Wednesday, August 31, 2005

I am Carole Lombard... classy

Carole Lombard
You scored 14% grit, 19% wit, 38% flair, and 42% class!
You're a little bit of a fruitcake, but you always act out in style. You have a good sense of humor, are game for almost anything, but you like to have nice things about you and are attracted to the high life. You're stylish and modern, but you've got a few rough edges that keep you from attaining true sophistication. Your leading men include William Powell, Fredric March, and Clark Gable. Watch out for small planes.

Find out what kind of classic leading man you'd make by taking the Classic Leading Man Test.

My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 33% on grit
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 16% on wit
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 55% on flair
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on class
Link: The Classic Dames Test written by gidgetgoes on OkCupid Free Online Dating

I am Jimmy Stewart... I see Pookas

Jimmy Stewart
You scored 21% Tough, 4% Roguish, 61% Friendly, and 14% Charming!
You are the fun and friendly boy next door, the classic nice guy who still manages to get the girl most of the time. You're every nice girl's dreamboat, open and kind, nutty and charming, even a little mischievous at times, but always a real stand up guy. You're dependable and forthright, and women are drawn to your reliability, even as they're dazzled by your sense of adventure and fun. You try to be tough when you need to be, and will gladly stand up for any damsel in distress, but you'd rather catch a girl with a little bit of flair. Your leading ladies include Jean Arthur and Donna Reed, those sweet girl-next-door types.

Find out what kind of classic dame you'd make by taking the
Classic Dames Test.

My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 31% on Tough
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 6% on Roguish
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 92% on Friendly
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 17% on Charming
Link: The Classic Leading Man Test written by gidgetgoes on Ok Cupid

Why NOT Sue?

I can't even count the number of times I've read people leaving a job say "yeah, what they did wasn't really legal, but I'm not going to fight it." I'm not saying that they're wrong -- I know that full bore legal action is time and money intensive -- but I do wonder why so many employers get away with breaking the law. These are cases where people incur losses and costs in the thousands, tens of thousands, of dollars: if someone broke into a house and stole that much, it'd be Grand Theft and nobody shrugs that off.

Speaking of job actions: The Times has a plaint by a blogger who thinks that blogging is a sufficient social good that employers should be required to show actual harm before firing a blogging employee. It'd be nice, but I doubt it....

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

God Bless Nanny....

So, the British are debating whether to require driver licensing for motorized (i.e. electric) wheelchair use.... As the original article points out, the statistics being used to justify this are clearly in the "damned lies" category, but it's amazing what a few legislators or administrators with time on their hands, a bee up their bonnet, and a need to "look productive" can come up with.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Working With Idiots Causes Heart Attacks! Blogging Counteracts Effects!

Well, just because it was in the Weekly World News and nobody's actually studied it, doesn't mean it isn't true!

Maybe they should do a study: do people who read really dumb-ass blogs (that would be a subjective measure of course: forcing subjects to read low-traffic blogs with bad grammar from the other end of the political spectrum would do the trick) have more heart attacks than people who read only blogs they like? Or is blogging an outlet that reduces stress (unless you get too tied up with it, then.... damn. How do you rig a control group with these variables?)?

But seriously
"It is by caffeine alone I set my mind in motion,
It is by the beans of Java that thoughts acquire speed,
The hands acquire shaking, the shaking becomes a warning,
It is by caffeine alone I set my mind in motion." -- Popular Usenet .sig
If you want to know what makes us the short-tempered, inattentive, inefficient, stupid people we are, read this survey of current literature on sleep deprivation. How many symptoms of long-term sleep restriction do YOU have?

Shomer Shabbat Godcasting?

The podcast phenomenon has been picked up by religious broadcasters and institutions: sermons are a natural for audio-blogging and mini-player listening. "Godcasting" they call it, apparently. But I was thinking: this could create some serious problems for Shabbat observant Jews (in Hebrew, full observance is called shomer shabbat, usually used as an adjective).

