Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #4267

I guess some people like this kind of stuff, but I for one would have a hard time feeling a sense of reverence in a church that out-glitzes the Liberace Museum.
(Image originally uploaded by mtstradling; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


RIP George Carlin

So far, John Nichols has my favorite of the many online eulogies for George Carlin: "George Carlin, American Radical."

Not just aware of but steeped in the traditions of American populism -- more William Jennings Bryan and Eugene Victor Debs than Bill Clinton or John Kerry -- Carlin preached against the consolidation of wealth and power with a fire-and-brimstone rage that betrayed a deep moral sense that could never quite be cloaked with four-letter words.

"The real owners are the big wealthy business interests that control things and make all the important decisions. Forget the politicians, they're an irrelevancy. The politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice. You don't. You have no choice. You have owners. They own you. They own everything. They own all the important land. They own and control the corporations. They've long since bought and paid for the Senate, the Congress, the statehouses, the city halls. They've got the judges in their back pockets. And they own all the big media companies, so that they control just about all of the news and information you hear. They've got you by the balls. They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying -- lobbying to get what they want. Well, we know what they want; they want more for themselves and less for everybody else," ranted the comedian whose routines were studied in graduate schools.

"But I'll tell you what they don't want," Carlin continued. "They don't want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don't want well-informed, well-educated people capable of critical thinking. They're not interested in that. That doesn't help them. That's against their interests. They don't want people who are smart enough to sit around the kitchen table and figure out how badly they're getting fucked by a system that threw them overboard 30 fucking years ago. You know what they want? Obedient workers -- people who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork but just dumb enough to passively accept all these increasingly shittier jobs with the lower pay, the longer hours, reduced benefits, the end of overtime and the vanishing pension that disappears the minute you go to collect it. And, now, they're coming for your Social Security. They want your fucking retirement money. They want it back, so they can give it to their criminal friends on Wall Street. And you know something? They'll get it. They'll get it all, sooner or later, because they own this fucking place. It's a big club, and you ain't in it. You and I are not in the big club."

Carlin did not want Americans to get involved with the system.

He wanted citizens to get angry enough to remake the system.

Carlin was a leveler of the old, old school. And no one who had so public a platform -- as the first host of NBC's "Saturday Night Live," a regular on broadcast and cable televisions shows, a best-selling author and a favorite character actor in films (he was even the narrator of the American version of the children's show "Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends") -- did more to challenge accepted wisdom regarding our political economy.

I hope that in a box somewhere, I still have a cassette of Carlin that a friend gave me some two decades ago. Sometime back in the late '80s Carlin played a college show in Atlanta, and my friend, who was working the event, made a bootleg tape right off of the main audio feed. I'm not sure where that tape is, or even whether I still have it—but suddenly I have a desire to hear it again. Goodbye, George Carlin, and thank you many times over for the hard laughs and the hard thoughts. We'll miss you.
"The owners of this country know the truth: It's called the American dream because you have to be asleep to believe it."

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #8959

Sorry, couldn't get around to posting yesterday.

Some Mardi Gras Indians are more up-to-date than others. "The GPS is working, but I can't get the satellite radio to sync with the MP3 player."
(Image originally uploaded by jaredzeller; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Sunday, June 22, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #3293

For today. In other news, I knew a guy in college who supposedly later nailed Susannah Hoffs after a concert in Atlanta. Small world, six degrees, etc., yawn.

Oh, I love this song. "Lift like an Egyptian..."
(Image originally uploaded by T-Will; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Prince Ca$pian

A little while ago I listened to the podcast of last Tuesday's The World, and I laughed most heartily at this segment featuring a Scottish mother who's found herself pitted against the estate of C.S. Lewis and its attendant legal muscle. The issue? She and her husband bought the rights to the internet domain name narnia.mobiostensibly as a gift for their 10-year-old son, a Narnia freak who thought an @narnia.mobi email address would be really cool—and now the C.S. Lewis Estate wants to add it to its pile of millions of dollars' worth of trademarks, film rights, merchandising deals, etc. How very, very reverent of them.

This sounds like a job for Screwtape!

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #5120

For yesterday!

