Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Book Notes

I read this book review in the Daily Yomiuri on Saturday and ordered the book from Amazon right away. It came the next day, Sunday. I have only spent an hour or two looking at the pictures and reading it, but I can recommend it as being even a little too effective at evoking the atmosphere and associative complexes of late Tokugawa and Meiji Japan. It took me a few days to stop seeing the Tokugawa world embedded in the Heisei and upon which the 20th and 21st century technologies are hung like Christmas tree ornaments. This book should be read in small, controlled doses to avoid synchronic reality distortion. The stereoscopic images are a favorite of mine; I always appreciated the embedding of an extra dimension in media. It was an interesting time to live but violent and unpleasant, overall, as I vibe it. So much progress has been made has changed, especially in the last fifty years. The book is Photography in Japan: 1853-1912, by Terry Bennett. You will want to have it in the cellulosic carbon form, at least until Google Books makes it available as a hi-def e-book around 2011. But even then….

I also recently stumbled across Chapter 17 (?) of 1984 on the web and had to read that. I haven't read 1984 since the 1970s (or maybe 1980s). The entire book is online at Mondo Politico. As I reread Chapter One, I noticed it could stand alone as a short story. The exposition and construction of the fictional world is my favorite part of both film and literature, and by the end of Chapter One, you are there. However, you assume that the police will be at the door, so it could be interpreted as the end. Well, the full novel just stretches that ending out, doesn't it? Eric Blair is a very 1990s-sounding name, by the way, I understand why he felt the need to use "George Orwell" as a pen name, for its evocation of decaying imperialist period. Had he stuck with his original name, "Orwellian" as an adjective would have never come into existence, replaced instead by "Blairian", which would have posed a political hurdle for Tony Blair. Imagine a candidate named "Orwell". But perhaps people don't really notice the surname; nobody thinks of Kate Bush and George Bush in the same sentence, for example.

Speaking of books, I was thinking…

New hybrid forms of literature currently under development:
litterature: Nonbiodegradable reading matter left in an inappropriate location.
unliterature: Literature composed in the dark, in poorly illuminated locations, as was the case with Abe Lincoln, or by persons who are not so bright themselves.
illiterature: Reading materials for illiterates. I'm not sure what that means.
cliterature: Pornographic literature.
obliterature: Great literature that we have never seen because it was destroyed.
gliterature: Not to be confused with glitterature!
glitterature: Not to be confused with gliterature!
quitterature: Slacker writings. Generally, these are unfinished works or notes.
spliterature: Secessionist writings, or writing done while seeking a divorce.
flitterature: writing which leaps from one topic to another with a surrealistic organization. Flitterature seeks to convey a butterfly-like approach to the world, and to the best of my knowledge, hasn't emerged yet.

Babelizer first run

Babelizer is an interesting piece of MacOS software that translates from Language A to Language B and back again until the mutations stop.

Babelizer is a toy that humorously exposes the inadequacy of machine translation. You type in a phrase, choose a language, and the Babelizer uses the Altavista translation web site to translate between English and your chosen language until the result no longer mutates.
I tried the classic Machine Translation samples of folklore, "Out of sight, out of mind" and "The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak." I was unable to generate "Invisible idiot" or "Th e liquor is agreeable but the meat has gone bad," but I had the following results. (You should have Unicode encoding…)
Out of sight, out of mind.

出於視域, 在頭腦外面。
Stemming from sight, outside brains.
源於視域, 外部腦子。
Source to sight, exterior brain.
來源看見, 外部腦子。
The origin sees, exterior brain.
起源看見, 外部腦子。
The origin sees, exterior brain.

마음에서 광경에서.
From mind from spectacle.
가관에서 마음에서.
From spectacle from mind.
마음에서 가관에서.
From mind from spectacle.

Da vista, dalla mente.
From sight, the mind.
Da vista, la mente.
From sight, the mind.

Hors de la vue, hors de l'esprit.
Out of the sight, of the spirit.
Hors de la vue, de l'esprit.
Out of the sight, spirit.
Hors de la vue, esprit.
Out of the sight, spirit.

