February 28, 2003

Last Minutes of Columbia

You've probably heard about it, or seen it, elsewhere, already, but in case you haven't, you can watch the 13-minute video they recovered from Columbia, ending about 8 minutes before the shuttle broke up.

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PETA Pulls Jewish Chain with Holocaust Comparison

From Hiro comes word of masskilling.com, where the good folks at PETA compare the plight of animals on factory farms to Jews in WWII-era concentration camps. Needless to say, this has certain folks in an uproar.

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Have a Piece of Pi

From Mnemnor comes word of this fun site dedicated to the irrational side in all of us. It nearly crashed my browser, but that's life on the edge for you.

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Saddam Crazy Legs Gets Monitored

I think I'd prefer to live in the world where this image gives an accurate depiction of world leaders' obsessions with each other. Thanks to Bravo for the link.

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February 27, 2003

Impure as Driven Snow

Lots of snow in the East has apparently led to an outbreak of naughty sculptures: Police Field Complaint About Busty Snow Woman, Women's Group Debates Snow Penis, and a statue that brings new meaning to the term snow blower. Remember to wear your mittens! Update: Hiro brought another one to my attention, for those who prefer their snow pr0n to be hard core.

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Canadian Politician Labels U.S. 'Damned Bastards'

From Reuters/Yahoo/Janus comes this fun story: Canada Politician Says Americans Damned Bastards. The politician has since apologized for her remarks, but I can't see why; we clearly are damned bastards.

Posted by jbc at 10:38 AM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

Fred Rogers, R.I.P.

Someone who taught me, and a lot of other boys and girls, about the values of caring and openness and honesty passed away this morning. Fred Rogers, rest in peace.

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February 26, 2003

Laughing at Ari Fleischer

Ovid, over at use.perl.org, made a cool journal entry today, in which he pointed to a couple of places (like the White House site, which has a transcript, and C-SPAN's site, with RealAudio video) where you can catch White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer's briefing from yesterday. And the fun part is, at the very end of the briefing, one of the reporters pesters Fleischer about a report that the U.S. is offering to use trade incentives to bribe Mexico (among others) into voting our way on the U.N. Security Council. Fleischer responds, "But think about the implications of what you're saying. You're saying that the leaders of other nations are buyable. And that is not an acceptable proposition." And the entire room of reporters bursts out laughing. Fleischer gives a curt, "thank you" and leaves the podium, and as the reporters are getting up you can hear one of them joking with another, "Laughed off the stage!" At least you can on the RealAudio clip; the transcript doesn't include that, but interestingly enough, it does include the "(Laughter)". Poor Ari.

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Evan Maloney Grills Those Opposed to War

Evan Coyne Maloney made a really interesting video, which you can grab from brain-terminal.com (assuming you have QuickTime, and a decent-sized pipeline). He went out on the streets of New York and interviewed anti-war protesters, and found, perhaps not surprisingly, that many of them have only the vaguest notion of what an appropriate alternative would be to the actions they're protesting against. So, hey, protesters: think about that, okay?. You really ought to have an answer.

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February 25, 2003

Jerrold on Kim Jong Il's Love of Movies

From Bravo comes word of this cool op-ed piece from the L.A. Times (login with cypherpunk98/cypherpunk): North Korea: The Movie. By political psychologist Jerrold M. Post, it looks at some of the cool wackiness behind North Korea's leader.

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Rogers: War to Begin on or about March 15

From Paul Rogers at openDemocracy.net comes War by Timetable, which looks past the smoke and mirrors about inspections and U.N. votes, and tries to deduce the war timetable from U.S. troop and armor movements. His conclusion: the war will begin on or around March 15.

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February 24, 2003

Yammering on about 'Shock and Awe'

