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Doctor recommended for optimal cerebral hygiene 

Holiday in Peru: John Peel passes away

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

There cannot be a better way to go out from this world than on holiday. Godspeed, Mr. Peel.

News can travel slow from Peru to the UK to Seattle. Influential British DJ John Peel passed away on Monday from a heart attack. I have never owned a "The Peel Sessions" album or disc of one band or many another but Peel was very much a part of my musical upbringing. The music industry has lost an important man. I've not much else to share. Read the BBC obit and go from there.

hair raid

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

according to the sacramento bee and our friends at clairol, brunettes are big. and by that i mean women are increasingly down with brown.

and by that i mean “bah.”

not that i have anything against brunettes. or blondes, for that matter. let’s face it, i love women of all stripes. but there can be no argument: redheads rule.

i know this, in part, because my wife and daughter are redheads. but that’s a digression.

the real reason there are so many artificial blondes and brunettes in the world is that no one has come up with a decent-looking red hair color. think about it: when have you ever seen an authentic looking red hair-color job? over the years you’ve seen naught but an array of bad examples; red dye jobs that are so ludicrous and awful that women don’t even seem to try any more. they go extreme red, or statement red, or i’m-too-dumb-to-know-any-better red. but never, “damn, that can’t be anything but your natural color” red.

i know this, in part, because i worked in the health and beauty business for several years. i’ve made a point to keep tabs on whether there have been any advances in red hair technology. i have a vested interest in the advancement of red-headedness. i love redheads.

julianne moore, for example. or nicole kidman. or kelly preston. or this lovely person. or this one.

i have great respect for blondes. and brunettes, for that matter. but, as previously noted, my allegiance has been cast in stone: redheads rule.

Justice on a Sliding Scale

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Recently, I paid one of my many debts to society. Pray for my soul. I served jury duty.

Growing up on the mean streets of Mercer Island, Washington (an affluent, white, white suburban Seattle community) my thoughts on justice ran parallel to my thoughts on teenage sex. It was to be swift; if you delayed, it may be denied; if you wanted (a) piece/peace you must seek it first.

So much has changed. I now live in Bellaire, Texas (an affluent, white, white, suburban Houston community). Last month on my birthday, amongst the cards, bills, and offers of drowning at 0% interest, I received an unwrapped jury summons. Having served a few years previously I felt, as I had with the birth of my second child, twice blessed. This was due in no small part to the anticipated windfall coming in the form of the $6 juror pay I would receive.

On the appointed day, I arrived at the courthouse shackled by my feelings of civic duty. Without so much as a phone booth, I took on the identity of juror number two in a six member jury paneled to hear a case in which a young, black , male, unemployed, substitute teacher was accused of running a red light in our well known to racial profile suspected traffic violators little town. After trudging through the muck and the mire of the judge’s instructions, prosecutorial hubris and the arresting officer’s droopy eyed testimony, we were shown a video clearly capturing the defendant’s little car running through a red, red light.

Next the defendant took the stand (actually a raised seat). His disjointed testimony was not so much a defense against the charges as it was a plea of no lo have any money. After more yada, yada from the prosecutor and judge, we the jury were herded into a tiny, boxed filled room. Here we were to be sequestered until such time as we could determine whether or not we believed our own eyes and a video that was undisputed.

The rub here was that we actually had some thinking to do. We would be required to access a fine ranging from one dollar up to two hundred dollars. This fine would replace the $125 ticket the defendant was having his day in court to dispute before a jury of his lesser pigmented peers. As a jury we sifted through the reamlessness of evidence and debated the complex legal complexities while searching fellow juror’s prima facias. Finally, we handed down our verdict as solemnly as justices deciding a presidential election outcome.

The solitary figure of a black man rising in an otherwise all white occupied courtroom to hear his punishment stuck with me as I stood in line behind the defendant at the cashier’s window. I watched him hand over an array of five, five dollar bills to pay his fine. Moments later I exchanged my juror slip with the cashier. She handed me a crumpled five and a green, green one.

i ain't skeert

Monday, October 25, 2004

no, I’m not scared. but i am a little worried.

Terrorists in the park?
Add Magnolia's Discovery Park to the locations of alleged terrorist surveillance efforts in the Puget Sound area. According to two women who refused to identify themselves to police, two Middle Eastern men on the afternoon of Oct. 11 were "definitely watching ferries through binoculars as the ferries crossed Puget Sound."

The two men had laid out prayer mats just west of the footpath between the southern bluff and West Emerson Street, the witnesses told police. It is an area near officers' quarters.

The women also said one man had a radio, that the other had binoculars, and that the man with the radio was writing in a notebook while the other watched the ferries through the binoculars.

The suspicious men quickly picked up the prayer mats about five minutes before police arrived and then ran south toward West Emerson Street, according to the police report. The report also includes a transcript of the dispatch calls, and they indicated the men "looked like they just got off horses." An area check proved to be negative.


keep in mind that the magnolia news is an unimpeachable source. if the new york times and the washington post combined their resources to form a magnolia bureau, they’d still run second to this fine publication.

no, not really.

but still, this bit of information, on the heels of several stories about the threat to washington state ferry service, atop the bush administration’s abysmal failure to secure our ports, not to mention the mere suggestion of a suitcase nuclear device…has me a little concerned.

i’ve found myself wondering if the topography of our neighborhood would provide any cover in the event of a water detonation.

like most americans, i’ve learned not to take seriously the “department of homeland propaganda” terror alerts. i am not paranoid.

but i am, now, officially uneasy.

William Shatner, Has Been

Monday, October 25, 2004

When I ran across that headline - William Shatner, Has Been - a couple of weeks ago, my first thought was: true enough. My second thought was that The Guardian was being a bit harsh. My third thought, the actual question of whether or not to read the article, was swiftly followed by my fourth thought: no.

