Friday, March 30, 2007

Weekend fun

Sunday is April 1, and in honor of the day, Yahoo offers us 10 great April Fool's hoaxes propagated on the public in the second half of the 20th century. Most entertaining . . .

(via Follow Me Here)

Friday bengals -- headshot edition

A few recent shots came out quite glamorous, so I'll trickle them out over some coming weeks. Here are a couple of nice headshots of the girls in the bedroom, enjoying the sun...

Pasha in the window
Pasha takes her ease

Pixel on the bed
Pixel wonders what I'm up to

Yogi's yellow eyes
Yogi watches for marauders

No Aurora, I guess -- she tends to stay out of traffic, and is especially avoiding getting doses of medicine these days...

I sound like a crotchety old grump

The screening process and other demeaning experiences have almost turned me (a lover of all places) off of travel. And now it turns out that the TSA actually misses 90% of explosives that undercover agents attempt to get past them. Leave my tennis shoes in peace!

Wrong wrong wrong

Kermit takes a sorrowful drug trip. It's funny, but in such a twisted way. Consider yourself warned -- I may never be the same.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Infusion of whimsy

colorful blobDon't miss this wonderful array of works made from carved stacks of construction paper -- like childhood games taken to sublime heights, with explosions of color, or unexpected structures taking shape. spiff.

(via Medley)

Speaking of snark (quote of the day)

Bill Maher is on a roll with this one...
You know, not to generalize, but the 29% of people who still support President Bush are the ones who love to pronounce themselves more patriotic than the rest of us. But just saying you're patriotic is like saying you have a big cock. If you have to say it, chances are it's not true.
Lots of other good stuff in there, but this made me giggle...

(via Medley)

Official-type snark

heh heh -- the DNC takes one from the blogger playbook...

(via Medley)

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

McCain -- a Republican Lieberman?

That is, he sees only good things where others are, well, utilizing a duck-and-cover approach to life...
To suggest that there's any neighborhood in this city where an American can walk freely is beyond ludicrous. I'd love Senator McCain to tell me where that neighborhood is and he and I can go for a stroll.
Just clap louder, everybody!

Political punishment

Rafe adds another take on the US Attorney firing scandal (I previously noted Josh Marshall's explanation of its importance here), pointing out that the Administration couldn't really think it had done nothing wrong, or it wouldn't have tried so hard to cover it up. As he explains it, the current hearings are part of how our political system corrects itself:
What's going on now is the standard punishment for political offenses, which is that your dirty laundry gets aired and your rivals make you twist in the wind for as long as possible. If the Bush administration really had a valid defense for its actions, all they'd have to do is make an honest case to the American people, but they don't, so the punishment continues. And the longer Alberto Gonzales keeps his job, the longer it will go on.
It may indeed take that resignation to make this go away; will be interesting to see. The longer it goes on, the more impact it will have on future elections, and I can't believe that the Republicans want that, even if the upside is less talk about Iraq...

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Please, talk down to me some more!

More evidence that the media dumbs down the news for its American audience. There's little enough as it is; can't we be led toward something other than spandex?

Quote/poem of the day

March blizzard in northern PA

A wonderful time--the War:
when money rolled in
and blood rolled out.
But blood / was far away
from here--
Money was near.
- Langston Hughes,
poet and novelist (1902-1967)

(via A.W.A.D.)

We watch and weep

A lengthy but interesting piece explores the expansion of antiwar sentiment in the last few years but the relative lack of public demonstrations compared with the Vietnam era. His conclusion rings true to me -- that it's about a loss of public trust that their leaders would pay any attention:
Today, it crosses no young minds that the top officials in the White House might be listening. Many fewer young people, I suspect, have any remnant of that deep faith that our political system could be responsive to them or that anything they could do might change it. When they look to Washington, what they see is fraud, dysfunction, conspiracy, cronyism, cabal, influence-peddling, corruption, fear -- in short, a system, a world, beyond response, possibly beyond repair, and utterly alien to their lives. In such a situation, despair or apathy tends to replace anger and hope.
I'm not sure that I agree with the Bill Moyers quote here that this is part of a dwindling belief in democracy -- I think that many people who have given up on the efficacy of public demonstrations are very invested in the power of the voting booth -- but merely that Bush has so frequently demonstrated his disinterest in public opinion (or, really, in national interests) that it's clear that there's no point in directing any of it his way. It's terrible feeling that you can only grip your armrests and wish the next 18 months to fly by, so that we can put a more rational and trustworthy leader in charge of our domestic and foreign policies, but it's not the same as giving up entirely. Although the dark cloud meantime is much the same . . .

