Saturday, May 10, 2008

Live Nude Bugs!

A new project from Sundance Channel and Isabella Rossellini that is somewhat educational, strangely funny and utterly…fucking bizarre. It defies description, so go check it out for yourself. 

h/t: Pete Jaeger (the laziest blogger ever:)

Geek Humor

I've recently discovered a quirky comic strip site called "xkcd—a webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language". Some of the strips are a little on the geeky side, but most are hilarious. Check it out here

My favorite so far: 

Meat Your Maker

An excellent (and funny) article on improving herbivore-omnivore relations from Slate's Taylor Marsh. 

Choice cut:
Meatless Like Me
Every vegetarian remembers his first time. Not the unremarkable event of his first meal without meat, mind you. No, I mean the first time he casually lets slip that he's turned herbivore, prompting everyone in earshot to stare at him as if he just revealed plans to sail his carrot-powered plasma yacht to Neptune. For me, this first time came at an Elks scholarship luncheon in rural Oregon when I was 18. All day, I'd succeeded at seeming a promising and responsible young man, until that fateful moment when someone asked why I hadn't taken any meat from the buffet. After I offered my reluctant explanation—and the guy announced it to the entire room—30 people went eerily quiet, undoubtedly expecting me to launch into a speech on the virtues of hemp. In the corner, an elderly, suited man glared at me as he slowly raised a slice of bologna and executed the most menacing bite of cold cut in recorded history. I didn't get the scholarship.…

Friday, May 9, 2008


Bill The Finger Is Back

You Know It's Bad…

…when you lose Joe Conason. Conason has been one of the Clintons' biggest journalistic supporters over the years, writing countless articles and co-writing a book in their defense. But now, even he's made queasy from Hillary's increasingly desperate and nasty campaign:
Was Hillary channeling George Wallace?
Hillary's reckless exploitation of racial division could split the Democratic Party over race -- a tragic legacy for the Clintons.
May 9, 2008 | As long as Hillary Clinton is willing to spend the money and energy needed to continue her campaign, she certainly can ignore the pundits who insist that the Democratic nominating contest is over. What she should not ignore, however, is the damage that her increasingly reckless behavior is inflicting on her reputation and that of her husband -- especially when she starts to sound like a reincarnation of the late George Wallace.

When Clinton blathered on about "totally obliterating" Iran in the event it made a nuclear strike against Israel, and then reiterated that same statement last weekend, she made what was, until then, the single most ill-considered comment of the campaign. But now USA Today has published an interview in which she explained again why she regards herself as a more viable general-election candidate than Barack Obama -- except that this time, she crossed a bright white line.

Citing an Associated Press analysis "that found how Senator Obama's support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me," she went on to say: "There's a pattern emerging here."

There is indeed a pattern emerging -- and it is a pattern that must dismay everyone who admires the Clintons and has defended them against the charge that they are exploiting racial divisions.

Gloomy Old Party

All of the fundamentals and metrics and optics (and any other overused, cliched political term you can think of) point to this being a great year to be a liberal. Any measure you can find shows the Republicans are going to get blown out of the water. Even Newt Gingrich sees the writing on the wall. Pruning Shears lays it out even more clearly:
Leading The Elephants To The Slaughter
Considering how much attention mass media has spent on electoral politics it has missed the elephant in the room (pardon the pun): The extreme peril of the Republican Party. Almost all coverage is now on the Democratic primary, and the least likely (and most dramatic) scenarios are getting the most focus. But here is what seems most likely: The candidates fight it out, a winner emerges in the next month or so and emotions peak. Everyone takes the summer off, spends some time at the beach with a good book, and returns at the end of August tanned, rested and ready to crank up an energetic election campaign. Meanwhile, each contested state gets two industrial strength Democratic voter registration machines rolling through, extends the Democratic monopoly of the news cycle and sharpens the campaigning skills of the eventual nominee.

For Republicans, that is the bad news. The worse news is that the math this time around is horrible, and the early indications are dismal (via). They have 29 House members retiring this year, and it didn’t get that high by accident. Losing as an incumbent has to be one of the worst events for a politician; it is a rejection and a humiliation - it is the voters saying “we tried you out and found you wanting.” It also usually comes with about a ten year setback. You don’t just bounce to some more prestigious office, you either take some time off or seek refuge in an appointed position. Then you slowly begin your rehabilitation. Many Republicans think now is a good time to take a powder, and by doing so they could be viable next time. It looks similarly bad (annoying trendy word for this election: optics) in the Senate. Republicans are defending 23 seats to the Democrats’ 12; even if the GOP was wildly popular it would simply have to cover more territory.

