January 31, 2004

Armin Meiwes - Euthanasia By Cannibalism

(I can NOT believe we haven't mentioned this story on lies.com before)

Armin Meiwes was found guilty of manslaughter in a German court this week, and sentenced to 8.5 years in prison. Armin recieved this sentance for castrating his victim, eating his flesh while the victim bleed to death, and then butchering and freezing his body to eat over the course of several months -- all of which he recorded on video for later sexual gratification.

Now brace yourself -- none of that is the bizarre part.

The bizarre part is that the victim was a willing participant in the whole experience -- and even choose to eat some of his own flesh before dying. (I know, it sounds like i'm plagiarizing "Hannibal" but I'm not.) Like Meiwes, his victim "Bernd-Juergen Brandes" was a cannibalism fetishist, with a Hansel and Gretel obsession, who prepared a very detailed will, and sold most of his property before going to Meiwes's house and asked to be eaten. The two met had met online, when Brandes responded Meiwes's Internet chat room post: "Gay male seeks hunks 18-30 to slaughter."

This all happened back in 1995. Meiwes wasn't arrested until December of 2002 when police were tiped off by chat room users after Meiwes posted again, looking for another victim.

The German news organization "DW World" seems to have the most comprehensive coverage, so Here's a breif timeline of their articles...

(That last video link includes a great straight faced delivery by the News anchor asking the reporter why legal experts are saying that this case is so "unique").

Posted by hossman at 05:48 PM | view/comment (3) | TrackBack (0)

January 29, 2004

Print This Finger

I remember hearing about the US's new Fingerprint & Photo rule for visitors with visas while I was in Australia earlier this year (not sure how much press it got here, it was *HUGE* overseas). And I remember hearing that Brazil had decided to reciprocate by requiring that any US citizen travelling to Brazil would have to do the same. But somehow I managged to miss seeing this story untill now....

An American Airlines pilot was detained/fined ~$13,000 for making an "internationally recognized obscene gesture while he was being photographed for identification." Now admittedly, I wasn't there ... I don't know what he said when the picture was taken, or what his overall demeaner was ... but I don't understand how they can possible justify arresting the guy based purely on the picture. I know lots of people who might hold up a piece of paper like that.

Posted by hossman at 10:25 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

(Spontaneously) Exploding Whale

Everybody knows how gross it can be when a whale blows up. But imagine how bad it would be be if it happened all over your car. Actually, don't bother imagining -- this is why you shouldn't drive 60-tons of decomposing flesh through the center of town.

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United States of Islam

Between this and the Hitler-baby image, I'm running the risk of becoming the lies yellow journalist of late, but I'm a sucker for a good picture:

At last, conclusive evidence Saddam not only funded terrorism against the US, but planned to invade! Click the image for more shocking revelations!!

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Pollitt on Dr. Judith Steinberg

Columnist Katha Pollitt has a great column in The Nation that gets right to the heart of what bugged me about Diane Sawyer's interview with Howard Dean and his wife: Judy, Judy, Judy.

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January 28, 2004

Why Bush Will Lose

Forget, for the moment, the people like me, who basically hate Bush. Forget, too, the people who listen to right-wing talk radio and believe what it says. Neither of us is ever going to determine the outcome of a presidential election in this country.

Focus on the middle, the undecided, the independents. These are the people who, when it comes time to vote for president, vote for the candidate, not the party. These are the folks who are going to decide things in November.

I think these folks are going to send Bush back to Crawford. Why? Because his appeal is based largely on smoke and mirrors, and his failures as president are getting harder and harder to obscure. Also, many of those failures are in the area of national security, which, in case you haven't noticed, is a key concern these days.

As of now, Bush has presided over two of the worst national security-related intelligence failures in the history of the country. That's pretty sad for just three years in office. His supporters persist in trying to blame 9/11 on Clinton, but for non-partisans that's a non-starter. With the two commissions investigating things coming out with their results, it's increasingly clear that lots of mistakes were made. Bush can take responsibility, in which case he's (rightly) toast; or he can claim ignorance and incompetence, in which case he's (rightly) toast. Take your pick.

