Saturday, September 27, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #8127.2

The name works well enough for cigars, I suppose, but I've always wondered about certain, um, other products named after the inhabitants of ancient Troy. I mean, think about the associations: First, you penetrate the defense barrier—without even being noticed—and then you break open, spilling little invaders everywhere. *buh-dum-bum* Clearly, the person who named that brand was not a classics major. And probably got laid a lot. But I repeat myself. *buh-dum-bum* Thank you, I'm here all week.
(Image originally uploaded by hectorfalcon67; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


With Apologies to Santayana

No, not the Mexican-American guitarist, the Spanish-American philosopher. "Those who cannot remember the past get an exciting opportunity to repeat it."

If America's tombstone can have embedded video, this should be on it.

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #9225

This is for last Friday. The tastelessness, however, is timeless.

Perhaps the most inappropriate children's playset ever was My Little Dealey Plaza. (My Little School Book Depository sold separately.)
(Image originally uploaded by thane; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


"Radic-lib causes"

I hadn't realized that Paul Newman was on Nixon's enemies list. Nineteenth, no less.

He sometimes teamed with his wife and fellow Oscar winner, Joanne Woodward, with whom he had one of Hollywood's rare long-term marriages. ''I have steak at home, why go out for hamburger?'' Newman told Playboy magazine when asked if he was tempted to stray. They wed in 1958, around the same time they both appeared in ''The Long Hot Summer,'' and Newman directed her in several films, including ''Rachel, Rachel'' and ''The Glass Menagerie.''

With his strong, classically handsome face and piercing blue eyes, Newman was a heartthrob just as likely to play against his looks, becoming a favorite with critics for his convincing portrayals of rebels, tough guys and losers. ''I was always a character actor,'' he once said. ''I just looked like Little Red Riding Hood.''

Newman had a soft spot for underdogs in real life, giving tens of millions to charities through his food company and setting up camps for severely ill children. Passionately opposed to the Vietnam War, and in favor of civil rights, he was so famously liberal that he ended up on President Nixon's ''enemies list,'' one of the actor's proudest achievements, he liked to say.

Indeed. Y'know, normally, I have to work a little to like unbearably gorgeous people, but Paul Newman—well, he was a whole other sort of creature, no?

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #8348: Paul Newman Memorial Flickr Blogging

This is true: I'm catching up on some DRFBing, so I was randomly scanning Flickr pages earlier this morning. I ran across this picture of a lonely pasta and salad lunch sitting as if abandoned out in the wilderness, and for some reason (does anyone really understand how this works?) I thought of a church picnic and how surprised the church picnickers might be if something besides themselves was suddenly raptured up into the sky. Then I thought about what odd thing might be missing from the picture, and then I thought of Newman's Own salad dressing (I particularly recommend the Parmesan & Roasted Garlic). And since I found the idea of bottles of a handsome pinko actor's charity business salad dressing being raptured up into the sky reasonably funny, I thought, okay, there's my idea for this one. And then, about half an hour later, I got an email telling me that Paul Newman had died. Yep.

This is for last Thursday, but the appreciation is for all time. Rest in peace, Paul Newman.

And weren't the Assembly of the Lord picnickers surprised when the Newman's Own dressing suddenly floated up into the sky.
(Image originally uploaded by HannahtheRed; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


"It was like watching Gidget address the Reichstag."

Matt Taibbi is back with a bravura piece on Sarah Palin. Read read read.

AlterNet also has both halves of the instantly infamous Palin-Couric interview if you haven't seen it yet.

And if you can bear to watch.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #3202

Adventures in Cybervandalism, #128: For several hours in 2006, visitors to an upscale Florentine museum site found Giambologna's 1599 masterwork Hercules Beating the Centaur Nessus temporarily re-identified as Hold Still Already, It's Time for Your Suppository.
(Image originally uploaded by surfcrest; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Designated Muse of the End of America?

Naomi Wolf ties together the sudden rise and careful handling of Sarah Palin, her family's disrespect for law (not to mention her disrespect for truth), her running mate's advanced age and lengthy medical history, the preemptive arrests and harassment of journalists at the RNC, and the general trajectory of Bush-Cheney's America so far into a chilling bundle. This is the sort of stuff that I'd have scoffingly dismissed a few years ago. Part of me still does, but I'm not sure I can trust that part anymore; I worry that a lot of him is just wishful thinking masquerading as healthy skepticism. A few years ago, I didn't think we'd be living in an America of manufactured war, secret prisons, signing statements, cheerleading for torture, extravagant executive-branch powers, degradation of civil liberties, etc. either:

What's the plan? It is this. McCain doesn't matter. Reputable dermatologists are discussing the fact that in simply actuarial terms, John McCain has a virulent and life-threatening form of skin cancer. It is the elephant in the room, but we must discuss the health of the candidates: doctors put survival rates for someone his age at two to four years.[I'm skeptical about this particular claim—nash.] I believe the Rove-Cheney cabal is using Sarah Palin as a stalking horse, an Evita figure, to put a popular, populist face on the coming police state and be the talk show hostess for the end of elections as we know them. If McCain-Palin get in, this will be the last true American election. She will be working for Halliburton, KBR, Rove and Cheney into the foreseeable future -- for a decade perhaps -- a puppet "president" for the same people who have plundered our treasure, are now holding the US economy hostage and who murdered four thousand brave young men and women in a way [sic] of choice and lies.
I very much want to believe that the "appeal to the fundie base" explanation is the right one because the thought of having to listen to Big Hockey Mom's voice on the telescreen every night (go ahead: imagine it saying "ignorance is strength, Charlie") is too much to bear.

