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Friday, December 31, 2004

Blah Blah Blah 

Blah blah blah lovely vacation blah blah saw the family blah. Blah blah Jacksonville to Detroit no problem. Blah blah blah Madison flight delayed blah blah fianlly take off blah blah about to land blah blah blah plane jerks up at the last second blah blah couldn't see the runway. Blah blah blah redirected to Chicago blah blah arranged aa hotel room blah blah blah waiting around the airport blah blah waiting around the hotel lobby blah blah.

Blah blah get checked in blah blah tail end of an episode of AquaTeen blah blah. Blah blah blah 45 minutes of sleep blah blah waiting around airport blah blah blah flight attendant was late blah blah waiting some more blah blah incredibly turbulent ride blah blah blah finally got to Madison blah blah. Blah blah ornery cab driver blah blah hydroplaning on slick Wisconsin road blah blah made it home and fell asleep.

Blah blah will post pix when I've gotten some rest blah blah blah.

Meantime, my brother Mark and his lady Erika are having fun of their own crossing the nation.

Pic swiped from this site.


Where can you see Santa? Only in Lapland!

Today I'm listening to: Fully Automatic!

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Holiday in FLA 

Well, I made it -- with minimal travel stress, in fact. (Can't say the same for Diane, who spent Christmas eve in a hotel room in Chicago.) The warm December here in the Sunshine State reminds me of the bitter winds up north, thankful that I get to heat up for a few days before heading back. Of course, I miss D and Madtown already, but it's good to see my HS friends too. (Haven't seen Meg and family yet, but that will happen soon.)

My brother hooked me up with David Cross, which I've been meaning to check out for some time -- it's pretty decent, classic Cross style (not every word hilarious, but his style is very listen-to-able). Thanks also to Jesse for connecting me with Euphrates, an Iraqi hip-hop group. I was expecting a mediocre flow and interesting musicality -- instead, I was blown away by their excellent lyrical style and powerful drumbeats. It's everything I didn't get from KRS One's latest, Kristyles (yechh).

Made my first round of the Gainesville shops today; found a book of Bankei at the local used bookstore, as well as Vol. 1 of Hothead Paisan. (Would have rather found the Complete works, but hey -- what're you gonna do?) Also snagged a Simpsons comics omnibus (the 100th issue was a biggie) and a big Squee comic, whose first page is -- Return of Filler Bunny! Woot! Good times. ("Mee krob?")

Haven't hit the music shops yet. Perhaps tomorrow I'll report back on what I find there. Meantime, I'm having a jolly good time reading Everyone In Silico by former AdBusters editor Jim Munroe. Cultural SF where people voluntarily join the Matrix, from the resistance's point of view. Nice stereotype-twisting. (One main character is an elderly grandmother who is searching for her "missing" grandson who has absconded "voluntarily" into the world of Gamerz -- turns out she's a buttkicking former special ops warrior.)

So yeah. My teeth are nearly not in pain. I've been sleeping 'til 11:00 AM. I've got lots of time to read. Life is good, even as I miss D. Happy holidays, everyone! (TPCQ: "Thanks for supporting Rock for Kids.")


Guinea pigs are cute. God bless you, ABS!

Today I'm listening to: Euphrates!

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Donald Rumsfeld: A King Among Men 

As many of you know, I've been an active supporter of the Bush administration for many years, but I want to take a moment to comment on one cabinet member in particular who has taken a lot of heat lately.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has come under fire recently for what some perceive to be a "bloody quagmire in Iraq which sucks the souls of US soldiers and Iraqis -- both terrorist insurgents and innocent civilians -- into a vortex of imperialist bloodletting, nihilism, revenge, chaos, and deathmongering". But it's important to remember -- as President Bush recently reminded us -- that Mr. Rumsfeld is indeed a caring fellow. I, too, know his heart, and I want to use the opportunity of today's post to educate people about the truth behind Mr. Rumsfeld's rough and gruff exterior.

