An ancient astronomical calculator made at the end of the 2nd century BC was amazingly accurate and more complex than any instrument for the next 1,000 years, scientists said on Wednesday.
The Antikythera Mechanism is the earliest known device to contain an intricate set of gear wheels. It was retrieved from a shipwreck off the Greek island of Antikythera in 1901 but until now what it was used for has been a mystery.
Although the remains are fragmented in 82 brass pieces, scientists from Britain, Greece and the United States have reconstructed a model of it using high-resolution X-ray tomography.
They believe their findings could force a rethink of the technological potential of the ancient Greeks.
"It could be described as the first known calculator," said Professor Mike Edmunds, a professor of astrophysics at Cardiff University in Wales.
"Our recent work has applied very modern techniques that we believe have now revealed what its actual functions were."
The calculator could add, multiply, divide and subtract. It was also able to align the number of lunar months with years and display where the sun and the moon were in the zodiac.
Edmunds and his colleagues discovered it had a dial that predicted when there was a likely to be a lunar or solar eclipse. It also took into account the elliptical orbit of the moon.
For his show in Morgantown on Feb. 13. Tickets are around $40. Just lettin' his fans know.
Wouldn't you rather your elected officials take an oath on a book in which they believed?
I mean, it totally helped Duke Cunningham to swear on the bible, with that eighth commandment and all.
Is it just me, or is there really something negative about those "ist" words?
Adding ist or ism to a word usually colors it negatively, as can be seen in secularist. ... As Christianist, with its evocation of Islamist, gains wider usage as an attack word on what used to be called the religious right, another suffix is being used in counterattack to derogate those who denounce church influence in politics. ... Let the listener or reader beware: -ist and -phobe, more often than not these days, are suffixes tacked on to words to turn them into fierce derogations.
There is nothing negative about -ists anymore than there is about -isms. Sure, there are some -isms that a great many people (and gee, which camp are they in) have spent a lot of time trying to convince the world of their badness. Marxism, feminism, Chartism, republicanism. Oops. Well, there ya go. All -isms must be bad.
Ms. Lithwick reviews yesterday's arguments at the Supreme Court, and the Bush administration's unusual "we're all going to die anyhow" position.
Shorter George Will: People shouldn't say mean things to the President. It's uncivil. Oh, and no one should ever use the words "literally" and "infinite" in the same sentence.
OooooKay. Thanks for that, George.
UPDATE: That's what I get for taking too long to write my post: Armand also has it covered. He uses more words.
And a boor.
Seriously, I'm not making that up. If there was ever a case of "pot, meet kettle" ... I'm pretty close to rolling on the floor I'm laughing so hard. Who knew Will had it in him to be such a comedian?
Webb's prime offenses seem to be that 1) he didn't lie prone before the president and declare that he was unworthy to be in the presence of the almighty presidency, and 2) sloppy use of modifiers. Yes, you read that right too - Will thinks it's a useful thing for the United States that op-ed space in one of the most influential media outlets in the country be devoted to a discussion of a sloppy use of a couple of adverbs.
I suppose this is the first salvo in a war from the Right to delegitimize Jim Webb - to make everything he says not serious policy proposals, but the snarling jabs of an unhinged, angry hater. But really it reads more like the untethered from reality musings of the mutton-chopped the 7th Earl of Somethingorother, as he sits erect in his high-backed leather chair, awaiting a meal of squab at his London club in 1883.
Armand hopes his fellow coup plotters can return to the fun of trivia Tuesdays in the not too distant future. Not only are you missing out on the razor-sharp wit and excellent timing of Mr. Wright (the title above references the most memorable moment from last night), but hey, there's always good company, refreshing beverages and good questions about animals and food and Medieval or Elizabethan history. And you learn a thing or two too (for example, I know - now - that Tennyson wrote a "Ulysses"). For the record, last night's final question asked: Where are the Potala Palace and Jokhang Temple?
So as many of you know, I've been catching up on Veronica Mars on dvd. I like it a lot - most of the time. But I've got to say that as I finished off season 2 last night two things became abundantly clear: the show is painfully uneven, especially in season 2, and the writer are seemingly incapable of writing remotely credible season finales. I mean at the end of season 1 we had painfully silly drift (and ridiculous tone shift) into the horror genre (look in the back seat!) and as to the conclusion of season 2 ... well, ugh. That the big bad ended up being who it ended up being wasn't a shock. But the episode (and some of the season tied to it) was terribly overwritten (why undo a supposedly solved mystery from season 1? what's the deal with suddenly throwing in that completely new plot turn, that wasn't set up at all, in the Cook household?) and ... well, let's just say that the conclusion to the who blew up the bus mystery requires a few illogical choices to be believed. And as to the big confrontation at the end - well there's virtually nothing believeable about any part of that ordeal (ummm dealing with the plane then? the Scooby-Doo-ness of the entire confrontation ...), except perhaps the very last moments of it.
So I can't say I liked how season 2 ended - or some of the other parts of it (speaking of unbelieveable, there was the whole new LeBron James thing, and as to Aaron's trial ... well, let's just not discuss it). But on the whole the highs that come with that show are pretty damn high. And when it's at its best (which to me are its moments when Heathers meets Daria meets Agatha Christie with some added class warfare thrown in - so deliciously fun episodes like An Echolls Family Christmas, A Trip to the Dentist, and Aint No Magic Mountain High Enough) it is one of the best things on television. So even though it appears that the season 3 cast should be somewhat different than that which we've seen so far, and even though the writers sometimes have trouble wrapping up the mysteries they build the show around ... well, nontheless, I plan to keep watching.
Ah yes, Tom Tancredo. Helluva way to solidify the Republican base in Miami.
Rep. Tom Tancredo, the leader of the anti-illegal immigration faction in the U.S. House, spent a recent weekend at The Breakers in Palm Beach.
Ninety miles to the south, he found a symbol to bolster his belief that unfettered immigration is endangering the United States: Miami, he told a conservative online news site, "has become a Third World country."
"Look at what has happened to Miami," the WorldNetDaily quotes Tancredo as saying in an interview. "It has become a Third World country. You just pick it up and take it and move it someplace. You would never know you're in the United States of America. You would certainly say you're in a Third World country."
"Moreover, the sheer size and number of ethnic enclaves devoid of any English and dominated by foreign cultures is widespread," Tancredo said in the statement. "Frankly, many of these areas could have been located in another country. And until America gets serious about demanding assimilation, this problem will continue to spread."
Tancredo didn't visit Miami on the Nov. 18-19 trip, but has visited before, a spokesman said. And, if Ros-Lehtinen's invitation includes "a stay at a five-star beachfront resort, he may be willing to look beyond the inherent dangers that he had cited and visit Miami again," his spokesman said.
Like that final statement? That's toward his fellow party member, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. Of course, he was staying at the Breakers, on the island of Palm Beach, which in my lifetime had the quasi-apartheid practice of having workers who lived off island carry pass cards.
Via Crooks and Liars.
You are The Lovers
Motive, power, and action, arising from Inspiration and Impulse.
The Lovers represents intuition and inspiration. Very often a choice needs to be made.
Originally, this card was called just LOVE. And that's actually more apt than "Lovers." Love follows in this sequence of growth and maturity. And, coming after the Emperor, who is about control, it is a radical change in perspective. LOVE is a force that makes you choose and decide for reasons you often can't understand; it makes you surrender control to a higher power. And that is what this card is all about. Finding something or someone who is so much a part of yourself, so perfectly attuned to you and you to them, that you cannot, dare not resist. This card indicates that the you have or will come across a person, career, challenge or thing that you will fall in love with. You will know instinctively that you must have this, even if it means diverging from your chosen path. No matter the difficulties, without it you will never be complete.
What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.
Next weekend Canada's Liberals will elect their new leader. We can debate the value of newspaper endorsements. But when a non-front runner gets the public backing of the country's #2 newspaper, that would seem to be good news - at least for the Dion campaign, and especially since said endorsement runs down the weaknesses of each of Dion's competitors.
Nathaniel's current poll at The Film Experience asks: Which is your favorite best actress win in the last 20 years? Until I saw his list of choices, I didn't realize how rarely I've felt drawn to the winners of the best actress Oscar over the last decade. To me there was a definite strong patch in the winners of that catergory from 1991-1996 (Foster, Thompson, Hunter, Lange, Sarandon, McDormand), but over the last decade I've often disagreed with the choice (Helen Hunt?, Julia Roberts?, Hilary Swank, again!?!), and even when I've agreed with the pick out of the top 5 - I haven't always been blissfully happy about the win (Charlize Theron did a great job, but c'mon, it's hard to get invested and attached to Monster). Last year's win by Reese Witherspoon was the first time I was really happy with how that race had turned out this millenium. So I guess I'm just wondering - is it just me, or have the winners in this category often been disappointing in the last several years?