(via This Modern World)

Niggling questions

Congress is readying its subpoenas, preparing to ask for open, under-oath testimony from players such as Rove, Miers, Gonzales, and their various staffers. And yet, the obvious huge question that nobody wants to address is what happens when the subpoenas are defied? It's clear that many in the Justice Department have no intention of cooperating, and it's not clear that there's anybody else to enforce such a subpoena -- judges prefer to leave the "elected branches" to sort such matters out for themselves, and there's precedent for US Attorneys refusing to bring a contempt claim against members of the executive (if "privilege" is invoked).

It may be that the subpoenas won't be served for this very reason; it's a game of chicken with a genuine Constitutional crisis that could leave our system of checks and balances in tatters on the floor.

Update: the second part of this discussion was just posted, and talks about other recourses available to Congress, as well as what may be in the works.

Monday, March 26, 2007

The arguments for Edwards

Edwards picA dailyKos poster makes the case for John Edwards as the Democratic nominee in 2008, using quotes from his website and a video of his speeches. I must say, it's good to hear somebody sounding sincere about the things that really need doing -- from rehabilitating our international image to looking after the needs of the least of our citizens.

No decisions here yet -- a lot of things could happen in the next 10 months -- but Edwards has made a lot of the right steps and said a lot of the right things, judged both as a new leader for the Democratic party and a potential guider of the nation. Stay tuned.

Feminism -- still work to do (part III)

USA Today notes: More men are taking their wives' last names (or combinations thereof) -- and getting ceaseless crap for it.
Van Hallgren received a scathing note from a longtime listener with a subject line that read, "Sam, turn in your man card." The listener asked what "sissy juice" the host was drinking.
Because, Lord knows, the patriarchy society has so much more vested in this than the couple themselves, and so much more knowledge of the personal, historical, and linguistic factors that might have gone into the choice. Yeesh.

Spouse and I still get some crap for having different last names, but I suppose much less than if one of us were taking the extra crap for "emasculation" (the ultimate sin)...

(via kottke)

Edit: oh, to make more sense of my subject line, here are parts I and II

How I got through grad school

Yet more research/argument showing that short naps can improve your energy and performance in just about all areas of life. When I worked in a lab, I used to sometimes put my head down on my desk for a 20-min snooze, but I don't have the proliferation of timers available here in my cubicle, so I tend to count on an extra cup of tea to see me through. It usually doesn't work, with the result that I slow to near-imperceptibility by the end of the day...

(via Medley)

Your nickle's worth?

faux R2-D2 stampApparently in honor of the 30th anniversary of Star Wars, the US Postal Service is converting some of its familiar blue drop boxes into R2-D2 droids -- I had forgotten about this until Albert reported seeing one in the wild on Friday. The concept rather cracks me up, but I have to admit it feels a bit of a weaker joke in light of the postage hikes planned for later this year . . .

The public trust

Josh Marshall and the TPM gang have been doing a yeoman's job of tracking developments in the US Attorney firing scandal, and today they pause a moment to clarify why this is important. Worth reading the whole thing, but it can be summarized thusly:
We all understand that politics and the law aren't two hermetically sealed domains. And we understand that partisanship may come into play at the margins. But we expect it to be the exception to the rule and a rare one. But here it appears to have become the rule rather than the exception, a systematic effort at the highest levels to hijack the Justice Department and use it to advance the interest of one party over the other by use of selective prosecution.
If people don't trust "the feds" to crack down on local corruption wherever it may lie (instead choosing their targets by party affiliation), their faith in their government is further eroded. Ask a 20-something black guy pulled over for a traffic stop how he feels about police impartiality, and you'll get a sense of what can happen if we lose faith in our national legal system. More unraveling of our civic fabric...

