Saturday, April 30, 2005

THE HEY?: How to disappear in America without a trace. Via Howling Curmudgeons. Well, you never know when it'll come in handy. Kind of a lot to print up and be on the lam with, though.
THE APPEAL OF RIGHTWING TALK RADIO: And Fox News, which has adopted that style--I've figured out the appeal, for me anyway. You know the current of the debate is permanently skewed in the direction of the hosts. You know the guests/people calling in are either selected for their ineffectiveness or are self-selecting not realizing their ineffectiveness. And yet sometimes the caller will manage to outargue the host, land unanswered questions, and otherwise get the final point in before they get cut off, despite having everything against them.

It's like verbal American Gladiators.

Thursday, April 28, 2005


"Help desk."

"Hi, I just have a question. Are we no longer allowed to have Firefox on our computers?"

"What's Firefox?"

"You know--it's Firefox. It's a browser."

"And when you try to download it, you get--" he repeated the error message.

"Yes. Can we only use Explorer now, or--"

"Well you can still use Google."

Pause. "Google is a webpage."

"Oh yeahhh...."

Saturday, April 23, 2005

MAYBE IT'S BECAUSE THE PRESIDENT CAN'T PRONOUNCE "NUCLEAR"?: Proof that the term "constitutional option" is of very recent vintage. And that the term "nuclear option" enjoyed bipartisan support for quite a while. These stupid word games annoy me more than they probably should.
ONE MORE BATTLE IN THE EVOLUTION WARS: This here Panda's Thumb thread, wherein a bunch of PT regulars take on somebody who isn't defending intelligent design, just the consitutionality of teaching it as science in schools, is very much worth going through. I can't believe I read the whole thing (except for the parts I blooped over.)

Friday, April 22, 2005

GOT A PH.D. IN HATING DUKE: Certainly the longest anti-Duke screed ever. Via the Frog.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

BOLTON STUFF: I love the Bolton situation--it's such great political theater, as epitomized by Sen. Voinovich's completely out-of-nowhere turn on Bolton. I also love this analysis of how Bolton and the social security and Delay debacles fit into what may be the final crash and burn of the White House:

A command-control system like the White House-led Republican congressional system can be absolutely formidable for a certain period of time. But when it breaks down, it breaks down completely. The collapse is sudden, and total. Signals get crossed, backs get stabbed, the suddenly leaderless pawns in the system start acting for themselves, with no system or structure to coordinate their individual impulses.

Is this happening? I don't know, but it's getting close. I thought I'd seen it before, but each time they've pulled it back together. This time, I think there's too much happening at once.

The irony of all this for conservatives is that if they actually read Hayek and got anything out of it other than "government sucks," they would know this. Hayek's libertarianism was very pragmatic. Centrally controlled systems are flawed above all because they have no mechanism to correct their own errors, unlike distributed, self-organized systems. The Democrats in the Clinton years always operated in chaos, no one followed the party line, and there was a cost to that, but in the chaos and improvisation they found ways to get out of the holes that they had dug for themselves. The Rove/DeLay/Frist system doesn't have any means for correcting its mistakes -- look at the blank, lost looks on the faces of Senators Lugar and Chafee yesterday when they just had no idea what to do with a nomination that had fallen apart and couldn't fulfill their promises.

The Republicans accomplished unimaginable feats through the centralization of power. Three tax cuts, a prescription drug plan that will make Americans hate government, an insane war. But if the goal was long-term power, it is a strategy they will come to regret, if not today, someday.

Via Obsidian hilzoy.
PARITY LEAGUE > 72-WIN JORDAN LEAGUE: I could also have written this as "FULLY COMPETITIVE NBA > SPORTS ENTERTAINMENT NBA," but feared some would not understand my meaning.

