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Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Happy Birthday Deborah Gibson! 

Today is Ms. Gibson's 34th birthday, so I hope you'll all join me in wishing her a happy special day.

As many of you know, I owe Ms. Gibson a special debt of gratitude. When I was researching my last Gunflower album, This album is only being sold through huge corporate behemoth superchains like Blockbuster Music and Best Buy so if you see it for sale at an independent locally owned shop or advertised on the Internet you know it's a cheap bootleg knockoff, I came across a website (I'm too lazy to find it right now) which featured many voicemail messages left by Ms. Gibson herself, apparently on some sort of info line for her throngs of fans.

Those messages, in turn, became these three songs:
  1. Political Garbage

  2. I'm A Recording Artist

  3. All About Spirit
Perhaps you will enjoy them. You may also enjoy Ms. Gibson's official website. (If you thought her name was Debbie, make sure you listen to that third track.)


Today I was making a poster (see yesterday's post) of Stanislaw Lem, and I came across this interview, in which he refers to "this pathetic Soderbergh". A more in-depth discussion about the Solarises can be found here.
Although I admit that "Soderbergh's vision' is not devoid of ambition, taste and climate, I am not delighted with the prominence of love. "Solaris" may be perceived as a river basin -- and Soderbergh chose only one of its tributaries. The main problem seems the fact that even such a tragic-romantic adaptation seems too demanding for mass audience fed with Hollywood pap. If in the future someone else dared a faithful adaptation, I am afraid the effects would be understood only by a tiny audience.
Yay! Lem agrees with me! Take that, certain unnamed friend of mine who also enjoys Lem's writing and happens to have a slightly more positive opinion about the most recent Solaris movie!

I'm too exhausted to tell you about what's going on in the world, except of course I'm sure you've heard that we can't CAN win the war on terror. We can. We will!



What actually hit the pentagon? (Flash) Garrett should enjoy this (if he hasn't seen it already). Others like me will just sorta shrug and say "who knows".. But the production on this presentation is excellent. And it has music from Fight Club! Huzzah.

Today I'm listening to: Nothing!

Monday, August 30, 2004

Ann Coulter Has Never Said Anything Innocuous 

I have a big bulletin board in my classroom with pictures of authors on it. This year, I decided to add some pictures to it, like EA Poe, Maya Angelou, and Samuel Clemens. Then I decided to add Michael Moore, insofar as he's written three books (four, if you count Adventures in a TV Nation, which we should). For the sake of balance, I decided to add a conservative political writer as well; because I figure she has the best chance of being recognized by my students, I chose Ann Coulter.

Here's the problem: Each sign also includes a quotation. I had some trouble finding something apolitical from Mike. (I know he's said and written plenty of appropriate things, but I was in a rush and therefore was scanning quotation sites.) Eventually, I found one about librarians that was good. I went looking for something similar by Ms. Coulter.

Nothing. N-O-T-H-I-N-G. Every single word she has ever said or written, apparently, is either racist, violent, abusive, or wildly partisan. I even went to her website and looked though her column archive. Every title which looked like it could be somewhat useful, I read. I must have plowed through (top to bottom) over 30 columns, and not ONE of them had a single sentence about the importance of objectivity (instead, it's always something like "Liberals don't understand what it means to be objective") or school or hard work. Arg! (Photo swiped from JD, who is apparently not being ironic.)

Eventually I chose (gods help me) Bill O'Reilly, who said in his latest column: "Too many Americans are not skeptical enough about what is said to them. Fast-talking con people can hurt you badly." Yeah, okay. That's true. (I won't tell my students that O'Reilly is one of those con people, unless they ask.)

Fight the Power

Diane has blogged about the protest yesterday. Woop!
One choice moment is when I was interviewing the Lady Liberty stiltwalker and in the middle of the interview, a police officer came over to tell her to move from where she was sitting. Liberty, begone!
Heh. Reminds me of an economics class I took once, wherein the professor approached the blackboard and, finding it full of writing, tried to figure out what it was from. "There's a cognitive logic class in here before us," one of the students announced. The professor grabbed an eraser. "Logic?" he said. "We don't need any of that in here." And proceeded to clear the writing away.

Protests! Arrests! More protests! Some good pics from NYC. The following is, I think, my favorite protest photograph of all time:

In other news: Tarkovsky's Solaris voted fifth-best SF movie of all time.

OpeningHooks is an interesting project, although it looks like many people are just including works they like most, rather than finding the best actual hooks. I added Kafka's The Trial and Nawal El Saadawi's Woman at Point Zero.


Magnificent! Check out this guy and his bullhorn outside a Christina Aguilera / Justin Timberlake concert. Via ABS.

Today I'm listening to: Crystal Method!

Sunday, August 29, 2004

It Begins... 

Diane emailed this morning to ask us to send "don't get arrested" vibes eastward, so everyone please chant a mantra or two. As I type, she's out on the streets of NYC, getting news to air later on WORT. I'm watching the coverage of the protests live on C-SPAN, and they're doing a good job talking to individuals and showing the crowd. (Wouldn't it be cool if I saw Diane? They had an interview with a Code Pink crew, but I didn't see her. D'oh!)

Speaking of Code Pink, they have launched the most excellent response to Bloomberg's "Peaceful Protest" gimmick ever. If you don't know, Mayor Bloomberg offered a silly perk package for people willing to wear an equally silly "Peaceful Activist" pin. But aren't the cops sometimes responsible for starting trouble?
“Ours is not a fight with the police; it’s a deeply felt opposition to the Bush administration’s policies,” said Andrea Buffa of CODEPINK, who was arrested last week during an attempted banner hang during Mayor Bloomberg’s press conference “welcoming” peaceful protesters to New York. “We thought we could ease the tension before the demonstrations begin by asking New York police officers to help us exercise our First Amendment rights by remaining peaceful during the protests.”

Police officers who choose to wear the buttons can receive discounts from such businesses as ABC Homes and Carpets (20 % off); Axis Gallery (10 % of art work); The Culture Project (50 % off on any performance); Angelica’s Kitchen (5 % off on meals); and screenings of the movie “Uncovered” at the Angelica Theater (10 % off).
Slammin. Go Pink!

Watching on the teevee makes me feel really stupid for not going. I'm sure I'll look back on this protest like I do on Seattle '99: Shoulda been there. (Photo at top is from a decent article at CBS News.)

So far things seem pretty calm, but the cops busted Bikes Against Bush founder Joshua Kinberg yesterday, according to NYC IndyMedia.
His bicycle is a high-tech graffiti writer, using chalk to print anti-Bush political messages sent by people via the internet. Apparently there was a question of whether or not the sprayed messages were a defacement of property.

When Kinberg showed the police sergeant how the bicycle used a non-permanent spray chalk, the sergeant seemed to agree that it wasn't defacement, at which point Kinberg asked, "am I free to go?" After conferring about it, officers decided to call superiors, then came back moments later to place Kinberg under arrest and confiscate the bicycle.

Kinberg cooperated fully with the officers as he was being handcuffed, only asking, "can I ask what I'm being arrested for?" to which no one provided an answer. As of 11:00 PM Saturday evening, he was still in custody without being charged with anything.
How bogus! You can see a video of Kinberg's supercool bike at WiredNews.

Not much other news so far; MSNBC had a report not long ago, but it was pretty dull. The Times has an article today about how the GOP plans to blame the Dems for anything that goes wrong (and the Dems' disavowing of same). Yawn. I guess we'll have to wait for some exciting news.


Meanwhile, things are pretty darned exciting here at home. I bought some new coasters yesterday! I previously had some crappy plastic ones, and I was fed up with the way condensation from my drinks would pool in the coaster and drip all over me (and my keyboard). So I went looking for some absorbent stone dealies, which I found on sale (woo) at ShopKo. I was skeptical about their absorbency, since they have lovely full-color designs -- but they work pretty dang well.

Conimar has a variety of cool designs (I like the poorly-named Oriental set), but ShopKo had a pretty crummy selection, even among those not on sale. I thought about getting the Eagle/Flag set, but I decided the cheesiness would overpower the kitsch value; I ended up with the less-cheesey-but-not-by-much In the Woods set.

Yeah, I'm grabbing wildly for those extreme thrills in these last days of summer vacation. YEEHAA! I'm a Mad Dog! (Four plunks in a half hour, baby!)

Someone asked in a comment what I'm up to getting ready for school. Pff, I'm ready now. The room's all set, and I even have the cards ready to go. (I quit having that dream -- Woo!) So there's not much to tell. Sorry!


The Knight Problem is interesting. Get the knight to every spot on the board in as few moves as possible. (I did it in 81).

Today I'm listening to: C-SPAN!

Friday, August 27, 2004

Thinkin' of a Master Plan 

I'm usually pretty skeptical of people who claim to have "proof" of conspiracies, but BrainSluice has some pretty convincing evidence about NASA's faked moon landing. As the arrows in this shot prove, the shadows being cast are all over the place, suggesting multiple light sources. It's hard to argue with the solid research and documentation they've discovered. Check it out!

Nothin' But Sweat Inside My Hand

Dude -- Ayat Allah Ali al-Sistani is the Iraqi Jimmy Carter. He shows up in Najaf and the fighting just stops.

I Dig Into My Pocket, All My Money Is Spent

More poor people! Woot!
The number of Americans living in poverty and without health insurance rose in 2003 for the third straight year, the government reported Thursday.

An estimated 1.3 million joined the ranks of the poor in America, raising the total to 35.9 million or 12.5 percent of the population, the U.S. Census Bureau reported Thursday.
Yeah, but we're on a rebound, see. They just need to get retrained.

I Dig Deeper, But Still Comin' Up With Lint

Brian Dominick must be crazy.
Would they really dare risk the scenes that would ensue in Central Park if they tried to prevent that many people from peacefully gathering there? I wonder if UFPJ leaders really have a concept of how terrified the NYC police force and the federal agencies—even the NY Nat’l Guard—would be to mess with a crowd one or two hundred thousand in strength, including many, many, many ordinary folks who aren’t pink-haired radicals.
Dude, are you out of your mind? I know there ain't no power like the power of the people and all that, but that's long term, yo. In the short-term, the state wins. And don't give me a bunch of hooey about how shocked the nation would be to see innocent protestors getting clubbed. Where was the outrage over the state violence in Miami during the anti-FTAA protests?

