piss, you mole-blind, Lard-balled, liver-handed old sheep bugger?!"

More to come.

August 25, 2005

Also From the WashMo

If Hillary Rodham Clinton were to run for president in 2008, how likely would you be to vote for her—very likely, somewhat likely, not very likely, or not at all likely?

Very likely 29%
Somewhat likely 24
Not very likely 7
Not at all likely 40
No opinion 1

"At the risk of laboring the point, 29 percent plus 24 percent adds up to a majority. I can hear my pals answering this as they read these numbers: “Yes, but that's before the conservative attack machine gets a hold of her..."

"Well, no, it isn't. They've been going at her with verbal tire irons, machetes, and sawed-off shotguns for 12 years now. Sen. Clinton's negatives are already figured into her ratings. What could she be accused of that she hasn't already confronted since she entered the public eye 14 years ago? Clinton today is in a position similar to Bush's at the beginning of 2004. Democrats hoped that more information about the president's youth would knock him down. But voters had already taken the president's past into account when they voted for him in 2000. More information just wasn't going to make a dent. In fact, as the spring of 2005 turned to summer there were yet another book and a matched spate of tabloid broadsides. In the face of it all, Hillary appears, if anything, to be getting stronger. Indeed, the more the right throws at her, the easier it is for her to lump any criticism in with the darkest visions of the professional Clinton bashers."

The Oh My God You Idiots Factor

Fox news IDs terrorist lair, incorrectly. Notices error only after giving out the address on TV.

Had this been an actual terrorist lair, the terrorists, noticing that they had been ID'd and their location made public, would have left immediately. So it might have been better, and less embarassing, to have called the Police first, no?

Look on My Works Ye Mighty and Despair

Check out this online tour of the Ruins of Detroit. Detroit is now so desolate, people are exhuming their relatives from the cemeteries and reburying them in the suburbs.

I was stunned when I saw this. I used to go to Detroit a lot, and I walked through that train station a few times. All gone now.

[Here is another good site.]

August 24, 2005

And We Need to Kill Chavez Because...Uh..Well..Oh.

Interesting article from the Independent on Chavez's Venezuala.

The rich white people don't come off so well.

We Have a Secret Department for That

Rumsfeld said he knew of no consideration ever being given to the idea of assassinating Chavez.

"Our department doesn't do that kind of thing. It's against the law," he said.

Presenting the Subblimp

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Not me. Yet not plywood. From the website.

Apparantly only the wood uranium power is my contribution. Yet if we can just solve the water/helium ballast -hull rigidity problem, we're there.

W: You Are No Longer Pre-Approved

Utah loves Bush, but almost no one else does. This surveyusa poll of 600 people in each state suggests that the President's trouble isn't just deep, it's wide, and NO STATE has an approval rate even of 60%. Even a 3 point plurality in Alaska, gasp, disapprove of W. In Ohio, it's 60 to 37.

Props to Rhode Island for 68% disapproval of the president, with 29% approval. 29. Way to go!

Remember Warren G. Harding? I don't really either.

Product Development Suggestion for Anyone Who Might Be Working In Anti-Spam

We're getting hit with lots of spam in our comments area.

I don't suppose anyone might have a software product in development to sell to Blogger for just this sort of thing.

Good Headline

An instant Fark classic: "God tells Pat Robertson to backpedal."

"The commandment is 'Thou Shalt Not Kill -- unless the oil won't stop.'" - Jon Stweart

Bloop, Bloop, Bloop

I've been suspecting that something of a collapse in Bush's support was possible, after a year at just above 50%, the failures and lies are adding up.

New Harris poll has Bush approval at 40%, a steep drop and a record low.

You would expect that after 50% disapproval, and considering the election, further declines would be harder going. So will it stabilize or go even lower? Remember at least 10% or so of this total disapproval is coming directly from Bush's traditional supporters, who were gained mostly through the war on terror language, and I suspect being lost as his war rationale - and false reputation for straight-talkin'- grows more and more empty.

But I think it can drop more. On one hand, right-wingers, like progressives, are around 25-30% of the population. They won't move until they're drafted.

But I think we may see a slow decline to around 34-37% approval in coming months. Already one poll from 8-16 has him at 36% approval; Rasmussen tracking has him at 45%. (Good general discussion here at the Wash. Post.) This severely weakens him politically, and sets up interesting possibilities for 2006.

By way of comparison, Bill Clinton, at the height of the impeachment scandal, had 63% approval, by Gallup's measure. With Bush dipping into the 30s, on not just Iraq but Social Security, Energy, Terry Shiavo, and even No Child Taken Along (large majority now opposing it's provisions) it's a description of a politically impotent presidency, in spite of Congressional and judicial majorities. In particular, dissenters in his own party can now defy the administration at will, and in fact have an increasingly strong incentive to do so as Bush sinks.