Lawmakers recently considered two sets of legislation that would affect whistle-blowers. One attempted to extend the whistle-blower Protection Act to cover intelligence agency employees through amendments to the 2007 Defense Authorization Bill.
In October, a conference committee removed the whistle-blower amendments from the final version of the bill.
The other bill that might affect whistle-blowers stiffens penalties for knowingly leaking classified information to those not authorized to receive it. That bill was introduced by Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., in response to recent leaks to the media about national security programs, says Bond's press secretary, Rob Ostrander.
"When classified information is printed in the newspapers, it's not just Americans who read it," Ostrander says. "It's also America's enemies."
Bond's legislation would make prosecuting leakers easier by eliminating the need to prove the disclosure damaged national security. The measure would subject those who leak classified information to a fine and up to three years in prison. It would apply to those who signed a non-disclosure agreement, regardless of their job at the time of the leak.
The bill uses language identical to that in a 2000 bill — dubbed the "Official Secrets Act," after a similar British law — that was vetoed by President Clinton. It has been endorsed by the Association of Intelligence Officers, a 31-year-old group of 4,500 current and former intelligence officers.
Bond's legislation has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. If it does not make it to a floor vote by the end of this session, he will have to resubmit it when the next session begins in January.
Wow, this is rather fun - a lengthy argument between Greenwald on one side and Althouse and Reynolds on the other, over the use of the term "Christianist". It gets deliciously petty.
What a fucking commie. Prince of Peace my ass:
A homeowners association in southwestern Colorado has threatened to fine a resident $25 a day until she removes a Christmas wreath with a peace sign that some say is an anti- Iraq war protest or a symbol of Satan.
...when he says "I'm sure there are college students for whom Iraq is very real." He mentions that war was real when he was a student at IUP, but notes that students at Bryn Mawr and Weslyan (CT) do not feel the same way. IUP, like our fine institution just down the road, differs substantially in class background and region from those other two. The war is real for kids at IUP and WVU because they are more likely to be in the military, mostly for economic reasons, though not solely.
I've looked for statistics on National Guard from PA and WV as a proportion of those serving in Iraq, and been unable to find them, but my sense is that the number is high. One former student of mine who was in the service told me that there was only one WV unit that has not been sent, and that unit was the band.
As always, violence is a-ok but sex is a no-no in an action film. It's James Fucking Bond. And everyone stays fully clothed while they are rolling around on the floor?
Oh, no, not everyone stays fully clothed. There is one completely naked man (viewed from the side, seated in such a way as to hide anything remotely manly) tied to a chair getting the shit beat out of his testicles. That's definitely PG-13!
Lest you think I disliked Casino Royale, let me say here that I did not. As in, did not dislike it. I actually liked it quite a bit, aside from a few complaints.
The casting of Daniel Craig is looking like genius. And Eva Green... yum... totally believable as a supersmart (and supersexy, of course) accountant working for the British government. Jeffrey Wright as Felix was an outstanding choice... I hope they can keep him on in subsequent films (and give him more to do). The plot is sufficiently complicated (color me so glad that it had nothing to do with Russians or drug dealers) and the main bad guy had more than a hat tip to classic villians a la Dr. Evil (wonky eye scar and all that) that it wasn't just about car chases and special effects. In fact, I think it could have used more car chases. There was one through the twisting mountain roads of Montenegro that looked like it was shaping up to be a doozy that ended all too soon (but for a good reason, I have to admit). So, yes, intrigue, European bad guys, Bahamas beaches all good. Classics from the series that are definitely worth keeping.
I also like the parkour scene at the beginning, though the stereotypical "third world" betting on animal fight scene (points for making it mongoose on cobra!) and the African bombmaker and embassy part are pretty played out. However, even with these drawbacks, they made quite a bit of the action sequence, with some real stomach churning leaps and bounds. In general this speaks to the best of Casino Royale, in that they take what could have been totally cliche (and here I am imagining how it would have been with Roger Moore) and twisting it enough to make it new and exciting.
Too long. You knew that was coming, right? Many reviews point to the extended poker scene in the middle as where the film should have been cut. I can see how some people might think parts of that sequence might not have been totally necessary, but I disagree. The multihour poker game advances the plot, and sets up some twists and double backs to come later. The segments that were most useless were the "love" scenes (not least for the tameness in the nudity department). The Roger Moore pan-away from kissing at the end credits as they float in the ocean in the moon lander floating in the Caribbean (or whatever) approach was definitely worth replacing (not least because now we have a Bond that does not induce a total skeeve-out when imagining him kissing someone). On the other hand, it seemed like a nearly endless parade of PG smarm. "If the only thing left of you was your smile and your little finger, you'd still be more of a man than anyone else." Gag. Not that I don't believe that Bond is super manly, no, not at all. Rather that you have a great, strong sexy female character in Vesper, and they end up chasing around in an extremely stupid montage. This woman is a match for Bond (as becomes very clear) but instead they have what essentially brings them both down to the level of schoolgirl crushes (and of course, this being the patriarchy and all, that means weak and bad). You could have Bond in the throes of a great passion, entralled by a powerful woman, and they'd be, you know, fucking, which is what highly intelligent, amoral, passionate and strong people might actually do.
All that being said, Casino Royale was a very good Bond movie. I hate to echo the hype and compare it to the Connery films, but it's got to be said that this film hearks back to the less apologetic "spying is dirty shitty business" era, not the Pierce Brosnan aka "Bond practices safe sex craptacular" movies. Let's face it, that Bond would gett his ass kicked by Jason Bourne, and this movie has taken steps to deal with the deficit that the series has been building up since Roger Moore. This clearly has a lot to do with the cultural and political context of the times as well.
Our Bonds change with our times. Connery's Cold War Bond, Roger Moore's cheeky cocaine disco excess (acts suave but really kind of a smirky doofus) the Timothy Dalton oh no the Cold War is over but we don't know what to do with ourselves Bond, Pierce Brosnan the the Cold War is over and here come globalization and Euro-sophistication Bond. Now we have Daniel Craig, the dose of reality, because the Cold War is over and fuck it's nasty out here and shouldn't our Bond be a little more like Steve McQueen ("the coolest goddamn motherfucker on the silver screen")?
Because we can never have enough lists to discuss - here's TIME's list of the 100 most influential records (which goes all the way back to 1954 and Frank). Praise it or smack it (these things tend to be built mostly for the latter - well, apart from sales) at your leisure.
Some of it is oh so familiar (look at the choices from 1966 and 1967) and seemingly beyond criticism (OK Computer), but some of it ... well, some might disagree, but including The Stones Roses doesn't seem nearly as odd to me as including Like a Prayer.
Painful Choices: A Theory of Foreign Policy Change is worth your time if you hope to be able to understand foreign policy, and more to the point, fluctuations in foreign policy. It's almost two books in one as the opening of the text is a great review of why constructing a (useful and accurate) theory of foreign policy is close to impossible. Once Welch gets through with his argument for theorizing about foreign policy change, instead of foreign policy more generally, he lays out a loss-aversion theory of change that draws on organization theory, cognitive and motivational psychology and prospect theory. He then tests this theory through examinations of the Falklands War, the Northern Territories dispute between Japan and Russia, the US side of the Vietnam war, and attempts to liberalize trade between Canada and the US. Overall, these cases "vindicate the expectation of inertia, illustrate the punctuated equilibrium of foreign policy, and demonstrate that these tendencies are rendered intelligible by a combination of organizational and psychological considerations. The third hypothesis appears to have the most 'bang for the buck'" - the third hypothesis being the one that deals with prospect theory (change is more likely to stem from a fear of losses than from a desire for gains). But the other hypotheses also receive broad support - more bureaucratic states in democratic regimes are less likely than less bureaucratic states in autocratic regimes to change their foreign policies, and policy change is more likely occur in the face of a string of failures which have led to an unacceptable status quo (or the fear of an imminent collapse).
There are matters outside the model that clearly seem to be key to the course of these decision-making events (the analogies that decision makers relied on, path dependencies). But on the whole, Welch's approach as much to recommend it.
Another week, another national election in Europe with no clear winner.
