Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Embarrassing or Otherwise?

Your decision. The Poor Man, however, cannot be upstaged. Thanks to The Editors for the chance to be hoist by my own petard. Again.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Scandal!

Need to print something out. To avoid wasting ink I reset the colours:



Then after I'm done, I go to Sadly, No! What do I see?



A fucking piece-of-shit logo, that's what I see.

Goddamn you all to hell!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Man is She Dense.

Come on.

One of the main things that draws me to writing about something is the desire to make fun of people who are taking themselves too seriously, like those bloggers who were so dorkily proud to be lunching with Clinton.

This right after a pretty-please vote-beg.

Vote The Moderate Voice, for the sake of mockery everywhere.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Accountability

I've been thinking a little bit - a very little bit, so apologies in advance for saying something everybody has said better - about accountability. With all the pooh-poohing about the inherent deceptiveness and badness of blogging, it seems a little weird that there exist two mechanisms for accountability in blogging that the media haven't had, for the most part:

Comments
Links

This is changing of course, as people abandon or embrace static content for discourse, but a decent blog will have comments and people who link to posts on it if the posts are decent.

Neither of these things is an arbiter of truthiness, but comments in particular are really valuable, as people will call you on your bullshit or correct you on your errors if you're trying to shovel it past them. This is still not real accountability, as idiots can post, comment, link, and censor with impunity but I think dishonesty is ordinarily pretty easy to recognize.

In any case, this is a far greater accountability than pundits generally have to deal with, so suck on it, finger-wagglers, until you have the decency to exchange ideas with your readers instead of deliver them. Comments also necessarily deal in the dreaded incivility. You'd think that saying "this idea is stupid" (as long as reasons are laid out) would be a welcome thing, given the recent misadventures undertaken as a result of everybody important being too chicken to confront a dangerous idiot. There's always a little heat with the light.

So welcome the bloggers. Only the ones with comments though. And give the incivil a big wet kiss. We hate that.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

God's a Shit

Found a copy of "To a Baby Born Without Limbs" from The Anti-Death League by my favourite cranky Tory Kingsley Amis:

This is just to show you who's boss around here.
It'll keep you on your toes, so to speak,

Make you put your best foot forward, so to speak,

And give you something to turn your hand to, so to speak.

You can face up to it like a man,

Or snivel and blubber like a baby.

That's up to you. Nothing to do with Me.

If you take it in the right spirit,

You can have a bloody marvelous life,

With the great rewards courage brings,

And the beauty of accepting your LOT.

And think how much good it'll do your Mum and Dad,

And your Grans and Gramps and the rest of the shower,

To be stopped being complacent.

Make sure they baptize you, though,

In case some murdering bastard

Decides to put you away quick,

Which would send you straight to LIMB-O, ha ha ha.

But just a word in your ear, if you've got one.

Mind you DO take this in the right spirit,

And keep a civil tongue in your head about Me.

Because if you DON'T,

I've got plenty of other stuff up My sleeve,

Such as leukemia and polio,

(Which incidentally you're welcome to any time,

Whatever spirit you take this in.)

I've given you one love-pat, right?

You don't want another.

So watch it, Jack.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Altmouse Replaces Firedoglake!!!!11!1!1!!

Breaking news! A nobody snubs one and elevates another!

Frankly I have a use for the word "cunt" - my sole use on a woman was to the face of someone who was treating my mom like a slave in a really unbelievable way and I was pretty mad - but the whole FDL weirdness seemed so mean-spirited and gangish that I don't much want to hang out there. I like mean people, but to be so full of it that you say "You don't rate that kind of placement on our blog"... Kind of a turn-off.

As far as the politically correct angle goes, well, I still think calling a woman a bitch is a grievous insult, but as someone funnier than me recently wrote (and who I forgot the name of) maybe cunt is the new bitch and we'll be cunting up a storm in a decade or so.

But ending on a good note...Altmouse's wheel is squeaking again and it seems a lotta folks are supplying grease.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

I'm At Peace



Many thanks to John Galt. Really!

Dynasty was Socially Responsible



I love me some soaps about average-looking limeys working dead-end jobs. Turns out the American model is, like, better, according to people who disapprove of things.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

What if They WIn?



There are, after all, plenty of people who get called names. On the internet, for instance.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Okay, I Got Challenged

So I'll pick on some poor schlub to do my part.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Friday, November 17, 2006

Oy Vey

Banning burqas seems like a stupid idea AGAIN. They're pretty obviously a nasty tribal method of oppression, but if someone wants to wear 'em for fetish night they get arrested?

Don't Know Why I Do It But I Do

Every now and then a little trolling just feels right. And if it's over on Pam's site you know you're not going to really harm anyone who isn't already out of their mind.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Meet the New Boss

Jack Murtha on CREW's watch list. Just sayin'.

UPDATED:

And sure enough, the Today show (November 15, 2006) pulled out the ABSCAM footage and talked about the Murtha family getting a lot of mileage out of Washington connections.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Lileks: Slow Learner

Via Roy, regarding the 2006 elections:

"...if I were an Iraqi I wouldn’t necessarily be booking a spot in the line to the embassy roof, but I’d be checking price and availability." -- James Lileks

Contrast with:

By ALEXANDER G. HIGGINS, Associated Press Writer
Sunday, November 5, 2006 1:10 AM PST

GENEVA -- Nearly 100,000 Iraqis are fleeing each month to Syria and Jordan, forcing the United Nations to set aside its goal of helping refugees return home after the U.S.-led invasion, officials said Friday.