Sometimes it's good to have a friend

Alarming cuteness levels here! Be prepared!!

(via Medley)

Friday, March 23, 2007

Quote of the day

"Spirit" comes from the Latin word "to breathe." What we breathe is air, which is certainly matter, however thin. Despite usage to the contrary, there is no necessary implication in the word "spiritual" that we are talking of anything other than matter (including the matter of which the brain is made), or anything outside the realm of science. ... Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality. When we recognize our place in the immensity of light-years and in the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty, and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual. So are our emotions in the presence of great art or music or literature, or of acts of exemplary selfless courage such as those of Mohandas Gandhi or Martin Luther King, Jr. The notion that science and spirituality are somehow mutually exclusive does a disservice to both.
– Carl Sagan,
The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark
(via A Mindful Life)

Wow, I'm so naive even in my cynicism

The warping of the Justice Department by the Bushies appears to extend back as far as the anti-tobacco litigation. Surely there will be some consequences for such a grave breach of the public trust? Please?!

(via Echidne)

Oh yes, so post-feminist

When top models are judged by their ability to mimic victims of violent crime, it might just be that our societal take on beauty, fashion, and the roles of women is more than a little off-kilter...

Broken dolls indeed.

Friday cat-blogging

It's always a good time for some spotted puddings! (worth seeing this full size)

window gazers
Pasha and Pixel enjoy the morning sun

(click the label "cats" to see more fun with our household cats...)

Satire, the last refuge of those of us who care

Bill Maher on what the current "war effort" is asking of Americans at home:
So when it comes to sacrifice, don't kid yourself. You have given up a lot. You've given up faith in your government's honesty, the goodwill of people overseas, and six-tenths of the Bill of Rights.
Sigh. Not exactly the kind of sacrifice that leaves us all feeling like we pulled together in a common effort... (unless you were really for the dismantling of the Constitution ahead of time...)

(via Bill in Portland Maine at dailyKos)

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Great idea, neat photos

Neatorama lists the 10 Most Magnificent Trees in the World.

(via kottke)

We live in trying times

new donkey chances...and the measure of that is that a simple assertion of reasonableness and decency by a committee chair is enough to bring me to tears. Yes, Senator, "elections have consequences"...

(via Medley)


This is a bit alarming -- one would hate to see a good candidate removed from the field for reasons unrelated to the job, and one would also hate to find out that there were prospects of a bad health turn for Elizabeth Edwards, a force in her own right. I certainly wish them well for both the prognosis and any subsequent decisions to be made.

(via Medley)

Edit: update on the news here. Cancer has indeed returned, but the campaign will continue...

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Link dump

Bunch of things I've been wanting to blog, but I need to get home and work on a project that's already behind, so here's a quick round-up:
  • From the world of psychology:

    1. When viewing a videotaped interrogation, most viewers discount the possibility of coercion if they are shown only the suspect's face -- this bias extends even to "professionals" in the legal field, such as judges and law-enforcement types. However, when both the interrogator and suspect are shown, this bias dissipates to a large degree. Encourage your district to shift to dual filming of police interrogations.

    2. PsyBlog lists the Top 10 Psychology Studies that have changed how we understand the human mind and behavior, from memory to response to authority to postulation of the unconscious. Lots of neat stuff for the layman and specialist alike, well explained.

  • Things political:

    1. Markos looks at the cancellation of the Democrats' Fox debate as a grassroots triumph, in which the blogging community served primarily to inspire local activists to believe they could make a difference (and maybe recognize the importance of this choice).

    2. Another DailyKos blogger alerts us to a fair elections bill that's been introduced in the Senate and which would provide public funding to any US Senate candidate who met some threshold level of small individual contributions first. Encourage your representatives to support this idea.