That said, nothing, not even having read the article, could have prepared me for the shock I experienced this past Friday evening, flipping the channels, landing on the Tonight Show, and seeing the musical guests in action. It was truly one of the most bizarre things I have ever seen, and the opening line of Pascal Wyse's article in The Guardian comes close to describing my astonishment.
Complete the following sentence: "Ben Folds, Nick Hornby, Brad Paisley, Joe Jackson, Aimee Man ... " The chances of an average life-form guessing "William Shatner" are equal to the Starship Enterprise turning out to be made entirely of smoked salmon.
At first, it took about a half a minute to sort out what exactly I was looking at. There was William Shatner fronting a rock & roll band that was playing something that sounded like a missing track from Elvis Costello's This Year's Model album. Shatner was reading, not singing, off papers on a music stand. To his left was a shockingly aged Joe Jackson trading lines with Shatner, and to his right was Ben Folds doing his best attempt at a Steve Nieve impersonation. Having read the article now, I've come to learn that Has Been is the name of an album that Shatner has released, produced by Ben Folds, and including guests like Jackson, Aimee Mann, and Henry Rollins. The song I had witnessed was called Common People, and is actually a cover of a tune by British Pop band Pulp.

As it turns out, the performance was not without merit. I've never been overly uptight about musicians borrowing signature sounds from other artists. It's been done throughout musical history and it is fairly easy to sort out the blatant rip-off from the homage. In the case of Common People I would think that Elvis C. would be tickled by this good-natured riff on his late 70's sound. It was pulled off with plenty of punk attitude and killer organ from Mr. Folds. Additionally, the song Common People, in Shatner's hands, actually came off quite dramatic. A great sarcastic commentary on classism and privilege, it actually gained something from Shatner's campy recitation. In fact, I think I'll just leave you with lines from that song.
I took her to a supermarket,
I don't know why but I had to start it somewhere,
so it started there.
I said pretend you've got no money,
she just laughed and said,
"Oh you're so funny."
I said "yeah?
Well I can't see anyone else smiling in here.
Are you sure you want to live like common people,
you want to see whatever common people see,
you want to sleep with common people,
you want to sleep with common people,
like me."
But she didn't understand,
she just smiled and held my hand.
Rent a flat above a shop,
cut your hair and get a job.
Smoke some fags and play some pool,
pretend you never went to school.
But still you'll never get it right,
cos when you're laid in bed at night,
watching roaches climb the wall,
if you call your Dad he could stop it all.

Bang Zoom!

Thursday, October 21, 2004

So, I'm listening to Judy Woodruff on CNN while the footage of Kerry in his scary, camouflage Halloween costume is being shown. Judy is explaining that Kerry's attempt to court gun owners apparently didn't go so well, and that the NRA released an ad in response that says, "If John Kerry thinks the Second Amendment is about photo ops, he's Daffy."

But, you see, I don't think Kerry's hunting outing was about courting gun owners at all.

I think it was more about this:
Heinz Kerry made the comments to the newspaper when asked about the differences between the first lady and her.

"Well, you know, I don't know Laura Bush. But she seems to be calm, and she has a sparkle in her eye, which is good. But I don't know that she's ever had a real job -- I mean, since she's been grown up. So her experience and her validation comes from important things, but different things."

Heinz Kerry said Wednesday she was "sincerely sorry" for making the comments during an interview that appeared in Wednesday's USA Today.

"I had forgotten that Mrs. Bush had worked as a school teacher and librarian, and there couldn't be a more important job than teaching our children," Heinz Kerry said.
He can't shoot his wife and expect to win the election, so he takes his rage out on some defenseless geese. Godamned coward!

An Empire Falls

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Disappointing Yankees: Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter were part of the most expensive sports team ever assembled. (Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

Last night the Boston Red Sox defied history and became the first baseball team to come from being down 3-0 to win a seven game playoff series. In their path was the dynastic team from New York.

Most everyone loves to hate the Yankees. Heck, Americans just plain love an underdog, especially when facing such a dominant power. The Yankees have had the Red Sox number since 1918, the last year Boston won the World Series. The Yankees, since obtaining Babe Ruth from the Sox in 1919 for a bucket of spit, have won 39 American League pennants and 26 World Series. For many fans, and I am not even talking baseball fans here, many sports fans simply wanted to see New York fall to the Sox.

Now, what I want of you fair reader, you the person cheering not so much the pennant won by the Sox but the demise of the Evil Empire, is to ask yourself why you are happy about last night's outcome.

Are you happy because the Yankees have the highest priced team? Are you happy because team owner George Steinbrenner gets what he deserves for investing over $200 million dollars on his roster? A total three times and more than many, many teams?

After all, Steinbrenner is applying pure American business strategy. He spends a lot because he makes a lot. He reinvests in his company. Surge forward, stomp out the competition. All that. He is about as American as it gets. Sorta like Kevin Costner who made it big and kept reinvesting in himself. Yet when it comes to sports and entertainment, Americans love to see teams and huge movie stars who have risen to the top fall. And fall hard. Remember how Costner rode his wave and captured two Oscars® in 1991 for Dances With Wolves? After that "every" movie-goer wanted to see him tank. And that they got with Waterworld. Much like sports fans, who this week wanted to see the Yankees fall hard in historical fashion, got with the Red Sox victory.

Losing four straight after being three outs from winning the pennant? The Empire is finished. Rejoice! yelled sports fans across America.

. . .

