January 31, 2003

Arianna's State of the Union

Last SOTU-related item, I promise. This one is Arianna Huffington's excellent little write-up from Monday of what she was wishing to hear: the President calling on America to actually do something about our foreign-oil addiction. No such luck, of course.

Posted by jbc at 02:06 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Teacher Fired For Sex-Ed Lesson

A new teacher at a Florida high school has been fired for giving ninth-grade students a demonstration of proper condom use.

Posted by jbc at 12:28 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Kinsley on Dubya's Moral Unseriousness

Michael Kinsley offers up his own analysis of dubya's state of the union address, charging that it is morally unserious to offer up sincere-sounding arguments that fall apart upon close inspection.

Posted by jbc at 07:12 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 30, 2003

Dionne on Dubya's Go-For-Broke Presidency

E.J. Dionne, Jr., has a nice column that ran Monday, before the State of the Union Address, talking about Bush's having hardened the lines of partisanship dividing him from Democrats, and questioning whether he would be able to pull off his increasingly ambitious foreign and domestic agendas over the next two years. Food for thought.

Posted by jbc at 10:13 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Case for War

Michael T. Klare has written a nice analysis of the U.S. government's real reasons for going to war with Iraq. Bottom line: The stated reasons are a joke. The real reason is a desire to maintain U.S. hegemony by controlling the flow of oil from the Middle East. You can disagree with Klare's conclusion, but in that case you're going to have to deal with his supporting arguments. Good luck.

Posted by jbc at 06:31 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 29, 2003

Interesting Factoids from the December Harper's Index

Whenever I read Harper's I always find myself vowing to get a subscription, and then I never do. I suck that way, I guess. In the meantime, though, the December Harper's Index, brought to my attention by Janus, contains some fun factoids. Like: Number of times George W. Bush has said Osama bin Laden's name in public since July 8 : 0. And how about this: Rank of Israel and Turkey among nations in violation of the largest number of U.N. Security Council resolutions : 1, 2. Sweet.

Posted by jbc at 05:43 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Free Pee Wee

From the Village Voice's Richard Goldstein comes this excellent write up of the railroading currently being inflicted on one of my personal heroes: Paul Reubens, aka Pee Wee Herman. This pisses me off bigtime.

Posted by jbc at 09:21 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Dubya Talks Purdy

So I didn't play the Official State of the Union Address Drinking Game last night. In fact, I didn't even bother Tivo-ing the thing so I could watch the commercials. But I did catch some soundbites on NPR this morning, including a nice example of him saying "nucular." And in reading through the full text I was struck by a few key phrases that, to my mind, cut both ways. Like this one: "Throughout the 20th century, small groups of men seized control of great nations, built armies and arsenals, and set out to dominate the weak and intimidate the world." Yeah, and in the 21st century a certain cadre of western oilmen has done the same thing. Also this part: "International human rights groups have catalogued other methods used in the torture chambers of Iraq: electric shock, burning with hot irons, dripping acid on the skin, mutilation with electric drills, cutting out tongues, and rape... If this is not evil, then evil has no meaning." And what of the folks using these exact same techniques in places like Egypt, Turkey, and Pakistan, to whom we've taken to turning over our prisoners, along with lists of questions we'd like answered? The world is a simple place for dubya, and that works in his favor when delivering speeches intended for the similarly simple-minded. But there remains that subtext of arrogance, the slap in the face for those who would question his authoritah. All in all, though, I have to give dubya credit: It was a well-done (which is to say, a frightening) performance. The Washington Post has a nice roundup of other views. Update: Foreign Policy in Focus has a really nice point-by-point clarification of the reality underlying many of dubya's State of the Union statements.

Posted by jbc at 09:03 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 28, 2003

Join us for dinner?

It seems members from the Congolese Liberation Movement are seeking the strike fear in the opposition and have resorted to Cannabilism as a method of intimidating their opposition. Do you prefer your Pygmy with or without salt?

Posted by jaybird at 12:50 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Philip Morris Enters Federal Witness Protection Program

Seeking to shield itself from the negative public image it has garnered by profiting from the hacking, wheezing deaths of millions, cigarette giant Philip Morris changed its name yesterday. The new name, "Altria," was chosen to convey the healthful, noble pursuit of the highest ideals possible, or, in other words, the exact opposite of what the company actually does. A new logo was also chosen, and appropriately, the firm went with a fuzzy, pixellated square reminiscent of nothing so much as the obscuring technology used in courtroom TV to conceal the identity of testifying criminals. Cool.

