Thursday, March 27, 2008

James Benjamin Altemus 1928–2004

In honor of my father, Jim, who died four years ago today. I miss you, dad.  

Express Yourself

Gross out alert! Don't read if eating.

Another great thing about today: As I mentioned in the previous post, Akiva, Bella, and I went on a hike earlier. While on the trail Bella kept squatting like she needed to poop but nothing came out. I was a little concerned, but Akiva mentioned that dogs will do that sometimes if they need to evacuate their anal sacs. 


Anyway, I mentioned this to Annie when we got home from dinner and she suggested doing some online research. Half a minute later, and not only had I found more info about it than I'd ever want, but one of the first links listed was a how-to video explaining how to "express" (not expel, not evacuate—express) your dog's anal glands. 

It was so absurd I laughed for what felt like five minutes. A video on how to squeeze reluctant discharge out of your dog's ass—done with a clinical deadpan. And there it was in all it's scatological glory just a few clicks away. 

I suppose if we can bring ourselves to do it, we can save on the vet bill.…

I can't bring myself to embed the video, but if you're curious, here's the link. Because you never know when your dog may need you to help express herself. 

This Is The Life

So, I'm sitting here in my living room enjoying some chill electronica and a raging fire, while getting ready to work on some AnnieMac poster designs, when I thought back on what a sweet little day today was.

It started badly—I still felt sick and got up too late to meet the guys for breakfast. But after a nice hot shower, it got better fast. I spent a couple of hours with a double cappucino blogging and working on a new ad for the Soul Reminders. Then in late afternoon, I went for a long hike with my good friend, Akiva, and Bella. Early evening I grabbed dinner with Annie, then we came home for a relaxing evening. She lit a fire and took a shower and is now in her office working on lyrics, while I hang out in the living room working. 

Anyway, at one point, I looked up and saw Bella, Finn, and Henry napping around the fire—a perfect little scene. And I think, wow, how lucky am I?

Pangea Day

Is May 10 of this year.

What is Pangea Day?
Pangea Day taps the power of film to strengthen tolerance and compassion while uniting millions of people to build a better future.

In a world where people are often divided by borders, difference, and conflict, it's easy to lose sight of what we all have in common. Pangea Day seeks to overcome that - to help people see themselves in others - through the power of film.

On May 10, 2008 - Pangea Day - sites in Cairo, Kigali, London, Los Angeles, Mumbai and Rio de Janeiro will be linked live to produce a program of powerful films, visionary speakers, and uplifting music.

The program will be broadcast live to the world through the Internet, television, digital cinemas, and mobile phones.

Of course, movies alone can't change the world. But the people who watch them can. So following May 10, 2008, Pangea Day organizers will facilitate community-building activities around the world by connecting inspired viewers with numerous organizations which are already doing groundbreaking work.
Go to the website for more info.

My Stroke Of Insight

This video has been sent to me three times within the past week, so I figured it was time to share it. It's a talk given by a brain scientist who's had a stroke and subsequently studies the experience and shares her insights. It's an incredible story. Do yourself a favor and watch it. 

Also, I recommend checking out the website the video comes from: TED (Technology. Entertainment. Design). It's a great site whose mission is to give "millions of knowledge-seekers around the globe direct access to the world's greatest thinkers and teachers" via video clips of their talks.

h/t: Rick McKinney & Don Dammann

Strindber + helium

These little animated vid clips are as brilliant as they are bizarre.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Tuzla-Gate VII

Here's an excerpt from an account Clinton gave of her Tuzla trip back in 1999:
"You know, I went to Bosnia shortly after the peace accords were signed, when it was safe enough to go to our base in Tuzla, but not very safe to go anywhere else. I couldn't get into Sarajevo. But I was able to fly out of Tuzla into two base camps -- Camp Alicia and Camp Bedrock -- to visit with the men and women who were there on the front lines of Americas peace-keeping efforts."

Tuzla-Gate VI

Aren't you supposed to quit digging when you're in a hole?


Human Tetris!