Interesting discussion lately about the Pentagon's so-called "Shock and Awe" plan for the opening round of the Iraq war (the official war; the current bombing doesn't count). Pentagon planner Harlan Ullman told CBS News about Shock and Awe in late January, and folks on both ends of the pro/anti-war spectrum have been making pretty outrageous claims about it since then. Ira Chernus asks if Baghdad is going to be the next Hiroshima, while Geov Parrish wonders if the rest of the world will ever be able to forgive us. Meanwhile, the arch anti-liberals at Blogcritics pooh-pooh such alarmism, asking, at one point, "Do seemingly reasonable people really think the United States military would willfully and purposefully engage in indiscriminate bombing and mass murder?" Um, actually, yeah, I think it's a demonstrated fact. The truth about what we intend for Baghdad probably falls somewhere in the middle, between those who say we're planning to reduce its population to ashes, like we did in Dresden and Hiroshima, and those who say we're going to employ weapons so intelligent that they will only destroy water treatment facilities, power plants, and "command and control" centers, while not actually harming any of the millions of human beings who live in their vicinity (well, at least until they succumb to the resulting disease, thirst, and famine). But think about it for a moment: A cruise missile, when it detonates, has an effect roughly similar to that of an airliner, fully loaded with fuel, plowing into a building. This country experienced three such events, over the span of a few hours, and the horror of it is still with us a year and a half later. What we're talking about now is unleashing 800 such explosions on a densely populated city over two days. Eight hundred. Your tax dollars at work. Sigh.

Posted by jbc at 06:18 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Alternate Interpretation of Ready.gov Iconography

From Janus, who is mourning the appearance of tabbed browsing in the unauthorized Safari release (Janus takes Macintosh UI decisions very seriously), comes word of this fun re-interpretation of an icon from ready.gov: Don't Worry. Go Out and Party.

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Jesus Is Da Bomb

I have no idea what this site is trying to do, but it still blows me away. Thanks to Bravo for the link.

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February 21, 2003

Are You Ready.gov?

Much fun has been made of the whole "duct tape and plastic" thing lately, but joking aside, if you haven't, you really ought to go browse the calm, sensible advice that the good people at ready.gov have made available. Not just because it will, as they point out, help you and your loved ones be better prepared for disasters both man-made and natural, though that's a perfectly acceptable reason, too. No, I want you to go check it out so you can appreciate the Strangelove-ian idea that permeates it: that our only real duty as citizens is to calmly prepare ourselves and our loved ones for horrors the like of which we've never seen, and then, when those horrors come to pass, to seal ourselves in our inner rooms and quietly watch TV to find out what those wise men who have everything under control want us to do next. So go out and buy your plastic sheeting and bottled water, but at the same time, consider this: If these threats are real (and I can't see any reason to think otherwise), we have another, even more urgent duty: to work with like-minded folks to send our current leaders back where they came from, replacing them with people of more wisdom and less arrogance who can plot a course to a future in which the innocent don't have to die for stupid reasons like these.

Posted by jbc at 09:19 AM | view/comment (3) | TrackBack (0)

February 20, 2003

Say Hi to Elvis for Me

I don't even know what to say about this, it speaks for itself. From afterlifetelegrams.com: For a fee of $5.00 per word (5 word minimum), our customers can have telegrams delivered to people who have passed away. This is done with the help of terminally Ill volunteers who memorize the telegrams before passing away, and then deliver the telegrams after they have passed away. (Emphasis is that of the site, not mine). The FAQ is highly illuminating.

Posted by hossman at 03:30 PM | view/comment (3) | TrackBack (0)

Administration of Two Minds on Post-War Iraq

Interesting piece from fpif.org on the debate currently going on inside the Bush administration over just what a post-war Iraq will look like. Apparently there's no consensus among those who steer the President's views this way and that, so, assuming we go forward with our plans to invade and overthrow the Iraqi government, I guess we'll just kind of make things up as we go. Which should work just great; I mean, look at the inspiring way democracy has flowered in Afghanistan since we fixed the broken government they had there.

Posted by jbc at 10:43 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Silly Dubya/Blair Lip Synch

From Norway, via Bravo, comes this fun, if frivolous, music video snippet featuring Bush and Tony Blair mouthing sweet nothings to each other (requires QuickTime). Lies.com, serving your presidential information needs for more than 7/10 of a decade!

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Klein High School's Anti-Gay Crusade

Nice article at the Houston Press (pointed out to me by Hiro), about a lawsuit brought against Klein High School and the Klein Independent School District in Harris County, Texas, to get the school to allow formation of a club for gay and straight students to talk about discrimination. The school board, with the encouragement of right-thinking parents, intends to fight the suit. More detail available from the Houston Voice, the New York Times, and the Houston Chronicle.