The Black Knight's Amish nephew was similarly undaunted by what other people would regard as grievous bodily injuries. "Thou sayest my arms be off, but verily I tell thee, 'tis but a flesh wound, English."
(Image originally uploaded by marinamerritt; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #2566

OK, catchin' up some more. This is for last Friday, Napoleonic Code, mumble mumble.

Worst. Stanley Kowalski. Ever. "Ewww, a spider! Somebody kill it! Ick!"
(Image originally uploaded by SXN; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Class Is In

I haven't yet had a chance to read the intriguing June 30 Nation and its bevy of articles on inequality, gilded ages old and new, and plutocracy and how to fight it, but for those interested, last week's RadioNation featured some great conversation with contributors like Doug Henwood, Chuck Collins, and Barbara Ehrenreich. If you have ears, then hear (MP3).

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #3323

Catchin' up. This is for last Thursday. I apologize in advance for again mentioning the Worst Song Ever™.

June, 1985. The Brolin-Sangfroid wedding grinds to a halt as frustrated crooner Father Jim launches into an impromptu rendition of "Total Eclipse of the Heart."
(Image originally uploaded by Jill Elfering; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #8210

Couldn't stand the hiatus. This is for last Wednesday.

Texas, August, 1987. What is initially reported as an F-3 tornado later turns out to be just Stevie Ray Vaughan rehearsing.
(Image originally uploaded by Mesochaser; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


An Honest Man

I thought I recognized the guy Norman Solomon quotes to great effect in his latest essay on making health, not war:

In the latest edition of "Health Care Meltdown," author C. Rocky White identifies himself as "a conservative Republican who has always held an entrepreneurial 'pull yourself up by your own bootstraps' free-market philosophy." A longtime physician, White describes "the frustration I began to experience while trying to provide compassionate, quality health care in the context of a market in which the accustomed rules of business economics don't apply."

Dr. White immersed himself in research on health-care policy and finance. Then he pored through reams of the latest data on the tradeoffs of reform options. "No matter how I turned the cube," he writes, "the answer never changed. That answer was nearly impossible for me, a free-market Republican, to accept."

Here are Dr. White's two key conclusions in his own words:

  • "Until we remove the motive of profit from the financing of health care, we cannot and we will not resolve our current health care crisis."
  • "Any group that proposes reform policy that maintains the use of for-profit insurance companies in a so-called free market is being driven by one single motive -- to protect the golden coffers of their share of the $2 trillion cash cow!"
Dr. White adds: "To continue down this road is paramount to suggesting that we privatize our fire and police services and turn them into for-profit organizations. You do that and people will die -- just like they are dying now under our current health-care system!"
Amy Goodman had an excellent segment with the good Dr. White back in April. Read or listen here—highly recommended.

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #9206

Tuesday...sh*t. I'm only up to last Tuesday.

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


Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #5429

Hello, it's me. This is for last Monday.

The ever-inventive Todd Rundgren kept this fan portrait in his crawlspace for a few years and then regifted it to Jackson Browne.
(Image originally uploaded by milenkost; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #2810

Catchin' up. This is for last Sunday. Woof.

Studies show that approximately 30% of the tourists who wander into the FDR Memorial wander out again saying "Gorsh, that's pretty insightful for a terrier."
(Image originally uploaded by Adam Bauer; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Legal Rights and Stuff

One of the most depressing things about the Bush II years for me has been the lesson they have provided in just how many of America's elite pundits and politicians are rank apologists for authoritarianism. Witness this dishonor roll from The Daily Show, which kicks off with, once again, the ever-edifying Steve Doocy:

They're nattering about the Boumediene decision, about which see Marjorie Cohn and Glenn Greenwald for a more sane and balanced analysis. I only wish Cohn's last paragraph didn't feel like a clammy hand reaching out from under the bed and grabbing your ankle in the middle of the night:

It is very likely the next president will make at least one nomination, and probably two, to the Supreme Court. Boumediene is the poster child for how delicately the Court is now balanced, and the disastrous consequences to the doctrine of separation-of-powers that await us if a President McCain makes good on his promise to appoint judges in the mold of Roberts and Alito.

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #0302

...and this is for last Saturday.

Having long since outgrown air freight, Gore Vidal's ego now travels most efficiently by barge.
(Image originally uploaded by sjmurdoch; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #4285

Catchin' up. This is for Friday a week ago.

