October 31, 2005

Kind of Blue

Lots of sad news today, some at work, some on TV. Sadness isn't something I feel much any more, so when it comes knocking I feel it acutely. It's not "hello darkness, my old friend," it's more like "who the hell let you in?"

It takes me back to 1983, a bad year. I spent much of it travelling, reading poetry to try to cheer myself up (this was dumb, it was before I knew poets had the highest rate of mental illness of any profession). Say what you want about Neruda, who can be beyond beautiful, his stuff doesn't typically cheer you up.

I picked up Lewis Carroll's The Hunting of the Snark, and read in the modern Introduction the chilling advice that it was exactly the kind of book that could drive a borderline person over the edge. Reading it anyway, I moved on.

I went to the Prado. Velasquez is sublime, but not cheery. In the Goya room we have Saturn Eating His Children. Ugh. Turn the corner and they have Brueghel's Triumph of Death and Bosch's Garden of Earthy Delights in the same room. This week's theme: those zany Northern Europeans!

I don't remember exactly what got me out of it. Certainly Adrian Mitchell had a hand in it:

Celia Celia

When I am sad and weary
When I think all hope has gone
When I walk around High Holborn
I think of you with nothing on.

Somewhere in there heard a sketch on A Prairie Home Companion where Keillor is showing off to a girl, claiming he wrote this:

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.
O no, it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to ev'ry wand'ring bark
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

I suspect, somewhere in Shakespeare's London, that exact scene played out. And she said: "roit, that's right nice, with the rhymes and all." And he said thanks and paid his bill.

I saw Julius Caesar at Stratford, and they did it just right (costuming was Italy: 1942). And that reminded me that in Shakespeare's world, melancholy was a dread disease. His Marc Antony is not defeated or cowed by Caesar's death, he is energized:

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him;
The evil that men do lives after them,
The good is oft interréd with their bones,
So let it be with Caesar… The noble Brutus
Hath told you Caesar was ambitious:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Caesar answered it….
Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest,
(For Brutus is an honourable man;
So are they all; all honourable men)
Come I to speak in Caesar's funeral….

[When I play Antony, I take a breath, gaze into the distance, and put in a #3 pause here. Then, with feeling:]

[Like a child who has lost his father]
He was my friend, faithful and just to me:
But Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man…

[Like a lawyer, shaking his finger]
He hath brought many captives home to Rome,
Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill:
Did this in Caesar seem ambitious?

[Like a woman holding a baby]
When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept:
[Like a Klingon Captain:]
Ambition should be made of sterner stuff:
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.

[Like Tuckerman Babcock brokering a deal on Election Isle:]
You all did see that on the Lupercal
I thrice presented him a kingly crown,
Which he did thrice refuse: was this ambition?
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And, sure, he is an honourable man.

[Like George W. Bush in the debates with Gore]
I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke,
But here I am to speak what I do know.
You all did love him once, not without cause:
What cause withholds you then to mourn for him?

[Sudden attack of vertigo - hand over eyes]
O judgement! thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason…. Bear with me;
My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar,
And I must pause till it come back to me.
[Opens one eye and peeks around his hand.]

I committed it to memory. I don't know why I found it so nourishing. It's wicked, of course; it's a rhetorical masterpiece; and it mocks Roman stoicism (I'm of the school that thinks the play should be called The Tragedy of Brutus - the man of honor taken down by a sociopath, anticipating Othello, and, well, a lot of other stuff).

But here is the good secret - that's not the best part. Here's how Antony finishes up:

But yesterday the word of Caesar might
Have stood against the world; now lies he there.
And none so poor to do him reverence.
O masters, if I were disposed to stir
Your hearts and minds to mutiny and rage,
I should do Brutus wrong, and Cassius wrong,
Who, you all know, are honourable men:
I will not do them wrong; I rather choose
To wrong the dead, to wrong myself and you,
Than I will wrong such honourable men.

[how great is that!?]
[Then, like the rabid weasel he is:]

here's a parchment with the seal of Caesar;
I found it in his closet, 'tis his will:
Let but the commons hear this testament–
Which, pardon me, I do not mean to read–
And they would go and kiss dead Caesar's wounds
And dip their napkins in his sacred blood,
Yea, beg a hair of him for memory,
And, dying, mention it within their wills,
Bequeathing it as a rich legacy
Unto their issue.

Fourth Citizen

We'll hear the will: read it, Mark Antony.


The will, the will! we will hear Caesar's will.


Have patience, gentle friends, I must not read it;
It is not meet you know how Caesar loved you.
You are not wood, you are not stones, but men;
And, being men, bearing the will of Caesar,
It will inflame you, it will make you mad:
'Tis good you know not that you are his heirs;
For, if you should, O, what would come of it!

"It will inflame you" - har!

Then I was on to Antony and Cleopatra, Much Ado About Nothing, The Tempest. Not blue anymore, alive. Alive.

October 30, 2005

NSA: Vietnam Was A Screw Up

The 2001 NSA history on the Gulf of Tonkin incident was apparantly held back, presumably because of the strong risk of obvious parallels. NYT:

Mr. Hanyok believed the initial misinterpretation of North Vietnamese intercepts was probably an honest mistake. But after months of detective work in N.S.A.'s archives, he concluded that midlevel agency officials discovered the error almost immediately but covered it up and doctored documents so that they appeared to provide evidence of an attack.

"Rather than come clean about their mistake, they helped launch the United States into a bloody war that would last for 10 years," Mr. Aid said.

Asked about Mr. Hanyok's research, an N.S.A. spokesman said the agency intended to release his 2001 article in late November. The spokesman, Don Weber, said the release had been "delayed in an effort to be consistent with our preferred practice of providing the public a more contextual perspective."

October 29, 2005

From Al Franken: Happy Fitznukkah

And how about Rove telling the press he was going to have a great Friday and a great weekend? They can't even not lie about what kind of weekend they're going to have.

Senate to Poor: Drop Dead

The last minimum wage increase was in 1997.

October 28, 2005

Another Fitzmas Present From Zogby: Enjoy!

Angelides (D) 49%
Schwarzenegger* (R) 41%
Beatty (D) 44%
Schwarzenegger* (R) 40%
Reiner (D) 47%
Schwarzenegger* (R) 41%
Westly (D) 45%
Schwarzenegger* (R) 41%
Source: Zogby Interactive survey of 1486 likely voters statewide, conducted Sept. 16-21, 2005. MOE +/- 2.6
percentage points
California’s fickle electorate seems disenchanted with the man that voters put in office
after removing Democratic Governor Grey Davis in a statewide recall. When Republican
bodybuilder-turned-actor-turned-politician Arnold Schwarzenegger was elected to
replace Davis during the state’s recall election, he commanded large levels of public
support in opinion polls. Since then, that support has eroded, leaving him vulnerable to
challenge from any quarter, and stuck at about 41% in any face-off.
Democrat Phil Angelides, the state treasurer, leads Schwarzenegger by eight points in the
Golden State. State Controller Steve Westly, a one-time executive at eBay, leads
Schwarzenegger by four points.
But the depth of Schwarzenegger’s sudden political peril is revealed by the strength of
potential novelty candidates and avowed liberals Warren Beatty and Rob Reiner. Beatty,
known for screen roles in Reds and Dick Tracy, leads Schwarzenegger by four points,
while Reiner, best-remembered as “Meathead” on Norman Lear’s All in the Family, leads
by six.

OK, Let's See the Replay on That

A careful, step-by-step explanation from The Telegraph.


Or in this case, Anchorage homegirl Valerie Wilson.

On this first day of Fitzmas, Fitzgerald gives a fairly righteous press conference, and leaves little comfort for Rove.

http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/4608/229/320/ROVEMOG.jpg Karl Rove

If you recall the orc general in question sidestepping the big rock, I suspect we are in that moment. He faces six months of further investigation.

