Wednesday, March 31, 2004


I really shouldn't shoot my mouth off before I know what I'm talking about. Pedestrians do have access to Pennsylvania Ave. I'm not sure if it is possible to obtain a permit to march there, however. If it is, then that changes the meaning of "they targeted Rove because they could not get as close to the White House as they could to his house." to "we wanted to go somewhere where we could rap on the windows." If this is the case, then I think these folks were a little out of line. On the other hand, they couldn't have picked a better guy to get uncivil with. In fact, Rove ought to be happy that American mobs have mellowed so much over the years. Consider poor Thomas Hutchinson, for example.

Wacky Day

Our library has implemented a new policy which requires the public to present a library card in order to obtain computer access. Today is go live day. We haven't had (too) many complaints yet, but the sign up interface is confusing many of our patrons. I have reservations about the very idea. Something about placing restrictions on access to information strikes me as contrary to the mission of a library. Does anyone have any thoughts on this?

Monday, March 29, 2004

What no duct tape?

"Stout shoes", whitewash and warm overcoats were to be the main line of defence against an atomic strike for Britain's civilian population during the Cold War.

Yet another hostility from the public moment

Man actually said,"Fuck a book"

Bold bold prediction of the day

Inspired by Robert Rubin's denial of interest in the VP slot.

Kerry's running mate will be Bill Richardson. I have absolutley no doubt about this. Can we wager on this stuff? Hmm.. well, almost.

Local Interest Time Killer

The Canal Street Streetcar is (finally) scheduled to begin service on April 18. Yat Pundit is promoting his timely book with this site, which is either absolutely enthralling or boring as hell depending on how much of your life you've spent in New Orleans.

Read and Circulate

BFOP links to this little bit of gold from the Daily Mislead
A previously forgotten report from April 2001 (four months before 9/11) shows that the Bush Administration officially declared it "a mistake" to focus "so much energy on Osama bin Laden." The report directly contradicts the White House's continued assertion that fighting terrorism was its "top priority" before the 9/11 attacks.
The Bush campaign is hemorrhaging right now. Their big selling point is their supposed ability to keep us safe from terra-ism. The news cycle of the past few weeks has been all about discrediting them on this point and that's a beautiful thing. Of course, it's only March.. and they do have all that money to lie with... stay tuned.

Re-Open Pennsylvania Ave

I'm probably not the first person to point this out but it seems pretty simple to me. If you think it's a little over the top for folks to stage demonstrations on the private property of the President's political advisor (personally I'm tickled pink) then why not allow them access to the public space where they have a right to be seen and heard?
The coalition's leaders, who converge on Washington each year to advocate for various issues, said they targeted Rove because they could not get as close to the White House as they could to his house.
Just a thought.

Out of the blue pointless prediction

Sometime this summer or next, someone will release an action film entitled Actionable Intelligence

No, I'm not bitter

But sometimes I think this is about right.

Broad Stripes and Bright Stars

I'm linking to this 1989 article by John W. Baer and also to this 2002 column by David Greenburg because they make a couple of important points about the pledge flap. (ha ha flags flap!! Get it? huh? It's funny!!!) The compulsory loyalty oath imposed on all American school children known as the Pledge of Allegiance was written by a radical socialist named Francis Bellamy as part of a scheme by a magazine attempting to sell flags to schools. The original pledge read "I pledge allegiance to my flag and to the Republic for which it stands -- one nation indivisible -- with liberty and justice for all." The bit about "justice for all" is there to placate those who felt that "liberty and equality" sounded a little too idealistic, or as Sean Hannity might say, a little too French. Two other language changes are notable. The words "my flag" were changed to "the flag of the United States of America" in order to eliminate doubts that recent immigrants may not be pledging to the appropriate flag. The phrase "under God" is not only a departure from the intentions of the author of the pledge it is a piece of Cold War propaganda initiated by the Knights of Colombus who felt it essential that little boys and girls began every school day by reminding themselves that, "we are certainly not a bunch of godless commies over here." Or, as Baer puts it, "To the fear of immigrants, it added the fear of communism." Baer concludes
Perhaps a team of social scientists and historians could explain why over the last century the Pledge of Allegiance has become a major centerpiece in American patriotism programs. A pledge or loyalty oath for children was not built around the Declaration of Independence -- "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal..." Or the Gettysburg address -- "a new nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal..."