Posted by jbc at 08:18 AM | view/comment (54) | TrackBack (0)

February 19, 2003

Fox Steals CNN Video of Columbia Breakup

Funny story, courtesy of AP, courtesy of Yahoo, courtesy of Janus, about how Fox News ran a CNN video feed, uncredited, showing the space shuttle Columbia breaking up. Gotta love those boys at Fox. Nice journalistic ethics there, guys. Goes well with all that right-wing lunatic raving that makes up your "news coverage."

Posted by jbc at 11:55 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

13 Myths About the Case for War with Iraq

More in my continuing stream of anti-war propaganda: from the folks at 13myths.org, 13 Myths about the case for war with Iraq.

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Dubya Dismisses Anti-War Protests

It's obvious why his handlers keep him as far as possible from reporters' questions and live microphones; as soon as Dubya starts extemporizing, the level of fear, both at home and abroad, ratchets sharply upward. His latest comments, in which he dismissed anti-war protestors as something he needn't concern himself with, provided a nice example. It's interesting to me how a presidency turns from hope and promises to whatever derisive epithet a jaded public chooses to file it under. Nixon: crook. Ford: bumbling. Carter: malaise. Reagan: Actually, I don't know. I guess we never came to a consensus on that one. Befuddled, maybe? Bush the Elder: out-of-touch ( that's one word, right?). Clinton: philanderer. And with dubya, I don't think there can be any doubt at this point: arrogant. Check out this nice image, for example, courtesy of Bravo. The president likes to characterize himself as "respectful" towards those he disagrees with, but that's bullshit. He consistently displays a dismissive arrogance toward dissenting views that is the exact opposite of respect. You can gloss it over if you want, call it "honesty" or "conviction," say that the president is just being a Texan straight-shooter and calling it like he sees it, but there's something darker there. There's an undercurrent of anger, a score he wants to settle, and not just with Saddam Hussein.

Posted by jbc at 07:42 AM | view/comment (3) | TrackBack (0)

February 18, 2003

Salon on Serkis's Non-Nomination

The folks at Salon have a story on Andy Serkis's failure to get a best-supporting nomination from those aging thespians at the Acadamy.

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February 14, 2003

Cockburn with a Final Post-Mortem on Powell's UN Speech

Alexander Cockburn has a pissed-off retrospective on the truth value (or lack thereof) in Colin Powell's speech to the UN on February 5. All I can say is, yeah, really. What was that, anyway?

Posted by jbc at 10:54 AM | view/comment (6) | TrackBack (0)

Ready for War at Clear Channel

From Jason (the Jason who is actually called Jason, as distinct from the plethora of Jasons called something else), comes this cool memo from internalmemos.com: Clearchannel Preparing for War. I realize these folks are just doing their jobs, and am not surprised that this type of preparation is going on, but still, there's something about this that feels horribly wrong. It's like that story about how the Academy has their contingency plans all ready so the Oscars go off without a hitch even if the war has the bad manners to start in the 24 hours preceding the ceremony. There's a willingness to view the war as inevitable, as something more or less routine, to be scheduled around trips to the lake and picking up Jimmy at soccer practice and setting the VCR to record the finale of Joe Millionaire. I keep thinking back to September 11, and how there was such a feeling of momentousness in this country afterwards. People were shocked that such a thing could have happened. Someone had coldly reached out and destroyed those high-rises, reducing them to rubble and snuffing out the lives of thousands of innocent people. There was this collective sense of incredulity; you wanted to grab strangers by the shoulders and shake them, make them understand. Forget all those petty details of your life; they don't matter; this is huge; this is different; we've got to stop and look, all of us; my God, what's going on here? And now here we are, about to unleash precisely the same sort of inhumanity on a few million of our fellow humans over on the other side of the world. And it's no big deal; just another opportunity for us to do our jobs, working on our bottom line, padding our resumes. February, 2003: Led preparations for Iraq war coverage at KBFK and KSTE; set up interviews with terrorism experts, military recruiting centers, and anti-war types; achieved 23% ratings increase during the February sweeps; received local Emmy for public-affairs programming. Ho hum. Just another war.

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February 13, 2003

Anti-Bush Agitprop from Takebackthemedia.com

In the interest of maintaining the current high levels of interest being shown in this site by those of the Love Your Country, Right or Wrong persuasion, here's a nice bit of anti-Bush (both flavors) mockery: George Bush Is No Nazi (Flash required). Thanks to Madison for the link.

