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January 31, 2004
An Open Letter

Dear Anti Gay Marriage People,

How are you? Don't answer that.

So how about this gay marriage thing? What's up with you guys on this one? Can't you for one second just leave people alone in their private lives? Obviously you've read that one somewhat vague passage in the bible, something about "an abomination," but have you read the rest of it? I'm no expert, but isn't there some stuff in there about charity and love thy neighbor and stuff like that? Wasn't this country founded by your ancestors, who liked that book too, and were persecuted for it? I think it was something like that.

I kind of don't get it. It seems like the whole world is going in one direction, and you're determined not to come. They say, "let people love who they want," you say, "I hate you." Didn't you pull this shit with slavery? Wasn't slavery pretty well abolished in the civilized world long before we did anything about it here? We're so weird that way.

In Canada they have gay provincial cabinet ministers getting married. While in Florida, a Federal Appeals Court has upheld a law that bans gay couples from adopting children. Jeb Bush has declared himself "pleased" with the ruling, and his brother is planning to spend hundreds of millions of dollars -- mine and yours -- to "promote marriage," and I think we all know what kind of marriage he means. You know, regular marriage: lasts a few years, divorce, bitter disputes over kids and money, the foundation of our society, that kind of thing. I'm kidding, I'm kidding, I know you all have very stable and loving homes.

So while Canada is extending equal rights for everyone, even people in the highest levels of government like yourselves, we're eliminating an entire group of people from the pool of folks willing to raise otherwise unwanted children. Ahhhhhhh. Doesn't that feel nice? This is adoption, not some kind of hand out. As far as I know, there are a lot more kids out there who need it than there are people who will do it. Shouldn't we not leave those kids behind?

It must be that you guys, you "conservatives" or "right wingers" or "fucking bigoted assholes" or whatever you're calling yourselves these days, cannot conceive of what it's like to be discriminated against. For anything. For something you have no control over. Your race, your religion, your accent, your disability, your nationality, or yes, even your wish to share your dingaling with anyone you choose.

It doesn't matter whether you're talking about the right to marry or freedom from slavery. Even the right to live. It's all the same principle: You simply just cannot discriminate against people. It's wrong. Get it? Is "how would you like it if that was you?" such a difficult concept? Think about it.

When the stakes aren't as high as life and death, when the question is about legal marriage and not about slavery or death camps, it naturally doesn't get as much attention. It's easier to convince someone that the gay couple down the street don't deserve to be able to visit each other in the hospital than it is to convince them that we should just kill the fags and be done with it, but it's really the same thing. A group of people are being denied by the state something that other people enjoy simply because they are who they are.

You don't have to like gay people getting married, and you don't have to become gay and get married. All you have to do is sit there, shut up, and take it. I don't like you, but I still think you can get married if you want. I am frankly disgusted by many of your views; you and your ilk literally make me sick to my stomach at least once a week, but I still say you can get married if you want.

Really. You have my blessing.

Best,
Anthony

January 30, 2004
He Who Showered Tons of Blood and Entrails onto the Street, Dealt It

I'm sure by now everybody has seen this:

Dead whale explodes.

A 56-foot long, 60 ton dead sperm whale exploded on the back of a flatbed truck in Taiwan, showering nearby cars and shops with blood and organs and stopping traffic for hours." Seems the gases from decomposition built up too much.

How many times do I have to say this: Always punch holes in your decaying marine mammals before transport. It's right there on the label, if you'd bother to read it.

The rest of the article is your basic whale explosion boilerplate, until the end, when we have this:

... the male specimen ... drew the attention of locals because of its large penis, measured at some five feet, the Taipei Times reported.

"More than 100 Tainan city residents, mostly men, have reportedly gone to see the corpse to 'experience' the size of its penis," the newspaper reported.

Okay, here it comes: That explains why all those Taiwanese men have been following me around everywhere.

The Smoking Quote

Via Atrios, who got it from CAP, a (quite long) list of quotes from administration officials, many from the president his own self, concerning the threat posed by Saddam Hussein. I'm sure some of these are taken out of context, our side is certainly not above that kind of thing, but taken as a whole, it's obviously undeniable that the threat was presented as very serious, and very imminent.

I don't care if they never said the words 'imminent' and 'threat' right next to each other. The fact that they can get any play with that kind of bullshit semantical argument is very disturbing. "Well, we didn't, technically, say that. You can't prove that I used those exact words." I mean, seriously, shut the fuck up.

I think it's possible that a good deal of the blame lies with the intelligence community. Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld weren't the only people in the world who thought Saddam has WMD, lots of people thought he did. They didn't sit around and concoct the whole idea in their secret underground caves, they probably really thought it was true. And this is the angle the administration seems to be taking: "Hey, we're not the only ones who got this wrong. We can only work with what other people tell us."

This is bullshit. The CIA and other intelligence agencies were often quite clear that the true status of Iraq's weapons programs was not known. There had been inspectors in there, on and off, for years, and no one had found anything significant. Iraq was subject to some of the harshest international sanctions and scrutiny in recent history; it's hard to imagine they were getting away with much since 1991.

It's a basic problem of logic. The argument seems to be, "Well, since we couldn't prove beyond a doubt that they weren't there, that means they might have been there, so we had to act. We can't afford to be wrong. It is better that we go in and kill tens of thousands of civilians, risk the lives of thousands of American soldiers, and destabilize an already biblically volatile region. What is the alternative? We can't just wait for another terrorist attack."

