October 29, 2004

Renew the Fairness Doctrine

A project of MMA. The Fairness Doctrine, enshrined as law, would require equal air time for all sides of a political or social issue to present their case before the public. How could a democrat (note the small `d') not support this?

October 28, 2004

Faith, Reason, and Morality

I have a couple of things to say about this. It's going to be long, which hopefully will make up for the past few days' silence.

First, you should read it for the perspective it gives -- at this point completely unsurprising -- of Bush and the sort of religious beliefs he holds:

But the basic idea is that, once you surrender to God, divine guidance is palpable. "If you obey God in the first thing he shows you, then he instantly opens up the next truth to you," Chambers [an early 20th century Scottish theologian, whose homilies Bush reads every morning] writes.

And you shouldn't let your powers of reflection get in the way. Chambers lauds Abraham for preparing to slay his son at God's command without, as the Bible put it, conferring "with flesh and blood." Chambers warns: "Beware when you want to 'confer with flesh and blood' or even your own thoughts, insights, or understandings - anything that is not based on your personal relationship with God. These are all things that compete with and hinder obedience to God."

Once you're on the right path, setbacks that might give others pause needn't faze you. As Chambers noted in last Sunday's reading, "Paul said, in essence, 'I am in the procession of a conqueror, and it doesn't matter what the difficulties are, for I am always led in triumph.' " Indeed, setbacks may have a purpose, Chambers will tell Mr. Bush this Sunday: "God frequently has to knock the bottom out of your experience as his saint to get you in direct contact with himself." Faith "by its very nature must be tested and tried."

Now that I've got your attention, let's talk about Abraham.

Specifically, what Soren Kierkegaard , one of the first philosophers universally regarded as an Existentialist, had to say about Abraham. Kierkegaard radically opposed himself to the moral-political-religious system of Georg Hegel (those of you who've studied some Marx will have heard Hegel's name before). In Hegel's system, the world was supremely rational, governed by reason and logic slowly but inevitably triumphing over absurdity, coming together into one rational community. Western, meaning Christian, moral, religious, and political systems could be reached using reason. Kiekegaard, on the other hand, embraced individualism and the absurd. In Fear and Trembling, he considered the biblical story of Abraham, a man ordered by God to sacrifice his only son. Kierkegaard pointed out that Abraham's behavior -- preparing, albeit with great reluctance, to sacrifice his son, until at the last moment God rewards his faith and devotion with a substitute sacrifice -- is simultaneously completely irrational, completely amoral, and completely Christian. How would Abraham explain his actions to the fellow members of his community? Or to his wife? "God talks to me! And he told me I had to kill my son! It's not my fault! God told me to!" He'd sound crazy. Clearly not the type of person Hegel has in mind.

And yet this man is held in such esteem that three of the world's major religions are named for him (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are called the Abrahamic religions). Kierkegaard concludes that Hegel's characterization of Christianity is completely backwards: faith isn't something you arrive at objectively, using reason; it is a passionate, subjective, and ultimately absurd individual commitment, one that must be constantly renewed. Furthermore, a Kierkegaardian, Existentialist Christian could not view morality as public: one comes to know what to do through one's faith, not through the standards of reason or the community. This doesn't mean that the Kierkegaardian Christian believes she hears voices telling her what's right or what's wrong; that's incorrect both because the Kierkegaardian Christian doesn't think she's hearing voices of God or angels telling her what to do, at least not unless she's been profoundly blessed, and because she wouldn't apply the words `right' or `wrong', with their connotations of a public system of morals, to a transient, personal understanding of how she should behave.

That is to say, for this sort of pietistic, individualistic sort of religion, there can be no moral system. Everything, even one's desire for a secure sense of right and wrong, must be sacrificed and placed, faithfully, in the hands of God.

Let that sink in for a moment. I'll wait here while you take five minutes.

Kierkegaard did add that this was such a demanding task -- to live one's life devoted to the absurd, in the face of all reason and pressure from the community -- that only a very few people could ever manage it (Nietzsche made a similar point, about how most people could not bear the personal responsibility to accept the transvaluation of all values, and hence public morality was necessary for the public). What about all those devoted evangelicals who live in our country today, then? What about Bush and his rock solid faith? You can read the piece in the New York Times, or I think you can imagine what I think of him, even with my own Existentialist tendencies.

Climacus [one of the psuedonyms under which Kierkegaard wrote] hopes to deceive readers into the truth of Christianity by virtue of an absurd representation of Christianity's ineffability; the Christian God is represented as absolutely transcendent of human categories yet is absurdly presented as a personal God with the human capacities to love, judge, forgive, teach, etc.

October 26, 2004

In which I continue to dislike David Brooks

Has he just started writing op-eds about himself?

And minus a million points for the Nietzsche reference. You don't get to be a complete tool and reference Nietzsche.

Homie Don't Play This

Eminem seems to have joined the Reality Based Community with his new music video. MTV is evidently a little squeemish about playing it, but hey, that's what the internet is for.

Via Pandagon.

October 25, 2004

Surprise, October Surprise!

Well, since it makes sense that any October Surprises, the last minute stories/stunts candidates pull to try and take the wheels off the other guy, would be coming by about now, it seems both campaigns have their final big guns.

On the Kerry side we have the story (not linked to a particular story since the entire front page is about this shit at this point) Dan mentioned earlier about the 350 tons of explosives stolen from under Bush's nose in Iraq. That's right, TONS. I could come up with all sorts of examples of stuff you could do with that, but I think you all understand that it really comes down to blowing up LOTS of shit, pretty much all of which will be ours. I guess they really didn't think things were exciting enough over there and decided to help the other guys out a bit.