In Wednesday's election all centrist parties lost votes, including Balkenende's Christian Democrats and the Liberals, which together had pushed through a number of business-friendly, freemarket measures in recent years. The Socialist Party, led by a former communist, made the largest gains, nearly tripling its vote on the promise to shield the Dutch from the excesses of economic liberalism.
Guy at A Fistful of Euros runs down how each party did, and discusses the possible coalitions and substantive outcomes of the election (and notes an interesting bit of political trivia: for the first time an animal rights party has won seats in a European parliament).
Talk about your towers that are (or will be) completely out of proportion with the surrounding environs ...
But of course that's just part of the story behind this tower (which can, legally, be that tall). It looks like Mr. Trump might be trying to stick in the thin-end of the wedge. Is he up to some zoning shenanigans? That would be sooooo shocking, right?
The author of the Turner Diaries finally kicked the bucket, but he wasn't the only one in West Virginia.
Still doing better than my old home where I once saw a guy standing on the side of the road with a sign that read: "Klan rally today, parking $2."
For predictable reasons (I grew up there and have been a very frequent visitor to New Orleans since then) I am highly interested in the run-off election for the US House seat currently held by "Dollar" Bill Jefferson (D). Personally, I'm hoping Karen Carter takes him down. But I've got my doubts about that happening. If you want quick primers on the issues in the race, and on the politics of the region, look here and here.
A&M beat Texas this afternoon - the first time they'd won that traditional game this millenium. What's more, Texas losing means that if favored Oklahoma defeats Oklahoma State, Texas won't even make it to the Big XII championship game. I don't know exactly what kind of an effect this will have on the BCS - but I'd have to think it's taken Texas out of contention for one of those big bowl invitations.
I look forward to seeing Baltar's results.
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You'd think the Bush administration would respect the EPA more. After all it was started by their model, Nixon:
It never got down to actual book-burning, but the Republican choke-hold on government would clearly have taken us there. In August, under the guise of fiscal responsibility, the Bush Environmental Protection Agency began closing most of its research libraries, both to the public and to its own staff.
The EPA's professional staff objected strongly, insisting that closing the libraries would hamstring them in their jobs. In a letter to Congress protesting the closures, public employees said, "We believe that this budget cut is just one of many Bush administration initiatives to reduce the effectiveness of the US Environmental Protection Agency, and to continue to demoralize its employees."
The EPA's precipitous move to close the libraries was based on a $2 million cut in Bush's proposed $8 billion EPA budget for 2007. EPA bureaucrats did not wait to see if Congress might restore the funds or shift budget priorities in order to save the libraries; it acted immediately to box up documents for deep storage, and shut the doors.
While the official EPA line is that all of the documents will be eventually be digitized and made available online, this will cost money that the agency does not have, so for practical purposes, all of the thousands of reports and maps that now exist only on paper or microfiche will be lost to the public and to agency scientists. They might as well just burn them.
Closing the EPA libraries is the perfect symbol to characterize the methods of the Bush administration. Since 2000, the Republicans have cemented their reputation as ushers of a new dark age. They have sought to shroud the light of science by closing libraries and by suppressing scientific reports. They have gagged their own scientists and persecuted whistleblowers. They have cloaked government in secrecy, a prime example being Dick Cheney's secret meetings with oil companies to draft an industry-friendly national energy policy.
Via Crooks and Liars.
The Raconteurs Steady as she goes owes more than just a wee debt to Joe Jackson.
Someone should alert Perez Hilton.
This has been all around, but I followed the link from Feministe.
Hear that? That's the sound of techies and hipsters doing a 180 in their feelings about Google. And why might that be? First for fucking up Blogger and now for turning YouTube into Their(corporate)Tube:
And a very Happy Thanksgiving to you too, Mr. Stewart.
I got notice this morning that Comedy Central had YouTube remove a video we put up of a segment the Daily Show had done on the Mark Foley scandal. In a strictly legal sense, I get the concern. In a business sense, and a PR sense, it's obnoxious and counterproductive. In any case, I went to log in to my YouTube account to delete any other Comedy Central videos I had, and what do you know, I get a notice that my account has been permanently closed.
Again, this isn't about the law - Google and YouTube may - and I say "may" - have a valid legal argument about anyone posting videos that are longer than, say, 30 seconds. But Google and YouTube need to think about the service they are and the service they will be after they institute this new draconian clamp-down.
First, does it really hurt Comedy Central when people repost snippets of their show? I don't watch less Jon Stewart because I can catch some of the segments on YouTube. I watch more Jon Stewart as a result. YouTube, and the blogs, have been major supporters of Jon Stewart, and I find it hard to believe that that support hasn't helped him and his show - you can't believe how many Jon Stewart fans I met in France this past summer - and just as importantly, I find it hard to believe that we haven't helped get his political message out to the masses (and as much as Stewart likes to say his show is only about comedy, it's clearly not, otherwise he wouldn't be interviewing Nobel Laureates and doing segments on books about Iran).
Again, I get the strictly legal argument, but I think it's rude, and just as importantly, a bad business move. And having my account closed is beyond obnoxious. It not only calls into question Comedy Central's appreciation of what the blogs and the larger liberal audience has done for their network, but it also calls into question just what Google is doing to YouTube.
Sounds like Comedy Central is on the bah humbug bandwagon too.
Because if there's one thing Rumsfeld knows, it's following protocol and showing respect to dedicated public servants when they retire, right? Oh I guess not.
Btw, it's off topic - but what the hell is that last little bit of Novak's column referencing when he talks about Ronald Reagan continuing to fight on for victory in the Cold War, even in his final days in office? Was Novak, at the time, a cheerleader for the much kinder, gentler, Gorby-friendly Reagan we saw at the end of that administration? And how does that era's high prioritization of diplomacy mesh with Novak's usual view of how one should achieve victory over evil empires? It seems a really peculiar line to include. But maybe Novakula couldn't think of any other substantive matters on which Reagan held firm after the debacle of the 1986 elections, and since the aim of his column is to press the point home that George W. should never retreat and never surrender ...
We hope everyone is with someone you love, putting on a big feed.
Interesting. Israel's Supreme Court has decided that the Israeli government has to recognize same-sex marriages of Israelis performed abroad. As Israel doesn't have civil marriages, this would seem to be as far as the state could go in supporting same-sex marriages. That said, Israel also doesn't have a binding constitution, so if the parliament does not like this decision, presumably they could reverse it.
Ah yes, our government, busy focusing on the terror threats that matter. You know, people exercising their constitutional rights.
An antiterrorist database used by the Defense Department in an effort to prevent attacks against military installations included intelligence tips about antiwar planning meetings held at churches, libraries, college campuses and other locations, newly disclosed documents show.
One tip in the database in February 2005, for instance, noted that “a church service for peace” would be held in the New York City area the next month. Another entry noted that antiwar protesters would be holding “nonviolence training” sessions at unidentified churches in Brooklyn and Manhattan.
Mr. Baur was responding to the latest batch of documents produced by the military under a Freedom of Information Act request brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups. The A.C.L.U. planned to release the documents publicly on Tuesday, and officials with the group said they would push for Democrats, newly empowered in Congress, to hold formal hearings about the Talon database.
Ben Wizner, a lawyer for the A.C.L.U. in New York, said the new documents suggested that the military’s efforts to glean intelligence on protesters went beyond what was previously known. If intelligence officials “are going to be doing investigations or monitoring in a place where people gather to worship or to study, they should have a pretty clear indication that a crime has occurred,” Mr. Wizner added.
The leader of one antiwar group mentioned repeatedly in the latest military documents provided to the A.C.L.U. said he was skeptical that the military had ended its collection of material on war protests.
“I don’t believe it,” said the leader, Michael T. McPhearson, a former Army captain who is the executive director of Veterans for Peace, a group in St. Louis.
Mr. McPhearson said he found the references to his group in the Talon database disappointing but not altogether surprising, and he said the group continued to use public settings and the Internet to plan its protests.
“We don’t have anything to hide,” he said. “We’re not doing anything illegal.”
The latest Talon documents showed that the military used a variety of sources to collect intelligence leads on antiwar protests, including an agent in the Department of Homeland Security, Google searches on the Internet and e-mail messages forwarded by apparent informants with ties to protest groups.
In most cases, entries in the Talon database acknowledged that there was no specific evidence indicating the possibility of terrorism or disruptions at the antiwar events, but they warned of the potential for violence.
One entry on Mr. McPhearson’s group from April 2005, for instance, described a protest at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces at which members handed out antimilitary literature and set up hundreds of white crosses to symbolize soldiers killed in Iraq.
