...for sure recently, perhaps the worst science fiction book I've ever read, maybe even the worst book period that I have ever read. Certainly the worst good-guy vampires and secret agents travel to the hollow Earth to fight Nazis alined with ancient talking serpent people book I've ever seen. Oh yeah, there's also a plotline about a piece of Cthulhu that got stuck in a decapitated head and some nasty pedophile-baiting program from the NSA crossed with FEMA. Then everything suddenly ends 40 pages from the back of the book. Nuclear explosions, plotlines finished off. Characters that had a lot of development (not that you'd give a damn) who do nothing in the book die. The end.
The jacket picture is far better than anything in the book. The artist certainly didn't read the book, the "good guys" flew to the underland in a Nazi Serpent-person-antigravity powered flying saucer, they didn't walk down the stairs. Oh, did I mention the DNA memory of the Nephilim invansion of Earth? Merlin as the President's National Security Advisor? Vampires removing their fangs with plastic surgery (to better fit in, though they only go out at night still)? The off-screen 1-page death and rebirth of the main character? Within 50 pages of the end of the book.
And this book is some part of a quartet!?! With positive back cover reviews from Michael Moorcock and The Bloomsbury Review? I'm not sure how this book could have been worse. No, wait, it could have used a less readable font. Nope, that would have helped. Okay, I'm lost here, I can't think of how to make the book worse.
Wait! Would you like to borrow my copy? Anyone who is interested, just email me. It took me less than four hours to read it. Hours that I could have spent flossing a neighbor's cat or doodling on my forehead with a sharpie.
The Argentinian sabre-rattling is starting to get British attention. Isles Malvinas may once again be a useful distraction for the Argentine government faced with domestic problems.
It's a bizarre tale. The proposed law change would allow Dick Cheney, when he's next in Wyoming hunting, to carry a fully automatic weapon with a silencer into the field. Of course, he couldn't use either to shoot animals. Just carry them with him. Huh?
Wait a seond! There is something they can do! They can act as death squads and kill up to 900 people per month (July figure). Bodies found with cigarette burns, and mutilated with power tools. These guys went to a cruder torture school than the US torturers. Maybe to the School of the Americas?
Want a different perspective? You can read the defense department's "Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq" for lots of statistics. No comments in there about the near civil war situation, the death squads, or the growing power of the mullahs.
Remember the Freedom Tower? 1776 feet of pure freedom in lower Manhattan. Well, you may have to submit to iris scans and thumbprints. Additionally, the building seems to exempt from inspections. So, freedom means no privacy and being above the law?
Morrissey? Interviewed by the FBI and British intelligence? "Hang the DJ!"
Meanwhile, we have Iranian mullahs explaining how the US blew up some religious buildings in a country we invaded because we lied and said that they were involved in blowing up some buildings here.
I think it would have been simpler. Send money to poppie, he always did buy coke for his little dubya kid, and the ports purchase can go right ahead. No worries.
Palm Beach County voting machines have had their error logs examined. Votes cast ahead of the election, powered off many times during the election day, and plenty of other headaches. Let's see, there are trillions of petro- and military-dollars at stake, would people make an attempt to defraud the American public and alter the election?
Use google to search and you find only one website. How often does that happen? You can try "jonenpaar" as a unigoogle term. Others?
For this wannabe rock star. Remember, don't jump on the bed!
Well, I cared about the biathalon and the cross-country skiing, though not really skeleton (scary as it looks). Otherwise I think the Nation did a good job highlighting the horror that was the television coverage of the games and the bizarre spectacles that have eclipses even the curling competition. Who indeed came up with the Bode Miller concept? Fired, I trust.
Another tortured survivor of the prison terms after the uprising emerges. Good links on the page to some oral histories of the events of 1989.
You make people afraid. And then sometimes that fear is not what you had wanted. I think I hear calls for more GOP funding of government propaganda programs now...
A good piece in the NYTs on emails to professors about their class and learning. I've definitely been struggling to deal with the volume of email from a large lecture class.