Wolf's The End of America: A Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot is very much worth a read. You can find a distillation here. Read it NOW if you haven't.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #7690

Imagine my surprise at what turned up on page one of today's results. And now, Categorical Aperitif proudly presents Book Inscription From a Happier Future:

"Dear George: Thanks again to you and Laura for the gift basket. I thought you might like a little something to read while you're awaiting trial over there at The Hague. Say hi to Dick, Don, Paul, Condi, Karl, Alberto, and, um, what's-his-face, the buttery guy. Best wishes, BHO, POTUS."
(Image originally uploaded by Barack Obama (yes, Barack Obama apparently has a Flickr photostream); Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


The Word of the Day is Punitive

Yesterday's Democracy Now! with Bernie Sanders, Dean Baker, and Robert Scheer is one of the best segments I've yet heard on the Paulson-ChimpCo bailout swindle:

DEAN BAKER: Yeah, well, as I said, this is really just an incredible—we want it to be punitive. If Henry Paulson doesn’t want it to be punitive, that’s telling us, from the word go, he is not the guy to run this. This is not supposed to be a giveaway. You know, these are the richest people in the whole country. And if it’s not punitive, what we’re telling them is just, you know, “Go out, run your banks in a reckless manner”—because that’s what they did; they wouldn’t be here if they didn’t run their banks in a reckless manner—“pay yourself $30, $40, $50 million a year in compensation. Then, when you get in trouble, go running to the government, and we’ll just hand you hundreds of billions of more.”

If this isn’t punitive, if this isn’t really painful for them to come to the government, then we’ve messed up with the bailout. They don’t have to do it. Again, you know, if your business is good, if you could get by without the bailout, wonderful, don’t come talk to us, don’t—you don’t need the money. But if you’re going to get a handout, it’s going to be punitive. That’s the way it’s supposed to be.

Punitive. Democrats, learn that word. Repeat it often. Meanwhile, the Krugmeister points out that Paulson has already been caught lying about his own plan. The other words of the day? Equity stake. Mmmmm.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #9891

My friend jules will probably be the only person who gets this, but what the hell. I've had this movie on the mind lately.

Daisy's groundbreaking Cat with a Movie Camera is just 68 minutes of stalking birds, playing with string, pining for Fancy Feast, rolling around in catnip, etc., but thanks to the extravagant editing and the avant-garde soundtrack, even the hairball sequence is cinematically captivating.
(Image originally uploaded by BigTallGuy; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Dear Overlords

The good Jonathan Schwarz has contact information for those who want to write or call their Congressional overlords about stopping the $700 billion Paulson-ChimpCo bailout swindle in its tracks. Here's my contribution; feel free to borrow/adapt if you think it's worthwhile:

Dear [insert appropriate legislator name here],

I am writing to add my voice in disapproval of Treasury Secretary Paulson's proposed $700 billion Wall Street bailout plan and to ask that you not support this measure. At a time when the government supposedly struggles to find adequate money for health care, veterans' benefits, education, infrastructure improvements, etc., it is simply unconscionable to advocate such a massive redistribution of wealth with so little accountability and so few strings attached.

Cooler heads, and more honest brokers, can devise a better plan to deal with the current crisis. The Bush Administration's desire to rush the Paulson plan through is suspicious, to say the least, given the administration's track record when it comes to other matters of grave public importance (war, civil liberties, human rights, separation of powers, and emergency management, to name a few).

Please stand up for the American people and reject the administration's shameless bailout plan. Better solutions can be found; the legislative branch must not allow itself to be stampeded again into a reckless course of action that weakens America and makes a mockery of age-old standards of justice and responsibility. Please do not support the Paulson plan.


[your name here]

Maybe I should have left out the "stampeded again" reference, I don't know, but after the last eight years, I find it hard to be delicate.

A Fine Present this Morning

Truthout passes along an excerpt from the forthcoming Bill of Wrongs: The Executive Branch’s Assault on America’s Fundamental Rights, the last book by Molly Ivins (and my, it did me more good than I can say to see her byline this morning) and Louis Dubose. And I for one am grateful.