Από τη θέα, από το μυαλό.
From the view, from the brain.
Από την άποψη, από τον εγκέφαλο.
From the opinion, from the brain.
Από την άποψη, από τον εγκέφαλο.

From vision from heart.
From range of vision from center.
From range of range of vision from center.

Fuera de vista, fuera de la mente.
Outside Vista, the mind.
Fuera de Vista, la mente.
Outside Vista, the mind.

I like the Spanish "Outside Vista" and the Chinese "Exterior brain" the best. If we could just pair those two halves up…. Meanwhile, back at "The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.":
El alcohol está dispuesto pero la carne es débil.
The alcohol is arranged but the meat is weak.
Se arregla el alcohol pero la carne es débil.
The alcohol is fixed but the meat is weak.
El alcohol es fijo pero la carne es débil.
The alcohol is fixed but the meat is weak.

정신은 기꺼이 한다 그러나 살은 약하다.
The spirit puts out the flag and omits the flesh but it does.
정신은 밖으로 깃발을 두고 살을 생략한다 그러나.
The spirit the flag lets at the outside and it will live it omits but.
깃발이 외부에 시키는 정신 그것 생략한다 그러나 살.
Spirit it the flag makes outside it omits the flesh.
정신 깃발이 밖에 그것을 만들는 그것은 살을 생략한다.
Only the spirit flag will make it it omits the flesh.
단 정신 깃발은 살을 생략하는 그것을 만들l 것이다.
Only the spirit flag the l thing which will make it it omits the flesh.

Mind is rejoicing,, but the meat is weak.
You rejoice heart,, but the meat is weak.
You make the center rejoice, but the meat is weak.
You make the center rejoice, but the meat is weak
Το πνεύμα είναι πρόθυμο αλλά η σάρκα είναι αδύνατη.
The spirit is willing but the flesh is impossible.
Το πνεύμα είναι πρόθυμο αλλά η σάρκα είναι αδύνατη.

De geest is gewillig maar het vlees is zwak.
The spirit is willing but flesh is weak.
De geest is gewillig maar het vlees is zwak.

Der Geist ist bereit, aber das Fleisch ist schwach.
The spirit is ready, but the flesh is weak.
Der Geist ist bereit, aber das Fleisch ist schwach.
Greek has a tendency to exaggerate here, "weak" becoming "impossible". Only Dutch spits it back unmangled. German doesn't whack it too bad, either. Japanese seems happy that you've shown everyone at the Center a good time, while Korean takes it to another astral plane where spirit flags the I thing and omits the flesh. Fair warning to anyone relying on MT to take a look at the round trip result and see if that indicates that the intended message may have survived the first translation. Of course, even a perfect return result doesn't guarantee an unintended meaning in the L2.

Monday, January 29, 2007

End the American Occupation of Iraq

We know that the American public wants out of Iraq.
We know that the Iraqi public believes that Americans make the security situation worse, and 71% want the Americans to leave within a year.
Polls of US troops in Iraq have shown that 72% wanted out within a year.
Most members of the US House and Senate would like to reduce the number of American troops in Iraq, or are at least not in favor of an increase. To my disappointment, the Congressional Nancys have not yet taken a strong stand.
Generals in the US military said troops should be withdrawn.
Jim Baker and members of the Republican elites in the US want to get troops out of Iraq.
It was reported last week that even Prime Minister Maliki asked Bush to pull US troops out of Baghdad.
Then, there is the rest of the world, too.
It is getting harder to find supporters for keeping the troops in Iraq, aside from Osama binLaden, George W. Bush, Mister Vice President Cheney, Tony BLiaR, and John Howard of Australia.
The Nancys in the House of Reprehensibles must shut down the war machine before it starts in on Iran. The war has been so painless and profitable for Bush and cronies that they think they can still abuse their access and control of the military to ambush Iran. Americans need to insure that Bush feels their pain and the pain of the Iraqis who receive American "aid".

Update 20070131: As a grammar note for the syntax-conscious, note in the text of the AFP wire service article how the writer uses "more bold" as the comparitive form of the adjective rather than the "bolder" which was in use a few years ago. I hear these every day; the suffix "-er" is being regularized with "more". It appears that English may be becoming more of an isolating language and less of an inflecting language.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Happy Birthday

January 27 is the birthday of Margo Timmins of the Cowboy Junkies, among other musicians. I was looking at Wikipedia list of people born on January 27 and noticed that there were many musicians.

