July 30, 2007

From Now On He'll Be Yelling About Internet Tubes At the Statesville Prison

Our Analysis: Sen. Ted Stevens is going down.

A Persistent State of Being Fifteen Minutes from the Barricades

Here is a cute graphic about executive pay in America which reminds me that, as an American, the right to revolution is reserved.

The Affliction of McGonagall

Speaking of dystaglia (my now preferred term for longing for crappy times, based on dystopia), an amusing kerfuffle arises over a bad scottish poet, William McGonagall.

"It must have been an awful sight,
To witness in the dusky moonlight,
While the Storm Fiend did laugh, and angry did bray,
Along the Railway Bridge of the Silv'ry Tay,
Oh! ill-fated Bridge of the Silv'ry Tay,
I must now conclude my lay
By telling the world fearlessly without the least dismay,
That your central girders would not have given way,
At least many sensible men do say,
Had they been supported on each side with buttresses,
At least many sensible men confesses,
For the stronger we our houses do build,
The less chance we have of being killed."

July 28, 2007

The Isengard.Gov Poll of Several Democrats and Leaners

I am sure we're all curious about this. Just open up this post and put an anonymous "X" to the right of the candidate you are currently most in favor of, like so:

Optimus Prime X X

Mike Gravel

Bill Richardson XX

John Edwards XX

Chris Dodd

Hilary Clinton

Barack Obama X

Joe Biden X

Terrence W. Gainer: The Last Honest Sheriff?

Terrence W. Gainer is the Sergeant at Arms of the U.S. Senate. In the context of his duties, he is empowered to arrest any person, including the President.

I address this to Mr. Gainer:

"There may come a point in the next months when the United States of America will be forced by the reprehensible, illegal actions of her own Administration will require you to arrest members of the Executive Branch, in particular the Attorney General, Harriet Myers, Karl Rove, and others who are asserting a version of extraconstitutional privilege that begins to amount to dictatorial powers."

"You Sir, at that point, will be the representative of the people of the United States. The Constitution, the Democracy itself may rest on your shoulders. It is not inconceivable that you will have to walk to the White House, essentially alone, the last honest sheriff in town. The action may feel surreal, but its meaning will resonate throughout history. If the Justice Department becomes hopelessly cowed, it may come to you to bring down the hand of the law of a free people."

"Do not flinch. Do not hesitiate. This people are criminals, in contempt of the law of the United States and it's most critical representative institutions. Criminality under the robes of legitimate power is the cause of most of the world's miseries and is a grave danger to our democracy. If America is to stay true to here ideals, we cannot allow a drift into the ghost parliments, vacuous elections and capricious, dictatorial leaders. Our future cannot be China's or Russia's. This malevolence to democracy must be quashed, it must be quashed with all constitutional authority, and soon.

"Should this occur, we will all be standing with you."

July 27, 2007

Words, Words, Words

Dr. X posts this from AdWords HQ:

"Good list of words here."

Is There a Word For It?

I know this is already-chewed-food, (already chewed, vomited and stepped in even) but when the Laird described to me Tony Snow's latest contemptuous and contemptible performance, I found myself forming a sentence in my mind that had a familiar shape. (Also, see standard paragraph*.)

Did you ever think Tony Snow would make you miss Ari Fleischer? Like some weird SAT test question, A is to B as C is to ___. I've been making some many of these comparisons lately and they're getting worse.

Alberto Gonzalez to Ed Meese
Gale Norton to James Watt
Dick Cheney to Spiro Agnew (or Saruman)
Karen Hughes to Joan Quigley
Karl Rove to Lee Atwater
The Roberts SCOTUS to the Fuller SCOTUS
Lewis Libby to Michael Deaver
Michael Chertoff to John Poindexter

Oh, it goes on and on. There's a French expression "nostalgie de la boue," nostalgia for the mud, which sounds like it fits but it really means something else. Maybe we should coin a fake German expression to continue our tradition. Nostalgie für alte Schande? Nostalgie für letzte Grausigkeiten?

July 26, 2007

Don't Tell 'em Nuthin

Dr. X posts this from contempt of Congress:

"Head of FBI: Gonzalez is a lying weasel.

"Karl Rove, come out to play-ay...

"Jon Stewart explains Gonzalez's original testimony."

Still the King

Dr. X posts this from the Academy of St. Colon in the Fields:

"The Daily Show had, by far, the best coverage of the Cheney presidency."

Bob Penny's Great Real Estate Opportunity!