A Short List of Enterprises Sanctioned By the Laws of Art

1. Birthing Pagan Goddesses
2. Good Governance
3. Floor Refinishing
4. Community Ice Skating
5. Annunciation (Very Popular)
6. Safe Sex
7. Extremely Unsafe Sex
8. Safe Painting
9. Lute Playing
10. War Crimes
11. Lunch
12. Fooling Around
13. Screaming and Popery
14. Surgery
15. Learning
16. Sailing
17. Aviation
18. Hanging Out
19. Pest Control
20. Fidgeting

October 27, 2005

Well... Duh

More info here.

"Bring this thing here! Take that thing there!"

Cellini's description (3 pages from the Autobiography) of the casting of his Perseus (with the head of Medusa, above, is filled with even more tension than his many endearing intrigues, violent love affairs, and uplifiting homicides. He describes a massive lost wax bronze cast, the culmination of years of work - the essence of the process building a clay sculpture, reinforced with iron, resolved in a half-inch thickness of wax, another case is spread over the wax. A huge woodfire is lit around the figure to melt the wax between the final case and the clay "soul", and simulataneously, a huge vat of molten bronze is poured in the top. The statue is huge. All has to go perfectly. Dozens of people are on scene, rivals waiting gleefully for failure, the Medici waiting to hear it has succeeded. At the key moment, Cellini has collapsed in sudden illness only to hear that diaster has fallen on the cast.

When I had got my clothes on, I strode with soul bent on mischief toward the workshop; there I beheld the men, whom I had left erewhile in such high spirits, standing stupefied and downcast. I began at once and spoke: “Up with you! Attend to me! Since you have not been able or willing to obey the directions I gave you, obey me now that I am with you to conduct my work in person. Let no one contradict me, for in cases like this we need the aid of hand and hearing, not of advice.” When I had uttered these words, a certain Maestro Alessandro Lastricati broke silence and said: “Look you, Benvenuto, you are going to attempt an enterprise which the laws of art do not sanction, and which cannot succeed.” I turned upon him with such fury and so full of mischief, that he and all the rest of them exclaimed with one voice: “On then! Give orders! We will obey your least commands, so long as life is left in us.”

October 26, 2005

Merry Fitzmas!!!

I don't know for sure who's been inticted yet, but I'm sure it will be a treat!

Let's Recognize Genius When We See It

Leefen I her on tha morrow
Drawen to memorie wolde I be?
Fore wenden I moot be, anon,
For sith tha bene so greet londes moot I sey.
But, if bileven her wytht ye, mayde,
Thyngis coldna bene algates.
For sith anon I be quit as ane foule,
And this foule ye conna chaunge.
Tha Lorde konne, I conna chaunge.

* AND *

Wha be tha carl wha ne wolden flee
Whan peril bene all aboughte?

October 25, 2005

National Priorities

The White House takes on The Onion, over the use of the presidential seal. (NYT)

"It is inconceivable that anyone would think that, by using the seal, The Onion intends to 'convey... sponsorship or approval' by the president," wrote Rochelle H. Klaskin, the paper's lawyer, who went on to note that a headline in the current issue made the point: "Bush to Appoint Someone to Be in Charge of Country."

The poor bastards. At the White House.

What a Breakthrough: Now Bushies Can Hate Themselves

Bush loyalists denounce "incompetent" cabal that has "courted disaster in Iraq, in North Korea, in Iran."

October 24, 2005

That Crazy Dick!

I am sure you are astonished - it was Dick who told Scooter Valerie was a Spy.

The 1,200,000th Name in Sculpture

Jamie BOLLENBACH Wire 4 72" by 36" by 36" Acrylic Paint. Wire CLOSE VIEW

Jamie BOLLENBACH Wire 4 72" by 36" by 36" Acrylic Paint. Wire

NEW VIEWS - The color should be better shown against this white background; I like the shadows, although they are a little distracting. (CLICK IMAGES FOR LARGE VIEW)

The 400,000th name in Painting

Jamie BOLLENBACH Sara23 2005 22" by 36" o/c

Jamie BOLLENBACH Sara/ Studio Windows 2005, 66" by 48" o/c (CORRECTED COLOR ? View)

Jamie BOLLENBACH OLD PINK 2001-2005 24"x40" (Corrected Color)

And yes, I wish I could afford a proper photographer.

Cure for Football Neurosis: The Blood of Cowboys

Art Thiel from the Seattle PI on the Seahawks, with a little glory and a little history.

October 23, 2005

Schumer: She Doesn't Have the Votes

"If you held the vote today, she would not get a majority either in the Judiciary Committee or the floor," said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York.

Oddly Familiar?

Regarding the Plame/CIA leak case, the New York Times quotes Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, Republican of Texas, speaking on the NBC news program "Meet the Press":

Ms. Hutchison said she hoped "that if there is going to be an indictment that says something happened, that it is an indictment on a crime and not some perjury technicality where they couldn't indict on the crime and so they go to something just to show that their two years of investigation was not a waste of time and taxpayer dollars."

Like fellatio? Or does that depend on what the meaning of "is" is?

The View From My Window

Here is just one reason why it is important to check your doorstep before going outside.

Seahawks Defense Come Up HUGE

The best outing by the Seahawks defense today in probably 20 years. In a day where Sean Alexander is held to 61 yards, Hasselbeck throws 2 INTs, and the offense goes 3-12 in third-down conversions, Babineaux (whom I'd never heard of) intercepts Drew Bledsoe in the last seconds of the game to set up Brown for a 50-yard field goal (in the rain) to give the Seahawks a 13-10 win over the Cowboys.

Somewhere in America

There is a decent man who respects the law. A man who lives clean and works hard. A man who politicians cannot touch, a man who cannot be bought. And he will take you down.

Other People's Drugs

Roche, the Swiss pharmaceutical company that manufactures Tamiful (invented by another company), and is privately run by a tiny family of gazillionaires with a fine track record of shaking down Africa over Aids meds, price fixing, and delaying Tamiflu licenses to increase profits, are not endearing themselves to me. Guardian article.

I give them two weeks to take off their ascots, put down their monocles and make a deal, or I suggest an airstrike on Switzerland. That kind of war might actually save millions of lives.

October 22, 2005

Cellini: Makes Caravaggio Look Like Norman Rockwell

For sheer artistic genius, pope-dissing and homicidal tendencies, the work often referred to as the first modern autobiography (dictated to a assistant), the Autobiography of Benenvuto Cellini, the mid 16th century Florentine sculptor and goldsmith, squashes all competitors, and is the singular greatest contribution to literature, or would be, if Cellini himself is to be believed. A fast and bracing read, if only to confirm that total chaos, brilliant skill and unmitigated ego drove creativity in the Renaissance.

In spite of the fact that he tends to murder his opponents, and his rivals, and people who insult him in passing, he has the direct protection of the Papacy- in the sense of showing up at the Pope's place and wowing him with artistic skill- and finds his crimes usually forgiven, and his work interrupted only by war and plague and syphillis and intrigue. He drops by and chats with the Pope all the time, and his work day is constantly interrupted by yet another sword fight where he fights off a large gang of cops, rivals, ex-lovers, etc.

The book is an extraordinary picture of the era, and although violent and egotistical (which is backed up by a legacy of excellent sculpture) he is far from an monster, palling around with Michealangelo, honoring the skill of other artists, standing up for friends. There are appealing scenes of huge dinners attended by famous artists of the era. Yet he betrays Florence to serve the Pope, he captains a cannon and kills hundreds of soliders invading Rome, he wields a wicked arquebuss. His evaluation of his own skill is not far off the mark, although there is a distinct horror vacuui that suggests an almost nervous restlessness.

Maureen Dowd on Judy Miller

That slight queasiness about Judy Miller at the Times is fed ipecac - drop by drop - by Maureen Dowd.

Miller is looking less like a heroic defender of the 1st Amendment and more like a water-carrier for the neo-cons; Dowd calls her jail time more of an attempt at career repair. Her column amounts to a fairly serious accusation of unprofessionalism.