Posted by jbc at 07:16 AM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

January 27, 2003

Israeli Officer Stymies Bombing to Save Palestinian Civilians

An interesting story, from Hiro, about an officer in the Israeli military who was censured and transferred to another assignment after he acknowledged having withheld intelligence information in order to prevent an attack that he said would have harmed innocent Palestinian civilians. Expect not to see this story on your local news if you live stateside.

Posted by jbc at 03:37 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

The State of the Union Address Drinking Game

In honor of our current Role Model in Chief's time at Yale, we bring you the 2003 edition of the State of the Union Address Drinking Game. Thanks to Janus for the link.

Posted by jbc at 01:41 PM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

January 26, 2003

Parrish on the Burgeoning U.S. Anti-War Movement

Geov Parrish has written an interesting piece that looks at the growing anti-war movement in the U.S., and asks what effect, if any, it is likely to have on a political ruling class that has grown increasingly deaf to the will of the people, as distinct from the will of corporate and institutional campaign contributors. He tries to put a silver lining on the analysis, holding out the prospect that a sufficiently annoyed populace could convince Bush that war will be bad for his re-election (excuse me, I guess that would have to be election) prospects, but I think he's just whistling past the graveyard. Today's Democratic party, to my mind at least, is more part of the problem than part of the solution. This country is so overdue for real political reform.

Posted by jbc at 11:01 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 25, 2003

Rall Calls for Draft - With a Twist

My favorite columnist scored again this week, this time with a piece that started off making merry with the whole Rangel-calls-for-draft, conservatives-resist story, and went on to make what is actually quite a good suggestion: That we send draft-age kids overseas to see the world.

Posted by jbc at 09:20 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Reeves: Dubya Takes It Personally

I missed this story the other day, but then saw a mention of it in the letters to the editor of my local paper: Richard Reeves talking about how dubya has personal issues with Kim Jong Il and Saddam Hussein. For me, this really is the scariest thing about our current not-quite-elected leader: the way he comes off as not-quite-whole, embittered by the lack of respect he receives, both abroad and at home, from people who see him as nothing more than the simpleton tool of corrupt manipulators, unable to understand, much less control, the forces around him.

Posted by jbc at 08:56 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 24, 2003

Springer for Senator

Threatening to bring a touch of class to a body that has become characterized by base thuggery and entertainment crafted to appeal to the lowest common denominator, Jerry Springer has let on that he's considering a run for the U.S. Senate. Which is fine, I guess, but I'm only going to watch if I get to see Hillary Clinton in a hair-pulling catfight with Diane Feinstein.

Posted by jbc at 07:31 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 23, 2003

Made In The Fake Backdrop Country

It's getting too damn easy... Bush gave an "economic stimulus" speech in the warehouse of a giant shipping company, surrounded by boxes, which you couldn't see on TV, because of a giant canvas backdrop painted to look like stacks of boxes with "Made in he USA" stamped on them. Only a few actual boxes from the warehouse were visible, posed in front of the podium, with small splotches of brown tape used to cover the words "Made in China".

Posted by hossman at 11:58 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

To Clone, or not to Clone

You may have heard of a company named Clonaid, which claims to have cloned several babies (and that humans were orriginally created by Aliens ... but that's a seperate issue). Now a Florida judge in there has ordered the CEO of Clonaid to answer questions about the existence of the "Eve" (the first hypothetical cloned child) to determine if he should appoint a guardian to care for it -- which is ammusing since there's no evidence that Florida has any jurisdiction in the matter. Also amusing: the VP of Clonaid claims he is "unaware of how Clonaid is funded, whether it has a board of directors, if and where it holds any bank accounts, and where its cloning labs are located."

Posted by hossman at 12:04 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 22, 2003

Come for the Hobbits, stay for the Trolls

As many of you allready know, there are a lot of stupid people out there -- but I never realized just how bad the problem was. Staff members of "Yahoo Travel" say that lots of people are searching for vacation packages in places like "Mordor" and "Rivendell" -- not realizing they are make believe.

Posted by hossman at 11:18 AM | view/comment (2) | TrackBack (0)

Mitnick Is Online Again! Lock Up Your Daughters!

From Jason comes word of this cool Wired article on celebrated hacker scapegoat Kevin Mitnick's return to the Web, as televised on TechTV. Congratulations, Kevin, on your return to what passes for online society.