This is all barring, of course, things happening.

August 23, 2005

Gunga galunga, Welcome to the Team

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"I believe all suffering is caused by ignorance. People inflict pain on others in the selfish pursuit of their happiness or satisfaction. Yet true happiness comes from a sense of brotherhood and sisterhood. We need to cultivate a universal responsibility for one another and the planet we share. Although I have found my own Buddhist religion helpful in generating love and compassion, even for those we consider our enemies, I am convinced that everyone can develop a good heart and a sense of universal responsibility with or without religion."

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

My nephew Dustin, in his robot suit (hey, the lights really worked!) on Mars.

Nicely Done

McSweeney's Klingon Fairy Tales.

August 22, 2005

Canada Invades Canada

HMCS Glace Bay and HMCS Shawinigan

In the most aggressive move in 3o years to reclaim godforsaken arctic nowheres, Canada is invading itself as part of campaign against Denmark, and oh lord, us, over ownership over Arctic waters and the Northwest Passage, which we apparantly are considering international waters. The HMCS Shawinigan and HMCS Glace Bay are docked at Churchill, and the HMCS Fredericton is on the way.

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Looking at a map, the Northwest Passage is in international waters in the same way the Mississippi appears to be. First, this is all very funny. Second, what's driving it is bloody depressing. From the Telegraph:
(Canada's) scramble for the Arctic is a consequence of global warming and the retreat of the polar ice. This has raised the prospect of once-inaccessible areas becoming available for oil and mineral extraction. It has also revived the dream of a "North-West Passage" for shipping, linking the Atlantic and Pacific. Amid diplomatic arguments over territorial rights, Canada's defence minister recently clambered on to a frozen rock, tiny Hans Island, triggering protests from Denmark.
Yeesh. Here's the cycle, and it might explain some things. One of the charming effects of Global Warming is that the arctic pack ice is melting, opening up huge areas of the Canadian and Russian Arctic to more oil exploitation (somelike like 25% of the world's reserves I saw somewhere), which allows for more oil burning, which, you get the idea.

You see, it's not a brewing global catastrophy that might devastate the earth and the human race through environmental chaos and starvation, it's really just another excellent business opportunity, kind of like my planned Wisconsin fruit shriveling business.

Last month's Scientific American has some stuff on atmospheric carbon extraction. I hope it works, but it feels more like one of those Popular Science schemes to commute using inexpensive uranium-powered plywood submersible blimps.

Make Your Own Underwater ROV: $100

I am sorely tempted and allowing myself to be deluded by the idea of making my own underwater ROV vehicle for $100 out of stuff at Home Depot.

Another WikiQuote

"All right, I can see the broken eggs. Now where's this omelette of yours?"

- Victor Serge



New reference weblog for my artwork: It's a little easier to update with new work and shameless yet tasteful self-promotion. The current template is a stand-in until I can find something better.

Bill Gates: 1 mil $ to Fight Science

The Bill and Melinda Gates foundation is funding the anti-biological science Discovery Institute in Seattle. The institute is basically a pseudo-academic think tank covering dangerous, delusional right wing nonsense with a sugary coat of reasonable-sounding language. A soft but alarming piece from today's Seattle PI:

These successes follow a path laid in a 1999 Discovery manifesto known as the Wedge Document, which sought "nothing less than the overthrow of materialism and its cultural legacies" in favor of a "broadly theistic understanding of nature."

Detractors dismiss Discovery as a fundamentalist front and intelligent design as a clever rhetorical detour around the 1987 Supreme Court ruling banning creationism from curricula. ...

A closer look shows a multidimensional organization, financed by missionary and mainstream groups -- the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation provides $1 million a year, including $50,000 of Chapman's $141,000 annual salary -- and asserting itself on issues as varied as local transportation and foreign affairs.

President Bush: Too Much of a Pussy to Visit SF

BUSH KEEPS S.F. AT BAY / President hasn't participated in 75-year tradition of visiting city -- and he has no plans to do so

Buuck buck buuuuck.

August 21, 2005

Wikiquote's Quote of the Day

By a free country, I mean a country where people are allowed, so long as they do not hurt their neighbours, to do as they like. I do not mean a country where six men may make five men do exactly as they like."

~ Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, Lord Salisbury

Speaking of Toynbee

The comment on Toynbee brought to mind Weldon Kees. Given where I live, my lack of sympathy for the beat poets is almost traitorous. I'm sorry - apart from Ginsberg, most of them were just not very good.

