September 30, 2004

Still don't think you want it?

So recently there was a City of Heroes Film Festival contest. The actual winning videos weren't so great, unless you were already familiar with the game, so I didn't mention it on here. But check out the Origins! video. The best of what this game has to offer.

September 27, 2004

Fake news is better than pseudo-news

A little while back, Bill O'Reilly called the audience of the Daily Show 'stoned slackers'. Well, Comedy Central did a little research. Turns out people who watch the Daily Show are more likely than Bill's audience to be better educated in general, and about politics in particular.

Andy Rooney enjoys stereotypes

Atrios with his friend Carlos. Not only do I know a handful of first-time voters, my friend Megan is a newly-naturalized Italian-American voting for the first time (not counting the Missouri primary). She's lived in the US since she was 14, and doesn't even have an accent.

Are there brand-new Americans with a shaky command of English? Yes. Does that mean they're incapable of being well-informed about US politics? Has Andy Rooney checked out the half-dozen foreign language channels on his cable? Telemundo's a broadcast station in most major markets!

They're still learning English, they're not stupid.

September 26, 2004

Space Age Technology, Today!

I finally broke down and bought an ipod for my birthday. Too many people compared owning one to meeting the Baby Jesus for me to refuse any longer. Plus the headphone jack on my laptop doesn't work quite like it should and last time I sent it in the Best Buy people were clueless. Anyhow, though the ipod is a neat piece of hardware, Apple BLOWS. Firstly, check out that pretentious bag. LAME!!! What you can't tell from my friend Anne modeling it is that it's made from this ultra soft fancy platic that makes me want to vomit because it's so lame. And don't even get me started on the boutique that is an Apple store.

The worst offense, however, is that Apple forces you to use itunes to transfer music over to your player. It's pretty obviously a bald faced attempt to get you to buy music from the online itunes store, which it takes you to if you ever so slightly click in the wrong place, but what's worse is that it's a terrible way to organize your music. I, as I'm sure many people do, have many MP3s which have inconsistent ID3 tags, which for the non-nerds out there means that the file names and some of the other aspects which the computer uses to categorize them, don't follow one system. Some, for instance are grouped by album, so they are in a folder named for the album and are named by song, but don't include all the information about album and artist on each individual file. Part of the tags is genre, which was all over the place. The long and short of this is that I spent the better part of yesterday trying to get my twelve hundred MP3s into a unified system of tags. This, of course, could have been avoided if the ipod showed up as a portable hard drive and I was able to simply move folders over as they appeared in my Windows directory, but, again, this wouldn't force the joy of itunes on me. Screw you Apple for stealing my day. I love my ipod. Posted by Hello

Best Zombie Movie EVER

Shaun of the Dead is one of the best movies you’ll see this year. What are you waiting for? Don’t read this review! Just get your ass up right now and run, or zombie shuffle, yourself down to the local cinema and see this movie ASAP. Unless, of course, you don’t like your movies too spectacularly good. If, on the other hand, you prefer to see merely mediocre or outright awful movies then perhaps you’d be better served seeing Aliens vs Predator, or whatever Sandra Bullock’s latest is.

Shaun of the Dead is a comedy/romance/horror zombie flick. If this sound a tad odd, well it is, but in the best way possible. The trailer unfortunately includes a couple scenes which, though funny in the film, in a trailer make it look like more of a spoof than it is. In fact, it’s not a spoof at all, even though it does contain scattered references to zombie movies past and present. The film centers on Shaun, just an ordinary guy who hasn’t made much of his life until a zombie epidemic breaks out around him. The film uses the older “slow moving” zombie variety which lends itself well to certain comedic scenes, but the film IS still a horror flick, which we’ll get to later. The comedy is pure Brit, with much of it coming out in banter, usually between Shaun and his main mate Ed, and in great “British” reactions to zombie scenes. I know I’m not doing the comedy any justice by describing it like this but just trust me that there are more laughs per minute in this movie that just about any I can think off from the last couple years.

Though most of the film is one of the best comedies I’ve seen in a while (along with Zach Braff’s wonderful Garden State), it is after all a zombie film and it doesn’t let you forget it. There is gore, and sometimes a lot of it, along with “jump moments” but this is, I think, one of the strongest elements of the movie. Because the comedy is so endearing and disarming that those moments which in another film you’d see coming a mile away really surprised me sometimes. Characters die in this film, because, you know, zombies, but there is no fodder here, at least not among the main character set. I’m not suggesting that you’ll go home and cry about a character that kicked the bucket, but group interaction meant so much to the comedy that when someone got lost I really noticed, unlike other films where five generic soldiers get eaten before we’re whittled down to the stars.

Again, there is gore here, so if you’re squeamish you should be ready to cover those eyes in a couple spots, but even if you watched the whole movie with a blindfold on it’d still be among the best films of the year.

Here's the trailer, even though it doesn't represent the film as well as it could.

I Would Have Posted About This Earlier, But I Was Drunk

Micheal Moore came by Camden last Monday (on my bithday no less!) and I've been meaning to post my thoughts about it, but I've had a lot on my mind lately and I wasn't sure exactly what about it I wanted to specifically mention.

First, some logistical things. The show was at the Tweeter Center in Camden, New Jersey, which is right across the river from Philadelphia. According to my local friends, numerous performers at the Tweeter introduce their shows with a rousing "Good evening Philadelphia!" which, considering Camden's status as a post-industrial meltdown city, is potentially offensive. Moore knew where he was though, and even compared Camden to his hometown Flint and Rutgers - Camden to his own University of Michigan - Flint Campus ("In New Brunswick Rutgers is just Rutgers, but in Camden it's always Rutgers - Camden"). The show was supposed to start at eight, but people really trickled in slowly, so they didn't start until closer to nine, which will be more important later.