“Veterans for Peace is a peaceful organization,” the entry said, but added there was potential that future protests “could become violent.”
HT Atrios, who has a point when he says "I know we're supposed to get upset about this stuff because of civil liberties issues, but frankly I get more upset about it because of the absurdity and what it suggests about the intelligence of our rulers." Or the lack thereof, of course.
OK, it's far to much "the sticks" for him and his wife - but it was the only county in the state to vote for him.
Still, he could have done worse. After all this was the first election since 1988 to see Sen. Robert C. Byrd lose any county in the state.
One of the country's most influential filmmakers has died.
His body of work was considerable - notable for some very high highs, and some pretty low lows. But it was by most accounts a brilliant career. So this seems an excellent time to comment on what you think of his career. What did you think was great? What's underrated? What was overrated? And which of his classics have you missed?
Personally, I thought Gosford Park, MASH, and The Player were his "best" films as that term tends to be used. But then I've never seen some of his classics from the 1970's (like 3 Women, Nashville, Brewster McCloud, McCabe & Mrs. Miller). Nonetheless, those three films were all excellent - which is something of a testament to his gifts right there, given how different those three works are.
What hasn't gotten its due? I thought The Company was great. I liked it a lot. And while A Wedding isn't necessarily at the same level as some of his absolutely best works, it's got a lot going for it and I enjoyed it a good deal too (and Carol Burnet and Pat McCormick are sooooo funny).
And as to the bandwagons I just can't get on ... I think Short Cuts is hugely overrated (though, as usual, Frances McDormand rocks), The Long Goodbye might be interesting as a genre piece, but I didn't like it, and as to Pret-a-Porter ... well, that film's pretty much been dissed to death already, so why ad yet another pan?Altman might have had an amazing career - but as you would expect to be the case with such a prolific director, it does have a blemish or two (or three ...).
This (sort of macabre) point has been bouncing around in my head for days. Glad to see someone got explicit about it.
As should be moderately clear from reading this blog, I'm a strong believer in reality, and science (logic and method) as something that points to reality. This isn't to say that there isn't a place for religion and faith, but that there is a clear line between questions that science is capable of answering, and questions that faith is capable of answering.
Moreover, that line is clear, bright, vivid, and glowing. Some scientists are starting to realize this:
In the end it was Dr. Tyson's celebration of discovery that stole the show. Scientists may scoff at people who fall back on explanations involving an intelligent designer, he said, but history shows that "the most brilliant people who ever walked this earth were doing the same thing." When Isaac Newton's "Principia Mathematica" failed to account for the stability of the solar system - why the planets tugging at one another's orbits have not collapsed into the Sun - Newton proposed that propping up the mathematical mobile was "an intelligent and powerful being."
It was left to Pierre Simon Laplace, a century later, to take the next step. Hautily telling Napoleon that he had no need for the God hypothesis, Laplace extended Newton's mathematics and opened the way to a purely physical theory.
"What concerns me now is that even if you're as brilliant as Newton, you reach a point where you start basking in the majesty of God and then your discovery stops - it just stops," Dr. Tyson said. "You're no good anymore for advancing that frontier, waiting for somebody else to come behind you who doesn't have God on the brain and who says: 'That's a really cool problem. I want to solve it.' "
"Science is a philosophy of discovery; intelligent design is a philosophy of ignorance," he said. "Something fundamental is going on in people's minds when they confront things they don't understand."
He told of a time, more than a millennium ago, when Baghdad reigned as the intellectual center of the world, a history fossilized in the night sky. The names of the constellations are Greek and Roman, Dr. Tyson said, but two-thirds of the stars have Arabic names. The words "algebra" and "algorithm" are Arabic.
But sometime around 1100, a dark age descended. Mathematics became seen as the work of the devil, as Dr. Tyson put it. "Revelation replaced investigation," he said, and the intellectual foundation collapsed.
He did not have to say so, but the implication was that maybe a century, maybe a millennium from now, the names of new planets, stars and galaxies might be Chinese. Or there may be no one to name them at all.
I'm not arguing that we throw out religion (as Dawkins does, in the NYT article); one's own choice about matters of faith is (and should be) one's own choice. But it is time to clearly articulate that science answers questions about reality better than faith and there are societal costs to choosing faith over science in answering those questions.
Thus, if you want to listen to Dobson (and others) for influence in how you answer questions of faith, feel free. That's your decision. Dobson - as a person of faith - is not at all qualified to answer questions of fact any more than my pet dog. To assume otherwise is wrong; to act as if Dobson has qualifications is more than wrong, it's insane and irrational.
So, what, should we all hold hands, sing hymns, and magically wish it away? It strikes me that if this is his position he really doesn't mind anti-gay discrimination very much. I mean he'd clearly never want to harm the discriminators, that's for sure.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Does that extend then that you should — do you believe then that there should be a law that bans discrimination against gays and lesbians in the workplace?
MCCAIN: I don't believe we should discriminate against anyone in the workplace, but I don't think we need specific laws that would apply necessarily to people who are gay.
And that's before we even get into the marriage debate. And on that he couldn't say often enough that he's opposed to same-sex marriage. But I guess that just puts him in the same boat as most Republicans. They'll let gays get married - but not to someone of the same gender. Can't have any "special" laws, you know ...
I realize that it looks like all we do is sample stuff from YouTube, since that seems to be a good percentage of what we post. I also realize that claiming we don't obsessively watch YouTube 23 hours a day isn't a very credible claim, since all we seem to do is post YouTube stuff.
You'll just have to take it on faith. We're busy. Very busy. Really, really busy. Except that Thanksgiving break just started, and we might actually have more time for blogging. Maybe. (I have a two-and-a-half inch thick pile of papers to grade, so I'm still busy.)
In any event, more YouTube:
It's pretty cool.
Now I see what the fuss is about. Given the talent involved I figured this film (which focuses on the week following the death of Princess Diana) would be well made and diverting. Helen Mirren has her excellent reputation for a reason, and has deftly given many fine performances in a variety of roles (Prime Suspect, The Madness of King George, Where Angels Fear to Tread and The Cook The Thief His Wife & Her Lover illustrate her range). And Stephen Frears (The Grifters, The Snapper, Dangerous Liasons, Dirty Pretty Things, High Fidelity) has been one of my favorite directors for many years. That said, I still thought this would be a small picture - sort of a particularly well-made episode of Masterpiece Theater. I underestimated it.
The overall themes are obvious enough, and predictable - the conflict between change and tradition, and the inability of those raised in different cultures to understand how others outside their set interpret events. That said, just because something's predictable doesn't mean it's not affecting. And just because something is small doesn't mean it's not exceptionally well-made and enjoyable.
Frears does a wonderful job of putting life and movement into a film were little obvious action occurs. And to say that the cast is splendid would almost be an understatement. Everyone does exactly what they are supposed to do, and they do it very, very well - particularly those on the royal side of the divide (but I think the writing on that side of things was stronger, so they might have had a slight edge from that). Mirren and Michael Sheen (Tony Blair) could easily get Oscar nominations, and I won't be the least bit surprised to see Mirren walk off with the golden statue next year. She's great. But, again, so are many of the others in the film. In short, I liked it a lot - it's very finely crafted, interesting, and quite enjoyable.
When it comes to this week's college football upsets, I wasn't remotely surprised by Virginia Tech beating Wake Forest. And actually I'm not fall-on-the-floor stunned Cinci beat Rutgers. But I am definitely surprised by how badly Cinci beat Rutgers. How did that happen?
I always loved this video, probably more than I should.
I saw them play in 1987? 1988? at the Hollywood Sportatorium. Public Image Limited was the Opening act. Shitty arena, great show.
This is disturbing - really, really disturbing.
The guards would tell us: "This is what you get for protesting." One of them said, "Who gives a shit about janitors making 5 dollars an hour? Lots of people make that much." The other inmates - there were a lot of prostitutes in there - said that they had never seen the jail this bad. The guards told them: "We're trying to teach the protesters a lesson."
And the point about the horses is (sadly) spot on.
It's the weekend. I'm sure you feel like commenting about as much as I feel like spending the weekend cleaning out the spam about "man nipples." Therefore, I have turned up the spam zapper just below Death Star levels, as we are currently under a nipple obsessed spam assault.
If you post something and it doesn't show up, there is a chance it has gotten eaten by the defense systems. A thousand pardons to you if that happens, but we hope you understand.
