November 30, 2008

Economist declares the death of the Republican Party

Political parties die from the head down, sez The Economist.


But we all know it's the party of morons these days. Smart people can't bridge the gap between the words (small / less government) and the deeds (complete clusterfuck) So that leaves them "rudderless" and without a head at the top.

Big deal.

That just makes them all the more dangerous. Now we'll have a headless monster. Now they'll just keep putting up even more folksy, homespun fascists like Sarah Palin.

And what scares me is they'll still get votes.

Because I'd describe current die-hard Republican supporters as so willfully ignorant that they don't care that their platform doesn't make sense.

The key is going to be to make these die-hards feel a deep sense of shame about being such utter and complete morons. So much so that they start to feel bad about voting against their best interests. Or voting for people with absolutely no qualifications. Or Both.

Now is not the time to declare victory and dance on the Republican's graves.

Now is the time to drive a stake through the vampire's heart, cut it's head off, stuff it's mouth full of ACLU cards (in lieu of holy wafers) and desecrate it's grave.

And let the Republican's come back in time as Libertarian Republican party (They're already The Know Nothing party as it stands) After all, we will eventually need a decent opposition party to keep the Democrats honest.

Right after gays get to marry, we have universal health care and this country looks a lot more like Europe (only prosperous) rather than Brazil.

November 29, 2008

Cowboys and Astronauts

History of America
by mk12

November 27, 2008

Thank God She Didn't Pardon a Moose

I'm trying hard, real hard, not to mention that Last Frontier Chippie with delusions of grandeur, but a friend, a genuine Alaska woman who fishes for sharks, guides wilderness tours, and hangs out with poets, punks, and Planned Parenthood, went and did this:


I am at some pains to point out that the wonderful Ms. Wilcox adopted the screechy accent solely for this vidbit.

November 26, 2008

Hitler's Bookmark Recovered at Bellevue Starbucks

What else can I possibly add to this?

The world's most, bookmark?

BTW, you're on notice, Bellevue, Washington. There was already one Nazi problem.

Greetings Fellow Stargazers

Are you beset by worries over the world-wide economic collapse? Destruction of 1 out of 4 mammal species? Radioactive waste, impossible health care, Darfur, Pirates, Darfur vs. Pirates, difficult modern relationships?

I say, cheer yourself up and learn about the stars with Jack Horkheimer's Stargazer, a man so silly, cheerful, and utterly without an ounce of malice that it tends to give me hope about the whole species.

And it's fun for the kids.

November 24, 2008

The Electron's Guide of Life

Two hundred years ago, suffering was more personal.
Mind to hand, the hand guided the whip.
Letters arrived with terrible ink marks
Men hanged, or billed.

Arriving on paper,
Oppression, inconvenience and irritation
Can be crumpled from a plane of aggravation
Into a light sphere of irrelevance
Can be rent into snowflake pieces,
Can be burned into ash
And painted on the head.

Today, without the merest courtesy of materiality,
I was pushed around by a particular set of
Brusque, self-satisfied electrons,
Flinging themselves uninvited
Onto a bright rectangle
I paid for.

I grow to resent these negative charges.

November 21, 2008

Sometime I fear videogames are destroying kids' creativity

And then they go and do something like this:

Sun Setting on America?

The National Intelligence Council says the sun is setting on the American century.

We can blame the Chimp-In -Chief for his flinging around a good steaming part of the problem. I more completely blame his rapidly shrinking kleptocratic political faction, who has regarded American citizens as nothing more than selfish, fearful, nativist, consumers, useful to wealth, and reinforced this at every turn in policy and the political culture for decades.

The question for me is whether the Obama election provides an opportunity to rebuild American political culture- in particular, rebuild the connection of citizen and community, focused on something beyond material prosperity. Can Obama expand on his ability to campaign, building powerful mass movements, into rolling support for a broad range of critical progressive policy iniatives?

Bush's endless failures have turned every issue into must-dos. Including pirates!

A desire to act among each of us grows out of uncertainty. This is a grand opportunity.

