February 28, 2007

Boston Police Keep City Safe

The Boston Police Department's bomb squad struck a blow against Big Brother and the Surveillance Society when they detonated a device used to measure traffic flow.

Hey, it looked more suspicious than a Mooninite...!

(via Spencer Sun)

Posted by abostick at 11:44 AM | Comments (0)

Lindsay Said 'No' to John Edwards

Lindsay Beyerstein, proprietress of Majikthise[1], has an article up on Salon describing how the Edwards campaign approached her to be their blogmistress before they approached Amanda Marcotte or Shakespeare's Sister. She turned them down, and explains in the article why. If it weren't for the fact that the article appeared after Amanda and Shakes stepped down, she would seem eerily prescient. As it is, she's right on the money, even leaving hindsight out:

There is a breed of blogger that has proven useful working in an official capacity for political campaigns -- the party activist/consultant/blogger hybrid, someone like Matt Stoller of MyDD. Ideally, but not always, that kind of blogger puts his or her own blog on hold while being paid by a campaign, perhaps returning to it once the race is run. And the content of a party activist's blog is heavy on poll numbers, policy discussions and electoral minutiae. An opposition researcher might unearth something allegedly "intemperate" from the archives and use it against the candidate, but that risk is less than with the other style of blogger, an independent polemicist like Amanda. ...

In my opinion, though, the real lesson of the Webb campaign [for senator from Virginia] is how effective bloggers can be when they're outside the campaign. I think the candidates who benefit the most from the netroots are the ones who can inspire bloggers to do their work for free. They create unpaid, unofficial surrogates. Webb is a netroots success story because his team captured the imagination of independent bloggers and online activists. ...

The Edwards campaign wants decentralized people-powered politics. Ironically, by hiring well-known bloggers to manage a destination Web site, it was actually centralizing and micromanaging. Every campaign needs a blog, but the most important part of a candidate's netroots operation is the disciplined political operatives who can quietly build relationships with bloggers outside the campaign. And the bomb-throwing surrogates need to be outside, where they can make full use of their gifts without saddling a campaign with their personal political baggage.

[1]My friends look at me oddly when I pronounce Majikthise "mah-heek-THEEZ-uh," the way it looks to me. Am I nuts, or just not a leg man?

Posted by abostick at 11:13 AM | Comments (1)

February 23, 2007

Lazyweb Help Wanted: Public Spaces for Meetings

I am looking for ideas to explore about publicly available spaces for discussion or support groups to hold meetings in the Bay Area, preferably in the Berkeley/Oakland area or in San Francisco.

This was a sticking point for a project that has been on the back burner for more than a year; and I've been thinking about another project for which it is a key issue. I'm tired of it being a sticking point, and I want to get good information.

Desired features:

  • Convenient to reliable and timely public transportation, such as BART, Muni, A/C Transit, etc.
  • Easily accessible for people with disabilities.
  • Private and quiet, so meetings aren't interrupted or disrupted by members of the general public.
  • Low in cost — the cheaper the better; free is ideal. I want neither to carry the cost of renting space myself nor have to dun meeting participants for more than a buck or two to cover expenses.
  • (less important than the others) Spacious enough to allow participants to stand up and move around as well as sit.

My own living room would do for a start; but while it's free, private, and close to good transit, it dramatically flunks on disability access, and it doesn't offer much room for participants to move around. This is the case with just about any private home: unless they are specifically built with accessibility in mind, they generally aren't accesible.

Hotel meeting rooms fit every criterion except cost. What about restaurants' banquet rooms? Churches, synagogues, etc.? Masonic lodges? Service organizations, such as the Lions', Rotarians, etc.? Schools? Community centers? Some sort of venue that I'm overlooking?

I am eager to receive the advice of anyone reading this with relevant experience in the area. Thanks in advance.

Posted by abostick at 04:56 PM | Comments (2)

February 22, 2007

These Just In From Our WTF? Desk

Homemade yellow submarine missing from Santa Cruz County berth

(02-21) 12:05 PST Felton, Calif. (AP) -- A 3 1/2-ton yellow submarine has fallen off the radar.