Tuzla-Gate V

At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, I'm beginning to think this story could be a mortal wound to Clinton's candidacy. Here's an exclusive interview with the pilot of the plane:

Tuzla-Gate IV

The gift that keeps on giving.

When There's Trust There'll Be Treats


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Hillary And The VRWC

Last post aside, it looks like Clinton's doing her dead-level best to alienate what few blogospheric defenders remain. Just today, after days of demuring and saying she'd not discuss it, she took a pot shot at Obama in re: his pastor Rev. Wright. Well, anything to deflect from the truly damaging Tuzla-Gate story, I guess. Thing is, her using Wright to hit Obama isn't the surprising or alienating thing, one would expect that of her at this point. No, the surprise was the venue in which she chose to do so: The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

This is the rag that's owned by none other than reclusive conservative crank Richard Mellon-Scaife. You'll remember Scaife as the shadowy financier of the so-called VRWC (Vast Right Wing Conspiracy). During the nineties, he gave scads of cash (several millions) to right wing magazines and smear merchants to find dirt on or create the impression of dirt around the Clintons. Dirt like calling Vince Foster's suicide into question, claiming that as governor Clinton was a drug kingpin, claiming they were murderers, etc., etc.

Anyway, I'd been hearing reports of some sort of weird détente between him and the Clintons, and today's interview lends credence to them. Chalk it up to politics and bedfellows and all that, but it's still weird since there appeared to be so much genuine animosity between them. 

Whatev, here she is with old Dick himself:

Setting The Record Straight

In a previous post I commented on Hillary's apparent arrogance when she made this statement: 
Occasionally, I am a human being like everybody else...
Well, it seems the transcript left out an important indication of a stammer. Later this afternoon, I heard audiotape of the statement, and I think that this is one of those cases where she did misspeak. There was clearly a pause in between "occasionally" and "I", as though she were going to say one thing (like "Occasionally, I fuck up," but then took a different course and said "I am a human being like everyone else. This happens to me all of the time and under far less stressful situations, so fair's fair, I thought I should correct the record.

God knows, she says enough that deserves legitimate criticism. I'm not going to pile on when it's not deserved.

Cursive Is Necessary

Turns out that handwriting, while a dying art, is not passé or something that we should cavalierly discard.
The Writing On The Wall
Good penmanship is more than just a quaint skill. A new study shows that it's a key part of learning.
Handwriting is important because research shows that when children are taught how to do it, they are also being taught how to learn and how to express themselves. A new study to be released this month by Vanderbilt University professor Steve Graham finds that a majority of primary-school teachers believe that students with fluent handwriting produced written assignments that were superior in quantity and quality and resulted in higher grades—aside from being easier to read.
All this matters, educators say, because evidence is growing that handwriting fluency is a fundamental building block of learning. Emily Knapton, director of program development at Handwriting Without Tears, believes that "when kids struggle with handwriting, it filters into all their academics. Spelling becomes a problem; math becomes a problem because they reverse their numbers. All of these subjects would be much easier for these kids to learn if handwriting was an automatic process."

Tuzla-Gate? III

Hillary's explanation for her inexplicable Tuzla exaggeration: 
I was sleep-deprived. Occasionally, I am a human being like everybody else... For the first time in 12 or so years I misspoke.
But just, you know, occasionally. Talk about your Freudian slip. Yeesh. Oh, and about that sleep-deprived misspeaking? Must be a chronic problem. Here she is on Feb. 29, 2008 in Waco, TX:

Here's Sully's take:
Occasionally, I am a human being like everybody else. This is close to clinical delusions of grandeur. Does she really think that most of the time she is above being human? Do you know any human being who hasn't mispoken in the last twelve years once? Or would ever claim such a thing? I sure couldn't. And this from a candidate whose most famous campaign ad rests on her ability to make national security judgments at 3 am!
Bill Safire was right: she is and has for a long time been a congenital liar. I don't mean by that that she deliberately and pre-meditatedly decides to deceive people. I mean she has long since forgotten the difference between truth and untruth (enabling addicts can do that to people). I mean that by seeking power and self-advancement for so many years, at the expense of any other human values, she has lost all sense of what the difference between truth and falsehood is, who she is, what really matters or any fundamental sense of perspective.
Once, I believe, she was motivated by good intentions and even now, I don't think she believes she is advancing anything but the common good. But she can never believe that her interests and the common good could ever be in conflict, which is to say, she has lost a moral compass beyond narcissism. That is sad in a human being and we are all prey to it. But in a potential president, it is very dangerous.
 And she has so long excused all her moral transgressions by the fact that her foes must always be worse (yes, for Wolfson, who has long internalized the socipathy of the Clintons, even Obama is Ken Starr to her), she has long lost the ability to ask herself, deep down, who she really is any more. She is a lost and dangerous soul, as her husband still is. She is, in my view, unfit to be president. Truly, deeply unfit. And at some point, someone in the Democratic party has to take her aside and tell her the damage she is doing to herself, her party and her country is enough.

Mea Culpa

I once defended this twat.

Your Voice Can Change The World

The guy is like kryptonite to my cynicism. 

Bullet. Head. Now. Please!

Fucking Twin Peaks weird.

It's A Good Day

Thanks to Betty and friends.

h/t: Chesty In Furs

Monday, March 24, 2008

Crazy Aunt Tessie

In re: Ferraro, Wright, Steinhem, et al., Dahlia Lithwick—another XX Factor writer—has a thoughtful take on the negative transformation of a previous generation's heroes:
Sorry to be late to Obamapalooza, but I didn’t get to watch his speech until late last night. Isn’t it fascinating to hear Obama apologizing for Rev. Wright in almost the same terms we at XX have used to apologize/make excuses for Gloria Steinem, Robin Morgan, and some of the other second-wave feminist heroines who now seem frozen into some rictus of '60s outrage? One of the ways Obama tried to humanize his pastor was by describing what Wright saw and experienced before the demise of legal segregation. It was that experience that, according to Obama, made it impossible for Wright to imagine change, just as Morgan, et al., can’t seem to conceive of a world that isn't consumed by perpetual gender warfare.
Hanna, you once made this same point about watching the video of “Germaine Greer and the rest of the feminist street poets take on Norman Mailer in that 1971 town hall”—that these women were sexy and ferocious and inspiring but also, in today’s terms, a little hysterical and cartoonish. Greer and Wright were on the front lines, and, as Obama explained yesterday, there is honor in having endured what they did, surviving it, and hacking down the barriers for those of us who came after. But Obama was also reminding us that we can be deeply grateful to that generation and also acknowledge that their stark language and relentless, perhaps terminal, anger also created massive divisions that need to be healed.
I find it fascinating at this new turn in the conversation—where we have to publicly apologize for our civil rights and feminist icons because, at least rhetorically, they’ve turned into Crazy Aunt Tessie, who gets drunk and drools all over the ottoman. I didn’t see it coming.
I don't think any of us did.

Snarky Fun

Hannah Rosen, one of the fun, incisive writers over at Slate's XX Factor, comments on Ferraro's response to Obama's speech on racism last week: 
Sex v. Race Part X
Here is Geraldine Ferraro defending herself against Barack Obama's accusations. His base is African-Americans? What is it with this generation of American feminists? All she left out was "articulate."
Snarky fun aside, I have an answer to her question. It's the inevitable sclerosis that sets in when any ideology stops adapting to new information and begins to rigidify. What's left is a fossilized mindset which, when combined with someone emotionally attached to it, gives us the kind of train wrecks that Ferraro has so wonderfully illustrated. 

Tuzla-Gate? II

More on Hillary's um...misstatements, from TPM:
More On Tuzla
As the Clinton campaign now concedes, Sen. Clinton's claims about running from their military aircraft to evade sniper fire are not borne out by the video of the events in question. Now still others have come forward to dispute her account. And there's even more. Sen. Clinton has said on a number of occasions that she was "the first, you know, high- profile American to go into Bosnia after the peace accords were signed because we wanted to show that the United States was 100 percent behind the agreement."

