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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!)
The Mahablog
Brilliant at Breakfast
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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.

Friday, December 29, 2006
GET UP OFFA THAT THING. I feel funky. Huh!
James Brown gave one last show in Harlem yesterday, three days after his death, in a golden coffin lined with white velvet, on the flower-bedecked stage of the famed Apollo Theater, before a crowd of thousands who had lined up for blocks to see him.

Mr. Brown’s body arrived beneath the Apollo’s red-neon sign just before 1 p.m. in a white-painted carriage pulled by two white horses with feathery plumes atop their heads. The carriage was small, with tall windows and white curtains with silver fringe. Two solemn men sat atop it, guiding the horses, and Mr. Brown’s friends and associates and Harlem dignitaries walked alongside and behind it.

Hundreds who lined 125th Street outside the theater on a chilly, overcast afternoon cheered and applauded. Helicopters hovered. Photographers aimed their cameras from the surrounding rooftops. A guy hawked commemorative T-shirts for $10. Mr. Brown’s cries and exultations filled the street, blaring from one of his concert videos playing on a beat-up television mounted above a sign for Uptown Tattoos. A chant rose up: “James Brown! James Brown! James Brown!”

When the theater’s doors finally opened, people began streaming in for a public viewing. They walked up a few stairs and stepped onto the red-carpeted stage, where Mr. Brown’s body lay in an open coffin, washed in white and gold stage lights. The coffin was made of 16-gauge steel with a gold paint finish. Mr. Brown was wearing a cobalt, sequined satin suit with white gloves and pointed silvery shoes. Loudspeakers played his breakthrough album, “Live at the Apollo,” recorded Oct. 24, 1962.

Women wearing veils approached. A man in a suit dropped to his knees and crossed his heart. One couple broke into a brief dance. “Right now,” Mr. Brown said on the loudspeakers, in a snippet of between-song banter, “I’m going to get up and do my thing.”
It is as it should be.
[...] Mr. Brown’s tunes played from storefronts, and women danced to the beat and sang along to his 1968 song “Say It Loud — I’m Black and I’m Proud.” His image was everywhere: On T-shirts, posters, paintings people brought from home. The computerized Apollo marquee read, “Rest in Peace Apollo Legend, The Godfather of Soul, James Brown, 1933-2006.”
Good god!
[...] As for Brown's frequent query, "Do you wanna get funky?" -- it ranks as one of the most rhetorical questions of our time.


Only James Brown could turn a simple Huh! into something with multiple meanings -- all of them thoroughly convincing.
Play that funky music, white boy.

Read The Rest Scale: 3.5 out of 5; say it loud.

12/29/2006 09:57:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 1 comments

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Thursday, December 28, 2006
THE WHITENESS. I just want to mention that it's been snowing all day, since this morning. It's been snowing all evening. Right now, it's snowing, and the current description says:
High: 39°F RealFeel®: 45°F
Heavy snow. Windy with wet snow, accumulating 1-3 inches
The prediction for tonight is heavy snow, and:
Low: 18°F RealFeel®: -1°F
Windy with 8-12 inches of snow, heavy at times; very cold
The prediction for tomorrow is:
Day: High: 26°F RealFeel®: 7°F
Snow, accumulating 2-4 inches; windy, colder with blowing and drifting snow
For tomorrow night it's:
Night: Low: 12°F RealFeel®: -17°F
4-8 inches of fluffy snow
For Saturday day:
High: 31 °F RealFeel®: 16 °F
Overcast with snow, accumulating a coating to an inch
For Saturday night: flurries.

But, hey, on Sunday it may get as high as 35 °F, and not snow!

Oh, and last week's blizzard hadn't melted at all.

Well, at least it doesn't really matter that yesterday and today I couldn't walk on my right foot (better later today, though), and that this evening it's been my left foot swelling.

And I'm sure glad I found this grocery delivery service.

Read The Rest Scale: 1 out of 5.

ADDENDUM, 12/29/06, 11:27 a.m.: still snowing.

12/28/2006 07:00:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Wednesday, December 27, 2006
SOMALI CRIB SHEET. Useful things to know:
[...] On Tuesday, there were reports that American surveillance planes were spotted in the skies above Somalia and may be funneling battlefield intelligence to Ethiopian forces.

When asked about this, Major Kelley Thibodeau, spokeswoman for the task force of American military personnel based in nearby Djibouti, responded, “I am not at liberty to discuss that.”

There are more than 100 American soldiers in Ethiopia helping train Ethiopia troops. But Major Thibodeau said “Officially, we haven’t put anybody in Somalia. The Americans don’t go forward with the Ethiopians. They are training Ethiopians in Ethiopia.”
In case you were, you know, wondering.

The United States on Tuesday signaled its support for the Ethiopian offensive in Somalia, calling it a response to “aggression” by Islamists who have since the summer been consolidating power in the country.
[...] Ethiopia has long been a strong ally of Washington in the Horn of Africa. The American military has for years trained Ethiopian troops at bases in the eastern region. The training is part of a Pentagon effort to build the Ethiopian military into a bulwark against regional terrorist networks.
Maj. Marie Boughen of the Army, a spokeswoman for the United States Central Command, which has military responsibility for the horn, said no American troops were participating in the Ethiopian offensive or working as advisers for it.

The Ethiopian military presence in Somalia, while tacitly blessed by Washington, has nonetheless been awkward for American officials. They have publicly urged a return to peace talks by warring Somali factions, but some officials have also said an Ethiopian invasion could be the only factor to prevent the Islamists’ complete takeover of Somalia.
On Tuesday, a day after an Ethiopian jet strafed the airport in Mogadishu, the capital, the State Department issued internal guidance to staff members, instructing officials to play down the invasion in public statements.

“Should the press focus on the role of Ethiopia inside Somalia,” read a copy of the guidelines that was given to The New York Times by an American official here, “emphasize that this is a distraction from the issue of dialogue between the T.F.I.’s and Islamic courts and shift the focus back to the need for dialogue.” T.F.I. is an abbreviation for the weak transitional government in Somalia.

“The press must not be allowed to make this about Ethiopia, or Ethiopia violating the territorial integrity of Somalia,” the guidance said.
Indeed, that would be quite the distraction into awkward questions, wouldn't it?

To recap what's been going on:
[...] This year, the C.I.A. began a covert operation to arm and finance the warlords, who had united under the banner of the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counterterrorism. Operated from the intelligence agency’s station in Nairobi, Kenya, the effort involved frequent trips to Mogadishu by case officers from the agency and paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to the warlords.

The operation backfired. When the payments to the warlords shifted the military balance of the country in their favor, the Islamists started a strike against the American-backed coalition and ran it out of Mogadishu.

Since June, the State Department has reasserted its control of Somalia policy, trying to build support for a plan to bolster the transitional government with peacekeeping troops from other African nations.
When that became untenable, as the Baidoa government found its writ limited to Baidoa, and the US/UN plan for a regional peacekeeping force which would exclude neighbors such as Ethiopia stretched into the future, the Ethiopians decided that going public and massively escalating had its upside.

And, for the moment, they have the upper hand. Will this cause actual negotiations? A guerilla war? Both? Something else? Stay tuned.

Read The Rest Scale: 3 out of 5.

12/27/2006 04:13:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Monday, December 25, 2006

But he's still going to be the hardest working man in show business. And death had to chase him from one state to another, and shoot out the tires of his truck to get him.

Read The Rest Scale: 4 out of 5. One of my favorite movies is The Commitments, and one of the best moments is Frank Whalley telling the little kid "Ayem bleck and aym proud," and getting That Look.

12/25/2006 08:18:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 2 comments

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Sunday, December 24, 2006
OH, GOODY. It's started snowing again.

(You may have heard something about what it's been like around here in the past week.)

Read The Rest Scale: 2.5 out of 5. If you were planning on getting anywhere around here, here is an amusing little piece on the process of selecting New Yorker cartoons to read while you wait. And an interesting piece on the obscure and little-known way Judaism came to New Mexico.

12/24/2006 02:18:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 1 comments

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PEACE ON EARTH. Just in case you hadn't noticed, Ethiopia has gone to full all-out war against Somalia, and their "Islamic Courts" government.

