April 30, 2007

The Grey Lady on the Oak-land Team

Dr. X posts this from his table at the Algonquin:

"The New York Times observes today that the Warriors are a team of castoffs and renegades. No word yet on whether they are also ragamuffins, scoundrels, hooligans, or wastrels.

"Used to be, if you said 'Golden State Warriors' people would walk up to you and give you flowers. Light classical music would begin to play. They were so gentle, and delicate. They lost in the same way deer die during hunting season in Wisconsin - with a certain grace, exhaling their last breath with just a hint of melancholy.

"That shit stopped January 17th, when they traded for the Hanson Brothers, er, Stephen Jackson and Al Harrington. Overnight, the Warriors went from Princeton JV tough to streets-of-Oakland tough. And then Baron Davis got out of physical therapy and onto a basketball court.

"The Times is the first to put the spotlight on him, but many more will follow. You take the hugely talented but mercurial and injury-prone Davis and give him a good coach, a supportive crowd, and a leadership role - and you get a man on a mission. Davis is out to prove he is a legitimate superstar.

"It could have been Baron Davis who said: 'There's a lot of things about me that you don't know anything about, Dottie. Things you wouldn't understand. Things you couldn't understand. Things you shouldn't understand. You don't want to get mixed up with a guy like me. I'm a loner, Dottie. A rebel.'

"Here is what Davis actually says about himself: 'Basically, I'm the shit.' And that is correct.

"By the way, the movie The Warriors was based on the novel The Warriors, which was based on Xenophon's Anabasis. 'Anabasis', literally translated, means a journey from the coast to the interior - to kick someone's ass.

"Hey Dallas: Tuesday night, 6:30 Pacific. We got your Anabasis, right here."

April 29, 2007

It's Just a Number

Dr. X posts this with a lampshade on his head:

"Fast break points tonight. Dallas Mavericks, 4. Golden State Warriors, 25.

"And Dallas, the best team in the NBA, is now down 3-1 to the #8 seed in the playoff. No #8 seed has ever won a seven-game playoff series.

"The Warriors have come out...to play!"

The image “http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v243/DoctorX/still32.jpg?t=1177916333” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

And now, a Kitten in a Toy Boat.

I was planning a post on whether members of the Bush Administration and certain ideological supporters can be accurately and formally described as ideologically fascist, when I came across this photo on Kittenwar.

It would have been slightly more adorable in the bathtub.

Another Marijuana-Related Death

3 Atlanta Police Officers Charged in Drug Raid Death of 92-Year-Old Woman | Marijuana Policy Project - News

Competence and a Good Massage

Dr. X posts this from Top Notch VIP in Cupertino:

"I was saddened to see an apparently experienced and competent executive banished from public service last week over...oh Christ, are you kidding me? He supported U.S. policies that forced overseas organizations to not help prostitutes? He opposed AIDS initiatives? Oh for God's sake. What...a...maroon.

"This is so sad. Why do the Republicans hate infrastructure? Handed a perfectly good financial market, they corrupt it so badly that the IPO trade starts moving to Europe. Given a potent and effective volunteer army, they promptly engage in policies tailor-made to degrade it. And now, now, NOW they are undermining our nation's ability to have attractive young women deliver massages and companionship to rich ugly men who would otherwise have to spend time with their wives.

"I say: stop the madness!"

April 28, 2007

Moyers Came to Kick Ass or Chew Bubblegum (and he ran out of bubblegum)

Well, you actually can learn something from watching television. Yet another benefit of the Democrats controlling congress is that PBS is has the leeway to broadcast content more contentious than Andre Rieu and Antiques Roadshow. This afternoon, M. and I watched the Bill Moyers' Journal special Buying the War. (Viewable online here.)

His lead-in:

"Four years ago this spring, the Bush administration took leave of reality and plunged our country into a war so poorly planned it soon turned into a disaster.

"The story of how high officials misled the country has been told, but they couldn't have done it on their own. They needed a compliant press to pass on their propaganda as news, and cheer them on. Since then, thousands of people have died, and many are dying to this day.

"Yet the story of how the media bought what the white house was selling has not been told, in depth, on television. So, as the war rages into its fifth year, we look back at the months leading up to the invasion, when our press largely surrendered its independence and skepticism to join with our government in marching to war."

The list of those who "played ball" has a lot of names who are not surprising: every conservative pundit (excepting Pat Buchanan), Fox News, everyone on MSNBC but Phil Donahue (who was fired for not going along), CNN, all three major news networks, and Oprah. So far, so what.

But Moyers accomplishes something that the wing-nuts could only dream of: utterly demolishes the credibility of the New York Times and (to a somewhat lesser extent) the Washington Post as he details how they were punked by the Bush administration. (I deleted all of my WaPo and Times RSS feeds and replaced them with McClatchy's Washington Bureau feeds. The only reporters who actually dug into the story before the war worked for Knight-Ridder, and now work for McClatchy.)