October 21, 2005

I Had Been Wondering About This

Henry Blodget correctly notes that Harriet Miers' net worth looks oddly low given what she is - a successful corporate attorney with 30 years of experience. When she left her firm she was making $624,000 a year, yet now has a net worth of only $675,000.

"Absent the Supreme Court boost, the retirement of this well-educated, hardworking, self-reliant, and frugal American would be funded primarily by a liberal government program that some of her conservative colleagues would love to abolish: Social Security."

Turner and Trafalgar


William Turner, 1806 The Battle of Trafalgar, as Seen from the Mizen Starboard Shrouds of the Victory.

As Nelson was a liberator of England, William Turner is one of the great liberators of art, founding, almost a century ahead of his time, a dominance of composition, form, and light over subject matter that would clear a path for the 20th century's heady freedom; we benefit from it daily. You can see in his work the modern world seeping in, fast, powerful, soaked in change.
That almost infamous harbinger of change in art, the Turner prize, is named for him.

Many, even most, of art's greatest painters worked from the sea (Brueghel); the true ship often described as the most beautiful of mankind's creations.

A Few Trafalgar Items

Nelson's signals during the battle here.

From the same site, here is an excellent plan of the engagement:

The image “http://www.nelsonsnavy.co.uk/battleoftraf.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

The BBC's full coverage of the anniversary is here.

"Isengard expects every orc to do his duty."

Yes, today is the 200th anniversary of the battle of Trafalgar.

Fiddle de Dum, Fiddle de Dee...

Libby and Cheney
in "serious legal jeopardy."

Is there a "replace Vice President" indicator light?

Our Special State

"The fourth lawsuit in less than two weeks accusing an Alaska-based Catholic priest of sexual abuse was filed Thursday, fueling a conviction among critics that Alaska was a dumping ground for problem clergy."

October 20, 2005

Hurricane Hamlin

I sent this photo to The Laird a couple of months ago and just had to post it here. I remember this hit and it stands out as one of many "cherished" memories in my sports brain.

The word on Hamlin's health is still a bit cloudy but the scuttlebut from various sources indicates that he is out of intensive care. My bet, for what it is worth is that he will be back, perhaps even this season.

Holmgren said he wasn't assuming Hamlin, who has started 35 of 37 career games for the Seahawks since they drafted him in 2003, would miss the final 10 games of the regular season.

Miers Fails Introduction to English Composition

The United States Senate sends back Miers' questionnaire with a grade of "Incomplete."

The letter also faulted Ms. Miers, who was President Bush's personal lawyer before entering the White House, for answering a question about potential conflicts of interest on the bench by merely citing ethics laws.

"We are aware of statutes and codes that generally govern these matters," the senators wrote, "but recusal decisions of Supreme Court justices are more complicated because they are not subject to further review."

"Please be more specific."
I use that tone all the time. It goes like:

"I understand that you can see this box in perspective. I would prefer you actually draw this box in perspective."

October 19, 2005

Submitted Without Comment

Actual Blackberry messages to senior FEMA officials from subordinates in New Orleans:

"...the situation is past critical... hotels are kicking people out, thousands gathering in the streets with no food or water... estimates are many will die within hours."

On hearing from Michael Brown's press secretary that he needs to be given time for dinner, since restaurants are crowded in Baton Rouge:

"OH MY GOD!!!!! Just tell her that I just ate an MRE and [went to the bathroom] in the hallway of the Superdome along with 30,000 other close friends, so I understand her concern about busy restaurants."

It is tempting to lump Michael Chertoff in with Brown, but it would be a mistake, in my opinion. Chertoff is real - he was one of Giuliani's guys when they went after the NY mob in the 80s. He is generally regarded as a competent person. So what does he have to say about Brown's testimony?

"I'm not going to judge others," Chertoff said. "I did not have a problem dealing with state and local officials."

Perp walk! Perp walk!

Arrest Warrant Issued for Tom DeLay

Big News for On Go!

Wilma Bad Cat 5! US Bad Example! LASER COPIERS HAVE EVIL CODE!

Miers Not Lawyer! Sadaam Say Not Me! Deploy Bill Richardson Very Now!

Super Very Funny Ha Ha and DISTURB ME Bumper Sticker Seen:



October 18, 2005

Fiddle de Dum, Fiddle de Dee

Hard to believe it could be,
no more VP Cheney?

Brawl Puts Seahawk in Hospital, Leads to Murder?

Defensive back Hamlin is the hospital in serious condition having been hit in the head with a signpost in a bar brawl in Pioneer Square. Meanwhile, the guy that knocked him down is found dead.

Chad Most Corrupt Country

Chad is the most corrupt country on earth.

Tomorrow's allegation:

Chad Bribes Corruption Commission for #1 Spot

October 17, 2005

Krugman on My Recent Commentary

Well, not really. But Paul Krugman's note on the Delphi bankruptcy, plus the continuing erosion of real income and the broken health care gear in the economy, echoes the central point: ordinary American prosperity: home ownership, class mobility, health and education, is under assault.

And here, to me, is the crux of the matter:

What if neither education nor health care reform is enough to end the wage squeeze? That's the possibility that makes free-trade liberals like me very nervous, because at that point protectionism enters the picture. When corporate executives say that they have to cut wages to meet foreign competition, workers have every right to ask why we don't cut the foreign competition instead.

I hope we don't have to go there. But denial is not an option. America's working middle class has been eroding for a generation, and it may be about to wash away completely. Something must be done.

Are you listening, Tom Friedman? If globalization makes the economic lives of most people in the U.S. worse, if lengthens hours and rips up the environment and it cuts out the ability of middle class - let alone poor- parents to secure health care or improve the lives of their kids; if higher education, which also can no longer guarantee a decent salary, becomes a luxury item, globalization is worse than useless, and U.S. will get domestic pressure to withdraw from its global free trade agreements. (It won't anytime soon, but you see where this might be going), The pressure will be increased as fuel and transportation costs continue to rise dramatically, which I would assume would cut into the efficiency of globalized production.

Words from a Master

"In order to maintain an untenable position, you have to be actively ignorant," marvels Colbert. "One of our mottoes on the show is, 'Keep your facts -- I'm going with the truth.' "

The War on Ordinary American Prosperity

Large public universities are facing a huge loss of public support, the direct result of which will be more social restratification, and a withering of the economic, scientific and cultural creativity and capacity of the United States. How bad the effect will depend on the how much of this is resisted, and how resilient the individual institutions are. Certainly, there's more than a little institutional self-protection in the complaints. But we're about to poison the higher educational well with the same bullshit that all but destroyed our public health care system: that the magical fairies running the markets will benefit everyone. Why bother funding higher education when there are so many successful private universities doing so well?

Combined with the implications of the Delphi bankruptcy, and the relentless attack on working people's salaries, health care and working conditions, it's getting harder and harder to imagine a prosperous and progressive future for most Americans.

The Republican party betrays America, day in, day out, pausing only to spew, ironically, more Social Darwinism. But I suppose they can't help but see higher education for middle class Americans as a threat.

October 16, 2005

Must. ..Maintain...Composure...

It's looking like Cheney too may be on the hook over the Plame affair, Rove and Libby may be facing indictments, only not directly over the 1982 law on revealing an agent's name.

I propose that every courtesy and gesture of respect that the Republican party afforded to Bill Clinton be extended to the Bush White House in their time of trouble.

Meanwhile, Sunday's articles in the NYT are worth a read, (among other oddities, Miller was visited in jail by John Bolton.) Credit to the paper for critiquing themselves, but you can be forgiven for suspecting that Miller's jail time has little to do with press freedom. Her own article on the situation reads defensively.

And from the Bloomberg article, the hilarious -I mean sobering- prospect of depositions of the president from a civil suit brought by the Wilsons.

In an interview yesterday, Wilson said that once the criminal questions are settled, he and his wife may file a civil lawsuit against Bush, Cheney and others seeking damages for the alleged harm done to Plame's career.

