Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Falwell backs off on gays?

CARLSON [on the John Roberts SCOTUS nomination]: Conservatives, spurred on by the White House, have said, he‘s great; he‘s one of us.

They don‘t know that, right? And the left has gone completely bananas. The head of the Human Rights Campaign wrote a piece, the headline, “Anti-Gay Extremists Trying to Gain A Stranglehold on Government,” implying this guy is an anti-gay extremist. Neither side knows what it‘s doing.

Jerry Falwell, I notice you wrote a piece supporting Mr. Roberts. Are you rethinking that?

FALWELL: Oh, not at all.

You know, I—if I were an attorney, I‘d certainly fight for the right of gays or anyone else to be employed or be housed wherever they wished to be housed. I may not agree with the lifestyle. And I don‘t. But that has nothing do with the civil rights of that member of our—that part of our constituency.

John Roberts would probably have been not a very good lawyer if he had not been willing, when asked by his partners in the law firm to assist in guaranteeing the civil rights of employment and housing to any and all Americans.

CARLSON: But wait a second. I thought conservatives are always arguing against special rights for gays. And the idea is that...

FALWELL: Well, housing and employment are not special rights. I think—I think the right to live somewhere and to live where you please or to work where you please, as long as you‘re not bothering anybody else, is a basic right, not a—not a special right.


Kevin Drum asks the right question

Question 1: what's the point of a strong economy if it produces higher poverty rates, declining private sector healthcare coverage, and stagnant incomes?


Friday, August 26, 2005

Taibbi meets Sheehan

He's not writing for the New York Press anymore (there goes my only reason to visit their site), so he has more time to write articles for Rolling Stone like this one:
In the Sixties, the anti-war movement was part of a cultural revolution: If you opposed Vietnam, you were also rejecting the whole rigid worldview that said life meant going to war, fighting the Commies, then coming back to work for the man, buying two cars and dying with plenty of insurance. That life blueprint was the inflexible expectation of the time, and so ending the war of that era required a visionary movement.

Iraq isn't like that. Iraq is an insane blunder committed by a bunch of criminal incompetents who have managed so far to avoid the lash and the rack only because the machinery for avoiding reality is so advanced in this country. We don't watch the fighting, we don't see the bodies come home and we don't hear anyone screaming when a house in Baghdad burns down or a child steps on a mine.

The only movement we're going to need to end this fiasco is a more regular exposure to consequence. It needs to feel its own pain. Cindy Sheehan didn't bring us folk songs, but she did put pain on the front pages. And along a lonely Texas road late at night, I saw it spread.


Nintendo's revolutionary new controller

IGN has the scoop!


Ha ha

From Atrios, who has just started to use TiVo's new networked video features:

Yes, like all Tivo owners I get annoying with this stuff. But, the great thing about the new two way video transfers is that it lets everyone hook up a huge external drive and essentially remove any capacity limits from your Tivo. No more need to hack the Tivo box to "put in" a bigger drive if so desired.

And, yes, no one should ever watch TV because it's all bad.

And, yes, for more money and a lot of time I could build a noisy unsightly box which would be four million times better.

And, yes, Replay could do all this back in like 1648.


Thursday, August 25, 2005

The truth about Hugo Chavez

Yesterday, while Robertson was issuing his half-baked Chavez clarification, the Venezuelan president was in Montego Bay, Jamaica, where he announced a new oil agreement with that country's prime minister, P.J. Patterson.

Under the agreement, Venezuela will supply 22,000 barrels of oil a day to Jamaica for a mere $40 a barrel. That's far lower than the current world price of about $65 a barrel. With the price of gasoline in that destitute nation already more than $3.50 a gallon, the Chavez plan means more than half a million dollars a day in savings for Jamaica on oil imports.

Chavez also announced his government will provide $60 million in foreign aid to Jamaica and finance the upgrading of that country's oil refineries.

The agreement is part of a broader Chavez plan called Petrocaribe, which he unveiled at a Caribbean summit in Venezuela last June.

At that conference, Chavez offered the same kind of deal to the leaders of more than a dozen other neighboring nations, including Dominican Republic President Leonel Fernandez and Cuba's Fidel Castro.

Fernandez jumped at the offer because his government is nearly bankrupt from oil prices. Last year, the Dominican Republic spent $1.2 billion on oil imports; this year, it expects to fork out more than $3 billion. The price of gasoline in Santo Domingo has zoomed past $4 a gallon in recent days.

Pat Robertson looks at Chavez and sees a devilish danger. He wants our government to "take him out." Over at the White House, Bush and his aides may use more restrained language, but their goals are not much different.

But there's a whole different view down in Latin America, where a half-dozen nations have seen liberal and populist governments swept into office in recent years.

Down there, Chavez has become the new miracle man of oil. Unlike Exxon/Mobil and the Big Oil fat cats, who wallow in their record profits while the rest of us pay, Chavez is spreading the wealth around.