You'd have to have a recording device capable of handling 26 hours (I suppose it could just run out and turn itself off, but that might count as scheduling the extinguishing....) or voice-activated (and is that legal, if you turn it on beforehand, knowing that you'll be triggering it when you speak? Are timers legal?). You can't put it out until after havdalah, of course. Even if you pre-record it, you wouldn't want to put it up before Shabbat, since you wouldn't want to encourage Jews to break Shabbat by downloading and playing computer files, even Torah study.

Nothing too different from the "how do you videotape a bar mitzvah" problem, I suppose (you don't, if you're shomer shabbat; otherwise, you fudge)...

What THE LEFT Wants...

Mr. Jones is, as usual, wrong when he says that "the Left" is afraid of winning (particularly of Bush winning) the war and reconstruction in Iraq. I don't know which left he's been reading but the liberals I read have consistently argued that the problem was twofold: going in for the wrong reasons, and going in with a bad plan. I'd be willing to cut the administration some slack if I thought they were doing something right; I've never argued (nor have I had any tolerance for those who argue) that the stupidity of the rush to war or the misdirection means that the reconstruction of Iraq shouldn't be done right: to the contrary, it is precisely because our justification and planning were so weak that we have an added responsibility to not screw up Iraqis' lives long-term. It's not the war itself that's the problem: it's the half-assed way that it's been carried out (as Mr. Jones and the David Brooks article that he and everyone else will be linking to admit) which makes it not just criminal but an atrocity.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

"We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline"

It is the 42nd anniversary of Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s I Have A Dream speech. [text and audio here]

Thanks to Ralph Luker for the reminder. No, Ralph, rhetoric and sentiments like that can never be overexposed in this age of sound bites, spin and liability weasels. I suppose, by being iconic, people tend to look past the words, and by being historical, people assume that it doesn't matter anymore. But some challenges are timeless, and the words ring beautifully on the page and in the heart and mind.

Quotations #071: Long

I normally don't put extended excerpts into my quotation file: it sort of violates the epigrammatic aesthetic. Sometimes, though, there's something that just needs a bit more saying...

We are no better people than our ancestors, though we live in an age in which improvement is seen as the norm and "history" is a place of darkness. We carry our challenges within us but we have to act anyway.
"Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who shall stand in his holy place? There is no one but us. There is no one to send, nor a clean hand, nor a pure heart on the face of the earth, but only us, a generation comforting ourselves with the notion that we have come at an awkward time, that our innocent fathers are all dead -- as if innocence had ever been -- and our children busy and troubled, and we ourselves unfit, not yet ready, having each of us chosen wrongly, made a false start, yielded to impulse and the tangled comfort of pleasures, and grown exhausted, unable to seek the thread, weak, and involved. But there is no one but us. There never has been. There have been generations which remembered, and generations which forgot; there has never been a generation of whole men and women who lived well for even one day. Yet some have imagined well, with honesty and art, the detail of such a life, and have described it with such grace, that we mistake vision for history, dream for description, and fancy that life has devolved." -- Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm
What shall we do? We should judge others with clarity, and ourselves unsparingly, and we must choose the right side, when sides must be chosen.
"The history of empire is far too important to be value-free. The rise and fall of empires to a great extent determines which values and ideologies will dominate an era. The study of empire says much about the contemporary global order, its origins, its moral and political bases, and the manner in which in which it may evolve. It is important to study empire in as many-sided, objective and 'sympathetic' a way as one can manage. It is neither possible nor desirable to be neutral about its history. In this subject neutrality would be equivalent to indifference to the fate of the human race. Judgements are inevitably influenced by who one is and by the dominant perspectives and values of the time at which one is writing. The descendent of a West Indian slave may have a rather different perspective on the British Empire from that of a European liberated from Nazi rule by British and imperial armies. It is certainly possible to condemn outright the hideous suffering of those subjected to Stalin's rule but idle to pretend that history would not have mitigated this condemnation had the society he created endured for generations and resulted ultimately in ever higher levels of material prosperity, Soviet global power and even some degree of individual freedom." -- Dominic Lieven, Empire: The Russian Empire and its Rivals

Thursday, August 25, 2005

"You can do anything with children....