I shouldn't count these ancient greats that I cherry-picked from earlier centuries.

1756 - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Austrian composer (d. 1791)
1885 - Jerome Kern, American composer (d. 1945)
1885 - Eduard Künneke, German composer (d. 1953)
1885 - Harry Ruby, American musician (d. 1974)
1908 - Oran "Hot Lips" Page, American musician (d. 1954)
1918 - Skitch Henderson, English bandleader (d. 2005)
1918 - Elmore James, American blues musician (d. 1963)
1919 - Ross Bagdasarian, American musician (d. 1972)
1920 - Helmut Zacharias, German violinist (d. 2002)
1930 - Bobby Blue Bland, American singer
1937 - John Ogdon, English pianist (d. 1989)
1944 - Nick Mason, English musician (Pink Floyd)

Just look at the 1960s:

1961 - Margo Timmins, Canadian singer (Cowboy Junkies)
1961 - Gillian Gilbert, British musician (New Order)
1964 - Bridget Fonda, American actress
1967 - Bobby Deol, Indian actor
1968 - Mike Patton, American singer (Faith No More)
1968 - Tricky, English rapper
1969 - Cornelius, musician (Flipper's Guitar)
1969 - Michael Kulas, Canadian singer/songwriter (James (band))
1969 - Bobby Deol , Indian Actor

Of these people born on January 27 in the 1960s, 6 out of 9 people noted in the Wikipedia, nearly 70%, were musicians. The pattern is a little different if you look at a longer timespan.

1970 - Jon Douglas Rainey, Actor/Host of It Takes a Thief
1970 - Mark Trojanowski, American musician (Sister Hazel)
1971 - Fann Wong, Singapore entertainer (Shanghai Knights)
1972 - Keith Wood, Irish rugby player
1974 - Chaminda Vaas, Sri Lankan cricketer
1976 - Clint Ford, American voice actor
1976 - Ahn Jung-Hwan, Korean football player
1979 - Daniel Vettori, New Zealand cricketer
1979 - Rosamund Pike, British actress
1980 - Marat Safin, Russian tennis player
1981 - Alicia Molik, Australian tennis player
1981 - Josh Groban, American Singer
1983 - Carlo Colaiacovo, Canadian hockey player
1987 - Lily Donaldson, British model
1988 - Kerlon Moura Souza, Brazilian footballer

Sports comes up to about 50%, with only one musician mentioned.

I thought that maybe they just had a lot of musicians in the database. So I compared it with another date, July 21.

1960 - Lance Guest, American actor
1960 - Fritz Walter, German footballer
1961 - Amar Singh Chamkila, Punjabi folk singer
1961 - "Big" Jim Martin, American musician (Faith No More)
1963 - Kevin Poole, English footballer
1964 - Jens Weißflog, German ski jumper
1965 - Gudni Bergsson, Icelandic footballer
1968 - Brandi Chastain, American soccer player
1968 - Lyle Odelein, Canadian hockey player
1969 - Emerson Hart, American musician (Tonic)
1970 - Shawn Stasiak, American professional wrestler
1971 - Nuno Markl, Portuguese comedian and radio host
1978 - Josh Hartnett, American actor
1979 - David Carr, American football player
1979 - Tamika Catchings, American basketball player
1980 - C.C. Sabathia, American baseball player
1981 - Titus Bramble, English footballer
1981 - Stefan Schumacher, German cyclist
1981 - Veronica Belmont, CNET TV personality
1982 - Claudette Ortiz, American soul singer
1983 - Eivør Pálsdóttir, Faroese singer
1983 - Kellen Winslow II, American football player
1984 - Liam Ridgewell, English footballer
1985 - Von Wafer, American basketball player

This set had 15 athletes out of 24, almost 60% athletes, with football, soccer, and basketball heavily represented. Musicians were only 5, counting singers, about 20%.