That Went Well

Voters deserve a pat on the back.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Three Limericks

From comments here:

There once was a pastor named Ted,
Who was caught with a man in his bed.
He ran to his closet,
To make a deposit,
But came out with Ken Mehlman instead.

blogenfreude | Homepage | 11.02.06 - 2:19 pm | #

A nit-witted pastor called Haggard
Thought Jesus would not bless a laggard
So he went and said yeth
To a pipe full of meth
And ended up totally faggered.
Righteous Bubba | Homepage | 11.02.06 - 3:26 pm | #

A ripe and lascivious twink
Had Pastor Ted look at his dink
"It's plump thick and red,
And can keep me well-fed.
Enough of this, come sink the pink!"
Me | 11.02.06 - 10:12 pm | #

Monday, October 30, 2006

Quote of the Day

If you can't get past the first sentence of your article, what hope is there for you or your editor?

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Destroy the Infibell

I was in Philadelphia at about the same time that Atrios posted something about the insane security situation involving the Liberty Bell. Thanks to some curious relatives I got to experience it first-hand. I have never before taken my belt off to enter a museum, nor have I waited that long to enter (though I'm told it was a good day). Yessir, a real lesson in liberty.

As a chaser, I didn't have to go ogle the constitution, but I did get a taste of the state of it:

















If you can make it out, that's a 9/11 exhibit advertised right beside "We the people."

Friday, October 20, 2006

Ann Bartow is Awful

I first bumped into her while she was upset about David Horowitz being contracted to "D-Ho". She's gotten worse.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

And Speaking of Feminism...

Via Sadly, No! we find a piece by Mike S. Adams with the dumbest fucking simile ever:

These magazines will be almost as rare as a feminist orgasm if the Democrats take over.

There are those who claim there is no value in promiscuity. I recall once arguing on behalf of skill. Obviously I forgot something simpler: knowledge.

I Never Understood the Whole Oyl for Food Thing

















It never seemed humane in the first place.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Mark Foley: Serial Counselee

According to the source, the church offered Foley counseling in the matter, which Foley accepted. He plans to begin that counseling after completing treatment for alcoholism.


Busy busy busy.
Once his alcoholism's cured surely the church will find his homoness a snap. Or maybe he could be gay, but, you know, just not do anything about it ever.

We shall see. The wisdom of going into the slaughterhouse where you lost your hand for a lesson in surgery is questionable.

Knowing

Billmon writes, while dealing with US ignorance of what the hell's up:
Even the British, renowned for the caliber of their imperial civil service, usually operated in stunning ignorance of the people and cultures they ruled over, certainly so in the case of the Arab world. Which is probably why they, too, were so often taken by surprise -- by the Sepoy Mutiny, the Battle of Isandlwana, the Easter Rising, the Iraq revolt, Palestinian resistance to Zionism, the list goes on and on.
The difference, though, is that we live in an age in which it is easier than it ever has been to know things. Billmon's point is that empires tend to ignorance of conquered-therefore-inferior peoples, but when acquiring the rudiments of a subject is so insanely easy I'd expect that informed imperialists would be a dime a dozen.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Hitchens via Atrios via Ezra Klein via an Excellent Comment

Hitchens foresaw "a war to the finish between everything I love and everything I hate."

That would be all the distilleries in the world beating the crap out of Mother Teresa.

Posted by: calling all toasters | Oct 12, 2006 7:52:25 AM

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Lotus Notes Sucks

Has anybody mentioned that Lotus Notes sucks?

But the two men share something important to the past and future of Microsoft: technological brilliance. As the inventor and principal executive behind Lotus Notes in the '80s and '90s, the 50-year-old [Ray] Ozzie is considered one of the best software minds on the planet. In its day, Lotus Notes was among the most popular applications in corporate America. In 1997, Ozzie started Groove Networks, a company – like the one behind Lotus – created to help office workers collaborate electronically. Microsoft bought Groove in April 2005 for $120 million, and Ozzie signed on as a top executive in Redmond.

Okay, I'm using a product that hasn't been under this guy for quite a while, but efforts on Notes appear to involve saving the big shitpile from its bloated clunkiness.

E-mail

Saturday, October 07, 2006

If You Act Like a Jew You'll Encourage the Nazis

Second minister enters veils debate

Press Association
Sunday October 8, 2006 2:08 AM

A second Government minister has entered the debate over Muslim women who veil their faces, with a warning that they risked provoking "fear and resentment" which played into the hands of the far right.

Aren't you doing the far right's bidding by stating this? Don't get me wrong: I'm as intolerant of religion, specific ones even, as the next lout. Still, what people choose to wear, assuming they're choosing, is not the government's business.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Eno/Byrne

Excellent video from the best album ever.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Limerick Time

A member of congress named Foley
Was secretly kind of cornholey
He was after boy pages
Regardless of ages
And then blamed it all on the Stoli.

The Hazards of Spicy Foods

Eat a lot of nachos with spicy salsa close to bedtime and dream Jonah Goldberg is your boss. Seriously.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Cool Alert

Just saw a hijab/cleavage combo on a student.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

No, Not the Good-Looking George...



A headline from Time raises some questions, my first being...which political masterstoke preceded this one?

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Just Do It

Regarding all this nonsense, I think it's worth noting that as a somewhat absent-minded man, I frequently do not know what I am wearing or how I look from minute to minute, day to day, week to week, and so on. That's not necessarily a brilliant way to live, can be disadvantageous, and needs to be addressed from time to time, but there's a real measure of serenity involved in being able to Do Things instead of Worrying About How I Look Doing Things. Who should be denied such serenity if they want it? Whether I'm wearing my tuxedo, codpiece or gorilla suit, nobody bugs me about it, and I'm grateful. People should be able to share my wealth.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Old Blogroll

Why do I have these blogs blogrolled? I like them, for one, but I actively read them each day. I visit my page, highlight them all and open links in new tabs.