Posted by jbc at 05:15 PM | view/comment (6) | TrackBack (0)

Yes, Steve Bing Is STILL a Wanker

Let's see, it's been how long since producer Steve Bing last made himself look like a horse's ass by bringing a lawsuit that ended up going against him once the facts came out? A few months, maybe? Here's the latest one, right on schedule: dueling lawsuits between Bing and actor Sean Penn. Penn claims Bing backed out on a deal to have Penn star in the film Why Men Shouldn't Marry because he (Penn) refused to lighten up on his protests against the looming U.S. war with Iraq. Bing claims that there never was a movie deal, that Penn never really meant to appear in the film, and that Penn invented this whole stifling-of-his-rights story in an effort to extort $10 million from him. Right.

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Pre-Pee-wee Trial Jockeying Continues

Prosecutors are doing their best to paint Paul Reubens as a menace to society, based on the 50-year-old images in his vintage gay porn collection, as we continue through the process of pre-trial motions. Fucking Ashcrofts. Don't you think there might be some children actually being abused out there somewhere who could benefit from some of the time and energy you're currently devoting to railroading this guy?

Posted by jbc at 10:17 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Balkin on Patriot Act II

From the popunder-ad-spewing (thank God for Chimera's ad-blocking features) and silly-ass-login-requiring (cypherpunk98/cypherpunk) L.A. Times web site comes Professor Jack M. Balkin's nice analysis of the Justice department's proposed update to the US Patriot Act. Apparently the plan was to introduce the new, much scarrier version of the legislation once we were at war with Iraq, when public support for its "security enhancing" features would be higher, and criticism of its impact on civil rights would be easier to paint as a treasonous failure to "support our troops." Choice quote from Balkin's essay: The Bush administration and Ashcroft have become addicted to secrecy and are drunk on power; the more they obtain, the more they demand. A copy of the Justice department's draft bill (which the folks at Justice repeatedly denied existed, until it was leaked) is available at the web site of the Center for Public Integrity, also. Read it while you can, citizens.

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February 11, 2003

No Oscar Nominations for PJ, Serkis, Shore

Nicely illustrating their conservative cluelessness, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has failed to dish up nominations for Peter Jackson, Andy Serkis, and Howard Shore in the Best Director, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Score Oscar categories, respectively. The Best Picture nomination for The Two Towers, and the smallish passle of technical-category nominations, were nice enough, I guess, but the Academy is digging themselves a pretty deep hole. Sigh. They're just going to have to do their best to dig themselves out of it with next year's The Return of the King.

Posted by jbc at 07:10 AM | view/comment (2) | TrackBack (0)

Scheer on Dubya's Failure to Make the Case for War

Once more I link unto the lameosity that is the L.A. Times web site, again for a Robert Scheer column. This one is titled House of Cards, on how dubya's ongoing attempts to justify war with Iraq have turned into a joke. My favorite quote is at the end: Depressing as it is to acknowledge, it now seems clear we are witnessing the tantrum of a woefully untutored and inexperienced president whose willfulness rises in direct proportion to his inability to comprehend a world too complex for his grasp. Ouch.

Posted by jbc at 06:58 AM | view/comment (12) | TrackBack (0)

February 10, 2003

Conason on the Great Treasury Robbery

Joe Conason, columnist for the New York Observer, does his best to make the looting of the treasury by Dubya and Co. sound interesting.

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Madonna Readies Anti-War Video

Apparently the new Madonna video for her song "American Dream" will feature a violently depicted anti-war message. You go, girl. (Always nice when I can run a story that is actually about the person whose image I stole for the category image.)

Posted by jbc at 04:49 PM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

Zunes: Powell is No Adlai Stevenson

There's a nice piece at fpif.org on how far short Colin Powell fell in his UN Security Council speech last week, where he tried to cash in some of his credibility chips in order to make a convincing case for war against Iraq. I have to admit, I've had a pretty high opinion of Powell's honesty ever since that (scary, but awesome) description he gave of the upcoming Gulf War I ground war, when he said of Iraq's army, "First we're going to cut it off; then we're going to kill it." Especially in the context of Bush the Elder's campaign to portray the war as a video game without actual casualties, that really blew me away. Too bad we're getting so little of that Colin Powell these days.

Posted by jbc at 04:36 PM | view/comment (4) | TrackBack (0)

David Brooks' Anti-Anti-SUV Rant

From the WSJ, courtesy of Janus, comes this fun essay: The Scarlet SUV. It's about the silliness of railing against SUV ownership.