Hey, look here. Even though the whole deal was totally above board, Sen. Lisa Murkowski is selling back the prime Kenai river land she bought from Bob Penny, for the original $179,000.

Gee, that sounds like a great price!~ Maybe we should call Bob Penny and offer him the same amount for the Isengard.Gov International Headquarters.

No Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Die!

Dr. X posts this from Fort Knox:

"A few years ago I rented Goldfinger and watched it again. I was struck by how stupidly Bond behaves throughout. Others have noticed too."

July 25, 2007

There Are Still Men

Dr. X posts this from the Riverwalk in Houston (really):

"Probably the least-known of the greatest 50 baseball players of all time, Craig Biggio has toiled in his Texas backwater for 20 years. Yesterday, he announced that he would retire at the end of the season. Then, he went out and hit a game-winning grand slam.

"Some odd facts about Craig Biggio:

"- As noted, he has played all 20 years of his career for one team.
"- He appears to be happily married and faithful to his wife.
"- He does a lot of volunteer work, raising about $2mm a year for kids with cancer.
"- He is considered 'old school' and 'a gamer'.

"On the baseball side, he is arguably the best infielder of his era. Bill James ranked him #35 of all time in his Historical Abstract. The case is pretty strong - he's durable, he plays a key defensive position very well, he hits like a sonofabitch, and he steals a ton of bases as well. Other notes:

"- He is the only man in history to make the All-Star team at two positions. He came up as a catcher (caught one of Nolan Ryan's no-hitters), then was converted to second base.
"- He is the only player in Major League Baseball history with at least 600 doubles, 3,000 hits, 250 homers and 400 steals, whose last name is Biggio. Ok, I made that last part up.
"- In 1997 he became the first player in baseball history not to hit into a single double play while playing an entire 162 game season.
"- Baseball statisticians consider him a lock for the Hall of Fame.

"Here are the players his batting stats most resemble (* indicates Hall of Famer):
  1. Robin Yount (850) *
  2. Roberto Alomar (824)
  3. Joe Morgan (823) *
  4. Paul Molitor (795) *
  5. Lou Whitaker (783)
  6. Ryne Sandberg (774) *
  7. Cal Ripken (764) *
  8. Brooks Robinson (759) *
  9. Charlie Gehringer (757) *
  10. Vada Pinson (752)
"Great player, great man. One of the few modern sports stars you could genuinely call a role model."

In Which Your Secretary Heeds Your Pleas

So many of you have called, written, or sent emissaries with the same request that I feel compelled to finally respond. "Who," you have asked, "is the object of our Secretary's latest chaste love crush?"

The answer is, as many of you have cleverly guessed, Dr. Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities and Director of Excavations at Giza, Saqqara and the Bahariya Oasis.

An archaeologist with a fan club. An archaeologist with a mission. An archaeologist with a fine sense of humor. He often tells the story of being visited in his office by a tourist who asked to tour his bathroom. Apparently he was chasing down a rumor that Dr. Hawass had a secret passageway from his bathroom to a pyramid so he could hide artifacts. The tourist took photos which he published at www.hawassbathroom.com to show people there was no tunnel. Dr. Hawass told that story so often and that website got so many hits that its name was eventually sold...to a bathroom supply company.

He's also an archaeologist with enemies! Apparently, the debate over interior versus exterior construction ramps for pyramids is running quite hot. Also, Dr. Hawass's refusal to attribute the construction of the pyramids to the work of extra-terrestrials, chaps some hides. And although the FSL might be alarmed to learn that Hawass uses robots in his work, he would probably chuckle over the letter-writing campaign launched by his young fan club members, asking museums to return stolen artifacts to Egypt.

So, dear friends, rest easy. My fantasy love life is still thriving.

July 24, 2007

Congress: Time to Arrest Gonzales On Your Own Authority

SCHUMER: Well, wait a minute, sir. Sir, with all due respect -- and if I could have some order here, Mr. Chairman -- in all due respect, you're just saying, "Well, it was clarified with the reporter," and you don't even know what he said. You don't even know what the clarification is. Sir, how can you say that you should stay on as attorney general when we go through exercise like this, where you're bobbing and weaving and ducking to avoid admitting that you deceived the committee? And now you don't even know. I'll give you another chance: You're hanging your hat on the fact that you clarified the statement two days later. You're now telling us that is was a spokesperson who did it. What did that spokesperson say? Tell me now, how do you clarify this?

GONZALES: I don't know, but I'll find out and get back to you,

Don Young: When Do We Send in Sgt .Preston of the Yukon?

