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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
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The Bloggess

People I've known and still miss include Isaac Asimov, rich brown, Charles Burbee, F. M. "Buzz" Busby, Terry Carr, A. Vincent Clarke, Bob Doyle, George Alec Effinger, Abi Frost, Bill & Sherry Fesselmeyer, George Flynn, John Milo "Mike" Ford. John Foyster, Mike Glicksohn, Jay Haldeman, Neith Hammond (Asenath Katrina Hammond)/DominEditrix , Chuch Harris, Mike Hinge, Lee Hoffman, Terry Hughes, Damon Knight, Ross Pavlac, Bruce Pelz, Elmer Perdue, Tom Perry, Larry Propp, Bill Rotsler, Art Saha, Bob Shaw, Martin Smith, Harry Stubbs, Bob Tucker, Harry Warner, Jr., Jack Williamson, Walter A. Willis, Susan Wood, Kate Worley, and Roger Zelazny. It's just a start, it only gets longer, many are unintentionally left out. And She of whom I must write someday.

Saturday, January 31, 2009
I AM PROFESSOR CHUKWUMA C. SOLUDO. Who is in and who is out?
Anthony Lake served as one of Barack Obama’s principal counselors on foreign affairs during the campaign and exchanged e-mail messages with him regularly. But now that Mr. Obama is president, Mr. Lake no longer has his e-mail address.

No,” he said when asked if he had it. “Did. Don’t.”

Neither does Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House, nor Steny H. Hoyer, the majority leader, but they do not use e-mail much anyway. Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, is a BlackBerry fiend, but he does not have Mr. Obama’s address. Nor do many members of the cabinet, including Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates.

Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. has it, along with his own new super-secret BlackBerry and e-mail address. So do Mr. Obama’s chief of staff, his top advisers and some of his oldest friends from Chicago.

Senator Richard J. Durbin, a fellow Illinois Democrat, probably has it but refuses to say.


Those select few who have Mr. Obama’s e-mail address, say people informed about the matter, include Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff; David Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett, both senior advisers; and Robert Gibbs, the press secretary. But cabinet members like the interior secretary, Ken Salazar, said they did not have it. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is a frequent BlackBerry user, but a spokesman said he did not know whether she had the president’s address.
I fear it will only be days before President Obama meets with, and gives his email address to, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, and our economy truly crashes.

Read The Rest Scale: 2.75 out of 5.

1/31/2009 04:40:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Friday, January 30, 2009
FIND YOUR WAY BY THE GLOW. Did you know that the Soviet Union built a string of unmanned nuclear-powered polar light houses that are now abandoned? Because I sure didn't.
Russian Northern coast is a vast territory lays for a few thousand of miles and all this coastline is inside the Polar Circle. Long polar winters mean no daylight at all, just one day changes another without any sign of the Sun rising above the horizon. There is only polar night for 100 day a year.


So, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union decided to build a chain of lighthouses to guide ships finding their way in the dark polar night across uninhabited shores of the Soviet Russian Empire. So it has been done and a series of such lighthouses has been erected. They had to be fully autonomous, because they were situated hundreds and hundreds miles aways from any populated areas. After reviewing different ideas on how to make them work for a years without service and any external power supply, Soviet engineers decided to implement atomic energy to power up those structures. So, special lightweight small atomic reactors were produced in limited series to be delivered to the Polar Circle lands and to be installed on the lighthouses. Those small reactors could work in the independent mode for years and didn’t require any human interference, so it was very handy in the situation like this. It was a kind of robot-lighthouse which counted itself the time of the year and the length of the daylight, turned on its lights when it was needed and sent radio signals to near by ships to warn them on their journey.


Then, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the unattended automatic lighthouses did it job for some time, but after some time they collapsed too. Mostly as a result of the hunt for the metals like copper and other stuff which were performed by the looters. They didn’t care or maybe even didn’t know the meaning of the “Radioactive Danger” sign and ignored them, breaking in and destroying the equipment. It sounds creepy but they broke into the reactors too causing all the structures to become radioactively polluted.

Those photos are from the trip to the one of such structures, the most close to the populated areas of the Russian far east. Now, there are signs “RADIOACTIVITY” written with big white letters on the approaching paths to the structure but they don’t stop the abandoned exotics lovers.

As you can see, and see more of the photographs at the article, the places were completely trashed by looters.

This is, of course, low-level nuclear materials, not, you know, plutonium, or U235, but it's still bizarre, and not comforting to contemplate.

Read The Rest Scale: 3 out of 5 for more pictures. Via Bill Gibson.

Also, sometimes we all need a hug. But anonymously?
Via Kathryn Cramer via Facebook. (There are more pictures.)

1/30/2009 03:45:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 1 comments

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THE NOSE KNOWS. Need a good laugh?
[...] Rove said in an interview that despite his error on the past office space of the political team, he now sees Obama’s political operation ramping up from the Bush years when — despite allegations that the White House coordinated grants and cabinet visits with congressional campaigns — he said politics was rarely on his mind.
Who knew Karl was going into stand-up?

Read The Rest Scale: 2 out of 5.

Incidentally, as you'll doubtless read elsewhere, Samantha Power has been fired hired for the NSC.

1/30/2009 01:48:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 1 comments

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APPOINT A PONY, GOVERNOR! It's really fun watching the Senate Republicans squirm like this.
[...] Republicans in Washington and New Hampshire are mounting a full-court press to keep Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) in the Senate and out of the Obama administration, aides and senators said Friday.

But if he does take the commerce secretary job, they want a commitment that New Hampshire’s Democratic governor will appoint a Republican senator so the party holds at least 41 seats, the minimum needed to sustain filibusters. No such commitments have been made, even as Granite State Republican sources tell Politico they are worried Gregg will take the Cabinet job if offered it by Obama.

“I think it would be a loss to the Senate of a great mind and somebody who I think we need a lot as we chart our way through economic challenge,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, told Politico on Friday.

Asked what could be offered to keep Gregg in the Senate, Cornyn said: “I would say whatever it is, name it.”

Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) said luring Gregg with a Cabinet job was “sneaky” because it would put the GOP in a bind and take away a valuable member.
Sneaky! Yes, it's almost like it was politics.

And then there's that gun Obama is putting to Gregg's head.
[...] Friends tell Politico they expect Gregg to accept the seat if it’s offered, even though Gregg has only confirmed he is under consideration and would not comment further. Gregg has to run for reelection next year and could lose in his increasingly Democratic state.
Shocking! How dare the Democrats seek a political advantage!
[... ] Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), the third-ranking Senate Republican, said Friday. “Perhaps if he went into the administration, the Democratic governor of New Hampshire would appoint a Republican senator so that wouldn’t change.
Perhaps the governor will appoint a Republican pony! It could happen!

Read The Rest Scale: 3 out of 5 for more fantasy dreams from Republicans sucking crack pipes.

1/30/2009 12:11:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 2 comments

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Thursday, January 29, 2009
IT IS A TRUTH UNIVERSALLY ACKNOWLEDGED, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of some zombies.
Says Chronicle Books, "The Classic Regency Romance—Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem!" The publisher's blurb reads:
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies features the original text of Jane Austen's beloved novel with all-new scenes of bone-crunching zombie action. As our story opens, a mysterious plague has fallen upon the quiet English village of Meryton—and the dead are returning to life! Feisty heroine Elizabeth Bennet is determined to wipe out the zombie menace, but she's soon distracted by the arrival of the haughty and arrogant Mr. Darcy. What ensues is a delightful comedy of manners with plenty of civilized sparring between the two young lovers—and even more violent sparring on the blood-soaked battlefield as Elizabeth wages war against hordes of flesh-eating undead.
Expanding the field of candidates for marriage to zombies will make for ever so many more successful matches!

Who doesn't want a partner that desires brraaiiiinns?

Read The Rest Scale: 2.5 out of 5. Via Karen Babich at Facebook.

ADDENDUM, 2/1/09, 4:40 p.m.: Speaking of zombies. Via Mike Glyer.
It's always best to check the morning zombie report.

1/29/2009 08:01:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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LILY LEDBETTER. Fair pay for women is the first bill signed. Huzzah!
President Obama signed his first bill into law on Thursday, approving equal-pay legislation that he said would “send a clear message that making our economy work means making sure it works for everybody.”

Mr. Obama was surrounded by a group of beaming lawmakers, most but not all of them Democrats, in the East Room of the White House as he affixed his signature to the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, a law named for an Alabama woman who at the end of a 19-year career as a supervisor in a tire factory complained that she had been paid less than men.