Apparently, over the last century, Americans have been uncomfortable with the word "equality" as a patriotic theme. In 1992 the nation will begin its second century with the Pledge of Allegiance. Perhaps the time has come to see that this allegiance should be to the U.S. constitution and not to a piece of cloth.
Better yet, why do we subject children to this at all? Is it truly necessary to the survival of the state that it requires sixth graders to daily reaffirm that they are not engaged in active rebellion against it? The pledge is an ugly thing. It reeks of a religious and nationalist paranoia that should seem un-American on it's face. In fact, it sounds a little more like.. well this item from the Baer article kind of says it,
"The original Pledge was recited while giving a stiff, uplifted right hand salute, criticized and discontinued during WWII."
also see: The pledge powerpoint

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Today's Hostility From the Public Moment

Someone told Ms. Bling Bling she needs to retire. Surprisingly, it wasn't D.

Today's Hang Your Head In Shame For Asking That Question Moment

Someone just called to see if we have a video of Yanni Live at the Acropolis

Ha Ha

How many times have we all wanted to do exactly this?

via Spinster Librarian


After some initial reservations about the rampant cliches, I'm starting to enjoy Lesson Before Dying. It is the third teacher book (as opposed to Daisy's whore books) I've read in the past six months. Must be something to that.

Mars Update

More signs of water found.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

If This Doesn't Cheer You Up You Have No Pulse

Found this on BFOP. It's a... oh just click here.

Today's Required Reading

Via political wire

Political junkies are going to love this juicy insider's story about the Dean campaign from the Atlantic. Trippi comes accross as something of a genius with a tragic side.
His brilliance was obvious to all, and it wasn't limited to his innovative use of the Internet, which defined so much of the Dean campaign. He was also a visionary of the highest order, able to see both the opportunities and the risks with which this campaign was constantly presented.
It should have been no surprise that normal petty jealousies and staff rivalries, when combined with a full dose of Trippi, led to a very dysfunctional organization. (Trippi would often joke, "If these other campaigns only knew what this campaign is really like ...") Slights, real and imagined, bred accusations that were hurled back and forth in our Burlington office or in hushed phone conversations around the country. Joe threatened to leave more than once, predicting disaster all along; those who were not fans of his threatened on several occasions to have Dean replace him. At one point he overturned a desk in rage in front of his personal assistant, Kristen Morgante, who not surprisingly walked out of the office and didn't return until two days later, after Trippi had apologized. Another characteristic outburst occurred in a hotel in Des Moines, when Dean balked at Trippi's idea of putting out a pamphlet aping Thomas Paine's Common Sense because he had been given only a couple of days to review it before the printing deadline. Trippi blamed Kate O'Connor, Dean's closest aide, for the holdup; he left the candidate's suite, threw his cell phone down the corridor, and screamed, "That bitch!"

Now that's fun stuff!!

Bush: Full of shit again

In today's Washington Post, Harold Meyerson gets to the heart of why the Bush administration is fundamentally unfit to govern. Meyerson's column titled The Professionals' Revolt puts the current controversy over Richard Clarke's new book into the context of the several bureaucrats and officers of Bush's government who have grown frustrated with the administration's cavalier attitude toward the truth.
Step back a minute and look at who has left this administration or blown the whistle on it, and why. Clarke enumerates a half-dozen counterterrorism staffers, three of whom were with him in the Situation Room on Sept. 11, who left because they felt the White House was placing too much emphasis on the enemy who didn't attack us, Iraq, and far too little on the enemy who did.

But that only begins the list. There's Paul O'Neill, whose recent memoir recounts his ongoing and unavailing battle to get the president to take the skyrocketing deficit seriously. There's Christie Todd Whitman, who appears in O'Neill's memoir recalling her own unsuccessful struggles to get the White House to acknowledge the scientific data on environmental problems. There's Eric Shinseki, the former Army chief of staff, who told Congress that it would take hundreds of thousands of American soldiers to adequately secure postwar Iraq. There's Richard Foster, the Medicare accountant, who was forbidden by his superiors from giving Congress an accurate assessment of the cost of the administration's new program. All but Foster are now gone, and Foster's sole insurance policy is that Republican as well as Democratic members of Congress were burnt by his muzzling.

