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Above email address currently deprecated! Use gary underscore farber at yahoodotcom, pliz! Sanely free of McCarthyite calling anyone a traitor since 2001!
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I've a long record in editorial work in book and magazine publishing, starting 1974, a variety of other work experience, but have been, since 2001, recurringly housebound with insanely painful sporadic and unpredictably variable gout and edema, and in the past, other ailments; the future? The Great Unknown: isn't it for all of us?
I'm currently house/cat-sitting, not on any government aid yet (or mostly ever), often in major chronic pain from gout and edema, which variably can leave me unable to walk, including just standing, but sometimes is better, and is freaking unpredictable at present; I also have major chronic depression and anxiety disorders; I'm currently supported mostly by your blog donations/subscriptions; you can help me. I prefer to spread out the load, and lessen it from the few who have been doing more than their fair share for too long.
Thanks for any understanding and support. I know it's difficult to understand. And things will change. They always change.
I'm sometimes available to some degree as a paid writer, editor, researcher, or proofreader. I'm sometimes available as a fill-in Guest Blogger at mid-to-high-traffic blogs that fit my knowledge set.
If you like my blog, and would like to help me continue to afford food and prescriptions, or simply enjoy my blogging and writing, and would like to support it --
you are welcome to do so via the PayPal buttons.
"The brain is wider than the sky, For, put them side by side,
The one the other will include With ease, and you beside"
-- Emily Dickinson
"We will pursue peace as if there is no terrorism and fight terrorism as if there is no peace."
-- Yitzhak Rabin
"I have thought it my duty to exhibit things as they are, not as they ought to be."
-- Alexander Hamilton
"The stakes are too high for government to be a spectator sport."
-- Barbara Jordan
"Under democracy, one party always devotes its chief energies to
trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule --
and both commonly succeed, and are right."
-- H. L. Mencken
"Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom.
It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves."
-- William Pitt
"The only completely consistent people are the dead."
-- Aldous Huxley
"I have had my solutions for a long time; but I do not yet know how I am to arrive at them."
-- Karl F. Gauss
"Whatever evils either reason or declamation have imputed to extensive empire,
the power of Rome was attended with some beneficial consequences to mankind;
and the same freedom of intercourse which extended the vices, diffused likewise
the improvements of social life."
-- Edward Gibbon
"Augustus was sensible that mankind is governed by names; nor was he deceived in his
expectation, that the senate and people would submit to slavery, provided they were
respectfully assured that they still enjoyed their ancient freedom."
-- Edward Gibbon
"There exists in human nature a strong propensity to depreciate the advantages, and to magnify
the evils, of the present times."
-- Edward Gibbon
"Our youth now loves luxuries. They have bad manners, contempt for authority.
They show disrespect for elders and they
love to chatter instead of exercise.
Children are now tyrants, not the servants, of their households. They
no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents,
chatter before company, gobble up their food, and tyrannize
"Before impugning an opponent's motives, even when they legitimately may be impugned, answer his arguments."
-- Sidney Hook
"Idealism, alas, does not protect one from ignorance, dogmatism, and foolishness."
-- Sidney Hook
"Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson
"We take, and must continue to take, morally hazardous actions to preserve our civilization.
We must exercise our power. But we ought neither to believe that a nation is capable of perfect
disinterestedness in its exercise, nor become complacent about particular degrees of interest
and passion which corrupt the justice by which the exercise of power is legitimized."
-- Reinhold Niebuhr
"Faced with the choice of all the land without a Jewish state or a Jewish state without all the
land, we chose a Jewish state without all the land."
-- David Ben-Gurion
"...the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him
an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this
or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages
to which, in common with his fellow citizens, he has a natural right; that it tends also
to corrupt the principles of that very religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing,
with a monopoly of worldly honours and emoluments, those who will externally profess
and conform to it;[...] that the opinions of men are not the object of civil government, nor under its jurisdiction; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion
and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty....
-- Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, Thomas Jefferson
"We don't live just by ideas. Ideas are part of the mixture of customs and practices,
intuitions and instincts that make human life a conscious activity susceptible to
improvement or debasement. A radical idea may be healthy as a provocation;
a temperate idea may be stultifying. It depends on the circumstances. One of the most
tiresome arguments against ideas is that their 'tendency' is to some dire condition --
to totalitarianism, or to moral relativism, or to a war of all against all."
-- Louis Menand
"The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis."
-- Dante Alighieri
"He too serves a certain purpose who only stands and cheers."
-- Henry B. Adams
"The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the
poor to beg in the streets, steal bread, or sleep under a bridge."
-- Anatole France
"When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle."
-- Edmund Burke
"Education does not mean that we have become certified experts in business or mining or botany or journalism or epistemology;
it means that through the absorption of the moral, intellectual, and esthetic inheritance of the race we have come to
understand and control ourselves as well as the external world; that we have chosen the best as our associates both in spirit
and the flesh; that we have learned to add courtesy to culture, wisdom to knowledge, and forgiveness to understanding."
-- Will Durant
"Glimpses do ye seem to see of that mortally intolerable truth; that all deep, earnest thinking is
but the intrepid effort of the soul to keep the open independence of her sea; while the wildest
winds of heaven and earth conspire to cast her on the treacherous, slavish shore?"
-- Herman Melville
"The most important political office is that of the private citizen."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"If we desire respect for the law, we must first make the law respectable."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"It is an error to suppose that books have no influence; it is a slow influence, like flowing water carving out a canyon,
but it tells more and more with every year; and no one can pass an hour a day in the society of sages and heroes without
being lifted up a notch or two by the company he has kept."
-- Will Durant
"When you write, you’re trying to transpose what you’re thinking into something that is less like an annoying drone and more like a piece of music."
-- Louis Menand
"Sex is a continuum."
-- Gore Vidal
"I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should
make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state."
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut, 1802.
"The sum of our religion is peace and unanimity, but these can scarcely stand unless we define as little as possible,
and in many things leave one free to follow his own judgment, because there is great obscurity in many matters, and
man suffers from this almost congenital disease that he will not give in when once a controversy is started, and
after he is heated he regards as absolutely true that which he began to sponsor quite casually...."
-- Desiderius Erasmus
"Are we to have a censor whose imprimatur shall say what books may be sold, and what we may buy? And who is thus to dogmatize religious opinions for our citizens? Whose foot is to be the measure to which ours are all to be cut or stretched? Is a priest to be our inquisitor, or shall a layman, simple as ourselves, set up his reason as the rule of what we are to read, and what we must disbelieve?"
-- Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to N. G. Dufief, Philadelphia bookseller, 1814
"We are told that it is only people's objective actions that matter, and their subjective feelings are of no importance. Thus pacifists, by obstructing the war effort,
are 'objectively' aiding the Nazis; and therefore the fact that they may be personally hostile to Fascism is irrelevant. I have been guilty of saying this myself more than once. The same argument is applied to Trotskyism. Trotskyists are often credited, at any rate by Communists, with being active and conscious agents of Hitler; but when you point out the many and obvious reasons why this is unlikely to be true,
the 'objectively' line of talk is brought forward again. To criticize the Soviet Union helps Hitler: therefore 'Trotskyism is Fascism'. And when this has been established, the accusation of conscious treachery is usually repeated.
This is not only dishonest; it also carries a severe penalty with it. If you disregard people's motives, it becomes much harder to foresee their actions."
-- George Orwell, "As I Please," Tribune, 8 December 1944
"Wouldn't this be a great world if insecurity and desperation made us more attractive? If 'needy' were a turn-on?"
-- "Aaron Altman," Broadcast News
"The great thing about human language is that it prevents us from sticking to the matter at hand."
-- Lewis Thomas
"To be ignorant of what happened before you were born is to be ever a child. For what is man's lifetime unless the memory of past events is woven with those of earlier times?"
"Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it."
-- Samuel Johnson, Life Of Johnson
"Very well, what did my critics say in attacking my character? I must read out their affidavit, so to speak, as though they were my legal accusers: Socrates is guilty of criminal meddling, in that he inquires into things below the earth and in the sky, and makes the weaker argument defeat the stronger, and teaches others to follow his example."
-- Socrates, via Plato, The Republic
"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, represents, in the final analysis, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children."
-- Dwight D. Eisenhower
"The term, then, is obviously a relative one; my pedantry is your scholarship, his reasonable accuracy, her irreducible minimum of education, & someone else's ignorance."
-- H. W. Fowler
"Rules exist for good reasons, and in any art form the beginner must learn them and understand what they are for, then follow them for quite a while. A visual artist, pianist, dancer, fiction writer, all beginning artists are in the same boat here: learn the rules, understand them, follow them. It's called an apprenticeship. A mediocre artist never stops following the rules, slavishly follows guidelines, and seldom rises above mediocrity. An accomplished artist internalizes the rules to the point where they don't have to be consciously considered. After you've put in the time it takes to learn to swim, you never stop to think: now I move my arm, kick, raise my head, breathe. You just do it. The accomplished artist knows what the rules mean, how to use them, dodge them, ignore them altogether, or break them. This may be a wholly unconscious process of assimilation, one never articulated, but it has taken place."
-- Kate Wilhelm
"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed."
-- Albert Einstein
"The decisive moment in human evolution is perpetual."
-- Franz Kafka, Aphorisms
"All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."
-- Samuel Beckett, Worstward Ho
"First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they attack you and want to burn you. And then they build monuments to you."
-- Nicholas Klein, May, 1919, to the Third Biennial Convention of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (misattributed to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, 1914 & variants).
"Our credulity is a part of the imperfection of our natures. It is inherent in us to desire to generalize, when we ought, on the contrary, to guard ourselves very carefully from this tendency."
-- Napoleon I of France.
"The truth is, men are very hard to know, and yet, not to be deceived, we must judge them by their present actions, but for the present only."
-- Napoleon I of France.
"The barbarous custom of having men beaten who are suspected of having important secrets to reveal must be abolished. It has always been recognized that this way of interrogating men, by putting them to torture, produces nothing worthwhile. The poor wretches say anything that comes into their mind and what they think the interrogator wishes to know."
-- On the subject of torture, in a letter to Louis Alexandre Berthier (11 November 1798), published in Correspondance Napoleon edited by Henri Plon (1861), Vol. V, No. 3606, p. 128
"All living souls welcome whatever they are ready to cope with; all else they ignore, or pronounce to be monstrous and wrong, or deny to be possible."
-- George Santayana, Dialogues in Limbo (1926)
"If you should put even a little on a little, and should do this often, soon this too would become big."
-- Hesiod, Work And Days
"Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free."
-- Eugene V. Debs
"Reputation is what other people know about you. Honor is what you know about yourself."
-- Lois McMaster Bujold, A Civil Campaign
"All that we have to do is to send two mujahidin to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written "al-Qaida," in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses without their achieving for it anything of note other than some benefits for their private companies."
-- Osama bin Laden
"Remember, Robin: evil is a pretty bad thing."