This is also the story of the decline of journalism. Reporting -- finding out what is really going on -- is hard and expensive. Punditry and opinion is easier and cheaper. Even so, why George Will, Charles Krauthammer, Bill Kristol, William Sapphire, and David Broder are still trotted out as "experts" or "authorities" on anything defies rational explanation.

April 27, 2007

Warriors 2, Mavericks 1

The image “http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v243/DoctorX/warriors1_qjpreviewth.jpg?t=1177742244” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Except the Mavs didn't look this good...

Strangely Not Listed Under "Malevolent Bungling"

With today's sex scandal resignation at the State Department - the anti-sex ed guy of course -(just the beginning of a scandal orgy, I assure you) , and the Justice department indictment of the number 3 official at the CIA, also involving public CIA sex as well as the firing of the US attorney who brought the indictment, I was really losing track - Wikipedia has a nice summary of the gently-termed "controversies" of the Bush Administration. I reproduce some of it here.

There is no Z entry, but I think today's escort service kerfuffle will soon suffice under XXX.
Alleged retaliatory acts against opponents
Controversies surrounding pre-Iraq war intelligence
Controversies surrounding human rights
Controversies surrounding spying
Controversies surrounding propaganda
Controversies surrounding obstruction
Controversies surrounding response to national crisis
Controversies involving business / economics
Controversies involving influence / lobbying
Controversies involving secrecy / censorship
Controversies surrounding nepotism / cronyism
Controversies surrounding the growth of executive power
Controversies surrounding criminal acts of Administration officials
Controversies surrounding investigation of Administration officials or nominees








E cont.










N cont.











Vibrating trousers treat angina. -BBC (If read out loud, t is recommend that one pronounce this headline slowly and carefully.)

Trousers Pocketed
. -Glasgow Daily Record.

State Market Index Reports: Trousers. The Economic trousers matrix. Apparently.

Emergency Budget Allocation for Trousers.
Also discussed was the proposal by the fire department to upgrade its trousers to military-style multi-pocket pants that would allow firefighters to carry special equipment required for certain aspects of their job, Deputy Fire Chief Jaye Giampaolo said. Money for those purchases was cut by the Board of Public Safety, but Dalla Valle said that $7,540 of the $12,351 cut should be reinstated.

"Don't Put Meat Cleaver in Trousers." Singtao Daily. Fascists!

Tehran warns women over tight trousers.
Men are not exempted. Protest ends.

American Trouser Plant Closing! Mississippi.

Nearthier Than You Think

Dr. X posts this from the Nearth Study Group headquarters in Berkeley:

"Since they started charging for Saucer Smear I've been a little out of the loop on Type 3 encounters, but The Economist and BBC are picking up the slack.

"The Economist's obituary of Robert Taylor is here.
"BBC is reporting a pants-soiling moment for a UK airline pilot, shades of Valentich.
"Then there was that thing that didn't happen at O'Hare in November.


April 26, 2007

Defective automatic trousers hurl pilot from plane | The Register

Rogue expando-pants amok in Wallace & Gromit style devastation

Thomas Paine

I was about to make a tart comment regarding Edmund Burke when naturally I looked upon Thomas Paine, whom I could not stop reading.

Radical, deist, revolutionary, globalist, he is intent on cutting through pernicious, self-interested garbage and extending the actual principles of actual liberty for the actual benefit of actual humanity. He rightly roasts Burke over aristocracy, privilege, and monarchism. His only real mistake, it seems to me, was underestimating the seduction of power in the French Revolution, which nearly cost him his life.

When extraordinary power and extraordinary pay are allotted to any individual in a government, he becomes the center, round which every kind of corruption generates and forms. Give to any man a million a year, and add thereto the power of creating and disposing of places, at the expense of a country, and the liberties of that country are no longer secure. What is called the splendour of a throne is no other than the corruption of the state. It is made up of a band of parasites, living in luxurious indolence, out of the public taxes.

When once such a vicious system is established it becomes the guard and protection of all inferior abuses. The man who is in the receipt of a million a year is the last person to promote a spirit of reform, lest, in the event, it should reach to himself. It is always his interest to defend inferior abuses, as so many outworks to protect the citadel; and on this species of political fortification, all the parts have such a common dependence that it is never to be expected they will attack each other. [NOTE]

Monarchy would not have continued so many ages in the world, had it not been for the abuses it protects. It is the master-fraud, which shelters all others. By admitting a participation of the spoil, it makes itself friends; and when it ceases to do this it will cease to be the idol of courtiers.

As the principle on which constitutions are now formed rejects all hereditary pretensions to government, it also rejects all that catalogue of assumptions known by the name of prerogatives.