The Bloodless Coup Crew
...you might also hit up Amnesty International. It seems they have been calling bullshit on use of tasers and have been threatened by the manufacturers (p. 2). Sounds like they are speaking truth and hitting nerves.
There are still two more congressional races to be held this year, run-offs in South Texas and the New Orleans area. In the latter embattled (tens of thousands in the freezer) incumbent Bill Jefferson is facing Karen Carter, long seen as a rising star in the state's politics. Carter has the support of much of the region's political establishment (from both parties). But Jefferson now has the backing of the third place finisher in the November primary, State Senator Derrick Sheperd. As Tim Tagaris reports, in endorsing Jefferson this year (and seeming to endorse himself for '08) Sheperd played upon regional themes and the spectre of gay marriage. Apparently he didn't mention the congressman's gigantic ethics/legal problems.
He was speaking at the Air Force Academy about the August ruling against domestic spying:
Gonzales, in remarks prepared for delivery at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, said that some see the program as on the verge of stifling freedom rather that protecting the country.
"But this view is shortsighted," he said. "Its definition of freedom -- one utterly divorced from civic responsibility -- is superficial and is itself a grave threat to the liberty and security of the American people."
Gonzales and Cheney's attacks on the court order came as the administration was urging the lame-duck Congress to approve legislation authorizing the warrantless surveillance. The bill's chances are in doubt, however, because of Democratic opposition in the Senate, where 60 votes are required to end debate and vote.
The Bush administration has long argued that its warrantless surveillance program focuses on international calls involving suspected terrorists. It dismisses charges that it is an illegal tool because it bypasses federal law requiring a judge-issued warrant for such eavesdropping.
In his prepared remarks, Gonzales dismissed as "myth" the charge that civil liberties were being sacrificed in the fight against terrorism. He defended the USA Patriot Act and the handling of detainees at the U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
"To achieve victory at the cost of eroding civil liberties would not really be a victory. We cannot change the core identity of our nation and claim success," he said.
Hat tip Bob Geiger's Saturday Cartoons.
Ah, Pat Robertson. The one who gave us so much goodness, including the quote about feminists:
Feminism is a socialist, anti-family, political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.
*He can hardly wheeze out his slurs these days.
Binky was right. This film, one of last year's Oscar nominees (for Best Foreign Language Film), is indeed quite effective. It has quite a script and is well-acted. It's not fun, diverting or a feel-good movie - but it's an impressive piece of work.
The Minority Leader will be John Boehner (R-OH) and the Minority Whip will be Roy Blunt (R-MO). They easily (really easily) beat back their more "movement" challengers (the rightie-blogs might have called 'em more conservative - but can you really be much further to the Right than Boehner and Blunt?). So the top jobs will go two people who held to of the top three party leadership positions before the election. The new #3 (conference chair) will be "Redneck" Adam Putnam (R-FL), one of the youngest members of the US House. And the conference vice-chair and conference secretary both hail from Texas - Kay Granger and John Carter. Oklahoma's Tom Cole will head their congressional campaign committee, and Rep. Thaddeus McCotter of Michigan won a race for House Republican Policy Committee chairman.
When it comes to the top 3 positions (the ones I know something about), the winners are exactly who I would have voted for if I happened to be the mean Republican in the US House (hard to imagine, but to the degree I can ...). Why? Simple - it's abundantly clear from the exit polls that the GOP's problem this year was with independents. And I find it very hard to imagine that running even further to the Right is an effective strategy for winning them back. Beyond that - it's not like most of these people were really why the Republicans were rejected at the polls. DeLay and Hastert are gone now - and of course no one in the conference has power over the White House (the Republicans' real problem). So, to me, sticking with some survivors from the old team makes sense.
Ezra makes the case here. The congressman from El Paso is a much better selection than the candidates being pushed by the Blue Dogs (Jane Harman of California) and the CBC (Alcee Hastings of Florida). As an added bonus, it would help break the hold that seniority all too often (though not all the time) has over who Democrats select as committee chairs.
The US Senate has signed on to President Bush's extremely troubling nuclear deal with India by a vote of 85-12. It's sets an extremely problematic precedent if we hope to get the proliferation of nuclear weapons under control. The 12 senators who refused to support this deal (all Democrats) were Dan Akaka, Barbara Boxer, Robert C. Byrd, Jeff Bingaman, Kent Conrad, Byron Dorgan, Mark Dayton, Russ Feingold, Tom Harkin, Tim Johnson, Ted Kennedy and Patrick Leahy.
Just reading along, der teh der, Sadly, No!, der teh der, story about the fake anthrax terrorist, der teh der, yeah yeah yeah, he might be a Freeper, der teh der, and when the police searched his apartment they were looking for...
What...???? LEFT WING HATE RHETORIC?
There's a whole list. Computers, cell phones, clothes, mailing paraphenalia, and then there it is:
Anti-semitic literature and or left wing hate rhetoric.
As Gavin M. points out, naturally what one expects from such a huge fan of Kathryn Harris and Michelle Malkin is possession of left wing hate literature!
I'm appalled at the stupidity, yes, but even moreso at the fact that left wing is singled out, and not "extremist" or "left and or right wing" extremist literature. The assumption seems to be that it's a leftist act to send anthrax?
...and that pair of Wayfarers that I left on the beach. That's when I used to listen to the King Biscuit Flower Hour in my bedroom, tuned in to WSHE 103.5, "She's Only Rock and Roll" out of Miami.
There certainly is some of that 80s goodness (?) in the list of live shows available. How about a little Psychedelic Furs, Devo, or Duran Duran (oh that Simon Le Bon... you can almost hear him prance!). And then you can balance your fluff with the Clash and Steve Earle. Grateful Dead? Got it. And there is plenty of what you grew up on, including Pink Floyd, .38 Special, and some Led Zeppelin from 1969 with such pure sound quality it's hard to believe.
Just yesterday there was a news story about how a camera phone recording of abuse inside Malaysian jails sparked an outcry. Today it's abuse inside the UCLA library.
The Crooks and Liars video is shocking. The campus police repeatedly shocked a student who was unable to produce his student ID and who did dawdled on his way out of the building when asked to leave. They tasered him to the ground, and then demanded he stand again. When he couldn't, they tasered him again. They tasered him again after he was handcuffed.
The campus cops threatened to taser witnesses who asked for their names and badge numbers.
The laws are only as good as the people who enforce them. And when those people are idiots, aggressive, scared, poorly trained, or exercising bad judgement, even the best laws can't fully protect the people from abuse. But when the political climate is one in which campus cops believe that it is not only acceptable to repeatedly taser a kid with a backpack working in a computer lab, but also threaten witnesses, something has gone seriously awry.
And this kind of abuse needs to checked.
The ACLU is already on the case. I hope that college kid gets the nastiest lawyer in California, and that he or she will put the campus police through the wringer, and take the state of California for every red cent he or she can. That's the only way the message will be heard.
And I hope that this video goes viral on the internet, and that it spreads to the MSM.
The government is going after college kids. No, it's not an organized roundup, but those cops are state employees. They are messing with people's kids.
And why? Because that kid was acting like a kid. What student do any of us know who wouldn't footdrag on the way out of the library? What harm in asking for other ID? Why not be patient and let the student snigger and trail out? Because the campus cops couldn't take the challenge to their authority. Why else would you taser a student lying helpless on the ground, surrounded by dozens of people begging to leave him alone, when he yells that he has a medical condition?
Do I even need to tell you that the student's name was Mostafa Tabatabainejad, or had you guessed already?
But according to a study published in the Lancet Medical Journal in 2001, a charge of three to five seconds can result in immobilization for five to 15 minutes, which would mean that Tabatabainejad could have been physically unable to stand when the officers demanded that he do so.
"It is a real mistake to treat a Taser as some benign thing that painlessly brings people under control," said Peter Eliasberg, managing attorney at the ACLU of Southern California.
"The Taser can be incredibly violent and result in death," Eliasberg said.
According to an ACLU report, 148 people in the United States and Canada have died as a result of the use of Tasers since 1999.
During the altercation between Tabatabainejad and the officers, bystanders can be heard in the video repeatedly asking the officers to stop and requesting their names and identification numbers. The video showed one officer responding to a student by threatening that the student would "get Tased too." At this point, the officer was still holding a Taser.
Such a threat of the use of force by a law enforcement officer in response to a request for a badge number is an "illegal assault," Eliasberg said.
"It is absolutely illegal to threaten anyone who asks for a badge �" that's assault," he said.
Tabatabainejad was released from custody after being given a citation for obstruction/delay of a peace officer in the performance of duty.