The 10-foot-long sub, built by a resident to patrol Monterey Bay during the 1940s and 1950s, was reported missing Feb. 15 from its Santa Cruz Mountains berth on Steinmaier Road by owner Carl Barker.

"It sounds bizarre," said Detective Kevin Coyne of the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office. "All I know is ... there's no suspects."

Irven Thomson built the vessel from an old propane tank about 60 years ago. He added a turret, hatch, windows and a cement keel, rudder and navigational instruments.

"I think they launched it a couple of times," Barker said.

There were no arrests.

"One of the neighbors said they saw a tow truck loading it up," Barker, 38, said. "Someone knew they wanted it and came and took it. I don't think they stole it for any kind of recycling value."

Barker said Thomson would go on vigilante patrols of the bay and used the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf as his home base. Neighbors said the sub worked, but that Thomson quickly gave up the patrols and beached the vessel on his land in south Felton.

Thomson left the yellow submarine on the property when he moved to Watsonville years ago. Family members lived on Steinmaier Road until 2003, when they sold the property and moved to Red Bluff.

Explicit Recordings Disrupt N.M. Mass

(02-22) 09:25 PST Santa Fe, N.M. (AP) -- Three CD players hidden under a cathedral's pews blared sexually explicit language in the middle of an Ash Wednesday Mass, leading a bomb squad to detonate two of the devices.

Authorities determined the music players were not dangerous and kept the third one to check it for clues, said police Capt. Gary Johnson.

The CD players, duct-taped to the bottoms of the pews, were set to turn on in the middle of noon Mass on Wednesday at the Roman Catholic Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi.

The recordings, made on store-bought blank discs, featured people using foul language and "pornographic messages," Johnson said. He would not elaborate because of the ongoing investigation.

Church staff members took the CD players to the basement and called police, who sent the bomb squad, Johnson said.

The bomb squad blew up two players outside and kept the third one to test for fingerprints or DNA and trace its components, he said.

Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent, which marks a 40-day period of fasting and penitence before Easter.

Posted by abostick at 02:42 PM | Comments (0)

Where Are They Now?

Tom Bayes writes on LiveJournal:

Remember at the end of "Animal House" when we were told the future of several of the main characters (e.g. Senator and Mrs. John Blutarsky, Lt. Niedermayer killed by his own troops in Vietnam). Well, since online poker is coming to a crashing end, we need to know the future of our favorite poker personalities:

Chris Moneymaker: Opened sportsbar in Knoxville, TN. Jailed for running a Super Bowl "squares" pool.

Greg Raymer: Took a job as a park ranger at Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument in Colorado. Rebuilt bankroll in the $5 games at Cripple Creek and Black Hawk....

Read the rest

Posted by abostick at 02:35 PM | Comments (0)

February 21, 2007

How You Really Fight Terrorism

Waleed Ziad and Laryssa Chomiak write on the Op-Ed page of the Christian Science Monitor about the tensions between Crimean Tatars, returning to their homeland after Stalin-era deportations, and the ethnic Russian majority that displaced them. They describe the institutions created by the Tatars, both secular and religious, to stake their claim in Crimea, and showed how they were able to work to undermine the influence of foreign-funded Wahabbist extremists — at best, fellow-travelers to al Qaeda — by teaching tolerance and acceptance in the mosques and focusing on negotiation and nonviolent protest, working against the formation of local militias, on the secular side. Fostering local participatory movements isn't just about keeping democracy healthy, they write. In the global war on terror, it's one of the best defenses against transnational fundamentalism.

(via Avedon Carol)

Posted by abostick at 10:36 AM | Comments (0)

What No Republican Wants to Hear

If [New Hampshire State Republican Party Chair] Fergus Cullen has the courage of his convictions, he should go enlist, because they're having trouble meeting their quota. He's young, he's single and he's healthy. If he needs to know where the recruiters are, call me.

US Representative Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH)

(Amusing though this is, doesn't urging your political enemy to place himself in mortal danger to fight a pointless and hopeless war under the command of a malign incompetent qualify as eliminationist rhetoric?)