If they do so, the current state of the law makes it likely that the suit will be allowed to proceed -- and Bush and Cheney will face questioning under oath -- while they are in office. The reason for that is a unanimous 1997 U.S. Supreme Court decision ruling that Paula Jones' sexual harassment suit against then-President Bill Clinton could go forward immediately, a decision that was hailed by conservatives at the time.

On Airt (From Wikipedia Scots)

'''Airt''', in its braidest meanin, is the expression o creativity or imagination, or baith.

Aa throu the written history o humankind, monie biggins haes been applee'd upon the braid conceit. Maist fowk kens the things that thay conseider ti be airt, an the things that thay conseider nae ti be airt. Forby that, groups, in parteecular academic groups, haes a vaguely shared conceit o the things that is, or isna, airt.

The wird 'airt'' is aften uised for the veesual airts, an ''airts'' is uised for veesual airt, leeteratur, muisic, an dance — the fine airts. Houaniver, sic disteenctions is the subject o monie collogues an debates.

Airt seems tae be nearhaund universal aa throu the human race — integral ti the human trift. Thare's nae culturs that disna tak pairt in it tae some degree. Atweel, bairn's airt is creatit bi aa bodie frae aboot the first birthday.

Aye, that. Next time a wee bairn be askin about airt, I'll a'spake to them this.

Only a Pirate Version Would Be Better

Behold: The Scots Wikipedia

Here's a little guide to get you started.

I Hate Ohio Nazis

As does everyone in Toledo, Ohio, apparently. But this caught my eye:

"The neighborhood northwest of downtown, full of tree-lined streets and well-kept brick homes, once was a thriving Polish community. But within the last decade it's become home to poorer [i.e., blacker - Dr. X] residents.

"The neo-Nazi group became interested in the neighborhood because of a white resident's complaints to police about gang violence, Bill White, a group spokesman, said earlier this month."

After all the Nazis have done for the Poles, I can't understand why anyone would doubt their wisdom in these matters.

Where's Elwood when you need him?

October 15, 2005

"From now on, he'll be giving bad haircuts in the Stateville Prison."

To those who doubt the current administration's ability to fight the war on terror, I've got some pretty big news for you:


That's right, a mere 49 months after September 11, and we got the guy that cuts their hair.

(Though this really puts a damper on my standard line whenever I see an Osama Bin Laden on TV: "...and yet his barber walks a free man.")

How Did My Friends Get So Smart?

Here is an "Alaska Friend" I am sure we will all fondly remember, Peter Josephson. Via Google, I found Peter featured in an NPR interview conducted last year. Gosh I have some smart friends. (You can buy his book here.)

Some of us saw Peter this summer. He looks almost exactly like Vladimir Lenin (shown here trying to look like P. Josephson), a similarity he happily supports by wearing a Lenin-Style hat, Not a bad look for an expert on foreign affairs. He said to say "Hello" to all of his Alaska Comrades.

October 14, 2005

Another Letter From a Friend

Dear X,

While you amuse yourself with Australian novelty acts, it is my duty to inform you that Rammstein has a new album coming out:

The image “http://www.rammstein.com/rosenrot/cover.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

I remind you rock is not all moon, June, spoon, and poon. it can be about cannibalism and homosexuality, too. It can be dark and powerful, like a tawny woman, hypnotizing a weak-kneed Englishman, deep in the jungle, ja?

I remain yours in musicological discipline,

Sepp Gruentag
Doktor von Musik
Abteilung von Musicology
Universität von Heidelberg

Meanwhile, Down at the Orgy

Minnesota Vikings sex party spoils bond issue.

That was so much fun, I think I'll say it again.

Minnesota Vikings sex party spoils bond issue.
Minnesota Vikings sex party spoils bond issue.
Minnesota Vikings sex party spoils bond issue.
Minnesota Vikings sex party spoils bond issue.

Heh heh.

Allow Me to Express My Disappointment in the Current Administration

"It's like talking to a brick wall," says Mayor of Atlanta of their relationship with FEMA.

O'BRIEN: But how much of that money (for resettling refugees) have you seen?

FRANKLIN: Well, we haven't seen any of that money.

O'BRIEN: Oh -- zero. It's just like the mayor of Baton Rouge yesterday, a big doughnut.

FRANKLIN: Big doughnut.


FRANKLIN: We don't have any idea

.The image “http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/4608/229/1600/annoyingcheckenginelight2.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Lie, Said the Lying Liar, Lyingly

University officials are shocked that their innocent students would be used in investigative journalism:

"We are concerned that interns, college students, were placed in a position where they were dishonest about their roles and intentions," Terry King, dean of Kansas State's engineering school, said in a letter.

Now, I'm not even going to look. I'm going to go to Google here, and type in "Kansas State", and "site:www.badjocks.com".

Ah, here we go. Star player tries to run over parking attendant. Badjocks comments: "I suppose when you're the nation's leading rusher parking tickets just aren't that important to you. So you can understand why Kansas State running back Thomas Clayton may not have wanted to stick around when a university parking services employee phoned in for a wheel lock to be delivered to prevent the football star from leaving. Seems Mr. Clayton had a buttload of unpaid parking tickets and was about to receive one more when he decided not to stick around. According to the parking cop, Clayton tried to run him over as he left which is why he was arrested for aggravated battery. No one was hurt in the incident and Clayton remains free on bond."

I'm just guessing here, but I'll bet Mr. Clayton is not a very good student. In fact, I offer this open challenge to Mr. King - we get to ask Mr. Clayton three simple questions, like this:
  • Name one of Isaac Newton's contributions to human knowledge.
  • Tell us who Admiral Nelson was.
  • Name one person who signed the Declaration of Independence.
I guessing Mr. Parking Felon goes 0-3.

So, Mr. King, kindly STFU about "being honest about roles and intentions." This guy Clayton has as much to do with the function of a University as a retarded mastiff. University football, one of your flagship products, is all about lying about roles and intentions.

Oh, and while you're at it, secure your fucking nuclear reactor before someone gets hurt.


Thank you.

October 13, 2005

Was There Any Part of This That Was Not a Lie?

Not a great surprise, but President W's spontaneous and unrehearsed talk with soldiers in Iraq was neither.

I especially like the bit where he tells them of the 'tremendous' support they have at home, despite polls showing 60% of Americans disapprove of his handling of the Iraq situation.

When in danger, when in doubt, blow smoke, and say the fire's out.

October 12, 2005

Rebar for Tootsie Rolls: Deadly Being and Violent Nothingness

She called herself Regina Ottoman, after the Empire. Her jet black hair and razor sharp bangs offset her transluscent white body poured into a tight red dress like a Hedy Lamarr-shaped soft ice cream dispenser. Her lips were a perfect cherry red, and I attentively watched them forming the words "fuck," a notable beginning, and then "off," which was more of a disappointment. Yet they were directed out towards the bay, where an unable seaman on the USS Forestal was reading those lips with gray binoculars instead of the important semaphore that said "Flaming Tanker is Drifting To You." She sat down, disdainful and yet not incognizant of the futility of being, her curves folding with deliberative grace like the taffy in a taffy making machine. She was a spitwad of beauty shot smartly into the pocked buttocks of a forgettable world left by God in his other pants.

I outpace myself.

Out the greasy window of the dingy yellow Port office, the vast billows of black smoke and greasy fire drifted over Hunter's Point. I took a drag on a filterless Lucky and played it cool:

"So, Sugar Loaf, what say you ditch that roll of Buffalo nickels you call a boyfriend and you and I grab a slow boat through Rio and then, Kiddo, then maybe we get hitched in Paris." That came out wrong. First, the Nazis were in Paris. And second, it actually came out:


"Close your mouth , Mack. Look, you're spotting your tie." She rose like Venus from an al fredo sauce, came over and deftly wiped the spittle off with a hanky. Her scent was a lovesick grove of wistful apricots and a burst of expensive vodka, and as she tossed her hair over an unmitigated shoulder I supressed a sonnet with some difficulty, beating back a rhyme for "wuv." That feeling, that love-twisted feeling like a electric eel looking for loose change under my small intestine, it was the only other thing cutting through the familiar fog of Gary's Indiana Gin, a gin so rough I refinished my furniture with it.