Donald Quentin Rumsfeld was born on July 9, 1932, the son of migrant South American farmworkers. Growing up in the depression-era dustbowl fields of California, young Donny (as he was called by young chums) spent his days dancing for pennies in the town square of Los Muertes. He watched his parents toil endlessly in the lettuce fields, and dedicated himself at a young age to eradicating the injustices which his proud family was forced to endure.

After financing his way through Princeton University by working three jobs (taxi driver, machinist, and custodian at the local YMCA) while also keeping up a full course load, Mr. Rumsfeld joined the US Navy as an aviator. (During this time he saved his best friend's life by killing a wild boar with his bare hands.) His position as military officer was not free from moral complexity, however; it was in his early Navy days that Donald began to study the works of Hannah Arendt, Dorothy Day, and A. J. Muste. His intellectual diversions created a significant moralistic rift in his consciousness, but young Donald eventually decided that he could do the most good for humanity by working within the system, rather than from the outside. "I knew I had to be near the levers of power," he said to a Navy buddy in 1958, "despite their demonic potential to corrupt my conscience."

Rumsfeld was elected to the US House of Representatives in 1962, and became one of Congress's loudest voices against US aggression in Viet Nam. In 1969 he tried to support Seymour Hersh's efforts to expose a massive coverup of the My Lai massacre, and eventually resigned from the House in disgust to protest official stonewalling. (On the floor of the House, he called the US military's actions "a national disgrace" and offered "personal apologies for the war crimes of my fellow Americans.")

Of course, Mr. Rumsfeld landed, as always, on his feet. Nixon appointed him Director of the Office of Economic Opportunity, where he worked tirelessly to promote the equal rights of working Americans, especially in communities of color. Hoping to revive the "Poor People's Campaign" instigated by Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Rumsfeld advocated for many government programs and community-based action plans that would radically transform the economic disparities of the American landscape. "A nation which ignores its economic cancers," he told a crowd of supporters in 1971, "is a nation which will someday suffer the wrath of its poorest citizens." Unfortunately, these efforts were stymied by business-as-usual politicians and bureaucrats seeking to maintain the status quo.

After a brief stint as US abmassador to NATO, Rumsfeld served as White House Chief of Staff to Gerald Ford, who eventually appointed him Secretary of Defense. At this time, Rumsfeld was profoundly influenced by the work of Cesar Chavez and Angela Davis. (Rumsfeld was said to keep several copies of Davis's Autobiography around his house, extensively bookmarked and highlighted.) Rumsfeld was also deeply moved by the Native American protest occupation of Alcatraz in 1969. While he disagreed with their use of weapons, Rumsfeld maintained a strong perspective of solidarity with their cause of freedom and justice.

Rumsfeld worked with a variety of grassroots organizations during his years in the Ford Administration, including the United Farm Workers the National Organization for Women and the Mattachine Society. In addition, Rumsfeld insisted on volunteering three nights a week at a local homeless shelter. (In an interview from 1975, he said: "Our confrontations of evil must take place on the small scale as well as the large. It is not enough -- not nearly enough -- to work against the unjust machinations of larger society; we must also break down the structures of inequality right in our own backyards.")

In the late '70s and throughout the 1980s, Rumsfeld dedicated himself to full-time service work. Paying himself a tiny stipend from his savings (left over from the vast sums he had donated to groups like the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense and the then-newborn International Socialist Organization), Rumsfeld worked with Ingrid Newkirk and Alex Pacheco to found People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals in 1980. A lifelong lover of animals, Rumsfeld was shocked by a 1978 tour of a slaughterhouse in west Texas. "I was sick," he told a reporter after the tour. "I decided on that day that I would never again cause an animal to suffer for my appetites." He began to study the issue in his typical academic fashion, and decided that public awareness campaigns -- together with occasional nonviolent direct action -- were the best way to stop the rampant abuse of animals he saw in American society. Mr. Rumsfeld remains a strict vegan to this day.