But this also seems to incorrect.

According to some quick research we did, it turns out that Madeleine Albright, then UN Ambassador, then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs John Shalikashvili, then-Sec Def Bill Perry, various members of Congress and President Clinton himself had all visited Tuzla a few months earlier. […]

I think the real story here though is the big picture. People have faulty memories. Things get dramatized in people's recollections. And despite what happened on the ground, they did do one of those evasive 'cork-screw' descents [see update below] meant to guard against taking incoming fire, a relatively routine measure in conflict and post-conflict settings but one that I'm sure made everyone on board feel palpably that this wasn't some flight to Paris or Madrid. But this is an anecdote that's become something close to a staple of her foreign policy experience resume. And it's pretty clearly false. And it comes in the context of a whole slew of exaggerations -- some minor, some major -- that she's used to puff up her Commander-in-Chief resume. […]
And here's more damning video from CBS:

Mooo, Laddie!

She Stood By Her Husband

I just heard a snippet of an NPR piece on last-minute Democratic registration drives in PA. They interviewed both an Obama and a Clinton supporter. The Obama supporter gave as reasons for her support his ability to inspire, his judgment, and his positions. Clinton's supporter said something along these lines (quoting from memory so not verbatim): "I haven't been following the race closely. She's been around. She stood by her husband. She got that experience." I wish I could remember exactly what she said, but it doesn't matter because it basically amounted to a multi-syllabic version of "mrghathhr." 

It was all I could do to keep from screaming at the radio. What the hell kind of thought process is that?!? Are you aware that you have a brain fully capable of critical thinking?Um...right!?!? What the fuck!?!?!  

Well, whatever. Pennsylvania's going to go for Clinton anyway, though I think Obama will make it a much closer race than expected. At any rate, it seems that the trends from previous states are holding: Obama's getting the people who pay attention, the smarter sorts, and Clinton's getting the dimmer bulbs. 

Now before you Clintonites out there (do any actually read this?) jump down my throat, I'm not saying that all who support Clinton are dim—that's clearly not the case, as I know some very smart people who support her. (Why do smart people do dumb things is a topic for another post....Just kidding!!!) I am saying that all who are dim vote for Clinton, however.

Turns out that despite the tired old stereotype of liberals being egg-headed intellectuals, there are Blue dummies out there just as there are Red ones (hopefully not as many, though)...and all of the exit polls show that they prefer Hillary. Go figure. 


Looks like this story, which broke a few days ago, might have some legs. 

Here's NBC's Andrea Mitchell—who was on the plane with her for that trip—discussing the story with Bob Shrum:

And CNN's Jack Cafferty chimes in:

And Sheryl Attkinson, another reporter who was on the trip, has this to say: Not The Safest Trip, But No Sniper Fire

Signs Your Campaign Is In Trouble

Someone snapped this shot from a LaGuardia Airport gift shop.

The Human Stain

Well, I did suggest earlier that Obama supporters and bloggers start reminding the country of the 90s Clinton Chronicles, so I suppose I should be glad to see this blog post from an overenthusiastic Obama surrogate in Iowa:
"When Joe McCarthy questioned others' patriotism, McCarthy (1) actually believed, at least aparently (sic), the questions were genuine, and (2) he did so in order to build up, not tear down, his own party, the GOP. Bill Clinton cannot possibly seriously believe Obama is not a patriot, and cannot possibly be said to be helping -- instead he is hurting -- his own party. B. Clinton should never be forgiven. Period. This is a stain on his legacy, much worse, much deeper, than the one on Monica's blue dress."
Ka-Bam! Read the whole article for context and for the authors apology here.

It's dubious whether this kind of thing actually helps Obama. But that aside, and though the politics demand that he apologize, how exactly is he wrong? Watching the Clinton campaign since January has left me with the queasy feeling of regret one gets the day after a particularly disgusting one-night stand. You can't wait to get home, shower, and wash the sticky remnants out of your clothes. (Except in this case, the one-night stand keeps calling and calling...)