If there is any government where prerogatives might with apparent safety be entrusted to any individual, it is in the federal government of America. The president of the United States of America is elected only for four years. He is not only responsible in the general sense of the word, but a particular mode is laid down in the constitution for trying him.

Like Twain, his impatience only grew with his understanding. His Deist attack on religion in the Age of Reason, only mildly more radical than many of his contemporaries, sank his reputation.

I am left with an impression of great political and social sophistication; the only dust around this work is on the calculations in pounds sterling. It is often shocking to read the Founding Fathers, and the ringing intelligence of their debates rekindles my contempt for our present clownocracy.

April 25, 2007

Meet The Warriors

Dr. X posts this from Mark Cuban's garage:

"Where were you in 1994? That was the last year the Golden State Warriors were in a playoff game, the longest playoff drought of any NBA team.

"Until now. After picking up Don Nelson (cast off from the Mavericks) at the start of the season; after trading for Stephen Jackson (and his gat) and Al Harrington, the basketball equivalent of the Hanson Brothers; after winning nine of their last 10 games to clinch the final playoff birth, the Warriors are in the playoffs.

"Against the Mavericks, the best team in the NBA, featuring MVP Dirk Nowitski. Likely to be a short series, right?

"Not so fast. Dallas lost 15 times this year. Three of those were to the Warriors, against no wins. Playoff game #1, in Dallas: Warriors 97, Mavericks 85. Nowitzki scored 4 points.

"Game #2, in Dallas, underway now. Warriors lead 38-35. If Dallas loses this one (I don't expect they will, at home) they will be 0-2 going into Oracle Arena - and in deep, deep trouble. [Update - Dallas won.]

"How are the Warriors doing it? By playing at the fastest pace of any NBA team. Getting turnovers, fast-breaking, and shooting from anywhere and everywhere. Five men on the team average 16 points a game or better, led by Baron Davis, the double-double king.

"Fast, smart, and tough, challenging the best team in the NBA on their home court, taking it to the hoop and playing smart, stylish ball... Finally, a team that lives up to its name: Warriors."

The image “http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v243/DoctorX/Warriors.jpg?t=1177552889” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Quick Hits

Dr. X posts this from the Starbucks drive-through:

"No time to think, too much information. To be succinct:
  • Pat Tillman's family lays it on the line
  • George McGovern asks who really lost in '72
  • The Economist explains just how far the Neocons have fallen (Tommy Franks: Feith is "the dumbest fucking guy on the planet")
  • What do we do with Wolfowitz? I suggest we spit whenever we speak his name. Worked with Ceauşescu.
  • I picked up Our Oriental Heritage the other day. The introduction explicitly warns you to not try more than one chapter at a sitting...
  • Hardcover editions of The Pursuit of Victory, the definitive Nelson biography, are now available cheap in remainder stores and on Amazon. At the back there are a bunch of biographical sketches of his contemporaries - a book within a book that should not be missed.
  • Fark random image thread "

I Dub This Planet: NEARTH

Ah. We've found our first M-Class Planet. Nearth (for new, near, and earth) is a peaceful planet, rocky, temperate, and maybe watery, about 20 light years away. Their sun appears about 5 times as big in their sky. We might be able to get there in a thousand years or so, and if they have no notion of private property, I'm sure we'll make an arrangement.

Which is good, as our bees are dying, on
and we

Step 11: Hitler Day

Fascist America, in 10 easy steps
by Naomi Wolf.

Drunk Man and Horse in Foyer; Also Captain America Arrested.

Odd news is not the most advanced form of internet posting - but I like this photograph, formally interesting and to its bones, hilarious.

A photo released by police on Tuesday, April 24, 2007 shows a horse standing next to a sleeping man in the foyer of a bank in the east German village of Wiesenburg on Monday, April 23, 2007. The obviously drunken man tried to rest with his horse in the bank's entrance, when passers-by called the police who could convince the man and horse to leave the bank. (AP Photo/Police Handout)

Also, Captain America is arrested. The details are important.

MELBOURNE, Fla. --A doctor dressed as Captain America was arrested after groping a woman at a bar and fighting with her boyfriend, authorities said. Patrons at the bar were dressed in costumes as part of a bar crawl Saturday night, police spokeswoman Jill Frederiksen said.

A man carrying a burrito and dressed as Captain America approached her, began to say dirty things and touched her inappropriately, police said. He then brawled with her boyfriend, authorities said.

Several patrons who had dressed as the super hero were asked to step outside so the woman could identify the suspect, Frederiksen said. She picked out Raymond Adamcik, 54, police said.

After he was arrested, he tried to flush marijuana down a toilet at a police station, police said.

Adamcik was released on a $2,500 bond and faces charges of possession of marijuana, destruction of evidence, disorderly conduct and battery.

