Friday, June 24, 2005

Korean Kids: "F Japan!"

Obama's commencement address

Inspiring stuff:
Like so much of the American story, once again, we face a choice. Once again, there are those who believe that there isn’t much we can do about this as a nation. That the best idea is to give everyone one big refund on their government—divvy it up by individual portions, in the form of tax breaks, hand it out, and encourage everyone to use their share to go buy their own health care, their own retirement plan, their own child care, their own education, and so on.

In Washington, they call this the Ownership Society. But in our past there has been another term for it—Social Darwinism—every man or woman for him or herself. It’s a tempting idea, because it doesn’t require much thought or ingenuity. It allows us to say that those whose health care or tuition may rise faster than they can afford—tough luck. It allows us to say to the Maytag workers who have lost their job—life isn’t fair. It let’s us say to the child who was born into poverty—pull yourself up by your bootstraps. And it is especially tempting because each of us believes we will always be the winner in life’s lottery, that we’re the one who will be the next Donald Trump, or at least we won’t be the chump who Donald Trump says: “You’re fired!”

But there is a problem. It won’t work. It ignores our history. It ignores the fact that it’s been government research and investment that made the railways possible and the internet possible. It’s been the creation of a massive middle class, through decent wages and benefits and public schools that allowed us all to prosper. Our economic dependence depended on individual initiative. It depended on a belief in the free market; but it has also depended on our sense of mutual regard for each other, the idea that everybody has a stake in the country, that we’re all in it together and everybody’s got a shot at opportunity. That’s what’s produced our unrivaled political stability.


Thursday, June 23, 2005

Dock Ellis and the LSD-fueled no-hitter of 1970

What's weird is that sometimes it felt like a balloon. Sometimes it felt like a golf ball. But he could always get it to the plate. Getting it over the plate was another matter entirely. Sometimes he couldn't see the hitter. Sometimes he couldn't see the catcher. But if he could see the hitter, he'd guess where the catcher was. And he had a great catcher back there. Jerry May. You could make mistakes with him, and he would compensate. He'd know if he called for a curveball, he could look at the follow-through of your arm and see if you were gonna hang it. So he'd get ready to slide and block. Also, he had this reflective tape on his fingers that was by far the easiest thing to see.

Ellis had no idea what the score was, and he knew he'd been wild--he ended with eight walks, one hit batsman and the bases loaded at least twice--but here it was, bottom of the seventh, and he was still in the game.

The hardest part was between innings. He was sure his teammates knew something was up. They had all been acting strange since the game began. Solution: Do not look at teammates. Do not look at scoreboard. Must not make eye contact. His spikes--that's what he concentrated on. Pick up tongue depressor, scrape the mud, repeat. Must. Clean. Spikes.

Sometime in the fifth or sixth, he sensed someone next to him. Looking. He turned. It was rookie infielder Dave Cash.

"Dock," Cash said. "You've got a no-hitter going."

Cash, apparently unaware of the (insanely well-known) superstition that a pitcher never talks about a no-hitter until it's complete for fear of jinxing it, was immediately piled upon by several outraged teammates. Ellis, meanwhile, looked at the scoreboard.



After the eighth, during which he'd watched outfielder Matty Alou snag an almost certain base hit, Ellis walked off the field and looked Cash straight in the eye.

"Still got my no-no!" Ellis declared.


Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Scientology RAWKS!

Cringe-inducing pro-Hubbard tracks by Travolta, Stallone (FRANK Stallone, that is) and L. Ron himself. Take the worst, self-indulgent, coke-fueled, retardo-anthems of the 80s, and add a layer of Scientology babble, and this is what you get.


Friday, June 17, 2005

Report from Nagasaki uncovered

American George Weller was the first foreign reporter to enter Nagasaki following the U.S. atomic attack on the city on Aug. 9, 1945. Weller wrote a series of stories about what he saw in the city, but censors at the Occupation's General Headquarters refused to allow the material to be printed.


Thursday, June 16, 2005

Ben helps create a fun interface into Open Secrets

"Drag the + and watch the senators scatter."


Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Chris Hedges brings tears to my eyes

This essay is a distillation of many of the thoughts behind War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning, as they apply to the war in Iraq.
The most powerful antiwar testaments, of war and what war does to us, are those that eschew images of combat. It is the suffering of the veteran whose body and mind are changed forever because he or she served a nation that sacrificed them, the suffering of families and children caught up in the unforgiving maw of war, which begin to tell the story of war. But we are not allowed to see dead bodies, at least of our own soldiers, nor do we see the wounds that forever mark a life, the wounds that leave faces and bodies horribly disfigured by burns or shrapnel. We never watch the agony of the dying. War is made palatable. It is sanitized. We are allowed to taste war's perverse thrill, but spared from seeing war's consequences. The wounded and the dead are swiftly carted offstage. And for this I blame the press, which willingly hides from us the effects of bullets, roadside bombs and rocket-propelled grenades, which sat at the feet of those who lied to make this war possible and dutifully reported these lies and called it journalism.

War is always about this betrayal. It is about the betrayal of the young by the old, idealists by cynics and finally soldiers by politicians. Those who pay the price, those who are maimed forever by war, however, are crumpled up and thrown away. We do not see them. We do not hear them. They are doomed, like wandering spirits, to float around the edges of our consciousness, ignored, even reviled. The message they bring is too painful for us to hear. We prefer the myth of war, the myth of glory, honor, patriotism and heroism, words that in the terror and brutality of combat are empty, meaningless and obscene.