But Kees was doing great stuff in SF in the 50s. He was dead by '55 - apparently jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge. (I may have mentioned this before, but one reason I keep my distance from poetry is the tendency of my favorites to kill themselves - my favorite poet is Cesare Pavese; after the immaculate Bishop, my favorite American poet is probably Randall Jarrell.)

He was also a painter and art critic for The Nation while he was in New York. A longer bio is here.

I first read Kees in Alan Berg's free verse anthology Naked Poetry. Here is one of his poems, which mentions both Toynbee and someone named Gibbons:

"Aspects of Robinson"

Robinson at cards at the Algonquin: a thin
Blue light comes down once more outside the blinds.
Gray men in overcoats are ghosts blown past the door.
The taxis streak the avenues with yellow, orange, and red.
This is Grand Central, Mr. Robinson.

Robinson on a roof above the Heights; the boats
Mourn like the lost. Water is slate, far down.
Through sounds of ice cubes dropped in glass, an osteopath,
Dressed for the links, describes an old Intourist tour.
—Here’s where old Gibbons jumped from, Robinson,

Robinson walking in the Park, admiring the elephant.
Robinson buying the Tribune, Robinson buying the Times.
Saying, “Hello. Yes, this is Robinson. Sunday
At five? I’d love to. Pretty well. And you?”
Robinson alone at Longchamps, staring at the wall.

Robinson afraid, drunk, sobbing Robinson
In bed with a Mrs. Morse. Robinson at home;
Decisions: Toynbee or luminol? Where the sun
Shines, Robinson in flowered trunks, eyes toward
The breakers. Where the night ends, Robinson in East Side bars.

Robinson in Glen plaid jacket, Scotch-grain shoes,
Black four-in-hand and oxford button-down,
The jeweled and silent watch that winds itself, the brief-
Case, covert topcoat, clothes for spring, all covering
His sad and usual heart, dry as a winter leaf.

Rod McKuen, you ask? Still doing fine, played Carnegie Hall in 2003...

If You Love Freedom, Resign, W, Resign

Not that this will happen. But it's a point worth raising - if the major figures of the administration behind this corrupt and regularly botched war resigned, America might just have a chance of political and military victory in Iraq. Rice, Rumsfeld, Cheney, Feit- OUT.

Bush's resignation from the presidency would create several conditions that might help. First, restoration of international respect necessary to form an global effort to replace the American occupation. It cannot happen now, because occupation was the primary neo-con purpose for the invasion. I am convinced that they will lose is this war before abandoning the idea of positioning forward American bases in the Middle East, and this obsession obscured competent political and military judgement from the begining.

Second, one major lesson from Vietnam had little to do with Vietnam itself: an American government, when dominantly cynical and corrupt, cannot indefinitely sustain an essentially imperial war in a democracy, at least not one of this scale. The hollownesss creeping into and cracking open the national psyche is identical in character to the Nixon years, for the same reasons, and then like now, it is attributable to the incessant dissembling and arrogance and ambition of the administration.

We can convince the world of nothing in this sorry political state. With the reason-a-day war and constant insistence of the truth of patent falsehoods, our credibility is totally shot - and the credibility of the dominant power is one thing absolutely necessary for rebuilding another nation. Resignation would make rebuilding our international credibility possible, though far from certain. And resignation might allow America to rebuild some kind of reasonable national political consensus.

Resign, President Bush. Resign now and Iraq might avoid civil war. Resign now and we will save American and Iraqi lives.

But to W., of course, it's most important that he get on with his life.

Better Than the Million Man March

10,000 pipers play simultaneously in Edinburgh.

You guys are going to this next year, right?

WW 2 Was a Keynesian Event for the U.S.

Of course Keynsian stimulus doesn't help much if your infrastructure has been annihilated and your labor force destroyed. So my guess is that the U.S. economy was virtually the only one to derive a benefit from all this spending:

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You can ignore the GDP line, it's got a goofy scale (since GDP follows a reasonably stable trend some indicator of rate of change - accelerations and decelerations - would be more useful). But despite the unreliable source I'm linking to, the Budget Deficit line is about right.

Wikipedia also has a nice little article on income redistribution. Honestly, with Wikipedia I don't see why people pay for college nowadays.

A Quick Briefing on Keynesian Economics

Although not constructed by Keynes himself, the IS-LM model is the Royal Road to understanding his thought. The vertical axis is the rate of interest, the horizontal is the rate of growth in the economy. The IS line plots a series of equilibrium points for the real economy, the world of traded goods and services. The LM line plots a similar series of equilibrium points for financial markets.

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These are not supply and demand curves - to move either line a lot of things have to happen. From the article:

"One Keynesian hypothesis is that a government's deficit spending has an effect similar to that of a lower saving rate or increased private fixed investment, increasing the amount of aggregate demand for national income at each individual interest rate. An increased deficit by the national government shifts the IS curve to the right. This raises the equilibrium interest rate (from r1 to r2) and national income (from Y1 to Y2), as shown in the graph above.