Obama's ability to sincerely inspire Americans to want to act socially is impressive and needed, so keeping up the campaign's tremendous outreach ability to build broad political momentum will, I believe, be the successful strategy. Democrats for far too long kept offering somewhat sensible public policy and wondered why no one jumped on board. They let an American political culture that can drive the will to good social policy evaporate, and failed to create a new one.

Obama has begun to put together a refurbished, democratic American culture with a will to act socially, a way to collect individual desires into a broad movement.

This is what conservatives sought to destroy at every turn. It is at the heart of the "culture wars," and we kept losing because the right was ingenious at finding points that divided Americans from each other- from Art to abortion, or for example, loggers vs. enviromentalists rather than loggers vs. logging companies. It was bogus and evil, of course, and so effective that when the Left degenerated into self-focused interest groups, the right capitalized, and the reward is their success at dividing and weakening America.

Rebuild socially-minded, inventive, democratic America, irrespective of ideology, and it feeds everything we need to do as a nation. We may regain our world leadership, and with genuine pride.

November 20, 2008

Cat on Roomba

Fun With Voting Errors

The Franken-Cole race "you judge the ballot" page.

The Standard Paragraph: Let Us Review

For some time now, we have been running The Standard Paragraph on the sidebar to save unnecessary re-blogging of our continuing contempt and outrage for the Bush Administration.

Now, as we look forward impatiently to the Obama era, I thought we might review the accuracy and foresight of this harsh commentary written several years ago.

Every day, President George W. Bush weakens often breaks laws of the United States of America,
in particular the Constitution of the United States swore an oath to uphold.
In essence and action, he betrays American democracy.
His indifference to truth is only matched by his hostility to it.
He lies like a dead dog.

He has no interest in human freedom other than as a
magic ritual incantation word.
His incompetence is only interrupted by his arrogance, an arrogance onto which he is grafting a vile imprimatur of divinity.

He and his staff have deep contempt not only for his opponents but for their own ordinary supporters.

He works against the economic and social health of the great majority of the American people in order to benefit his wealthy personal associates.

He criminally stole one election and perhaps two.

His truncated intelligence and lack of imagination kills real people.

He is at heart and practice a drunk,
a coke fiend,
and a fraternity sadist,
embodying in one person all the worst qualities of American culture.

If his administration does not result in the waning of the United States as a great power and democratic beacon to the world,
or the eventual destruction of life on earth,
count it only as a mark of his limited abilities.
Every day, in every way, we hate him more and more.

Letter to Tully's

Dear Customer Service,

I am begging you.

I can no longer stand the endless repetition of the same 50 or so songs at my local Tully's in Seattle. It's fifty feet from my house and I am about to stop coming here.

Stop it. Stop it now. For the love of all that is holy, stop forcing your poor employees to repeat these crappy pop songs endlessly, endlessly, endlessly, endlessly, endlessly, endlessly, endlessly, endlessly, endlessly.

Repetition is irritating, isn't it?

Thank you for your kind attention.

Sincerely Yours,

First Sea Lord

Ted Stevens Pisses Off

Ted Stevens makes a farewell speech at the United States Senate. Staffers, taking a break from paying his wife's video rental bills, cry on the floor.

And in the spirit of all the graciousness and generosity he's shown to the rest of us, to the honor he has bestowed on the Republic, to the respect and good feeling he's given to his political opponents and to America, and to all the great things he has contributed to Alaska, I have one comment:

Boo Fucking Hoo.

Pining for Mammoths

Mammoth DNA has been sequenced.

So then.

"Martha, there's a mammoth in the tomatoes! Get the rake!"

November 19, 2008

Timbers Shivered: Indian Navy Destroys a Pirate Mother Ship

(Left: British Navy intercepts a pirate dhow, which really, really looks like a pirate ship.)

The Indian navy in action with heavy guns against pirates!

Forgive me for thinking that as International Crises go, this one is A) not too terribly bad, and B) more entertaining than it should be. Heavy gun naval action- against pirates? Never thought I'd actually see that.

It's not Darfur, it's not the Congo, it's Pirates vs. Shipping Companies and Navies, and innocent sailors, unless of course they are deep in the illegal arms trade to Darfur. Which on the M/V Faina, still stuffed with tanks and guns, they seem to be.

