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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.

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"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 their teachers."
-- Socrates

"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?"
-- Cicero

"Hypocrisy is the homage vice pays to virtue." -- François, duc de La Rochefoucauld

"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).

"Nothing would be done at all, if a man waited till he could do it so well, that no one could find fault with it."
-- Lecture IX, John Henry Cardinal Newman

“Nothing is more common than for men to think that because they are familiar with words they understand the ideas they stand for.”
-- John Henry Cardinal Newman

"Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."
-- James Madison

"Those who are free from common prejudices acquire others."
-- Napolean I of France -- Napoleon I of France

"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)

"American life is a powerful solvent. It seems to neutralize every intellectual element, however tough and alien it may be, and to fuse it in the native good will, complacency, thoughtlessness, and optimism."
-- George Santayana, Character and Opinion in the United States, (1920)

"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."
-- Batman


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 cute panda. Don't you love pandas?

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Contents © 2001-2013 All rights reserved. Gary Farber. (The contents of e-mails to this email address of Gary Farber are subject to the possibility of being posted.)

And you may find yourself living in a shotgun shack
And you may find yourself in another part of the world

[Blogroll now far below the sea line! Dive, dive, dive!]

You Like Me, You Really Like Me

Gary Farber! Jeez, the guy is practically a blogging legend, and I'm always surprised at the breadth of what he writes about.
-- PZ Meyers, Pharyngula

...Darn: I saw that Gary had commented on this thread, and thought: oh. my. god. Perfect storm. Unstoppable cannonball, immovable object. -- Hilzoy

...I think Gary Farber is a blogging god. -- P.Z. Myers, Pharyngula

...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

‎"Gary Farber is a gentleman, a scholar and one of the gems of the blogosphere." -- Steve Hynd,

"Well argued, Gary. I hadn't seen anything that went into as much detail as I found in your blog." -- Gareth Porter

Gary Farber is your one-man internet as always, with posts on every article there is.
-- Fafnir

Guessing that Gary is ignorant of anything that has ever been written down is, in my experience, unwise.
Just saying.

-- Hilzoy

Gary Farber gets it right....
-- James Joyner, Outside The Beltway

Once again, an amazing and illuminating post.
-- Michael Bérubé, Crooked Timber

I read Amygdala...with regularity, as do all sensible websurfers.
-- Jim Henley, Unqualified Offerings

Okay, he is annoying, but he still posts a lot of good stuff.
-- Avedon Carol, The Sideshow

Amygdala - So much stuff it reminds Unqualified Offerings that UO sometimes thinks of Gary Farber as "the liberal Instapundit."
-- Jim Henley

...the thoughtful and highly intelligent Gary Farber... My first reaction was that I definitely need to appease Gary Farber of Amygdala, one of the geniuses of our age.
-- Brad deLong

Gary is a perceptive, intelligent, nice guy. Some of the stuff he comes up with is insightful, witty, and stimulating. And sometimes he manages to make me groan.
-- Charlie Stross

Gary Farber is a straight shooter.
-- John Cole, Balloon Juice

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.
-- Ogged

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.

One of my favorites....
-- Matt Welch

-- Virginia Postrel

Amygdala continues to have smart commentary on an incredible diversity of interesting links....
-- Judith Weiss

Amygdala has more interesting obscure links to more fascinating stuff that any other blog I read.
-- Judith Weiss, Kesher Talk

Gary's stuff is always good.
-- Meryl Yourish

...the level-headed Amygdala blog....
-- Geitner Simmons

The only trouble with reading Amygdala is that it makes me feel like such a slacker. That Man Farber's a linking, posting, commenting machine, I tell you!
-- John Robinson, Sore Eyes

...the all-knowing Gary Farber....
-- Edward Winkleman, Obsidian Wings

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


Gary is certainly a non-idiotarian 'liberal'...
-- Perry deHaviland

Recommended for the discerning reader.
-- Tim Blair

Gary Farber's great Amygdala blog.
-- Dr. Frank

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

You nailed it... nice job."
-- James Lileks

Gary Farber is a principled liberal....
-- Bill Quick, The Daily Pundit

December 2001 January 2002 February 2002 March 2002 April 2002 May 2002 June 2002 July 2002 August 2002 September 2002 October 2002 November 2002 December 2002 January 2003 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 January 2010 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010 January 2011 February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 December 2011 January 2013

Blogroll is Always In Progress:

Roger Ailes
Alas, A Blog
The American Street
The Aristocrats
Avedon Carol
Between the Hammer and the Anvil
Lindsay Beyerstein
The Big Con
CantBlogTooBusy The Center for American Progress
Chase me Ladies, I'm in the Cavalry
Doghouse Riley
Kevin Drum
Fables of the Reconstruction
Gall and Gumption
Gin and Tacos
House of Substance
The Hunting of the Snark
If I Ran The Zoo
Lawyers, Guns & Money
Lotus: Surviving a Dark Time
Matters of Little Significance
Nancy Nall
Charlie Stross bastard.logic
Daniel Larison
American Conservative
American Footprints
Andrew Sullivan
Angry Bear
Balloon Juice
Beautiful Horizons
Bitch Ph.D.
Brad DeLong
Crooked Timber
Cunning Realist
Daily Kos
Debate Link
Democracy Arsenal
Edge of the American West
Ezra Klein
Glenn Greenwald 13th Floor
Hit & Run
Juan Cole
Kevin Drum
Lawyers, Guns and Money
List Project (Helping Iraqis who worked with us get out)
Marc Lynch
Mark Kleiman
Katha Pollit
Market Square
Matthew Yglesias
Megan McArdle
Metro Green
Pam's House Blend
Paul Krugman
Philosophy, et cetera
Radley Balko
Sadly, No!
Southern Appeal
Stephen Walt
Steve Clemons
Ta-Nehisi Coates
Taking It Outside
Talking Points Memo
The Poor Man
The Progressive Realist
The Sideshow
U.S. Intellectual History
Unqualified Offerings
Volokh Conspiracy
Washington Monthly
William Easterly
Newsrack Blog
Ortho Bob
The Poor Man
Prog Gold
Prose Before Hos
Ted Rall
The Raw Story
Elayne Riggs
Sadly, No!
Texas Liberal
Think Progress
3 Weird Sisters
Tristram Shandy
Washington Monthly
Ian Welsh
James Wolcott
World o' Crap
Matthew Yglesias
Buzz Machine
Daniel Larison
Rightwing Film Geek About Last Night
can we all just agree
Comics Curmudgeon
Dum Luk's
Glenn Kenny
Hoarder Museum Juanita Jean
Lance Mannion (Help Lance!
Last Words of the Executed
The Phil Nugent Experience
Postcards from Hell's Kitchen
Vanishing New York
a lovely promise
a web undone
alt hippo
american street
city of brass
danger west
fierce urgency of now
get fisa right
great concavity
happening here
impeach them!
kathryn cramer
notes from the basement
talking dog
uncertain principles
unqualified offerings
what do i know
crooked timber emptywheel
ezra klein
The F-Word
glenn greenwald
schneier on security
ta-nehisi coates
talking points memo
tiny revolution
Roz Kaveney
Dave Ettlin
Henry Jenkins' Confessions of an Aca-Fan
Kathryn Cramer
Monkeys In My Pants
Pagan Prattle
As I Please
Ken MacLeod
Arthur Hlavaty
Kevin Maroney
MK Kare
Jack Heneghan
Dave Langford
Onyx Lynx Atrios
Rittenhouse Review
Public Nuisance
Scoobie Davis
Nathan Newman
Echidne Of The Snakes
First Draft
Rising Hegemon
Cab Drollery (Help Diane!
Southern Beale
The Kenosha Kid
Culture of Truth
Talk Left
Black Ag=Q< Report
Drug WarRant
Nieman Watchdog
Open Left
Meet the Bloggers
Dispatch from the Trenches
Crooks and Liars
Campaign for America's Future
Iraq Today
Daily Kos
Lefty Directory
News Hounds
The Brad Blog
Informed Comment
UN Dispatch
War and Piece
Glenn Greenwald
Schneier on Security
Jim Henley
Arthur Silber
Julian Sanchez
The Agitator
Balloon Juice
Wendy McElroy
Whoviating (LarryE)
Scott Horton
Tennessee Guerilla Women
Looking Glass
Charles Kuffner
Brad DeLong
Busy, Busy, Busy
Oliver Willis
The Carpetbagger Report Shakesville
Down With Tyranny
Professor B
Monkey Media Report
The Grumpy Forester
Ian Welsh
Pacific Views
Booman Tribune
Matthew Yglesias
The American Street
Media Bloodhound
Liz Henry's Composite
The Heretik
Arizona Eclectic
Sisyphus Shrugged
Interesting Times
Talking Dog
Liberal Desert
Under the Lobsterscope
Seeing The Forest
Sean Paul Kelley's The Agonist
King of Zembla
Mark Kleiman
Liquid List
Elayne Riggs
No More Mr. Nice Blog
Fanatical Apathy
Blue Gal
Mark Evanier
Roger Ailes
Suburban Guerrilla (Help Susie with money!)
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The Bloggess

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.

Saturday, December 31, 2005
A top Justice Department official objected in 2004 to aspects of the National Security Agency's domestic surveillance program and refused to sign on to its continued use amid concerns about its legality and oversight, according to officials with knowledge of the tense internal debate. The concerns appear to have played a part in the temporary suspension of the secret program.

The concerns prompted two of President Bush's most senior aides - Andrew H. Card Jr., his chief of staff, and Alberto R. Gonzales, then White House counsel and now attorney general - to make an emergency visit to a Washington hospital in March 2004 to discuss the program's future and try to win the needed approval from Attorney General John Ashcroft, who was hospitalized for gallbladder surgery, the officials said.

The unusual meeting was prompted because Mr. Ashcroft's top deputy, James B. Comey, who was acting as attorney general in his absence, had indicated he was unwilling to give his approval to certifying central aspects of the program, as required under the White House procedures set up to oversee it.

With Mr. Comey unwilling to sign off on the program, the White House went to Mr. Ashcroft - who had been in the intensive care unit at George Washington University Hospital with pancreatitis and was housed under unusually tight security - because "they needed him for certification," according to an official briefed on the episode.


Accounts differed as to exactly what was said at the hospital meeting between Mr. Ashcroft and the White House advisers. But some officials said that Mr. Ashcroft, like his deputy, appeared reluctant to give Mr. Card and Mr. Gonzales his authorization to continue with aspects of the program in light of concerns among some senior government officials about whether the proper oversight was in place at the security agency and whether the president had the legal and constitutional authority to conduct such an operation.

It is unclear whether the White House ultimately persuaded Mr. Ashcroft to give his approval to the program after the meeting or moved ahead without it.
Why would the President bother waiting? It's wartime. He has the authority to nuke San Francisco on a whim, and command everyone in Pittsburgh to walk around with their underwear on the outside. It would be for our own safety.