In the 1980s, President Reagan invited him to serve as his special envoy to the Middle East, a position Rumsfeld was unsure about. While he disapproved of Reagan's uncritical support of Israel -- especially in light of that nation's unwillingness to withdraw to pre-1967 borders, which Rumsfeld considered to be an indisputable requirement -- he decided that, again, he could best serve the interests of human rights and democracy by operating in the halls of power. As for the ill-fated photo of Rumsfeld shaking hands with Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, he told a reporter in 1994: "It was a trick. I was told I would be meeting with Palestinian activist and intellectual Edward Said. You think I would have shaken hands with that psycho if I'd been thinking clearly? If I had any moral courage, I would have enacted seppuku years ago." Still, Rumsfeld continued to push for human rights and obedience to international law throughout the Middle East, even as his efforts were blocked by US officials back home.

This same "insider as agitator" thinking led him to join the Project for the New American Century in 1995, where he advocated -- as best he could -- for the abolition of the WTO ("Their insidious Structural Adjustment Programs enslave the people of third world while lining the pockets of wealthy corporations," he said at a conference in 1997) and a new multilateralist US foreign policy based on strict adherence to international law and cooperation at the United Nations. Naturally, his views were viewed with skepticism and even scorn by the more traditional sectors of the Project, but he refused to abandon his belief in the need for the US to promote true justice and peace.

In 2000, of course, Rumsfeld was chosen as President George W. Bush's defense secretary, a position he accepted with trademark unease. His period of indecision was unusually long -- and public. "Sometimes I feel as though my life in government service has been misguided," he told a family friend in February 2000. "I wonder if my focus on policy doesn't detract from the social and cultural realities which play every bit as significant a role in the lives of my fellow humans." Ultimately, of course, he decided to accept the position, and has worked nonstop ever since to guarantee that US soldiers receive the very best equipment, training, salary, benefits, and medical care.

Sadly, the most recent brouhaha surrounding Mr. Rumsfeld -- regarding his comment to a soldier that "you go to war with the army you have not the army you might want" -- is a classic case of miscommunication. In 1996, Rumsfeld had worked with F. J. Corbato, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, to develop a proposal for state of the art AI-equipped military transport that could not only detect incoming enemy fire, but neutralize any threatening ordnance, locate its source, and immobilize the system which had fired it. In his presentation before the American Academy of Military Science, Rumsfeld said:
The weapons systems of today aren't good enough. It should not be satisfactory to any concerned observer that our young soldiers must make do with insufficient armor while their well-paid superiors travel in impenetrable fortresses. If we expect these brave men and women to protect our national interests (a questionable term to which we may return later), then the least we owe them is the guarantee of secure transport.
That his research nearly ten years prior had specifically focused on armored transport proves that Mr. Rumsfeld was simply being careless with his recent comment to the Iraq-bound soldier.

Thus we see that Donald Rumsfeld's heart is indeed good; and that President Bush was giving something of an understatement when he spoke of Rumsfeld's anguish on his regular visits to Walter Reed. Bush decided -- at Rumsfeld's request -- not to comment on his defense secretary's insistence on funding daycare activities for the children of overseas soldiers; and his personal attendance at every funeral for a fallen soldier since the war began. This last point is one which has elicited an unusual cynical note from the normally graceful Rumsfeld: "It was the signatures that got me," he told Larry King earlier this week.
I knew it would; it was so stupid of me to use that stamp. I figured that since I made it a point to attend every funeral for fallen soldiers myself, the formality of the letter wouldn't matter so much. You know, I always play taps myself. Anyway, I didn't think that the technical aspects of the letter -- using a stamp instead of signing them myself -- would be a big deal, especially with the college scholarship I offer each fallen soldier's child. But I guess . . . you know, some people -- they're hung up on symbols.
Well, I forgive you, Mr. Rumsfeld -- and I wish you the very best in the years to come. God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.