On the Bush side we have this. Really, that's their big gun. Kerry said he talked to all of the Security Council and it turns out to not have been all of them. Conservatives are fighting tooth and nail against the common sense that this doesn't matter in the slightest.

Let's assume everything about this story is true. John Kerry did not, in fact, meet with the entire Security Council. I'll even go further and assume he didn't meet with any of them. So Kerry lied in order to puff himself up and make himself seem more important than a Massachusetts Senator really is on the world stage. Ok, I don't like lying as a general rule, so that's a negative which I mark up against Kerry.

To me it just shows that he's a politician. As has been said before, Bush has plenty of exagerations throughout his campaign, let alone his term, but none of that really matters. What matters (at least to an extent that overwhelms everything else to me) here are two things: What policies do the candidates support? and What kind of record do they, and especially the sitting president, have?

Bush has a terrible record as President. He's made policy mistakes that have cost the country a lot of money and lives. He supports policies for the second term which seem to continue things as they are, if not worse. Do I like Kerry lying? No, not at all and I wish he wouldn't. Eight days from an election am I going to spend ANY amount of time thinking about chaning my vote over this? Jesus God no. It is AN issue, but so far removed from the other more important issues that it's laughable.

Less Boobies, More Bombs

To accompany Ezra's thoughts on the possibility of a draft all you folks still young enough to get the call up, here's the funtime craziness you might expect to find in your desert paradise.

Man Down, Dude!

Chief Justice William Rehnquist is undergoing sugury on thyroid cancer today. Evidently it's extremely treatable, with a 90% success rate, but with almost half the court above seventy this sure makes you think about the next 4-8 years and the possible make up of the court, no?

Hot Or Not...But For Congress

I'm sure this isn't really new, but as NBC says, it's new to me. So here it is. Some interesting choices there, especially people that got "support" from across the isle and people that had to rely on their own camp to get to the top.

As If We Needed Another Reason For Logging More!

The BC '04 guys have a new commercial (Scroll halfway down). All I can say is that if this was the best idea for a TV spot they could come up with this close to the end of the campaign, somebody should get their money back. And the BC '04 folks have the audacity to claim it's Kerry that's running the scare campaign.

And, of course, the internet folks have come up with their clever responses here and here.

I like math

This is a nifty little story -- asking physicists what their favourite equations are. A bunch of them, naturally, are physics ones, and I have no idea what they mean, but Euler's equation, the Pythagorean theorem, Fourier Transforms, the formula for the circumference of a circle, and the Riemann zeta function, are all pure math.

Let me run down the left-hand side of this, for those of you who don't remember calculus (possibly because you haven't taken it yet). One of Euler's many, many achievements was discovering that exp(i*theta) (that's "e to the theta") is equal to cos(theta)+i*sin(theta). So if you plug pi radians in for theta (that's halfway around the circle, or 180 degrees), you'll get that exp(i*pi)=-1. Then add 1 to it, and voila, 0. Euler's eqution isn't so mysterious, once you've done a couple of semesters of calculus, but it still looks cool.

The national security President

I finally did get one reason for voting for Bush besides abortion from one of my conservative friends -- "I believe Bush will keep this country safer than Kerry". Details were not forthcoming.

Olivia, what do you think of this? This isn't Bill Clinton's supposed lax attitude on terrorism; this isn't the UN somehow keeping US soldiers from doing their job. This is the rank incompetence of the people you want keeping you safe for the next four years.

Atrios has the response from the Kerry campaign. Note he mentions Condoleeza Rice, the National Security Advisor. She is the first National Security Advisor since the position came into existence sometime in the twentieth century (I just woke up and I'm terrible with dates, someone else look it up) to campaign for her boss' re-election.

October 24, 2004

The Election Made Simple

Abu Aardvark: The Election Made Simple

Via Pandagon

Our health care sucks

Too tired. Go read. This is one of the big problems I have with Kerry -- which won't stop me from voting for him. Bush's pretense of a health care plan is even more craptastic, of course. Via TMW.

October 23, 2004

God and Sex

Some of you know I come down very harsly on Biblical arguments against homosexuality, ie, "It's bad because it says so in the Bible".
Precisely because it involves the kind of cherry-picking Kristof is talking about here: if you're going to condemn something, or not, just because the Bible says so, you have to take the whole book, all at once, and there's a lot of stuff in there that's pretty appalling. I haven't been hesitant to call such cherry-picking Christians hypocrites in the past.

In fact, the most obvious lesson from Sodom is that when you're attacked by an angry mob, the holy thing to do is to offer up your virgin daughters.

100 facts and 1 opinion

Via Kos, 101 solid reasons, with citations, Bush has just got to go. HTML and PDF

Why Bush can't "win" the "war" on terror[ism]

I think Jesse over at Pandagon has it pretty much right: "war" is just a completely inappropriate point of view on this terror[ism] thing. We can't fight a war on terror[ism], or even a war against a certain species of international terrorists, because it's like trying to shoot a tornado. If we're really concerned about this, we need to stop doing the shit that gets people to hate us so much, eg, not invade sovereign nations because they're a shitty place to live/might be a threat to us at some point in the future, maybe.

Why did I go into academia?

This pretty much sums it up.

October 21, 2004

Republicans make my head hurt

I just don't get it. Why? Why do you believe these people?! They're lying to you!