Start My Mission, Leave My Residence

The Squidbag is back! Huzzah! Hooray! And other interjections of celebratory intent. Took him long enough.

Thinking How Can I Get Some Dead Presidents?

Doctors grow new jaw in man's back. I don't explain this stuff, folks. I just pass it on.

I Need Money (aka TimeWaster™)

Campaign Trail 2004 is interesting, if not wildly exciting. May the gods have mercy on us if this is how the campaigns really see the nation.

Today I'm listening to: Audio Two! (PS: Five points to anyone who can name the source of this post's headings.)

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Idiots, Morons, and World Events 

Well, as predicted, the WTO has done it again. As Devinder Sharma reports, the latest WTO "agreement" in Davos is going to stick it to the poor and hand it to the rich.
Interestingly, developing countries are being asked to cut domestic support for agriculture at a time when a majority of the 3 billion farmers in the majority world earn less than half of what a European or American cow gets as subsidy -- US $ 3 a day. It is also widely accepted that developing countries do not have the means to provide direct farm support to farmers. It is therefore not only amazing but shocking beyond belief to see the way the developing country negotiators goofed up.
As I said before, I'm wary of the farmer-against-farmer battle being posited here; I expect the US subsidies have much more to do with huge corporate agribusiness and less to do with helping family farms.

HalliBush Wars, Inc.

Yeah, I know HalliBush Wars, Inc. originally said that human origins of global warming were "put out by the bureaucracy," and then they said there were uncertainties about causes and consequences, and now they're admitting that smokestacks and tailpipes are to blame. But at least they're not a bunch of flip-floppers, like those Kerry/Edwards liberals!

Speaking of HalliBush Wars, Inc. -- check out Bush's Brain, the new documentary about Karl Rove (based on the book of the same name). It's coming to Milwaukee in September, but I expect I can wait for the home video. Maybe someone will do a showing like they did for Outfoxed.

That reminds me -- Diane has arrived in New York and is gearing up to cover the protests and the RNC (she has a press pass to get inside). So watch her site for updates when she's able to file them!

And finally in HBWi news -- hooray for Madison Vets for Peace, working with conscientious objectors here in Madison. (Photo borrowed from Iowans for Peace.)

Idiots and Morons

Canadian MP Carolyn Parrish (no relation to P from EPMD) said recently: "We are not joining the coalition of the idiots." Oops!
Parrish then begged reporters not to use the remarks: "Please guys don't put that on tape," she said. "I already got into trouble once. . . . Really, please, I've had enough trouble."
But for sheer quotational merriment, you can't beat that moron Alice Cooper.


Hey, Colombia! I thought we told you -- You do what we say!
US ambassador William Wood effectively torpedoed the Colombian government's proposals to effect a prisoner exchange with one of the [country's guerrilla] groups. . . .

[T]he US, while professing to support all peace efforts, has again limited the government's negotiating options.
(sniff) It's so touching to see US dilplomats go that extra mile to reach peaceful solutions to world problems.

A coalition of disability groups recently released a report on how different countries in the Americas are doing on providing access. (The report was issued for negotiations on a new treaty to protect the rights of diabled persons.) Hey, look at that -- we're actually doing well in this benchmark of providing services to the public. Hard to believe!

Oh, wait. I guess Bush is opposed to the treaty.
Brazil ranked first with the highest marks on all six issues. The United States had the highest marks on five issues, but was second because President George W. Bush's administration has voiced opposition to a global treaty to protect and promote the human rights of disabled persons, saying national action is more effective.
Strange to see Bush so antagonistic of UN processes -- usually he's such a big fan of global consensus-making and international coalitions.

And how are Wisconsonites dealing with the fact that Russ Darrow -- that used-car hack who seeks the Republican nomination -- has the same first name as one of the greatest Senators alive? By using stickers!

And in other news -- our water is running out and one billion people can't get clean water and 4,000 children a day are dying because they don't have basic water services. But never mind that -- what about Kerry's Vietnam War record!?


Check out InfiniteWheel's Dub Selector doodads. (When you get tired of one, choose another on the bottom there.) Little Axe is my fave, but the interface of Spot can't be beat.

Today I'm listening to: Culture Failure!

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

The Fallacy of Empire's Ineptitude 

Well, the long-awaited report on Abu Ghraib has been published, and as expected, it places the blame for the atrocities largely on the shoulders of soldiers running the facility.
The panel, led by former US Defence Secretary James Schlesinger, said the situation there was one of "chaos". But the report said there was no official policy of abuse at the jail.

Mr Schlesinger said that while direct responsibility lay with commanders at local level, institutional and personal responsibility for the abuse lay right up the chain of command to Washington, including the most senior commander in Iraq at the time, Gen Ricardo Sanchez. . . .

The report did not suggest Mr Rumsfeld had ordered any of the abuses or did anything to encourage them. But it indicated that his policies created some confusion at lower levels of the military.

During the press conference held to unveil the conclusions of the report, Mr Schlesinger and his colleagues on the four-person panel agreed Mr Rumsfeld could be "commended" for the way he approached the investigation.
So let me get this right -- these people had electrical torture devices and attack dogs -- which you can't exactly pick up at your nighborhood Baghdad marketplace -- but this was all the result of "chaos"? And Rumsfeld is to blame only for some "confusion"?

Give me a break!

This is the next logical step after Reagan's plausible denial sham -- our leaders can approve any kind of sadistic mayhem they want, and when it's time to pay the piper, all they have to do is shrug their shoulders, say "I'm sorry" and get told that they weren't on the ball enough to keep it from happening.

So which is worse: a completely evil and bloodthirsty government, who see human rights as impediments, rather than sacred values; or a bumbling and boneheaded gang of idiots too stupid to take care of their business? I can't decide which is a more horrifying concept of our government.

I believe the former is true; but of course I don't have hard proof in this instance, so all I can do is point to our support for similar activities in East Timor, Guatemala, Haiti, Indonesia, and Chile; then say that it's really hard for me to believe that suddenly our leaders are not ruthless so much as incompetent.

Reed Brody has a good piece in today's San Francisco Chronicle.
It has now been more than three months since the appearance of the first pictures of U.S. soldiers humiliating and torturing detainees at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Shortly after, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell told foreign leaders: "Watch America. Watch how we deal with this. Watch how America will do the right thing."

But America is not doing the right thing. . . . [T]he administration is sticking to its line that the Abu Ghraib crimes were the work of a few "bad apples." . . .

Many important issues remain unanswered. What interrogation techniques were approved for use on detainees? Why were inquiries into the many detainee deaths so lackluster and late? Why were detainees "rendered" to countries such as Syria, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, where torture is regularly practiced? How does the Bush administration justify holding detainees incommunicado in "undisclosed locations" in light of the United States' historical condemnation of "disappearances" in other countries?
No doubt. Meantime, I ran across an interesting article recently by Sholto Byrnes about Ann Coulter.
When we talk about the "war on terror", she sounds almost nostalgic for the Cold War. "When we were fighting communism, OK, they had mass murderers and gulags, but they were white men and they were sane. Now we're up against absolutely insane savages." . . .

"The question is not, 'Are all Muslims terrorists?' The question is, 'Are all terrorists Muslims?' And the answer is yes -- every one I have to worry about."
What a brilliant political analyst! How can anyone argue with that kind of .. you know, logic?


Check out this collection of animated GIFs. Some are cute; some are classic; some are twisted; some are really wrong; and some are just glorious (if possibly blasphemous). (And some are eerily prescient!)

Today I'm listening to: Groove Salad!

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Sigfried and Roy 

Yesterday, DemocracyNow! featured an hourlong talk given by Arundhati Roy called Public Power in the Age of Empire. As always, she brings cutting insight and important ways of thinking to the table.
No government's condemnation of terrorism is credible if it cannot show itself to be open to change by nonviolent dissent. . . .

Terrorism is horrible and demeaning for the perpetrators, as well as for its victims; but so is war. You could say that terrorism is the privatization of war. Terrorists are the free-marketeers of war. They're people who believe that the state does not have a monopoly on the legitimate use of violence.
There may be no urgent voice for the world to hear right now. And did you know she was named by People magazine as one of the 50 Most Beautiful People in the World in 1998? It's true!

I'm also not making up this essay by John Dolan in eXile, a Moscow-based alternative newspaper, which tries to clam Roy as one of the "Great Literatury Frauds of Our Time".
And she is a fraud. A literary careerist who has parlayed an overwritten melodrama into unearned fame; a child of privilege whose early experiments in poverty were no more than a smart career move; a Yuppie whose real job was aerobics instructor, not slum bottle-recycler; a world-travelled, overeducated dilettante posing as a regional writer; and a fake saint who ****ed her way to fame and survives, in spite of her complete lack of talent, because her crude scolding warms the heart of old British lefties who love it when their tame Indian slaves get up on their hind legs to denounce the bloody Americans, who oppress the world so much less skillfully than they used to.
Now that's literary criticism! But the truly bizarre part is who the column (apparently part of a series) is sponsored by. (No, I will not tell you -- you must see for yourself.)


Gotta get into school to prepare for the new year. Here's some junk that's been piling up in my bookmarks.

Thanks to Sam for linking us to the trailer of Batman Begins (Quicktime). It's too soon to tell much from this, but the cast sure looks good!

And speaking of things worth seeing, make sure you watch the ads for J. E. Jones, Republican for County Commissioner in Escambia County, Florida. Everyone likes pie!

Aljazeera is reporting that the US has, in fact, damaged the Imam Ali shrine in Najaf. I'll be the Shia are gonna like that!

Hey, gimme a break, officer. I just had a few drinks before my first period class comes in.. (hic)

And because I had to do the cutesy post title, here is an exclusive photo of the tiger attack against the Vegas superstar.


Mashed Taters is fun. Lord o' the Rings, remixed. Via ABS, via MoFi.

Today I'm listening to: Groove Salad!

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Some Quick Junk 

Behold my latest little graphic. I just get so irked when I see those stupid blue backgrounds with the insipid phrase repeated on them. Because -- you know, saying a lie a million times makes it true, but saying it and having it appear behind you a million times too -- well, that's sure to convince people.

Da World

The US now lends support for Israeli growth in West Bank settlements. A shocking turn of events!
The new American statements this week reflected "a covert policy decision toward accepting natural growth" of some settlements, despite repeated past statements, according to [an administration official].
Pfff. The Bush administration's support for Israel is about as covert as David Blaine.