Gary Farber is now a licensed Quintuple Super-Sekrit Multi-dimensional Master Pundit.
He does not always refer to himself in the third person.
He is presently single.
The gefilte fish is dead. Donate via the donation button on the top left or I'll shoot this cutepanda. Don't you lovepandas?
Current Total # of Donations Since 2002: 1181
Subscribers to date at $5/month: 100 sign-ups; 91 cancellations; Total= 9
Supporter subscribers to date at $25/month: 16 sign-ups; 10 cancellation; Total= 6
Patron subscribers to date at $50/month: 20 sign-ups; 13 cancellations; Total= 7
...writer[s] I find myself checking out repeatedly when I'm in the mood to play follow-the-links. They're not all people I agree with all the time, or even most of the time, but I've found them all to be thoughtful writers, and that's the important thing, or should be.
-- Tom Tomorrow
I bow before the shrillitudinousness of Gary Farber, who has been blogging like a fiend.
-- Ted Barlow, Crooked Timber
Favorite.... [...] ...all great stuff. [...] Gary Farber should never be without readers.
I usually read you and Patrick several times a day, and I always get something from them. You've got great links, intellectually honest commentary, and a sense of humor. What's not to like?
-- Ted Barlow
One of my issues with many poli-blogs is the dickhead tone so many bloggers affect to express their sense of righteous indignation. Gary Farber's thoughtful leftie takes on the world stand in sharp contrast with the usual rhetorical bullying. Plus, he likes "Pogo," which clearly attests to his unassaultable good taste.
Jaysus. I saw him do something like this before, on a thread about Israel. It was pretty brutal. It's like watching one of those old WWF wrestlers grab an opponent's
face and grind away until the guy starts crying. I mean that in a nice & admiring way, you know.
-- Fontana Labs, Unfogged
We read you Gary Farber! We read you all the time! Its just that we are lazy with our blogroll. We are so very very lazy. We are always the last ones to the party but we always have snazzy bow ties.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!
Gary Farber you are a genius of mad scientist proportions. I will bet there are like huge brains growin in jars all over your house.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!
Gary Farber is the hardest working man in show blog business. He's like a young Gene Hackman blogging with his hair on fire, or something.
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog
Gary Farber only has two blogging modes: not at all, and 20 billion interesting posts a day [...] someone on the interweb whose opinions I can trust....
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog
Isn't Gary a cracking blogger, apropos of nothing in particular?
-- Alison Scott
Gary Farber takes me to task, in a way befitting the gentleman he is.
-- Stephen Green, Vodkapundit
My friend Gary Farber at Amygdala is the sort of liberal for whom I happily give three cheers. [...] Damned incisive blogging....
-- Midwest Conservative Journal
If I ever start a paper, Clueless writes the foreign affairs column, Layne handles the city beat, Welch has the roving-reporter job, Tom Tomorrow runs the comic section (which carries Treacher, of course). MediaMinded runs the slots - that's the type of editor I want as the last line of defense. InstantMan runs the edit page - and you can forget about your Ivins and Wills and Friedmans and Teepens on the edit page - it's all Blair, VodkaP, C. Johnson, Aspara, Farber, Galt, and a dozen other worthies, with Justin 'I am smoking in such a provocative fashion' Raimondo tossed in for balance and comic relief.
Who wouldn't buy that paper? Who wouldn't want to read it? Who wouldn't climb over their mother to be in it?
-- James Lileks
I do appreciate your role and the role of Amygdala as a pioneering effort in the integration of fanwriters with social conscience into the larger blogosphere of social conscience.
-- Lenny Bailes
Every single post in that part of Amygdala visible on my screen is either funny or bracing or important. Is it always like this? -- Natalie Solent
People I've known and still miss include Isaac Asimov, rich brown, Charles Burbee, F. M. "Buzz" Busby, Terry Carr, A. Vincent Clarke, Bob Doyle, George Alec Effinger, Abi Frost,
Bill & Sherry Fesselmeyer, George Flynn, John Milo "Mike" Ford. John Foyster, Mike Glicksohn, Jay Haldeman, Neith Hammond (Asenath Katrina Hammond)/DominEditrix , Chuch Harris, Mike Hinge, Lee Hoffman, Terry Hughes, Damon Knight, Ross Pavlac, Bruce Pelz, Elmer Perdue, Tom Perry,
Larry Propp, Bill Rotsler, Art Saha, Bob Shaw, Martin Smith, Harry Stubbs, Bob Tucker, Harry Warner, Jr., Jack Williamson, Walter A. Willis, Susan Wood, Kate Worley, and Roger Zelazny.
It's just a start, it only gets longer, many are unintentionally left out.
And She of whom I must write someday.
PARACHUTES AND PREGNANCIES. So I'm finally watching my tape of Alias' season premiere the other night, and suddenly realize there's a whole new layer of fun to the show, for a while, at least: enjoying counting and admiring all the ways they can come up with camera shots to avoid, for now, showing Jennifer Garner's mid-section.
Suddenly this woman who typically tends to engage in a few flips per episode is shown running around constantly filmed only from the waist up, and, hilariously, spends an entire set of scenes infiltrating a Bad Guy's house and safe, during a party, (same as it ever was) with Vaughn, armed with a huge handbag draped over her left arm and a large red sweater draped over her right arm, allowing her to drink champagne and take whole body shots and two-shots while nonetheless only revealing of her body below her chest a large red sweater or a huge handbag.
Then, of course, as she runs to the extraction point, her cell phone rings, and she gasps out "I'm on my way to the extraction point!" only to have it be her (Agency) doctor telling her she's pregnant. Then she and Vaughn (SPOILER) jump off a cliff with parachutes.
Anyway, I look forward to seeing if they still are trying to conceal her size next episode, or whether or when they'll just jump a bit ahead in time so her on-screen pregnancy time-matches her off-screen pregnancy. Fun for the whole family.
Incidentally, so if she's a fugitive on the run (this is the 112th time, I believe), and she's running about on her covert fugitive mission, carrying a cell phone whose number her doctor knows, like, can't her movements be tracked? Wouldn't the Pompous Suspicious Intruding Visiting Boss Type Of The Week who is insisting that he'll catch the Hulk, er, Vaughn and Sydney, have her cell phone monitored and tracked?
Yeah, okay, never try to make sense of Alias; just be distracted by the running, running, running, fast, fast, fast, and the jumping and leaping and fighting and biting lips over whether your partner is a traitor, after all. And Marshall stuttering. Must remember necessary guidelines for watching certain shows.
ADDENDUM (PT 2., almost, as the 3rd of October turns into the 4th during the ten minutes I write this): typically, I wrote that assuming I'd finish watching the whole thing shortly, and add any conclusions, perhaps, before anyone noticed. Which is why I did what I usually do, watch the rest much later, and not then note what completely drove me out of the faintest sense of suspension of disbelief, which is the way [SPOILERS!] Vaughn then a) took 4756 machine gun bullets in the chest (it takes extra-good aim to not hit the head or groin that way); b) lived for a few more seconds; c) the villains cared enough to do him that way, but not take him in the head (leading me to assume it was a fake-out, but I was wrong); d) was released from "touch and go" surgery immediately following so that he could lounge around in hospital bed, sipping water from a cup Syd offered, and chat. Breaking letters, that broke my suspension of any possible disbelief, because I'd have sooner believed he had pork flying out of his ass, talking, and being the new leads.
If you've been shot even a few times, you may live. 47+ hits to the mid-section, after two automatic weapons go-rounds? Um, well, it's theoretically possible to live.
You're not going to be chatty as soon as you wake up from surgery. You're going to be on a ventilator. Unable to talk. For days. Minimum.
So, yes, understanding the dramatic needs, but understanding on my part that this isn't about mutants or superheros, they lost me there. So all the wackjob stuff that followed, along with Vaughn's funeral, lost me. He lives, he dies, he has wings, he can fire blasts from his eyes, he can survive 89 bullets to his chest, all only hitting his chest, and he's chatty a few hours later, he can turn wine into water, and he can make rabbits do calculus, whatever, it's all become equally probable or improbable by then, and whatever happened to all those interviews by J. J. Abrams about how he'd reset Alias on a great new dramatic path, recovering it from all that bad stuff he'd lost track of when he wasn't paying attention?
Yeah. Sure. And that's why I should go watch Lost. Because it will make sense. Like this.
It's cute that tv writer/producers have successfully discovered how to write clever and mysterious hooks.
Far better will be when more than a couple discover how to tell an entire story, conceived before it starts, with a proper, and satisfying, ending.
It's not as if there aren't precedents.
ADDENDUMN III: Man, I was in a sore mode writing that last, eh? Dumb, really. I was forgetting the show I was watching: the point of Alias is how far you can go over the top with a straight face. I forgot that, in writing the last bit.
EVERYTHING DIFFERENT THAN STAR TREK?. Looking at this (context here), I have to note: only one bathroom on the ship? Unless it has multiple facilities, that would seem possibly rather irritating; and is there a shower on board? (I know that gamers assume it, and it's a fair assumption, but I don't recall seeing one on-screen, though I could be forgetting, since I don't own the DVD.) Something, one presumes, fulfills the function of a shower, even if they likely have to frequently yell at Jayne to use it.
WIND HASN'T CHANGED. Joss Whedon and Neil Gaiman chat:
TIME: Neil, you're a big blogger these days, right?
NG: I've been blogging since February of 2001. When I started blogging, it was dinosaur blog. It was me and a handful of tyrannosaurs. We'd be writing blog entries like, 'the tyrannosaurus is getting grumpy.'
These days there are 1.2 million people reading it. It's very, very weird. We have this enormous readership, as a result of which now I feel absolutely far too terrified and guilty to stop. I'd love to stop my blog at this point, but there's this idea that there will be 1.2 million people's worth of pissed-off-ness that I hadn't written anything today.
JW: That's the problem with doing anything. Everybody expects you to keep doing it, no matter what.
NG: For me, it's always that Mary Poppins thing. I'll do it until the wind changes.
My wind hasn't changed. I thought I should mention. I just need to Get Away From It (not necessarily All) from time to time, rather overly often of late.
Bassoon. Er, back soon.
Read The Rest Scale: 4 out of 5 for substance. I actually have something to say about some of the issues they discuss, as well as from another recent Gaiman interview, where I think I actually have some knowledge and perspective of geek/skiffy history and the origins of the stigmatization of yore, that each of these astonishing gentlemen does not, if and when I can work up the energy to comment. (Okay, it's this one.) (Via Sore Eyes and MemeMachineGo, my fellow Geeketeer bloggers.)
I say this not with disapproval, but with affection. "Serenity" is an old-fashioned space opera, and differs from a horse opera mostly in that it involves space, not horses.
[...] I'm not sure the movie would have much appeal for non-sci-fi fans, but it has the rough edges and brawny energy of a good yarn, and it was made by and for people who can't get enough of this stuff. You know who you are.