Meanwhile, we have Iraq, the war that savaged our country's credibility throughout the world, the pre-emptive invasion of a sovereign nation for which we couldn't get either UN or NATO support, or even a simple majority on the Security Council, but which Bush pushed through anyway, confident the post-war search would turn up smoking-gun WMD stockpiles that would earn grudging apologies from his detractors both abroad and at home. Except it didn't. The search found the opposite: the detractors were right, he was wrong.

From today's extremely Web-challenged LA Times: Bush defends Iraq war, intelligence agencies. I'm going to quote fairly extensively, since they like to change URLs:

Days after the top U.S. arms inspector, David Kay, said he did not believe that Iraq had stockpiled chemical or biological weapons or had a substantial nuclear weapons program, Bush did not answer directly when reporters asked about his own earlier claims.

"There is no doubt in my mind that Saddam Hussein was a gathering threat to America and others. That's what we know," Bush said. "We know that he was a dangerous man in a dangerous part of the world."

Bush said he wants to wait until the Iraq Survey Group, which Kay headed until he resigned Friday, completes its work "so we can find out the facts and compare the facts to what was thought"...

Bush's remarks immediately reverberated on Capitol Hill and among the Democrats competing to run against him in the autumn.

In a meeting later in the day between Bush and congressional leaders about this year's legislative agenda, Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) confronted Bush with the questions raised by Kay about the justification for the Iraq war, according to sources familiar with the meeting.

Daschle complained that lawmakers had based their votes on the war on erroneous information about weapons of mass destruction. Bush interrupted to defend the war as "a worthy effort."

Daschle said he was not questioning the worth of the war but insisted that the government needed to get to the bottom of the intelligence failure. A senior Republican at the meeting, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), reportedly backed Daschle on that point...

"Clearly, the intelligence that we went to war on was inaccurate, wrong," Kay told NBC anchorman Tom Brokaw in an interview aired Monday evening, one of several he has given in recent days. Kay also said the intelligence community owed Bush an apology.

But the president Tuesday expressed "great confidence" in the intelligence apparatus.

"These are unbelievably hard-working, dedicated people who are doing a great job for America," he told reporters.

As with 9/11, Bush is on the horns of a dilemma. Either he played an active role in perverting the intelligence, lying to the world and his own people about the threat represented by Saddam, which would make him a very bad man, unworthy of the presidency. Or he is presiding over a spectacularly flawed intelligence process that leaves him unable to distinguish real threats from illusions, but he still believes the intelligence folks are doing a fabulous job, which would make him a doofus, and again, unworthy of the presidency.

He's doing his best to avoid either horn by obfuscating ("weapons of mass destruction-related program activities," anyone?) and changing the subject (steroids! we've got to do something about steroids!), but with Dean having given a backbone transfusion to the previously timid field of Democratic hopefuls, criticism of Bush's national security failures is going to be a central theme of the debate between now and the election.

Unlike last time, Bush has a record. And it sucks. He can't run on it, and he can't run away from it. What's left?

Hmm. Maybe this Onion article points the way: Bush 2004 campaign promises to restore honor and dignity to White House.

Update: Adam takes a contrarian view.

Posted by jbc at 08:39 AM | view/comment (31) | TrackBack (0)

January 27, 2004

Parrot Has 950-Word Vocabulary

One of my favorite books as a young boy was Vinson Brown's How to Understand Animal Talk. With a little imagination and patience, learning to communicate with another species really isn't all that hard.

Here's an example of that sort of communication going in the opposite direction: Parrot's oratory stuns scientists. The stuff about telepathy, and the generally breathless nature of the story, make me worry that what we've really got here is the Brit equivalent of the Weekly World News, but still, it's fun.

Posted by jbc at 05:12 PM | view/comment (3) | TrackBack (0)

Al Franken, Celebrity Wrestler

It's sobering to think that this presidential campaign is only just beginning, given how ugly things are getting already. Tighten your seatbelts, folks.

Anyway: Al Franken knocks down Dean heckler.

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Chait, Moore on Bush's AWOL Incident

Here are a few more followups to the story about Michael Moore calling Bush a "deserter" for his time spent AWOL while in the National Guard. First up, Moore's take on the story: You say deserter, I say more dessert. And from Jonathon Chait, senior editor at The New Republic, this piece, which focuses on the very focus-worthy issue of the double standard that some in the media are employing: Standard issue.