I’ve saved the worst for last. The preceding can be seen as nothing more than the vagaries of the horse race, the calendar and random chance. Fortunes wax and wane, and sometimes parties succeed just because. It is like the stock market, which moves sometimes in response to specific data and sometimes for reasons that are too complex to understand. (I will have unyielding admiration for the first newscaster who has the honesty and courage to say “Stocks closed higher today. God alone knows why.”) Republicans can talk their way out of a situation like that. It is their great misfortune that it is also accompanied by the total collapse of their principles.

You Move Me

I used to have a pet theory that the geography one resided in affected one's psychology. It was nothing empirically provable, but seemed to be borne out anecdotally. And not being a scientist that was good enough for me. Turns out, though, that the idea is actually an area of scientific study called psychogeography. The Boston Globe explains: 
Where do all the neurotics live?
On the East Coast, of course. A psychological tour of the United States, in five maps.
Psychologists have shown that human personalities can be classified along five key dimensions: agreeableness, conscientiousness, extroversion, neuroticism, and openness to experience. And each of these dimensions has been found to affect key life outcomes from life expectancy and divorce to political ideology, job choices and performance, and innovation and creativity.

What's more, it turns out these personality types are not spread evenly across the country. They cluster. And how they cluster tells us much: What city someone might want to move to, the broader character of regions, and even the creative and economic futures of broad swaths of the nation.

Drawing on a database of hundreds of thousands of individual personality surveys compiled by psychologists Jason Rentfrow, Sam Gosling, and Jeff Porter, my team and I were able to map the distribution of personality types across the United States. The result is a fascinating new way of looking at the country's terrain.
The tricky bit, of course, is causality:
But what accounts for such psychogeographical clustering? One potential explanation is that people migrate to places where their psychological needs are easily met: Open people choose to live in places with hustle and bustle to satisfy that craving for new experiences, while conscientious people settle in places where the atmosphere is ordered to meet their need for predictability.

Or perhaps, personality is influenced by our surroundings. More emotionally stable people who live in places where neurotic types form the majority may become irritable and stressed because the people around them are getting to them.

Our research suggests another possibility as well: the link between personality and the willingness to move. Conscientious and agreeable types in particular are less likely to move. Once they find a place, they tend to spread out gradually over time. Extroverts, on the other hand, are much more likely to move over greater distances. Open-to-experience types are drawn to thrills and risk, and moving, after all, is one of life's biggest new experiences.
Regardless, it looks like an interesting field of study.

Woo Hoo!

It was just a matter of time, but Obama finally has the lead in superdelegates. What's better, Oregon's own Peter DeFazio's endorsement is the one that put him over the top. Obamarific!
Obama Now Takes The Lead in Superdelegates Too
ABC News' Karen Travers Reports: For the first time this campaign season, Barack Obama has surpassed Hillary Clinton's support among superdelegates, according to the ABC News delegate estimate.

Sen. Obama, D-Ill., picked up two superdelegates this morning giving him a new metric to tout in addition to his current commanding leads in pledged delegates, popular votes, states won, and money raised.

Rep. Donald Payne, D-N.J., switched his endorsement from Clinton to Obama and Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., endorsed Obama. DeFazio was previously uncommitted.
Update: He's now up by 7 superdelegates. Go here for details.

Update II: Huffington Post and TPM are reporting 8 and I've read 9 somewhere else, but neither source listed each one, so for now, I'm treating it as unverified and not linking to either. 

Thursday, May 8, 2008

An Ex-Parrot: The Clinton Spin Edition

A Pythonesque take on the primary race, from Rod Dreher.
A Democratic primary voter enters Clinton for President headquarters.
Voter: Hello, I wish to register a complaint.

(The man behind the counter does not respond.)

Voter: Hello, Miss?

Geoff Garin: What do you mean "miss"?

Voter: I'm sorry, I have a cold. I wish to make a complaint!

Garin: We're closin' for lunch.

Voter: Never mind that, my boy. I wish to complain about this candidate what I voted for not two days ago.

GG : Oh yes, the, uh, the Hillary Clinton ...What's,uh...What's wrong with her?

Voter: I'll tell you what's wrong with her, my lad. Her campaign is dead, that's what's wrong with her!

GG: No, no, she's, uh,...she's resting.

Voter: Look, matey, I know a dead candidate when I see one, and I'm looking at one right now.

GG: No no she's not dead, she's, she's restin'! Remarkable bird, Hillary Clinton, idn't she? Beautiful plumage!

Voter: The plumage don't enter into it. Her presidential campaign is stone dead.

GG: Nononono, no, no! She's resting!

