Monday, October 31, 2005


I'm probably way late to the party with these, but I have a few quick observations from WaPo's article about the Democrats demanding Rove's head:

1) The intriguing inference (if I'm reading it correctly) that Fitzgerald let Libby off the hook about the actual leakage as the result of a plea agreement, and not because he didn't think he could prove it. Or perhaps he's leaving the "big" charge out there to hold over Libby's head as additional incentive to testify against Rove or Cheney. As if a max of 30 years isn't enough. On the other hand, "traitor" is a hard word to live down.

2) How weird is it that Trent (Vote For Strom!) Lott is trying to be the conscience of the Republican party? When Trent Lott is your party's moral compass, it's a pretty safe bet that you're deep in the wilderness and very, very lost.

3) The longer and tighter Bush clings to Rove's rotting political corpse, the better. Let the stink of corruption & death get rubbed all over him real real good.

The Story I Look Forward To Reading

That would be the one where all the Republican congressional candidates facing tight races in 2006 tell President Bush "Thanks, but no thanks" and ask him not to campaign for them.


Monday MP3 Blogging

Today's selection is another one of those bizarre homemade things someone found in a thrift store.

On one level it's kind of poignant, as you can imagine the dad making this tape to comfort his kid whose dog just ran away ("It's okay, son, we'll make this tape, and maybe Ben will hear it and come back to us!"), but I have to say that capping it off by actually singing the theme from Willard just puts it over the top and into The Land Of The Weirdos. Did I mention that the discoverer of the tape describes the dad as "an outer space version of Jim Nabors"?

Once again, all credit and wonderment to

Saturday, October 29, 2005

I Really Need Control Of The Remote Now...

Egad, this is creepy...
Prepare to be remotely controlled. I was.

Just imagine being rendered the rough equivalent of a radio-controlled toy car.


A special headset was placed on my cranium by my hosts during a recent demonstration at an NTT research center. It sent a very low voltage electric current from the back of my ears through my head _ either from left to right or right to left, depending on which way the joystick on a remote-control was moved.

I found the experience unnerving and exhausting: I sought to step straight ahead but kept careening from side to side. Those alternating currents literally threw me off.

The technology is called galvanic vestibular stimulation — essentially, electricity messes with the delicate nerves inside the ear that help maintain balance.

I felt a mysterious, irresistible urge to start walking to the right whenever the researcher turned the switch to the right. I was convinced — mistakenly — that this was the only way to maintain my balance.

The phenomenon is painless but dramatic. Your feet start to move before you know it. I could even remote-control myself by taking the switch into my own hands.

There's no proven-beyond-a-doubt explanation yet as to why people start veering when electricity hits their ear. But NTT researchers say they were able to make a person walk along a route in the shape of a giant pretzel using this technique.

It's a mesmerizing sensation similar to being drunk or melting into sleep under the influence of anesthesia. But it's more definitive, as though an invisible hand were reaching inside your brain.

The article also talks about potential non-lethal military applications:
Timothy Hullar, assistant professor at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Mo., believes finding the right way to deliver an electromagnetic field to the ear at a distance could turn the technology into a weapon for situations where "killing isn't the best solution."

"This would be the most logical situation for a nonlethal weapon that presumably would make your opponent dizzy," he said via e-mail. "If you find just the right frequency, energy, duration of application, you would hope to find something that doesn't permanently injure someone but would allow you to make someone temporarily off-balance."

Indeed, a small defense contractor in Texas, Invocon Inc., is exploring whether precisely tuned electromagnetic pulses could be safely fired into people's ears to temporarily subdue them.

I'm not really sure what to make of any of this, other than that it weirds me right the hell out. And as for it being "non-lethal," that could depend on timing and context - imagine using it on a fighter pilot, or to assassinate someone lounging on a high-rise balcony.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Google Search Update

Here are just a few of the Google searches that have led to my blog recently (generally in the top 3-5 of search results):

"Everybody have fun tonight"

full beards popular in fashion 2005 (Google New Zealand only, for some reason)

applying makeup to resemble Lily Munster

That is all.

Friday Quote & Cat Blogging

"And who butts in, only Joe Purcell, his head full of amazin' facts like the boilin' point of water and the number of eyes in a fly head."

(I may have the name in the quote wrong, for reasons not worth getting into here)

From The Butcher Boy, a very peculiar Neil Jordan movie about a demented young Irish kid. Definitely worth a look if you like that sort of thing.

And of course, there'll be other people's cats...

The tummyrub-lovin' stray kitty my coworker was looking for a home for. She finally placed it with her sister, so y'all can just eat your hearts out now... Posted by Picasa

Scooter Scoots! SCOTUS?

Well, I mean, he's available, and there's an opening Bush is
looking to fill. What's a little indictment between cronies?

Hugh Hewitt, Comic Genius!

It has to be some kind of parody - no-one could possibly spout such absurdity with a straight face:

OVER the last two elections, the Republican Party regained control of the United States Senate by electing new senators in Florida, Georgia, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, South Dakota and Texas. These victories were attributable in large measure to the central demand made by Republican candidates, and heard and embraced by voters, that President Bush's nominees deserved an up-or-down decision on the floor of the Senate.

Ah yes, I remember it well. The Republicans' Rock The Up-Or-Down Vote ad campaign was legendary in its devastating ruthlessness.

The right's embrace in the Miers nomination of tactics previously exclusive to the left - exaggeration, invective, anonymous sources, an unbroken stream of new charges, television advertisements paid for by secret sources - will make it immeasurably harder to denounce and deflect such assaults when the Democrats make them the next time around.

Oh. My. God. This guy is brilliant. I couldn't come up with stuff this good in a million years hopped up on goofballs.

(I can't help thinking of that "From you, Dad! I learned it from you!" anti-drug commercial...)

Those are the highlights, but he does go on to refer to Circuit Judge Michael Luttig as a "superstar", and the National Review's Cornerites as "sharp-tongued, witty and relentless writers" that potentially pro-Miers senators cowered in fear of.

Me like Bizarro World! Me want live on Bizarro World all the time! Me super good-looking and clever on Bizarro World!