It means something more specific in the story's context, but "It was chickenshit" might serve in the future as my favorite three-word description of the ChimpCo years.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #8934

Given that Animal House was not released until 1978, it is somewhat baffling how "Nothing is over until we decide it is!" could become a slogan of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution of the 1960s, but hey, patches don't lie.
(Image originally uploaded by gmclee; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Not the Octobox!

Lacking cable, I have been forced to wonder how outlets like CNBC have been handling the economic crisis. Apparently, their default response is to seek safety in numbers—of nattering econopundits. It's like some late capitalist cargo cult: If we festoon ourselves with enough talking heads, the evil spirits will be intimidated and go elsewhere.

I'm guessing that CNBC won't be talking to William Greider on the ChimpCo bailout proposal ("a historic swindle of the American public") anytime soon.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #9699

Suddenly, in mid-stride, Lindsey felt the unmistakable presence of—a fat cell. "Oh, God, it's back," she thought.
(Image originally uploaded by DÄN; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Friday, September 19, 2008

Do I Hear a "Woo-Hoo"?

Just released from Free Press:

Charges Against Journalists at RNC Dropped; Questions Remain

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Local authorities in St. Paul announced today that they will not prosecute journalists who were arrested on misdemeanor charges during the Republican National Convention earlier this month.

"This is an important first step, but many questions remain," said Nancy Doyle Brown from Twin Cities Media Alliance. "We still need answers about why and how journalists got swept up in these arrests in the first place. And more than anything else, we need to ensure that this never happens again. We’ll never know how many important stories never got told because their authors were behind bars, not in the streets."

Nearly two dozen reporters were arrested during the four-day event, including Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman and two of her producers, Associated Press reporters, student journalists, and local TV photographers, among others. Other journalists were pepper-sprayed, and reporters with I-Witness were held at gunpoint during a "pre-emptive" police raid aimed at disrupting protesters. The press release from St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman's office noted that the city's attorney will use a "broad definition and verification to identify journalists who were caught up in mass arrests during the convention."

Yes, questions remain, such as "Did the authorities in St. Paul really arrest and harass all these people by mistake, or have they embraced a peculiarly passive-aggressive form of fascism?" Discuss.

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #8556

We now join Björk for Glory, already in progress.
(Image originally uploaded by aBoxcarNamedRuin; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


The Ultimate Soup Can

Patricia J. Williams has my favorite comparison yet for Sarah Palin: she's like one of those banal yet calculated, unapologetically repetitive yet attention-getting Warhol paintings.

As someone who was trained in advertising, Warhol had mastered many of the tools of expert propagandists. One such device is prosopopeia, a rather literary term for what happens when the Pillsbury Doughboy persuades you to buy a bread product by giggling so charmingly after that poke to his puffy little tummy. Prosopopeia is the personification of an abstraction. As theorist Barbara Johnson says in her book Persons and Things, "A speaking thing can sell itself; if the purchaser responds to the speech of the object, he or she feels uninfluenced by human manipulation and therefore somehow not duped. We are supposed not to notice how absurd it is to be addressed by the Maalox Max bottle, or Mr. Clean, or Mrs. Butterworth."

It is in precisely this sense that Warhol's portraits are calculated disguises, masks that artfully undermine the specificity of his subjects and render them theatrically populist images. There is, for example, a wonderful Warhol self-portrait, now on exhibit at Ohio State's Wexner Center for the Arts, in which he wears white face makeup, a woman's wig, eyeliner and bright red lipstick. He is to Kabuki femininity what Sarah Palin is to Kabuki Republican masculinity: iconic, self-proclaiming, yet concealed. That this is literally the case is underscored by the invisible and advance authorship of "her" acceptance speech. Imagine that speech as it lay waiting for just the right someone to deliver it. Imagine the accents and intonations of the tryouts they must have had: what gun-toting, warmongering, polar-bear extinguishing, creationist, antiabortionist man could have gotten away with it?

"How do you sell a box of poison?" they must have wondered. Dress it up in drag, they obviously concluded.

Beware: the last sentence of Williams's piece will haunt your nightmares.

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #2763

I missed yesterday; here's a threefer by way of apology.

Few cats have proven so aptly named as Angst.
The Lamb & Flag is the place to go for fish and chips, but if you're looking for bangers and mash, you're better off at the Metronome & Astrolabe or the Tuba & String Cheese.
(Image originally uploaded by alice_zero, SXN, and *Robert*; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Remember, It's Only Socialism When Government Works for Labor

When government steps in to help Capital, why, that's just giving the old Invisible Hand a hand.

S.E.C. Issues Temporary Ban on Short-Selling

Treasury to Guarantee Money Market Mutual Funds

Vast Bailout by U.S. Proposed in Bid to Stem Financial Crisis

All from the front page of this morning's New York Times on the web. I know that the right-wingers have robotically chanted for years that the NYT is a pinko paper, but ye gods—who could have predicted that it was actually Wall Street that's full of whiny foul-weather pinks quick to scream for public help when their precious portfolios are imperiled by the transitive stupidity and cupidity of their own class?