Now, I want you to consider why so many of these same Americans find it so hard to understand why America is so hated. Why so many want to see America crumble. Pretty easy to understand, isn't it?

sour krauthammer

Monday, October 18, 2004

i hate to keep picking on charles krauthammer, but the boy clearly is losing it.

in his most recent column he goes ballistic on john edwards. because edwards, in a forward-looking statement, said something hopeful about paralysis victims regaining the ability to walk.

for this scurrilous lie, chuck says, edwards is equivalent to the worst humanity has to offer. “loathsome” and “despicable” were his spitting words-of-choice.

for the record, edwards said, "if we do the work that we can do in this country, the work that we will do when john kerry is president, people like christopher reeve are going to walk, get up out of that wheelchair and walk again."

hyperbole? maybe. the pace of progress in medical research is increasing exponentially. many things are possible in the next few years. so i’d say edwards’ statement was “ambitious” or “optimistic.”

worst case, he sounds like the evangelical healers that bush and company are so fond of.

but edwards, chuck says, is guilty of the worst kind of outrage.

chuck was silent when dick cheney equated a kerry victory with guaranteed terrorist attacks. ergo, we assume, cheney’s scary hyperbole—good. edwards’ hopeful hyperbole—bad.

did you know chuck is a physician? he is! his moving and inspirational advice to patients with spinal cord injuries? “get used to it.” actually, and i quote, “…to place the possibility of cure in abeyance.”

nice bedside manner chuck. clearly you believe in doctor-assisted suicide, too.

if all of this sounds like the ranting of a man on the hairy edge, it is only the beginning. because next chuck veers off into undiscovered country, somehow concluding that edwards’ statement was an attack on bush stem cell research policy.

i almost feel sorry for charles krauthammer. he is vehement that there is no hope for paralysis victims, that stem cell research is a deception, that anyone who says otherwise is selling lies to desperate people.

there is desperation in his rhetoric, certainly, but it is wretchedly misplaced. instead of excoriating the bush administration for its medieval views of science, he defends their “record” on stem cell research.

instead of enthusing about the myriad possibilities predicted by such research, he leads the cheers for its failure.

it’s clear that chuck is better suited to the comfortable distance of column-writing, over the actual practice of medicine. his future as a doctor is sadly proscribed by his tendency to make his patients sick.

The Motorcycle Diaries

Monday, October 18, 2004

The Motorcycle Diaries, a beautiful film by Walter Salles, was possibly the best movie I could have watched amidst the tremendously boring 2004 presidential campaign. For at least a couple of days, I temporarily escaped the bickering over war, taxes, and homosexuals, and with blissful ignorance joined the Cult of Che.

In some ways, I feel great anger toward Paul Berman, whose Slate review burst my bubble. For a short, lovely time my thoughts were filled with visions of a Marxist utopia. Inspired by the film to shed the denial I normally live under as a very privileged white, U.S., middle class male, a denial that enables me to carry on with my life as it is despite the fact that so many millions of people are suffering in poverty and oppression, I couldn't help imagining a world where the concept of equality was more manifest than the empty political rhetoric we have now. Berman put a stop to all that.
The cult of Ernesto Che Guevara is an episode in the moral callousness of our time. Che was a totalitarian. He achieved nothing but disaster. Many of the early leaders of the Cuban Revolution favored a democratic or democratic-socialist direction for the new Cuba. But Che was a mainstay of the hardline pro-Soviet faction, and his faction won. Che presided over the Cuban Revolution's first firing squads. He founded Cuba's "labor camp" system - the system that was eventually employed to incarcerate gays, dissidents, and AIDS victims. To get himself killed, and to get a lot of other people killed, was central to Che's imagination. In the famous essay in which he issued his ringing call for "two, three, many Vietnams," he also spoke about martyrdom and managed to compose a number of chilling phrases: "Hatred as an element of struggle; unbending hatred for the enemy, which pushes a human being beyond his natural limitations, making him into an effective, violent, selective, and cold-blooded killing machine. This is what our soldiers must become..." - and so on. He was killed in Bolivia in 1967, leading a guerrilla movement that had failed to enlist a single Bolivian peasant. And yet he succeeded in inspiring tens of thousands of middle class Latin-Americans to exit the universities and organize guerrilla insurgencies of their own. And these insurgencies likewise accomplished nothing, except to bring about the death of hundreds of thousands, and to set back the cause of Latin-American democracy - a tragedy on the hugest scale.
That said, I think Berman seriously overreacted to Salles' film and comes across as having missed the point. He is so caught up in his hatred towards Communism that he can't see the value in the story of a bourgeois Argentinian medical student who is transformed by his journey into the heart of South America, leaving behind the comfort of his sheltered family life, and discovering the incredible beauty of greater Latin America, as well as the terrible injustice that existed, and in many ways still exists today. He rants that the film, "...exudes a Christological cult of martyrdom, a cult of adoration for the spiritually superior person who is veering toward death...", yet I would say that the young Che is more comparable to a young Buddha than Christ. Berman blasts Communism, yet he conveniently omits that the U.S. reaction to the emergence and spreading of Communism in Central and South America greatly contributed to how bloody a period of history it was. Paul Berman strikes me as the kind of self-righteous, narrow-minded person who, in response to criticism of U.S. democracy reflexively says, "What? So you think Communism is any better?", as if these were the only two options available indefinitely.

No, this was a sweet film, a film about the loss of innocence, a film about two young men setting out on an adventure, two men who, despite their frequent bickering, a bickering more due to their very different ways of responding to hardship than anything else, stand by one another through thick and thin. A.O. Scott, in The New York Times, got it right.
In declining to follow the subsequent course of that passion -- into the Sierra Maestre, the Congo and the mountains of Bolivia, where Guevara met his bloody end -- Mr. Salles risks being accused of idealizing his subject. It's a fair charge, but one that misses the director's fidelity to his literary sources. Guevara's diaries, discovered in a knapsack long after his death, were published in 1993, and much of their appeal lies in the sense of immediacy they convey. Their author did not know who he would become, even as the notebooks themselves dramatize a crucial stage in his development.
The Motorcycle Diaries is gorgeous to look at, including views of Machu Pichu and the surrounding Andes, not to mention the Peruvian Amazon. The two lead actors are wonderful to watch and their dialogue, while admittedly loaded with profanity, is very natural and never pedantic or preachy. Berman gives the impression that the film is like an advertisement for Communism, yet specific politics are barely explored, and the filmmakers did a wonderful job of exercising essential "showing" rather than "telling". For example, one need only watch Che's friend Alberto, quietly observing the changes he sees taking place in his companion, slowly suspecting that their original plans to eventually work together in the medical profession would not materialize and that they would likely head down separate paths. There is no melodramatic showdown between the two with grandiose speeches, while there is much respect here for the viewer's ability to read between the lines of the action.