"I'm just here for business, " she said.

"Business." I said flatly, not imagining her dress suddenly disintegrating due to manufacturing defects. "I'm your man."

"No you're not. But I want you to kill one."

"Okay, sure, whatever. Who?" Hmm. Brain's Brain not work.

"Not literally of course. I want to destroy a reputation. The reputation of The Viscount Phillerph Von Pfoffer Van De Forfen."

"The Viscount Phillerph Von Pfoffer Van Der Forfen?" The Industrial Aristocrat and International Playboy. The War Profiteer. The Mattress King. The Noted Amateur Existentialist?"

"The Count Phillerph Von Pfoffer Van Der Forfen. The Fourth. Mack, You know I... work... on projects of special interest to the War Department. " She gazed outside at the fireboats sending their streams of water, uncomprehending, into a blazing aircraft carrier, the towering balls of flame and smoke glinting orange in her almost silver eyes. "Paris. The Montparnesse."

I was especially non-plussed. "You've slept with Jean-Paul Sartre- once again. "

"Yes. Well, spooning and a little structuralist dialectic. Of the act of sex he is disdainful. I slept with Simone De Beauvoir." Regina arched an eyebrow so perfectly shaped that if tossed into the air it would come right back.

"Le crap." I said.

"Don't be like that," she said.

Through all the years of 5 cent stogies and 4 cent rye and dollar poker and inexpensive barber shaves and a bad habit of picking imromptu saber fights in fencing clubs with my mask off, my face still had betrayed a boyish jealousy, as well as an ignorant contempt of critical theory. But I just figured if a joe works alongside his brother men he ought to be able to have a decent place and eat regularly and live free as long as he doesn't hurt anybody; and if some pudding pants starts killing and enslaving people, well, maybe pudding pants gets scrapped off the cobblestones, and if two astonishingly hot women find a special, tender kind of love, who am I not to watch?

"OK. Sweet peaches." My endearments were labored and clearly annoying, like, increasingly, my breathing.

"Look, Mack, just shut up and listen, will you? The Viscount Phillerph Von Pforffer Van De Forffen the Fourth is here, in the city, at the Huntington. "

I whistled. "Toney digs, Cupcake! But what do I do, walk in with this old hat and drool on my tie and say 'what's up, P.P. , you crazy old horse bugger? Let's get go shoot pool at the Dew-Drop Inn and chat up a couple of B-girls? I should just wear a sign that says 'Deputy Mayor of Pallokaville.'"

She ignored this overwrought tirade. "Follow me."

I watched her bodacious backside working that red dress like two hams fighting in a christmas stocking, poured six quick swigs of Racoon Rye down my gullet and grabbed my clean gun, a 5 lb ancient Navy Colt I picked up at the estate sale of Mark Twain's butler, so large it had the complete text of "Captain Stormfield's Visit to Heaven" worked into the engraving.

"Fancy-Living, here we come."

I stopped a cab by firing the Black-powder colt into the air. The huge report so startled the cabby that he seemed to die of a heart attack and the cab veered off and crashed into a pile of electric wool socks for the Alaska export market, causing a small sheep-smelling fire. I pulled him out into the street, apologized with a respectful tip of the hat, and we headed to Nob Hill, or what I liked to call the Ass Pimple of Swankytown. I drove. She explained the plan.

Couple hours later I stood with my rented red diplomatic sash riding up and dislodging the borrowed medals, one for valor for the unsuccessful Russian invasion of Fiji and two that had something to do with an Oklahoma bake-off. The pocket of my monkey suit had a left over receipt for $400,000 in solid gold napkin rings and the name of a recommended professional toothbrusher. The collar was so stiff and high my head felt like the little metal ball on the tip of those new auto-pens. I stood there in the grand ballroom, bobbing like a top, stuck with a wrinkly round dame with huge emeralds who was still bitter over her family's freeze-out of profits from the Opium Wars.

A fireworks display of sparkles in my eyes as either the delerium set in or Regina came along in a clingly - no, I stay with "clingly" - white silk number to rescue me from the sad story of an emperor who didn't appreciate what opium did for his people. She was more dolled up than the original cast of a Chinese opera, but tasteful-like, and heads turned so quick that I spotted my old pal Smokey McCallister, Lawyer at Law, handing out business cards. But she was also pouring from the wiry arm of a tall, remote, hatchet-face no-chin man in an all black 'white' tie and tails, with a rusty moustache and sideburns saved from the Boer War, looking like a hairy can opener in tails.

"Allow me to present the noted American Existential thinker, Dr. Mack Brain," she said to the The Viscount Phillerph Von Pforffer Van De Forffen the Fourth," who nodded politely.

"Just call me Viscount Phillerph Von Pforffer Van De Forffen," he said, asking his butler to extend his hand on his behalf.

"Mack. Honored." I said. Regina gave me a look. I glanced at the crib notes on my detachable sleeve-collar. "I understand you have a marvellously --er --detached faith in the clarity of being."

"Only when manifested by personal suffering."

"But of course." We suddenly all laughed -and hollowly- at once, and I toasted the non-descript relief of free will by inevitable death with a bottle of the 1827 Moet.

"So, Viscount.." and seeing his butler's face prodding me to continue "Phillerph ...Von Pforffer... Van De Forffen... the fourth ," The bat-nosed butler shook his head slightly to indicate I may have offended him with excess formality at the last bit, and indeed the Viscount said:

"Please, I had hoped we could all despair of the possibility of human friendship together yet in utter moral isolation without excessive formality." He looked sad.

"No, no, a slip of the habit, Viscount...Phillerph...Von Pforffer..Van.."

Regina, bless her, cut me off with a slight stretch and deft wafting of bosom, thus choking all conversation in the ballroom.

A caterer showed up offering a plate of fancy seafood treats. "Madam? Sir?"

"Thank you, no. I've had too many." said Regina.

"Hell is other crab puffs." I said. The laughter was despairing. Except from his Viscountness. He was nodding soberly, the sideburns catching his collar and splaying out sideways, making his face look even thinner.

"I too acknowledge the humor of your comment. A freely choosen clutch, as it were. A sudden synthesis of truths, essentially a dialectic, the post-Hegelian clash of crustacean and catering."

"Quite." I'd dealt with these rubber underwear types before. 'Quite' covers most bases.

"Viscount, tell us dear of your devastating critique of Lativa," asked Regina. It was clearly a favorite topic and the Viscount swelled up even more, and warmed to the "cultural renewal" of the 1874 execution by mass drowning of the infamous Anachromantic poets of Riga , cast adrift in the Baltic by order on a leaky barquentine and sinking to a recitiation of "Ode to A Flatulent Pedophile."

It was at this moment that I noticed a small, stooped hairy man with a a monacle watching the Viscount intently from the balcony. No more than 5' 2", his hair was slicked back and parted in the middle and he had a Prussian air about him and a razor thin moustache about his lip - but his lower lip. His right jacket pocket bulged. A gun? A package?

Regina put her hand on my shoulder as the Viscount continued. "Kriestenhemeier!"

Sparky Kriestenheimer, to be exact. The oily head of the San Francisco Prussian Beneficence Society, and the reputed head of the West Coast german spy network. Actually he was the head of the Japanese West Coast spy network. Clever that. But this was no place to start shooting up a swanky ballroom. Well, technically, it was exactly the place to shoot up a swanky ballroom, it's just that this would have served no purpose. It was the Viscount in my sights and I had a job to do. I watched Kriestenheimer as the Viscount droned on about Latvian anabaptism rituals, where people went to the lake to be saved and when they got there simply looked at it.