Posted by jbc at 09:56 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Abbey Road Cover Proves Paul is Dead... AND a Non-Smoker

Here's an interesting example of how our collective memory is subject to the steady, ongoing erosion of the rough edges indicative of actual truth, leaving behind the smoother surface of something not quite as true, but more consistent with the mental models we employ in our ever-failing quest to hang onto meaning. Or something like that. Anyway, check out this story about a U.S. poster company's decision to airbrush out the cigarette in Paul's hand in recent versions of the image from the Abbey Road cover. I also came across this nice little montage that includes the original as well as other shots from the same photo session.

Posted by jbc at 07:46 AM | view/comment (2) | TrackBack (0)

January 21, 2003

Check Please!

This isn't exactly breaking news, but when I heard about it I just had to share: A man is facing contempt of court charges for writing "Bullsh*t F*cking ticket" in the Memo box of his check when paying a traffic fine. The same judge has charged at least 2 other people for similar reasosns recently. You can follow the story in the local paper or from the AP (via CNN).

Posted by hossman at 11:50 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 20, 2003

Will spook for food!

Although not internet related, I was in the middle of my normal Sunday newspaper reading yesterday when I turned to page 2 of the LA Times business section and found a quarter page ad from the CIA looking for Patriotic Arab Americans to join them to help save the world from the Axis of Evil! What, they don't need caucasian folks to help infiltrate Osama's close circle of advisors?

Posted by jaybird at 12:27 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 16, 2003

Rall on Ryan

I missed this when it came out earlier this week, but better late than never: Ted Rall gives props to Illinois governor George Ryan over his end-of-term action to empty the state's death row. I especially like the comparison of Ryan's conscience to that of Bush, who when he was governor "allocated a mere 15 minutes to consider the fate of each inmate, on a work schedule which allotted up to two hours to playing video games." That's my dubya.

Posted by jbc at 10:58 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 15, 2003

Beer and Half-Naked chicks, every man's dream!

So it seems that some folks are a bit irritated with the Miller brewing company over their recent ad depicting two women in their underwear brawling over why they like Lite beer from Miller. I'm just curious to see if these are the same women that sit glued in front of all the Bachelor shows every week where 20 women chase after the same man.

Posted by jaybird at 05:10 PM | view/comment (23) | TrackBack (0)

January 14, 2003

Miranda Otto's Secret Wedding

Ach. Apparently the lovely Miranda Otto got married in an unpublicized ceremony on New Year's Day. Congratulations to the happy couple, wishing you every joy, yadda yadda yadda.

Posted by jbc at 01:43 PM | view/comment (7) | TrackBack (0)

January 11, 2003

Supremes to Hear Nike's Business-Lies-Are-Free-Speech Claims

As originally covered by lies.com back in May of 2002, Nike was slapped down by the California Supreme Court for claiming that falsehoods the company told about the sweatshops it runs in the Third World were Constitutionally protected free speech, rather than advertising, which would be subject to truth-in-advertising laws. Now the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear Nike's appeal of that decision. What do you think: Could the current U.S. Supreme Court rule that businesses have a Constitutionally protected right to lie to consumers? Oh, yeah. You betcha.

Posted by jbc at 11:12 AM | view/comment (4) | TrackBack (0)

January 10, 2003

U.S. Bombs Iraq While Downplaying Possibility of War

So, CNN is running a story that recounts how the U.S. (along with our British lapdogs) has been bombing an area south of Baghdad for the last six days. The Pentagon refers to the strikes as "defensive" in nature (and who am I to argue; for all I know that patch of smoking rubble was fully intending to up and invade Malibu before they stopped it). Meanwhile, the L.A. Times has a piece about how the U.S. is seeking to tone down the drums of war. Which raises an interesting question: If we can be bombing the fuck out of Iraq at the same time we're assuring everyone that we're going to hold off for now on the actually-going-to-war thing, how will I know when the war has actually begun? My theory: war will officially have started on the day when dubya makes a nationally televised speech in which he displays signs of sexual arousal while stating that "the liberation of Iraq has begun."

Posted by jbc at 05:02 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 09, 2003

Hiro Does the Math

I'm not sure you all will find it interesting, but that's never stopped me before, has it? Anyway, Hiro got on one of his intellectual jags yesterday, and the result is a little piece on the United States national debt. Enjoy.