Anyway--the current NBA just set the all-time attendance mark. I believe this has something to do with the fact is more wide-open than it has been in years, both in terms of who can win it all and in the style of the games (the new rules opening things up.) As a Jordan hater, I am glad the league is putting more butts in the seats right now (by putting out a better product) than they were when they were relying on an enormous marketing campaign built around a single player.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

THANK YOU, CITY OF CAMDEN: For not taking the portable DVD player in the bag out of my car, when I had left the window open on this beautiful evening and parked one of your streets not located on school property (though very close.) Thank you for showing mercy.
24 TONIGHT: Remember in Warrior of The Lost World when at the very end Fred Williamson was revealed to have been in Donald Pleasence's pocket the whole time? And Crow T. Robot said, in his most sincere tone, "Boy, what a great plot twist"? His words echoed in my head when the lawyer from Not Amnesty International showed up, at 12:30 in the morning and twenty minutes after they captured their suspect, to tell them to stop holding him illegally. And only Jack could figure out that their suspect had no, in fact, called anybody on his way to CTU.

But--note that torture finally worked as Jack extracted the info from the terrorist-abettor via multiple finger fractures. This after he quit CTU because apparently its legal for a private citizen to torture somebody or somesuch. The lesson is torture only works when it is not administered by the United States government--which means extraordinary rendition works! Thank you, 24.

Friday, April 15, 2005

THE KENNEWICK CONTROVERSY: Just getting the word out. Strange group of people getting the word out too, actually, if you click on that link there. This is the thing that allows any human remains found by archeologists on Federal Land to be claimed by Native American tribes, even if the human remains belonged to people who got here before Native Americans. And since Native Americans tend to destroy their dead, this means the loss of irreplaceable representatives of early humankind.

It's not something a ton of people are going to get exorcised about, but it is a pretty blatant coopting of scientific research on strictly political grounds. And so I will get the word out.
I RESPECTFULLY DECLINE: To celebrate 50 years of McDonald's. Look--just because anti-globalization types have chosen McDonald's as their symbol of all that's unholy, it doesn't mean that we who are not anti-globalization types have to celebrate the walking bloated corpse of a company with awful food and milquetoastesque advertising. Hell--just cut them loose. Let them destroy each other. I'd rather see Taco Bells and Carl's Jr.'s opening up across the former Third World then the franchise producing America's shittiest fast food.
IF AN NBA FRANCHISE IMPLODES AND NO ONE HEARS IT--HAS IT MADE A SOUND?: When the Blazers were good you couldn't walk three steps without tripping over a "Rasheed Wallace--Threat or Menace?" bit of handwringing. Now that they stink, but are still sociopathic, nobody cares. Luckily the Sports Frog cares. Darius Miles left the court last night a couple times--once after they substituted Ha Seung Jin for him--and claimed afterward it was a bathroom break. I'm just amazed that Ha Seung Jin got into the game, putting up a Milicicesque 0 points in 4 minutes.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

JOURNEY INTO LOATHESOMENESS ALMOST COMPLETE: President set to sign bankruptcy bill tomorrow. Look--if they were trying to make it harder for everybody to declare bankruptcy that would be one thing. But then you read things like this and yes it's a MoveOn.Org press release but still:

The legislation Congress will vote on is more than 500 pages long, all in highly technical language. But the Republican leadership and corporate lobbyists are in such a rush to push it through that the text is full of misspellings and repeated phrases. Representatives might not even be allowed to make amendments. But the overall thrust is pretty clear:

* Make families pay more to creditors, both in bankruptcy and after bankruptcy, so that instead of offering a clean start, a bankruptcy filing will leave families burdened by credit card debt, car loans, and continued payments to banks or to payday lenders.

* Make it more expensive to file for bankruptcy by driving up fees so that the people in the most trouble can't afford to file.

* Make it trickier to get through a bankruptcy so that more people will get pushed out of bankruptcy with no debt relief.

* Make it harder to repay debts by increasing the minimum payments in repayment plans.

* Preserve at all costs the millionaires' loopholes—special privileges that allow the super-rich to escape their debts by hiding their money in special exemptions and trusts.