According to the report, this reality gap is something new in American life. 'So why do Bush supporters show such a resistance to accepting dissonant information?' it asks. 'While it is normal for people to show some resistance, the magnitude of the denial goes beyond the ordinary. Bush supporters have succeeded in suppressing awareness of the findings of a whole series of high-profile reports about prewar Iraq that have been blazoned across the headlines of newspapers and prompted extensive, high-profile and agonizing reflection. The fact that a large portion of Americans say they are unaware that the original reasons that the US took military action -- and for which Americans continue to die on a daily basis -- are not turning out to be valid, are probably not due to a simple failure to pay attention to the news.'

The analysis says that the roots of this denial could lie in the trauma of 9/11 and people's desire to hold on to their image of Bush as a 'capable protector.' It offers no guidance, though, on how ordinary Republicans might be coaxed back to reality.

And while 'The Separate Realities of Bush and Kerry Supporters' may be perversely satisfying to Democrats in its confirmation of blue-state prejudices, it carries a pretty disturbing question for all rational Americans: How can arguments based on fact prevail in a nation where so many people know so little?

Twelve days to go

and things are looking pretty damn good, I'd say. Note that no single `outlined' state has enough EVs to bring Bush up to 270, but there are plenty of combinations of two that do it, and even more combinations that will bring Kerry below 270. So I'm still going to predict that there won't be a President-elect until 2 December, and even later if Kerry has an advantage early on in the vote-counting.

Two Jons (from the Chron)

One hosts the Daily Show, and the other writes opinion pieces. Me, I'm fans of both.

My life is about to get stupid busy, so don't expect to see lots of posts for a while. Meaning the next six weeks. Unless I get sick of being productive and start procrastinating. Then you'll see a dozen rants of insane detail against David Brooks.

October 20, 2004

Foul play

We haven't covered this yet, so I thought I'd give it a mention.

The firm of Sproul and Associates has been involved in all kinds of election-related fraud this year: they were involved in trying to get Nader on the ballot in Arizona, and there are allegations, widely regarded was entirely plausible, that Sproul has been destroying Democrats' voter registration forms before they're forwarded from the Sproul employees who collected them to the local election officials.

Let me say that one more time: this company has been employed by the Republican party to masquerade as neutral election registrars, and rip up and toss the registration forms of Democrats. Add to this the shit with felon lists and other ways Republican operatives have been known to harass minority voters, and you have a despicable party organization.

And Democrats are considered whiners for raising hell over this.

Update: Kos, in his latest column in the Guardian, surveys the debacles going on in several states, and provide links where you can get more info.

October 19, 2004

Tom Tomorrow does the work, so I don't have to

or, Sozialismus' one-person campaign to get David Brooks fired by bitching about him here, where no-one will read it, part MMMXXQXXKVVI.2

October 18, 2004

Child's Play 2k4

Penny Arcade is my favorite web comic of all time but last year they went above and beyond the realm of cool when they created Child's Play. It started as just a simple Amazon.com wishlist on part of the site for toys and video games which they would donate to the Seattle Children's Hospital. $250,000 in cash and toys later from their dedicated readers and they really showed what geeks are really like.

Well it's another year and time for Child's Play 2.0. This year they're better organized and have set it up to benefit not one but five Children's Hospitals around the country. So if you've got a few dollars around, or will soon as is the case with me, you might think about dropping a couple for some sick kids. Not everything is expensive, so don't worry, and being a poor student myself I'm not going to be dropping tons of money. And even if you're not able to buy anything yourself, everyone that reads this (or the many many updates I'm planning on doing between now and the holidays) should tell everyone they know about Child's Play and try to get some word of mouth going. I have a feeling this year is going to make last year look small.

Which one is the family values party?

Conservatives equated Mary Cheney's sexual orientation with abortion, adultery, alcoholism, and now obesity

Fair warning!

[18-10-2004 17:56:16] Cut Bhenist: but yes, i need to think of a way to get linked on the main page of a major blog

[18-10-2004 17:57:07] there's nothing we can't face except for bunnies: kidnap atrios' cat

All Thanks To Me, No Doubt

My main man, whom I volunteer for, Joe Hoeffel is closing fast on Arlen Specter. As a point of reference, somewhere around three weeks ago we were down by twenty points. This drastic change could be due to the lots of other fine dedicated folks working like crazy for the campaign day and night, but I like to think it's probably me.

Joe's problem all along has really only been that nobody outside his district knew who he was, so now that he's been getting out there and meeting people, and getting spots on TV, he's rocketing to within spitting distance of an incumbent of over twenty years. It's really going to come down to the wire on this one but as recently as a couple weeks ago people didn't think we had a chance so anything's possible.

Of Youths And Drafts

Andrew Sullivan (who either doesn't have permalinks or hides them better than anyone on the interweb) finds some interesting polling data showing, unsurprisingly, that Kerry is killing Bush among voters under 30. More interestingly, a third of those youths, and closer to a half with the younger ones, think that the Iraq War will lead to a draft. Despite the fact that his current policies have left our troops are stretched thin as it is, Bush still not only says that he won't instate a draft, but that Kerry, with his "get our troops out of Iraq as soon as we can" strategy, is MORE likely than Bush to instate a draft.

Even though that doesn't make any kind of sense, Atrios(whose permalink for this story seems to be busted) gets word from an anonymous source that the Bush plan to avoid a draft is to extend the reservist mobilization from 2 years to 5. Atrios said it best, "5 years. Wow."

The Point Of Marionette Sex...No, Not THAT Point

Drew over at Terminus has posted his review of Trey Parker and Matt Stone's, of "Southpark" fame, newest creation, "Team America: World Police". In it he argues that the film suffers because "it doesn't believe in anything," but even though I have yet to see the film myself, after reading this article at Salon I have a hard time believing that they weren't trying to make a final point, even if it's possible that they don't get it across as well as they should. I'll let you all know what I think when I see it, and I know you await with baited breath.