It's all in the AUMF, if you read it carefully. It's quite detailed. Go on, read it, it won't hurt. It's a massively huge 350 words (5 of which are "whereas," so you're ahead right there). I find SEC. 2(b)(2) particularly interesting.

Read The Rest Scale: yes. Besides, all the cool kids will be talking about it.

I'm still thinking there's at least a 2% chance of the I word coming into play, and I'm easily persuaded to go to 3%. I'm almost wondering if the WH has a taping system. They've been bound and determined to repeat almost every other criminally stupid thing their true previous White House incarnation did. (If they thought they could get away with "secret bombing" of Iran and Syria in this day and age, now, really, is there the faintest doubt that they'd have been doing it by 2004?)

If one prefers another lesson, and doesn't remember it well, or wasn't around, and you have a lot of reading time set aside, this, I'm sure, would be educational reading for many. Of course, that outcome remains, unfortunately, the most likely for this case, as well. But we shall see. I make no predictions as of yet. Things change, day by day, week by week, month by month, and events, as always, control.

ADDENDUM: Also, Byron Calame, NY Times "Public Editor" on the one-year silence on the NSA story:
The New York Times's explanation of its decision to report, after what it said was a one-year delay, that the National Security Agency is eavesdropping domestically without court-approved warrants was woefully inadequate. And I have had unusual difficulty getting a better explanation for readers, despite the paper's repeated pledges of greater transparency.


I e-mailed a list of 28 questions to Bill Keller, the executive editor, on Dec. 19, three days after the article appeared. He promptly declined to respond to them. I then sent the same questions to Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the publisher, who also declined to respond. They held out no hope for a fuller explanation in the future.
Transparency is always good for the other guy.

On the other hand, what does this say about Calame's connection with modern reality?
[...] But the explanation of the timing and editing of the front-page article by James Risen and Eric Lichtblau caused major concern for scores of Times readers.
Gee. Scores. Ya think it was that many?

I'm sure that he's referring to mail personally sent to him, but WTF kind of measure is that of public concern? Has he heard about this electronic thingie with a screen and a way to connect to the outside world? I hear people can voice their opinion that way. I'm unsure, but I bet there may have been a whole two or three hundred people in the world who may have voiced a thought of concern about the timing of the original December 16th story.

But it's probably just the drugs talking.

ADDITIONAL TRIVIAL GRIPE: And the link in Calame's column to his Web Journal (is that a term out of the Cambrian, or what?) doesn't even go there, but to the general page for Calame. And gawd forbid he link to his own goddamn post. (I'm sure someone else does it for him, and he has no idea what a "permalink" is.)

How can you trust people this freaking incompetent and ignorant? I'm having flashbacks to the time I wrote Daniel Okrent, Calame's predecessor, complaining that the Times was (then) only giving dead links in the body of stories, and his assistant wrote back indicating that they had no idea what a live (clickable) link or a dead (unclickable text URL) was. "But we print links!" was the gist of the response. (Of course, neither does Bruce Sterling. Still.)

CAN'T STOP THE ADDENDA: This post commenting on the story and this very post you are reading:
"Maybe there was still a little bit of the old Ashcroft left when Bush’s people came to him in the hospital to get his blessing on their illegal use of the NSA to spy on Americans."
...made me realize that I'd forgotten to point out that Amygdala's crack researchers, together with our Giant Computer, Multivac, and our vast numbers of bottles in brains, have uncovered the fact that the reason security was so tight on that hospital stay was that Ashcroft's operation was actually for the removal of that last remaining polyp of conscience.

Cheney had been advising Ashcroft to have the operation for years. "I've been ever so much more comfortable with that damn thing removed, John. And, here, we have this little replacement that will go nicely in the leftover space."

The operation didn't take, but General Gonzalez's slug fit like a charm. Almost as well as John Yoo's.

"...the best post title of 2006 (so far)." I like that he qualified it with "so far," don't you? Wouldn't want any confusion there.

12/31/2005 11:49:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THE NAKED TRUTH. So I'm smushing up the last remaining bits of rice out of the container with my fingers, because it's the only way to get them out (habits of the poor: waste not, still want), and I think: what woman wouldn't want this?

12/31/2005 09:08:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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UM, WHAT? Maybe it's just that I've started taking various medications again. Maybe it's just me.

But it does seem to me that this seemingly anodyne article on G. W. Bush's practice of relaxation-through-brushology, which you'd think would be in the Style section, trundles along and then suddenly goes... slightly peculiar.

The normal, non-political, reader (although how many read the Washington Post Politics section, I couldn't say; fewer than read the Sports section, and the comics, I expect) will, I expect, read it and yawn.

The mild lefty will feel it reveals the hypocrisy of the President for playing at being a rancher when he's really from Maine and went to Anderover and Yale, etc., and look how much time he spends on vacation when he's supposed to be The War President, and sniff that you can't expect anything else from The Washington Post.

The mild righty (Bush-supporting faction) will likely feels it lacks a respectful tone, and doesn't highlight the President's love of hard work, and sniff that you can't expect anything else from The Washington Post.

The left-wing wingnuts will strongly object to the piece, because it ignores Bush's crimes against the Constitution and humanity, and doesn't once call for his impeachment. (Via Kos, Atrios, and AmericaBlog.)

The right-wing wingnuts (Bush-supporting faction) will be enraged it doesn't once mention how well everything is going in Iraq, and once again the MSM is ignoring the success of the Iraqi elections, and the American economy. (Via LGF, Malkin, and Instapundit.)

The right-wing wingnuts (I never supported Bush! faction) will give a horselaugh that anyone reads the they're-just-on-the-other-side traitorous MSM Washington Post.

As usual, no one will listen to what the libertarians have to say.

Now, normally, I leave it to the wingnuts to x-ray the evil MSM (ain't it sweet how the term brings both sides together, full circle?) for the insidious, but omnipresent germs of bias (always in favor of them, the Other Side, which controls the MSM!).

But this one just made me scratch my head. Purely because of the placement; as I said, if it were in the Style section, or a column, I'd see nothing odd.

But it's in the Politics section, as apparently close as it comes to "hard news" on the day of New Year's Eve.

It's all a perfectly banal profile of how President G. W. Bush likes to clear brush down at Crawford, yaddayaddait'sanonewsday, through the first page. My eyes were moving along, making the eyetracks, until suddenly they tripped and fell, here:
Certainly the 1,583 acres of rugged canyons and rocky hillsides, creeks and pasture land on Prairie Chapel Ranch contain a lot of brush. Bush, a creature of habit, is not in danger of finishing the job.
Now, this is likely a case of my usual too-close parsing, but read that again.

What's "a creature of habit" doing in the middle of that sentence?

Now, the right-wing take, I'd expect, would be that it's out and out saying that the habit it's referring to is being prone to "not [being] in danger of finishing [jobs]."

A charitable read would be that it's just bad writing, or editing.

But I have to say that I'm having trouble reading it other than one of those two ways. What other point would the writer, Lisa Rein, be trying to make with that phrase where it is?

I mean, sure, that Rein would say that G. W. Bush is a creature of habit in general, and that his clearing brush is a habit, would be both truthful and banal. But that's not what that phrase is doing when it sits in the middle of that sentence. That's not the way we construct Mr. Sentence. Not when we're trying to use our words.

Maybe I'm just not seeing it just now, and I'll snap up and write another "I'm an idiot" addendum, as happens every other post.

But I have to say, that even through my Bush-despising, I oppose the overwhelming majority of his policies, many of which horrify me, and I've gotten to the point where his Administration deeply, deeply, frightens me, liberalish kind of eyes, the article goes on to have what I have to read as a consistent undertone of the-president-is-a-big-fat-hypocrite that one doesn't normally expect in the News section, especially when it's not even labeled "analysis," or, well, on a more important subject than Bush's brush-clearing hobby.

Although maybe Lisa Rein is just offended by vacation/non-working ranches, because it's not G. W. Bush alone who comes in for it.
[...] Clearing brush has taken on new meaning since a rural land rush brought hordes of wealthy city dwellers to these parts to snap up a piece of ranchland for some Texas solitude. Old-time ranchers are fading out in favor of smaller hobby "ranchettes," whose owners make money from deer hunting or wildlife retreats.

The Bushes, whose spread exceeds a ranchette in size, are in good company with celebrities Tommy Lee Jones, Matthew McConaughey, Patrick Swayze and baseball Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan. With most of their publicists vacationing this week, it could not be confirmed whether these Texas ranchers enjoy clearing brush.

Real ranchers, who need to clear a whole lot of brush for pasture land, either hire someone to spray herbicides from the air or run an excavator through it. They tend to tend cattle, several said.

Bush, by contrast, practices a selective, do-it-yourself sculpting to enhance his enjoyment of his property, local experts say. He will clear underbrush to preserve beautiful live oaks and pecan trees, or to prepare the 50 acres where Laura Bush is cultivating native grasses, or to help carve nature trails through the ranch's many canyons.
Is it just me who read an undertone of disapproval? It certainly is possible.

A bit later:
Professional brush removal can cost up to $200 an hour. The irony is that many working ranchers cannot afford it in these days of declining profits. Surely, the president could afford to hire professionals. The White House declined to make the ranch manager available to a reporter to explain who, if anyone, clears brush when Bush returns to Washington.
"Surely, the president could afford to hire professionals." WTF? In a news piece? In a British paper, this would be absolutely the norm. But in American journalism that's not a column?

My only other explanation is: a) to repeat that December 31st is typically one of the slowest news days of the year, short of tomorrow, and; b) they're all drunk down at the WashPo. (And someone's nephew is on the copydesk, having just smoked three joints.)

Anyway, I've figured there's not much point in posting much today/tonight since no one is left on the internets, so here this look at the peculiar way I read sometimes. My bet is that I could put up a post detailing my pig-fucking habits, take it down in three hours, and no one would ever know.

Read The Rest Scale: 2.5 out of 5 since it's so very darn darn important.

ADDENDUM: I swear to $DEITY that I didn't read any of these before writing this. Four years of blogging makes it unnecessary. Every blogger a king, every article a Rorschach blotter, you can be a millionaire reader. Speaking of which, I do wonder how long it will take for someone on my fellow Bush-despising side to denounce me for being such a slave to my Bush-love. (Stop thinking that; I didn't name him.) I only wonder because it's New Year's Eve. And I can see the Google hits on porcine practices coming already. Way to up my hits! Go, me!

SECOND ADDENDUM: Yes, as expected, coming back a bit later, after a shower and more food, the first quote doesn't read quite so much as peculiar as merely awkward. The "he's in no danger of finishing the job" clearly refers to the preceding sentence stating the immensity of the task, and "a creature of habit" can be seen as simply thrown in out of lack of putting it someplace more relevant. This is why I write queries when I copyedit, and tend to go over them again five or more times before I'm done (never finished). Fresh eye, fresh view. This is why I should stick to more linking, less over-thinking.