First, this naturally presumes a connection between Iraq and terrorism, a connection which has never even come close to being established. No, we can't just wait for another attack.

What we could have done: We could have taken advantage of the unprecedented global goodwill following September 11 to fight a real and effective war on terrorism. Civilized people everywhere watched that horrible day unfold and were prepared to say, "no more." A vast global coalition, cracking down on the terrorists money could have been very effective very quickly in bringing down networks like Al Qaeda. Without millions and millions in cash, they're nothing but psychotic blowhards. Start with Saudi Arabia. Oh, sorry, I forgot, they're our allies.

What we have instead is a country run by people who shoot first and think about it later. The only way to be a strong country, a strong leader, is to flex your muscles and make sure everyone who disagress with you cowers in fear of your mighty strength. This is the new doctrine of preemption, and if Bush wins in November, we're in for more of it.

If you ask me, it's a serious step backwards, evolutionarily.

January 29, 2004
The Yucky World of Dinner

I am vindicated!

Chuck Gerba, a professor of environmental microbiology at the University of Arizona who has studied bacteria in home kitchens, said that he found that people who had the cleanest-looking kitchens were often the dirtiest. Because "clean" people wipe up so much, they often end up spreading bacteria all over the place. The cleanest kitchens, he said, were in the homes of bachelors, who never wiped up and just put their dirty dishes in the sink.

Take that Mom and Liz.

January 28, 2004
The Big E

Electability. It's all you hear about these days. I was just watching Nightline, and besides Ted Koppel shamefully fawning all over John Kerry while practically suggesting to Howard Dean that he just pack it in and go home right now, the talk is all about electability. A poll was cited (I can't find it on their site) saying that something like 54% of voters cited "the ability to beat Bush" as their number 1 issue.

What I don't get is when the news people and pundits ask each other and the candidates if electability is the central issue. Koppel asked Kerry that tonight.

Of COURSE it's the central issue. In a way, it's the ONLY issue. If you can't get elected, then it surely doesn't much matter if you have a great plan to overhaul medicare, does it? A great scheme to get the U.S. out of Iraq from an ex-governor of Vermont probably won't have a very big impact on our foreign policy. It all goes together. Electability isn't so much an issue of it's own as it is a byproduct issue of a candidate's stance on the actual issues and his public image, with a dash of haircut.

Every Democrat -- really every sensible American -- should be concerned with the eventual nominee's so called electability. If they can't be elected, it's a waste of time.

That being said, I don't think a quality as nebulous as that is decided this early. It's easy to forget that it's still very early. The majority of voters don't start paying attention to this stuff until the fall. By then, whoever has won the nomination will be looking a lot different.

Switching Teams

This is interesting...

In the Republican primary in New Hampshire, a full 7.5% -- over 4300 votes -- were cast for Democratic candidates. This seems like it could be a sign that at least some Republicans are pissed off at Bush. At least pissed off enough to send a message in great enough numbers to give second place to John Kerry (2.3%). Even accounting for people who did it as a joke, people who accidentally voted in the wrong primary (I'm sure it happened), and so on, it's a pretty significant number.

In contrast, George Bush only pulled 103 write-in votes on the Democrats' side (interestingly, almost twice as many as Hillary Clinton).

Could this be a tiny glimpse of a centrist shift away from Bush's extreme brand of wingnutism? Could be. Here's hopin'.

January 27, 2004
The Blind Leading The World

In The Atlantic this month, James Fallows writes about Iraq, and the perceived lack of a plan for the post war period. (Hey, I used to work with his wife. Cool.) I haven't read the article yet, but I have the issue and it's in the stack.

This article in the Washington Post sort of sums up Fallow's piece. It seems that "many government agencies -- the Army, the CIA, and the State Department among others" were working on plans for post war Iraq, but the administration systematically ignored them. Some shocking revelations:

♦ Twice -- in May of 2002 and January of 2003 -- the CIA held war game exercises designed to plan for postwar problems. Pentagon officials attended the early sessions but then their superiors in the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) ordered them to stop going.
♦ In 2002, Congress appropriated $5 million to fund the "Future of Iraq" project, headed by State Department veteran Thomas Warrick and designed to plan for the aftermath of war. Gathering Iraq experts and Iraqi exiles into 17 working groups, the project issued 13 reports, each addressing a potential postwar problem. But when former general Jay Garner was named to run postwar Iraq, Rumsfeld told him not to bother reading the project's recommendations and ordered him to fire Warrick.

It's very sad, and potentially tragic, that stories like these don't get much big media attention (and by that I mean television), instead people turn on Diane Sawyer and watch her ask Howard Dean's wife over and over again if he has a temper. Actual questions: "What do you guys fight about? Does your husband have a temper? Does he lose his temper very often?"

Charge It!

It's been 3 days. Lots of stuff has pissed me off. Let's begin.

The Congressional Budget Office reports that the Federal debt will reach $1.9 trillion in 10 years, and could double if Bush's tax cuts are made permanent. 1.9 TRILLION DOLLARS.

That's $1,900,000,000,000.00. And that's if he doesn't get his preferred tax policy to stick.

My cell phone bill was like 90 bucks last month, and that threw me for a loop.

It's so ridiculous, it's almost funny. Of course, wars are always fought on borrowed money, the theory being that the "benefits" of a given war are long-term, enjoyed mostly by succeeding generations, and so the costs are spread to them as well. This might sort of work if the war wasn't based on a GIANT PACK OF LIES.