Craigslist Hell

This absolutely sucks. Can you imagine? I hope that they can track down whoever posted the ad and throw the book at them.
Oregon man's property ransacked after Craigslist hoax
JACKSONVILLE, Ore. -- A pair of hoax ads on Craigslist cost an Oregon man much of what he owned.

The ads popped up Saturday afternoon, saying the owner of a Jacksonville home was forced to leave the area suddenly and his belongings, including a horse, were free for the taking, said Jackson County sheriff's Detective Sgt. Colin Fagan.

But Robert Salisbury had no plans to leave. The independent contractor was at Emigrant Lake when he got a call from a woman who had stopped by his house to claim his horse.

On his way home he stopped a truck loaded down with his work ladders, lawn mower and weed eater.

"I informed them I was the owner, but they refused to give the stuff back," Salisbury said. "They showed me the Craigslist printout and told me they had the right to do what they did."

The driver sped away after rebuking Salisbury. On his way home he spotted other cars filled with his belongings.

Once home he was greeted by close to 30 people rummaging through his barn and front porch. 

No Greeting Ceremony

Has she never heard of videotape? Or fact checkers? Is she congenitally unable to just be real with people?

Update: The Clinton campaign responds to the flap:
"She misspoke about the exit from the plane," —Howard Wolfson
Update II: Me on Wolfson's response: Retch.

Update III: Sullivan on Wolfson's response: 
That word "misspoke" is such a weasel Clinton word. You can say you genuinely forgot, or got muddled up. But Clinton cannot ever admit a mistake or confess a deliberate exaggeration. It was the same way in which Bill Clinton could never actually say that anything he did was ever wrong. At most it was always "inappropriate."
In this respect alone, in their pathological incapacity to actually concede error - real error - the Clintons really are running for a third Bush term.

Reductio Ad Absurdum

Josh on Clinton's "shifting goalpost" strategy.

Choice cut:
I don't know where it was. It think it may have been a reader blog at TPMCafe. Wherever it was it was a post that ran down something like ten different ways of counting the popular vote, all to the end of showing that Barack's popular vote lead wasn't nearly so great and may not exist at all. There was the count with and without Michigan and Florida, with one but not the other, including caucuses and not including caucuses.

There were other options that seemed to go even further down the rabbit hole. But it did lead me to have a kind of epiphany about just where the Clinton side is at this point -- gaming out different retroactive rule changes to see who would have won the popular vote if the nomination process were operating under a different set of rules. I imagine playing poker around a table with friends. Player A has a Straight Flush; Player B has four of a kind. Then B says well, sure, if you're counting straights, but if we were adding up the numbers rather than going by straights winning, I'd have won.

How well would that go over? I remember, when I was a little kid playing chess with my dad (who unlike some dads never saw the point of throwing games in my favor) and sometimes when I lost I'd toss out some version of ... well, but if my rook could move diagonally, then ... You get the idea.

I Can't Quit You, Babe

An interesting insight from a reader at TPM
Just a random and probably not very helpful observation... But isn't a big part of what's going on in this lumbering undead primary race that the media -- and even the voters at large -- are actually having a hard time letting go of the Clintons just because they're more fun? Love them or hate them -- and I've done both -- they always give us a good show.
Barack gives you passion and inspiration and a sense of belonging to something important -- but there's a big problem. It's okay to love him, but what if you hate him? (I use "hate" here more in the sense of an audience's experience of a fictional character: simultaneous self recognition, contempt, judgment, catharsis). Can you hate Barack without feeling racist? It's not easy. But with Hillary it is. You can hate her without feeling sexist, because she's a Clinton.

It feels like Obama is stealing the "fun part" of politics from us. Every third attack on him triggers a new spasm of soul searching about the lingering stains of wretched racism on our national psyche. Which of course is important. But it's way less fun.

I'll be the first to admit: I'm a political junkie largely because I'm addicted to the show. And who doesn't crave the distraction in times like these, with wars and recession and whatnot. That's why television entertainment (where I work) is considered recession proof. We offer escape. Like politics used to. But the "sideshows" don't play like they used to. For that, we need characters we're free to love to hate.