In which we learn again that Alaska Republicans will not stop until they are physically arrested for their crimes and actually put in prison. I'm sorry, I meant Republicans.

Don Young is under criminal investigation, according the Wall Street Journal, cited here through Talking Points Memo. For those of you not from Alaska, Don Young is an idiot, Alaska's Congressional idiot for the last 36 years. But he's also corrupt, sadistic, ludicrous and something of an egomaniac.

And the Anchorage Daily News is scooped AGAIN.

July 23, 2007

Some Brief Notes

Dr. X posts this from the Miscellaneous section of the Vassar Miscellany News:

"The Laird's video has damaged my synapses so severely I am reduced to brief comments.

"Item: We are finishing our fourth year on this little blog. First post was August 29, 2003.

"Item: President Cheney. Glad that's over with, and President Bush has assumed full control again.

"Item: I am sick of these political hacks using government agencies for their smear tactics! Oh, wait, that was Spitzer.

"Item: In the latest issue of Foreign Affairs, Scheve and Slaughter point out that globalization is not working for most Americans. Moreover, most Americans now know this: 'policy is becoming more protectionist because the public is becoming more protectionist, and the public is becoming more protectionist because incomes are stagnating or falling.' What to do? Well, they say, you could try improving education HA HA HA!!! OH GOD, STOP, YOU'RE KILLING ME...besides, they say, it would take too long to work. The only thing to do is redistribute some of the gains from the rich to the poor. Consider this: 'Of workers in seven educational categories -- high school dropout, high school graduate, some college, college graduate, nonprofessional master's, Ph.D., and M.B.A./J.D./M.D. -- only those in the last two categories, with doctorates or professional graduate degrees, experienced any growth in mean real money earnings between 2000 and 2005.'

"Item: So long Michael Vick.

"Item: Did you know the French still can't agree on what the French Revolution was about (this little book is an excellent review). I was going to mock them for this, until I remembered that half the country can't remember who won our Civil War.

"Item: I had not known until watching a documentary the other night, just how horrible the Invasion of Japan would have been, had we not dropped the bomb. (We were readying gas attacks, the Japanese were working up some nice bacteriological treats.) In preparation for the attack, the U.S. ordered up 500,000 Purple Hearts. There has not been a Purple Heart order since - they have been awarding from that lot for over 50 years, and there are still over 100,000 of them left.

"Item: Detroit's Metropolitan Wayne County Airport is surprisingly nice (10th-busiest in the U.S.). Weird. There's no city left in Detroit, but it has a great airport."

July 22, 2007

Watch this video if you'd like to go violently insane

Friday, on the way to lunch, one of the fellows I manage began gibbering like a maniac, his insane ramblings punctuated by declaring "Nooooo springs!!!" in a falsetto. Also, he seemed to be obsessed by the concept, application, and ubiquitousness of mechanical springs.

Returning from lunch, I had planned to consult with our HR department to see if emergency counseling or intervention by the police was necessary. My plans were interrupted by my receiving (from the fellow in question) a link to this page on YouTube:


Then, I went insane.

July 20, 2007

With apologies to Gilbert and Sullivan

Not mine. But worth it anyway.

I am the very model of a modern Libertarian:
I teem with glowing notions for proposals millenarian,
I've nothing but contempt for ideologies collectivist
(My own ideas of social good tend more toward the Objectivist).
You see, I've just discovered, by my intellectual bravery,
That civic obligations are all tantamount to slavery;
And thus that ancient pastime, viz., of complaining of taxation,
Assumes the glorious aspect of a war for liberation!

You really must admit it's a delightful revelation:
To bitch about your taxes is to fight for liberation!

I bolster up my claims with lucubrations rather risible
About the Founding Fathers and the market's hand invisible;
In fact, my slight acquaintance with the fountainhead Pierian
Makes me the very model of a modern Libertarian!

His very slight acquaintance with the fountainhead Pierian
Makes him the very model of a modern Libertarian!

All "public wealth" is robbery, we never will accede to it;
You have no rights in anything if you cannot show your deed to it.
(But don't fear repossession by our Amerind minority:
Those treaties aren't valid---Uncle Sam had no authority!)
We realize whales and wolves and moose find wilderness quite vital,
And we'll give back their habitats---if they can prove their title.
But people like unspoiled lands (we too will say "hooray" for them),
So we have faith that someone else will freely choose to pay for them.

Yes, when the parks are auctioned it will be a lucky day for them---
We're confident that someone else will freely choose to pay for them!

We'll guard the health of nature by self-interest most astute:
Since pollution is destructive, no one ever will pollute.
Thus factories will safeguard our communities riparian---
I am the very model of a modern Libertarian!