Case by case then:

alicublog

Mean.

Atrios

Mean.

Attaturk

Mean.

Billmon

Mean.

Boing Boing

Fun.

Crooks and Liars

TV.

Firedoglake

Mean.

Google News

News.

Pharyngula

Mean.

The Poor Man

Mean.

Roger Ailes

Mean.

Sadly, No!

Mean.

Talking Points Memo

News.

TBogg

Mean.

Thers

Mean.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Sympathy from the Devil? Nope.

I was listening to NPR this afternoon and there was John Hagee being interviewed by Terry Gross. Wrote this down on a post-it because when Hagee said it it seemed extraordinary, but the guy poops this stuff out all the time. Anyway, referring specifically to Hurricane Katrina: "All hurricanes are acts of God because God controls the heavens."

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Cranky in Rome

For the worst pizza in Rome, you have to start from the Piazza San Pietro. Face the Basilica, and take the exit from the piazza to your right, fighting your way through crowds of alabastor Americans, as if you were going around to the entrance to the Vatican Museums. At the traffic lights, turn right. The second pizzeria on the right is the one you are looking for. It's called The Swiss Guard, after the clowns who guard His Holiness.

Observe the local customs of creating pizza. Firstly, the base must be thin and dry, and slightly burnt on the bottom. In contrast, the upper surface of the base must be uncooked and as slushy as freshly defouled snow. The tomato sauce must be painfully sweet, denoting its transubstantiation from a powder. The mozzarella must be melted, yet carefully unbrowned - this would add flavour. The prosciutto must have the unhealthy pinkness of a freshly picked scab. No herbs, no pepper, and certainly no salt are added; this would completely ruin the desired sensation of eating medium density fiberboard. Considering that I travelled to Rome primarily because of its reputation for culinary excellence, I must say I was slightly disappointed. The holiday got worse from that point.

Etc.

Pope a Dope

The new pope seems to be a little bit dumb, which I guess is to be expected being a pope and all, but public figures have to watch their mouths.

Still, it'd be nice for public figures to be able to say things about Islam without nitwits shooting nuns and all.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Sweet Satisfaction

Just when you think everything's gone to hell, you find some lemon jello in the fridge. And then you name one of your twins after it.

Porn Defeated

Monday, September 11, 2006

9/11 and Personal Conflict

I know someone who makes TV appearances related to 9/11, because a relative died. Every now and then, another appearance and another pledge to maintain the shrine of so-and-so.

The weird part is there's no shrine of so-and-so, and no obvious evidence in the house to show that so-and-so ever existed. There's a replacement for so-and-so, and the family has quite rightly moved on.

Yet a fantasy is generated for the cameras in which this or that of so-and-so's is wept over here and adored there.

I can't tell people how to mourn because it's wrong, I'm awful at it anyway, and the tragedy's a tragedy no matter how you slice it. But my skin crawls.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Things That Fit on a CD

Since I don't have anything of note to write about, why not music, or a random sampling thereof. This is the last CD I burned for in-car listening:



Method of choosing? Random four or five-star songs, duplicate artists omitted. Seems to be heavy on the oldies, but that's what happens. Part of my problem is a library that I rate as I go: there are many thousands of unrated songs. I may get to a pristine library before death.

Ratings system:
***** I never get tired of hearing this
**** I'm perfectly happy with this but I don't want to hear it all the time
*** Could be better, but offers pleasure
** I'm keeping this around for some reason
* Delete me

The ratings system is purely functional and has nothing to do with a song's cultural or critical worth, thus freeing me from guilt that I'm not listening to Merzbow or the Velvet Underground often enough.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

What's the Opposite of the Sensible Technocrat?

I don't think I understand this argument from Atrios. Although I'm pretty positive I disagree with Brad DeLong about economic policy being more left than he is, this is an argument about expertise. The Sensible Technocrat is an ideal: someone who makes policy based on knowledge. If your argument is that the Sensible Technocrat is not to be trusted, that's an argument against the body of knowledge the technocrat uses, isn't it?

I'm for pragmatic policy. If your argument is that it isn't working, then that's not pragmatic policy and you're not arguing against it.

Friday, September 01, 2006

What a fucking dumbass:

Do you think on the whole, has feminism done more ill than good to America?

Mansfield: Yes, I think it has. Feminism has two main concerns. One is women’s careers, and the other is getting women equal in regard to sex. And it’s in the latter that feminists have done the most damage. But I think we could have welcomed women into the workforce without feminism, and that if we had things would be much better now. But the feminists came along with their notion of creating new identities for women. They thought that this would require that women be as adventurous in sex as men are.

So they made a very strange alliance with sexual liberation and went ahead to play a game that really is a man’s game, the game of sexual conquest. And so they’ve abandoned any standard of sexual morality for either women or men because they were so opposed to the double standard of sexual morality.

Hee Haw Lives

This song meanders through my brain every now and then...the particular joke it's affixed to is always irrelevant...

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

"I also read three Shakespeares."

Me too. The first one was good, the second one not so good, but man, that third one. Man. Had to clear me some brush I got so worked up.

(Shakespeare in Arabic's a pretty good-looking word, and would make a nice shirt: شكسبیر )

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Living in Bizarro World

Thoughts on repression from Daniel Larison:

Speaking of impolitic thoughts, a more interesting counterfactual scenario for me would be whether the CSA, had the Confederacy successfully broken away, would have felt obliged someday to intervene to deliver the miserable Yankees from the yoke of consolidation, wage slavery [!!!!!!!] and corporate corruption.

Exclamation points added.