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GYWO Does the SOTU

Get Your War On offers its response to the State of the Union address: Page thirty-one. Heh.

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January 26, 2004

McNamara on the Iraq-Vietnam Parallel

Here's an interesting article based on an interview with former Defense Secretary Robert McNamara: 'It's just wrong what we're doing'. McNamara is haunted, apparently, by the many ways in which the Bush administration's Iraq policies betray a profound lack of appreciation of the lessons of Vietnam.

Thanks to Jerome Doolittle of Bad Attitudes for the link.

Posted by jbc at 07:50 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

George Bush: AWOL

Orcinus has a nice discussion of the ongoing flap regarding Michael Moore's having called Bush a "deserter," and Peter Jennings (and other media types) then pushing Wesley Clark to repudiate the statement. More specifically, Orcinus focuses on the too-hasty effort by Bush supporters (like Donald Sensing) to sweep under the rug the question of just what Bush might actually be guilty of, assuming that a strict reading of the Uniform Code of Military Justice exonerates him from a charge of desertion: AWOL Bush: Debunked? Hardly!

Posted by jbc at 07:44 PM | view/comment (7) | TrackBack (0)

CIA Worries About Civil War in Iraq

So, with Bush determined to bolster his domestic political position by handing over power in Iraq to some sort of authority (any sort of authority, apparently) by the end of June, we seem to be heading toward a very nasty time for Iraqis. For example, the CIA now joins Steve Gilliard in worrying about the prospect of open conflict between Iraq's Sunni, Shiite, and Kurdish populations: CIA warns of Iraq civil war.

(Steve Gilliard, by the way, has landed in the hospital with a heart-valve infection, and will apparently be having surgery soon. Having been through a similar experience with my daughter a few years back, I sympathize, and wish him the best in the operation, and a speedy recovery. More details as they emerge at his weblog.)

Posted by jbc at 07:34 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Marshall on the Fragility of US Empire

Besides being a politics-obsessed weblogger, Josh Micah Marshall has a PhD in history, which is very much on display in this review of several recent books on US empire that he has written for the New Yorker: Power rangers.

The basic notion here is that by ignoring the more subtle diplomatic consensus-building that went into creating the current US empire, and opting instead for the naked exercise of military and economic power, the Bush team has dramatically, perhaps fatally, weakened our position in the world.

Interesting stuff.

Posted by jbc at 09:46 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 25, 2004

Drum on Bush's Politicization of the War on Terror

Here's one of the better things I've read from Kevin Drum (of Calpundit) lately: Terrorism and elections. He ties together some things really well, pointing out how Bush has undercut the war on terror by reducing it to a political wedge issue. An excerpt:

After 9/11 George Bush had a chance to build a bipartisan consensus about terrorism and how to respond to it. But he didn't just fail to do that, he deliberately tried to prevent it, and by transparently treating terrorism as little more than a chance to boost the prospects of his own party he has convinced everyone who's not a Republican that it's not really a serious threat. After all, if he quite obviously treats it as simply a political opportunity, it's hardly reasonable to expect anyone else to take it seriously either.

Update: And now Drum writes more on the same topic: Bush at war. Great stuff.

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January 24, 2004

Lileks' Dean Remix

On some level it pains me to reinforce the silliness surrounding Howard Dean's too-excited response to the Iowa results, but it really is pretty funny: Lileks' Dean remix.

Go on; get it out of your system. There's more here, if you like them: Dean goes nuts.

You might consider viewing this video, too, shot from within the crowd at the event: What we saw. I don't know; viewed in context, it doesn't seem like that big a deal. And Timothy Noah at Slate, after watching Dean's interview with Diane Sawyer, thinks Dean should stop apologizing: Dean, lobotomized.

Posted by jbc at 02:31 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Kay: There Are, and Were, No WMD

So, David Kay is off the hunt. That is, he's stepping down as head of the Iraqi WMD search, and has told Reuters in an interview that he doesn't believe there are any WMD in Iraq, that there weren't any at the time of the US invasion, and that it wasn't that the WMD had been destroyed in the run-up to the war, but rather that they never existed in the first place.