Most people are afraid of heights. I'm afraid of widths. -Stephen Wright
Okay, so I had an idea this morning for new musical benefit concert. It's partly tied to Live and Evil being mirror images of each other, and partly to the news that Mladic might be arrested soon. So here's the idea:
So, these fundamentalist Christians from Westboro Baptist Church are going to the funerals of American victims of the Iraq War to harass the mourners. Why, you ask? Because the deaths are God's punishment on America for "tolerating" homosexuality. Huh? Okay, stay with me now, so bikers come out and run their engines and show their support for the victims and their families by drowning out the offensive Baptists. Got it? Yeah, it's weird. Read all about it in the Army Times this week.
Yup. The first rule of Fight Club: Sing and dance.
It's a pretty bizarre back-attack on Bill Clinton's 1995 declassification order. That was supposed to speed the declassification of materials that had no need to remain secret.
Documents that have been reclassified range from bizarre to embarassing:
If you made a copy of them while they were public, you may now be in violation of the Espionage Act. Heck, pretty soon owning a copy of the Constitution is likely to be illegal, so a coverup of CIA misdeeds of 60 years ago may be the least of our troubles.
A police raid of the Austrian cross-country and biathalon teams. It does offer a strange vignette of life in the Olympic village, with blood transfusions, IV drips, and needles everywhere. Reminds me of my old place in Alphabet City.
On another front, looking at the timeline, it's clear that the Saudi actions of 26 January are the true trigger for the "row." What is it that the Saudis are wagging the dog for? The tortured Briton seems like a minor matter to the House of Saud. Everyone knows that the Saudis torture people. After all, doesn't Bush send "enemies of the people" there for special treatment? Let's see, what else was going on in the Saudi desert? Oh yeah, a bunch of people died in a stampede just as in years past. And the hostel collapse that killed seventy other people. Was the anger over these Haj failures redirected? Could be.
You can also take a look at the Arab cartoons that have Israelis around the world rioting, burning down embassies, calling for the murder of the cartoonists, and asking for new laws to restrict freedom of speech.
In addition to the cost of lunatic policies, Bush has been charging us for propaganda to support his policies. $1.6 Billion dollars worth of legally questionable propaganda. Some bits seem sensible enough, boater warnings and National Park paperwork, but there are also partisan campaigns to sell the regimes war in Iraq, gutting of environmental laws, and Medicare fiddlings.
The Devo spawning Dev2.0, the Disney version, is really too weird for words. It pretty much has to come down to someone needing cash from the Mickey Mouse.
The US regime refuses to consider this. And claims that the torture and abuse is, in fact, humane. And that the torture center houses "dangerous terrorists." Well, if so, they could be charged with crimes and their cases put before a judge and jury.
Looking further at who is actually in detention at Guantanamo Bay reveals an interesting story. Most of these people were Arabs arrested in Pakistan (for reward monies) and are not accused of hostilities toward the US. Though after four years of torture and confinement, it's hard to not imagine them wanting some payback now. Only eight of 132 studied are even accused of planning or being involved with potential terrorist attacks outside of Afghanistan. Many are just accused by one other person of having some association with the Taliban.
"If you think of the people down there, these are people, all of whom were captured on a battlefield. They're terrorists, trainers, bomb makers, recruiters, financiers, [Osama bin Laden's] bodyguards, would-be suicide bombers, probably the 20th 9/11 hijacker." -- Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld lying on June 27, 2005
Look at prisoner #032 for a case study. Someone who is not one of the "most dangerous, best-trained, vicious killers on the face of the earth" as Rummy put it, and is neither an enemy nor a combatant.
The "important" prisoners disappeared into CIA custody, and are not in Cuba. They've been ferried in and out of various torture centers in Eastern Europe and the Middle East instead.
...you should now.
They have an ongoing, excellent, series of articles offering vignettes from both sides of the Israel/Palestine war. Doctors, film-makers, innocent victims. It's good reporting in a blog format.