Yes, factories will safeguard our communities riparian,
He is the very model of a modern Libertarian!

In short, when I can tell why individual consumers
Know best who should approve their drugs and who should treat their tumors;
Why civilized existence in its intricate confusion
Will be simple and straightforward, absent government intrusion;
Why markets cannot err within the system I've described,
Why poor folk won't be bullied and why rich folk won't be bribed,
And why all vast inequities of power and position
Will vanish when I wave my wand and utter "COMPETITION!"---

He's so much more exciting than a common politician,
Inequities will vanish when he hollers "Competition!"

And why my lofty rhetoric and arguments meticulous
Inspire shouts of laughter and the hearty cry, "Ridiculous!",
And why my social theories all seem so pre-Sumerian---
I'll be the very model of a modern Libertarian!

His novel social theories all seem so pre-Sumerian---
He is the very model of a modern Libertarian!

July 19, 2007

Alaska: All Your Congress Are Belong to Oil

It's a little like watching a drugged elephant get to its feet, but the Anchorage Daily News wakes up to the Talking Points Memo story on Sen. Murkowski's sweetmeats land deal, which looks rather worse than first reported.

Still, it's late, and the Daily News should be BREAKING these stories, not issuing a foggy, naggy response a couple of days later. They've been scooped by us, the New York Times, Roll Call, the Washington Post, TPM and their own political blogs: time to go back to Reporter School.

First, Be First.

Second, Be Comprehensive. This would be just another minor corruption case except that dozens of state officials appear corrupted by oil money directly or indirectly. It's one thing to have one dorky legislator on the take, it's quite another to have whole sections of government up for sale, potentially for years. The whole congressional delegation, sections of the legislature, past governors appear involved. A serious daily should be putting this all into a coherent narrative, and McClatchy has a record of backing this kind of work. So what's the hold-up?

Third, Get to Work.

UPDATE (7/20): The story has legs. U.S. Senator Murkowski is now facing strong local scrutiny

My question, when they finally arrest the entire Alaska delegation, can they save money by carpooling in the perp van?

July 18, 2007

Question for the NFL: How Stupid Do You Think We Are?

Taking a break from the usual New York Giants cocksuckery, Peter King posits in his column that the NFL commissioner is going to assure that the indictment of Michael Vick "is not going to be the Duke lacrosse case."

Below is the text of my email to Peter King:

"This is not going to be the Duke lacrosse case."

Could you please explain to your readers how you came to draw that parallel, other than the fact that they were both indictments involving athletes?

The probability of Vick is innocent of being part of a (particularly disgusting) criminal enterprise is asymptotically approaching zero. This is not a "he-said-she-said" sexual assault charge, nor the standard NFL "altercation outside of a nightclub that may or may not have been self defense" rap. This is a "found 54 dead dogs buried in your yard, and eyewitnesses have placed you at the scene of the crime" case.

I believe that you, Sir, know the difference between this and the Duke Lacrosse team case. I also believe that Goodell knows the difference, and I find it easier to credit you both with cynicism rather than credulity.

I think you and your NFL friends are in for a shock. Americans love football, but they love dogs, too. I don't even particularly like dogs, but I've already decided the NFL won't get a cent of mine (goodbye Sunday Ticket) until Vick is banned from the game.

After further review:

I'd like to credit the Bush Administration for cultivating a culture of implausible deniability in our nation. Yes, Clinton lied, but at least he didn't keep denying his wrongdoing once he was busted.

July 17, 2007

Are You Willing to Make Peace With Hitler?

Fascinating chart here on the evolution of American public opinion during the course of World War II.

Sen. Murkowiski's $164 K Freebie

A few weeks ago I made some arch comments that suggested the Anchorage Daily News was proving lazy in its reporting on Alaska political corruption - and I suggested, rather flippantly and indirectly, that Lisa Murkowski's business dealings should be checked out.

Today Talking Points Memo reports another sweetheart deal - corrupt developer Bob Penny sells land about $164 K under market value to Sen. Murkowski, making a perfect trio of Alaska Congressional corruptibility.

The Anchorage Daily News is become unacceptably cowardly and failing Alaska at a critical moment.

July 16, 2007

Wayne Rooney - Friend or Foe?