  • From the realm of the wacky trouble-maker:

    Barry Schwartz, of "why too much choice can overwhelm us" fame, comes up with another paradigm-breaker: he suggests a lottery-style admission process for top colleges (among all reasonably qualified applicants), which would reduce the pressure for resume polishing and encourage more exploration of learning for its own merits. A fascinating idea, based on some pretty strong foundations. Just to flip out the ladder-climbers a bit more, he concludes with this little rumination:
    If talented and hardworking people are forced to confront the element of chance in life's outcomes when they (or their kids) fail to get into the "best" college, they may be more inclined to acknowledge the role of luck in shaping the lives of the people around them.
    Now you're really talking crazy, man!
    (via Cognitive Daily)

Haiku of the day

leaf on stone walk

First day of spring--
I keep thinking about
the end of autumn.
— Matsuo Basho (1644 - 1694)
Translated by Robert Hass

(via Follow Me Here)

How does occupation feel?

I found this initially amusing, and then a bit upsetting. Which is, I think, as it should be. Probably startling in a different way to experience, but I guess I over-empathize with the soldiers dismayed to be putting their uniforms back on . . .

(via Medley)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Seems apt

The politically motivated firing of lots of qualified US Attorneys tried to include Patrick Fitzgerald, but I guess that having so many highly placed people think he was the best prosecutor in the country made it a bit too difficult even for these skilled crooks. Yeesh, is there any part of national government they won't bend and twist?

Poem of the day (in praise of time away)


Sometimes the mountain
is hidden from me in veils
of cloud, sometimes
I am hidden from the mountain
in veils of inattention, apathy, fatigue,
when I forget or refuse to go
down to the shore or a few yards
up the road, on a clear day,
to reconfirm
that witnessing presence.
- Denise Levertov
(via whiskey river)

Four years is a long time

empty boots memorialThe whole time you were in highschool, or college. A huge swath of personal growth and development, but of a fearsome and retributive kind. That's the length of time we've been loosing our bulls in the china shop of Iraq, the length of time their kids have been living with daily bombs and fear of going out in the street, much longer than the length of time that it takes to change welcome to resentment, rejoicing to dread. And no end in sight yet. And our leaders would just as soon forget the whole day, treat an expensive and counterproductive war as part of regular business.

But boy! those liberals were misguided when they predicted a long slog, potential quagmire, no improvement in our world security. How they must regret their advance analysis now!


Fish in a barrel

An Aussie has some fun with Americans on the street and the breadth of their ignorance about the world ("that their country runs"). Sigh.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Apparently feminism isn't done!

Several articles and posts currently about the increasing need for America to support families, and not to rely on women to throw away their own futures in favor of their spouses, older parents, and children. Both spouses need to be sharing the life load, and all of society should be making that possible. I particularly liked this TPM Cafe piece, which includes such specific gems as this:
Why are 21st century schoolchildren still being sent home to milk 19th century cows—leaving millions of working parents scrambling frantically for individual solutions to their shared 3-6 pm problem?
and such more general ruminations as this:
What will it take to get us all to see that women are not an “interest group,” that working mothers’ problems are not “identity” politics, and that the problems of working families are the problems of the common good?
Worth a read, whether or not you internalized these sanities long ago. Perhaps the time has come when a bit of progress can be made in forcing America's brand of capitalism to take on a more human face.

Yes, feel the peace of mind

eye of Big BrotherA blogger in the San Francisco area researches and negotiates the purchase of a new car, and is then brought to a screeching halt by their request for a fingerprint to seal the deal. What on earth?! Nothing that they said in answer to questions about either how the data would be handled or what sort of crime this system might prevent were in any way convincing.
I already use my fingerprint to unlock my laptop computer. In five years I may be using it to unlock my front door, or access my medical records. Last month, my personal data was stolen during the big UCLA database break-in. So, if this thumbprint thing is really my last remaining way to prove my identity, well, pardon me for not trusting your sales force with it.
Amen. Our times are getting crazier and crazier, and the willingness of folks to give in to this sort of thing (and see more here) is only raising the threshold of privacy protection for the rest of us.

(via boing boing)

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Remember Lieberman?

How he's getting the Democrats a majority? A little hard to tell, when you see him in action though. If only the actual Democratic nominee from Connecticut could have won the fall election, we might have found out what a real majority feels like...