A dangerous man, indeed


Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Flash Earth

Malcolm Gladwell, on the ludicrous US healthcare "system"

One of the great mysteries of political life in the United States is why Americans are so devoted to their health-care system. Six times in the past century—during the First World War, during the Depression, during the Truman and Johnson Administrations, in the Senate in the nineteen-seventies, and during the Clinton years—efforts have been made to introduce some kind of universal health insurance, and each time the efforts have been rejected. Instead, the United States has opted for a makeshift system of increasing complexity and dysfunction. Americans spend $5,267 per capita on health care every year, almost two and half times the industrialized world’s median of $2,193; the extra spending comes to hundreds of billions of dollars a year. What does that extra spending buy us? Americans have fewer doctors per capita than most Western countries. We go to the doctor less than people in other Western countries. We get admitted to the hospital less frequently than people in other Western countries. We are less satisfied with our health care than our counterparts in other countries. American life expectancy is lower than the Western average. Childhood-immunization rates in the United States are lower than average. Infant-mortality rates are in the nineteenth percentile of industrialized nations. Doctors here perform more high-end medical procedures, such as coronary angioplasties, than in other countries, but most of the wealthier Western countries have more CT scanners than the United States does, and Switzerland, Japan, Austria, and Finland all have more MRI machines per capita. Nor is our system more efficient. The United States spends more than a thousand dollars per capita per year—or close to four hundred billion dollars—on health-care-related paperwork and administration, whereas Canada, for example, spends only about three hundred dollars per capita. And, of course, every other country in the industrialized world insures all its citizens; despite those extra hundreds of billions of dollars we spend each year, we leave forty-five million people without any insurance. A country that displays an almost ruthless commitment to efficiency and performance in every aspect of its economy—a country that switched to Japanese cars the moment they were more reliable, and to Chinese T-shirts the moment they were five cents cheaper—has loyally stuck with a health-care system that leaves its citizenry pulling out their teeth with pliers.


"In a promo..."

Friday, August 12, 2005

Cutest piece of Flash I've seen in a while

Thursday, August 11, 2005


Green Day presents a nice anti-recruitment video.


"Like an evil, adult version of Schoolhouse Rock"

Taibbi goes to Congress:
I thought [VT Rep Bernie] Sanders would be an ideal subject for a variety of reasons, but mainly for his Independent status. For all the fuss over his "socialist" tag, Sanders is really a classic populist outsider. The mere fact that Sanders signed off on the idea of serving as my guide says a lot about his attitude toward government in general: He wants people to see exactly what he's up against.

I had no way of knowing that Sanders would be a perfect subject for another, more compelling reason. In the first few weeks of my stay in Washington, Sanders introduced and passed, against very long odds, three important amendments. A fourth very nearly made it and would have passed had it gone to a vote. During this time, Sanders took on powerful adversaries, including Lockheed Martin, Westinghouse, the Export-Import Bank and the Bush administration. And by using the basic tools of democracy -- floor votes on clearly posed questions, with the aid of painstakingly built coalitions of allies from both sides of the aisle -- he, a lone Independent, beat them all.

It was an impressive run, with some in his office calling it the best winning streak of his career. Except for one thing.

By my last week in Washington, all of his victories had been rolled back, each carefully nurtured amendment perishing in the grossly corrupt and absurd vortex of political dysfunction that is today's U.S. Congress. What began as a tale of political valor ended as a grotesque object lesson in the ugly realities of American politics -- the pitfalls of digging for hope in a shit mountain.


Lorelei's Magic City Fest pix

The perfect blog to go with my BOTM membership

Bacon of the Month, that is...


Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Should we tolerate the intolerant?

Bruce Bawer looks into the European friction growing between the tolerant ideals of the Western world and the theocratic practices of (some) muslim immigrants.
Forced marriage is one of these practices. Among Muslims in Europe, it’s quite common for young people to be compelled by their parents to accept spouses they don’t want. Some women manage to escape these situations and seek protection in women’s shelters. In 1999 the Guardian published an article by Faisal Bodi, a British Muslim who complained about these shelters, which in Great Britain are called "women’s refuges." Charged Bodi, "Refuges tear apart our families. Once a girl has walked in through their door, they do their best to stop her ever returning home. That is at odds with the Islamic impulse to maintain the integrity of the family." (Bodi made certain to note–as if it definitively established the loathsome character of women’s shelters–"the preponderance of homosexuality among members and staff.") Citing universal Muslim belief in "the shariah, the body of laws defining our faith"–which he described, a bit unsettlingly, as "a sharp sword capable of cutting through the generational and cultural divide"–Bodi argued that British authorities must recognize the Muslim community "as an organic whole" and thus accord it a larger role in resolving conflicts over forced marriage. Bodi’s plaint was phrased with extreme delicacy, but the point was clear: when Muslim girls or women flee the tyranny of father or husband, the government should essentially hand them over to a group of Muslim men. In short, British law should effectively be subordinate to Muslim law. Group identity trumps individual rights.