Dr. X post this from Arsenal Stadium ("The Home of Football"):

"I think we need to discuss where Eisengeiste/Isengard stands on Premier League Football. I come to this question without partisanship or rancor, which is in this case a major handicap. So let me just blue-sky a few things:

"Manchester United. Featuring Wayne Rooney, who can do this. Wayne did not get any high school credentials, likes reading Harry Potter, and his favorite movie is Grease. I don't wish to anticipate the views of the group, but my guess is that this team of smug front-runners and their literacy-challenged star are not a good fit for us.

"Arsenal F.C. London. Can we ever really get behind a London team? Nah.

"The Hammers. The Hammers. Karl Marx didn't know, but you do, that this is the name given to West Ham United. This team might be right for us - famous for its hooligans, it has been relegated and recovered...took Liverpool to a shootout in the F.A. Cup last year...recent ownership change to a dodgy Icelandic consortium... And it has been, thanks to the Pythons, with us since we were children. Unlike fancy Arsenal, which moved to a new stadium, West Ham has played on the same grounds since 1904. The opening of the Doc Martens stand, built in 2001, was attended by The Queen.

"I have a personal affinity for Aston Villa, but they are a bit posh for our group. Their supporters are 98% white... (but, then, so are we)."

The Last Boy Scout

Hetero GOP Senator Spotted in Wild

Even his madam says so.

What We Learn From Love

Dr. X posts this from that Best Buy next to Applebee's:

"The legend of the Beatles will never die. As Bruce McCall has commented in another context, 'you couldn't kill it with a stick.' But if you have any Beatles-loving brain cells left, I highly recommend Love, a 2006 Beatles soundtrack for Cirque du Soleil, produced by George Martin and his son Giles.

"Some reasons why it is good:
  • Sound quality. This Guardian review is right to point out that the album would be less valuable if we could get all the original tunes digitally re-mastered to modern standards. But this CD, along with Let it Be...Naked (a.k.a. McCartney's Revenge) is all we get for now. You notice right off the bat - playing the CD through a real stereo with real speakers, there is an immediacy and level of detail I've never heard before. And, because Beatles music is very detailed, there's a lot to hear.
  • Mashups. I like mashups, such as the now-famous "Paperback Believer". Giles Martin (George's son) does a couple really nice ones - my favorite delivers "Drive My Car", "What You're Doing", and "The Word" in one convenient wrapper. "Drive My Car" is an important song because it's catchy and fun and sort of odd, but not really very good, and therefore deserves this kind of treatment (the Punkles also have a fun, if not good, version).
  • New arrangements. With all due respect to Billy Preston, the Fifth Beatle was George Martin. For this album, Martin did his last Beatles string arrangement, around a George Harrison demo take of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" (original take is here). It is the only 'new' music on the CD. The result is very, very, very, good.
  • More drum and bass. In the modern style, this mix turns the drum and bass way up. And this is the best thing that could happen, because McCartney and Starr were hellacious rhythm players. McCartney on "Come Together", Ringo's fills on "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" are lucid, decorative, and powerful. And good, too.
"It has its problems. It scores easy points and leaves the hard ones for someone else. But it's still sweet. Thanks to being old and having a paycheck I have a good stereo now, and this CD sounds great in it.

"Dr. X's rating: xxxx out of 5"

We Eat For You, We Fool You, We Rule You

Every so often, when a coven of preening billionaires credit themselves with their own irreplaceable genius, I am more inclined to indulge myself in a little anarcho-syndicalism.

It is the economic analysis of a hundred years ago, but it almost the opposite of the ego-driven pseudo-Marxist dictatorships of the 20th century -and many of the essential values are a little hard to argue with...

Rudolph Rocker (!) quote in the wikipedia entry:

Political rights do not originate in parliaments, they are, rather, forced upon them from without. And even their enactment into law has for a long time been no guarantee of their security. Just as the employers try to nullify every concession they had made to labour as soon as opportunity offered, as soon as any signs of weakness were observable in the workers' organizations, so governments are always inclined to restrict or to abbrogate completely rights and freedoms that have been achieved if they imagine that the people will put up no resistance. . . . Political rights do not exist because they have been legally set down on a piece of paper, but only when they have become the ingrown habit of a people, and when any attempt to impair them will meet with the violent resistance of the populace.

We can argue about "violent." It all depends on the context, I suppose. The American revolution was one. French, for a while. Russian, in a way, but without an ingrown habit of liberty what chance did they have before a megalomaniac gobbled up all the revolutionary power to serve his own ego? And by that I also mean Putin.