Iraqi civilians killed in Iraq clashes? Aljazeera must be lying again -- I haven't heard anything about this in the US press! (That's sarcasm, for those who can't tell.)

Bush is trying to score points for his education "reform". But for some reason, certain educators disagree that Bush deserves the credit for improving schools.
J.B. Buxton, a former education adviser to Democratic North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley, said that while the state welcomes the federal money, state and local officials "would be amazed to hear the president taking credit for their progress." . . .

Last week, an interest group, funded in part by the nation's largest teachers' union, launched $2.5 million worth of new commercials assailing Bush's education reform law. Communities for Quality Education's 30-second ads claim the 2001 law is shortchanging the nation's schools by wasting money on bureaucracy, leaving classrooms overcrowded with fewer teachers and out-of-date books and materials.
Those teachers! What the heck to they know about education? They ought to just clam up and let the business folk do their job of making the schools better!

Now here's some property destruction I can support wholeheartedly. You know, because it's an accident. (wink)

That UN -- always warning us about impending wars. When was the last time Hutus and Tutsis ever clashed with each other?


Speaking of evil deeds -- Diane and I last night watched One Day in September, a documentary about the 1972 hostage-taking/murder of eleven Israeli athletes at the Olympic games. Timely in light of the sports in Athens, and a mostly well-done movie. (Some of the music placement is weird.)

The film is remarkable for many reasons, but the most intriguing for me is the interview with the last surviving Palestinian terrorist, who speaks publicly for the first time about their deeds. I wish they had gone into some more background on his life (we don't hear about any family members he probably lost; the only real explanation we get of his anger is the bleak future he felt while living in a refugee camp), but it's pretty well-rounded overall.

On a less bloodsoaked note, there's a new movie coming out called One Happy Movie. It looks kinda intriguing, but not as good as 1992's fantastic Where Are We? Make sure you check out the clip from Las Vegas.


Minnie Driver sings! Hey, she ain't too bad. She's no Margaret Fiedler, but still..

Uhhhh... Umm, uhh. Nope, can't do it. I just can't think of anything to say about it.


Invisibility is frustrating and stupid. Enjoy!

Today I'm listening to: Laika!

Thursday, August 19, 2004

New Saul Williams: 21 September 

Saul Williams has a new album coming out next month! Huzzah! Meantime, check out the AlterNet interview:
Scott Thill: Much of your new album sounds like you made it at three in morning with a drum machine, sequencer and digital recorder and went wherever the muse took you.

Saul Williams: That's exactly what it was. . . .

How did you get involved in drafting the "Pledge of Resistance" for Not In Our Name? It was one of the earliest, most visible protests against this ridiculous war.

I was approached by them soon after 9/11, and I soon realized how important and powerful resistance to the war could become. When I was helping them draft that pledge, it felt as important to me as drafting the pledge of allegiance. I felt like Martha Washington.
If you've never heard or seen Mr. Williams before, go check out the excellent movie Slam, or get his first album and listen very closely to "Penny for a Thought" and "Coded Language".

HalliBush Wars, Inc.

I'm sure you've all heard by now about the Army veteran who is suing Donald Rumsfeld.
The lawsuit asserts the emergency policy instituted in the wake of the September 11 attacks was "invalid" because the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein has been removed from power and "Iraq cannot be considered to pose a threat of terrorist attack upon the United States."
Yeah, what. And speaking of people looking to oust HalliBush Wars, Inc. from office -- how is it the BBC is giving more interesting voter profiles than US media? (Check out the cross-section of Arab-American voters.)

Holy Bloodshed, Batman!

I don't really agree with University College London philosophy professor Ted Honderich when he says that Palestinian terrorism is a "moral right", but I do agree with him that "America is now engaged, as I say, in the principal piece of moral stupidity of this time . . . it is as if the causes of terrorism that are neo-Zionism and Palestine do not exist."

Speaking of Israel/Palestine, check out Henry Siegman in the IHT.
The Palestinian national struggle, and the terrorism resorted to in its name, has created major security problems for Israel. But these security concerns cannot be invoked as a pretext for policies that will bring apartheid rule to the West Bank and Gaza. It is not true that Palestinian violence represents an existential threat to the state of Israel. More to the point, whatever the seriousness of the threat, it can be dealt with by Israel at least as effectively from within Israel's pre-1967 borders as it has under conditions of occupation.

It had been an article of faith with the overwhelming majority of Israelis for a long time that their most vital security interests required them to remain in southern Lebanon. They believe the same thing about their presence on the Golan Heights. But since Israel withdrew from southern Lebanon, security along Israel's northern border has improved dramatically, and we now know that Moshe Ya'alon, the Israel Defense Force's chief of staff -- like his predecessors -- does not believe that the Golan Heights are important for Israel's security.
I've never been able to understand how killing militants is supposed to bring peace. I mean, did we go into Michigan and bomb the neighborhoods of the Michigan Militia when Timothy McVeigh committed his act of terrorism? No; we knew that would be countereffective. I guess when the people speak Arabic and look different, we have no choice but to use tanks and cluster bombs.

I Got Class

Man, this school year is going to kick my backside, repeatedly. I went in today from 9-1, and I was wiped out when I got home. Admittedly, I was up until 3 last night playing on Achaea; and a lot of my work in the classroom today was physical stuff (getting bulletin boards ready, etc). But still -- you can tell already that I'm just not able to put as much time into this thing as I'd like to. Oh well.

Hey, while I'm on the subject of me and my writing, lemme give some big ups to the people who leave comments. I make a lot of jokes about how no one probably reads this thing, but I know it reaches some eyeballs. Natch, the only way I know for sure is to see people respond; so it's very gratifying to get that sort of two-way communication. Respect to Ramb and Nate and Sam and Catfish and Kilgore and everyone else.


I know I've been posting a lot of Chavez stuff lately, but make sure you check Medea Benjamin's take. She rocks, as always. (Despite what Jeffrey St. Clair might say.)

And also from AlterNet -- Abby Christopher has penned an important piece about medical personnel denying emergency contraception.


Toogle is a profoundly cool and very pointless web toy. It takes your search query, locates the first image it can find, and represents that image as colored text. Check out how well it turns one of my 3D Go images into a work of text-only art.

And check out what it does for East Timor and Madison Code Pink. (Not to mention catfish!)

And how can I resist this one? Or this one? And of course this one and this one and this one. Okay, Eileen's going to have a fit if we don't go for a walk now.

Today I'm listening to: Public Enemy! (Word! rapraprapraprap)

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

It Begins Again 

I got the key to my classroom back today, so the start of the school year is on its way. I'm sad -- as always -- that the summer is almost over, but I'm also excited -- as always -- to begin a new year.

I keep having this really weird dream. In my classroom (this is background), I assign seats on the first day with authors' names. I put a card on each seat with the name of an author, then hand out corresponding cards randomly to students as they enter on the first day. So anyway, I keep having a dream wherein it's the first day of school and I don't have the cards ready. The kids come in and sit wherever they want, and my entire first day (and by dream-logic extension, the entire year) is ruined. So I expect I'll get the cards ready tomorrow (so that they'll definitely be prepared for the first day of school on September 1).

I also need to buy some new pants. Pic from BrainPop.


I missed out on the whole MUD phenomenon in college (when everyone kept telling me to try them), but I've been really into one called Achaea for the past couple of days. Ergo, I'm not going to make this super-long. Here's some stuff I've come across lately.

Sharon has approved 1,000 new homes in West Bank settlements. That's a peace process for ya!

Paul Street has written a good piece about the Chavez victory.
No, Chavez is not some sort of ideal-type libertarian socialist or radical democrat. He is hardly turning Venezuela into a left anarchist utopia. Fine, but come down to the real world and to goals that can be achieved now and under difficult circumstances and you’ll see that Chavez has earned real support from the poor and ordinary people of a nation where as much as 80 percent of the population is impoverished. He has noticeably improved the lives of many poor and ordinary folks, encouraged and enabled their participation in the political process, and in fact staked his political future on the support and participation of the previously outcast masses. . . .

But yesterday was a defeat for the forces of reaction, aristocracy, and empire. As a fitting little accompaniment, the arrogant empire was defeated by its captive colony Puerto Rico in Olympic basketball. Score two for the good guys.

While we're being serious, megathanks to Diane for linking us to Michelle Goldberg's Salon piece on the RNC. I encourage you to read the whole thing, but here's a good chunk.
The divide between liberal pragmatists and radical seekers of self-realization is a perennial one, and there's a certain historical irony in the way it's cropping up now. After all, in the 1960s New Left student leaders like Gitlin, convinced they'd entered a new era where old political dynamics were obsolete, were notoriously dismissive of the cautions raised by their progressive elders. Electoral politics seemed to them a joke. "A fierce moralism had brought us into opposition in the first place, and the same moralism didn't brook the politics of lesser evils," [longtime antiwar activist Todd] Gitlin wrote in "The Sixties." He didn't vote in either 1964 or 1968, and by the end of the decade his cohort had broken with erstwhile liberal allies like Irving Howe.

Three and a half decades later, Gitlin is condemned to play out a similar scenario from the other side, the aging former radical shaking his head at stubborn, volatile militants. The new generation of direct-action aficionados is tired of worrying about what Middle America thinks, especially if it means sublimating their own needs. "I don't see this budding movement being in any kind of dialogue with mainstream America," Flores-Williams says. "Mainstream America is going to work and turning on the TV, and they're going to think what they're going think regardless." A frustrated Gitlin says, "I don't know how to persuade someone who believes in recklessness and is cavalier about consequences to be a responsible person."
As I've said before, there are times and places where rage-fueled protest and even chaotic mayhem serve important functions. But aside from the needs of the protestors themselves (the aforequoted Flores-Williams says "you've got to do what you've got to do for yourself"), I don't see what positive function will be served by property damage or vandalism in NYC.

'Boots' at the Olympics? Wha!?

Gap between rich and poor widening? Liberal propaganda!

Came across this spooky tombstone today. (My brother's name is Mark Andrew.)

Sorry, that's all for today! Must MUD and teach Go.


PixelField is fun, if a little annoying.

Today I'm listening to: Delerium!