"The graph indicates one of the major criticisms of deficit spending as a way to stimulate the economy: rising interest rates lead to crowding out – i.e., discouragement – of private fixed investment, which in turn may hurt long-term growth of the supply side (potential output). Keynesians respond that deficit spending may actually "crowd in" (encourage) private fixed investment via the accelerator effect, which helps long-term growth. Further, if government deficits are spent on productive public investment (e.g., infrastructure or public health) that directly and eventually raises potential output."

In other news, Wikipedia has replaced all other sources of knowledge.

August 20, 2005

Political Compass

This political test (may have to hit the link a couple of times to make it work) actually told me something about myself - highly educational.

I suppose it's because I've been reading one of his books lately, but on the scatterplot, I end up closest to the Dalai Lama, although I'm a bit to the right of him. If I were more authoritarian I could be Pope.

BTW, I don't think they have Friedman plotted correctly - I think he is less conservative and more libertarian than their plot implies. Most of the others look about right to me.

Be sure to take the "Iconochasms" quiz as well, which is where I found this quote:

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed; those who are cold and are not clothed.
- Dwight D. Eisenhower

Let the Wild Rumpus Begin

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A friendly reminder from the Things.

August 18, 2005


This guy had me going for a second. But no way is George W Bush the reincarnated Daniel Morgan. No fucking way.

Daniel Morgan was a man. He left home at 17, made it on his own, drank a lot, and enjoyed fistfighting. He took 500 lashes for knocking out a British officer in 1756. He served with distinction in the armed forces of his country, and he won a battle (Cowpens) against a superior force (although Mel Gibson also played a key role).

Seriously, take a look at what he did at Cowpens. Morgan's troops (mostly militia) annihilated a detachment of British regulars of roughly equal size. It was a strategic masterpiece, a rope-a-dope along the lines of Waterloo. It was probably the greatest American victory of the war (no French troops or fleets were involved), and it led directly to Cornwallis's decision to retreat to Yorktown. Cornwallis left the continent with Daniel Morgan's bootprint on his ass.

George W Bush is to Daniel Morgan as Pat O'Brien is to James Cagney, as Gary Coleman is to Joe Louis, as Hootie and the Blowfish are to Howlin' Wolf, as LeRoy Neiman is to Caravaggio.

No. Fucking. Way.

Walk of Fame

Next week I'll be in Hollywood and was thinking about the Walk of Fame. A couple of interesting things about it:
  • There are about 2,250 stars. A lot of sidewalk, but not many people, when you think about it. Hollywood's a very small place.
  • Roger Ebert got his star on June 23rd.
  • The Beatles are there as a group, and John Lennon is there, but the other individual Beatles are not. This is probably due to the rule that you must show up at the ceremony (see rules under "Nominations" heading on the "Walk of Fame" menu). Sir Paul couldn't be bothered, apparently.
  • Some weaker entries: Lindsay Wagner (though tv was so bad in the 70s she actually won an Emmy), Vanna White, and Leeza Gibbons. Carole Lombard spins in her grave. My theory: a brief look at his bio suggests that the committee chairman has a weakness for the blondes.
  • Omitted so far: Robert Redford, Mel Gibson, Jane Fonda, Clint Eastwood, Francis Ford Coppola.
  • Kevin Costner had a good three years there, but...
At the end there are statues of four actresses: Mae West, Dorothy Dandridge, Dolores del Rio, and Anna May Wong. Why their heads support a gazebo, I don't know.

Welcome to the 21st Century

You can play Doom on your iPod. Or your digital camera. Or your HP graphing calculator...

August 16, 2005

After the Next Terrorist Attack

After the next one, remember that in the runup to the attack your Deparment of Heimatverteidigung was expending its resources hassling toy stores and puppet guilds. Yes - puppet guilds.

From The Onion

Evangelical Scientists Refute Gravity With New 'Intelligent Falling' Theory

You reckless flunkey, we will mercilessly crush you with the weapon of singlehearted unity!

Need a snappy comeback to a co-worker, newspaper editorial or Karl Rove?

Look no further than the Kim Jong Il-omatic insult generator!

This comes courtesy of a web site dedicated to a (reasonably) complete index of North Korean propaganda

" I feel ronery, oh so ronery...."

August 13, 2005

I Do Hope That's True

The Dalai Lama's not a golfer. But when the Tibetan leader visited the United States last year, Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura asked him if he'd ever seen "Caddyshack." He told Ventura he hadn't seen the movie. But, Ventura said, "Before he [the Dalai Lama] left, he looked at me and said, 'Gunga, gunga la-gunga'."