Kriestenheimer disappeared and then appeared and trotted across the dance floor directly toward the Viscount, plowing through twirls of waltzing couples.

"Von Pforffer Van De Forffen! Von Pforffer Van De Forffen!" He yelled in a scratchy clipped german accent, reaching into his pocket.

I fingered my gun, having just disguised it as a cat with an old beaver stoll when people were busy eating crab puffs, and holding it in plain view like a cat with a bottle of good scotch. Regina stepped back a little and discreetly pulled out a tiny pearl-handled harpoon gun, which she held between her knees.

"Kriestenheimer! Kriestenheimer!" The Viscount turned and yelled back.

"Von Pforffer Van De Forffen!" I was watching his ratty little eye, ready to blow him back to Limburgerville. We needed the Viscount alive.

But Sparky's hand came out of the jacket pocket empty and he embraced Phillerph crisply, kissing him on both cheeks. "Can it have been ten years since the last kunstkrieg?"

Regina quickly whispered into my ear:

"The KunstKreig - it was a late Weimar republic ostensibly dadaist pro-fascist gallery show in Frankfurt, where "degenerate" artworks were crushed in a gallery by a steam hammer and then force-fed in china cups to street waifs, to suggest the inability of modern art to sustain orphans for any significant length of time. "

"That's just wrong." I said.

"Miss Ottoman, may I present my old friend Mr. Max Kreistenheimer, known as 'Sparky' to Father Coughlin, Shirley Temple and Himmler, and this of course is the hopeless, ravishing Miss Regina Ottoman," said the Viscount's butler on his behalf. Kriestenheimer oogled her briefly, wrinkled his lower moustache, and returned to their conversation.

"These two were behind it, breaking Bonnards and smooshing Duchamps, luring orhpans with candy- the Viscount has been promoting a wholly fatalist wing among the existentialists, eliminating the lead movement in western philosophy as an anti-fascist political force. And now you will ask 'who cares?'"

"So who cares?"

"It's big, Brain, bigger than you or me. Ever hear of the Resistance movement? What happens when despair within nothingnesss turns into the despair of meaninglessness?"


The Viscount and Kriestenheimer were exchanging something in envelopes, shaped like wads of federal lettuce that stained the manilla vanilla.

"It's bad, Brain. Bad like redneck vampires. Van Der Forfen refutes Sartre, and it means the French, they are idled by the absurd futility of all action, and they stop shooting Nazis. The pressure in Europe fades. " Regina's eyelashes fluttered ennuically.

"And we lose the war. "

"Correct. We must either discredit Von Der Forfen in logic, scandal, or in violence. "

"Say all three, Schnookums? Say we prove an firm basis for human meaning, dress him in a Nazi nurse costume and push him down the stairs at the Press Club? "

She considered this suggestion. She considered it daft.

Turning to avoid her withering - yet extremely sexy - gaze I espied Von Pforffer Van De Forffen and Kriestenheimer talking with someone near a corner, because I recently did the New York Times crossword. Then I sneezed from the remains of an ague. They were laughing manically for a minute before a sharp retort silenced them, from Jimmy Durante, who happened to be in town to accept an honorary doctorate of divinity.


We followed discreetly. Von Pforffer Van De Forffen and Kriestenheimer were circulating among the swells, taking envelopes here and there- I saw them now, saw them for what they were: bag men for the bad guys, picking up the cookies and milk for Der Furher from a bunch of fat cat war-profiteering bastards who wanted to be on the winning side. I knew some of them, mostly from barrel-scraping infidelity cases: Randolph Beauregard Winston, the infamous Honey Bee Magnate. Clarice Vincentia Von Trapp, the "Capone" of Choral Music who had caused more than one contralto and occassionally entire competing alto sections to "disappear." The Hon. Portnoy Plimpwagon, the "Ball Peen" King, currently bilking the government for $685 a hammer - a likely reason that corpses were starting to pile up on the docks with a 1" dent in their skulls. Hyacinth Smoots, the corpulent Austrian wife of the President of Texaco, who cut checks to dictators like invitations to her baby shower and had once personally invaded Francisco Franco.

Bums. Whores. Dirty whoring bums. All of em.

We followed at a discreet distance, and although all eyes were on Regina, it was my hand on her ass when she slapped me. But the gum on Regina's pumps caught something. An envelope. She opened it. There was a check alright, for $400,000 to the "Luxemborg Re-redecoration Society." But something else:

Blueprints, on paper so thin you could actually fit it in Kate Smith's cleavage during a 110 decible version of God Bless America without getting stains.

"What are they?" She asked.

"Hmm." Vacuum tubes after switches and switches and more vacuum tubes, hundreds of thousands of them a huge device, big enough to fill a gymnasium.

"If Popular Mechanics is right, and it always is, these are part of the plans for some kind of robot thinking machine. But this - this is looks like a radium bin - see, it says "radium bin," and this ...this is an entry slot, can you make an sense of this list? "

She stood close, reading with me.

"Something about 3 by 5 cards with a holes like voting maching. But see, on the cards? Schopenhauer. Nietzche. Hegel. Husserl. Kierkegarde. Even Sartre and Simone. "

"Like some kind of brainiac polka troupe!" I exclaimed.


"Then these must be plans for a thinking machine to think existentialist thoughts. But why?"

"I think I know," she said. "Or, rather I believe I think that I know. "

We began to put it together. There was no other conclusion: The Viscount Phillerph Von Pforffer Van De Forffen the Fourth and Sparky Kriestenheimer were colluding to develop an existentialist offshoot so misanthropic and fatalistic that the French, reading it, would give up as the futility of moral action in a godless universe became inarugable. But the war was on - they couldn't develop the syllogisms in time. They needed a logic so irrefutable that it would turn despair into ultimate surrender, and they needed it yesterday. For that they were making: a radium-powered pro-fascist existentialist thinking computer.

"My God!" She said, wanting to scream but whispering instead. "The Ultimate Weapon!"

I held her in my arms. She pulled me closer.

"I may be drunk, I may be broke, I may be ugly, I may smell a bit. I may not have class, or a a fancy education, or a car, or a bicycle, but as God, or some interchangeable entity composed of the simple totality of conscious free will, is my witness, we'll find it, baby. We'll find this unholy monstrosity and stop it, stop it before through the pure reason of machine logic it destroys all the reasons for human meaning, and hands Hitler and Tojo and Mussolini and all the goons and thugs in the world, especially those I owe money to, the kind of victory that will crush all justice, all freedom, all the love. But no machine can stop...."

"Yes?" She looked up at me, with eyes so big and moist you could drain them and sell them for a condo development.

"The love I have for you. "

And we kissed- like the collision of two inflatable boats paddled by cherubs and deflating from the shafts of Eros and sinking in the gushing warm sweet water like flat Coke left in the sun of romance.

"But first," I pulled out my Navy Colt. "We gotta a job to do."

Remedial Internet Culture -- Lesson 3028: fhqwhgads

Okay, kids:

First, read the email that started it all.

Then, groove to the music video and "take it to the limit."

Then, puzzle over the fact that there's a Wikipedia article to explain it to your parents.

October 11, 2005

IA YPA Update

Um yeah, Roethlisberger is still #1 and still hasn't thrown and interception, giving both a YPA and IA YPA of 10.6. Collins is still #2 (7.8) after his bye week.

I ran the numbers again because I thought Bledsoe and Hasselbeck might improve their positions. Well, one did.... Hasselbeck (316 yds, 0 INTs) has crept into the #8 spot, ahead of Donovan McNabb and Peyton Manning. Sorry, I mean AHEAD OF DONOVAN MCNABB AND PEYTON MANNING.

Bledsoe, meanwhile, had another good game (289 yds, 0 INTs) - but didn't improve quite enough (7.6) to pass Collins for the #2 spot. Meanwhile Carson Palmer and Tom Brady are closing in from behind (both 7.3). He is winning the Best of the Drews award hands down, however. Drew Brees, who played like Bledsoe Classic last season, has regressed a bit, but still sports an above-average 6.1 IAYPA.