Monday, August 16, 2004

Hugo, Hunger, and Human Rights 

The results are in, and Chavez has won. Check out that line for people waiting to vote! The New York Times reports that 60% of the eligible population came out to vote (compare that with the 45% we get here in the US). The AP notes:
With more than 8.5 million votes cast, Sunday's referendum shattered the previous record of voter turnout, when 7.5 million Venezuelans cast ballots in the 1988 presidential elections. Former President Carter, who monitored the vote, said it was the largest turnout he had ever seen, and lines extended for more than a mile in some places.
Not surprisingly, the opposition has rejected the result and is claiming fraud. In addition to the Carter Center, the Organization of American States [OAS] monitored the election, and doesn't seem to agree with the charges of fraud. The Times quoted an unnamed OAS official as saying: "The opposition is basically saying there was computer fraud, but that's almost impossible." The owner of the machines used in the vote was quoted as saying "The servers are in a highly secure area. The system is impenetrable." (As skeptical as I am of electronic voting machines, the independent polling seems to correlate with the official results, suggesting that fraud is unlikely.)

But as Justin Podur points out, that may not matter.
Carter apparently thinks that the vote ought to be accepted. [OAS official] Gaviria believes that some kind of "solution" should be sought in spite of the clear vote. . . . If Gaviria and the opposition have their way, it will be an abhorrent message from the world to Venezuelans, that they are on their own in trying to defend their democracy and that international bodies have no credibility to tell them anything. . . .

According to the Coordinadora Democratica's own figures (not really sure how they were collected, but some way far more reliable than the double-system of the machines), of 8 million votes counted, SI had 59% and NO 40.6%. . . .

This claim, without evidence like virtually every other claim of the opposition, gives the Carter Center, OAS, and international press a real choice. Will they respect the vote of the Venezuelans and their electoral authorities, which they have been praising all day, or will they opt for sleazy, evidence-free claims that are designed to sow chaos and undermine progress?
I guess we can only wait and see.
UPDATE: Carter and Gaviria have declared that there is no evidence of fraud.
Meantime, the BBC has an interesting piece on why US officials dislike Chavez. ("They don't like him because he's a populist, because he's also against some of the things they want for Latin America, like the Free Trade Area of the Americas," says Mark Weisbrot of the Centre for Economic and Policy Research.) And why do the middle and upper classes of Venezuela dislike him?
Edgardo Lander, sociology lecturer at Venezuelan Central University, says before Mr Chavez arrived on the scene, Venezuelan politics were "like an upper-class party in which everything was very refined and educated and cosmopolitan.

"All of a sudden these people from the outside come into the party - people who smell, who are Indian and black, who have no manners."
I'm going to assume Sr. Lander is merely representing the view of Venezuelan elites, and not revealing his own feelings.

Nonviolent Palestinian Watch

As an American, I'm really baffled by these stories I keep seeing about Palestinians seeking to find ways out of the violence in their homeland. I mean, aren't all Palestinians soulless monsters intent of destroying Israel and pissing on the ashes? Gulf News reports that Palestinian militants are working on a plan (authored by Intifada leader Marwan Barghouti) to halt all violence and give up their weapons if and when Israel withdraws from the Gaza Strip.
Hamas leader Khalid Mesha'al and Islamic Jihad leader Ramadan Shalah, both based in Damascus, Syria, have responded "positively, in principle," a source close to Barghouti said. Egypt, serving as mediator between Israel and the Palestinians on the terms of a Gaza pullback, has also received a copy. . . .

His plan said that after the Israeli withdrawal, militant groups would declare a halt to attacks on Israel from Gaza, though not from the West Bank. Within three months of the withdrawal, militants would have to sell their weapons to the security forces.
Insofar as Israel was ordered by the UN to withdraw from these territories in 1967, this plan seems eminently logical.

Now I find that Arun Gandhi (grandson of former Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi) has been invited by Palestinian actvists to kick off a new campaign for unarmed struggle against the Israeli occupation. Wha!? (Actually, I think it's high time those Palestinian children find something else to do with their time other than throwing rocks at Israeli tanks.) Pic at right is a painting by a kid in Palestine, illustrating what life is like for them.

As for the Palestinian prisoners who are staging a hunger strike to protest their inhumane treatement -- Israeli prison officials are responding with tact and concern.
Prison officers are setting up barbecues outside cells and have told guards to eat in front of prisoners. . . .

Israeli prison officials have already begun monitoring prisoners' body weight and will consider force-feeding inmates who became critically emaciated, reports say.
Did Jennifer Harbury have to endure anything so insidious?

HalliBush Wars, Inc.

In Afghanistan, US citizen Jonathan Idema -- who was arrested in July and charged with torturing Afghans in a private jail (some of them "were found dangling upside down") -- claims that his trial in Kabul is "insane" and "crazy". (He does this loudly; the BBC says he is given tp "shouting out at both the judge and prosecutor".)
Idema said he had not been given an English copy of the charges against him. "How can I defend myself when I don't even have a copy of the indictment?" he demanded.
That is unfair. Thank the gods that we don't treat our prisoners like that! From that last story:
Former Middle East hostage Terry Waite . . . told BBC Radio 4's Today Programme the methods the US used were "almost identical" to his own experiences at the hands of kidnappers in the Lebanon.
Wow. Meanwhile, in Iraq, over 2000 civilian human shields have flocked to Najaf to protect holy Shia buildings and resistance leader Muqtada al-Sadr. The US forces, in response, have expelled all journalists from the city. Sounds like something good's about to happen! Don't go into the basement!

And finally on the HalliBush Wars front: A Pentagon report investigating abuses at Abu Ghraib has been leaked in part to the Baltimore Sun, and sources say it completely exonerates Donald Rumsfeld.
"This is a whitewash - a carefully orchestrated one," said a lawyer who has liaised with military officials involved in the case.

"People in the Pentagon have been coming to me in a fury because of the way this has been handled. By naming military intelligence officials as well as the seven military police who have been charged, it will look like action has been taken. But basically it's still the same storyline of just a few bad apples, way down the food chain."
TPCQ: "Five-o kills again / Gets off with a grin"


Today I stumbled upon WorldNews, and I'm completely stunned that I'd never seen it before. It's easily the most incredibly huge collection of global news sources anywhere online -- much bigger than Yahoo, for instance. The section on Africa is enormous, featuring even foci on Lesotho and sport(s) in Gambia. Admittedly, many of the articles are the same in the different sections, but still the scope is breathtaking. If ABC or CNN or FoxNews or any of the other supposedly "world news" outlets had any respectability at all, their international sections would look like this.

They even have a page on East Timor! That's how I found out that Timorese and Australian negotiators have reached an agreement on the Timor Gap oil. The Timorese have agreed to a de facto border for a big oil reserve (instead of a firm, logically-derived border); in return, East Timor has received "promises of more revenues". And we all know how valuable promises from Australia have been for East TImor, don't we?

Enjoy these epic posts while I have time for them, people -- school starts in two short weeks.

John Wilson has a good piece up on AlterNet about Alan Keyes.
During a campaign appearance in Bedford, N.H., in 2000, Keyes asked a class of fifth-graders, "If I were to lose my mind right now and pick one of you up and dash your head against the floor and kill you, would that be right?" He then went on to tell the children that some courts and politicians think it's OK to murder 6-month-old children.
And finally (whew) -- Wal-Mart has launched a new PR blitz.
"We've really been in the spotlight, and I think that's made us especially sensitive to the need for balanced coverage," said Mona Williams, a spokeswoman for Wal-Mart.
Man, and here I thought that floating smiley face was more than enough to convince people that their predatory corporate practices, hiring of illegal immigrants, and destruction of local economies was all for the best. Thanks goodness we'll now be receiving "balanced coverage."

Bleah! Enough of this. I need lunch!


Frank is pretty cool, if a bit slow-going at first. (And slow-loading, alas.)

Today I'm listening to: The Coup! (News: Boots and Stic [from dead prez] are working on a side project. Woop!)

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Venezuela and Palestine 

If you're like me, you're thrilled by the awesome power now available to us humans to get immediate, up-to-the-minute reporting from hotspots around the world. From Iraq to Israel/Palestine to Venezuela to Haiti to East Timor, the internet is providing us with a decentralized and multifaceted media lens unlike anything we've had before. It's really exciting.


Today is the day of the Chavez recall vote! As I mentioned before, Justin Podur is blogging live from Venezuela. Yesterday he wrote an interesting piece on the probabilities of opposition strategies.
Short of some kind of violent provocation {and there have been warnings of that as well} to try to discredit the whole electoral process, the opposition has signalled repeatedly that it plans to announce the results at 2pm. Then, when the real results are announced after the polls close at 6pm, the opposition will say {assuming that the opposition loses the referendum, which it will if there is not fraud} that its results disagree with the official results and argue that a fraud has occurred. . . .

If the SI forces claims are then discredited, as they should be, they and the US will just keep the “fraud” card in their hand, waiting for the correlation of forces to change. Then, at some point down the road, if Chavez loses a substantial chunk of support, or the army, or the oil company, they will bring out the claim that the referendum was “fraudulent” when they try to bring him down.
For a while, I wondered what the acronym SI stood for -- solidaridad internacional? seguridad interna? -- before I realized it just meant "si," the Spanish word for "yes", as in "yes, we want to recall Chavez." That's my brilliant linguistic mind at work.

Fortunately for those of us who advocate truth and democracy at all times, the Carter Center -- in Venezuela to monitor voting conditions -- has declared that the conditions in Venezuela will produce results "that will be much more satisfactory than those of 2000 in Florida." Wow!

Carter also went on to say:
There are free elections in Venezuela... There is transparency in the process... There is freedom of the press in Venezuela... For these reasons and more I believe there is respect for human rights in Venezuela.
Groovy. This report comes to us courtesy of The Narcosphere, an oddly-named blog that is also filing dispatches live from Venezuela.

Israel and Palestine

What's this? Palestinians protesting with nature murals? Palestinian prisoners using a nonviolent hunger strike? I thought the only way Palestinians expressed themselves was by detonating suicide bombs. Cognitive dissonance rising.. Does not compute.

The hunger strike is having a powerful impact on Israeli security forces, who being forced to recognize the common humanity of the people they have imprisoned. From the BBC:
Israel's security minister said they would not bow to pressure and the prisoners could "starve to death".
Elsewhere, right-wing Israeli teenagers are undergoing military-style training to prepare for physical resistance to government plans to evict them from their illegal settlements in Gaza. It's so refreshing to see the peace process being pursued faithfully by both sides in the conflict.