All Hail Ebert

"In an open letter to Goldstein, [Rob] Schneider wrote: 'Well, Mr. Goldstein, I decided to do some research to find out what awards you have won. I went online and found that you have won nothing. Absolutely nothing. No journalistic awards of any kind... Maybe you didn't win a Pulitzer Prize because they haven't invented a category for Best Third-Rate, Unfunny Pompous Reporter Who's Never Been Acknowledged by His Peers.'

"Reading this, I was about to observe that Schneider can dish it out but he can't take it. Then I found he's not so good at dishing it out, either. I went online and found that Patrick Goldstein has won a National Headliner Award, a Los Angeles Press Club Award, a award, and the Publicists' Guild award for lifetime achievement.

"Schneider was nominated for a 2000 Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actor, but lost to Jar-Jar Binks.

"But Schneider is correct, and Patrick Goldstein has not yet won a Pulitzer Prize. Therefore, Goldstein is not qualified to complain that Columbia financed "Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo" while passing on the opportunity to participate in "Million Dollar Baby," "Ray," "The Aviator," "Sideways" and "Finding Neverland." As chance would have it, I have won the Pulitzer Prize, and so I am qualified. Speaking in my official capacity as a Pulitzer Prize winner, Mr. Schneider, your movie sucks."

Buddhist Monks Dig Computers

…The light of the disk is endless
like the light of the disks in the sky, sun and moon.

With a single push of our finger on a button
We pull up the shining gems of text…

–Gelek Rinpoche

The whole story here.

August 12, 2005

News Team War Revisited

I have fallen behind a bit in recent Eisengeististry and nearly missed Dr. X's Dave Barry citation. That link didn't work but my independent research paid off. The perky newsteams can be found here: Besides Mr. Barry's useful guide on how to grasp a metaphor which will be particularly corny to our Alaskans, there is a horrifying guide to our nation's local news whores.

I am afraid of Newsteam Utah.

August 10, 2005

An Eisengeiste Calendar

After a meeting of several contributors, I submit this rough draft of the offical Eisengeiste calendar. (Note that, in addition to their intrinsic merit, some holidays were selected to coincide with contributors' birthdays).

Major Holidays

January 3 - Alaska admitted to the Union (1959); Anna May Wong's birthday (1905); JRR Tolkien's birthday (1892), Sergio Leone's birthday (1929), Victor Borge's birthday (1909), George Martin's birthday (1926), and Cicero too (106 BC?).

February 21 - George Attla, Cinderella story comin' out of nowhere, wins his first Fur Rondy race (1958).

March 15 - The Ides of March

April 30 - Walpurgis Night --> May 1 is Loyalty Day, among other things.

May 15 - Scottish Whitsuntide

June 24 - Beat Down the Man Day: Bannockburn Anniversary, followed by June 25 - Anniversay of Little Big Horn

July 2 - Fighting For Freedom Day: Anniversary of the Charge of the First Minnesota (1863 - and no, you can not have your flag back)

July 30 - Smedley Butler's birthday (1881).

August 29 - First post to this blog (2003)

September 19 - Talk Like a Pirate Day

October 15 - Stop Hurting America Day: Jon Stewart smacks down Crossfire (2004)

November 5 - Guy Fawkes Night

December 3 - Literature Day: Joseph Conrad's Birthday, Robertson Davies's Death Day.

December 11 - Payback Day: Anniversary of Steve Largent's hit on Mike Harden (1988)

Minor Holidays

January 17, 1781 - Get Off Our Continent Day - Daniel Morgan whips the British at Cowpens
February 19, 1924 - David Bronstein's birthday.
March 14, 1879 - Einstein's birthday.
March 31, 1955 - Angus Young's birthday
April 22nd - Earth Day
April 23rd - Jurgi, ancient Latvian beginning of summer festival
May 4, 1886 - International May Day
June 4, 1942 - Battle of Midway.
July 7, 1909 - Gottfried von Cramm's birthday.
July 21 - Burns Night
August 17, 2000 - Laird Hamilton rides Teahupoo
August 18, 1812 - USS Constitution defeats Guerriere.
August 24, 1890 - Duke Kahanamoku's Birthday
September 5, 1781 - French Naval Victories Day: Battle of the Chesapeake.
September 12-18, 2005 - National Pie Week
September 17, 1998 - Matriculation Day (anniversary of first theatrical showing of Rushmore)
September 18, 1971 - Lance Armstrong's birthday.
October 2, 1869 - Gandhi's birthday.
October 21, 1805 - We Honor the British Day: Trafalgar Day
October 25, 1415 - Agincourt, Battle Off Samar
November 17, 1937 - Peter Cook's birthday
November 30, 1835 - Mark Twain's birthday
December 26, 1944 - Patton relieves Bastogne

What other holidays should we celebrate?