Posted by jbc at 01:22 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

February 08, 2003

Ivins on the Great Liberal Conspiracy

Molly Ivins, one of my favorite old-guard Texas liberals (bet you didn't know I had favorites in that category) has a nice new column where she mocks some of the loony goings on at the recent Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) conference. For more on the event, you can check out the free teaser to the full article at Salon that Ivins mentions.

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February 07, 2003

DeFazio, Paul Sponsor Bill to Rescind Dubya's War Permission

Reps. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) and Ron Paul (R-TX) yesterday introduced legislation to repeal the Iraq Use of Force Resolution passed by Congress last fall. Interesting.

Posted by jbc at 04:04 PM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

Winona Celebrity Pays Off

Winona Ryder apparently will appear in Marc Jacobs' spring advertising campaign, reprising her role as criminal clothes horse from last fall's trial. You go, girl.

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Oscar Ready for War

The folks at the Academy are ready for anything with this year's Oscar telecast, according to an article from Variety that has been posted at theonering.net. Favorite quotes: Though the Oscars have in fact been postponed three times before, a cancellation or significant delay is thought to be unlikely this year. At the most, insiders say, the ceremony could be delayed for two days in the case of war. A greater delay, it is thought, would wreak havoc with talent as well as network commitments worldwide. Also, A lot has to do with novelty," Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz told Daily Variety. "A war that has just broken out gets a huge amount of media attention. A war that has been dragging on for a couple of months becomes more of a back-burner story. So as with so many other things in life, timing is everything." Isn't it, though?

Posted by jbc at 12:20 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

February 06, 2003

Silly Dubya Audio

From warprecords.com, via smokehammer.com, via ymatt, comes a slightly doctored version of the State of the Union. Enjoy.

Posted by jbc at 05:08 PM | view/comment (3) | TrackBack (0)

Houlahan: No War in the Near-Term

According to UPI's Thomas Houlahan, dubya isn't serious about going to war with Iraq anytime soon. According to Houlahan, we would have a lot more tanks in the region if we meant business.

Posted by jbc at 12:45 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

February 05, 2003

Scheer: Powell Soldiering On in the Face of Big Lies

From the extremely Web-challenged L.A. Times (because I can't find anywhere else to link to it), comes this latest column from Robert Scheer, in which he argues that Colin Powell is being a good soldier by dutifully pretending that the Bush administration's lies on Iraq are credible.

Posted by jbc at 07:04 AM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

February 03, 2003

Timothy Ferris on Watching Columbia

One of my favorite science writers, Timothy Ferris, has a nice column running in the New York Times: At Dawn, the Columbia.

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Photos from the Space Shuttle Columbia

With the help of my friend Hiro, who found what I was looking for in NASA's amazing sprawl of web content, I've put up a wiki page highlighting photographs taken by the crew of the space shuttle Columbia. It's a tribute, if you will, to the courage and vision they displayed in making their journey.

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

February 02, 2003

Shuttle Disaster Confronts Nation with Realities of Space Travel

So, as someone posted in reply to my 1996 essay predicting another shuttle disaster, and my subsequent apology to "all the hard-working folks at NASA," posted in April of last year, "if only you'd been right on that one." If only. But with the benefit of hindsight, I don't think it's fair to lay ultimate responsibility for this disaster at NASA's door (though clearly that's what's going to happen, they being such convenient scapegoats). No, the ultimate responsibility for the death of those astronauts is in our hands, yours and mine, the people who allowed, no, demanded that the engineers, managers, and politicians running NASA dutifully recreate the exact same conditions that led to our previous two lethal space-program disasters. Sending people off our planet on a flaming bomb and returning them safely to Earth are things that, currently at least, are at the very limits of our abilities. Given a few dozen successes, though, we come to see it as routine, and the public's interest wanes, and the funding starts to dry up, and decision-makers more attuned to the public will than to the engineering realities of what they're engaged in begin to cut corners, until some brave adventurers pay for that hubris with their lives. Anyway, enough of that. Here are some links to provide context: the late Richard Feynman's appendix to the Challenger investigation report, where he wrote, "For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled." And, from a 19-year-old test pilot named John Gillespie Magee, Jr., Highflight.

Posted by jbc at 07:56 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)