Nostalgia

It's this sort of thing that makes me miss Altmouse so much. Not being one of the cool ones I dunno who was responsible, but Thers catches that starry-eyed amazement that Althouse manifests when confronted with the commonplace. Should I be more jealous of Althouse's blissful wonderment or Thers and his ability to put sentences together?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Sorry for Calling You Nigger

Even the Indians have heard about George Allen.

WASHINGTON,DC: Twenty-year-old University of Virginia engineering student SR Sidarth was video-taping incumbent Republican Senator George Allen’s campaign speech when the politician singled him out of a crowd of over 100 and called him “macaca”, a veiled reference to a Macaque, a type of monkey found in Asia. He has since apologized saying he did not know the meaning of the word “macaca”.

That's a pretty shitty apology, but Allen appears to be a pretty shitty man.

Monday, August 14, 2006

The Return of Melinda Barton

Melinda Barton is using Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins as examples of extremist atheists. Sam Harris had the temerity to assert that there was no God.

While Sam's making a claim he can't really back up, big deal. It's a safe and irrefutable bet.

Nobel Laureate's Books Rendered Bad

Günter Grass was a Nazi. The bad kind. His books are therefore impossible to tolerate, or so goes the current theory.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Ned Lamont, Doomsday Weapon

If I was Pat Buchanan I'd fire Ned Lamont at the Chinese.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Opera

Opera is nifty in comparison to IE6. That's about it though, as Firefox has so many different extensions that a reasonably savvy user can make it better than any one existing package.

Opera might be good to put on your mom's machine.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Wal-Mart Leaves Germany

Another blow to incivility.

Why the failure?

One example of that might be that Wal-Mart's American managers pressured German executives to enforce American-style management practices in the workplace. Employees were forbidden, for instance, from dating colleagues in positions of influence. Workers were also told not to flirt with one another.

A German court ruled last year against the company's attempt to introduce a telephone hotline for employees to inform on their colleagues.

High labor costs may have been a big hurdle for Wal-Mart Germany, as well as workers who tried to resist management's demands which they felt were unjust.

One Wal-Mart employee told the newsmagazine Der Spiegel that management had threatened to close certain stores if staff did not agree to work to working longer hours than their contracts foresaw and did not permit video surveillance of their work.

Wal-Mart Germany has had several run-ins with the trade union ver.di, which represents retail store workers.


It'd be nice to think it was all due to the recognition that they're shitty to their workers, but in fairness the article says they seem to have been the shits at selling stuff there.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Killer Art

'People fell out' as wind took blow-up sculpture
Monday July 24, 2006

Witnesses today described how a giant inflatable sculpture was picked up in a mild wind and collapsed over a park in County Durham, killing two and leaving 13 injured.

Classic Rock Forward

'Imitation IPod' Invades Radio

By Dave Demerjian

In the two years since Jack FM radio made its debut in the United States, the majority of U.S. radio stations programming the "imitation iPod" format have seen healthy, sustained gains in listeners. The format is a rare bright spot for the major radio broadcast chains, which are fast hemorrhaging listeners to real iPods and satellite radio.

Defined by wide-ranging playlists and unusual combinations of songs from different genres and eras, Jack has been likened to an iPod set on shuffle.

Dear god. Has nobody noticed that it's "extended" classic rock? Just a minor era shuffle?

I really miss unrestrained Top 40 radio, in which some stupid metal band could face off against twangy yokels or lounge singers. I suppose college playlists come close to that kind of range, but it's mostly anemic white boys, which I like, but you know...

Anyhoo I suppose I have to post some song list which will prove I'm old and unhip. A random set of highly-rated iTunes:

She Watch Channel Zero ?! - Public Enemy
Everything Is Everything - Lauryn Hill
Names - Cat Power
Cold Ethyl - Alice Cooper
Tea Party - Stephin Merritt
Ziggy Stardust - David Bowie
Ain't That A Shame - Fats Domino
Swimming Ground - Meat Puppets
Under the Anheuser Busch - Billy Murray
Goin' Out West - Tom Waits

Nice to Find a Snotty Sentence Here and There

"The civilized world has asked little of Mississippi since William Faulkner's passing, but signs of a pulse in the state legislature would be refreshing."

Alan Contreras, AACRAO's Guide to Bogus Institutions and Documents

Friday, July 21, 2006

AltBoyle

ADDED: Roy thinks I'm objecting to Boyle's politics. He specializes in calling me an idiot, in numerous posts, but he never seems to begin to understand my writing. Here, he comes to the defense of writers. But do writers even want to be defended by a man who is such a poor reader?

Snort. Boyle writes about the very same issues in his fiction as in the objectionable interview. Poor reader indeed.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Idle Hands Put to Good Use

It stands to reason that a king should be able to massage anyone he wants, especially in his own domain. It's also important to remember that even if you're the most important king in the world, that still doesn't mean that you're king of the whole world. Rubbing up against another nation's queen is a bad idea unless you intend an alliance-by-marriage, so think hard before you try that one again. (It's worth noting that if gay marriage will make all social conventions go kablooey, then you get to marry whoever and whatever you like as much as you like: thought is required.)

I recommend you acquire a slave for rubbing purposes. Many might be pleased at the precedent. There's also a ready supply close at hand, with a transport system ready to go if you need slaves at short notice wherever in the world you might be ruling. Requisitioning individuals seems to be a whimsical matter in any case, so why not turn a lemon into lemonade? Requisition some babes instead of sourpusses and keep those hands where they belong: on your property.


Monday, July 17, 2006

Dyslexia

Can't get this out of my head.



Posted it at Sadly, No! and spelled dyslexia wrong. Frustrating.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

You Go Girl!

What's Better than the Thousand Nights and a Night?