So which is a greater violation of the law? Delaying a peace officer? Or a campus cop abusing a student and threatening a citizen?
It puts me in the mood for making a contribution to free democratic society.
In case you've forgotten, former House Speaker Tom Foley (D-WA), who ran the House the last time a party was booted out of power there, went on to serve as the US ambassador to Japan from 1997-2001. Guess who a "senior" White House source says is lined up to be our next ambassador to Japan?
In a word - Abscam. In several more words:
"I am the guy that didn't take the money," Murtha said this summer when his opponent raised the issue.
Yes, but: He's the guy who, brought into the deal by two other House members -- Frank Thompson (D-N.J.) and John Murphy (D-N.Y.) -- agreed to meet with men offering money in return for official action. He's the guy who knew these two colleagues expected a payoff and even vouched for them with the would-be bribers ("Both of them are solid.").
He's the guy who, when offered a bribe, still wanted to do a deal. "I'm delighted to do business with him and do every goddamn thing I can within bounds, you know, so I don't get myself in jail, in order to get him into the country and whatever needs to be done," he says on the video, unearthed by the conservative American Spectator. (You can watch at http://www.spectator.org/.) He's the guy who -- as a member of the House ethics committee-- did nothing to stop the scheme.
Unless Steny Hoyer has a page problem we con't know about, or has a habit of hunting cute kittens, purely for sport, I think it's abundantly clear who the next House Majority Leader should be - and it's not Nancy Pelosi's guy.
Btw, Marcus also brings up the Alcee Hastings issue - and the new Speaker could very well flub that one too.
Cue Saint Saens' Danse Macabre - Trent Lott is back in power!
Well, he's back in the Senate leadership as the #2 Republican in the Senate, the Republican Whip. He defeated Tennessee's Lamar Alexander in a 25-24 vote.
Fyi, that was the answer the final question at trivia tonight. Happily we all got it right and posted a decent bar score (#15 in the league, #59 nationwide), though none of us posted an intra-bar high score (I think #1 was 48,000-something). We all eagerly await the return of Binky and Baltar to the game, when they can fit it into their busy schedules.
Here's the list.
What stands out? Well Finance tends to be the most sought after committee assignment, and the new members there are Debbie Stabenow (MI), Maria Cantewell (WA) and Salazar (CO). Appropriations? Jack Reed (RI), Frank Lautenberg (NJ) and Ben Nelson (NE). As to the foreign affairs and defense committees, Bob Menendez (NJ - the Cubans will be happy), Ben Cardin (MD), Bob Casey (PA) and Jim Webb (VA) are new to Foreign Relations, and Mark Pryor (AR), Jim Webb (VA) and Clair McCaskill (MO) are the new members of Armed Services. So that's a double-helping of Jim Webb on those issues. Finally, on Judiciary, the new members are Ben Cardin (MD) and Sheldon Whitehouse (RI).
And yes, Joe Lieberman has kept his seniority and will chair Homeland and Government Affairs.
Marisa Monte is playing a show tonight in NYC. I wish you could all see her live. She's everything the NYT says she is and more. Her new record returns to samba roots, and I heard some wonderful snippets on NPR the other day.
I can see the headlines now... oh, wait, I already did. Toys for Tots rejects Jesus dolls!!!
Not a setup, no, no, not at all, not when Christmas is coming, Democrats have just retaken Congress, and your company needs to boost its sales!
A Los Angeles company offered to donate 4,000 of the 1 foot-tall dolls, which quote Bible verses, for distribution to needy children this holiday season. The battery-powered Jesus is one of several dolls manufactured by one2believe, a division of the Valencia-based Beverly Hills Teddy Bear Co., based on biblical figures.
But the charity balked because of the dolls' religious nature.
Toys are donated to kids based on financial need and "we don't know anything about their background, their religious affiliations," said Bill Grein, vice president of Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, in Quantico, Virginia.
As a government entity, Marines "don't profess one religion over another," Grein said Tuesday. "We can't take a chance on sending a talking Jesus doll to a Jewish family or a Muslim family."
Michael La Roe, director of business development for both companies, said the charity's decision left him "surprised and disappointed."
"The idea was for them to be three-dimensional teaching tools for kids," La Roe said. "I believe as a churchgoing person, anyone can benefit from hearing the words of the Bible."
According to the company's Web site, the button-activated, bearded Jesus, dressed in hand-sewn cloth outfits and sandals, recites Scripture such as "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again" and "Love your neighbor as yourself." It has a $20 retail value.
Grein questioned whether children would welcome a gift designed for religious instruction. "Kids want a gift for the holiday season that is fun," he said.
I knew it! As soon as the Democrats took over the assault on Jesus and CHRISTmas started up again!
This sounds bad. It's unusual for Palestinian groups to target Americans. And to think - it's stemming from something 99% of Americans (or more) haven't heard of.
The second point is that four Palestinian armed factions issued a statement calling on mujahideen everywhere to attack American interests, in retaliation for what the Americans have done in Iraq and Palestine. The four groups are the Salahadeen group affiliated with the Popular Resistance Committees; the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade; a group named after Ahmad Abu al-Reesh the Sword of Islam; and the Fatah Fighters, Unitary Brigades, or some such name. Al-Quds said the statement comes in response to the US veto of the UN resolution criticising Israel for the Beit Hanoun killings. The statement called on all free people of the world, and all the mujahideen of the Islamic ummah to "satiate the Americans with attacks..." adding that what the Americans have sown with their guns and their airplanes, this is what they should reap.
The Senate Democrats have settled on their new leadership team.
Today's version of "Choose your Next Step to Civil War" brings us the end of higher eduction in Iraq:
BAGHDAD, Nov. 14 - Several dozen employees of a university office were kidnapped here today, in a methodical daylight raid that prompted the minister of higher education to berate Parliament and threaten to shut the nation's universities until security improves.
Estimates of the number of kidnapped varied widely, with a spokesman for the Ministry of the Interior putting the number between 30 and 40 and the department of higher education saying that between 70 and 150 men were missing. An interior ministry spokesman said that he did not think the number of vehicles reportedly involved could have carried off both the gunmen - by some counts, as many as 80 took part - and the number of victims described by education officials.
As news of the raid spread, Mr. Thiab [the Minister of Eduction in the Iraqi Cabinet] went to the Parliament building and angrily interrupted a nationally televised session to denounce lawmakers for failing to prevent what he called "a terrorist act." He said universities would be shut until the situation becomes safer.
Well, I guess you really don't need education if the mullahs are going to run the place.
I'm tired of trying to read blogs and getting:
Internal Server Error
Blogspot... get your shit together!
StinkyLulu's next Supporting Actress Smackdown will feature the nominees from 1974. And who was discussed in this week's Supporting Actress Sunday - Madeline Kahn in Blazing Saddles. I love Ms. Kahn so much I can barely stand it. It's like flames ... on the side of my face ... So since I don't think we can ever honor her art enough, I'm thrilled to see her featured in this series. And if you love actresses, but haven't followed this Sunday series, I recommend you start. Now as to what it means that this and Battleship Blogging are my two favorite recurring Sunday blogging series - I'll let you do the personality analysis.
So who does Tim Russert highlight in the wake of the biggest Democratic legislative victories in over 30 years? Why John McCain (R - the Green Room) and Joe Lieberman (Ego - Connecticut) of course. And the promos for it were positively shameless (well, that or positively inaccurate, and I'll give Russert the benefit of the doubt and go with shameless) - describing the two men as "key leaders of the new, closely-divided Senate". Ummm, Lieberman never leads anyone but himself, and McCain is hardly a leader in the new Senate, now is he?
Boring. Oh so very. Cinephilia nails it - "Honestly, just watch the trailer and flip through the Vogue spread."
The Gators squeaked one out against that wily sumbitch Steve Spurrier. That's big.
Most of the commentary about Shortbus emphasizes the graphic sexuality, the "only in New York" quality of the film, or that it was made by John Cameron Mitchell who directed Hedwig and the Angry Inch.
Of all of those, the only one that stands out to me is the last, and it's because like Hedwig, Shortbus is an incredibly sweet film. The sex is almost unimportant - aside from serving as the glue that bring people who are out of the norm to build their own community - in relation to the universal threads about relationships, depression, friends, doubt, confusion, and how to open onself to being loved. The main characters don't know how to let themselves be loved, and we watch their stories unfold, watch them teeter on the brink, stumble and fall. The last happens, luckily for them, in the arms of the Shortbus community.