Long weekend

Spouse and I are headed out of the city for a little breathing of fresh air and breaking of routine. Sadly, it's supposed to be cold and drizzly, but happily, we're pretty capable of making fun in any circumstances, so am itching to get going. To keep you guys happy in my absence, I offer a smattering of sillinesses collected over recent weeks:
  • Ever wonder what it was like to be inside a hamster ball, rolling yourself around the room? Now you can find out! wheeeeeeeeeeee.
    (via boing boing)

  • Pride yourself on your mastery of grilled cheese sandwiches? Pit your best against the rest at the Grilled Cheese Invitational. (This site is mystifying on so many levels...)
    (via Follow Me Here)

  • Mash-up of the week: Dylan Hears a Who -- how the album of Dr. Suess favorites might sound if sung by Bob Dylan...
    (via pal BH)

  • Need a little visual vacation? I recommend the fantastic black and white photographs of Josef Hoflehner -- I could look and look at these...
    (via wood s lot)

  • Taking art in a more unusual direction is Pete Goldlust, who carves crayons into remarkable sculptural objects.
    (via boing boing)

  • And speaking of conceptualism, here's a little video of a "mouth band" that plays by singing the name of their instruments. "Guitar solo.... guitar solo..." tee hee.
    (via boing boing)

  • Ever wonder how we came to drive on the opposite side of the road from our peers in England or Japan? Here's a world map of driving orientations, along with one possible explanation of how it came about.
    (via kottke)
Finally, a little dynamic piece of rare self-revelation, called my visual DNA (which turned out to be an interesting exercise):

(via A Mindful Life)

The unseen aftermath

sorrow, solitudeThink that the ravages of Katrina are behind us? In fact, New Orleans is still being decimated by an inadequate healthcare system, especially for the poor -- few resources, lost clinics, and a huge reduction in regional health care providers (probably many among those who relocated) are leading to radical undertreatment of all sorts of serious ailments.
As a result, people with severe mental illness often go without medication. Heart patients cannot get prescribed follow-up care, and some cancer patients must travel hours for chemotherapy. People line up before dawn in hopes of getting care at clinics staffed by volunteers.
More bifurcation of living conditions between Haves and Have-Nots, more dropped responsibility. Katrina is a weeping sore on our national conscience.

(via Follow Me Here)

Visual nutshell

Tony Auth's cartoon today is very on point.
(I'm sorry that the Inquirer's political cartoons aren't archived, but if you are reading this in a timely manner, perhaps you can still see it. White House at the top...)

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Journalistic standards

It just amazes me that some of these guys still have their jobs. Is there no standard at all for perceptiveness, attention to facts, or even consistency? Does anybody ever get fired for being an opinionated twit on the wrong side of the truth over and over, or are papers concerned only with filling the requisite number of pages?

I guess the record speaks for itself.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Best line of the morning

Goes to Devilstower, who is tracking the story of the mass firing of US Attorneys:
At this point, the "we fired them for cause" story line is so tattered that it couldn't get a role as an extra in Oliver Twist.
Heh. For those of you who missed this (or who might have been asleep for most of the last 7 years), the operations of the Bush Administration can be summarized thusly:
matters of state Rove looking for a political edge, Bush nodding at Rove's every whim, and Gonzales eagerly twisting the truth to justify whatever Bush puts in front of him. That's not just the story of the purge, it's the script for this whole administration.
Indeed, there is little room for satire anymore. Or justice, even at Justice. sigh.

