Friday, September 28, 2007

quick gloat

I know it's early in the season, but I'd just like to point out one of my old NFL draft prognostications:
Again we see how useless and myopic the vast majority of professional sportscasters are. I didn't read a single one who put Young higher than no.7 (several had him going to Oakland... yuck!) and they were pretty much all in agreement that Leinart would be in the top 3. Some of the same ones are now snickering at the Texans for passing on Leinart and Bush (despite the fact that QB and RB are pretty much the only positions they don't need) so that they could pick up a DE and, ya know, maybe try to fix the worst defense in the NFL.

Reggie Bush's avg. yards/carry this season: 3.5
his avg. yards/game: 33.9
Bush is sitting right at about the league average on yards and his team is sputtering, big time. Leinart's QB average-- 62.6-- is about 20 points below average on a team that hardly looks better than it did 2 years ago. Mario Williams, however, is part of a revived defense that has "electrified" the Texans team and fanbase, according to the talking heads, to a 2-1 start in what is unquestionably the strongest division in the NFL.

I'm not saying that Leinart and Bush will never be superstars; I'm just saying that Houston made the right decision in passing on the high-dollar hotshots playing positions they already had filled, and instead start rebuilding from their weakest spot, which at the time was their D. What's happening with the team now is called dividends.

your sons and your daughters are beyond your command

Rumors of a military insurrection and coup attempt in Myanmar:
Since Internet service was cut by the Junta yesterday I have been monotoring dissident sites, Chinese sources and Western MSM.

Unconfirmed rumors of escalated violance agaist Buddhist monks by the army overnight are likely to be true but apperently many solders refused to attached religous leaders and an inserrection ensured.

Separately, a Coup apprears to have been organized by General Maung and the army is reported to be garding the house of dissident Aung San Suu Kyi.

It's now 2;13 AM Shanghai time but I will try to confirm the above reports through other sources.

Hope for the best.

Sounds so unlikely, but I can't help but hope for a coup that, in turn, yields to democracy. Hey, it happened in the Philippines!


The degree of deification I'm still seeing for Charlie Weis on ND football sites is getting to be pretty embarrassing. The "Yet Charlie knew it would be this bad, he hath planned for it in His Wisdom which floweth down from the Mountain after the Devil, who wast hired as affirmative action to boost the image of Our Lady, bequeathed unto Him the worst team ever" shit is really getting old.

Suck it up, sheep. He's a flawed coach, and he's not at fault for our troubles merely because "he's a risk taker" or some tripe. His play calling this year has been uninspired, conservative, and predictable (except, of course, when he runs the same losing play twice in a row). Also, some of his recruiting choices, depth chart assignments, and use of his players has been suspect.

Quiz: how tall is the tallest ND starting wideout?
Answer: it's a trick question; they're both 5'10".

If all of ND's woes are Ty's fault, why is Washington so much better than Notre Dame this year?

Here we go, Steelers

Nothing insightful to say really, just that I laughed out loud at this. Here's King Kaufman making his NFL Week 4 picks:
PITTSBURGH (3-0) at Arizona (1-2)
The Cardinals did this cool thing last week where they shuttled Kurt Warner -- kids, ask your parents: He used to be a big deal -- in to run a no-huddle offense. It's the kind of wrinkle Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt was known for when he was the offensive coordinator for the Steelers, the kind of thing that keeps the other team off-balance and guessing. Unless the other team is the Steelers, who'll shrug their shoulders and say, "We don't care who's back there. We're blitzing." Which will work just dandy.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

how skewed election coverage is: an example

At my father's house in the South, they occasionally watch FOX News. He honestly thought Barack Obama was Muslim.

can't stop the signal

God bless the internet. From AFP:
Savvy young bloggers in Myanmar are breaking through the military junta's tight Internet controls to post photos and videos of swelling anti-government protests, experts said Tuesday.

The government blocks almost every website that carries news or information about the Southeast Asian country, and even bars access to web-based email.

But an army of young techies in Yangon works around the clock to circumvent the censors, posting pictures and videos on blogs almost as soon as the protests happen.

Many of these images have been picked up by mainstream news organisations, because bloggers have managed to capture images that no one else can get.

Here's an interesting article on one Burmese blogger and the attempts of people inside Burma to contact him (including Burmese officials spreading disinformation).

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

"it's the perfect size for the human mouth"

You just can't make this up. Another creationist teaches a lesson about unintentional irony:


what a genius

Great work from Tom Tomorrow. I will remind you, also, that Greenspan spent much of his life prostrating himself before the wisdom of Ayn Rand.

Worst. Idea. Ever.

From the BBC:
US Army snipers in Iraq are ordered to "bait" areas with explosives and ammunition and then kill whoever picks them up, according to court documents.
"Basically, we would put an item out there and watch it," he said.