In the Bush administration, you're an empiricist at your own peril. Plainly, this has placed any number of conscientious civil servants -- from Foster, who totaled the costs on Medicare, to Clarke, who charted the al Qaeda leads before Sept. 11 -- at risk. In a White House where ideology trumps information time and again, you run the numbers at your own risk. Nothing so attests to the fundamental radicalism of this administration as the disaffection of professionals such as Foster and Clarke, each of whom had served presidents of both parties.
This willful indifference to facts is the defining characteristic of the Bush presidency. Unsurprisingly the main of Bush's defense against Clarke's charges has not consisted of factual refutation so much as it has personal attacks against Clarke. I will not even attempt to express my distaste for this kind of dishonesty and its reflection on the society which permits it. At least, I won't when none other than Mark Twain has already done so for me (see below.) There is a bit of political conventional wisdom which holds that if you can pin a lie on your opponent and make it stick, then you've got him beaten. Bush has certainly provided enough fodder. Let's hope some of it still has weight come November.

What kind of a heartless government...

Refuses to annually purchase a new pair of little leather pants for its people?

More Scary Stuff

Video games that can read your mind.
Earlier: Apparently so can the FBI

Here's a GSUS movie we can all get behind

Monty Python's film The Life of Brian is to return to US cinemas next month following the success of The Passion of the Christ
Ok, technically it's not about GSUS.. but that doesn't mean you shouldn't book a theater for your church group today.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Must Read

Bill Moyers interviews Mark Twain impersonator Hal Holbrook.

Some Highlights
HOLBROOK (as Twain): You know when I talk about the decay, in the art of lying, I'm talking about the silent lie. It requires no art. You simply keep still and conceal the truth.

For example it would not be possible for a humane and intelligent person to invent a rational excuse for slavery and yet in those early days of the emancipation agitation in the North, those agitators got small help from anyone, argue and plead and pray as they might, they could not break the universal stillness that rain from pulpit and press all the way down to the bottom of society.

The clammy stillness created and maintained by the lie of silent assertion, the silent assertion that there wasn't anything going on in which humane and intelligent people ought to be interested. Well when whole nations of people conspire to propagate gigantic mute lies like that one in the interest of tyrannies and shams, why should we care anything about the trifling ones told by individuals? Why make them undesirable? Why not be honest and honorable and lie every chance we get? Why should we help the nation lie the whole day long and then object to telling one little, insignificant private lie in our own interest? Just for the refreshment of it and to take the rancid taste out of our mouth. No there is no art to this silent lying, it is timid and shabby.

MOYERS: The silent lie.

HOLBROOK (as Twain): Man is the only animal that deals in the atrocity of war. He is the only one that for sordid wages goes forth in cold blood to exterminate his own kind. He has a motto for this, 'our country right or wrong'. Any man who fails to shout it is a traitor. Only the others are patriots. Say, who is the country? Is it the government? In the republic the government is merely a servant, a temporary one. Its function is to obey orders not originate them. Only when the republic's life is in danger should a man uphold his government when it's wrong. Otherwise the nation has sold its honor for a phrase.
MOYERS: What is it about Mark Twain that frightens people, even as he makes us laugh?

HOLBROOK: Because he is riding so sharply on the edge of truth. He is balancing right on the edge of truth. And we don't have truth delivered to us very often. Especially in this very commercialized world we live in. Where half-truths are commercialized into truth. And half-lies, which is the other side of half-truth, is commercialized into truth. We live with this, day and day, every day, every time we turn the TV set on. Every time we pass a billboard.

And Mark Twain cuts right straight through that with a knife. And people recognize it. And it scares you a little bit, but there's something exhilarating about it and daring and funny.

OK so maybe he did eat your baby

But he's got a wonderful yodel.

Thirty Years Ago

History's largest streaking event

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Today's Literary Topic

Is Holden Caulfield a homophobe?

