Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #5362

Jeez, this cake is wordier than a Tom Tomorrow cartoon. Why not just go whole hog and get a Finnegans cake?

Happy Birthday Lori!

riverrun, past Eve and Adam's,
from swerve of shore to bend of bay,
brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation
back to Howth Castle and Environs

It's a cake for the ideal eater suffering from an ideal hunger!

Bonus: All together now (and I'd like to dedicate this to the mainstream media):

(Image originally uploaded by doree.girl and FreeSpirit5; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


I Think I Just Might Plotz

I made the mistake of catching a few minutes of ABC World News with Charles Gibson last night, and I am still pissed off. They did a brief story on what according to them was "the talk of Washington" yesterday: the optimistic "A War We Just Might Win" op-ed by Michael E. O'Hanlon and Kenneth M. Pollack in yesterday's New York Times. I'm here to tell ya that ABC's treatment of the story fit the mold described by ThinkProgress (speaking of CNN and Fox):

To her credit, Martha Raddatz did note in her brief chunk of the segment that the White House was "thrilled" with the op-ed and was sending it out "to the press corps, anyone who would read it today"; quoth Raddatz, "they are hoping that this buys them more time on the Hill for this surge to continue, but they've been hoping that for a long time." Wow! The Administration desperately needed some encouraging news on Iraq to stave off its Congressional critics, and just in the nick of time, along comes this op-ed—and in the we-all-know-it's-so-liberal New York Times, no less! The universe truly is a thing of wonder.

Let's review:

  1. Two "military analyst" supporters of the Iraq invasion spend eight days in Iraq and write an op-ed in the leading national newspaper saying that "the surge" is working better than we think;
  2. The White House, which has been facing mounting criticism about its war policy and has been desperate to convince Congress and the American people that the much-vaunted "surge" is working, eagerly pushes this miraculously timed op-ed on the media;
  3. The media obligingly pass along the op-ed's optimism—while obligingly calling these longtime war supporters "critics" and obligingly failing to inform their audience about the long record of pro-war punditry that maybe, just maybe, makes these guys less than trustworthy as judges of whether "the surge" is succeeding or not.
Whatever lingering doubts I have about Chomsky and Herman's "Propaganda Model" of the media die a little more every time I turn on my TV, I swear.

Addendum: Silly me, I hadn't even checked in with Glenn Greenwald when I let my simmering rage work itself out in the form of the post above. He went digging through O'Hanlon's and Pollack's old records of pro-war punditry, more recent records of pro-surge punditry, etc., and sums up his findings as pithily as anyone could: "It is more surprising—and more newsworthy—that the sun rose this morning than it is that O'Hanlon and Pollack have announced that the Surge is Succeeding." In-f*cking-deed. Or, even more pithily (emphasis his):

The Op-Ed is an exercise in rank deceit from the start. To lavish themselves with credibility -- as though they are war skeptics whom you can trust -- they identify themselves at the beginning "as two analysts who have harshly criticized the Bush administration's miserable handling of Iraq." In reality, they were not only among the biggest cheerleaders for the war, but repeatedly praised the Pentagon's strategy in Iraq and continuously assured Americans things were going well. They are among the primary authors and principal deceivers responsible for this disaster.
A sane media in a sane democracy might actually stop listening to people like these—or at least would stop playing along with their shameless dog-and-pony shows. They might even apologize to their audiences for participating in such consent-manufacturing scams. But do any of us really expect any of these things to happen at this point?

Monday, July 30, 2007

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #3208

After 48 hours stuck in an airport, even games like "Name that Odor" start to lose their charm.
(Image originally uploaded by Nutcake; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Weekly Random Flickr Blogging, #1922

This is what happens when your parents confuse Daytona Beach with Daytona Street. 'cause, hey, you can drive on both, right?
"Then we're agreed. Champion, you give Reena back her blouse, and I'll go put some ice on my excruciating groin pull."
They changed their name from Snakes in a Drain after their "We'll put our motherf*ckin' snakes in your motherf*ckin' drains" campaign proved a trifle...alienating...to many in the Greater South Bend metro area.
Controversy persists over whether the bass drum evolved from the floor tom or whether all drums were created in their current forms by God approximately 6,000 years ago.
This is where you go to pray if you need help getting your thrilling Icelandic saga started.
Yeah, like guys really need monetary incentives to finish in less than hour.

(Images originally uploaded by MacBookProUser, brilliantpictures2006, HendraSama, mpeg2video, pityayhurray, TOMASZ DREBOT, and vegamanx; Random Flickr Blogging explained here.)