After a Supreme Court ruling against her, Congress approved the legislation that expands workers’ rights to sue in this kind of case, relaxing the statute of limitations.

“It is fitting that with the very first bill I sign — the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act — we are upholding one of this nation’s first principles: that we are all created equal and each deserve a chance to pursue our own version of happiness,” the president said.

He said was signing the bill not only in honor of Ms. Ledbetter — who stood behind him, shaking her head and clasping her hands in seeming disbelief — but in honor of his own grandmother, “who worked in a bank all her life, and even after she hit that glass ceiling, kept getting up again” and for his daughters, “because I want them to grow up in a nation that values their contributions, where there are no limits to their dreams.”


Mr. Obama told Ms. Ledbetter’s story over and over again during his campaign for the White House; she spoke frequently as an advocate for him during his campaign, and made an appearance at the Democratic National Convention in Denver.

Now 70, Ms. Ledbetter discovered when she was nearing retirement that her male colleagues were earning much more than she was. A jury found her employer, the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company plant in Gadsden, Ala., guilty of pay discrimination. But in a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court threw out the case, ruling that she should have filed her suit within 180 days of the date that Goodyear first paid her less than her peers.

Congress tried to pass a law that would have effectively overturned the decision while President George W. Bush was still in office, but the White House opposed the bill; opponents contended it would encourage lawsuits and argued that employees could delay filing their claims in the hope of reaping bigger rewards. But the new Congress passed the bill, which restarts the six-month clock every time the worker receives a paycheck.
This is only common sense, since the SCOTUS interpretation effectively meant that women could almost never sue over an equal pay issue, but it's up to the Democrats to return common sense and fairness to America. This is a fine start.

Read The Rest Scale: 3 out of 5.

1/29/2009 02:21:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009
LIBERAL BLOGS FALL DOWN, GO SQUISH. No fight whatever over Dennis Blair, and apparently no questions even asked about mere genocide.
The Senate Intelligence Committee voted Wednesday to send the nomination of retired Adm. Dennis Blair as the nation's chief intelligence officer to the full Senate for consideration.

By a unanimous vote, the committee gave its approval to President Barack Obama's choice to be the next director of national intelligence. The Senate is expected to confirm Blair before the end of the week.
Hey, it's only genocide. It's only East Timor. It was only 200,000 people killed, and a third of the population. Why care?

Read The Rest Scale: apparently almost no one is interested. Good job, liberal blogosphere.

My past posts about Admiral Blair, and the questions that needed to be raised, and weren't, here, here, and here.

ADDENDUM, 1/29/09, 2:49 p.m.: Thanks, Aziz. And since this makes the Democratic Congress and President Obama look bad, I also got my first link in years, to my earlier post, via Aziz, from Glenn Reynolds.

ADDENDUM, 1/29/09, 5:16 p.m.: Also Belmont Club. Dean Esmay.

1/28/2009 03:12:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 4 comments

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CENTER-LEFT. There are only five significantly Republican states left: Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, Alaska, and Nebraska, with Kansas and Alabama retaining a 2% and 1% Republican majority. All the other states are tied or majority Democratic, according to Gallup.

So much for the wishful "we're a center-right country" the right keeps reciting as a mantra, hoping repetition will make it true.
[...] All told, 29 states and the District of Columbia had Democratic party affiliation advantages of 10 points or greater last year. This includes all of the states in the Northeast, and all but Indiana in the Great Lakes region. There are even several Southern states in this grouping, including Arkansas, North Carolina, and Kentucky.

An additional six states had Democratic advantages ranging between 5 and 9 points.

In contrast, only five states had solid or leaning Republican orientations in 2008, with Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, and Alaska in the former group, and Nebraska in the latter.

The most balanced political states in 2008 were Texas (+2 Democratic), South Dakota (+1), Mississippi (+1), North Dakota (+1), South Carolina (even), Arizona (even), Alabama (+1 Republican), and Kansas (+2 Republican).
Read The Rest Scale: 2.5 out of 5 as interested or not in more detail. We're driving on the left side of the road now.

1/28/2009 01:08:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 3 comments

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HOLDER GIVING IN TO POLITICAL PRESSURE to not follow the law? Say it isn't so.
[...] Sen. Christopher "Kit" Bond, a Republican from Missouri and the vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said in an interview with The Washington Times that he will support Eric H. Holder Jr.'s nomination for Attorney General because Mr. Holder assured him privately that Mr. Obama's Justice Department will not prosecute former Bush officials involved in the interrogations program.

Mr. Holder's promise apparently was key to moving his nomination forward. Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 17-2 to favorably recommend Holder for the post. He is likely to be confirmed by the Senate soon.

Sen. Bond also said that Mr. Holder told him in a private meeting Tuesday that he will not strip the telecommunications companies that cooperated with the National Security Agency after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks of retroactive legal immunity from civil lawsuits--removing another potential sticking point among GOP senators.

In the interview Wednesday, Mr. Bond said, "I made it clear that trying to prosecute political leaders would generate a political firestorm the Obama administration doesn't need."

He added, "I was concerned about previous statements he made and others had made. He gave me assurances that he would not take those steps that would cause major disruptions in our intelligence system or cause political warfare. We don't need that kind of political warfare. He gave me assurances he is looking forward."
I'd like to hope that Kit Bond is distorting what Holder said, but know better than to be optimistic.

Read The Rest Scale: 3 out of 5.

ADDENDUM, 6:54 p.m.: Holder Aide: We Made No Special Promises to Bond:
[...] The aide definitively denied Sen. Kit Bond's (R-MO) claim that Holder had given him "assurances" of avoiding future prosecutions of Bush intelligence officials who engaged in torturous interrogations.

"Eric Holder has not made any commitments about who would or would not be prosecuted," the aide said via e-mail. "He explained his position to Senator Bond as he did in the public hearing and in his responses to written questions."
Someone is spinning, and I hope it's Bond.

1/28/2009 12:52:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Saturday, January 24, 2009
WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE? One expects all sorts of amazingly fucktarded crapdoodle to spew from Rush Limbaugh's mouth on a daily basis, and that's not worth posting about, and neither is most of the predictable bullshit here about him and Obama, but I was particularly impressed with Rush's economic stimulus package, as expounded about here:
[...] Obama was angry that Merrill Lynch used $1.2 million of TARP money to remodel an executive suite. Excuse me, but didn't Merrill have to hire a decorator and contractor? Didn't they have to buy the new furnishings? What's the difference in that and Merrill loaning that money to a decorator, contractor and goods supplier to remodel Warren Buffet's office? Either way, stimulus in the private sector occurs.
Clearly the best way to get the economy going again would be to fund the redecoration of all executive suites of major corporations above the country. Why didn't the Democrats think of this?

Read The Rest Scale: 2.75 out of 5 more of this sort of thing:
Are we really at the point where the bad PR of Merrill getting a redecorated office in the process is reason to smear them? How much money will the Obamas spend redecorating the White House residence?
Or this sort of economic wisdom:
[...] Obama's plan would buy votes for the Democrat Party, in the same way FDR's New Deal established majority power for 50 years of Democrat rule, and it would also simultaneously seriously damage any hope of future tax cuts. It would allow a majority of American voters to guarantee no taxes for themselves going forward. It would burden the private sector and put the public sector in permanent and firm control of the economy. Put simply, I believe his stimulus is aimed at re-establishing "eternal" power for the Democrat Party rather than stimulating the economy because anyone with a brain knows this is NOT how you stimulate the economy.
Really, you'd think Liberty University would hire Rush as an economist.

1/24/2009 07:08:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 2 comments

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Friday, January 23, 2009
THE DIFFERENCE CYLON. Design a steampunk Cylon.
Read The Rest Scale: How creative do you feel?

Also, Caprica. Ron Moore talks about Caprica.

1/23/2009 04:26:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Thursday, January 22, 2009
HE CAN FIGHT WITH STAR TREK BARBIES. Barack Obama action figures:

There's more.

These would go nicely with these.

View The Rest Scale: 3 out of 5. First via Sore Eyes.

1/22/2009 07:22:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Elsewhere in intelligence news:
U.S. spy agencies' sensitive data should soon be linked by Google-like search systems, nearly five years after the intelligence community was rebuked by the 9/11 Commission for failing to "connect the dots" and detect the attack.

Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell has launched a sweeping technology program to knit together the thousands of databases across all 16 spy agencies. After years of bureaucratic snafus, intelligence analysts will be able to search through secret intelligence files the same way they can search public data on the Internet.