August 09, 2005

Just as I'm trying to wean myself of online games...

...they have to go announce the gaming equivalent of crack.

From the website:

Bold Battle in a New World
Britain, Spain, and France are carving up the Caribbean with the thunder of cannon. Fleets lay siege to ports bursting with wealth, eager to claim them for King and Country. The sea burns with the fires of glory. From the haze of battle emerges the Black Flag, and into the chaos plunge pirates, bold and resolute. This is your world now, a world of battle and intrigue, and you will captain your ship through the pages of legend!

All I can say is "ARRRRRGH!"

August 07, 2005

Do The Math

This article, by a brilliant madman, explains why Japan lost WW2. A couple of statistics:

Aircraft Carriers built during the war - US: 141 Japan: 17
Merchant ship production (tons) - US: 33.9 mm Japan: 4.1 mm
Aircraft production - US: 324,760 Japan: 76,320

To give you a little perspective on that aircraft production number, the United States currently has 250,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guard personnel.

August 06, 2005

Don't Diss the Liberty Ships

We wandered past the USS Jeremiah O'Brien today. The Liberty ships were famously underpowered (2 x 2500 hp engines), lightly armored, and more numerous than cockroaches. 2,751 of them were launched between 1941 and 1945.

I couldn't help but notice, however, that the Jeremiah O'Brien could take care of itself - it has eight antiaircraft positions, a 3" gun in the bow, and a 5" gun mounted aft. That 5" gun would give a pursuing submarine or destroyer all it wanted, especially if there were a couple of Liberty ships in convoy with overlapping fields of fire. Manned with determination, Jeremiah O'Brien could probably fight even with a destroyer escort or gunboat.

OK, you don't believe me. Let me ask you a question. What U.S. ship was the first to sink a German surface combatant in World War II? The answer is the USS Stephen Hopkins, a Liberty Ship which destroyed a German commerce raider. OK, it wasn't pretty, but you get the point.

Oddly, I have had trouble finding other instances of plucky Liberty ships defeating Axis warships in straight-up fights, but I'm sure there were some.

Noted With Sadness

Farewell to Ibrahim Ferrer.

The Script

As promised:

Café Boeuf script
Saturday, July 2, 2005

Garrison Keillor: ...and now here is Peter Schickele
with a word about the Café Boeuf.

Peter Schickele: I love the Café Boeuf because they
don't waste your time with a whole long list of
specials. You just come in and say what you want and
then they bring you something else. Just like in real
life. Bonjour, Andre!

Tim Russell: Eh? You're not sure about what?

PS: Never mind. Bring me a piece of beef, Andre.


PS: I want beef. The flesh of the animal.

TR: Oui, monsieur.

PS: An animal who lived a rich and varied life, a life
of freedom, who was struck down suddenly in its prime
at a moment of passionate indiscretion.


PS: I'd like it very rare, seared on the outside by a
blinding flame and warm and red and pulsating on the

TR: You are a brave man, monsieur. I salute you! (HE
SALUTE) A boeuf, extra rare. France is proud of you.
Here. A cigarette, monsieur.

PS: A cigarette?

TR: For flavor. For style. For the tragic sense of

PS: Wow. That's my first cigarette in thirty years.

TR: It was good, no?

PS: I donno what my kids are going to think of me

TR: We do not live our lives according to the rules of
children. Monsieur! We are men!!! (THREE FACE SLAPS)

PS: Thank you. I needed that.

TR: Pommes de terre, monsieur. Potatoes. How do you
wish your potatoes?

PS: How about boiled?

TR: Boiled potatoes? is this a German restaurant? eh??
is my name Heinrich?? am I wearing lederhosen, my
friend? is this a tuba in my hand??? is it???

PS: Sorry— sorry— No— I want my potatoes to be dug
from the earth by barefoot women and washed in a cold
mountain stream and then baked in a pit by
snaggle-toothed crones muttering ancient incantations.

DOWN) And a vegetable.

PS: Beans. French-style beans.

TR: Monsieur, the beans are French. It is not
necessary to refer to them as French—

PS: Right.

TR: They already are French.

PS: Of course.

TR: The beans do not need your recognition in order to
be French beans—

PS: No.

TR: They are well aware of it themselves.

PS: I'm sure.

TR: And we do not say, "French-style" —

PS: No.

TR: If it is French, then of course it has style.

PS: Yes.

TR: The style is assumed.

PS: I'm sorry.