Sunday, July 29, 2007

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #7697

In retrospect, Christo might not have been the best choice to design a tampon ad.
(Image originally uploaded by Ciscovaras; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #9099

Oops—here's yesterday's today, sorry:

Y'know what would make soccer more interesting? Armadillos. All over the field, during play. Y'all would watch it then, admit it.
(Image originally uploaded by jayfid; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Friday, July 27, 2007

Close Proximity

My friend jules sent me a link this morning to firedoglake's post on the new Pat Tillman news released by the AP. I was depressed and horrified at first; the thought that the guy gave up a multi-million-dollar professional sports career to put his life on the line in the hardest, most dangerous form of national service only to be killed in cold blood by his own comrades—and then to have the White House itself participate in the cover-up—plumbs new depths of awfulness.

I try to be a careful reader and thinker, though, so I took a closer look at the AP story. Were they hyperventilating a bit over at firedoglake? They sum up the AP story as follows:

In other words, Pat Tillman was most likely murdered in the field. In cold blood. By other US soldiers.
Well, maybe, but the AP story doesn't say that, nor is it a reasonable inference from what it does say. The key assertions in the AP story are these:
Army medical examiners were suspicious about the close proximity of the three bullet holes in Pat Tillman's forehead and tried without success to get authorities to investigate whether the former NFL player's death amounted to a crime, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

"The medical evidence did not match up with the, with the scenario as described," a doctor who examined Tillman's body after he was killed on the battlefield in Afghanistan in 2004 told investigators.

The doctors - whose names were blacked out - said that the bullet holes were so close together that it appeared the Army Ranger was cut down by an M-16 fired from a mere 10 yards or so away.

Ultimately, the Pentagon did conduct a criminal investigation, and asked Tillman's comrades whether he was disliked by his men and whether they had any reason to believe he was deliberately killed. The Pentagon eventually ruled that Tillman's death at the hands of his comrades was a friendly-fire accident.

Elaboration later:
The documents show that a doctor who autopsied Tillman's body was suspicious of the three gunshot wounds to the forehead. The doctor said he took the unusual step of calling the Army's Human Resources Command and was rebuffed. He then asked an official at the Army's Criminal Investigation Division if the CID would consider opening a criminal case.

"He said he talked to his higher headquarters and they had said no," the doctor testified.

This is worrisome and suspicious, I grant you, but it does not add up to "Pat Tillman was most likely murdered in the field." Given the cover-ups and claims of executive privilege surrounding this story, though—what the hell is the White House's stake in it, anyway?—one can be forgiven for thinking that these new revelations move us significantly further toward the "Pat Tillman was fragged" side of the field.

I'm bothered by something, though: Note how the story moves from "Army medical examiners were suspicious" (plural) to "a doctor...was suspicious" (singular). Well, which is it: was one doctor sounding the foul-play alarm, or more than one?

When I read the story, I was also bothered by "the three bullet holes." I thought, Are they only worried about "the close proximity" of those three? Are those three really significant? I had assumed that Tillman had been hit by more than three bullets. But no; according to CNN's account of his death, "He was hit in the head by three bullets fired by U.S. soldiers who say they mistook him for the enemy." So those three bullets—and their proximity—may well be damn significant. And why the rush to destroy his uniform and body armor after his death?

Tillman's uniform was burned by soldiers after his death. The Army's most recent investigation concludes Tillman's uniform and body armor should have been preserved, but the latest report disputes that it was burned in an attempt to cover anything up.

"Nothing could be further from the truth," concludes the report, which says the soldiers thought they were disposing of a "biohazard."

A biohazard?!?!? Let's see what the WaPo says about that:
The first report about Tillman's death within Army channels -- sent at 4:40 p.m. April 22 -- said that Tillman died in a medical treatment facility after his vehicle came under direct and indirect fire, attributing the gunshot wounds he received to "enemy forces." An investigation was immediately launched, and several documents show that the local chain of command was largely convinced it was fratricide from the beginning.

The next day, Tillman's Ranger body armor was burned because it was covered in blood and was considered a "biohazard." His uniform was also burned. Jones noted that this amounted to the destruction of evidence.

Soldiers reported they burned the evidence because "we knew at the time, based on taking the pictures and walking around it it was a fratricide. . . . We knew in our hearts what had happened, and we weren't going to lie about it. So we weren't thinking about proof or anything."

It was a biohazard simply because it was "covered in blood"? Did Tillman have an exotic disease or acid for blood or something? And it was destroyed because everyone knew it was fraticide, so there was no point in keeping the evidence around? Jeez, this gets screwier the more you look at it.