Make no mistake, there is group sex. A rim job. Masturbation. Dildoes and vibrators. Gay sex. Lots and lots of penises. Auto-fellatio. And none of it is really sensationalism. If you're not comfortable with your own sexuality, and that of people who don't do what you do in bed (or on the kitchen counter, or on the piano, or whatever) you'll have a hard time with this movie. The ticket lady said that 75-80% of people were walking out of the theater. I can see why some people walked out, especially if they are fixated on the penis or addicted to the feeling of moral outrage. I don't agree with that action, and it's too bad they couldn't see past the penis. And I wonder what people are expecting when they go into an unrated movie, hmm?
In the end Shortbus is a love story, addressed not just to lovers but friends, their community, and New York City itself.
This story, of oddly high undervotes in multiple counties in Florida, is troubling. Surely I'm not the only person who thinks we should strongly consider going back to paper ballots, am I?
That was the gist of John Allen's All Things Catholic column last week. As Allen notes, Benedict has now filled four of the ten most important positions in the Vatican with his own appointees, and by his analysis only one of those four is clearly a leading right-wing figure - Cardinal Dias of India who is the new Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.
But I wouldn't be as quick as Allen to seem to suggest that Benedict is going to be more moderate than people think. As Allen notes, two of the other three appointments are members of the "center-right", and the one centrist is the bunch might well not have been appointed as part of a plan to provide balance or outreach to those not on the right - but instead was appointed to correct for the fact that no one from Brazil, the largest Catholic country on Earth, has served in a top curial position since 2000.
So ... Allen may be right, but these is a small N to look for generalizable patterns in. And there are reasons to think he might not be right. Still, it's no doubt a good thing that Cardinal Claudio Hummes has replaced Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos as Prefect of the Congregation for Clergy, Castrillon Hoyos was indeed "callous" and radically insensitive".
Crossing campus this morning, I saw a sign designed to discourage people from cutting through hedges and down a muddy slope as a way around the construction that has been infesting our part of campus for months:
Insert head slap here.
Undefeated Rutgers just upset (formerly) undefeated Louisville! How high will they rise in the polls now? How high should they rise (doubtless higher than the "tradition"-minded polls will place them, but how high do you think)? In any event - how about that upcoming game between them and WVU? Rice vs. Slaton. Now that should be a game.
Given that there are always John Paul Stevens retirement rumors, who knows if these should be taken seriously. Still, given the gravity of a Stevens retirement, I figured they merited a link.
I've been surfing around, looking for election results I missed on Tuesday night, and the level of Democratic strength is remarkable. Even in the South, where they posted the fewest big wins, there were some victories. They've put prominent people on the statewide bench in Florida (Alex Sink is the new Chief Financial Officer) and Alabama (Jim Folsom, Jr. is once again Lt. Governor), and though they were unsuccessful in the big races in South Carolina, some of those were oddly close. And in some state they wins were huge. In Oklahoma the Democrats won all of the statewide races with maybe one exception (is Corporation Commissioner a statewide office? they won everything else), and they won every statewide office in Arkansas. And of course they posted a significant 5 seat gain in the Texas House. It truly was a national wave.
From my vantage point (one far from DC), it look liks we now know what the Democratic leadership is going to look like in the House next year. Yes, sure, there will be a challenge to Steny Hoyer from John Murtha (PA), and there could be other challenges too, but it looks like the current team will stay in office - albeit in some new (majority!) chairs. With Rahmn's decision to run for Caucus Chair it appears that the pecking order will be: Speaker Nancy Pelosi (CA), Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (MD), Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (SC), Caucus Chair Rahm Emanuel (IL) and Caucus Vice Chair John Larson (CT).
No, we are not interested in sex cams, thank you very much!
1. Mandatory homosexuality
2. Drug-filled condoms in schools
3. Introduce the new Destruction of Marriage Act
4. Border fence replaced with free shuttle buses
5. Osama Bin Laden to be Secretary of State
6. Withdraw from Iraq, apologize, reinstate Hussein
7. English language banned from all Federal buildings
8. Math classes replaced by encounter groups
9. All taxes to be tripled
10. All fortunes over $250,000 to be confiscated
11. On-demand welfare
12. Tofurkey to be named official Thanksgiving dish
13. Freeways to be removed, replaced with light rail systems
14. Pledge of Allegiance in schools replaced with morning flag-burning
15. Stem cells allowed to be harvested from any child under the age of 8
16. Comatose people to be ground up and fed to poor
17. Quarterly mandatory abortion lottery
18. God to be mocked roundly
19. Dissolve Executive Branch: reassign responsibilities to UN
20. Jane Fonda to be appointed Secretary of Appeasement
21. Outlaw all firearms: previous owners assigned to anger management therapy
22. Texas returned to Mexico
23. Ban Christmas: replace with Celebrate our Monkey Ancestors Day
24. Carter added to Mount Rushmore
25. Modify USA's motto to "Land of the French and the home of the brave"
The Liberal Avenger is trying to improve on the list. Go help out.
So this is what President All Hat and No Cattle's distaste for multilateralism, treaties and enforcing the nonproliferation regime can lead to. We'll be so much safer when he's got a lot more free time to clear brush. Sadly, that's not for over two years.
Am I blue!?
The House and the Senate too!
What outcome would get your vote?
The one that leaps to mind for me is in Southereastern PA. It was a complete debacle for the Republicans in Pennsylvania this year - yet it appears Rep. Jim Gerlach has held on to his House seat. His opponent, Lois Murphy, was touted all cycle as one of the Demcrats' best hopes. She was often listed in their top 5 challengers in the entire country. And she almost beat Gerlach in '04. Yet she seems to have lost again, even amidst the GOP collapsing all around her. Odd.
In Iowa's second district long-time International Relations committee member Jim Leach (R) was defeated by an international relations professor.
Farley goes with Conan:
What is Best in Life?
The open steppe, fleet horse, falcon on your wrist, wind in your hair?
Wrong! Conan, what is best in life?
To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of the women!
Of course there's that old saying about how voters will reelect their members of Congress if they serve on powerful congressional committees from which they can protect district interests. To that I'll just note that already tonight 5 Republican members of the Ways and Means committee who were seeking reelection have gone down to defeat - including 2 of its 3 most senior members.
Or what sort of conservative? The high-profile abortion ban on the state ballot has been defeated! Two other referenda, one on same-sex marriage and one on medical marijuana are both completely up in the air, though 75% of the votes are counted (each is a 52/48 proposition at the moment).
A big big BIG night for the Democrats - they haven't lost a single one of their own governors or senators or House members (though 2 House members from Georgia are currently mired in 50/50 races), they've picked up at least 6 governors, 3 senators and 20-something House members - and in the process won control of the US House for first times since some of my friends were in grade school.
What's standing out to me? The nail-biting Senate race in Virginia (at the moment Webb has taken the lead, but holds it by less than 3000 votes), the narrow wins by 3 Republicans in New York (which stands in contrast to the multiple Republican losses in Pennsylvania and Indiana), the defeat of J.D. Hayworth, Dems starting to win state houses and down ballot races (for example, in FL and OH), the resurrection of Bill McCollum's and Andrew Cuomo's political careers (they will be the new AGs in Florida and New York, respectively), Jeb Bardley's very surprising loss (New Hampshire went from having 2 Republicans represent it in the House to 2 Democrats) ... and I could go on. But hey, I'll just update this as the night proceeds, in the comments. Feel free to add your thoughts there too.
And did PA voters hate Santorum or what? He's been trounced!
Maybe you could try contemplating the top 100 Hubble photos.
Now don't get me wrong, I like Charisma Carpenter. And surely she's not the only actress who has to do this, but she comes to mind since I'm watching season 2 of Veronica Mars on dvd. So having said that ... what's with her playing about a decade younger than she really was on Buffy, and then later playing a full decade younger than she really is on Veronica? Sure she's older than me (she's 36, to be precise), and maybe it's easier on the writers to write her as the object of desire of high school seniors if she's 25 instead of 35. But c'mon, she's just as gorgeous either way - and while very pretty, she didn't look like a teen on Buffy, and she doesn't look 25 on Veronica. Seems sort of an insult (as she's been better looking than her supposed years on both occasions), but I guess as long as that's what gets her work ... it's just too bad the scripts have to be written that way.
Okay all of you who follow US politics, it's time to predict the elections. Don't worry about looking foolish - guessing election outcomes incorrectly has yet to result in any TV pundit ever losing his or her job (even when they do it again and again and again ...), so if it doesn't matter there, why should you care about a bad guess here (where far fewer people will see it)? And of course that's all this is, a (somewhat educated) guess. With that in mind - give us your predictions!