You know, we were forced to take action against Iraq, because of their "weapons of mass destruction program related activites." Whew, we really dodged a bullet there. I could really feel those program related activities just breathing down my neck.

In the meantime, Bush thinks maybe it's the right time to discuss building a moonbase. Now, I'm a big fan of science, and I like space, space is great. Humans have to keep exploring, and all that. It occurs to me, though, that maybe it would be better if we put hundreds of millions of dollars into our schools, so our children will grow up and be smart, and then THEY can go to the moon. Or maybe we could use that money to provide life-saving drugs to everyone on earth with AIDS (40 million people) for 25 years. Maybe some of those people can go to the moon once they're feeling better.

January 24, 2004
Another Reason Not to Shop at Wal-Mart

Kevin at Calpundit points out Wal-Mart's new ad campaign. Basically they have some new commercials that show families with terrible medical problems, and show them extolling Wal-Mart for saving their children's lives by covering their medical expenses. It's all very tear-jerky.

An article in the Wall Street Journal has a slightly different take:

Wal-Mart makes new hourly workers wait six months to sign up for its benefits plan and doesn't cover retirees at all. Its deductibles range as high as $1,000, triple the norm. It refuses to pay for flu shots, eye exams, child vaccinations, chiropractic services and numerous other treatments allowed by many other companies. In many cases, it won't pay for treatment of pre-existing conditions in the first year of coverage.

http://www.mindfully.org/Industry/2003/Wal-Mart-Health-Benefits30sep03.htm

Obviously Wal-Mart is not alone in having shitty health coverage, but the hypocrisy of this ad campaign is sick. Not to mention all the other things wrong with that company's practises.

I don't personally think we'd be better off with socialized medicine, necessarily. Look at Canada and Europe, they have incredible problems administering such a system in anything like an efficient way. Last night, though, I heard a story of a woman in her mid-twenties, who has a job, who nearly bled to death in her bathtub rather than go to the hospital, because she doesn't have health insurance. Obviously, we need a system where this can't happen.

Of course, the hospital has to save someone's life, regardless of their ability to pay, but that doesn't mean they don't get a bill, and providing emergency care to stanch the flow of blood is a far cry from decent health care.

I'm rambling. Conclusion: Health care reform to ensure that everyone has access to more than simply life-saving care, but not necessarily a completely state-funded program.

Oh, and fuck Wal-Mart.

January 23, 2004
Heresy Today, Gone Tomorrow

Witness this official white house photo of Bush at a meeting of the nation's mayors, posted today:

the hand of bush

Besides being a downright weird-ass picture, it seems a bit, well, hand of god-ish, doesn't it? Well, it's no accident. Let's see some more:

bush with halobush with halobush with halo

I'm not religious, so I don't really care, but jeez (and I mean that), isn't this a bit ridiculous? Isn't there some special place in hell reserved for people who think they're god?

Obviously he didn't take the picture, but nothing like this gets out without being vetted by his staff. It's all part of the plan. Say it with me: Must... Resist... The Plan.

Cheetos of Mass Destruction

Via Slacktivist, via Calpundit, through me, to you:

The Cheetos of Mass Destruction.

Guess the Big Fat Idiot

Okay, here's a quote, one that I happen to completely agree with. Guess who said it. Go on, guess.

"The public is better served by treating addicts as patients rather than criminals."

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/Default.aspx?id=4037128&p1=0

Give up? Well, it was Rush Limbaugh's lawyer, in an attempt (happily unsuccessful) to get Rush off with a slap on the wrist. Ha ha ha ha! That guy is hilarious!

Just to refresh your memory, Rush Limbaugh is the guy who has an insanely popular radio show on which he often says things like this:

"Drug use, some might say, is destroying this country. And we have laws against selling drugs, pushing drugs, using drugs, importing drugs. ... And so if people are violating the law by doing drugs, they ought to be accused and they ought to be convicted and they ought to be sent up."

During the same show, he commented that the statistics that show blacks go to prison more often than whites for the same drug offenses only illustrate that "too many whites are getting away with drug use."

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/10/13/politics/main577682.shtml

What a dickhead.

January 22, 2004
Still Not Enough?

Via the Boston Globe, we learn that:

From the spring of 2002 until at least April 2003, members of the GOP committee staff exploited a computer glitch that allowed them to access restricted Democratic communications without a password. Trolling through hundreds of memos, they were able to read talking points and accounts of private meetings discussing which judicial nominees Democrats would fight -- and with what tactics.

At what point, I wonder, is the preponderance of the evidence going to finally sink in? THESE PEOPLE ARE LYING, CHEATING, CROOKS!! Isn't it frickin' obvious?!? It is truly amazing to me how many things like this can surface, be buried, and just never really cause a stir.

These stories do, eventually, show up in the larger media, but where are the 4 inch banner headlines? REPUBLICANS VIOLATE PATRIOT ACT, STEAL DOCUMENTS, ENGAGE IN CYBER-TERRORISM.

This shit should be a national scandal, but not here, our national scandals only involve blow jobs and/or Michael Jackson.

January 19, 2004
Iowa Fun Run

Well, this is a surprise. Kerry 38%, Edwards 32%, and Dean 18%. Gephart drops out of the race, and everyone else except Clark should follow suit.

I don't put too much stock in the idea that whoever wins Iowa wins the nomination. It's just not true. Iowa sends a relatively small number of delegates to the national convention, and I really believe you have to run a 50 state campaign to win. Okay, maybe a 28 state campaign. More than one, though, that's for sure. George Bush the Elder famously said it was all about momentum after winning Iowa, and look what happened to him. He spawned the devil.