I still think that firedoglake goes beyond the available evidence, but I can't say that I blame them. At this point, one would be a fool not to suspect bad motives where the Bush Administration is involved—and there are just too many holes in the official stories surrounding Tillman's death for us not to be suspicious when an Army medical examiner smells deliberate fratricide.

I fear that we'd best get used to these new depths of awfulness. Something tells me they're going to get deeper and murkier before the Bush Administration is finally history.

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #3394

I'm surprised kids even bother waiting in line for the Buddhist version of Santa.

"I want a pony."

"I'm sorry, but desire leads to suffering, Jeanie. Wouldn't you really rather have Inner Peace?"

"But a pony..."

"Inner Peace."

(Image originally uploaded by miss miki<3; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Thursday, July 26, 2007

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #2238

Ernest may be quite formidable, but even in moai form, Mariel is just too sexy for public display. Grrrrrr.
(Image originally uploaded by Martin Lindsay; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #7352

CAUTION: Self-Realization May Induce Seizures.
The snake's ability to throw its hiss proved to be Fluffy's undoing.
In the Chinese version, the Big Bad Wolf gets processed into pet food and sent to America. Oops, sorry: Retroactive Spoiler Alert!

Bonus: I may have to start a separate category for bizarre, abstract signs. This one has me stymied; does anyone have any better ideas?

Update: Ask, and ye shall receive (below).

CAUTION! Red Man Puddle Ahead. (nash)

"Caution: Red Staters are too stupid to know how to swim!" (jules)

"Communists may be cut in half by sheet lightning." (Generik)

"Do not attempt to play jump rope with the electric fence." (Generik)

(Images originally uploaded by Bhaktivadanta Manor Deities, xavii, ericwu34, and LauriO; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Weekly Random Flickr Blogging, #3588

Oops, I missed last week, but here's my contribution for this week's fun:

"Someday, this will all be yours."
The Tomb of the Unknown Comic. "Whoa, tough room."
During a break in the Help! filming, the boys comb a Tyrolean mountainside looking for George's lost lighter, resulting in the song almost being called "Ticket to Smoke."
Mmmmm...yeah. Who needs Viagra when you've got pictures of an SR-71? Wait...did I just say that out loud?
Bob's groundbreaking paper on the Tootsie Pop Lickability-Temporality Correlation Index was later rejected when it was discovered that his test subjects had not given proper consent.
The classical inspiration for boxer briefs.
London, 1977: "Mum, Rexy has that nice Mr. Costello's glasses again."
(Images originally uploaded by therightpedal, Choir Is Life, Alpenglow Expeditions, danplaysbass, zinco_ninco, juantomas.garcia, and doobybrain; Random Flickr Blogging explained here.)


Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #6062

Reason #42 not to use a cell phone while driving: You might miss some world-class stigmata.
(Image originally uploaded by shushpanchik; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Monday, July 23, 2007

What the HELL Are These People Hiding?

Jeff Kosseff, Newhouse News Service:
WASHINGTON — Constituents called Rep. Peter DeFazio's office, worried there was a conspiracy buried in the classified portion of a White House plan for operating the government after a terrorist attack.

As a member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, DeFazio, D-Ore., is permitted to enter a secure "bubbleroom" in the Capitol and examine classified material. So he asked the White House to see the secret documents.

On Wednesday, DeFazio got his answer: DENIED.

AEI government guru Norman Ornstein is kind enough to point out later in the piece that he "cannot think of one good reason" for denying access to a member of the Homeland Security Committee"—which kinda suggests that whatever reason the administration has is, well, a bad one, huh?

Given the periodic daydreaming on the right about how all it would take would be one horrible terrorist attack to send America groveling and whimpering back to the Republicans, what with how they're supposedly tougher on terror and all (never mind how utterly they've botched their self-invented war on it so far), perhaps a better title for this post would be "What the Hell Are These People PLANNING?"

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #2867

They call this routine "The Sacred and the Profane." Emphasis on "the Profane."
(Image originally uploaded by austincheerfactory; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #3334

... and this is for Sunday. An excerpt from nashtbrutusandshort's Adventures in Miscommunication:

When I was a kid and heard adults talking delightedly about "crab claws," I figured they were referring to some kind of mysterious gift-bringing holiday sprite, albeit a presumably quite unattractive one. I also once asked my parents, in all innocence, "What's a Bella Abzug?" And even as an adult, for the longest time, I thought "Tiger Woods" was the name of an upscale subdivision somewhere. True.
(Image originally uploaded by siuyee.com; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #4584

Well, giving Inventing Situations a rousing sendoff was the prelude to a crappy weekend. Here's for Saturday:

Q: What do you call it when the only person in America who watches the Sunday morning talk shows is a Sterno-huffing derelict who finds them sexually arousing?