Two single women, a single man, Dick Cheney, and a weekend with Mrs. Cheney nowhere in sight. Pamela Willeford as Cheney's mistress? Would make sense then with the Secret Service having to give a little extra thought to the press releases. And someone the idea of the VP and Halliburton fat-cat along with the ambassador to Lichtenstein (& Switzerland) on their Valentines Day retreat just leaves me laughing. Of course lunatic right-wing Republicans have family values, so she isn't a mistress. Nope, she's an ambassador.
You know, I feel kinda dirty spreading such rumors, but at the very least there's humor in it.
I think that figure from the BBC tells a lot of the story. A life expectancy of 300 years? A little bit of an update, and also the results of the Valentine's Day women's protests in Harare and Bulawayo.
Pretty darned complete. We've written the country off to the theocrats. Even the Israelis are concluding that they will miss President Hussein.
I won't bother linking to additional stories of lost freedoms at home. The consequences of this war have been far reaching---not even at the height of the Vietnam War has America been so universally reviled around the world. This administration has thrown away generations of good will in just a few years.
Remember, these are the folks with record profits, right? The companies that Americans and Iraqis are dying to support financially. Yup, give 'em another $7 billion. Besides, Bush was planning on making that up by cutting worthless social programs, right? What's more imortant to the stockholders of Exxon, I mean, the country, than increasing oil and gas company profits by another few billion? Nothing could be more important, right? I mean, what are you, a terrorist? Why do you hate this country?
And many churches are addressing the validity of Darwin without "deliberately embracing ignorance." Three cheers for them. "A faith that requires you to close your mind in order to believe is not much of a faith at all." More here on evolution Sunday.
The UN has concluded that US activities at Guantanamo Bay do constitute torture and do violate international laws. Not that anyone is really surprised.
Wait a second! He did do a lot better in three days than the US administration did in three years. Peter O'Toole, where are you?
Yes, I will!
It has become clear that Dick's five deferments from being sent to Vietnam ("I had other priorities") were well served. The additional "friendly fire" would have eventually eaten into US military moral.
A more sober, and more boring, take on the story is at the New York Times. We do learn that Dick used a 28 gauge shotgun, but we remain woefully ignorant of the shot size. 7.5 or 8? Or was he going for distant shots with #6 shot?
Well, the Winter Olympics are off and running. We had Sofia Loren, Susan Sarandon, and Yoko Ono in the opening ceremonies. I hear Yoko has been seriously considering a comeback in the biathalon. The African women carrying the flag outnumbered African women competing in the games, but we do have the Australian skeleton team. Hmmm...they're probably not going to do too well. Nor the skiers from Senegal.
Living in Minnesota, we do have the special thrill of the Bemidji men and women's curling teams representing the US. The olympic trials in Duluth were impressive. I'm told.
Who do I complain to about the lack of cross-country and biathalon coverage though? I remember not seeing enough modern pent at the summer games as well...
Discussion of your first computer. First computer I used, TRS-80 Model I, first one I saw someone use, Altair.
"Mr Ihsanoglu has called on the EU to pass laws banning blasphemy." And we should rightly worry about both the fundamentalist Christians and Muslims trying to take away our rights.
Printing these, gives rise to these folks...
Darn it, I hate it when I have to agree with Hitchens again.
"There isn’t an inch to give, nothing to negotiate and no concessions to offer. Those of us who believe in enlightenment and free speech also have unalterable principles which we will not give up. We have to listen all the time to piratical-looking mullahs calling our Jewish friends pigs and demanding the censorship of The Satanic Verses and we find this fantastically insulting, but we don’t behave like babies. They are making a puerile spectacle of themselves. We should say, how dare you behave in this way? They can put themselves under laws and taboos if they wish, but it is nothing to do with me or anybody else. They are completely out of order." - Christopher Hitchens
There's this old article by Gibson in Wired magazine on re-mix culture. Makes an interesting case to connect Cornell and the boxes to mash-ups and remixes.
