Monday, April 30, 2007

Garry Trudeau gloats a little

With some awareness of a shift in national consensus, Doonesbury reruns a strip from October 19 of 2002, when we were still preparing to mass troops at the Kuwait border and before inspectors had been withdrawn. Mark Slackenmeyer reminds Ari Fleischer
  • There's no real Al Qaeda link
  • The Iraqi Army's been decimated
  • Saddam Hussein has not been able to shoot down a US Jet
He asserts there's no provocation. Now, people who supported the war and now realize they were in error form about 60 % of the pollable electorate. So, Mr. Trudeau's "Nyah nyah nyah" targets a lot of people. But, I'm not sure it's so wrong. Keeping quiet or pretending there was some truth on either side didn't work.

It's hard not to openly mock reformed war supporters. We've sat here for 4 1/2 years, wondering what could ever be going on in the heads of our countrymen. And, so now when they say, "Oh, yeah. I guess that didn't make any sense. I must have been tricked," it's a little hard not to scream at them. That we went to war based on lies should have been heard by anyone with ears. I still don't know how so many people participated in their own deluding, and I imagine Garry Trudeau was a little bemused himself.

We can forgive him a mean little dig. I would just like to find some way to keep this from happening again, and to destroy the tools used by the Bush Administration's controllers* to subvert our democracy.

* -- um, does that make me sound like a conspiracy theorist? How many conspiracies do we have to expose before conspiracy theorism gets disassociated from paranoia?

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Mars, Inc., takes a pro-cannibalism stance

I want to take a stand against cannibalism. Really, I think that this is a slippery slope argument that works: if we start eating other people, or even parts of ourselves, outside of times of extreme duress, some of us may develop a taste for it. And some of those might go out and harvest it. Once the concept of people-as-foodstuff goes beyond a certain level, we're looking at a world where people are raised for slaughter in tight cages with their nutrients controlled for the color and flavor of their flesh.

That's not a world I'm asking for.

Now, you might think that this was an unassailable position. That, like anthropogenic global climate change or the occupation of arbitrarily selected foreign countries, the cannibalism industry would be universally regarded as a bad thing. However, it turns out that I'm not a super good predictor of what's going to be accepted by the American people, so I wanted to express my opinion.

What makes me think we might be in danger is a new package from Mars, Inc's Masterfoods subsidiary for their Shrek's Select Ogre-Sized Peanut Butter M&Ms. I'm not opposed to peanut butter, or even coating it in a candy shell or marketing it with a child's movie character. OK, maybe I'm a little against that, but that's a separate issue, if you can truly separate the fattening of children from the eating of people.

The package features the yellow peanut M&M dressed like Shrek wiping the saliva from his mouth as he stands next to a cauldron full of peanut butter (and Shrek himself.) He looks drowsy and happy, as if he's been using his green gloves to shovel melting peanut butter into his mouth all day. All of this is well and good. It's what he says that perturbs me.

I knew a few of those guys.

So, anthropomorphic character delighting in the denuding, grinding and melting of his fellows -- ones with whom he was personally acquainted -- as they are prepared for consumption. The seditionists at Mars, Inc can really only be advocating one thing, and we as a body public must be ever vigilant against it.

In the run-up to the Iraq war, the Democrats were doing exactly what you think

Which was ignoring the fact that they knew the administration was lying. Dick Durban, in the link, tells the story of how as a member of the Senate Intelligence Oversight Committee, he was not led to believe there were nuclear, biological or chemical weapons in Iraq. He saw the American people being so led, and made no counter claim.

Congress' one out on the culpability for this failed venture has been that they were lied to just as we were, and voted to overturn the War Powers Act because they believed the danger from Saddam Hussein was so urgent that there would never be time to consult them before invading.

Durbin's just given that up, unless oversight really means sitting on your hands while watching villainy. But, then, one might ask, why have it?

Friday, April 27, 2007

We should really strike the word 'war' from discussions of our involvement in Iraq

I've tried to be careful in the last four years, not to refer to the occupation of Iraq as a war. It plays into the Administration's fantasy that evildoers have raised a mighty army against us and placed it inconveniently far away, a challenge to which we bravely rose, even though chasing down Osama bin Laden, on whom there's consensus that the immediate responsibility for the collapse of the World Trade Center towers lies, is not worth the money. But, I've been slacking off, and slipping into staying 'war' more and more.

Josh Marshall makes the point that it's an important distinction we should hold on to. We're really just poorly managed and erratically violent foreign overlords.

Now, to the bin Laden point. I know there are two viewpoints on 9/11 -- the LIHOPs, like myself, who believe that the Bush administration's being asleep at the wheel vis a vis terrorism was an intentional policy to allow a major terrorist attack on the United States to create pretext for all sorts of corrupt wrong-doing, and the MIHOPs, who believe that people affiliated with the Bush League had an active role in planning the attacks. I know there's a swath of other viewpoints on what happened, but they all strike me as somewhat deluded. I think that MIHOPs generally believe that Osama bin Laden had a central coordinating role in the event. And, irrespective, I'm sure they'd like him compelled to speak clearly about what he knows. But, if you doubt OBL had any involvement, please post a comment and let me know.