if you will only play with them" -- Otto von Bismark
"The idea that a child can be led through play, that it can be done intuitively, is so important to me," she said, adding that her doll's sophisticated technologies must be invisible.
"Business succeeds rather better than the state in imposing its restraints upon individuals, because its imperatives are disguised as choices." -- Walter Hamilton
"We don't want to make kids scared of technology," said Ms. Shackelford, who says she is in her mid-60's and has no children of her own. "You have a baby doll that is supposed to make a little girl feel like the doll loves her. Girls tell dolls all the time that they love them.
"They [Americans] have confused progress with mechanization." -- Lewis Mumford
"This doll," Ms. Shackelford said, "acts like she loves you."
"Parturient mones, nascetur ridiculus mus [Mountains will go into labor, and a silly little mouse will be born]." -- Horace, Ars Poetica

News Flash! Law, Justice, Policy and Common Sense have little in common

The good news is that at least one Supreme Court Justice (maybe two) really does understand the difference between being a Judge and being god, or between being a judge and being a partisan hack....

On Another Note: Caleb McDaniel's response to the Pat Robertson flap says it better than I could: yes, we're all pretty sure he's a nut (a well-funded, popular, powerful nut, but a nut, nonetheless); the question is, what are we doing that we should be ashamed of.

Bloglines Oddity

I don't mean to complain, but when you click on "related feeds" for this blog in Bloglines, instead of relevant or linked or blogrolled sites, you get lots of Spanish-language feeds, mostly of a technical nature. It's not a "filler until we can put something here," either: Bloglines has no qualms about saying "we don't know yet; check back later."

Thursday Lyric: Turning Toward the Morning

I've known this song forever. My spouse put it on our anniversary mix, along with a lot of other songs that ought to be featured here. Maybe later.

Turning Toward the Morning
by Gordon Bok

When the deer has bedded down
And the bear has gone to ground,
And the northern goose has wandered off
To warmer bay and sound,
It's so easy in the cold to feel
The darkness of the year
And the heart is growing lonely
For the morning
Oh, my Joanie, don't you know
That the stars are swinging slow,
And the seas are rolling easy
As they did so long ago?
If I had a thing to give you,
I would tell you one more time
That the world is always turning
Toward the morning.
Now October's growing thin
And November's coming home;
You'll be thinking of the season
And the sad things that you've seen,
And you hear that old wind walking,
Hear him singing high and thin,
You could swear he's out there singing
Of your sorrow.

When the darkness falls around you
And the Northwind come to blow,
And you hear him call you name out
As he walks the brittle snow:
That old wind don't mean you trouble,
He don't care or even know,
He's just walking down the darkness
Toward the morning.

It's a pity we don't know
What the little flowers know.
They can't face the cold November
They can't take the wind and snow:
They put their glories all behind them,
Bow their heads and let it go,
But you know they'll be there shining
In the morning.

Now, my Joanie, don't you know
That the days are rolling slow,
And the winter's walking easy,
As he did so long ago?
And, if that wind would come and ask you,
"Why's my Joanie weeping so?"
Wont you tell him that you're weeping
For the morning?

(the index of other lyrics and poetry I've posted is here)

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Political Limerick in response to a political verse

There once was a blogger named Kieran
who distilled down the names he'd been hearin'
right wing nuts call
liberals to "small
minded, treasonous villain."

(the index of other lyrics and poetry I've posted is here)

Monday, August 22, 2005

Hypocrisy Pays!

Arthur Silber points to this article about how commercial data collection companies are turning their lack of adequate security into a revenue stream. While I'm as horrifed as he is at the bald-faced hypocrisy and irresponsibility involved, I also note that Mr. Silber is a libertarian. What, exactly, is the libertarian response to this outrageous opportunism?

[update: I've sent this to two libertarian group blogs: if all that libertarian talent can't figure it out, it's hopeless]

Responsible Withdrawal

Juan Cole's got a plan that would get us out of Iraq without making us look like idiots. It's not quick, it's not cheap, but it's way better than most of the alternatives. The key is that the Iraqis really must pull together something like a civil society and functioning state, and we can help them do that if we actually make some demands. The other key is that we have to be willing to treat the new government like a client ally, rather than a colony or a fully independent state.