A secretary at Adamcik's office said he was on leave and that the office was not accepting messages for him.

The real stars-and-stripes-clad superhero made news recently after he was killed in a March issue of the comic book.

April 24, 2007

McCain and the Powell Doctrine

Dr. X posts this from the ADHD Hospital in Los Altos:

"McCain's support for the troop surge is doubly ironic in that, if anyone should embrace the Powell Doctrine, it would be someone who was not only in Vietnam, but... Holy Toledo, look at those gams...
The image “http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v243/DoctorX/10086907.jpg?t=1177480233” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

A Little Gift for You All

Cyd and Fred from The Band Wagon

As an old friend of mine once put it, "She has legs that start all the way down there, and then they go, well, they go all the way up there."

In Which First Sea Lord Puts the Beat Down on Them Internets

A reporter for the Seattle PI catches me in yet another moment of near total dread for the future.

It was an enjoyable interview, and Ms. Guzman, whose beat is them very self-same Internets, was open to the idea that the Internet and the digital age, in spite of being this amazing, powerful, democratizing library, is also an engine by which marketers and governments insert themselves into all aspects of our social relations. It commodifies - no other way to put it - the very love in our hearts, tending to displace the long years of direct socialization necessary to be fully human. Due to this and to the somewhat dilluting, bureaucratic nature of the technology, contemporary digital art, though far from empty, has been profoundly disappointing as the sheen of its newness wears off.

My quotes are not what I would have choosen; there I am, in the worst of all possible outcomes: Explaining a joke about Isengard.gov's name. Arrgh. No one to blame.

Quoted from NET NATIVE from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. By Monica Guzman.

There's "homey" and then there's Fremont Coffee Company "homey."

I half expected to see a yippy dog greet me at the door, little kids chasing each other through the rooms and the tumbling sounds of a not-so-distant clothes dryer when I stepped into the popular Fremont wi-fi spot.

But no; despite all appearances to the contrary, this is a place of business -- and study. It usually takes just one casual glance from the line at the counter to size up laptop density. Not here. I had to leave the anonymous comfort of said queue, peek through a couple of doorways and turn a couple of busy, curious heads just to get a sense of who was doing what.

I fought the urge to knock and ask permission to come in.

After I warmed my tummy with some morning glory chai, art teacher Jamie Bollenbach asked me to have a seat and let me in on his in-depth musings about the artistic and social perils of the Internet.

Bollenbach, 42, was doing three things online when I came by: 1) Looking at ticket prices for a possible trip to London, 2) Working on an entry to a group blog called Isengard.Gov and 3) Fiddling with his artwork on his personal blog, Bollenbach.blogspot.com.

A painting and drawing teacher at Highline Community College, Bollenbach is a painter himself. With paint and brush, mind you, not mouse and click. There's a lot of digitally created art in the world, but Bollenbach isn't about to negotiate with someone else's program to create his work.

"You're collaborating with everyone who built the software," he said. "Traditional materials -- they force you to engage in and be utterly responsible for what happens."

The Internet has done to art what it's done to everything else, he said. It's made it interchangeable, replaceable, anonymous. But on the other hand, the man does have his own art blog. Art shared online has new life, finds new ways to inspire. Bollenbach posts his paintings and his politics.

Isengard.Gov, located at eisengeiste.blogspot.com, has 10 contributors from here to Alaska, gets about 300 visits a day, and tackles all things political. It's named, of course, after one of the two evil towers in the "Lord of the Rings" series. "The idea is that evil people from Middle Earth have taken over the government," he said.

Apart from art's transformation online, Bollenbach is more concerned also about what might happen if Internet socialization becomes the norm.

"The Internet is a repository for freedom -- an illusion of substantive creativity. It becomes a play role rather than a substantive role," Bollenbach said.

He pointed to his brand new Dell. "This is manipulable," he said. "I had better relationships with people before the computer came along."

April 23, 2007

Liberté, égalité, Ou la la.*

The Isengard.gov endoresement for the President of France: Segolene Royal. She's a forward looking socialist who has energized the left after the last election debacle under Jospin, who was trounced last time by Le Pen, the National Front goon. In the run-off, she's already put that cat out (to coin a phrase,) and she has already vowed not to genuflect to G.W. Bush.

She's run a strong race against the conservative Sarkozy. Even better, now in her early fifties, she looks great in a bikini. You say this is a superficial qualification for a politician. I say it would have utterly excluded Dick Cheney.

This joke, based on not only the French national motto, but the original revolutionary slogan Liberté, égalité, fraternité, ou la mort! (Freedom, equality, brotherhood, or death!) and its conflation with a stereotypical french saying for oogling an attractive woman, has been quality assured.