Parker and Stone's political views seem to revolve around everyone chilling out. To that end, they rail against anyone that gets high and mighty about anything whether it's a lefty complaining about America's role in the world or a righty complaining about some social issue they want the government to crack down on. I think Parker and Stone recognize that an overabundance of arrogance can be a bad thing, hence the wonderfully titled theme to the movie "America, Fuck Yeah!", but given that they both grew up on the underside of the middle class and have ended up rich are very quick to get defensive when they think someone is forgetting that America is a pretty bitchin' place to live.

Of course, I think their view is wrong and I think the left has a lot more worthwhile things to say than the right, but I still think they believe in something.

I'm A Proud Member Of The Reality-Based Community

Matty Y and Josh Marshall talk about how one interesting problem we face this election cycle is that so many different groups oppose Bush that it's been hard to establish any kind of group identity. Well thanks an anonymous Bushie advisor we seem to finally have a banner to gather under. Matty Y's even linked to some shirts if you're in the market for a politico-t.

But They Provide Synergy!

Pandagon found a great article about how salaries for corporate CEOs have been balooning for years while salaries for workers have been shrinking.

To keep this political, which candidate is running on a "fight for the middle class" ticket and which candidate is running on a "trickle down economics is best for the little guy" ticket. His dad had it right, it's voodoo economics and it's a thinly veiled excuse to line the pockets of their buddies at the expense of their workers.

And to echo Ezra's feelings, "This country could do with a bit of class warfare", to which I would only add, "There's nothing wrong with fighting a class war if you're getting shelled."

Sinclair Megapost

I'm not sure if we've covered this and I'm too lazy to scroll through the page to check so here's a brief history of the Sinclair controversy and some new stuff too (a lot of links come from Josh Marshall, who's been at the front of this story, but each link is to a different story):

Ok, so Sinclair Broadcasting owns a buch of local TV stations and has given a bunch of money to Republicans. They recently decided to order their stations to show a movie from the Swifties in lieu of their regular broadcasting schedule.

Well it's starting to look like the tide has turned on Sinclair. They were warned that putting politics ahead of business was asking for trouble, and it looks like not listening has put the hurt on their stock. Potentially worse, if Michael Powell (Chairman of the FCC and Colin Powell's son for those that didn't know) manages to put politics aside for a second and listens to former FCC Chairman Reed Hundt, Sinclair may be required to play an equal amount of time with pro-Kerry messages which would defeat the very reason they wanted to push the Swifty movie, to give Bush an edge in the media. Granted, this probably won't happen given Powell's history at the FCC, but when you have your own employees speaking out against you you're in trouble. Finally, a concerted effort by the internet community to call companies which advertise on Sinclair stations and complain has started to be yet another thorn in Sinclair's side.

My advice is to find any undecided voter and make them watch this. Nothing the Swifties or Sinclair can say will mean anything after you see that.

So Would This Be Quarter Life?

After much ever-so-exciting corporate drama and speculation Half-Life 2 has gone gold and is off to reproduction. I don't have a computer that can run this beast, so hats off to you gents and ladies with a big expensive gaming rig.

October 17, 2004

Buffy for Kerry!

Joss Whedon, creator of the teevee version of Buffy, is supporting Kerry-Edwards.

I don't normally give a crap about celebrity endorsements, but Buffy is one of the greatest teevee shows of all time, and Joss Whedon is just cool. It's nice to know he's on our side.

Update: Some scholarlyish stuff on the current political situation and Buffy. The season they're talking about was 2002-03, nd would've been filmed during the runup the Iraq war.

Download Crazy

One more download for the day, then it's time for studying the ever-so-fun law books. This is a bit late but Season 3 of Red vs Blue has started and you can get the first episode of the new season here. It might be a bit hard for people who haven't seen the first two seasons to jump into now, but for those of you with access to me I'm either going to find a way to get the first two seasons onto my computer soon or I'll just buy the DVDs when I have money again.

Another Great Download

Going Upriver: The Long War of John Kerry is campaign propaganda. The easiest definition on Dictionary.com of propaganda is "information that is spread for the purpose of promoting some cause". Obviously, since this movie was made with the purpose of supporting Kerry and defending him from the Swifties it meets this rather low standard.

That being said, I thought at the outset of the movie that it would be pretty boring propaganda; that it would essentially be a Kerry commercial that just lasted an hour and a half. In reality the movie sets into relief the antiwar movement of which Kerry was a major part and is frequently both terribly moving and enlightening to a person of my age that has never really gotten a feel for what things were like then. Now surely I'm no expert now on the period or the geopolitical events of the day, but this was the first time I heard the story being told directly and almost exclusively by the people who were the part of it.

As a Kerry commercial it's quite effective as well. It's amazing how well spoken Kerry was at 27 and even more amazing how poignient some of his comments made against Vietnam are in relation to our current situation with Iraq specifically and with terrorism generally. If everyone could see this movie Kerry wouldn't have to explain Vietnam anymore, he wouldn't have to respond to the despicable Swifties that have dogged him ever since he dared utter a negative word about the war in Vietnam, and he certainly wouldn't have to explain concepts like "global test" in the face of talking heads who just love to say that it's something it isn't.

To that end, you may download the movie here, though I'm not a hundered percent sure this is sanctioned by the movies producers. I think the best way to do this is download and watch the movie now, and then try to get to the theaters to see it or to buy the DVD when you can just so you're throwing some money their way.