Posted by jbc at 02:13 AM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

January 23, 2004

Rejection of Conspiracy Theories Considered Harmful

Here's a fun item from The Spectator's John Laughland: I believe in conspiracies.

Posted by jbc at 11:53 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Is Dick Cheney Senile?

I think it's time that we, as a country, take a serious look at the mental health of the vice president. When an aging loved one clings stubbornly to beliefs that fly in the face of reality, we're inclined to look the other way, to make excuses, to quietly cover up the problem.

But when the person losing his grip is the vice president, it's a different matter. It would be okay if we could just put him into 'safe' mode and have him send beeps back to the home planet every so often. But it's not working out that way; he's continuing to beam corrupted data to the gullible mind at Mission Control. And there's that "only a heartbeat away" thing, too.

Righties will dismiss this as snark, but I'm serious. I think there is real evidence that Dick Cheney is actually, literally, senile.

Something to think about.

Posted by jbc at 08:49 AM | view/comment (2) | TrackBack (0)

January 22, 2004

Human Stories of Mars, by Stephen Baxter

In case you haven't heard, NASA has lost contact with Spirit -- which makes this Stephen Baxter article I recieved today all the more interesting. It's got just the right mix of historical factoids and pragmatic optimism to put the past, present and future of Martian exploration into perspective...


Posted by hossman at 11:35 PM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

Military Lawyers Challenge Bush on Guantanamo Detainees

Here's an item from Salon that is worth sitting through the one-day-pass commercial: A legal black hole. Seems the military lawyers tasked with defending the rights of detainees at the Guantanamo detention facility see something familiar in the Bush administration's latest arguments:

In the Declaration of Independence, the American colonists listed their grievances against King George: He had attempted to "render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power," he had deprived the colonists "of the benefits of trial by jury," he had "made Judges dependent on his Will alone," and he had transported colonists "beyond Seas to be tried for pretend Offences."

In an extraordinary brief filed with the United States Supreme Court this week, five experienced U.S. military lawyers have leveled precisely the same charges at another would-be King George: the current president of the United States. Only this time, the oppressed citizens aren't American colonists; they're detainees being held at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

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Republican Staffers Steal Democrats' Files, Blame Victims

This one is pretty sweet: Infiltration of files seen as extensive. Seems that the ongoing investigation into how some confidential Democratic strategy memos turned up in the hands of Republican congressmen and conservative media mouthpieces has uncovered lots of wrongdoing:

Republican staff members of the US Senate Judiciary Commitee infiltrated opposition computer files for a year, monitoring secret strategy memos and periodically passing on copies to the media, Senate officials told The Globe.

From the spring of 2002 until at least April 2003, members of the GOP committee staff exploited a computer glitch that allowed them to access restricted Democratic communications without a password. Trolling through hundreds of memos, they were able to read talking points and accounts of private meetings discussing which judicial nominees Democrats would fight -- and with what tactics.

I especially like this part, near the end:

[Republican staffer Manuel Miranda] also argued that the only wrongdoing was on the part of the Democrats -- both for the content of their memos, and for their negligence in placing them where they could be seen.

"There appears to have been no hacking, no stealing, and no violation of any Senate rule," Miranda said. "Stealing assumes a property right and there is no property right to a government document. . . . These documents are not covered under the Senate disclosure rule because they are not official business and, to the extent they were disclosed, they were disclosed inadvertently by negligent [Democratic] staff."

This reminds me of nothing so much as the 2000 Florida recount, when Gore's people came in with an attitude of, "Whoa; let's slow down here. We've gotta handle this in a way that produces a fair outcome while preserving the principles of our democracy." Meanwhile, Bush's people were going balls-to-the-wall with anything they could think of to get their guy a win, democracy be damned.

Yeah, I realize that restraining yourself in the face of an opponent who isn't willing to play fair is a sucker's game. We've certainly seen that in the media, where we have a more-or-less professional batch of folks who seek to minimize bias on one "side" (really, more in the middle, by design), countered by the over-the-top partisans of the right-wing echo chamber.

I don't want to be a sucker. But I'm a human being, and I want to live a decent life. Sometimes it's better to play by the rules, even when the other side isn't. Sometimes it's better to risk losing than it is to improve your chances by compromising your principles.

I think this is one of those times.