Meantime, Israeli troops recently held a BBC reporter -- along with an elderly woman and the doctor she had summoned -- at gunpoint for three and a half hours.
As the minutes stretched into hours, [the doctor] asked how long we would be kept there.

"You'll be here until we kill someone," a soldier replied, in perfect English.

"We're being held illegally," I said.

The soldiers nodded in agreement, but still refused to let us go.
But the most heartbreaking quote in the story comes from the old woman, Rana Malhas. As the soldiers stormed her house and pointed guns at everyone inside,
Rana leaned forward to speak. Her immediate concern was for us. "I'm so sorry this has happened to you in my house," she said, "and that I can't get you some coffee."
It's strange -- Control Room featured some shockingly gruesome footage from the war, including chilling shots of American POWs and grisly images of children's legs torn apart by shrapnel. I didn't even flinch; I feel totally numb to that sort of thing. But the kind of devastating grace shown by this Palestinian woman reduces me to tears.

HalliBush Wars, Inc.

The BBC also had an interesting article today about Republicans in the US who won't be voting for Bush.
Almost everyone I've spoken to here in over two weeks mentions Iraq as the number one election issue, and the most frequent question I've heard is: What has Iraq to do with the 11 September 2001 attacks? . . .

People are asking more and more: was [the war] worth it? The question is about economics and about the human cost.
The article focuses in on Fayetteville, North Carolina -- home to Fort Bragg, "the largest military base on this continent." Fayetteville is also home to a movie theater called the Cameo, run by Chris and Nazim Kuenzel; Nazim is an Iranian-American who came here when she was 12 years old.
They braved some expected local wrath recently and put on Michael Moore's anti-Bush, anti-Iraq war polemic, Fahrenheit 9/11.

There was hardly any wrath. The film was so popular, they had to put on extra shows every night at midnight.

All the shows were sold out and, at 14 out of 15 performances during the first week, there were standing ovations at the end, from audiences that were 80% soldiers and their partners. (my emphasis)
I won't quote the whole article, but you should check out some of those quotes from military personnel and their families. Suffice to say they understand best the human costs on the US side of this war.


If Ben Terrall ever read this site, he'd get a big kick out of the Ramones Name Generator. Hopefully others will like it too.

Today I'm listening to: Rising High: Futurescape!

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Flaming Rabbits, Crackpipes, and Aljazeera 

We saw Control Room -- a documentary about controversial Arab TV network Aljazeera -- last night. It was quite excellent, and I highly recommend it. There is a fascinating range of opinions and perspectives portrayed, from the self-described Arab nationalist journalist Hassan Ibrahim (who was invited to bring his thoughtful, level-headed commentary to the Daily Show not long ago) to veteran CNN correspondent Tom Mintier to US Central Command press officer Lieutenant Josh Rushing. The director does an excellent job of giving everyone time to speak without subtracting from the essence of what makes Aljazeera unique and essential in global media during the Iraq war.

The film has many great moments, but the most compelling for me comes quite early in the film, when Ibrahim, chatting with Iraqis at the onset of the war, responds to their gloomy demand of "who will stop the United States [and their imperialist ventures]?" by saying: "The United States will stop the United States. I have absolute faith in the Constitution of the United States, and absolute faith in the people of the United States."

If ever there were a gauntlet thrown down to democracy and peace-loving Americans to stand up and do the right thing, this is it.

Boeing and Bush

As I browsed the Aljazeera website (for the first time, I'm sad to say), I found a very intriguing article about European company Airbus and the subsidies it receives from European governments.

President Bush has told US Trade Representative Rob Zoellick to "pursue all options to end these subsidies." Why? Because they create an uneven playing field for US aerospace megacorporation Boeing! Sure, Boeing received over $17 billion in defense contracts during 2002 alone, and earlier this year won a $189 million contract for a space-based surveillance system (heaven knows how badly we need that) -- but still, Boeing just can't compete with the Europeans. (Gee, you'd kinda think that people who keep hollering about "free trade" wouldn't want any subsidies going to anyone!)

So what about the fact that the US military and space programs funnel billions to Boeing every year? Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) -- who accuses European subsidies of stealing US aerospace jobs -- says "it's a red herring," because the US spends more on its military than Europe does. And what about recent findings by the State University of New York-Buffalo which shows that Boeing's 7E7 deal with the state of Washington is in violation of World Trade Organization rules? "I don't see that as an issue at all," she said.



Check out this incredible collection of aerial photographs. Thanks, MoFi.

So this rabbit got set on fire at a British cricket club (the sport, not the insect) but it got its revenge by running into a hut and burning $110,000 worth of equipment. TPCQ: That's no ordinary rabbit! It has big huge pointy teeth!

Meanwhile, Italy's culture ministry wants to give Robert De Niro an honorary Italian citizenship; but some Italian Americans object due to his frequent willingness to fulfill Italian mobster stereotypes. (In the upcoming DreamWorks animated epic Shark Tale, De Niro plays a shark with an Italian name who is in the underwater mafia.)

Item: Guy tries to escape police, drives into backyard pond, begins smoking crack.

And finally -- Chuck D, Davey D and other hip-hop progressives have launched Slam Bush, a mixture of rap music and political activism-making that seeks to mobilize hip-hoppers around the nation against Bush and his policies. The video is pretty well-edited, even if Wordsworth's lyrics aren't the best political lines ever penned.


Waste some time with Escapa! Click and hold the red box; drag it around without touching the walls or the moving boxes for as long as you can. My record: 32 seconds.

Today I'm listening to: Digitally Imported Goa/Psy!

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Freeze, Kids! You're Busted! 

The city of St. Louis recently raided and closed down a lemonade stand run by two young girls.
a Health Department inspector told them Tuesday they didn't have the proper business licenses and were selling unsafe ice cubes. The girls were using powdered lemonade mix with ice cubes bought from a store.
The city's health commissioner later apologized and -- to make amends -- "gave the girls $3 Wednesday for a 25-cent cup of lemonade." And the girls learned something, too: "You don't have to sit there and take it," Mim said. Marisa added, "We learned to stand up for ourselves."

So we'll see you two at the next anti-FTAA convergence then? (Note: The photo is an artist's conception of the incident.)

Making it Plain

A certain individual yesterday said in the comments box: "Agree with Norman Mailer? WTF?? . . . I can't think of anything scarier than NOT having significant protests at the RNC, after two wars, the PATRIOT Act, the "Partial Birth" Abortion Ban, etc."

I want to make clear: I definitely support significant, vibrant, loud protests in NYC for the Republicans. But I think Mailer is correct when he points out that -- insofar as we all agree that Bush has got to go -- this may be one of those very rare instances where decorum will serve us better that vitriol.

As I see it, there are two reasons for having wildly chaotic, potentially destructive actions:
  1. When the intended audience doesn't understand how serious the problem is.
    This is why Seattle was appropriate. The WTO assumed we were all just going to nod and shuffle our feet; we had to show them we meant business. (When I say "we", I mean -- of course -- more courageous individuals than I, since I have never been willing to get myself arrested for these noble beliefs I drone on about all the time. Curse these stringent microscopes under which teachers are kept!)

  2. When we must raise the stakes for acts of aggression.
    This is why nonviolent direct action against institutions during times of illegal war are appropriate. (Like the Truax Four who blocked traffic leading into a National Guard facility in Madison to protest US warmaking in Iraq.) This sort of "getting into the gears" serves the important purpose of signalling to those in charge that their actions will bring serious consequences here at home (in addition to whatever retribution it brings overseas).
However, I don't see how either of these goals will be met by excessively polarized activity at the RNC. They know how angry we are -- we express it all the time. If they didn't get the point on February 15, how do we believe they'll get it now? As for raising the stakes -- I don't imagine that (between now and November, at least) there can be any higher stake for HalliBush Wars Inc. than getting booted out of office. So shouldn't that be the highest priority?

To that end, I don't see how aggressive protest will recruit new voters to the Kerry ticket. As I said yesterday, it seems like voter registration and canvassing will be more productive to this end.

Having said all that -- there are other residual benefits to protests in general, including the construction of mass movements (particularly those that get excellent progressives like Chisholm and McKinney elected); community-building and empowerment of the demos, and others. But these can be met quite satisfactorily by regular old marching/yelling/signwaving protest, which -- again -- I'm all for at the RNC.

Speaking of which -- check out some of these innovative ideas that will be put into action in New York.
Flash radiojacking: Jeremijenko and the Bureau of Inverse Technology (BIT), will use a special transmitter to break into radio frequencies reserved for corporate stations, giving bursts of information so brief that the FCC can't lock onto their transmission location. . . .

Bikes Against Bush: Joshua Kinberg will hit the streets on an "internet-enabled tactical media 'weapon' for non-violent creative resistance." Outfitted with a laptop, webcam, GPS device, and cellphone, his tech-laden bike will receive text messages sent by visitors to www.BikesAgainstBush.com. At the push of a button, he'll select messages to print on the pavement using a robotic chalk-spraying device. . .

Backpack broadcast: Media collective neuroTransmitter will be toting com_muni_ports throughout the convention. These low-power, backpack-mounted radio transmitters will provide localized, on-the-fly media broadcasts, bearing witness, live, to events you won't hear about on local Clear Channel stations.
Pretty cool stuff!

In other HalliBush Wars, Inc. news: The Oregonian has a chilling story about some US soldiers who were ordered to back away from a scene of Iraqi forces obviously torturing detainees. How convenient that we've just handed over the reins of Abu Ghraib to the new Iraqi government.

And thanks to PRWatch for linking us to "Ready for Kids," a new TV show which will "teach fourth- to eighth-grade kids the ABCs of emergency preparedness in the event of a terrorist attack." I hope they bring back Bert the Turtle! Duck and cover, kiddies.


Gridlock is oh so very addictive. You're welcome.

Today I'm listening to: Snatch!

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Hulk Hogan, HalliBush, and How To Proceed 

Happy Birthday Hulk Hogan! Yes, today is the Hulkster's 51st birthday. What can I say about this True American Hero™? I think I speak for us all when I say that he should be our next president. He'd show Osama bin Loony a thing or two!

Masters of the Universe

Speaking of international trade agreements: Focus on the Global South has a good analysis of the recent WTO meeting in Geneva. If you didn't get enough of my pedantic scribbling, check out the FGS piece.
Institutionally, among the innovations is that the General Council has now become de facto the supreme institution for WTO decision-making. What the July meeting came up with was effectively a ministerial declaration without a ministerial meeting. . . .