The show was what you'd expect from Micheal Moore, that is, a lot of funny, a lot of complaining about both sides of the aisle, and a lot of invective and troop rallying against Bush and it was all good. A big target for Moore were all the "liberals" out there hand-wringing about how Kerry isn't the most exciting candidate ever. The Republicans don't do this, he says, they're sharks; always moving forward, always on the attack. We need to stop whining and just do the job before us, that is, beating the shit out of Bush. This goal shouldn't be as hard as we're making it either, Moore tells us, because when you poll on the issues only around 30% of Americans identify with the Republican platform. We've just got all the slackers on our side (which is good because "they get us the best 'stuff'"), but we shouldn't be pissed off at them, we just need to figure out a way to motivate them.

Moore had a list of advice for the Kerry campaign, but in the interest of fair play, he also had a series of campaign comercials that he made for the Bush campaign, which was the real "Big Funny" of the show. He said they would be put up on his website, but I can't seem to find them. For a brief moment there I considered trying to explain them here, but then I realized that that would pretty much rob any humor in there, so just wait your asses till they're online.

The show wrapped up with a focus on voter registration and turnout and Mike brought a number of people up on stage to register right then and there, which was pretty cool. All in all it was a great show, and you should check to see if his tour is coming near where you all are at. Rutgers subsidized the show, so my tickets were free, but it'd still be worth it if they hadn't been.

September 25, 2004

Do they really expect this to work?

This isn't even a `smear campaign'. This is chicken little as a campaign strategy. It's one thing to play into the biases of your constituency to encourage voter turnout -- but this strikes me as downright patronizing. Do they honestly expect the people of West Virginia to be this damn dumb?

Via Atrios

Update: Atrios has an image of the pamphlet, for Arkansas rather than WV.

September 24, 2004

Your one-stop evidence shop

I'm just going to crib from Trapper John, over at Kos:

Ever want to rattle off Bush's misdeeds to an undecided coworker, but couldn't quite come up with the best list of shame? Ever want to illustrate the administration's failure on healthcare, but find yourself wondering exactly how bad the statistics were? Well, furrow your brow no more -- the Senate Democratic leadership has developed a remarkably good webpage, one that serves as a one-stop shop for arguments and facts.

And here's a slightly more direct link than the one he provides. Note the way the statistics on this site are from actual reputable gatherers of statistics, not lunatics funded by Richard Melon Scaife.

Spitting in the wind

In response to Ann Coulter's misogynist joking around, I sent the following email to Alan Colmes just now:

Dear Alan,
Ann Coulter says lots of outrageous and stupid things on your program. You and I know this. And you can't challenge every outrageous and stupid piece of vapid conservative rhetoric that floats across your show -- while entertaining, you would most likely be fired, and replaced with an even more mild-mannered Democrat. I'll just have to live with that.

But how could you just laugh off Ann Coulter's misogynist statements -- two in the span of a few minutes! -- that women are `not that bright'? Even Sean [Hannity] pointed out that it was out of line -- he just didn't make her apologize. Which is exactly what I think you should do: on the next episode, or the next time she comes on your show -- I've no doubt it won't be long, she seems to be in a semi-regular rotation -- call her on it. Make her apologize for her derogatory and offensive comments. And if she doesn't, make it clear that you don't believe she's capable of what minimal level of civility is required for `Hannity & Colmes', and is an inapporpriate guest.

Dan Hicks

Maybe after I do this a couple hundred times, he'll actually listen, and politely suggest that Ann was slightly out of line, and he would appreciate an apology.

September 23, 2004

Yeah, pretty much

I've been thinking (obsessing over) the state of the media and its place in our democracy the past few days, which has led to a rather nasty little vicious cycle of despair and acute depression. This lead me, today, to contemplate blogs.

My thoughts are in line with Ezra's over at Pandagon. The internet is an unprecedented development in the history of human society: a forum where (nearly) anyone can set forth with their opinion on whatever, and where (nearly) anyone else can read and respond to that opinion nearly instantly, regardless of the distance separating the two. But while this means good, important ideas can be discussed and shared with astounding ease, it also means we're inundated with even more crap than before. There are two institutions vital to democracy precisely because they help us flush the crap and keep the ... whatever good happens when you poo. Blogging, and the internet more generally, are no replacements for quality public education and rigorous journalism. The only people who think so, the people waxing triumphant and idiotic in the wake of the CBS memo fiasco, are hard-right conservatives -- the acolytes of an ideology which, since the days of Goldwater, have seen journalism and education not as providing a foundation for democracy, but instead as weapons to be used by one side or the other in political warfare.

Wow! Journalism!

An actual journalist at an actual newspaper completely debunks the `Kerry flip-flops' meme. Naturally, don't expect conservatives to stop saying this.

Now, I and many other people saw back in the Fall of 2001 that the Bush administration would do everything it could to invade Iraq, and the vote to authorize force, while portrayed by Bush at the time as otherwise, was really a vote to declare war. Why Kerry didn't see that is beyond me. Why Kerry didn't realize the WMD `evidence' was all smoke and mirrors is beyond me. But he can still claim that the Bush administration pulled a fast one, and his approval for the threat of force against Iraq does not express approval for the execution of the war. Which I believe is the point of view of most Americans these days.

September 22, 2004

Bush Administration: We Need More Homeless People!

Christ. Why not just institute a `beat the working poor with sticks' program?

September 21, 2004

Though many a dorky fan disagreed with the casting of Jesica Alba as Sue Storm in the upcoming Fantastic Four movie, I have to say she doesn't look terrible in the costume. Now if she can pull off the acting... Posted by Hello

Better than the Ukraine

Jon Carroll, long one of my favourite columnists, puts things back in perspective.