Voter (pointing to delegate-math statistics on CNN): Now that's what I call a dead candidate.

GG: No, no.....No, she's stunned!

Voter: STUNNED?!?

GG: Yeah! The voters stunned her, just as she was wakin' up! Hillary stuns easy, major.

Voter: look, mate, I've definitely had enough of this. That campaign is definitely deceased, and when I voted for Mrs. Clinton not two days ago, you assured me that her total lack of movement was due to her bein' tired and shagged out following a prolonged squawk.

GG: Well, she's...she's, ah...probably pining for Yankee Stadium. She's a big Yanks fan, you know.

Voter: PININ' for YANKEE STADIUM?!?!?!? What kind of talk is that?, look, why did she fall flat on her back on Tuesday night?

GG: Hillary Clinton prefers keepin' on her back! She's a fighter, an underdog. Remarkable bird, id'nt she, squire? Lovely plumage!

Voter: She's not pinin'! She's passed on! Her campaign is no more! It has ceased to be! It's expired and gone to meet its maker! It's a stiff! Bereft of life, it rests in peace! If Hillary Clinton hadn't nailed herself to the Democratic Party perch she'd be pushing up the daisies! This campaign's metabolic processes are now history! She's off the twig! She's kicked the bucket, she's shuffled off her mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisible!! THIS IS AN EX-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE!!
And the original:

Spin So Fast…

…it makes the Tasmanian Devil look like a slug.

Go, Lanny!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

A Good Night

Well, it was a better night than I expected. Obama blew Hillary out in North Carolina and kept her under 4 points in Indiana. The race was really over in Feb., of course. But tonight sealed the deal in terms of media narrative and Clintonian spin. Clinton gave what sounded an awful lot like a concession speech tonight. Tone and body language said what her words didn't. Bill and Chelsea looked deflated and shellshocked. Hillary will probably stay in through May, looking for the most gracious way to bow out, probably after winning Kentucky or W. Virginia.

Then we liberals can kiss and make up and look ahead to kicking McCain's ass back to Arizona. Many observers think it'll be difficult to come together. John Cole thinks it'll go a little something like this:

Eerily Familiar, No?

You Don't Get A Victory Lap…

…if you're the shittiest president in history.

1.5 Million

Revolutionizing the way campaigns are financed and run.

Why I Love Him

Obama's response to the Ragin' Cajun's sophmoric comment (does he make any other kind?) yesterday:
"Well, you know, James Carville is well-known for spouting off his mouth without always knowing what he's talking about. And I intend to stay focused on fighting for the American people because what they don't need is 20 more years of performance art on television. And that's what James Carville and a lot of those folks are expert at ... a lot of talk and not getting things done for the American people."

Goal Posts Meet Mover, Part 786

Keith Olbermann helps us understand which votes matter according to Clintonia.*

* Clintonia a mental landscape similar to Narnia. Second only to Bushland in its willful adherence to fantasy.)

Does Science Make Belief In God Obsolete?

The third in a series of "big questions" posed by the John Templeton Foundation. It's a fascinating discussion among world-class scientists, theologians, writers, and thinkers. Inexplicably, Chris Hitchens is included on the list. It's a worthwhile read despite this. 

Go check it out.

Feeling A Little Gassy?

It is an election year after all.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Another One For You, Pete

Four Dead In Ohio

Much to my dismay, I overlooked that yesterday was the 38th anniversary of a day of infamy for my alma mater, Kent State University. For five years, I would honor the day by joining a candlelight vigil and walking in the footsteps of the kids who got caught up—fatally—in the riptide of American history. 

It was on May 4, 1970 that national guardsmen, tired and overworked from a previous student suppression assignment, and antagonized by military and political leaders, opened fire on unarmed university students. Thirteen students were seriously wounded, four of whom died. Of those, two weren't even a part of the demonstration that the guard was brought in to disperse. One was even a ROTC member.

It's still unclear whether it was an order or a misunderstanding that set the guns firing. All we know is that at some point guardsmen who had been falling back to a position atop a small hill, turned and began firing into the crowd. 

There's plenty of blame to go around. I reserve most of mine for then-governor James Rhodes, a right wing prick of the highest order whose attitudes and animosity for the students reinforced the general public's fears, and Nixon, whose own attitudes also set the tone against anyone challenging the war and whose actions (his invasion of Cambodia) set off the angry demonstrations. These men, and others like them, created the tinderbox that made the Kent State (and Jackson State) shootings possible. 

For more of the history, go here.