Only some 40 trade ministers were present in Geneva for the July GC meeting, with many representatives of countries that played a key role at the Cancun ministerial, such as Kenya and Nigeria, absent. Obviously, with some 100 ministers of WTO member countries absent, a great many governments failed to fully grasp the significance of the meeting.
The piece identifies the G20 -- a bloc of nations less wealthy and supremacist than the G8 -- as well as new coalitions like the G33 and the G90 ("composed of the Africa Group, ACP [African Caribbean and Pacific countries] and the Least Developed Countries"). Important stuff, if not as riveting as musclemen in Spandex.

Goss and Monsters

Did you know that Porter Goss, Bush's choice to replace Tenet as director of the CIA, used to be a Latin American operative? It's true; he
worked in Miami, which was becoming a magnet for Cuban emigres. Some were recruited by the CIA and trained for what turned out to be one of the agency's greatest disasters: the 1961 invasion of Cuba that was crushed by Fidel Castro at the Bay of Pigs.
Goss also served the CIA in Haiti during the Duvalier regime, although when he was there and what he did remain classified.

But undercover CIA escapades in a region noted for US imperialism and covert death squad activity notwithstanding, AlterNet's David Corn has identified another important reason to be wary of Goss's potential helmship of the Agency.

As chairman of the House intelligence committee, Goss co-authored a letter to Tenet chastising the Agency's work prior to the Iraq war. The letter pointed out that "there were significant deficiencies with respect to the IC's [intelligence community's] intelligence collection activities concerning Iraq's WMD programs and ties to al-Qa'ida prior to the commencement of hostilities there." The CIA's resulting NIE [National Intelligence Estimate] (which insisted that "Baghdad has chemical and biological weapons" and "Baghdad is reconstituting its nuclear weapons programs") was, according to the letter, "based on too many uncertainties."

However -- and this is the rub -- Goss split with co-author Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA) on whether or not the NIE was deficient in its analysis and presentation. The letter read: "The Ranking Member [Harman] believes it was. The Chairman [Goss] believes it was not."

Corn notes:
For some reason, Goss was comfortable bashing the CIA for insufficient intelligence collection, but he declined to criticize it for cooking up an NIE that overstated the intelligence. Was he trying to protect the White House, which had pointed to the NIE to justify its case for war (even though Bush aides acknowledged Bush never bothered reading the 90-page report)?
The piece ends with an entirely logical conclusion: "Goss should be questioned about this during his confirmation hearings. . . . Unless [he] is willing to acknowledge the complete extent of the problems within the intelligence community -- and to be frank about them -- he is not suitable to be America's top spy in these dangerous times."

HalliBush Wars, Inc.

While Kerry has suggested that he'd like to bring home many US troops from Iraq as quickly as six months after taking office ("depend[ing] on broader international assistance, better stability in Iraq and other factors" -- AP), Bush and pseudopal John McCain are suggesting the exact opposite.
"I think the events on the ground right now indicate clearly that we cannot bring anybody home," McCain told ABC's "Good Morning America" in an interview Wednesday. "In certain areas we may even have to strengthen our troop presence in the form of special forces and others. . . . I just don't know how you achieve it without knowing the facts on the ground six months from now."
It's true that six months is a long time (and a great deal can change in that time), but as Diane pointed out to me, Kerry could very well just be talking a big game to win support from the disenchanted-with-US-deaths crowd, and throw his word around like . . . well, like an election campaign promise.

I do believe that a more international presence is desperately needed in Iraq, but I don't know how I feel about a total withdrawal of US forces. Witness the mess in Najaf. There's no question that US soldiers are engaged in a spiral of death and destruction with Sadr's people. One of Iraq's deputy Presidents, Ibrahim Jaafari, has called for US troops to leave the city and allow Iraqi forces to take over. (He also called on Sadr's troops to pull back.) But the governor of Najaf asked for the US troops to intervene. Obviously, there are many things about this situation that we can't know at present, but I'm as hesitant to take the "Bring 'em all home now" position as I am the "Send more of 'em in now" side.

It all goes to show the hopelessness and self-destructive nature of war itself. We shouldn't have gone into Iraq in the first place.

As for getting rid of the man who made that call -- Tariq Ali made an important point recently about what a Bush defeat would mean for the world who watches.
If the American population were to vote Bush out of office, I think the impact globally would be tremendous. . . . People would say this guy took his country to war, surrounded by these neocons who developed bogus arguments and lies to go to war against Iraq, he lied to his people, he misused intelligence information, and the American people have voted him out. That in itself I think would have a tremendous impact on world public opinion.
An intriguing way to look at it: Will we hold responsible the administration that led us down such a wretched and violent and suicidal path in the name of hegemony and resource control?

RNC: Carrot or Stick?

Meantime, many folks on the left (especially my special lady Diane -- see BlogNews below) are looking forward to the Republican National Convention at the end of the month as a way to voice opposition to the Bush administration. The city of New York has agreed to allow United for Peace and Justice to march through the streets of Manhattan, but wanted to send the post-march rally way out to the Westside Highway; UFPJ has rejected the idea and continues to push for a Central Park rally.

Meanwhile, there's some concern over tactics. Amy Goodman recently interviewed Norman Mailer; he said we should use the carrot:
The immediate need is to defeat Bush. But to do that, to do that, we have to reach the middle. And the only way we can reach the middle at this late day is that if we're extraordinarily peaceful in our demonstrations before the election. Because the media are just waiting there like coiled springs hoping that there will be a few maniacs who will cut loose. Maybe there will be a few people who will know what to do with the American flag as far as the republicans are concerned. And that is -- the republicans are hoping that we'll make [expletive]s of ourselves. They're counting on that. . . .

We have got to curb our rage for the next four months. Not put it away forever, far from it. Far from it. This rage is legitimate. But I think it's going to be more powerful after Kerry’s in.
A trenchant point, that. But noted direct-action advocate and lifelong peace activist Starhawk disagrees.
We must form a counterforce on the streets, the only place where social movements that challenge power have ever been carried forward. We will act nonviolently, to embody the values we stand for of compassion and liberation, and to make clear where the violence in society stems from: those same policies of lies, brute force and fear and their enforcement on those unwilling to collude with them. . . .

If we don’t take action, if we limit ourselves to mild expressions of discontent, we will undoubtedly be safer in the moment. But we will have moved further into a huge, longterm danger, of continuing the slide into tacit acceptance that we are not the people we thought we were, not the liberators of the world but its jailors, not the defenders of human rights but the torturers of Abu Ghraib.
First off -- it's absolutely not true that the streets are "the only place where social movements that challenge power have ever been carried forward." If that's true, then Shirley Chisholm and Cynthia McKinney are irrelevant (or worse). Part of what make social movements great is that they are carried out on all fronts -- from the front of the line in protest marches to the front of the US Senate. Some people choose to work inside the system, and that's a legitimate choice -- it does not make the person obsolete or unimportant. (Indeed, in some ways it takes more courage to work in the Belly of the Beast than to remain on the outside without the associated constraints and pressures. I've been meaning for years to work up a longer piece on this whole inside/outside dilemma, but I just haven't gotten around to it.)

I think I agree with Norman Mailer, as unaccustomed as I am to saying those words. Starhawk is right that we need to be visible at the RNC; but the dangers of giving a bad name/face to the non-Bush side far outweigh the potential good that would come of bringing heat and fire to power at that time and place.

While I generally think property destruction is counter-effective, other forms of "getting into the gears of the machine" are quite legitimate -- and showing the Powers That Be just how angry we are can serve an urgent purpose; so I was cheering for nonviolent mayhem in, say, Seattle. But this is a different context, and we need to have different goals.

In an election cycle, our first job ought to be to persuade and inform; not just illustrate our ire. Protests are obviously important; but it may be the case that good ol' pound-the-pavement voter registration and candidate canvassing is a more efficient use of activist time and humanpower.

Politics: Other

The International Herald Tribune had an interesting opinion piece today about how hard Americans work relative to workers in Europe. Breaking through the stereotypes, the authors note that Americans work harder because they have to, not so much because they want to.
Americans are compelled to work as long as they do in part because of the pervasive insecurity of American life. In the absence of the generous pensions, government-subsidized college education, universal health care and other benefits that Europeans take for granted, Americans see long hours of work as the only way to obtain needed benefits and generate savings for college and retirement. The real threat of job loss, even for professional employees, forces workers to maximize their earnings in the present. In the absence of strong labor organizations and laws that protect workers, employees are in no position to protest long hours.

In addition, employers have both the motivation and the ability to encourage or require long hours of their employees. It is cheaper to pay overtime than to hire a new employee and underwrite their benefits. It is even easier to demand long hours from managers and professionals who have no legal protection and whose own insecurity has grown enormously in recent years. The "culture of overtime" quickly takes root in this soil.
So you mean that if we stop bashing unions around every corner and unite as working people, we might have more time for family and leisure? What an insane notion! An excellent sentence in the concluding paragraph: "Europeans have gained politically and socially what many Americans say they want individually but have been unable to achieve politically." Touché.

And a group of conservatives (besides seeking to abolish the International Baccelaureate program) have launched an effort to get Ted Rall's work out of newspapers. They claim his 'toons are "melodramatically ideological, simple-headed, snarling, and tasteless." There's no question that Rall is not a polite artist; but then what artist worth a damn ever has been? I like being jarred out of complacency by Ted's envelope-pushing, even if I don't always agree with him. Fortunately, the article quotes a United Press Syndicate editor as saying that "none of the papers that received the laptoplobbyist.com letters have decided to drop Rall's work."

Go look at that anti-IB page. It's insane! ("The goal is to enlist your children in a movement to destroy America as we know it and turn over the reins of our government to the UN.")


Diane has a blog! Diane has a blog! Actually, it's a collective blog of Madison Women for Peace, but still -- Diane has a blog! This is especially exciting in light of the fact that she has scored -- via WORT -- a pass into the RNC itself. Huzzah! So check the W4P blog at the end of August for live on-the-spot reporting and all the time for news and analysis from our local Code Pink affiliate.

Christie has also launched one. 'Tis the season to start a blog! Huzzah!

Also: Noam Chomsky and Tim Wise no longer have their own blogs. All of ZNet's bloggers have been aggregated into the ZNet Blog, a group project. You can still focus in on just Chomsky, but then you'll miss other cool stuff, like Justin Podur reporting live from Venezuela.