The piracy in Indonesia seems much more ruthless and brutal by comparison, but even the around the world Volvo Ocean race, now off Madagascar, has to change course- they are racing for an imaginary pirate avoidance line as I write. Will the pirates catch the racing yachts (which do an amazing 21 knots or more)?

I am trying not to have my imagination stimulated by the prospect of a pirate trawler chasing a bunch of racing sailing yacht in the Indian Ocean, all live on the Internet. What could be interesting about that?

November 18, 2008

Out of Your Bone, Clam

The stained knife shouts:

Out of your bone, Clam.

The sun burns impossible,
Searing your grey seaflesh,
Radiating through it.

Pulling and chill,
The blue of the sky will burn you blue.

The sea and the sky twilights
Drown you-
The Gloaming, dyeing you blue.

Binding pigment to iron,
Bluing seals the barrel of a gun,
Protecting the gun,
Blackening it for it's work:

One shot into the blue.

Blue is the hot infinity,
Burning cold to the touch.

Bodhisattvas come by twos,
The domes of heaven grown inside their skins,
Blasting blue to sentience.

Soak it up Clam, out with you.
Soak in the unbinding blue,
And sprout joyous chromataphores.

A hucksters's safety was that bone.


From the Anchorage Daily News.




From sources.

To The Shores of Tripoli: Again With the History

Well then. It seems bribing pirates from Africa increasing sums of money has been trouble before. From the Wiki on the U.S. wars with the Barbary Coast Pirates:

In 1784, the United States Congress allocated money for payment of tribute to the Barbary pirates and instructed her British and French ambassadors (John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, respectively) to look for opportunities to negotiate peace treaties with the Barbary nations. Unfortunately, the price demanded for these treaties far exceeded the amount that Congress had budgeted.

In 1786, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams went to negotiate with Tripoli's envoy to London, Ambassador Sidi Haji Abdrahaman or (Sidi Haji Abdul Rahman Adja). Upon inquiring "concerning the ground of the pretensions to make war upon nations who had done them no injury", the ambassador replied:

It was written in their Koran, that all nations which had not acknowledged the Prophet were sinners, whom it was the right and duty of the faithful to plunder and enslave; and that every mussulman who was slain in this warfare was sure to go to paradise. He said, also, that the man who was the first to board a vessel had one slave over and above his share, and that when they sprang to the deck of an enemy's ship, every sailor held a dagger in each hand and a third in his mouth; which usually struck such terror into the foe that they cried out for quarter at once. [2] [3]

Jefferson reported the conversation to Secretary of State John Jay, who submitted the Ambassador's comments and offer to Congress. Jefferson argued that paying tribute would encourage more attacks. Although John Adams agreed with Jefferson, he believed that circumstances forced the U.S. to pay tribute until an adequate navy could be built. The U.S. had just fought an exhausting war, which put the nation deep in debt. Federalist and anti-federalist forces argued over the needs of the country and the burden of taxation. Jefferson's own Democratic-Republicans and anti-navalists believed that the future of the country lay in westward expansion, with Atlantic trade threatening to siphon money and energy away from the new nation on useless wars in the Old World.[4] The U.S. paid Algiers the ransom, and continued to pay up to $1 million per year over the next 15 years for the safe passage of American ships or the return of American hostages. Payments in ransom and tribute to the privateering states amounted to 20 percent of United States government annual revenues in 1800.

Jefferson continued to argue for cessation of the tribute, with rising support from George Washington and others. With the recommissioning of the American navy in 1794 and the resulting increased firepower on the seas, it became more and more possible for America to say "no", although by now the long-standing habit of tribute was hard to overturn.

Found on the internet....

From Tacitus' “The Annals of Imperial Rome”

Accusers were now intensely active. Their present targets were men who enriched themselves by usury, infringing laws by which the dictator Julius Ceasar had controlled loans and land-ownership in Italy. Since patriotism comes second to private profits, this law had long been ignored. Money-lending is an ancient problem in Rome, and a frequent cause of disharmony and disorder. Even in an earlier, less currupt society steps had been taken against it. At first, interest had been determined arbitrarily by the rich, but then the Twelve Tables had fixed the maximum at 10 per cent. Next, a tribune’s law had halved the rate. Finally loans on compound interest were forbidden completely. Fraudulence, attacked by repeated legislation, was ingeniously revived after each successive counter-measure.