Bluegal over at Crooks and Liars found this video compilation commemorating that day:

Hillary McCain

The more Clinton speaks the more I wonder how exactly she would run against McCain in the fall. I'm considering that they're running on virtually the same platform now. The Iraq vote, bomb Iran, the gas tax holiday. Now this:
Clinton In 2005: 'I Agree With McCain' On Long-Term Iraq Presence
Three years ago, during an appearance on CBS, Sen. Hillary Clinton stated that she agreed with the overarching premise of John McCain's Iraq policy: that America's commitment to the war shouldn't be based on time frames but rather on the level of troop casualties. She even cited, as McCain now regularly does, that the United States would be well suited to follow a model for troop presence based on South Korea, Japan, or Germany.

"Senator McCain made the point earlier today, which I agree with, and that is, it's not so much a question of time when it comes to American military presence for the average American; I include myself in this. But it is a question of casualties," said Clinton. "We don't want to see our young men and women dying and suffering these grievous injuries that so many of them have. We've been in South Korea for 50-plus years. We've been in Europe for 50-plus. We're still in Okinawa with respect to protection there coming out of World War II."

Granted, that was three years ago and things have changed. Still, her instincts on this issue are just flat out wrong as far as I'm concerned. I just don't want faux-hawk DINO in the White House.

Those Classy Clintonites

Ever the crass class clown, James Carville offers this assessment of the candidates…er, testicular fortitude:
Hillary is the tougher of the two, the candidate you want on your side in a knife fight, a gender reversal that prompts Carville to indulge in some ribald humor: "If she gave him one of her cojones, they'd both have two."

Hell On Earth

Newly-released photos of the human toll of the Hiroshima bombing. View at your own discretion.
The Robert L. Capp collection at the Hoover Institution Archives contains ten never-before-published photographs illustrating the immediate aftermath of the Hiroshima bombing. These photographs, taken by an unknown Japanese photographer, were found in 1945 among rolls of undeveloped film in a cave outside Hiroshima by U.S. serviceman Robert L. Capp, who was attached to the occupation forces. 
Unlike most photos of the Hiroshima bombing, these dramatically convey the human as well as material destruction unleashed by the atomic bomb. Mr. Capp donated them to the Hoover Archives in 1998 with the provision that they not be reproduced until 2008. Three of these photographs are reproduced in Atomic Tragedy with the permission of the Capp family. Now that the restriction is no longer in force, the entire set is available below. 

Case In Point

This one episode crystalizes the difference between Clinton and her supporters and Obama and his. It's why he'll win and why that will be good for all of us.

h/t: The Field (hands down, the best poliblog of the year)

Israel 60th

A fascinating read on the events surrounding the creation of Israel and how we ended up with the current hellish situation. A caveat: it's published in Commentary, a notable neocon rag. Still, it meshes with my understanding and reading of the history of that region, so I'm passing it along. It's long—though by no means exhaustive—but a great read if you want a better understanding of the events leading up to today's nightmare. 

Intro excerpt:
Sixty years after its establishment by an internationally recognized act of self-determination, Israel remains the only state in the world that is subjected to a constant outpouring of the most outlandish conspiracy theories and blood libels; whose policies and actions are obsessively condemned by the international community; and whose right to exist is constantly debated and challenged not only by its Arab enemies but by segments of advanced opinion in the West.

During the past decade or so, the actual elimination of the Jewish state has become a cause célèbre among many of these educated Westerners. The “one-state solution,” as it is called, is a euphemistic formula proposing the replacement of Israel by a state, theoretically comprising the whole of historic Palestine, in which Jews will be reduced to the status of a permanent minority. Only this, it is said, can expiate the “original sin” of Israel’s founding, an act built (in the words of one critic) “on the ruins of Arab Palestine” and achieved through the deliberate and aggressive dispossession of its native population.

This claim of premeditated dispossession and the consequent creation of the longstanding Palestinian “refugee problem” forms, indeed, the central plank in the bill of particulars pressed by Israel’s alleged victims and their Western supporters. It is a charge that has hardly gone undisputed. As early as the mid-1950’s, the eminent American historian J.C. Hurewitz undertook a systematic refutation, and his findings were abundantly confirmed by later generations of scholars and writers. Even Benny Morris, the most influential of Israel’s revisionist “new historians,” and one who went out of his way to establish the case for Israel’s “original sin,” grudgingly stipulated that there was no “design” to displace the Palestinian Arabs.

The recent declassification of millions of documents from the period of the British Mandate (1920-1948) and Israel’s early days, documents untapped by earlier generations of writers and ignored or distorted by the “new historians,” paint a much more definitive picture of the historical record. They reveal that the claim of dispossession is not only completely unfounded but the inverse of the truth. What follows is based on fresh research into these documents, which contain many facts and data hitherto unreported. …