Since the U.S. government spent a couple or more years unsuccessfully covertly funding and supporting the now-collapsed prior government of Somalia (largely by the CIA, apparently, as per SOP), until they did collapse, and since we've trained and funded the Ethiopian military a fair amount, and they've got American advisors, and since our opposition is based on the resemblance of the Islamic Courts to the Taliban, and their alleged al Qaeda ties, which do seem fairly credible, given that bin Laden and Zawahiri have both written more than a few times about the Islamic cause in Somalia, and how the Crusaders and Zionists are planning/part-of the war there, well, this situation is apt to be worth everyone's attention, I'm afraid.
[...] According to witnesses, the warplanes bombarded several towns while Ethiopian tanks pushed aggressively into territory that had been controlled by Somalia’s Islamist forces. Ethiopia is backing Somalia’s transitional government, which has been losing control of parts of the country to the rival Islamist forces.

Until today, Ethiopian officials denied they had combat forces in Somalia, saying instead that their presence was limited to a few hundred military advisors. But witnesses had said Ethiopian troops were already in Somalia.

“Our defense force has been forced to enter a war,” Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said on television today, according to news reports. He said his country was defending itself against “attacks from extremists and anti-Ethiopian forces” and would “protect the sovereignty of the land.”

The Ethiopian offensive ignited fighting up and down the Somali coast.

“The Ethiopians are blowing things up all over the place,” said Mohammed Hussein Galgal, an Islamist commander in Beledweyne, near the Ethiopian border. “Civilians have been killed, people are fleeing. But don’t worry, we won’t be defeated.”
Good will to all.

And let's emphasize:
[...] Ethiopia has the most powerful military in the region, trained by American advisors and funded by American aid. American officials have acknowledged that they tacitly supported Ethiopia’s decision to send troops to Somalia because they felt it was the best way to check the growing power of the Islamists, whom American officials have accused of sheltering Al Qaeda terrorists.
And on the other side:
[...] What complicates the issue is the presence of other foreign troops inside Somalia and the rising potential for Somalia’s neighbors to be dragged in. United Nations officials estimate that there are several thousand soldiers from Eritrea, Ethiopia’s arch-enemy, fighting for the Islamists, along with a growing number of Muslim mercenaries from Yemen, Egypt, Syria and Libya who want to turn Somalia into the third front of jihad, after Iraq and Afghanistan. On Friday, residents of Mogadishu said they saw boatloads of armed men landing on the city’s beaches.
Welcome to your new/old proxy war.

Read The Rest Scale: 4 out of 5. The view from the other side.

Wanna watch a holiday movie? Try Black Hawk Down; there may be a sequel. (I meant to blog this last week, incidentally.)

And, for those who aren't going to read Zawahiri's tediously long document of the other day, the part about Somalia:
[...] I also send my greetings and those of my brothers to our brothers, the Mujahideen in Somalia, and I remind them that their duty in Somalia is to defend the honor of Islam and Muslims on the Horn of Africa against the Crusaders and Zionists, and to know that what is happening in Somalia is an another installment of the Zionist Crusade which is assaulting the Muslim Ummah everywhere.

Brothers in Islam and Jihad in Somalia: know that you are on the southern garrison of Islam, so don’t allow Islam to be attacked from your flank, and know that we are with you, and that the entire Muslim Ummah is with you. “So don’t lose heart, or fall into despair, for you must dominate if you are true in faith.” (3:139) And know that you are fending off the same Crusade which is fighting your brothers in Islam in Chechnya, Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine and Lebanon. So be resolute, be patient and be optimistic, for by Allah beside whom there is no other god, even if your enemies possess thousands of tons of iron and explosives, in their chests lie the hearts of mice. So be severe against them like Muhammad was:

“You have indeed in the Messenger of Allah an excellent example for he who is expectant of Allah and the Final Day and remembers Allah much. And when the believers saw the confederates, they said, ‘This is what Allah and His Messenger had promised us, and Allah and His Messenger told us what was true.’ And it only added to their faith and their zeal in obedience. Among the believers are men who have been true to their covenant with Allah; of them some have died and some [still] wait, but they have never changed in the least.” (33:21-23)
Okay, now this is an example of a non-peaceful Muslim. I've looked into this, and I'm pretty sure I'm right.

ADDENDUM, 12/25/06, 9:07 a.m.: Ethiopia has now bombed the Somali International Airport (such as it was).
Ethiopian jets pounded Islamic-held positions in southern Somalia, a sharp escalation Sunday of a conflict that diplomats fear could ignite a regional war.

Several hundred people have been killed in five days of fighting between Ethiopian forces and Somalia's Islamic militias. Witnesses and officials said early morning strikes by Ethiopian planes killed about 80 fighters and civilians and wounded an additional 300 in the town of Beledweyne, which has been held by Somalia's Islamic Courts Union.

Early today, Mogadishu International Airport was also bombed by two Ethiopian jets, damaging the main runway and wounding two employees, said Abdi Rahim Adan Weheliye, the airport manager.

The strike was the deepest foray by Ethiopian forces into Islamist-held areas of Somalia. The airport was believed to be an important transit point for arms and fighters.

"The enemy launched full-scale war against Somalia," Sheik Mohamoud Ibrahim Suley, an official of the Islamic courts, said Sunday. "The fighting has commenced, and it will not stop unless Addis Ababa stops the aggression."


"The Ethiopian government has taken self-defensive measures and started counterattacking the aggressive extremist forces of the Islamic courts and foreign terrorist groups," Ethiopian Information Minister Berhan Hailu told Reuters news service. He said the planes also struck targets in Diinsoor, Bandiradley and Buurhakaba.

Experts estimate that Ethiopia has sent more than 8,000 soldiers to support the transitional government. Eritrea, which has battled Ethiopia for years, reportedly has sent 2,000 troops to assist the Islamists, although the government has not acknowledged that.

In Mogadishu, Islamist supporters rioted, burned tires, stoned businesses and chanted anti-Ethiopian slogans.

"We will resort to all tactics, including suicide attacks, if the Ethiopians don't stop the occupation," said Hussen Hirre Abdi, 14, attending Sunday's protest.
I would tend to think it's going to get quite a bit worse before it gets better.

ADDENDUM, 12/25/06, 9:34 a.m.: Another major update.
Ethiopia officially plunged into war with Somalia’s Islamist forces on Sunday, bombing targets inside Somalia and pushing ground troops deep into Somali territory in a major escalation that could turn Somalia’s internal crisis into a violent religious conflict that engulfs the entire Horn of Africa.

ADDENDUM, 12/25/06, 6:48 p.m.: More background: Many in Ethiopia See Premier's Talk of War As Ploy to Tighten Grip.

ADDENDUM, 12/25/06, 7:35 p.m.: The Baidoa government is getting cocky:
[...] On Monday, witnesses in Mogadishu said that a lone Ethiopian fighter jet roared over the Indian Ocean around 9 a.m., fired machine guns at the parking lot of the international airport, which was mostly empty, and banked sharply away.

The attack was apparently meant to be more a demonstration of military might than a destructive mission; the only reported casualty was an airport janitor who was slightly wounded. It did, however, have the intended effect of shutting the airport down as Daallo Airlines, one of the last carriers to fly into Somalia, promptly canceled all service.

Witnesses said four more Ethiopian fighter planes then attacked an intensely guarded military airport west of Mogadishu, where the Islamist forces stored their heavy weapons and ammunition.


In Baidoa, the inland seat of the transitional government, top officials were sounding increasingly confident. After months of isolation in a provincial market town, too weak to spread their administration to Somalia’s cities, transitional government officials laid out an ambitious three-part plan.

“We’re going to eradicate the enemy, we’re going to appoint administrators and we’re going to rule nationwide,” said Abdirizak Adam Hassan, chief of staff for President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed.
And all the Islamists will just go away.

Chew enough khat and I suppose it's easy to believe. Or not care, anyway.

12/24/2006 01:26:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 2 comments

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NOT A CREATURE WAS STIRRING, NOT EVEN A MOUSE, but the headboard was getting some heavy action.
[...] "For Jews, Christmas Eve has become the dating or the matchmaking night," said Andy Rudnick, 42, the creator of the Matzo Ball, the granddaddy of all such parties. "That's the night that things happen."
Apparently it's a great night to get laid.