The new information program also is designed to include Facebook-like social-networking programs and classified news feeds. It includes enhanced security measures to ensure that only appropriately cleared people can access the network. The price tag is expected to be in the billions of dollars, but much of that money will be reallocated from existing technology programs.
A power that, needless to say, can be used either for good or evil.

Given that folks like this get considered to be "terrorists," having those lies spread across all the intelligence agencies won't be a good thing. But obviously if they can get intelligence on genuine terrorists, who do exist, that's good. Probably we'll get both.
[...] Intelligence officers created a voluminous file on Norfolk-based People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, calling the group a "security threat" because of concerns that members would disrupt the circus. Angry consumers fighting a 72 percent electricity rate increase in 2006 were targeted. The DC Anti-War Network, which opposes the Iraq war, was designated a white supremacist group, without explanation.

One of the possible "crimes" in the file police opened on Amnesty International, a world-renowned human rights group: "civil rights."


But some observers say Sept. 11 opened the door. "No one was thinking this was al-Qaeda," said Stephen H. Sachs, a former U.S. attorney and state attorney general appointed by Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) to review the case. "But 9/11 created an atmosphere where cutting corners was easier."

Maryland has not been alone. The FBI and police departments in several cities, including Denver in 2002 and New York before the 2004 Republican National Convention, also responded to the threat of terrorism by spying on activists.

Sachs's review, released in October, condemned the Maryland spying as a severe lapse in judgment. No one has been reprimanded or fired, and the undercover trooper has been promoted twice.


The documents and law enforcement sources say the operation began in 2005 with a simple request from Maj. Jack Simpson, a field commander in special operations. In late February, he called Lt. Greg Mazzella in the intelligence division and asked for a threat assessment of protests expected before the scheduled execution dates for two men on Maryland's death row.

After trawling the Internet, an analyst reported a "potential for disruption" at both executions. Mazzella dispatched a corporal who needed experience in undercover work to the Electrik Maid community center in Takoma Park, where death penalty foes were organizing rallies.

At a rally to save Vernon Evans Jr. outside the Supermax prison in Baltimore a few weeks later, the woman who said her name was Lucy McDonald asked veteran activist Max Obuszewski how she could learn more about passive resistance and civil disobedience.

The activists recall that she had a genial disposition and refreshing curiosity, and she quickly became a fixture at meetings and rallies of death penalty opponents and antiwar activists. She used a laptop computer at meetings, but the activists say no one was alarmed. "Maybe I wondered what she was typing," said Mike Stark of Takoma Park. "But you always check yourself. In our movement it's very important to be outward and not paranoid."

The trooper provided weekly reports to her bosses, logging at least 288 hours of investigative time. She did not return phone calls seeking comment, and The Post is not identifying her because of concerns about compromising her cover in other possible operations.

The logs described silent vigils outside the prison and a ceremony of poetry and songs to commemorate the dropping of the atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan. The activists pledged nonviolence. Yet she closed several entries this way: "Due to the above facts, I request that this case remain open and updated as events warrant."

The woman's bosses considered her surveillance a low-risk training exercise; it quickly expanded to the antiwar movement as she met activists whose causes overlapped, police said.


Current Superintendent Terrence Sheridan said in a Nov. 25 letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Brian E. Frosh (D-Montgomery) that police had a right to monitor activists in public forums.

"Presence at a rally, a demonstration, gathering information from open sources such as the Internet, etc. are all part of the collection of the knowledge and information crucial" to police work, Sheridan wrote.


Meanwhile, the intelligence-gathering expanded in other directions, to activists in New York, Missouri, San Francisco and at the University of Maryland. Shane Dillingham's primary crime, according to the six-page file classifying him as a terrorist, was "anarchism." Police opened a file on the doctoral student in history a week after an undercover officer attended a College Park forum featuring a jailhouse phone conversation with Evans.

Investigators also tracked activists protesting weapons manufactured by defense contractor Lockheed Martin. They watched two pacifist Catholic nuns from Baltimore. Environmental activists made it into the database, as did three leaders of Code Pink, a national women's antiwar group, who do not live in Maryland.

PETA was labeled a "security threat group" in April 2005, and by July police were looking into a tip that the group had learned about a failing chicken farm in Kent County and planned on "protesting or stealing the chickens." A "very casually dressed" undercover trooper attended a speech by PETA's president that month and waited afterward to see whether anyone talked about chickens. Nobody did.

Police had turned to the database in a low-cost effort to replace antiquated file cabinets. The Washington High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, a regional clearinghouse for drug-related criminal information, offered its software for free.

But the database did not include categories that fit the nature of the protest-group investigations. So police created "terrorism" categories to track the activists, according to the state review. Some information was sent directly to HIDTA's main database as part of an agreement to share information.

Putting the activists into the database was "a function of nothing more than the insertion of a piece of paper in a paper file in a file cabinet," Sheridan wrote. But labeling them "terrorists," he said was "incorrect and improper."

The activists fear that they will land on federal watch lists, in part because the police shared their intelligence information with at least seven area law enforcement agencies.

HIDTA Director Tom Carr said his organization's database became a dead end for the information because law enforcement agencies cannot access the data directly. The database instead acts as a "pointer": Investigators enter case information and the database indicates whether another agency has related material and instructs investigators to contact that agency. The activists were not a match with any other data, Carr said, and their information has since purged.

"The problem lies in the fact that once [the state police] checked it out and found it was not accurate, they should have removed it from the system," Carr said. "And they did not do that."
Infiltration goes on all the time. At the Republican National Convention, as you know.

Earlier this month:
[...] Brandon Darby, an organizer from Austin, Tex., made the news public himself, announcing in an open letter posted on Dec. 30 on that he had worked as an informant, most recently at last year’s Republican convention in St. Paul.

“The simple truth is that I have chosen to work with the Federal Bureau of Investigation,” wrote Mr. Darby, who gained prominence as a member of Common Ground Relief, a group that helped victims of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

He added, “I strongly stand behind my choices in this matter.”


Documents that activists said were given to defense lawyers by the prosecution and printed on F.B.I. letterhead indicated that an informant — now identified as Mr. Darby — carried out a thorough surveillance operation that dated back to at least 18 months before the Republican gathering. He first met Mr. Crowder and Mr. McKay in Austin six months before the convention.

Mr. Darby provided descriptions of meetings with the defendants and dozens of other people in Austin, Minneapolis and St. Paul. He wore recording devices at times, including a transmitter embedded in his belt during the convention. He also went to Minnesota with Mr. Crowder four months before the Republican gathering and gave detailed narratives to law enforcement authorities of several meetings they had with activists from New York, San Francisco, Montana and other places.


The F.B.I. reports mentioned dozens of people, most of whom have not been accused of any crime. In addition to listing biographical and physical particulars, Mr. Darby frequently offered observations on the motives, attitudes and states of mind of activists with whom he dealt.
It's an old story.

Read The Rest Scale on the infiltrations: 3.5 out of 5.

1/22/2009 04:33:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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President Barack Obama's choice for top U.S. spy declined on Thursday to call waterboarding "torture," only days after his attorney general nominee condemned the interrogation practice as precisely that.

Retired Adm. Dennis Blair replied cautiously when pressed on the waterboarding question at a hearing on his nomination to be director of national intelligence, of which the CIA is a part.


"There will be no waterboarding on my watch. There will be no torture on my watch," Blair said, refusing to go further.

In contrast, attorney general nominee Eric Holder flatly told his confirmation hearing last week, "Waterboarding is torture." The statement was a break from years in which Bush administration officials rejected that characterization.

Michigan Democratic Sen Carl Levin told Blair, "If the attorney general designee can answer it, you can too,"


"I don't mean to reopen those cases," Blair said. "I'm hesitating to set a standard here."
I'm hesitating to set a standard here.

Words to live by.

President Barack Obama's nominee as director of national intelligence declined to say Thursday whether waterboarding is torture, marking a fissure with attorney general nominee Eric Holder, who said that it is.

"I'm hesitating to set a standard here which will put in jeopardy some of the dedicated intelligence officers who checked to see that what they were doing was legal and then did what they were told to do," said Dennis C. Blair, nominated for the intelligence post, at his Senate confirmation hearing. He did declare, however, that "there will be no waterboarding on my watch. There will be no torture on my watch."

Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and a member of the intelligence panel that held the hearing, said Mr. Blair's answer was "troubling" in comparison to Mr. Holder's clear statement last week.