12/31/2005 07:23:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 3 comments

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THEY'RE NOT ALWAYS COMING TO TAKE YOU AWAY, HA-HA. It's easy enough to believe almost any accusation of governmental surveillance, intrusion, and misbehavior, criminal or otherwise, in these times, and all with excellent cause. Attention to the ongoing danger is more than prudent, it is necessary.

However, it's also good to be skeptical -- as always -- and fact-check, and be patient, and not rush to spread unconfirmed reports just because they confirm our prejudices. That's not news, that's gossip.

Which is why I didn't blog the "they came to investigate me because I got Mao's Little Red Book from the library!" story. Okay, that, and I wasn't blogging much news then. But I wouldn't have gone with it, without further confirmation than a declaration from the kid and hearsay from his professor -- that's obviously unreliable.

So followup on the story I didn't run with, but everyone else in the lefty blogosphere did (I'm not supposed to say "blogosphere," either: screw that):
The head of policy studies at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth wants the university to suspend a student who made up a story about being grilled by federal antiterrorism agents over a library book and to reprimand faculty members who spread the tale.

Following the student's admission Friday that it was a hoax, Clyde Barrow, chairman of the policy studies department, said UMass should punish the student and faculty members, in particular two history professors who repeated the unsubstantiated assertion of the history student to a New Bedford Standard-Times reporter.

The story, first reported by the newspaper on Dec. 17, was picked up by other news outlets, triggered screeds on left-wing and right-wing blogs, spurred a flurry of concerned e-mails among UMass faculty, and appeared in a Globe op-ed piece written by Senator Edward M. Kennedy.
The rest of the article concerns the back and forth as to whether the kid should be horse-whipped, or given extra credit for creativity. I paraphrase.

Read The Rest Scale: as fascinated or not. I'm also equally cautious about any story involving someone coming into a police station with a tale of a crime against him or herself and no witnesses. Particularly when the story has them play the role of a martyr. Of course, vast numbers of crimes have no witnesses but victim and criminal; I'm not saying "such stories are never true," not hardly. I'm just saying, hey, wait for confirmation before believing something just because, you know, someone said it.

And you should believe me, because the Flying Spaghetti Monster hitmen say I'm right. He came to me in a pink light last night, but he's gone now. Also, he told me that G. W. Bush is actually the son of Satan, fathered because of the deal G. H. W. Bush made to gain the Presidency. Believe me! You know you want to. I'm reality-based.

12/31/2005 01:27:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 3 comments

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SEND IN THE CLOWNS. The killer clowns. Amygdala is here to tell you the sinister secret behind today's front page New York Times story on the redesign of Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Behind it lies blackmail, paranoia, former CIA top men, and a tale of deception like unto The Truman Show. We shit you not.

First, the Times:
For the first time in its history, the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus will present a new show to its audiences without three rings, or two - or even one.

When the 136th edition of the circus opens on Wednesday at the St. Pete Times Forum here in Tampa, where Ringling maintains its winter quarters, the elephants, clowns, aerialists and acrobats will roam an arena floor. In as big a departure, the show will have a story line instead of being simply a cavalcade of acts.

The changes seem to echo the format of the circus's new-age rival, Cirque du Soleil, which in a few decades has grown into as mammoth an enterprise as Ringling Brothers, though the promoters of both shows discourage the comparison. Instead, Kenneth Feld, Ringling's producer and chief executive, attributes the overhaul to market research: The circus's family audiences say their lives are already three-ring circuses, so they want something less distracting. And "they also wanted to connect with a story in an emotional way," Mr. Feld said.
Remember that name: Kenneth Feld. We'll be getting back to this sociopathic nutbar that the Times told you nothing about.
[...] The new production - at $15 million the most expensive Ringling has ever assembled - tries to celebrate the contemporary. A giant video screen will magnify live action on the arena floor, so audiences will get never-before-seen views, "such as the face of the strong man as the Jeep drives over him," Mr. Feld said. It will be presided over by a woman starring in a role that seems very much like a ringmaster's, although Ringling isn't quite calling her that. In southwest Florida's tight-knit community of active and retired circus performers, speculation about the new show has been building for weeks.

Feverish Internet bulletins dubbed it "the secret circus" after the rehearsal arena at the Florida State Fairgrounds was uncharacteristically locked down after Thanksgiving. Performers passed through tight security only after signing confidentiality agreements.
We call this "foreshadowing."
The overhaul was not a response to business reverses, Mr. Feld insisted. He refused to confirm published reports that his privately held show has annual revenues of $600 million, saying only that business "has been very good."
Of course he's secretive about the show's money. Income and expenses both. You really wouldn't want to reveal how much you pay to your ex-CIA clandestine operatives, would you? Yes, really. It's coming.
[...] Building the circus around a story line is also meant to invite the audience in. The conceit is that a family of four is plucked out of the crowds to achieve its circus dreams. (The family members are, of course, shills, who soon surprise the audience by doing extraordinary things, since they are actually skilled performers.) The plot turns on the fortunes of the family's 8-year-old son, a role sufficiently demanding to require the efforts of four different young, look-alike acrobats, who spell one another in performance.
There's lots more in the Times story about the new Blue Show, and the acts and the business and the competition with Cirque du Soleil, and so on. Click the link if you want more about the elephants. I'm here to tell you more about the clowns. And Ken Feld.

Because back on November 20th, Richard Leiby of the Washington Post didn't write a puff piece that was all cotton candy and peanuts. He showed us the secret behind the circus:
"Front door open," a robotic voice warns whenever anyone enters the home of author Jan Pottker, who lives in a deeply wooded corner of Potomac. The elaborate security system doesn't seem out of the ordinary, at first -- life in a prosperous suburb requires a measure of caution.

Then Pottker starts talking about seeing strange cars lingering on her street and hearing odd noises on her phone line. And how she discovered that many things in her secluded little world were not as they seemed. For years, covert operatives monitored her activities: her book and magazine projects, her travel plans, even her hair appointments.

It was like something out of "The Truman Show," says Pottker, a petite, soft-featured woman of 57. "I'll never get the years back that they were in my life." Then, her voice rises in anger: "They had no right to interfere with my life."

She is sitting in the stillness of her high-ceilinged home with her husband, Andrew Fishel, also 57, who has the placid manner of a longtime federal bureaucrat (which he is). "You feel that your life has been kidnapped in a sense, and you didn't know it," he says evenly. "Potentially all of your intimate thoughts and activities have been shared with someone who is out for vengeance against you."

You might expect such statements from delusional types who inhabit park benches wearing tinfoil hats. But Pottker and Fishel -- married 36 years, holders of doctoral degrees, accomplished people -- can easily justify their paranoia. The infiltration of their lives, it turns out, was overseen by the former head of worldwide covert operations for the CIA, an Iran-contra scandal figure named Clair E. George. They have documented as much in a lawsuit.

But who would possibly care about what this utterly normal couple was doing?

Clues lead to Feld Entertainment in Tysons Corner, the headquarters of one of the largest entertainment companies in the world. It is owned by a megamillionare who prides himself on operating a business devoted to family fun and all-American values. He runs the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

Step right up, folks: It's the weirdest show on Earth.

The tale begins on a summer day 15 years ago when CEO Kenneth Feld opened his copy of Regardie's, a slick magazine that covered the Washington business scene. He turned to Page 44 and began reading a lengthy article about himself. It was written by Pottker, a freelancer who had once interviewed him for a book about corporate heirs.

Headlined "The Family Circus," the piece began flatteringly enough, portraying Feld as a hands-on executive committed to providing quality entertainment.

"Just like his father before him, Ken Feld has saved an American institution," Pottker wrote. What's more, he had doubled the revenue of his privately held company with a wholesome, magical touch that extended beyond the circus to Feld Entertainment's Disney on Ice productions and Vegas shows.

But as he read on, the business mogul grew livid. The article also unearthed family secrets that had been whispered about in Washington for decades:

Feld's late father, Irvin -- a legendary impresario, a man he revered, and from whom he'd inherited the circus -- was a closeted homosexual, the article claimed. ("An absolute lie," Feld would later say.) It implied that his mother killed herself because she couldn't change Irvin's sexual orientation and viewed herself as a failure, "both as a woman and as a wife." It portrayed Ken Feld himself as a tightwad who callously cut his only sibling, Karen, out of the family fortune.

The aggrieved CEO could have picked up the phone and complained to Bill Regardie, publisher of the now-defunct, 60,000-circulation magazine. They traveled in the same elite social circles and shared a nodding acquaintance. Regardie says he would have happily given Feld a couple of pages of space to vent in the next issue. But Regardie never heard from him; neither did any of the magazine's editors.

Feld also could have called Pottker and chewed her out. He could have threatened a lawsuit. He didn't.

Instead Feld, who once described himself to a reporter as "very much the kind of person who wants to be in control," took another approach. A covert one. Court papers allege that Feld, at an estimated expense of $2.3 million, authorized master spy Clair George to carry out a CIA-style operation to make sure the circus knew what Jan Pottker was doing and writing.

It lasted more than seven years.
Epic Legal Battle

Feld, 57, who is worth $725 million by Forbes magazine's 2004 estimate, also lives in Potomac, in a mansion not far from Pottker and Fishel's more modest neighborhood. But it's unlikely they would ever speak to one another -- except in court. Today they are intractable adversaries joined in an epic legal battle that began in 1999 and has consumed the energies of four consecutive D.C. Superior Court judges.

In a lawsuit, the couple portrays Feld as a malicious, vindictive man who ordered wiretapping, bugging and surveillance in a scheme to "destroy" Pottker because he hated the magazine article she'd written about him. Feld planted a mole in her life, a "false friend" who posed as her business partner, torpedoed her career and steered her away from writing a book on the circus, the suit alleges.

Claiming invasion of privacy, fraud and infliction of mental distress, Pottker and Fishel seek more than $60 million in actual and punitive damages. Feld declined to comment for this article, but his attorneys call the allegations "outlandish" and "baseless."

Feld's legal filings do acknowledge that the circus paid operatives to monitor Pottker from 1990 to 1997 -- and also set up two non-circus book deals to distract her from reporting on Feld's enterprises. But they say nobody did anything illegal. And in their view, the ruse helped, not hurt, her career.

It's not the only time Feld has been accused of spying on his perceived enemies. Allegations of illegal surveillance, theft of documents and infiltration are part of a suit against Feld filed in Fairfax Circuit Court by the activist group PETA, which has long opposed Ringling Bros.' use of animal acts. Feld's attorneys are contesting the suit, but details of their position are under seal and not publicly available.