Now, however, the praetor Sempronius Gracchus, responsible for the investigation, was compelled by the numbers of potential defendants to refer the matter to the senate. That body - being implicated to a man - nervously entreated the emporer’s indulgence. It was granted. Eighteen months were allowed in which all private finances had to be brought into line with the law. The result was a shortage of money. For all debts were called in simultaneously, and the numerous convictions and sales of confiscated property had concentrated currency in the Treasury and its imperially controlled branches. To meet this situation the senate had instructed that creditors should invest two-thirds of their capital in Italy, and debtors immediately pay the same proportion of their debts.

However, creditors demanded payment in full, and debtors were morally bound to respond. The first results were importunate appeals to money-lenders. Next, the praetors’s court resounded with activity. The decree requiring land purchase and sales, envisaged as relief, had the opposite effect since when the capitalists received payment they hoarded it, to buy land at their convenience. These extensive transactions reduced prices. but large-scale debtors found it difficult to sell; so many of them were ejected from their properties, and lost not only their estates but their rank and reputation.

Then Tiberius came to the rescue. He distributed a hundred million sesterces among specially established banks, for interest-free three year state loans, against security of double the value in landed property. Credit was thus restored; and gradually private lenders, too, reappeared. However, land transactions failed to adhere to the provisions of the senatorial decree. As usual, the beginning was strict, the sequel slack.

I can't quite put my finger on it, but this sounds vaguely familiar.

November 17, 2008

The Rise of the Pirates

A suspected pirate mother ship , the Burum Ocean. If you see her, beat to quarters, send a distress signal, and full speed ahead!

Pirates seize a Saudi tanker, three times the size of an aircraft carrier (!), with 2 million barrels of oil headed for the U.S. She's brand new, and fully laden, and with British citizens aboard, and the fact it actually affected the price of oil this morning, you can bet a big reaction is coming.

Meanwhile, attacks on shipping are now coming almost daily. The M/V Faina is STILL being held, with its cargo of Soviet tanks suspected of being for the Sudanese government- an instance where you might be tempted to root for the pirates. I'm beginning to suspect that the reason she's still sitting there is that everyone else realizes that the safest place for a bunch of tanks in the Horn of Africa is aboard a pirate prize-ship.

Somali pirates
are now the subject of a NYT photo essay.

"Pirates, pirates, pirates," said Gure Ahmed, a Canadian-Somali inmate of the jail. "This jail is full of pirates. This whole city is pirates."

Meanwhile, the world's navies have opened a protection corridor, and last I read it included the U.S. Navy (Fifth fleet), Russia, India, Kenya, Denmark, Britain, and now, with a new incident, Korea, which is, in itself, an absolutely remarkable example of international naval cooperation.

Amazing then that the incidents seem to be going up, the pirates' resources and daring only growing. How big is it now? No Wii for you! It's around the Cape of Good Hope!

The IMB Piracy reporting center latest info is here (I admit that I think this is really cool.)

And now the award for most traditional pirates this week:

  • 05.11.2008: 0300 LT: Posn: 03:40.8S - 114:26.7E, Taboneo anchorage, Kalimantan, Indonesia.

Four robbers armed with catapults, knives and hacksaws boarded a bulk carrier at anchor. They threatened the duty crew with catapults and stole ship's stores from forward locker. Alarm raised and ship's whistle sounded. Robbers jumped overboard and escaped in a wooden fast boat. Incident reported to coastal authorities.


November 14, 2008


"Their consensus arises through a simple rule," said David Sumpter of Uppsala University. "Some fish spot the best choice early on, although others may make a mistake and go the wrong way. The remaining fish assess how many have gone in particular directions. If the number going in one direction outweighs those going the other way, then the undecided fish follow in the direction of the majority."