Some abstinence-only campaigns seem intentionally self-defeating.
(Image originally uploaded by monirul.pathan; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #0384

OK, temporary hiatus over, temporarily at least. I'd been a good boy—hadn't missed a day for some time—but oh well. I'm gonna do some catching up now. This is for Thursday, ten days ago anyway.

"No one will ever mistakenly refer to a Danish as a Swedish around here again, by yiminy."
(Image originally uploaded by SorenDavidsen; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Of To We Yes With But

Well, I didn't get to last Thursday's on Thursday, nor on Friday. I'm sorry about the hiatus, but it may have to continue for a while—until later this week, to be sure, and possibly 'til later this month. In the meanwhile, enjoy as The Daily Show does a number on Steve Doocy, who really does seem to be either rock-stupid at best or whorishly shameless at worst.

Even Michelle Malkin looks a little embarrassed at the end there, I swear.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #5741

This is for yesterday. Hopefully I'll get to today's later today and not tomorrow.

As the blows and screams turned into excited cries of "Yes! Yes! More!" that echoed across the meadow, the other reenactors began to think that maybe the people playing General Patton and the shellshocked soldiers were enjoying themselves a little too much.
(Image originally uploaded by robert.rittmuller; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Weekly Random Flickr Blogging, #1345

Then go see what the group got up to this week.

To the good old days, when even biplanes could smoke in public without getting hassled by the nicotine nazis.
"Wow, this is beautiful. Magic hour light, purple mountain majesties, fruited plains, amber waves of—hey, move it or lose it, buster."
"I think it would be best if White House counsel writes the signing statements from now on, Mr. President."
"Speaking of change, I'd like to thank Vice President Gore for the loan of his cool hydraulic lift thing and to let him know that we found about 60 cents on it in case he dropped it while making An Inconvenient Truth."
"This should help me get that Frisbee off the roof."
(Images originally uploaded by andys1616, notacrime, alexalexpolvipolvi, johnharaldson, and mfdudu; Random Flickr Blogging explained here.)


What Is To Be Done?

Photoshoppers! Your duty is clear. Michael "Savage Weiner" Savage has taken to calling Barack Obama an "Afro-Leninist."

Have at it.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #8727

Barely time today, but here's a quickie. First thing that occurred to me when I saw this picture, honestly:

Oh, that's a baby. At first I thought it meant that the bathroom was sumo-accessible.
(Image originally uploaded by Feel Guilty Inc.|Shu Di; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Monday, June 09, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #1713

Some men think of foreplay much as a salmon must. C'mon, admit it.
(Image originally uploaded by fikretonal; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Sunday, June 08, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #9019

Yeah, like Alex would ever be caught dead eating salmon croquettes. A Clockwork O-No-She-Dih-Unt.
(Image originally uploaded by mrquick; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)



I guess it wouldn't have been seemly for a judge to say that the hosts of Fox & Friends are "dumb as rocks," "astoundingly clueless," or "so full of political correctness mythology bullshit that it apparently never occurred to them to be suspicious about the claim that a school superintendent would actually say

All our students should feel welcome in our schools, knowing that they are safe from attacks with ham, bacon, porkchops, or any other delicious meat that comes from pigs.
even though any other minimally intelligent, rational being would exhibit healthy skepticism toward such a claim."

No. Not seemly. "Gullible" will have to do.

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #5929.2

Couldn't post yesterday, sorry.

Seared Retinas charges extra for the irony involved in being referred to as a "nightspot."
(Image originally uploaded by raphael_international; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #5929.2

Couldn't post yesterday, sorry.

Seared Retinas charges extra for the irony involved in being referred to as a "nightspot."
(Image originally uploaded by raphael_international; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


The Precious Gift of Freedom

...to accept the status of permanent militarized colony or else. Nice.

The US is holding hostage some $50bn (£25bn) of Iraq's money in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to pressure the Iraqi government into signing an agreement seen by many Iraqis as prolonging the US occupation indefinitely, according to information leaked to The Independent.


Iraq's foreign reserves are currently protected by a presidential order giving them immunity from judicial attachment but the US side in the talks has suggested that if the UN mandate, under which the money is held, lapses and is not replaced by the new agreement, then Iraq's funds would lose this immunity. The cost to Iraq of this happening would be the immediate loss of $20bn. The US is able to threaten Iraq with the loss of 40 per cent of its foreign exchange reserves because Iraq's independence is still limited by the legacy of UN sanctions and restrictions imposed on Iraq since Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in the 1990s. This means that Iraq is still considered a threat to international security and stability under Chapter Seven of the UN charter. The US negotiators say the price of Iraq escaping Chapter Seven is to sign up to a new "strategic alliance" with the United States.