April 20, 2007

Notes Toward a Conceptual Map of Singin' in the Rain

Dr. X posts this from that big party in Oxnard:

"It was noted a few days ago that Singin' in the Rain has significant therapeutic benefits. I can attest to this from my own experience. In February I reluctantly became Florence Nightingale to a family of coughing, feverish, lethargic infectees. Morale was at rock bottom. As a last resort, I tried out our videotape of the movie Ebert, Kael and many others have named as the greatest musical ever. The effect was instantaneous and magical.

"Singin' in the Rain is now viewed almost every day in our household, and is rapidly becoming a founding text of my boys' childhood. Watching it again and again I have gained a few shreds of insight into the alchemy that made this such a fantastic movie while other films with equally-talented casts (and better musical material fell flat. Hence, a few preliminary notes that may or may not inform or misinform my mapping of the representation of the text:

"1) Everyone had a nervous breakdown (all of these are from the Wikipedia article).
  • Donald O'Connor's 'Make 'em Laugh' is a legendary solo performance by one of the greatest song and dance men to ever come out of Vaudeville. He claimed to have worked it all out himself. After filming it he was hospitalized with exhaustion. The running up the wall bit wasn't a camera trick - he really did that, after rehearsing in a harness.
  • Gene Kelly's signature performance of the title tune was done while he had a fever of 103.
  • 19 year-old Debbie Reynolds, who before this movie could not dance was so tormented by Gene Kelly that Fred Astaire found her weeping in frustration under a piano. Astaire tutored her, with incredible results. If you watch 'Good Morning' she's somehow keeping up with Kelly and O'Connor. Her feet were bleeding. Stressful? Unpleasant? Reynolds ranked making this movie up there with childbirth.
"2) A lot of the music is quite mediocre. The movie recycles a bunch of old Freed and Brown songs. Of these, "Singin' in the Rain" is the best, and the most recycled. A late 20s number, it first shows up on film in The Hollywood Revue of 1929. Others, such as "Broadway Melody" and "All I Do is Dream of You" are suitably mediocre. If they were good songs we might not notice how well Gene Kelly is dancing, or how hot Cyd Charisse is.

"3) Cyd Charisse - the femme fatale in the big Broadway number - was the thinking man's (or foot fetishist's) Marilyn Monroe. Remember when I was talking about heat so hot that it would be impossible to comprehend its hotness? Cyd Charisse was hotter than that.

"4) In "All I Do is Dream of You" Debbie Reynolds succeeds in irritably performing a light dance number. As an acting novelty I rank this up there with Lee Van Cleef's ability to eat menacingly in For a Few Dollars More.

"5) The catchiest number, "Moses Supposes", is not by Freed and Brown, but by Roger Edens with lyrics by the estimable Comden and Green (who glued the movie together and later scored the show for Broadway). If you care even a little bit about dance, you have to view "Moses Supposes" as the real climax of the film, one of the great danceoffs of all time. Watch the continuous take from 2:06 to 2:33...Kelly and O'Connor were this close to killing each off-camera, but God that's good dancing.

"6) Um, yeah, Donald O'Connor. You could write a book about Donald O'Connor. Someone should. Here's the thing about Donald O'Connor: he could do anything. Need a song-and-dance guy? No problem. Male lead? Sure. Comic ensemble player? No problem. Maybe action hero would have been a stretch. Kelly called him 'The O'Connor' (this wonderful website gives him his due).

"7) Having watched too much of Gene Kelly's work (Invitation to the Dance, anyone?) it is clear that one of the keys to the film's success is that someone held Kelly's self-destructive tendencies in check. Kelly was as fine a song and dance lead as you could ask for...when he was moving. When he was standing still ("You Were Meant for Me") he delivered nothing. But he could kill you two other ways, too. He could get into artistic pretension the way some men get into the liquor cabinet (as in Invitation to the Dance). And his diva-like behavior veered between abuse of others (O'Connor and Reynolds both complained about it) and paralysis. That said, his signature performance of the title song is impeccable.

"8) Jean Hagen as Lena Lamont. In addition to playing hot, crazy, and commercially viable Lena with wit and verve, Hagen dubbed Debbie Reynolds dubbing Lena (and then it gets weird). A shame she didn't get more big roles, she brought this one off perfectly.

"9) The movie is so self-referential many of its self-references refer to themselves. This makes the referentiality self-referencing in its referencialism.

"10) Ebert re-reviewed the movie in 1999, curiously omitting some of the more obvious structuralist points of reference (here)."

This Should Cover Our Acidity For the Week

April 19, 2007

Um yeah, about that

Dr. X posts this from the Holocaust Museum:

"Today is Hitler's birthday. A waste of time to even mark it as significant, of course. But given all we have talked about over the years, perhaps an opportune time to study up a little, and engage in some sober reflection.

"The Laird made the most perceptive remark I have heard about Hitler. He didn't start out as a dictator. They elected him.