"If someone found the item, picked it up and attempted to leave with the item, we would engage the individual as I saw this as a sign they would use the item against US Forces."
Within months of the "baiting" programme being introduced, three snipers from Capt Didier's platoon, which was attached 1st Battalion of the 501st Infantry Regiment, were charged with premeditated murder after using "drop items" to make shootings appear legitimate, according to the Post.

What is this, Operation Elmer Fudd?

I'm sure it's been asked already, but if you were walking down the street and saw a cartridge of bullets on the ground, what are the chances you would pick it up?

Friday, September 21, 2007

literally, a weblog

So bitter and sanctimonious and sarcastic and awesome. Being a bit of a grammar Nazi myself, this happens to be one of my biggest peeves as well (though, of course, nothing remotely approaching cellphones in theaters).

It's not literally, people. It's practically.

This blog makes me embarrassed to be an American.

Bush: the Constitution "just a goddamned piece of paper"

From Capitol Hill Blue:
Dec 5, 2005, 07:53

Last month, Republican Congressional leaders filed into the Oval Office to meet with President George W. Bush and talk about renewing the controversial USA Patriot Act.

Several provisions of the act, passed in the shell shocked period immediately following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, caused enough anger that liberal groups like the American Civil Liberties Union had joined forces with prominent conservatives like Phyllis Schlafly and Bob Barr to oppose renewal.

GOP leaders told Bush that his hardcore push to renew the more onerous provisions of the act could further alienate conservatives still mad at the President from his botched attempt to nominate White House Counsel Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court.

“I don’t give a goddamn,” Bush retorted. “I’m the President and the Commander-in-Chief. Do it my way.”

“Mr. President,” one aide in the meeting said. “There is a valid case that the provisions in this law undermine the Constitution.”

“Stop throwing the Constitution in my face,” Bush screamed back. “It’s just a goddamned piece of paper!”

Funny, I don't remember Brian Williams telling me about this...

the problem with John Edwards

Devastating. It's hard to justify laughing at Mitt Romney or Rudy Giuliani's serial flip-flopping, and not dealing honestly with Edwards' post-Iraq-meltdown metamorphosis. I'd forgotten that, not all that long ago, he sounded a lot more like Joe Lieberman than Barack Obama.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

It is the sense of the Senate

that American citizens, even when organized into massive grassroots groups, have no business criticizing the military leadership.

bio of the prez

Every time I read another bio piece on Bush, I am striken by the jaw-dropping incompetence of the man who's "had his finger on the button" for the last 7 years. It's not just that his flaws are so egregious; it's that they're so manifest. Blumenthal paints a picture of a man with a messianic complex so gargantuan in its proportions that he's become dangerous to the very causes he champions. In his unawareness of realities around him, and in his refusal to accept other realities, he's become a virtually delusional decision-maker. He picks on his underlings and throws tantrums at them, impotently venting his frustration, while they use his bloated ego to manipulate him, his soft intellect unable to perceive their ulterior motives.

Bush's father, along with Prince Bandar, Jim Baker and a couple of others, really did install him like a child king, expecting to teach him the fundamentals while he remained completely reliant on their advice. Then one of them (Dick Cheney) decided to keep the boy-king to himself and convince him to rebel against the others, and the rest is history.

I'm not sure you understand what a college does...

The first time I saw someone make this comment, I just wrote if off to some kid not really thinking about their words, but I've now seen this comment, answering why ND shouldn't fire Weis, uttered by a Notre Dame student twice:
...the University probably can't survive another coaching turnaround this quickly...

Eh...what? Don't get me wrong, I'm not on the "fire Weis" bandwagon, but what is this person saying? Do they think that the boys of the Holy Cross would have to abandon the university and put the Dome up on Craigslist if the football team doesn't return to first tier status? The entire university will close if the football team doesn't perform? Seriously?

I mean, how can Notre Dame possibly consider themselves a quality university if their football team sucks?

Okay, chilluns, you might be a little glum about the Irish team this year, I understand that, but let's keep a little perspective.

Boondocks nails Alan Keyes' ass

Monday, September 17, 2007

Notre Dame's woes

Everyone seems to be in agreement that ND's offensive line is the worst part of the team, and the key to their offensive woes.

There are currently 12 guys listed in the depth chart for offensive line positions at Notre Dame. Any guesses at how many of them are seniors, aka. "the last remnants of Willingham's shitty recruiting?"

Answer: 1.

Wes Clark endorses... Hillary?

Got this in my inbox:
Dear el ranchero,

Today, I am proud to announce my endorsement of Senator Hillary Clinton as President of the United States.

Senator Hillary Clinton has earned the support of millions of Americans in her campaign for president -- and today I am pleased to count myself among them. The world has reached a critical point, and we need a leader in the White House with the courage, intelligence and humility to navigate through many troubling challenges to our security at home and abroad. I believe Senator Clinton is that leader, and I whole-heartedly endorse her for President of the United States. Senator Clinton and I share a worldview in which diplomacy is the best first-strike tool in our arsenal; in today's complicated global system, the United States should be making more friends than enemies.