TR: I don't accept your apology, I wish satisfaction.
SECONDS, THEN.....) Enough!!! Tres bien!!! Good. I
salute you, mon ami. (FOUR CHEEK KISSES) So you wish

PS: Beans that are sensuous, irridescent, glittering
with dew. Sliced and slashed with tremendous ferocity
and carelessly tossed into a pool of butter sizzling
in a saucepan and braised for mere seconds and then
swiftly brought to the table, half raw, half scorched.

And the wine?

PS: I don't care. A French wine.

TR: If you do not care, monsieur, I don't want you —

deeply. — I must have it—

TR: Very well. What would you like?

PS: A red wine—

TR: Vin rouge—excellent. (FRENCH AESTHETIC PLEASURE)

PS: A Pomerol.

TR: Pomerol???? Non, non, non. Too— (DISMISSIVE

PS: A Merlot?

TR: A what?

PS: Never mind.

TR: You said, "Merlot"?

PS: I'm sorry.

TR: Is that the name of a detective?

PS: It just slipped out.

TR: Philip Merlot?

PS: How about a Chateaunneuf du Pape?

TR: Non, non, non....not with beef. It would insult
the beef.

PS: A Zinfandel....

TR: A who?

PS: Never mind.

TR: Is that a composer?

PS: How about a Bordeaux?


PS: A Bourdeaux it is, then. A 1988.


PS: From a little village in the mountains, on the dry
side of the mountain, where the soil is stony and yet
complex and subtle, and the grapes are crushed under
the feet of mature women singing and clapping and
dancing, and the wine is effusive and yet ironical,
muscular but sensuous.

beautiful. I'll be right back.

PS: Andre?

TR: Oui, Monsieur Schickele?

PS: What are you actually going to bring me, Andre?

TR: I'll do my best for you, monsieur—

PS: What am I likely to actually get, Andre? The

TR: Ground beef, broiled, on a bun. Some cheese.
Pommes frite. And a Pinot Noir.

PS: Okay. I just wanted to know.

TR: You're not insulted?

PS: Hmmmm. Yes. I think I am. En garde!!!!

GK: The Café Boeuf. Where they're passionate about
food— and wise to the ways of the world (GK & PS & TR

August 05, 2005

Only One Shall Triumph

The wasteland of local broadcast news is so desolate that parody is no longer even possible. But ridicule certainly is, as Dave Barry demonstrates with this item: which newsteam is perkiest? ?

August 04, 2005

What's up with other blogger users stumbling in here?

Not that I don't mind having an audience beyond the 4-odd folks who bother posting here, I'm just wondering how these folks came to find us.

Did someone do another post with naked cheerleaders in the text or something?

Either that or we've been cross-linked to some oddly related website.

A Religion for the Sea Lord and the Laird

I think this shoe fits. They had me at "Flying Spaghetti Monster", but it gets better. And thank goodness someone finally blew the lid off the kitten huffing thing.

I am in Awe

Daily Show, 8/2

STEWART: Alright, Rob. Considering the reception that Bolton is getting there, the hostility there, is the president concerned that he is perhaps sending the wrong message, by doing this to the world community?

CORDDRY: Indeed, Jon, that's exactly the kind of issue that would concern him, along with his deteriorating relationship with his own Congress, that is, if he gave a f--k, which Jon ... which he doesn't. Jon?

STEWART: I'm sorry, did you just say ...
ORDDRY: Yeah, yeah, give a ... yeah, I'm sorry, that uh, that was probably a little harsh. I didn't have to put it like that. What I meant to say was the president doesn't give two s---s.


STEWART: Rob, I find it very hard to believe that the president of the United States doesn't care what his critics have to say.

CORDDRY: Really? Uh, well, consider this: Iraq is falling apart, North Korea is about to get the bomb, and he's visiting his Crawford ranch for the 50th time. And in his mind, not only shouldn't he be criticized for that, he can't believe how much time he's had to spend at the White House. You see, the president has a logic system that works for him. Here's an example: You know Rafael Palmeiro?

STEWART: Yes, uh, the baseball player who was suspended for taking steroids, after he testified in Congress that he had never taken steroids.

CORDDRY: Right. Now you or I might look at Palmeiro's positive drug test and say, "Wow, Rafael Palmeiro is a steroid user." The president looks at that and says to reporters yesterday, "Palmeiro's the kind of person that's going to stand up and say he didn't use steroids, and I believe him." Or, to paraphrase (putting hands over ears): "LALALALALA."

August 03, 2005

Reaction to First Sea Lord's Anti-Cat Campaign, From an Official Spokesman

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Meanwhile, Down at Seal HQ

Don't tell me no one noticed the building was swastika-shaped until now...

Oh, and if you do really well at SEAL camp, you get - a brown shirt. No kidding.