With the Republicans accusing everyone who suggests that maybe we should help poor children with some medical insurance of waging class war, (see this Ben Stein, yes that Ben Stein, column for a half-conscious reflection on the nature and existence of social class), I am inclined to believe in the radical hypothesis that capitalism itself will never deliver social justice unless forced to do so with equally concentrated national power or new market realities, like powerful, socialistic unions, highly active democratically accountable state governments, or the instinct of self-preservation that might blossom from the reality of the dying earth.

The Reapers

Ah. The new robot attack planes are being deployed in force. The deployment of robots is presumably intended to make attacks more precise, and I have no doubt that in certain tactical situations it confers great advantages, sparing and protecting our armed forces - but the history suggests the total effect may be the opposite; as war gets more technically advanced, a greater and greater proportion of civilians die compared to combatants.

It is noted that our vast supplies of vastly superior weapons are losing us this war- Why? War is politics by other means - War is always politics, a type of unlimited form of persuasion. The point is always to convince human beings to a desired course of action, your opponents, your spectators at risk, your allies and selves. Failure to understand this will lose any superpower any war, no matter what its weapons.

What effect will more bigger, highly lethal robot planes have? Tactically, I wouldn't presume to know. Not that much in the short run, I expect. But you must ask how will ordinary Iraqis walking around under ever-circling, lethal robot planes will perceive them, and their lives under faltering U.S. occupation, and us. These remote weapons may kill some of the more vicious of the terroristic factions. They will be very successful at inducing fear and terror. Does this get us closer to or farther away from American success?

By the way, here is a cute little article on the wavering memories of the tech generation - as we manage more information, we forget simple things.

July 15, 2007

If Only There Were a Strong Opposition to Contest This

Dr. X posts this from a very bad mood:

"The problem I have with this administration can be summed up in the following sentence: 'White House threatens to veto children's health insurance legislation.'

"To be paid for with a tobacco tax.

"What's next? Let Poor Kids Get Sick and Die Day?"

July 14, 2007

I Vote For This Guy

Dr. X posts this from outside the U.S Attorney's office in Chicago:

"Talk about afflicting the powerful. First Scooter, now Conrad Black. Patrick Fitzgerald is what's right about America.

"Of the Black conviction, Fitzgerald said: 'It is very simple: if you are going to take liberties and break the law with other people’s money, there are going to be consequences.'

"Well, not really - not most of the time in America... But in this case, thanks to Fitzgerald's efforts, there will be consequences. Black may be ruined. He appears to be low on funds. He gave up his Canadian citizenship to sit in the House of Lords (!), but now that he is convicted felon, Canada won't take him back. He might even have to serve his sentence in a - *gasp*- American prison."

[Update: Chicago Sun-Times editorial on the conviction: "Everyone who worked under the trying regime of Conrad Black is breathing a great sigh of relief that a federal jury on Friday convicted him of four of the 13 counts against him — more than enough to put him behind bars and a giant step toward guaranteeing that he cannot regain control of his media empire."]

July 12, 2007

a.k.a. 'The Waldheim/Grass Manuever'

Dr. X forgets where he's posting this from:

"Science validates the time honored German tradition of pretending it never happened. As a longtime practitioner, I attest to the usefulness of this technique."

Just a Question

Dr. X posts this, in a spirit of supportive and platonic camaraderie, from outside the Castro Theater:

"I'm sorry, are there any straight people in the Republican Party?"

The "F" Rating

I have decided that it is time to codify key ideological and behavioral aspects of certain prominent figures, and to institute an effective system for communicating this information.

The image of Italian Dictator Benito Mussolini, left, has been previous determined to be an effective iconic representation of these components of personality and political ideology. This matrix may include but is not limited to aggressive centralization of corporate/state/military power elites, simple megalomania, history of assaults on fundamental legal freedoms in a constitutional democracy, work towards cultural "cleansing", a desire to annex the Sudatanland, or suspiciously snappy outfits.

The F rating system awards little Mussolini heads, representing the degree to which the F word describes the person on a scale of 1 to 10. Tests have determined that the system is both utterly capricious and highly accurate.

For example,

Rudy Giuliani receives 6 Mussolinis on the ten point scale, for such things as his fear-mongering, his anti-constitutional support of obsessive-compulsive state security, his mildly insane autocratic style; however, he appears in drag so often one cannot take his autocratic cravings with unlimited seriousness. This is why, for example, Goering would only receive a "9."

This is also not limited to political figures. To the left is Mark Mays, CEO of Clear Channel, a part of the U.S. Culture Industry that has monopolized and strip-mined music culture, production and distribution in the United States, laying waste to the vibrancy, individuality and creativity of American emotions and dreams.

Mark Mays, CEO of Clear Channel

A "two" on the F scale might reflect a strong touch of self-righteous sadism.