But is it a way of life, or just a goddamned hobby, Roger?
Incidentally, Roger's explanation about how everything only takes place in only one system is, well, not clearly reliable. As regular readers know, I'm a fan of Roger's, and we came, about a dozen or so years apart, out of the same fannish milieu, with many at least one-time mutual friends; however, for all of Roger's many virtues, he seems to see so many movies that he frequently gets plot details or background details wrong. Whatever the reason, he frequently makes erroneous assertions about plot or other elements in a movie; in this case, whether or not there is FTL travel in the Firefly/Serenityverse has never been clearly established one way or another. We love the Joss, but not ever ever for science; don't go to him for either science, or, frankly, coherent universe building in the sense of consistent rules; they're not what he's about; the Joss is about the pain, and the gits and shiggles, not the consistency. The rules of vampires and demons and their morality and whatnot never really made any consistent sense in the Buffyverse, and while some will back Whedon's occasional statements that he doesn't think there's FTL in the F/Sverse with explanations about how they're all in one huge solar system, perhaps a multi-sun system, or a tiny star cluster, and use strong-fraction-of-lightspeed drives with the cryogenic suspension we've clearly seen, we've also seen constant refereences to the series to different "systems," albeit with no specific references to distances, FTL, or anything hard; it's just not something Whedon has the least interest in, or in making sense of. Don't ask, don't tell, is about the best one can expect from him on that stuff, really. But there's a link to an older excellent Joss interview that I don't think I linked to before, and if I did, so what?
NY TIMES SELECTturns out to make everything freely available with the most incredibly stupidly trivial adjustment imaginable. Really. I wonder how many hours this will last. Could it last a whole day? Could they be this stupid? Obviously they think we're this stupid.
I'll leave it to you to fiddle with the provided URL to make it work (hint: it involves the LinkGenerator, and then tweaking what's provided; if you really find it mystifying, ask me).
Here's today's Krugman, to demonstrate:
By three to one, African-Americans believe that federal aid took so long to arrive in New Orleans in part because the city was poor and black. By an equally large margin, whites disagree.
The truth is that there's no way to know. Maybe President Bush would have been mugging with a guitar the day after the levees broke even if New Orleans had been a mostly white city. Maybe Palm Beach would also have had to wait five days after a hurricane hit before key military units received orders to join rescue operations.
But in a larger sense, the administration's lethally inept response to Hurricane Katrina had a lot to do with race. For race is the biggest reason the United States, uniquely among advanced countries, is ruled by a political movement that is hostile to the idea of helping citizens in need.
Race, after all, was central to the emergence of a Republican majority: essentially, the South switched sides after the passage of the Civil Rights Act. Today, states that had slavery in 1860 are much more likely to vote Republican than states that didn't.
And who can honestly deny that race is a major reason America treats its poor more harshly than any other advanced country? To put it crudely: a middle-class European, thinking about the poor, says to himself, "There but for the grace of God go I." A middle-class American is all too likely to think, perhaps without admitting it to himself, "Why should I be taxed to support those people?"
Above all, race-based hostility to the idea of helping the poor created an environment in which a political movement hostile to government aid in general could flourish.
By all accounts Ronald Reagan, who declared in his Inaugural Address that "government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem," wasn't personally racist. But he repeatedly used a bogus tale about a Cadillac-driving Chicago "welfare queen" to bash big government. And he launched his 1980 campaign with a pro-states'-rights speech in Philadelphia, Miss., a small town whose only claim to fame was the 1964 murder of three civil rights workers.
Under George W. Bush - who, like Mr. Reagan, isn't personally racist but relies on the support of racists - the anti-government right has reached a new pinnacle of power. And the incompetent response to Katrina was the direct result of his political philosophy. When an administration doesn't believe in an agency's mission, the agency quickly loses its ability to perform that mission.
By now everyone knows that the Bush administration treated the Federal Emergency Management Agency as a dumping ground for cronies and political hacks, leaving the agency incapable of dealing with disasters. But FEMA's degradation isn't unique. It reflects a more general decline in the competence of government agencies whose job is to help people in need.
For example, housing for Katrina refugees is one of the most urgent problems now facing the nation. The FEMAvilles springing up across the gulf region could all too easily turn into squalid symbols of national failure. But the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which should be a source of expertise in tackling this problem, has been reduced to a hollow shell, with eight of its principal staff positions vacant.
But let me not blame the Bush administration for everything. The sad truth is that the only exceptional thing about the neglect of our fellow citizens we saw after Katrina struck is that for once the consequences of that neglect were visible on national TV.
Consider this: in the United States, unlike any other advanced country, many people fail to receive basic health care because they can't afford it. Lack of health insurance kills many more Americans each year than Katrina and 9/11 combined.
But the health care crisis hasn't had much effect on politics. And one reason is that it isn't yet a crisis among middle-class, white Americans (although it's getting there). Instead, the worst effects are falling on the poor and black, who have third-world levels of infant mortality and life expectancy.
I'd like to believe that Katrina will change everything - that we'll all now realize how important it is to have a government committed to helping those in need, whatever the color of their skin. But I wouldn't bet on it.
Read The Rest Scale:0 out of 5.
ADDENDUM: I continue to be baffled. The blogsphere is beside itself with people complaining they can no longer read the articles on TimesSelect. I don't get it.
Complaining about the principle that something once free is no longer, in theory, free, I understand (how legit your complaint is that you can no longer get something for free, is another matter). But complaining that it's practically impossible to read the pieces? I don't get it.
Look, I'll say it very. Very. Very. Slowly.
Go to the OpEd page (or sports, or whatever). Click on a Select piece you want to read; here is Bob Herbert, for instance. Cut the extraneous crap out of the URL so it's just the URL: http://select.nytimes.com/2005/09/19/opinion/19herbert.html. Now cut the "select" out. Hit "return." You're there.
Now what frigging ten-year-old can't figure this out? Who wouldn't try the obvious as the very first thing?
I don't get it.
I'm a vaguely smart person, but there are a jillion smart people out there in the blogosphere, and tons are far smarter than me. Endless smart people are complaining they can't read these pieces (again, not about the principle, but about how they can't read the pieces).
I wouldn't be so surprised, but I don't know from computer programming (which this isn't), and I barely know from a few HTML tags, and I'm just not all that smart, compared to plenty of folks. That's why I don't understand why the obvious doesn't seem to be obvious.
WAY LATER: It appears that if everyone reading this post donated a dollar to me, I'd never need another donation again. That won't happen. But if even you, enough of you, read the top of the page, and donated $5, I'd be able to buy prescriptions and food for a couple of years. Of course, past experience over the past five years teaches that only one out of a thousand people, or fewer, will donate, no matter what, but I'm just saying see the top of the page, and thanks. Not assuming that the next reader will do the trick would be wonderful. (Back in reality: it's only the $40-$200 donations that have ever made a major difference; oddly, they're more frequent than those of lesser amounts, although neither way is to say a lot; as could possibly be more clear, I'm pathetically grateful for all donations.) (Response to an e-mail query: No, I was last able to afford regular meds five or more months ago; what a more recent exam than the one over a year ago now would say is another question, and, of course, I have no reason to doubt a doctor who took six whole minutes with me, and then retired, which is pretty much my experience with the med profession, absent med insurance, in the past thirty years, to be sure.)
TUESDAY: Well, that was nice while it lasted. Sorry, but see my first paragraph. No, I don't see anything so obvious as the first way in, although clearly signing up for the 14-day free trial is a useful patch for now. I'll let you know if I see anything beyond that, or have any other news of getting at TimesSelect, and tips from others can be e-mailed to me at the address by the copyright in the left sidebar, thanks.
AS OTHERS SEE US. In the middle of a longish piece on Lost, this:
One way they exercise that control is by hewing to the science-fact - as opposed to science-fiction - model they see in the novels of Michael Crichton. "There can be things that are happening that are quote, phenomenal, but there's always a scientific answer to it," said Mr. Lindelof.
Good thing this is not at all like science fiction, eh?
SCENE-STEALING. William Shatner wins the Best Supporting Actor Emmy and while the cameras are still on the other four nominees in their little boxes, Alan Alda ostentatiously tears up a piece of paper. Cute.
Addressing the nation on Thursday night in a speech from New Orleans, Bush said the storm overwhelmed the disaster relief system. "It is now clear that a challenge on this scale requires greater federal authority and a broader role for the armed forces, the institution of our government most capable of massive logistical operations on a moment's notice," he said.
Bullshit. Frightening bullshit. What "greater federal authority" was needed? What were the armed forces prevented from doing that current law prevents?
This is a grab for completely unnecessary additional "authority" and a "broader role for the armed forces." This is the sort of thing that makes one reach for one's tin-foil hat, with actual cause.
Several emergency response experts, however, questioned whether Bush and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff understood how much authority they had to tap all the resources of the federal government - including those of the Department of Defense.
"To say I've suddenly discovered the military needs to be involved is like saying wheels should be round instead of square," said Michael Greenberger, a law professor and the director of the University of Maryland's Center for Health and Homeland Security.
During the last great hurricane - Andrew in 1992 - the failure to get food, water and shelter to Florida and to victims highlighted the importance of quickly engaging the Department of Defense.
"For such disasters, DOD is the only organization capable of providing, transporting and distributing sufficient quantities of items needed," the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, wrote in a 1993 report. It noted that the military has storehouses of food and temporary shelters, contingency planning skills, command capability - as well as the helicopters and other transportation needed to get them to a disaster scene fast.
Indeed, the new National Response Plan, the nation's blueprint for responding to disasters that was unveiled with much fanfare in January by Chertoff's predecessor, Tom Ridge, includes a section on responding to catastrophic events.
"Unless it can be credibly established that a mobilizing Federal resource ... is not needed at the catastrophic incident venue, that resource deploys," the plan says. The plan and a 2003 presidential directive put Chertoff, as Homeland Security secretary, in charge of coordinating the federal response.
Chertoff, who aides said has been engaged in the response to Hurricane Katrina, went to Atlanta the day after the storm hit for a previously scheduled briefing on avian flu. Aides also concede that Washington officials were unable to confirm that the levees in New Orleans had failed until midday on Aug. 30. The breaches were first discovered in Louisiana some 32 hours earlier.
Greenberger, the Maryland homeland security expert, said he wonders whether Chertoff and other top federal officials understand the National Response Plan or even had read it before Katrina.
"Everything he did and everything he has said strongly suggests that that plan was never read," Greenberger said of Chertoff.
Former FEMA Director James Lee Witt, who served under President Clinton, believes that the Bush administration is mistaken if it thinks there are impediments to using the military for non-policing help in a disaster.
"When we were there and FEMA was intact, the military was a resource to us," said Witt. "We pulled them in very quickly. I don't know what rule he (Bush) talked about. ... We used military assets a lot."