(via Atrios)

Posted by abostick at 09:35 AM | Comments (0)

February 16, 2007

You Just Can't Make Up Stuff This Good

Really, if someone wrote this humorous fiction, it would be immediately recognized as being too pathetically funny — and too heavy-handedly anti-Evangelical — to be plausible parody. But truth is stranger than fiction, and in this case it is more pathetically funny than fiction.

Josh Marshall tells us a richly detailed story about a message sent out under the name of a Georgia state legislator, Republican Ben Bridges that makes an astonishing claim:

Indisputable evidence — long hidden but now available to everyone — demonstrates conclusively that a so-called "secular evolution science" is the Big-Bang 15-billion-year alternate "creation scenario" of the Pharisee Religion. This scenario is derived concept-for-concept from Rabbinic writings in the mystic "holy book" Kabbala dating back at least two millennia. Evidence in the URLs below shows conclusively that "evolution science" has a very specific religious agenda and (as with "creation science") cannot legally be taught in taxpayer supported schools according to the Constitution.

The links in the message point to a Web site, Fixedearth.com, "The non-moving Earth & anti-evolution web page of The Fair Education Foundation, Inc."

Yes, that's right: in just one short hotlink we have jumped from Talking Points Memo, soberly discussing affairs of policy and foreign affairs in our nation's capitol, to deep into the wackiest heart of American darkness: the claim that the Earth rotates and that it orbits around the Sun is a lie spread by a conspiracy of Jewish physicists bent on suppressing the truth! The Web site's author supports his claim of the fixedness of the earth by posting photographs of the evidence that clearly shows, despite this obvious nonsense about the Earth rotating, the stars moving around the Earth!

If you enjoy the sport of shooting fish in a barrel with a shotgun, you could spend many happy hours tearing this Web site apart. There is a piece of me that admires the determination and dedication of the man who painstakenly collected all of this evidence and published it on the Web, in the face of all the scorn and abuse to which it has surely opened him.

The visionary behind Fixedearth.com is one Marshall Hall. Hall is married to Bonnie Hall, who is in turn the campaign manager for Georgia State Rep. Ben Bridges.

The message touting this challenge to the constitutionality of teaching evolution science in schools was sent out over Rep. Bridges' signature to a list of legislators from the states of Texas, California, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Ohio.

At least one of these legislators has taken an interest in the idea that Pharisee Religion is the basis of the teaching of evolution science. Texas state representative Warren Chisum, the Republican chair of the Texas state House Appropriations Committee, liked what he read, and deemed it important enough to copy the memo and distribute it to every member of the Texas state House of Representatives.

That's when the fertilizer hit the swamp cooler. The Dallas Morning News coolly reported Wednesday merely that the Fixedearth.com site contained a draft of model legislation to ban the teaching of evolution in state-supported schools. But on Thursday, after the Anti-Defamation League responded strongly to the anti-semitic content of the memo and the Web site to which it pointed, the Morning News was now saying that Chisum was "contrite" about having sent the memo. "The stuff that causes conflicts between religious beliefs, you know, I'd never be a party to that," the Morning News reports Chisum as saying. "I'm willing to apologize if I've offended anyone." The second story adds,

Mr. Chisum said he hadn't looked at the Web site and didn't realize that he was distributing that type of material. He expressed chagrin that he didn't vet the material more carefully.

Only after the controversy erupted did the Morning News describe Fixedearth.com as "a Web site that warns of international Jewish conspiracies."

The ADL also protested to the memo's supposed originator, Ben Bridges. Bridges, however, is not apologizing. “I regret that these people have been offended, but I didn’t offend them because I didn’t put the memo out," he told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He denies having written or authorized the memo. “I did not put it out nor did I know it was going out. I’m not defending it or taking up for it.”

When asked by the Journal-Constitution reporter about the content of the memo, though, Bridges stated that he agreed with it more than he agreed with the Big Bang or with Darwin. His apology is ringing strangely hollow. Whats more, Marshall Hall insists that the memo was sent out with Bridges' approval.