"Stalin knew what he was about when he said 'one death is a tragedy; a million is a statistic.' In college I sat in a poetry class where an eminent poet refused to comment on a Holocaust poem written by a student. 'You cannot write about that,' said the old man - 'you cannot write about it.'

"The sheer scale destroys human understanding. It is like calling the sun 'hot'. Sure it's hot - it's so hot you have no idea what that even means. It's not hot like a sauna - or like burning your hand on a stove - it's so hot any contact would snuff out your body and accompanying senses instantly. Such, the elder poet seemed to believe, is the distance between Dachau and a small liberal arts college in upstate New York.

"And that can leave us rudderless - unable to cope with the overload. From the dictator's perspective, this is a desirable benefit of genocide - collective guilt leading to collective moral paralyzation. But a human being need not surrender to it. Kurt Vonnegut, who saw the aftermath of Dresden, managed to retain his humanity (an excellent interview with him is here). He distilled his world view into one clear sentence, one that Jesus, Buddha, Gandhi, and the Dalai Lama could all affirm: 'God damn it, you've got to be kind.'

"The most direct and meaningful effort to come to terms with the Holocaust that I have encountered is Evvy Eisen's Legacy Project, a portion of which can be viewed in a travelling exhibition called "Multiply by Six Million", which I saw at Santa Clara University. It features personal portraits of survivors living in Northern California (here is one), along with their stories.

"Evvy Eisen's project reminds us that the Holocaust was not a statistic - it was six million individual tragedies. Stalin may have been right - we cannot feel appropriate compassion for six million victims. But we can relate to individuals. In doing so we can reclaim the humanity these genocidal monsters try to deny us. And we can reflect on the stakes we play for in our political engagements, in our public discourse, and in our satirical efforts.

"So today our thoughts turn to Evvy Eisen's re-humanization of the horrible wrong turn humanity took in the last century. Eisen-geiste, indeed."

Russia Announces a Tunnel ] Across the Bering Strait -Trade, Or INVASION!?

Curious. Russia announces a $65 billion tunnel from Siberia to Alaska.

I smell trouble: environmental, social, political trouble. (It occurs to me, when complete, you could drive to Tampa from Bagdad, or Edinburgh to Mobile.) Also some interesting opportunities, particularly cultural. Alaska would no longer be the end of Western civilization but the U.S. gateway to the world, admittedly, in this case, the more vast, empty parts of the world, but still.

One thought is that the supporting road system would end the isolation of much of rural Alaska- isolation that causes myriad problems for but also tends to conserve traditional native cultures. I also have a suspicion that the plans anticipate, or depend on, global warming to open up Arctic Sea shipping routes which will further enable greater oil exploration in Eastern Siberia, and also opens access to US markets for Siberian oil, which, um, contributes to warming...

And that is all assuming that Alaska's impressive history of huge failed engineering schemes doesn't catch up with this one, which it almost certainly will. Of course, they did manage to get the X Band radar to Adak.

April 17, 2007

Learning to hate The Man, part LXVII

A 15 year old student spent 12 days in juvvy after being implicated in a bomb threat phoned in to a school's hot-line.

They relied on the time stamp on the phone's caller ID, which showed a call from the student's phone at the same time that the message was left. Despite the fact that the voice on the school's recording sounded nothing like him, and the student protested his innocence, the principal told him

'Well, why should we believe you? You're a criminal. Criminals lie all the time.'

After 15 days they finally realized: The school's system was off by an hour from the Caller ID because of daylight saving time.

April 14, 2007

In Meiner Heimat

Dr. X posts this from Ernesto's Strudle Bistro in King of Prussia, PA:

"Memo to certain elements of the German Army: wise up. Since your last ass-kicking at the hands of an Anglo-Jew-Black-Slavic Army, the inferior races have become even more numerous.

"But you're a little out of date. The South Bronx is in decent shape. The whole Fort Apache thing is kind of 80s.

"And you're overlooking something very important about African Americans. Many of them are combat-hardened soldiers, better-trained, better-equipped, and more disciplined than you are. While you've been living the easy life in post-War Europe, they've been in combat everywhere from Kabul to Baghdad to Danang. You'd better pray to God you never get into a straight-up fight with these guys, because they will kick your ass all the way back to mankini beach.

"Carry on."

April 13, 2007

Dr X, Are You Still Alive?

I'm a little worried about you since I would have expected to read your eulogy by now...

Bledsoe ends 14-season career by retiring

Iacocca Takes It to the Next Level

82 years old, nothing to lose, nothing to prove, Lee Iacocca delivers an ass-whupping of biblical proportions on the fuck-tard currently occupying the White House.

April 12, 2007

The Laughing Cure

The Undersecretary inquires as to hilarious movies, and/or, other Netflix treats.

I'll start off with some suggestions. Go ahead and edit right into this post. The disagreements will be fun.