Thursday, October 27, 2005


I haven't blogged much or at all on the upcoming Fitzgerald indictments, because I haven't really had anything blogworthy to add to the discussion, but this juicy tidbit from the Wall Street Journal (by way of WaPo's White House Briefing) just jumped out at me, and I had to point it out:

"It is expected that any indictments will be very detailed and discuss the involvement of other White House officials who aren't being charged."


*reaches for popcorn*

Clean Hands & Dry Powder

Now that I'm over the initial "Woohoo!" reaction to Harriet Miers withdrawing her Supreme Court nomination, I find I am having another, somewhat milder "Woohoo!" reaction to it. Not only did President Bush suffer yet another embarrassing political defeat, but it came at the hands of his own party, and not the Democrats.

Yes, I know they're spinning it as being the result of those
mean old Dems demanding that Bush violate executive privilege by sharing some kind of paper trail of her past activities, but really her nomination failed because she got barely any support at all from Congressional Republicans.

This to me is by far the best case outcome - Bush does not get to saddle the Supreme Court with an unqualified crony, and it didn't require any concerted resistance from the Democrats at all, which means that they are free to oppose a wingnut nominee without looking like unreasonable obstructionists out to blindly sabotage anyone the President trots out there.

Better yet, Bush has to name his next nominee in the wake of the Plame indictments, and a Rove/Cheney braintrust that will be distracted and off their game (or even out of the picture entirely). I could see him going either way, either tapping a qualified centrist to avoid a fight with the Dems, or a raving whackaloon to avoid a fight with his base.

All other things being equal, I would expect Bush to attack the Democrats, who have a long history of folding ignominiously, but I can't imagine a worse climate than right now (by which I mean "next week") to try to shove a right-wing ideologue down the Democrats' throats. Worse yet for Bush, as 2006 approaches, more and more Republicans will be trying to distance themselves from his sinking presidency, so he will have a much harder time convincing moderate Republicans to hold their noses and stand with him on a controversial nominee.

I suppose he could threaten to campaign for them...

In all seriousness, what I think Bush should do is get a list of impeccably qualified judges with brilliant legal minds, and use that as the starting point for whatever ideological calculation he chooses to make. What I think he will do, given that he may have no political savvy or expertise outside his own to rely on, is to fall back on what his gut is comfortable with. Which means yet another trusted crony. Which means... Abu Gonzales, your time has come at last! Get out there and help Big-Time Dick stump for torture!

Miers Retreats!


Harriet Miers withdrew her nomination to be a Supreme Court justice Thursday in the face of stiff opposition and mounting criticism about her qualifications.

President Bush said he reluctantly accepted her decision to withdraw, after weeks of insisting that he did not want her to step down. He blamed her withdrawal on calls in the Senate for the release of internal White House documents that the administration has insisted were protected by executive privilege.


[Miers] noted that members of the Senate had indicated their intention to seek documents about her service in the White House in order to judge whether to support her nomination to the Supreme Court. "I have been informed repeatedly that in lieu of records, I would be expected to testify about my service in the White House to demonstrate my experience and judicial philosophy," she wrote.

"While I believe that my lengthy career provides sufficient evidence for consideration of my nomination, I am convinced the efforts to obtain Executive Branch materials and information will continue."


Now, let Operation Rightwing Nutjob proceed as planned!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Perfect Gift For The Hot Liberal New York Babe In Your Life

From the NY Daily News's Rush & Molloy gossip column (which leads with a very unfortunate Omar Sharif-related incident - no, not that one...):

Who says mayoral candidate Freddy Ferrer doesn't have any sizzle? One ardent supporter is doing her best to sex up his campaign by designing a ladies thong emblazoned with the slogan "Vote Por Fernando."

"He's Latino and he's a Latin lover," designer Liza Sabater tells us. "Why not have him on your panties, if not in them?" Ferrer's wife, Aramina, would probably prefer the former. Sabater, whose Ferrer lingerie is available at, says no one has actually bought a pair yet.

The Ferrer campaign declined to comment on the undergarments for their underdog.

Sounds like the mayoral race is, ah, heating up.

Teh Awesome Sexy Photoblogging!!! Sort Of.

Guess what comes up first if you Google sexy photoblogging (or, better yet, photoblogging sexy).

Admittedly, I sorta owe NTodd an assist, but still. RAWK!!!

Yes, okay, fine. I am excessively fascinated by what Google searches bring people to my blog. Someone also got here today by Googling "Mwahahahaha," but you have to go five pages deep into the results. There must be some kind of story there...

And how is it possible to be the #1 search result for both "sexy photoblogging" and Gadzooky (yes, the link says I'm #2, but I'm #1 now...) at the same time? That's gotta violate all kinds of laws of physics.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Vacation Photoblogging

Some random (as always) photos from wandering the South Side with my visiting girlfriend...

Groovy headlamp reflections.

Kind of a weird double-valve thingy.

Loading dock...

Now that is one cherry dumpster! Posted by Picasa

Can A Magazine Be Wanker Of The Day?

The people who rate the nation's best colleges and hospitals have come up with a brand-new category - America's best leaders.

The new U.S. News & World Report list comes not a moment too soon because the vast majority of Americans believe the nation is suffering from a leadership deficit, according to a survey commissioned by the magazine.


The magazine and Harvard's Center of Public Leadership also convened 35 leading members of public and private sectors to draw up a list of the country's prime leaders.


Secretary of State Rice and TV queen Oprah Winfrey made the list....


There are notable New Yorkers on the list such as former Secretary of State Colin Powell, Fox News honcho Roger Ailes, Harlem Children's Zone founder Geoffrey Canada and New York Times pundit Thomas Friedman.

Presumably, the only reason Dubya and McCain aren't on the list is because they excluded presidents and potential presidential candidates. Feh.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Saturday Low-Budget-Horror-Movie-Genius Blogging

Well, crap. Such a busy day yesterday, I completely forgot about Catblogging, but I'm kind running low on cat pics anyway. As a bit of a Cat PSA, let me mention that one of my coworkers has taken in a stray that she can't keep (she has birds & a dog, so a new kitty doesn't really fit into her ecosystem). It's a year-old tiger-striped kitty that's very friendly and loves tummy rubs. So if anyone in the Pittsburgh area or is willing to come to the Pittsburgh area to pick up a kitty, please drop me a line.