The Music of Pi is very cool, but I wish they'd worked rhythm into the program a little, too.

Today I'm listening to: BassDrive!

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Discontent and Its Discontents 

Yesterday I had my wisdom teeth removed; no huge pain yet; they say the swelling starts 36-78 hours after surgery, so perhaps tonight I will be visited by the evil Spectre of Anguish. My mouth does feel weird without the supporting cast, but I suppose I'll get used to it.

Pic swiped from Gryphon Dreams.

The DLC and Its Discontents

Let's start with the illustrious Democratic Leadership Council, that gang of "centrists" who insist that the democratic party has to abandon all of its progressive beliefs if it is to gain political power. Democracy Now! recently hosted an interesting discussion with Al Gore's 2000 campaign manager, Donna Brazile, and Columbia University professor Manning Marable.
Marable: I think that the media's done a disservice . . . by making the case that the right wing somehow has a magical mandate in 2004. It just isn't so. If you had a switch of 150,000 votes in Ohio, you would have President Kerry right now.
Thank you. I seem to recall making a similar point in this space not long ago.
Brazile: [O]ften when democrats lose, I saw this in 2000 and 2002 and some other years, [people in the DLC] constantly blame it on the -- you know, the party focused too much time on the base. That's ludicrous. Look at the money. I have run a presidential campaign, so I can speak from experience. 85% of the resources in a presidential campaign is spent on persuadables, on swing voters which is -- they're important, don't get me wrong, but I often believe we need a parallel strategy. We also have to mobilize in a large debate, and although we spent considerable resources, you know, based on what I have heard and learned from the 527's on base mobilization, we didn't spend enough money to really do the job that had to be done in order to defeat and offset what Karl Rove was doing in the ex-urbs and other parts of the country.
And be sure to check out The Nation's David J. Sirota on AlterNet.
From's group is funded by huge contributions from multinationals like Philip Morris, Texaco, Enron and Merck, which have all, at one point or another, slathered the DLC with cash. Those resources have been used to push a nakedly corporate agenda under the guise of "centrism" while allowing the DLC to parrot GOP criticism of populist Democrats as far-left extremists.
So .. as usual -- power to the people, no doubt. (Hey, speaking of which -- we saw Capital D in concert last weekend. He's the best political rap artist since Boots, hands down. He's what dead prez was supposed to be. Go buy his album Insomnia right now.)

HalliBush Wars, Inc.

Aljazeera posted an interesting commentary recently from Mohammed al-Obaidi of the standard-third-world-movement-who-knows-what-they-stand-for-sounding People's Struggle Movement (Al-Kifah al-Shabi) entitled "Why Iraqis Should Boycott Elections". While I'm not sure about his claim that the elections are a violation of international law, it's hard to argue with his main point:
The coming election will give power to every politician who has assisted the invaders and collaborated with them to consolidate the occupation. Therefore, we believe that even after the election, the decision-making process will be taken in the US embassy in Baghdad and the elected government will be no more than a vehicle to carry out Washington's decisions.
And speaking of Iraq, Scott Ritter's latest is worth a look.
For months now, the Bush administration had been building up the image of a massive network of foreign terrorists using Falluja. . . . One name appeared in western media accounts, over and over again: Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a wanted Jordanian turned alleged "terror" mastermind. . . .

The problem is, there is simply no substance to this legend, as US marines are now finding out. Rather than extremist foreign fighters battling to the death, the marines are mostly finding local men from Falluja who are fighting to defend their city from what they view as an illegitimate occupier. The motivations of these fighters may well be anti-American, but they are Iraqi, not foreign, in origin.
He goes on to cite contacts of his who insist that the chaos and anarchy has been proagated by the Mukhabarat, Iraq's intelligence forces under Saddam Hussein. This rather strikes me as a wish for oversimplified reality -- swapping Mukhabarat for al-Zarqawi -- but it's an interesting perspective in any case.