It seems like just yesterday they were telling us that Government Is Not the Answer®. Of course, if they had been honest and added —Except When The Owning Class Needs Help, then their side wouldn't have won so many elections. So I guess there's a kind of cheap, nasty, petty, venal, hypocritical logic to the last thirty years after all.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #5758

The Tiki Bar of Dr. Caligari
(Image originally uploaded by drewgroove; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


A Specter is Haunting My Blog

With all this talk of government takeovers of the financial industry in the air, I was put in mind of an interesting corner of the blogosphere that I stumbled across a while back and have been meaning to mention: A Soviet Poster a Day. It's a site devoted to, well, Soviet posters. The "a day" part hasn't exactly been true for a while, but the "Soviet poster" part definitely is. You don't have to be a communist (I'm not) to enjoy the bold graphics, the startling combinations of text and image—the artistry of propaganda. And it isn't all propaganda. Perusing the tags there, the name "Dziga Vertov" caught my eye. The link took me to this:

Product of an unspeakable ménage à trois between Dziga Vertov, Elvis Costello, and Paul's grandfather from A Hard Day's Night.
It's a movie poster for a film by the decades-ahead-of-his-time director Dziga Vertov. (Real name: Denis Kaufman. The nifty pseudonym means "spinning top.") In the interregnum between the post-Revolution Civil War and the rise of Stalin, Vertov was one of a number of cinematic innovators (Eisenstein was another) whose best works still have the power to startle, even most of a century later. Vertov was a devoted nonfictionalist who wanted to use film to reveal "the real world" in new ways—as opposed to using new technologies to recycle old dramas and fantasy stories. He helped to pioneer techniques that we take for granted today: dissolves, split-screens, superimpositions, microphotography, variable camera speeds, elaborate editing, hidden cameras, stop-motion animation, even slow-motion sports photography. All of these and more may be found in abundance in his 1929 masterpiece Man with a Movie Camera, which is at once an innovative chronicle of "a day in the life" of the Soviet Union and a relentlessly self-reflexive study of its own making (the film's "star" is really Vertov's ace cameraman brother, Mikhail Kaufman, and the film revels in showing its audience the mechanics of shooting and editing: how a film is constructed). If you haven't seen it, you could do worse than to track down the DVD version with a rollicking score by the Alloy Orchestra (based on Vertov's notes). You will not be disappointed. It remains one of the most astonishing things I have ever seen.

Nash-Bob says check it out, comrade.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #7888

Dateline: America, 2010. International tensions flared yet again after U.S. President Sarah Palin announced plans to hunt the Swiss from airplanes. Now this.
(Image originally uploaded by scp montagne; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Free Movie

Michael Moore has an announcement—about this:

Free for download on September 23—hey, that's Bruce Springsteen's birthday—and in stores come October.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #3611

Has this ever happened to you?

"Whew. I'm tired. I think I'll rest here a moment." *click* *wall slides back, revealing Lindbergh child, Jimmy Hoffa, Amelia Earhart, Portrait of Dr. Gachet, etc.*
(Image originally uploaded by Jesu d´Alange; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


"The Distilled Essence of Wingnut"

Mmmm. Rancid.

And Sarah Palin is the distilled essence of wingnut. She has it all. She is dishonest. She is a religious nut. She is incurious. She is anti-science. She is inexperienced. She abuses her authority. She hides behind executive privilege. She is a big spender. She works from the gut and places a greater value on instinct than knowledge.

And most dangerous of all, she is supremely self-confident to the point of not recognizing how ill-equipped she is to lead the country.

"George Bush in a dress." Get out of my mind, John Cole.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #1265

Dateline: America, 2010. Sure, liberals and elitists may have scoffed when President Palin nominated her childhood friend Larry "Crusher" McGillicuddy to be United States Ambassador to the United Nations, but public concern about his still being a few points shy of a GED and unable to find Europe on a map soon faded once Fox News began putting his highlight reel into heavy rotation.
(Image originally uploaded by Hajen; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Saturday, September 13, 2008

Galveston Video

The Houston Chronicle has six minutes' worth of video of flooding in Galveston, taken by a Coast Guard HU-25 jet this afternoon. Damn.