During his long CIA career, Clair George was a highly regarded covert operations officer, an ebullient character known for his bravery and ability to handle crises in overseas hotspots. He rose to become chief of the agency's global clandestine service in the mid-1980s, only to see his career derailed by the Iran-contra scandal. Caught up in a grinding independent counsel's investigation, George was put on trial twice and convicted once, in 1992, on two felony counts of lying to a congressional committee. (Later he was pardoned by President George H.W. Bush.)
Clair George is, of course, one of the most famous CIA top men in that agency's history. It's fair to say he's a legend, for better or worse. But if you want to call a coup d'etat, he's your man.
As his legal bills mounted, George went to work as a consultant on "international issues" for Feld Entertaiment. Now 75 and ailing, he declined to comment -- he's also a defendant in the suit brought by Pottker and her husband -- but his role in the Pottker operation is detailed in contracts, memos and depositions that have since become part of the voluminous record in the case.

By October 1990 -- two months after the Regardie's story appeared -- George had already discovered that Pottker wanted to expand her Regardie's piece into an unauthorized biography of Irvin Feld, to be titled "Highwire." After getting his hands on a copy of her book proposal, George set into motion a plan that he would later refer to in a "top secret" memo to Feld as Project Preempt.

Fearing a scandalous treatment of his father, Feld signed a contract paying George $3,000 a week to oversee preparation of an authorized, "quality" book about the family business, according to court records. George had other duties, too:

"I undertook a series of efforts to find out what Pottker was doing and reported on the results of my work to Mr. Feld," he said in an affidavit. "I prepared my reports in writing and presented them to Mr. Feld in personal meetings."

George also devised a plan to "divert" Pottker from writing potential exposs about the circus, whether for other magazines or in a book. She wanted to probe the circus's child-labor practices and treatment of animals, among other topics, but the ex-CIA man took a dim view of her journalistic enterprise.

"Ms. Pottker is a professional mudslinger who was spending most of her time writing derogatory and tasteless pieces about the Feld family," George said in a deposition. "And it so came to pass that we decided that we would lead her astray from that and have her do something else."

The expert spook hired a onetime journalist named Robert Eringer, whom he described as a "very close friend," to help carry out the Pottker operation. George paid him $1,500 a week.
ADDENDUM NOTE: "Hey, Bob, I've got this great gig going; I'll cut you in for half of three big ones a week if you just do this little thing for me." END ADDENDUM.
According to Pottker's suit, Eringer's mission was to worm his way into her life, becoming her confidant, editor and book "packager." He steered her toward researching other famous and fractious families, including the Rockefellers, the Mars candy clan and the Hafts of Washington.

A Rockefeller book, Eringer predicted in an early memo, "will side-track Pottker for many months to come -- probably a couple of years -- and this will mean she must relegate any possible Ringling book project to a back burner."

Eventually Pottker published two books that Feld had a secret hand in: "Crisis in Candyland," an unauthorized look at the Mars chocolate family, in 1995; and "Celebrity Washington," a small guidebook to the homes of media and political figures, in 1996. A Feld company even paid for the $25,000 advance on "Crisis in Candyland." Both books had small publishers and limited print runs.

In self-congratulatory memos, the operatives told Feld that they considered their mission successful. "Pottker is expending all of her time and energy on the two projects we packaged for her," says a report from the mid-'90s. "She has had no time to even think about Ringling Brothers. Our projects have effectively diverted her from the new investigation into Ringling."

It's not clear how frequently the so-called Pottker memos were produced, because many documents in the suit have been placed under seal. They're undated and unsigned, though most were likely written by Eringer. Some were spare, others detailed and chatty.

"Pottker is driving to New York City this weekend with her husband and two daughters," one says. "She has an appointment with a top NYC hairdresser to highlight her hair (she had to book this appointment six weeks in advance -- and she is very excited.)"

Another: "Pottger [sic] has found several black boys from a housing project who used to perform for Ringling and who sustained injuries during their employment. 'They make you work when you're sick,' she quotes one, 'for bad pay.' "

Another: "Pottker continues her contact with [Sen.] Howard Metzenbaum's office. She says that a Metzenbaum staffer phoned a staffer in Senator Christopher Dodd's office to discuss including the circus in child labor hearings."

One of the later memos reports: "Pottker is surprised by the level of anger from those who appeared in her Washington guide book. . . . She continues to talk from time to time about a book on Ringling Brothers."


Jan Pottker probably wouldn't have discovered any of this if not for a disgruntled circus executive named Charles Smith. As Feld Entertainment's chief financial officer, he was privy to payments made to George, Eringer and various private eyes whom Feld allegedly dispatched to infiltrate animal protection groups, including the Performing Animal Welfare Society in California and PETA, based in Norfolk.

Smith himself seemed to have a fixation with bugging and surveillance. "He had five tape recorders laying on his desk," Joel Kaplan, a former director of security for Feld, said in a deposition. "He had a punch bowl, a party-size punch bowl with 150 tapes in it. . . . He had boxes of empty tapes. . . . He had videotapes."

Smith was fired in 1997 after Fairfax police arrested him on suspicion of surreptitiously videotaping his girlfriend, a circus employee whom he suspected of cheating on him. Authorities concluded that no crime was committed and dropped the charges.

But Smith took Feld to court in a battle over compensation in which Smith alleged that his boss wasted corporate assets on retribution against enemies. Smith's suit claimed that Feld "improperly disbursed large sums of corporate monies to combat and thwart groups he perceives as opposed to the interests of Feld."

In June 1998, Smith's attorneys obtained an affidavit from Clair George laying out the Pottker operation. (George also mentioned "surveillance of, and efforts to counter, the activities of various animal rights groups.") That fall, Smith arranged a meeting with Pottker at a Chevy Chase restaurant and spilled his guts.

He told her that Feld had been gathering information about her for years. In a later deposition, Smith said he'd even seen Feld in a conference room at Ringling headquarters, watching a video of Pottker. The video was taken at a mall, probably with a tiny camera that looked like a wristwatch.

To confirm the snooping, Smith told Pottker to visit the federal courthouse in Alexandria, where his suit against Feld was filed, and fish out George's sworn statement and the attached "Pottker memos." (Smith, 60, who settled his suit against Feld for $6.5 million, signed a non-disclosure agreement and would not comment.)

Pottker describes reading the file as an out-of-body experience: "I felt like I was observing things from the ceiling. The scales fell off my eyes."

Everything started to snap into place: "The car that had been sitting in front of my home, the constant clicks on the phone, all the bad breaks I'd had in publishing. . . .

"And imagine seeing the memos about my life that were sent on a regular basis to Kenneth Feld. Detailed things about my kids, my haircuts, a party I'm giving, the editors I'm talking to."

Seeing Clair George's statements, "I thought I was going to pass out. I had to go to the ladies' room to collect myself."

Her husband was with her. As managing director of the Federal Communications Commission, Fishel wields power over a considerable bureaucracy, but that day he felt "frightened and helpless," he says. "When you realize that it's an ex-CIA agent you're up against, you realize there's nothing the average middle-class person can do."

But should he have known? "It eats me up," he says, sitting in his living room with his wife. "The feeling that I did not protect my family. I failed them."
There's lots, lots more. And this story is hardly a secret (see sample cites below). Yet, interestingly, the Gray Lady doesn't hint a word. Did you see even a shadow of an indication of a breath of a wisp of a hint of any of this in Glenn Collins' story? Not I.

Obviously, Collins and the Times is entirely aware of the Pottker story; Nexis-Lexis (and why is it everyone always misspells that?; but I digress) has to be bursting with stories on it, because Google shows couple of hundred of them.

So, obviously, to gain access to the Circus, Collins agreed to not mention the strange and sordid paranoid world of Kenneth Feld, would-be mini-Nixon.

Unimpressive. And something to always keep in mind when reading a story, any story, anywhere: what are they leaving out?

It's also good to wonder what hidden stories lie before us, behind the facades any enterprise, any person, presents before us. Sometimes what we see is what we get. But often, there's a whole 'nother universe back there, folks. Beware peeking behind the facade. But if you do, look for the ringmaster, not the clowns. This has been your Amygdala Ominous Warning Moment. Woo-woo.

A 2003 CBS News 60 Minutes story on Clair George and this case. A 2001 Salon take (no DayPass necessary, but note it's two parts).

Read The Rest Scale of any of this: it's a three-ring circus, all right. As interested.

ADDENDUM: I should emphasize that Jeff Stein's Salon piece, as linked above, gives more detail than the recent Washington Post story, which in fact seems suspiciously derivative of it. I recommend the Salon piece, so long as you read both parts, over the Post version, if you have to pick just one.

12/31/2005 10:07:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 1 comments

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Friday, December 30, 2005
I MAKE MYSELF FEEL FAINTLY SMART BY DOING SOMETHING FAINTLY CREEPY. But I do it all to pass on such tips, to you, the reader! I trouble my moral sense so you don't have to trouble yours! It's all part of the Public Service mandate we operate under due to the obligations incurred by our FCC Master Blogging License.

Say you're looking at pictures on a website, and the site owner has, for whatever reason, put them behind javascript so that if you right-click on whatever browser (that I'm familiar with), nothing will happen.

No, this was not, in fact, porn, not-that-there's-anything-wrong-with-that, except for the fact that it's a field in which Sturgeon's Law goes to ~99.9999999%, instead of the usual mere 90% or 95% attribution, so good luck with that.

Nope, not even soft-core porn. It could be a place selling posters, or autographed pictures, or any sort of professional picture for sale, okay? I'd tell you if it was porn, honest, because why should I care? I'm not promising I'll never try using this on internet porn. I'd feel slightly less sordid doing that, come to think of it.

Anyway. I thought about it a moment, and immediately thought, well what if? Nah, couldn't be that simple, I'm sure.

But, yes. Open Page Source. Find the entry for the .jpg, which is sitting right there in the open. Copy the "IMG src=" part. Paste it into your URL field after the domain name. Open. Download picture as decided. Feel inordinately pleased with your self for figuring it out when you know squat about HTML or programing or computers. Feel slightly guilty and creepy for doing what someone obviously doesn't want done (and it's their property, and they darn well have a right to protect it, in my view and morality).

Don't let it stop you from going online to tell the world. Go back to being a real pervert by continuing to watch The McLaughlin Group while bouncing between your ten open tabs, and consider once again looking into the notion that you also have Attention Deficit Disorder.

Wait, maybe I should put on the DVD. Or have a tasty beverage. And put a game in. Make notes on ideas for posts. Sort through that pile of stuff. Get caught up in that piece of paper you found. Forget where you last put your reading glasses. Realize you have to clean the sink now, while looking. Find reading glasses, pick up the book you put them down next to. Realize you need to go back to the computer. Wait, game or read? And there's that test you were in the middle of taking. That mail you need to respond to. Remember you have a DVD paused. Go to the bathroom. Run back to make another note on a post idea. Realize you need to finish that e-mail. Remember the coffee is still on. Go turn it off, and then remember you still need to go to the bathroom. Sit there and get caught up in the book you have open there. Go back to the computer.

Wash, rinse, repeat.

Thank you, I'll be here all week.