Today's Thing with a 30 year duration

The thirty year fixed rate mortgage

Clear skies

Ok, read this and this and tell me if you think maybe outer space is becomming a little too polluted.

Hardly Surprising

A defiant Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia refused Thursday to remove himself from a case involving his good friend, Vice President Dick Cheney, dismissing suggestions of a conflict of interest.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

OK It's a bit late but

There's still time for a visit from St. Patrick. Run for your lives!

Scary stuff

Ever feel like you're on a sarariman treadmill?

And yes I may still vote that way

A new poll suggested yesterday that Ralph Nader's independent presidential bid represented a serious threat to the Democratic candidate, Senator John Kerry.
The New York Times and CBS News poll revealed a tight two-man race for the White House between President George Bush and Mr Kerry. Mr Bush had a narrow lead of 46% over Mr Kerry's 43% - within the poll's margin of error.

But when Americans were asked about a three-man race including Mr Nader, the 70-year-old consumer activist attracted 7% support, mostly at the expense of the Democrat. In that contest, Mr Bush led Mr Kerry by 46% to 38%.

Here's a fun game

Said jeffrey as he decided to implement a new periodic feature of things with 30 year durations. Today's item the Thirty Years War.

Insert statement of outrage and disbelief here

Ok so, yes, Tom Tomorrow is already all over this. And so is Mary. But holy shit I can't just ignore it! So Remember VNRs? That's right they're the handy little news director's tools that allow you to save on production costs as well as all that time wasted on actual reporting and instead devote half of your newscast to pre-packaged advertisements dressed up by some drug company or orange juice concern to look like a report on the benefits of consuming drugs or orange juice. Ok class, what is the next step after this. Yup.. your newscast is now being co-opted by deceitful political propaganda. Yet another reminder to anyone who has a great idea for a cheesy couldn't-happen-in-real-life novel, that the Bush folks are still one step ahead of you.

Happy St. Pat's

I know this is hard for outsiders to get a handle on, but New Orleans has a huge Irish heritage. It's pretty simple, really. We're a port town, and as such have been culturally influenced by waves of European immigrants like no other city in the South. For example, during the late 19th C, the French Quarter was almost entirely Sicilian. New Orleans may have received more Irish immigrants than New York. Thousands of Irish died digging the New Basin Canal. I live within walking distance of a neighborhood known as the Irish Channel. Ignatius Reilly was named.. Ignatius Reilly. Long story short, St. Patrick's day is a big deal around here with parties and parades.. almost like a mini Mardi Gras right in the middle of lent. Here, check out NOLA for a short list of activities.

Second verse same as the first

This Globe editorial gives us a tasty little sampler of classic Bush. First, there's the phony claim of the "compassionate conservative" aim of improving the lives of women with the ingenious tie to exhortation of warfare.
President Bush marked International Women's Day by touting his military interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq, claiming they have liberated thousands of women from lives of tyranny and oppression.
Then there's the deliciously ironic, but by now all too familiar, bait and switch move.
But the speech actually obscured actions the Bush administration was taking almost simultaneously in Santiago, Chile, where it dropped its commitment to the health and survival of millions of poor women abroad.
Add to that a touch of misogynist religious nuttery
But in Santiago, US diplomats tried to rewrite the Cairo agreement, eliminating all references to "reproductive health" and "family planning services." The Bush administration's hostility to the Cairo plan is well known, but rarely is it aimed so transparently at contraception and women's health. The proposed revisions were roundly rejected.
and I'd say you've got a pretty nice review of the good old Bush playbook we've all come to know and love. Hope you're paying attention. This will be on the test.

French join the coalition of the willing (to be nuts)

So some French guy suffering from "a temporary hallucination, triggered by anxiety over the global terror threat." thinks he sees Osama Bin Laden just mulling about on the streets of Montpellier and decides to strike a blow for freedom by running him down with his car. Ummm.. let's see here's a recent summation of the cost of US military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Would be a bit of a waste if this guy takes Bin Laden out with one Geo Metro. Add to that one $27 million bounty and I'd say it ain't too bad for government work.