Voter terrorism

Professional Republican Asshole Laura Ingraham was on The Factor tonight, paired up against some moderate journalist from the Washington Post. They were talking about how the Democrats were `playing the race card' -- some independent group made an ad talking about how Republican educational policies are bad for minorities, which they are, so this whole segment was a non sequitur -- and the journalist mentioned something about how Republicans have intimidated minorities to keep them from voting. Not surprisingly, Laura and Bill both started to shout him down.

Except, um, Republicans do that kind of shit.

September 20, 2004


Via Kos

Reading Kerry's Mind

William Safre reports in from some parallel universe where he is psychic and any of this is good advice for the Kerry campaign.

What a tool.

September 19, 2004

Imminent Victory

In my continuing theft of another site's humor, I bring you another link to Something Awful's Photoshop Phriday. What can I say, it's easier than making up my own jokes. Posted by Hello

September 18, 2004

Have You Seen This Boy?!

I just couldn't resist a story that gave me the chance to use that title. Apparrantly lobster survival is key to the human resistance movement against Skynet, though really I can't agree with any plan that places our resistance leader in jail for a few hours. He was just asking for the T-1000 to walk through the bars and stab to death the savior of the human way of life.


Moved recently? Just turned 18? Register to vote. (No, you do not need to be a Democrat to register via the Kerry/Edwards site.)

Gallup is garbage

Gallup is (was) one of the most highly respected polling companies in the US. They were also the only poll that showed anything like a substantial `Bush bounce' around the end of the RNC. Well, it turns out all their numbers this election are statistically worthless. As the votemaster says,

It has been a long story today, but understanding the limitations of polling is very important. It is my own feeling that the mass media don't have a clue. They keep harping on the national polls, which are only peripheral, and rarely, if ever, discuss the normalization for political party issue discussed above. They give the (highly misleading) impression that a score of, say, 49% to 41% means that 49% of the people polled were for the former candidate and 41% were for the latter. In reality, that result is the consequence of a lot of statistical massaging of the data based on a model that is rarely openly discussed.

So just remember to take ALL the poll results with a grain of salt. The only authoritative one (pace Diebold and other Republican shenanigans) is the one on the first Tuesday of November.

Via Atrios.

September 17, 2004

Oh THIS Is Why I Didn't Play PC Games For Three Years

So this week was SUPPOSED to be a pretty big week in video gaming for me. I'm not what you'd call the most diligent law student ever, but I'm not THAT lazy, so given the amount of actual work I should be doing let's just say that it took a pretty pretty big promise of gaming bliss for me to decide to spend significant time slacking. First, we had the release of The Sims 2 and Fable on Wednesday. Then there was the first big content expansion in City of Heroes on Thurday including a major in-game event, which basically means cool out of the norm stuff happens like an alien invasion throughout the game world.

Despite getting my games Wednesday I wasn't actually able to play them that night, but I had the whole weekend planned out. Thursday night comes and I load up City of Heroes. On top of lots of traffic because, of course, everyone and his mother has logged on for the event, the new content seems to not agree with my video card drivers. Usually I'd update my drivers, except that there aren't any new ones! So after getting booted from the game three or for times, in which every character is green and the world has a green tint by the way, I decide to update Windows to see if that will help, which takes forever.

By the time I'm done I figure it's too late to get any significant CoH time in, so I install Sims 2. Turns out the copy protection on the game HATES pirating so much that the game won't run if you have burning programs installed on your computer the game won't play. You don't even want to know what happens if you have a parrot or peg leg. I think the game shoots a laser into your brain. Anyway, the official solution from EA is "Go fuck yourself, and get rid of your legitimate burning programs". Eventually some hack or workaround will be made by fans, but this is so fucking rediculous. I'm not going to say that I've never violated any copyrights on my computer, but I use my buring software for legitimate purposes ALL THE DAMN TIME. I'm expecting an Electronic Arts person at my door tomorrow to kick me in the balls just to fuck with me.

At least I have Fable, which works flawlessly, even if it's not the near orgasm enducing experience the previews may have led me to believe. This turned into a much longer rant than I intended, so I'm going to stop here and go get shit faced.

MSNBC - Report: Iraq had no WMD, only intentions

MSNBC - Report: Iraq had no WMD, only intentions

Does this really come as a surprise to anyone? Anybody?

September 16, 2004

I've got to agree

with Atrios:
This is just horrible.

I'm tired

So read, read, and tell me why people think Bush has done a fantastic (or any adjective more positive than `terrible') job of combatting terrorism?

The Republican National Convention was a week of `here are our great plans for schools and health care and protection the country'. But, to paraphrase Jon Stewart, the last four years (longer!) have shown that the Republicans are incapable of doing shit about these things. They've had their chance; hasn't it clearly been an utter failure?

Identity Correction

The documentary world seems to be bursting with cool stuff lately; enter The Yes Men, which opens September 24. Here's the official movie site if you want to watch the trailer.

September 15, 2004

Via Atrios

How America lost the war on terrorism

There are a couple of shots of interviews with soldiers in Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 that seem to portray American soldiers as exceptionally cruel, especially (for those who've seen it), the young man who waxes enthusiastic for listening to "Burn motherfucker, burn!" (I can't think of the name of the song or the artist off the top of my head) as he blows away the enemy, and the midnight, Gestapo-esque raid. Soldiers themselves objected to these shots in an article on Salon at the time (if someone can track down the link, I'll happily include it, but I'm in a hurry right now). We even talked about it not too long ago (again, find the link and I'll edit).

But as Bob Harris has pointed out at TMW today, the problem is not the soldiers who were doing these things; the problem is not their commanders who ordered them to do them, or failed to order them not to do it. The problem is that America, the nation, doesn't see anything wrong with this.

We are numb now.

We are killing. We are killing in large numbers. And we are numb to what we are doing.

That's it. Game over. We have lost.

Not the war. Ourselves.