DISCLAIMER: method not guaranteed to work anywhere but the site I happened to try it on. Prior section not to be taken 100% literally, no matter that when I input, "literal" is my middle name -- the output: not so much with the literal.*)

Interesting: McLaughlin just declared the Most Underrated Thing Of The Year was "the threat of Islamic terrorism." I used to hate this guy; is it me, or him, or both of us that have changed? (We agree it's a real threat -- don't make the mistake of dismissing that; we also agree it's over-rated.)

(He's still rather a kook, and I still only agree with him a minority of the time, but he does seem to make up his own mind about things, which I always care about far more than whether someone agrees with me.)

*It's also true that when I set out to do something such as a paid copyedit/reading job, or a project that fascinates me, I tend to go it manaically, nonstop, save for water and bathroom, and eating a bit of food while I work, until it's done or I fall over, whichever comes first, whether it's 30 hours in a row or 40 hours in a row, or 70 hours in a row -- if I feel up to it. (Moderation is what I don't tend to manage so well, still. I tend to be all or nothing, in many things.) Just as how when I was moping in an earlier post about how I've never accomplished any sustained effort over months, well, there are various exceptions to that, too; but I don't think of them when the Black Dog is barking. When I'm depressed, don't believe everything I tell you about myself, because I'm only seeing the worst. Of course.

ADDENDUM ABOUT AN HOUR LATER: Actually, I'm dumb. A far faster method is to use the DownThemAll Extension for Firefox. Twit.

12/30/2005 08:35:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 1 comments

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BRITAIN HAS GONE STARK RAVING INSANE. Or suicidal. There are drugs in the water. There's no other explanation.

On top of the Big Brother Act announced on the 21st, comes the news of the desire to murder mass numbers of British citizens.
But – wait! – what is this sitting under the Christmas tree, next to the rotting Bill? Why, it’s a lovely chunk of asbestos! As part of its “bonfire of red tape”, the government is about to beat back regulations protecting us from exposure to a deadly poison. From next month, unlicensed contractors will be allowed to handle textured wall and asbestos ceiling coatings. Or, to be more precise: hundreds of minimum-wage painters and decorators will be required to by their employers. So far, only 60 Labour MPs have rebelled. Yet the death toll from asbestos makes even the massacres of Mohammed Sidiqh-Khan and his jihadist friends look like a grazed knee: over 2000 people die in this country of asbestos-induced mesothelioma, a disease that agonisingly destroys your lungs.
I'm in no mood to write a thoughtful, coherent, post about this just now. I'm sure there are tons of interesting links with detailed news of this and background on the politics. Some other time.

But. Holy motherfucking let's-all-go-to-Guyana, Batman!

I spent most of a year, back in... 1984, working for a law firm (Garvey Schubert Adams and Barer, if you care; Brock Adams had been former US Attorney for Western Washington, Congressman, Senator from Washington, and Secretary of Transportation for Jimmy Carter) doing scutwork (word processing, a bit of research, a bunch of copyediting, some carrying of boxes of documents, a bit of secretarying, that sort of thing) on asbestos litigation.

I read thousands of pages of court transcripts, affidavits, and other documents, on the affects of asbestos and the resulting mesothelioma.

I wouldn't want to go within a mile in the neighborhood of exposed asbestos (without protective gear) if I knew about it. It's deadly, it's cumulative, and it only ever gets worse, until you die a long, slow, horribly painful death, gasping for air.

Allowing unlicensed personnel near it: Britain would be safer issuing three personal handguns to every citizen, including the infants. Or deliberatly setting another London Fire. I exaggerate slightly, but on a smaller scale, it's about as stupid and ignorant.

Why not also drive lorries of of asbestos around town and village, exposed to the air with blowers, and save time?

It's insane. You guys gotta overturn that.

Read The Rest Scale: 3.5 out of 5; 5 out of 5 if you're British. The linked article is by Johann Hari, by the way, a commentator I quite respect (don't always agree with, of course, but respect). Via the sage and entertaining John Robinson, who also observed of Hari's piece, entirely correctly:
Actually, I have a second, minor, quibble with Hari’s article. He attributes the phrase “If it’s good for General Motors, it’s good for America” to Ronald Reagan. Reagan might have said that, but as I understand it the sentiment - if not in that precise wording - was first expressed by GM president-turned-Secretary of Defence Charles E Wilson during his Senate confirmation hearings.
Entirely right, of course; I don't have to click the link to know that. I said to John in comments, before I read the Hari piece:
The Reagan attribution seems bizarre from my perspective, but these sorts of things happen when any of us comment on other countries, and don’t fact-check.

Or so I heard that the Duke of Marlborough said when he won Trafalger.
On the bright side, at least the British government will be able to track all the dying residents and watch them pass away.

12/30/2005 04:55:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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HYPOTHESIS. I'm suspecting that the reason I've been feeling so fucking dizzy for ever-greater lengths of time, more and more frequently, of late, is because my eyes are further degenerating, and the wearing the reading glasses constantly -- although I've been doing that for nigh on three years when at the computer, ever since losing my last pair of prescription glasses, which were ten years out of date anyway -- is causing the effect, in combination with having had to switch to the back-up monitor half a year or so ago, since said monitor is incredibly dim, as well as tiny.

Added to which the way my apartment floods with sun, particularly through the back window which shines on the computer (despite the blinds, of course; the two skylights and huge front window make this place Light City during the day), making it quite difficult to see anything during daylight hours, and emphatically so in the afternoon, and making it almost impossible to see anything on the monitor during late afternoon.

All that adds up to extreme squinting and eye-strain, and the effects last for hours afterwards. Maybe it's something else, but that's what I'm thinking just now.

I'm going to try re-aligning the computer by 90 degrees when I feel up to it (it involves a massive amount of lifting many heavy objects), although that should only help about 5-10%, I suspect.

Mostly I need a better monitor, and prescription eye-glasses. Of course, I'd also desperately like to see a dentist for the first time in fifteen years, if I had that kind of money.

But otherwise I'm relatively chipper again. Aside from the massive headaches, dizzyness, and sense of having nothing in my head but mud and cotton, being unable to focus my thoughts, and otherwise quite subpar. It's better than the depression, by far, trust me.

12/30/2005 11:29:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Thursday, December 29, 2005
HAPPY FOURTH BLOGIVERSARY TO ME! More on this when I wake up. Possibly. Not a promise. Offer void in certain states. Secret Origin.

As I just sleepily wrote elsewhere: It took me a week or two to figure out a coherent format; still, I think I found good links PDQ, if I do say so myself; and my style seems fairly set from the get-go, although that's hardly surprising, given my long practice at blogging-before-I-was-blogging. Comments welcome! (Note that my interests haven't evolved much in four years, either. I must learn to change and grow more!)

You may praise me now!

ADDENDUM: Want to gift me, but have no interest in,or ability to, send[ing] cash, but have a blog? Link me (said in Audrey voice), now or in future! Links are always a lovely gift, and practically the only way significant numbers of people read me. Blogrolling is also always welcome (Nazis and such excluded), even if I am such a totally and completely horrible stingy bastard at doing so unto others, who doesn't believe in "link-trading," alas. (I never said I deserve such, or any, gifts.)

As a fall-back, just coming back now and again to read me is almost as good. Otherwise, peace be upon you.

12/29/2005 11:26:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 9 comments

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IT'S ART UNTIL IT OFFENDS YOU. Those wacky Europeans:
Austria has launched its presidency of the European Union by unveiling posters of naked figures wearing masks resembling the Queen, Jacques Chirac and George W. Bush.
Being unaware of a contemporary Austrian Queen, I assume Kate-Connolly-in-Berlin is referring to the Queen of Great Britain, etc., given that she's the sole remaining Queen in the world (I only mention this because it is well-known that only Americans are self-centered, and because it's better to make fun of Kate Connolly than someone I'm actually conversing with).
The images, part of a government-funded campaign, have provoked outrage in Vienna even before the country takes over the EU's helm from Britain on Sunday. The naked man and two women are shown in sexual poses together on a roof. The Bush mask is worn by one of the women.

The posters, the fruit of a project called 25 Peaces, will be on display throughout the Austrian capital on 400 billboards until January 24.

They will then move to Salzburg for the start of the so-called Sound of Europe conference.

Taxpayers are contributing 10 per cent of the cost of the £7 million project, which involves 75 European artists working under the umbrella title euroPART. The rest of the money is from private sponsors.

The images of the naked trio were designed by Carlos Aires, 31, from Madrid. He said they depicted "the most recent changes in Europe and the resulting spacial constructions". The project's organisers called them a "direct criticism of globalisation".

The Austrian government has tried to distance itself from the images, which are likely to be viewed by members of Europe's elite when they attend next month's EU conference.

In today's Krone newspaper, Wolfgang Schüssel, the Austrian chancellor, condemned the group sex image as "highly tasteless" and promised to have it removed.

"It has nothing to do with art," he said. "The borders of good taste and reasonableness have been crossed by a long way."
Good=art; offensive=non-art. What else is new?
[...] Heinz Christian Strache, the head of the Right-wing Freedom party, said the poster depicted nothing more than "group sex fantasies". He accused the government of "using taxpayers' money to drag pornography into the public arena". Women's rights groups called on the women's minister, Maria Rauch-Kallat, to condemn the poster campaign as misogynist.

Newspapers in the staunchly Catholic country have also labelled the images as "pure porn".

Other controversial projects by 25 Peaces include the planting of a vegetable garden on Heldenplatz (Heroes' Square) where Adolf Hitler announced Germany's annexation of Austria.
I have absolutely no idea what to make of that last. Should everywhere Hitler ever stepped be sown with salt? I'm sure I lack sufficient information on this.

Read The Rest Scale: 2.5 out of 5 if you're desperate for a few more denunciatory quotes.

12/29/2005 11:26:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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CAN'T TELL THE PLAYERS WITHOUT A PROGRAM. If you've not followed many, or any, of the ins and outs, crooks and crannies, of the Jack Abramoff saga, this makes you a normal person, and not one of us crazed obsessive blogger news junkie types.

If so, this is this week's good general guide to The Story So Far (although there's so so much more!)

He was a man of contradictions. He presented himself as deeply religious, yet his e-mails show that he blatantly deceived Indian tribes and did business with people linked to the underworld. He had genuine inside connections but also puffed himself up with phony claims about his access.


"Everybody lost their minds," recalled a former congressional staffer who lobbied with Abramoff at Preston Gates. "Jack was cutting deals all over town. Staffers lost their loyalty to members -- they were loyal to money."


"I'm sensing shadiness. I'll stop asking," one associate, Todd Boulanger, e-mailed a colleague.


A friend of two decades, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), defended Abramoff: "I think he's been dealt a bad hand and the worst, rawest deal I've ever seen in my life. Words like bribery are being used to describe things that happened every day in Washington and are not bribes."


"We weren't outside the box," the former Preston Gates colleague said. "We were outside the universe."