Jamie Gorelick, the deputy attorney general during the Clinton administration who also was a member of the commission that investigated the Sept. 11 terror attacks, said clear legal guidelines have been in place for using the military on U.S. soil since at least 1996, when the Justice Department was planning for the Olympic Games in Atlanta.
"It's not like people hadn't thought about this," Gorelick said. "This is not new. We've had riots. We've had floods. We've had the loss of police control over communities.
"I'm puzzled as to what happened here," she said.
Scott Silliman, a former judge advocate general who's now the executive director of Duke University Law School's Center for Law, Ethics and National Security, said he was surprised that military forces weren't on the scene more quickly after Hurricane Katrina.
"I see no impediment in law or in policy to getting them there," Silliman said. "We could have sent in helicopters. We could have sent in forces to do search and rescue and to provide humanitarian aid. Everything but law enforcement."
He said someone failed to pull the trigger, but he added that an investigation is needed by an independent commission to determine who's to blame.
"They're trying to say that greater federal authority would have made a difference," said George Haddow, a former FEMA deputy chief of staff and the co-author of a textbook on emergency management. "The reality is that the feds are the ones that screwed up in the first place. It's not about authority. It's about leadership. ... They've got all the authority already."
So far as I know, damn straight. It's this simple: neither the federal government nor the military need any greater authority -- they just need to be competent in using what they have.
As many as 200 prisoners - more than a third of the camp - have refused food in recent weeks to protest conditions and prolonged confinement without trial, according to the accounts of lawyers who represent them. While military officials put the number of those participating at 105, they acknowledge that 20 of them, whose health and survival are being threatened, are being kept at the camp's hospital and fed through nasal tubes and sometimes given fluids intravenously.
The military authorities were so concerned about ending a previous strike this summer that they allowed the establishment of a six-member prisoners' grievance committee, lawyers said. The committee, a sharp departure from past practice in which camp authorities refused to cede any control or role to the detainees, was quickly ended, the lawyers say.
Maj. Jeffrey J. Weir, a spokesman at the base, said that the prisoners who are being fed at the hospital are generally not strapped to their beds and gurneys but are in handcuffs and leg restraints.
Well, that's quite a big difference, isn't it?
[...] One law enforcement official who has been fully briefed on the events at Guantánamo said senior military officials had grown increasingly worried about their capability to control the situation. A senior military official, also speaking on the condition of anonymity, described the situation as greatly troublesome for the camp's authorities and said they had tried several ways to end the hunger strike, without success.
The comments of the officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity, probably because their accounts conflict with the more positive descriptions in official military accounts, generally mirrored the statements of lawyers for the detainees, who have received their information from face-to-face interviews with their clients.
Clive Stafford Smith, a British lawyer for several of the detainees, said he was visiting some of his clients in August when the most recent strike began. He said that a detainee, Omar Deghayes, told him that the strike was largely to protest their long imprisonment without being charged with any crime as well as the conditions of their confinement.
He said that Mr. Deghayes, a Libyan who has lived in London, told him: "Look, I'm dying a slow death in this place as it is. I don't have any hope of fair treatment, so what have I got to lose?"
He said that one inmate, Shaker Aamer, negotiated the end to that hunger strike with a camp official he identified as Col. Michael Bumgarner, who said he had been authorized to address some of the prisoners' grievances. Mr. Stafford Smith, who represents Mr. Aamer, said his client told him that Colonel Bumgarner said he would ensure that the detainees would thereafter be treated "in accordance with the Geneva Accords." That included, Mr. Stafford Smith said, the establishment of the six-member committee to represent the prisoners in talks with the authorities. Such representative committees are called for in the Geneva Conventions, although they had not been formed at Guantánamo. The Bush administration has said that while the Guantánamo detainees are not entitled to the protections of the Geneva Conventions, they are generally treated by its standards.
Mr. Stafford Smith said the committee only functioned for a few days before authorities disbanded it.
Major Weir disputed Mr. Stafford Smith's description of a prisoners' grievance committee. "There have been no meetings with detainees refusing to eat," he said in a written statement in response to a question about the existence of such a committee. He said that commanders and soldiers interact with the prisoners daily and that they are also made aware of prisoners' needs and complaints from representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross. He declined to elaborate further.
The comments by Mr. Stafford Smith and Ms. Huskey demonstrate the vast changes in the military's task since federal courts have become involved in cases involving detainees and ordered the military to allow defense lawyers to travel to Guantánamo. Before the advent of lawyer visits, the military had total control over information from Guantánamo. There is now general acknowledgment that there were hunger strikes in 2002 and 2003, but they were largely unknown at the time. The only parties who had solid information when the strikes were occurring were the military authorities and Red Cross officials, who had pledged not to reveal what they learned in their visits in exchange for continued access.
What the hell would we know if not for the courts forcing some contact of lawyers and inmates, against the wishes of the U.S. government?
THUMBS UP FOR THRESHOLD; WE'LL SEE ABOUT BONES. Before I forget, a couple of off-the-cuff reactions to new tv shows.
I found the first fifteen minutes of Bones, the new vehicle for Emily Deschanel, with David Boreanaz as her tough-guy FBI sidekick, bland, pedestrian, and fairly boring. The next fifteen minutes upped my interest only slightly, but by the end, I was willing -- barely -- to give it another shot.
The writing was generally blah; no wit; no cleverness; no, in other words, Joss Whedonness at all. Which made David Boreanaz as interesting as a log with good hair. He applied a few snappy delivery approaches I recognized from Angel, but given the leadenness of the lines, they simply smashed to Earth. And two days later, damned if I can remember a thing about the plot; someone was killed a while ago, and they solved the murder, I think. Beyond that? It was that original and memorable. Oh, I think it was a Senator's daughter. Or someone's daughter. Yeah, a missing white woman. Imagine that.
However, by the end, while Boreanaz was given next to nothing, and made the same out of it, Emily Deschanel's character actully became mildly interesting; the way her character was so heavily draped with poor socialization for dealing with humans, and given a truly awkward personality, made her just barely interesting enough for me to be open to giving the program another chance. But if it doesn't make that aspect even more interesting and developed, I won't stick around.
Threshold, on the other hand, was a very pleasant surprise. Contrary to my fears, it didn't take a UFO/X-Files/woo-woo approach at all. In fact, it was strict science fiction (sf) from the first moment, and adhered to that in an almost Campbellian (John W., not Joseph) way. Good speculative investigations using at least more or less a scientific methodology, with the varied expertises of the strong personalities well-played by Brent Spiner, Peter Dinklage, and the others, playing off those of the others' in a believable manner, led by a strong and convincing, but human, Carla Gugino.
I shoved in a tape and started recording after the strong teaser, and don't regret having done so. "Four-dimensional" aliens may go back to basic ideas from the Thirties and Forties (hey there, Henry Kuttner), but they're hardly exhausted as an idea, and are far more interesting than those who have, as either Kang or Kodos admitted, exhausted the limits of knowledge available to anal probing.
Very strong drama, interesting characters, a scientific approach -- all a wonderful and welcome surprise to me (I try to keep expectations down, so I can have this reaction, rather than the more common hopes-that-are-dashed). I will absolutely be back, and just hope the quality doesn't go down significantly from the quite good -- and genuinely frightening at times -- pilot.
President Bush doesn't often find common cause with Cuba, Zimbabwe, Iran, Syria and Venezuela. But this month the Bush administration joined with those countries and others to eviscerate a forthright U.N. statement that nations have an obligation to respond to genocide.
Mr. Bush's position in the U.N. negotiations got little attention. But in effect the United States successfully blocked language in the declaration saying that countries have an "obligation" to respond to genocide. In the end the declaration was diluted to say that "We are prepared to take collective action ... on a case by case basis" to prevent genocide.
That was still an immensely important statement. But it's embarrassing that in the 21st century, we can't even accept a vague obligation to fight genocide as we did in the Genocide Convention of 1948. If the Genocide Convention were proposed today, President Bush apparently would fight to kill it.
Incredibly, the Bush administration has even emerged as Sudan's little helper, threatening an antigenocide campaigner in an effort to keep him quiet. Brian Steidle, a former Marine captain, served in Darfur as a military adviser - and grew heartsick at seeing corpses of children who'd been bludgeoned to death.
Mr. Steidle is an American hero for blowing the whistle on the genocide. But, according to Mr. Steidle, the State Department has ordered him on three occasions to stop showing the photos, for fear of complicating our relations with Sudan. Mr. Steidle has also been told that he has been blacklisted from all U.S. government jobs.
The semicolon “signals that you’re not expressing a singular thought”, explains the prolific cultural critic, Chris Lehmann. “It signals that there’s tension, that there is some contradictory evidence - and you [have to] sort of trust readers to be able to deal with that, which most editors don’t and many writers don’t.” Menand locates this fear of complexity in the idea that language should do no more than hold up a mirror to the world. “If you subscribe to linguistic transparency, there’s a bias in favour of simplicity,” he says.
It may seem bizarre to read so much into a stop on the page, but the semicolon is a pause for ambiguity, amusement, complexity, doubt, and nuance. If writing lacks these “genteel” qualities, can we be all that surprised if it is either as dull as a computer manual, or as demagogic as a soapbox on Hyde Park Corner?
During his debate with Salman Rushdie at the recent Edinburgh TV Festival, someone asked George Galloway if television should broadcast an adaptation of Rushdie's novel, "Satanic Verses." According to Rushdie, Galloway replied, "If you don't respect religion, you have to suffer the consequences."
Holy Jesus! This was, unmistakably, an endorsement of the death-sentence fatwa issued against Rushdie by Ayatollah Khomeini.
Add this endorsement of killing for God to Galloway's notorious opposition in Parliament to a woman's right to choose abortion, and you get yourself a British Pat Robertson. What next? Will he be "saluting the courage, strength and indefatigability" of abortion clinic bombers, as he saluted Saddam?
The Honorable Member of Britain's House of Commons has become the new love-child of American progressives for his in-your-face accusations about our own government's mendacity in sending our troops to war in Iraq. I myself quoted Galloway with admiration.
But the man who saluted the "courage" of Saddam Hussein in 1994, who today can't and won't account for nearly a million dollars in income and expenditures for a charity he founded to buy medicine for Iraqi children is not, friends, the best choice as our anti-war spokesman.
Where did this guy come from? Who invited him here? The answer: US Senate REPUBLICANS. As Cindy Sheehan was gathering public sympathy as the Gold Star mom against the killing in Iraq, the Republican party decided to import an easier target to pummel. So they brought over the "I-salute-your-courage, Saddam" religious fundamentalist crack-pot who can't tell us where the money went.
That's why the Republicans chose him for us. This gross cartoon from abroad whose "charity" is stuffed with loot from an Oil-for-Food profiteer is the image they prefer on TV to Cindy Sheehan whom they dare not confront.
Yes, Galloway was the punching bag that punched back, and for that we are appreciative. Now GO HOME, George.
We need to repudiate this guy -- before the warmongers do, with glee.