It's hard to describe how amazing the Thousand Nights and One Night are.

I first took a stab at them following along the snobby recursive post-modern path, reading too much Borges and Barth, both of whom were smitten, and so I figured I should take a stab at it.

The only edition I own is a four-volume Powys Mathers translation of an intermediate French text. If you're interested in questions of authorship, translation, blah blah blah, it's hard to compete with a work of stories within stories within stories assembled over centuries by many unknown authors, translated well and poorly over the years and finally translated into English from a source that is not only not original but with additional text inserted. I can't remember exactly which bit (flying snakes? diamond valleys? golden deserts guarded by ants the size of foxes?), but I recognized a story from Herodotus (or rather that Herodotus heard) in there.

And after that, you get a work that, Bach-like, both defines the rules of the game and takes liberties with them.

One of the things I've always been obsessed with (along with everybody?) is firsts: first story, first life, first cause, etc. For a while I thought I was looking for a first story by reading things like the bible, Homer, myths of all sorts, but I think I have to be content with the idea that these kinds of primal stories are not founded on some perfect pillar of a first story but that the "primal stories" are inevitable and illustrative of the wiring of the average individual then and today. What first story could be satisfying?

Anyway, all I'd intended to write was that a particular book fulla stories was teh neato, and I've blabbed on and on to the apparent conclusion that given a bunch of stories you get a map of a person's brain. Way to go Mr. Obvious. The most jaw-dropping part of the book to me is the verse, which is all cleverly rhymed and metered, from Arabic to French to English. Baffling and awe-inspiring. But I'm too lazy to type it. So consider the following for flavour, from Polish to English, from polymathic Stanislaw Lem to wizardly Michael Kandel, in which two inventors are arguing about a poetry-writing machine:

"Have it compose a poem--a poem about a haircut! But lofty, noble, tragic, timeless, full of love, treachery, retribution, quiet heroism and in the face of certain doom! Six lines, cleverly rhymed, and every word beginning with the letter s!!"

"And why not throw in a full exposition of the general theory of nonlinear automata while you're at it?" growled Trurl. "You can't give it such idiotic--"

But he didn't finish. A melodious voice filled the hall with the following:

Seduced, shaggy Samson snored.
She scissored short. Sorely shorn,
Soon shackled slave, Samson sighed.
Silently scheming,
Sightlessly seeking
Some savage, spectacular suicide.


~ from The Cyberiad, originally written in Polish and translated by Michael Kandel into English
Valiant and unlazy typing stolen from here.


Firefox Fabulousness

Middle-click on the "back" button and get the old web-page in a new tab.

"Can" and "Should" Are Different

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Why Not Write About Israel?

Jesus Christ, what am I thinking with a subject line like that?

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

A Big WTF

Joe Klein, biographer of Woody Guthrie? How can that be?

Chickenhawkery

Sadly, me too:

  1. Righteous Bubba said,

    July 13, 2006 at 2:04

    Left-wingers who don’t read the entire articles shortened here are chickenhawks not willing to head into the danger dealt with by our fine boys like Captain Travis. Snort.

  2. Kathleen said,

    July 13, 2006 at 2:13

    I am perfectly happy to let Travis fight them over there, so we don’t have to read them over here.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Fuck You, Jeeves

In further laziness, I read Thank You, Jeeves by PG Wodehouse. [Get a load of that link! If a crumbling nation of corrupt depressives can get behind Wodehouse, uh, something something something.] What a piece of utterly un-life-changing shit. There was a brief while when I fantasized a modern filming of it, or at least the blackface scenes, imagining the exquisite squirming of an appalled audience, and that caused me to snicker. It seems somebody took a shot at it already, but back in the days when such things caused less gasping.

I tend to prefer characters to exhibit some kind of humanity instead of robotic tics, even in fantastical situations. Makes funny bits just that. Less Disco Stu and more Ralph Wiggum. No more Wodehouse for me.

The Chairs

Saw Eugene Ionesco's The Chairs recently as well, nicely handled. I'd only read his work previously and seen nothing staged. Nice when something funny on the page actually makes it on stage. It always shows me that I have not yet learned how to properly read a script: seeing the things come to life is a shock because I've never really imagined the characters walking around a physical space.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Vacation Hijinx

I saw a lotta movies this week, all four of which I enjoyed, which proves something about suckerdom or how fucking fantastic the movie industry really is. Which is more likely?

Anyway, the most embarrassing first: I enjoyed Superman Returns, though the Spacey hump-stab was disturbing. Loads of little things to quibble about, but the big complaint was...if you're gonna set your hero up as a god, what the fuck's the deal when he's absent? Every canoodle with Kate meant some burned baby or squashed grandma somewhere, so get a move on, underwear pervert, or at least mention it in passing you amoral fuck. Oh, and the kid? Read this. Nevertheless, enjoyable.

Brick was really fun, although I went with someone who dropped a bomb: she'd never seen The Maltese Falcon. Consequently she giggled a lot less than I did. It must mean something when one's enjoyment of a movie depends very much on one's enjoyment of another movie, but I figure I would have been entertained anyway. Is Ulysses a standalone good read? I dunno, I've always avoided it. Ridiculous high-school noir? I'll drop dollars for that.

Thank You For Smoking was a lot of fun with sympathy developed for Mr. Tobacco Lobbyist. The thing is, idiots in movies are always easily disposed of and clever people sympathetic. Was anyone really rooting for justice in The Last Seduction? No, you wanted to see the smart person put one over on all those dummies. I await a movie about a clever German collector of vintage furniture post-Kristallnacht, or maybe a droll and graceful Khmer Rouge executioner. Those victims'll be such fools it'll be a pleasure to see them exterminated for profit/ideology. But hey, movies don't kill people, people kill people, and Bugs Bunny was always plenty sadistic in my favourite cartoons.