I don't want to make this a partisan topic. The tension between dehumanizing The Other Who Wishes Me Harm and leaving myself incapable of self-protection is part of the human condition, and where one and one's society should draw the line is an important ethical debate America should return to again and again. And yet this is a partisan topic: we live in a mediopolitical climate where even hesitant suggestions that this dehumanization is less than ideal are shouted down as traitorous, and thoughtful statements in this vein are embellished, paraphrased, and simply distorted into gross rhetoric to be used against the speaker.

There is a pairing in this country, a dangerous duo: anti-intellectualism, isolationism, xenophobia, making us numb to the cruelty we inflict on others in our fear; and counter-intellectualism, smart-looking individuals who use big words and excessive footnoting to shout down and dismiss those who would show us what we have wrought. It is these we must oppose if our nation is to be worth fighting for. If Islamic terrorists hate the United States not for its Middle Eastern foreign policy but for our social and intellectual achievements, then let's not pretend the latter came about by shouting and Machiavellian or Stalinist manipulation. Let's celebrate those achievements, and achieve even more, democratically.

There is a place for honest conservatism: people concerned about children of divorce, about crime and drugs, people who are hesitant to reweave the social fabric and want to exchange and discuss those views with the liberals and radicals. But that is not what Roger Ailes wants; that is not what Sean Hannity or Ann Coulter or David Brooks, or Dick Cheney or George Bush want. That is not what the contemporary Republican Party wants. These people want power, even if it means losing our humanity.

September 14, 2004

If Only It Were A Pop Up Chart

Via TMW we have this great visual guide to Bush's National Guard Service. For those doubters out there, note that this is based only on official documents released by the government. On the one hand we have W. describing himself as "a War President" and on the other we have gaping holes in his guard duty where no one seems to be able to show he actually was there. Now I'm not saying that every president has to be a war hero or even serve in the military at all, but two things strike me about this. First, and I know it's not entirely fair to hold someone up to what they were like thirty years ago but still, do we want a guy that can't stick with obligations? More troubling though is that a senario like that strikes me as someone who was only in the service either because his parents made him, it was the only way to avoid actually going to war, or it was because he knew he'd want to run for office later and felt he had to serve. Maybe I'm being totally unfair, but the fact remains that there is a pretty huge gap in Bush's service where it looks an awful lot like he was just shirking his duties. This doesn't matter nearly as much as his policy failure from his time as president, but it does matter.

Also, go read Drew's post on why this is important since it's better than what I wrote.

A plea from prominent liberals

Nader doesn't even have the support of Noam Chomsky this time around.

If I were a Democrat, here's where I'd throw off a sentence bitching about how awful Nader is, or how Nader voters gave the election to Bush. But I'm an independent democrat and voted for Nader and the Green Party in 2004, and I continue to believe I made the right choice for me, and that Nader voters were not responsible for Bush.

The fiscally conservative candidate?

John Kerry, of course

More on the conservative media

Jesse over at Pandagon

September 13, 2004

"My Parents Hate Me"

I know I've already mentioned that the artistist for my favorite web comic, Penny Arcade, is now a dad, but this picture was too perfect for me not to post it. When I am a father I will embarass my child from birth until my own death. Posted by Hello

Yet Another Reason To Be Cremated

Want to have Brad Pitt's picture hanging above you for eternity? In all likelihood at some point your body will bloat enough for you to steal a brief kiss from beyond the grave. I've said it before and I'll say it again, being buried is creepy, and the fact that this guy's name is Outhouse Charlie doesn't help any.

Remember This?

In case you forgot all this, it turns out that the whole prisoner abuse thing in Iraq was worse than originally thought. Fortunately for conservatives this story seems to have dipped back below the public radar, otherwise they'd have to eat all the times that they insisted that these were merely the acts of a couple soldiers with a few prisoners.

Are You Ready For Some Foobaaaall?!

I'm currently being coerced into watching football by the East Coast folks because, apparantly, unbeknownst to me, it matters. So I decided to track my interest throught the year. Apparantly the Eagles won yesterday, which is good. Meh.

War, What Is It Good For? Monuments...

I've decided to add a little local flava to my postings, so I'll be bringing you all the Seattle and South Jersey news I care to look up along with my usual NTY and Salon stories.

Anyway, this is one of those "only in Canada" stories. I have to say that I agree that leaving your country to avoid going to a war you don't agree with is pretty courageous, I'm just not sure that's a festival I'd attend if it was in the states. It just seems like the sort of event that could get ugly if held here, but I'll bet the worst case senario is that pancake and maple syrup fight.

September 12, 2004

How George Bush bankrupted the war on terror

In Salon.

Instead of increasing funding for police, as you'd expect a government to do after an attack like 9/11, the Bush administration cut by almost $100 million the funding for Bill Clinton's 1996 crime bill, meant to put 100,000 police officers on the streets. Rather than increase funding for fire departments, Bush cut resources by $250 million for the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program, which goes to purchase equipment for local departments.

Everything you need to know about the state of the media

Part I: Go read.

In the near future, Part II: my reaction to Al Franken's Lies and the Lying Liars who Tell Them, Outfoxed, and David Brock's The Republican Noise Machine.

Why vote for Kerry?

Because you want people who think like this running the country, not people who think like this.

Via Daily Kos, where DemFromCT highlights some especially nasty bits of the second one.

Update: the Star-Telegram link seems to be bringing up a registration thing sometimes, but also going straight to the story at other times. Because the internet is fun! You can still read the highlights at Kos.

Still Think Going Into Iraq Was A Good Idea?

Iran is evidently close to nuclear power, but North Korea may already be there. So what's the plan now?

What Women Want?

So you're the New York Times, you want an Op-Ed talking about Bush's appeal to women. Do you go and find a political scientist who specializes in, say, voting patterns among women? Or do you find two Republican PR flacks, who offer a creative interpretation of Bush's acceptance speech so that it both appeals to suburban moms (what other kind of women are there, after all?) and characterizes Kerry "as an indecisive, unknown commodity who could make us all vulnerable" (Bush only mentioned Kerry once, while takling about medicare).