Oh, and though he's right that the security of oil infrastructure is crucial to world stability, he needs to tie that more closely to his point about abandoning the linkage of aid to US corporate involvement: the reason why so many people think we went to war to control oil production is that we turned over control of oil production to our companies (which also have defense and civil engineering divisions....)

I'll take care of my own religious freedom, thanks anyway.

Australia's Victoria Province tried a religious tolerance law much like the one Britain is trying to pass. Not a fantastic success:
Small teams of Christians, armed with notepads and tape recorders, began attending Islamic lectures, recording possible transgressions that might be used as evidence in the case. Islamic bookstores were mined for nuggets of intolerance. True to its promise, the law had brought Christians and Muslims together like never before.

The court case dragged on for months as the judge listened to complex theological evidence tendered by both sides. Arguments flew back and forth about the nuances of Arabic grammar, the interpretation of various verses of the Koran, the requisite qualifications for Islamic scholarship, and the relative legitimacy of different schools of Islamic jurisprudence. Nobody, it seemed, noticed the inappropriateness of a secular court, more accustomed to matters of trade practices disputes and parking fines, presiding over a case centering on contentious theological arguments. [Emphasis Added]
Yeah, that's not good.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

I'm what?

You are .tar You are rarely seen without your buddy gz. You're talented at bringing ideas together, so they're easier to work with.
Which File Extension are You?

Damn, now I gotta go look it up.

And yet, we survived....

Backpacks: the "latest" "scare".
In response, the American Academy of Pediatrics conducted a study, published in the magazine Pediatrics in 2003, that examined acute backpack injuries in children.
Someone got a grant, paid good money to researchers with Ph.D.s, crunched the numbers, wrote it up, sent it in, other Ph.D.s reviewed the work, pronounced it publishable, and it's now part of the scientific heritage of Western Civilization. But it took the Times two years to bring this crisis to our attention....
The study looked at some records from 100 emergency departments throughout the country. It found that 247 children from age 6 to 18 had backpack injuries. The mean age was 11, and the injuries were divided fairly evenly between boys and girls.
That's an average of 2.5 injuries per E.R. per year related to school backpacks. Is that a lot? Doesn't seem like a lot to me. Perhaps there's a gender differential in the kind of injuries?
Update: Checking the original research (Pediatrics, January 2003) I find that they surveyed two years worth of data and found over 12 thousand backpack/book carrier related injuries. The 247 number is their statistical sample.
Surprisingly, it wasn't the weight of the backpacks that was the most common cause of injuries; it was tripping over the backpack, which occurred in 28 percent of the time. Getting hit by the backpack caused 13 percent of the injuries.
Update: They also found that injuries to the hand caused by reaching into the backpack and encountering resistance (blunt or sharp), or by the backpack slipping down to the wrist, were quite common.
Another 13 percent of the injuries - to the neck, backpack and shoulders - were caused by wearing the backpack.

"The 'nonstandard' use of the backpack (tripping, hitting, etc.) resulted in 77 percent of all backpack injuries that required an emergency room visit," the study noted. Therefore, training students to put their backpacks in a safe place and not to use them as weapons against another person would eliminate many backpack-related injuries.
[emphasis added; Update: this is a fair representation of the original paper, actually. They're not kidding]
How much training is it going to take? Do we need posters, or health class films (Beware the Backpack and the sequel Rucksack Rampage), or is this the kind of thing you get a new assistant vice superintendant to coordinate?

Quotations #070

"Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them." -- James Baldwin (1961)

"The Christian religion not only was at first attended with miracles, but even at this day cannot be believed by any reasonable person without one." -- David Hume, (1748) (from "On Miracles", I think)

"The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult and left untried." -- G. K. Chesterton (1910)

"When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle." -- Edmund Burke (1770)

"Nothing in India is identifiable, the mere asking of a question causes it to disappear or to merge in something else." -- E.M. Forster, A Passage to India, 1924