There's a part of me that is happy that Dean didn't win this one. I'm a little afraid of him. It's not just the truly, truly freakish smile, either. It's that dreaded issue, electability. I hate it, but it's impossible not to consider it. I'm just not sure enough people would ever vote for this man to make him president. I like a lot of things about him, but I'm not sure he could muster enough regular-guy support. You never know, of course; once there's a nominee, everything can change.

The faces on tv are attributing Dean's loss of support in the past couple weeks to the capture of Saddam. The theory is that Americans started to think of the war differently once Saddam was caught; that we started to feel safer and more secure in a positive result, and Dean's more vehement stance against the war hurt him, in particular his much criticized pronouncement that we were not in fact any safer. (Of course, he was right.)

It surprises me that people seem to, or at least are being reported to put so much stock in the capture of Saddam. I'm no expert in the prosecution of this war, or any war, but it seems to me that his capture is mostly symbolic. I'm sure someone would say that its symbolic value is enough, and that it means more than you'd think. I'm sure that's true. But it doesn't look to me like the kind of war that centers around one man. I don't get the impression that the insurgents are fighting for Saddam, or for the Baathists, or for anyone really. They're fighting against the U.S. From their standpoint, we are agressors, invaders, cultural-life-sucker-outters. I don't think they want Saddam in power, not most of them, and I don't think anyone in their right mind thought he was coming back to power even before he was captured. They do not want us in power, their goal is to get us out of there, and that's why it hasn't stopped.

Anyway, I could get behind Kerry. I don't know too much about him, but he's pretty liberal, his Vietnam experience (both fighting in and protesting against) is good, and he seems like he could win. He could get the big money Democrats behind him; the so called Republican wing of the party. You know, Lieberman and his ilk. If Dean were to be the nominee -- and again, I'm not saying he won't be -- I'm afraid there could be some infighting in the Democratic party, and anything like that would basically guarantee defeat in what could be an incredibly close election. Some of the Democrats are really not too far from the politics of the Republicans on many issues. If they're not serious Bush haters, and many of them aren't, they might come to the insane conclusion that 4 more years of Bush would be better than a Dean presidency. If we've learned anything from the last time, it's that every vote counts. Especially Antonin Scalia's.

I could also imagine, unfortunately, a landslide victory for the president. In our travels, Liz and I were confronted with the fact that there are A LOT of Bush supporters out there. They think he's one of them, and, sadly, he is. He's uneducated, reactionary, selfish, and completely convinced of his own greatness, just like all good Americans. Whenever I meet someone who says they relate to Bush because he seems like "one of them," I want to ask them if they think they're qualified to be the leader of the free world. Don't they think it's a good idea to have one of our best people up there, not just any old guy from down the block? It's a kind of important position, might take a bit of that, waddayacallit, book learnin'. At least some humility would be nice. Any humility.

I could get behind Edwards, too. He's pretty, and he's got that accent, so he'll draw some of the Southern vote. Kerry is, well, not so pretty, and he has that Boston accent, so he'll repell the Southern vote. Still, he's got that Kennedy thing going, and his status as a genuine war hero, properly spun, could do wonders.

In other news.

Long Live The King
martin luther king
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."

"Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal."

"We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools."

"Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that. "

"The time is always right to do what is right."

"There is nothing more dangerous than to build a society, with a large segment of people in that society, who feel that they have no stake in it; who feel that they have nothing to lose. People who have a stake in their society, protect that society, but when they don't have it, they unconsciously want to destroy it."

January 16, 2004
Oh The Things I'll Watch

Tonight I had a dilemma. Fast-forwarding through some hated commercials, we glimpsed something intriguing and were forced to stop. It was an ad for Couples Fear Factor, which, as far as I can tell, is a clever twist on regular Fear Factor wherein they use couple instead of individuals. This, for some reason, makes it more appealing, and worthy to go up against American Idol VII, The Final Insult. Enter the dilemma.

You see, the TiVo can only record one thing at a time. While it's recording something, you can't watch something else (for the sake of accuracy, I should mention that if I split the cable coming from the wall, and reconnected everything, I could watch something else; it is possible. In fact, I should do that.). My parenthetical remarks notwithstanding, as things stand, I had to choose.

Now, Fear Factor holds no great appeal to me long term. I've seen it a few times, and it's always a hoot to watch some woman violently throwing up after eating elk penis, but when it's over I have no real compunction to see it again. If it's on, I'll watch it -- unless it conflicts with Modern Marvels, something about the Civil War, or Jeopardy! or something -- but I don't go out of my way.

American Idol, on the other hand, I've been known to get shamefully involved in. I don't, in any real sense, care one iota about the whole thing, but I must admit I've been drawn in before. Maybe it's like a car accident, or maybe it's just that watching some teenager have what they appear to sincerely think are their fondest dreams crushed every week is really fun, but something makes me watch it. (It's also in no small part due to the TiVo, which lets me fast forward through all the bullshit and commercials, thus reducing the show to about 8 mintues a week.)

Liz is on a sort of crusade not to watch American Idol this season. Her reasoning is that if we don't start watching it, we won't get into it, and we'll gain back a significant measure of our conscious lives. This argument seems sound, but it turns out Fox has anticipated it and made it quite easy to jump into the middle and still get mysteriously, ridiculously involved. In any case, her vote was for Fear Factor.

As we tragically discussed this, our decision was made for us. The episode description of Fear Factor appeared on the screen, reading, and I am not making this up: Couples are chained to a platform submerged 8-feet under water.