I'm sorry, but I'm not going to let Karl Rove or some sick GOP Senator pick my heroes for me.
Some well-meaning progressives have said that my exposing Galloway plays into the hands of the "other side." Friends, this isn't a World Cup match, with sides; it's a World War, with too many dead bodies piling up.
Galloway says, "I have religious beliefs and try to live by them. I have all my life been against abortion and against euthanasia."
Well, Mr. Galloway, you may live by your beliefs -- anti-choice, fatwas, Saddam's "courage" -- but too many are DYING by your beliefs.
I admit, I was suckered by Galloway. I was the first journalist in the UK to rush to his defense on television when he was accused of wrong-doing. I wanted to believe in him, but the hard facts condemn him -- and us, if we don't act true to our moral imperative.
Mr. Galloway told the Independent newspaper, "I'm not as Left-wing as you think."
Indeed, he isn't.
Next Saturday, September 24, Cindy Sheehan and I will be speaking at the Operation Ceasefire gathering in Washington DC, sponsored by the DC Anti-War Network and United for Peace and Justice. Please join us.
Hopefully, our voices won't be drowned out by George Galloway's antics.
It seemed worth passing along. Please note that Greg Palast's opinions are not my opinions, although I do not have a high, or positive, opinion of George Galloway, other than to note that he can speak quite well at times. I do not endorse the organizations either Palast does here or Galloway does elsewhere.
WORKING ON COMPILING A BODY OF LEGISLATION. How uplifting.
Federal troops aren't the only ones looking for bodies on the Gulf Coast. On Sept. 9, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions called his old law professor Harold Apolinsky, co-author of Sessions' legislation repealing the federal estate tax, which was encountering sudden resistance on the Hill. Sessions had an idea to revitalize their cause, which he left on Apolinsky's voice mail: "[Arizona Sen.] Jon Kyl and I were talking about the estate tax. If we knew anybody that owned a business that lost life in the storm, that would be something we could push back with."
After hearing from Sessions, Apolinsky, an estate tax lawyer who says his firm includes three multi-billionaires among its clients, mobilized the American Family Business Institute, a Washington-based group devoted to estate tax repeal. They reached out to members along the Gulf Coast to hunt for the dead.
It's been hard. Only a tiny percentage of people are affected by the estate tax—in 2001 only 534 Alabamans were subject to it. And for Hill backers of repeal, that's only part of the problem. Last year, the tax brought in $24.8 billion to the federal government. With Katrina's cost soaring, estate tax opponents need to find a way to make up the potential lost income. For now, getting repeal back on the agenda may depend on Apolinsky and his team of estate-sniffing sleuths, who are searching Internet obituaries among other places. Has he found any victims of both the hurricane and the estate tax? "Not yet," Apolinsky says. "But I'm still looking."
Remember: the way we're going to reconstruct the Gulf coast and inland is through individuals' spending their tax money, not through goverment; since government is the problem, not the solution, we must all do our utmost, comrades, to see that no tax dollars are wasted on indulging private citizens who didn't choose to live someplace safer, and to see that no federal effort is made to coddle those folk. The way to help America remains before us: the crucial task of rolling back taxes on sheer hundreds of American multi-millionaires; how long will we let this injustice stand?
THE TALK OF THE NEW ORLEANS WAREHOUSE DISTRICT is this, writes Brian Williams:
I am duty-bound to report the talk of the New Orleans warehouse district last night: there was rejoicing (well, there would have been without the curfew, but the few people I saw on the streets were excited) when the power came back on for blocks on end. Kevin Tibbles was positively jubilant on the live update edition of Nightly News that we fed to the West Coast. The mini-mart, long ago cleaned out by looters, was nonetheless bathed in light, including the empty, roped-off gas pumps. The motorcade route through the district was partially lit no more than 30 minutes before POTUS drove through. And yet last night, no more than an hour after the President departed, the lights went out. The entire area was plunged into total darkness again, to audible groans. It's enough to make some of the folks here who witnessed it... jump to certain conclusions.
It is impossible to over-emphasize the extent to which this area is under government occupation, and portions of it under government-enforced lockdown. Police cars rule the streets. They (along with Humvees, ambulances, fire apparatus, FEMA trucks and all official-looking SUVs) are generally not stopped at checkpoints and roadblocks. All other vehicles are subject to long lines and snap judgments and must PROVE they have vital business inside the vast roped-off regions here. If we did not have the services of an off-duty law enforcement officer, we could not do our jobs in the course of a work day and get back in time to put together the broadcast and get on the air. As we are about to do.
NBC also opened a permanent/long-term bureau in New Orleans.
"FOLLOW THE TRUCKS" is good advice for journalists examining the post-disaster. The FEMA ice follies:
WASHINGTON - Initially, after Hurricane Katrina, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, was slow in getting ice and water to victims. NBC News decided to look at the ice situation now, as a microcosm of the relief effort, and found that FEMA ordered plenty of ice — but getting it to those who need it has been chaotic.
Outside New Orleans, Lori Rosete waited an hour to get ice to preserve food and chill her mother’s insulin.
“We just need this to keep coming,” said Rosete, “and do what we have to do, you know? Ration until we can't ration no more.”
Friday, NBC News located hundreds of trucks full of ice sitting around the country: in Maryland, Missouri, Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi and Louisiana. Some had been on trips to nowhere for the past two weeks.
Elizabeth Palmer is a truck driver in Carthage, Mo.
“We really don’t understand,” said Palmer, “why FEMA is sending to all these different locations and just putting us in cold storage.”
Dan Wessels’ Cool Express ice company has worked with FEMA for years. He says he's never seen anything like it — only one-third of his trucks have actually unloaded the ice that FEMA ordered.
“The left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing,” said Wessels. “The right hand is telling us to go to the left hand. We get to the left hand, they tell us to go back."
For example, one truck of ice left Oshkosh, Wis., on Sept. 6, and went to Louisiana. Then it was sent by FEMA to Georgia but was rerouted before it arrived to South Carolina, then to Cumberland, Md., where it has been sitting for three days at an added cost to taxpayers so far of $9,000.
Multiplied by hundreds of trucks, this sort of dispatching could mean millions of dollars are being wasted.
"From a trucking aspect, I'm happy. Keep it coming," said Wessels. "From a taxpayer aspect, it's sick."
A FEMA official says, in the rush to respond to Katrina, the agency ordered too much ice. Rather than let it melt, they sent it to other parts of the country to be ready for the next hurricane.
But Wessels says FEMA just ordered more ice and re-routed some of his trucks again — to Idaho.
Read The Rest Scale: 0 out of 5 except that you can click on the video there if you like. The story works much better when you can see the animated maps.
NOTE: Here is what the water and ice situation is reported to be as of 2:05 p.m. today:
That is not to say that people here are without any help, but the message was clear from the people we talked to on the outskirts of the city: aid needs to keep coming. Pennsylvania National Guardsmen who are running the ice line told me that they call into a distribution point three times a day, reporting back how much they’ve given out, and how much more they need. Demand doesn’t seem to be waning. Cars are lined up down the street waiting for ice, water and MREs and they tell me its been like that everyday from open to close. People, with or without electricity, can’t drink their own water and need the supplies to keep food, water and even some medicines cold. Ice is a premium commodity for all of us here. It feels like mid-summer and it's hot, really hot. Those who have the added burden of cleaning and sorting out their lives and homes will need aid for a long time to come.
Lost in Space Is my son's fascination with UFOs healthy? by Lisa Welchel
My ten-year-old son has a fascination with UFOs and space aliens. I know this is partly a boy thing, but I'm concerned it could lead him to the occult. Do I need to discourage this fascination?
Recently, I read the following in Randy Alcorn's book Heaven: "God has built into us the longing to see the wonders of his far-flung creation. The popularity of science fiction reflects that longing. Visiting a Star Trek convention demonstrates how this—like anything else—can become a substitute religion, but the fervor points to a truth: We do possess a God-given longing to know a greater intelligence and to explore what lies beyond our horizons."
The Bible says, "For by him [Jesus] all things were created, things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him" (Colossians 1:16).
Satan is aware of the fact that "the heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands" (Psalm 19:1). The Devil realizes man will be drawn to explore the skies, even if only in his imagination. But he also knows the Creator behind the creation, so he had to come up with a plan to divert and distract. Enter UFOs, space aliens, extraterrestrials, and anything else that draws our attention away from worshiping God, the logical response to gazing upon his infinite wonders.
How about investing in a fairly advanced telescope, a few illustrated books on astronomy, and maybe even a video or summer camp that focuses more on the science and less on the fiction? Allow that God-given curiosity in your son to draw him into a deeper appreciation for the awesomeness of his heavenly Father, the true Father of the heavens.
At least the advice about the telescope and astronomy is good, even if there's no reason it should conflict with fiction (it should, of course, supplement the science by arousing wonder and curiosity and pleasure).
The Bush administration has called for the shuttles to be retired by 2010. Dr. Griffin had wanted the first of the replacement vehicles to be ready to fly by 2011. But the experts said yesterday that the earliest conceivable date for the first flight of the replacement was now 2012.
The smaller rocket, for carrying people, would still dwarf the shuttle, which stands 184 feet high. The larger one, for lifting heavy cargoes and spaceships but not people, would rise to a height of some 350 feet, rivaling the Saturn 5 rockets that sent astronauts to the Moon.
In theory, the cargo hauler would have its first test flights in 2016 and 2017 and first hurl people toward the Moon in 2018, the experts said.
Which, if the post-Apollo track record is relevant, would tend to suggest first launch in 2020, and landing humans on the moon again somewhere around 2045.
But since the whole point of this exercise is to largely be using off-the-shuttle-shelf tech, I'll be gentle and kindly and optimistic, as I contemplate bunny rabbits, and a first test flight in 2019, and a launch of humans to the moon in 2025 (might be a song in that).
But we'll see. All I can say is that I had to wait a lot less time when I was a kid in the Sixties getting every free handout NASA had to offer, and pasting them up all over my room and hallway.
I really wasn't expecting to have to wait again until I was, say, 67 years old, or somesuch, to again watch someone travel to Luna like I first saw when I was 10 years old.
THINGS WE LEARN FROM ERROL MORRIS. Well, I didn't know this, anyway.
AVC: With First Person, you were using a lot of the hallmarks of your style—the film clips, the recreation—but on a lower budget. Have you gotten to the point where you just see those visuals in your head automatically?
EM: Yes. [Laughs.] I mean, it kind of jumps out at you. When McNamara talked about how they were doing tests by dropping skulls down the stairwells of the dormitories at Cornell... I hear something like that and I know we're going to be shooting a reenactment somewhere. With skulls.
By the way, the skulls we used were a mixture of fake and real skulls. Because real skulls are cheaper. So if you're in the market for, you know, a skull... just keep that in mind. The difference in price, if you're penny-pinching, depends on the condition of the teeth. If there are lots of teeth missing, someone's going to give you a bargain. [Laughs.]