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

SOTU of Mass Deception-Related Blogging Activities

Atrios points out that the artless phrase "weapons of mass destruction-related program activities" wasn't original, but actually appeared last October in an OpEd piece written by Republican congressman Peter Hoekstra of Michigan. Actually, the lifted quotation goes farther than that; both speech and article talk about "dozens of weapons of mass destruction-related program activities and significant amounts of equipment that Iraq concealed from the United Nations." No, really.

Winston Smith of Philosoraptor doesn't think much of the phrase.

Kevin Drum of CalPundit (whose post provided three of the four items mentioned here - plagiarism runs wild!) has this nifty timeline:

March 2003: Weapons of mass destruction.
June 2003: Weapons of mass destruction programs.
October 2003: Weapons of mass destruction-related programs.
January 2004: Weapons of mass destruction-related program activities.

Finally, USA Today offers some actually-really-good contextualizing of Bush's statements in the speech.

Posted by jbc at 06:50 AM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

January 21, 2004

A Jab at Rightmarch.com

So I was listening to an NPR interview with the founder of RightMarch.com on the way home, hoping to hear a thoughtful counterpoint to MoveOn.org's stance and getting a little annoyed at Terry Gross' bad interview style. I was pretty severely let down by the guest though and decided to take a look at RightMarch since I actually hadn't heard of it before. I was greeted with this image on the homepage:

... referring to the couple of Hitler-related entires to the "Bush in 30 Seconds" competition of course.

Now I'm the first one to dismiss anybody using an argument that involves Hitler, but the visual argument made by that image on RightMarch's homepage was exactly the kind of logically worthless "common sense" criticism that the founder was indulging in on the air. So in response, I give you (un-photoshopped):

Posted by ymatt at 06:48 PM | view/comment (16) | TrackBack (0)

Is that a vacuum cleaner in your gut, or are you just happy to see me?

I'm not sure what to make of this, ... the first thing that jumps out at me, is that calling it "X-Ray Vision" is missleading, since it claims she is "capable of distinguishing even the tiniest pathology on a molecular level ... which sounds a lot less like the science-fictiony concept of "X-Ray Vision" and more like the Fantasy-ic concept of "Being in tune with the Universe, and every living organism". But for what it's worth: The Girl With X-Ray Vision

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

Why Does This Make Me Laugh?

On the subject of hilarious things connected with last night's State of the Union address, check out this little ditty from Jerome Doolittle of Bad Attitudes: Fashion and grooming, state of. I don't know why it's so funny. Maybe it's just me.

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

"For diplomacy to be effective, words must be credible. And no one can now doubt the word of America."

Posted by jbc at 08:36 AM | view/comment (4) | TrackBack (0)

January 17, 2004

Krugman Gets It

Paul Krugman's latest: Who gets it? An excerpt:

A Democratic candidate will have a chance of winning only if he has an energized base, willing to contribute money in many small donations, willing to contribute their own time, willing to stand up for the candidate in the face of smear tactics and unfair coverage.

That doesn't mean that the Democratic candidate has to be a radical -- which is a good thing for the party, since all of the candidates are actually quite moderate. In fact, what the party needs is a candidate who inspires the base enough to get out the message that he isn't a radical -- and that Mr. Bush is. 

Posted by jbc at 08:28 PM | view/comment (6) | TrackBack (0)

Same Story, Different (Virtual) Reality

Last net.kooks entry for now, I promise. From The Independent, here's a story that I've read at least ten times since I first began using bulletin boards back in the day: Blood on the virtual carpet: tempers flare as 'editor' is thrown out of online town with 80,000 inhabitants.

Okay; maybe I haven't read that exact story ten times, but pretty close: Human participants find way to inject their individual personality into a collaborative online experience in ways that the architects of the system didn't anticipate. Hilarity ensues.

Still, it's interesting, at least if you're wired the way I am.

Posted by jbc at 08:24 PM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

Attack of the Fifty-Foot Roosters

Item 2 of 3 in my net.kooks extravaganza: An illustration of spam.... From Tom Coates of plasticbag.org.

Posted by jbc at 08:16 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Website Mixmaster

Perl goddess Mina Naguib has this really well-done tool for mixing the content of one web site with the layout of another: website mixmaster. Browse the pre-packaged links at the bottom of the form if you can't think of anything to run through it yourself, and don't shy away from the naughty ones: they're fun!