Now it's Monday. It's back to work. I must reapply the blinders. I have a wife and child to support. People are counting on me.

one man, two votes

Monday, October 18, 2004

last week i received in the mail not one but two absentee ballots for the upcoming election.

and while this is not quite as thrilling as holding, say, two winning lottery tickets, it’s still very interesting.

the weight of my vote has just doubled. if this were florida, power brokers would be lining up at my door because suddenly my vote(s) matter.

conversely, i could just vote one way on one ballot, the opposite on the other. thus, by voting twice my vote would count not at all.

i could donate one ballot to someone less fortunate than i. or i could sell it on ebay, and retire on the proceeds. for about 15 seconds.

two votes. two votes! hey, waitaminute. the fact that i have two ballots implies the very real probability that other people out there received two ballots as well. this went from a hoot to a “hold on” in a hurry, didn’t it?

who the hell is responsible for this gaffe? is it yet another republican plot? i’m a democrat, so it seems unlikely—until you remember how egregiously republicans have screwed up in the past four years. it seems more plausible, now, doesn’t it?

two votes, multiplied…who knows how many times? it calls into question the integrity of the electoral process. not to mention my integrity. maybe this is some kind of candid camera skit. maybe i’m about to get punk’d.

”excuse me, sir, where were you going with those two ballots? you weren’t going to try to vote twice, were you?!?”

“me? no, i was just going to, uh, report this to my local registrar. yeah, that’s it…my local registrar, morgan fairchild.”

does anyone else know about this two vote thing? i think a web search might be in order. hang on, i’ll be right back…

hokay. turns out i’m not the only voter to hit the absentee ballot jackpot. it says here that lots of folks in my county were double-mailed. also, it goes on to say, ballots will be tracked to ensure no one tries to vote twice.

exsqueeze me? ballots will be tracked? if they know whether i voted twice, doesn’t that imply that they might know how i voted as well? i have to think it does. so the people who said “if you’re not with us, you’re with the terrorists” could find out that i’m not with them?

suddenly this whole absentee ballot deal doesn’t sound so good. suddenly this whole double ballot thing doesn’t seem like so much fun. forget it. i’m not voting at all.

[pffft…psyche. i’m voting straight democratic, you ballot trackers. bite me.]

cheneys and kerry and lesbians—oy vey

Sunday, October 17, 2004

my wife and i rarely discuss politics, mostly because we agree on just about everything. some people would see this as boring. i see it as marriage insurance.
anyhoo, we were driving a couple days ago, and the subject of mary cheney came up. actually, it was foisted upon us by npr—regardless, there it was, in the car with us.

mary cheney’s parents (and some other republicans) are outraged. if you can imagine such a thing. they are outraged because john kerry referred to mary as a lesbian in the last president-wanna-be debate.

mind you, mary is a lesbian. she is not uncomfortable with this fact. she is as out as a person can be, actively working for gay and lesbian causes. many thousands of people know that mary is a lesbian, despite the fact that they probably have no use for this information.

kerry, in describing his belief that gays and lesbians are born gay or lesbian, dropped mary’s name as a person who probably also believes she was born as such.

well. you would think that kerry had outed mary on international tv and called her a hell-bound dyke. soon after, mary’s mom said kerry is a “not a good man.” she may be confusing him with saddam hussein, but we cannot confirm this. mary’s dad said he was “an angry father.” other republicans piled on with additional vilification.

it was scandalous, quite obviously.

members of the gay and lesbian community said so. but not in the way the elder cheneys would have liked. see, to profess righteous anger that someone was referred to as “gay” or “lesbian” it is necessary to view this label as libel. you must regard it as defamatory and malicious.

in short, you must find the idea of being gay or lesbian vile and unacceptable.

by their reaction, my wife and i concurred, that’s what these republicans have declared.

curiously, we saw little to corroborate our consensus in the mainstream media. not that it matters. once again, we were in agreement on a political issue. our drive and our marriage rolled merrily along.

Quotes of the Day

Friday, October 15, 2004

Believe nothing because a wise man said it,
Believe nothing because it is generally known.
Believe nothing because it is written.
Believe nothing because it is said to be divine.
Believe nothing because someone else believes it.
But believe only what you yourself judge to be true.

- The Buddha

I don't believe in magic
I don't believe in I-ching
I don't believe in Bible
I don't believe in tarot
I don't believe in Hitler
I don't believe in Jesus
I don't believe in Kennedy
I don't believe in Buddha
I don't believe in Mantra
I don't believe in Gita
I don't believe in Yoga
I don't believe in kings
I don't believe in Elvis
I don't believe in Zimmerman
I don't believe in Beatles
I just believe in me
Yoko and me
And that's reality

- John Lennon

Thorough debate analysis

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Bush: My opponent is a flip-floppin’, baby killin’, high taxin’, big spendin’, tree-huggin', French-lookin’ liberal!

Kerry: I have a plan…

Me: yawn. YAWN. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Swingin' Scalia

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Who woulda thunk it? Antonin Scalia. Color me shocked!
Orgies are the way to ease social tensions, claims US judge

Oliver Burkeman in New York
Friday October 1, 2004

The Guardian

He is the conservative bastion of the US supreme court, a favourite of President Bush, and a hunting partner of the vice-president. He has argued vociferously against abortion rights, and in favour of anti-sodomy laws.