The threat by the American side underlines the personal commitment of President George Bush to pushing the new pact through by 31 July. Although it is in reality a treaty between Iraq and the US, Mr Bush is describing it as an alliance so he does not have to submit it for approval to the US Senate.

Iraqi critics of the agreement say that it means Iraq will be a client state in which the US will keep more than 50 military bases. American forces will be able to carry out arrests of Iraqi citizens and conduct military campaigns without consultation with the Iraqi government. American soldiers and contractors will enjoy legal immunity.

The US had previously denied it wanted permanent bases in Iraq, but American negotiators argue that so long as there is an Iraqi perimeter fence, even if it is manned by only one Iraqi soldier, around a US installation, then Iraq and not the US is in charge.

If you mean "in charge" of Iraq in the same sense that Charles was, then, well, yeah, I guess. Lovely. We can now add blackmail and sophistry to the list of Bush Administration sins against American dignity.

TomDispatch is looking more and more prescient every day.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #8095

Granted, Tom Waits isn't the first person you'd expect to see there, but the GrouperCam will surprise you.
(Image originally uploaded by sportimage; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Ton of Bricks To See You, Sir

I've been so caught up in other things—and I don't watch cable news, so I missed the talking heads pounding this thought into jello earlier this week—that it really only hit me the other morning as I listened to Barack Obama's speech from Tuesday night courtesy the Democracy Now! podcast:

A black man has won a major party's nomination for President of the United States. In my lifetime. I lived to see it.

Whatever else happens, I am happy that I was around to see this happen. Congratulations, Senator, and I hope I can make a similar post in November as you become the first black man to be elected President of the United States.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #2447

Key Obama Adviser (Fox News artist's conception)
Bonus: For some reason, I'm very moved by this photo of what looks like a father and kids exploring Rembrandt's awesome The Night Watch at the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam:

Family values!

(Images originally uploaded by shubh_bhat and ricardomartinezruiz; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Golden Shield

Naomi Klein has an impressive new piece in Rolling Stone (h/t ProRev). Oh brave new world!

This is how this Golden Shield will work: Chinese citizens will be watched around the clock through networked CCTV cameras and remote monitoring of computers. They will be listened to on their phone calls, monitored by digital voice-recognition technologies. Their Internet access will be aggressively limited through the country's notorious system of online controls known as the "Great Firewall." Their movements will be tracked through national ID cards with scannable computer chips and photos that are instantly uploaded to police databases and linked to their holder's personal data. This is the most important element of all: linking all these tools together in a massive, searchable database of names, photos, residency information, work history and biometric data. When Golden Shield is finished, there will be a photo in those databases for every person in China: 1.3 billion faces.


With its militant protests and mobile population, China confronts a fundamental challenge. How can it maintain a system based on two dramatically unequal categories of people: the winners, who get the condos and cars, and the losers, who do the heavy labor and are denied those benefits? More urgently, how can it do this when information technology threatens to link the losers together into a movement so large it could easily overwhelm the country's elites?

The answer is Golden Shield. When Tibet erupted in protests recently, the surveillance system was thrown into its first live test, with every supposedly liberating tool of the Information Age — cellphones, satellite television, the Internet — transformed into a method of repression and control. As soon as the protests gathered steam, China reinforced its Great Firewall, blocking its citizens from accessing dozens of foreign news outlets. In some parts of Tibet, Internet access was shut down altogether. Many people trying to phone friends and family found that their calls were blocked, and cellphones in Lhasa were blitzed with text messages from the police: "Severely battle any creation or any spreading of rumors that would upset or frighten people or cause social disorder or illegal criminal behavior that could damage social stability."

During the first week of protests, foreign journalists who tried to get into Tibet were systematically turned back. But that didn't mean that there were no cameras inside the besieged areas. Since early last year, activists in Lhasa have been reporting on the proliferation of black-domed cameras that look like streetlights — just like the ones I saw coming off the assembly line in Shenzhen. Tibetan monks complain that cameras — activated by motion sensors — have invaded their monasteries and prayer rooms.