One of Abramoff's most audacious adventures involved Jonas Savimbi, the Angolan rebel leader who had U.S. support but was later found to have ordered the murders of his movement's representative to the United States and that man's relatives. With Savimbi, Abramoff organized a "convention" of anticommunist guerrillas from Laos, Nicaragua and Afghanistan in a remote part of Angola.


The astonished lobbyists for Bhutto learned that Abramoff had traveled to Islamabad and had sold his services to the Pakistani military without the prime minister's knowledge.


When his crack administrative assistant Susan Ralston bolted for a position with White House political adviser Karl Rove, Abramoff told colleagues he had gotten her the job even though it was Ralston's old boss, Reed, who made it happen, her former colleagues said.


"This could be the Enron of lobbying," Ring told the colleague.
This sort of story is why politics has always been my favorite sport, and favorite drama.

Read The Rest Scale: as interested; there's always another Abramoff story in the pipeline.

ADDENDUM: Yet more crunchy goodness here. It's hard not to do an Abramoff post every day; soon it will be impossible; for one thing, they'll be DeLay posts.

12/29/2005 08:30:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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FATHER! Tim Berners-Lee's blog. Not much there yet, and he had to turn off comments because so many people were thanking him, but worth knowing of, I thought.

(If you don't know who he is, shame on you, you ungrateful wretch.)

Read The Rest Scale: 2.5 out of 5. (Via various, including Boonville Blog, which reminded me.)

12/29/2005 05:53:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 2 comments

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NOT GREVIOUS NEWS. Aha, Clone Wars II is out. Found what to jump to the top of my Netflix queue!

Read The Rest Scale: you know by now whether you give a damn, or just want to point a finger and laugh at me for my low and childish tastes. (Let me know if the Netflix link doesn't work for you; I'm not sure if you need my cookie or not; otherwise, see here.) (Note to self: set up Amazon link so people can buy via you, Gary, Real Soon Now, and then add an Amazon donation link and Wish List again.)

12/29/2005 05:27:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 2 comments

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ANOTHER ZERO STAR. Some of Roger's Zero Stars film reviews are his best. This isn't one of his best, but I still like him on a tear.
I had a hard time watching "Wolf Creek." It is a film with one clear purpose: To establish the commercial credentials of its director by showing his skill at depicting the brutal tracking, torture and mutilation of screaming young women. When the killer severs the spine of one of his victims and calls her "a head on a stick," I wanted to walk out of the theater and keep on walking.


One critic who didn't like it was Matthew Leyland of the BBC: "The film's preference for female suffering gives it a misogynist undertow that's even more unsettling than the gore."

A "misogynist" is someone who hates women. I'm explaining that because most people who hate women don't know the word. I went to the Rotten Tomatoes roundup of critics not for tips for my own review, but hoping that someone somewhere simply said, "Made me want to vomit and cry at the same time."

I like horror films. Horror movies, even extreme ones, function primarily by scaring us or intriguing us. Consider "Three ... Extremes" recently. "Wolf Creek" is more like the guy at the carnival sideshow who bites off chicken heads. No fun for us, no fun for the guy, no fun for the chicken. In the case of this film, it's fun for the guy.


To laugh through the movie, as midnight audiences are sometimes invited to do, is to suggest you are dehumanized, unevolved or a slackwit.


There is a line and this movie crosses it. I don't know where the line is, but it's way north of "Wolf Creek." There is a role for violence in film, but what the hell is the purpose of this sadistic celebration of pain and cruelty?


If anyone you know says this is the one they want to see, my advice is: Don't know that person no more.
I more or less agree with Roger on his basic point, though not necessarily all his particulars.

I'm absolutely for the right of any artist to depict matters as bloody and horrible and gory as they like. (Although a tiny extreme of "installation art" pushes that envelope.)

That they can do so doesn't mean that the specific work they've creative is worthwhile, at least to me. I don't mind cartoon violence, such as that in the Aliens movies, at all, and I'm entirely fine with realistic violence used well and with a purpose, such as Saving Private Ryan. Similarly, gore and violence can be used to great artistic effect, such as in Apocolypse Now. (There are better examples for all of these, but I write off the top of my head.) And I don't mind gory violence in trash that has entertainment value, although I may cover my eyes. (I've pretty much stopped watching tv shows such as ER, CSI: Altoona, and any other show focused around forensic society; in real life, I've coped well with emergencies and violence; but I'm apparently far more sensitive to fake gore and depictions of people in extreme pain than much of the American public.)

Unlike Roger, though, I know people who love extreme gore, and they're good people, nonetheless. (Though like any category of people, the full list of them will always be a highly mixed bag of peanuts.)

But gore for its own sake has never been my thing (nor have I ever been a fan of horror, whether film, book, or real, although I did learn a great deal of aesthic intellectual respect for what sort of good work can be done with the tools and tropes of horror during the years past when I was first assigned to work on horror manuscripts, books, and screenplays; but it never became something I felt any attraction to).

It's fine if you're different, of course. Mileage varies.

Read The Rest Scale: 3 out of 5 as interested.

12/29/2005 12:01:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 3 comments

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Wednesday, December 28, 2005
STILL BEING DEEPLY IRRITABLE. Which I generally am, most of the time. One of the many things I most dislike in myself, and find most frustrating about myself.

One interaction that has driven me crazy all my life, is that if seems as if almost any time I make a factual observation -- "the sky is blue" -- in the middle of an argument about a larger topic, when talking to multiple people, someone will immediately respond either "why are you denouncing the sky for being blue?" or "that certainly doesn't prove that a blue sky is good!"

This happens constantly, and I've never understood it. It seems as if when enough people are participating in a conversation at least one, if not more, is/are compelled to insert their own assumptions as to what my point must otherwise Really Be and Really Mean, even though there's no possible reason for doing so in my actual words. It's completely presumption from context. (It appears to me; as I indicated, I'm trying to understand something I mostly don't.)

I don't see why context alone should compel such baseless assumptions and presumptions. What about paying attention to what I actually said?

That I have such trouble understanding how it is other people work in this way is one of those many things that make me feel like an alien (not at all like you, of course). (The rapid breakdown of meaningful communication also doesn't help.)

It's clear this blindness of mine is related to my general tendency to focus like a laser on points that fascinate me, but are tangential to the main point under discussion. Still, it's not just that.

It frustrates me because I then usually have a deeply irritated reaction of "why are you responding to something I never said, and inserting completely incorrect assumptions about my point?"

Clearly I have a different approach to simultaneously discussing various different aspects of a subject, rather than only keeping up with a single argument, than most people do. And probably other things are going on, which is why I'm trying to figure out what they are; it sure would be great to get rid of this constant frustration and irritation. Much more room left, then, for the other frustrations and irritations.

Ah, well, so now I may go buyself a small and inexpensive game for under $5.

When I went on my walk yesterday, it occured to me that I could afford to pick up prescriptions for the first time in six months. So I ambled to the pharmcy without calling (two buses), and found that, yes, two of them were too old to be refilled, but three others were okay. I had been really looking forward to the most optional, the Ambien, although I was still extremely doubtful of the sense of spending money on it, since I didn't get that many large donations, and its cost is far and away the most expensive, at around $65 for a month's supply, and so maybe it's for the best I couldn't get a refill.

Having now paid my phone bill completely ($141; I can only guess why they didn't get around to turning it off; maybe either the season, or the vagaries of timing when I've made past partial payments), paid the $475 rent, bought food, bought the prescriptions that weren't too old (~$45), paid a $55 debt I owe, and budgeted for an old used computer game for $4.99, I'm feeling pretty nervous again about spending much money on anything else that isn't absolute necessity, so I'll probably pass on getting a pair of pants, or a non-super-huge, second frying pan, or other stuff on that level of not-quite-need. But it's still great to have enough cash left to at least be able to buy some more food for a couple of weeks or more that isn't just a bag of potatoes. (New thing seen at the Safeway when I shopped last week for the first time since October: huge Japanese-like vending machines selling I-pods and accessories. Neat.)

Another rambling, boring, self-absorbed post. Maybe I should get a LiveJournal, after all (this is not intended as a slam at LiveJournalers; it's just not my vision for Amygdala, as a rule, to go much in that diaryish direction; I always wind up feeling like saying, oh, shut up).

12/28/2005 11:04:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 3 comments

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YAY, SEXY GEEKS. Wired's nominations for the Top Ten of 2005. How could I resist blogging that? (I'm slowly getting a bit more cheerful, or at least less uncheerful, thanks.)

Benefit: I was unfamiliar with many of these writers and blogs, so there are quite a few I'll check out when I'm feeling more energetic.

Also: top tech moments of 2005.

While I'm doing Wired links, I'd missed this one about intelligence numbers radio stations from 2004.

Read The Rest Scale: as aroused.

12/28/2005 03:20:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 2 comments

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Tuesday, December 27, 2005
ANOTHER. In point of fact, lifelong recurring severe clinical depression is the primary health factor that I don't discuss, as a rule, as regards why I'm so constantly broke.

It's why I dropped out of college (and because I desperately missed Anna, who was 12 hours away). It's why I have trouble holding a job. Or doing much of anything that requires sustained effort.

I'm not naturally terribly comfortable discussing these issues in front of the world. But, what the hell, they say honesty is the best policy.

They lie, of course.

But everything I write on the internets is one long vamp; the constant reading and writing is a non-stop frantic attempt to distract myself from the fact thatt the world sucks, and me most of all. (No, I don't entirely believe that; I have developed a touch of self-awareness over the years; but knowing and feeling, are, of course, the different.)

If I were a better person, I'd instead go help people in Darfur, or something. Instead, I'm a lazy bastard. Who talks to himself in front of other people (also when alone). Oh, well, I've never claimed to have a terrific sense of the appropriate.

Nice weather we've having, isn't it? (I also have trouble writing about the personal, because I immediately bore even myself when I do.)

12/27/2005 12:57:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 10 comments

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ADMISSIONS. I've been obsessively thinking about sex. More than usual, which is a lot.

I'd like to have somewhere to take this observation, but that I don't is pretty much the point.

So, how are you?

12/27/2005 12:12:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 2 comments

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Monday, December 26, 2005
HE MIGHT BE RIGHT. I have tremendous difficulty finding it in within myself to agree that, perhaps, David Irving should also get the free speech rights. I tend to be quite sympathetic to the view that local laws should prevail, and that Europe has a different history than the United States, and that temporary measures, for a century or so, might be in order.

Generally, the idea of David Irving in the joint pleases me no end. I don't even mind what might then happen.

Still, Brendan O'Neill may be right.

Although I completely disagree that Irving is "an historian whom no one outside of small fascist sects takes seriously"; were that so I wouldn't have read his books as big, thick, trade paperbacks put out by one of the most prominent publishers in America. And, in point of fact, when Irving is not off sucking Hitler's cock and such, he's had interesting things to say. Which is precisely why it's not an entirely simple point, much as I lunge for the free speech, otherwise.

I suppose he should get it. I don't have to like it, I only have to admit it.