That's it. That's the show. Now who can pass that up?

Seriously though, isn't that a little weird? I tried to take it out of context, such as it has any, and imagine someone, let's say Jean-Paul Sartre, coming across this as a description of something supposed to be entertaining. Hard to do. Well, I guess we've always had executions and the like; people have always loved a good beheading, and I'm sure Sartre was no exception. In fact, now that I think of it, he would probably be hosting the show.

It's a sad day when I'm forced to weigh the relative merits of two such completely meritless endeavors. But damn, it'll be a great day when I watch one of them.

January 15, 2004
Real Talent

Speaking of proud to be an American, this is a better example. Remember those "Knowing is Half the Battle" G.I. Joe segments on Saturday mornings? I remember them too.

So does this person, who has gone to the trouble of redubbing them with often hilariously nonsensical voiceovers. I particularly recommend "Body Massage" and "PORKCHOP SANDWICHES."

January 14, 2004
How Embarrassing

Doesn't it just make you proud to be an American?

SAO PAULO, Brazil (Reuters) -- An American Airlines pilot was arrested at Sao Paulo International Airport Wednesday after making an obscene gesture while being photographed by Brazilian immigration officers, police said.

The pilot, identified as Dale Robin Hirsch, raised his middle finger at police to protest new Brazilian security measures that require U.S. citizens to be fingerprinted and photographed upon entering the South American country.

Brazil implemented the policy on January 1 in retaliation for a similar U.S. program that requires those foreign visitors who need visas to have their fingerprints and pictures taken on arrival in the United States.

"He made an internationally known obscene gesture when he was being photographed by the Federal Police," Federal Police agent Wagner Castilho told Reuters news agency. He said the other crew members were denied entry after refusing to cooperate with security officials.

Real Nice

No one's saying these people are representative of the views of conservatives, but it's sickening that there are ANY people like this in this country. Apparently, there are a lot of them:

Margaret Cho's Racist Hate Mail.

January 13, 2004
Eerieness Abounds

Two things:

Weird thing the first:
About a week ago, a good friend of mine had his 30th birthday. He spent it out on the town with his girlfriend. When the evening was over, as she drifted off to sleep, his girlfriend asked him if he would sing the Bob Dylan song "Lay Lady Lay" to her. He did. So far, not weird. Read on.

This friend had been very close to his father, who died several years ago. While my friend is a passionate music fan, he didn't get it from his father, who never had much of a connection with the musical arts. The only song his father ever professed a real liking for, his only favorite song, was Lay Lady Lay. My friend had never mentioned this to his girlfriend, and he interprets it as a Happy Birthday from his father. I like to think it was too.

Weird thing the second:
Last summer in Maine, on a rustic island in the Damariscotta River, this same friend and I were sitting on the deck of his cabin, goofing around. We had each other (and onlookers) in stitches over one particular bit. We were talking to each other in the voice of Gollum from the Lord of the Rings movies, and at some point we began singing, or, more accurately, reciting lyrics to popular songs using that voice. We randomly hit upon numbers from Grease at one point and those were the best. The line "I got chills, they're multiplying" brought the house down.

I just got a message from my friend which started by his saying, "I just saw something really weird." He went on to explain that Andy Serkis, the actor who played Gollum, was on Conan O'Brien tonight. At the end of his segment, he apparently goofed around in the voice of Gollum, and, you guessed it, started singing Grease songs. Whaaauauaaaa?!?!!?!

I haven't seen this yet, as I'm on the west coast, but the TiVo will grab it in an hour or so.

My friend's theory on this one goes something like this: When ideas are expressed, particularly one's that elicit a big emotional response, they gain a sort of cosmic traction. They get some kind of power to persevere and to travel, and sometimes they land on like-minded people. It's a spiritual tipping point, maybe.

It is of course arguable in which direction this transaction may have occured. We would like to think that we did it first, but who knows. It is also naturally attributable to coincidence, that ever-handy catch-all for the unexplained. My statistics skills aren't great, but it seems like a billion-to-one shot to me. That's some pretty obscure shit, Gollum singing "You're the One That I Want."

Or maybe it isn't. Maybe certain types of people just think in similar ways, and it's really not all that unlikely that they'll hit upon the same theme, if not as likely that they'll hit upon the exact same thing. Even if it is exactly the same, as this was, maybe it's one of those things that seems really impossible but in reality is more likely than we'd ever believe.

Nah.

Raise a Fuehrer!

Brilliant, and funny too. My kinda monkey.

Answer the &$%#* Question!
What are journalists for? Are they to analyze and interpret the news and arbitrate conflicting opinion for the public, or are they to act as mere carriers of other people?s messages?

Good article on why we never get straight answers about anything. Answer the &$%#* Question!.

January 12, 2004
That Didn't Take Long

Before the book is even out, almost all of the news stories about this Paul O'Neill thing are taking a decidedly pro-Bush position. Tom Brokaw opens the story by saying, "... Bush has a loyal team, with one notable exception, and that exception is apparently determined to get even for being fired."

What the fuck is that?!? Get even? That's quite an assumption, isn't it? That his motivation is revenge? No mention that maybe he wants the truth to be heard? I personally don't know what his motivation is, but there's no evidence that it's one of bald-faced revenge, that's just irresponsible.