In a statement of solidarity with intelligence officers, Mr. Blair also said he didn't intend to "reopen the cases" of CIA officers who took part in an interrogation program that had been authorized by senior officials.

Mr. Blair was more vague when asked whether he would discipline senior officials who were involved in the CIA interrogation program or other activities that have come under criticism. "I intend to establish procedures and move forward, but there are some things in the past that have to be looked at," he said, making reference to an inspector general report that found fault with CIA's role in the shooting down of an airplane that was carrying Americans.
More questions, please. And questions about Indonesia and East Timor, please.

Read The Rest Scale: 2.5 out of 5.

Earlier posts about Admiral Dennis Blair, President Obama's nominee to be National Intelligence Director, boss of all U.S. intelligence agencies, here and here.

There are very serious questions that need to be asked about Blair's past disobeying of President Clinton's orders regarding U.S. military involvement with the Indonesian military at a time they were committing genocide in East Timor.

ADDENDUM, 1/23/09, 7:08 a.m.: The Weekly Standard applauds Blair's refusal to declare waterboarding to be torture, calling him "A DCI Yoo Can Believe In." Res ipsa loquitur.

ADDENDUM, 1/23/09, 4:22 p.m.: More on the Blair documents:
[...] The massacre took place on at the Liquica Catholic church in Indonesian-occupied East Timor two days before Blair met face-to-face with the Indonesian armed forces commander, Gen. Wiranto (the massacre occurred on April 6, 1999; Blair and Wiranto met April 8).

A classified US cable shows that rather than telling Wiranto to stop the killing, Blair invited Wiranto to be his guest in Hawaii, offered him new US military aid, and told the Indonesian general that he was "working hard" on his behalf, lobbying the US government to restore US military training aid for Indonesia. (That training had been cut off by Congress after the 1991 Dili, Timor massacre; for an account of the US cable and the April 8, '99 Blair-Wiranto meeting see News and Comment posting of Jan. 6, 2009.)

Blair's support at that crucial April 8 meeting buoyed Wiranto, and his forces increased the Timor killings, which came to include new attacks on churches and clergy, mass arsons, and political rapes. (For a detailed chronology based on a UN report, see News and Comment posting of Jan. 9, 2009.)


But now, contemporaneous records have emerged -- from the US Embassy in Jakarta, and from the Catholic Church -- showing that the massacre was publicly described by Timor's Bishop one day before the Blair-Wiranto meeting, and that while Blair was in Jakarta preparing for the meeting, US officials who were there with him were discussing the massacre in graphic detail.

One written message from a US official even noted: "In the face of the scores of horrible slash wounds at Liquica, there are no surgeons to treat them."

The US official was referring to the fact that, as had been disclosed at the Timor Bishop's April 7 press conference, dozens of refugees sheltering in the church had been hacked to death with machetes, but as Blair and Wiranto prepared to meet, some of those slashed were still alive.

Another Jakarta dispatch by senior US personnel written prior to the Blair-Wiranto sitdown refers explicitly to Blair's presence, to his impending meeting with Wiranto, and, crucially, to the detail and rough death toll of the already-known Liquica massacre.

"[W]e have the CINCPAC here today (Command[e]r in Chief of the Pacific]," the message said, referring to Blair by title; and it stated, in regard to what Wiranto's men had done: "Now we may have 40 people -- who were cowering in a church -- dead."

Bishop Carlos Ximenes Belo, the Nobel Peace Prize winner, had made the key facts of the massacre clear in his April 7, 1999 press conference, which took place the day before the Blair-Wiranto meeting.


For Blair to claim that he did not know of these materials or his US colleagues' discussions taking place all around him is to strain credulity to the breaking point, especially since he's being nominated as intelligence chief, and since his meeting with Wiranto was cleared by Washington precisely to address the Timor crisis.
Read The Rest Scale: 4 out of 5.

ADDENDUM, 1/24/09, 12:40 p.m.: Thanks, Crooks and Liars!

ADDENDUM, 1/24/09, 7:34 p.m.: Thanks, Avedon!

1/22/2009 04:10:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 3 comments

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I want to be a Sandwich Artist.

Or a Puppet-Fucker. I can't decide.

View The Rest Scale: 3.75 out of 5. Via Luke McGuff on Facebook. Robot Lincoln is also tempting.

1/22/2009 03:09:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

View The Rest Scale: 3.5 out of 5. Thanks, LJ!

VB is wrong about colons, though. And no semi-colon? It's my favorite mark!

Labels: ,

1/21/2009 07:31:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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OBAMA WAS WRONG! My first criticism of the president, rather than the president-elect: in his great Inaugural Address, President Obama said:
[...] Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath.
But, that's wrong, of course. We who forget Grover Cleveland are doomed to repeat him.

Okay, maybe not. But, still, only 43 Americans, including Barack Obama, have taken the presidential oath.

Read The Rest Scale: hey, it's a excellent, and very short, at 2401 words, speech. And, yes, I am a nitpicker at times. Who, me?

1/21/2009 04:53:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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[...] At one point, Mr. Obama flashed a pinkie and thumb salute, known as a shaka sign, to the band from the Punahou School in Hawaii, his alma mater.
Naturally, I google. And learn that, as in many things between cultures, stuff varies. You can click on the full entry to see all the cultures where this is a complimentary sign, but I suggest not using it in, say, Serbia:
[...] In Serbia, it depicts the profane slang expression "do jaja". This expression is used to describe something as very good. Literally translated, it means "next to testicles", in a sense that is as "high" as that. Since the middle finger is a symbol of the penis, index and ring finger are considered "testicles", hence the thumb and the little finger are "next to testicles".
Among many other variant meanings:
[...] In Portugal, Spain, and other Spanish or Portuguese speaking countries, if the thumb points to the mouth, it is used to indicate the drinking of alcohol, since it is similar the shape of a porrón vessel. This is also true in Italy, North America, Russia, and Germany. In Australia, the same gesture mentioned above, refers to "smoking a pipe", more commonly that of marijuana.


In China, it is also the sign for the number six.

In India and Venezuela, the sign is used colloquially as a reference to sexual intercourse, and the hand may be moved in the direction of the smallest finger, as to mimic penetration.


The shaka is also widespread in the skydiving world, where it is usually performed by the jumpers when the plane reaches its maximum altitude, right before skydivers leave the plane for the jump.
What to do if you mean a Spanish-speaking Indian on a plane flight from Serbia to China, via Russia, and have to bail out, remains unclear.

Read The Rest Scale: 2.5 out of 5 fingers.

Something you can only get away with if you're Commander-In-Chief:
[...] Mr. Obama, the first president since John F. Kennedy who came directly from the Senate to the White House, first savored his inauguration over a lunch inside the Capitol. A hearty seafood stew, served topped with puff pastry, helped to counter the day’s chill.
And I heard this on C-Span, though I couldn't quite make it all out!
[...] While Mr. Obama was the center of attention throughout the day, his daughters, Malia and Sasha, were seldom far from his side, with the television cameras trained closely on their movements. Whispers could be heard, including Sasha’s commentary on her father’s 18-minute Inaugural Address.

“That was a pretty good speech, Dad,” she could be seen telling her father.
Last note:
[...] “First of all, how good-looking is my wife?” the president asked the crowd at one of their stops, as they danced to “Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I’m Yours).”
Which I recall was David Axelrod's ringtone for B. O. during the campaign.

1/21/2009 01:31:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009
RIGHTS, CIVIL OR NOT. The Obama agenda:
[...] Combat Employment Discrimination: President Obama and Vice President Biden will work to overturn the Supreme Court's recent ruling that curtails racial minorities' and women's ability to challenge pay discrimination. They will also pass the Fair Pay Act, to ensure that women receive equal pay for equal work, and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.


* Reduce Crime Recidivism by Providing Ex-Offender Support: President Obama and Vice President Biden will provide job training, substance abuse and mental health counseling to ex-offenders, so that they are successfully re-integrated into society. Obama and Biden will also create a prison-to-work incentive program to improve ex-offender employment and job retention rates.
* Eliminate Sentencing Disparities: President Obama and Vice President Biden believe the disparity between sentencing crack and powder-based cocaine is wrong and should be completely eliminated.
* Expand Use of Drug Courts: President Obama and Vice President Biden will give first-time, non-violent offenders a chance to serve their sentence, where appropriate, in the type of drug rehabilitation programs that have proven to work better than a prison term in changing bad behavior.