Last I saw A Scanner Darkly, which I looked forward to/dreaded. I thought Waking Life was a very polished turd, so exceptionally polished that I wanted the technique applied to a movie that was, you know, good. And lo, A Scanner Darkly is good. I've always thought that Philip K. Dick was a hack who somehow got addled enough to fool people into the illusion of talent (I've read a few of his books, including this one which I'd completely forgotten) and the slacker talk Linklater has pushed in the past ordinarily makes me heave, but they smack together in a surprisingly tight way. The miserable circumstances of the characters lives are rendered watchable and gorgeous by the technique, and there's more of a plot than I expected, meaning less jiggery-pokery about the nature of reality than feared. The funny bits were funny. I love that previous sentence. One caveat: Keanu Reeves is somehow no longer convincing when he plays someone with a faulty brain. You can ordinarily rely on the guy when he's playing stupid/ignorant/confused, but this time no go really. He should start exploring the psychology of malfunctioning emotionless robots, and he'll hit his stride.

Friday, June 30, 2006

What Does a Mechanical Frog Say?

Robot robot.

That is all.

Justified Usage

Via Atrios, via Prospect, via the Chron...everybody's doing it so why can't I?

Advocating putting people in the gas chamber for writing newspaper articles that make the government unhappy is reason enough to say "Melanie Morgan is a Nazi" and have the label stick. Not that anyone should be climbing all over themselves and pointing fingers and yelling "Hitlah!" at everyone who once had a nose browned with Bush bum, but you know, if the skin lampshade's looking nice in the living room, what more needs to be said?

Yes, yes, she was talking about what might happen after a conviction for treason, but that just means she doesn't know what the fuck she's talking about it in the first place.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Workers of the World Unite

Fans of both butchered English and the idea of labour as soul-destroying misery may find amusement/distress in this list of vocations from the Ministry of Science and Education of the Ukraine.

Among the highlights:

Facing worker with thin slab
The seller from a tray (in the market)
Mechanic of bodies repair
Collector of top of footwear
Tighten shoes man
Younger medical sister of a caring of the patients
Painer
Turner - whirling man
Moulder of sausage products
Machinist of scraper (scraperist)
Incrustationer
Collector of a bottom of footwear
Rolling Meat maker
Meat and subproducts Cuter
Elector-erector of schemes
Defectoscoper on magnetic test
The inspector of the orders
Sewing man of leather fancy good products
Improvised of Steel maker of electroslag remelting
Rewinding man of a string
Machinist of the bulldozer (mountain robots)
Forcemeat maker
Crush man (chemical industry)
Spray of a stone (manufacture of art products)
Centrifuge man (Lemon, vine stone acids production)
Artist of tiny painting
Mechanic - collector of flying devices
Composer of trains
Beet cutting man

Aging Ears

Went to a Chinese store for some junk food at lunch, heard some yowling yet syrupy drivel on the radio and assumed it was another ordinary and embarrassing Chinese take on Western pop. Approached register, paid, and realized it was midway through Whitney Houston's Greatest Love bullshit.

My Widening Influence

Always nice when you get what you want. I finished a re-read of The Third Policeman this morning, and I'll have to get to At Swim-Two-Birds again soon.

What did I actually want? Another way to think about The Third Policeman. Rather than ask for that specifically I figured Thers would have something useful to say about Flann O'Brien anyway, and fucked if he didn't deliver. This reaffirms my faith in psychic powers or something.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Astrology?

Why so respectful?

As for the stat cited, how many really comprehensive polls have been done on astrology? Do people answering yea or nay actually pay attention to astrology in a serious way or do they just agree that a Scorpio is a trouble-maker but hot in bed? That is, I dunno what kind of depth people assenting to astrological interest will generally go into when answering a broad poll question.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

It's Only Part I

Jeff Goldstein in all his glory, without having to visit the site. Let there be cock.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Academic Freedom

Holy. Quite a wonderful speech.

The Urchin's Own: What I meant by being a Muslim fundamentalist

The Urchin's Own: What I meant by being a Muslim fundamentalist

Having a little debate about fundamentalism with a guy who appears to be nice and sincere. However, there are mythical elements to be dealt with, such as a completely consistent Qur'an and the idea that all muslims swallow everything whole and inerrant. Not the case, and a good thing too, at least for various science departments in universities throughout the Islamic world.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Monday, June 05, 2006

Bloggers are Broken

It is interesting to note that this blog entry has attracted 34 responses versus only 4 for your last 10 entries. Conclusion… your reputation and wisdom is respected in your field of expertise. Take this as a vote of confidence in striking new ground and setting different standards in the world of jounalism. Submit a paper for academia to dedate.

Alternate conclusion: it made boingboing and many commenters thought it was dumb enough to add a comment.

The title's a cliche and it goes downhill from there, confusing the selling of journalism with the journalism itself, and I suspect not even considering the work-a-day journalism as most people use it: opinion doesn't make a lot of difference or sense if someone wants to find out about the bank-robbery that happened in the mall, or whether or not the hotel tax passed, what the weather's likely to be and so on.

The five Ws and an H still have an enormous constituency, whether in print, on-line, or on TV. They also make money. If this audience is being eroded due to other options, that's the way it goes, and it's not a death-knell or even a surprise, but it shouldn't be taken as a given that the basic enterprise of journalism - attempting to deliver unvarnished facts - is unwanted or unwise, especially when you consider that opinion-based journalism - that fabulous Fox News everyone should seek to emulate - helped gull the US into an idiotic war.