Speaking of which, Cuba recently fired back after the US diplomatic mission in that country erected a Christmas display supporting jailed Cuban dissidents. Cuba's response was a billboard featuring pictures of torture in Abu Grhaib, and a swastika. While we can all agree that the Nazi link is just silly, the interesting thing is that at least one US diplomat likes the billboard.
Wayne Smith, who headed the U.S. mission here during the Carter and Reagan administrations and has long advocated restoring normal diplomatic relations with Cuba, said he thought the images of prisoner abuse in Iraq were an appropriate response.

"If I were in their shoes, this is what I would do -- call attention to the fact that the United States is now guilty of torture, of massive violations of human rights," Smith said.
But what would a "War Against Terrorism" be without a little homeland repression? As I'm sure you've heard, nearly half of Americans approve of restricting the rights of Muslim Americans.
The survey conducted by Cornell University also found that Republicans and people who described themselves as highly religious were more apt to support curtailing Muslims' civil liberties than Democrats or people who are less religious.
As ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero pointed out last night on NOW with Bill Moyers (Moyers' last show, sniffle), Americans believe strongly in protecting their civil rights -- but we seem pretty keen on allowing the civil rights of other groups of "lesser" Americans to be taken away, so long as it makes us feel safer. (Of course, the ACLU is currently embroiled in its own privacy brouhaha.)


Yet another reason why free speech is a gift which must not be taken for granted: Gambian editor shot three times in the head.

Thank the gods for Get Your War On! I think this one is my most recent fave. Wu-Tang, baby!

Another step closer to artificial life. Where's Manuel de Landa's response, already? Oh, it's in that book I lent Jon and never got back.

And from FOXNews: Washington parents are furious over a new law that "makes it illegal to protect their children."
The state supreme court last week overturned the robbery conviction of a 17-year-old because it was based partly on testimony from an eavesdropping parent. The ruling reinforced Washington's strict privacy act, which says that consent from both parties is required to listen in on telephone conversations — even if you suspect your child is involved in a crime or is in danger.

"That is just the most ridiculous, outrageous thing I've ever heard," says Kim Loewen, a Washington parent.
Yeah! If I want to spy on my kids as a way of avoiding the time-consuming task of actually talking to them in a logical fashion, that's my right as a parent!

Hey, thanks to Kilgore for the cookies! What a nice guy.

Whatever you do, don't miss Tyson, the skateboarding bulldog.

Candy Bar Watch

And with the standard foreword about how we shouldn't buy chocolate from companies like Hershey's and M&M/Mars for a host of reasons, we present the latest installment in our series on candy bar news.

Hershey's' latest, Take5, is a "unique taste experience by combining five favorite ingredients [pretzels, caramel, peanuts, peanut butter, milk chocolate] in one candy bar". I thought it would be silly and gross, but it actually works in the same way that trail mix with M&M's in it works -- the sweet and the salty complement each other nicely, and the chocolate provides a satisfying layer of aftertaste. I can see myself buying this one again.


Vectorpark has some interesting stuff. I don't know if there's a way to win at Levers -- but if there is, I'm not doing very well. (I can't get past the birdhouse.) The doo-dads in Thomas are cute, if pointless.

Today I'm listening to: DI Chillout!

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Truth and Hype About Food Stamps 

Many of us are concerned about fraud and abuse of government programs. But because there's often confusion about which programs cost us the most (and because our individual experiences have the potential to lead us to assume that small problems are really widespread epidemics), I thought I'd offer some info I've found about why food stamps are a good thing, how big the problem of fraud is, and some other (more significant) sources of governmental waste.