Never before have so many Americans had our well-being so closely tied to world events. Our economic and national security has become more complicated than ever before, and we deserve a leader who draws on wisdom, compassion, intelligence and moral courage -- in short, we need Hillary Clinton. She is tough but fair, a rock-solid leader equal to the many weighty challenges ahead of us.

As I make this endorsement today, I realize this may disappoint many of you who hoped that I would run for President myself in 2008. But rest assured: I'm not going anywhere. I'm going to continue to speak out on issues I care about, to work with you to support good Democratic candidates who will help restore the kind of leadership we need in America, to make sure our nation is as secure at home and abroad as it possibly can be.

Your support has been absolutely essential -- to our country, to our Democratic candidates, and to me personally. I would never have run for President in 2003 without your support -- after all, you drafted me into the race! I can't tell you how much it means to me that you've been standing with me since my campaign for President and right up until now. And we still have so much work to do.

Together, we made a huge difference in the 2006 elections. We helped 42 candidates win their races across America, including 25 candidates who flipped their seats from Republican to Democratic seats. Our Clark community raised more than $1 million for candidates, not to mention the millions of hours of volunteer time members of the Clark community provided to campaigns in every corner of our nation. And I am most proud of the fact we helped elect a number of veterans to the House and Senate. What a tremendous victory for America -- and it wouldn't have been possible without the hard work that you and I and tens of thousands of us put in over those 24 months.

The fight is just beginning for the future of America. Through WesPAC, you and I and thousands of other Americans will continue to play a very active role throughout this entire upcoming campaign -- to support strong candidates, to get them into office, and to get our country back on the right track.

Your continued participation in the political process is absolutely critical. I hope you'll join me in supporting Hillary Clinton's campaign for President. And I hope you'll continue to be active here at WesPAC as we support many candidates up and down the ballot in 2008, and continue to speak out on the issues.

I'm proud to endorse Hillary Clinton for President of the United States. But I'm not going anywhere, and I hope you're not either. We have a lot of work to do in the months and years ahead to get America moving forward again -- and I need you with me.

I'll stop by at 4:00pm ET on Sunday to the Clark Community Network to liveblog. I hope you'll join me.

Thanks so much for everything you've done -- and everything I know you'll continue to do -- for me, for Democrats, and for our country.


Wes Clark

I have to say, I was genuinely surprised by this move. Even more surprisingly, I've found hardly any reaction around tha Internets about it. What little I have has been along the lines of "Clark sold out for Veep/SecDef/SecState nod," which, while it may be true, still says nothing of the impact on the race.

On the other hand. the Clintons did support Clark's candidacy in '04, so I guess this shouldn't have been so surprising to me.

Wes Clark has a pretty massive fanbase, especially among liberals, but I can't help but think that liberals and progressives have made up their minds by now on Hillary. All Clark is managing to do is alienate his fans (unless, of course, the cynics are right and he's angling for the Veep nod or a cabinet-level position).

I guess what all this boils down to is I expected more of Wes Clark. Hillary Clinton is not the candidate most likely to pull out of Iraq, and the most we know of her foreign policy is that she thought Barack Obama was "naive and inexperienced" or some such for saying that, if we knew of a terrorist training camp in Pakistan, and we warned Musharraf about it, and he did nothing, we'd strike it ourselves, but we wouldn't use nukes. Obama wasn't just right, but this statement should go without saying; it should be a given that all the leading candidates for president think this way.

I had thought that Clark would join a progressive insurrection to upend the establishment anointment of the more-of-the-same candidate, or that he'd at least stay out of it instead of throwing his support to the candidate that voted for the war, did so without reading the NIE on it, isn't the slightest bit contrite about the fact that she voted for it, and, like Edwards and Obama, has no plans to pull all the troops out, despite all her talk about "bringing the troops home" and "ending the war."

Obama and Edwards are better on other issues, at least, and wouldn't actually galvanize conservatives to go vote or undermine our down-ticket candidates, but my hope for a successful Obama/Edwards/Dodd/Gore comeback is fading fast.

I'm starting to think, even after 8 years of George Wanker Bush, this will end up being one of my saddest political memories: seeing the country given a unique opportunity to have a progressive candidate with big ideas on healthcare and ready to act decisively to curtail climate change here at the 11th hour, able to choose between some of the best candidates I've seen in a long time, like Barack Obama, John Edwards, and Chris Dodd, and the Democrats line up in overwhelming numbers behind... Hillary Clinton.

more awards for Al Gore

Now an Emmy? Via JekyllinHyde @ dKos, it appears that Al Gore has won an Emmy for Interactive Television Series with Current TV.

The big one, of course, might come in on October 12, when the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize is announced.

Lincoln Chafee quits the GOP

I guess it was inevitable, but it's still surprising to hear. From the Providence Journal (h/t Smintheus @ dKos):
Chafee said he disaffiliated with the party he had helped lead, and his father had led before him, because the national Republican Party has gone too far away from his stance on too many critical issues, from war to economics to the environment.