Takeaways from this story that is far too stupid to be fiction:

  • While Marty Peretz and AIPAC are redefining anti-semitism as opposing or criticizing the Israel hawks, real anti-semitism bubbles away in the fever swamps of the American unconscious.
  • Some people, like Ben Bridges, would rather twist and evade rather than be pinned into denouncing anti-semitism.
  • Even the loopiest and indefensible ideas can get traction, if people are desperate enough to believe them.

Toxic though his anti-semitism is, I nonetheless find something to admire in Marshall Hall. To put up Fixedearth.com and promote those ideas so vigorously in the face of the onslaught of ridicule he must surely receive demands immense courage of his convictions.

Posted by abostick at 04:01 PM | Comments (6)

February 15, 2007

A Valentines Day Tradition

Hundreds smack each other around in SF pillow fight
The annual Valentine's Day pillowfight in Justin Herman Plaza at dusk on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2007, in San Francisco. Chronicle photo by Katy Raddatz

(Alas, I couldn't attend as I had a class to go to that evening.)

Update: Cindy Emch points us to this video:

Posted by abostick at 09:22 AM | Comments (0)

February 14, 2007

Literary Collage

I've been a bit slow posting a link to this, but it is too good to pass up.

In the February 2007 issue of Harper's, Jonathan Lethem fires a salvo in the ongoing war between the Creative Commons and the Society of the Spectacle. "The Ecstasy of Influence: a Plagiarism" is an essay on the impact and importance of appropriation in the creative process, and it is itself almost entirely appropriation of the words of others, with a little bit of connective tissue written by Lethem himself. Although it is a patchwork of quotation and appropriation, it is a single, coherent essay on the importance of influence, imitation, copying, and outright plagiarism in the creative process. As such, it is a brilliantly original piece of work.

Because of its nature as a collage, to excerpt quotes is almost to miss the point. Read the whole thing, including the explanation at the end of which part was stolen from whom.

(via Roz Kaveney)

Posted by abostick at 12:40 PM | Comments (2)

Al Qaeda Linked to Mooninite Plot

A video has appeared on the Internet that depicts Osama bin Laden taking responsibility for a nefarious plot that brought ridicule and contempt upon the mayor and the police department of the city of Boston.

(via Making Light)

Posted by abostick at 10:34 AM | Comments (0)

February 13, 2007

House Minority Leader Insists 'Aristotle Was Belgian!'

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said, with his mouth, on the floor of the House of Representatives, in the course of the debate on the non-binding resolution against escalating troop levels in Iraq, "We didn't start this war; they did."

No doubt the honorable gentleman from Ohio is greatly concerned about the prospect of al Quaeda and the London Underground joining forces. His speech clearly indicates that he thinks its time that America remembered the central message of Buddhism.

Posted by abostick at 02:19 PM | Comments (0)

Blogosphere Hall of Mirrors

So I was reading Eschaton, and Atrios linked to Glen Greenwald's new blog on Salon.

To read stuff on Salon, if you don't subscribe[1], you click on a link to watch a Flash advertisement from the sponsor of the day in order to receive a day pass. And who is the sponsor of the day for today, February 13, 2007? Why, it is Glen Greenwald's blog! So today at least, in order to read Glen Greenwald's blog you must first see an ad for Glen Greenwald's blog.

For once they are running an ad for something that interests me.

(This post to As I Please is brought to you by As I Please, the blog in which Alan Bostick explains the which of the what-he-did.)

[1] You just well might. After all, there's a paid subscriber to Salon born every minute.

Posted by abostick at 01:36 PM | Comments (0)

A Catcall From the Group W Bench

After Patrick Nielsen Hayden pointed me to Chris Bowers' paean to movement politics for its own sake I was left with the almost irresistible temptation to leave as a comment on Bowers' post the one line message, You can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant.

Posted by abostick at 08:42 AM | Comments (0)

February 10, 2007

Get Your Do It Yourself Tornado Kits Here!

The The ORIGINAL Illustrated Catalog Of ACME Products unfortunately has no ordering information. Come on, guys, it's 2007 — how hard is it to code an e-commerce shopping basket application?