But it turns out that there is another side to Justice Antonin Scalia: he thinks Americans ought to be having more orgies.

Challenged about his views on sexual morality, Justice Scalia surprised his audience at Harvard University, telling them: "I even take the position that sexual orgies eliminate social tensions and ought to be encouraged."
Salvador Dali alert! Does not compute. System Error. Must defrag.

The Apple PC

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

A Hawaiian company specializing in streaming video claims to have developed a $50 software emulator that allows a Windows PC to run Apple Computer's Mac OS X.

Maui X-Stream on Tuesday announced CherryOS, a virtual PC that mimics the hardware of a G4 Mac.

The company said it is already working on a stand-alone version that cuts out Windows XP. A stand-alone version of CherryOS would allow OS X to run on a cheap commodity PC without the added expense of Microsoft's operating system -- provided the emulator works and Apple's lawyers ever allow it to see the light of day.

Many Apple lovers out there love to bitch about Microsoft, but many of us COMPUTER lovers out here have longed for the day when a PC could run the Mac OS just as the Mac has been able to run a PC OS for years. Here's hoping Apple pulls its head out of its ass and allows this to go through.

Of course, as an Apple lawyer I would go after the small Hawai'ian company but with a licensing ploy. Let CherryOS live. Get users to shell out the $179 ($50 Cherry + $129 OS X) for a trial, wait until the G7/OS XI combo hits the shelves, and watch as large PC users make the switch. Or not. Even if only 25 million users (Apple's equivalent of its all-time high share) were to not switch but buy the OS, that's $3.3 billion. Regardless, it's win-win for both companies in the near present. What better way to get the Apple-shy PC users to take a bite?

Apple really has no option but to cash-in now. Its cult will have no more ground on which to stand in their Microsoft rant. Besides, the proverbial cat is out of the bag (or toilet given the recent e-mail making the rounds), its OS will run on a PC and somebody will always be willing to keep a CherryOS derivative available in the underground. So, here's really hoping that Apple with its near 30 years of selfish business practices spent the time wisely preparing for this day.

[ASIDE: This has nothing to do with the above post but I smell bubblegum. Lots of it. What is with Seattle's air quality?! One day its nose-turning flotsam, the next it is sugary jetsam.]

Stretching it?

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Thanks to Political Animal's Kevin Drum for this link to a startling video comparing GW's performance in a 1994 debate, when he was running for governor of Texas, to his current standard performance of fumbling with facts and language. What a difference 10 years makes, huh?

That said, as strong as my dislike of GW is, would I go so far as concluding, as the video by AdBuzz does, that he is suffering from cognitive deficits caused by pre-senile dementia? I'm not sure.

To be fair to AdBuzz, their video seems to be, essentially, a companion piece to an article by James Fallows in the The Atlantic that I have not read as it requires subscription.

The AdBuzz video includes this quote:
Slowly developing cognitive deficits as demonstrated so clearly by the President can represent only one diagnosis, and that is pre-senile dementia.

- Dr. Joseph M. Price
The Atlantic, Oct. 2004
I've made a slight leap to guess that this quote was taken from the Fallows article.

The problem I have with the suggestion that GW is pre-senile is two-fold.

1. The video could easily be dismissed as a sensational attack ad. After all, Dr. Price has diagnosed the President without having actually met the man, not to mention the absence of a thorough medical, neurological, psychosocial evaluation.

2. Do we really need a medical diagnosis to explain GW's problems with public speaking? I'm more inclined to believe that GW's decline in this area has more to do with a.) the pressures of being the leader of the most powerful nation on earth; b.) trying to defend his indefensible record; c.) having been cloistered his entire four years in office, giving fewer press conferences than any president in modern history, on the occasions that a press conference was given questions were pre-screened and answers were not even given in some cases, and on the campaign trail attendees at his rallies had to sign letters of support and non-GW supporters were not allowed entrance.

contemptible credibility

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

poor judith miller



remember my recent diatribe about the injustices being heaped on brave little judith miller? the new york times reporter is full of integrity and ethics and other virtuous virtues, said i. she’s being trampled by the jack-booted bush justice department, i blathered.

well. in the words of emily litella: never. mind.

and it’s not because judith’s not getting hosed by the feds: she is.

it’s just that upon further review, looking at the instant replay from several different angles, judith’s plucky bravery looks less like courage and more like a clinic in being played for a chump.

judith, you been punk’d.

had i been keeping up with my reading of the new york times, i would’ve known that judith was one of the bush administration’s favorite reporters in “the run-up to the iraq war.”

yes, as it turns out, judith was pimping war in iraq like there was no osama, er, tomorrow. jenna jameson would have been proud of her fervent mouthing of administration epistles.

and while her editor has defended her fallacious reporting practices, other media reviewers have not been as kind. slate, editor and publisher, and american journalism review, for examples, all dumped haterade down judith’s back in the past few months.

the point i seem to be getting around to here is this: after being a good and loyal stooge for bush and his fellow belly-crawlers, miller apparently outwore her usefulness. and instead of being rewarded for her canine-like fealty, she’s been prosecuted for failing to go all benedict arnold on her administration sources.

the irony is perfect and beautiful and delicious. it’s like a flawlessly polished apple, gleaming in dewy sunlight…except that for poor judith miller, that selfsame apple is ridden and writhing with writs and nits.

so. the takeaway…judith willingly was wallowing in bush white house slime, and now finds it hard to hose herself off. if she talks, she’s a rat. if she doesn’t talk, she’s a fool. either way, she’s lost all credibility as a responsible journalist, and her pulitzer is gone mouldy.

judith…are you geraldo rivera?

ball-peen krauthammer

Monday, October 11, 2004

charles krauthammer has lost his mind.

this occurence is unfortunate, but not entirely unexpected. it must be "hard work," after all, to be the unofficial sycophant for the bush administration for four long years.

today, however, in his zeal to slather drool upon the feet of his masters, he showed just how frayed ('fraid?) around the edges he has become.