We are losing the war in Iraq. We are an isolated and reviled nation. We are pitiless to others weaker than ourselves. We have lost sight of our democratic ideals. Thucydides wrote of Athens' expanding empire and how this empire led it to become a tyrant abroad and then a tyrant at home. The tyranny Athens imposed on others, it finally imposed on itself. If we do not confront the lies and hubris told to justify the killing and mask the destruction carried out in our name in Iraq, if we do not grasp the moral corrosiveness of empire and occupation, if we continue to allow force and violence to be our primary form of communication, if we do not remove from power our flag-waving, cross-bearing versions of the Taliban, we will not so much defeat dictators such as Saddam Hussein as become them.


Thursday, June 09, 2005

Gore Vidal rages against the voting machines

As well as all the other corrupt shit that went down in Ohio.


350hp 4WD Focus in the works?

This is pretty hot. Probably Europe-only, though. :(


Monday, June 06, 2005

Intel inside Apple

This is bumming me out. As this poster put it on Slashdot:
Yeah, we got Word and IE and the other big apps relatively quickly, but that does not a software library make. You need support apps. You need Adiums and VLCs and Colliloquys. You know, the little programs that maybe aren't in day to day usage and maybe not everyone -- but everyone needs one of these apps eventually, and when you need them, you need them. Unless like me you were lucky enough to know how to escape into UNIX-land and use the software library there, for a long time you would find yourself periodically screwed. But, this was necessary, and this passed. It took five years or so, but the software library has now gotten to the point where if I suddenly find myself thinking "hmm, I need an app that does blah" I can look on versiontracker and more likely than not find it.

Except now this new transition is going to make that library restart once again at zero.

And this transition is different. There isn't a viable benefit to the customers. When the whole thing's done, in three years or whenever, we'll have a marginally faster computer, maybe a few tens of percents faster. Or rather so long as you weren't using any Altivec-heavy apps (since SSE is a poor replacement) and as long as IBM doesn't continue to grow the PPC the way it looks like they well might, then maybe we'll have a marginally faster computer. And that's it. The power boost isn't sufficient to wipe out the speed losses from emulating the old architecture, and the architecture that is being moved to is (due to unfortunate design differences) at a rediculous disadvantage when emulating PPC anyway-- I don't know what the exact technology behind this "rosetta" thing is, but I don't buy the idea it'll be worth it. Meanwhile most of us already using Macintoshes weren't doing so for the speed; the PPC->x86 speed boost is going to be not a benefit to a great number of us. But we're still going to have to deal with it. All of us.

And it won't be fun. Oh, but it's just a recompile to add x86 compatibility! Well, I've heard that line before. And that's fine for the handful of great OS X open source apps, but for the rest good luck finding someone to do that recompile. I know it wasn't easy last time.

Mac OS X has been, from day one, a fantastically portable OS. The Cocoa APIs, from day one, have had quirks (for example in threading) that are actually listed in the docs as being in case the architecture the API rests on has to change someday later. The package architecture has had that space for multi-architecture machine code since day one. Apple could have, if they wanted, had us build fat binaries from day one. They could have, if they wanted, made OS X a truly cross platform OS to begin with, meaning that a transition to x86 now would be painless. They could make OS X a truly cross platform OS now, meaning that those of us who have been apple customers for years wouldn't have to uproot everything and throw out the support apps we're used to. Instead, no, they made OS X a platform locked OS, first locked into PPC, then x86. And those of us presently with PPCs are now locked out, because rather than making mac/x86 and mac/PPC equal alternatives Apple is simply phasing PPC out. Which means-- just like last time this happened-- give it a year or so and developers will not want to bother to compile for us. My mac, which before I was expecting I could use indefinitely, for years and years at least, now has a limited amount of time to live before it becomes useless.

So Apple has decided that in a year or three, I am going to begin a painful and extremely nasty transition. Now I have to decide whether that transition is going to be to Mac OS/x86, or to Linux. At the moment I'm frankly not sure.

Of course, what does Apple care about any of that? They are trying to build a closed platform, not a hobbyist's OS. Why should they let us use VLC when they could get us to pay to use Quicktime and iTunes? Why should they care if they let us use OpenOffice if they are trying to up-sell us to iWork? How many transitions are Apple going to force developers to go through before everyone just gives them the finger?

Also, now I'm going to (of course) put off buying a Powerbook until there are x86 ones available. Maybe it would just make more sense to buy a Windows laptop.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Indie "Cribs"

here do you go when glimpses inside Usher's great room no longer titillate? (The centerpiece of which is a thrice larger than life marble likeness of himself (wrapped by Christo) getting, as the kids would say, "jiggy" at an awards show?) I'll tell you where you go? You go straight into the musty crawl space of that dude from Spoon. You put in some hang time in Cat Power's mud room, is what you do. You give a Bill Curtis-worthy examination to the carport where the Tyde parks their rental van.


Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Taibbi testifies!

In general, there is almost no public figure, anywhere, who has ever suggested publicly that fundamentalist Christianity, as a thing-in-itself, should be opposed. The strongest suggestion most critics will make is to say that it should be contained, and indeed that seems to be the best-case strategy of progressives: that the God-fearing set can be boxed in, kept from being a nuisance and from meddling in areas where they don't belong, just long enough for them to eventually die out of natural causes.

This is a mistake, and it is the same mistake people have made for centuries: underestimating the American zeal for superstition, for boobism, for living the intellectual lives of farm animals. A large statistical majority of Americans would rather live their whole lives in perpetual fear of the devil than listen to ten minutes of common sense. When you consider where these people live intellectually, the idea that the Democratic Party can somehow succeed in Middle America by making small tactical changes, by waving a few more flags, seems absurd. You either believe in the devil or you don't; and if you don't, you're never going to fool these people


Another defeat for the Broadcast Flag

Looks like Conrgess won't bite.

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