And finally in the blogosphere -- check out Brian Sack's amusing blog Banterist, where he patrols the streets as a Grammar Cop and guides us through the amusing world of Online Dating Profile Photography.

Whew! What a long post this is turning out to be!


Coming soon: Mountain Dew Pitch Black. In other news: Who gives a [expletive]? (I do, apparently.)

Tip: If you are a guest at a wedding in the Philippines, do not trip and accidentally touch the bride's butt. You may be killed and eaten. (Thanks to Nate for the link.)

Okay, it's time for lunch. Actually, it was time for lunch about half an hour ago.


Get depressed with Boogie's photography. Gangs, crack, skinheads -- "I guess that hopelessness is what I'm trying to capture." Powerful but disturbing. (For something more upbeat, make a virtual snowflake. Mine is #4228772.)

Today I'm listening to: Onomatopoeia!

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Paulo, People, and the President 

Aaa! Look at how cute Paulo is. (Paulo is the baby of Pam & Curt, the radical -- in both ways -- couple I lived with during the summer of '99.) (TPCQ: "One day they're little shredders, and the next day they're grinding and gnashing their way to college.")

Speaking of The Almighty Show, check out thise gallery from About.com. Cool stuff!

HalliBush Wars, Inc.

Thanks to Nate for hooking us up with this chart comparing Bush's approval rating to the timing of terror alerts. Sad that he's gotten such venomous backlash, but I guess that's what happens when you point out certain things to Bushites. (Or SlowBoatites. Or LGFites.)

Carlos Santana, what do you think of our Commander in Chief?

Huh! Even though the Bush administration insists we are winning the War on Terror, the New York Times reports that a new generation of al Qaeda leaders is emerging.
While the findings may result in a significant intelligence coup for the Bush administration and its allies in Britain, they also create a far more complex picture of Al Qaeda's status than Mr. Bush presents on the campaign trail. For the past several months, the president has claimed that much of Al Qaeda's leadership has been killed or captured; the new evidence suggests that the organization is regenerating and bringing in new blood. . . .

It appears that Al Qaeda is more resilient than was previously understood and has sought to find replacements for operational commanders like Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Abu Zubaydah and Walid Muhammad Salih bin Attash, known as Khallad, all of whom have been captured.
Heh. It's almost as though terrorism is a symptom of global resistance to certain policies and religious views that grows from deeper philosophical and ethnocultural roots than the simplistic "good vs. evil" picture painted by certain folks in the US and elsewhere; and that we can no more win the War on Terror through force than we can the War on Drugs. But of course, that would be a cynical way of looking at the issue, and I'm not cynical.


Check out the cool basket building. One of many buildings that look like things. (TPCQ: "And we are back with more of people who look like things." "All we want is to be treated with respect." "And a new candle now and then?" "Yes, and a new . . . NO!")

In a land of strict government censorship, does theatre become the forum for free exchange of ideas?

There's a new documentary out about Howard Zinn. Huzzah! Alas, it's not playing in Wisconsin just now. D'oh! But you can see the trailer.

I redid the Art of Go site. Nothing major, but it looks better, methinks.

Big ups and "Welcome to the List" to Rose, who is the only other person on Blogger listing East Timor as an interest. She lives in New Zealand, in a very lovely house.


Hey look -- it's a video for Cows with Guns, that song by folk musician Dana Lyons.

Today I'm listening to: Howie B!

Monday, August 09, 2004

b3ta = 3v!l 

MonkeyFilter is a drain on my time, because it's constantly being updated (every 30 minutes or so is about average) with interesting links and stuff. Well, yesterday I discovered the b3ta message board, which is updated every two minutes or so with wacky pictures and animations. (Like the one at right.) So now while I play iSketch, I can also browse these silly things. I would post there myself (I've already got an image ready to go), but they don't allow new users to post until the Tuesday after they register. But you can see my profile.


I'm going to try redesigning the 3D Go Art site today. Part of me says I should try to come up with something radically new and different; part of me says I should just use the tried and true format that has worked on JT and here (big graphic up top right or left; nav list on the side). I think it's a bit tougher when you have thumbnails to display (like 3dGo and Garrison). Ah well.

So the Bushes were in Kennebunkport recently, and they got chastised for having so much moolah.
"Gated communities," Agnew said, "tend to keep out God's people." But, he said, "Our material gifts do not have to be a wall."

"They can very well be a door. Jesus says, `Sell your possessions and give alms,'" Agnew said. "I'm convinced that what we keep owns us, and what we give away sets us free."
You tell em, father. Matthew 19:24, yo.

Japanese nuke plant leak kills four. In other news: Solar plant leak kills.. Oh, wait. That could never happen.

Hey GOP -- why not run a background check before you endorse those candidates? Admittedly, his crime of choice appears to be "refusing to stop speaking at Tacoma City Council and Pierce County Council meetings." But still -- it doesn't look too good to endorse someone who has been in jail 19 times since 1992. (Then again, how many times was MLK locked up?)

The Smurfs are Communists. Duh! Papa Marx? Hel-LO? All your smurf are belong to smurf.

Finally -- check out these Book-A-Minute Classics. My favorite is probably Huckleberry Finn. Also, be sure to check out Movie-A-Minute, which includes my fave, The Replacement Killers.


Parallel Park is mindless and fun. Via ABS.

Today I'm listening to: Massive Attack!

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Church, Chavez, and Chournalism 

Isn't this picture great? It's not hotlinked, either. Because the gods know there's nothing worse than hotlinking pictures -- not even child molestation is as wretched a crime! So I hereby swear to stop hotlinking pictures, so that my immortal soul may instead ascend into heaven.

Anyway, this NON-HOTLINKED picture comes to us from the excellent Church Sign Generator. Make your own wacky church signs, and check out their nice collection of actual church signs.

Speaking of stuff you should look at: I finished the redesign of Garrison Multimedia. Now you might look at it and say: "Hey, wait a second. This looks almost identical to the old design. All you did was enlarge the picture, put some effects on the title, and redesign the description cells a little bit. Didn't you spend hours and hours trying to come up with an exciting new layout like you made for JT and this blog?" To which I can only respond: Shut up.

Also -- check out Mr. Damon's interesting commentary on The Blue Angels.
Last year, I watched with some admitted fascination as the F-18s climbed and rolled and tore across the sky. It was hard to comprehend how several tons of metal moving with that much speed and under that much stress could not careen out of control.

It was when the planes bore down on us that my attitude became more critical. It was during those moments that I was reminded that these were attack manuevers: bombing, strafing, getting in place for the kill shot. It was during these moments that I and many others (thinking of conversations I had with people that weekend) recognized that the stunts presented as hoo-ha, rah-rah, thrill-kill entertainment were all about killing in their intended application.
HalliBush Wars, Inc.

How do we assure that the Iraqi people enjoy the benefits of freedom? Ban al-Jazeera! Brilliant.
Al-Jazeera has occasionally run into problems with authorities in other Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Jordan and the former Iraqi regime. Unlike Arab state-run media, the station often airs views of local opposition figures and their criticisms of their countries' rulers.
That's probably why authorities in the US hate them, too. Be good journalists and just repeat what we tell you, will ya?

Meanwhile, in Venezuela, embattled president Hugo Chavez is facing a recall vote on 15 August. Commentators in the US are trying to paint Chavez as a lunatic demon dictator, but -- as always -- you are hereby encouraged not to believe the hype. As the Associated Press reports:
After five years in office, President Hugo Chavez remains a hero to millions of impoverished Venezuelans who see him as their only hope for a better future - and that gives him a good chance of beating a recall referendum this month. . . .

"Chavistas" argue that the president is the first leader in this oil-rich country to give citizens decision-making power and involve them in politics, usually at the local level in groups called Bolivarian Circles.
Again, it should be no wonder that he's disliked by US authorities. ("What? He's involving ordinary people at the grassroots level in the decisions that affect their lives? Where did he get that crackpot idea?")

Chavez isn't perfect; I don't want to downplay the negative aspects of his government (particularly in relation to the courts and human rights). But let's be completely clear: US authorities never had a problem with these issues in Suharto's Indonesia; Duvalier's Haiti; or Pinochet's Chile. It is the change in economic and social-democratic policies that anger elites in the US, not merely these violations of international law. I will not excuse these transgressions; indeed, they should not be tolerated under a supposedly democratic regime. But neither can we overlook the tremendous good that government has been doing for the impoverished masses in Venezuela.


Robots Are Our Friends. Magnificent! Via ABS.

Today I'm listening to: Public Enemy! (Word! rapraprapraprap)

Friday, August 06, 2004

Designing and Resigning 

The Eric P graphic design juggernaut continues to roll on with no end in sight! My latest work is the shiny new Justified Textworks. Remarkable -- will he actually redesign every website in the FBESP before he's done? For the love of the gods, why? Does he really think anyone goes to these sites?

But we're not just about new looks here at The FBESP -- we've got new content, too! Yes, I've finally posted my essay about Quantum Linguistics for the world to see. Huzzah!

Damn, my right arm hurts. I wonder if I'm not giving myself carpal tunnel syndrome from these 10-hour computer workdays. Oh well. Next up on the redesign drawing table: Garrison Multimedia!

Old News

I know you've heard it already, but in case you're living under a rock or something: PFC Lynndie England -- a US soldier who was photographed mocked Iraqi prisoners -- has said she was just following orders. Prosecutors, however, insist she was doing it all "just for fun."
On the first day of a hearing to determine whether England should be court-martialed for her actions at the prison, witnesses testified that the naked detainees shown with her in human pyramids and tethered to a leash were common criminals of little or no value to interrogators, abused only for sport.
Yeah, even though this same sort of thing has happened in US operations for decades (usually performed by proxies in places like Indonesia or Haiti), this was just an isolated instance where a stressed-out soldier was blowing off some steam.

And in the "it's-scary-because-maybe-he-meant-it" department: George W. Bush returned his foot to its natural inter-orificial position yesterday when he declared: ""Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we." The article goes on to note: "No one in Bush's audience of military brass or Pentagon chiefs reacted."

'Nuff said.

Meanwhile, At KerryEd's Last Resort™ HQ...