I downloaded the movie with BitTorrent and I think I averaged over 300kb/s and it took about an hour to get the whole thing, so I definitely recomend going that route.

What The Hell

As long as I'm going Download Crazy I might as well go all the way. I'm not sure if I ever linked to this, but it's important that those of you who like funny things see this, so if I already posted this, well I'm just so sorry your lazy ass had to read two damn sentences more than you had to. Now quit your whining ya baby.


The NYT's ombudsman cedes his column space today to critics from the left-of-center (a professor of journalism and sociology at Columbia) and hard right (a lawyer who wrote a book about how the Times is biased), to talk about whether the Times demonstrates a bias in its campaign coverage.

The argument from the left-of-center guy? The Times holds Kerry to a higher standard, and often works to find slightly incorrect or misleading statements by Kerry to contrast with blatant falsehoods made, whether deliberate or not, by the Bush administration. That is, the Times has a slight bias against John Kerry in that it is slightly biased in favor of his opponent.

Seems pretty straightforward.

The argument from the hard-right guy? The Times' articles on social issues, eg, the status of gay Americans, taken as a whole, present the point of view of most mainstream Americans, and neglect that of the minority radical right, eg, outright homophobes. (My paraphrase, not his.) This is a campaign issue, and hence the Times is biased against Bush. Note that the question at hand, dealing with campaign coverage, is never addressed. Also, two Republican party hacks who happen to have regular Op-Ed spaces in the Times have alternate readings of the Iraqi WMD inspectors' report that have been neglected.

This is the same sort of shit movement conservatives have been spouting about the media for forty years. It's where their emphasis on `balance', as opposed to objectivity or a pursuit of truth, came from: the mainstream media don't present the views of an extreme minority of Americans, so there's a lack of balance. The solution is to waste time giving everyone with a unique viewpoint the chance to rave as incoherently as they wish, while neglecting the data that might support (and, more often, undermine) those views.

My grandma doesn't have to worry

My mom doesn't have to worry.

The generation that has to worry about Social Security? Ours. In about thirty years.

Privatizing social security will require either (a) a dramatic cut in benefits paid to people currently supported on it, or (b) a dramatic infusion of cash from some other source than payroll taxes. When asked this question specifically during the third debate, Bush talked about `higher returns'. (Note that talking about `returns' is misleading, as social security is not an investment system, and even if you do look at it in those terms, its average return is pretty comparable with the average long-term return on stocks.)

The only danger the social security system faces today is from the free market fanatics in the Republican party.

Just give me ONE reason

I've been trying to figure out for months now just what the appeal of Bush is to certain people: young, slightly socially conservative but certainly not closed-minded, devoutly religious but not intolerantly so, and decidedly not from that small percentage of the economic strata that's actually benefitting from Bush's economic `policies'. This would be a good working description of my friends who are Bush supporters. Thus far I haven't gotten a real answer -- they might say something vague about abortion or not trusting Kerry, but I can't get specifics from them.

What I'm afraid of is that it really just comes down to the way this administration, propped up by the Republican spin machine, maintains an attitude of infallibility. 9/11 scared the shit out of many Americans; could it simply be that this uncertainty and fear has lead to them internalizing the meme that a lack of complete faith in George W. Bush could lead to disaster?

October 16, 2004

Pandagon: Totally Bereft Of Ideas

Jesse over at Pandagon on David Brooks. Be sure to read the comments.


Listen. I know I'm prone to excitement about things I find on the internet, and I know they don't always exactly appeal to everyone. Just please, listen to me this time.

Go here. Download the most amazing clip ever. Discuss. I was literally squirming around in my seat gasping every couple seconds while watching this. Jon Stewart has ball of steel.

Yellow ribbon

A good friend's fiance is in Kuwait right now, headed for Mosul.

Be safe, Quentin. And come home soon. She needs you, more than even you can know.

October 15, 2004

John F-in' Kerry!


(thanks Alex)

I laughed for thirty seconds straight

As many of you probably know, I have been veggie for over six years.
And had a vegan roommate for 14 of the past 16 months.
So I derived some amusement from today's Penny Arcade.

October 14, 2004


The instant polls are in and it looks like a pretty decisive Kerry win, even in the face of most pundits acknowledging that this was Bush's best performance. I'm not going to give long paragraphs of analysis because that's been done better at other sites. Here are just some bullet point thoughts:

*Everyone's talking about yet another Bush lie. Who are these people that they think they can get away with blatant and easily fact checked lies? Really, everyone in the room I was watching the debates in exploded in disgust the moment he said that he didn't recall saying that he didn't care about finding OBL because we all knew he had said exactly that. Lo and behold, immediately after the debate news organizations had already dug up the quote and now Bush is looking at another two weeks of networks playing that clip over and over. Republicans argue that Bush isn't stupid, and while he's not the borderline retard that some liberals think, the man really is dumb to make mistakes this simple.

*Kerry talked about Mary Cheney when talking about gay marriage. Republicans are "outraged" and say he "outed" her. Truth is, she's been publically out for a long time, since at least the 2000 campaign, and she's been active in gay issues as well he dad's campaign. She's a public figure and she's fair game, as is the terribly hypocritical position taken by BC '04

* What the hell was up with Bush's laugh? He was seriously channelling the Penguin from the Adam West Batman.

* For a domestic policy debate, there was a conspicuous lack of domestic policy.

* Bush actually did pretty well compared to his first two showings. He didn't seem completely out of it and he managed not to yell at the moderator. Kerry just out played his ass. Kerry mentioned stats, Bush could only dredge up that crap about Kerry voting to raise taxes 200 times. Does anyone buy that bullshit? Does anyone really think, "Yeah, I remember the ten times last year my taxes got raised. Kerry's fault huh? Better vote W.!" Kerry applied his stats to crucial battlground states to show how Bush's term has been crappy. Bush didn't even mention specific places.