P.S. Here's what one of those jets looks like flying over your house:

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #3336

Even the fearsome Swiss Army Beetle is no match for 2-(1-Methylpropyl)phenyl N-methylcarbamate.
(Image originally uploaded by JonathanvD; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)



Good news from WunderBlog:

Galveston is not destroyed
Although Ike caused heavy damage by flooding Galveston with a 12-foot storm surge, the city escaped destruction thanks to its 15.6-foot sea wall (the wall was built 17 feet high, but has since subsided about 2 feet). The surge was able to flow into Galveston Bay and flood the city from behind, but the wall prevented a head-on battering by the surge from the ocean side. Galveston was fortunate that Ike hit the city head-on, rather than just to the south. Ike's highest storm surge occurred about 50 miles to the northeast of Galveston, over a lightly-populated stretch of coast. Galveston was also lucky that Ike did not have another 12-24 hours over water. In the 12 hours prior to landfall, Ike's central pressure dropped 6 mb, and the storm began to rapidly organize and form a new eyewall. If Ike had had another 12-24 hours to complete this process, it would have been a Category 4 hurricane with 135-145 mph winds that likely would have destroyed Galveston. The GFDL model was consistently advertising this possibility, and it wasn't far off the mark. It was not clear to me until late last night that Ike would not destroy Galveston and kill thousands of people. Other hurricane scientists I conversed with yesterday were of the same opinion.
I've been checking out the news at the Houston Chronicle, and, while I guess it'll be a while before we get a full picture of what Ike hath wrought, so far, what catches my eye is that he seems to have knocked out over 99 percent of electricity service in southeast Texas. Wow. That means millions of people without power. For weeks. In September. In southeast Texas. Where it doesn't really start cooling off until, oh, around Halloween. We went through about a week without power after Frances in September of 2004, so I can definitely empathize with the folks who have come through Ike only to have a long period of unpleasantness ahead of them. I guess ya gotta remember: It could be worse.

Best wishes to all again, and I hope that the post-Ike reports include more pleasant surprises like those in Dr. Jeff Masters' missive above.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #9239

When visiting Midwich, enjoy a hearty Breakfast of the Damned.
(Image originally uploaded by T. Walker; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


A Mighty Storm

Only a week ago, we here in Florida were watching Ike with some trepidation; now, my thoughts go out to all the people in Texas and Louisiana who are in this thing's path. The warnings from the Galveston NWS office are really quite scary:

Maximum water levels forecast:

Gulf-facing coastline west of Sargent... 4 to 7 feet

Shoreline of Matagorda Bay... 3 to 5 feet

Gulf-facing coastline from Sargent to San Luis Pass... 8 to 14 feet

Galveston Island... ... 14 to 17 feet

Bolivar Peninsula... 17 to 20 feet

Shoreline of Galveston Bay... 15 to 22 feet

Life threatening inundation likely near the immediate coast and Bayshore areas!

Neighborhoods that are affected by the storm surge... and possibly entire coastal communities... will be inundated during the period of peak storm tide. Persons not heeding evacuation orders in single family one or two story homes face the possibility of death. Many residences of average construction directly on the coast will be destroyed. Widespread and devastating personal property damage is likely elsewhere. Vehicles left behind will likely be swept away. Numerous roads will be swamped... some may be washed away by the water. Entire flood prone coastal communities will be cutoff. Water levels may exceed 9 feet for more than a mile inland. Coastal residents in multi-story facilities risk being cutoff. Conditions will be worsened by battering waves closer to the coast. Such waves will exacerbate property damage... with massive destruction of homes... including those of block construction. Damage from beach erosion could take years to repair.

One can't help but think of the awful Galveston Hurricane of 1900, but the good Dr. Jeff Masters notes that the forecast seems worse for another Texas city a little farther up the coast:
NOAA's experimental storm surge forecast is calling for a 10% chance that the storm tide from Ike will reach 27-30 feet on the south and east sides of Houston. The exact track of Ike is key in determining if Galveston's 17-foot sea wall gets overtopped, flooding the city. A slight wobble 30 miles to the north of Galveston would put the city into offshore winds from Ike, possibly saving it from inundation. The situation is grim for Port Arthur, Texas, on the Louisiana border. The expected storm surge of 15-20 feet will overtop the city's seawall by six feet, resulting in flooding of the city and a number of major oil refineries. Expect a significant tightening of gas supplies in coming months, due to extensive damage to the oil refineries in the Houston and Port Arthur area.
Best wishes to all—stay as safe as you can and let's all hope for the best.

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #7376

For yesterday, when I just didn't feel like it.

Sorry, visitors looking for the National Incontinence Laboratory or the Pusburger Institute—you're on your own. #^%&ing Chamber of Commerce snobs.
(Image originally uploaded by geneullerysmith; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Specifically about Generik

He's been on hiatus, but the good Generik recently popped back into the blogosphere to share some awesome, awesome, awesome news. Check it out!

Congrats and best wishes to all involved, my friend.

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #5681

The fish market job paid Cindy's way through college—and turned her definitively toward podiatry and away from optometry. Far, far away. *shudder*
(Image originally uploaded by m i r r o r b a ll f i a s c o; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


These People Amaze Me

Roy Edroso's expeditions into Wingnuttia routinely produce all sorts of interesting ideological artifacts, but this one from Roger L. Simon really caught my eye:

It was the rebirth of Frank Capra for our times - Mrs. Smith Goes to Washington. This woman [Sarah Palin] is a star and a star of the American kind we have not seen for years. She really is born live from a Capra movie, from the days Hollywood told stories about the greatness of our country. I don’t agree with her about everything but so what? I don’t agree with anybody about everything except, luckily for me, my wife. But Sarah Palin is a force of nature. Like a Jimmy Stewart character channeled by Claudette Colbert.
??? More like a Sinclair Lewis character channeled by Stephen Colbert. Yeah, you can see how she's just like Mr. Smith—if Mr. Smith was, you know, a Bronze-Age tribalist hack willing to tell shameless lies in order to con people into supporting him. The resemblance is truly striking.