"It is perfectly true," he says in his most recent column, "...that many millions around the world dislike Bush and want to see him defeated. It is ridiculous to pretend that Osama, Zarqawi and the other barbarians are not among them."

uh, hold up, chuck.

osama and friends dislike bush? well, okay, that's probably true. let's face it, bush is manifestly unlikeable. but why, chuck, would they want to see him defeated?

osama, for example, clearly is not all that important to the bush administration. sure, he and his minions killed 3,000 people on american soil in 2001, but as we all know by now, it's saddam who is a bad man.

and as dick cheney will tell you, should you ask him during a televised debate, there is no connection between osama and saddam.

osama, in fact, is probably pretty peeved right about now. he's probably wondering how many americans he'd have to kill to get some attention from the bush white house.

since 9/11, for all you and the administration know, osama has been serving slurpees at tysons corner mall. as far as y'all know, he's frequenting the vip rooms in south beach. in fact, as far as you know, chuck, osama is polishing the chrome on your wheels this very second.

so let's not go too far, speculation-wise, about who the al qaeda king would like to see sitting in the oval office for the next four years.

because, chuck, i'd bet your next paycheck that as president, john kerry will do more than "keep his eye on the ball." i'd bet that he'll put a laser-guided missile right between osama's eyeballs.

tsk. nah, forget it. a gentleman's wager will probably have to do. because it wouldn't be sporting to take real cash-money from a man who's taken leave of his senses.

christopher reeve

Monday, October 11, 2004

a super man has died.

i was surprised this morning to discover that i believe in heroes. i had previously thought those days were gone, stamped out by years of watching icons turn to clay.

then i read that christopher reeve had died, and that news has made me unexpectedly sad.

when i saw the first trailer for 'superman' in 1978 i was 17 years old. i distinctly remember the moment...i thought, "that is the best-looking man i have ever seen."

in bizarre fashion, i didn't become a fan until reeve broke his neck in 1995. from then on, though he was physically diminished, he truly became larger than life.

reeve set a high standard for personal and professional accomplishment...and for quiet dignity. he continued to act and to tirelessly advocate for spinal cord and stem cell research. his efforts gave new momentum to that research, and gave real hope to paralysis patients and their families.

he was in real life much more heroic than any character he ever played.

i wish he would be remembered as such.

More Green Grass

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Back in August we visited currency from around the world and noted that U.S. paper money is pathetic in comparison to legal tender from pretty much any country one could name. Today our derision extends beyond our borders, to all English-speaking nations, pointing out that, like U.S. money, our language is painfully bland to look at.

Take it in for moment, won't you? Just look at that last paragraph. Ok, now WAKE UP!!!

Sure, you can respond that it's just the font. Trust me, you can get as graphic artsy fartsy as you want about it and it won't even come close to looking as cool as, say, this:


A huge part of the cool factor is the simple detail that not one character even remotely looks like those of the Roman alphabet, of which English is derived.

Here are a couple more favorites:

مثل اقتصاد به صورت مطلق به اندازه توليد علمي داشته باشد. البته

הנפש" ול"סודות" ברכישה ישירות מהוצאת חודנה, ועם חתימת

'북 아트'를 통해 자기만의 책을 만드는 사람들이 있어요~

A relative of English, Greek, while getting closer to looking like English, still seriously kicks English ass:

Οι καταχωρήσεις αυτές ομαδοποιούνται στον Πλανήτη Ελεύθερο

Russian, using the Cyrillic alphabet, inches even closer, but no contest here as well:

Токио я передвигаюсь по проезжей части вместе с машинами, при

Further evidence of the inferiority of English is the fact that even the transliteration of some of the above languages looks cooler than English, just for having the letters arranged in sequences we are not accustomed to:

Russian: Ya govoryu nemnozhko po-russki

Korean: Woo Ri Nun Young Won Hee Nuh Uh Ga Jok Yi Da

Hebrew: Boruch Ato A-do-nai Elo-heinu Melech Ho-olom asher kidshonu

And finally, the standard Western European languages look cooler still, benefitting from the letters-in-different-sequences effect:

Seria bom que isso ficasse claro, em primeiro lugar, para o próprio governo

Og, det er jo en kjent, og tildels kjær klisjé at det er av fulle folk og barn man hører

Cercherò di portare avanti questo progetto chiamato sfoghi di un

I hang my left wing American head in shame. Someone please help get me the hell out of this country!

credible contemptibility

Friday, October 08, 2004

Reporter Held in Contempt in CIA Probe

By Curt Anderson
The Associated Press
Thursday, October 7, 2004; 4:00 PM

WASHINGTON -- A reporter for the New York Times was held in contempt Thursday by a federal judge and faces possible jail time for refusing to divulge confidential sources to prosecutors investigating the leak of an undercover CIA officer's identity.


osama bin laden is walking around free, but our government is throwing american reporters in jail.

the reporter in this case, judith miller, is being threatened with jail for doing background research. research that says the bush administration ratted out a cia operative.

the facts in this case are not in dispute: last year former ambassador joseph wilson authored an op-ed piece in the new york times. in it wilson declared that the bush administration had grotesquely overstated iraqi pursuit of uranium—a claim that since has proven true.

wilson's wife, valerie plame, was working undercover for the cia at the time.
two weeks after wilson's piece was published, conservative mouthpiece robert novak revealed plame's identity in his nationally syndicated column.

we all know from our spy movies what happens when an agent's cover is blown: she ends up face down in a stream while her fellow officers wonder what happened. plame was lucky in that regard, but we know exactly what happened.

the administration that says, "you're either with us or you're with the terrorists" got their panties in a twist after being caught in another lie. they didn't care to have mr. wilson undermine their case against iraqi WMDs, so they sent him an unmistakable message: get crossways with us and people you care about will get hurt.

