Monday, October 31, 2005

Latin Quotes and Phrases Dictionary

I don't have anything particularly good for Halloween (there's a really frightening story I'd like to write, related to the Supreme Court, Hurricane Katrina and our future, but I don't want to post it here), so I'll just pass on this wonderful resource.

If you don't have a Latin dictionary on hand, but sometimes run into things you'd like to look up, look no further. There are a lot of other great quotation resources at that site: look what happens when you search for "history"! Here's a sample:
  • What experience and history teach is this - that nations and governments have never learned anything from history, or acted upon any lessons they might have drawn from it. -- Hegel
  • Historians are like deaf people who go on answering questions that no one has asked them. -- Tolstoy
  • Nothing in the affairs of men is worthy of great anxiety. -- Plato
  • The time to stop a revolution is at the beginning, not the end. -- Adlai Stevenson
  • If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man's life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm any hostility. -- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  • Historia est vitae magistra - History is the tutor of life

Sunday, October 30, 2005

A Geneaology of Blogging

  • blogfather: Ralph Luker, of Cliopatria
  • Left, Right, or Other: Forwards
  • blog-birth-month: November 2004
  • blog-children: Not that I know of
  • existing lineage ... influential, ur-blogger from five years ago: Like I said, Ralph Luker's the man to ask about that
It should be said, though, that my political blogging is an offshoot of my letter-to-the-editor writing, which is a habit that goes back to December 1989 and which was inspired not by a blogger but by my mother, who taught me the value of speaking out and writing effectively. Also, like Orac, I have USENET and listserv experience starting in the early 1990s. This blogging thing is fun, but it's more evolutionary than its cheerleaders let on.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

I'm consistently inconsistent....

This is the same quiz I took before where Neo-Pagan came out on top, but the results this time are somehow clearer. Perhaps it has to do with the debate I'm involved in that has clarified my views.

1. Reform Judaism (100%)
2. Liberal Quakers (95%)
3. Unitarian Universalism (93%)
4. Neo-Pagan (85%)
5. Bahi'i Faith (84%)
6. Sikhism (78%)
7. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (78%)
8. Orthodox Judaism (75%)
9. Mahayana Buddhism (71%)
10. Secular Humanism (70%)
11. Islam (70%)
12. New Age (70%)
13. Jainism (68%)
14. Orthodox Quaker (59%)
15. Theravada Buddhism (59%)
16. Taoism (51%)
17. New Thought (49%)
18. Nontheist (48%)
19. Scientology (48%)
20. Hinduism (45%)
21. Mainline to Conservative Christian/Protestant (40%)
22. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) (39%)
23. Christian Science (Church of Christ, Scientist) (33%)
24. Seventh Day Adventist (33%)
25. Eastern Orthodox (26%)
26. Roman Catholic (26%)
27. Jehovah's Witness (19%)

Fuzzy Fun?

Orac, host of the adventures of the most disturbing mascot since the ... no, there's nothing like it... has been posting what now looks like a series of links: First there was the holiday-shopping ready microbial plush toys. Now comes the hand-knitted digestive tract.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Speaking of indictments...

Anne Zook points to Janice Kapinski (Res. Col., ret.)'s August interview (I missed it, too, Anne).

Now, it's not entirely fair to extrapolate from the problems we were having almost two years ago to what's happening now. But there sure hasn't been a lot of evidence that things have been getting better, have there?

I always liked Sulu....

George Takei, in addition to being a fine actor (who usually gets really crappy roles but epitomizes the "there are no small parts" dictum) and forthright speaker on important issues [via] has come out of the closet as a homosexual [via].

Don't Look Back....

...something might be gaining on you. -- Satchel Paige

When Reality Doesn't Bite

A Jew, speaking Hebrew, identifying herself as Israeli, went to Gaza and had a lovely time. [via , via]

It's kind of funny what happens when we stop treating each other as symbols and units of exchange, and start treating each other like people. It's a cliche, but that doesn't mean it isn't true.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Earthquake Relief Day

Sepoy, of The Vertiginous Chapati, has more than enough good groups on tap to spend all the money you can spare. This is life-saving money, at a crucial time. I've put it off too long myself, but I'm doing it today.

Update: I'm modifying the time stamp to put this back on top of the blog for another day. Sepoy has added to this post a very powerful essay on the situation and the remarkable silence.

No, I'm not kidding

Science groups deny KS school board right to use evolution curriculum because of the stupid "balanced" ID approach the board is taking. Of course, the school board could claim the "parody exemption" from copyright permission....