Anyway, back to my topic. Charles Band, the mastermind behind Full Moon Entertainment, responsible for all manner of great and often puppet-intensive low-budget horror movies (Ghoulies, Re-Animator, Head Of The Family, Blood Dolls, and the Puppetmaster & Subspecies series) came to Mr. Small's Theater here in Pittsburgh to talk about his experiences, and to pimp Full Moon and his latest movie, The Gingerdead Man, with Gary Busey as the voice of a homicidal cookie of revenge. He (Band, not Busey) also did some other stuff, which is documented below.

Also, in addition to a drawing for one audience member to win a chance to get killed in a future Full Moon/Charles Band production (I didn't win, alas), he also promised to make anyone who bought $100 or more of Full Moon merchandise an executive producer on one of his next films, with an IMDb entry and everything. Needless to say, I could not resist that, so now I have 3 figurines, 3 DVDs, and 3 autographs (two of his and one of his starlet fiancee) and will be watching the IMDb very closely.

This was also my first real attempt to use my new "spare" camera, which is a 3.2-megapixel Canon Powershot A410 for occasions when the Nikon D70 is just too cumbersome and I want something I can just stick in my pocket. The picture quality is pretty good when there's enough light, or when it's close enough for the flash to be effective (you'll see what I mean below).

We had some unpleasantness involving the dodginess and unreliability of Pittsburgh Yellow Cab, but the theater staff were all very kind and helpful - we borrowed at least three different cellphones, and one of them even called Yellow Cab on our behalf, because they give them a lot of business.

So, to sum up: Yellow Cab: Dodgy! Charles Band and Mr. Small's staff: Way Cool. Seeing Henry Rollins and Charles Band in the same week?


Charles Band and his lovely fiancee, Debra Mayer.

Charles Band showed off various samples of his innovative Halloweenwear concept, the Monsterbra. I really liked the eyeballs one, but I was having issues with the new camera.

He also directed some volunteers from the audience in a little scene, which was pretty funny. Especially when he fell through the trapdoor in the stage that he kept warning everyone about... Posted by Picasa

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Getaway Skyblogging

Well, I'm off to pick up my girlfriend at the airport, so I probably won't be around much. So I'll leave you with some beauty sky photos to meditate over while we wander around in search of some more... terrestrial material to work with.

I don't go "Ooo" at my own photos very often (usually more like "Eh"), but this one kinda snuck up on me.

Okay, how about a little black & white action?

The first two were from the morning. This one is... not.Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Symbolism & Resonance

Last night, one of the Eschaton commenters asked why the Republicans aren't making a huge, triumphant, we-were-proved-fucking-right deal about Saddam Hussein's trial. My initial thoughts were:

A) If removing Saddam is one of their few remaining rationales for invading Iraq, and Saddam ends up looking like a pitiful old man, then it reinforces the idea that the Republicans are bloodthirsty bullies who sacrificed 2,000 American lives and tens of thousands of Iraqi lives to remove... a non-threat. And...

B) They reeeeaaaallllly don't want people thinking about Iraq. At. All.

But as the trial gets underway, and given some other headlines that are floating around at the moment, I'm thinking that there is perhaps another reason the Republicans don't want to make a big deal about Saddam being on trial. Namely that, very shortly, it will give him something in common with Bush & Cheney's entire inner circle, if not Little George and Big Dick themselves. I'm guessing it's really not a connection they want people to make.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have some cleaning and laundry and maniacal cackling to attend to.

UPDATE: Eschaton commenter jdw has reminded me of another reason (which I think I mentioned in the comments last night and promptly forgot again) - they're afraid he might say something embarrassing about the good old days when Saddam was our best buddy and we helped him grow his military, maybe even the WMD stockpile he used to have...

This Month's When-Life-Hands-You-Lemons Award Winner

Some people - whiny pessimistic doomsayers with no vision - look at global warming and see flooding and climatic catastrophes, but not Scott Borgerson. Mr. Borgerson sees OPPORTUNITY!

A quarter of the world's oil and natural gas resources lie in the Arctic, but until recently polar ice rendered many of these deposits inaccessible.

Now, with each passing year the warmest on record in the polar regions, the ice is melting, and more and more of these deposits are being tapped to feed the world's ravenous appetite for energy. With the price of oil soaring, wildcatters race to hoist derricks in waters where the ice has retreated. Miners, loggers and fishermen are also chasing newly exploitable natural resources.

Yet perhaps the most significant consequence of the melt is the rising potential for Arctic navigation. The polar thaw may lead to what would be the most transformational maritime project since the Panama Canal: an Arctic Bridge.

The holy grail of a shortcut from the North Atlantic to the North Pacific has lured explorers to extreme latitudes for centuries. Those explorers' dream could become a reality in our lifetime. An Arctic marine highway made possible by the dwindling of sea ice would cut existing oceanic transit times by days, saving shipping companies... thousands of miles in travel.


A continued reduction in Arctic sea ice, supported by a growing network of ports, roads and railways, could radically transform trade patterns. Those able to adjust their mental maps and capitalize on this new seaway would surely benefit.

Admittedly, even going by the most optimistic projection, a fully navigable Arctic is unlikely to emerge for a decade or more, and depending on whose climate change model you accept, it could take much longer. But unless warming trends come to an abrupt halt, the Arctic region will surely witness increased activity in the foreseeable future and could, in time, become a hub of global activity.

Interesting use of the word "optimistic," neh? Yes, Mr. Borgerson's biggest concern about global warming is that it may not be happening fast enough. Oh well, I suppose the world can put that Arctic shortcut to good use ferrying supplies to flood and hurricane victims...

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Coulda Been Worse...

The Kenosha Kid's link to The Aspen Institute by reference to Scooter Libby's letter to Judy Miller about the aspens turning in clusters made me consider that at least he didn't say "larches"...

American-Style Democracy Comes To Ohiraq

I guess this is just what happens when you put Republicans in charge of democracy...

Iraqi election officials said Monday that they were investigating "unusually high" vote totals in 12 Shiite and Kurdish provinces, where as many as 99 percent of the voters were reported to have cast ballots in favor of Iraq's new constitution. The investigation raised the possibility that the results of the referendum could be called into question.

In a statement on Monday evening, the Independent Election Commission of Iraq said the results of the referendum on Saturday would have to be delayed "a few days" because the apparently high number of "yes" votes required election workers to "recheck, compare and audit" the results.