Points off for helping to democratize information access, while still working to subvert it by creating synergistic censoring partnerships with dictatorships who imprison dissidents, all while building vast data-mining networks that promise an end to human privacy, and with it, human autonomy.

Some are obvious; on occasion, the scale does go to eleven.

July 10, 2007

Alert the Media

Dr. X posts this from an observation satellite circling Mercury:

"Reducing the list of suspects by one, science proves climate change is not the fault of the sun."

July 07, 2007

Fatwa, Fatwa, Durka, Durka

Back when I was studying Economics, my group went through a seminar where we had to invent and pretend to manufacture, market, and sell a product. My project partner was a Lebanese Muslim and we came up with a portable prayer rug with a GPS device and international clock, so traveling Muslims would always know when to pray and the direction of Mecca. We were so pleased with ourselves, we actually considered, for about 7 minutes, finding a real manufacturer. We decided not to pursue it because 1) I'm not a Muslim and 2) we didn't know if it would be haraam or halal.

But as I just read in The Economist, there's now an easy solution to the problem: online fatwas! See what www.E-fatwa.com says about squatting or what www.MuftiSays.com says about unibrows. Fascinating and informative reading.

July 05, 2007


Dr. X posts this from an All-Star party in South Beach:

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"I stopped writing about Tim Lincecum because he fell apart in June, after three great starts in May. It's not clear what happened. He suddenly started walking people, and bad things happen when you do that. From May 29th to June 19th, he started five games, and the Giants lost five games. Since Giants manager Bruce Bochy seemed to be ignoring pitch counts, I was just assuming Lincecum had already gotten hurt and his career was over.

"No so fast. In his last two starts he seems to have gotten his control back. In both games he went seven innings, and in both games he gave up no earned runs. On July 1, vs. Arizona, he struck out 12 and walked none (game-by-game stats).

"He's had various nicknames, but his Giants teammates have settled on 'The Franchise'.

"No pressure, kid."

The Olive Branch Petition

Dr. X posts this from the Sixth Street Mini-Mart, down the road from Monticello:

"As every schoolchild knows, July 5th marks the anniversary of the Olive Branch Petition, the letter sent by the Continental Congress to the King in 1775, advising him to chill and stop being whack, and stuff.

"Authored in part by Jefferson, but edited down so as to be less inflammatory, it is a masterpiece of wheedling servility, and a good example of why Americans lost patience with royalty all those years ago:

We shall decline the ungrateful task of describing the irksome variety of artifices practised by many of your Majesty's Ministers, the delusive pretences, fruitless terrours, and unavailing severities, that have, from time to time, been dealt out by them, in their attempts to execute this impolitick plan, or of tracing through a series of years past the progress of the unhappy differences between Great Britain and these Colonies, that have flowed from this fatal source.

Your Majesty's Ministers, persevering in their measures, and proceeding to open hostilities for enforcing them, have compelled us to arm in our own defence, and have engaged us in a controversy so peculiarly abhorrent to the affections of your still faithful Colonists, that when we consider whom we must oppose in this contest, and if it continues, what may be the consequences, our own particular misfortunes are accounted by us only as parts of our distress.

Knowing to what violent resentments and incurable animosities civil discords are apt to exasperate and inflame the contending parties, we think ourselves required by indispensable obligations to Almighty God, to your Majesty, to our fellow-subjects, and to ourselves, immediately to use all the means in our power, not incompatible with our safety, for stopping the further effusion of blood, and for averting the impending calamities that threaten the British Empire.

Thus called upon to address your Majesty on affairs of such moment to America, and probably to all your Dominions, we are earnestly desirous of performing this office with the utmost deference for your Majesty; and we therefore pray, that your Majesty's royal magnanimity and benevolence may make the most favourable constructions of our expressions on so uncommon an occasion. Could we represent in their full force the sentiments that agitate the minds of us your dutiful subjects, we are persuaded your Majesty would ascribe any seeming deviation from reverence in our language, and even in our conduct, not to any reprehensible intention, but to the impossibility of reconciling the usual appearance of respect with a just attention to our own preservation against those artful and cruel enemies who abuse your royal confidence and authority, for the purpose of effecting our destruction.