(via Avedon Carol)

Posted by abostick at 10:39 AM | Comments (1)

February 08, 2007

Food Network Smackdown

Anthony Bourdain, author of Kitchen Confidential, guest-blogs at Michael Ruhlman's eponymous blog Ruhlman. The subject: Bourdain's impressions of Food Network celebrity cooks.

RACHAEL [RAY]: Complain all you want. It’s like railing against the pounding surf. She only grows stronger and more powerful. Her ear-shattering tones louder and louder. We KNOW she can’t cook. She shrewdly tells us so. So...what is she selling us? Really? She’s selling us satisfaction, the smug reassurance that mediocrity is quite enough. She’s a friendly, familiar face who appears regularly on our screens to tell us that “Even your dumb, lazy ass can cook this!” Wallowing in your own crapulence on your Cheeto-littered couch you watch her and think, “Hell…I could do that. I ain’t gonna…but I could--if I wanted! Now where’s my damn jug a Diet Pepsi?” Where the saintly Julia Child sought to raise expectations, to enlighten us, make us better--teach us--and in fact, did, Rachael uses her strange and terrible powers to narcotize her public with her hypnotic mantra of Yummo and Evoo and Sammys. “You’re doing just fine. You don’t even have to chop an onion--you can buy it already chopped. Aspire to nothing…Just sit there. Have another Triscuit…Sleep….sleep….”

Bourdain's entertaining rants tickled the back of my mind. Hadn't I read something similar not too long ago? Yes! The simple expedient of typing "new yorker food network" into the search box at Google yielded Bill Buford's report on watching a marathon of Food Network shows.

The two essential premises of “30 Minute Meals”—no one knows how to cook and everyone is in a hurry — now inform most instructional cooking shows. If you have time to watch a Saturday morning of the Food Network, you will learn that you have time for nothing else. There’s urgency even in the names — “Good Food Fast,” “Quick Fix Meals,” “Semi-Homemade Cooking,” “Easy Entertaining,” “Good Deal” — and a reassuring friendliness in the ingredients, which, like Rachael’s, so uniformly come out of the fridge sealed in plastic wrap that it is impossible not to suspect an executive order. You don’t have to know how to cook, just how to shop; and everyone knows how to shop. The appeal of squash is that it’s a limited time investment, Robin Miller says on “Quick Fix Meals,” illustrating how to prepare one in under fifteen minutes. Sandra Lee recommends pre-peeled carrots — the ones sold by Dole. (Who has the time to peel carrots?) In the supermarket, you can get your melon already cut up—it’s over there by the salad bar. Near the meat section, Dave Lieberman tells us on “Good Deal,” you can buy an already cooked rotisserie chicken. (Who knows how to cook one, anyway?)

I found myself taking stock not of what I’d seen during the preceding seventy-two hours but of what I hadn’t. I couldn’t recall very many potatoes with dirt on them, or beets with ragged greens, or carrots with soil in their creases, or pieces of meat remotely reminiscent of the animals they were butchered from — hardly anything, it seemed, from the planet Earth. There were hamburgers and bacon, but scarcely any other red animal tissue except skirt steak, probably, it occurs to me now, because of its two unique qualities: its texture and its name. It cooks fast (two minutes on each side, according to Rachael Ray — less, according to Robin Miller), and it sounds like something you might pick up at the Gap.

(via Jerrod Ankenman)

Posted by abostick at 02:01 PM | Comments (1)

Open Letter to Duncan Black

Dear Atrios:

I appreciate the fondness you have for snappy labels for prominent people whom you regularly blog, such as "The Last Honest Man" for Joe Lieberman or "The Patron Saint of Liars" for John McCain.

However, I have a special request to you in your future blogging of John McCain's presidential campaign: that every time you refer to him, you mention him specifically by name; and that every time you mention the name John McCain, you link that name to the Wikipedia article on the Keating Five (the URL is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keating_Five). I further request that you encourage other bloggers to do the same thing.

The purpose of this is of course a Google bomb: to give the Keating Five article lots of Google juice so that, in turn, whoever googles John McCain will be reminded of his key role in the biggest swindle of the twentieth century. If John McCain has such a prominent history of enabling swindlers, why would we expect any different from him today, let alone should he ever make it to the White House?