Good luck, Bill

The best news show on television is losing its host. Bill Moyers is the most earnest and thoughtful journalist currently working, although not for much longer, and he will be missed.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Maddox is Funny

For instance, today's column submits that without astrology
....an entire industry of aging hippies and their clientele comprised of middle-class 16 year old girls and bored house wives trudging aimlessly from one rebellious new-age religion to the next would have to find a new hobby. Who knows? They might even get jobs.

Ha ha now Daisy is pissed (see comments)

This fall on FOX!! A population of socially marginalized n'er do wells is abducted, genetically altered, forced to attend a six week intensive reeducation camp on the virtues of bloated consumerism, and entered into America's favorite new talent competition, "Who Wants to Be a Clone?" Grand prize: a new gated community house in English Turn, LA, a three year subscription to Cosmo, and a lifetime supply of Botox. Tune in.

Pretty much the next step after this actual show. Link via Naked Furniture

Maybe They're Right

Behold the horrors of socialized medicine.


I've got this working theory that Al Franken has come to occupy a place in American public life formerly held by Gore Vidal. Franken, like Vidal is a writer/entertainer by trade, albeit on a slightly less elevated intellectual plane who has parlayed his celebrity status and connections into a moderately visible gig in political commentary. Both men are fairly leftist, Vidal moreso than Franken, but both also have a peculiar relationship to the social and political establishment which gives them unique access and perspective. Each has harbored an affinity for a disappointing conservative Democratic President (Vidal was close with the Kennedys and Franken makes no secret of his admiration of Clinton.) Franken's subversive wit and willingness to exhibit it in a confrontational manner are particularly reminiscent of Vidal who once nearly got William F. Buckley to punch him in the face on national television. Of course, Franken's similar stand off with Bill O'Reilly is still fresh in the public mind. While Vidal continues to prolifically turn out his criticism and such well into his seventies, Franken certainly is more in the public eye these days. I mention all of this because I finally got to read Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them this week. When you work at the library you tend to make use of its facilities This generally means that you buy fewer books and place the ones you want to read on hold. This, of course, means you have to wait in line for the popular stuff. This one was very much worth the wait. Now I can get started on Lesson Before Dying. I am required to read this one so that I may be in compliance with the One Book One New Orleans Regulations.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Jesus, I am your father

That's right it's the Bible as read by Darth Vader Another bold theological leap forward.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Fun Book Review of the Day

"The hand I fan with" by Tina McElroy Ansa: What is this crap, I asked the cat sleeping on my chest. The lady uses twenty adjectives to every noun. After the first twenty pages all I knew was that the main character was curvy and luscious with a narrow and copper colored face, copper also the color of her one-of-a-kind Mercedes Benz, her lipstick, her short skirt, and her downy soft cashmere sweater and...Hello! Editor? Was there even supposed to be a story here?
More here. It helps if you can read Swedish.

I've officially become too snarky

So Daisy and I are piloting the circ desk this morning when a frazzled man in what looks like a lucky dog vendor's attire comes panting in from the harsh mildness of the day. He is having a tremendously difficult time catching his breath and he reeks of gasoline. And I am ok with this because I am thankful not to have been introduced to his actual smell. After a good minute and a half of hardcore breathing, stinking and leaning on the desk he collects the necessary breath to push out a "Do you have any tax forms?" I point to the giant display of federal tax forms five feet away, he thanks me a little too profusely, collects what he needs, and stumbles off. The gasoline smell lingers quite a bit longer however prompting me to ask Daisy if she thinks the man is liable to attempt some sort of Buddhist monk protest against the confiscatory power of the government wherein he sets himself ablaze while defiantly clutching his 1040 EZ. Daisy reasons that if the man were planning such an event he would have probably executed it right there in the library. Is it wrong then that, when I am confronted with the horror of a man lighting himself on fire in front of me, my immediate thought is wow that would probably smell worse than the gasoline?

Alien Lanes

Literally. Hey it's what I would have done.

via Jonathan who is probably the only person more enthused by this than I am.

Monday, March 08, 2004

Probably everyone has seen this

Human Rights Watch issued a report today that details numerous instances of abuse of Afghan "detainees" by US military forces.
Released detainees have said that U.S. forces severely beat them, doused them with cold water and subjected them to freezing temperatures. Many said they were forced to stay awake, or to stand or kneel in painful positions for extended periods of time.