I await an article entitled Boys are Broken in which tampering with the brains of males is advocated because girls are doing better on tests.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Online Integrity

Thersites has had a little dust-up. We hope all goes well. He's a fine writer.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Rephrasing the Argument

I left this at Melinda's (that is, if it passes muster):

I'm still at a loss as to why run-at-the-mouth atheists need to have an article written about them. There's an overall subject that begs to be written about, which is simply zealotry or tribalism, and rather
than tackle the larger subject you go for the one in which you can isolate and crucify a teensy number of blowhards (like minnie mouse, who seems to require a prescription).

I saw on some network somewhere a show about The Rationalist Society, a group of people in India who perform an extraordinary service for villagers: they go from town to down performing magic tricks and show how they're done so that the villagers don't get suckered by visiting godmen who'll try to cure a potentially fatal snakebite with magic instead of medicine. Their atheism, in other words, saves lives. At the same time, it seemed to me that the documentary was evidence that they had become a tribe of their own, with rules, orthodoxy, chants, and so forth. They had become a tribe of sorts while explicitly
existing to burst the bubbles of tribal culture. (My description comes from one half-remembered documentary, so take it with a grain of salt.)

In any case, people form tribes naturally, and some people take it too much to heart and become assholes. The way to write about this in the case of atheists is not to deal with the arguments, which, even if you identify them as outrageous are rarely as ridiculous as religious arguments, but to identify X argument as the rallying point that attracts the stupids that may accrete to the atheist "cause". (Anthropologists tend not to add "this is of course bullshit" to descriptions of tribal beliefs.)

There may be other aspects of the culture that produce mindless woofing or backslapping or spittle-sprays. If there's some sort of ceremonial aspect to the behaviour (as there was under the supposedly atheistic communist regimes) point to that as evidence of tribalism.

There are chunks of this to re-write or rephrase, but I gotta go.
This is terribly old news, but this entertainingly-written summary deserves life:

Arse & All

by Jim Provenzano

On April 1, 2001, Australian rugby player John Hopoate (pronounced "hop-o-wotty") announced his resignation from the West Tigers club. His resignation followed widespread publicity after the National Rugby League judiciary a week before handed down a 12-match suspension for unsportsmanlike conduct. Hopoate, a winger, was suspended for jabbing his fingers into North Queensland players' anuses.

Monday, May 22, 2006

More Nice Firefox Extensions

Let's say something nice again. Well, only two things.

Nuke Anything Enhanced is a tool that lets you clear up crap on a web-page. Something bugging you? Remove it. Stupid background or foreground image getting in the way? Remove it. Blinking tag? Gone.

Tab Mix Plus is the king of extensions for making Firefox do what you want it to do. My most crucial uses are making new tabs appear to the right of the current tab instead of at the far right of every tab open. My tabs are also marked in red until I read them, when they turn black. They're all the same size so that I don't have to adjust when I click them away. I can organize and drop them where I want on the tab bar. This makes reading random news items so much easier it's like a reinvention of the web for me.

Quoth Larry DeRita

You talk about "rumsfeld's fondest ideas and theories" as if you have the first clue as to what those are. I have worked with him side-by-side for five years, and I wouldn't even try to divine what his fondest ideas and theories are.
DeRita is apparently Rumsfeld's spokesman. Thanks for not trying.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

5 Professors Quit Religious School

The Only Source of
the Truth

PATRICK HENRY COLLEGE
5 Professors Quit Religious School
Some Complain of Academic Constraints at Loudoun Institution
By Michael Alison Chandler
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, May 19, 2006; Page B05

Nearly a third of the faculty members at Patrick Henry College in
Loudoun County are leaving the school because of what they described
as limitations on their academic freedom, causing unusual
introspection at the politically connected Christian liberal arts
college.

They claim that Patrick Henry College, established in 2000 to attract
academically gifted home-schoolers with the hope of send them on to
work on Capitol Hill or at the White House, does not value equally
both parts of its mission: to offer students a strong biblical
perspective while educating them according to a classical liberal
arts curriculum. In one case, the professors said, faculty members
were reprimanded for writing that the Bible "is not the only source
of truth."

[...]

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Firefox

I don't appear to have anything original to say, so I'll try something mildly constructive.

Here's what I browse with: Firefox.

I also use a Mac, and Firefox is probably the clunkiest and slowest browser for it. Still, with the right extensions it does things that nothing else does.

The right extensions:

Adblock: does what it says, and you can alter the list of included items, urls, blah blah.

Adblock Filterset.G Updater
: a set of continually updated filters for the above. I rarely see adds for anything anywhere.

BugMeNot: right-click in a field and get a log-in for a surprising variety of sites. Registering is a pain in the ass, and why bother if you don't need to.

Download Manager Tweak: I'd rather have a new tab than the other options, and this lets me have it the way I want. I note there are a couple of negative comments at the link; I've had no problems.

Fasterfox: a much-hated bandwidth drainer according to a lot of webmasters. Oh well: Firefox is already pokey on a Mac (quite terrific on a PC) so I need an advantage. Improper tweaking can apparently cause poor performance, so use with caution.

Greasemonkey: customize the way Firefox sees certain sites, pages, what have you. I look for pictures using Google Image Search so I use two Greasemonkey scripts that help with the process: one makes the search for large images only so I don't have to fuck with it every time, the other makes the thumbnails link directly to the images instead of to a page. Instant image-stealing-Photoshop-heaven. If you're smarter than me - show of hands please - you can write your own scripts.

Image Zoom: better control over images; fit them to the window and so on.

Linky: open multiple links in multiple tabs at once, or multiple images in a single tab, or open multiple links while ignoring the ones you've already visited. A good research tool.