By all means, feel free to keep calling John McCain the Patron Saint of Liars; but please, when you do, name him and link his name to the Keating Five article.

Sincerely &etc.

Posted by abostick at 11:08 AM | Comments (1)

The Confidence Men

Avedon Carol points us to "Government by Control Fraud," a post on Blog for Arizona.

The post's author, apparently one Michael Bryan, starts by introducing the idea of control fraud:

Control fraud occurs when conspirators are able to take control of an institution in order to exploit the trust and authority of the institution to convert its assets to personal use.

Control fraud relies upon holding off any accountability or scrutiny by a combination of bribery, deception, co-optation or subornation of the mechanisms of checks and balances either intrinsic and extrinsic to the corporation such as auditors, government regulators, the board of directors, and shareholders. The longer the charade of business as usual, or more often, fantastically better than usual, is able to be maintained, the more damage is done to the institution on which the control frauds are preying. If it goes on long enough, as in the case of Enron, there may be nothing left at the end but a smoking crater of debt and broken lives.

Bryan takes a side trip to remind us that not only were Enron, Global Crossing, Tyco, and Worldcom examples of control fraud, but so was the Savings and Loan crisis of the 1980s, and reminds us also that John McCain was one of the Keating Five, the group of sitting senators who pressured federal regulators to keep the heat off of S&L swindler Charles Keating in return for massive campaign contributions.

But the money quote from Bryan's post is this:

The whole point of the Bush Presidency was to commit control fraud, he never intended to govern as we understand the concept. He had no mandate. No program. No goals as President. The government was turned over to a control fraud in the election 2000 and the goal of that criminal enterprise was to bleed as much out of the massive coffers and credit of the Federal Government of the United States as possible for his friends, allies, and himself. Geroge W. Bush’s goal as President was what the Proconsuls of the Roman Empire aspired to in the provinces they were awarded: to squeeze out every drop of profit possible.

The best way to do that in modern America was a war - preferably a long, sustained, grinding, quagmire of a war against a despised enemy that no one could doubt was hostile to us. A war in which unlimited amounts of cash could be dumped into single source and no bid contracts with little or no oversight and even worse accounting (remember that 8 billion is said to have just disappeared in Iraq due to poor accounting and cash controls). If you are going to take over a government as a control fraud in a democratic society with an advanced legal system and a professional bureaucracy, there is really no other way to convert sufficient amounts of wealth to private use without being detected or questioned. Better to do the deed under cover of a wild and wooly foreign war, where the rules are made by the guy with the most guns.

I don't believe this is the whole truth — the imperial wish-fulfillment fantasies of the Neoconservative movement surely play a role here — but its plausibility level is high.

Posted by abostick at 11:06 AM | Comments (0)

Lee Hoffman 1932-2007

Teresa at Making Light reports that Lee Hoffman died of a massive heart attack. Geri Sullivan adds that Hoffman's death took place on Tuesday, February 6.

I met Hoffman in 1977, at SunCon, the World Science Fiction Convention held that year in Miami Beach, Florida. She was a folk hero to those of us young SF fans (like Gary Farber or Joe Siclari) who cared about the history of our community as could be gleaned from writing that lives on in old fanzines.

So raise a glass in remembrance. The world is a bit dimmer for her passing, but a lot brighter for her having lived. Ave atque vale.

Posted by abostick at 09:47 AM | Comments (0)

February 07, 2007

<sagan>Billions and Billions....</sagan>

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Federal Reserve sent record payouts of more than $4 billion in cash to Baghdad on giant pallets aboard military planes shortly before the United States gave control back to Iraqis, lawmakers said Tuesday.

The money, which had been held by the United States, came from Iraqi oil exports, surplus dollars from the U.N.-run oil-for-food program and frozen assets belonging to the ousted Saddam Hussein regime.

Bills weighing a total of 363 tons were loaded onto military aircraft in the largest cash shipments ever made by the Federal Reserve, said Rep. Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

"Who in their right mind would send 363 tons of cash into a war zone? But that's exactly what our government did," the California Democrat said during a hearing reviewing possible waste, fraud and abuse of funds in Iraq.