The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities reports that food stamps "are issued very accurately," and that while it's much harder to determine when and how food stamps are exchanged for cash or trafficked, such activity is low and on the decline.
A recent USDA study of the results of compliance investigations found that the extent of food stamp trafficking appears to be relatively small and to be declining from the levels present in the early 1990s. This reduction in trafficking may result from the Program's expanding use of Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) technology, which provides food assistance benefits through an electronic card (similar to an ATM card) instead of paper coupons. Over 40 states now issue food stamp benefits through EBT; every state is required to do so by October 2002.
As for nutrition and food stamps, I was surprised to see that "USDA studies have found that low-income consumers obtain more nutrients per dollar spent on food than any other segment of the population." But is this enough? Shouldn't we restrict food stamp purchases to only nutritious foods?
Limiting food stamp benefits to the purchase of "nutritious" foods would entail establishing a controversial and cumbersome regulatory process to determine which foods qualify and which do not. Such a process would inevitably be accompanied by intensive lobbying by various food companies and segments of the food industry seeking inclusion of their products on the approved list. The likely result would be a list of acceptable foods heavily affected by political influence. In addition, every time that a new food product came onto the market, it would have to be evaluated and added to either the "approved" or the "not approved" list, with those determinations potentially subject to dispute by the food's manufacturer. Retailers would have to mark all their shelves to let recipients know what they could and could not buy. Finally —- and of particular importance —- such a restriction would require check-out clerks to sort recipients' food purchases at the check-out stand, which would likely cause longer waits in check-out lines and require many food stores to add more check-out lanes and clerks. (EBT systems would provide no help with this task since those systems, like credit cards, only record the amount of each purchase, not what items were bought.) For this reason, the Food Marketing Institute, which represents grocers across the country, has strenuously opposed similar proposals in the past.
As Anitra Freeman notes, meanwhile, a recent study in Massachusetts found that 93% of welfare fraud was being committed by vendors, not recipients.

And how much does corporate welfare cost us? And what about corporate crime?


Channukkah may be over, but you can still play with the virtual dreidel. Thanks, comment on Jesse's blog!

Today I'm listening to: Cafe Del Mar!

Friday, December 10, 2004

Here's Your Freakin' Blog Post 

I don't understand this t-shirt, but I hope other people will (and maybe they can explain it to me). It comes from this site, which has some other confusing shirts (""??) that would probably make more sense if I were a hardcore tech nerd.

Anyway, people keep giving me a hard time about the fact that I haven't blogged in a while, so here -- I'm making it a priority today. I hope you're happy!

HalliBush Wars, Inc.

I know this is old news by now, but I still fiind it endlessly amusing:
  1. You want better armor?
  2. It's necessary for us to hear this.
  3. We're working on it.
The squeaky wheel gets the freakin' grease, yo. (Or maybe it just gets the greasy platitudes from those in charge.) Good for you, underprepared soldiers. That's the way to handle an open mic.


And speaking of go get 'em!
Hundreds of protesters have besieged two oil platforms run by Royal Dutch/Shell Group Cos. and ChevronTexaco Corp. (CVX) in Nigeria's southern oil region, shutting down production of 90,000 barrels of oil a day, company officials said Monday. . . .

Oil operations in the restive Niger Delta are frequently disrupted by violence by aggrieved, impoverished communities that feel cheated out of the oil wealth pumped from their land. Nearly all of Nigeria's oil exports come from the delta.
Welcome to The Fourth World War.

From the Purity of Arms file: Israeli troops shoot Palestinian boy for fun.
According to the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronoth, the incident took place in March when a group of newly graduated soldiers were on a hike near the town of Khan Yunus.

The boy's father, Sulaiman Mahdi, told the paper the killing was "just for the sake of it". "Seven bullets pierced my son's head, so you can't talk here about a mistake or random gunfire. This was an act of direct and clear sharp shooting," he said. "The area is wide open and contains nothing special. The only thing unusual was the shooting at us, which killed my son."
But here's the amazing part:
Sulaiman Mahdi, who leads a simple farmer's life, said he did not plan to sue the Israeli army for his son's murder. "I only hope the Israeli army takes care such a thing doesn't occur again. There are lots of children here who work with their parents and I hope Khalid will be the last casualty."
Many Israelis and their supporters make it clear that revenge rocket attacks and random home destruction are justified retaliation -- and this man isn't even suing after they murdered his son. How sweet the sound...