Quotations #074

"The same costume will be
Indecent...10 years before its time
Shameless...5 years before its time
Outré (daring)...1 year before its time
Dowdy...1 year after its time
Hideous...10 years after its time
Ridiculous...20 years after its time
Amusing...30 years after its time
Quaint...50 years after its time
Charming...70 years after its time
Romantic...100 years after its time
Beautiful...150 years after its time."
-- James Lauer, Taste and Fashion (1937)

"'Tis hard if all is false that I advance
A fool must now and then be right, by chance." -- William Cowper

"With stupidity the gods themselves struggle in vain." -- Friedrich von Schiller

"You can never plan the future by the past." -- Edmund Burke

"People will not look forward to posterity, who never look backward to their ancestors." -- Edmund Burke

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Jews are here, Jews are there, Jews are almost everywhere

A poem from the point of view of Hitler? Sure, I could see that, as an interesting, if disturbing exercise. In the hands of a mature poet, with a clear tone, and focused on his internal contradictions and drive to power, it could be something worth reading. Once. Maybe.

But in the hands of a schoolchild, it's an absurd notion, and the result is indeed doggerel displaying the shallowest genocidal paranoia. OK, so you give the kid a B and keep an eye on their history essays and friends. You don't publish it in a collection for other schoolchildren!

Yes, Hitler was a shallow, paranoid, genocidal maniac. That is indeed, as the publishers have said in their defense, historical fact. Not all historical facts make good poetry or appropriate secondary pedagogy. The publisher did take the step of removing regional identifications from the poem, though they left the kid's name on; they knew they were sowing the wind.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Pre-spin... you know it's coming

Cunning Realist suggests some likely interpretations of a recent poll in Iraq:
1. Democracy is a messy process.
2. 82% of Iraqis are dead-enders.
3. The poll takers were in their last throes.
4. A rock-solid 18% does not strongly oppose our military presence! As the other 82% of Iraqis stand up, we will stand down.
5. Less than 26 years of age, looking for a job, and without enough money for even basic needs? Terrorist.
The last one strikes me as implausible, as a FOX news talking point, but the rest of it.... wait and see.

Arthur Silber's back!

Adam Kotsko once said that "bloggers don't keep their promises" which is patently untrue except for one category of promise: the promise to stop blogging. Kotsko himeself is struggling with it right now; lots of us are. We can't do it, though. We love the outlet, even if nobody comments, even if our readership is people googling for easy essay answers. We can't stop. It's a safety valve, without which we'd be serious cranks...

Hypocrisy Check: Humor?

Yes, the epistemology of ID is screwy. Yes, they are annoying people who are doing our society more harm than good. No, I don't think the author of this post [via and via] (or the authors of several other variations thereof) are advocating violence against ID proponents.

But, funny as it is -- intense irony, of course -- this is precisely the kind of dehumanizing violent humor that so many of us on the left decry when it's displayed by the right. Is it exactly equivalent? No. But it's close enough that to let it pass would be splitting hairs, at best.

Laugh if you will, but be careful what you complain about in the future.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Because that's what someone paid once....

My blog is worth $10,161.72.
How much is your blog worth?

Avedon Carol (whose blog is, oddly, only worth eighteen times what mine is; I must be doing something right) asks "why"? That's easy: it's what someone paid for that sort of thing, once. There aren't a lot of data points in valuing blogs: markets haven't really been developed yet. So, like in art or other "unique collectible" arenas, valuation is based almost entirely on the last price paid. It doesn't mean anything about the potential revenue, or the marketing potential, or anything else; it's just that someone decided to pay that, once.

That's all you need: once. Any bidders?

Sunday, October 23, 2005

I'm an Angel? I'm a Wizard!

You scored as Angel. Angel: Angels are the guardians of all things, from the smallest ant to the tallest tree. They give inspiration, love, hope, and positive emotion. They live among humans without being seen. They are the good in all things, and if you feel alone, don't fear. They are always watching. Often times they merely stand by, whispering into the ears of those who feel lost. They would love nothing more then to reveal themselves, but in today's society, this would bring havoc and many unneeded questions. Give thanks to all things beautiful, for you are an Angel.













What Mythological Creature are you? (Cool Pics!)
created with

Angel is a bit of a stretch. Though, I'd note that I only got 3/4ths of an Angel; I also scored half a dragon. Perhaps I'm a fiery angel?
You are a Wizard!
Take the "How Do You Use Magic?" test! Written by Brimo
That's more like it!

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Great Books, but not really....

Via the Little Professor, I found these One Star Reviews of the fatuous Time Top 100 English-language novels. A perfect antidote to what is one of the least defensible lists in recent history.

Also, 50th Star's Stuart Hayashi [who doesn't seem to have the gumption to enable comments on his own blog, either] points to the Skeptics Annotated Bible.

Blogging will be light (and lemon scented)

Mother-in-law visit.