Posted by jbc at 08:10 PM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

The US Brain Drain

This article from The Washington Monthly is pretty interesting: Creative class war. It's about how the the US is losing its traditonal role in the world economy as a magnet for creativity and innovation.

Thanks to Tuesday at This Girl Thinks for the link.

Posted by jbc at 08:07 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 16, 2004

Hoagland Finds Machinery on Mars

I don't know why this cracks me up so much, but it does. Richard C. Hoagland, popularizer of the "Face on Mars" thing, looks at the imagery being returned by the Spirit rover and sees something amazing: A gallery of cased objects and machinery at the Spirit landing site.

Dunno, Richard; they kinda look like rocks to me.

Interesting background info available here: A skeptical look at Richard C. Hoagland.

Thanks to my new idol, Winston Smith at Philosoraptor, for the link.

Posted by jbc at 07:29 PM | view/comment (3) | TrackBack (0)

Understanding Iowa, Underestimating Iowa

A buddy of mine asked for an explaination of how the Iowa caucus worked, which prompted two URLs: a long boring document, and an insightful explanation from Time Magazine. Clicking arround Time somemore, I noticed another Iowa article, which got my attention quickly with this quote from Dean (circa 1999)...

If you look at the caucuses system, they are dominated by the special interests in both parties, [and] the special interests don't represent the centrist tendencies of the American people,
I can't stand there and listen to everyone else's opinion for eight hours about how to fix the world.

The article goes on to have some pretty interesting comments about how much the media overestimates the importance of the results in Iowa, and some candiates seem to be underestimating it.

Posted by hossman at 02:55 PM | view/comment (4) | TrackBack (0)

Rebecca Lawton Paddles the Sea of Cortez

Just a random thing I came across while googling for stuff to help me better differentiate between an American Oystercatcher and an American Oystercatcher x Black Oystercatcher hybrid: Rebecca Lawton's Life list: My log from the Sea of Cortez.

A little reminder of what the Web used to be, and still is, all the pop-ups and pr0n and brochureware notwithstanding.

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January 15, 2004

Philosoraptor on Bush's Lysenkoism

Speaking of Philosoraptor, here's a really fantastic piece where he (that is to say, "Winston Smith") goes into depth on the ways in which the Bush folks pervert data to match their ideological preconceptions, on everything from global warming to Iraqi WMD evidence: Bush's Lysenkoism and the distortion of intelligence.

Philosoraptor at its best.

(Update: See also the version of the story at Blogcritics, which has nifty followup discussion with responses by Winston Smith. That guy rules.)

Posted by jbc at 06:28 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Interview Hijacking 101

As linked to by Winston Smith of Philosoraptor, here's a fairly interesting article from the Columbia Journalism Review on the ways in which politicians and CEOs deliberately avoid responding to interviewers' questions: Answer the &$%#* Question!

Posted by jbc at 06:22 PM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Al Gore on Global Warming and the Environment

Gore continues to deliver great, hard-hitting critiques of Bush (better than anything he said when he was actually campaigning against him). The latest is his speech today to members of MoveOn.org at the Beacon Theater in New York: Al Gore Speaks on global warming and the environment.


Posted by jbc at 06:17 PM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

January 14, 2004

The Corporation As Psychopath

From frequent link-suggester Steve D. comes word of this interesting-sounding documentary: The Corporation. The basic concept is that when analyzed by the same criteria used to evaluate real humans' mental health, corporate 'persons' turn out to be indistinguishable from raving psychopaths.

Worth thinking about, eh?

Posted by jbc at 11:01 AM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

Star-Tribune Editorial on the Iraq War

Here's a great editorial from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune: The wrong war/Why Iraq was a mistake. Really gets to the heart of the matter.

Bigtime thanks to Mark Richter for the link.

Posted by jbc at 07:06 AM | view/comment (2) | TrackBack (0)

January 13, 2004

Fox Reality Show Creators Plumb New Depths

Never having actually watched a reality show, I'm probably not the person to be reporting on this development. But I still found it interesting when Bravo brought the following to my attention: Fox Woos Viewers with 'Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance'.