I wonder if I could ever be that merciful. Could any of us supposedly sophisticated, genteel Americans muster that sort of stunning forgiveness? (Or maybe he's just scared of retribution.)

Ever wondered what Hello Kitty's skeleton looks like? How about Buttercup? Or Charlie Brown? Check out the whole collection.

And from the No, I'm Not Making It Up file: What's so bad about steroids?
News anchors get face lifts and actors take Botox (search) so more people watch them. What's different about athletes? . . .

But even if baseball players ended up crippled after their playing days as football players do, why isn't it their choice? What's next? Will government regulators protect white-collar workers from risking heart attacks when they pull all-nighters trying to meet deadlines?
Dude, I'm not even going to try responding to that one.

Now if you'll excuse me, I've got some very important work to get to.


Check out the trailer for The Fourth World War. You really need to see the whole movie. (The shots of the Korean protests are absolutely breathtaking.)

Today I'm listening to: Run-DMC!

Tuesday, December 07, 2004


Check out this article on Uganda's civil war.
It is difficult to understand how a war targeting children has been allowed to go on for more than 18 years.

But that is what's been happening in Northern Uganda - where 25,000 boys and girls have been taken hostage during a violent and bloody civil war.
The Lords Resistance Army has for years kidnapped children and forced them to commit unconscionable atrocities. From SkyNews:
Alex Tien was just 11-years-old when he was abducted. He spent 11 years in the bush and became a rebel commander. . . . [H]is initiation involved being forced to hack a man to death and drink his blood -- a rebel tactic to brainwash, brutalise and dehumanise those they capture.
The young man at right is John Ocala, who was captured and detained by the LRA.
He was tortured by rebels who suspected him of being a government soldier. They used an axe and a knife to chop off his fingers, his nose, his lip and his ears.
Kind of makes you wonder how anyone can give a rat's ass about the Grammy nominations, doesn't it?


The ZoomQuilt is really magnificent. via ABS.

Today I'm listening to: Muslimgauze!

Monday, December 06, 2004

Everything's Coming Up Roses 

Hey, guess what? Turns out things in Iraq aren't so bad after all! According to Helle Dale, the deputy director of the Davis Institute for International Studies at The Heritage Foundation, the problem isn't Iraq -- it's the media.
Admittedly, the security situation is dire, but look at these figures. In October, the number of Iraqis killed was 775 from acts of war and murder; American troops suffered 63 casualties and 691 wounded. This is too many, but at a time of a major military offensive against insurgents, those numbers are not gigantic.
And as we all know, you can't trust numbers anyway. "Those who have the opportunity to hear the accounts of Americans serving in Iraq often come away with a completely different impression," Dale notes. But isn't this just anecdotal evidence? Well, she quotes Thomas Friedman to dispell that simplistic attitude:
“I will be guided by the U.S. Army and Marine grunts on the ground. They see Iraq close up. Most of those you talk to are so uncynical -- so convinced that we are doing good and doing right, even though they are unsure it will work.”
So in other words: Thomas Friedman has heard from some optimistic soldiers, which shows that his optimism is based on .. more than just .. anecdotal evidence. Or something. Well, the important thing is that the soldiers' hearts are in the right place. Or something.

Either way, things aren't as bad as they look. Why, Don Rumsfeld even predicts we'll be out of there in four years! Just in time for another election. Quelle coincidence!
Asked by reporters traveling with him whether United States forces would be out of Iraq by the end of his term, Mr. Rumsfeld paused to ask whether that meant a second four-term term. When told yes, he then said, "I would certainly expect that to be the case and hope that to be the case."
What could be clearer? Only Tommy Thompson's recent comments about terror attacks on our food, which -- it turns out -- were wrong, sorta. Or something. Bush recently provided some clarity.
"We're a large country, with all kinds of avenues where somebody could inflict harm," said Bush, asked about the issue after an Oval Office meeting with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf. "We've made a lot of progress in protecting our country, and there's more work to be done, and this administration is committed to doing it."
So, you know -- don't worry. Much.