Which means cleaning things that haven't been cleaned since the last major houseguest, with things that make smells which remind me why I don't do this more often. Which means doing things that we should have done regularly.

No, it'll never be clean enough, not for a mother-in-law. But I'm not looking for a house that's mother-in-law clean. Just a house that doesn't scream out "trolls live here."

I could accept Eeyore, or Piglet (maybe Owl)

You are Tigger! T - I - DOUBLE G - R! You are happy and bouncy and insane and busy and running and falling and hungry and talking and leading and showing and... Gods, you're annoying, but everyone seems to like you - at least, for a while.
Which Winnie the Pooh character are you?
brought to you by Quizilla
That's not even close. Seriously, that's not even funny. And the movie version (which the text references) is even further from the truth.... I could almost accept it if it was the book Tigger: he has some useful and redeeming qualities. Like a gadfly blogger, full of unfocused energy trying to do the right thing and just stepping on toes and bouncing into places he doesn't understand. The movie Tigger is just vapid energy.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Yes, I'm agnostic. But I'm a Jewish agnostic

You fit in with:

Your ideals mostly resemble those of an Agnostic. You are fairly ambivalent towards any religion or spiritual connection. You lead a very busy life and find that religion and spirituality are unnecessary to your life.

0% scientific.
20% reason-oriented.

Take this quiz at

Is this a standard faith/reason chart? There's a lot about it that doesn't ring true. And I really belong considerably more on the science side; problem is that the questions force you to admit to even a little spirituality, then blow it up. Eh.

Thursday Lyric: White Squall

In honor of the horrific hurricane season, which continues this weekend, a sad song of storms and warnings unheeded.

White Squall
by Stan Rogers

Now it's just my luck to have the watch, with nothing left to do
But watch the deadly waters glide as we roll north to the 'Soo',
And wonder when they'll turn again and pitch us to the rail
And whirl off one more youngster in the gale.

The kid was so damned eager. It was all so big and new.
You never had to tell him twice, or find him work to do.
And evenings on the mess deck he was always first to sing,
And show us pictures of the girl he'd wed in spring.
But I told that kid a hundred times "Don't take the Lakes for granted.
They go from calm to a hundred knots so fast they seem enchanted."
But tonight some red-eyed Wiarton girl lies staring at the wall,
And her lover's gone into a white squall.
Now it's a thing that us oldtimers know. In a sultry summer calm
There comes a blow from nowhere, and it goes off like a bomb.
And a fifteen thousand tonner can be thrown upon her beam
While the gale takes all before it with a scream.

The kid was on the hatches, lying staring at the sky.
From where I stood I swear I could see tears fall from his eyes.
So I hadn't the heart to tell him that he should be on a line,
Even on a night so warm and fine.


When it struck, he sat up with a start; I roared to him, "Get down!"
But for all that he could hear, I could as well not made a sound.
So, I clung there to the stanchions, and I felt my face go pale,
As he crawled hand over hand along the rail.

I could feel her keeling over with the fury of the blow.
I watched the rail go under then, so terrible and slow.
Then, like some great dog she shook herself and roared upright again.
Far overside. I heard him call my name.


So it's just my luck to have the watch, with nothing left to do
But watch the deadly waters glide as we roll north to the 'Soo',
And wonder when they'll turn again and pitch us to the rail
And whirl off one more youngster in the gale.

But I tell these kids a hundred times "Don't take the Lakes for granted.
They go from calm to a hundred knots so fast they seem enchanted."
But tonight some red-eyed Wiarton girl lies staring at the wall,
And her lover's gone into a white squall.

You may view my other Thursday verse posts here.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

What can we do? After we panic, of course

Want to be really scared? Read this from Tom's Dispatch:
Juan Cole:Back in the 1980s, Saddam Hussein and Khomeini fought a war with one another for eight years, but on the whole they avoided hitting each other's oil facilities. Both understood that doing that would reduce their countries to fourth-world states. So there was a kind of mutually-assured-destruction doctrine between them, which is possible between states. But in the guerrilla war in Iraq, the Sunni guerrillas have already pioneered using pipeline sabotage and oil sabotage…

TD: I'm actually surprised that such sabotage has yet to make it to the Caspian pipelines or elsewhere.

JC: Well, it could still spread. In August of 2004, when the Marines were fighting the Muqtada al-Sadr people in Najaf, the Sadrists in Basra did make threats to start pipeline sabotage in the south, which really would have crippled Iraq. In a regional guerrilla war, there would be a lot of impetus for Sunni guerrillas to hit the Iranian pipelines, and there are some Sunni tribes in the oil-producing areas of Iran who might be enlisted for this purpose. If the Saudis got involved, then the radical Shiites have an impetus to hit the Saudi pipelines, and the Saudi petroleum facilities are in a heavily Shiite area. Basically, what we've learned from Iraq is that petroleum is produced in a human-security environment in which powerful local forces want it to be produced. If some significant proportion of the local forces doesn't want it to be produced, they can spoil it.