The series marks the latest creation from Fox reality TV guru Mike Darnell, the man behind last year's "Joe Millionaire," the more recent hit "The Simple Life" and the highly rated but controversial Fox special from the year 2000, "Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire?"

He said of all the reality programs he's done, "Fiance" proved the most intense and was "the closest we've ever come to not completing a television show."

"The family's reaction is more than we ever could have imagined that it would be," Darnell told Reuters. "It was very difficult for them, and that made it extraordinarily difficult for her. ... It's hysterical."

I dunno. There's something just horribly decadent/disgusting-sounding to me about this. It's like the networks are in some kind of a race to see who can be the first to reach the absolute nadir of human creative output. Today's Onion article becomes tomorrow's reality show (and the day-after-tomorrows' tired ratings bomb).

Truly, the End is Nigh.

Posted by jbc at 02:32 PM | view/comment (4) | TrackBack (0)

Prieur on the Coming Assassination of Howard Dean

From tinfoil-hat leftist Ran Prieur comes this nifty essay: Howard Dean must die (an endorsement). This will be interesting for righties and lefties both, though they'll have different reasons for finding it so. It's a two-fer!

Thanks to Adam at Words Mean Things for the link.

Posted by jbc at 06:16 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 11, 2004

Pitt: Bush Knew

Nice summing up by William Rivers Pitt of Truthout: Two loud words. An excerpt from his conclusion:

George W. Bush is going to run in 2004 on the idea that his administration is the only one capable of protecting us from another attack like the ones which took place on September 11. Yet the record to date is clear. Not only did they fail in spectacular fashion to deal with those first threats, not only has their reaction caused us to be less safe, not only have they failed to sufficiently bolster our defenses, but they used the aftermath of the attacks to ram through policies they couldn't have dreamed of achieving on September 10. It is one of the most remarkable turnabouts in American political history: Never before has an administration used so grisly a personal failure to such excellent effect.

Posted by jbc at 04:53 PM | view/comment (2) | TrackBack (0)

January 08, 2004

The _Real_ Bush Ad I'd Like to See

This one starts off sounding like a garden-variety MoveOn.org anti-Bush ad, and then, about halfway through, it kicks into another gear entirely. From liberaloasis.com's Mark Spittle: Bush in 41.2 seconds.

Warning: Describes Bush accurately. Those who are offended by foul language are encouraged to steer clear, unless they're Bush supporters. Heh.

Posted by jbc at 01:49 AM | view/comment (7) | TrackBack (0)

Dean (John Dean) on the Latest Plame-Outing Investigation Developments

Who better to speculate on what's going on inside the investigation into the felonious leaking of Valerie Plame's identity to reporters than John Dean? He has lots of informed speculation about the possiblity of a low- or mid-level White House staffer with knowledge of the leaker's identity having cut a deal, possibly, leading to the latest flurry of events: Why Did Attorney General Ashcroft Remove Himself From The Valerie Plame Wilson Leak Investigation?

There's something just so, so, um, something, about John Dean giving expert testimony on the actions and motivations of mid-level executive branch lackeys who have knowledge of illegal actions by higher-ups.

Posted by jbc at 01:34 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 07, 2004

Artists on Acid

ymatt threw this my way. I'm not sure where he found it, but it's kinda interesting: Acid trip 1.

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

January 06, 2004

Drezner Does Britney (In His Dreams)

From actually-able-to-be-stomached conservative blogger Daniel Drezner (see, Adam? they do exist) comes this fascinating item: A very informative post about... Britney Spears.

Posted by jbc at 08:22 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Club for Growth, Ralph Peters on Dean

The attacks continue to escalate. The Republican "Club for Growth" is preparing an anti-Dean issue ad to be run in Iowa: Conservatives launch TV attack ad on Dean. And Ralph Peters goes to town in a NY Post opinion piece: Howard the coward.

The two attacks offer an interesting study in comparative bullshit. The Club for Growth just flat-out lies about Dean's alleged raving-leftist pedigree:

In the ad, a farmer says he thinks that "Howard Dean should take his tax-hiking, government-expanding, latte-drinking, sushi-eating, Volvo-driving, New York Times-reading ..." before the farmer's wife then finishes the sentence: "... Hollywood-loving, left-wing freak show back to Vermont, where it belongs."