Friday, August 19, 2005

Simon World's 50 Rules for Bloggers

Excerpts, of course, chosen more for pith than soundness of advice. If you want good advice on blogging, read the whole thing, and the links at the end. Then follow it. Or not.
2. Never get your brother to guest blog for you. Trust me. [ed. You mean never get your brother...]
12. If you think this blogging caper is a path to fame and fortune, give up now.
13. It's not fair. It never was and never will be. Deal with it.
25. It's your site so you can do whatever the hell you like. [ed. Unless you're on Blogger]
32. Many bloggers adopt an alias or nom de plume. There are many reasons why this can be a good or bad decision. Just try and choose a good alias. The blogosphere already has several Tom Paines. As far as I know it doesn't yet have a King Kong. [ed. Damn, I coulda been a monkey!]
36. Logic and reason are for the weak. Knee-jerk and off-the-cuff reactions are for the blogger.
37. Blogs are the perfect diversion. They send you on more tangents than a calculus class. Just remember that when reading blogs time seems to go much faster than normal.
38. There is no great diversion than your own blog. You will spend hours getting the coding right, the format right, the content right, fixing links, trying to get readers, reading other blogs. You don't get paid for it. In fact blogging is the one game where the more successful you are the more it costs you (e.g. in bandwidth charges). It really is a sucker's game.
39. Blog is an ugly word but we're stuck with it. [ed. speak for yourself. I have a Web Journal. Yeah, it's on Blogger, why?]
42. The stupidest, most off-the-cuff posts tend to get the most comments.
43. A good way to get people to visit your site is to visit theirs. Blog owners check their referrer logs religiously and when they see a new URL in the logs, they go check it.
50. Ignore all the conflicting advice you get, including this.
(Note: Bold emphasis in original. No, I don't know why.)
The only original blogging advice I've ever come up with is here.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Thursday Verses: The Old Sailor

Heard this last week, over and over (yes, I have a child, why do you ask?). The text was copied from a page that also has a great collection of Pooh Quotes, and a picture of the original Christopher Robin's animals.

The Old Sailor
by A.A. Milne

There was once an old sailor my grandfather knew
Who had so many things which he wanted to do
That, whenever he thought it was time to begin,
He couldn't because of the state he was in.

He was shipwrecked, and lived on a island for weeks,
And he wanted a hat, and he wanted some breeks;
And he wanted some nets, or a line and some hooks
For the turtles and things which you read of in books.

And, thinking of this, he remembered a thing
Which he wanted (for water) and that was a spring;
And he thought that to talk to he'd look for, and keep
(If he found it) a goat, or some chickens and sheep.

Then, because of the weather, he wanted a hut
With a door (to come in by) which opened and shut
(With a jerk, which was useful if snakes were about),
And a very strong lock to keep savages out.

He began on the fish-hooks, and when he'd begun
He decided he couldn't because of the sun.
So he knew what he ought to begin with, and that
Was to find, or to make, a large sun-stopping hat.

He was making the hat with some leaves from a tree,
When he thought, "I'm as hot as a body can be,
And I've nothing to take for my terrible thirst;
So I'll look for a spring, and I'll look for it first."
Then he thought as he started, "Oh, dear and oh, dear!
I'll be lonely tomorrow with nobody here!"
So he made in his note-book a couple of notes:
"I must first find some chickens" and "No, I mean goats."

He had just seen a goat (which he knew by the shape)
When he thought, "But I must have boat for escape.
But a boat means a sail, which means needles and thread;
So I'd better sit down and make needles instead."

He began on a needle, but thought as he worked,
That, if this was an island where savages lurked,
Sitting safe in his hut he'd have nothing to fear,
Whereas now they might suddenly breathe in his ear!

So he thought of his hut ... and he thought of his boat,
And his hat and his breeks, and his chickens and goat,
And the hooks (for his food) and the spring (for his thirst) ...
But he never could think which he ought to do first.

And so in the end he did nothing at all,
But basked on the shingle wrapped up in a shawl.
And I think it was dreadful the way he behaved -
He did nothing but bask until he was saved!

(the index of other lyrics and poetry I've posted is here)

Muttawa Humor

The Religious Policeman is ironically titled, since it's written by an expat Saudi who has no tolerance whatsoever for the theocratic patronage state that is his homeland. His recent (perhaps apocryphal...) interview with the Saudi Minister of Tourism is a journalist tour de force and a hoot, to boot. [via Rebecca McKinnon]

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

THAT'S Advance Planning!