On December 12, 2003, $1.5 billion was shipped to Iraq, initially "the largest pay out of U.S. currency in Fed history," according to an e-mail cited by committee members.

It was followed by more than $2.4 billion on June 22, 2004, and $1.6 billion three days later. The CPA turned over sovereignty on June 30.

The Reuters report says "more than $4 billion." If the reporter had bothered to add up the reported numbers, perhaps they would have written "$5.5 billion"

In fact, the size of that shipment of cash makes me want to raise my extended pinky to the corner of my mouth, while I repeat, "five point five BILLION DOLLARS" in my best Dr. Evil voice.

As a poker player, I am not immune to what Phil Hellmuth describes as an occupational hazard of poker players: a disregard for cash that borders on contempt. Nonetheless, the idea of pallets and pallets of shrink-wrapped bundles of $100 bills on military transport planes being flown to Baghdad is the stuff of caper-movie dreams. Where is Danny Ocean when we need him? Heck, even the good ship Serenity and her plucky crew ought to have been able to intercept some of that cash.

(via Josh Marshall)

Posted by abostick at 12:10 PM | Comments (0)

February 06, 2007

Six More Weeks of Terror

Note: it's not a real CNN screenshot. I bet folks at the Onion are pissed that they got scooped.

(via Bitch, Ph.D.)

Posted by abostick at 01:16 PM | Comments (0)

February 03, 2007

Da Manly Code

C.W. Nevius, writing in the San Francisco Chronicle, states that although women appear to be forgiving of SF Mayor Gavin Newsom's sexual liaison with a married woman, men, supposedly, regard Newsom's indiscretion as an "Unforgivable Breach of Man Code."

Make no mistake — having an affair with the wife of a trusted male colleague is an irrevocable Man Code violation.

"Hello?" wrote Mike Mulholland, 43, who grew up in the Bay Area before moving to San Diego County. "Newsom slept with his friend's wife. What if he stole from a friend? Or tried to frame a friend? Would that also be nobody's business?"

Yes that's right: according to correspondents Nevius picks out as reprentatives of the Man on the Street, having sex with a (male) friend's wife is equivalent to stealing his property. In other words, You poke it, you own it.

Here's what seems to have actually happened: In the course of the breakup with his wife, Newsom got sexually involved with a staffer, Ruby Rippey-Tourk, who is married to another sometime member of the Newsom inner circle, Alex Tourk. Sometime after the affair was over, Rippey-Tourk evidently entered a substance-abuse recovery program. As part of her recovery process, Rippey-Tourk came clean to her husband about the affair. Alex Tourk's response to his wife's attempt to make amends was to storm into Newsom's office to confront him and tender his resignation as Newsom's campaign manager on the spot.

In other words, Alex Tourk resigned in a patriarchal huff because Gavin Newsom poked what Tourk supposed he owned. Ruby Rippey-Tourk's agency is, strangely enough, not relevant to the story.

I know that I am far from the mainstream of American values, but nevertheless, it seems to me that the real bad guy here, the person who really is violating the norms of common decency by being a patriarchal asshole, is Alex Tourk.

Posted by abostick at 01:12 PM | Comments (6)

Kno Gurlz Aloud

Violet Blue replies in her column on SFGate to the boy's-club treatment she got from Leo LaPorte, John Dvorak, Patrick Norton, and Robert Heron on LaPorte's podcast This Week in Tech in response to Forbes including her on its Web Celeb 25 list of Web celebrities. The boys on the aptly-named TWiT trashed all the women on the list.

It's nothing new that the lions of tech appear to regard the Intarwebs as their own private boys club — see, for example, Badgerbag on the topic. It gets old real fast, though. Come on guys, it's the twenty-first century already, grow up a little? (I don't know about the others, though, but John Dvorak isn't about to grow up. As I put it in a comment on Majikthise, "John Dvorak is the Bob Novak of computer journalism.")