The statement made no mention of the possibility of fraud, but said results were being re-examined to comply with internationally accepted standards. Election officials say that under those standards, voting procedures should be re-examined anytime a candidate or a ballot question got more than 90 percent of the vote.

Members of the commission declined to give any details. But one official with knowledge of the balloting said the 12 provinces where the "yes" votes exceeded 90 percent all had populations that were majority Shiite or Kurdish. Leaders from those communities strongly endorsed the proposed constitution.


"When you find consistently very, very high numbers, then that is cause for further checking," said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "Anything over 90 percent either way usually leads to further investigation."


Some Sunni leaders said the lopsided votes suggested fraud. Mishaan al-Jubouri, a National Assembly member and Sunni leader, said he favored a thorough investigation.

The Shiite and Kurdish political parties in power "were filling out forms and stuffing them into boxes," he said in an interview. "They were also voting in the names of those who hadn't come to vote."

Mr. Jubouri said that monitors in several southern provinces, for example, reported modest voter turnout in their polling centers, but that after the polls closed, officials released overall turnout figures there that appeared to be extraordinarily high. They included results from the predominantly Shiite provinces of Najaf, Karbala and Wasit, he said.

Some centers did not even have 20 or 30 percent voter turnout, he said.

"This gives an impression that the process wasn't transparent," he added.

Iraqi Secretary of State Khalid al-Blaqwell could not be reached for comment.

If they're committing election fraud to secure 33% of the vote, that's pretty damn pathetic, although maybe they're just trying to make it look more like a mandate...

I also suspect that I am not the only who thinks 33% is an awfully low bar for ratifying the entire foundation of a government. How can you have a "democratic" government based on a constitution that 65% of the electorate voted against? My gut feeling is that the 33% threshold was based on calculations of attainability rather than legitimacy.

This Isn't Surreal At All...

Citizen Wookiee!

Best known as the furry Chewbacca in the "Star Wars" films, 7-foot-3 British actor Peter Mayhew is now a U.S. citizen. Mayhew softly recited the oath to become a naturalized American Monday, with his raised right hand trembling slightly.


The former English hospital worker said he decided to seek American citizenship when he got married "to a Texan lady." Mayhew and his wife wed six years ago. His wife, Angelique, was beside him, with a drawing depicting Chewbacca, a background of the American flag and Union Jack and the words "Citizen Wookiee."

"Well it was a natural thing being married to a Texan," said Mayhew... "I wanted to become an American because Texas is an integral part of America, its lifestyle."


His film career was launched in 1977 when he played the role of the Minotaur in "Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger." He had been working as an orderly at London's King's College Hospital when he was featured in a newspaper article about men with large feet, which caught the eye of the movie's producers.

Well. I can't really add anything to that...

(If Wookiees live in Texas, you must acquit!)

More Spam Poetry

I think I'm getting addicted to this stuff...

Today's offering is entitled:

Are you struggling with finances?
We will have you out of debt fast.
salmon hides under rock floats to sea grinds
sand dust broom pan pot lid on bowl put in
cereal for morning kid eats lucky charms has
marshmellow center like a twinky cup cakes.

paint red on doghouse put number for fido
in front mail man carries envelope dog bone
for pooch happy skittles in tummy can put two
in bowl hilary pretty girl texas toast syrup pancake.
*snaps fingers appreciatively*

Monday, October 17, 2005

Monday MP3 Blogging

I'm just going to come right out and say it: Louis Farrakhan singing a novelty calypso song about a transsexual.

Don't believe me? Check it out.

Righto, I'm off to go see Rollins - feel free to listen to this over and over while I'm gone. Amaze your friends!

Thanks again to for compiling and hosting all of this weirdness.


Not sure how many people know who he is, but Charlie Rocket was a pretty damn funny guy, especially as Pat's obsessed next-door neighbor in the otherwise godawful It's Pat, and as a deranged general in Wagons East. He was also one of the castmembers who replaced the original Not Ready For Primetime Players on SNL in the early 80s, and was notoriously fired for swearing on the air.

Rocket, 56, whose real name was Charles Claverie, was found dead in a field near his home in Canterbury on October 7. His throat had been cut, the medical examiner said.

"An investigation determined there was no criminal aspect to this case," State Police Sgt. J. Paul Vance said Monday.


His movie credits included "Earth Girls are Easy," "Dumb and Dumber" and "Dances With Wolves," according to the Internet Movie Database.

Cutting your own throat seems like kind of an odd way to commit suicide, but hey, they're the experts...

All I Needed To Hear...

If anyone has any doubts about just how compromised and awful the NY Times is, this letter to the editor should dispel them all:

I really dislike your newspaper. I think that too many times you are blatantly biased. Your thinly veiled pro-liberal viewpoints actually harm your cause, since those of us who are Republicans learn to disregard your opinions as being predictable and, frankly, useless in any constructive debate about an issue.

Nonetheless, you deserve credit for your article about Judith Miller. Its criticisms of your paper and Ms. Miller were forthright and, by all appearances, sincere. It is about time.

Perhaps there are reasons for us conservatives to read your newspaper after all. Keep up the honesty. It becomes you.

Attaboys from the wingnuts. Mission accomplished, NYT. Well done.

*slow clap*

They also got this gem:

As a former journalist and current college teacher, I think The Times did the right thing in defending Judith Miller and her decision to protect her sources. Clearly the publisher's support meant a lot to Ms. Miller.

I think that it's of little consequence that The Times was scooped on aspects of this story. That The Times does not follow the scoop mentality of many other national news media is among the reasons The Times remains The Times.

Those of us old enough to remember publication of the Pentagon Papers know that The Times is willing to take the lead when appropriate. The paper's handling of coverage of the Miller case illustrates that The Times is also willing be to patient when circumstances demand.

I am sure that all who value the principles that support a free press are relieved that Ms. Miller is out of jail, and grateful to Ms. Miller and The Times for having taken this courageous and patient stand.

Yes, kudos to the NYT for rising above that insidious scoop mentality that afflicts so many other, lesser papers. It just makes them look like overeager, grasping little strivers, and that's sooooo unattractive. Why, it's almost as bad as that "seeking the objective truth" mentality, but fortunately that was stamped out several years ago, like polio.