TD: As in Nigeria…

JC: We have seen this all over the world. We focus on states, but states can't provide security for hundreds of miles of pipeline. It's literally impossible. So think what you're talking about here. Something on the order of 80-84 million barrels of petroleum are produced every day in the world. Saudi Arabia produces 9 of that reliably, sometimes more. Iran produces 4. On a good day, Iraq used to produce almost 3. Now it's down to somewhere around 1.8 million. If you took all of that off the market, that's about a fifth of world petroleum production. Do you know what that's going to do to prices!

If you don't like three-dollar-a-gallon gasoline, you're going to really hate this kind of world I'm painting. I think the price shock would reduce economic growth globally, plunging some countries into recession or even depression. This would be a world-class catastrophe. And it's also not clear, once it starts, how you stop it.
I mean, this is one of the great foreign policy debacles of American history. There's an enormous amount at stake in the oil Gulf and Bush is throwing grenades around in the cockpit of the world economy.
There's a bit of a slippery-slope argument here: there's a lot of "inevitable" links in this causal chain. Still, this isn't a terribly unreasonable argument, given the willingness of jihadi and tribal warfare to be self-destrictive and unrestricted, and the concommitant damage to the Western economies a positive side benefit for lots of the people involved. Something to think about.

A lot of the rest of the article is about the no-win aspects of Iraqi occupation, of blogging, of political discourse.... cheerio!

When you're right...

Turns out that the President could have saved us two years of investigations and Grand Juries and imprisoned reporters. However, I have to agree with him on one point:
But the President felt Rove and other members of the White House damage-control team did a clumsy job in their campaign to discredit Plame's husband, Joseph Wilson, the ex-diplomat who criticized Bush's claim that Saddam Hussen tried to buy weapons-grade uranium in Niger.
Wait, isn't that called.... blocking the courts? no.... impeding the law? no... oh, yeah "obstruction of justice". I guess it's not that serious. [via]

The Carnival of Feminists

Natalie Bennett is doing something which I think is overdue: The First Carnival of Feminists. It still takes me somewhat aback how much the carnival movement seems to be tied to strongly conservative bloggers and communities; the academic carnivals are not in that mode, but I never quite understood why liberal bloggers didn't carnival.

Speaking of liberals, So Quoted Bill's line of the day is:
Liberals blame hurricanes on global warming caused by industry, whereas conservatives take the much more reasonable view that they are caused by gay sex.
I guess it's South Beach which is drawing Wilma inexorably towards Jeb Bush's state... but FEMA's ready this time! Sure, because after 2000, Republicans will never deny Florida anything.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Complexity is not a vice; Simplicity, however, may be.

Voltaire said that while doubt is an uncomfortable position, certainty is absurd:
Of course, the 'diversity' crowd is all for policies that will weaken or Balkanize the United States. 'Profiling,' or any other action, that would help defend her citizens from a ruthless enemy is another matter
Nobody has proven that profiling (the half-witted racial/gender/age profiling that produces such a Pavlovian response from these folks, anyway) is effective at anything except exacerbating racial tensions; you'd think that ideologues who've been making that argument about affirmative action for decades would recognize that they finally found a situation where it was actually relevant. But no, they'd rather segregate us because it makes things simpler, no matter what it does to our souls or our safety. They'd rather ignore the past and its influence on the present because it makes things simpler, no matter how irresponsible or injust. They would rather spread fear [via] than solve problems because it makes things simple, no matter how much damage they do by commission or omission. They'd rather see the world as good and evil (and them as all good, of course) because it makes things simpler, no matter how complicit we are with the evils of the world.

Yes, I am a liberal. Live with it.

Another Kakistocracy about which we are doing nothing


SF Filmology Score: 48%

John Scalzi has compiled what he considers the "most significant" fifty SF movies. I've seen 24 of them, and I have my doubts about the other 26. Too much recent stuff, the true significance of which is yet to be determined. But I gotta give him credit: he's going to get lots of publicity for his book this way! [via]

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Capsule Reviews: Mega Trilogy

Mega M&Mstm: "Mega" ain't what it used to be. Maybe they'll come out with Giga M&Ms someday. Though they could redeem themselves somewhat with dark chocolate, I doubt they will.

Lord of the Rings Trilogy: About as good as it could be, given the limitations of time and the inerrant shallowness of moviemaking. Spot checking with the book reveals that they were remarkably faithful in language and plotting, but where they diverged mostly it was for obvious and very overdramatic reasons. Like the story needed "punching up"! NOT.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Historical Entertainments

The latest History Carnival is up; don't be alarmed by the scandalous opening section, but keep reading.