--You realize it's all a big kick in your unwealthy pants. Even legendary Democratic Presidential ticket deadweight John Edwards is against it. And the President's going to sign it because he has no concept of anything outside his narrow interests. It's all depressing.
BACKED INTO A CORNER: If you wanted to beat up the GOP in terms of their own hypocrisy, this--from Jonathan Rauch--would be the article you'd have to worry about, and wonder, "Well--what can else can I say about this?" It is the summit of articles that attempt to trip Republicans with their own rhetoric.
FROM THE HALL OF UNEXPECTED OBITUARIES: Frum mourns Dworkin. Via alicublog via pandagon.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

THE MYSTERIANS ON DVD: I've always been intrigued by The Mysterians, a film I've never seen but was spoken of fondly in an old DVD Savant review. Apparently it got released on DVD fairly recently and the reviews on Amazon have a similiar quality to the DVD Savant's: slightly apologetic but sincerely appreciative, acknowledging that yes, this probably is a flawed film, but it has something to it, and if you were there at the time you know what we're talking about. And I was not there at the time but the reviews lead me to believe that if I had been there I would have liked it too. It's like I'm intercepting somebody else's nostalgia, and maybe--when I do watch it--I'll get more out of it knowing a lot of people really do cherish it, despite its faults.

Anyway--The Mysterians. It's an old Toho release involving flying saucers. Media Blasters has given it the loving full treatment, with new dubs, the full uncut version, Japanese commentary with English subtitles, and separate soundtrack tracks--so says DVD Savant. His summary analysis is:

In 1959, Daily Variety called The Mysterians "a red-blooded phantasmagoria" and that assessment still holds true. It's one of the first movies Savant saw as a kid filmgoer choosing his own fare, and nostalgia is a big factor in overlooking the film's flaws ("What flaws?"). Spread out across a big monitor, it's still a big, fun action circus of spaceships, death rays, explosions and wholesale destruction.

And that's the story of how The Mysterians ended up atop my Netlfix queue.
IT'S FUNNY: Half the time Dr. Baltar is like Stewie in Family Guy: saying stuff and nobody taking him seriously. In Stewie's case it's because he's a baby; in Baltar's case it's because he's a supergenius and is probably expected to be a little weird. But Stewie really is full of loathing for his family, and Baltar really is conspiring with the enemy. The parallels.....are striking.

Yes, I pass the night away with Galactica episodes in the background. I expect another few weeks of this before I get tired of them.
I CANNOT BEAR TO LINK--YET I CANNOT TURN AWAY: Tax days with Morrie. As penance I will never like to another Mitch Albom-related anything again.
REQUIEM FOR A BUGMAN: You would read Josh Marshall for that.

REQUIEM FOR A HUMAN SCUM: You would read Steve Clemons for that.

There you go. I mean--I am not a completely reflexive Republican hater, but it's fun to root against them.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

BLACK BOLT VS. WHITE NOISE: Neilalien linked to this New York Review of Books essay by John Leonard, on Jonathan Lethem. Leonard seems to like Lethem but wished he'd put down the genre stuff at some point and reference Don Delillo sometimes. Interesting discussion ensued. Which led me to the From My Living Room To Yours blog, (as well as Radiaton Vibe,) which led me to the blog of Phoenix Suns benchwarmer Paul Shirley, who is an actual good blogger. Read it. Long, descriptive paragraphs, written in a distinctive voice. No archives though; D. Stern probably eats them, and rips them from the Google aether when he can, lest they cause embarassment.
ON THE WHOLE I'D RATHER GET SICK IN.....FRANCE: Matt Welch on the superiority of the French health care system. The comments are fun too.

It's a twofer, by the way: he also explains why Mitch Albom is insufferable.
YEAH YEAH YEAH--BUT IT'S GEORGE KARL: Memphis Bengal on The Frog points out the feel-good story that is the 2004-2005 Denver Nuggets. I'd feel a little better about them if not for their head coach, the man who brought us as a nation inglorious defeat in Indianapolis back in 2002. It's hard to get that excited about them knowing they're going to self-destruct at some point.

Luckily there are other feel-good stories this year--not that they won't end up losing in the playoffs, but at least I'm not completely sure that they will. Like the Bulls, which Bengal also points to. I would say the Celtics are, as the gamble to bring back Antoine Walker to counter Webber's arrival in Philadelphia has worked out so much better than they could have hoped. The freakin' Pacers--making a playoff run after the Palace brawl, overcoming the Pistons' rather crude attempt to get them to self-destruct. The Suns are a feel-good story, or as much a feel-good story as the team with the best record in the league can be. Plus the Wizards and the Sonics, though both appear to be going into the crapper lately. Of course, the Lakers missing the playoffs and Kobe's screwing of the Clippers completely blowing up in his face is the ultimate feel-good story.