It looks like there really are tendencies for certain dates to favor certain occupational outcomes (as astrologers worldwide have suggested for millenia).

Possible alternative explanations:? Randomness? Or it could depend on who uploaded the data. Maybe a sports freak was working on one day, while a music fan beat the sports person to the punch on another date, but I don't think so. As evidence for certain tendencies to occur on certain days, notice that three great composers were born on the same day in 1885.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Road to Hell Paved with Black Ice, Hearts Warmed by Heat-Ray Gun

The Pentagon now has a new ray-gun to fire at civilians in order to cause them excruciating pain should they attempt to exercise their democratic rights to assemble. The new tool should also come in handy at Guantanamo Bay, and may eventually find its way into consumer electronic applications like the taser before it, and be used indiscriminately to discipline small children.

In a related story, the military is working hard to develop all-weather artificial black ice to slip up enemies and cause them to fall down laughing so they can be easily shot. Maxwell Smart would be proud of the Polymer Ice Project. There is not enough plastic pollution around now, and this may divert attention away from the ugly depleted uranium situation by providing comic relief.

One really doesn't see a lot of public clamor or demand for either of these technologies. You have to wonder how these were able to leapfrog over the solar/plugin flexfuel hybrid vehicle or a cure for stupidity.

I think it is time for us to go back to the ideals the country was built on, and abolish standing armies and the Pentagon, to the extent that is possible. The President was never intended to be a permanent "Commander-in-Chief" with a huge army at his private disposal. Armies were only to be raised by an act of Congress, and then dissolved. Having an army to throw around has caused a lot of trouble. The Department of Defense is a euphemism for the Ministry of Aggressive Foreign Wars. If it were really "defense", its duties would overlap with the hideously titled "homeland security" ministry. We should strive to abolish the military and its obscene and immoral waste, channelling those resources into more productive enterprises. Defense should take the form it has in Switzerland, an armed and trained populace ready to defend their liberty. Switzerland has not faced invasion, and neither has Costa Rica. As I read the Second Amendment, which was crafted in that pre-standing army era, persons bearing guns were to be the nation's army. That was it. That was to be the militia, and any excursionary force would need to be created temporarily by the Congress. Reviving this spirit, gun owners should automatically be enrolled in the national self-defense forces, and be required to undergo training in the proper use of their weapon and the tactics to be employed in the event of an invasion.

The only American politician I know of who is thinking along the same lines, looking at the big picture, and talking sensibly of eliminating the Department of Defense is Dennis Kucinich.

Monday, January 22, 2007

One Flew Over the Homeland

Jose Padilla is an American citizen who was held for 1,307 days in solitary confinement in a military prison in South Carolina. He has suffered interrogation, sleep deprivation, and torture. He has more or less lost his mind by now. Keep in mind that most people crack and confess to whatever is asked of them in the first 24 hours of interrogations. The Justice Department of John Ashcroft once claimed that he was plotting to detonate a radioactive "dirty" bomb, but admitted they had no evidence, and later abandoned that accusation.

Reuters news article by Jane Sutton dated Sun Jan 21, 11:17 AM ET

Padilla was kept in a 9-by-7-foot (3-by-2-metre) cell, the lone occupant in a two-story, 10-unit block, defense lawyer Andrew Patel wrote in an affidavit. The windows were blocked so no light could enter and meals, often cold, were delivered through a slot in the door, Patel said.

Interrogators ordered his pillow and foam mattress removed, forcing Padilla to sleep on a bare steel platform.

Padilla was kept without a clock, calendar or reading material, sometimes for long periods in darkness, and other times for long periods under bright light. He was subjected to extreme cold, deprived of sleep, chained in painful positions and drugged with what he believed to be "truth serum," the documents alleged.

For the first two years, he was not allowed to speak with a lawyer nor send or receive mail, except for a brief note sent to his mother in Florida through the International Committee of the Red Cross.

A comment from a doctor, in the second sentence of the news story:
He is a bit paranoid and believes the government is persecuting him, "but this does not appear to be delusional," wrote one of doctors who examined the alleged al Qaeda operative in a Miami prison cell at his lawyers' request.
In other words, just because he's paranoid doesn't mean the government's not out to get him.