There's also, for those of us whose interests run in that direction, the Asian History Carnival.

And, for the educationally minded, The Teaching Carnival.

Friday, October 14, 2005

If you haven't got a ha'penny, God Bless You

According to the Specious Report:
Coin Collectors Divided over New Bush Half-Penny

Enthusiasm for the Thomas Jefferson buffalo tail nickel has not carried over to the George W. Bush horse's ass half-cent.

The majority of numismatists quickly gave a big thumbs up to the new five-cent piece. But the half-penny, dubbed simply "The Bush" by hobbyists, has sparked a bitter debate.

"Each half-cent will cost about 0.81 of a cent to mint, creating an unnecessary deficit every year," detractors of The Bush complain. "And it looks so much like a penny, The Bush will facilitate widespread dishonesty. The Bush is doomed to be a miserable failure."

"These will come in very handy when the President's Social Security reforms pass," insist supporters of The Bush. "Once the program is forced into bankruptcy, each retiree will get one in the mail every month. Or they can just feel around under the sofa cushion."

The traditional slogan "In God We Trust" is replaced by "Trust Me" on The Bush, which will make it highly sought after by collectors of U.S. coins with oxymorons.
Satire. Yeah. Mean. Yeah. True to life. Yeah.

Non Sequitur: Kermit the Frog is Fifty!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Personnel Problems

In response to this petition drive, I wrote:
Competent bureaucracies are essential tools for dealing with the complexities of modern life. But they only function if those who are in a position understand and can carry out the duties of that position.

Despite what MBA programs have been selling for years, management skills are not interchangeable. Or perhaps it's more accurate to say that people-management skills are interchangeable, but not sufficient qualification for all management positions.
Or to put it another way, the difference between a competent bureaucracy and a feudal aristocracy is relevant qualifications and accountability.

Update: Yes, this applies to the Park Service too!

Update: And, given how bad our disaster relief is, it goes double for refugee aid!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Last in a distinguished line....

[via] Apparently George W. Bush is descended from vicious Irish conquerers. I don't hold that against him because, as Frank Herbert (among others) has pointed out, we are descended from the victors; all of us have the blood of killers, rapists and conquerers running through our veins because these are the people who propogated most successfully for most of human history. It's believed that as many as one in six central Asian men is descended from a single ancestor: Genghis Khan, who slaughtered men and children and raped women with unique ferocity.

But Bush is descended from notorious traitors: men who turned on their own kings and people for private gain. And that's a tradition the family has upheld. For fun, here's a list of "lies and policy failures" that runs out at 32. Unlike the ancient Irish, though, who suffered under steel and boot for centuries, we have a process by which treacherous leaders may be punished: we can vote them out, or impeach them.

Let's start.

[Update] Looks like that conquerer's blood is stirring [via]. As Snoopy said "My teeth are tingling again...."

Monday, October 10, 2005

how to embroider and milk a cow

A compendium of infelicitous phrasings from relatively recent science fiction. [via] In the ironic category,
`It took courage to write this book, and it will take courage to read it.' -- Erich von Däniken, Chariots of the Gods?
In the "your physiology is more interesting than mine" category:
`Dr Kelter's forehead sprouted italics ...' -- Emil Petaja, The Nets of Space
And in the "why doesn't Word have a mixed metaphor checker" department
`Now that important Achilles heel was closed.' -- Geoffrey Jenkins, Firepoint
There's two books in the whole list I've read: the rest just proves to me that I haven't been missing much....

I am speechless... but there's quizzes!

Note the very small people in the lower right-hand corner. [via]
The 200-foot-long toy rabbit lies on the side of the 5,000 foot high Colletto Fava mountain in northern Italy's Piedmont region.

Viennese art group Gelatin ... Group member Wolfgang Gantner said: "It's supposed to make you feel small, like Gulliver. You walk around it and you can't help but smile."

And Gelatin members say the bunny is not just for walking around - they are expecting hikers to climb its 20 foot sides and relax on its belly.

The giant rabbit is expected to remain on the mountain side until 2025.
Honestly. Words fail me. I tell people that modern art isn't like what it looks like in small pictures, that it has to be seen in person for the emotional and aesthetic impact to be felt rather than just imagined. But....

Well clearly, it's time for the quiz: Great Art, or Disposable Junk. This is your chance to see if you can tell the difference between Modern Art and Paintshop junk, between great writers and PR hacks, between Classic and obscure music... try it!