A: Progress.

(Image originally uploaded by Christoph Burgdorfer; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Friday, July 20, 2007

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #1018

Here's a trio in honor of the Caption This! Reunion over at Inventing Situations today. I'm still not feeling well, but I'll try to join the fun over there at some point today. It looks like GersonK is putting IS on hiatus after today's reunion, so check out the closest thing to the original Caption This! while you can. Thanks for all you've done, Gerson, and I'm sorry for not having been over there more lately.

He's about to find out that "Ek ek ek ek ek ek screeeeeee ek ek" is dolphin for "involuntary trans-species threeway."
Of all the Kids in the Hall characters, it figures that he'd fixate on this one: "Hey, get me: I'm crushin' yer head! I'm crushin' yer head! I'm ignorin' yer rules! I'm tramplin' on yer rights! I'm sendin' y'all to Gitmo. I'm the Deciderer. Crush, crush."
One of the most adventurous bands in Mongolian history, they had just completed the followup to their pathbreaking Rubber Yurt album when Munkbhayar fell under the spell of an exotic Canadian claims adjuster and the rest of the group gave up and went home for the annual sheep-shearing.
(Images originally uploaded by martin.farringon, direcow, and mesadler; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


From the Credit Where Credit Is Due Department

Via ThinkProgress, I see that the history-warping, Bush-stroking "documentary" The Path to 9/11 has been nominated for seven Emmy wards. I was mildly perturbed by this news until I took a closer look at what it's up for—and what it's not up for.

What it's up for:

What it's NOT up for: It's interesting how that word nonfiction keeps coming up in the categories it's NOT nominated for, huh?

Okay, then.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #5570

I kinda like it when you can't tell whether it's nature or an acid flashback.
(Image originally uploaded by Cole's viewfinder; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #4976

It's yesterday's Daily Random Flickr Blogging...today! (Sorry: I was a bit under the weather yesterday.)

You can razz her on her fashion sense if you want, but be careful: I've seen her open aluminum cans with nothing but her sharp, angular features.
(Image originally uploaded by Charity Jean~; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #4984

I'm somewhat stymied by today's lackluster DRFB results, so today I'll adopt a Socratic approach and proceed by asking questions:

Are these in fact, as they appear to be, brains?

What kind of brains are they? That is, what kind of animal did they come from?

Are brains better when they sit out in the open air for a while?

Are they sold by the pound, or individually?

Do they make their own oozy pinkish sauce, or has oozy pinkish sauce been added to make them more appetizing?

Would one of them have been smart enough to know that primate is a title of religious authority and thus is not an insult when applied to the Pope—something that apparently neither Bill O'Reilly nor anyone on his staff was smart enough to know?

Are they high in saturated fats?

Should brains be served as a main course or only as an appetizer?

What wine goes with brains?


(Image originally uploaded by chaxiubao; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Monday, July 16, 2007

"Inherent Contempt"

I don't know whether it can save the republic, but I sure like the sound of it.

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #5393

A little-known codicil to the Kyoto Protocol allows for individual trees to be singled out and punished for failing to meet their oxygen quotas.
(Image originally uploaded by bkim26; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


The AP Catches Up to TomDispatch

This past weekend the AP noted that "Away from the headlines and debate over the "surge" in U.S. ground troops, the Air Force has quietly built up its hardware inside Iraq, sharply stepped up bombing and laid a foundation for a sustained air campaign in support of American and Iraqi forces." This "foundation" includes more warplanes (including the big B-1) flying bombing missions, improved bases and air traffic control centers, more reconnaissance flights, and so on. The article does not delve into this, but increasing reliance on air power is significant because it typically means (a) lower American casualties, (b) higher civilian casualties, and (c) lots and lots more money being spent on planes, fuel, fancy weapons, etc.

Meanwhile, TomDispatch has been talking about the under-reported air campaign in Iraq for several years—and has not shied away from pointing what it means to be dropping more bombs, smart or not, into crowded cities.

And they wonder why we love our alternative media.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #6969

"Ah, so this is what's been causing those spatio-temporal anomalies on Main Street."
(Image originally uploaded by from_the_sky; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Saturday, July 14, 2007

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #2596

This is what is known in the real estate business as "natural Jehovah's Witness-proofing."
(Image originally uploaded by Jacqui8; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #6919

This is for yesterday, sorry.