Down at the bottom of the rankings, the melancholy stories are beginning to unfold. The headlines tell the tale:
Harrington and Orton's problems may be self-inflicted, but you have to feel for Carr, who took seven more sacks on Sunday, with Tennessee bringing just 3 or 4 rushers on most plays. This brings his season total to 27 - ESPN extrapolates this into a projected 108 sacks this season. To put that in perspective, Tom Brady has been sacked 137 times in his career.

October 09, 2005

New corollary to an old law.

For many years I've lived by a simple rule:

"Never attribute to malice what can be chalked up to incompetence"

I've even used this rule, on occasion, to defend the president against charges that he actually meant harm.

However, given recent events, I must now propose an amendment to this rule:

"Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice"

Video Maximus: HBO and BBC's Rome is Superlative

I was a little worried about BBC/HBO's new series ROME, in that in might not measure up to I, Claudius, which looms large in my mind as among the best things ever put on the business end of an electron gun. But it's absolutely excellent in all respects; like the Sopranos, Band of Brothers and to an large extent Carnivale, it's the sort of rare television I can't guess exactly how it was done so intelligently and so beautifully.

Why watch? From the synopsis:
Four hundred years after the founding of the Republic, Rome is the wealthiest city in the world, a cosmopolitan metropolis of one million people, epicenter of a sprawling empire. The Republic was founded on principles of shared power and fierce personal competition, never allowing one man to seize absolute control. But now, those foundations are crumbling, eaten away by corruption and excess. The ruling class has become extravagantly wealthy, with a precipitous decline in the old values of Spartan discipline and social unity. There is now a great chasm between the classes. Legal and political systems have weakened, and power has increasingly shifted to the military.
I'm sure none of you will draw any rash parallels. But the epic nature is tempered by careful attention to putting the viewer at the citizens' level - the food, the social spaces, the art, the impact of the classical period both deeply strange and deeply familiar - no mean feat. A wise choice is that the two lead characters are ordinary soldiers with unusual luck, a convienient fiction that is based on two real men in Caeser's own account. And it's the end of the Republic. Interesting things galore.

It would have been a cost (curiously it's hard to accept our voices set in classical situations), but it would have been interesting politically to see it done in American rather than British accents. Yet the casting is a seamless use of skilled (and in the case of Indira Varma heartbreakingly beautiful) actors but not overt celebrities; it eliminates the distraction of overknown stardom.

Two Good Books About Money

In the time I've had enough money to invest, the smartest thing to do has been to keep it under my mattress, which is about what I've done. But this is not a good long-term plan.

One of the best books I've seen for individual investors is the latest from David Swensen, who runs the Yale Endowment (and gets very good results). It is called Unconventional Success, and should be required reading in the Ownership Society, especially the second half, which is about the abuses of the mutual fund industry. If you read this book and follow its advice you will do a lot better than most people.

Another book I'm working on now is the hugely entertaining Fortune's Formula, which tells the story of the Kelly betting system. John Kelly was a very smart man at AT&T Bell Labs who (alas) died young, but his formula has attracted the attention of some very bright people. The book not only explains the system, but traces the careers of some of the geniuses, gangsters and investors who have been involved with it.

On the Dashboard of the Automobile of America

Dear Car Company,

My car is broken.

The idiot light keeps going off. I keep checking, but it's really been happening a lot lately and when one thing goes wrong, something else happens, and then nothing ever gets fixed.

I realize the warranty expired, but c'mon. This light goes off at least three times a week. Help!

Yours, America

The Poor Man Institute

While attempting to do some serious work this morning, I ran across this inspired site: The Poor Man Institute.

The post that led me there was also my introduction to the fast-spreading "and a pony" cliche. As in:

"The president stated that he would rebuild New Orleans and create the conditions necessary for the restoration of the economic vitality of the region, as well as victory in Iraq, the creation of Democratic institutions in the Middle East, lower taxes, and better relations with China. And a pony."

October 07, 2005

God Bless Our Keynesian President

The Cato Institute reports that the current administration's unhinged spending exceeds even that of the Great Society.

Really, this is wonderful. And now he's appointing David Souter's soul sister to the court.

Maybe I don't mind this guy after all.

October 06, 2005


A court has decided it's legal to anonymously criticize politicians on blogs.

Cool: Don Young is stupid and bad.

Congratulations, You Broke the Country

The percent of the people still supporting Bush, a shockingly low 37% in the latest CBS poll, is awfully close to the percent who still think Sadaam was behind 9/11.

Bush's vague and dangerous declaration of a state of oncoming decades of war will not help.

Note in the poll something less that a positive economic outlook.

IAYPA Update

#1 - Roethlisberger (11.5), who has 6 TDS and a league-leading unadjusted YPA of 11.5 yards with zero, count them, zero interceptions. He could throw four interceptions next week and still be #1. Everyone else is playing for second place.

#2 - Kerry Collins (7.8), the finest 1-3 QB in football still hasn't thrown an INT. His NFL pass rating is 6th-best in the AFC, his IAYPA is 2nd-best in the NFL. This is a perfect example of a good player getting gypped by the rating formula, which overemphasizes completion percentage, rewarding drop-and-dinkers against real men who heave the ball downfield. The r2 of the two measures is 88%, but at the margin IAYPA gives a superior read on the quality of play.

#3 - Drew Bledsoe (7.4). Threw another pick, but also threw for 212 yards, enough to keep him up near the top.

#4 - Carson Palmer (7.3). Like the Laird said last week, watch out for this guy. He threw for 276 yards with no INTs on Sunday. And now the Bengals are 4-0.

#5 - Eli Manning (7.2). Ewww... But he's already thrown for almost a thousand yards, hasn't thrown a pick since game #1.

Famous guys who are way below average (which is 5.5): Michael Vick (5.1), Jake Plummer (4.9), Bret Favre (4.0), and Daunte Culpepper (3.9).

I Feel Much Better Now

Hats off to Terry Gross for setting up this head-to-head, no-holds-barred battle between Paul Krugman and Stewart Butler of the Heritage Foundation. The conversation went something like this:

Gross: How would you characterize the U.S. fiscal situation today?
Butler: Terrible, awful.
Krugman: Atrocious, indefensible.
Butler: All serious economists agree on this.
Krugman: Left or right, you can't argue with the math. We agree the situation stinks.
Gross: Well, what about China - don't they buy a lot of treasury bonds?
Krugman: Yeah, we're both screwed. If they even stop we'll have an economic disaster, and since we're they're biggest customer, they're screwed too.
Butler: Yup.
Gross: So what should we do?
Krugman: Raise taxes to the highest level in the history of this country.
Butler: Cut essential services, particularly health care for old people.
Gross: Well, thanks to both of you for joining us.

Mark Morford on Kate Moss

I'm not ordinarily a Morford fan, but this Open Letter to Kate Moss hits the mark:

"As if the empires of these fickle, hypocritical fashion houses weren't wholly built on the spindly backs of countless thousands of hard-partying fashion models, as if premium cocaine and Valium and Camels and booze and Ecstasy and 153 other happy shiny meds weren't as pervasive in the fashion biz as back hair at a NASCAR rally, as if piles of narcotics weren't on tap at every elite New York fashion party every night of the week, and they know it. Oh, those duplicitous cretins."

October 05, 2005

More questions for the Miers, the Supreme Court Nominee


1. Will you play "Keno" with our freedom?

2. You know when you're a judge you stop being George's attorney, right?

3. How will your total lack of judicial experience make up for the fact you're still a lawyer?

4. You already managed to piss off Bill Kristol. Do you promise to keep doing that?

5. We may have already made just this kind of mistake, so can you prove to me right now you're not a lesbian?!

6. Why isn't a violation of my rights when ugly people are on TV?

7. No one knows who you really are, or anything about you, or what you've done for the last 20 years. Are you a spy?

8. Promise me one thing: that somewhere in our sacred founding national documents, in an opinon formed with the best scholarship and most insightful legal reasoning, you'll find that basic presidential stupidity is unconstitutional.