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Miers: defensive strategy

It's nice to see someone else (with more readers, yeah) talking about Miers nomination as a defensive maneuver. [via]

When you factor in the Congressional Republican leadership's meltdown [also via], Plame-gate [via], the close ties of the administration to failed kleptocorps like Tyco and Enron, and the FEMA fiasco, the midterm elections could well be followed by impeachment proceedings.

As an aside, it seems that a Senator who once represented me is taking things too literally:
[Democratic] Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, said the nominee had become a victim of sexism. "They're saying a woman who was one of the first to head up a major law firm with over 400 lawyers doesn't have intellectual heft," Ms. Mikulski said.
Note to the Honorable Senator: nobody's saying that she's dumb, but organizational skill and people skills are not the same thing as the ethical and legal reasoning required at the Supreme Court level. We've already got a President with more people skills than "book smarts"; how much more of that can we take?

Friday, October 07, 2005

By the Numbers

Harper's Index, via King of Zembla [via Anne Zook], points out a tactical irony:
Total U.S. spending on poppy eradication and other antidrug efforts in Afghanistan last year: $780,000,0000
Amount it would have cost to purchase the country's entire 2004 poppy crop: $600,000,000
Also, they've raised the maximum age for military recruits: I'm eligible again. Yippee?

I'm a Socialist? Maybe a Social Democrat.

[via Mr. Jones and Orac]
You are a
Social Liberal(68% permissive)
and an...
Economic Liberal(16% permissive)
You are best described as a:

Link: The Politics Test on OkCupid Free Online Dating
Also: The OkCupid Dating Persona Test

I don't know about this result. The chart is interesting: Libertarians and Democrats are closer than Libertarians and Republicans, which is quite counter to the overlap that I seem to see. The border between Republicans, Totalitarians and Fascists is also somewhat suspect; there should be a connection between Socialist and Totalitarian, at least.

For the record, I said "yes" to "24. It should be legal for two consenting adults to challenge each other to a duel and fight a Death Match." That's another post.

Because I didn't like the result, I went back through the questions. Even on second run, I couldn't justify changing my answers much:
You are a
Social Liberal(65% permissive)
and an...
Economic Liberal(20% permissive)
You are best described as a:
Strong Democrat

Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid
Also: The OkCupid Dating Persona Test
On the "famous people" chart (Mr. Jones pointed to that), I seem to be right between Mikhail Gorbachev and Hilary Clinton (who are flanked by Darth Vader and Mahatma Gandhi, respectively!) and somewhere south of Robert Redford.

[post edited to remove basic Social and Economic axes, which are basically the same chart as the ideology chart, but without the ideology overlays.]

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Improbable Awards

The 2005 Ig Nobel awards have been announced:
-- PHYSICS: Since 1927, researchers at the University of Queensland in Australia have been tracking a glob of congealed black tar as it drips through a funnel -- at a rate of one drop every nine years.

-- PEACE: Two researchers at Newcastle University in England monitored the brain activity of locusts as they watched clips from the movie ''Star Wars.''

-- CHEMISTRY: An experiment at the University of Minnesota was designed to prove whether people can swim faster or slower in syrup than in water.
Other prizes include biology
Smith's team studied and catalogued different scents emitted by more than 100 species of frogs under stress. Some smelled like cashews, while others smelled like licorice, mint or rotting fish.
and medicine, which went the inventor of fake testicles for neutered dogs. If you want this stuff more than once a year, you can subscribe to the Annals of Improbable Research, or just read their blog....

Update: The full list is out, and it includes the award for
NUTRITION: Dr. Yoshiro Nakamats of Tokyo, Japan, for photographing and retrospectively analyzing every meal he has consumed during a period of 34 years (and counting).
Yoshiro Nakamats (yes, that's how he spells it in English; in Japanese he uses "dokutaa" instead of "sensei" too) is better known as the inventor of the floppy disk.

When you're right...

"Evil men obsessed with ambition and unburdened by conscience must be taken very seriously, and we must stop them before their crimes can multiply." -- George W. Bush, 6 October 2005.

Remember that, next time an administration indictment comes down, will ya?

"Scandal Pimps"

I've seen bits and pieces attacking the right-wing spin on the "Oil for Food" (OFF} Scandal", but this piece [via] puts it all together
Distortion #1: Everything that went wrong with Iraq during the program's existence, regardless of who was responsible or where the problem occurred, is laid at the doorstep of the U.N. Secretariat (that is, the actual U.N. staff). Conversely, member states' (including the U.S. and U.K.) tolerance of -- and at times culpability in -- the Iraqi government's corrupt dealings is downplayed or simply not reported.
Distortion #2: The amount of corruption and mismanagement found on the U.N.'s watch is so exaggerated as to be unrecognizable when compared to the facts.
Distortion #3: The suggestion is made, defying the evidence, that "huge" profits influenced individuals and states to oppose the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. War opponents are painted as being "soft on dictators" in exchange for big, big money.
Distortion #4: The fact that OFF was a highly successful program, despite all of its flaws, is sometimes just not reported. More often, though, the implication is made that the opposite is true, that corruption kept the program from fulfilling its mandate to provide relief to desperate and malnourished Iraqis (and to keep WMD technology out of Iraq).
There's no reason to shy away from the real OFF scandal: a scam linking greasy oil barons, multinational corporate raiders and money-laundering bankers to one of the most brutal dictators of recent memory.
What the article doesn't say is that OFF was the only thing that kept the US embargo on Iraq from being an atrocity on a par with Mongol invasions. So it's only an atrocity, a war crime, not a war crime of historic proportions....