Apparently, Douglas MacArthur thought we should be thinking about the issues of interplanetary warfare. Against aliens, mostly....

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Hey, Mule!

The Beauty of Blogging is that when someone else says it really well, you just link to them:Actually, there's a theme there: American Journalism Stinks! But, with time, energy and some luck, even News,Inc. can be brought to attention. Reminds me of an old joke
How do you get a mule to turn at the end of a row? Simple, you shout in one year, kick it in the leg, pull on the other ear and hit it with a 2x4. Now that you've got its attention....

Monday, August 15, 2005

Define Yourself

The Little Professor has noticed that everyone's unhappy, according to someone else. This is what the critical studies folks call "manufacturing discontent" and as silly as it looks when you lay it out, it works, unless you actively address the question.

History Carnival #14

The recent history carnivals have been setting somewhat arbitrary limits on the number of posts to be included (and announcing the limits on publication, not, as near as I can tell, when the call for links is sent). I like the carnival, but I wonder if that is the way to handle it? If the self-nominations are really coming in by the score, it might make sense, but then the Carnival does lose a bit of the "drawing the community together" function it would play if it cast a wider net.

To be fair, this is a very good edition of the carnival: well-displayed (quite stylish, actually, as you'd expect from someone of Natalie Bennett's talents and taste) and well-explicated and organized. Great stuff, from Hobbits and Carribbean Carnivals to sheep's eyes and bull testicles. Great stuff!

Plagiarism Screener

Great idea: "...the “Glatt Plagiarism Screening Program,” which blanks out every fifth word of a student’s paper and then tests how long it takes the student to fill them all back in."

The rest of it is a "defense" of online paper mills which could be applied, with a few tweaks, to almost any "harmless" crime. Cute, but that's about as far as it goes.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Rare, Responsible Republicans Repudiate Repugnancy: Redemption?

[via Ralph Luker]
The Cunning Realist has some seriously harsh words for his fellow Republicans on the Cindy Sheehan smears. The guy's got good things to say about the President's responsibility to address his failures and the importance of speaking clearly about what we are doing. This guy's got a serious head of steam, and he's not blowing hot air.... ok, I'll lay off the metaphors for a bit. But it's good reading.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Quotations #069

"All conservatism is based on the idea that if you leave things alone you leave them as they are. But you do not. If you leave a thing alone you leave it to a torrent of change." -- G. K. Chesterton (1908)

"If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change." -- Giuseppe de Lampedusa (1957)

"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesment and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do." -- Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Self Reliance."

"A man of great common sense and good taste, meaning thereby a man without originality or moral courage." -- G.B. Shaw, notes for Julius Caesar

"It is the nature, and the advantage, of strong people that they can bring out the crucial questions and form a clear opinion about them. The weak always have to decide between alternatives that are not their own." -- Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Resistance and Submission, 1951

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Hypocrisy Watch: Non-Accountability

Tucker Carlson says that the French attack on Greenpeace (which destroyed a peaceful vessel and killed a man) was "great": So terror is OK if it's against people you don't like? Or is that it was done by a government, officially?

Oh, and ClearChannel is orchestrating counterprotests against the mother of a US soldier slain in Iraq who is demanding (peacefully) an accounting from the President. (oh, and the astroturfed smear campaign [via Canadian Cynic] is quite extensive.)

Apparently Republicans aren't accountable to anyone.

Indict or Impeach?

[via Sideshow]
There's some blogstorming on the issue of whether the President will be subject to indictment for treason. I have a sneaky suspicion that we'd see a "night of long knives" before we'd see an indictment, and if we did it would be challenged on the rounds that it's Congress (aka the Republicans) which holds the power of impeachment, particularly for high crimes like Treason.

That said, I've been in favor of impeachment for some time now....

This is Victory?

The governor of Baghdad has a militia. Not a police force, but a substantial body of troops personally loyal to him. The Mayor of Baghdad was removed from office at gunpoint by that militia. The US forces in Iraq did not know in advance and have done nothing about it. Our puppet spokesman figurehead PM is trying to keep things under control in time to get a constitution draft in place by next week, unless the issue of militias is too hard to negotiate. Negotiate? What happened to "put down your weapons and come out with your hands up"?