But if you think the "Matzo Ball" is a bad pun:
[...] The events have competition. One party, sponsored by the Tampa Jewish Federation, is called Vodka Latke, after the Jewish potato pancakes.
[...] In Los Angeles, it's Schmooz-a-Palooza, an event first organized more than a decade ago. The bash, which has drawn more than 1,000 people in the past, and another in New York are being sponsored for the first time this year by JDate.


Most of the parties feature a DJ and dancing, but the Ball in New York has taken the idea further. Partygoers can travel among four clubs -- including one featuring performances by acrobats -- in a fleet of Hummer and Cadillac Escalade limousines. The party -- sponsored by, which holds events for Jewish singles year round -- is in its 12th year.
I know I'm not terribly religious -- well, not religious at all, actually -- but I never before realized that Moses had cried out "Let my people go to parties with acrobats, in fleets of Hummers and limos!"

I learn new things about one of my native cultures all the time.
[...] "I heard someone refer to it this year as Woodstock for Jewish people," Strank said.
Don't drink the chicken soup with the brown acid; I hear it isn't good.

Read The Rest Scale: 2 out of 5.

12/24/2006 10:56:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 1 comments

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BARK WHEN YOU CLICK. Ever wanted to argue who the Top Ten Geekiest Animals were? Now you can. Is the Most Geeky Project Mercury's Ham the Astro-chimp? Pavlov's dog? Schrodinger's cat? You are the Decider.

I have to admit that I was unfamiliar with Hansken, Elephant Pickpocket. Really should have been in Oliver Twist, that one.

Read The Rest Scale: 3 snorts out of 5; note also two other geek list links at the bottom of the article.

12/24/2006 06:34:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Saturday, December 23, 2006
IT'S ALWAYS THE DETAILS. Department of Things I'd Never Noticed Before, despite having read one hundred jillion books on the 1930s and 1940s: this.
[...] TV broadcasts in London were on the air an average of four hours daily from 1936 to 1939. There were 12,000 to 15,000 receivers. Some sets in restaurants or bars might have 100 viewers for sport events (Dunlap, p56).The outbreak of the Second World War caused the BBC service to be suspended on September 1, 1939, resuming from Alexandra Palace on June 7, 1946.
I don't recall ever seeing this mentioned anywhere before. Silly, ignorant, me.

Read The Rest Scale: 2 out of 5.

12/23/2006 05:25:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THE SORT OF THING SOME PEOPLE THINK OF WHEN THEY USE THE WORD "COMICS." So I'm watching the Director's Cut of Daredevil, idly wondering if it will seem much different from the studio, theatrical, cut, and I suddenly notice this: blind attorney Matt Murdock (secretly the very slightly super-powered superhero [he has what the comics used to refer to as a "radar sense" gained from having nuclear waste spilled on him -- yeah, yeah, I know, but no one said Stan Lee was writing hard science, in 1963, or ever -- and the movie styles as the equivalent via a sense of hearing so acute it works like sonar; plus, he's known as "the Man Without Fear," and otherwise is an immensely trained fighter -- basically, he's Stan Lee's Batman, okay?] has determined that his loser street bum client is innocent of murder via a) Murdock/Daredevil's senses working like a lie detector when loser client declares his innocence; and b) confirmed by investigations at the scene of the crime that, aside from proving that the police are utterly incompetent crime scene investigators, also reveal that the victim, a prostitute, had been killed in her apartment and dragged outside to make it look like a random mugging/murder.

We jump-cut from the apartment to Murdock addressing the jury, in what is clearly the full trial of the accused.

So, since this is set in NYC, not a fictional "Metropolis" or "Gotham City" -- the standard Marvel comics universe always used real cities -- it was one of the little things that made them more "real" than DC, back in the Sixties -- I figure the movie had to have suddenly jumped about 18-30 months ahead, since that's how long it would take to get through the arraignment, and all the other ancilliary court details on the timeframe NYC criminal courts having been working on for decades.

And I kinda wonder what Daredevil and Kingpin and Bullseye and Elektra have been up to for the past two years....

Yeah, yeah, there's lots more implausible things going on by far, and you either have to just go with it, or forget about trying.

I just hadn't thought of that one the first time through.

Read The Rest Scale: not really applicable, though you could go read about the movie, or comic, if fascinated, if you like. Or you could just have some tea. Whatever, really.

(If perchance you want to know what the differences in the two versions are, they're substantial, about 30 minutes in additions and cuts, and they're briefly described here.)

12/23/2006 03:58:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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PRAGER APOLOGY TO ELLISON? Here is a very brief article stating that G. W. Bush is "aware" of Congressman Virgil Goode's comments about Islam:
[...] “We’re aware of the situation,” said Dana Perino, a spokeswoman for Mr. Bush, “but no judgments have been made.”
I imagine they're stalling, hoping the slow holiday news week will make the story go away, so they don't have to alienate anyone by saying anything one way or the other; if the story hasn't gone away after New Year's, Bush will likely make some wishy-washy statement, though maybe he'll surprise me slightly by speaking up; he has made some good statements on anti-Islamic bigotry in the past. But I won't be practicing my oxygen-retention skills.

But the short story goes on to say:
[...] Mr. Goode said the election of Keith Ellison, a Minnesota lawyer who converted to Islam as a college student, posed a threat to American values. Mr. Prager, a presidential appointee to the board that oversees the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, said Mr. Ellison should not serve if he could not swear on a Bible, though he has apologized for those remarks. Mr. Ellison plans to use the Koran during a private swearing-in ceremony next month.
I've googled on "Prager apology ellison," and since I've only spent a limited time on it, it's certainly possible that Prager has, in the last week, apologized, and Google isn't yet showing that in its first few pages. So: has anyone seen this alleged apology from Dennis Prager? 'Cause what I've found is only endless iterations of this sort of thing (2006-12-08):
Conservative pundit Dennis Prager has come under fire from Muslim and Jewish groups after he attacked an incoming Muslim congressman who plans to bring a Quran to the House swearing-in ceremony on Jan. 4.

But Prager said he stands by statements made in his column published Nov. 28 on the Web site and has no intention of apologizing to Rep.-elect Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) or his critics.


The Anti-Defamation League labeled the Nov. 28 column as "intolerant, misinformed and downright un-American," adding that Prager's recent appointment to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council holds him to a higher standard.

Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, wants Prager to apologize directly to Ellison, who converted to Islam from Catholicism as a 19-year-old college student. "The notion that the exercise of your first amendment rights should be banned because someone else might misuse your words or misinterpret your actions violates two centuries of Supreme Court rulings," Saperstein said.


Prager said he will not take Saperstein up on his call for an apology to Ellison. Instead, he believes groups like the ADL and the Religious Action Center have wronged him.

"I think Saperstein owes me an apology," Prager said. "It's chutzpah ... arrogance on his part."
Or (right-wing radio talk guy Hugh Hewitt, December 15, 2006):
Former NYC Mayor Ed Koch has been calling my friend Dennis Prager a bigot and demanding Prager's ouster from the Holocaust Memorial Commission.

I spoke with Dennis about this absurd charge yesterday, and the transcript is here.


Ed Koch should look before he libels and read before he rips.

And the Holocaust Memorial Commission should concentrate its energies not on a purge of talent from their number --which they cannot do anyway-- but on a careful and sustained repudiation of the Ahmadinejad anti-Holocaust "conference" which has just occurred. The next Commission meeting begins on Monday, and it should include a detailed rebuttal of every bit of nuttery on display on Tehran. They don't have to prepare --Dennis Prager knows the subject cold.

And perhaps Mayor Koch can spare a little condemnation for Ahmadinejad in his next public declamation.
Nice to see H. Hewitt, incidentally, instruct the Holocaust Commission on what it should be doing; I missed his appointment as chairman. But, y'know, none of us Jews actually cares about either the Holocaust, or the Iran conference; we need instruction from right-wing talk-show hosts about these issues. Thanks, Hugh!

For extra laughs, he also said this:
[...] I am similarly certain that very few if any broadcast journalists in America --the exception might be Michael Medved-- know more about Islam than Dennis Prager.
So there!