And now, Rostropovich

I suspect that the pantheon of celebrities is actually huge, and its only listening to the radio in the morning that makes it seem like everyone's dying. But, still.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


Not, you know, that this is how I feel ....

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Tiny Bubbles

So, cafe culture for the last several days, at least to the extent that I participate in it, has been buzzing with the death of Kurt Vonnegut. And, I may find more to say on this blog about it. But, since celebrities keep dying, I wanted to note one more, Donald Tai Loy "Don" Ho.

I watched a lot of television as a child, and I was a regular viewer of the Don Ho show. I have no idea what went on during the show, except that he always sang 'Tiny Bubbles' at the end; this suggests that time was wasted, but we'll call him a hard to track influence.

Rest in Peace, Don Ho!

* -- I've got to say, Wikipedia claims that the David Letterman Show was only on for one year, and mostly in the Summer


So, April 15th is the one day a year that I dig through my received snail mail. I'm not defending the practice, I'm just not the kind of person who opens his mail. And I just discovered why the opera didn't have my will call tickets for a performance in February --- they had mailed them to me! I'll have to be extra vigilant, as I'm going to the opera Wednesday, and I believe they planned to mail these as well.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Who will warn us about our big brains now?

Kurt Vonnegut, RIP. He spoke of sometimes wandering aimlessly around Gramercy, so I was always hoping to see him. It was my little secret, the only celebrity I've been keeping an eye out for.

Mr. Vonnegut really forwarded the arts of the novel and of storytelling. Remember when he, the author, confronted Kilgore Trout? Remember Kilgore Trout, the perennial incidental character who wrote science fiction stories for pornographic magazines? Remember Billy Pilgrim, unstuck in time? The end of Player Piano, when people started building machines? When the narrator became president, and made sure that everyone had a family to belong to? Ice 9, which when brought in to contact with water would crystallize it at room temperature -- this was so wonderful because it's so clearly something that no responsible person would want to exist, but the Generals of the Marine Corps really felt it would help the grunts cross rivers more easily.

My favorite Vonnegut book is Mother Night, about an American captured by an Israeli Death Squad for hosting an incendiary radio program in Nazi Germany. He'd been passing codes to the resistance during the show. The book is him in prison, awaiting his execution, wondering how much of that he'd like to get out. It's a brilliant study in guilt.

So, thanks for the books and all, Mr. Vonnegut.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Microsoft Agent's on my computer!

I just got this patch notice from Microsoft about my Windows XP installation at home.
A security issue has been identified in Microsoft Agent that could allow an attacker to compromise your Windows-based system and gain control over it. You can help protect your computer by installing this update from Microsoft. After you install this item, you may have to restart your computer.
Oh, my goodness! Do you remember Microsoft Agent*? It was a user interface concept that brought Clippit to the masses, really an intellectual descendant of Microsoft Bob. For like two months in 1996, I was putting genies in everything. It refers to itself as a new technology, so I'm inferring that web page doesn't get updated very often.

Still, it's nice to know they're patching it.

* -- check out the link. The text to speech engine doesn't work for me, so I couldn't get Genie to talk, but the page source is worth checking out just to see 'End Sub' in html -- vbscript on a web page was a perverse signature Microsoft used in the 90s.

Fun 'Rent v. Buy' tool in Today's Times

So, if we assume that real estate prices stay the same and correct through inflation, while rents stay steady, renting is very compelling. If real prices drop 10 per cent every year while rents increase 10 per cent, after a few decades, buyers win.

Play around with it a little!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Selectiveness at Speed Dating v. Online

Try to look past John Tierney's attempts at original content and focus on his references. Speed Dating, I feel, combines the worst of random pickups -- there's no filter, you'll only meet other drinkers (as the events are generally in bars), and you're very much on display to other women while talking to one -- with some of the bad aspects of online dating, to wit the women are unvetted, you're in an intensive competitive environment, and you have to communicate your value pretty compactly. While I was pretty excited about speed dating, I think it's pretty appropriate within a synagogue or other small community, for which it was designed.

I think the results that Tierney quotes here are reinforcing -- since I like to be right, I'm passing it on.

Also, check the sidebar for some good references on mate selection with the new dating models*.

* -- I just put 'dating models' in my posts to increase my hits on Google ;)

Sea of People

New Yorkers are going to dress in blue Saturday morning and mark the new coastline under a ten foot sea level rise. It'll be cool!

Photo from Tortola

The lower gentleman in the picture is Raymond Ward, of The upper gentleman is me. Beverly, from the LauRay, took the photograph in Tortola, whilst I awaited a flight to Puerto Rico after my week-long yacht charter.

You can see how spending time on the boat relaxed me.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

How I got so illuminated

A shout out to the home church! The Fish Church, where I grew up, is pictured on pages 1 and 2 and given the title 'most illuminating' on page 3 of Life Magazine's online review of churches. Now I feel totally justified in wearing the fish bow tie my sister gave me to prom.

The Tax Form

So, the dearth of entries this year is largely due to my feeling that I shouldn't blog at all until I finish my taxes. Which I've just now started. On the first page of the CompleteTax wizard -- or at least the first page after I've been completely identified -- it asks:
Are you blind?
Are you disabled?
Are you dead?
I don't think I want to answer any more of these questions.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Soybean Sputum

Just a little shout out to Google on April Fool's Day