Thursday Lyrics: Don't think twice, it's all right

This is one of the finest bitter breakup verses. Reminds me of someone...

I grew up with the Joan Baez version, and I got to see her do this song in concert once. This is one of the only songs Bob Dylan wrote, though, that I think he really does well. Nobody does a Bob Dylan imitation like Joan Baez, because of the history between them, but David Massengill comes pretty close.

Don't Think Twice, It's All Right
by Bob Dylan

It ain't no use to sit and wonder why, babe
It don't matter, anyhow
An' it ain't no use to sit and wonder why, babe
If you don't know by now
When your rooster crows at the break of dawn
Look out your window and I'll be gone
You're the reason I'm trav'lin' on
Don't think twice, it's all right

It ain't no use in turnin' on your light, babe
That light I never knowed
An' it ain't no use in turnin' on your light, babe
I'm on the dark side of the road
Still I wish there was somethin' you would do or say
To try and make me change my mind and stay
We never did too much talkin' anyway
So don't think twice, it's all right

It ain't no use in callin' out my name, gal
Like you never did before
It ain't no use in callin' out my name, gal
I can't hear you any more
I'm a-thinkin' and a-wond'rin' all the way down the road
I once loved a woman, a child I'm told
I give her my heart but she wanted my soul
But don't think twice, it's all right

I'm walkin' down that long, lonesome road, babe
Where I'm bound, I can't tell
But goodbye's too good a word, gal
So I'll just say fare thee well
I ain't sayin' you treated me unkind
You could have done better but I don't mind
You just kinda wasted my precious time
But don't think twice, it's all right

(the index of other lyrics and poetry I've posted is here)

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

On Empires

Apropos of this, wood s lot (who needs a working RSS feed, but is one of the rare bloggers worth reading anyway) notes Rockstroh's essay on the Death Gene of Empire
The Death Genes lord over the American empire. Accordingly, an empire destroys nearly everything it touches, because, after a time, it begins to exist for no other reason other than to perpetuate its own existence. Within it, its subjects’ lives lose meaning and purpose: meaningless work, petty ambition, and endless appetite define the days, resulting in a decimated (internal as well as external) landscape -- the hollowed-out lives of its populous -- and the concomitant death cult convergence of religious fundamentalism and habitual consumerism that follow.
The neo-plantation system of the corporate empire stands before us and within us: It has molded our lives and perceptions as thoroughly as the old South’s stratified society of landed gentry and tenant farmer rabble molded the life and perceptions of my wife’s departed father.

We, the subjects of this empire, bear the Death Gene. As my fellow southerner, Walker Percy pointed out, the best way to survive our Death Genes is to face them and name them -- and never suffer from the deadly delusion that you can deny them, reason with them, or outrun them . . . for you carry them within you.

When we face the empire, we face ourselves. To survive, it is imperative that we cease to lie to ourselves about our condition.
And, as he notes, to do something about it.

Never seen it....

...but I'm going to have to. I really like Depp though the word on Charlie isn't good. The sweater thing is uncanny, though.

You Are Ed Wood From "Ed Wood."
You definitely have your name in history, although probably not for the reason you believe. Yet you are very accepting, non-judgemental, and optimistic almost to a fault. You also have a thing for angora sweaters. How could anyone not like you?

Take The Johnny Depp Quiz!

Quotations #068

"Wherever books are burned, men also, in the end, are burned." -- Heinrich Heine (1823)

"Assassination is the extreme form of censorship." -- George Bernard Shaw

"God forbid that any book should be banned. The practice is as indefensible as infanticide." -- Rebecca West (1928)

"I respect faith, but doubt is what gets you an education." -- Wilson Mizner

"He that will not apply new remedies must expect new evils; for time is the greatest innovator." -- Francis Bacon, "Of Innovations" (1625)

Monday, August 08, 2005

Shorter Six Party Talks

This is a good summary of the latest round of six-party talks aimed at ending the North Korean nuclear crisis, but it can be boiled down further: US and North Korea didn't budge; South Korea isn't a total lapdog of US or Japan on this matter; China is either unwilling or unable to actually force North Korea to make even rhetorical concessions.

In other words: Same Shit, Different Day.