Where do they FIND these people???

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Is Art Dying?

Interesting op-ed piece in today's NYT by presidential biographer Edmund Morris, wherein he argues that art and the creative process are becoming sterile and impersonal because artists and art are becoming increasingly "hands-off."

He waxes poetic about the violent physicality of Beethoven and Bernard Dufour's creative process and the way they literally attack the paper or canvas, as compared to "video recording, performance art and installations farmed out to contractors...."

I'm not entirely sure how to feel about this as a photographer who can't draw a straight line to save his life. And not just any kind of photographer, but a digital photographer, so my idea of photo "processing" no longer involves chemicals or film or timers or darkrooms. My only interaction with the physical (apart from the actual picture-taking) is when I print the photos out, which is still a far cry from the film-based print-making experience.

To me, this is simply a time and expense saver. There may be some value added by using film, as some of my old-school photog friends insist, but they have always couched their arguments in terms of the quality of the media itself, never in terms of the process of spending hours in the darkroom, personally developing their own negatives and prints and coming out smelling like chemicals.

On the other hand, my girlfriend is a genuine drawing-things-on-paper kind of artist who would never dream of creating her art electronically. Scanning the finished product for display on the web, sure, but to my knowledge she's never used an electronic app for anything artistic beyong doodling or graphic design. Is it quick or convenient? No. But it's the only way she can achieve the quality she requires. Digital is simply not an option for her, and I believe it is likewise not an option for a large number of artists who create images from scratch.

As I ponder the validity of Morris's two basic premises, that A) "Physical" art is dying out, and B) That this will suck all the life out of our cultural discourse, I find that my conclusion is that my disbelief in Premise A almost validates Premise B. I can't imagine the demand for physical art ever drying up, because people in the market for art want something tangible, something created by the artist's own hand. There's a uniqueness and a prestige to that which electronic, infinitely reproducible and essentially virtual works of art can never equal. And this is why no-one will ever pay thousands of dollars for any of my photos.

I admit, I don't really have a profound point or insight to make, but I'm intrigued by the questions that it stirs up, and the whiff of traditionalist snobbery evinced by Mr. Morris.

Everybody Have Fun Tonight, Everybody Wangchuck Tonight

Why can't we be more like Bhutan?

It may be time to think about a trade-in. Goodbye bigger-is-better, happiness-is-a-Hummer, excess-is-best American Dream, hello Bhutan Bliss.

Yep, Bhutan. Little country somewhere in the Himalayas. It's attracting a lot of attention - even envy - these days, because instead of pursuing the old dream of a red-hot economy, it is pursuing an even older dream: The pursuit of happiness. Bhutan's 49-year-old king, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, has made it his goal to increase his country's GNH - Gross National Happiness.

This may sound about as sensible as basing an economy on lollipop exports, but the king is serious. In his 30-odd years at the helm, he has made preserving the environment a priority and decreed that 60% of Bhutan's land must remain wooded. He opened schools throughout the country, where there had been no public education before 1960. Teachers get rotated from city schools to rural ones to ensure all kids get the same quality of education.... Anyone sick can choose between Western and traditional medicine, because both are respected. And from 1984 to 1998, life expectancy increased a whopping 19 years, to 66.


"America's priorities are out of whack," states [Betsy] Taylor, president of The New American Dream, an organization with 83,000 members dedicated to "Less stuff, more fun."

"I think people would welcome a debate about Bhutan vs. the U.S.," says Taylor. "Who's really living life to the fullest? Is it the people who can take a long afternoon stroll in the forest? Or is it the people who eat lunch at their desk, shop at lunchtime, rush home exhausted and then continue to work at home?"

If they have wireless internet, I'm so there.

Sportswriters Against Bush

Ouch. The NY Daily News #1 sports columnist, Mike Lupica, is pretty clearly not a big Bush fan...

After watching our President interview those soldiers in Iraq the other day, I think we can pretty much rule out a talk show for him once he leaves office.

Geena Davis is doing a better job as Commander-in-Chief than W these days.


By the way, four appearances for Karl Rove in front of a grand jury has to be some kind of modern record for a White House chief of staff.

He's got almost as many grand jury appearances as Dick Cheney had draft deferments, which is kind of neat.

Okay, so maybe it's not exactly A-list material, but it's pretty harsh for a sports column. And if I was a president, especially a manly, resolute, joe-sixpack president, I'd really want to have the sportswriters on my side, ya know?

A Modest Proposal

Here is my recommendation for cutting down on all but the most necessary wars:

With the exception of response to an unprovoked military (i.e., non-terrorist) attack, any president who initiates, and any congresscritter who approves, an attack on a sovereign nation must be forced to choose between:

A) Making all of his/her age-eligible children or grandchildren available for a special draft; or

B) Spending a week in the target country 3 years after the invasion, walking the streets and talking to the people, sans bodyguards or body armor.

My expectation is that most would choose Option B (depending on how they felt about their kids, I suppose), and be very focused on the follow-through and reconstruction.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Random Photoblogging

Not much to blog today, at least not yet, so I'll just get some photos out of my system. No particular theme or anything, just whatever happened to strike my fancy today from my enormous backlog.

And no, "enormous backlog" doesn't sound dirty at all.

Creepy poster in the bowels of Pittsburgh International Airport...

Nighttime sidewalk outside my EschaCon hotel room.

A child has become lodged in the Tunnel Of Design... Posted by Picasa

Friday, October 14, 2005

Friday Quote & Cat Blogging

"To tell you the truth, I've been kissed harder by weaker women."

From Hav Plenty. Great Scott, did I actually watch that? Umm...

Look! Other people's cats!

More cats from my older brother. Don't know what the story on this pic is, but I'm pretty sure he doesn't actually have this many cats... Posted by Picasa

It Couldn't Happen To A Nicer Band Of Amoral Scum!

WaPo points out that there's second-term scandals, and then there's second-term scandals. This is largely not news, I just really like looking at it...
A series of scandals involving some of the most powerful Republicans in Washington have converged to disrupt President Bush's agenda, distract aides and allies, and exacerbate political problems for an already weakened administration, according to party strategists and White House advisers.

With Deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove returning to a grand jury as early as today, associates said the architect of Bush's presidency has been preoccupied with his legal troubles, a diversion that some say contributed to the troubled handling of Harriet Miers's nomination to the Supreme Court. White House officials are privately bracing for the possibility that Rove or other officials could be indicted in the next two weeks.

Bush's main partners on Capitol Hill likewise are spending time defending themselves as the president's legislative initiatives founder. The indictment of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) for alleged campaign funding illegalities has thrown Republicans into one of the most tumultuous periods of their 11-year reign and created the prospect of a leadership battle. And while Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) deals with a subpoena in an insider-trading investigation, a bipartisan majority rebuked Bush over torture policies.


"The Rove thing has gotten to be enormously distracting," said one outside adviser to the White House. "Knowing the way the White House works, being under subpoena like this, your mind is not on your work, it's on that."

"It looks like a perfect storm," said Joseph E. diGenova, a Republican and former independent counsel, who noted that so many investigations can weigh on an administration. "People have no idea what happens when an investigation gets underway. It's debilitating. It's not just distracting. It's debilitating. It's like getting punched in the stomach."

But, on the other hand...
...[S]candal historically has ripened in second terms, including Watergate for Richard M. Nixon, the Iran-contra affair for Ronald Reagan, and the Monica S. Lewinsky investigation for Bill Clinton. "It always comes back," said Larry J. Sabato, a University of Virginia scholar who has written on Washington scandals. "There may be a couple of dry years occasionally, but it is a style of American politics -- always has been, always will be. And now it's back with a vengeance."

..."Some of it is cyclical politically," said Leonard A. Leo, who has taken leave as executive vice president of the conservative Federalist Society to help promote the Miers nomination. "And some of it, I'll be honest, is when the left and the Democrats are losing the battle of ideas, they turn to manufacturing scandal."

In the end, some Republicans argue, it will not add up to much or turn off voters. "I don't think people feel there is a sleaze factor at all," said Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), adding that most voters are more aggrieved over excessive spending and gas prices.

I think alphabetically consecutive wankers Kingston and Leo may just be whistling, even yodelling past the graveyard here. When was the last time there were investigations and indictments swirling around the majority leaders of both houses of Congress, the deputy chief of staff, and the deputy's chief of staff? If this doesn't prove the Republicans are the official party of corruption, I don't know what does. And if the Democrats can't make hay with this, they might as well not field any candidates at all.

Blond. James Blond.

And the next 007 is...

AP Photo

Steve McQueen!

Okay, okay, it's some guy named Daniel Crag- er, Craig.

I am not seeing the suaveness.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Democrats Boldly Wait For Opportunity To Knock!

You'll forgive me if this doesn't exactly fire me up...

Suddenly, Democrats see a possibility in 2006 they have long dreamed of: a sweeping midterm election framed around what they describe as the simple choice of change with the Democrats or more of an unpopular status quo with the Republican majority.

That sense of political opportunity has Democratic operatives scrambling to recruit more candidates in Congressional districts that look newly favorable for Democratic gains, to overcome internal divisions and produce an agenda they can carry into 2006, and to raise the money to compete across a broader field. In short, the Democrats are trying to be ready if, in fact, an anti-incumbent, 1994-style political wave hits.

"Trying to be ready"??? Shouldn't they be trying to create that wave rather than just crossing their fingers and hoping the Republicans will bury themselves? Do they really want to brand themselves as "the party that stood by and twiddled their thumbs while the Republicans imploded and ran the country into the ground"?*

Really, running as the party of "change" vs. "status quo" is just another way of identifying yourself simply as "not-Republican." Granted, the Republicans are looking so bad right now that it's very possible that could be enough, but do we really want to gamble the country on it?

There are some signs that the Democrats understand this on some level, but they're not filling me with confidence that they can pull it off:

But for Democrats to step into the void, many strategists and elected officials say, they must offer more than a blistering critique of the Republicans in power, the regular attacks on what Democrats now describe as a "culture of cronyism and corruption."

(I like that - they need to keep working that, and reiterate and reinforce it every time the Republicans do anything dodgy - club the Republicans over the head with it the same way they club Democrats over the head with their supposed unpatriotic weakness and decadent elitism.)

What they need, many Democrats acknowledge, is their own version of the "Contract With America," the Republican agenda (tax cuts, a balanced budget, a stronger military and an array of internal reforms) that the party campaigned on in the 1994 landslide election, when it won control of the House and the Senate.

"I think Democrats understand we have a great opportunity," said Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York and chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. "We've gotten much better at blocking some of the bad things the Republicans would do, but we know you can't be a party of long-term majorities unless you put forward the things you would do."

(Okay, so far, so good. Chuck, I'm totally feeling you - but your definition of "much better" might be a little... loose.)

Democratic leaders from the House, the Senate, the national party and representatives of mayors and governors have met periodically to try to produce their own campaign agenda for 2006, which they hope to unveil early next year, strategists and senators said.

That agenda will deal with energy independence, broader access to health care and college education, government reform, economic security and - the most divisive issue for the Democrats - Iraq and national security, Democratic strategists say.

Those are all honorable topics, but that last bullet is the only one that's going to have any serious resonance with voters. If their message on the Iraqi invasion is anything other than, "It was a mistake; we were conned," they're going to lose. On national security, they must focus on all the gaping holes in security the Republicans have allowed (ports, chemical plants, nuclear reactors, securing Russian nukes and nuke fixin's, DHS's general rot and ineptitude, etc.), and how the Democrats will close them.

One other area where I fear the Democrats are not even seeing the boat is the nature of their candidates: There are disturbing signs that they favor stolid, "safe" candidates over passionate fire-breathers. Hungry Senatorial candidates like Paul Hackett in Ohio and Chuck Pennacchio in Pennsylvania are being pushed aside by Schumer's DSCC in favor of Sherrod Brown (who I admit to not knowing much about) and Bob Casey Jr., who has great name recognition but is a reluctant and uninspiring DLC stiff. This is a huge mistake - the Democrats must field candidates who inspire people, and who are not afraid to throw or take a punch. They have proved time and again that the cautious milquetoasts that campaign "strategists" like Bob Shrum glom onto or create always fail. In fact, they should take this one step farther and either permanently exile Shrum and his ineffectu-ilk from Democratic electoral politics, or else retain them as "anti-advisors" and simply do the exact opposite of whatever they recommend.