Anyway, maybe Prager's had a change of heart in the past week, but I've yet to find a sighting -- which, again, could just me being lackadaisical: if you spot an apology from Prager, pray let me know.

Special extra-extra bonus from Prager on Hewitt:
[...] DP: No, no. Listen, listen, the only place where intellectual depth is allowed is talk radio.

HH: I'm just astonished by this.

DP: I'm not saying that all talk radio is intellectually deep, but all of the intellectual depth in the media, 90% of it, is located in our profession. And this gave...this is a good example[....]
Who would disagree? (All of the correctness -- which is 90%! -- is on Prager's side!)

(There's plenty more comedy gold in their exchanges, but I've already given them enough space; suffice to say that Ed Koch is right, and Prager is bewildered and clueless.)

Note: Prager has been quoted as saying that if Ellison would just bring a Bible along with a Koran, well, then, everything would be fine. That's not construable as an apology, and I sure hope that that's not what the NY Times is referring to.

Read The Rest Scale: 3 out of 5; these people just annoy the piss out of me. Merry Christmas!

12/23/2006 03:12:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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I'M NOT MUCH OF A JOINER, MYSELF. Still, Lefty sounds like some sf fans I've known.
In 1998, a local man, aged forty, requested a legal name change for reasons that he no longer cares to explain. Out with the old (“and you’re not going to find out what it was,” he said recently), and in with—say it slowly—Leftonred Atanycorner. The new name suits his politics (he goes by Lefty) and hints at his rebellious streak. Other names he considered include Fail2yield Atalltimes and X. Sesivspeed.

Lefty is a freelance computer consultant and a world-class networker and social joiner. He belongs to more than four hundred clubs, and has supervised or organized twenty-six of them, including one whose theme was administrating more clubs. “I was the organizer of the organizers’ group,” he says.


Most of Lefty’s group activities are coördinated through the Web site, where, for instance, origami aficionados or “Twin Peaks” fans or atheists (Lefty is all three) can find like-minded souls and arrange to convene. There are about ten New Yorkers—the Meetup Mafia, they call themselves—whose convening enthusiasm transcends subject matter. They are “high-volume attendees,” as Lefty says, and Lefty is their don.


Lefty, for his part, wanted to drop by a sake tasting on Astor Place (“If there’s a sake tasting in the New York area, Lefty’s got to be there”), before heading to a meeting of the Personal Computer Users Group, of which he is the president.

The computing event ran long—a sales representative was showing off new digital cameras—and a weary traveller, shadowing Lefty for a day, began to dream of the next item on the itinerary: Beer Meetup.


“The board-game people will definitely still be there,” Lefty said, referring to the next—and last—event of the evening. It was ten-thirty. As he waited for an uptown bus, he reflected on some of the more memorable Meetups he’d attended. “The Bowling Meetup is really strange—they encourage you not to bowl well,” he said. “I like the wine Meetups, especially if you want to meet women.”

Women were in scant evidence among the gamers, but David Greene, another Meetup mafioso, was there, playing San Juan, a fantasy card game, and eating Pringles. David and Lefty are co-organizers of the Leftonred and Greene Meetup, which they founded on a whim when, two years ago, they met a hermaphrodite at a vegetarian dinner, were interested, and needed an excuse to see her again. “She asked us what the group was for,” Lefty explained. “We said we do female-body finger painting. We’ve got about thirty regulars now.”
Sounds fairly fannish (an sf fan term of art that probably doesn't mean what you think it means).

Read The Rest Scale: 3 out of 5. But let's not form a club about it.

12/23/2006 12:03:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Thursday, December 21, 2006
Local Muslim leaders lit candles yesterday at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum to commemorate Jewish suffering under the Nazis, in a ceremony held just days after Iran had a conference denying the genocide.

American Muslims "believe we have to learn the lessons of history and commit ourselves: Never again," said Imam Mohamed Magid of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society, standing before the eternal flame flickering from a black marble base that holds dirt from Nazi concentration camps.


Major American Muslim and Arab-American organizations have condemned the Iran conference. The Muslim speakers at yesterday's ceremony did not mention that event but called for recognition of the suffering Jews experienced in the Holocaust and condemned religious hatred. Asked afterward why they did not single out Iran, the Muslim leaders said the problem was broader than the recent conference.

"The issue here is: There might be somebody from X and Y country, a Muslim, saying the same thing," Magid said. If anyone wants to make Holocaust denial an Islamic cause, he said, "we want to say to them: You cannot use our name."


After the speeches yesterday, Bloomfield invited the visitors to light candles to remember the Holocaust victims and Muslims who rescued some of the besieged Jews. One by one, the guests silently shuffled along the wallside bank of candles: the tall imam in his round Muslim cap, known as a kufi; a woman in a Muslim head scarf; Muslim men in business suits; and three elderly women in pantsuits from the D.C. suburbs, survivors of the genocide.

One of them, Johanna Neumann, recounted at the ceremony how Muslims saved her Jewish family. Members of her family had fled from Germany to Albania, where Muslim families sheltered them and hid their identity during the Nazi occupation.

"Everybody knew who we were. Nobody would even have thought of denouncing us" to the Nazis, said the tiny 76-year-old Silver Spring resident. "These people deserve every respect anybody can give them."

The idea for the ceremony originated with Magid, whose Sterling mosque has been active in interfaith efforts. After hearing radio reports about the Iranian meeting, "I said to myself, 'We have to, as Muslim leaders . . . show solidarity with our fellow Jewish Americans,' " Magid recalled after the speeches.

He contacted Akbar Ahmed, an American University professor active in inter-religious dialogue, who asked the museum to hold the ceremony.

"It's important that the world knows there are Muslims who don't believe in this [Holocaust denial]," Ahmed said after the ceremony. Also in the delegation were representatives of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Muslim Public Affairs Council.
I'm sure the fact that CAIR was present will prove, to some, that it's all part of the Big Cover-up that all Muslims support terrorism, etc., but there's nothing to be done about that.

Read The Rest Scale: 2.5 out of 5.

12/21/2006 03:39:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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BIGOTS EVERYWHERE IN THE REPUBLICAN PARTY. It's almost astonishing, except that it's not.
In a letter sent to hundreds of voters this month, Representative Virgil H. Goode Jr., Republican of Virginia, warned that the recent election of the first Muslim to Congress posed a serious threat to the nation’s traditional values.


In his letter, which was dated Dec. 5, Mr. Goode said that Americans needed to “wake up” or else there would “likely be many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the Koran.”

“I fear that in the next century we will have many more Muslims in the United States if we do not adopt the strict immigration policies that I believe are necessary to preserve the values and beliefs traditional to the United States of America and to prevent our resources from being swamped,” said Mr. Goode, who vowed to use the Bible when taking his own oath of office.
Imagine if he'd written "I fear that in the next century we will have many more Jews in the United States if we do not adopt the strict immigration policies that I believe are necessary...."

But these are the people who actually do believe that Islam is an evil religion, and that immigrants (sorry, Congressman Goode, but where was it your ancestors came from, again?; or is it not a matter of being Native American, but having ancestors from the "right" countries and background?) are a drain on society (a more anti-American concept would be difficult to imagine).
[...] Linwood Duncan, a spokesman for Mr. Goode, said the Virginia lawmaker had no intention of backing down, despite the furor.

“He stands by the letter,” Mr. Duncan said. “He has no intention of apologizing.”
The sad part will be if his constituents don't repudiate him.

More here.
[...] In a recent letter to constituents, Goode, a five-term congressman from Rocky Mount, wrote that he does "not subscribe to using the Koran in any way" and added: "The Muslim Representative from Minnesota was elected by the voters of that district and if American citizens don't wake up and adopt the Virgil Goode position on immigration, there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the Koran."


"We need to stop illegal immigration totally and reduce legal immigration and end the diversity visas policy . . . allowing many persons from the Middle East to come to this country," Goode said in the letter. "I fear that in the next century we will have many more Muslims in the United States if we do not adopt the strict immigration policies that I believe are necessary to preserve the values and beliefs traditional to the United States of America."


In his written response, Goode said he will not apologize and does not see why his comments could be offensive to some Muslims. "The voters of each Congressional district select the representative that they choose to represent them, and perhaps voters in all districts will now ask prospective candidates whether they will use the Bible, the Koran, or anything else," Goode said.
Sure. Wouldn't want to elect anyone other than an Approved Christian, after all.