Update: A timely update on the state of the kakistocracy. The same shit is unacceptable.

Update 2: Here's another summary of the talks, a bit more organized. Best line: "After a 3-week recess the 'big boys' including nice-guy Mr. Hill will experience another deja-vu in Beijing where expectations are as low as President Bush's approval rating."

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Oh, shit: here comes John Bolton....

You're the United Nations!
Most people think you're ineffective, but you are trying to completely save the world from itself, so there's always going to be a long way to go.  You're always the one trying to get friends to talk to each other, enemies to talk to each other, anyone who can to just talk instead of beating each other about the head and torso. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't, and you get very schizophrenic as a result.  But your heart is in the right place, and sometimes also in New York.
Take the Country Quiz at the Blue Pyramid

Shorter version: I contain multitudes, and rarely get credit for what I do accomplish.

To be honest, this is the second time I took it: first time I came out as Palestine, which shares with the UN a great deal of insecurity as to its legitimacy and purpose (but a great deal more anger and despair)....

Love the description, but...

Emperor Augustus
You're Augustus

Which Roman Emperor Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla
..this is one of the most benign descriptions I've read of the man who obliterated any chance Rome had of being a viable non-monarchy and set it on a path (long, slow path, to be sure) to ruin.

I love computers, but....

...the problem is, as my father so often told me in my programming days, they do exactly what you tell them. So the question of who's in control of the computers matters a great deal. And when the person in control of the information wins all the contests, there's a legitimate question to ask. As my father also says, he who defines the terms wins the argument.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Yes, it IS our bed....

Just in case you haven't been paying attention, all the anti-terror and anti-Iraq energy that we've been expending over the last fifteen years is our own damn fault (with pictures, no less).

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Jewish Existentialism

Pirkei Avos - Chapter 4, Mishna 22(b)
And now we come to the true crux of the issue. We began by stating that unearned reward embarrasses its recipient. We then stated that in a logical sense, there is not even such a thing as unearned reward: it cannot be created out of nothing. On the deepest level, however, if I have never done anything to justify my existence, I am not even *real*. I am a passive, created being, nothing more than an extension of the G-d who created me. And this is the crushing and debilitating sense of inexistence which plagues and hounds the truly thinking human being to no end. (It was even the sense that drove Adam and Eve to eat of the Tree of Knowledge -- but for a separate discussion.)

We can now begin to appreciate what the World to Come truly is. It is not only a place of reward. It is a place of existence. Until I have achieved and justified myself, I am not truly real. But when out of my own volition I choose good where I could have chosen evil, I have made something for myself. I have struggled and won. And this not only earns me reward; it grants me existence. I am not only a created being; *I* have accomplished! My deeds are my own! *G-d* didn't do them for me! They are my own creation! And this grants me reality. I live forever because I have performed deeds of immortality. I am -- and there can be no greater joy.

And when we have earned our existence, we can enjoy a relationship with G-d. A painting cannot have a "relationship" with its painter. But as independent beings, we can love and be loved by G-d. The World to Come is the place of such closeness. We exist and are eternal -- and so, we can bask in ecstasy in the glow of the Divine Presence.
For some entirely irrelevant "Faith of our Founding Fathers" debunking, done with panache, Go here.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

History Carnival Thirteen

is up. A nice bunch of stuff, for the dog days...

Not my business? I feel your pain.

It's not considered polite to tell someone what to do about their religion (God knows I don't tolerate it from others), so I'll just suggest as politely as I can that any Muslim readers should follow the above link [via Ophelia Benson] and consider the odd dichotomy, roughly the equivalent of dividing all Jews into Reconstructionists and Likudniks. It doesn't make sense to me, but I've seen both Jews and non-Jews make a similar mistake -- effectively dividing Jews into Orthodox and Secular, with no middle ground; which one is "good" depends on who's writing and why -- and the suggestions which come out of these analyses are no better than the analyses. [update: Manan Ahmed cuts through the chaff, so to speak]

However, Rachel Barenblatt is someone who doesn't fit into categories well, she's well versed in Torah and Talmud and contemporary Judaism, she's aware of her limitations, and she's reading the Quran this summer. This could be fun.