*I'm cashing in my Mixed-Metaphors Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free Card to erase this entire paragraph from my permanent record.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

That Is One Strange Mutter...

Scott Lindgren/Mutter Museum

I think EschaCon seriously missed the boat by not scheduling a field trip to The Mutter Museum...

Softball Awesomeness

Scout prime (a pretty good softball player in her own right) has posted an incredible story about a mysterious sixty-something homeless guy who just happens to be some kind of softball prodigy. I just wanted to pass it along.

I wish I could see this guy play...

Double-Take Sports Headline Of The Day

"Satan misses the boat"

I didn't even know Miroslav Satan was playing for the Islanders - I
may have to worship- er, root for them now.

I still think it's a damned shame he doesn't play for the Devils...

Monday, October 10, 2005

Long Live North Korean Cunnilingus!

This summary is not available. Please click here to view the post.

Incontrovertible Proof That I Am The World's Second-Biggest Loser

If you Google "Gadzooky", my blog comes up... second.

*hangs head in shame*

Inaugural Monday MP3 Blogging

After tormenting the commenters at Eschaton (some of them in person) with MP3s of bizarre and atrocious music for the past week or so, it occurred to me that this would make a fine regular feature on my own blog. I don't have limitless linkable material, but I should at least be able to sustain this for a few months (lucky you!).

The first entry is a homemade karaoke tape of "Carry On, My Wayward Son". It is necessary that you listen at least up until "And if I say that I'm a wise man/It surely means that I don't know".

Trust me on this.

(All credit to, who I have shamelessly ripped this off from; and to the shadowy and mysterious Codename V, who initially hipped me to it with this very same MP3)

Sunday, October 09, 2005

The Cute, The Yellow, And The Creepybadwrong

Alrighty then, it's been about a week since my trip to Liberal Mountain in upstate NY. I'm certain no-one cares anymore, but I have finished processing all the photos from said trip, and have elected to offer up the following for your viewing amusement and horror:

Father-and-son apple-picking.

Young Thers finds a leaf that matches his soccer jersey.

This is one of the most disturbing things I have ever seen. The pumpkin festival in the extremely sleepy town of Catatonk featured pumpkin-headed renditions of all manner of cultural icons, fairy tales, and Bible stories (pumpkin Teletubbies, Care Bears, Snow White, Noah's Ark, etc. - but no Gourd Of The Rings), but nothing was more disturbing than the animatronic band of zombie monkeys lip-synching to "Guitarzan" (it really looks like the "lead singer" is grabbing his crotch, too - *shudder*). Posted by Picasa

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Spam Poetry

Not sure what moved me to click on "Eli re: Best Industry," but it opens with this little beauty:
sams pizza sands wind sea gifs dents rings lip
june zazza foods lettuce onion under tills pinball
gand euro trend tight yonder eggs pie time filth.
...and closes with this:
hangs winds finds mouth yungs foo dude
gander farmer pigs cows chickens eggs
hammers nail opens list rans dims light hanger.
How sad is it when spam gives me an inferiority complex?
(I especially like "yungs food dude"...)

The Trouble With Harriet

Bush's latest Supreme Court nominee, Harriet Miers, appears to be in the unusual position of having more Democratic backing than Republican, and was essentially endorsed by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid. So, this is great, right? She drives a wedge between the Republican factions, and we get a (supposedly) less egregious Supreme Court justice than anyone else Bush would be likely to nominate.

Let's not break out the champagne just yet. Not only would a Democratic rubber stamp mean giving up a golden opportunity to bludgeon Bush about his preference for cronyism over competence (the gall of nominating a crony to a lifetime post just weeks after another crony makes a mess of the worst natural disaster in American history!), but it would actually be a ringing endorsement of it. Just as their votes to give Dubya the authority to invade Iraq have muted their criticism of the war, so a Yes vote on Miers would mute any future criticism of Republican cronyism.

I'd like to think that they know something about Miers that I don't know (she's like David Souter with a vagina!), but past experience tells me that they're just getting played. Again.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Friday Quote & Cat Blogging

This week's quote:

"Good for you, whores!"

From the incomparable Fatty Drives The Bus, one of the greatest movies ever made (I'm serious - it's like a brilliant parody of cheesy low-budget movies). Not to be confused with Fat Guy Goes Nutzoid, which is... not.

And, of course, there'll be other people's cats...

Image Hosted by

Jenny From The Blog's new lion kitty, Syd.

Scout prime has already scooped me on this...

Thursday, October 06, 2005


Okay, so, maybe it's a bit premature to ask this while I can still see the fan blades, but how the HELL was a no-nonsense, straight-arrow hardass mob prosecutor like Fitzgerald allowed anywhere near Plamegate?

Did they think they had committed the perfect crime (or that no-one would care), or have we been suckered by The Mother Of All Ratfucks?

The "Bygones!" Administration

Accountability is for losers!

CIA Director Porter Goss defied the spy agency's inspector general yesterday and said he won't hold any past or current agents accountable for intelligence lapses related to the 9/11 terror attacks.

"I will not convene an accountability board to judge the performances of any individual CIA officers," Goss said in a statement.


Goss said that to fire anybody named in the classified Helgerson report would "send the wrong message" to other CIA officers.

That last quote pretty much says it all, doesn't it...

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Kudos For Mayshark!

NYT reporter Jesse Fox Mayshark refers to "Do They Know It's Halloween?", an indie-rock parody of "Do They Know It's Christmas?" as "a trick entreaty."

I approve.

(The song may have potential as well)


Who among us does not love George Will?

Senators beginning what ought to be a protracted and exacting scrutiny of Harriet Miers should be guided by three rules. First, it is not important that she be confirmed. Second, it might be very important that she not be. Third, the presumption -- perhaps rebuttable but certainly in need of rebutting -- should be that her nomination is not a defensible exercise of presidential discretion to which senatorial deference is due.

It is not important that she be confirmed because there is no evidence that she is among the leading lights of American jurisprudence, or that she possesses talents commensurate with the Supreme Court's tasks. The president's "argument" for her amounts to: Trust me. There is no reason to, for several reasons.