During the Lhasa riots, police on the scene augmented the footage from the CCTVs with their own video cameras, choosing to film — rather than stop — the violence, which left 19 dead. The police then quickly cut together the surveillance shots that made the Tibetans look most vicious — beating Chinese bystanders, torching shops, ripping metal sheeting off banks — and created a kind of copumentary: Tibetans Gone Wild. These weren't the celestial beings in flowing robes the Beastie Boys and Richard Gere had told us about. They were angry young men, wielding sticks and long knives. They looked ugly, brutal, tribal. On Chinese state TV, this footage played around the clock.

Read read read.

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #1483

Investors ran for the exits after discovering that the "Buffett" who'd been buying up shares of Telecentro was Jimmy rather than Warren.
(Image originally uploaded by telecentrepictures; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


When Bill O'Reilly Is the Voice of Reason

Either it's a sign of the Apocalypse, or he's talking to Mark Rudov.


Weekly Random Flickr Blogging, #2790

Then go see what else the gang's been up to this week.

As calendars go, Girls of the Planet of Slums is, um, not one of Hallmark's big sellers.
Tempers flare as "Louie Louie" collides with "On Broadway."
In America, you find your light. In Russia, light finds you. *crumples up caption, starts again*
We take you now live to Howard Hughes's junk drawer.
"I'm sick o' that Friedman guy. He takes all my best ideas about transnational capital mobility and leaves those godawful stains on the upholstery."
(Images originally uploaded by marilink, alanburlison, .s.s., dirtydiva, and Julalo; Random Flickr Blogging explained here.)


Don't Mention the War II

Atrios asks a good question. It is astounding that Matthew "Man in the Middle" Dowd could write a 644-word "attempt at explaining" Hillary Clinton's loss to Barack Obama in the Democratic presidential nomination contest without mentioning the Iraq debacle. Alas that his grasp of the apostrophe is also tenuous:

3. Presidential campaigns are always about understanding voters fears, but then asking them to vote their hopes. Clinton did an unbelievable job speaking to voters fears but she never crossed the bridge to speak to voters hopes. She got stuck in the fear equation and voters needed her to move to hope at some point.
Voters just means "more than one voter." Let's try that again, with proper punctuation this time:
3. Presidential campaigns are always about understanding voters' fears, but then asking them to vote their hopes. Clinton did an unbelievable job speaking to voters' fears but she never crossed the bridge to speak to voters' hopes. She got stuck in the fear equation and voters needed her to move to hope at some point.
There. Better. One might also add commas in the last two sentences—long independent clauses connected by coordinating conjunctions—but never mind. Who needs commas and apostrophes when your mind works at this profound level?
The country desired more of a father figure. Today, the country is looking for more a a healing presence, someone more nurturing and demonstrating an ability to bring the American family together -- more of a mothering persona. The country wanted a Mom, and Hillary gave them a Dad. She tried to hard to demonstrate her toughness and strength and voters wanted more caretaking and sensitivity.
Idiocy aside, Dowd avoids mentioning the war for yet another paragraph and manages to feminize Obama at the same time—nice. Trenchant analysis like this is why we all keep coming back to ABC News, huh?

"What does 'I gotcher nurturing right HEAH' mean, Brit?"

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #5852

Dogs' noses really are amazing. It's been 44 years since A Hard Day's Night was filmed, and this critter is still picking up traces of Ringo's cologne.
(Image originally uploaded by goodape; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Thank God for Oklahoma

Texas and Florida seem sane by comparison.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #4240

In other news, R.I.P. Bo Diddley.

It's really hard to relax when showering at Terry Gilliam's house.
(Image originally uploaded by Travelawyer; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


So the Antichrist Was Roy Cohn?

Am I reading this right?

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #5098

Bloggity-blog Blogger's been bloggity bloggered every bloggity-blog time I've tried to bloggity blog in the last couple of days, bloggit. This is for yesterday.

As the door locked behind him, Alpha Male realized that he'd fallen into another of The Matriarch's insidious traps. "Room too...feminine...threatening...masculinity...sudden surge of...feelings.... Father would...laugh...Nothing I did was...ever...good enough for...him...*sniffle* *sob*"
(Image originally uploaded by behindbabyblues; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


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