Kerry's got a plan, Bush has got four years of bad track record and nothing different to turn it around. Kerry swept the debates and has the momentum now to push through to November 2. My confidence in Kerry and his chances just keeps growing.

So Many Ways To Kill Whores

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas has also Gone Gold for the PS2. No word yet on when Xbox and PC users will get to check out the carnage.

Update: Here's a preview of the game if you're wanting to know what's new and cool about this Prostitute Murder simulator

Getting Ripped Off Sense Tingling

So Spiderman 2.5 is coming out, after the regular version of course, and it includes all kinds of special features like deleted scenes and stuff. The only problem is that there aren't any REAL deleted scenes, so Sony's making Sam Raimi film extra scenes just for the DVD. Raimi says that he doesn't really feel like the movie needs extra scenes, but Sony says they can make more money this way.

So this is just a heads up. If you're all about showing greedy corporate pigs that you're an independent thinker and that they won't swindle you out of your money make sure you buy the regular version of Spiderman 2 and avoid this blatant money grab. Me, I'll probably buy both versions because I loves me some Spidey.

Going Midevil On Vader's Ass

Here are some pics from Episode 3, post Obiwan/Anakin rumble. Dude got his ass fucked up! I guess I'd cover myself in a black plastic suit if my other option was walking around like that.

The Biggest News Ever

Halo 2 has gone gold! Rejoice, for the Second Coming is upon us! Repent and ye shall be saved!

P.S. "Gone Gold" refers to the burning of the very first finalized DVD of the game, which is called the Gold Master. From the Gold Master all copies are made. The only step after a game has gone gold is to make millions of copies and ship them to stores, which takes 3-4 weeks, which ties in perfectly to the November 9th launch date for the game. In 3-4 weeks I'll be blowing your whack asses up online.

October 12, 2004

While I've Been Out

So the last week I've been focusing on writing a brief for a Moot Court competition/class, which explains my absence from the ol' Site o' Love. Debates have happened and they were great and all, but ironically I've read so much about them I don't feel like talking about it anymore. Long story short, Bush Co. lied and the media really seemed to have a good time doing their job, you know, fact checking them.

Superman died today though, which saddens a nerd like me to no end. Kurtz over at PvP has the best memorial I've seen, coming up in the next post.

Edit: Evidently I can't figure out how to post the picture, but just hit up the link up there to see it.

October 11, 2004

Oh, and Saudi Arabia sucks ass, too

Saudi women can't vote, run in elections

Some of the oh-so-depressing "high"lights:

Some women considered the move yet another indignity in a country where they need their husbands' permission to study, travel or work. But others said they wouldn't trust themselves to judge whether a candidate is more than just a handsome face....

Many women in Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam, have balked at getting the ID cards -- introduced three years ago -- because the photographs would show their faces unveiled.

Saudi women have limited freedoms. Without written permission from a male guardian, they may not travel, get an education or work. Regardless of permissions, they are not allowed to drive, mix with men in public or leave home without covering themselves with black cloaks, called abayas....

"Women are capable of voting and making the right choices," said Ahmed, a 22-year-old marketing graduate. "Why aren't men and women equal in this issue?"

"We aren't," countered her friend Sarah Muhammad. "We have so little interaction with men that we will vote with our emotions, choosing candidates for their looks and sweet talk rather than for what they can deliver."

Rima Khaled, 20, said Saudi women are not used to playing a role in public life, and many social and traditional restraints should first be removed before they can.

"What's the point of voting?" she asked. "Even if we did vote, we would go home to the men in our lives who will have the last say in whatever we do."

In its way, this is even more depressing than Osama; at least the women portrayed in that film tried to oppose the status quo.

October 10, 2004

Where have I been?

Given smooth manifolds $M$ and $N$, $T(M\times N)\cong TM\times TN$.

Proof. Let $p : T(M\times N)\to TM\times TN$ given by $p(x,X) =
((\pi_M(x),X_M),(\pi_N(x),X_N))$, where $\pi_M$ is the projection
$M\times N\to M$, $X_m(f)=X(f\circ \pi_M)$ for $f:M\to \R$, and
$\pi_N, X_N$ are defined analogously. $p^{-1}$ is given as
follows: Choose coordinates $x_1,\ldots,x_m$ on $M$, and
$y_1,\ldots,y_n$ on $N$; note $x_1,\ldots,x_m,y_1,\ldots,y_n$ are
coordinates on $M\times N$. Then $p^{-1}$ takes $((x,X),(y,Y))$ to
\[\left((x,y),\sum_{i=1}^m X(x_i) \frac{\partial}{\partial x_i} +
\sum_{j=1}^n Y(y_j) \frac{\partial}{\partial y_j}\right)\] by
Lemma 2.3. Since $p$ and $p^{-1}$ are both clearly continuous, $p$
is the desired diffeomorphism.\qed

(Plus 5 other problems like this, and 120 pages of John Locke to read.)

someone had to say something.

Of all of the political heavyweights that write in here, I'm a little surprised that no one made any comments on the last debate. So, despite my hard-fought status as the least vocal member of Team Blog and my normal reluctance to engage in political matters, I'm going to kick in my half-a-cent. I edited a little bit, but these observations are cross-posted: sorry for the sloppy seconds. You'll get the exclusive next time.