Read The Rest Scale: 3 out of 5. Brendan generally pisses me off, but there we are. I'm always for the free speech, but I'm also always going to be a tad grudging about it for the Holocaust deniers. They should have it, and then someone should punch them in the face, tends to be my view.

12/26/2005 10:51:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 2 comments

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I AM NOT WORTHY of your gifts.

As usual, I'm not sure what else to say, but would hug, if I was given the opportunity. And probably talk the ear off of the one who offered the opportunity, but would also try to stop and listen now and then.

And then talk too much more, as usual.

ADDENDUM: I am, incidentally, if it isn't clear, only happy when it rains.

MORE ADDENDUM: to be a bit less obscurely allusive, I offer thanks to the mystery benefactor who sent me the e-gift certificate for the 3 additional months of Netflix, and to all you generous donators of the fungible cash. I have not the words. (But I do have the cash, thanks you all.)

Time to go for a walk, and look at things that aren't on a screen.

12/26/2005 07:33:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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LOVE IS ALL AROUND. Joan Jett version. I'm probably going to make it, after all.

I just think sharing the journey would be far more fun. I'd hold hands, even. Feel free to walk with me.

12/26/2005 03:25:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 4 comments

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BETTER FRANK RICH THAN USUAL here. Damn us Jews for not just slicing our wrists in front of you.

Although that's likely just the depression talking.

Small songs is all I've ever had, and I've never even sung well. I've just loved the other singer. Throwing myself at her, I do easily.

ADDENDUM: Bamford here. Trying to avoid more posting of more song lyrics. Stare into the fucking abyss with me.

12/26/2005 02:47:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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WHEN DID CHARLIE TURN OFF COMMENTS, anyway? Oh, well. It's not as if we had a major relationship there. I was just thinking of saying this about that. Getting shut down on that front is just teh normal.

I invite closer relationships with you.

I doubt we'll get there, but I do try.

12/26/2005 01:03:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 2 comments

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WHAT THE FUCK? I've put off reading this for years. Literally. Something that wouldn't let go, etc.
In 1972, during a year-long stint living at the Hotel Albert back in New York’s Greenwich Village, Delany made another film, The Orchid. Produced by Barbara Wise, in 16-millimeter, it was 35 minutes long, in sound and color. Again with Gerald Fabian in the lead role, Delany shot the film over twelve days in February, with a cast of approximately fifteen. The production employed the Wise’s then-17-year-old son, David Wise, as cameraman. Already a talented film-maker, David’s work had been shown at the Museum of Modem Art. Delany edited The Orchid in his room on the tenth floor of the Albert Hotel. It was finished that summer, with an original score by John Herbert MacDowell. Primiered at the World Science Fiction Convention in Chicago that September (Delany himself was not present), it caused a riot. Outraged fans tried to shout the film off and even pulled down the screen.
What the hell? Worldcon was in Chicago in 1962. And in 1982. Not in between. Nor did anyone ever show Chip's film in between, so far as I recall (I have a completely crap memory, to be sure.)

Certainly nowhere near Chicago, anyway. (Hi, Bob.) LaCon in '72, maybe? ((That would be the bet I'd put down money on. I do have a vague memory of hearing of that.) It helps to not show up to get the city wrong, I guess.) (Also, the whole story is, well, no one ever else has told that, so far as I recall; I'm sure someone told Chip, but given the lack of anyone else's ever saying so, I think not, nonetheless. Probably he has an e-mail address on an academic web page, I bet; I might actually look for it, and wave. It's been long enough, after all.) (Riot, well, no, I think not, though. Hard to imagine fans caring all that much, if it's not one's own tale in one's own head. But we're all prone to that sort of fabulation, even those of us who are not genuius'.)

12/26/2005 11:47:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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I AM A ROCK. I am a fucking island. I am hiding in my goddamn room. Etc.

It's a winter's day, in a deep and dark December. I have no need of friendship. Friendship causes pain. Etc. I am a fucking rock. I have my books. I am a fucking rock.

12/26/2005 09:02:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 3 comments

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STILL CAN'T. Even though I've left my body alone for days. Somebody must hold the key. And how might I admit being wasted?

Somebody must change, though. And I want them to walk me home. Ooh, etc. I'd be happy to walk with you.

"Cancel" is still surely the better option, it's true. I will, however, be brave and stupid, instead. Because otherwise I'm not saying "hello." (Posting news links probably does a better job. So it goes. That's just the way it is. Back to clicking "play," having waved the wave. Cymbal smash. Fucking cymbals.)

ADDENDUM: What breaks me up is that you'll never call again, because you're dead. Diamonds and rust. I lived for those goddamn calls. (And Anna and I used to dance to "Let My Love Open The Door." That was then, this is now.)

MORE ADDENDUM, since I don't actually set out to be a deliberate puzzle, hard as that might be to believe: Simon and Garfunkel, and then Steve Winwood's "Can't Find My Way Home," as usual. And otherwise I mutter to myself. Probably impolite to do in public. But oops.

12/26/2005 07:18:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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TEH FUNNY. The blogging stats say that no link yesterday otherwise got more than two hits, save that the one for Nicole deBoer took nine.

I can live with that, even if no one else presently lives with me. (I won't go into the fact that even when women unknown to me write me, they mention wosshername. Life is too weird, but it still beats the alternative. Hello.)

(She really is cuter than a bug, isn't she? I will now carefully neglect to discuss my other crush-objects. Objectification, after all, is evil. Soon, back to teh news; I have no life beyond that; I just live for you.)

(The "two hits" thing is why I know no one but you reads this thing. You're special, and that's why I like you.)

12/26/2005 05:43:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Sunday, December 25, 2005
WELCOME GARY. "You have 0 unread messages." Same as is ever is. Even without the clearly necessary comma.

12/25/2005 08:54:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THOUGHTS I'VE NEVER SPOKEN ALOUD BEFORE DEPARTMENT. Spots on a woman is an underrated phenomenon.

Particularly on Nicole deBoer. Be still, my heart. (Why should I care who reads? No one reads this. Okay, other than you.)

12/25/2005 05:38:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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I love the Joss. Big surprise.

(I'm probably rewriting in my head; another big suprise.)

It's always been all that for me.

ADDENDUM: later, it's just reiteration. Okay, expected that. Still why I'd have preferred dozens of more hours to the retelling and suumming.

LATER: "She's a reader...." And that's the ticket all the way to my soul, heart, and so forth. Not yours? Okay, the fact that Gina Torres tells Wash about the Reavers makes no sense whatever.

The whole thing seems over-excited. I'd so prefer the relaxed telling of the story. It's probably my general depression that keeps saying this story seems so over-told, over-compressed, and such. But maybe not. Sheesh, slow down, and give it enough hours. (But that wasn't the deal, Teh deal sucks.)

MORE: You knew what "batteries twixt my nethers" would do to me, didn't you? If you didn't, you should have.

YET LATER: Yes! The truth of the signal is all I've ever looked for since I was a kid. Haven't you, too?

"Tea and Dumplings" would be a spiffy blog title, don't you think? (I give free rights, since it's not mine to give.) Of course, "hungry angry baby" also works.

"I'm referring here to people": Outstanding.

And otherwise: Joss is better than the Marx Brothers. I am satisfied, and I'm only through Inara's second scene. Adults talking to each other, even about pulse beacons, is good. Very good. But I knew that. (And so did you, which is why we all so enjoy; group hug now, save for lack of the group.)

"And that's not incense."

Fucking awesome. (Not that I'm getting fucked, despite being on offer, but that's another story.)

We're all just versions of ourselves, though.

"Or we could talk more" is another theory I live my life by. It hasn't helped, but I still believe in it.

And, oh, crap, I only want all of you to be on my crew. It's all I've ever wanted. I'm just not an inspiring enough captain, clearly.

"She's starting to damage my calm."

I'd just like to have someone to snuggle with, with this stuff.

Shit, I don't know when it ever hasn't been bumpy.

Only lonely.

12/25/2005 04:14:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 8 comments

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SHORT VERDICT: not fantastic, but not so bad. For a reader of the comics, that is. Despite the rewrite of Victor von Doom, they basically got the characters right, which is what is endlessly most important.

Reed is definitely a guy you can see building the gate to the Negative Zone in the next room, or movie. Johnny is still the hothead you can see flaming on. And so on. And, of course, Susan is almost as underwritten as Susan Wood noted back in the day. (I miss Susan; fucked up as she was, she was a blessing, and losing her was a vast loss; that's pretty much what I hope folks will say when they do my own obit; but Amor de Cosmos should never be forgotten.) (Hell, even Ted Pauls, who published The Poison Maiden And The Great Bitch, or whatever it was called, has long been gone. But we remember and try to honor, we do. Also his long daily narration of the Vietnam War, but I digress. Whether Karen ever reads this or not. Though I miss Susan even more. But I digress.)

Not Lawrence of Arabia. But not at all so bad as reviews claimed.

Of course, this is coming from a guy who thought Ang Lee's The Hulk was quite good, and far better than this, so I'm clearly a sucker for this sort of thing. (Who also hated that fucking awful tv show with Bill Bixby, and we won't discuss the animated FF with the little robot, because it never happened. Never.).

I'm easy about this stuff, but there are rules. FF is a tough job to get the charcters right, but at least they got the basics correct.

Oh, deleted scenes. Kewl. Life is almost complete, despite the lack of a sweetie. Thank you, all, seven of you. (Sure, and you folks who did it before; you did great then, too.) And everyone else, too.

I really did play Tiny Tim in third grade. Honest. I was just so cute.

We'll be paying attention to news and shit in the new year. Meanwhile, the faint attempts at the thanking. Thank you. Flame on, as you like. On to Serenity. It's a great thing, actually, to be in the 21st century, and to have good movies of The Hulk, Fantastic Four, Daredevil, and the Batman. The kid inside me is made happy. Who knew, sitting in that little kid's chair in the barber shop off Coney Island Avenue and Avenue J., circa 1963, that it would ever be so? It was twelve cents on a revolving supermarket stand for us, then.

I'm still that kid. (Who says, gosh, that Wolverine deleted scene was also cute for us kids.)

I wish I had a sweetie to chat with about this nonsense. Silly me.

12/25/2005 01:40:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Saturday, December 24, 2005
I PROBABLY SHOULD SAY that, thank you, having food in the (tiny, half-size) refrigerator, and money in the pocket to get more, is the best feeling in the world.


(It's a simple word, but there'a whole world in it.)

I'm really quite simple in my needs.

(So far, Fantastic Four not remotely so bad as reviews suggested, despite the desecration of Victor von Doom; but I'm barely past the bridge, as yet; generally the characters of the four are right, although, of course, they destroyed the whole von Doom character, alas. I'm quite liking much of the dialogue. "Got it: supernova bad" is very Johnny Storm.)

The whole "food in the refridge, and money to get more" can't be over-stated for joy value, though. So many thanks to you (now) seven. I bought a small cheese! Cheese! Do you know how expensive that is on my budget? It's a lot better than the potatoes-with-no-butter, I tell you.