Attached to your Majesty's person, family, and Government, with all devotion that principle and affection can inspire; connected with Great Britain by the strongest ties that can unite societies, and deploring every event that tends in any degree to weaken them, we solemnly assure your Majesty, that we not only most ardently desire the former harmony between her and these Colonies may be restored, but that a concord may be established between them upon so firm a basis as to perpetuate its blessings, uninterrupted by any future dissensions, to succeeding generations in both countries, and to transmit your Majesty's name to posterity, adorned with that signal and lasting glory that has attended the memory of those illustrious personages, whose virtues and abilities have extricated states from dangerous convulsions, and by securing the happiness to others, have erected the most noble and durable monuments to their own fame.

We beg further leave to assure your Majesty, that notwithstanding the sufferings of your loyal Colonists during the course of this present controversy, our breasts retain too tender a regard for the kingdom from which we derive our origin, to request such a reconciliation as might, in any manner, be inconsistent with her dignity or welfare. These, related as we are to her, honour and duty, as well as inclination, induce us to support and advance; and the apprehensions that now oppress our hearts with unspeakable grief, being once removed, your Majesty will find our faithful subject on this Continent ready and willing at all times, as they have ever been with their lives and fortunes, to assert and maintain the rights and interests of your Majesty, and of our Mother Country.

We therefore beseech your Majesty, that your royal authority and influence may be graciously interposed to procure us relief from our afflicting fears and jealousies, occasioned by the system before-mentioned, and to settle peace through every part of our Dominions, with all humility submitting to your Majesty's wise consideration, whether it may not be expedient, for facilitating those important purposes, that your Majesty be pleased to direct some mode, by which the united applications of your faithful Colonists to the Throne, in pursuance of their common counsels, may be improved into a happy and permanent reconciliation; and that, in the mean time, measures may be taken for preventing the further destruction of the lives of your Majesty's subjects; and that such statutes as more immediately distress any of your Majesty's Colonies may be repealed.

For such arrangements as your Majesty's wisdom can form for collecting the united sense of your American people, we are convinced your Majesty would receive such satisfactory proofs of the disposition of the Colonists towards their Sovereign and Parent State, that the wished for opportunity would soon be restored to them, of evincing the sincerity of their professions, by every testimony of devotion becoming the most dutiful subjects, and the most affectionate Colonists.

That your Majesty may enjoy long and prosperous reign, and that your descendants may govern your Dominions with honour to themselves and happiness to their subjects, is our sincere prayer.

"Or we'll kick your ass.

"OK, I made that last part up."

One step down, 11 to go...

Dr. X posts this from the Green Zone:

"Australia admits the oil might have a little bit to do with it."

July 04, 2007

A Little Patriotism on the 4th

From the Declaration of Independence.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

.....He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

.....For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

.....For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

....For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

.....For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

....In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

....We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

And From Section 802 of the Patriot Act:

      `(5) the term `domestic terrorism' means activities that--
        `(A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State;
        `(B) appear to be intended--
          `(i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
          `(ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or
          `(iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and
        `(C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.'.

July 03, 2007

Two Guilty Pleasures

Dr. X posts this from somewhere near the Googleplex:

"I am ashamed of myself, but I find these diverting: 1) Blind Item Rehash, through which I knew all about Lindsay Lohan before she went into rehab, and the fellows at 2) Infinite Solutions are evil geniuses of the first order (although famous for the Google TV hoax, I find the wi-fi episode more entertaining).

July 02, 2007

Just Some Points of Reference

Dr. X posts this from the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library:

"Nixon. Rich. Libby.

"Here is a 2005 Business Week piece on the 'Rich Boys'. Say what you want, but if Hillary opens her sanctimonious mouth about this, I'll throw a Glencore paperweight at the tv set."

"UPDATE: Now I gotta get a new tv..."

July 01, 2007

Developmental Programming

Dr. X posts this from the sofa:

"We're watching a fine new show on tv called Wonder Pets. I'm a fan - it's well-done. Each episode is an opera, and the (good) music is performed by an actual orchestra. And even though it's fun, the show has learning objectives, which run onscreen before the title sequence. Yes, learning objectives - learning objectives which are also are incorporated into a meta-structure of learning objectives for the entire Noggin children's channel.

"It is nice to know that, thanks to this conscientious curriculum development, my children will develop into fully-evolved self-actualizing achievers, simply by watching tv.

"But what about all those shows we watched when we were kids. Weren't they educational?

"Herewith, I offer learning objectives for Underdog:

"Underdog enhances children's ability to
  • understand and interpret plans to take over the world
  • survive attacks by super villains
  • assume super powers by taking pills
  • open cans of whoop-ass

"And it had a cool theme song. Disney has an Underdog movie coming out this year. I hope it's based on that episode where Simon Barsinister invents a mind control device and makes people do what he says. That one taught me a lot."