Posted by jbc at 07:43 AM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

January 07, 2003

ROTK Images

Now that we've got that pesky TTT thing out of the way, it's time to initiate the final countdown to ROTK. And what better way to whet your appetite than with a dozen images, posted on the Web by some calendar company, then taken down again, but still available thanks to the tireless obsessives at theonering.net. Among other goodness we've got Frodo in Shelob's lair, Eowyn radiant in the morning sun atop the walls of the Houses of Healing (or at Edoras, maybe, not that it matters; it's still Eowyn), and Denethor tasting the bitterness in the cup he mixed for himself. Yes, it's going to be a long year. Update: Hi-res versions of the some of the images now available (though not Eowyn, dammit): Aragorn, Gollum, Gandalf, Arwen, and Frodo & Sam

Posted by jbc at 08:48 AM | view/comment (11) | TrackBack (0)

Rall: Another Fake Liberation

Ted Rall offers up some more chilling details on the Iraq-oil connection, and the similarities between the Iraq invasion to come and the Afghanistan invasion just ended. When all this comes to pass according to his predictions, don't say you didn't have fair warning, okay?

Posted by jbc at 06:45 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 06, 2003

Layoffs? What layoffs?

George II's administration appears to have decided that the public doesn't really have sufficient need-to-know about layoff statistics.

By fascinating coincidence, George I made precisely the same decision of non-necessity when accused of economy-buggery. It was only that pesky Clinton who reinstated the publication in the meantime.

Posted by onan at 05:09 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Legal Proceedings in the Clinton/Cheney/NASA/Iron Mountain Conspiracy Case

Let's start off the week right, shall we? From Janus comes word of this really cool legal filing from 1993, in which a U.S. district judge responded to certifiable nut-job Teri Smith Tyler's claims that she was owed $5 billion in damages for various horrific actions taken by various public figures. My favorite part is where Tyler asserts that Gulf War I was undertaken so the U.S. could restock its sexual slavery camps, and she quotes Dick Cheney as saying, "Well, we were so sick and tired of killing black girls. We just had to put some variety back into our death-hunting industry. And they (Persians) are incredibly beautiful. The beauty of the face heightens the pleasure of the kill. I know of no higher pleasure than the gang-rape of exceedingly beautiful people." I can totally imagine Dick Cheney saying something like that.

Posted by jbc at 09:11 AM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

January 05, 2003

Cross-Dressing Dad Pisses Off Right-Thinking St. Louians

I'm not sure what it is about St. Louis, but in the same way that all the loose screws in the country seem to have rattled their way to the edges, where they make life colorful in California and New York, the dim bulbs who want to force their absurdly narrow moral constraints on everyone else seem gravitationally bound to the heartland. It's probably just a perceptual bias on my part (linking dorks like John Ashcroft with their Missouri locale, while treating those from, say, Orange County, California, as exceptions that "prove the rule"), but there it is: another story that reinforces my pre-existing bias against the middle of the country. Some parents in the St. Louis suburb of St. Charles are outraged, it seems, because a parent volunteer who accompanied a bunch of fourth graders on a field trip was not really the tastefully dressed mom that clothing, hair and makeup seemed to indicate. He was a tastefully dressed transsexual dad (stupid L.A. Times login required; cypherpunk98/cypherpunk worked last time I tried). Ohmygod! The horror! True, none of the kids or teachers, or most of the other parent volunteers, cared (or even noticed, in many cases), but at least one of the other parents did, and got his or her panties in such a bunch that the matter has now spread to the local school board, where one boardmember is pushing for the passing of a new policy requiring all parent volunteers to wear "gender-appropriate" clothing at all school functions.

Posted by jbc at 08:24 AM | view/comment (5) | TrackBack (0)

January 03, 2003

U.S. Army Resurrects William Wallace to Lead Gulf War II Ground Assault

Ever the canny manipulators of public opinion, the U.S. war-planning apparatus has found a suitably named general to lead the assault on Iraq: Lieutenant General William Wallace. As recounted in a news report from the New Zealand Herald, Wallace would likely lead the ground attack in a future US/Iraq war. Which conjures up all sorts of wacky mental images. Like, General Wallace, his face streaked with blue paint, exhorting the grunts with stirring phrases like, "You have come here today as not-quite-free men, and not-quite-free men you are. What will you do with that not-quite-freedom?" Or maybe, "...and dying in your beds many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days, from this day to that, for one chance, just one chance, to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our freedom, but they'll never take... our oil! Mobil!! Exxon!!"

Posted by jbc at 08:52 AM | view/comment (6) | TrackBack (0)

January 02, 2003

The 9/11 Not-Dead

A nice little story to ring in 2003: From the New York Times, via Yahoo News: Separating Fakes From 9/11 Victims.

Posted by jbc at 03:46 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)