They go on to focus substantially on the Treasury Department's launching of an investigation to see whether O'Neill illegally took documents and gave them to Suskind. If he did, he shouldn't have, agreed. But why no insinuation that this is an act of revenge? Maybe the Treasury Department just wants to get even with the former boss? They said themselves today that the legal threshold for an inquiry was "very low." In other words they can launch an investigation if they feel like it. Sounds like revenge to me.

So they focus on the possibility that O'Neill violated ethical rules by providing documents. Little mention of the allegations made in the book, that the administration had decided to go to war with Iraq from the very beginning, and were just looking for a way to justify it. Does that strike anyone as a bit unethical? A bit? It's a real, actual war they started you know. With real, actual dead people. I know it doesn't really seem that way, but it's true. Thousands of people have died.

This makes me so angry. NBC News spends 80% of this story just talking shit about O'Neill. Bringing up (again) that he was in Africa with Bono during a stock market crisis. Now, I'm confused. How does that HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH THE VERY SERIOUS ALLEGATIONS ABOUT THE PRESIDENT?

Oh, I see. Since he wasn't a very good Treasury Secretary, then we shouldn't listen to anything he has to say. Got it.

And then the coup de grace, an unnamed "White House insider" is quoted as saying that O'Neill was fired for his "inability to deliver what the President wanted". Ah yes, I had forgotten that the job of the Treasury Secretary is to do what the president says. He went on to say about O'Neill, "He was off the wall, off topic, repeatedly embarrassed himself and no one knew how to respond." An unabashed ad hominem attack. Well, I guess it's a bit abashed, considering the shadowy "unnamed source."

So he's a betrayer, he's disloyal. That's all we need to know. Forget what he had to say, they literally hardly mentioned it. This is scary shit. I wonder how Karl Rove found the time to produce a news story so quickly.

Germania

Every weekday I get a dispatch from Reuters called "Oddly Enough." It's their "lighter side of the news" kind of section, with stories like the one about the bird lover whose cat killed and ate a rare bird from Norway, or the one about 9,000 Chileans setting the world record for people kissing simultaneously. Oddly enough.

In light of two stories today, and plenty of others in the past, I'm starting to think they should change the name of the section to "Those Crazy Germans."

Berlin - German police are investigating after an angry man returned a computer he had just bought saying it was packed with small potatoes instead of computer parts. more...
Berlin - A German woman caused more than 100,000 euros ($128,300) of damage when an attempt to back out of her spot in a parking garage ended with her car on its roof and four other vehicles damaged, police said Monday. more...

Take those two stories, any number of others, add two attempts to take over the world and throw in not just tolerance but affection for David Hasselhoff and one can only assume Yanni, and it's clear that these people are nuts.

Might want to skip that "take over the world" thing, they're a bit touchy about it, and, come to think of it, we're not really one to talk.

O'Neill Rips GeeDub a New One

I really hope this book by Ron Suskind causes as much trouble as it ought to. I haven't read it, of course, it comes out Tuesday and for some reason I don't get advance copies of these kinds of things. Judging from all the articles (here, here, here, and all of these), this should get people to really start questioning what's going on in our government.

I'm not sure that it will.

I hate to be cynical, but I fear that the people who already know this stuff, or at least had a feeling it was true, will have more ammunition, and the people who believe Bush is himself God or is a direct representative of His will continue to find ways to hold on to that belief. They'll attack O'Neill, for sure. He'll be called "disgruntled", undboutedly. They'll claim he's just trying to sell books, though he said on 60 Minutes that he received no money to tell his story.

My more optimistic side, though, believes that this is just another piece in the proponderance of evidence pile. Every little item, every person who knows about these things who comes forward, it all adds up. Someone will see the interview or read the book and think, "gosh, maybe these people really are assholes".

Here's hopin'. I personally can't wait to read it.

January 10, 2004
Idiot

I'm an idiot. I'm an idiot. I'm an idiot. I'm an idiot. I'm an idiot. I'm an idiot. I'm an idiot. I'm an idiot. I'm an idiot. I'm an idiot. I'm an idiot. I'm an idiot. I'm an idiot. I'm an idiot. I'm an idiot. I'm an idiot. I'm an idiot. I'm an idiot. I'm an idiot. I'm an idiot. I'm an idiot. I'm an idiot. I'm an idiot. I'm an idiot. I'm an idiot. I'm an idiot. I'm an idiot. I'm an idiot. I'm an idiot. I'm an idiot. I'm an idiot. I'm an idiot. I'm an idiot. I'm an idiot. I'm an idiot.

While Laurel has paid off her credit card and is busily growing up, I have done quite the opposite. I won't go into the details here, it's too embarrassing, but see the first paragraph to get the idea.

January 8, 2004
See?

Nature is a cruel mistress.

The Meatrix

They say that The Meatrix is turning some people into vegetarians.

My favorite irony about this issue is that countless millions of little critters; field mice, baby birds, etc, are killed every day by combines, threshers and other deadly spinning-blade machines used to harvest vegetables and grains, mowed down mercilessly, and then we don't even bother to eat them.

In the end, the only way to not cause the death and suffering of animals with your eating choices is to grow your own. Grown your own vegetables, grow your own wheat and corn, grow your own cattle and bacon. You can grow your own pot too, but this often leads to pizza, so you'd better have the cow milked and the cheese made first. It also often leads to federal agents, and nobody wants that.

I admire people who take their food choices seriously, even if they sometimes make me feel guilty. Liz and I do our best to buy cage-free, vegetarian fed eggs and chicken parts and so on. I wish more restaurants offered grain-fed beef, I'd gladly pay more for it. I don't think there's anything wrong with eating meat, but that doesn't mean we should eat any old meat or deal with the animals it comes from in any old way.