A tip sure to prove useful someday.
Not too soon, please.
Read The Rest Scale: 3.5 out of 5 if you have the slightest interest in his documentary work at all; I found the interview much more interesting than I expected. For one thing, he's unexpectedly (by me) funny:
AVC: Is there any one unfinished project in particular that you'd kill to get made?
EM: "Kill" seems strong. Just because, correct me if I'm wrong, I believe it has been criminalized in this country. Not to the extent that it might have been 10 years ago, but it's still considered to be not the right thing to do.
LEAKED KATRINA DOCUMENTS can be found here, if you go to "Katrina resources" on the right sidebar. Poke around there, see what you can find amongst the FEMA documents about exercises and plans, and the like.
Remember to mention that I sent you, please. More about this here.
I TOLD YOU SO, YOU FUCKING FOOLS. That's what Robert Conquest famously answered to the question of whether he had a new title, upon reissue, of his seminal work, The Great Terror. It also applies to meteorologist Robert Ricks:
NEW ORLEANS — On Aug. 28, the storm was still a day away. Evacuations were under way and people were just starting to arrive at the Superdome.
At his desk at the National Weather Service office in Slidell, outside New Orleans, meteorologist Robert Ricks knew he had a job to do. He knew he probably had one remaining chance. And so, using computers, history and his fellow forecasters, he sat down to write.
"I happened to be on the shift," Ricks says. "I happened to pull the trigger. It just happened to be me that day.
Over the newswires — at NBC News headquarters in New York and across the country — came a document, titled: "URGENT... SPECIAL MESSAGE." It was an extraordinary bulletin. It warned of a most powerful hurricane with unprecedented strength. It predicted: "MOST OF THE AREA WILL BE UNINHABITABLE FOR WEEKS. PERHAPS LONGER. AT LEAST ONE HALF OF WELL-CONSTRUCTED HOMES WILL HAVE ROOF AND WALL FAILURE. ALL GABLED ROOFS WILL FAIL. THE VAST MAJORITY OF NATIVE TREES WILL BE SNAPPED OR UPROOTED. OTHERS WILL BE TOTALLY DEFOLIATED."
Perhaps most remarkably, Ricks' document predicted: "WATER SHORTAGES WILL MAKE HUMAN SUFFERING INCREDIBLE BY MODERN STANDARDS."
That was the day before the storm. The images of devastation make it clear what happened.
Brian Williams: Did a part of you want to be wrong?
Robert Ricks: I would much rather have been wrong in this one. I would much rather be talking to you and taking the heat and crying wolf. But our local expertise said otherwise. You know, "Hey, let's gear up for the big one, this is going to be the big one."
Williams: How much of you is in that statement? What of you is in that wording?
Ricks: I also had to validate each one of those statements and I was, in my mind, I was saying, "I'm not going to take this out, it sounds valid. I'm not going to take this part out, it sounds valid.
Williams: So you went through point by point?
Ricks: Yeah, I read each one. I was trying to find things to actually take out. And I said, "I cannot find it in myself to take these out, because they seem very valid for the situation." And I came from the experience of going through Betsy and Camille myself in the Lower Ninth Ward.
But his document was right. And now this lifelong resident of New Orleans, who grew up in the hard-hit Lower Ninth Ward section of the city, is back at work alongside co-workers who have no homes and are wearing the clothes they wore that day.
Williams: If you knew the damage was going to be like this, you did everything in your power to tell people a monster was coming, did the response break your heart?
Ricks: Yes, it did. Because we always prepare for the big one; we just didn't think it was going to come this soon.
Read The Rest Scale: 0 out of 5.
Also, this comment from Williams about traveling in Louisiana today:
We are under escort thanks to an off-duty law enforcement officer... like any military operation, it helps to have Authority with you when confronted by Authority. This is very rapidly becoming the most credential-ed region of the United States. Roadblocks are prevalent but scattershot... rules of the road change, it seems, by day. Depending on the jurisdiction posted at the roadblock you happen to approach... the assumption often is that you're with al-Qaida. The reception can be very brusque, and many roads remain shut to normal everyday vehicular traffic.
Consider that this is apt to be said, given his anchorman position, with significant caution and understatement, I think.
Read The Rest Scale: 2.5 out of 5.
ONE LAST THING: White House correspondent Kelly O'Donnell, earlier today relaying the "guidance" provided by the White House on the President's speech (an hour away as I type this):
Finally, there are no plans to change the administration's stand on tax cuts. One official told me raising taxes to pay for Katrina recovery "would particularly hit people hurt by the hurricane."
Two points, one factual, and the other journalistic.
The factual is that, gee, I think if, say, we only rolled back some of the Bush tax cuts only on people earning over, say, one million dollars a year, that they'll likely manage to struggle on, nonethless, even perhaps up to the level of the last 100,000 left in New Orleans.
The journalistic is: what on earth is the excuse for letting that quote be anonymous? What possible excuse does the "administration official" offer for why that view has to be off the record? Why should it be accepted?
ANOTHER KIND OF ORAL ARGUMENT is being had by the kids. Surely someone could have worked the issue into a question for Judge Roberts?
Slightly more than half of American teenagers, ages 15 to 19, have engaged in oral sex, with females and males reporting similar levels of experience, according to the most comprehensive national survey of sexual behaviors ever released by the federal government.
The report today by the National Center for Health Statistics shows that the figure increases to about 70 percent of 18- and 19-year-olds.
A German inventor said he has developed a method to produce crude oil products from waste that he believes can be an answer to the soaring costs of fuel, but denied a German newspaper story implying he also used dead cats.
Christian Koch, an inventor and patent holder of the "KDV 500" that he said produces high quality fuel, said he can transform waste products such as paper, rubbish and plastic materials into fuel.
But Koch, 55, said there was no truth to stories published in Bild newspaper on Tuesday and Wednesday that suggested he used dead cats as part of the mix for his organic diesel fuel.
"I use paper, plastics, textiles and rubbish," Koch told Reuters.
"It's an alternative fuel that is friendly for the environment. But it's complete nonsense to suggest dead cats. I've never used cats and would never think of that. At most the odd toad may have jumped in."
Bild on Tuesday wrote a headline: "German inventor can turn cats into fuel -- for a tank he needs 20 cats." The paper on Wednesday followed up with a story entitled: "Can you really make fuel out of cats?"
A spokesman for Bild told Reuters the story was meant to show that cat remains could "in theory" be used to make fuel with Koch's patented method.
The author of the story said Koch had never told him directly that he had used dead cats as the story implied.
The Web site of Koch's firm, "Alphakat GmbH", says his patented "KDV 500" machine can produce what he calls the "bio-diesel" fuel at about 23 euro cents (30 cents) a liter, which is about one-fifth the price at petrol stations now.
"I drive my normal diesel-powered car with this mixture," Koch is quoted saying in Bild, next to a large picture of a kitten. "I have gone 170,000 km (106,000 miles) without a problem."
I don't read German, and haven't bothered to hunt for the Bild story or to then translate it, but one gets the idea that this may not, perhaps, be the finest exemplar of good journalism that Bild will ever put forth.
Koch did paint a small target on himself with the toad comment, though.
MAYBE I'M AMAZED. A positive review for the new Pete Mitchell album. He's still not dead. But neither is he quite living. It's been a long and winding road that Pete Mitchell has walked to this debut album.
MY OWN TAKE IS TO WONDER what Tom DeLay has to say to Grover Nordquist about this?
House Majority Leader Tom DeLay said yesterday that Republicans have done so well in cutting spending that he declared an "ongoing victory," and said there is simply no fat left to cut in the federal budget.
Mr. DeLay was defending Republicans' choice to borrow money and add to this year's expected $331 billion deficit to pay for Hurricane Katrina relief. Some Republicans have said Congress should make cuts in other areas, but Mr. DeLay said that doesn't seem possible.
"My answer to those that want to offset the spending is sure, bring me the offsets, I'll be glad to do it. But nobody has been able to come up with any yet," the Texas Republican told reporters at his weekly briefing.
Asked if that meant the government was running at peak efficiency, Mr. DeLay said, "Yes, after 11 years of Republican majority we've pared it down pretty good."
I'M ACTUALLY PERFECTLY WILLING TO BELIEVEthis part of Mike Brown's exegesis. Not that I'm saying it is the truth; I don't feel I have enough information to strongly judge what that is in any detail here. I'm just saying that this could be true:
When he arrived in Baton Rouge Sunday evening, Mr. Brown said, he was immediately concerned about the lack of coordinated response from Governor Blanco and Maj. Gen. Bennett C. Landreneau, the adjutant general of the Louisiana National Guard.
"What do you need? Help me help you," Mr. Brown said he asked them. "The response was like, 'Let us find out,' and then I never received specific requests for specific things that needed doing."
The most responsive person he could find, Mr. Brown said, was Governor Blanco's husband, Raymond. "He would try to go find stuff out for me," Mr. Brown said.
Governor Blanco's communications director, Mr. Mann, said that she was frustrated that Mr. Brown and others at FEMA wanted itemized requests before acting. "It was like walking into an emergency room bleeding profusely and being expected to instruct the doctors how to treat you," he said.
Now, neither, either, or both of those versions could be true. But my primary observation is that neither in the least contradicts the other, and each could therefore plausibly accurately reflect the view each party had of what the other was, in their mind, expected to do.
Were that the case -- and I'm not saying it is -- I'd fault both parties, although not necessarily equally. But I'd like FEMA to be the kind of agency that can move in and immediately begin acting on contingency plans long practiced and be able to take charge as necessary, and I'd like the state, any state, to be able to immediately take charge of relief in their state insofar as their remaining assets allow them to. And whatever a city can do, obviously it should be doing that, as well.
Suspenders, a belt, and a pail to bail with, are definitely the way to go with emergencies, in my view.
In this case, there seems to have been quite a widespread, if not downright universal, lot of assuming done, instead. The other guy will handle it, and we'll just help.
But, of course, we still yet know only some of the relevant facts. And without an independent investigation, it's not entirely clear how soon or authoritatively all the relevant facts may come out.
Each peg sits inside a peg holder, which is fitted with a digital barometer that checks pressure in the air every hour and is able to tell whether rain is on its way.
If the holder detects rain, it sends a small electric signal to a metallic plate inside the base of the holder.
Parts of the pegs have a metallic coating, which enables them to communicate with the electrical currents on the plate.
If the peg is removed from the holder and the holder predicts rain, the peg locks itself shut, preventing clothes from being hung out.
However, the pegs would not lock themselves shut if the forecast changed for the worse and they were already on the line, MacCarthy told CNN.
At the moment the weather-predicting pegs are not commercially available but MacCarthy said he hoped they one day would be, and believed there would be huge demand for such a product.
Oh, huge. Without doubt. Because it's so very, very, very hard to check the weather online.
And people want to spend money on hi-tech clothes pins that argue with you, but will let your clothes get wet, anyway, because it's less annoying than using a dryer.