Support for the LGBT Community

"While we have come a long way since the Stonewall riots in 1969, we still have a lot of work to do. Too often, the issue of LGBT rights is exploited by those seeking to divide us. But at its core, this issue is about who we are as Americans. It's about whether this nation is going to live up to its founding promise of equality by treating all its citizens with dignity and respect."
-- Barack Obama, June 1, 2007

* Expand Hate Crimes Statutes: In 2004, crimes against LGBT Americans constituted the third-highest category of hate crime reported and made up more than 15 percent of such crimes. President Obama cosponsored legislation that would expand federal jurisdiction to include violent hate crimes perpetrated because of race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, or physical disability. As a state senator, President Obama passed tough legislation that made hate crimes and conspiracy to commit them against the law.
* Fight Workplace Discrimination: President Obama supports the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and believes that our anti-discrimination employment laws should be expanded to include sexual orientation and gender identity. While an increasing number of employers have extended benefits to their employees' domestic partners, discrimination based on sexual orientation in the workplace occurs with no federal legal remedy. The President also sponsored legislation in the Illinois State Senate that would ban employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
* Support Full Civil Unions and Federal Rights for LGBT Couples: President Obama supports full civil unions that give same-sex couples legal rights and privileges equal to those of married couples. Obama also believes we need to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and enact legislation that would ensure that the 1,100+ federal legal rights and benefits currently provided on the basis of marital status are extended to same-sex couples in civil unions and other legally-recognized unions. These rights and benefits include the right to assist a loved one in times of emergency, the right to equal health insurance and other employment benefits, and property rights.
* Oppose a Constitutional Ban on Same-Sex Marriage: President Obama voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment in 2006 which would have defined marriage as between a man and a woman and prevented judicial extension of marriage-like rights to same-sex or other unmarried couples.
* Repeal Don't Ask-Don't Tell: President Obama agrees with former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff John Shalikashvili and other military experts that we need to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. The key test for military service should be patriotism, a sense of duty, and a willingness to serve. Discrimination should be prohibited. The U.S. government has spent millions of dollars replacing troops kicked out of the military because of their sexual orientation. Additionally, more than 300 language experts have been fired under this policy, including more than 50 who are fluent in Arabic. The President will work with military leaders to repeal the current policy and ensure it helps accomplish our national defense goals.
* Expand Adoption Rights: President Obama believes that we must ensure adoption rights for all couples and individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation. He thinks that a child will benefit from a healthy and loving home, whether the parents are gay or not.
* Promote AIDS Prevention: In the first year of his presidency, President Obama will develop and begin to implement a comprehensive national HIV/AIDS strategy that includes all federal agencies. The strategy will be designed to reduce HIV infections, increase access to care and reduce HIV-related health disparities. The President will support common sense approaches including age-appropriate sex education that includes information about contraception, combating infection within our prison population through education and contraception, and distributing contraceptives through our public health system. The President also supports lifting the federal ban on needle exchange, which could dramatically reduce rates of infection among drug users. President Obama has also been willing to confront the stigma -- too often tied to homophobia -- that continues to surround HIV/AIDS.
* Empower Women to Prevent HIV/AIDS: In the United States, the percentage of women diagnosed with AIDS has quadrupled over the last 20 years. Today, women account for more than one quarter of all new HIV/AIDS diagnoses. President Obama introduced the Microbicide Development Act, which will accelerate the development of products that empower women in the battle against AIDS. Microbicides are a class of products currently under development that women apply topically to prevent transmission of HIV and other infections.
Fuck, yeah.

Read The Rest Scale: 2.5 out of 5. The agenda for women. Health care. Poverty. More.

1/20/2009 06:06:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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BLOGGERS YOU CAN HELP. People have helped me many times in the past, and the least I can do is pass the bucket for others:


Lance Mannion.

And Mona, but for now I don't know how to donate to her anymore. UPDATE, 5:22 p.m.: Tune your PayPal "Send" to this email address, and give Mona a hand: monaholland at ATT dot net

Read The Rest Scale: 5 out of 5.

1/20/2009 01:19:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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YOU KNEW THAT. Rush Limbaugh hates America.
Limbaugh told his listeners that he was asked by “a major American print publication” to offer a 400-word statement explaining his “hope for the Obama presidency.” He responded:
So I’m thinking of replying to the guy, “Okay, I’ll send you a response, but I don’t need 400 words, I need four: I hope he fails.” (interruption) What are you laughing at? See, here’s the point. Everybody thinks it’s outrageous to say. Look, even my staff, “Oh, you can’t do that.” Why not? Why is it any different, what’s new, what is unfair about my saying I hope liberalism fails? Liberalism is our problem. Liberalism is what’s gotten us dangerously close to the precipice here. Why do I want more of it? I don’t care what the Drive-By story is. I would be honored if the Drive-By Media headlined me all day long: “Limbaugh: I Hope Obama Fails.” Somebody’s gotta say it.
[...] In July 2006, with conservatives in power, Limbaugh offered one of his common screeds against the left. “I’m getting so sick and tired of people rooting for the defeat of the good guys,” he complained.
What a guy.

Read The Rest Scale: 2 out of 5.

1/20/2009 12:57:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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ADDENDUM, 12:32 p.m.: President Obama's Inaugural Address is here.

ADDENDUM, 1:52 p.m.: My copy of Word says it was only 2,401 words; he really did look to Lincoln.

ADDENDUM, 2:36 p.m.: Let freedom ring.

ADDENDUM, 6:09 p.m.: Happy moment, complete with the Chief Justice's flub.

1/20/2009 09:09:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Monday, January 19, 2009
THE FUTURE OF 1932: OUR DIRIGIBLES ARE WITHOUT PEER. Someday there may be war with Japan.
[...] Japan is today the most disturbing element in any consideration for world peace. She is the world’s last, great, militarist monarchy. Monarchies have always been, and always will be a threat to peace-loving, democratic neighbor nations. Japan now possesses the best, most efficient, and most highly organized war machine that the world has seen since the great German war engine of 1914.

She is ruled by a small group of war lords, who by systematic propaganda and a subsidized public press, may at any time hoodwink the Japanese population into any military conquest the leaders may see fit to dictate.


If Japan were to declare war upon us today we wouldn’t have a Chinaman’s chance of holding the Philippines or the Island of Guam. This is for the reason that those two strategic positions have been rendered practically defenseless under the terms of the London Naval Treaty. Our navy, weakened far beyond our needs by the same treaty, would be wholly inadequate to avenge any insult or injustice that Japan might see fit to heap upon us.


The exigencies of the situation would certainly demand that we carry our campaign into the western Pacific. We would have to re-capture Guam and the Philippines. In -attempting to do all this we would have no naval bases nearer the scene of action than Hawaii.


In that event the conflict would simmer down to a long, drawn-out campaign of “steam and hunt,” with an occasional bat- tle between a few ships until one side or the other would suffer defeat. The average American who has lived his life in an inland state probably has no conception of the enormity of such a task.


The re-capture of Guam and the Philippines would involve sending our battle forces on a 7000-mile drag across the Pacific, encumbered with a huge train of slow-moving transports, supply ships, oil tankers, etc. This would be a gigantic enterprise —beyond the scope of any overseas naval offensive in history. The task of keeping the lines of communication open and of protecting the huge convoy against enemy submarines, cruisers, and aircraft, would be but another detail of the situation facing the American Commander-in-Chief.

He’d also have miscellaneous other worries such as protecting the Hawaiian Islands, keeping the enemy away from our home shores, and guarding the Panama Canal. Obviously, our present navy would be so hopelessly inadequate for such a task that the first two years of a possible war with Japan is sickening to contemplate.


Our one and only great good fortune would lie in the fact that Hawaii is under the American flag and is our strongest outpost of naval defense in the Pacific. The Island of Oahu upon which our principal naval establishment is located is considered virtually impregnable.
Thank goodness for that.

Things that eventually changed:
[...] Give the Japanese a fine Swiss watch and they’ll make you a cheap imitation of it. Give them an American automobile and they 11 build an automobile that looks exactly like the original, but not as good. Let them get their hands upon anything and they’ll counterfeit that article. They’ll work like bees at any task they undertake, but when it comes to originality of thought along mechanical or scientific lines—there apparently isn’t a brain cell working in the whole of Japan!


To us they are a strange people—brilliant, industrious, thrifty, cunningly clever in many respects—and tremendously backward in others. Only about one Japanese in ten thousand can ever be taught to fly an airplane. It often takes years to make a very poor automobile driver out of an average Japanese citizen. Their patriotic devotion is a form of fanaticism not even approached in some forms of religion.
I wonder how the writer came up with that alleged statistic on flying.