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

"From Death's Door, I Curse at Thee" said the goose.

This one has a bit more detail than the last one:
STOCKHOLM, Sweden - A Swedish hunter spent two days in bed after being knocked unconscious by a Canada goose that landed on his head moments after his son shot it dead, news reports said Wednesday.
The goose had been flying about 66 feet up in the air when it was shot by Carl Johan Ilback, who was hunting with his father, Ulf, along a stream in eastern Sweden in August.
When the goose dropped from the sky, it hit Ulf Ilback in the head and knocked him out, he said.
"It wanted to extract its revenge, I assume," Ulf Ilback told local newspaper Extra Ostergotland. "If it had gotten a better hit, it could have broken my neck."
Ilback spent two days in bed with severe headaches before returning to work.
"The story brought about a lot of laughter at work," he was quoted as saying, adding that during this month's moose hunt, he may wear a helmet.
I'm not sure that a helmet would help much, if a moose fell from the sky... but then, I suspect that flying moose would be protected by some kind of environmental law.

When you're right...

These are paraphases from a talk by Al Gore
  1. It is no longer possible to ignore the strangeness of our public discourse. Something has gone badly wrong in the way america's fabled marketplace of ideas is now functioning. "Serial obsessions" take over our airwaves for weeks at a time.
  2. If the rich-poor gap is widening why is our apathy as citizens also widening?
  3. The Senate was silent on the eve of war with Iraq because what people say on the Senate floor no longer counts - all were out fundraising to pay for tv commercials
The problem with #1 is that it's not entirely clear that the "marketplace of ideas" was ever an undistorted civil discourse. OK, I agree that corporatization and homogenization have gone too far, but there's also a great diversity of free media and new technologies that are radically altering the landscape. Also, he means "obsessions with events that don't matter much": actually, it'd be a great thing if there was extended debate about global warming, conservation, rights v. responsibilities, freedom v. security, Military v. developmental imperialism, etc.... #2 is true only if measured in votes. If measured in political activism, discourse, money, people are about as active, I think, as they have ever been. But voting matters, so it's worth talking about. #3 is just plain ordinary sense.

Thursday Prayer: Adon Olam, Lord of the World

This 17th century prayer has been a stalwart throughout my life. The final lines were used as the closing benediction for Sabbath services, and the song itself is one of the most widely known in Judaism.

The easy rhythm of the song makes it easy to abandon the traditional melody (which I can sing in my sleep) and be creative. The most addictive modern melody I know that fits this is the Final Jeopardy music....

Hebrew Transliteration....English Translation
Adon aloam asher malach,
b'terem kol y'tsir nivra
l'et na'asa b'cheftso kol,
azai melech sh'mo nik'ra.

V'acharei kichlot hakol,
l'vado yimloch nora,
v'ha haya, v'hu hoveh,
v'hu yih-ye b'tifara.

V'hu echad, v'ein sheini
l'hamshil lo, l'hachbira,
b'li reishit, b'li tachlit,
v'lo ha'oz v'hamisra.

V'hu eili, v'chai goali,
v'tsur chevli b'yom tsara,
v'hu nisi umanos li,
m'nat kosi b'yom ekra.

B'yado afkid ruchi
b'eit ishan v'a'ira,
v'im ruchi g'viyati.
Adonai li, v'lo ira.
Lord of the world, the King supreme,
ere aught was formed, He reigned alone.

When by His will all things were wrought,
then was His sovereign name made known.

And when in time all things shall cease,
he still shall reign in majesty.

He was, He is, He shall remain
all glorious eternally.

Incomparable, unique is He,
no other can His oneness share.

Without beginning, without end,
dominion’s might is His to bear.

He is my living God who saves,
my rock when frief or trials befall,
my banner and my refuge strong,
my bounteous portion when I call.

My soul I give to His care,
asleep, awake, for He is near,
and with my soul, my body, too;
God is with me, I have no fear.

Best wishes for a Happy and Healthy New Year!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

I Pick the Weakest Link! or something like that.