It's amazing that until a few weeks ago, we allowed so-called "downer" cows, cows that are so sick that they can't even stand, to be used for food. Umm... yuck? It's like eating rotten fruit, it's just common sense. It's also common sense that loading up all of our food animals, not to mention ourselves and our children, with antibiotics is a really bad idea, short-sighted in the extreme.

I suppose it is noble to try to reduce the suffering you cause, even though you can't reasonably eliminate it, but it's certainly worthwhile to note that all these choices have unintended consequences, from the chopped-up field mice to the pesticide-laden soybeans, and, objectively, they're no less horrible.

Winged Migration

Films like Winged Migration are certainly rare. It's not quite a documentary, and definitely not fiction. It's a fictiumentary. Or it's just images and music and birds.

We didn't expect to really be in the mood for it. It's hard to convince yourself to sit down and watch a movie with no plot, no real story, at least not beyond "Birds fly north. Birds fly south. Repeat."

In 5 minutes we were captivated. It's so beautiful, so miraculous, that you're drawn right in. It's a completely new perspective. Bird flight always seems so effortless. We see little birds just jump up and off they go, beating their wings faster than you can see. And the big birds just glide along, casually taking it all in.

But then, up close, it looks like a lot of work. If you imagine the birds wings as their arms, you can see that they're working their asses off, constantly fighting gravity and wind resistance, and they do it for thousands of miles. That reminds me, I've got to get to the gym.

I also recommend the "Making Of" featurette included on the DVD. They actually raised these birds and made them think that people in yellow rain jackets with bicycle horns were their mothers, and that ultralight aircraft were part of their flock. The film involved 500 people and 300 trips, to every continent on earth. Do you capitalize earth? Seems like you should.

The featurette is also noteworthy for their decision to translate all of the audible French into English, even when the people are saying things like, "Go. Yes. Go."

Overall, on a scale of Cameroon cameroon to Paraguay paraguay, I give this film an Uzbekistan uzbekistan.

January 7, 2004
Bring the Funny

I think it's funny. You know, a joke.

Calpundit "guiltily" admits to enjoying it. This guy sees no place for humor.

Come on guys, let's remember to have a sense of humor about this stuff. The issues are serious, of course. It's his policies we don't like, sure. We don't want to engage in the "politics of personal destruction," naturally. This is an obvious, over-the-top satire. It's funny. You know, like a joke?

Acid Drawings

This is eerily fascinating.

January 6, 2004
RNC Smears MoveOn

I just wanted to make it clear. MoveOn did not sponsor, pay for, or otherwise endors these ads comparing George Bush to Hitler. The ads are in poor taste, to be sure, and are not even close to being among the finalists of the Bush in 30 Seconds contest. Arguably they should have been screened out and never posted in the first place. Still, MoveOn has made it very clear that these are submissions from the public, though the RNC doesn't want to listen. The news stories are spreading fast, I even heard it from my father last night, "How about those MoveOn ads comparing Bush to Hitler?"

They're NOT MoveOn ads. They're contest submissions.

I understand that anytime someone mentions the word Hitler without following it with words like "greatest monster in history", they get in trouble. The Anti-Defamation League will get after your ass for any holocaust mention that isn't unequivocally focused on the evils of the Nazis. They were evil. No argument here.

What is ridiculous here is the casting of this as somehow indicative of Democrats, or anti-Bushies, or liberals. It is apropos of nothing. It means nothing, and everyone knows it. I found Joe Lieberman's comments during the debate the other night:

DEAN: Our resources belong in fighting Al Qaida. Al Qaida has got us in a position where we're now worried because we're at level orange. We need a concentrated attack on Al Qaida and on Osama bin Laden. Saddam Hussein has been a distraction.

LIEBERMAN: Yes. I want to respond to Howard Dean's criticism of my statement that we're safer with Saddam Hussein gone. You know what? We had good faith differences on the war against Saddam. But I don't know how anybody could say that we're not safer with a homicidal maniac, a brutal dictator, an enemy of the United States, a supporter of terrorism, a murderer of hundreds of thousands of his own people in prison instead of in power.

And to change the subject as Howard does and to say that we haven't obliterated all terrorism with Saddam in prison is a little bit like saying somehow that we weren't safer after the Second World War after we defeated Nazism and Hitler because Stalin and the communists were still in power.

We have many threats to our security, there is no question. We are a lot stronger...

MODERATOR: Thank you, Senator.

LIEBERMAN: ... with Saddam Hussein in prison.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A54363-2004Jan4.html

First, what Dean says is incontrovertible. Since Saddam was captured we have been at the highest level of terror alert since 9/11. A new bin Laden tape surfaced, which usually presages an attack somewhere. Simply put, we are not safer.

To me, Lieberman's comment is much worse than some random person making a Bush = Hitler ad which goes nowhere. Why no outrage over his comment? He is subtly implying that Howard Dean wouldn't have supported going after Hitler in the same way he didn't support going after Hussein. As if Dean's argument is that since it doesn't obliterate all evil, it shouldn't be done. Ridiculous. It shouldn't have been done, and I think Governor Dean would agree with me here, because there was no EVIDENCE that Hussein was doing anything to threaten our safety. You remember evidence, don't you Joe? That stuff our justive system used to be based on? I know it seems cute now, but try to think back.