More later, maybe.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Melinda Barton

Whackjob.
However, what is the last refuge of a small, marginalized minority under tremendous external pressure (such as a real attack on their rights and/or rapid social/political/economic changes that result in great anxiety and fear) with limited political power? Terrorism. By the logic you've employed, Al Quaeda would pose no threat to us b/c they're not taking over a political party. Neither would the Christian Identity Movement b/c there are only 350,000 CIM members in America, Canada, and Great Britain combined, they are seriously marginalized, and they have no real political power.
Do I think "atheist extremists", or "antitheist extremists" if that works better for you, will necessarily become terrorists. No. But I also don't think we should allow tunnel vision to set in. Just b/c the enemy before us is great, doesn't mean there isn't an enemy sneaking up from behind. Remember: the religous right was once a marginalized minority within the right that the left refused to take seriously as a potential threat.

Sounds eerily Malkinish.
I'm still at a loss to find out why these atheist extremists need a good pummeling. Has the atheist extremist influence on US politics somehow reached some dangerous peak?

The now-reposted article remains bad, with those ridiculous five points and their embarrassing counter-arguments, but assuming that there are people believe who what Melinda says they believe...why pick on these particular people and not lunatics as a whole? It seems to me that ignoring the obvious overall argument (zealots of any stripe are to be avoided) to limit it to a teensy pool of people (a small subset of the already small pool of atheists) is just a way to hunt for unimportant people to demonize.

Further articles in the Extremist Subsets of the Already Ignored series could include:

Albanian Orthodox Babblers
Ashkenazy Goggle-Eyed Freaks
Foam-at-the-Mouth Baha'i
Shaker Silliness
Pagan Pinheads (Earth Goddess-focused)
More Pagan Pinheads (Non-Earth Goddess-focused)
Snakehandler Stupids
Stop Jainist Aggression Now

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Not Quite Like Reclaiming "Queer"

Has nobody noticed that being a chickenhawk means you're an old guy who likes to fuck young boys? Just saying.

Update: Left this at Special Ed's, but it's gone. I'll try again in sweeter, more ringing tones.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

From Crooks and Liars

You have to watch this video. I've been converted and I now bow down to the sacred "Chiquita." Make sure you only watch from the 3:30 mark until the 4:36 mark.

Melinda Barton: Whackjob

If you believe you know for certain there is no God or higher being, you're as full of shit as anyone who believes they know for certain there is. About that, Melinda is right.

Only in the most sophomoric way. People love to think of that as some sort of exploitable crack in the door of the whole atheism argument, and fortunately the Flying Spaghetti Monster fits through there as well. I can promise you I accord the same degree of respect and probability to YHWH as the FSM gets.

When dullards get offended over the idea of Godlessness, it's the vanishingly small probability of their particular God existing that they feel comforted by when the "you can't disprove it" line comes around: they're not thinking about Abdul's God or Tajinder's God or the god of some alien species somewhere. Pascal left the roulette wheel out of his wager. (Note that I am referring to unnamed and unidentifiable dullards and not all the swell people who quite reasonably feel insulted by the foregoing paragraph. Thanks Melinda!)
Fun snark:

There is much else in the literary idiom of nature-philosophy: nothing-buttery, for example, always part of the minor symptomatology of the bogus. 'Love in all its subtleties is nothing more, and nothing less, than the more or less direct tract marked on the heart of the element by the psychical converge of the universe upon itself.' 'Man discovers that he is nothing else than evolution become conscious of itself,' and evolution is 'nothing else than the continual growth of. ... 'psychic' or 'radial' energy'. Again, 'the Christogenesis of St Paul and St John is nothing else and nothing less than the extension ... of that noogenesis in which cosmogenesis ... culminates'.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Sunday, April 09, 2006

The Rude Pundit

The Rude Pundit quotes the hideous Ann Coulter, and I guess I'm oblivious or something, but the general formula of
"Liberals spit out all these names with more venom than they've ever been able to muster for names like 'Saddam Hussein' and 'Abu Musab al-Zarqawi'"
is that hating's good, you're just hating the wrong people. Again, I'm an innocent or something because Vampire Ann's never been shy of wanting to nuke, poison, or torture those who she doesn't like, but the Two-Minute Hate sure seems to have been a prescient idea.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Shit Hits Fan for the Nth Time

Wow. Completely remarkable that these guys continue to get away with this stuff.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Graduation 101 - Stranded

Graduation 101 - Stranded must be one of the most terrible articles I've ever read in a student newspaper. Awful writing, humorless jokes, usage errors, and flavourless swearing from some cock-biting bore. The curdled cream of the crop I s'pose.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Just so you know, letting your husband write your posts isn't plagiarism. It's more like lying.

As someone who has worked in daily journalism for 14 years, I have a lot of experience related to this horrible situation: I've had my work plagiarized by shameless word and idea thiefs many times over the years. I've also been baselessly accused of plagiarism by some of the same leftists now attacking Ben.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Taking the law into their own hands:

NEWFANE, Vermont (Reuters) - Known for picturesque autumn foliage, colonial inns, maple sugar and laid-back villages, Vermont seldom makes much of an impact in national political debate.

But in one week, resolutions approved by five towns to impeach President George W. Bush are giving several sleepy Vermont communities a new, renegade image.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The Problem of Not Understanding That the Problem is Religion

Thus far I'm adding abrasive posts here.

The notion that someone is part of the problem and not part of the solution in relating to the god-addled has an irony to it: clearly the biggest problem in the whole issue is religion itself, which might, in some fantasy future, one day be solved.

The Only Reason I Signed Up for This

...was to leave comments on other blogs without having a headache. I probably have to post now and again to keep my profile. Maybe not.