Note the gratuitous use of the term "alleged al Qaeda operative" in the news story. I'm not sure that the government is even alleging that anymore. His main crime now seems to be being a gangbanger who converted to Islam, and visiting Egypt and Pakistan. What more do they need to know? Prosecutors say Padilla is "not entitled to a free pass." It's hard to believe that this is the country where I grew up, but that is a snapshot of life in America in the noughties, where civil rights have fallen to the bottom of the world, looking more like Algeria, Egypt, or Sudan now.

Due to post-traumatic stress disorder, Jose may never be capable of holding a job. The government that slowly and deliberately took his mind should support his rehabilitation now.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

A Surge of Death as the Empire Marches On

Interesting points of view from Frontline and


At some point, inexplicably, his U.S.-paid executioners raised slogans in praise of Moqtada al-Sadr, the young Shia cleric whom the Americans hate the most and have often fought, in Kufa and elsewhere. Saddam is said to have been surprised and shook his head. Soon after that he was led to the gallows, tied up, and hanged. That was on December 30. The next day, the very last day of 2006, The New York Times began its story on the execution with the sentence: "Saddam Hussein never bowed his head, until his neck snapped."

It wasn't long before Washington began waking up to the huge global impact of Saddam's dignified behaviour, as contrasted with the crassness of his execution - the choice of day, the menacing rowdiness of his executioners in the solemn moments before his death, the snapping of the neck as he prayed silently. Such things are hard to verify, but it does seem to me that it is only after the facts had had an impact exactly the opposite of what the Washingtonian spinmasters anticipated that they decided to pretend that the successive videos had been produced clandestinely and that they had actually tried to dissuade the "sovereign" Nouri al-Maliki government from executing Saddam on such a holy day.

It was now said that it was the "sovereign" Iraqi establishment - much too "sovereign" to listen to the United States - which had chosen that day, against strenuous U.S. efforts. It was also claimed that the slogans raised by the executioners in favour of Moqtada al-Sadr were entirely spontaneous; that they were praising someone the U.S. detests only goes to show, it was claimed, how "independent" those executioners really were. Supposedly liberal but in fact corrupt and pompous senior journalists like John F. Burns of The New York Times were to play a major role in this subsequent campaign of disinformation which sought to relieve the U.S. of its culpability in the whole sorry mess.

All that, I believe, is plain hogwash. Only a month earlier, that same "Prime Minister" had complained publicly that he is not allowed to move even a platoon of policemen without prior U.S. permission. Death by hanging of a famous dictator is serious business; it is very doubtful that sundry hangmen can just take out their cellphones and video cameras to make unauthorised tapes and then just put them on the Internet. Secrecy is the essence of all such events; it is very unlikely that microscopic details of such proceedings can appear in newspapers the very next day if the real masters of the ceremony, the big U.S. officials, do not want them divulged. Nor is it very likely that hired hangmen, always fearful of dire consequences for unruly behaviour at such times, would raise slogans in favour of America's designated enemy, Moqtada, unless they are sure of not suffering any reprisals. It seems very likely that they were instructed to raise those slogans, in praise of Moqtada, to be caught on videotape that would be widely disseminated throughout the Arab world, to indicate that it was Moqtada's men who actually executed Saddam Hussein, so as to concentrate Sunni ire on Moqtada, the one major Shia figure in Iraq who is deeply opposed to American occupation, and not on the core clients of the U.S. who actually did it.

The hanging as well as the spectacle staged and taped at the time were meant to exacerbate the Shia-Sunni divide and to have the Sunnis turn against Moqtada even as the U.S. concentrates its fire upon his forces. (As many as 14,000 U.S. troops were diverted to Moqtada's stronghold in the Sadr City zone of Baghdad in October 2006 and the majority of the 30,000 troops that Bush and his new commanders in Iraq are looking for are expected to be deployed there.)