Ye gods, these people. To say such things about Sarah Palin and mean them, you have to be either ignorant (of her mounting record of mendacity and venality) or idiotic (and not in the nice Dostoevsky way). To say such things about Sarah Palin but not mean them, you have to be a shameless hack yourself. Ignorant, idiotic, or ignoble: Why does it so often come down to one of the above with these people?

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #8436

For yesterday.

RomanyCare offers some of the most affordable health insurance around, but tracking down your Primary Care Physician can take some doing.
(Image originally uploaded by Marco Donatiello; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


God Says "Gesundheit"

The Large Hadron Collider is up and running!

Some of the first protons to be accelerated inside the Large Hadron Collider smashed into an absorbing device called a collimator at near light speed, producing a shower of particle debris recorded in this image. About an hour later the beam completed a full circuit of the 27km tunnel, to cheers from physicists (Image: CERN)
New Scientist's "whistlestop tour" of the LHC (video) is worth a peek for those interested.

Poor Superconducting Super Collider. While the Large Hadron Collider is ramping up to make Higgs bosons, you're starring in Jean-Claude Van Damme movies. *sniff*

Monday, September 08, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #0179

I swear, Japanese prop comedy makes Noh look like Neil Simon.
(Image originally uploaded by The KronoNaut; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Markets Reward Socialism!

Oops, sorry, I forgot: Government control of industries is only socialism—which, my right-wing friends have always lectured me, is a bad idea which never works and is doomed to fail, so it's a good thing we helped out with coups in Iran, Guatemala, Chile, Venezuela, etc. so those poor confused people wouldn't, you know, try constructing sane, humane alternatives to oligarchy or anything—when rich people don't like it. How silly of me.

Financial markets soared and mortgages rates fell today after Sunday's government takeover of housing finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, but shares in the two companies lost almost all their value.


Stocks rallied in response to the plan. The Dow Jones industrial average jumped 2.58 percent to 11,510.74. The broader Standard & Poor's 500 index rose more than 2 percent to 1,267.79. Leading the rally were home builders, banks and other companies whose fortunes are closely linked to the general health of the housing market.

Well, Dean Baker smiles upon it, and the Krugmeister says it's not "nationalization" so much as "deprivatization," but still, I enjoy the irony.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #9836

Product of an unspeakable ménage à trois between Paul Shaffer, Billy Joel, and Karl Marx.
(Image originally uploaded by Jewlicious; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Mitt Romney Said What?

Quoth Robert Parry:
"We need change, all right," declared former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, "change from a liberal Washington to a conservative Washington! We have a prescription for every American who wants change in Washington - throw out the big-government liberals, and elect John McCain and Sarah Palin."
I know he's been compared to a robot before, but ye gods—does he not realize that his Grand Oligarchy Party has been pretty much in charge in Washington for, lo, the past eight years?

The automatism with which some of these people recite talking points really is astounding. I'm starting to wonder how many big-name Republican politicos could actually pass the Turing Test.

Creeping Agnewism

I'm glad it's not just me noticing the resemblance.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #5466

The Brothers Karamazov enjoy a night out at Jimmy Changa's Eat-and-Drinkery and Funtime Mexiporium. "Y'know, Alexei—*urp*—your hands are even girlier than Ivan's." *Dmitri finishes margarita in one gulp, dunks entire fistful of chips into salsa, crams them into his maw, slaps waitress on ass*
(Image originally uploaded by sunnyd1225; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


The Art of Slur

Today's "Say What?" at the Doonesbury Daily Dose has that line from Georgia Republican Rep. Lynn Westmoreland that's been making the rounds:

Just from what little I've seen of her and Mr. Obama, Sen. Obama, they're a member of an elitist-class individual that thinks that they're uppity.
Oh, good lord. Look, if you're going to traffic in racist slurs, you could at least get the grammar right.
  1. They're a member links a plural subject and verb (they are) with a singular complement (a member). Try They're members.
  2. They are members of an individual does not make sense, whether the individual be "elitist-class" or otherwise. You seem to be tangling up They are members of an elitist class with They are elitist individuals. Perhaps you are trying to cram too many slurs into one sentence. It would be advisable to focus on clearly communicating one slur at a time, at least until you have had more practice handling sophisticated thoughts. This is what teachers usually recommend for elementary students, and there's no reason it can't work for you, too.
  3. The last part adds an extra layer of confusion. Is it the Obamas who think that they (themselves) are uppity? Is it their class that thinks that they (the Obamas) are uppity? Does their class think that it itself is uppity? The pronoun references here are really a mess. If I remember my racist slurs correctly, it's usually someone other than the black people thinking that the black people are uppity; if this is what you mean, then you could easily both clarify and shorten the slur by just using the adjective uppity. You could also shorten the bulky elitist-class individuals to just elitists. What do you think?
  4. It would also be helpful to add a subject and verb that go better with the long introductory phrase. Something like I think that or They seem to be would be appropriate.
Now, putting these suggestions together, here are four possibilities for getting your slur across more clearly, correctly, and effectively:
  1. Just from what little I've seen of her and Mr. Obama, Sen. Obama, I think that they're members of an uppity elitist class.
  2. Just from what little I've seen of her and Mr. Obama, Sen. Obama, I think that they're uppity members of an elitist class.
  3. Just from what little I've seen of her and Mr. Obama, Sen. Obama, they seem to be uppity elitist-class individuals.
  4. Just from what little I've seen of her and Mr. Obama, Sen. Obama, they seem to be uppity elitists.
What do you think? I think that #4, the shortest, is also the best; I rather like the pithy punch of uppity elitists at the end—from a purely rhetorical point of view, anyway. C'mon, Republicans! I expect that you'll be offering plenty of similar slurs against Senator Obama and his wife in the coming weeks; the least you could do is to put some effort into making them clearer and more grammatically correct. After all, slurs are pretty much all you've got going for you after eight years of Bush-Cheney misrule; you'd best master the alchemy involved in turning these turds into diamonds for yourselves, or you're sunk.

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #1771

For yesterday.

How the National Review imagines an Obama cabinet meeting.
(Image originally uploaded by Ira Monko; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Special Pleading as a Way of Life

Sorry, I was busy with my uncle most of the day yesterday. But he finally got the cast off his right hand, and he's doing much better. He seemed tired but none the worse for wear, even after several hours out running around in the winds off of Tropical Storm Hanna as she finally whooshed by on her way to the Carolinas.

I finally had a chance to see this. Even if The Daily Show did nothing but rub the noses of people like Karl Rove and Bill O'Reilly in their own foul hypocritical droppings—well, it would still be a hoot to watch.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #2530

I'm starting to think that this Learning Channel documentary might not be entirely accurate. "A recurring problem with nosebleeds forces him to turn his back on British Invasion rock and write Syntactic Structures instead—next on The Young Noam Chomsky Chronicles."
(Image originally uploaded by seekaltroutes; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


When In Doubt, Rewrite History

C&L has the transcript of Governor Mooseburger's speech last night and has already obligingly nailed three of the false claims repeated in it: that she rejected earmarks, that she opposed the notorious "Bridge to Nowhere," and that she heroically gave oil company profits back to the people of Alaska. (Why is this normal in Alaska but COMMUNISM! everywhere else?) Reading through her speech, I wasn't struck by those so much as by these remarks:

It was just a year ago when all the experts in Washington counted out our nominee because he refused to hedge his commitment to the security of the country he loves.

With their usual certitude, they told us that all was lost—there was no hope for this candidate who said that he would rather lose an election than see his country lose a war.

??? It's odd that she (or whoever actually wrote the speech) blames "the experts in Washington" for discounting McCain's chances early on—and tries to tie this to antiwar traitorism, no less. Take a look at polls from early in the race, and you'll be reminded that McCain was finishing well behind Huckabee and Giuliani in many of them. Hell, less than two weeks ago, 42% of registered Republicans were saying that they would rather have somebody else as their nominee. It wasn't "the experts in Washington" who were counting McCain out early on—let alone challenging the war to which he's shackled himself!—it was those esteemed heartland voters that Palin claims to respect so much.

Creeping Agnewism seems to be in these people's genes, I swear.

I Can't Believe It's Joe Klein!

I'm not used to seeing the mainstreamiest of mainstream journalists stand up for, well, journalism in the face of St. McMaverick's rising ire like this:

There is a tendency in the media to kick ourselves, cringe and withdraw, when we are criticized. But I hope my colleagues stand strong in this case: it is important for the public to know that Palin raised taxes as governor, supported the Bridge to Nowhere before she opposed it, pursued pork-barrel projects as mayor, tried to ban books at the local library and thinks the war in Iraq is "a task from God." The attempts by the McCain campaign to bully us into not reporting such things are not only stupidly aggressive, but unprofessional in the extreme.
Well, I guess when your war is unpopular, your record is full of flip-flops and panders, your agenda is indistinguishable from that of the man who may go down in history as the Worst President Ever, and your running mate is "a borderline-traitorous intellectual lightweight with a track record of penny-ante authoritarianism, utter ignorance of American history, unapologetic suckling on the federal teat, and a family situation worthy of Jerry Springer on a bad day" (in the immortal words of Sifu Tweety Fish), then you might as well dust off the old "liberal media" canard. It'll probably work—at least on anyone who hasn't been paying attention to how the media has actually behaved during the last eight years.