“It’s not my party any more,” he said.

Chafee’s departure is another step in the waning of the strain of moderate Republicanism that was once a winning political philosophy from Rhode Island and Connecticut to the Canadian border.

I do often consider Chafee one of the very few "unfortunate" casualties of the '06 midterms, but it seemed like he very rarely actually had the backbone to dispute with his party vocally. Still, Lincoln Chafee and the Republican party were a terrible fit, as I think most Republicans would agree.

You know you want to, Linc. Come to the side of the light.

Friday, September 14, 2007


Ever wondered what those benchmarks are that the president and congress keep talking about? Luckily someone did the work of finding them, which rather interestingly was a significant amount of work:
(A) The United States strategy in Iraq, hereafter, shall be conditioned on the Iraqi government meeting benchmarks, as told to members of Congress by the President, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and reflected in the Iraqi Government's commitments to the United States, and to the international community, including:

(i) Forming a Constitutional Review Committee and then completing the constitutional review.

(ii) Enacting and implementing legislation on de-Baathification.

(iii) Enacting and implementing legislation to ensure the equitable distribution of hydrocarbon resources of the people of Iraq without regard to the sect or ethnicity of recipients, and enacting and implementing legislation to ensure that the energy resources of Iraq benefit Sunni Arabs, Shia Arabs, Kurds, and other Iraqi citizens in an equitable manner.

(iv) Enacting and implementing legislation on procedures to form semi-autonomous regions.

(v) Enacting and implementing legislation establishing an Independent High Electoral Commission, provincial elections law, provincial council authorities, and a date for provincial elections.

(vi) Enacting and implementing legislation addressing amnesty.

(vii) Enacting and implementing legislation establishing a strong militia disarmament program to ensure that such security forces are accountable only to the central government and loyal to the Constitution of Iraq.

(viii) Establishing supporting political, media, economic, and services committees in support of the Baghdad Security Plan.

(ix) Providing three trained and ready Iraqi brigades to support Baghdad operations.

(x) Providing Iraqi commanders with all authorities to execute this plan and to make tactical and operational decisions, in consultation with U.S commanders, without political intervention, to include the authority to pursue all extremists, including Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias.

(xi) Ensuring that the Iraqi Security Forces are providing even handed enforcement of the law.

(xii) Ensuring that, according to President Bush, Prime Minister Maliki said `the Baghdad security plan will not provide a safe haven for any outlaws, regardless of [their] sectarian or political affiliation'.

(xiii) Reducing the level of sectarian violence in Iraq and eliminating militia control of local security.

(xiv) Establishing all of the planned joint security stations in neighborhoods across Baghdad.

(xv) Increasing the number of Iraqi security forces units capable of operating independently.

(xvi) Ensuring that the rights of minority political parties in the Iraqi legislature are protected.

(xvii) Allocating and spending $10 billion in Iraqi revenues for reconstruction projects, including delivery of essential services, on an equitable basis.

(xviii) Ensuring that Iraq's political authorities are not undermining or making false accusations against members of the Iraqi Security Forces.

Apparently the White House submitted a report to Congress (.pdf) yesterday outlining their progress on these goals. It's worth having a look. They claimed "satisfactory" progress on 8 of the 18 back in July, and now 9 today.

The secret: "satisfactory" progress is defined on p. 10 of the report as whether or not there is a "positive trajectory" from January. That is, the Bush Administration is counting any improvement of any kind whatsoever as "satisfactory progress," no matter how insignificant.

a couple of thoughts, more than Bush mustered yesterday

1. Shorter President Bush: "The surge that just started in June is finally starting to show results, so we're going to end it." Does anybody buy this crap?

2. The argument against withdrawal timetables is that it encourages "the terrorists to just lay low and wait for us to leave." But wouldn't the terrorists "laying low" for 6 months to a year be a godsend, buying us some much-needed time to build up the Iraqi infrastructure, train up a police force, and give the Iraqi government some breathing room to get on its feet? More to the point, isn't creating a brief lull in terrorist activity to buy the Iraqi government time precisely the point of the surge?

If warhawks believed their own arguments against withdrawal, they'd support it.

more from the e. coli conservatives

From AP:
SALINAS, Calif. (AP) -- Government regulators never acted on calls for stepped-up inspections of leafy greens after last year's deadly E. coli spinach outbreak, leaving the safety of America's salads to a patchwork of largely unenforceable rules and the industry itself, an Associated Press investigation has found.

The regulations governing farms in this central California region known as the nation's "Salad Bowl" remain much as they were when bacteria from a cattle ranch infected spinach that killed three people and sickened more than 200.

AP's review of data obtained through the Freedom of Information Act found that federal officials inspect companies growing and processing salad greens an average of just once every 3.9 years. Some proposals in Congress would require such inspections at least four times a year.

In California, which grows three-quarters of the nation's greens, processors created a new inspection system but with voluntary guidelines that were unable to keep bagged spinach tainted with salmonella from reaching grocery shelves last month.