What a wimpy editorial! I was hoping for a spirited defense of free speech in the face of threats and violence, or maybe a critique of right-wing European newspapers. Instead we get a little of everything. Signed by the editors and not someone specifically. Very disappointing.
In a desperate attempt to distance themselves from Jack Abramhoff and the criminal money-laundering operations, house Republicans have placed Tom Delay on the on the Appropriations Committee and he "also claimed a seat on the subcommittee overseeing the Justice Department, which is currently investigating an influence-peddling scandal involving disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his dealings with lawmakers." A new era in good government!
Norm Coleman didn't want it to be known that he voted 98% of the time on George Bush's side. And Tom Harkin staffers deleted the story of how he used to, falsely, claim to have flown combat missions over Vietnam.
The murder of suspected terrorists in the US? Even if they're US citizens? Wait, didn't we have some rights a few years ago?
Type in asshole and click "I feel lucky." It should direct you to Film Strip International. If it didn't, well, too many people prolly complained. Did I mention that the links are not especially work safe?
The Dubya proposed Federal budget for FY 2007 was released (man, it's painful digging through it!). Pentagon gets big increases (remember Iraq isn't in the budget, it's in additional spending bills to hide the truth of the $2 trillion that we'll send there), Veterans Affairs, State, and Homeland Security get a little more. Everything else is cut. The resulting deficit? $423 billion. Wow!
"The biggest winners in the budget blowout would be: the Defense Department ($440 billion - having grown 45% over the last five years); the State Department ($33.9 billion - a 12% increase of $3.7 billion over FY 2006); and the VA ($35.7 billion - an increase of $2.6 billion over last year)." Gotta pay for those wounded. Cuts and budgets are broken down here at the Washington Post.
So, basically we'll borrow 1/2 a trillion dollars from the Saudis and the Chinese, send the money to the military-industrial complex (note the DoD budget is equal to the deficit), use the proceeds to cut the taxes of the rich and the super-rich, and leave future generations to pay the bills. Makes sense to me.
...and, presto, there it is. And it's really quite strange. And you scroll down, and it gets stranger. And it reminds you that Joy Division was a really long time ago, though I suppose not as long ago as Hank Williams. Senior. So, you click on the mp3s and listen while, oh my god!, the music plays and you read of Tuva and stolen passports. Then you look around on the site, reviews of Captain Beefheart in a Tuvan style. Feynman pretty much has to be to blame for making Tuva hip again. Kyzyl! The throat singing is amazing stuff, but covering the Rolling Stones? They just did the halftime show at some Bowling match or other. And got censored. Painted black. Black as black. The link already!
Sample lyrics from KAMGALANYR KUZHU-DAA BAR (We have protection force.):
Yenisei river's banks are full of natural richness, our amazing country has protection force.
Yenisei runs and kicks his banks by his waves, if an enemy invades we have a lot of power to destroy him.
In taiga there is a lot of gold and other richness, in the north and south we have brother countries.
In the south and north parts of taiga there are a lot of minerals and furs, -- we have the powerful USSR giving a happy life to us.
music - trad arr. A. Kuvezin
lyrics - Salchak Toka
"The name of a mountain pass through Tannu-Ola range at the south part of Tuva. In 1933-1934 the road from Kyzyl (capital) to region on Mongolian border was built; and on this pass for one year people were digging using only simple tools like picks, spades, hand-trolleys and enthusiasm. Now it is road of state importance connecting Siberia, Tuva and Mongolia. The lyrics written by first General Secretary of Communist Party of then-independent state of "Tannu Touva". Salchak Toka, leader of the Government and also one of the great writers of classic Tuvan literature - a Soviet Union State Prizewinner. This song about wish and striving to dig out Kaldak-Khamar pass, to build a smooth road and to rush by an iron devil-car like a kite."
"President Washington, President Lincoln, President Wilson, President Roosevelt have all authorized electronic surveillance on a far broader scale." - Alberto Gonzales." As long as Lincoln illegally intercepted emails, it must be okay. Wait a sec...