It seems very likely, in short, that the Americans had carefully choreographed the whole staging of the execution and dissemination of the pictures, but they had not imagined that Saddam's dignified conduct would have such an electrifying impact across the world, especially the Arab-Muslim world. Nor had they understood that most people in the world, especially outside the U.S., do not condone the hanging of a man on a day deemed holy in his religion and while he has his last prayer on his lips, even though the man to be hanged was once a dictator.
That has an eerie ring of truth to it. It also makes me wonder if I'm just not paranoid enough. Leaving the deconstruction of signifiers on the intellectual and spiritual planes for a moment for an analysis of the material relations underlying the Iraq situation, we take you to the Socialist Worker:
THE U.S. war on Iraq was never about freedom, and it has been anything but moderate.

Take a look, for example, at the assortment of crooks and thugs the U.S. proposed to lead the “new” Iraq--after, that is, it gave up on direct colonial rule through the Coalition Provisional Authority.

The U.S. is no more committed to democracy elsewhere in the Middle East, where its favored ally Israel presides over an apartheid system designed to crush all aspirations of the Palestinian people, and where its clients among Arab regimes use dictatorial repression to maintain their grip on power.

So what has the U.S. war been about? Oil, for one thing--U.S. control over the world’s second-largest proven reserves.

The Bush surge comes at a critical time for his oil company pals, who are counting on the Iraqi government to deliver on a new oil law, expected to be voted on in the coming weeks and put in effect by March.

The law--“carefully scrutinized,” wrote Pepe Escobar in Asia Times, “by Washington, Big Oil and the International Monetary Fund, but not by Iraqi politicians”--would establish 30-year production-sharing agreements with Western oil companies and bar any future government from nationalizing the oil industry. “In essence, it’s a game of ‘if you nationalize, we invade you--again.’” Escobar concludes. “So the law fulfills the early-2003 neo-con boast of ‘we are the new OPEC.’”

Beyond oil, Iraq is the centerpiece of U.S. plans to project its military power in the Middle East through the establishment of permanent bases--and “to maintain the legitimacy of U.S. imperialism, which needs the pretext of a global war on terror to justify further military intervention, expanded military budgets, concentration of executive power and restrictions on civil liberties,” wrote Anthony Arnove, author of Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal, in the International Socialist Review.

Those who really are on the side of freedom need to speak out for immediate U.S. withdrawal--and for the right of Iraqis to determine their own future.
Both of these long articles are recommended reading. Just some snippets are presented here. They may help you fall asleep, but I can't say what kind of dreams they may inspire.

Monday, January 15, 2007

The George W. Bush Memorial Library at Abu Ghraib

Some controversy has apparently arisen over the legacy of George W. Bush and the handful of documents that he intends to use to dedicate his proposed future "Presidential Library". Some worry that proposed plans to place the library at Southern Methodist University in Dallas will further cement the city's ugly reputation for killing Kennedy and encouraging Bushes. Residents fear the building may become an attractive target for terrorists. I haven't googled this to see if anyone else has made the suggestion, so they probably have, like that "50 Ways to Leave Iraq" idea that I was thinking about, but how about Abu Ghraib? Locating the George W. Bush pRedsiDenTal Lieberry in Abu Ghraib will send a bold message that this pRedsident idn't afeard to think outside the box, and will form an appropriate and lasting dedication to his legacy.

They might as well make an amusement park out of it and have an animatronic Saddam Hussein hung on a simulated gallows. Lieberrys are so dull, ya know, they need something for the kids…

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Thursday, January 04, 2007

President Edwards?

John Edwards recently declared his candidacy for the 2008 Democratic nomination. Edwards won the 2004 Iowa caucuses, and has leaped to the top of Iowa polls again, ahead of all Democratic candidates except Obama, who he is tied with.
In 2004, I was disappointed by Edward's weakness in the Vice-Presidential Candidates Debate. Edwards seemed reluctant to abandon his nice-boy persona and rip into Cheney as, for example, Bill Clinton might have done. Now, however, as I re-read the debate, it seems that Edwards certainly held his own. It seems that in text, Edwards did well, while on camera, Cheney was quite strong. Cheney tried to appear as an experienced elder scolding and shaming Edwards as a mediocre politician who rarely even bothered to attend the Senate. As with Cheney's "Go F*ç% Yourself" remark to Patrick Leahy, the subject of Halliburton was the topic that set off the counterattack:

CHENEY: Gwen, I want to go back to the last comment, and then I'll come back to Israel-Palestine.
The reason they keep trying to attack Halliburton is because they want to obscure their own record.
And Senator, frankly, you have a record in the Senate that's not very distinguished. You've missed 33 out of 36 meetings in the Judiciary Committee, almost 70 percent of the meetings of the Intelligence Committee. You've missed a lot of key votes: on tax policy, on energy, on Medicare reform.
Your hometown newspaper has taken to calling you "Senator Gone." You've got one of the worst attendance records in the United States Senate. Now, in my capacity as vice president, I am the president of Senate, the presiding officer. I'm up in the Senate most Tuesdays when they're in session. The first time I ever met you was when you walked on the stage tonight.
Edwards responded with, "That was a complete distortion of my record. I know that won't come as a shock."

It later came out that Edwards in fact had an excellent voting record, although his attendance had dropped off during the presidential campaign. At least three pictures of Cheney with Edwards surfaced, proving that Cheney's claim to have met Edwards for the first time during the debate was a bald-faced lie, and it was shown that Cheney had presided over the Senate twice, not "most Tuesdays".

Looking back at the TV and text experiences of the debate, Mr Cheney appealed to the Reptilian brainstem, while Edwards was a soft fuzzy Mammalian thinker.

In the 2008 campaign, voters will face a very real, even surreal choice, between the Reptilian Party platform, calling for the immediate extermination of all mammalian life on Earth, and the Demagogic Party platform, which seeks the establishment of a one-world utopian hive-mind cyber-dictatorship. Choose wisely. If you vote for a third party, you are just helping the greater of two evils to win.

Plan to Fail

It seems to me that Bush is not actually intending for a troop "surge" in Iraq but is choosing to promote a plan that has no chance of being approved by Congress in order to be able to say that he had a plan to win, but his opponents wouldn't let him fight to win. I may be misoverestimating the pRedisent's intelligence with an "I wudda whupped Iraq's ass but the liberals wouldn't let me" scheme; the poor fool may have just painted himself into a political corner and up the walls. It doesn't seem to appeal to many people now but could be revived as a myth in a future electoral cycle when people have forgotten what was happening in 06 and 07. Democrats should quickly put the "surge" out of its misery.

And what is this story about a Pentagon plan to go to war with Moqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi Army?

Death* to Tyrants -OR- Snuff Said

(* full and unconditional pardon to American tyrants)

The long-running badly-written dark comedy known as The Saddam Show came to an abrupt yet predictable end when the show's star was executed in the final cellphone snuff video installment of the multi-network reality show. Some have said that the death penalty is too extreme a punishment, even for Saddam Hussein, and that a more appropriate punishment would be a life sentence, allowing the condemned to slowly contemplate his misdeeds and write autobiographies, as was the fate of the contemporaneously-deceased Gerald Ford and his mentor Richard Nixon. Others have contended that a lifetime spent justifying past decisions in endless interviews on Larry King Live is cruel and unusual punishment, prohibited by the US Constitution and Geneva Accords, to which the death penalty provides a quick and merciful escape. Still others argue that most people, given the choice of ruling their own small-to-middle-sized country as an absolute despot for 37 years but knowing at the end they must face the fate of Sadddam Hussein, would happily choose that career path. One imagines Ford and Hussein in a boat crossing the river Styx, each without the money to pay the boatman, but the boatman accepts a song offered by fellow passenger James Brown to save the day.

I remember Ford's guilty and shameful eyes as he pardoned Nixon, an expression of determination tinged with fear. Perhaps he thought angry mobs would raid the Presidential Palace White House. Or, maybe Nixon's plumbers had threatened him. He seemed less ambiguous in later years; either his acting skills improved or he was well-compensated by the Nixonists.

Justice is good, but hard to come by, and applied unjustly.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Support Musicians

I am not much for New Year Resolutions, having learned from experience that resolutions made just because it is the New Year are likely to be broken whereas resolutions made at a critical point can be useful. The one thing that did cross my mind was that whether we hear good music promoted on the radio, get it from exchanges with friends, or find it on the internet, we ought to support the artists by buying their CDs.