Interesting, but unsurprising, to note that he took money from Mitchell Wade:
[...] In pleading guilty to felony election fraud and three other criminal counts, Mitchell J. Wade, owner and CEO of the defunct MZM, Inc., admitted to giving Goode $46,000 in illegal campaign contributions in 2003 and 2005

Goode, although not named by federal prosecutors, is easily dentifiable in the court documents.


However, the court documents also show how the campaign money came with strings, albeit legal ones. In the spring of 2005, Wade asked Goode to steer federal funding to an MZM facility in Virginia’s Southside, which is in Goode’s district.

Months later, Goode’s office “confirmed to Wade that an appropriations bill would include $9 million for the facility and a related program,” the court documents state. Wade, whom Goode refers to as “Mitch” in his statement, “thanked Representative A and his staff for their assistance.”
Lots more about Goode, and his background, at that link.

Here is the full letter. The story, by the way, is entitled "Goode makes complete ass of self," and there's an addendum that includes this:
Duncan took the call after a Goode staffer, who had answered the phone, asked C-VILLE, "Are you going to call us an 'ass' again?" The answer: Yes.
Good for Charlottesville's newsweekly about Goode!

One can't be a more straight-forward bigot than this.

And just by way of being a general idiot, this is also in the letter:
[...] The Ten Commandments and “In God We Trust” are on the wall in my office. A Muslim student came by the office and asked why I did not have anything on my wall about the Koran. My response was clear, “As long as I have the honor of representing the citizens of the 5th District of Virginia in the United States House of Representatives, The Koran is not going to be on the wall of my office.” Thank you again for your email and thoughts.
Yes, well, it's hard to imagine that any Muslim, or anyone else, would want you to nail a copy of the Koran to your office, or any other, wall, any more than Christians expect you to hang a copy of the New Testament -- though I do expect that Goode's Ten Commandments is the Protestant version, not the Catholic or Jewish version.

Gotta love politicians who are uniters, not dividers.

Read The Rest Scale: up to you.

12/21/2006 01:14:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 1 comments

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WILL THE DAYS OF THE WEEK GET NEW NAMES? Turkmenbashi the Great, President-For-Life of Turkmenistan, aka Saparmurat Atajevich Niyazov, is no longer President. Or alive.

Niyazov was the only man on the planet to make Kim Jong Il look like a sane, modest, and subdued, leader. Read about his astonishing reign here, here, and in the sub-links. Check out the palace of ice in the desert, the renaming of the days of the calender, the marvelous book of the Ruhnama, and so on.

Naturally, one has to wonder if Niyazov left naturally, or was pushed. Already, the intrigue has begun:
[...] According to the Turkmen constitution, upon the death of a president, the chairman of the Majlis, the country’s lower house of parliament, becomes the acting president.

But in Ashgabat, the Turkmen capital, power passed instead to a deputy prime minister, Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, and the state news agency announced that the prosecutor general had opened a criminal investigation against the Majlis chairman, Ovez Atayev.
Niyazov is said to have died of "sudden heart failure," which, of course, can come about in all sorts of ways.

My links, I assure you, are far more interesting than the NY Times story, which barely mentions Turkmenbashi's eccentricities:
[...] He banned video games, gold teeth, opera and ballet, and once encouraged his people to chew on bones — good, he said, for their teeth.
One seriously hopes, of course, for an improvement in the lives of the people of Turkmenistan, but it's way too early to say.

Read The Rest Scale: 3.5 out of 5.

12/21/2006 11:08:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Tuesday, December 19, 2006
DEBBIE SCHLUSSEL. I don't believe that I've yet mentioned that she's a complete maroon, bigot, asshole, and a whole lot of other names, so it's clearly time to do it.

Wot a maroon.
[...] So, even if he identifies strongly as a Christian, and even if he despised the behavior of his father (as Obama said on Oprah); is a man who Muslims think is a Muslim, who feels some sort of psychological need to prove himself to his absent Muslim father, and who is now moving in the direction of his father's heritage, a man we want as President when we are fighting the war of our lives against Islam? Where will his loyalties be?


NO WAY, JOSE . . . Or, is that, HUSSEIN?
Worry muchly, maroon.

Read The Rest Scale: 3 out of 5. Wow, but she's stupid.

How do people like this wind up being listened to?

She's disgusting. Revolting. And, oh, yeah, the title of this piece is "Barack Hussein Obama: Once a Muslim, Always A Muslim."

This woman should be classified with the KKK. No one should ever give a dime to anyone who gives this bigot a dime. She should be made untouchable, and unspeakable, and she should be reduced to speaking only on the telephone.

She's simply vomit-worthy.

It's hard to be more contemptible than Ann Coulter, but she's worked, and she's achieved.

ADDENDUM, 12/21, 10:42 p.m.: Rick Moran, of "Right Wing Nut House" links to this post to use me as an example:
With a predictability that would put a laxative to shame, the left holds up Schlussel’s severed head and proclaims her “Queen of the Conservative Blogosphere.”
Small reading problem on his part. (I've never even heard of two of the other three blogs he mentions, and don't recall ever having had any contact, direct or indirect [we've never even been on each other's blogrolls] with Oliver Willis.)

12/19/2006 08:44:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 4 comments

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[...] “‘Of all people, the Jews should know about ganging up, finding common enemies and telling the big lie,’” Ms. Regan said, according to a transcript of Mr. Jackson’s notes provided by Gary Ginsberg, an executive vice president of the News Corporation.

According to the transcript, Ms. Regan went on to say that the literary agent Esther Newberg; HarperCollins’s executive editor, David Hirshey; HarperCollins’s president, Jane Friedman, and Mr. Jackson “constitute a Jewish cabal against her.”
Read The Rest Scale: 2 out of 5. I actually talked to Esther a couple of times, but I forgot to conspire.

Pray forgive my ganging up.

12/19/2006 03:55:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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IT FINALLY HAPPENS. Andrew is being sent to Iraq.

I commented there.

Read The Rest Scale: 5 out of 5. It's times like these that I wished I believed in prayer.

12/19/2006 12:55:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 1 comments

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Monday, December 18, 2006
ANYONE KNOW A WHALE VOMIT EXPERT? Make this lady rich (maybe).

Read The Rest Scale: 3 out of 5 for the stuff that dreams are made of, or are, alternatively, at least worth a lot more than anything you or me are apt to toss up out of our tummies.

Via Dorkafork.

12/18/2006 06:00:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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COPYCAT KITTIES. Monday Cat Blogging! Because everyone wuvs the widdle kittycats, even if these were cloned from Hitler's cat!

Okay, that last part may not be true -- but note below that pictured kitty is giving the Nazi salute!

They are the kitties of the World's First Cloned Cat.
The world's first cloned cat just became a mother — and she even did it without test tubes. Copy Cat, who was cloned by Texas A&M University researchers in 2001, had three kittens in September. Mother and kittens are doing well, said Duane Kraemer, an A&M veterinary medicine professor who helped clone her and has been taking care of her since.


The father is Smokey, a naturally born tabby who was brought in to mate with CC. Two of the kittens take after their mother, while the third has a gray coat like his father.

CC is not the first cloned cat to give birth, Kraemer said. In New Orleans, two cloned wild African cats successfully mated to produce kittens.
Now we see the racism inherent in the system! The mostly white cloned kittens get pictures in major news publications while the cloned African kittens from the nearly destroyed chocolate city of New Orleans are passed over!

Kitten clearly a member of the Hitler Kitten Youth:
Racism at its worst!

The New Orleans African kittens were even turned back at Gretna.

White American kitties, be on notice! An army of cloned black African kitties is even now chanting "Black Kitty Power! Black Kitty Power!," and preparing for cat race war, even as we speak.

Little-known cloned black African kitty:
Can you prove it didn't happen?

Read The Rest Scale: 2 out of 5. Also, by the way, the first launch to orbit from Virginia's commercial spaceport; yay! (I remember when Wallops was featured in stories about the future when I was a kid.)