Once again, this is what happens when you put people in power who don't believe the government has any warrant to enforce fair play or safety standards in the marketplace. People die so that companies can keep those pesky regulations from cutting into their bottom line.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

high speed rail

Here's an article talking about the bump in interest in high speed rail in the US. Atrios mentions that Spain is building a line that will travel the 375 miles from Barcelona to Madrid in 2 and a half hours. Here in SB we have a train to Chicago that's not high speed by any stretch of the imagination, but it's a lot easier and cheaper than flying or driving.

Considering that not even putting an oilman in the White House has kept gas prices from skyrocketing (and in fact made them even less stable), that most of the nation's big cities have WAY too many cars for the size/number of roads and thus have traffic jams all the time, and that airline travel becomes less pleasant every day (3 oz. bottles? Are you f**king kidding me?), I imagine that these trains could really gain traction here if they're given a chance. A train traveling at the same average speed as the Barcelona-Madrid one above could make the trip from:

New York City to Boston in 1 hour and 26 minutes
New York City to Washington, DC in 1 hour and 31 minutes
Los Angeles to San Francisco in 2 hours and 32 minutes
Los Angeles to San Diego in 48 minutes
Dallas to Austin in 1 hour and 18 minutes
Dallas to Houston in 1 hour and 35 minutes
Atlanta to Charlotte in 1 hour and 38 minutes
Atlanta to Memphis in 2 hours and 35 minutes
Miami to Orlando in 1 hour and 36 minutes
Chicago to Detroit in 1 hour and 53 minutes
Chicago to Minneapolis in 2 hours and 43 minutes

You think there might be a clientèle for a train that could do that? Even if it took 50% longer, you think people still might be willing to hop a train that could go from Chi-town to Detroit in 2.5 hours?

Daily Show on Petraeus Report

My God. It really is the best news source we have.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

zombie lie: it wasn't about race

I'm talking, of course, about the tell-tale heart that beats louder the more people question Weis' coaching abilities, namely his predecessor's firing. It's interesting that, every time anyone wants to defend Weis, the first reaction is to blame it all on Willingham. "Well, these are Willingham's shitty seniors," and "Weis was a better choice because he's had better recruiting." That may be true, but the logical conclusion is that this team has more talent than it's had in years, and yet has a worse record.

If the players have more talent, yet is performing worse than we've seen in a long time, who's fault is that?

And furthermore, wasn't last year's team, when we had Ty's seniors and juniors, better than this one? And wasn't the team with Ty's seniors, juniors, and sophomores better than that?

And why wasn't anyone blaming Willingham's last team's performance on Bob Davie's shitty seniors?

It is true, Weis is recruiting better. But none of this explains why Willingham wasn't allowed to finish his contract, a rather dramatic break from tradition under the Dome. You can complain about his recruiting all you want, but it doesn't change the fact that Davie recruited like crap, too, and had a worse record than Ty, and still got to finish his contract. Same with Gerry Faust.

Nevertheless, it seems that people all over the NCAAF beat talk Charlie up like he's the greatest football coach ever, despite the fact that he has yet to really perform. When was the last time we beat a team that we were supposed to lose to? Sure, we beat Michigan when they were #3 two years ago, but they ended up being a paper tiger that year (remember, they started this year ranked #5). And there was Penn St. last year, but they didn't turn out so great, either. There was that incredible game against SC 2 years ago, but was that not a team composed almost entirely of Willingham's recruits?

I think that part of the reason why we have so much invested in Charlie Weis doing well and why we've been giving him so much credit is because we can somehow rationalize Willingham getting screwed as long as Weis' performance makes it "worth it." Admitting he hasn't been everything he was cracked up to be makes it harder to brush aside the uncomfortable question: was race a factor in ND's decision to break with decision and toss Ty overboard before he finished his contract, or even got to build his own complete team?

Of course it was, and someday we're going to have to deal with that.

Monday, September 10, 2007

study: political beliefs may be linked to biology

From Scientific American:
Amodio and colleagues report in Nature Neuroscience that they scanned the brains of 43 subjects during 500 trials of a task designed to test their ability to break from a habitual response. Prior to beginning the experiment, volunteers were asked to rate their political leanings based on a scale from –5 (extremely liberal) to +5 (very conservative). They were then given a computerized test in which they were shown one of two stimuli for 100 milliseconds (0.1 second). If an "M" popped on the screen, the respondent had 500 milliseconds (a half second) to press a key on the keyboard before him or her; if a "W" appeared, the person was told to do nothing.

The task, known as Go/No-Go, is an example of "conflict monitoring," which Amodio says, "came about as a way to explain how we realize that we need to pay more attention." In this version, subjects became accustomed to pressing the button when they saw an "M," which appeared 80 percent of the time during the trials. Thus, when a "W" cropped up, participants faced a conflict between their trained response and a new stimulus.

Amodio says that the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), a forebrain region, "serves almost as a barometer for this degree of conflict."