Which Annoying B-list Celebrity Are You?
Brought to you by Rum and Monkey.
Which Annoying B-list Celebrity Are You?

Buck up boyo, you're Anne Robinson!

When you're not offending the Welsh or stupid Americans on the dumbed-down transatlantic version of your hate-filled, lowest common denominator gameshow, you're being mean to people and pulling the legs off injured animals. We've seen you.

Frankly, all this anger would be best directed towards evil corporations, which you did for a while at the helm of the BBC's Watchdog programme - the only show infinitely better with you on it. As it is, you've suddenly become a multi-million-dollar institution, spawning clones in hundreds of countries, presumably all winking in that terrifying "I look cuddly now, but I can hurt you. Oh yes, I can hurt you bad" way.

Maybe you're ultra-famous, but you'll always be a B-list celebrity in our eyes. At least you're not writing for the Daily Mail any more.
via Samantha Burns who put me on her "random blogroll" (I assume, briefly, but welcome to her readers all the same!) but who came out as Pauly Shore on the quiz. I can't figure out how to access an "all results" page, so I don't know if I entirely agree with this result or not.... but for now I'll take it.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Bits and Pieces of Miers


That's the resounding echo of millions of people responding to the President's second Supreme Court nominee. Here's some of the best bits so far:

Gean Healy reports David Frum quoting Miers:
[Miers] once told me that the president was the most brilliant man she had ever met.
As Healy and his commenters say, that's scary on the face of it. I don't mean that Bush is dumb -- I've said he isn't before and I stick by it -- but this is a woman with a long career in law, business and government, and the only thing Bush has going for him is that he keeps hiring her. Naturally, that makes anyone look smarter.... but it's kinda personal.

Avedon Carol casts some doubt on Bush's strength of character, though:
It should have been obvious he would pick Miers. When he was looking for a running-mate, Dick Cheney was the guy who helped him pick the VP. When he was looking for this nominee, his little helper was Harriet Miers.
The administration's inbred character just invites satire sometimes, and then goes beyond it. Avedon points to this roundup of the hard-core liberal political bloggers' reactions, most of which are more tactical (and wishful) than helpful, but interesting, nonetheless.

Eric Muller's first reaction was the same as mine: "The President's personal lawyer. Crony, crony, crony. Did I mention "crony?"" His second reaction builds on the first:
With near-record low approval ratings and the FEMA/Katrina disaster just behind him, the President sure picked a strange moment to say to the entire nation, left, right, and center: "Just trust me on this one."
There's a little more meat in his third reaction but it's the kind of "tea leaf reading" we're all going to be suffering through for the next two months.

What do I really think? Well, the odds that Bush doesn't know what she thinks about everything he cares about are nil to none; whether or not abortion is on his list (hah!), his litmus tests have been fulfilled. Mostly they involve, as they did with John Roberts, an extremely deferential attitude towards the executive branch, when held by the right sort of people. If a "Pentagon Papers" or Nixon Tapes case came to the bench with these people on it, Executive Privilege would probably still be mostly intact.

Make no mistake, there will be indictments of members of this administration. Yes, some of them (lots of them!) will be appealed all the way to the Supreme Court. No, Roberts and Miers are not going to recuse themselves. And what, pray tell, are we going to do if Miers, who's been at the heart of this administration long enough to be really dangerous, gets subpoenaed.... have we ever put a sitting Justice on the witness stand? Or under indictment? Bush wants his people in place; it's a defensive strategy, which is why it makes no immediate political sense.

Low Quality Spam

It's bad enough getting spam comments, but when they don't even take the time to fill in the blanks....
Hey, you have a great blog here! I'm definitely going to bookmark you!
I have a ##KEYWORD## site/blog. It pretty much covers ##KEYWORD## related stuff.

Come and check it out if you get time :-)
....well, that's just sloppy.

[Non Sequitur: 5000 Visitors! Readers -- new, old, lurkers or regular commenters (all four of you) -- are again invited to sign the guestbook in celebration. For my part, I've updated the blogroll.]

This is the enemy

They want to wipe out protections for the environment. They want to separate the races and the classes. They want control -- self-control and control over property and people -- unfettered by anything except their own short-term interests. They care not for process, except that everyone else takes it seriously enough that they can use it against us. They care not for truth or beauty or the past or the future.

This is our enemy.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

History Carnival #17

Historians. Serious historians. Talking about interesting and important things. Really!

An Affront

The Indonesian military is embarrassed and Indonesian lawmakers are proposing heavy fines for future lapses. The crime? A public kiss between two single people. I can understand some outrage, in a sexually conservative society like Indonesia, though I think they're grossly overreacting. Legislation, though, is just nuts.
[reposted, because Blogger lost it somehow; Bloglines, though, still had it]