according to a new york times story, reporters who testified before a grand jury linked their administration sources on plames’ identity to vice president dick cheney’s office. try to imagine my surprise.

novak has offered no explanation, expressed no regret for his actions. the administration has offered no apology, nor admitted any mistakes in this or any other matter.

and yet now the same "senior administration officials" who used novak to double-cross plame are hiding behind a journalist's code of ethics—betting their survival on judith miller’s integrity.

if she talks, somebody or somebodies in the bush white house could (and should) go to jail. if she doesn’t talk, administration criminals get off scot-free, and miller spends time in the hole.

my feeling is that miller won’t betray her sources—though perhaps in this case she should. the people she’s covering for don’t deserve her protection. they deserve to twist in the wind the way plame and wilson did.

it’s ironic that george w. bush, the self-proclaimed devout christian, is point man for this administration’s craven lack of ethics, character, or responsibility. given his actions the past four years, adding ‘hypocrite’ to his list of failings is no revelation.

thousands of americans have been killed during four years of the bush/cheney watch. by that standard, judith miller is getting off easy. she’s only facing jail time…the price of doing her job, apparently.

just another american paying for bush administration duplicity, while real criminals go free.

Literature, part deux

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Ok, while Jenna's book might not be classified as literature, what about the writings of Bob Dylan? According to a number of very smart people, his lyrics certainly are literature and he's been nominated for years for the Nobel Prize.
It definitely can, said Gordon Ball, an author and literature professor at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Va. — who has nominated Dylan every year since 1996.

"Poetry and music are linked," Ball said. "And Dylan has helped strengthen that relationship, like the troubadours of old."
This from a guy teaching at a military institute. That's astounding! How many times must the cannon balls fly, before they are forever banned?

For a less certain viewpoint:
Christopher Ricks, co-director of the Editorial Institute at Boston University — and an avid Dylan fan who has written scholarly papers on the songwriter's work — said the question is "tricky."

"I don't think there's anybody that uses words better than he does," said Ricks, the author of highly regarded works of literary criticism such as "The Force of Poetry" and "Allusion to the Poets," as well as books on T.S. Eliot, Lord Alfred Tennyson and John Keats.

"But I think his is an art of a mixed medium," Ricks said. "I think the question would not be whether he deserves (the Nobel Prize) as an honor to his art. The question would be whether his art can be described as literature."
I have no problem classifying Dylan's work as literature. He's not the first poet to write songs and certainly has not been the last. I draw the line a considerable distance from books by porn stars, but the term 'literature' needs to evolve to describe writers like Bob Dylan, or else it too easily becomes the language of elitism.

Ah, literature

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

It's hard to know where to start with this.
Porn Star Hits It Big as Bestselling Writer

Tue Oct 5, 2:11 PM ET

By Victoria Looseleaf

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - She's got two bodyguards, four dogs, a surgically enhanced double D-cup bust and an almost 600-page book on the best-seller list.
Oh, it's all so tempting! Do I write about a porn star hitting it big with her big D-cuppers? Or should I start with the simple matter of the Reuters reporter named Victoria Looseleaf writing this particular story?

Yeah. I agree. Let's start with the tits. "Surgically enhanced". Hmmmm.
Like many actresses, Jameson worries about losing her beauty. "Our looks pay our bills. I get Botox and love it. I'm very expressive and I'm trying to keep lines from appearing. I did have a chin implant and I'm having breast-reduction surgery," she said.

Downsizing her jumbo implants to a C cup seems right, Jameson says, because to remove them completely "would leave too much extra skin." She adds, "I'll get a full reduction after I have children." Jameson's maternal instinct looms large, as she and Grdina try to conceive a child.
You know, on second thought, I don't think there is anything I can add to that. As a parent I am simply impressed that Jenna is being so proactive regarding her pending motherhood.
"I love what I do for a living," exclaims Jameson, dragging on a Marlboro Light, the only vice she claims to still have.

"I'm also trying to change the way the industry is run, which is mostly headed by men who don't take women seriously as business people. To change things for girls going into the industry, I have to continue. I want to continue."
She's simply a model human being. I'm tearing up. Excuse me.
"I don't know if I can spit out another book. Maybe it'll be a coffee table book of photos or maybe I'll focus on something more family-oriented. If I do have a daughter," she says with resolve, "there's no way in hell I would allow her to be a porn star and go through the things I went through."
As a friend of mine likes to say in moments such as this: well.the.hell.

God help us

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Last evening on NPR I heard a report on a group of Evangelical Christians who gather to pray for our country, for our politicians, in the hope that God's will be done. They state clearly that they are actively praying for a victory for GW, but that they will pray just as much for Kerry if he wins.


Then, a pastor speaks and says something to the effect of: The only way for us to ensure that God shines favorably on America is if we are upholding His word. We must do everything we can to protect the unborn and the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman. If we do this, we don't have to worry about the economy, about the environment, about the war in Iraq, because God will take care of us.

I'm not making this up.

So, I suppose that the Bible says nothing about stealing, greed and corruption. There's probably nothing in there that says that we should be stewards of God's creation, to protect the precious planet Earth that God gave us in His infinite generosity and love. And, it seems that it's ok by God for a leader of a powerful nation to lie to the people he serves in order to convince them that the war he wants to wage is justified, resulting in the senseless deaths of over a thousand American soldiers who believed him, and thousands more Iraqis, both military and civilian.

When I talk to fundamentalist Christians, heck, when I talk to fundamentalist Jews, I'm often told that the Bible is all true, the absolute, indisputable word of God. Sometimes, they bring this up because I share with them that my spirituality is drawn from truths that I derive from a number of religious traditions, that there are parts of the Bible that sound like truths to me, just like there are portions of Islamic, Buddhist, Hindu, Taoist literature, to mention a few, that sound like truths to me, and I choose to disregard the portions that do not. I am reminded by them at this point that I am making a HUGE mistake.