I have not watched much NBA this year, I should admit, and so can appreciate these storylines only second-hand for the most part--my school/work schedule occupied enough of my time that I didn't bother with the League Pass this year. But the playoffs are going to be interesting, both because of the storylines and because it all seems relatively wide-open this year. There's no irresistible Laker-like force to root against.

Monday, April 11, 2005

YOUR RANDOM BATTLESTAR GALACTICA QUESTION OF THE DAY: Why does Grace Park look different in every scene? Caprica Boomer is different from Galactica Boomer is different from Nekkid Boomer. Do they shoot her differently? More of those celebrated special effects? Is it--you know--acting?

And did you notice INDC Bill throwing down the geek gauntlet, hyping Firefly over Galactica? I got so upset I almost choked on my ten-sided die. More reasonably, I stuck Firefly on my Netflix. It will have to really be something to replace Cowboy Bebop as the genre-bending space western of my heart, of course.

And from Bill's comment thread I am led to notice that ninme has already had a good little Galactica/Firefly debate.

UPDATE: And another random comment: I hope everyone noticed that the fight between Starbuck and Six in the museum was a Blade Runner reference, complete with terrified human with a gun and disembodied replicant voice mocking her from god knows where. Plus you have throughout BSG the living, breathing Blade Runner reference known as Edward James Olmos. I sometimes think of BSG as Philip K. Dick writing Star Trek, though that is probably not completely accurate.
ANDREA DWORKIN DEAD: At the age of 59. Via the DVDVR. And Majikthise.Who notes the dearth of media commentary about her death.

And Camille Paglia loses one of her greatest foils. Seriously--would Pags have ever taken off like she did if she didn't have Dworkin and MacKinnon to play off of? Not that Pags is as big as she was, and claiming to have invented the blog is no way to get back into the limelight, but still. Would she have been the big 90s-era political correctness-backlash figure without Dworkin and MacKinnon, is the proper question I guess.
L'AFFAIRE DE CAPTAIN'S QUARTERS*: If you were--like me--dimly aware of some kind of Canadian scandal erupting in a certain section of Right Blogland, rivka lets you know what the scoop is. Via Kevin Drum.

*Undoubtedly pidgin French.
THIS IS A TERRIBLY GEEKY POST: And it combines comics geekitude with my status as a regular listener of NPR, which is sort of an anti-Reese's peanut butter cup of maligned subcultures--but I do cringe when comics-related guests go on the Terry Gross show. Because while Terry knows a lot of things, she doesn't know the comics very well. So when Frank Miller's on to talk about Sin City she can't really ask him about his influences because she's probably heard of very few of them. Or the relationship of Sin City to his previous work, because she probably hasn't read them. So it ends up being one of her "light" interviews.

I experienced the same cringing during her Brad Bird interview, when they were talking about The Incredibles and didn't bring up Fantastic Four or Doom Patrol not once. Now in this case my cringing was less fair, since I believe Brad has publicly disavowed any comics influence on The Incredibles, though he does credit 60s pop culture quite a bit, so if there's something in that era that leads to the Fantastic Four and he's stripmining that era for ideas, then perhaps its logical that The Incredibles resemble the FF. So there's no reason for Terry to bring it up. But it would have been nice, just given how obvious the relationship is to anybody who knows the Fantastic Four story even slightly well.

The Doom Patrol Elastigirl question is something only one with the heart of a geek would ask, so that is something I wouldn't expect her to ask. But that interview kind of assumed The Incredibles emerged from his head de novo, which they did not. Not in the sense of Bird-ripping-off-the-FF, which he denies and so that's that, but in the sense that The Incredible were all fairly common super-types (stretchy guy, strong guy, fast guy. If there are any Bird-did-rip-off-the-FF conspiracists in existence they are on firmest ground with the Violet/Sue Storm comparisons, since invisibility combined with force fields combined with being a wallflower is not exactly a typical superhero motif.)