And let me just throw this in here: Why so little talk about where Joe and his ilk's moral outrage was when all of these atrocities Hussein is no doubt responsible for, all of the "hundreds of thousands of his own people" he murdered, were actually happening. I guess they were too busy giving him money? Shaking his hand? As long as he was killing Iranians too, we were okay with it. We !@##!@*& funded it!

Lieberman "doesn't know how anyone could say we're not safer". Maybe he should turn on the TV or something. Seriously, if anyone out there truly feels safer since December 14, send me an email.

January 4, 2004
Still Undecided

I'm still not sure who I'm going to vote for. Granted I've been switching back and forth to the Seattle - Green Bay playoff game (just went into overtime, great game), so I haven't heard all of the bickering and speech making. My biggest hope, though, is that whoever wins the nomination becomes a good candidate and has a well-run campaign. Unfortunately, that seems to be more important than the issues. Just look at poor Al Gore.

It's strange to watch these guys (sorry Ambassador Braun) go after each other, say terrible things about each other, and then assume that they'll all get together behind whoever wins the nomination. It's hard to imagine Lieberman campaigning for Dean, but he'd better, and he'd better do it with a smile.

Lieberman is a Jerk

Which side is this guy on, anyway? He's not only Bush Light, he's just Bush. He wears a blue tie instead of a red tie, that's about it. It's too bad he doesn't have anything to say about the current administration and just constantly goes after Howard Dean and the other candidates.

Dean pointed out that Americans are not particularly safer since Saddam Hussein was captured. That Al Qaeda should be our real concern. To my mind, as an American who went out and bought 10 gallons of water and a new flashlight last week, this is fairly obvious. Our threat level has been raised since Saddam was captured. Our airliners are being escorted by fighter jets, foreign planes are being turned away, and we're practically strip searching fans at football games. Feel safer?

Well, you're not alone. 60% of Americans feel the same way. (Thanks to Atrios for the link.

Of course safety isn't just a feeling, it's a reality. More than 20 soldiers have been killed since he was captured. There is no sign that anything in Iraq is getting any better. It's a simple fact that we are not any safer than we were three weeks ago.

Lieberman compared this obvious truth to saying that gthe world wasn't safer when Nazi Germany was defeated because we still had Stalin to worry about. What a dick.

January 1, 2004
8:24 a.m.

That's it, I'm throwing in the towel. I'm like the opposite of the littlest Von Trapp girl, Marte. Really, I'm exactly like her. Err, her opposite.

I'm getting a little dizzy and I've started to hallucinate a little. The shower curtain, which is covered with little fishes, looked like a taperstry. Not far off, and it was out of the corner of my eye, but still.

A Happy New Year, and to all a good morning.

6:54 a.m.

Well, this was probably not such a great idea. I have no idea what the idea was actually. To stay up all night, that was it. No reason, no plan. The only reason I actually did it is Liz came up with the blog all night gimmick and that was my little challenge. Sheesh. I'm an idiot.

Seven in the morning sounds like day time, but it still feels like night time in here. Last time I was in the other room anyway. It would be wise of me to go to bed before it's a full-fledged day, or there will be pain. But I'm tempted to watch "Airplane!". Not because it's a great movie, and not because I haven't seen it at least 30 times. More like because it's so absurd, so ridiculous. It's just may be crazy enough to work.

5:24 a.m.

I'm still up. I feel pretty alert, but I can't get comfortable. The hospital scrub pants I'm wearing keep twisting around my waist, and I'm not so happy with the new couch. It's fine for a few minutes, but it's not a lay around all day and all night kind of couch, and that's what I need. It's not deep enough, and it's too low to the ground. The giant corduroy is the reason it grabs and twists my pants around, and the corner doesn't support my head well.

Oh well, for $20, it's still not bad. Once we get a better one, if ever we have any money ever again, which seems doubtful, we can sell it for $50.

I watched half of a Marx Brothers movie, which was funny, but not enough to keep my attention for the whole thing. I thought about reading, but that's a surefire ticket to sleepyland. TV is perfect; just active enough to keep you awake but your jaw still slackens and your eyes still glaze over. It's like some primitve part of the brain is stimulated, but the conscious mind is basically shut down. Or maybe that's the lack of sleep and the alcohol.

3:54 a.m.
new year's eve
3:07 a.m.

The Philadelphia Story. Liz fell asleep right off. I've lasted mostly, though I have to admit to a few dozes here and there.

Jimmy Stewart, well nothing beats that. I once wrote a fan letter to him, the only one I've ever written. He never wrote back, no 8x10 glossy, no nothing. He was well into his dotage by that point, so I'll forgive him. Have you seen the clip from Johnny Carson where he reads the poem about his dog who has died? Heartbreaking.

Now that I've sat up and typed this post, I feel a bit refreshed. Think I might make it all night, after all. I'm not promising you, or I, will be the better for it, but damnit I'm going to try anyway. Somebody has to, that's my point.

1:04 a.m. 2004!!

Woo!! Happy New Year! Woo!!

We didn't quite make it to the top of the hill to see the fireworks. We did, however, come to full terms with just how much of a hike it is from our place to the top of Queen Anne hill. It's quite a hike. Especially difficult to do while talking on the phone. I always have a lot of trouble catching my breath while I'm talking on the phone and walking uphill. I'm not blaming the person, or persons, on the other end of the phone, I'm mostly pointing out how out of shape I am.

Liz just spilled her beer all over our fancy Oriental carpet. I'm sorry, our fancy Asian-American carpet.

Think we'll make it to morning? Oh, the suspense.