"People who have more sensitive activity in that area,'' he notes, "are more responsive to these cues that say they need to adapt their behavior," reacting more quickly and accurately to the unexpected stimulus. On average, people who described themselves as politically liberal had about 2.5 times the activity in their ACCs and were more sensitive to the "No-Go cue'' than their conservative friends.

"They are more sensitive to the need for change and more sensitive to the need to change their behavior," Amodio says about the politically left-leaning subjects.

My partisan sensibilities are mildly offended at -5 being identified as "extremely" liberal, while 5 is only "very" conservative, but I'm willing to chalk that up to the desire to variegate the verbiage here.

I'm no scientist, and I do love to hear that liberals are more adaptive to change (which is how Darwin described those more likely to survive), but frankly, I'm just not sure this study tells us what the lede claims it does. Could it not also be that the embrace of an ideology centered around change trains one to be more sensitive to that need to change whenever it arises?

Petraeus calls for status quo

From Yahoo! News:
Gen. David Petraeus told Congress on Monday he envisions the withdrawal of roughly 30,000 U.S. troops from Iraq by next summer, beginning with a Marine contingent later this month.
Petraeus said that a unit of about 2,000 Marines will depart Iraq later this month, beginning a drawdown that would be followed in mid-December with the departure of an Army brigade numbering 3,500 to 4,000 soldiers.

After that, another four brigades would be withdrawn by July 2008, he said. That would leave the United States with about 130,000 troops in Iraq, roughly the number last winter when President Bush decided to dispatch additional forces. [emphasis mine]

This is all theater. We're getting played.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

"a little light in his loafers"

Ruh roh, is the GOP closet door opening again? From Pensito Review:
n the wake of closeted Sen. Larry Craig’s self-outing in an airport men’s room this summer, Mike Rogers, the Washington-based publisher of blogActive who outed Craig, is threatening to reveal the secret sexual identities of two leading GOP senators, while two allegedly gay Republican congressmen are making headlines and drawing unwelcome attention to themselves, the timing of which could not be worse.

The senators are Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Mitch McConnell, the Senate Minority Leader, from Kentucky. More about them below but first let’s look at two allegedly closeted members of the House, representatives Patrick McHenry and David Drier, who have been in the news lately.

Graham is gay? I'm gonna have to file that one in my special "news I couldn't be less surprised to hear" drawer. I must admit I am surprised about Mitch McConnell, though, and am gonna wait to hear more before I judge that one.

Giuliani's ineptitude screwed firefighters on 9/11

Wow. And the GOP wants this guy to be president?

Haven't we had enough of Republican incompetence for a couple of years?

worst top 25 list ever

What a tool. Here's a list of reasons why reading this article makes my brain hurt.

Go away, Scoop. Seriously, just go.

intelligence, and the lack thereof

It's worth mentioning that, when I was home, I got into a protracted argument with a hyperconservative friend of mine about whether or not we should've gone into Iraq, and his case (that we were right to do so) was based solely upon the credibility of the intelligence that Saddam had WMD. It was, so far as I could tell, the one thread he could hang on to in order to justify his hawkishness in 2002, and all my points about weapons inspectors being convinced that Saddam didn't have anything wouldn't budge him.

If there are a lot of people out there who think like him, and I'm pretty there are, this revelation is a big deal. Bush trusted a conman over one of Saddam's inner circle, and he did so because, as one of George Tenet's deputies says to the CIA agents trying to get the truth out:
"You haven't figured this out yet. This isn't about intelligence. It's about regime change."

Like something straight out of a Tom Clancy novel.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

out of the frying pan...

It appears that credit card are getting in line to screw the people who just got screwed by their housing lendors. From Salon:
If you're underwater on your subprime mortgage, you've still got friends. Naked Capitalism, by way of the Prudent Investor, points us to a terrific Boston Globe story breaking the news that even as the mortgage mess started accelerating, credit card companies began targeting subprime mortgage holders with a deluge of direct mail offers pitching new credit cards! Because if you can't refinance your way into some quick cash, then pulling out some brand-new plastic is clearly the smart way to go.

As explained by the Globe's Robert Gavin, credit card companies are quite fond of subprime mortgage holders in distress, because they're likely to make only the minimum payments on their bills, allowing the credit issuers to rack up big interest fee windfalls. Direct mail offers to borrowers with good credit, in contrast, are falling, because people who pay off their bills every month are, well, icky.

I guess I should've expected no less from these vultures. On the bright side, does this mean that if I keep paying my bills every month, I won't get as much junk mail from credit card companies? And if true, does that mean these companies accidentally incentivized getting on top of your account balance?

Vanity Fair on media coverage of Al Gore in 2000

It's really good, especially if you haven't heard it all before. That being said, it will make you mad, especially the part at the end where you find out that the 2 reporters most responsible for torching Gore's credibility still work in the nation's marquee newspapers. The snippets of their work that Peretz quotes here make you want to vomit, and make you wonder how anyone could ever trust a word they say. It isn't just the stories themselves, though they were sometimes egregiously twisting the truth to slap Gore around, but the language they use in their articles is the kind of bile you normally expect only from the most naked partisans.