And, notice that the GOP did not have Gonzales under oath! Seems like the only way to avoid perjury from our Attorney General.
LAWRENCE WILKERSON: It makes me feel terrible. I've said in other places that it was-- constitutes the lowest point in my professional life. My participation in that presentation at the UN constitutes the lowest point in my professional life.
I participated in a hoax on the American people, the international community and the United Nations Security Council. How do you think that makes me feel? Thirty-one years in the United States Army and I more or less end my career with that kind of a blot on my record? That's not a very comforting thing.
DAVID BRANCACCIO [interviewer]: A hoax? That's quite a word.
LAWRENCE WILKERSON: Well, let's face it, it was.
Proliferating and being regulated. I'll have to post some photos I have of interesting and odd ones from Pennsylvania and Argentina.
Five people die in Afghanistan because of vague news stories about blasphemy in newspapers half a world away. The question, I think, is whether we believe in freedom, such as freedom of the press, and freedom from religion as much as the violent mobs believe in, well, violence. It seems terribly ironic to burn down buildings, murder and kidnap people, and blow up their cities to protest your depiction as a fanatic and a bomber. I want the right to be offended. I want the right to offend. Were those cartoons a low-brow offense? Sure, but remember why they were printed in the first place! Their right to exist, and the death threats against the artist, prior to publication, made the papers interested in printing them. Since Satanic Verses this threat against western art and artists has been growing. We can look at the murders in the Netherlands. Terroristic threats and burnt cars and buildings in France.
The response to the Egyptian ferry sinking might be noted also, though I would strongly hesitate to link it to my arguments above. It seems as though a corrupt Egyptian state is not trusted with the response to this disaster. Going back to the General Slocum, we would have to ask whether New York City at the turn of the 20th century was any more capable of dealing with boat owners...
Republican creep from Colorado who wears military uniforms to campaign had asked for deferements and never did serve in the military. To add insult to injury, he appears to have a poor record of supporting veterans appropriations.
Shades of the General Slocum disaster off New York City harbor the day before Bloomday.
There's an interesting science fiction novella Time Adrift about a time traveler visiting the burning General Slocum. You can read it online.
100 of the best first lines in literature. Hmmm...well, in novels anyway. According to some folks or other. Though I do remember some of these, and what's not to like with the Pynchon, "dark and stormy night," Ishmael, and Joyce?
It's amazing to me, but quite telling also, that resisting an illegal, warrantless search by the FBI makes the news. I could have sworn that in all of that "freedom" propaganda there was some mention of actually using the freedom rather than just using it as a rhetorical weapon.
Raised, most interestingly, at Sundance. I haven't read anything more useful coming out of the festival this year than the asking of this question. Not really answered I suppose.
Near Lowry and Central? Sully's bar? Anne, do you know the guy?
Median and Mean Income: Lower
In 2000 the median Income was $46,058 the mean was $62,671
In 2004 the median income was $44,389 the mean was $60,528
Unemployment in 2000: 4%
Unemployment in 2005: 5.1%
(The labor force participation rate has dropped from approximately 67% in 2000 to approximately 66% in 2005).
People in Poverty: Higher
Number and percentage of Americans Living in Poverty in 2000: 278,944, 11.3%
Number and percentage of Americans Living in Poverty in 2004: 290,605, 12.7%
Number and percentage of those uninsured: Higher
2000 39.8 million 14.2%
2004 45.8 million 15.7%
Americans' personal savings rate dipped into negative territory in 2005, something that hasn't happened since the Great Depression.
While most Americans are worse off and all of the major stock indexes have actually lost money, not everyone is worse off.
For example, Haliburton's Stock Price has doubled.
Exxon Mobil just reported the largest profit ever for a US company and its stock price has increased by over 60%.
Americans with an income exceeding $1,000,000 can look forward an average Bush tax decrease of = $109,415 in 2006.