Monday, March 12, 2007

In the public eye

New York magazine adds its two cents to the question of leaving a digital record, describing the gap between those of us who would post our intellectual thoughts but not our dirty laundry and today's youth culture of constant public exposure as the largest generation gap since the 1960s. I found this stastistic amazing:
One 2006 government study—framed, as such studies are, around the stranger-danger issue—showed that 61 percent of 13-to-17-year-olds have a profile online, half with photos.
But I will admit to having a bit of leeriness of the degree of exhibitionism that seems quite common, from the personal details to the photos of drunken revelry. Are all of these kids really going to be proud of that stuff later? The counter-perspective is this:
And after all, there is another way to look at this shift. Younger people, one could point out, are the only ones for whom it seems to have sunk in that the idea of a truly private life is already an illusion. Every street in New York has a surveillance camera. Each time you swipe your debit card at Duane Reade or use your MetroCard, that transaction is tracked. Your employer owns your e-mails. The NSA owns your phone calls. Your life is being lived in public whether you choose to acknowledge it or not.
Funny to think that the fogies are all worried about our becoming isolated and lonely, when in fact these kids may be more comfortable with more personal sharing than any generation in ages. All fascinating possibilities. On the other hand, this sounds more foreign:
“To me, or to a lot of people, it’s like, why go to a party if you’re not going to get your picture taken?” [Xiyin Tang]
Does webification mean that rather than living your life you're just creating content for consumption by others? I'm back to weirded again. Anyway, I was tempted to exerpt even more, but really, just go read it. Here were the headers that the author chose for how this new generation is different:
It will be interesting to watch this new culture space evolve, whether from inside or at the sidelines...

(via boing boing)

Rise from your sickbed, man, rise!

forehead smackYes, we're hard up enough for troops that we're now sending injured soldiers back to Iraq, even those too damaged to wear body armor or make the moves necessary to avoid gunfire. Some surge. I hardly know what to say anymore.

(via Follow Me Here)

If I watched that channel, I'd get an ulcer

More on Fox's duplicity -- screenshots with scare suggestions, misattribution of party identification (trying to link the Foley scandal to the Democrats), and other amazing games. Jeesh, Orwell must really be rolling in his grave.

(via Medley)

Update: I missed this -- the Democrats found an excuse for pulling out of the Nevada Fox debate. Whatever it took...

Friday, March 09, 2007

Tee hee

Ah, the great light-bright scare of 2007... Beauty.

(via Rebecca's Pocket)

Friday cats and kittens

Continuing the theme of demonstrating that we in fact have more cats in our household than just the two photogenic bengals, here's an early threesome, featuring Pixel (5 months), Pasha (3 months), and Yogi (12 years) -- this dates from October, 2005.

trio of lounging cats

Ah, Yogi -- how little you suspected the way that the tables would turn, and your total dominance of the household would become a life of being pounced on without warning and chased up two flights of stairs... (and ah, Pasha, how innocent you look!)

Who will watch the watchmen?

The idea of trusting Bush to report benchmarks is ludicrous in the extreme.

When you tilt your head just so...

Know how people are always talking about the "problem" that Democrats have with religious voters? (feh) Well, it's worth noting that Republicans have a serious problem with the secular vote.
In short, Republicans failed to be competitive among secular voters, while Democrats were at least competitive among regular churchgoers. And since the secular vote is roughly equal to the regular churchgoing vote, according to the last several national election exit polls, that means Republicans and their conservative base have a far bigger secular problem than their rivals have a religion problem.
Chew on that for a while!

Support the .... who are those guys?

Slate: Still more ways Bush is screwing returning vets. As I heard the expressions of dismay and "if we'd known" about the dismal hospital conditions, I immediately thought of the cuts and reductions in veteran's funding that have been like a drumbeat over the last 5 years; why doesn't this all bother the "support the troops" conservative masses?

Thought exercise:
have these funding slashes been a simple expression of disregard for veterans and a misplaced desire for efficiency, or have the Bushies gotten tired of people pointing to the Veterans' Health Administration as proof that centralized provision of healthcare is much more effective than our stupid health insurance system?

(via Medley)

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Crazy ideas

There's a Blog Against Sexism Day thing goin' around, which I will take as a proximal goad to link to these two interesting articles that I read today:
  • A book review of a book on the absence of women in science, which does a great job of presenting a number of interesting (but often conflicting) arguments as a sort of discussion. Good ideas, questions, stuff. Worth a read.
    (via Medley)

  • Muttering in a Corner offers an excellent examination of words and their power, looking at a kerfluffle around a reading from the Vagina Monologues.
    Well, while it’s great and all to reach the mastery level of feminism, it’s always good to remind yourself that the reason that conservatives fear and loathe this play so much is that it still has a lot of power as a feminist teaching tool for much younger women. It’s the Sassy magazine for the early 21st century.femsign If nothing else, the reaction young women get lately when they try to embrace the play and its message that everything you’ve learned about what a terrible person you are because of your genitals is wrong, they are going to get the smackdown from people that just wish the vagina would disappear and take away all its power to soften our fascist phallic spirit.
    [Actually a subquote from Amanda at Pandagon]
    Indeed, in the context of the current story, the excerpt provided from the play comes across as very powerful, and that power has almost nothing to do with the word itself.