Dumb, dumb, dumb.

Here's something less inane.

Spawn Of The Nerd

Congrats go out to Mike, the artist on Penny Arcade. Another dork born into the world means we're that much closer to taking over the world through sheer numbers alone. Posted by Hello

Warning: May Contain Puppet Violence

Here's the new trailer for Trey Parker and Matt Stone's new opus "Team America World Police". Like Baseketball, I'm sure most people will hate this, despite the fact that it rules.

To ban or not to ban

That is the question. Well, not really, since it looks like expiration of the assault weapons ban is a foregone conclusion at this point.

The question of how much safer we are under the assault weapons ban is pretty much as empirical a social science question as you could hope for: to find out, one would just have to look at how often assault weapons vs. other guns were used in various crimes prior to the ban. Since I have no idea what these numbers were, I'd like to make the case that it doesn't matter. Even if assault weapons had been used in none of the crimes committed in the US in the past fifteen years (other than, eg, the crime of trying to import assault weapons, stuff made illegal by the ban), the ban was still a good thing.

The argument is a straightforward analogy: Private citizens in this country are banned from owning tanks and nuclear weapons not because that ban prevents many crimes, but simply because those weapons are extraordinarily dangerous. The damage that one person could do with a tank before they could be stopped overwhelms the minuscule odds of anyone actually doing it. The case of a nuclear weapon is even more extreme: the number of people who'd actually want to use a nuclear weapon is extraordinarily small, but the damage they could do overwhelms that probability. Assault weapons fall on the other end of spectrum from nuclear weapons -- someone could 'only' kill a few hundred people with an Uzi before being stopped -- but this could still be considered enough to justify the ban.

Caption contest

Submit your captions in the comments. Winner gets either an elephant or a site-wide thumbs up, whichever we can afford. Via Atrios (and scroll up for a Photoshopped version).

September 11, 2004

Electoral votes

Current Electoral Vote Predictor

Kerry's standings have gone back up over 270, the number needed to win. He was above this number from early in July through the middle of August, when Bush had a brief surge around the convention. So much for Bush bounce.

WTF is wrong with David Brooks?

How can anyone who writes shit like this be considered a legitimate media figure?

Rich people don't vote Republican much, much more often than they vote Democratic because of some aesthetic preference for numbers. They vote Republican because the Republican party is the party of business and the wealthy.

Furthermore, what the hell is the "postmodern, post-Cartesian, deconstructionist, co-directional ambiguity of Kerry's Iraq policy", which can be summed up by the word "internationalize"? Maybe the problem is that Kerry's plan exists, so an infinite number of predicates may or may not apply to it; but since Bush's plan doesn't exist, it's easy to determine which predicates apply and which do not.

Finally, as someone heavily involved in both "hard" and "soft'" academia (and is he actually contrasting the difficulty, or whatever, of econ, business, and mathematics with English, history, and philosophy?), there is no loathing going on, natural or otherwise. Except me, of David Brooks' fantastically terrible reasoning.

PS Mathematics is as populated by liberals as any other academic discipline. Generally speaking, you can tell a professor's political affiliation based on whether they are economists or business professors. For christ's sake, Brooks even admits this like six paragraphs from the end!

He Must Be Able To Unlock His Joints To Stretch Like That

Really, have we come to this? "Well sure the economy isn't great, but that's just because we didn't count entrepreneurs like that rabbit lady from Roger & Me!"

Not since Dahlsim in Street Fighter 2 have a seen a guy reach like this.

September 10, 2004

Another Friday, another Photoshop Phriday over at Something Awful. As always, there is some crap there, sprinkled with genius. Posted by Hello

September 09, 2004

A little good news

The New York Times > AP > National > Defying Bush, House Votes to Block New Overtime Rules

A Full Body Rub Down, But The Bad Kind

For those that don't know, Bob Harris occassionally posts on Tom Tomorrow's This Modern World blog and he recently took a trip to Europe both to see the Olympic games and to then travel around a bit. Here's some bits of his story when he tried to check in for his flight back to the states:

First, routine: did you pack your own bags? Have they been in your possession the whole time? And did anyone give anything to you?

Normal so far. Then, with God and perhaps 100 other passengers in line as my witness:

Where did you stay on your trip, sir? What hotels? Do you have receipts to prove it? We'll have to see those.

Where did you purchase your ticket? How did you pay for it? Can you prove that?

And he never received any explanation of why he received a higher level of scrutiny than any other passengers. Oh, and it goes without saying that he's not a terrorist or dangerous in any way, other than that he's a TV writer.

Be Nice To Animals, They're Packing Heat!

I'll just give you the quote:

A man who tried to shoot seven puppies was shot himself when one of the dogs put its paw on the revolver's trigger.

I'm going to refer to this dog as Scrappy Doo from now on, or at least until I forget.

A Bump, A Bump, A Post-Convention Bump For Everyone!

We haven't posted any political horserace stuff lately and with all the talk about Bush's post-convention bump I thought it was worth mentioning. Here is the trusty Electoral Vote Predictor, which I've mentioned before and which is based on a number of different polls. Even though this thing IS based on multiple polls, which should increase its accuracy, as with all polling based speculation, take this with a grain of salt but keep in mind that the closer we get to the election the more accurate it becomes for tracking trends.

Anyway, as should be expected, Bush got a bump at the peak of the convention, but that bump has already eroded back to a neck and neck race with a few states coming up a tie as far as the polling is concerned and several more just barely tipped to one candidate or the other.