Department of faintly flawed prognostication:
[...] In the construction of airplane carriers Japan has achieved her one claim to distinction. In contrast with American and British practice of mounting the smoke stacks in a mast projecting vertically from the extreme side of the ship, the Japanese have strung their smoke stacks lengthwise of the vessel, leaving the top deck entirely free from all encumbrance.

The theory of this presumably is to keep vital control units protected inside the ship, and to eliminate obstructions on deck in case of inexpert landing. Unique as this method appears, it has its disadvantages. There is a real reason for tall masts on a battleship. Observers in the crow’s nest can cover an infinitely greater area of the sea than a man can from a low deck. Defense and attack fire can be directed much more efficiently.
Yes, that's what the aircraft part of aircraft carriers is for.

Words to live by:
[...] In one phase of air defense the United States navy is without a peer—that is in the use of dirigibles.


The vulnerability of the airship to airplane attack is unquestionably much over-rated in the public mind.
If you say so, buddy.

Read The Rest Scale: 3 out of 5 if you're interested in history. I hope such a war never occurs!

Special Bonus Link! The Startling Detective Adventures ad.

ADDENDUM, 8:36 p.m.: I must have this guy's headgear.
This would totally help my cellphone reception.

ADDENDUM, 9:07 p.m.: I'm wearing this to the next party I go to.

I think if soldiers fought in these, it would be awesome, because the enemy would double over laughing.

Whenver I next go on a job interview, I'm so going to wear this outfit.

1/19/2009 05:07:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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MYTHOLOGIES. Charlie Kaufman has a lovely little rant in the first five minutes of this interview:
"And people decide something about someone, and then... it doesn't ever change!

I've had that feeling.

View The Rest Scale: 3.5 out of 5, at least the first five minutes; more if you're interested in Charlie Kaufman.

1/19/2009 02:14:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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ONE CAKE TO RULE THEM ALL. Directly stolen from Cake Wrecks:
This is impressive as sculpture, and authenticity to the movie; I'm skeptical as to how it would pass regarding taste and texture, however:
More LOTR cakes here.

Cake Wrecks is still here. Hope this guy doesn't drop by.

Read The Rest Scale: 3.5 out of 5. Also: brraaaiiiiinnsss.

Bonus Trek cake.

1/19/2009 01:37:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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I "hate" when people do that.

Read The Rest Scale: "4" out of "5." Via "Chad Orzel."

1/19/2009 01:16:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 1 comments

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BUT WE'VE ALREADY SEEN TRANTOR. It was named "Coruscant."

Columbia won an auction late Thursday for screen rights to "Foundation," Isaac Asimov's ground-breaking sci-fi trilogy.
And here's the really awful part:
The project will be developed as a directing vehicle for Roland Emmerich.
Yes, the same genius responsible for Independence Day, which ripped off the imagery of the giant miles long spaceships floating over cities worldwide from Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End. (And previously swiped for the execrable V.)
Emmerich and his Centropolis partner Michael Wimer will produce the film. The deal was for mid-six against low-seven figures.


The surprising emergence of Sony and Emmerich at the controls of "Foundation" owes at least a bit to the animosity between Warner Bros. and Fox over "Watchmen."

The property was originally developed by Fox and producer Vince Gerardis but found its way to New Line and then to Bob Shaye and Michael Lynne as the first major project announcement after the former heads of New Line formed Unique Pictures at WB.

Gerardis, whose Created By formerly repped the Asimov estate and who is producing an adaptation of Asimov's "The End of Eternity" at New Regency, was attached as producer. And Fox would have had to be compensated for its development costs. That became a problem for Warner Bros., and the studio allowed its option to lapse, expecting to quietly make a new deal with a clear chain of rights that would have left Fox and Gerardis on the outside.

It turned into a spirited auction. WB bid for Unique and director Alex Proyas, while Fox bid for Gerardis. Emmerich and Sony were the surprise entrants. Turns out that Wimer had been tracking the availability of the rights since he was Emmerich's agent at CAA, and Columbia Pictures president Matt Tolmach pounced. Emmerich and Wimer just completed "2012" at Sony.

CAA and Trident Media's Dan Strong brokered the deal on behalf of the Asimov estate.
Gosh, I hope it's at least as faithful as I, Robot.

Read The Rest Scale: 1 out of 5. I'm guessing there won't be enough economics to interest Paul Krugman.

The problem with adopting all of the great sf classics by now is that just about all of them have long had their great visual imagery ripped off by modern sf movies. And ditto many of the once-new-and-exciting ideas. Hell, Babylon 5 was a positive kitchen sink of old sf ideas, and more were thrown into the hopper by the various Star Treks.

Most of what's left is largely too complex and high-falutin' to work into a movie. (Not to mention the problem that a script is the size of a short story, not a novel; an actual novel adaption requires a tv miniseries.) Who will ever adapt one of Greg Egan's, books, say, or Iain M. Banks', or Geoff Ryman's? I won't be holding my breath in a methane atmosphere waiting to find out.

(Even great stories like Mimsey Were The Borogoves have been turned into mediocre commercial pablum.)

1/19/2009 12:25:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 2 comments

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BUFFY, CAN I BORROW A STAKE? Via Hilzoy, because Ken Houghton asked for it: The Nation, originally published March 8th, 1933:
At the risk of gilding the tinsel, let the record be set down finally as The Nation takes leave this week of the "only party fit to rule." American memories are short. Four years from now the public will be asked to restore the Republicans and prosperity.


There is no need to set down once more the repeated mistaken prophecies which issued from the White House as the country sank deeper into economic chaos. Those forecasts were sufficiently quoted during the recent Presidential contest.


It is needless to stress the hollowness of these final promises and assertions. Unemployment mounts—thirteen million men out of work is today a conservative estimate; a 3.9 per cent drop in employment with a 5 per cent pay-roll decrease was recorded for the month ending January 15, according to the latest Department of Labor statistics available. The people's savings continue to be confiscated as banks close at an undiminished pace—272 closed in the month of January, 1933, and toward the close of February they closed, no longer singly, but by States —Michigan, Maryland, Ohio. Bankruptcy is becoming epidemic. The private and local relief upon which Mr. Hoover's policies relied are increasingly inadequate; destitution, undernourishment, actual hunger are spreading through the land.

But we are taking leave not merely of a single Administration. For twelve years the Republican Party has been in power. During ten of those years it controlled the executive and legislative branches of the government. When, a few years hence, an attempt is made to minimize the disaster of this last quadrennium, and to point to a preceding eight year period of material development and growth, let it be noted that in a purely material sense the American people are much worse off today than they were twelve years ago. Far more than was gained has been swept away. Savings have been dissipated, lives have been blasted, families disintegrated. Misery and insecurity exist to a degree unprecedented in our national life. And spiritually the American people have been debauched by the materialism which made dollar-chasing the accepted way of life and accumulation of riches the goal of earthly existence. The record of Republicanism must be judged as a whole, although, in fairness, the consequences of the World War and the major responsibility of the Democrats for putting the United States into it must not be forgotten. The Republicans were as eager to make war—and both parties continued, until well after the crash, to be proud of their attitude in 1917. Moreover, economic disaster has been only a part of this sterile decade's legacy, the burdens of which will descend to unborn generations. Our worthiest traditions have been impaired; vital tenets of American life have been destroyed. What has become of that fundamental American axiom "salvation by work"? In all our previous history it has been taken for granted that ours was a land of opportunity, and that rewards bore some relation to initiative, effort, and ability. Granting the large mythical content of these beliefs, they were more nearly valid in America in the first century and a half of our national existence than anywhere else on earth. They are no longer true today. The promise of American life has been shattered—possibly beyond repair.

Shall we assume that the Democrats, who now take office, offer a better prospect for America? The indicated liberalism of Roosevelt in the present desperate emergency, his power policy, more enlightened than any we have yet had, his nomination of a Cabinet superior to any within a generation, his apparent determination to tread new paths, are auguries of hope. But we should not forget certain fundamentals which The Nation has often reiterated: In recent times, certainly, the two major parties have been as like as peas, sterile, guided by approximately the same economic philosophy, motivated by the same quest for legal—and some not so legal—loot.

If the thievery of the "Ohio gang"—never atoned for by the Republicans— was wholly a party scandal, it is evident that, considerable as were those peculations, they were trifling beside the legalized plundering which has ever been non-partisan.