Nothing, of course, could be more undemocratic. Yet time and again, governments in western Europe have shown themselves to be exceedingly susceptible to such arguments by Muslim leaders. The same is true of the mainstream media, whose main concern in such matters, it often appears, is to avoid offending Muslim sensibilities. Representative of the media’s standard approach to issues involving Muslim subcultures was an article about forced marriage that appeared in 2000 in the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten. The article tamely characterized the difference between Western-style consensual matrimony and forced Muslim marriages as a "collision between the individual-oriented West and the family-oriented East." The reporter went on to express admiration for the "family-oriented" approach and even cited the low Muslim divorce rate to support the contention that the Muslim way was better–ignoring entirely the fact that wives who are forced to marry are hardly in a position to decide to divorce.


Monday, August 08, 2005

Why GWB's pandering to the ID crowd matters

Wolcott quotes Kung Fu Monkey:

"I just have to say to my conservative friends ... listen, I don't want to hear SHIT when this comes back to bite us in the ass. When you're watching your children rocket downward through the Brave New Working Classes from gamma through delta straight to the epsilons, not a word. When the leader of your party turns his back on science, the product of God's 2nd greatest gift to us, reason, when he turns from the very process which brought so much progress and prosperity to this land and encourages those would so eagerly toss aside rational thought itself ... gah, never mind voting Democrat: if my choice were between these cowards who would turn back the Enlightenment and anal-probing yet intellectually honest Martians, I would grit my teeth, vote for the Martians and learn to visualize my Happy Place during my Probe-Center appointments.

"Am I reading too much into this statement? Am I making too big a deal of this? In one word, fuckno. This is just a symptom of what is, to me, the most destructive thing to occur in America in twenty years.

"Even if your kids aren't directly taught ID or aren't in one of the new Bible Class districts, the overarching cultural damage has already been done. Through this group of RadicalRighties' constant rhetoric, they consistently strip away the idea that there is indeed a rigorous scientific process through which certain non-negotiable physical truths can be ascertained. They have suffused the county with with an intellectual laziness and a terrifying narcissism. Opinion has been enshrined as superior to fact. No longer need a person take into account the way the world works when forming their worldview -- they can instead hunt down "facts" and "theories" which support their own comfort zone, and what's worse, we can NO LONGER CALL BULLSHIT. Because if our leaders -- pardon me, your leaders -- don't call bullshit, who will? They have undermined the very process by which we know WHEN to call bullshit!

"For the alleged 'realists' in the public arena, the guys running the Right are now the ultimate masters of relativism.

"Look my conservative pals, we have our agreements and disagreements but on this one, you've got to just take the hit. Don't ever look me in the eye again and try to play the cynicism-dressed-as-realism card again [that means YOU, Krauthammer--JW]. Seriously. There's no high ground left here whatsoever. The ultimate representative of your political party, standing on the limitless future's shrouded shores, has decided he needs no compass, no maps, no guides, no stars with which to plot his course. Just a shrug and a chuckle before he casts off, eyes closed, into the darkness.

"You wouldn't trust your children to an airplane pilot who did that, or a Scoutmaster. If your doctor said 'You know what, we're going to blow off all the currently available research and treat your child's cancer with a completely untested, never scientifically proven bit of guesswork which, however, reinforces my world-view. Because what does science really know?' you'd be pulling out of the parking lot before he finished the sentence. But when it's public policy, it's OKAY?

"Sure, it's just my opinion. But this is bigger than budgets, or how to fight wars, or how to manage our environment or resources, because where we stand on facts, reason, science, that informs every other decision we make in all those fields and every other. This is what determines whether societies live or die.

"Again, our motto at Kung Fu Monkey: 'Everybody who wants to live in the 21st century over here. Everybody who wants to live in the 1800's over there. Good. Thanks. Good luck with that.'"


Thursday, August 04, 2005

Novak Attack!

Is the Plame case getting a little to hot for Novak?


Awesome mini-hack for OSX

Just run this app, and then open any other program under OSX. Sorry, no Windows version.


Wednesday, August 03, 2005

What you are doing on Saturday

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Mark Cuban defines insanity

Insanity is repeatedly telling everyone that piracy stops the creative process by preventing artists from making a living and then time and time again, going out and giving advances to bands. Hello McFly, every start up band thinks the money is in getting the advance of a record label deal, not from selling music. They are just as motivated as ever to make music.

Insanity is continuously trying over and over again to “fix” the CD ripping problem hoping to find DRM software that makes the process more difficult and deters the “good people” from creating illegal copies, while completely ignoring DVDs as a solution. A DVD only allows you to use its increased storage capacity to add more value through more music, games, video, pictures, software, whatever, at about the same cost of a CD, while being far more of a pain to rip than any DRM/CD combination the industry has ever come up with. Dual release on DVDs and CDs and over time elimination of CDs will have far more impact than any DRM on CD solution.

Insanity is watching the digital download services develop customer relationships with music buyer after music buyer, while year after year the labels have none. When are you going to learn that it’s not only about hitting the numbers for Wall Street every quarter but investing in your customer base. ITunes, Amazon, Netflix, CinemaNow and others have my credit card on file and can find me and sell me something in seconds. Create your own services and sell the music at a deep discount to Itunes and the others. Make it easy to buy, cheap to own. The short term pain will be well worth the long term gain


Monday, August 01, 2005

Military tribunals rigged

Who'da thunk it?

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