Movies of the current while:

Tenacious D the Movie (I liked it rather better than the album)
Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle.
Clerks II and of course Clerks -
The 40 Year Old Virgin
A Mighty Wind, and Dog Show "Can I just look at your labels?" (also, has cute dogs) By the Spinal Tap guys.

Movies of the Previous While

From the CSG: Am I the only person who found
Bowfinger hilarious? (NO!- FSL) Chubby Rain!
Also, not exactly a laugh fest, but a lot of fun: Sleuth, with Michael Cain and Laurence Olivier chewing up the scenery.

The Big Lebowski
Singin' in the Rain - this would cheer the dead.
The Philadelphia Story
Safety Last! (Harold Lloyd, Silent)
Duck Soup
Young Frankenstein
The Producers: 1968 - the original, Gene Wilder, Zero Mostel, far better
His Girl Friday
The Adventures of Robin Hood - 1939, This is comedy in the sense of happiness; perhaps the greatest hurrah! movie ever made; also, in this category, Captain Blood!
Our Man in Havana, Barnacle Bill aka All At Sea and the Lavender Hill Mob (Alec Guiness, acting)

Television Shows

Television, in all honesty, is probably a better format for laugh-out comedy; most movie comedies feel padded, which is why many of the great comedies were both in the past, and short. And the DVD collection era allows a build up of familiarity that contributes to the atmosphere of hilarity.

(Again in production, by the way. Yay!)
The Venture Brothers. This is the liberal arts version of Johnny Quest (who, unnamed actually ends up in the show, high on meth, living inside a submarine lab). It is best not to try to explain Dr. Girlfriend. My particular favorite is Dr. Orpheus.
Black Books (Here, to avoid doing his taxes, Bernard attempts to get beat up by Skinheads)
Jeeves and Wooster.
If not already completely memorized, Mr. Show is a treat. One of my particular favorites is from Season Four, Episode Five, The Story of Everest.

How about some stand up? I'm a big fan of Eddie Izzard and while in Dress to Kill he calls himself an "Executive Transvestite" I would describe him as a funny, sweet, British nerd. Come to think of it, he's all over The YouTube. Check this out.

Comedians! Of course! Eddie Izzard is indeed fantastic.

The late Mitch Hedberg: "I give you a dollar. You give me a donut. Then you give me a receipt for this donut. Do we really need to bring ink and paper into

I would look for Rodney Dangerfield performances, and classic Richard Pryor, if you haven't seen any in a centi-while. Comedy central's stand-up compliations are often better than you think they are going to be.

Imagine That Vonnegut was President


Kurt Vonnegut Quoted From Harper's, 9/96.

I work at home, and if I wanted to, I could have a computer right by my bed, and I’d never have to leave it. But I use a typewriter, and afterward I mark up the pages with a pencil.

Then I call up this woman named Carol out in Woodstock and say, “Are you still doing typing?” Sure she is, and her husband is trying to track bluebirds out there and not having much luck, and so we chitchat back and forth, and I say, “Okay, I’ll send you the pages.”

Then I go down the Steps and my wife calls, “Where are you going?” “Well,” I say, “I’m going to buy an envelope.” And she says, “You’re not a poor man. Why don’t you buy a thousand envelopes? They’ll deliver them, and you can put them in the closet.” And I say, “Hush.”

So I go to this newsstand across the street where they sell magazines and lottery tickets and stationery. I have to get in line because there are people buying candy and all that sort of thing, and I talk to them. The woman behind the counter has a jewel between her eyes, and when it’s my turn, I ask her if there have been any big winners lately. I get my envelope and seal it up and go to the postal convenience center down the block at the corner of Forty-seventh Street and Second Avenue, where I’m secretly in love with the woman behind the counter.

I keep absolutely poker-faced; I never let her know how I feel about her. One time I had my pocket picked in there and got to meet a cop and tell him about it. Anyway, I address the envelope to Carol in Woodstock. I stamp the envelope and mail it in a mailbox in front of the post office, and I go home. And I’ve had a hell of a good time. I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don’t let anybody tell you any different.

April 11, 2007

Best Fark Thread Ever


The Children of Hurin

Chris Tolkien, after many years, is about to release his dad's last book, cribbed from extensive notes, the Children of Hurin.

My suspicion is that it will actually be pretty well written; his son has been editing his work for decades now.

Worth mentioning, because one thing we shall never do at Isengard.Gov is cede Tolkien territory to right-wing, Jif-smeared Apocolybots.

Giant Steps...to Oblivion?

Dr. X posts this from the bleachers in Candlestick Park:

"The SF Giants this year represent a bold attempt to build a winning team in a way that few have dared tried before. Unlike the A's, the Giants have no ability to identify or develop superior young players, so they have relied on astute free agent signings to keep their decrepit team in contention.