Peters is a bit more honest, but only in the sense that he begins with some actual Dean statements (basically, all the "gaffes" that have been circulating over the last few weeks) before launching into fantasyland. And he wins points for being the first Dean opponent I've seen to officially lose the debate under the terms of Godwin's Law.

I really am looking forward to this election. It's going to be a perfect test case of whether or not this country deserves to survive. On the one hand we have an incumbent who is an objective failure in every area, who has amply demonstrated his contempt for everything this country stands for, and who seeks to be reinstalled solely with blatant deception, good visuals, and truckloads of money. On the other hand we have a short, unfriendly Yankee who speaks the truth without much, if any, regard for how the other side will twist his words. He just tells it like it is.

Will we, as an electorate, choose the guy who tells us what we want to hear, even when it's obvious with almost any degree of analysis that it's horseshit? Or will we choose the guy who tells the truth, but doesn't bother to sugarcoat it?

We're very much going to get the government we deserve here. And if you choose not to vote, you're going to be missing out on a a great opportunity to help define the kind of country you and your descendents are going to live in.

Posted by jbc at 08:13 AM | view/comment (4) | TrackBack (0)

January 05, 2004

'Bush in 30 Seconds' Finalists Announced

So, the 15 finalists have been announced in moveon.org's contest to create 30-second issue ads about Bush's presidency: BushIn30Seconds.org. I think my favorites are "Child's Pay," "Polygraph," and "What Are We Teaching Our Children?"

Posted by jbc at 12:55 PM | view/comment (3) | TrackBack (0)

Michael Crichton on Bad Science

Michael Crichton has always kind of struck me as a pompous dork, an example writ large of "I'm a trained medical doctor, therefore I am qualified to mock the opinions of anyone churlish enough to disagree with me on any subject whatsoever" egotism. But the lecture he recently gave at Caltech is still pretty interesting: Aliens cause global warming.

Posted by jbc at 09:17 AM | view/comment (13) | TrackBack (0)

January 04, 2004

Krugman Rips Those Ripping Dean

A really fabulous piece from Paul Krugman: Who's Nader now? Seriously, Lieberman and Kerry are pissing me off with this Dean-bashing. Krugman puts it well: "The irony is that by seeking to undermine the election prospects of a man who may well be their party's nominee, Mr. Lieberman and Mr. Kerry have reminded us of why their once-promising campaigns imploded."

Posted by jbc at 04:49 PM | view/comment (2) | TrackBack (0)

Helen Thomas's Memory

I wonder how many people with "9/11: Never forget" bumper stickers support the Iraq war as an appropriate response to those attacks. I guess it's hard to forget something (like who the perpetrators of those attacks actually were) when you never really knew it in the first place.

Anyway, that's a different issue. In the year-end wrap-up vein, Helen Thomas has a nice column where she lists politicians' statements from 2003 that voters would do well to remember: Some words better left unuttered.

Posted by jbc at 09:10 AM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

Rice Resists Testifying About 9/11

Scott Forbes at A Yank in Oz tries, and fails, to come up with an acceptable reason why Condoleeza Rice might want to avoid testifying before the 9/11 commission: Secrets and lies.

Posted by jbc at 08:57 AM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

41 US Iraq War Dead in December

December's US bodycount wasn't as bad as November's, merely as bad as the previous awful months. I've updated my Iraq-Vietnam comparison graphs accordingly.

Again, I'm getting these figures from the advanced search tool at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund site, and from Lunaville's page on Iraq coalition casualties. The figures are for the number of US dead per month, without regard to whether the deaths were combat-related.

The first graph shows the first twelve months of the Vietnam war, and the first ten months of the Iraq war. (Click on any image for a larger version.)

Next, the same chart, with the Vietnam numbers extended out to cover the first four years of the war:

Finally, the chart that gives the US death toll for the entire Vietnam war:

Obligatory note: I am not claiming any military significance in this particular comparison. I'm just talking about the wars' respective political histories. See lengthy discussion in my previous postings here, here, and here.

And for a somewhat more personal look at the human cost of Bush's failed Iraq policies, check out this page from militarycity.com: Faces of valor.

Posted by jbc at 08:26 AM | view/comment (8) | TrackBack (0)