Quote of the day

The world is full of people looking for spectacular happiness while they snub contentment.
-- Doug Larson
(via A Mindful Life)

Shot across the bow?

Senate Democratic leadership introduce a binding resolution requiring withdrawel from Iraq. Still a pretty long time-frame, but it's at least something real, with teeth.

I... but... [mouth agape]

I think there's something understandable about being held accountable for the trail that you leave through cyberspace -- your choices about what to write, post, share about yourself and your opinions (see prev. here). But the idea that your employment prospects, and even personal safety, can be affected by the content of discussions about you, including abusive rants, sexist drooling/stalking, and other infantile harrassment, just... boggles my mind. The linked post is lengthy, but the behavior it details is really shocking.

(via Medley)

The problem with FOX

In case anybody's missed it, there's an internal debate in the Democratic party (initially driven by the blogosphere) about a Presidential primary debate planned for Nevada, to be broadcast on Fox. Why the latter is a bad idea is very well explained by Digby here -- in a nutshell, the problem is that the right-wing crazies at Fox get to frame the debate with their pundits, dissect the flaws of every candidate, and insert backdrops and scrolling feeds with a typical array of lies and slander. Thus, however likely or unlikely it is that Fox viewers would have a genuine interest in Democratic candidates, their filter will make sure that the effect is as damaging as possible.

Fox footer with lie

John Edwards has already said he'll pass on this event, and it's possible that some other headliners will follow suit (Obama already doesn't talk to Fox reporters). Hopefully the party leadership will get the message and either find a different way to get the debate televised or get Fox to accept Air America as a cosponsor for the event (which at least puts Fox's "fair and balanced" crap where it belongs).

(via Medley)

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

A smattering of good things

  • Two views on the reprogramming of gays through faith -- one that claims success, of a sort, and one that found peace only when he found a faith community open to who he already was. A gripping video.
    (blog found via Ampersand)

  • A fascinating reflection on how portraits are made, and whether subject or camera-weilder has ultimate control over what is conveyed.
    (via kottke)

  • A lifetime suburban couple moves into a big city and finds things they didn't expect:
    We realize now that the cocoons of our cars kept us well insulated from the people around us. Our genuine interactions were with family and coworkers, the only people who saw us stripped of the metal that clothed and protected us. Our neighbors, we discovered, were virtually strangers.

    Now, we stand face-to-face with people in our building’s elevators, at our corner hangouts, and on the sidewalks. We chitchat and pet our neighbors’ dogs. We exchange “good mornings” with the people we pass everyday on our way to work. We’ve developed friendships with several proprietors and servers at our favorite restaurants.
    Indeed, I moved to a city for what I expected to be a temporary position, and then decided to pick my next job to let me stay. It's not the things that lure you at first -- the restaurants, theaters, shops -- but the fascinating kaliedoscope of people, the daily walking and the way it attunes you to tiny changes in the weather and the urban landscape, and many other ineffable things that are part of making a place your own. I would feel cut off from the world in the suburbs, even laptop in hand...
    (via kottke)

This might be one of the coolest things ever

lips speakingThe Speech Accent Archive -- you can pick a region and hear a speaker read a short piece of text. The text seems arbitrary at first, but you realize that somehow it incorporates a lot of phonemes that are shaded just a bit in various locales (I could tell Detroit from Chicago). Compare eastern and western parts of the UK, see if you can tell Pittsburgh from Detroit, learn to tell a Botswana accent from a Nigerian one. Man, I could do this all day!