Funny (And Scary) Because It's True

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Barack Obama-sistible

Surely, if Dante were alive today and revising The Divine Comedy, he'd have to create another circle of Hell specifically for the creators of fan-generated, YouTube distributed campaign vids.

Rock on, Detroit Octane, rock on! And because you absolutely have to get a peek behind the scenes, there's this.

A Lesson You Can Use

Thoughts on "The Shocker" from Boinkology. Careful, NSFW (not safe for work).

Way Too Cute

Best. Website. Ever.

Always Aroused Girl

Another fun blog, a la One D At A Time. This one's called Always Aroused Girl. Where were these women when I was 22? 

Figures, Doesn't It?

This tidbit from LiveScience should come as no surprise, I suppose:
Clueless Guys Can't Read Women
More often than not, guys interpret even friendly cues, such as a subtle smile from a gal, as a sexual come-on, and a new study discovers why: Guys are clueless. "Young men just find it difficult to tell the difference between women who are being friendly and women who are interested in something more," said lead researcher Coreen Farris of Indiana University's Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences.[…]

The study, to be detailed in the April issue of the journal Psychological Science, also found that it goes both ways for guys - they mistake females' sexual signals as friendly ones. The researchers suggest guys have trouble noticing and interpreting the subtleties of non-verbal cues, in either direction.
Ezra Klein is rightfully frustrated:
This article detailing research that found men misinterpret sexual gestures as friendly and friendly cues as sexual would be a whole lot more useful if the author bothered to give some examples of which were which.

My interest in this is, of course, solely to evaluate the study's methodology.
Ha. Thank god for alcohol.

Present Reality

Hear, hear. 
"The clash between science and religion has not shown that religion is false and science is true. It has shown that all systems of definition are relative to various purposes, and that none of them actually 'grasps' reality ... All the various definitions of the universe have had ulterior motives, being concerned with the future rather than the present. Religion wants to assure the future beyond death, and science wants to assure it until death, and to postpone death. But tomorrow and plans for tomorrow can have no significance at all unless you are in full contact with the reality of the present, since it is in the present and only in the present that you live.

There is no other reality than present reality, so that, even if one were to live for endless ages, to live for the future would be to miss the point everlastingly," - Alan W. Watts, The Wisdom Of Insecurity.
If only we could clue in the Dobsons and Dawkins of the world. 

h/t: Daily Dish

Battlestar DaVinci

This year will bring us the fourth and final season of the surprisingly adult update of the 1970s cheesy sci-fi series Battlestar Gallactica. The contemporary series is much darker and claustrophobic than the original and thanks to some excellent writing and great acting has a gritty sense of reality to it. Apparently, the photo below—in addition to be a beautifully stark twist on The Last Supper—contains clues to narrative arc of the upcoming season. I can't wait.

How My Peeps?

Remember those sickly sweet marshmallow bunnies called Peeps? Well, people have been getting creative with them in recent years. The Washington Post has a slideshow of 37 dioramas that contestants have submitted here. Two examples:

Happy Eostre!

All praise the bunny of fertility!
The Easter Bunny is a mythological rabbit who brings gifts and candy to children on the Easter holiday, most likely based on pre-Christian customs honoring the fertility goddess Eostre. […]
Eggs, like rabbits and hares, are fertility symbols of extreme antiquity. Since birds lay eggs and rabbits and hares give birth to large litters in the early spring, these became symbols of the rising fertility of the earth at the Vernal Equinox.
As for rabbits laying eggs, several explanations have been proposed.
In English, the etymology of the word "Easter" comes from an ancient pagan goddess of the spring named Eostre, related to German Ostara. According to popular folklore, Eostre once saved a bird whose wings had frozen during the winter by turning it into a rabbit. Because the rabbit had once been a bird, it could still lay eggs, and that rabbit became the modern Easter Bunny.[2]
And while millions of kids across the country were searching their backyards for beautiful eggs like these…

Annie and I were busy in our backyard: 
searching for Bella's poop.