1973 II

Oil crisis. Giant cars sucking gas. Skyrocketing energy prices in all sectors. Angry arab world. Simulataneous hints of inflation and recession. Unpopular president. Unfolding, increasingly baroque corruption in the Administration. Environmental degradation gettting worse. Losing a bungled war in Asia to bad concept and execution, as we attempt to rescue a cover of dignity by a failing process of localization. Anti-war movement, exhaustion of authentic culture. Erosion of good relations with allies. Bad pop music on the radio. Frightening middle school haircuts.

I saw this movie when I was 8 and I didn't like it then either.

Unfortunately, This Crisis will Require Cool, Intelligent, Rational Leadership

The UK blames Iran for killings of all british soldiers in Iraq this year, through bomb-making technology support to insurgents.

Thank goodness the nuke talks are going well. Oh, they aren't.

October 03, 2005

It Never Gets Old

DeLay indicted again.

Works for me.

Proper Shots, Final Versions of Summer Work

Arctic Figures, oil, 36" by 48", final version

Sara #9, oil, 80" by 66", final version

7-Up, acrylic, 24" by 48" final

I thought these were worth posting because of the far better slides, with more complete color (particularly in the dark of the arctic sea), and showing a few dozen changes done before the work was sold. Compare and contrast!

Field, oil, 14" by 20"

Other Views

Summer Work/ Wire Acrylic Sculpture, 6'

Bush Appointment of Miers Sign of Political Weakness

A quick reaction to Miers - Bush's general counsel and Supreme Court pick.

An inscrutible, neither-fish-nor-fowl crony, without experience as a judge, is a sign that Bush is politically weak. All the signs said suck up to the far right base - but in a moment of snowballing debacles he characteristically puts his personal relationships above his cynically-adopted ideology; great, that's why he picked Roberts, but why someone with so little history and experience? Simply, he knows and trusts her, a comfort to an essentially selfish man in a crisis.

That suggests uncertainty, even shaken confidence, an unwillingness to back a fight; he may get one anyway, except over cronyism and competence rather than ideology- coming fallout from Delay and Abramoff and the Plame Affair may test this choice sorely, and divide him from the traditional conservatives further without winning friends elsewhere.

A contest designed with The Laird in mind

Photoshop Tolkein Characters in contemporary settings.

October 02, 2005

Greetings From Bismarck, ND

The image “http://www.rootsweb.com/~usgenweb/nd/burleigh/postcards/capitol.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Bismarck's Capitol building, known as "The Skyscraper on the Prairie", surrounded by beautiful and well-kept gardens. It was built in 1934.

Down the street is Bismarck High School - completed in the same year, it made of brick but has the same modern and restrained aesthetic:

The image “http://www.bhs.bismarck.k12.nd.us/images/bhs20front.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

This is a very interesting town. There are 55,000 residents, about the same size as Palo Alto.

Germans are by far the largest ethnic group, and many came here by way of Russia. They have their own society.

And yes, Bismarck has a Starbucks.

Important Questions for the Next Nominee

The next nominee to the US Supreme Court (or what I like to call Bush's next bench-bitch) will be trained like Roberts and role-played into an endless pudding flow of soporific legalese.

The truth might be spooned out with aggressive, near-Dadaist questions in the Senate hearings:
1. In regards Roe V. Wade, what kind of people would America have be better off without from the beginning anyway?

2. Martha Stewart returned from prison recently, having lost weight. Should we let all American women to go to prison for a while?


3. Fascism: tell us why you think it sucks!

4. Are you going to let gay people get married or stop everyone from mating with goats?

5. Follow-up: Why do you hate Jesus?

6. Clarence Thomas is a great Supreme Court justice. When you put your pubic hair on a soda can, what color is it?

7. Because of the terrorism, the government likes to watch us. Do you also think that's kind of sexy?

8. Why should stupid people be allowed to vote? Doesn't the Bill of Rights seem really long?

9. I believe strongly that freedom means we have nothing left to lose. Where exactly is that in the Constitution?

10. If you could be anyone in history, would you have killed Hitler after sleeping with him as a distraction?

11. Scientists are always talking about how the earth is a delicate, incredibly complex system teetering on the brink of collapse because of unchecked exploitation of resources. But what about sharks? Doesn't the 14th Amendment protect us from sharks?

12. People are always complaining about soliders quartering with them, parking Hummers in the driveway and drinking the milk straight out the cartoon and playing Grand Theft Auto at all hours and their gunfire and their stupid teenage moustaches. Why is the 3rd amendment so weak and what will you do to stop this?

October 01, 2005

Re-edit the trailer contest

Supposed there was a contest among film students to create a trailer out of an existing movie. The winner was whomever could make a trailer that was as far as possible from the original movie.

I'd say these guys succeeded.

Hey Microsoft: Where's Seattle's Free Wi-Fi?

Google proposed free wi-fi for blanket coverage of San Francisco.

Yo Microsoft - you MUTHERFUKING PASTY cracker business be-acthes! Google's all up in your face - and you're all "why, that thought had never occured to us as it is not in our business plan to dominate all life on earth. " Y'all bein' punked, jack. You can take the booty but can you bring the booty? Y'all can front but can't represent. 'Can't do right by your peeps, you go home!

Or perhaps you'd prefer to be cursed like a pirate:

What Be Ye, Gates and Allen, Sailors or Powder Monkeys? I ne'er heerd but lubberly silence and groggy sea-drool from your silk hammocks! Ye Bilge-breathin' laze-about limpet-whorin' Bastards can takes the booty, but can ye brings the booty? 'Taint a man but a flea-ate biscuit weevel whats splits the spoils with only hauling his thrice-butter'd arse to the maintop in mind. Ye canna see this as a first-rate's broadside rake up the stern from Google, yer blinder than a one-eyed bat nailed inside an ink barrel under the dancin' skivvies of the Portsmouth poppets in the cable tiers! Into the Kitty or Over the Side!


Wow. Let's review:

1. Iraq Chaos
a. Battle-Ready Iraqi Battalions Drop from 3 to 1
b. Growing Bomb Violence
c. Public Infighting Between Adminstration and U.S. Generals
2. Plame Scandal Reemerges with Scooter and Miller Testimony
3. GOP Lobbyist Abramoff Charges, Investigation Widening, Include Gambino Mob
4. GSA Official Arrested
5. Collapse of Public Support continues
6. Tom Delay Indicted
7. Bill Frist Investigated
8. Rita Response Misses Rural Towns
9. North Korea Instantly Goes Back on No-Nuke Agreement
10. New House Majority Leader Blunt ethical issues emerging
11. Corruption Charges Levelled at Katrina response
12. Ambassador Hughes Pisses Off Saudi Women
13. Republican Congress breaking into factions
14. Bush Nearly Chokes to Death on Potato Chip of Suggesting Energy Conservation
15. First Probably Gay Supreme Court Justice Takes Office
16. Bird Flu Kills Bush's Favorite Bird, Ronnie the Lugubrious Cockatoo
17. Rumsfeld Calls for Salting of Carthaginian Fields
18. Ralph Reed Marries Clay Aiken
19. Condi Rice Tells UN Democracy Requires Millions of Giant Robot Soldiers
20. David Brooks Starts in With the Monster Bong
21. New Toby Keith Hit Release "I Beat Up Bush in High School"
22. Democrats Locate Testicles in Dry Cleaning
23. Million of Congoloese Dead Haunting Pentagon Asking for "Freedom"
24. Joe Scarborough Becoming Maoist Guerilla
25. Federal Alaska Project to Build 400 Ft. statue of Ted Stevens Criticized as"Wasteful and Untimely"
26. Karl Rove's Head Explodes