Or who hasn't paid attention to McCain's long-charmed history with the press.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #3361

As a child, James could never have guessed that his fascination with the work of Charles Darwin would lead to a lucrative career as photography editor for Beak Aficionado.
(Image originally uploaded by Tetsuo Sakamoto; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Now It Makes More Sense

As the mooseburgers continue to hit the fan regarding the seemingly bizarre selection of seemingly unvetted Sarah Palin to be John McCain's soul running mate, inveterate right-watcher Max Blumenthal offers the best explanation of McCain's choice so far—"best" in the sense that it makes the McCain campaign's decision-making look like the result of something other than impulse or incompetence, anyway:

Last week, while the media focused almost obsessively on the DNC's spectacle in Denver, the country's most influential conservatives met quietly at a hotel in downtown Minneapolis to get to know Sarah Palin. The assembled were members of the Council for National Policy, an ultra-secretive cabal that networks wealthy right-wing donors together with top conservative operatives to plan long-term movement strategy.


The members of the Council for National Policy are the hidden hand behind McCain's Palin pick. With her selection, the Republican nominee is suddenly -- and unexpectedly -- assured of the support of a movement that once opposed his candidacy with all its might. Case in point: while [Focus on the Family chairman James] Dobson once said he could "never" vote for McCain, he issued a statement last week hailing Palin as an "outstanding" choice. If Dobson's enthusiasm for Palin is any indication, he may soon emerge from his bunker in Colorado Springs to endorse McCain, providing the Republican nominee with the support of the Christian right's single most influential figure.

So: the Palin choice seems to be St. McMaverick's final pander to the fundie right. Gosh, if they weren't all so professedly "pro-life," I'd almost think they were hoping that the 72-year-old McCain would win in November and then kack off shortly after, leaving a younger, girlier version of George W. Bush with most of a term to keep dragging us toward the Bronze-Age theocracy that is their El Dorado.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #8268

Here's for tomorrow since I may be offline then.

Nashville was not kind to Hector Elizondo and the Heckettes.
(Image originally uploaded by Grand Palace; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


Hopeful Gustav News

I've been checking out the hurricane blog, and so far, there's no news of failing levees or widespread flooding. There are, however, some alarming photos and videos of water overtopping flood walls, a little at a time:

VIDEO: Water laps over Industrial Canal

I used to work with a guy who was fascinated by images of "the sublime" (a feeling of awe, fear, or even horror inspired by intimations of our smallness in the face of nature and the universe). I think that this might qualify.

Daily Random Flickr Blogging, #9163

It takes a special kind of therapist to host a chapter of RenFesters Anonymous. "Greetings and salutations. Alfred the Wise am I, alchemist, magus, seeker of the Philosopher's Stone, and verily, forsooth, I am a renfestaholic." (All:) "Greetings and salutations, Alfred the Wise." *sigh* "What was that, Doctor Armstrong?" "Nothing. Nothing."
(Image originally uploaded by marcusvesterlund; Random Flickr Blogging invented by Tom Hilton.)


McCain-Torgo 2008

Of all the sad talking points offered to justify McCain's choice of Sarah Palin as running mate, the saddest has to be the one proferred by profundities like Cindy McCain and Steve Doocy: Palin has foreign policy experience because her state is closest to Russia. Oh, and Michael Barone adds a nice twist:

Foreign policy experience? Well, Alaska is the only state with a border with Russia. And it is the only state with territory, in the Aleutian Islands, occupied by the enemy in World War II.
Yeah, you can see how the Japanese occupation of a few storm-tossed islands hundreds of miles from even the Alaskan mainland for about a year starting in mid-1942 makes Sarah Palin (b. 1964) practically a grizzled veteran.

(Six degrees moment: My dad served in the Aleutians, at the air base that was miraculously carved out on Adak Island. Among his memorabilia are pictures of the place, which looks even more rocky, barren, and windswept in black and white. One I remember in particular: a shot of a bunch of tents, with an inscription on the back noting that, shortly after the picture was taken, an out-of-control B-25 skidded off the runway and plowed through the tents, killing one of my dad's comrades—a kid barely out of his teens. Such was life for "The Greatest Generation." I wonder whether my dad ever crossed paths with the young Charlton Heston, who apparently served on B-25s in the Aleutians. Anyway.)

I would just like to point out that, by the McCain-Doocy-Barone criterion, the El Pasoans who made Manos: The Hands of Fate have at least as much foreign policy cred as Sarah Palin.

For that matter, why not Vice President Torgo?

He's at least slightly less monstrous and repellent than Dick Cheney, and he's already learned at the feet of The Master. The campaign ads practically write themselves.

Torgo: He'll take care of the place if The Master goes away.
G'wan, tell me he wouldn't look right at home talking to Sean Hannity.

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