"Over the winter they rolled the dice again, and picked up pitcher Barry Zito, for a cool $126 mm. Zito's a good pitcher - I was at the park and saw him carry a no-hitter into the late innings one time against Seattle, and was awed by his breaking stuff. And he's durable - never misses a start.

"Too bad he loses all the time. So far, the $126 mm is getting the Giants 0-2 with an 8.2 ERA. Watching Zito go down 5-1 against the Padres, one scout said 'it's over.' 'Yeah, that's a tough deficit,' came the reply. 'No, I mean the season.'

"Here is the Giants' opening day lineup, annotated with their best year for offensive performance (measured by OPS):

"Roberts, cf - 2001
"Vizquel, ss - 1999
"Bonds, lf - 2004
"Durham, 2b - 2006
"Aurilia, 1b - 2001
"Molina, c - 2006
"Feliz, 3b - 2003
"Winn, rf - 2002

"So, apart from your second baseman, catcher, and 43 year-old left fielder, every player on the team is three or more years off his peak. Well, you say, they're wily veterans, they know how to get on base and score runs. Well, maybe, but the Giants are last in the major leagues in runs scored per game so far this year, and second-to-last in team OPS.

"We're just seven games in, and it's a long year, and all that. But stick a fork in 'em. The Giants are done."

April 09, 2007

The false covering of atheism smoothly peeled away.

This one's not quite as good as H.L. Menken v Jif, but it has the same surreal quality.

Since We're Going on About Art...

Ignore the editorial section of the Washington Post, but do yourself a favor and take ten minutes to read, and listen, to this piece, cited by David Kurtz at Talking Points Memo. How much of appreciating art is about context, patience, time?

An extraordinarily gifted musician performs extraordinarily beautiful music in a subway station. Who listens?

April 08, 2007

Gasoline Engines! That's so Cute.

Although it was not two days ago when I met a paraplegic fellow out on the hiking trail in his electric chair explaining his 7-month coma injury in two words: Yamaha 1100 (a brand emphasized rather than obscured by the thick accent of serious head trauma, said, and bikers will understand this, with the note of pride that it took an 1100 cc engine to take you down), I reflect today that gasoline engines for motorcycles are so 20th century.

This electric bike, the Killacycle, with nano-tech batteries, does, what was it? 0-60 in 1.5 seconds.

The video, with a long buildup, has a Benny Hill quality to it.

Like the Tesla Roadster, I am convinced that making electric motors inarguably superior, and in beautiful form like the Tesla, is the key to popularizing them.

In other motor news, Ford unveils the Ford Expedition Funkmaster Flex Edition, which is great, because until now even with advanced drive systems, active suspensions and tall ground clearances, most stock SUVs had difficulty making it through the Funk.

April 07, 2007

Some Excellent Contemporary Women Painters

These are some superlative painters, women who, unlike many of their male and female contemporaries, are not trying to rationalize their way out of what you might call visual responsibility, nor are they hobbled conceptually by their mastery of verisimilitude, nor are they trying to consciously crawl in and out of aesthetic ideology. They are highly active, intelligent painters. Art writers have found themselves scrambling around trying to classify them ideologically without much success, which for a painter, is an excellent sign.

They are also successful, through sheer hard work.

Mehretu -has some sources in digital and architectural drawing, but the paintings are huge and deep and beautiful. Each of these painters has a highly sophisticated understand of the transition between material and spatial illusion. Mehretu's piece at MOMA is not to be missed.

Cecily Brown is both sort of inspired by the Young British Artists, painters of the early nineties, like the scary and brilliant Jenny Saville, who makes Damien Hirst look like Jeff Koons (for the unfamiliar, this joke has been quality assured) and a harbinger of the rehabilitation of the use of the emotive, muscular gesture, spatially placed.

Margie is just hitting it fairly big- she's a complete painter (the one who passed on the phrase: being tired of "bleary, smeary, atmosphery.")

Ann Gale, a former professor of mine, has the most penetrating, remorseless green eyes I've ever seen. She once compared me physically to William Shatner, which, at the time, was a compliment. Her paintings take many months- the subjects look a little like they've been caught in an alien mind probe, so objective and unromanticized they make Lucien Freud look like Thomas Kincaid. (This joke has been quality assured). I am not stupid enough to argue with anyone who can see that well.

What they share is a a deep understanding of the way paint creates illusions, an architectural precision in their spaces, an almost Kiefer-like breadth of scale, and something of a brutal objectivity. (Did you miss the Anselm Kiefer show in S.F.? You get my pigeon-poo flavored buttermint of shame. That was the best art show I've seen in ten years. )

(Click on images for larger version).


Julie Mehretu.

Cecily Brown.

A Seattle painter and acquaintance, Margie Livingstone

Ann Gale

Jenny Saville