"There is compelling evidence suggesting that U.S. personnel have committed acts against detainees amounting to torture or cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment," said Adams.
And all this time I thought our boys were there to defend freedom, human dignity, rule of law, good personal hygiene etc etc. Maybe they were just a little drunk.

If you're gonna

Crassly exploit a tragic horrific event for your evil political purposes and thereby shit loudly upon the memory of thousands of lost lives, you could at least not be all fake about it.
Another, less publicized aspect of the ad flap: Everyone but the firefighters were paid actors. The firefighters posing in a firehouse was "stock" film footage of volunteer firefighters -- shot and available for purchase to the general public.

Yet Another

Award winning reference interview. (It's Daisy so you may have to scroll down)

Unemployment is good for you

Not!! Tom Tomorrow calls Friedman on his bullshit here.

Not feeling the love in Indonesia


Hey, maybe the makers of smittens can help these folks out with some sort of appropriate headgear.

Asinine Idea of the Week

Gates: Buy stamps to send e-mail

Saturday, March 06, 2004

Bush Empire Machine Rolling in W. Hemisphere

Now that US forces have forcibly removed a democratically elected ideological opponent in Haiti, it's time to move on to Venezuela. If you are a Marine, order your travel materials now. Greg Palast on the Revolt of the Blondes.

Note: Corrected. Ha ha, your conquering hero here actually wrote Argentina where he meant Venezuela. What an ass!

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Will this be on the test?

This is classic. George W Bush: Protrait of a Business Student
At Harvard Business School, thirty years ago, George Bush was a student of mine. I still vividly remember him. In my class, he declared that "people are poor because they are lazy." He was opposed to labor unions, social security, environmental protection, Medicare, and public schools. To him, the antitrust watch dog, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Securities Exchange Commission were unnecessary hindrances to "free market competition." To him, Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal was "socialism." Recently, President Bush's Federal Appeals Court Nominee, California's Supreme Court Justice Janice Brown, repeated the same broadside at her Senate hearing. She knew that her pronouncement would please President Bush and Karl Rove and their Senators. President Bush and his brain, Karl Rove, are leading a radical revolution of destroying all the democratic political, social, judiciary, and economic institutions that both Democrats and moderate Republicans had built together since Roosevelt's New Deal.
So you see it is possible for someone to remember acquaintances from 30 years ago... maybe this doesn't apply to national guardsmen.

via bad attitudes and 2millionthweblog where Micheal appends the line of the day : Bush is about as likeable as a drunk who won't leave you alone, but insists on barking things like "hey, pull my finger" at you while at the same time mugging and slapping everyone's back.

Can you hear me now?

And with that, Jeffrey wins the award for lame post title of the year! Now for $135.00, you can have your very own Bell South pay phone refurbished for use in your home. Someone needs to buy me one of these. As further testament to my lameness, I have lately been engaged in an endeavor to photograph every pay phone in New Orleans before they pass out of existence and force me to finally buy a cell phone. Remember the days when preparing to go out always included making sure you had phone change just in case? Man I feel old.

Bonus Book Day Link

The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest
Since 1982 the English Department at San Jose State University has sponsored the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, a whimsical literary competition that challenges entrants to compose the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels.

Not only is this..

... my brother's birthday, but it is also World Book Day. Celebrate by taking the Book Day Quiz courtesy of the BBC.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Before and After?

In a word, Duh

Swifty D's Book Review of the Day

What's Wrong With Madonna's Picture Book (Scroll down, permalinks out for some reason)

21st Century Poll Tax

Via Damfacrats

The most disgusting thing about the 2000 Florida debacle is that it has been used to badger state after state into "modernizing" their polling systems. The results have been catastrophic for the most fundamental function of a democratic system of government. Our very right to vote has been severely compromised. In California, Georgia, and Maryland, voters are already feeling the effects.
In California, where Tuesday marked the first statewide elections without any punch-card machines, touchscreens in San Diego County made by election equipment giant Diebold Inc. failed to boot properly. The mishap caused delays up to two hours and forced some voters to other polling places to cast paper ballots.