I'll start. I'll guess that the Democrats will net 7 new governors, 6 senators and about 30 members of Congress. Am I being too hopeful? Quite possibly, but I don't think these are unreasonable estimates - though I think it's also perfectly reasonable to expect a Democratic net gain of only 2 Senate seats. But my prediction is big Democratic gains across the board - 7 governors, 6 Senate, around 30 House.
Go vote tomorrow.
There's always the Fanstasy Congress!
Always a sign of someone speaking truth that exposes bullshit claims:
The chain, Hannaford Brothers, developed a system called Guiding Stars that rated the nutritional value of nearly all the food and drinks at its stores from zero to three stars. Of the 27,000 products that were plugged into Hannaford's formula, 77 percent received no stars, including many, if not most, of the processed foods that advertise themselves as good for you.
These included V8 vegetable juice (too much sodium), Campbell's Healthy Request Tomato soup (ditto), most Lean Cuisine and Healthy Choice frozen dinners (ditto) and nearly all yogurt with fruit (too much sugar). Whole milk? Too much fat — no stars. Predictably, most fruits and vegetables did earn three stars, as did things like salmon and Post Grape-Nuts cereal.
Hannaford's nutritionists acknowledge that their system is more stringent than the guidelines used by the F.D.A. The food agency sets standards that food manufacturers must use when they define a product as, say, low in fat or high in fiber, and companies may use those designations even if the product is loaded with less desirable ingredients. Hannaford's panelists said their formula was more balanced, taking into account all the positives and negative
Not surprising, the food industry still is not entirely happy, and it disputes Hannaford's conclusions.
"We don't like the idea that there are good and bad foods out there, and these sort of arbitrary rating systems," said John Faulkner, director of brand communication at the Campbell Soup Company. The Healthy Request line of soup, he said, was "aligned with the government definition of what healthy is."
Similarly, a spokeswoman for ConAgra Foods, Stephanie Childs, said that her company would like to know how Hannaford concluded that many items in its Healthy Choice line did not merit any stars.
"This is surprising to us," Ms. Childs said. Healthy Choice, which offers a range of items from frozen meals to pasta sauces and deli meats, "has to use F.D.A.'s very stringent requirements for what is healthy."
Admirers of Guiding Stars say the ratings illustrate how nutrition claims on packages can mislead consumers even if they are technically true. Many packages trumpet the benefits of a few attributes - high fiber, for instance, or no trans fats - while ignoring negatives like too much sodium, they said.
The F.D.A., for its part, points to its specific requirements for foods that make health claims as well as their labels. It also acknowledges that its policing abilities go only so far.
"The thing is, a lot of claims we see out there are puffery," said Joseph R. Baca, director of the office of compliance at the F.D.A.'s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. "But they don’t get to the point where we can call them fake or misleading."
I've said it before and I'll say it again, if you haven't read Food Politics, you should.
So I spent the last few days in Missouri. It was my first time there, unless one counts changing planes at Lambert (which of course one shouldn't count). My impressions of the place (I stayed in Columbia and St. Louis): the Mizzou grad students are brilliant, well-dressed and excellent hosts, as is one of the Columbia College profs (love you guys!); the Mizzou students look strikingly well-scrubbed; the Mizzou campus is lovely, well-planned, and generally one of the nicest college campuses I've ever been on, anywhere; downtown St. Louis sucks; the interstate linking downtown and the airport shows an architectural/soceity travesty - mile after mile of what were beautiful old brick buildings that are now negelected, falling apart, and in some cases literally collapsing.
Oh, by the way, Amndt. 2 is a big deal there - a really, really, really, really big deal. What 2006 seems to be all about (not that the airwaves aren't also flooded with Talent and McCaskill ads).
Found at The DBT message board.
Gomes dos Santos is the first South American to win the New York Marathon!
Ole ole ole olaaaa.... Brasil.... Brasil.....!!!
Soldiers of Christ, a long and very detailed Harper's piece about the growth of the Colorado Springs evangelical flock, and the New Life Church. The author could have been over the top snarky - the opportunities are endless - but simply offers up the story. Worth a Sunday morning read.
And, I found this link somewhere but lost the referring page, so I'm sending out a general hat tip.
... or helpessly attracted?
A post on Portuguese that echoes my feelings to a T:
I really enjoyed this article by Larry Rohter (showing once again that when writes about travel or cultural issues in Brazil he's much better than writing about politics) about the Museum of the Portuguese Language and efforts to preserve and proitect the language. he starts with a fact that probably few knew:
More people speak Portuguese as their native language than French, German, Italian or Japanese. So it can rankle the 230 million Portuguese speakers that the rest of the world often views their mother tongue as a minor language and that their novelists, poets and songwriters tend to be overlooked.
I cannot tell you how many times people have asked me if I speak Spanish when I tell them I visit Brazil regularly. I do speak Spanish (my Portuguese is much better), but it doesn't do me any good in Brazil. Rohter also points out some of the differences between Continental Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese
I miss speaking portuguese very much. I have a couple of students who come around occasionaly, but every day that passes finds me more and more enferrujada. I really miss hanging out with cariocas and baianos, who both have singing styles of speech, but are quite different nonetheless. When I lived in Rio I dated someone who lived in Salvador, so I commuted back and forth between those two sotaques all the time. All the people I get to talk to here are capixabas, lovely folk one and all, but talking to them doesn't always matar as saudades do meu Rio de Janeiro.
...and I've got too much to do to sit at the compu, here's another Voodoo artist (but not a video from Voodoo, which you can find here)... The Brazilian Girls, with Jique:
One of the things we did in New Orleans is attend a benefit at Tipitina's to raise money for their foundation. I'm neither the first nor the last to tell you that there is still a long way to go in renewing New Orleans, and that the reconstruction is very uneven.
In the search for an easy to understand summary of the reconstruction process, I came across the graphic animation from the Times Picayune. These flash animations show not just the march of the floodwaters, but the uneven progress of rebuilding through density maps of building permits, home sales, and debris removal.
Interactive rebuilding graphic [be sure to turn on the flood level indicator in the upper right corner]
Jon Stewart on the midterm elections.
From Unfogged, Let's take meth and talk about evolution.
I got that John Kerry was saying "if you don't study hard, you'll end up being a C student like George Bush, a president stuck in a quagmire in Iraq." I still don't like him and wish he would shut up.
China tries to reduce the number of executions.
Since abstinence only education has been such an overwhelming success (cough) with the kids, the government is now trying it on adults.
And some Saturday morning fluff from VooDoo...
Towards the end:
There is a whole list of VooDoo videos here.
I've gotten at least a dozen this week. What's your tally?
And simply because I feel like it:
Yes, I was close to the stage, thank you very much. And there will likely be extensive photos and whatnot over at the zine side at some point. And blog posting too... just swamped and playing catch up.
In general I think the media is neither liberal nor conservative. It's sensationalist: it wants to sell advertising space (its a business, after all), and the more people who want to read their stories, the more they can charge to advertise in them. Thus, they generally choose to run stories that emphasize controversy, "new" things, and try fairly hard not to be either too liberal or too conservative (if they are marked that way, then they lose readers who don't agree with them, which means less adds, which is less money; FOX news is the clear exception to this, but their business model is different - to be the place where conservatives can get news friendly to them).
However, when the New York Times runs a brutal story about a Navy Corpsman helping Marines in Iraq that contains descriptions of sniper attacks, head shots, blood in helmets, and a raging frustrated medic while a platoon of Marines stands around not knowing where the shot came from (just one shot; no firefight here), and a medevaced Marine who (it is inferred) isn't going to make it, I'd have to wonder about the timing here. It is just a few short days before a mid-term election that is billed as a referendum on President Bush's Iraq policy.
Now, don't get me wrong. Bush's Iraq policy (if one can said to exist) is awful, and I'd be more than delighted if the Democrats could take back one branch of Congress. This story cannot but help that cause. However, the story contains no real news (people are shot in war; medics have tough jobs), though I have to say it's gripping and compelling (and very well written). Thus, the decision to run such a highly emotional (but news-lite) story a few days before a national election is, to say the least, somewhat...leading (I had to think about what word I wanted to use there).
I highly recommend voting early. I did it this morning, didn't have to wait behind anyone (they've got four machines running), and the lady who explained the machines did a thorough, professional job. I was in and out of there in under 5 minutes. So ... save yourself some time on Tuesday and vote this week.