It was a Grand Old Party—for them—while it lasted. Makers and beneficiaries of our politico-economic system, these are the men whose failure is now written large in the towering empty edifices that scrape the New York sky, in the hundreds of thousands of "For sale" and "To let" signs which adorn our cities, in the closed banks, in the foreclosed farms, in the whole picture of devastation which has come under their rule.

Have these captains and kings departed—not to return? The epoch of their wanton and repulsive leadership is ending. Their incompetence and their betrayal are manifest. But much of the evil they have done lives after them. The coming years will see the struggle to purge America, to reassert the promise of American life, to validate, in consonance with the changed times and conditions, the high aspirations of the founders of the nation. Mr. Roosevelt has the opportunity to be the leader of this renaissance, but he will have to forge as his instrument a wholly different Democratic Party from that which so long has been indistinguishable from the Republican.
Things sure have changed.

Read The Rest Scale: 3 out of 5.

1/19/2009 10:20:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Saturday, January 17, 2009
WORST SF BOOK COVER EVER. My old friend Vonda McIntyre nominates the Dutch cover of her award-winning novel, Dreamsnake.
Read her commentary on it.

Note also some other nominees in comments there. This German cover for Lois McMaster Bujold's Warrior's Apprentice is rather insane:
Vonda's a great writer, as you know, so go buy and read her books.

Read The Rest Scale: 3.5 out of 5. And don't miss the movie Rise Of The Lichens.

1/17/2009 04:17:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THE UNTHINKING PRESS. Eric Martin is right; Jay Rosen's piece is mandatory reading.
[...] It’s easily the most useful diagram I’ve found for understanding the practice of journalism in the United States, and the hidden politics of that practice. You can draw it by hand right now. Take a sheet of paper and make a big circle in the middle. In the center of that circle draw a smaller one to create a doughnut shape. Label the doughnut hole “sphere of consensus.” Call the middle region “sphere of legitimate debate,” and the outer region “sphere of deviance.”

That’s the entire model. Now you have a way to understand why it’s so unproductive to argue with journalists about the deep politics of their work. They don’t know about this freakin’ diagram!



That journalists affirm and enforce the sphere of consensus, consign ideas and actors to the sphere of deviance, and decide when the shift is made from one to another— none of this is in their official job description. You won’t find it taught in J-school, either. It’s an intrinsic part of what they do, but not a natural part of how they think or talk about their job. Which means they often do it badly. Their “sphere placement” decisions can be arbitrary, automatic, inflected with fear, or excessively narrow-minded. Worse than that, these decisions are often invisible to the people making them, and so we cannot argue with those people. It’s like trying to complain to your kid’s teacher about the values the child is learning in school when the teacher insists that the school does not teach values.
If there would be only one thing one could change about the U.S. press, this would be it.

Read The Rest Scale: 5 out of 5.

1/17/2009 12:42:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 1 comments

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Thursday, January 15, 2009
CUB REPORTER. Me, a few years ago (okay, fifth grade, P.S. 99, class 5-217):
I now have a nascent Facebook page, because what I really need is another intertubes timesuck. Best David Hedison voice: Friend me!

View The Rest Scale: well, I was pretty small in those days.

ADDENDUM, 8:12: p.m.: Oh, yeah, if you think there's a chance I don't know who you are, or might not remember you, send me some email or note with a clue, if you ask me to "friend" you, actually. If you're a reader of my blog, that's fine, but let me know, please.

Lots of folks are giving in. But Slate warns you can't scrape your own data, and don't own it. Beware what happened to Robert Scoble.

1/15/2009 03:56:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 1 comments

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009
WHERE WINGS TAKE DREAM. We continue to look back at Our Disastrous President. Some of Jacob Weisberg's 25 Best Bushisms:
1. "Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we." —Washington, D.C., Aug. 5, 2004

2. "I know how hard it is for you to put food on your family." —Greater Nashua, N.H., Chamber of Commerce, Jan. 27, 2000


4. "Too many good docs are getting out of the business. Too many OB/GYNs aren't able to practice their love with women all across the country." —Poplar Bluff, Mo., Sept. 6, 2004

5. "Neither in French nor in English nor in Mexican."—declining to answer reporters' questions at the Summit of the Americas, Quebec City, Canada, April 21, 2001

6. "You teach a child to read, and he or her will be able to pass a literacy test." —Townsend, Tenn., Feb. 21, 2001


8. "See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda." —Greece, N.Y., May 24, 2005

9. "I've heard he's been called Bush's poodle. He's bigger than that." —discussing former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, as quoted by the Sun newspaper, June 27, 2007

10. "And so, General, I want to thank you for your service. And I appreciate the fact that you really snatched defeat out of the jaws of those who are trying to defeat us in Iraq."—meeting with Army Gen. Ray Odierno, Washington, D.C., March 3, 2008

11. "We ought to make the pie higher." —South Carolina Republican debate, Feb. 15, 2000

12. "There's an old saying in Tennessee—I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee—that says, fool me once, shame on—shame on you. Fool me—you can't get fooled again." —Nashville, Tenn., Sept. 17, 2002

13. "And there is distrust in Washington. I am surprised, frankly, at the amount of distrust that exists in this town. And I'm sorry it's the case, and I'll work hard to try to elevate it." —speaking on National Public Radio, Jan. 29, 2007

14. "We'll let our friends be the peacekeepers and the great country called America will be the pacemakers."— Houston, Sept. 6, 2000

15. "It's important for us to explain to our nation that life is important. It's not only life of babies, but it's life of children living in, you know, the dark dungeons of the Internet." —Arlington Heights, Ill., Oct. 24, 2000

16. "One of the great things about books is sometimes there are some fantastic pictures." —U.S. News & World Report, Jan. 3, 2000

17. "People say, 'How can I help on this war against terror? How can I fight evil?' You can do so by mentoring a child; by going into a shut-in's house and say I love you." —Washington, D.C., Sept. 19, 2002

18. "Well, I think if you say you're going to do something and don't do it, that's trustworthiness." —CNN online chat, Aug. 30, 2000

19. "I'm looking forward to a good night's sleep on the soil of a friend." —on the prospect of visiting Denmark, Washington, D.C., June 29, 2005


21. "Families is where our nation finds hope, where wings take dream."—LaCrosse, Wis., Oct. 18, 2000


25. "I'll be long gone before some smart person ever figures out what happened inside this Oval Office."—Washington, D.C., May 12, 2008
Read The Rest Scale: 25 out of 25. The man is a malaprop genius.

1/14/2009 04:10:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009
BUT WHAT WOULD IT BE LIKE WATCHING SEX SCENES WITH THE PRESIDENT'S MOTHER? This is just downright odd. A friend of George and Laura's daughter Barbara tells the tale of his multiple visits to dinner and more at the White House.
[...] Barbara and I met about a year ago at a party in my apartment in New Haven. We had a similar fondness for drinking alcohol and eating Kit-Kats and quickly became friends. We also both enjoyed watching Ally McBeal, which saved me the trouble of telling her I was gay.

Ours was a strange bond, but one we both enjoyed—and one she apparently missed—because this afternoon she invited me to her house to have dinner and watch a movie.

“My parents eat on the early side, so can you come over around six?” she asked.

“Yeah, sure,” I said, unsure. “I’ll finish up work at five, grab my dry cleaning, and come over to your place.”

Your place. What an odd way to refer to the White House.


The sight of metal detectors and dogs reminds me that I am carrying one half of a marijuana cigarette in my Camel Lights pack.


The guard shakes the fender a couple of times, nods at me, and shuts the liftgate. As he does, the remains of the duct-tape adhesive give way and the rear windshield falls away from the car. Miraculously, the Heavily Armed Guard manages to catch the glass in mid-air and positions it back on the tailgate.

After a brief consultation with the Heavily Armed Guard, the Man in a Black Suit points in a general direction and says, “Drive slowly over to the south entrance, and we’ll make sure the glass doesn’t fall off.”


We walk through the stately central hallway, pausing briefly to glance into the room where the president and the First Lady sleep. He smiles as we walk out onto the rainy Truman Balcony.

“Here’s my favorite part,” he says. “Quite a sight, usually, when the sun sets on the Washington Memorial.”

I stifle an urge to say, “Washington Monument.” It’s a little too early in our relationship to begin correcting the president.


Before long, a handsome chef serves us each a helping of White House chicken potpie. As my plate arrives, a horrible odor arises from the table. If that’s coming from the potpie, I think, there’s no way I’ll be able to eat. How does one turn down food from a head of state? The question is rendered moot when the president peers down under the table to scold Barney, the family’s Scottish terrier, for farting.