Other counties in California, Georgia and Maryland reported problems with encoders, the devices that allow touch-screen computers to display candidate and ballot measures specific to one county.

In Maryland's Howard County, a computer server could not receive electronic data over a conventional modem, forcing a 90-minute delay while poll workers hand-delivered data cards to the registrar.
Computer scientists say electronic systems expose elections to hackers, software bugs and power outages -- with potentially catastrophic consequences. They're upset that hardly any voting terminals include printers or produce paper records, making accurate recounts impossible.
In addition to being unnecessary, unsecure, and unreliable the new voting systems are unfair. On a daily basis, I am confronted with the frustration of library patrons who are increasingly forced to use the computer to apply for jobs or financial aid, contact elected representatives, file taxes, etc. A great majority of these patrons are woefully computer illiterate. Many are poor to middle class. Most are African American. These folks generally come to us out of absolute necessity. If they had and option to do these things another way (or not at all) they would take it. The new equipment, much like a Jim Crow style literacy test will undoubtedly deter people from exercising their right to vote. This is unacceptable. The denial of franchise to any one of us at any time constitutes a critical failure of our very democracy. Try telling that to these people.
Kimball Brace, president of Washington-based political consulting firm Election Data Services, said it's unrealistic to expect thousands of poll workers nationwide to get up to speed on complicated equipment immediately. Most states require several hours of training for volunteer poll workers, who are often scarce and aren't required to have particular computer skills.

"It's usually a couple of elections before you can get the bugs out of a new process," Brace said. "Eventually, things will go smoother, but the first couple times will have bugs, no matter what system you switch to."
So I guess we lose a couple of elections to progress. What passes for representative government in the meantime? Perhaps a council of elders?

Also: Helping America Vote?

Doing it the hard way

See now this makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. Wouldn't it be much less dangerous to just hang the shirt from the wire?

Extreme Ironing via Aaron

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

It's Super Tuesday

Pandagon appropriately captures the magic.

Brooks is right

I had no idea it was my fault I'm so poor!!
The core assumption is that economic forces determine culture and shape behavior. As William Julius Wilson wrote in "The Truly Disadvantaged," "If ghetto underclass minorities have limited aspirations, a hedonistic orientation toward life or lack of plans for the future, such outlooks ultimately are the result of restricted opportunities and feelings of resignation originating from bitter personal experiences and a bleak future."

Conservatives, on the other hand, believe that liberals have it backward. In reality, culture shapes economics. A person's behavior determines his or her economic destiny. If people live in an environment that fosters industriousness, sobriety, fidelity, punctuality and dependability, they will thrive.
This is absolutely true. A single, childless, college educated white male like myself must only be living paycheck to paycheck (barely) as a result of his hedonistic, valueless, futureless lifestyle. A more responsible, industrious sober fellow would never have wasted so much time in public service searching for some semblance of a fulfilling vocation and instead would have gone straight into investment banking. Everyone knows that if you're not playing the acquisition-of-things game with your life then your priorities simply are not in order. You got me, Brooks. I'm just not trying hard enough, you asshole.

I could go on about what this means for people with fewer "choices" than I have been blessed with.. but that would validate Brooks' argument as somehow worthy of a rebuttal.

Hey who the hell let them in here?

Suspicious characters. I certainly wouldn't have them in my bar. Besides, I think the one on the right is a pool shark.

Sounds like a dangerous drug to me

From a Washington Post article on the DEA's approval of the testing of ecstasy as a possible treatment for trauma.
Ecstasy, also known as MDMA, is popular among casual drug users for its reputed capacity to engender feelings of love, trust and compassion.
My God the horror!!

Another golden nugget from this story
.....millions of young ravers and others have since tried the substance, which can induce what enthusiasts describe as up to eight hours of empathic conversation, contemplation and energetic sociality.
First of all, "ravers and others?" Second, the "energetic sociality" is not all it's cracked up to be. Particularly when it's being directed at you by a raver or other continuously from 3:00 A.M. until noon the next day when all you want to do is sleep and have clearly indicated this intention through the act of being in bed. But no, I'm not bitter.

Welcome To the Occupation

Now that National Guard deployment has reached its highest level since WWII, can a new draft be far behind?