This post will be copied and filed with the Office of Minor Complaints, Internet Division.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

CONSPIRACY THEORY OF THE DAY: Gannon/Guckert is the adult version of an 80s child kidnapping case, and Hunter S. Thompson directed snuff films, and it all ties together. Yep. Via the DVDVR. And the respectable version from the Des Moines Register.
A BEAUTIFUL CAMDEN SUNDAY: A woman lies on her back in front of the bus stop, on the sidewalk, knees bent, one hand over her eyes.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

MUST....RESIST.....OBVIOUS.....JOKES: Preorder your Identity Crisis Dr. Light action figure now. With....with--WITH REMOVABLE PANTS! Oh, I'm so sorry....

With changeable "sociopathic rapist" and "no more Teen Titans" facial expressions. There--that's marginally better.
MY FAVORITE COUNTDOWN TO INFINITE CRISIS REVIEW: abhay's dc countdown mocking go! His summary:

well: everyone involved did an awful job. especially the colorists-- lets list them off: moose baumann, hi-fi, paul mounts, guy major, steve firchow. for taking a really bad comic and just making it all the worse-- muddy, gloomy, joyless, overrendered and SOULLESS.

its funny-- i picked up batman year one today. i haven't read it since i was 13. i was at camp. i borrowed a friend's copy. it fucking ROCKED harder than anything. i'd already read dark knight returns, but year one was BETTER. the art was awesome. i never read it again-- until tonight or tomorrow or whenever i get to it.

these people read the same comics i did, must've liked them-- why would they work so hard to get into comics, suck up to editors, work for years... just so they can do the Blue Beetle Snuff Comic Crossover Experience? i guess when you get older you forget that feeling you had originally...

As Jim Treacher said in the comments:

I think I've managed to boil down DC's policy to one sentence: Publish stories that only make sense if you've read every comic they've put out for the last 35 years, and then punish you for having read them.

Via Dave Intemittent.

META POSTSCRIPT: And isn't it neat the way these newfangled browsers copy font and text color? Saves me the trouble of italicising stuff, and arguable is a more accurate way of quoting someone.
THE WASHINGTON PUNDITOCRACY GOES TO A NATIONALS GAME: Details here. Via the Frog. Bob Novak is prominently involved.
OH AWESOME: Blogger is now unblocked by my office firewall. Maybe I can update more often now than twice a week.

I think they updated their filtering software, because now timeouts happen much faster when the search is slow on say Netflix or something, and I get a friendly message to contact my network administrator if this is a problem. It was weird what it used to block, too; all blogspot URLs, yet some of them I could access once a day (like Atrios and Americablog) and others wouldn't load at all. Yet all Typepad URLs were fine. Instapundit was unloadable. I could get to Josh Marshall, Radley Balko and Sports Frog (among others) once a day before the software reblocked them. If I added or removed the www. in fron of their addresses I could sometimes get to them again. Meanwhile I never had any trouble with Off Wing, or Obsidian Wings, or Crooked Timber, or Jim Henley, or Kevin Drum, or many others. Darnedest thing.

Monday, April 04, 2005

THANK THE LORDS OF KOBOL FOR THE ONE-HOUR TELEVISION FORMAT: For I am in receipt of the first season of Battlestar Galactica (a British import--thank you, Amazon.UK) and among the deleted scences are many Boxey scenes. Mostly scenes of him finding stuff about Sharon's increasingly Cylonesque proclivities, so it makes sense to leave them out. I mean, if he knows she's going mental and he doesn't tell anybody, it's a bit of an unnecessary plot hole. Plus he's got that 70s television child star hair and the presence of a kid on the Galactica is just really out of place on the new series. So thank you, Ron Moore, for excising him.

The last two episodes have a lot taken out, actually, and what's missing (save the Boxey nonsense) does add a bit to the episodes. Apollo and Crash visit Sharon in the hospital, where it's explained that they need every pilot they got and yadda yadda and she needs to get back on her feet and how could you leave a bullet in the chamber?, making it somewhat less strange that Adama picks the just-wounded Sharon for the nuke delivery. (If he's a Cylon, that's just weird. Who makes a Cylon with Edward James Olmos' complexion? You can't design that.) There's shots of her practicing her quick-draw motion, which of course would have given away everything in the final scene. And since I am a Grace Park obsessives, that's all I remember of the deleted scenes.

Hot Dog, by the way, is the Wedge Antilles of the new Battlestar Galactica. And the Internet just became slightly more pathetic.