(via Cognitive Daily)

Who pulls the strings on the right

Evangelical Christians have been the go-to "base" for conservative politicians, turning out the vote on social issues and the like. The flip side of that is that semi-moderate political figures like Giuliani and McCain may not pass muster with that segment, and thus may never make it out of the primary, however popular they might be in the nation at large. For Rudy, it's his three marriages (and unseemly divorces); for John it's his moderate insufficiently lather-flecked conservative social positions. Will these guys get flattened by lesser-known Republican candidates, or will they just get pushed to the right by the lash of evangelical whips? Only time will tell.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


I want a basket full of little bunnies.
oh! the pink paws! oh, the soft noses! -- swoons --


We totally forgot to catch last week's lunar eclipse, but here's a pretty spiffy set of photos to give the sense of the thing. (Another here, photogenic but harder to parse.)

(via kottke)

I don't post enough haiku here...

evening light through a windowbirch seeds tumble
from the laundry bin —
end of the day
Cindy Zackowitz

(from The Heron's Nest, IX:1)

I told you to stop picking at it!

Scientists have found a chunk of the earth's crust missing in the mid-Atlantic ocean floor, with the mantle apparently exposed to the water. No idea whether it was always that way or whether some geologic action ripped the normal surface off. Wacky.

(via Medley)

Topical humor

small smilieFrom Some Guy with a Website. heheh.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Home sick (again)

Ridiculous. What happened to the powerful immune system of my youth? Has it been entirely coopted by allergies? Anyway, more when I... have thoughts. meh.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Weekend randomness

A smattering of fun, random, and/or interesting bits to entertain you over the next few days (since my substantive blogging continues to be preempted by the archiving business)...
  • Principles of Economics, unpacked (where ideas meet comedy).
    (via kottke)

  • Here's somebody who takes the art of the Etch-a-sketch to whole new heights. I may never squiggle again...
    (via Your Daily Awesome)

  • Freelancers who want more structure (or social interaction) are teaming up in co-working facilities that give them an office outside the house (or coffeeshop).

  • Ira Glass gives some tips on storytelling, and particularly about finding stories and bringing them to life via taped media.
    (via kottke)

  • Fortune tells the story of at least one lottery winner who hasn't lost his head.
    (via kottke)

  • Here's a music video that's just plain creative and fun (choreagraphed treadmill action).
    (via Rebecca's Pocket)

  • Speaking of fun, here's a chance to relive classic videogame Asteroids, from the perspective of the rock! Revenge!!
    (via boing boing)

  • And finally, a cute puppy. Oh, the cuteness! (Warning: potentially addictive new site...)
Have a great weekend, y'all!

No kittens here

Not in the mood to dig up cat photos, but I bumped across the post from last fall where I noted this adorable image -- it appeals to me on many levels, and thus I offer it for a Friday smile.

guinea pig with vase
The Tao of Pig

Technical oddities

Apologies are in order, I gather, for anybody who reads this blog via a feed. I've been working through my archives, adding keyword labels, and my way of doing it (reading each post, deciding on the keywords, and republishing) apparently generates a "new update" entry for feeds, even though the posts are dated months or years ago. I can't think of a way around that; Blogger provides a great gadget for adding or removing labels from large swaths of posts, but it's done using a title list, which doesn't really help with most of my stuff (which is whimsically titled), especially if it's more than a few days ago. I'll dig around a bit and see if there's a way I can do my stuff through that interface, but no promises. Anyway, only six more months of posts to catch up with, so it might be done by this weekend.
tiny wrench
Two steps forward, one step back . . .

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Two bits from the spin front

Remember how the Bushies were making a big deal about explosive devices in Iraq that "had to be" coming out of Iran? (I think I scoffed here.) Well, it turns out that they're made in Iraq just like all the other things being used to tell use we aren't welcome...

And, what the heck, remember the terrifying War on Terror? And how national security is paramount (and certainly more important than the Constitution, etc.) and even rational people think there are some gaps that should be filled? Well apparently Bush is considering vetoing 9/11 legislation (only his first second veto, remember) because of a clause that might extend union protection to some airport employees. I guess that everything takes a back seat to Protecting the Corporate Bottom Line...