Monday, March 01, 2004

I guess it really was one

Hee hee

Do we ever tire of these? No, right?

You're Lebanon!

Your room's a mess.  Your house is a mess.  Heck, your life
is a mess.  It all used to be really beautiful, and someone even compared you to Paris once, but that's all been replaced with heartache and struggle.  You're small, have been influenced by outsiders for too long, and don't know what to think about religion.  At least you smell rather pleasant!

the Country Quiz at the Blue Pyramid

As usual, eerily close to accurate
via Patience

A few more things about the GSUS movie and then I'm done with it

  • A lady came in this afternoon under the impression that the library was giving away free tickets. I have no idea where she got this.

  • Aaron says
    Take a deep breath, people. You're squabbling about the details of an event that may or may not have taken place 2,000 years ago, and a film whose script was based on accounts (the Gospels) written 40-50 years after the event itself, by people who were not eyewitnesses. There's no way to know if the Romans or the Jews were the ones really responsible for Jesus' death, whether he was really the Son of God or just an extraordinarily gifted political leader, or even if he ever really existed. So get a freakin' grip, will you.
    This is infinitely saner than anything I've read on the subject to date.

  • Leave it to the wingnuts who are flocking (literally) to church screenings of this film to notice the mark of the beast on their ticket stubs. Of course, who am I to judge these people. I also tend to find manifestations of the satanic in film-related events. This film, for example, could not have possibly emanated from anywhere but the studios of the ninth circle.


Previously, I had resolved to remain the only person on the planet not to dignify Mel Gibson's exercise in pompous religi-porn with an acknowledgement of any kind. That was before I saw this review in which Christopher Hitchens reminds us a bit of Mr. Gibson's peculiar but unfortunately not unique take on what it means to be a good Christian.
But then, you were not brought up by Mel Gibson's father, who has repeatedly and recently stated that there was a population explosion among European Jews in the years 1933-1945 and that the Holocaust story is mainly "fiction." Young Gibson, when asked about this by Diane Sawyer, told her not to press him (which she obediently did not). But when asked by Noonan, he replied by saying that "My father has never told me a lie." It's not fair to expect Mel to trash his father. But he could have said that the old man was a fine daddy, albeit with a few odd ideas of his own. It was his very decided choice, however, to say that his male parent was an unvarying truth-teller. Why pick on that formulation? It's unlikely that Gibson Sr. has made a secret of his viciously anti-Jewish views when talking to his son, who shares with him a fanatical attachment to the Latin Mass and a deep hostility to the "liberalism" of the present pope.

link via Timshel
Rabbi David Wolpe's contribution to beliefnet points out where this attitude is manifest in the film, although it ultimately gives Gibson the benefit of the doubt.
What were Mr. Gibson's intentions? One cannot see inside another's heart. The evidence of the movie is predominantly that he sought to make a movie that showed the suffering of Jesus to the world, and that it was sufficiently important to him to make it no matter the institutional obstacles.

But a movie about the death of Jesus is not a stone dropped into a clear pool. There are thousands of years of history, of anguish, and of hate. The answer is not to boycott the movie or to anathematize Mel Gibson. There is a better way.

When I returned from the screening my wife said to me that if he really wanted to combat hate, Mel Gibson should establish a fund, the Passion Fund, to aid all those who might come to be the Jewish victims of violence surrounding the showing of this film. If the fund is untouched, so much the better. But when I see a Denver Church proudly parading a sign that says "Jews Killed the Lord Jesus' 1 Thess. 2:14, 15 Settled!" I begin to wonder if the children of Denver, and other cities, might not be in need of Passion fund.
As for me, I am less inclined to be as forgiving of Gibson. The fact that Christian organizations throughout the country have organized to rent out entire theaters for group screenings and to promote the film in general highlights the hunger these people have for open discussion of spirituality. There are many reasons for this having mostly to do with our current fractured social malaise which I will not go into here. Suffice to say that thinly veiled neo-fascist hate propaganda should not be the conduit through which this need is met.

Quick Booknote

Pat Conroy's The Water is Wide is very similar to and every bit as enjoyable as Esme Codell's Educating Esme. Thanks D.