Honestly, I'm not much of a politics person. I understand its importance, but ultimately I find it frustrating - and I'm trying to minimize the amount of frustration I encounter on a daily basis. That said, the politically-related statements in this next post are the observations of an amateur, and should be considered as such.

Such a nice disclaimer and I'm not even planning on saying much about it.

Anyway, I think Chuckles did much better on this debate than on the first. This, however, is not saying much. If I was evaluating this the same as a traditional debate, I would have to side with Kerry... and that's even if this debate was about fudge. He's just a better public speaker than Bush. I was never that good at the art of debate (anxiety issues notwithstanding), but if you put me at a podium squaring off against a fourth-grader, I'd eat his ass. There is just little competition there. Again, this applies more to the first debate than the second.

I especially liked the response to the last question, as it allowed me to reach new plateaus in political frustration. I think that a large part of being a good person (not to mention a good political leader) is the foresight to recognize when a mistake was made, the ability to admit it, and the desire to rectify that mistake. While I understand that one of the qualities that some people admire in Bush is his willingness to rigidly stick to a plan despite its outcome, I can't fully support that. People who claim that they don't make mistakes are people who refuse to evolve.

You know, he could have even said that he was unable to cite a specific example... but that there have been situations that while he feels that he made the right decision, in retrospect there could have been a better way of achieving it. Even if he wanted to choose an example, he could have gone with something other than the war. Nope. Nothing. No concession.

In Bush's defense, it was a pretty loaded question. I guess my problem is that it could have been handled so much better. But we all know that wouldn't happen, right?

Other random notes:
- Bush's reponse on the environment made me laugh.
- Kerry's response on abortion: very on point. Didn't really answer the question, but it was probably one of the best responses on the topic that I've heard.
- Haters? You can't use that word if it applies to you. Put the Hip Hop-tionary down.
- Even though I wasn't really drinking (I left that and the bong hits to other members of my viewing circle), I am grateful for whomever came up with the presidential debate drinking game. Don't get it twisted, though; that game is purely designed to hurt people. If I was really playing, that thing would have had me on the floor babbling to myself inside the first hour. It is even worse than the Saved By The Bell drinking game.

I look forward to the day where we can settle presidential debates with emcee battles. That way, when someone is obviously relying on clutch words like "flip-flopper" and "Poland", he gets booed, kicked out of the club and with a little luck, pistol-whipped by a good samaritan.

Song of the Day: Sage Francis - Slow Down Gandhi (11MB)
This happens to be a song from his upcoming album, being released on Epitaph in Feburary.

P.S. - If you have not heard the new Handsome Boy Modeling School sampler, stalk that shit on the internerd NOW. There are four songs on there and they're all fantastic. One of the tracks is a revisited version of "Rock and Roll (Could Never Hip Hop Like This)" from their first album and the section featuring Linkin Park's resident screamer is consistently knocking me flat on my ass. Something about those strings. By the way, I have a feeling that kid is going to blow out his vocal cords any day now. If I'm feeling nice, I'll dump it someplace and provide a link.

October 08, 2004

Life in the Dar

First, for those of you who didn't take an Asian Studies class: Dar al-Islam (and, yes, I realize I'm using the term incorrectly).

Anyway. More depressing shit from southwest Asia. As I recall, honor killings are also prolific in Afghanistan and Pakistan (no surprise), sub-Saharan Africa (again, no surprise), and India -- because fundamentalist Hinduism is just as misogynist as other fundamentalist religions.

Here's one of my `favorite' Bible verses: `If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found; then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel's father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife, because he ath humbled her, he may not put her away all his days' -- Deuteronomy 22:28-9

October 07, 2004

Bush lied and over 1,000 U.S. servicemen are dead.

So, the latest news from the NYtimes.com, is that President Bush has finally conceded, in the face of a scathing report from Charles Duelfer, chief U.S. weapons hunter, that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction, but that we were still right in going to war.

I would like to see him tell that to Lila Lipscomb (because I just saw Fahrenheit 9/11 last night, excellent movie). Or any other of the 1,000-plus families of American servicemen that have died in Iraq.

It is my hope that John Kerry brings this up, somehow, in Friday's debate and reminds the American public that President Bush has led one-thousand servicemen to their deaths, because of a lie. Maybe Bush will respond that "Iraq is hard work" thirteen times (like in the last debate) because he doesn't really seem capable of constructing a fresh thought.

October 06, 2004


I saw Osama this weekend, and with Kristof's column today on the situation of women in Afghanistan, I thought I'd say:

This makes me sick. Literally. During the last five minutes of Osama, I was seriouslly worried that I'd have to hurdle over four of my friends to get to the bathroom in time. Fortunately I made it through to the credits without a premature recycling of my pizza; but that doesn't take care of the bigger problem.

We had a chance to do something about the shithole that was and is Afghanistan. All we've done is replace Thomas Hobbes' state of nature (that's the `nasty, brutish, and short' one) with Thomas Hobbes' state of nature, a sham election, and fiction-based triumphalism.

And we wonder why people outside the Global North think we're a nation of arrogant assholes?

October 05, 2004

Princes Charming and Darkness

Just a reminder that Edwards and Cheney are duking it out tonight. Starts at 9 Eastern, lasts for 90 minutes, same
as last Thursdays. Kerry and Bush have round two Friday night.

Star Wars Apologists Gone Wild

The crew over at Mathew Yglesias are trying to make Star Wars make sense which, needless to say, is quite the undertaking.

Here are some of the problems:

1) Anakin looks like he's going to be somewhere around his late teens at the end of Episode 3, which is when he should become Darth Vader and he looks like he's around 60 at the end of Jedi when Luke takes off his helmet. Luke, on the other hand looks like he's in his late teens at the start of Episode 4 when we meet him, so it seems that there's a missing 20 years.