But hey, judge for yourself:
Building on the narrative established by the Love Story and Internet episodes, Seelye, her critics charge, repeatedly tinged what should have been straight reporting with attitude or hints at Gore's insincerity. Describing a stump speech in Tennessee, she wrote, "He also made an appeal based on what he described as his hard work for the state—as if a debt were owed in return for years of service." Writing how he encouraged an audience to get out and vote at the primary, she said, "Vice President Al Gore may have questioned the effects of the internal combustion engine, but not when it comes to transportation to the polls. Today he exhorted a union audience in Knoxville, Iowa, to pile into vans—not cars, but gas-guzzling vans—and haul friends to the Iowa caucuses on January 24." She would not just say that he was simply fund-raising. "Vice President Al Gore was back to business as usual today—trolling for money," she wrote. In another piece, he was "ever on the prowl for money."

She was working for The New York Times, by the way.

Especially interesting, however, is what the media decided was so wrong with Gore. The problem, you see, is that he's just so damn smart and knowledgeable:
Maureen Dowd boiled the choice between Gore and Bush down to that between the "pious smarty-pants" and the "amiable idler," and made it perfectly clear which of the presidential candidates had a better chance of getting a date. "Al Gore is desperate to get chicks," she said in her column. "Married chicks. Single chicks. Old chicks. Young chicks. If he doesn't stop turning off women, he'll never be president."

And he's just insufferable the way he won't shut up about issues!:
And Gore just kept going on about issues. Alluding to five speeches he made in two months on education, crime, the economy, faith-based organizations, and cancer research, Seelye wrote, "Mr. Gore becomes almost indignant when asked if his avalanche of positions might overwhelm voters." The Washington Post's David Broder later found Gore too focused in his convention speech on what he'd do as president. "But, my, how he went on about what he wants to do as president," wrote Broder. "I almost nodded off." As for the environment, while Gore was persuaded by his consultants not to talk about it as much as he would have liked, whenever he did, many in the media ignored it or treated it as comedy. Dowd wrote in one column that "Al Gore is so feminized and diversified and ecologically correct, he's practically lactating." In another, referring to his consideration of putting a Webcam in the Oval Office, she wrote, "I have zero desire to see President Gore round the clock, putting comely interns to sleep with charts and lectures on gaseous reduction."

Why am I not in any way shocked to hear that David Broder, the "dean" of political punditry, was exasperated by Gore talking about policy?

And of course, who could stand a president who not only knows the names of foreign leaders, but doesn't mangle them with poor pronunciation?:
For the Times's Frank Bruni, the sighs weren't as galling as Gore's familiarity with the names of foreign leaders. "It was not enough for Vice President Al Gore to venture a crisp pronunciation of Milosevic, as in Slobodan," he wrote. "Mr. Gore had to go a step further, volunteering the name of Mr. Milosevic's challenger Vojislav Kostunica."

The scariest revelation of all: these same clowns will be narrating the upcoming election, too.

hehe, he, I never said they was Eyerackees, hehehe

What an ass. Dan Froomkin:
More than four years after declaring " Mission Accomplished" in Iraq, Bush still can't make an announced visit to the war-wracked country.

But his supposed "visit to Anbar Province" was in some ways even more cynical -- and accepted even more gullibly by the media -- than his June 2006 visit to Baghdad. There, at least, he actually set foot on Iraqi soil.

This time, Bush visited Al-Asad Air Base -- an enormous, heavily fortified American outpost for 10,000 troops that while technically in Anbar Province in fact has a 13-mile perimeter keeping Iraq -- and Iraqis -- at bay. Bush never left the confines of the base, known as " Camp Cupcake," for its relatively luxurious facilities, but nevertheless announced: "When you stand on the ground here in Anbar and hear from the people who live here, you can see what the future of Iraq can look like."

Lemme guess, "it depends on your definition of 'here?'"

between Mattel and the GOP,

our kids are in deep trouble. From the Washington Times:
The nation's Medicaid directors yesterday told the Bush administration that its new restrictions on the federally funded State Children's Health Insurance Program will limit the number of children covered.

In a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Michael O. Leavitt, the National Association of State Medicaid Directors said the new standards reduce flexibility, making it difficult for states to expand coverage.

The Democrat-led Congress is moving to override the new standards and cover families earning several times the national poverty level. Democrats say a country as wealthy as the United States should better care for its children.

Republicans accuse Democrats of trying to shift the nation toward socialized health care.