The point of this post if just to say that if you hear anything about Convention bumps and how good/bad they are for either candidate ignore them. The bumps are temporary and have far more to do with a week straight of press releases, feel good speeches, and media coverage than they have anything to do with convincing the elusive "undecided voter". In the next two months we'll get buried in advertising and campaign stops as well as the debates, so it really could go either way. I tend to think that people are gearing up for a wave of anti-Bush stuff which is just beginning with this flak about his time in Georgia, but we'll see. The Swift Boat thing seemed like one of the Bushies more powerful weapons, but that's already fizzled.

Electoral Counter Updatea p

We haven't posted any political horserace stuff lately and with all the talk about Bush's post-convention bump I thought it was worth mentioning. Here is the trusty Electoral Vote Predictor, which I've mentioned before and which is based on a number of different polls. Even though this thing IS based on multiple polls, which should increase its accuracy, as with all polling based speculation, take this with a grain of salt but keep in mind that the closer we get to the election the more accurate it becomes for tracking trends.

Anyway, as should be expected, Bush got a bump at the peak of the convention, but that bump has already eroded back to a neck and neck race with a few states coming up a tie as far as the polling is concerned and several more just barely tipped to one candidate or the other.

The point of this post if just to say that if you hear anything about Convention bumps and how good/bad they are for either candidate ignore them. The bumps are temporary and have far more to do with a week straight of press releases, feel good speeches, and media coverage than they have anything to do with convincing the elusive "undecided voter". In the next two months we'll get buried in advertising and campaign stops as well as the debates, so it really could go either way. I tend to think that people are gearing up for a wave of anti-Bush stuff which is just beginning with this flak about his time in Georgia, but we'll see. The Swift Boat thing seemed like one of the Bushies more powerful weapons, but that's already fizzled.

A Somber Reminder

We talk a lot about how much Bush has screwed up here, but it's important to keep in mind that there is a very real price for a president's on the job training and the huge "miscalculations" that come with it. 1,000 men and women that didn't have to die have died. Yes, this number is lower than, say, Vietnam, by quite a bit, but the point is that things are bad there, and they're getting worse, and most of all it was all unnecessary.

Will The Real Flip Flopper Please Stand Up, Please Stand Up?

My friend Drew was saying yesterday that he couldn't figure out why Kerry let the Bushies get away with the whole Flip Flop flack, and this is exactly what he was talking about. Bush was opposed to a Department of Homeland Security before 9/11. He was still against it after 9/11, then caved to pressure from both Democrats and Republicans and is now claiming it as his own. He was against the idea of an intelligence czar, then he was for it but didn't want the czar to have any budgetary authority (which would cripple the czar's ability to do ANYTHING), and now he's FOR an intelligence czar WITH full budgetary authority. Now, I'd never bash this over Bush's head except that he's made a big part of his campaign over the fact that he's resolute and never changes his position or his mind. But as we can see, as a leader of a nation this big, you HAVE to change your approach when public opinion shifts.

Two real quick

Too early to be coherent:

Judge clears new Calif domestic partner law for Jan. 1 start date

Bush flip-flops on national intelligence director

I especially like this summary of the Bush administration from Kerry's national security advisor:

the president stakes out positions and holds them as long as it is politically tenable. And when it becomes politically untenable, he puts forward partial measures in order to appear to be a proponent and to co-opt the issue. And then he slow-rolls to avoid doing anything serious to follow up.

September 08, 2004

No Really, I'm Not A Conspiracy Theorist!

Every time I post one of these sorts of stories I feel a little bad; both because it's not the level of discourse I think we should be having in a presidential run, but also because this is the type of stuff that gets people calling you a crazy lefty crazy person. Crazy crazy. But then I think this is EXACTLY the type of stuff coming out of the Right, so if they're going to play dirty and stupidly we might as well roll in the mud too.

That being said, it seems pretty clear to me that Bush's service was not exactly what you'd call heroic service to your country. I mean look, the Swift Boat guys didn't even serve with John Kerry, but Bush's group of pilots was 30 people and he was rich and knew famous people, yet no one seems to remember him being in Georgia, where the group was stationed. There's one guy in particular who says that when he heard W. was going to be stationed at the base he looked forward to meeting him, and tried to find him, because most of the 30 pilots were married, but this guy and W. weren't. Let's be generous and say 20 of the 30 guys were married, and you're one of the ten remaining. Don't you think you'd remember most of them, especially if they were rich and part of a really powerful and connected family? On top of that a pilot trainer doesn't remember him being there either.

Look, given that the documentation from that era is spotty at best we may never have incontrovertable proof about whether W. was or wasn't there, but we DO have documentation from Kerry's service, which tends to portray him pretty well, and what we know of W.'s service doesn't look too good. I just wish we could all agree that Kerry wins in the "Who served our country better when they were in their 20s" fight and move on.


The Genesis Project, er, Genesis Capsule crashed into the desert today. It was a project whereby we could learn lots of new things about the very beginings of the universe through studying the billions of atoms the Capsule collected. Or it was a project to make a newly terraformed planet in a matter of days, a power which the Klingon Empire wants. One of those.

Oh, I LOVE Things Like This!

Every once in a while I'll run across a nutjob on the internet who on top of being crazy is also barely able to write coherently. The product of this person's work is absolutely guaranteed to be amusing, and this particular review of Doom 3 on a Christian Gaming site definitely meets this high, or is it low, standard. Here are some quotes:

"There is no question this is the most evil game I have ever played and I feel incredibly slimed after playing through the game."

"Not only the Doom series but Quake as well id has been know for creating the most satanic games of any company. Also too this game is very gory."

"After hours of exposure to this game, I could see a child’s attitude and personality change because of this game."

Also, the comments afterwards are worth perusing briefly because, of course, after a couple secular gaming sites linked to this review the comments became a total flame war for the few site regulars and the influx and secular internet trolls. Well, I find that stuff amusing.