The president eats quickly. Apparently when he is finished, we all are. The butler steward swiftly retrieves my half-full plate. It’s decided that popcorn will serve as dessert in the White House Movie Theater.


And just like that, I’m alone in the White House—a remarkably cool feeling. I exit out the East Wing, and, after a stroll through the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden, I find my car right where I left it, the Heavily Armed Guard waiting for me beside it. He hands me the keys and points to the liftgate, which is no longer held on by duct tape.

“We had some adhesive in the back—should get you home no problem.”
White House and Fix-It Shop: who knew?
[...] Spontaneous invitations to the White House continue. I sit on the South Lawn and squint at Fourth of July fireworks as they envelop the “Washington Memorial.” I learn that watching a sex scene next to the president of the United States is even more uncomfortable than doing so next to my own mother.


Then, amazingly, in early October, I’m invited for dinner. I accept, figuring an evening with the First Family might alleviate my post-9/11 anxiety. Before leaving home, I finally remove the front fender from the trunk, pack away the harmonicas, and check for loose joints. It’s the least I can do.


One month after the worst attack in U.S. history, George W. Bush watched a 100-minute-long Anthony Hopkins film called Hearts in Atlantis.

It is an awful movie, and as it drags on I feel increasingly uneasy. Surely the president should be doing something else. Occasionally he gets a phone call from Andy Card, his chief of staff, who, as I understand it, is in the West Wing meeting with the head of the F.A.A. to determine when Washington’s Reagan National Airport will be safe to completely re-open (some flights began operating earlier in the week). Each time the phone rings, I hope the president will excuse himself to join them. But he doesn’t. Over the phone, the president tells the men to “get that airport opened up!” and then heads to bed.

That night I leave the White House feeling more anxious about our national security than when I arrived.
It has a more serious ending. Probably he won't be getting any more invites to dinner from George W. Bush.

Read The Rest Scale: 3 out of 5 for anecdotes.

1/13/2009 08:30:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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RTA. The official verdict of the Bush Justice Department on itself:
A former senior official at the Justice Department routinely hired conservatives, Republicans and so-called RTA’s — “Right-Thinking Americans" — for what were supposed to be apolitical posts and gave them plum assignments on important civil rights cases, an internal report found Tuesday.

The former official, Bradley Schlozman, who helped lead the civil rights division from 2003 until he resigned in the fall of 2007 amid a political uproar over broad charges of politicization at the department, also gave false statements to Congress in denying that he had taken politics into account in his hiring and personnel decisions, the report found.

The investigation, conducted by the department’s inspector general and its office of professional responsibility, is the fourth and last in a series of reports since last year detailing the use of improper political considerations in hiring decisions at the department.
Lies, abuse, and this sort of politicization of the law:
[...] In an e-mail message about an appellate case, for instance, Mr. Schlozman said he did not want certain lawyers on the case. “The potential stakes are too great to entrust this to either a lib or an idiot,” he wrote.
Even George Bush's DOJ winds up with this conclusion:
[...] “The mission of the Justice Department is the evenhanded application of the Constitution and the laws enacted under it, and that mission has to start with the evenhanded application of the laws within our own department,” said Peter Carr, a department spokesman. “As today’s report makes clear, Mr. Schlozman deviated from that strict standard.”
My conclusion: asses, doors, oh, let them hit you.

Read The Rest Scale: 3 out of 5. "Right Thinking Americans." How very Orwell.

Bonus link: the House Judiciary full report on Bush administration abuses against the rule of law. (Note: this is over 400 pages, as is befitting just how much the administration abused the law.)

1/13/2009 06:26:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 1 comments

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BUT OUR MORAL PANIC FEELS SO GOOD! Report Calls Online Threats to Children Overblown.
[...] A high-profile task force created by 49 state attorneys general to look into the problem of sexual solicitation of children online has concluded that there really is not a significant problem.

The Internet Safety Technical Task Force was charged with examining the extent of the threats children face on social networks like MySpace and Facebook, amid widespread fears that older adults were using these popular Web sites to deceive and prey on children.

But the report cited research calling such fears a “moral panic,” and concluded that the problem of child-on-child bullying, both online and offline, poses a far more serious challenge than the sexual solicitation of minors by adults.

“This shows that social networks are not these horribly bad neighborhoods on the Internet,” said John Cardillo, chief executive of Sentinel Tech Holding, which maintains a sex offender database and was a member of the task force. “Social networks are very much like real-world communities that are comprised mostly of good people who are there for the right reasons.”


The 39-page document was the result of a year of meetings between dozens of academics, childhood safety experts and executives of 30 companies, including Yahoo, AOL, MySpace, Facebook, Verizon and AT&T.

The task force, led by the Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, looked at scientific data on online sexual predators and found that children and teenagers are very unlikely to be propositioned by adults online. In the cases that do exist, the report said, teenagers are typically willing participants and are at risk in other ways — because of poor home environments or substance abuse, for example.


The task force’s report criticized previous findings that as many as one in five children are sexually propositioned online, saying that in a strong majority of those situations, a child’s peers are responsible for the proposition, which is typically an act of harassment or teasing.
This won't lessen moral hysteria or media bottom-feeding off the notion that Teh Internets Are Dangerous, Think Of The Children!, but it's nice to see some sense from a major report.

Read The Rest Scale: 3 out of 5.

ADDENDUM, January 20th, 2009, 4:10 p.m.: A fascinating behind the scenes view from one of the writers of the report. Via Cheryl Morgan.

1/13/2009 05:01:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 1 comments

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Monday, January 12, 2009
LATER, HE MET WITH MR. LOAF. The NY Times seems to be loosening its style guide:
Someone who looked a little bit like Barack Obama was sworn in as the nation’s 44th president at the United States Capitol. The tall black male delivered a brief inaugural address and then headlined an inaugural parade that ended at his new home, the White House.

In fact, it was not really Barack Obama. It was only a stand-in — Staff Sgt. Derrick Brooks of the Army — who played the incoming president in an inaugural rehearsal that took over large areas around the Capitol and the White House for a few hours. The spectacle felt both momentous and kind of weird.

Still, from a distance, it had the look and feel of the real thing: amplified speeches and announcements could be heard several blocks away, honor guards and color guards and processions of dignitaries (or stand-ins thereof) assembled along the western end of the Capitol. The (actual) Marine Band showed up to play “Hail to the Chief” to honor the (fake) new president.


“I’m just honored to be part of this historic event,” said Mr. Obama’s stand-in, Sergeant Brooks, who met a large contingent from the (real) news media a few blocks from the White House after he finished riding in the parade with the stand-in for his wife, Michelle (played by Petty Officer First Class LaSean McCray of the Navy).

Sergeant Brooks is 26, well below the legal age of 35 to be president, but there are apparently no age requirements to be the presidential stand-in (or Faux-Bama).

Sergeant Brooks’s principal qualification to play Mr. Obama was that he bore a rough resemblance to the real thing: he stands 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighs 185 pounds and thus fills the basic spatial parameters for lighting and camera-angle purposes — the main reason for the rehearsal, organizers said.


There were stand-ins for pretty much everyone, identified by big signs around their necks. Shortly after 8 a.m. Sunday, the stand-in for Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. delivered the oath of office to Mr. Faux-Bama, who was flanked by the faux Michelle and stand-ins for daughters Malia and Sasha (played by the children of military personnel).

Mr. Faux-Bama’s entire inaugural speech consisted of six words: “My fellow Americans,” he said. “God bless America.”

When he was announced as the president of the United States for the first time, Mr. Faux-Bama was given an ovation from clusters of people who looked on from the Capitol grounds and the mall.
Hey, Obama would get huge applause with that address.

[...] “We’ve been doing a lot of standing around, waiting in holding rooms,” said one stand-in, wearing a “Bush Daughter #1” sign inside the Capitol. That would make her Barbara Bush, said the stand-in (played by a Capitol Hill worker, Jamie Sims), who was much more willing to talk to the press than either of the real Bush daughters has been.

A few minutes earlier, the stand-ins for the faux first daughter’s faux parents — President Bush (played by Sgt. Bruce Cobbeldick of the Army) and his wife, Laura (played by Petty Officer Second Class Barbara Riani of the Navy) — had descended the east steps of the Capitol and approached a waiting helicopter to ferry them out of Washington. The faux Bushes did not actually board the helicopter, but it took off anyway.
That would make them relatives of this guy, I guess.

Read The Rest Scale: 3 out of 5 for more weirdness in a similarly faux-vein.

1/12/2009 02:46:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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