Meanwhile, at the nation's top warehouse of "whatever-I-guess-we-have-no-choice"ism, Kerry himself actually scored a point with me on the issue of Iraq. I recently linked to a Boston Globe op/ed which asked what Kerry will do differently if/when he reaches the presidency. Well, on Tuesday he actually made some specific comments to this end. From the Los Angeles Times:
Within a first term as president, Sen. John F. Kerry thinks he could attract enough international help in Iraq to make it a "reasonable" goal to replace most U.S. troops stationed there with foreign forces, he told The Times in an interview. . . . Kerry flatly asserted that he was more qualified to conduct international diplomacy than Bush. He argued that the president was so committed "to rushing to the job of going to war" that Bush failed to sufficiently question the intelligence he received on Iraq before the U.S.-led invasion.
Of course, Kerry didn't sufficiently question the intelligence on Iraq either, so that last one's a bit of a hollow point. At the same time, I do fault the democrats less (a tiny bit less) for what happened, because they were guilty of pathetic butt-sniffing acquiescence, which is a lesser crime in my book than oilthirsty warmongering. So while he's not off the hook, I do credit Kerry for at least admitting that he made a mistake.

What? He's never admitted it? Well, you get the feeling that he wants to. Maybe I'm the only one who gets that feeling. Maybe it's just that I want him to. Oh, what the hell. We don't have a choice™. Resign yourself!


Quickly now -- I got stuff to do. Look at all the funky ants!

Here, Afhgans -- have some styrofoam houses.

Using sound waves to freeze things? What a cool idea! [rimshot]

Mexican unions recently blocked the streets of Mexico City. Go get 'em, compañeros. You're fighting for all of us.

What could be better than CIA brainstorming? How about CIA brainstorming brought to you by Jerry Bruckheimer?

Ice cream vendor opens fire.
According to police, an 18-year-old woman approached Miller's ice cream truck and the conversation degenerated into a heated argument. Miller is suspected of taking out a pistol and firing two shots at the feet of the woman. She was struck on the collarbone-area by either a bullet fragment or debris from the shots, police said.
Life imitates that scene in Friday where Big Worm drives up in the ice cream truck.

There's some cool stuff in Yahoo's bin of online music mixers, although -- alas -- Looptracks appears to be down.

Boogers are blessings! No they're not; they're a bodily waste byproduct. Thanks for the link, Mimi.

Check out the random pictures blog.


HomeRun: Guide the drunk fellow toward his home without falling over. Remember kids: drinking is bad. It makes you fall over and appear in silly video games.

Today I'm listening to: Groove Salad!

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Oh boy... 

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Blog Redesign #34,291: Complete 

Yesterday I was roaming around MoFi and I came upon the breathtaking CSS Zen Garden. After studying the various templates, I decided I had avoided the dreaded <div> tag long enough. I set out determined to understand those damn things if they killed me.

Fortunately, I found MaxDesign's excellent Floatutorial, which does an excellent job of providing step-by-step help for layout in CSS. (The Zen Garden leads to this tutorial, which was a little over my head.) Also of great assistance was Marek Prokop's page on styling <hr>, which is also available in Italian.

So whattya think? Pretty kickin', if I do say so myself. I'm especially proud of the little faux borders on the sidebars (nesting layered <div>s -- oo fancy). And make sure you peep the bonus graphic at the bottom. Yeah, what!
UPDATE (4:00 PM):

I had to take out the faux borders, since IE doesn't like 'em. I just spent two hours tweaking everything so it works on Mozilla and IE and Safari. So if the new layout doesn't work for you, please let me know, and then get a new browser. Also, IE apparently doesn't like my Google search machine on the right there. So all you throngs of IE users who have sent me email demanding the ability to search my blog -- just click the "search" button and you'll go to a page that'll hook you up.

And Safari seems to have some kind of weird problem with wrapping text around images. Anyone know what that's about? Anyone else having problems with it?

UPDATE (7:00 PM):

Screw it. I've taken the search engine off completely; it's causing too much trouble. (I'm probably the only one who uses it anyway.)

HalliBush Wars, Inc.

You know all that new, specific information we've been hearing about, relating to possible al Qaeda attacks in the US? Well, it turns out it's not really new at all.
Most of the al Qaeda surveillance of five financial institutions that led to a new terrorism alert Sunday was conducted before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and authorities are not sure whether the casing of the buildings has continued, numerous intelligence and law enforcement officials said yesterday.
Whoops! Well, you should still be very, very afraid.

I don't want to seem insensitive here; but I'm really frustrated by how wantonly officials from the government keep sounding the alarm of a possible terrorist attack (a real problem, which we shouldn't shy from) when it's not necessary. It's like a kid in third grade who pulls the fire alarm -- it's a form of crying wolf. What's going to happen when there is new, real data about such a possibility? Will we take it seriously, after being hoodwinked so many times?

Meanwhile, some American Muslim groups are criticizing the 9/11 Commission's report, since they weren't asked for any input.
"Why would they fail to consult a key group who could help them understand what's going on in the Muslim world?" said Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations.
Good question.


A drug sniffing dog has died of an overdose.
Todd, a 7-year-old Springer spaniel, had been looking for drugs in a field and car in Preston, northern England, when his handler noticed he was looking unwell. He was taken to a vet and then rushed to an animal intensive care unit at Liverpool University, displaying symptoms of ingesting amphetamines, a Lancashire police spokeswoman said.

He died shortly afterwards.
TPCQ: "I wanna be a drug sniffing dog / so I can snort coke all day long!"


MoFi linked to The Incredibly Evil Machine, but I think I prefer The Friendly Cheese Song. Happing Smashy is also pretty cool.

Today I'm listening to: John Coltrane!

Monday, August 02, 2004

If I Were Smart... 

If I were smart, I would work on the novel first, and then blog. But I'm not. So I won't.

Fact of business, I haven't worked on the novel at all for the last week. I've got a decent outline for the current chapter, but I just can't push myself to get crackin'. Too busy playing games and browsing websites.

New Blogs

I keep finding interesting people writing interesting stuff by searching through the interests on my Blogger profile. To wit:
  • Sam Johnson lists Public Enemy as a favorite music group. And he's a good writer. And he lists Rocky & Bullwinkle as "one of the funniest shows that ever hit television."

  • Mr. Damon lists PE as a favorite band, as well as Coltrane, Tranquility Bass, and Aphex.

  • Estelle lists Persepolis as a favorite book -- and hers is the first blog I'm including in a different language. Vive Charles de Gaulle!
And -- thanks to MonkeyFilter -- I've also added:
  • DannyBlog: The world's first blog written by a robot!
And speaking of cool blogs, I'm way jealous of the smooth animation at the top of this blog, which you should also look at because it has David Letterman's Top 10 Complaints from George W. Bush about Fahrenheit 9/11. ("Too many of them fancy college-boy words.")

HalliBush Wars, Inc.

If I were smart, I would just ignore Bush's press conferences. It's not like the reporters ever ask anything worth asking! I mean, he goes out and issues a statement about making the new National Intelligence Director and Counter-Terrorism Center. Then look at these softball questions he gets asked!
Q: In a situation like this -- in a situation like this, where you have this new terror alert, how do you react without tipping off the terrorists and having them move to different targets, and how do you avoid turning the country into a fortress?

Q: Mr. President, the 9/11 Commission originally recommended that the National Intelligence Director be part of the executive office, part of the executive branch. Why the change?

Q: Mr. President, would you say -- can you say what you regard as the model for this National Intelligence Director? Is it the Fed, would it be the Joint Chiefs of Staff?
Yeesh! Why not just ask him if he likes fuzzy puppies? I'm glad someone had the spine to ask about Afghanistan, but there really should have been a followup to his rose-colored response. Sigh, whatever.

Meantime, What About Iraq, Mr. Kerry? Thank you, Boston Globe, for asking what no one else seems to be asking. (And thanks to the IHT for reprinting it, since I can't seem to locate the original.)
Voters understand the basic Kerry/Vietnam plot: Privileged, idealistic Yale graduate volunteers for war, serves bravely, and returns to oppose the conflict. Here's what they don't know: What lessons did Kerry take from Vietnam? How do they apply in connection to his vote authorizing Bush to invade Iraq? How do those lessons apply to resolving America's Iraq involvement?

"What I voted for was an authority for the president to go to war as a last resort if Saddam Hussein did not disarm and we needed to go to war," Kerry told CBS reporter Lesley Stahl during a "60 Minutes" interview on July 11. When Stahl followed up to ask if Kerry now thinks the Iraq war was a mistake, Kerry replied, "I think I answered your question. I think the way he went to war was a mistake."

Kerry did not answer Stahl's question. He may win the election without ever answering it. At this point it is more important to spell out his post-election Iraq policy. That is what the country cares about.
It's hard to argue with the (admittedly weak) Republican charge of "flip flopping" when Kerry refuses to make plain what (if anything) he'll do differently in office.

Meanwhile, check out Amy Goodman's grilling of Ted Koppel at the DNC.
Goodman:A study of the two weeks around Colin Powell giving his address at the U.N. for war looked at the four major nightly news casts ABC, CBS, and NBC and the PBS News Hour with Jim Lehrer. Of the 393 interviews done around war, only three were with anti-war representatives. Now this was at a time when about half of the population was opposed to the invasion wanting more inspections and diplomacy. So that did not reflect mainstream America at all.

Koppel: No, but I, you know, where is it written that it is a journalist's responsibility to go check the polls every day and see what mainstream America wants them to do?
Yeah, really. That half of the American people can go [expletive] themselves.


Huzzah! Diane rocks the AlterNet! Today her article was third on the page. Woop woop!

Check out all these rare and unreleased Public Enemy mp3s. And speaking of hip-hop, don't believe the hype about the recent arrest of Kimora Lee Simmons (Russell's wife).

Shocking! (Since it's decidedly at odds with all the constant talk about our rebounding economy and the simple need for "transition" and "training"): 57% who lost full-time jobs 2001-2003 and found full-time work again are earning less. Hard to believe!

If I were smart, I would ask PETA to send me back all the money I sent them in high school. Jerkwads.

If I were smart, I wouldn't admit that I had to look up whether it's "If I was..." or "If I were..."

If Roger Clemens were smart, he'd keep his mouth shut at his kid's baseball games. You're outta here, Clemens! You don't know nothin' about no baseball anyway!

Caution: Driving the speed limit in Germany can catch you a beating.

And that's all I have to say just now.


Check out the DannyBot video. The part where the robot sings is the best.

Today I'm listening to: Polygon Window!