Fortunately, the Democrats are recognizing that their pathetic toadying to Bush's asinine rhetoric and warmongering cannot continue. Tom Tomorrow posted this item recently, which you should check out.
We've got to repudiate, you know, the most strident and insulting anti-American voices out there sometimes on our party's left... We can't have our party identified by Michael Moore and Hollywood as our cultural values.

—Al From,
CEO, Democratic Leadership Council
Spine? Who needs a spine? Just because Kerry very recently got stomped thanks to his wishy-washiness and unwillingness to oppose the freaking war from the start -- and Daschle got kicked in the pants after being a sellout bozo for months and months -- and so many Dems got trounced thanks in part to their failure to provide a viable alternative, especially with regard to economic and military policy -- got that, DLC jerkfaces? What the Dems need to be is an ALTERNATIVE to the Bushites, not clones of them! Growl cough spit.

Pic from Iraq Uncensored. Go look at it.

Less Stressful Items

Welcome, Jesse's blog! Now if only the text were a little bigger and you had some RSS action for us. (I recently started using Bloglines, a web-based RSS reader. Pretty handy!)

Cheers to Iron Monkey for his modernized proverbs.
Proverb: Don't count your chickens before they're hatched.
Problem: People don't count unhatched chickens any more, or watch them hatch. Modern bioengineered chickens are grown in vats.
New Proverb: Don't count your share of the Nigerian exile's fortune before it's wired into your account.
Best cardboard sign asking for money EVER!

Attention teacher friends: Do not use doorstops unless you wish to spend time in jail.

Would you believe I'm back into the MUDs? I'll bet I'm the first person ever to go from GTA:SA to an online text adventure. Yeek!


This is a pretty cool skateboard jump. Thanks, MoFi.

Today I'm listening to: Synaesthesia!

Saturday, December 04, 2004

I Know What You're Thinking 

I know what you're thinking: "Sure, Chick Tracts are great tools for converting sinners to Christ -- especially the one about how "Allah is a false god". But modern kids need something more edgy -- more powerful. And in color!"

Well, make way for The Truth for Youth!

Isn't it great? This pic is from The Truth About Evolution, wherein the college (high school?) professor gets completely flustered when his brilliant students smash to pieces every single argument in favor of evolution, even obscure data about the peppered moth in England.

And don't miss the comics about homosexuality ("He was the male figure that my life had been lacking. My father never had time for me.") and rock music. ("A lot of their singing is really preaching, but it's sure not the gospel.") It's the best way to reach modern kids with your message of closed-minded devotion to your interpretation of an ancient text!


I know what you're thinking: "I can't believe Tommy Thompson is really leaving." Well, on his way out, he made this prophetic remark:
"For the life of me, I cannot understand why the terrorists have not attacked our food supply because it is so easy to do," Thompson said as announced his departure. "We are importing a lot of food from the Middle East, and it would be easy to tamper with that."
Thanks for that vote of confidence there, Tom.

I know what you're thinking: "I've seen the U2 Special Edition iPod, and I wonder -- is there also a U2 vs. Negativland Special Edition iPod?" Yes, there is. What? You don't know about all of this? Eh? What's that? You want to hear the forbidden songs for yourself? ("[expletive] Snuggles.")

I know what you're thinking: "Where can I find a copy of Maj. Gen. Smedley Butler's classic text War is a Racket?" Why, online, of course!


I know what you're thinking: "Where can I find a whole mess of sliding block puzzle games online?" Why, right here at Deviant Synapse.

I know what you're thinking: "What's Ep listening to today?" Why, Axiom Ambient, of course!