12/18/2006 10:29:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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WHAT IT MEANS TO NOT HAVE HABEAS CORPUS RIGHTS. Oh, the places you'll go, the things you'll see.
[...] Mr. Vance said he began seeking help even before his cell door closed for the first time. “They took off my blindfold and earmuffs and told me to stand in a corner, where they cut off the zip ties, and told me to continue looking straight forward and as I’m doing this, I’m asking for an attorney,” he said. “ ‘I want an attorney now,’ I said, and they said, ‘Someone will be here to see you.’ ”

Instead, they were given six-digit ID numbers. The guards shortened Mr. Vance’s into something of a nickname: “343.” And the routine began.
And some people will care more because he's an American named "Donald Vance," rather than a non-citizen named "Ali" or "Omar."

But we're all entitled to the same rights.

Read The Rest Scale: 5 out of 5.

12/18/2006 09:20:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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[...] "I think everyone is concerned because the 4th Circuit literally hangs in the balance here," said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for the conservative American Center for Law and Justice, who has advised the White House on judicial nominees. "With the nature of the cases the court has been taking, especially on the terrorism issue, its direction is really critical."
There are two possibilities: 1) either someone has captured the 4th Circuit -- whether simply the justices, or their entire courthouse building and staff, and perhaps some stray plaintiffs, appellants, and passersby, as well, is yet unknown -- and is hanging them somewhere in the sky, as gravity works its force to physically balance the Court in relation to the earth; or 2) Mr. Sekulow means that the court figuratively hangs in the balance, that it metaphorically hangs in the balance as regards its legal philosophy, which is, you know, the opposite of what "literally" means.

This concludes our morning's literalism usage watch. Misuse of words this way literally annoys us; posts in this vein are only figurative slaps at those responsible.

Read The Rest Scale: 2.75 out of 5; it's good that Bush will be unlikely to get as many loonies appointed to the Federal appeals bench as he once thought, but we already know that.

12/18/2006 08:12:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Sunday, December 17, 2006
[...] But the poll also showed that voters still have a lot to learn about the potential candidates. More people, for example, knew about Clinton's views than about those of other would-be contenders. Yet a majority of those interviewed said they knew little or nothing about her positions.

As for Giuliani, nearly three-quarters of the people said they don't know much about his views. Some observers have wondered whether GOP support for Giuliani would decline once conservatives learned about his liberal leanings on such social issues as gay rights and abortion. In the poll, just 36 percent of self-described conservatives said they knew a lot about his views.

Despite all the attention Obama is getting, 77 percent of the people interviewed in the poll didn't know much about him after his two years in the Senate.

Meanwhile, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who has had a national reputation since he ran for president in 2000, also still has much educating to do. Sixty-nine percent said they knew only a little or nothing about him. Most Americans know virtually nothing about outgoing Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R), who is weighing a presidential bid.
Now, you probably know something between a mild and moderate amount, or possibly even a great amount, about the views of these semi-candidates, and I know a fair amount, and that's why we're freaks, along with the rest of the regular readers of political blogs.

It's useful to remember that frequently.

(Personally, I'm most pissed off, as someone who lived in NYC for his full regime, about so few people having a clue about Giuliani's actual history of being a control freak and manically abusive rageaholic, as well as his incoherently erratic political views, but they'll start to find out when he starts to have to run against other human beings again. And wait until the Christian fundies see him in drag.)

Read The Rest Scale: 2 out of 5.

12/17/2006 09:17:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 1 comments

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FILMS THAT SOUNDED LIKE THEY SHOULD HAVE BEEN GOOD, BUT WHICH IN FACT ARE REALLY REALLY BAD. REALLY. BAD. First in a series of posts I should have started a very long time ago!

There are almost no reviews, it turns out, on the internetz, of The Librarian: Quest For The Spear, so I am here to warn you!

It sounds as if it could have been cheesy good! But it's really really bad.

It has plenty of ingredients for good! I liked Noah Wyle in ER; not everyone did, but I really enjoyed his acting and characterizations. I truly wanted to like him in this movie. I tried, and I tried, but: it's really really bad.

The concept sounds highly amusing! A perpetual student, still in college in his thirties, trying to pursue further degrees after his 22nd, because he loves to learn so much (some may recall Fred Cassidy, the protagonist of Roger Zelazny's Doorways In The Sand, or Heinlein's Zeb Carter from The Number of the Beast), is forced to take a job, and is made the Librarian (there is only one) of "The Metropolitan Public Library"), and finds that the Library contains, along with oodles of books, saved for thousands of years by a secret society of librarians, artifacts including Pandora's Box, the Goose That Lays Golden Eggs, a rocketpack, the (yes) Ark Of The Covenant (hey, they hung a lantern!), the Fat Man A-Bomb (strangely unexploded over Nagasaki), and so on, including the Spear Of Destiny (used to pierce Jesus, a legend I first encountered as a kid, in DC Comics, when it was a hackneyed prop decades ago).

(Curiously, another "artifact" is, apparently, King Midas -- or a painting of him -- or something -- but that's on the level of logic and sense the rest of the movie is, although I'll spare you the detailed summary, since the number of things that make no sense whatever, or are simply directly copied -- really really badly! -- from other movies would make this post tedious and lengthy beyond tolerance or belief.)

This is the crime of this movie: it takes talent like Bob Newhart (Bob Newhart!), and puts him in pigshit.

How can you go wrong with Bob Newhart?

And it has Olympia Dukakis, although unfortunately, she's clearly wandered in from another movie entirely. Her only (few) scenes are with Wyle, and have literally nothing to do with the rest of the movie, but simply provides a pointless time-filling sub-- well, it's not a subplot, actually, since you need some semblance of a plot for that; her role is simply to provide some additional "comic relief" as the mother worrying (but not really!; her scenes contradict each other, despite how few they are!) about her geek son.

Anyway, the uber-geek as action hero is a classic fish-out-of-water, and the plot is classic Hollywood elevator-pitch-speak: it's a librarian as Indiana Jones! But more geeky! (Except that this guy is smarter than Brainiac, and more or less a god who can do pretty much anything, so long as you can believe that reading a book will let you learn anything and everything up to "the language of the bird people in seven and a half hours!" [warning, home viewers: you can't make up shit this bad, so don't try! You could strain something!].)

Naturally, the Beautiful Sidekick (played by Sonya Walger) is staring soulfully at him within minutes: any bets on whether they wind up in bed? Anyone?

And the Beautiful Minor Villian (Kelly Hu, better known for playing Deathstrike in X-Men 2) also seems quickly smitten, though to no particular end except to -- at least in the eyes of the producers -- "contribute" to the Big Girl Fight Scene near the end, which is also intercut with... Bob Newhart's first major action scenes in his entire career. (At least, so claims Wylie in the intro in the DVD, and I'm prepared to believe him.)

Because, after all, who hasn't yearned to see Bob Newhart as an action hero, punching out an entire Crew Of Henchmen?

Okay, actually, I'll grant that that's a little bit funny.

But, again, mostly this film is all about what could have been funny, and which sounds amusing, but in the event... not really so much. Mostly the really really bad.

Wyle confesses in his intro that he'd done little comedy and no action-adventure, and so wanted to try them, which is nice, but it turns out -- contrary to what you might think from ER -- that he's really really bad at them.

His idea of comedy seems to be the sort of mugging and Talking Loudly that most of us thought acting was when we were in fourth grade. It's just utter over-acting, to the point of shuddering embarrassment.

It's extremely difficult to go wrong in any way with Bob Newhart, so naturally his scenes are relatively few, and are simply far less than they should be. Jane Curtain has an even more minor role and couple of scenes, and, old pro that she is, is adequate.

The one person who seems to understand that he's in a really really bad film, and acts accordingly, is Kyle MacLachlan (whom I first noticed circa 1982, when housemate Mischa Mazzini [e-mail me, Misch!] came home and reported as a Theater Major at the University of Washington about the twit who dumped paint all over her on a UW stage). His over-acting, as the Main Villain, is so obviously consciously over-the-top that he's genuinely amusing in a few moments in which he's called upon to pull off such lines as "I claim power of life and death!" (ecstatic look of orgasmic joy combined with Unbelievably Cheap Special Effect [reflected light -- they Shone A Big Light on him: wow!]) and "Yes! I feel the power! The power of life! And the power of death!"