Posted by abostick at 12:43 PM | Comments (0)

Where the Women Bloggers Are

Atrios points us to the announcements from Amanda Marcotte and Shakespeare's Sister that they have been hired to work on John Edwards's presidential campaign. I applaud Edwards' outreach to specifically feminist bloggers for his Internet presence. I wonder, though, who's next? If Edwards is still hiring, I could see him going for someone liberal and conventional like Lindsay Beyerstein — but why not go instead for a cask-strength feminist with attitude and street cred, someone like brownfemipower?

Posted by abostick at 12:28 PM | Comments (0)

February 02, 2007

Really Cool, Really Useful

Josh Marshall points us to a really cool resource for news junkies: Lots and lots of newspaper front pages, from many countries in the world It's growing, evidently. When Josh blogged it yesterday, he said, "555 papers in 55 countries," but when I loaded it just now it was 561 papers from 56 countries.

Visiting the page is like watching the news from Ozymandias' media room, except in print rather than video.

Posted by abostick at 01:02 PM | Comments (1)

As Above, So Below

As a result of the Aqua Teen Hunger Force Lite Brite fiasco, the nation is now laughing hysterically at the discovery that the city of Boston, Massachusetts, is governed by morons.

Buahahaha...! it just goes to show, you get the government you deserve!

Oh, wait....

Posted by abostick at 11:52 AM | Comments (0)

Kill Your Television

Our own true Debbie Notkin spent a week on vacation, and wound up watching a lot of television. It seems that the remote control for the TV where she was vacationing didn't have a Mute button, so she wound up hearing a lot of advertisements:

...TV advertising appears to have shifted to focus almost entirely on what you can do to change your appearance for the “better,” while exhorting you to keep eating junk and never, ever, use your body for any kind of pleasurable movement except on an exercise bike in front of the TV. Or maybe it was always that bad, and I just don’t remember. (I think I remember more ads for clothes, or housewares, or activities.)

Aside from being alternately frustrated, enraged, and fascinated by what I saw, I came away a little chastened: I think one of the reasons that it’s easy (well, easier) for me to maintain my basic satisfaction with my own body is that I’ve cut dozens if not hundreds, of negative messages a day out of my life.

Here at As I Please International World Headquarters, we don't actually want to kill our television, because we like watching DVDs from Netflix too much. But we rarely watch commercial broadcast television, so we don't see many ads.

Posted by abostick at 09:53 AM | Comments (3)

February 01, 2007

Biden Praises Obama's 'Natural Sense of Rhythm'

Senator Joseph Biden (D-Delaware) has already been developing a reputation as the Democratic Party's answer to Harold Stassen. He surely knocked his aspirations for the 2008 race into a cocked hat when he said about his colleague Sen. Barack Obama (D-Illinois) to an interviewer from the New York Observer:

I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy[.] I mean, that’s a storybook, man.”

As everyone in the blogosphere is pointing out, "You're so ... articulate..." is one of supposed compliments that is loaded with the implied racism of "... not like those other brutes!"

Biden has one last hope to salvage his campaign: He can try to convince people that he was really quoting Neil Kinnock.

Posted by abostick at 12:19 PM | Comments (4)

"Eat Food. Not Too Much. Mostly Plants"

Both Elf Sternberg and Lori Selke point us to Unhappy Meals, written for this week's New York Times Magazine by Michael Pollan (author of The Omnivore's Dilemma. Pollan begins his essay on nutrients, nutritionism, and healthy eating in true journalistic pyramid form:

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

That, more or less, is the short answer to the supposedly incredibly complicated and confusing question of what we humans should eat in order to be maximally healthy. ...

Once he gets going, Pollan takes off from the evolving, contradictory claims of medical science about what we should be eating and why and unfolds them into an indictment of what he calls "nutritionism" — not a science, but an ideology about healthy eating. The key premise of of nutritionism is that the key to understanding food is the nutrient. Since nutrients, Pollan writes, as compared with foods, are invisible and therefore slightly mysterious, it falls to the scientists (and to the journalists through whom the scientists speak) to explain the hidden reality of foods to us. To enter a world in which you dine on unseen nutrients, you need lots of expert help.

I'm not doing the essay justice. Read the whole thing.

Posted by abostick at 11:08 AM | Comments (0)

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