People particularly want to pay for that tech in every single clothes pin, because if technology is worth manufacturing, it's worth duplicating and making you pay for it twenty or forty times, or for however many socks you have. Because it's information worth repeating.
And, as everyone knows, barometers can, indeed, magically predict rain, just as if one runs time in reverse, you can watch your clocks move backwards.
All that's lacking is a startup that sells these things only over the internet. It will make a fortune!
ON THE LOCAL FRONT. I'm expecting to resume higher frequency blogging again tomorrow and the next day, but I'm still working my way back from a bit of burn-out, as well as some overload on how many stories of either importance or interest seem to be gushing from the high-pressure pipe.
Lots of people on University Hill have cats in their backyards. Carolyn Carlat had a mountain lion in hers.
She might still.
Officials were warning residents of a cougar on the loose after finding the animal lounging in Carlat's backyard Tuesday, a rare spotting in the heavily populated Boulder neighborhood near the University of Colorado.
Carlat, who lives on 15th Street near Cascade Avenue, had just dropped her son Torin Kogut, 7, off at Mesa Elementary School. It was just before 9 a.m.
"I looked out the bathroom window and saw a mountain lion lounging in the grass," she said. "I was just thrilled."
She took a couple of snapshots through the glass and called 911.
Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks rangers Burton Stoner and Pete Taylor soon arrived, shotguns shouldered. They loaded them with rubber buckshot, used to haze big, wild animals who stray where they shouldn't.
Taylor said he found the beast grooming in the non-native tallgrass behind Carlat's house. It had been dining on a raccoon, which are bountiful in the neighborhood.
It has been years since a mountain lion has been reported on the Hill, Taylor said.
He said the wildcat was probably a male weighing about 80 pounds, or about half the size of the adult males that dominate turf in open space.
Taylor shot it with rubber buckshot.
The animal leapt a fence and took off to the west, toward 14th Street, until a dog spooked it back. The rangers knocked on doors and searched backyards for the animal.
Nianda Stanfield, passing through from California, stopped by the St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic student center on 14th Street and said she saw the mountain lion in the alley.
"It was just kind of hanging out right there," she said, pointing to worn asphalt. "It took off when a truck came through."
The officers bagged the raccoon carcass, and by 11:30 a.m. they had given up on finding the mountain lion itself.
The Division of Wildlife asked Boulder police to do a Reverse 911 call to nearby residents, warning them of the presence of the animal and to take care with pets and children.
I live on the equivalent of 23rd St., all of 9 short blocks from 14th. Nice kitty. Good kitty. Please don't have plague.
It's unlikely that the big one in Boulder will be an earthquake, a hurricane or even a fire.
The worst-case scenario feared by emergency workers, scientists and disaster experts here is a flood. They talk of bridges washing out along Boulder Creek, homes being wrecked by raging water and people being swept away.
"They consider the city of Boulder the highest flood risk in the entire state of Colorado," said Kevin Stewart, an engineer with the state's Urban Drainage and Flood Control District. The agency advises local governments on flood issues.
Boulder Creek is considered to have one of the highest potentials for deadly flooding of any body of water in the country.
Stewart said Boulder is well-prepared for a flood and is viewed as a model around the country. But some experts warn that residents unaware of the risks, combined with a tradition of developing along creeks, could add up to catastrophe.
The city itself has 13 drainages and creeks flowing through it. Boulder's position at the edge of mountains — and a major portion at the mouth of a canyon — only increases the potential for disaster here.
When the flood experts talk about the last big one in Boulder, 1894 comes up.
On May 31 of that year, Boulder Creek swelled after days of heavy rain. A deluge of water raced through town. While no lives were lost, bridges washed out and buildings came falling down.
In 1976, the Big Thompson River in Larimer County flooded. The current claimed 145 lives and hundreds of homes and businesses in the deadliest natural disaster in Colorado history. A July 1997 flood in Fort Collins killed five people.
Boulder, the experts say, is long overdue for a big one, a "100-year flood." That would be a flood of a magnitude that has a 1 percent chance of occurring in any given year. It could happen more than once a century, of course.
A 100-year flood along Boulder Creek would inundate an area north to Spruce Street, east to Folsom Street and south to Baseline Road. The city would be split geographically in two, with the creek cutting off ground access between the northern and southern halves.
The physical paper had a map showing that I live dead center in the part of the town that will be most deeply flooded. I've always been aware of the various creeks one runs into going a block in various directions, but I really had no idea about the flood history and potential.
A major flood here could bring down buildings and send Volkswagen-sized rocks moving downstream, Taylor said.
Groovy. On the positive side, I'm two flights up; perhaps with luck I can swim out; on the negative time, the ceiling did actually lightly leak once during a pounding rain, though never before or since.
SEE, CARE TOO MUCH ABOUT THE NFL AND YOU DIE. It happened to Hunter Thompson and it could happen to you. Rather amazing account of the post-death of Thompson by Douglas Brinkley, actually.
Back in 1977, Hunter had asked Ralph Steadman -- his brilliant illustrator and trusted sidekick -- to draft a blueprint for a Gonzo Fist Memorial, his warped idea of a pyrotechnics-rigged mausoleum. The morbid notion had been preoccupying Hunter for a while. A few years before, he had asked his artist friend Paul Pascarella to design an official Gonzo logo: an iconic two-thumbed red fist clutching a peyote button, ensconced atop a dagger. Now, with a BBC crew in tow, Hunter and Ralph wandered into a Hollywood mortuary to inquire about transforming the Gonzo symbol into a full-fledged artillery cannon, 153 feet tall, capable of blasting his ashes into the atmosphere. It started out as a lark, but as the years passed, Hunter grew serious about the cannon concept, telling his family and friends it was his "one true wish." He often spoke of how Mark Twain wanted to report on his own funeral, how France celebrated the death of Victor Hugo with a no-holds-barred parade and, more recently, how Timothy Leary had his ashes fired into space from Grand Canary Island via a rocket. But Hunter had a much grander farewell in mind. He wanted to trump his own suicide with a surefire, high-octane, sizzling Gonzo epilogue complete with a thunderous eight-piece Japanese drum band and a Buddhist reading and his ashes showering down on his lifelong friends while Bob Dylan wailed "Mr. Tambourine Man" from high-decibel speakers.
How one deals with the death of a loved one is a highly personalized affair. Some people weep for days; others take a hike in the woods or count rosary beads. The actor Johnny Depp, it turns out, is a charter member of the Direct Action School of Mourning. Depp and Hunter were homeboys. Both hail from Kentucky, and the two had become friends when Depp played Hunter's alter ego Raoul Duke in the movie adaptation of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. One of Hunter's great delights was getting Depp enshrined as an honorary Kentucky Colonel in 1996. From induction onward, Hunter always called him "Colonel Depp" -- or sometimes just "the Colonel." Since nothing could bring Hunter back to life, Depp decided to make his buddy's 1977 death fantasy come true.
"Fuck you, Hunter," he joked one afternoon not long after Hunter died. "You want a Gonzo Cannon? We'll give you a Gonzo Cannon."
Following Hunter's thirty-year-old blueprints, the Colonel commissioned a construction crew to build the cannon. Cost was not a factor. So what if the price tag was $2 million or $3 million? Depp's recent hits Pirates of the Caribbean and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory were financial grand slams, earning the forty-two-year-old actor enough money to buy his own island near the Bahamas. Doing it right for Hunter was all that mattered. "I loved him and wanted to make sure his last wish was fulfilled," Depp says. "It's that simple." He galvanized Hunter's inner circle to share his vision of building the most spectacularly weird monument ever erected for a writer. Without hesitation, both Anita and Juan signed up for the ash blast.
But greater Aspen has a notoriously hard-line building code. Pitkin County is NIMBY-land, a place where rich folks with $10 million alpine homes don't want their scenic views obstructed by a giant day-glo peyote fist. Facing a political minefield, Depp dispatched his movieland troops to the Rockies, determined to construct a permanent monument for the Good Doctor. "There were a lot of community grumbles," recalls Sheriff Bob Braudis. "Nobody minded a small cannon blast, but 153 feet tall? And permanent? That, quite naturally, raised eyebrows."
So a compromise was struck. Depp could build his grandiose monument and his friend's ashes could light up the Western sky in a fireworks orgy. But the memorial would have to be temporary. Two weeks only and down it would have to come. Faced with this reality check, most people would have resigned themselves to building a makeshift memorial, some tawdry papier-mache-like contraption modeled after a disposable Rose Bowl float. But Depp is not most people. "Our goal was to get everything right," he says. "We wanted to respect the wishes of the people of Pitkin County. These were Hunter's friends and neighbors. We wanted them to be part of the entire process."
In early June, construction crews armed with jackhammers, buzz saws and humongous cranes arrived at Owl Farm. While engineers and security guards roamed the property around her, Anita focused on the guest list. Handsome invitations with a silver-foil dagger topped by a double-thumbed fist went out to a select group of family and friends. "Hunter had so many fans, and I wanted them all to come," Anita says. "But reality dictated that we limit the event to 300 or 400 people."
Now the moment had arrived. As "Spirit in the Sky" began blasting over the loudspeakers, even the handful of drunks in attendance sobered up. The massive drapery enfolding the monument was slowly pulled away, revealing the Gonzo fist at the top of the tower -- two feet taller than the Statue of Liberty -- a multicolored peyote button pulsating at its center. Ed Bastian, a close friend, read part of the sacred text of the Heart Sutra in Tibetan, and a troupe of Japanese drummers began a choreographed ritual. As the drums stopped, champagne flutes were passed around. Then, at 8:46 p.m., more than thirty fireworks rocketed high above Owl Farm, bursting in the night sky illuminated by a nearly full moon. The cannon atop the tower fired, and Hunter's ashes fell over the assembled guests like gray snow, "Mr. Tambourine Man" blaring from the sound system on cue. Hunter was literally all around us now, a destroying angel whooping it up with one final Rebel Yell. I glanced at Hunter's compatriots: Kerry looked curious, McGovern sad, Lovett silent. "I have never seen an event like this," whispered Harry Dean Stanton. "And I'm old. Very old."
79, last I looked, actually.
This is a hard piece to not quote the whole thing. So go read it as if crazed weasels were slashing at your genitals.
A month-old hunger strike at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has grown to include at least 128 detainees, 18 of whom are forcibly receiving intravenous fluids or nutrition in the prison hospital, military officials and detainee lawyers said yesterday.
The captives are protesting their indefinite imprisonment and what they describe as beatings administered by the prison's Immediate Response Force (IRF)-- squads of military personnel who are dispatched to put down disturbances in detainees' cells. Some have said they will refuse to eat until the military gives them a fair hearing or they die, according to their attorneys.
Lawyers for the prisoners assert that more than 200 detainees are refusing food. An earlier hunger strike in June and July ended after military authorities met with a small group of detainees and promised improvements in their living conditions.