As a side note I'm considering bookmarking this page and posting more fun quotes from other reviews when I'm bored, though it's probably fair to say that no other game will likely provoke a response like Doom. Via EA

Washington Rocks, Yet Again

Another Superior Court Judge in Washinton has overturned the WA version of the Defense Of Marriage Act. I had thought that Washington had already ammended its Constitution with a DOMA, but I guess it was only statutory. Anyway, like in Mass., the WA Constitution provides significant equal rights for its citizens, above those provided for in the federal Constitution and this judge used that as the basis for his judgement. I believe the last case also was decided under the federal Constitution, but I'll leave it to an intrepid reader to fact check me. A chance to comment!

The "traditional family" dude in this case, a former Seahawks football player, said that this would likely lead to an attempt to ammend the state Constitution to define marriage as "one man and one woman" as has happened in other states. I wonder though if this could pass in Washington. Sure, the Eastern side of the state would vote for it, but I'm not sure if they could get the super majority needed for a Constitutional Ammendment. Anyone with more knowledge of Washington polling, or just someone willing to spend a few minutes Googling it, is certainly welcome to post their thoughts in the comments. In fact, everyone should post something in the comments about gay marriage.

September 07, 2004

Brother Can You Spare A [Billion] Dollars?

I understand the idea of spending your way out of a recession, but nearly half a trillion dollars? Are the people overseeing the budget not seeing how many commas there are?

Edit: This further cements my belief that anyone who governs must first be able to create a profitable Sim City. Somehow I think a lot of those Washington types wouldn't be able to do it.

My Deluxe Apartment In The Sky

This is my new apartment, where I, being cooped up alone and not wanting to work, act out scenes from Gone With The Wind. Come visit! Posted by Hello


In [Sen. Bob] Graham's book, Intelligence Matters, ... he makes clear that some details of that financial support [of 9/11 hijackers] from Saudi Arabia were in the 27 pages of the congressional inquiry's final report that were blocked from release by the administration, despite the pleas of leaders of both parties on the House and Senate intelligence committees.

Via Atrios.

September 06, 2004

Smacking down smirking National Review assholes on Hannity and Colmes

So this particular suit was bashing Kerry on two aspects of Iraq: (1) doesn't have any more clear and feasible a plan than Bush; (2) he's changed his position on the war many times -- including today! That flip-flopper!

So I poked around on the Kerry website, and found this in about 90 seconds. Funny, I'd think that offering a clear and feasible plan for rebuilding Iraq AND our international reputation would be a positive change of position. I guess National Review assholes live in bizarro world (which would not be a surprise).

PS We finally hear this from a guest on H&C (albeit on a night Hannity has off), in response to a question as to whether or not Kerry exaggerated about Viet Namese atrocities: "No, atrocities definitely occurred." And the response meme from Hannity's replacement? Americans want to move on from Viet Nam.

This Modern World

Tom Tomorrow forwards a first-hand account of detention conditions in New York last week. Bill O'Reilly made a huge deal all last week about this one guy who put a cop in a hospital, and how the protesters deserved whatever they got, because they would be a distraction for the police from stopping terrorists, and were, ipso facto, themselves terrorists.

I have never done anything illegal in my life. No illegal drugs, no underage drinking, I don't even smoke cigarettes. I had complete faith in the legal system of this country. I never thought that I would be arrested, much less arrested without any explanation. I had no idea what my rights were as a citizen under arrest.

I now know that I have the right to hand out leaflets, rally on a sidewalk, set up a moving picket line, and wear costumes. I cannot block any building entrances or have more than 3 people wearing masks (including bandanas). I need a permit to march in the street, rally in a park with more than 20 people, or use electronic amplification. I do not have the right to resist a search (although I can say that I do not consent to the search). I am not entitled to a phone call while being detained, and there is no limit to how long they can hold me.

And, of course, this woman was arrested and detained for over two days for walking next to some people who were walking in the street.

For those of you who, like Bill or John Ashcroft, missed your high school civics class, one of the major features of the US political system is that individuals have certain rights which the government is obliged to respect. These rights do make it inconvenient to ferret out people who wish to do away with the political system -- unlike, say, Nazi Germany or the Stalinist era Soviet Union, where eliminating "terrorists" and "dissidents" is easy. But these rights are what make the system worth living in, even defending, for most of the people who live in it. Hence the unpopularity of the Soviet Union.

Funny how the right-leaning moderates and conservatives -- the people who loved to hate the Commies -- are just nuts about setting up their own totalitarian state.

Why won't this meme just die?

I'm watching Fox News while writing this week's quiz for my calc class (because I'm a masochist), and some asshole is on here talking about how the Kerry campaign has done a good job pointing out Bush's problems, but haven't explained what exactly they're going to do.

Maybe the problem is that the Kerry-Edwards campaign are only offering their vision for America on their website, in their speeches, and in their commercials. They're not actually breaking into people's apartments to explain the health care plan. Or building a giant laser to engrave the details on the moon.

All come, to look for America

A little story: I live in Chicago, right in the middle of a city with quite a nice public transportation system, so, to save money, I don't own a car. I have quite a few friends scattered around the Midwest and East Coast, who I would like to go visit on the occasional weekend or vacation. One might think I have four options: taking a plane, renting a car, Amtrak, and Greyhound. Well, one might think this if one was European, where trains and busses are heavily subsidized, and the efficient, convenient schedules make these viable transportation options. Amtrak and Greyhound do usually run routes between Chicago and my desired destination -- St. Louis, Cincinnatti, Des Moines, to name a few -- but renting a car for a weekend is often only slight more expensive, takes half the amount of time, and means I don't have to leave at four in the morning to catch the single train/bus that takes me where I want to go.

In the US, of course, Amtrak and Greyhound are subsidized in the same half-assed way we pay teachers and fight terrorism. So we end up in a vicious circle: poorly-funded, inconvenient, and uncomfortable interstate train and bus services mean more people drive themselves or fly, making more and more train and bus routes unprofitable, justifying eliminating routes and services in a struggle for Amtrak and Greyhound to remain solvent. Which is why this isn't a surprise.