So it's all quite reasonable, really: the Republicans are simply saying that it's worth it to cut off health insurance to middle-class kids if it means we don't have "socialized medicine," right? So these millions of kids get no more checkups and, if they get sick, their parents (or in some cases, parent) are at the mercy of the hospitals and pharmaceutical companies who have caused 46% of the nation's bankruptcies these last few years, but it's a small price to pay to be able to say our medicine isn't "socialized," right? C'mon, who's with me?

leave 'em in El Segundo

Now it's Barbie time. From Yahoo! News:
Mattel Inc.'s reputation took another hit after the world's largest toy maker announced a third major recall of Chinese-made toys in little more than a month because of excessive amounts of lead paint.
The latest Mattel recall, whose details were negotiated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, covers 675,000 Barbie accessories sold between October 2006 and August of this year. No Barbie dolls were included in the action.

The recall also included 90,000 units of Mattel's GeoTrax locomotive line and about 8,900 Big Big World 6-in-1 Bongo Band toys, both from the company's Fisher-Price brand. The Big Big World products were sold nationwide from July through August of this year, while the GeoTrax toys were sold from September 2006 through August of this year.

Ahh, nothing quite shows the awesomeness of unfettered capitalism like a 3-yr.-old with lead poisoning. Caveat Emptor, bitchez!

Saturday, September 01, 2007

eh, football... and FOOTBALL!!!

ND...blech... what can I say? Bad defense against both run and pass, receivers who couldn't break coverage, non-existent running game (do we actually have any running backs?), and the offensive line, oh lordy the offensive line. This is without question the worst Irish team I've seen since I've been paying attention to ND... and I was here in 2003 when the quarterback, Carlyle Holiday, imploded at the beginning of the season and Willingham had to bring on the true freshman (Brady Quinn). That was a terrible offensive line, but this one... wow, just wow.

In other news, how 'bout them Appalachian State Mountaineers? Check out this post from Sunday Morning QB, it's pretty funny. To be fair, they are the badasses of AA, but uh... yeah, that actually doesn't help. This brings up the earth-shaking possibility that (gasp!) I-A and I-AA... could it be... maybe aren't quite as disproportionate as we've always thought? Now I'm wondering how, say, Grand Valley State would perform against Oklahoma or Va Tech.

Or it could just be that Michigan is the only team in the country more perpetually overrated than Notre Dame. That sounds more likely, but we'll just have to see how the Wolverines do as the season plods on.


Not bad. A little corny at times, but the characters are fairly interesting and there's some good jokey moments (there's a prince that bleeds blue, for instance). Deniro's character is priceless, too.

On a darker note, this now makes 4 movies in a row where some obnoxious a$$hole put a damper on the whole experience. This time, oddly, it was a 40-year-old couple who couldn't shut their traps once during THE ENTIRE FILM.

And there were only 8 people in the whole theater. I was sure we'd be safe from that crap this time.

Yeah, yeah, I know, "why didn't you go tell the manager?" you ask. Two reasons: 1. I hate confrontation, frankly, and I gather most people feel the same way, which is probably why 2. I always have to be the guy that does something about it, because no one else will, and that annoys me. Despite how much I hate confrontation, I sometimes feel a moral obligation to stand up to these a$$holes, because every time they get away with being obnoxious a$$holes it just perpetuates that behavior, and I'm condemning every poor bastard that has to share a theater with them in the future to the same plight. But why should I have to play the civility police every time I want to watch a movie?

I really don't think I can handle movie theaters anymore. I'm sick of being unable to enjoy a movie I paid out the nose for because I'm still fuming about a) the obnoxious a$$hole who couldn't just sit and watch, or b) the confrontation I had in the middle of the movie with the obnoxious a$$hole who answered my polite request to just sit and watch with some permutation of "go f&*k yourself."

And guess what, folks? I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one.

I've seen all sorts of ideas for fixing the obnoxious a$$hole problem in theater: ban cell phones, put jamming technology in theaters, give movie-goers a remote control that alerts the staff, etc. I've got one, and I'm hearing other people say it, too. It's easier than banning cell phones and cheaper than installing phone jammers and buying a thousand special remotes. I call it "the Giuliani solution": put ushers in the theaters. One employee in each auditorium, with one job: boot out all the obnoxious a$$holes, consistently and publicly.

My guess is that, if a given theater boots all the obnoxious a$$holes at every movie showing, with utter consistency and right in front of all the other movie-goers, in 6 months the theater will be virtually obnoxious-a$$hole-free. The theater shouldn't worry about lost business: I bet 9 out of 10 obnoxious a$$holes will come back after they nurse their bruised egos, and this time they'll just sit and watch. Furthermore, the theater will gain a reputation as a place where people can actually watch movies in peace, and people might actually go to the movies more. Here's a thought: after you clean out the obnoxious a$$holes, advertise about that fact.

I guarantee you it would be a lot more effective than lecturing the audience during the commercials with singing frogs or a CGI fairy godmother. The problem ain't that the obnoxious a$$holes don't know it's rude. Until they actually see people (or themselves) being asked to leave, the fairy godmother's admonishment that they'll get kicked out is just an empty threat. Just like, once upon a time, the law against jumping the turnstiles in the subway was.