If there's a cliche you can imagine would be used in a picture like this, it's there. And, alas, almost nothing more.

Thus the sad part: some terrific ingredients. An amusing concept. And dreadful execution.

It's criminal to do that with talent like Bob Newhart and Olympia Dukakis at your disposal, and a waste of Curtain, as well. Sonya Walger does adequately with a dully-written part; and it's worth mentioning veteran Clyde Kusatsu for the thirty-five seconds or so he shows up as a (yes!) Head Tibetan Monk Of A Mysterious Order -- situated, of course, at a "Shangri-La" in a matte painting and what one might swear to be a re-use of the "outdoors" set in Star Trek: The Original Series episode "All Our Yesterdays," although "The Enemy Within" is more of a rival of The Librarian: Quest For The Spear in the departments of cheesiness and over-acting.

Sample pictures of cheesiness level from "The Enemy Within," because I can:

Consider yourself properly warned of the cheese level.

Of the three reviews here, Brian Lowry of Variety is only too kind when he calls it "hopelessly derivative" and "lacks even the faintest whiff of inspiration." This thing is from some evil parallel universe where inspiration doesn't even exist, has never existed, and never will exist. Yes, a parallel universe where inspiration has ceased to exist. (And that's the level of logic and consistency in the film.)

The tragic part is that I could have avoided all this if I'd only checked the credits before putting it on my Netflix queue and noticed that the executive producer was Dean Devlin.

Yes, another film with all the logic, class, and plausibility of Godzilla, The Patriot, and Independence Day.

I'll give the man points for consistency.

Naturally, there's a sequel that's just come out. So what do you do to follow-up on a completely utterly unimaginative rip-off of Raiders Of The Lost Ark?

Why, you rip-off King Solomon's Mines. What else?

(Most recently viewed prior film I hated and should have written a post about? Click; so very very not funny, even despite, or except for, Christopher Walken (and a potentially amusing High Concept), who always rivets. Most recently viewed comedy I liked, as a comparison? Thank You for Smoking.)

12/17/2006 05:23:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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AT LEAST I DON'T HAVE A PILGARLIC. To read this list might for some be a chantepleure, though others might claim it is meupareunic. To them, I say that though it may be hebephrenic of us, try to fellowfeel with those of us whom it makes euneirophrenic unto eurgeria.

Preantepenultimately, I recommend you dibble not from the list, lest it drive you to boanthropy, or even peristerophobia. This be no libberwort! Indeed, some say (including this lapling) it may make you neanimorphic.

Read The Rest Scale: 3 out of 5. At times I do believe my computer, and most of my apartment, are guilty of resistenialism.

12/17/2006 04:52:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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SETTING A HIGH BAR. Victor Davis Hanson has questions:
[...] What to make of this mass depression over events on the ground? Our supposed setback surely is not comparable to the destruction of the entire French army in less than eight weeks in 1940, the flight of the British from Dunkirk, followed in the next 24 months by the surrender of two British armies at Singapore and Dunkirk, all of which led to consideration of a writ of censure of Winston Churchill.

Nor is our lament comparable to the hysteria that followed the attack on Pearl Harbor, the loss of Wake Island, and the fall of the Philippines.

Nor is the panic comparable to the near destruction of an American army when nearly 1 million Chinese crossed the Yalu in November 1950.
Wise words, indeed!

Or moronic. There may be a thin line between the two, eh?

Okay, maybe not.

Why are we all -- and the Iraqis -- not celebrating with joy that things aren't as bad as the above (although from the POV of many Iraqis in Baghdad and Anbar, it may not be so clear)? Or, as Hanson puts it, "Why then has the United States become unhinged?" He has answers! (Of course.)

Naturally, the #1 reason is:
[...] A media that makes Cindy Sheehan, Valerie Plame, Mark Foley’s email, or lies about flushed Korans in Guantanamo into headline stories is itself nearly lunatic.
Yes, as we know, things are actually going splendidly in Iraq; it's our lying, traitorous, terrorsymp media that convinces us (against all the facts!) that this isn't so. Liars!

The rest of the problem?
[...] And the problem in Iraq has not been so much the constant “mistakes” (such lapses happen in every war), as the inability of our government to articulate why we are there and how we will win.

The result is that we have almost worked ourselves into some sort of self-induced paralytic state. But on sober reflection, things in fact are hardly lost.
Indeed! It's just a communications problem! We're not getting our propaganda right! All we need do is listen to the voices of Wise Men, such as Victor Davis Hanson (and Mark Steyn, and Hugh Hewitt, and Michael Ledeen, and Richard Cheney); with men such as these to look to for sagacity, who could possibly go wrong?

Be reassured! Listen to the voices that tell you things are well. Tune out any harsh, fibbing, voice that suggests otherwise. And then all will be well. All will be well.

You'll hardly notice when the nice people in white coats come to take you away. You'll hardly notice at all.

And anyone who tells you differently is a lying, terrorsymp, member of the Mainstream Liberal Media.

Go to sleep, now. And dream.

Read The Rest Scale: 2 out of 5. One of the comments on the piece typifies the mentality:
Thanks again Dr. Hanson. I know you've been accused by some for repeating yourself on the topics you've addressed here, but I for one never tire of it. PLEASE don't stop.
Indeed not. Indeed not. It must be very soothing.

Even if it is quite reminiscent of this guy. And this one.

BELATED ADDENDUM, 12:04 p.m.: It took me a little while to notice that Hanson is citing the military disaster of Dunkirk (actually something of a victory, under the circumstances, insofar as how many of the British, albeit minus their equipment, escaped), which was followed by the disaster of... Dunkirk.

I'm thinking he has no editor. But if only the surrenders at Dunkirk hadn't been followed by the surrenders at Dunkirk, it wouldn't have been so bad!

Incoherent, beyond even the idiotic comparisons.

12/17/2006 09:54:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 1 comments

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IT'S NOT A COMPETITION. That's just a dumb and offensive way to look at it.

The news is that too many people in Britain are victims of hate crimes based on their religion/ethnicity (and these figures barely scratch the surface of clarifying that).

[...] The crimes range from assault and verbal abuse to criminal damage at places of worship.
What's particularly interesting is this:
Police forces started recording the religion of faith-hate crime victims only this year. They did so on the instruction of the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo), which wanted a clear picture of alleged community tensions around the country, following reports of Muslims being attacked after September 11 and the July 7 London bombings last year.
Italics mine. Why was there no interest in, such indifference to, such crimes before? That's the understated part of this story, it seems to me, no matter that:
However, the first findings, for July to September, obtained by The Sunday Telegraph under freedom of information legislation, show that it is Jews who are much more likely to be targeted because of their religion.
Interesting, but since no previous official attention was paid to the topic, it's not particularly surprising that:
The figures also suggest that many faith-hate crimes remain unsolved, contrary to the picture painted by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in a report this month. The CPS said only 43 people were charged with "religiously aggravated" offences last year, and concluded that the large rise expected after the July 7 bombings had not materialised.
No, apparently there's simply been been hate-based crime up to now that hasn't been worth even finding out if it existed, let alone how much.

That's the semi-buried lede here. Way down in the story:
[...] Police figures suggest, however, that hundreds of faith-hate crimes are being committed, with very few ever reaching court. Those figures include any crime that is reported to police which the victim believes is motivated by hatred of his or her religion.
Well, yeah: the simple fact that no one ever tracked them before reflects indifference that will not have gone unperceived by other victims.

Inspiring fact!:
The CPS report revealed that not a single person accused of an anti-Semitic crime had been prosecuted on a charge of religiously aggravated offending. It said: "The police statistics include incidents where no defendant has been identified or where there is insufficient evidence for a prosecution."
Very reassuring. Of course, we already knew that:
A report by MPs in September said British Jews were more vulnerable to attack and abuse now than for a generation. Iain Duncan Smith, the former Tory leader, who sat on the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Anti-Semitism, said it was "perverse" that not all police forces recorded anti-Semitic incidents and said that some forces "verge on the complacent". The Acpo directive was ignored by most forces, whose systems are not designed to record religion, though they routinely record ethnicity. Acpo said large organisations take time to adjust to new systems.
Well, what the hell, Jews and Muslims were just invented last year, so why should anyone have been concerned about crimes against them before this?