The Work of the Shadowy Guild of Felinic Assassins

Relativity is a Theory, NOT a Fact

Given our president's well-reasoned stand that "intelligent design" (a regurgitation of the theories of 19th century philosopher William Paley) should be taught along side the theory of evolution so that students can hear "both theories," I don't see any reason not teach students about luminiferous ether along side the (unproven!) theory of special relativity. ("Can you prove that it DOESN'T exist?")

Was Ruby Framed?

A forensic examination of this famous photograph implicates another culprit entirely. Jack Ruby himself appears to be merely handing Oswald a Hostess Fruit pie, which analysts suggest has broken either from a wild shot or from the shock of the moment.

No connection between the Sicillian underworld and the feline juvenile in question has been firmly established.

August 02, 2005

Science You Can Use

"Men whose masculinity is challenged become more inclined to support war or buy an SUV, a new study finds."

Perhaps this explains why I've never had any use for Arnold Schwarzenegger. That or my gigantic...lack of masculine insecurity.

Death of the Last Decent Republican.

Jay Hammond, conservationist, a primary originator of the Alaska Permanent Fund, a Republican governor with a deserved reputation for honesty, integrity and public service (really? yes, really!) a man who stood up to Big Oil and development with the genuine interests of the people of the state of Alaska close to his heart, passes away.

I disagreed with him many times, but when I think of Hammond's ideas of responsible government and compare them with modern Republicans, it's night and day. I met him once or twice - he seemed cheerful and open. He read his own doggerel poems while campaigning, and knew how to laugh at himself.

The West Coast is sorely missing this branch of the party - it was systematically destroyed by massive corporate interests and their Baptist pulpit bitches.

He once said "private ownership of land is the ultimate lock-up." Good gravy. Yet his considerable vision and influence was not enough to stop the economic and political corruption of Alaska, and the squandering of unprecendented social and environmental opportunities.

(That there are any children in poverty in Alaska was wholly and completely avoidable - and now its poverty rate among kids is the fastest growing in America. It's once leading state secondary education system is continues to weaken. Hammond organized policies that gave the state a clear path to avoid all of this, but the failure stings. Thank you, Big Oil, Republican party, Democratic oil sellouts and delusional Greens).

I've long since stopped paying attention to modern Republicans- life is too short to waste time at the receiving end of unmitigated malicious nonsense. But my respect for Hammond and this all but dead wing of the GOP lingers.

Hammond was very much the embodiment of the actual frontier spirit, which was both individual, free, AND cooperative. At its best, it was not a miser's frontier, nor a conqueror's, nor an exploiter's. He was hardly a progressive, but he never had the 'I've got mine, fuck you," attitude which appears to be the modern GOP motto.

At this last gasp of manifest destiny, there was a core of real generosity, a generosity that seemed to extend to everyone. Perhaps it was too generous, and unable to counter the depth of the duplicity, arrogance and avarice that came inevitably with oil.

His legacy opened up so many possibilities, but his vision I think ultimately failed, through, I suspect, the excessive trust of fellow Republicans in the period of his greatest influence just following the pipeline. You can't suddenly drop $40 billion on a little state and expect it to stay clean. Many of the Democrats of the time were corrupt too, and the state compromised itself out of a bright future for easy money.

But Hammond helped teach me this: the only option in a democracy is openess; in this poisoned climate, I've nearly lost it.

Kitten Assassins Again Suspected

'Settling of accounts'

Tehran's police commander, Morteza Talaie, told journalists Mr Moghaddas was shot dead as he left work at the Islamic guidance judiciary building at around midday.

"An individual on a motorbike passed at his height when he was driving and fired two shots into his head with a pistol. The first killed him. The murderer then fled," he said.

A German tourist took this suspicious photo several minutes before.

No! This is the cutest kitten ever!

And if you don't agree... Well, I've seen him take out a pack of dogs at 500 yards while muttering "Oswald was a pussy."

Get it? Pussy


August 01, 2005

Not With a Bang, But a Whisper

This scenario is the only one I really worry about. With any other nightmare you can sort of picture Bruce Willis and Angelina Jolie pulling our chestnuts out at the last minute. But you lose your magnetic field, you're just screwed.

"Where's the Kaboom? There was supposed to be an Earth shattering kaboom"

Would be Bond villans / Marvin the Martian need look no further.

Not content to come up with methods to merely wipe out human existance, or even all life on Earth, this guy wants the full Monty:

Mission statement:
For the purposes of what I hope to be a technically and scientifically accurate document, I will define our goal thus: by any means necessary, to change the Earth into something other than a planet. Any of the following forms could represent success: two or more planets; any number of smaller asteroids; a dust cloud; a more exotic object such as a quantum singularity. But the list does not end here...

I humbly submit to you:
A Well Researched and Reasonably Scientific list of Ways to Completely Destroy the Earth.

Lo! The Adorablest

Current leader at