Not that I'm knocking potatoes with butter.

12/24/2005 03:20:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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GOD BLESS YOU, AND GOD BLESS NETFLIX. Although i just got my first donation in two days, it comes after five others, and after staggering home with food, food, food, yesterday, today I was completely evil, and diverted ~$20 to entertainment. I picked up the Netflix account again for a month. I know it's something I'll spank myself for in a week or two when I'm unable, again, likely, to buy even basic food, and that it's not what donators had in mind, but there I am: a completely bad, selfish, bad person. (Who doesn't even have cable tv, but who still is just evil and selfish and should be punished. By a beautiful woman, in clothes I won't describe.)

So, assuming you've not clicked off in disgust and outrage, today arrived Fantastic Four, Serenity, and ST: DS9, Disc 5. In point of fact, my film watching/ordering is rarely so genre-oriented, but I have a lot of pent-up frustration.

Also, as it turns out, some ham and turkey. Thanks to you who made it so. Thank you all more than I could possibly say. All six of you. Back later. (Oh, and I do have the most minimal possible microwave; I was just babbling without thinking when I said I didn't; it's having even a tiny oven I miss, and I'm well aware that two months of Netflix would get me one, give or take, thanks.)

But this is in the period of the later afternoon where the sun overwhelms my long-failing monitor, and I can't see a goddamn thing on it, so I go, now, to watch teh moobies. (Even though they are not heavy on the boobies.) (I literally wave my hands in the air, trying to make out what I wrote that is on the screen, and it doesn't work, and won't for another hour. Crossed fingers as always. Yes, it's another slight exaggeration. I'm just bad. But only slightly.)

12/24/2005 01:51:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 10 comments

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SOUR CHRISTMASY THOUGHT. Charity does not actually consist of giving other people food you find inedible (for good reason) or stuff you find unusable, so you can feel good about yourself.

It might overlap with that, of course.

This is an old observation, yet pertinent to the times.

I'm just working on growing into being a mean person, so work with me here, or not. Mal is my role model. And I am an ungrateful wretch. Of course. Who is still in a foul mood, but that will pass. Soon, again, news and stories. Merry happy, meanwhile.

12/24/2005 10:39:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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CRAZY TALK. I'm reading through the blogs, and listening to the good music, and the thought that occurs to me is that not only should we all try to get along, but that most of us are simply trying to reach out there, and find others like ourselves, and be assured and joyed by that. (Okay, there's a lot of "we reject you from the Body," as well; that's the flip side.)

That's a good thing. It tends to work out well, often, more than not. I approve. (I'm just wishing it worked out better for me, but I'm deeply silly.)

(Accompanying song: "Piss Factory," by Patti Smith, which I first heard on the single in '75 I once owned.) All I'm trying to do is say "hi, who are you, do you like me?" to people. Okay, except for the other stuff. Of course, mostly I'm not so likeable. My fault, my bad. Hi, though. Hello.

(I'm starting early on my New Year's resolutions, it turns out. I'm insufficiently Jewish, so it's not Yom Kippur for me, but the world I instead live in that sets the date and thoughts.)

12/24/2005 08:22:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 1 comments

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I. TOLD. YOU. SO. What. A. Fucking.
WASHINGTON, Dec. 23 - The National Security Agency has traced and analyzed large volumes of telephone and Internet communications flowing into and out of the United States as part of the eavesdropping program that President Bush approved after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to hunt for evidence of terrorist activity, according to current and former government officials.

The volume of information harvested from telecommunication data and voice networks, without court-approved warrants, is much larger than the White House has acknowledged, the officials said. It was collected by tapping directly into some of the American telecommunication system's main arteries, they said.
Of course, now no one will remember it was ever anything other than this. Everyone knew that.

Read The Rest Scale: 5 out of 5.

12/24/2005 07:26:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Friday, December 23, 2005

Cover the mirror
Hide in your dreams
Forget what they told you
Forget what it means
A picture worth a thousand lies
The mem'ry and the mirror
Nothing but what came before
Nothing but a closing door

A picture worth a thousand lies
A thousand words
A thousand eyes

Bury my lovely
Hide in your room
Bury my lovely
Forget me soon
Forget me
Forget me now
Forget me not

Cover the madness
Cover the fear
No one will ever
Know you were here
A figure in the hallway light
Returning like a ghost
Something that was left behind
Something in a child's mind



Bury my lovely
Bury the lies
Bury me under
A thousand good-byes

A shadow from another time
Is waiting in the night
Something happened long ago
Something that will not let go


That's here.

Y'know, it really shits for me that I'm associating December/New Year's with the memory of the love of my life, Anna Vargo's, death last year at this time, of cancer, with it.

But there it is, and it depresses the hell out of me, and makes me weep. But in future years, I hope it will lessen, and while the loss will never lessen, the pain likely will.

But meanwhile I'm here and now, and to anyone I've offended, I'm sorry. Not that that lessens any offense I've given. Seal it up, Lord, is a privilege I can't ask for.

Yes, I'm as moody, and generally sad, a bastard as ever. Tromp on me for my wrongs as you wish; I'm guilty, and I deserve it.

And so many people are in far worse trouble around the world. Please pay attention to them, and their needs, more than me. Just go fight for the right. And learn about the history of civil liberties in America. Please. And let none of us ever despair, despite reality.

The last is all I ask for a merry fucking Christmas and Hannukah and Solstice. God bless us fucking all, everyone. And a happy New Year, to us all.

P.S.: I envy the ability of other blogs to gather communities around them. For various reasons, I am an utter failure at that, and while I've never tried or aimed for it, I once thought it might happen without effort. I was so wrong. You have to be likeable for that. (Okay, yes, I'm also feeling sorry for myself, as well as others; shoot me now. Please.)

ADDENDUM: that was October Project, and I could add many more links, when I'm not so sad. Though there's always more to say, of course, and isn't that the essence of life? Or talk, at least. And, of course, editing.

12/23/2005 10:41:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 11 comments

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TERMINOLOGY CREEPS FAR BEHIND TECHNOLOGY, anc causes great confusion in its wake, it occurs to me.

"Wire-tapping" does not, and has not for a long, long, long time, mean(t) "putting a tap on your wire." I.e., it is not a case of a man crawling up a pole, or going into your basement, and actually putting an attachment onto the wire leading to your telephone.

We've been there, done that, moved on, back in the last century.

It's long been left in the past that it's a one-to-one relationship. It's many-to-one now. But mass comprehension of this isn't remotely there.

Thinking in such incredibly obsolete terms is always going to lead to lack of comprehension of anything that is now a mere metaphor. No wonder people are confused and uncomprehending and talking in obsolete terms and concepts.

ADDENDUM: Feeling the harsh, I'd like to say that I only swipe at stuff from people I respect and like, but I'd be lying. But I'd like to be clear, or clearer than ever, between swiping at teh bad, and perfectly reasonable ignorance from perfectly good people. We are all ignorant of much. God knows I know next to nothing. And I always know that, though it often doesn't help my poor choices of rhetoric. And now I most go concentrate on my bodhisattvaism.

12/23/2005 08:25:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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MERRY FUCKING CHRISTMAS. And welcome to America in the dawn of the 21st Century.

It's a place of joy. And presents. And reindeer, and trees and menorahs and happiness. And detention with no end or justice.

But there's always the lemon chicken.

And hollow mockery of it.

It's all ill-making.

Happy holidays! Joy to the world!

Read The Rest Scale: 5 out of 5. It would also be nice, by the way, if people weren't completely ignorant of the plight of the Uighurs. It's not exactly new nor undocumented nor obscure. Simple terms: western Islamic people in China, who are, um, unloved. If you don't learn about China now (far, far, far, behind the curve), you'll wind up a Uighur. China Mountain Zhang was always doomed not to be skiffy for long. But most people are, by definition, slow. (And I am a man of the people, of course; I am but an egg. With a frowny face.)

ADDENDUM: In case it isn't clear, I point out that, by definition, you are not slow. You are, in fact, brilliant, because you have the sense to read me. I wouldn't want there to be any confusion about this.

12/23/2005 07:56:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Thursday, December 22, 2005
LOSER-DEFEATISTS. Rick Santorum is going to have to do far better than to cut and run from his longtime positions to survive in November.

But meanwhile, it's fun, fun, fun! Who, me, defending ID?:
PHILADELPHIA - Sen. Rick Santorum (news, bio, voting record) on Thursday withdrew his affiliation from the Christian-rights law center that defended a school district's policy mandating the teaching of "intelligent design."


Santorum, the Senate's No. 3 Republican who is facing a tough re-election challenge next year, earlier praised the Dover Area School District for "attempting to teach the controversy of evolution."

But the day after a federal judge ruled the district's policy on intelligent design unconstitutional, Santorum told The Philadelphia Inquirer he was troubled by testimony indicating religion motivated some board members to adopt the policy.

Santorum was on the advisory board of the Michigan-based Thomas More Law Center, which defended the district's policy. The law center describes its mission as defending the religious freedom of Christians.

"I thought the Thomas More Law Center made a huge mistake in taking this case and in pushing this case to the extent they did," Santorum said Wednesday. He said he would end his affiliation with the center.


Santorum said in a 2002 Washington Times op-ed article that intelligent design "is a legitimate scientific theory that should be taught in science classes."

But he said he meant that teachers should have freedom to mention intelligent design as part of the evolution debate — not be required to do so — and said his position hasn't changed.

Santorum said he disagreed with the Dover board's policy of mandating the teaching of intelligent design, rather than teaching the controversy surrounding evolution. Because of that, he said the case provided "a bad set of facts" to test whether theories other than evolution should be taught in science class.
Santorum has yet to speak up on the theory of Intelligent Gravity, but Amygdala senses he is falling.

Not that, you know, the fact that every single member of the school board that brought the ID case was tossed out of office in the last election might affect his thinking.

Praise the lord.

Read The Rest Scale: 2.5 out of 5. Via The Moderate Voice. I'm feeling lazy, but slam-dunking his ass with multiple quotes would be, well, almost sadistic, and that would be so so wrong. I am stronger than that. And, phew, we mentioned Rick Santorum's ass. We are so so sorry. Sometimes our own safety mechanisms fail. We blame the terrorists.

Incidentally, I really wonder what Sir Thomas More would say about contemporary Bushism. As channeled by Robert Bolt, anyway (yes, it's a movie; we know, thank you for the tip):
William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!
Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
William Roper: Yes, I'd cut down every law in England to do that!
Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's! And if you cut them down, and you're just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
Not, of course, that this has any contemporary applicability. Also, Kevin Smith on the great play. You really should be familiar with A Man For All Seasons. Because, geez, we're in that bloody season.

And so many people opt for Wales. We, like Kevin Smith, have always loved this play/movie.

But Santorum took Wales.

12/22/2005 09:34:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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