He has neither the inclination nor the ability to make sophisticated judgments about competing approaches to construing the Constitution. Few presidents acquire such abilities in the course of their pre-presidential careers, and this president particularly is not disposed to such reflections.

Furthermore, there is no reason to believe that Miers's nomination resulted from the president's careful consultation with people capable of such judgments. If 100 such people had been asked to list 100 individuals who have given evidence of the reflectiveness and excellence requisite in a justice, Miers's name probably would not have appeared in any of the 10,000 places on those lists.


The wisdom of presumptive opposition to Miers's confirmation flows from the fact that constitutional reasoning is a talent -- a skill acquired, as intellectual skills are, by years of practice sustained by intense interest. It is not usually acquired in the normal course of even a fine lawyer's career. The burden is on Miers to demonstrate such talents, and on senators to compel such a demonstration or reject the nomination.

The Other George W. also makes some entertaining digressions into bashing the unconstitutionality of McCain-Feingold (the signing of which forever "forfeited [Bush's] right to be trusted as a custodian of the Constitution") and identity politics, although I think he's correct that attempts to portray Miers as a victim of discrimination are laughable.

Alas, being a conservative jerkwad, he still pulls his punches and says nothing about Michael Brown and Bush's alarming pattern of putting startlingly unqualified cronies in critical positions to reward their loyalty. But it's a start, and I always enjoy it when conservatives have moments of lucidity (or is it self-preservation?) about Dubya's all-encompassing lack of competence or seriousness.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005


Who knew Dubya had a sense of humor?

What is the president looking for in a new Fed chairman?

''The nominees will be people that, one, obviously can do the job and, secondly, will be independent,'' Bush said. ''It's important that whomever I pick is viewed as an independent person from politics.
'Cuz, as we all know, Bush values competence and independence above all else...

Architecture Marches On...

Two Columbus Circle to be transformed into the world's largest PC!

(Allied Works Architecture, Inc.)

As a regular New York Times reader, I have been casually following the sad saga of the "Lollipop Building" at Two Columbus Circle, which has been deemed an eyesore and is slated for a complete renovation. Maybe I just have an inordinate fondness for the bizarre, but I rather like the Lollipop Building just the way it is.

What's not to love? If it's the architectural equivalent of plaid, so much the better.

Rhino You Are, But What Am I?

Alrighty then...
The MTA has a new plan to add a little polish to its police force: hiring a "verbal judo" teacher who calls himself "Rhino," refers to cops as "dawgs" and wants officers to walk around saying "Woosha!"

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority inked a $40,500 contract with George Thompson's upstate Verbal Judo Institute to instruct officers on the "martial arts of the mind and the mouth."

The goal is to help cops use language to get cooperation from drunks, dueling spouses and crazed civilians in a bid to stop confrontations from turning violent.

"It's all about how to operate in the special forces of words, how to be elite," Thompson said. "...We are the last thin blue line between order and disorder, peace and violence."


He developed "maxims" for his "dawgs," his lingo for cops who take a bite out of crime.

Some are innocuous - such as, "If it makes you feel good, it's no good," a reminder that hurling insults may feel good in the moment but will cause problems.

Others are a bit unorthodox. Take the one that casts lawyers as the enemy: "He's that three-piece, shark-skinned, tassel-shoed, alligator-belted, four-eyed, Gray Poupon sucking S.O.B."


"It's a very effective communications tool," said James O'Keefe, a former director of the NYPD Police Academy, now a criminal justice professor at St. John's University.

In other words, a "Woosha!"

That's what cops are taught to exclaim after sweet-talking a vexing or volatile civilian.

It's a toned-down version of a martial arts scream that involves the "natural expulsion of breath ... and represents a win," said Mike Manley, an ex-cop and Thompson protégé who will be teaching the MTA officers.

Not really sure what to make of this, other than that "Rhino" appears to have attended the Rudy Ray Moore School Of Bizarre Insults...

When It Spams, It Pours

The spam-filtering at work is pretty good (plus I never give out my work e-mail), so the stuff that manages to penetrate the deflector shields is almost always of the highest quality. Observe today's specimen, from "Riss Yseult":

Subject: New offr Medsications


wordplay wedding dizziness pasteuri zer raised Hello, Fast Total Home Best Easy ShiConDeliPricOrd ppingfidentialityveryseringAnd more LAXCVV evimbanialiagali traienaxs ra um Get detailed infformation. watch over his movements. But when the W...

(The good stuff is only visible in the message preview - the actual e-mail text is completely different and invariably uninteresting)


And do I really want to watch over W's movements?

Monday, October 03, 2005

The House Of The Rising Sunoco

Have no fear, I have lots and lots more pictures from Liberal Mountain (thank you so much for a lovely visit, NYMary, Thers, and watertiger!), but I wanted to get some photos from the cab ride back from EschaCon(!) out of the way first.

Some of us tend to be, well, a little bit less than punctual and alacritous about our photo processing...

The Sunoco out... tomorrow, bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow... there'll be Sunoco...

Dude... The clouds are, like, in the building... Whoa.

Umm... Bridge Over The River With Clouds? I got nothin'.

Ceci n'est pas une smokestack. Or...

Sometimes a smokestack is just a smokestack...

Spam O' The Day

I haven't spamblogged in a while, but the spam I got today was just... spamtacular.

Subject: The project Eli

Hi Eli,
have you ever dreamed of becoming a millionaire?
Heres your chance to do so.......


As the earth rotated around the sun all organge gas
was lifted under leer bays. Gaft tape wasn't used
until left wood supper is moved lower.

certain pull dog sled over water with long ropes
and chain tiger mill sandy stream funnell caps
baseball football stadium sled hill automobile house
truck fish marsh rock saw balony catch home drive.
Anyone lived in a pretty how town...

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Apple Exciderment!

I kinda got the impression that operating a cider press (or a cider press hopper) is maybe not the most riveting job in the world...

Maybe it's more interesting from up here?

Well, it is for me, anyway.

Saturday Soccer Blogging

Thers didn't bring his camera, so someone had to do it...

Young Thers kicking the ball...

Young Thers defending the ball.

Hey, it's soccer, my options are kinda limited here...

Inexplicable Headline Of The Day

From the NYT front page:

"To More Inmates, Life Term Means Dying Behind Bars"

Um, isn't that, like, the definition of life imprisonment?