September 05, 2004

Iraq and the Marshall Plan

Atrios has two short posts on the Marshall Plan, Iraq, and what Bush was talking about in his convention speech.

September 04, 2004

Penny Arcade Trivia Test

The Penny-Arcade Trivia Test

I got the link to this after cruising Penny-Arcade Friday night, and I scored 49, a Gabe, so I'm feeling pretty good about myself. If you read the comic at all, it's a fun trip down memory lane. Take the test and post your scores in the comments.

September 03, 2004

What is liberalism?

So I was talking with a friend of mine last night. She's 19, and an evangelical Christian, but not very informed about politics and the state of the world -- busy with college and all of that. And I told her that, in contrast to a lot of evangelical Christians, she's a moderate, and would even be a liberal if she kept up on the news a little more. She asked me why.

It was late, and I was playing City of Heroes and watching The Daily Show at the same time, so I couldn't give her a good explanation right then. This morning, I started to put together an explanation of what liberalism is all about, and how I really do think she's a liberal, not a moderate, and definitely not conservative, pace her squeamishness about abortion. Then, on the bus to school an hour later, I realized that someone had already done the work for me, about a month ago: Barack Obama, the next junior Senator from Illinois, and the keynote speaker at the DNC.

There are some partisan points made in this speech. But, overall, I think this is a moving depiction of liberalism: an ideology of hope, opportunity, tolerance. The contrast with Zell Miller's tirade of fear and ad hominem (not to mention factually weak) attacks on Kerry is, I think, telling.

Salon: Bush glosses over facts during acceptance speech.

Well, Duh.

After an entire convention of half-truths and outright fabrications, to think that the main speaker would do any different is silly.

Not to mention, that in comparison to Kerry's acceptance speech, Bush couldn't seem to help bringing up his opponent as often as possible, and then trying to tear him down. As Drew commented in one of my posts, when you're an incumbet president and you're polling at 50 or below, tearing down the other guy is a good strategy. Make sure the public knows your opponents faults, and maybe they won't look at yours.

At least John Kerry is finally starting to fight back.

September 02, 2004

Jesus Christ is Superman, maybe...

Just heard this on the radio, thought I would dig up what I could on it. On Monday, according to comic book writer Mark Millar, Jim Caviezel (from The Passion of the Christ, The Count of Monte Cristo, Frequency) has been officially cast in the Bryan Singer-directed Superman movie.

While this rumor was supposedly debunked by Harry Knolwes on Tuesday, Mark Millar is putting his money where his mouth is, offering $1000 to charity if he Caviezel isn't Superman.

Personally, I think they should just wait until Smallville has had it's television run and cast the Smallville cast into the feature film. But apparently Warner Bros. doesn't like to "cross-pollinate" their franchises. I'm not too worried, though, the newest Superman movie has gone through how many lead actors and directors? I lost count long ago.

Wow! Journalism!

In case you don't believe there are any actual journalists anymore -- people who, you know, try to sort out the bullshit politicians and talking heads spew by looking into the veracity of their claims -- Salon provides some counterevidence, looking into the claims of Republican convention speakers and Bush's missing year. Impressive stuff. (You'll have to watch an ad -- hopefully just once -- to read the stories.)

Sweet zombie Jesus!

... er, Miller and Cheney.

I Couldn't Agree More

Via Salon:

Vice President Dick Cheney said Wednesday the presidential choice couldn't be more clear between President Bush and Democratic challenger John Kerry in an election in which "the stakes for the country are the highest."

Republicans & The Whole Truth Do Not Mix

I watched part of the convention last night, and while it was pretty much what I expected, light on facts, and half-truths, I enjoyed Salon's take on the convention's speakers.

Here's a few highlights:

Zell Miller told the convention that Kerry had voted against development of the F-14, F-15 and Apache Helicopter, but neglected to mention that then-Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney proposed eliminating them too. Miller also didn't mention that he and Kerry voted in 2002 for the largest military spending increase in two decades.

Dick Cheney mocked Kerry for saying that we needed to fight a more "sensitive" war on terror, neglecting to mention that Kerry meant bringing in and respecting more countries instead of stonewalling them. (This is my note, but a more "sensitive" war on terror would be beneficial to American interests in the Middle East, because we sure are courting public opinion amongst the Iraqi people when we accidentally kill their children with bombs and bullets, and then we wonder why they rise up against us and behead hostages that aren't even part of the military).

Massachusetts Lt. Gov Kerry Healey told the convention that Kerry was the most liberal senator in Congress, something Dick Cheney doesn't even say anymore.

Maryland Lt. Gov Michael Steele criticized Kerry for proposing a $6 billion cut in intelligence spending a year after 9/11, neglecting to mention that then-Rep. Porter Goss (the new head of the CIA) proposed an even larger cut at the same time as Kerry.

The article goes on and on and is actually quite an entertaining read.

When rape cases don't go to trial.

The question of whether or not Kobe Bryant is guilty of rape should have been one left to the courts, and I will not presume that I know whether or not he is guilty. But to have the case dropped because the accuser will no longer cooperate with the prosecution because she has had her name & medical records released, received death threats and basically been treated like a glory-seeker by the media which was irresponsible enough to let these things slide into the public knowledge in the first place, that is just terrible. I can't imagine the message this sends to rape victims who already feel stigmatized by their experience, or to the defense lawyers who figure out new and sneakier ways of dragging the supposed victim's name through the mud.

I guess we will see how it goes in the civil trial.

September 01, 2004

But It Hurts My Brain

Though in the cagematch of the country the Pacific Northwest kicks all other region's asses, this is pretty damn cool. As is mentioned in the comments to the linked story, you have to wonder what long term effects the increasing electric signals whizzing through the air, and through our brains and genitals, will have. This does, however, prove that the coolness goes wherever I am.