"They truly feel they have nothing left," said attorney David Remes, who represents several Yemeni detainees. "I'm not sure what the end point will be. But I do predict there will be death."
Binyam Mohammed, formerly of London, whose account was the first declassified, told his attorney on Aug. 11 of the new hunger strike. "I do not plan to stop until I die or we are respected," he said. "People will definitely die."
Another detainee, Libyan-born Omar Deghayes, told his lawyer he had not eaten in five weeks. "Many more people have fallen unconscious. . . . More are taken to hospital," he said.
Military officials have characterized the protest as a "fast" of prisoners aimed at grabbing attention, and say it involves 128 prisoners. They say its significance is exaggerated by their lawyers.
Weir said no detainees are in danger of dying and that the military's treatment is preventing them from losing critical nutrition. Of the 18 people hospitalized, 13 are being force-fed through nasal tubes and five are being given intravenous hydration.
On Aug. 25, the military said that 89 detainees were fasting and seven were hospitalized and receiving forced fluids or nutrition.
Weir said yesterday that the military does not allow beatings of detainees, and he believes the refusal to eat is part of a campaign to press for their transfer or release.
"My understanding is that it's just because of their continued detention," Weir said. "They're trying to call attention to that."
The majority of detainees at Guantanamo Bay have long insisted that they were captured by mistake by U.S. forces in Afghanistan in the fall of 2001. In some prisoners' cases, records show, the military has little but circumstantial evidence that the men engaged in or supported terrorist acts. The military's review of 558 cases resulted in 38 detainees being declared non-enemy combatants.
Of course, despite there being a "policy" of no beatings -- and I'm perfectly willing to believe that that's what the policy indeed says -- such beatings have been documented, even if they are, shall we say, simply incidental violence in responses of the Immediate Response Force (IRF) to, perhaps, violent and provocative behavior by detainees, and neither are they contradictory with the goal of the detainees, which we'll stipulate is to "campaign to press for their transfer or release." (What detainee, guilty as sin or innocent, wouldn't want that, for reasons good or ill?)
The question of the justice applied -- or not -- to the detainees is quite separable from the question of their guilt.
Reporting on the "Freedom Walk" yesterday from the Pentagon to the Mall, the New York Times' Glen Justice and John Files noticed a few notes of discord. One lady had her anti-war sign taken away, and a protester along the march route held up a "Bush is a liar" sign, to be met by "USA" chants -- coached by Allison Barber, a Rumsfeld aide. And there was also this:
One man who registered for the walk was detained by a Pentagon police officer after he slipped a black hood over his head and produced a sign that read, 'Freedom?'
The other side said:
For Them, For Us, For Our Troops: Never Again Support the McCain and Levin Amendments
I know, because that's the side I displayed first.
IT'S TRUE THAT THE HOLOCAUST WAS SOMEWHAT EXCLUSIONARY, but that's pretty much Hitler's fault, innit?
ADVISERS appointed by Tony Blair after the London bombings are proposing to scrap the Jewish Holocaust Memorial Day because it is regarded as offensive to Muslims.
They want to replace it with a Genocide Day that would recognise the mass murder of Muslims in Palestine, Chechnya and Bosnia as well as people of other faiths.
The draft proposals have been prepared by committees appointed by Blair to tackle extremism. He has promised to respond to the plans, but the threat to the Holocaust Day has provoked a fierce backlash from the Jewish community.
Holocaust Day was established by Blair in 2001 after a sustained campaign by Jewish leaders to create a lasting memorial to the 6m victims of Hitler. It is marked each year on January 27.
The Queen is patron of the charity that organises the event and the Home Office pays £500,000 a year to fund it. The committees argue that the special status of Holocaust Memorial Day fuels extremists’ sense of alienation because it “excludes” Muslims.
A member of one of the committees, made up of Muslims, said it gave the impression that “western lives have more value than non-western lives”. That perception needed to be changed. “One way of doing that is if the government were to sponsor a national Genocide Memorial Day.
“The very name Holocaust Memorial Day sounds too exclusive to many young Muslims. It sends out the wrong signals: that the lives of one people are to be remembered more than others. It’s a grievance that extremists are able to exploit.”
The recommendation, drawn up by four committees including those dealing with imams and mosques, and Islamaphobia and policing, has the backing of Sir Iqbal Sacranie, secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain.
He said: “The message of the Holocaust was ‘never again’, and for that message to have practical effect on the world community it has to be inclusive. We can never have double standards in terms of human life. Muslims feel hurt and excluded that their lives are not equally valuable to those lives lost in the Holocaust time.”
Ibrahim Hewitt, chairman of the charity Interpal, said: “There are 500 Palestinian towns and villages that have been wiped out over the years. That’s pretty genocidal to me.”
The committees are also set to clash with Blair on his proposal to ban Hizb ut-Tahrir, the radical Islamic group. Government sources say they will argue that a ban is unjustified because the group, which is proscribed in much of the Middle East, neither advocates nor perpetrates violence in the UK.
A Home Office spokesman said it would consider the proposals for a separate Genocide Day for all faiths but emphasised that it regarded the Holocaust as a “defining tragedy in European history”.
Mike Whine, a director of the British Board of Deputies, said: “Of course we will oppose this move. The whole point is to remember the darkest day of modern history.”
Louise Ellman, Labour MP for Liverpool Riverside and a Holocaust Memorial trustee, said: “These Muslim groups should stop trying to evade the enormity of the Holocaust.”
The seven committees finalise their recommendations today at St George’s House, Windsor, and will submit them to Blair and Charles Clarke, the home secretary, on September 22.
A separate Genocide day, if you like, is okay by me, if, for some reason, being folded in with the Jews offends one. On the other hand, while there has been gross and terrible injustice in Israeli treatment of Palestinians, there's been a notable lack of furnaces and lampshades, so the implied equivalency is a bit of a stretch there, Ibrahim Hewitt.
LET'S BE CLEAR. I've noticed that, while generally seeking to present information, while often seeking to do nothing more, I've done just that, I may not have stated this: I'm quite angry over how this response to the latest Gulf Coast hurricane, Katrina, became fucked up beyond all repair.
I DON'T HAVE TO DO THAT LONG POST OF BLOG QUOTESafter all. You assholes.
Police agencies to the south of New Orleans were so fearful of the crowds trying to leave the city after Hurricane Katrina that they sealed a crucial bridge over the Mississippi River and turned back hundreds of desperate evacuees, two paramedics who were in the crowd said.
The paramedics and two other witnesses said officers sometimes shot guns over the heads of fleeing people, who, instead of complying immediately with orders to leave the bridge, pleaded to be let through, the paramedics and two other witnesses said. The witnesses said they had been told by the New Orleans police to cross that same bridge because buses were waiting for them there.
Instead, a suburban police officer angrily ordered about 200 people to abandon an encampment between the highways near the bridge. The officer then confiscated their food and water, the four witnesses said. The incidents took place in the first days after the storm last week, they said.
"The police kept saying, 'We don't want another Superdome,' and 'This isn't New Orleans,' " said Larry Bradshaw, a San Francisco paramedic who was among those fleeing.
Arthur Lawson, chief of the Gretna, La., Police Department, confirmed that his officers, along with those from the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office and the Crescent City Connection Police, sealed the bridge.
"There was no place for them to come on our side," Mr. Lawson said.
He said that he had been asked by reporters about officers threatening victims with guns or shooting over their heads, but he said that he had not yet asked his officers about that.
"As soon as things calm down, we will do an inquiry and find out what happened," he said.
The lawlessness that erupted in New Orleans soon after the hurricane terrified officials throughout Louisiana, and even a week later, law enforcement officers rarely entered the city without heavy weaponry.
While police officers saved countless lives and provided security to medical providers, many victims have complained bitterly about the behavior of some of the police officers in New Orleans in the days following Hurricane Katrina.
Officials in Lafayette, La., reported seeing scores of cruisers from the New Orleans police department in their city in the week after the hurricane. Some evacuees who fled to the Superdome and the convention center say that many police officers refused to patrol those structures after dark.
"It's unbelievable what the police officers did; they just left us," said Harold Veasey, a 66-year-old New Orleans resident who spent two horrific days at the convention center. And in the week after the hurricane, there were persistent rumors in and around New Orleans that police officers in suburban areas refused to help the storm victims.
Mr. Bradshaw and his partner, Lorrie Beth Slonsky, wrote an account about their experiences that has been widely circulated by e-mail and was first printed in The Socialist Worker.
Cathey Golden, a 51-year-old from Boston, and her 13-year-old son, Ramon Golden, yesterday confirmed the account.
The four met at the Hotel Monteleone in the French Quarter. Mr. Bradshaw and Ms. Slonsky had attended a convention for emergency medicine specialists. Ms. Golden and her two children, including 23-year-old Rashida Golden, were there to visit family.
The hotel allowed its guests and nearly 250 residents from the nearby neighborhood to stay until Thursday, Sept 1. With its food exhausted, the hotel's manager finally instructed people to leave. Hotel staff handed out maps to show the way to the city's convention center, to which thousands of other evacuees had fled.
A group of nearly 200 guests gathered to make their way to the center together, the four said. But on the way, they heard that the convention center had become a dangerous, unsanitary pit from which no one was being evacuated. So they stopped in front of a New Orleans police command post near the Harrah's casino on Canal Street.
A New Orleans police commander whom none of the four could identify told the crowd that they could not stay there and later told them that buses were being brought to the Crescent City Connection, a nearby bridge to Jefferson Parish, to carry them to safety.
The crowd cheered and began to move. Suspicious, Mr. Bradshaw said that he asked the commander if he was sure that buses would be there for them. "We'd had so much misinformation by that point," Mr. Bradshaw said.
"He looked all of us in the eye and said, 'I swear to you, there are buses waiting across the bridge,' " Mr. Bradshaw said.
But on the bridge there were four police cruisers parked across some lanes. Between six and eight officers stood with shotguns in their hands, the witnesses said. As the crowd approached, the officers shot over the heads of the crowd, most of whom retreated immediately, Mr. Bradshaw, Ms. Slonsky and Ms. Golden and her son said.
Mr. Bradshaw said the officers were allowing cars to cross the bridge, some of them loaded with passengers. Only pedestrians were being stopped, he said. Chief Lawson said he believed that only emergency vehicles were allowed through.
Mr. Bradshaw said he approached the officers and begged to be allowed through, saying a commander in New Orleans had told them buses were waiting for them on the other side.
"He said that there are no buses and that there is no foot traffic allowed across the bridge," Mr. Bradshaw said.
The remaining evacuees first sought refuge under a nearby highway overpass and then trudged back to New Orleans.
Frankly, this is the greatest shame of America since 1963 (and Bull Connor) or so, and it shows both that we are the same people (and, hey, worse, given our lack of attention to poverty) and are still full of visible racism. Which is, to say, the same thing.
Read The Rest Scale: 0 out of 5, but read more about poverty in America.