Read The Rest Scale: 3 out of 5. After all, why care about twelve-year-old girls being beaten, whatever their religion or ethnicity?

12/17/2006 09:07:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 1 comments

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IRAQ THE MODEL. Is anyone surprised that, in the Iraqi "justice" system, there ain't no justice?

Probably not, but the extent of the non-existence is impressive. As Americans, we should be pleased and proud at how truly awesomely our writ of non-justice runs.

Read The Rest Scale: 3.5 out of 5. What Arab can't find inspiration in America's accomplishment in Iraq?

On the "positive" side of a somewhat more functional justice system, during my recent dearth of posting, I didn't note that about six Marines will likely be charged in the killing of civilians in Haditha. And in Israel, the Army can be held responsible before the courts for damages to Palestinians.

Ex-detainees of Americans trying to hold Rumsfeld and our own military responsible for their torture? I don't advise their holding their breath.

This has been your Round-Up Of American Justice Moment for the day.

12/17/2006 08:29:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Thursday, December 14, 2006
I HAVE NO BRAIN LATELY. No, really, let's not get into that. In a few days, maybe.

But apparently John Scalzi notes that I'm the 11th most popular sf blogger there is. Apparently.

I'll buy that for a quarter.

I'm just really apologetic and sorry that I've been so lame lately.

But I'll do better!

Soon, I shall do better!

Surely, honest, promise!

Read The Rest Scale: 3 out of 5 for stuff about other sf bloggers, who are not, of course, as wonderful as me, insufficient as I've been of late.

12/14/2006 07:01:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 1 comments

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Sunday, December 10, 2006
JOE DARBY SPEAKS. I notice that tonight on 60 Minutes, Anderson Cooper is scheduled to interview/profile former Army Specialist Joe Darby, the man brave enough to report the Abu Ghraib disgraces, and pictures, to authorities; I last wrote about him here, and how he has suffered for his brave and correct act.

It should be a moving interview, I'm guessing, and you can read my posts to find out why. Everyone should know who Joe Darby is.

He's the sort of person who should get the Presidential Medal of Freedom, rather than a Paul Bremer, a Norman Podhoretz, a Gordon B. Hinckley. (Norm Mineta? Why?)

Read The Rest Scale: 4 out of 5.

12/10/2006 09:53:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Wednesday, December 06, 2006
YOU CAN START BY GETTING OUR NAME RIGHT. The fact that the Repubs do this on automatic pilot isn't an excuse.
[...] "While they won't agree with every proposal, and we probably won't agree with every proposal, it nevertheless is an opportunity to come together and to work together on this important issue," Bush said. The country is "tired of pure political bickering," he said, suggesting that the report could help reduce it.

"This report will give us all an opportunity to find common ground for the good of the country -- not for the good of the Republican Party or the Democrat Party but for the good of the country," he said.
What's the name of the other party, again, Mr. Bu?

Read The Rest Scale: 3 out of 5. Incidentally, about that Baker/Hamilton panel report?
[...] "Our most important recommendations call for new and enhanced diplomatic and political efforts in Iraq and the region, and a change in the primary mission of U.S. forces in Iraq that will enable the United States to begin to move its combat forces out of Iraq responsibly," the summary says.
Yes, we've reached the stage where "peace with honor" comes forth. How nostalgic.

ADDENDUM, 12/09/06, 9:30 p.m.: Some might prefer "decent interval," to be sure.

Either way, it's a policy of letting Iraqis and Americans continue to die for long enough -- a couple of years, or so -- for the collapse to not happen on George. W.'s watch.

And that's all. Same result otherwise, either way; we don't have the magic power to make anything else happen.

12/06/2006 01:24:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 3 comments

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Monday, December 04, 2006
9TH WONDERS. I'm tending towards moving to recording Heroes and watching later (despite lousy reception of NBC -- geez, I look forward to affording cable tv again sometime), but my observation is that relatively few people have noticed the 9th Wonders site of the creators, so there you go.

Read The Rest Scale: as interested.

12/04/2006 07:12:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 8 comments

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Sunday, December 03, 2006
BECAUSE IT'S THE SEASON, and you can't hear enough Christmas music.
Hearing the pleas of the suffering, we aim to help! Let us know when you've heard this one too many times.

Read The Rest Scale: WWJD?

ADDENDUM: I should note that this version is rather dark and muddy, and that the version on the DVD of Jesus Is Magic is much better and more viewable.

12/03/2006 12:02:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Saturday, December 02, 2006
WE CONTROL THE HORIZONTAL; WE CONTROL THE VERTICAL. Stargate Command is again testing new weapons to defend Earth.
What do remote-control garage door openers have to do with national security?

A secretive Air Force facility in Colorado Springs tested a radio frequency this past week that it would use to communicate with first responders in the event of a homeland security threat. But the frequency also controls an estimated 50 million garage door openers, and hundreds of residents in the area found that theirs had suddenly stopped working.

''It would have been nice not to have to get out of the car and open the door manually,'' said Dewey Rinehard, pointing out that the outage happened during the first cold snap of the year, with lows in the teens.

Capt. Tracy Giles of the 21st Space Wing said Air Force officials were trying to figure out how to resolve the problem of their signal overpowering garage door remotes.
More than a "cold snap," incidentally; it was a minor blizzard a couple of days ago, and has been coming down steadily again since last night.

Meanwhile, admire the power of Cheyenne Mountain!
[...] The signals were coming from Cheyenne Mountain Air Station, home to the North American Aerospace Defense Command, a joint U.S. and Canadian operation set up during the Cold War to monitor Soviet missile and bomber threats.

Technically, the Air Force has the right to the frequency, which it began using nearly three years ago at some bases. Signals have previously interfered with garage doors near bases in Florida, Maryland and Pennsylvania.

In general, effects from the transmissions would be felt only within 10 miles, but the Colorado Springs signal is beamed from atop 6,184-foot Cheyenne Mountain, which likely extends the range.
Civilians don't understand the danger!
[...] Holly Strack, who lives near the entrance to the facility, said friends in the neighborhood all had the same problem.

''I never thought my garage door was a threat to national security,'' she said.
Ha! Command of all garage doors in a planetary emergency will be crucial to prevent aliens from getting in or out of your garage! Alien access to those stacks of newspapers and National Geographics could be crucial to their conquest of the world! But the Air Force is on the job!
David McGuire, whose Overhead Door Co. received more than 400 calls for help, said the Air Force may be able to slightly adjust the transmission frequency to solve the problem. If not, it will cost homeowners about $250 to have new units installed.

''The military has the right to use that frequency. It is a sign of the times,'' he said.
I feel safer knowing this.

Read The Rest Scale: 2 out of 5. Elsewhere in safety news: N.Y. Cracks Down on Mystery Meats:
A food safety inspector noticed an interesting special posted in the front window of a market in Queens: 12 beefy armadillos.

In Brooklyn, inspectors found 15 pounds of iguana meat at a West Indian market and 200 pounds of cow lungs for sale at another store. A West African grocery in Manhattan sold smoked rodent meat from a refrigerated display case.

All of it was headed for the dinner table. All of it was also illegal. Authorities say the discoveries are part of a larger trend in which markets across New York are buying meat and other foods from unregulated sources and selling them to an immigrant population accustomed to more exotic fare.
You see the link? You see the problem?

Again, it's aliens. Fortunately, the Men In Black are based in NYC!
[...] Down the street at Dahing Seafood Market, inspectors have found frogs being sold from an unapproved source. Next door, authorities spotted crates of turtles and a large tub of bullfrogs without proper invoices.
Frogs and turtles or little aliens?

But wait!
[...] At the West African Grocery -- where ''smoked rodent'' was found -- the owner failed to explain why he was selling the meat, saying he couldn't speak English.

But he could apparently read the sanitary inspection report and the word ''rodent.'' ''I don't know what that is,'' the owner said. ''I don't sell that here.''
Oh, man! Where am I going to get my smoked rodent imported from now? I love that stuff! (Also the rodent paté.)

One thing is clear: if all garage doors were kept closed by the Air Force, this could never happen.

Read The Rest Scale: 2 out of 5.

12/02/2006 11:02:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 9 comments

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