2) The Jedi seem pretty on top of things during the prequels (to the point where even junk dealers on a backward ass planet like Tatooine know how their powers work), but by the time Episode 4 comes around, people like Han Solo not only think of Jedis as something of a joke but also don't even believe in the concept of the Force.

I've got my own theories, but I'll give you all a chance to help save Star Wars!

October 04, 2004

Making The Kase For Kerry

Drew over at Terminus has answered the challange to make the case FOR Kerry and not just the case AGAINST Bush with a whole John Kerry week. Today he's rapping about Kerry's healthcare plans and why they're better than Bush's shit house record. Let's all pull together and give him the three or four extra hits I know this community is capable of.

October 03, 2004

And Now, Your Weekend Funny!

This DVD looks like a winner. Here's a preview. Can you believe this jackass got millions of people to vote for him? He's like the kid in junior high that ran on the "Vote for me 'cause I like to party!" ticket.

Via Matty Y, who I'm sure would appreciate his new nickname if he had any idea who I am and that I'm doling out the nicks.

October 02, 2004

Cuticle Gate, or Metrosexual Gate If You Prefer

Josh Marshall has shown us all once again why we should be reading his stuff every day. A Fox News Reporter covering the Kerry Campaign wrote up a story filled with "quotes" he "received" "from Kerry" which in fact were all made the Hell up. And then the supposedly satirical story was posted on the Fox News website as a news story, but I'm sure we all know that it was an accident, right?

You know, after all the crap so recently about the CBS memos and the outrage over journalistic integrity I would have thought that every news source out there would be being extra careful about appearing scrupulous with their stories so as to avoid the negative flack CBS got. I suppose you have to admire the balls on Fox News for posting things so obviously made up and then saying "my bad" after all the calls for Dan Rather to step down.

Incidentally, you all who haven't really should watch Outfoxed soon. This stuff is par for the course for these guys.


Well September was the first full month that I've been keeping track of the site traffic, and frankly we didn't do completely terribly for being so new. It looks like we're averaging in the low 20s in hits per day, though I'm sure ten of those are me and Dan, so we can definitely do better. Thanks to everyone who is visiting the site. Why don't you all tell a friend about it and that they should drop by? I'm building an internet empire here people, I need warm bodies!

Also, if there's anything you want more of on the site or some way we can improve why not drop a comment in this story and let us know?

October 01, 2004

What Other, Smarter, People Think

Here's a rundown of good debate summations. Also, they all pretty much agree with me because I am the King of Rightness:


Mathew Yglesias


Josh Marshall

Terminus (though this is just a preliminary thoughts entry to be expanded upon in a more complete post later. See, Drew watched British TV instead of participating in his own political process last night. Booo! He's nearly FRENCH!)

Also, here's a scan of Bush's notes from the debate, via Kos.

And here's a fun montage of Bush's "Faces of Frustration".

"Aww Snap!" Jim Lehrer

Well that's what he should have been saying all last night during the first Presidential Debates, which he moderated.

Everyone's saying it and it's hard to disagree with a straight face; Kerry (mostly) stomped Bush's ass like that shit was on fire. Kerry looked smart, cool, collected, and like he was already on the job. Bush looked like a squirming punk kid who didn't really know much about the job he was applying for and was pissed off that he had to sit next to someone that did. The thing to keep in mind though is that this is EXACTLY the Bush we saw in 2000, but then he was in a better mood because he didn't have a record that he had to run on and Gore didn't attack much anyway. This is probably the first time since 2000 when America has the real George Bush instead of the tightly leashed and prepped Bush that never gets in front of a crowd without a teleprompter nearby.

From a purely aesthetic level Kerry killed Bush. It's obvious that one of the conditions of the debate was that all split screened shots would be shot so that both of the candidate's heads were even, but what I don't think the Bush campaign counted on was that this made Kerry look gigantic, filling the whole screen while the Bush side was mostly podium. Also, Bush looked yellow. Not scared-like, but he looked like he could move in with the Simpsons tomorrow and fit right in. I don't know if it was the lighting or what, but the dude looked sick and Kerry looked healthy. Maybe Bush didn't want Kerry to be the only tanned one and used a "fake-bake" tan lotion. My sister did that once and it turned her orange, so you never know.

Looks aside, it's on the issues that Kerry really stomped Bush; not really because he hit everything out of the park, but he brought some policy game and Bush looked like he thought he could front his way through this thing with no prep time and a couple old talking points. Guess what, Bush says Kerry's a flip flopper! The voters haven't heard that before George! Kerry: "I made a mistake voting for the war, the President made a mistake going into the war, which is worse?" Booyah! Kerry managed last night to simultaneously portray the President as someone who makes, and then stubornly sticks to, bad decisions AND as someone that flip flops as well. Great stuff.

So yeah, Kerry won. Even the folks at Fox News were saying he won and I think we all know what kind of crowd they run with. I did see them mention the one really huge gaff that Kerry made, but they didn't stick to it and I haven't seen it come up anywhere else much. Still, Kerry shouldn't have implied that America's actions abroad have to be measured against some kind of foreign yardstick for them to be legitimate, even if he's right, because that quote's probably going to get picked up and thrown around by the wingnuts a bit. Still, when you're getting pretty universal wins from everone and Fox it's more important to press the advantage all the way through to the next debate than worry about the couple misstatements he may have made. Bush looked weak. Keep him weak until the domestic policy debate and Kerry should be able to slam his ass with a million and a half mistakes that he's made in the last term.