(Image originally uploaded by tantek; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Thursday, July 12, 2007

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #3002

I'd like to dedicate today's Daily Random Flickr Blogging to Michael Moore for his logical and rhetorical slappings around this week of Wolf Blitzer (Part 1 and Part 2), Sanjay Gupta, and CNN. Michael, in the interviews with you that I was hearing before Sicko came out, you sounded very confident, charged-up, and ready for a fight—"loaded for bear," I think is the expression. It's delightful to see that you were loaded for Wolf as well.

"Oh, God. What did America do to deserve CNN, Fox, MSNBC, CNBC, etc. etc. etc.? Was it the slavery thing? 'cause we're working on that, honest."
"If y'all have any raw, bleeding Wolf chunks left, we'd be happy to feed 'em to our eaglets. They're not particular."
"Mister Moore-san: truly your skill with words in battle makes my skill with nunchaku look like chopped liver."
"Chopped liver would be nice, too."

(Images originally uploaded by m&w&m, Adam Bauer, and PocketLim; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)

And hey, look, it seems that Mike's slapping-around of CNN was on Democracy Now! yesterday, too. I missed it yesterday but can't wait to listen.

I finally saw Sicko, by the way, and I agree with Bob and others: it's Moore's best film yet. More on that when I get a chance.


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

An Open Letter to Glenn McCoy


I ran across this cartoon today at Slate:

I'm sorry that I have to ask, but...you do know that those much-hyped reports that the outgoing Democrats trashed the White House in 2001 turned out to be, well, false—don't you? Because if you didn't know that, it would mean that you are woefully ignorant about a matter of public import about which you have seen fit to comment. Now, we're all ignorant in various ways, about various things, but don't we have a moral duty not to dress up our ignorance as knowledge and to pass it along to others as such? What do you think?

And if you do know that those stories were false, well, why are you referring to them in today's cartoon as if they are true? Because if you know that these stories are false but you're publicly pretending otherwise in order to score some cheap political point, well, that would pretty much make you a shameless liar, wouldn't it?

Or is your cartoon meant to poke fun at those foolish Americans who still believe lies like those about the supposed White House vandalism—despite the fact that they were debunked long ago? This would be the most charitable interpretation of your cartoon; however, there are no signs in the cartoon that its target is, say, the kind of misleading media outlets (like Fox and Drudge) that help to make fools of such Americans. No; the only clear target in the cartoon is "the Clintons." Put it this way: if you meant to poke fun at media-transmitted lies and the people who foolishly believe them, then you didn't do it very well.

So which is it? Are you (a) woefully ignorant, (b) a shameless liar, or (c) an inept cartoonist?

This is a rhetorical question; I don't really expect an answer. Frankly, after six years of George W. Bush, I've stopped caring whether people like you are best described as (a) ignorant, (b) mendacious, or (c) incompetent. I see hopeful signs that more and more Americans are learning to stop caring about what people like you say and think. And who can blame us? If more of us had stopped listening to people like you a few years ago, we'd be thousands of lives and billions of dollars richer today.

I look forward to a future where people like you are, at best, critical oddities rather than figures of any public importance or influence.

Hasten the day,



Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #2413

Were ancient civilizations driven into madness by their own prehistoric equivalents of the O.J. Simpson trial? Read the book.
(Image originally uploaded by James Crowley; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #7446

Few people realize that karaoke originated during the Cultural Revolution as a way to add zazz to otherwise routine denunciations of the bourgeoisie. "Yan the grocer reads counter-revolutionary novels/Chen the baker says that Chairman Mao's steel quotas are unrealistic/Hu the restauranteur expresses a fondness for decadent Western music/A few years in an engine factory should re-educate them good/Mmmm mmmmm/Oh yeah baby baby"
(Image originally uploaded by auroralala2000; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #6330

Oops, missed yesterday, sorry.

Our forces aren't special; they're FABULOUS.
Bonus: Sometimes when you're randomly Flickring you come across photos that are just bursting with awesomeness:

Bonus Bonus: And sometimes when you're randomly Flickring you come across photos that are just bursting with creepiness:

(Images originally uploaded by Bunnyfu, Mike Child, and droid-behavior; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Sunday, July 08, 2007

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #0408

He wished that she'd asked whether he was "joyful," "delighted," or, better yet, "exhilarated" to see her, but "glad" would have to do.
(Image originally uploaded by GeoffreyPlitt; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)

(With apologies to whoever invented the old joke about the nurses, the patient, and the tattoo, the punchline of which is "it doesn't say 's-w-a-n', it says 's-a-s-k-a-t-c-h-e-w-a-n'.")


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