But, aren't they being just as selective as me?

mount st. (what the) helens

Monday, October 04, 2004

Mount St. Helens spews more steam

MOUNT ST. HELENS NATIONAL MONUMENT, Wash. -- Mount St. Helens blew off more steam Monday, shooting a billowing white plume several hundred feet above the volcano and thrilling hundreds of visitors who had gathered below the rumbling mountain.

this was so predictable.

as you may recall from a previous episode, natural disasters follow me and my wife wherever we move. earthquakes, fires, tornadoes, hurricanes. and now we can add volcanic eruptions to our portfolio.

and don’t think it’s not an awesome responsibility to be, uh, responsible for all these acts of god. if it were just us, that’d be one thing. we’d adapt, or duck, or batten down the hatches. or something.

but no. these things generally affect lots of other people. and we feel bad about that. but what the helens can we do about it? we didn’t ask to be disaster magnets. and even if we warned our new neighbors each time, do you think they’d have believed us?

helens, no. they’d have branded us “the crazy couple with delusions of godhood.” we’d have been ostracized. shunned. snubbed. we’re friendly, sociable people, we don’t take well to snubbing.

but let’s say for a moment that our warnings were believed, were we inclined to make them…which we weren’t. we’d have been ostracized. shunned. snubbed. and run out of town by an angry mob wielding torches and pitch forks. we’re sensitive, flesh and blood people, we don’t take well to pitch forks.

so far the st. helens cataclysm hasn’t been very cataclysmic, disaster-wise. for that we are grateful. but that’s hardly the point. the volcano hadn’t gotten any attention for 24 years, and suddenly it’s party time. “woo hoo, the spaceneedls are in town. heat up the magma!”

years ago we stopped asking each other, “what else could happen?” and sarcastically saying “i can’t wait to see what happens next.” we can think of plenty of what-elses that could happen—and we don’t want to think about it. quite frankly we can wait to see what happens next. we’ve seen plenty of examples, and we don’t need to be hit over the head.

look, when it comes to being granted divine powers, i’m as appreciative as the next guy. but y’know, we feel like we’ve done our time. met our quota. fulfilled our duty. we’d be pleased as heck to hand this little gift off to another lucky couple.

so we’re looking for volunteers.

applicants must recognize the gift, but not attempt to exploit it. religious zealots and power mongers need not apply. applicants must be prepared to live far away from us, as we don’t care to get caught up in the disaster du jour upon the transfer of power. residents of the pacific northwest need not apply. applicants must be resilient counterpunchers. folks with glass psyches need not apply.

all righty then. that ought to about do it. we’ll be waiting here, standing by, as the applications start rolling in.

inevitable as the high tide.

any minute now.

Obligatory debate post

Friday, October 01, 2004

For me, Kerry looked like the same old stuffy intellectual liberal that the Democratic Party keeps propping up. All the Kerry supporters I have talked to since the debate, as well as the reactions I've read online, suggest he won hands down Yet, the thing they don't talk about is that, while we Democrats recognize that he dominated on the facts and knowing the issues, all Bush had to do was use terms like "ludicrous" and "absurd", like he did, and repeat over and over again that he's the president, it's hard work and it's getting done despite all the bad news we see in the headlines, oh, and that Kerry constantly changes his position, and people eat that shit up.

So, I'm not saying that Kerry did a lousy job. He was simply being John Kerry and he's no match for Bush's charm, rah-rah militaristic nationalism, and fundamentalist Christianity. Kerry could not even manage a simple home run point: Bush said that inspections were not working and all Kerry had to say was that if inspections truly had not been working then WMDs would have been found. George Bush is brilliant at being the anti-intellectual cowboy, moved by his beliefs rather than political pressure. That plays incredibly well and actually overshadows his disastrous record.

Much has been said about Kerry having kept GW on the defensive for much of the debate. I couldn't disagree more.

Kerry was actually the one on the defensive the whole time, just as he's mostly been on the defensive the whole campaign. The bottom line is that the Bush administration/campaign set the bar through their war and fear mongering, establishing that a challenger must be strong, unwavering, militaristic. All the proof is in the Kerry Campaign's slogan: "A Stronger America". Kerry & Co. are playing by Bush's rules plain and simple.

Instead of taking a principled stance, instead of being the John Kerry who came back from Vietnam, having seen the horrors and senselessness of war, and protested, he has fallen right into Karl Rove's trap. Last night Kerry said things like: "I will hunt down and kill the terrorists.", "I know how to win in Iraq.", "The President of the United States must always reserve the right to pre-emptive war." Bush's oft repeated attack was that you can't say it is the wrong war, wrong place, wrong time, and Kerry never once said, "Shut the fuck up! How dare you say that I can't criticize you because it would not be supportive to our troops and allies." (Ok, so I'd tone it down a bit obviously. But why didn't he ever call Bush on that? He had enough chances.)

I'll be a peacenik until the day I die and I truly believe that if someone like Dennis Kucinich, had been facing off against Bush, you would have seen the President really squirm as his fear and war mongering are held up to the light of a concept like establishing a Department of Peace, making a global declaration of peace, eschewing the practice of forcing Democracy and capitalism down the throat of the rest of the world and becoming a uniter of nations. This senseless militarism, this eye-for-an-eye madness has proven over and over again to be disastrous for human beings and for nations of humans.

Bring on the cynical remarks about how this is a lot of pipe dream garbage and I'll just point out that it is precisely because so many millions of cynics say that so casually and out of hand that it appears to be unrealistic. I totally believe it is possible that a message of peace could transform the globe.

Perhaps, when the Democratic Party is done scratching their heads wondering how Kerry, like Gore, could lose to a sociopath like Bush, they will see that they have to change their strategy. I can only hope that someone new will come along to take Kucinich's platform and run with it, someone with Clintonesque mega mojo charisma.