November 12, 2008

Isengard.Gov Swings It With Its Own Contributors!

Begich up by three.



814 VOTES.

Garth Marenghi's Dark Place

FSL strongly recommends this Brit Comedy.

Related hilarity- a sort of british Johnny LaRue:

Man to Man with Dean Learner.


If yesterday morning's numbers posted by David Rees don't scare you, I don't know what will!

November 07, 2008

In our mix of elation and dissapointment over the election results

Let us not forget about the other important wins:

November 06, 2008

Something doesn't smell right

Nate Silver on the "catastrophic failure of polling" in Alaska. It appears turnout was down 14% from 2004. WTF?

Not Over Yet: Letter from the Begich Campaign

Hi Friends,

I cannot tell you how many e mails I have so, by necessity, I am sending this quick generic e mail.

There are about 60,000 votes out. Of those there are 9500 known Early Votes, 5700 questioned with as many as another 8000 or more questioned ballots (similar to Provisional ballots in some states – in Anchorage these are often teachers and those who work far enough away from their homes, but near a polling place), and 46,000 or so absentee ballots of a substantial number are not mail in but are early vote absentee.

Based on these things, we believe it is possible (I think probably a good 50/50 chance) to win and so Mark has not conceded. We won about 59% of the early voting absentees. Generally have done well with Anchorage Mail in absentees (won a Mayor’s race on them) and are likely to do less well in the out of Anchorage absentees. We solidly won rural Alaska, Fairbanks and Southeast and expect to do well with their absentees, though not with Mat-Su, Roads and Kenai.

We also have seen some precinct anomalies that have to be addressed (one precinct shows hardly any votes for Mark and Ted, but large numbers of votes for the two independents – likely a machine calibration error). Given all of this, and many of you know that I crunch numbers all the time, I believe we might still win, but won’t know until around the 17th at the earliest.

Hope that helps – we are doing well and look forward anxiously to the next few weeks.


Tom B.

PS: In a great surprise both my friends Chris Tuck and Pete Peterson (a fellow musician) won Anchorage House seats!

November 04, 2008

The seven McCain Death Knell states

According to Nate Silver, there are seven contested states that McCain must win. If he loses even one of them, his probability of winning will be near zero.

Here they are, in order of poll closing times:

North Carolina

We'll do it LIVE!!!

Leftist media version:

Depraved liberal socialist version:

Fair and Balanced Version:

November 03, 2008

Best Campaign Video

Adorable Kitten Endorsement


I'm crushing your head! Crush! Crush!


That is all.

November 02, 2008

POP: Florida results: Obama over McCain 60% vs. 40%

This afternoon's highly accurate POP (Popmonkey Outbound Poll) results from Florida:

50 calls made:
  • 14% - wrong numbers
  • 2% - would not speak with our agent
  • 14% - no answers
  • 8% - busy signals
  • 42% - voice mail messages left
  • 20% - calls answered
Further breakdown:

of the voicemail messages left:
  • 80.9% used that same robotic "Hello... We're not home right now..." answering machine that Shane still uses
all calls:
  • 76% calls to Miami
  • 24% calls to other (mostly Naples)
  • 64% female
  • 36% male
of all the calls answered:
  • 60% voting for Barrack Obama
  • 40% voting for John McCain
  • 90% of these folks have already voted
POP calls Florida for Barrack Obama by a massive 20% points (margin of error +/- 80%). Woooo! Bring on Zagby! Bring on R2K!


November 01, 2008

Lost this sad news in the election shuffle

Pulitzer prize winning author Studs Terkel dies at 96.

My grandparents made a point of buying me each and every one of his books once I hit my 20s.

Some kids got socks and sweaters. I got Hard Times, Working and The Good War.

Formerly black-listed writer. Chronicler of the common man. Keeper of the labor torch.
In his 90s he was still making news when he sued AT&T to prevent them from turning over phone records to the Feds.

He'll be missed.

Prank Pillories Palin



Dick Cheney endorses McCain/Palin.

Simile of the Decade

Andrew Sullivan just won, as far as I'm concerned:

"The more I think about it the more this election day feels like one giant collective, global puke."