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That's the PDB For You

Posted by Ogged
on 04.10.04
The August 6, 2001 PDB has been released. I was reading along, finding it fairly unremarkable, then I turned the page and pop!
Nevertheless, FBI information since that time [1998, apparently] indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York.
Cripe. There's more than one possible reading of this, but I'd say the most plausible reading shows the PDB itself linking hijackings with the surveillance of buildings in New York. The next (and last) paragraph is this:
The FBI is conducting approximately 70 full-field investigations throughout the US that it considers Bin Ladin-related. CIA and the FBI are investigating a call to our Embassy in the UAE in May saying that a group of Bin Ladin supporters was in the US planning attacks with explosives.
The big question here is whether the FBI really was carrying out those investigations. Recall Roemer's question to Rice.
We have done thousands of interviews here at the 9/11 Commission. We've gone through literally millions of pieces of paper. To date, we have found nobody -- nobody at the FBI who knows anything about a tasking of field offices.
We have talked to the director at the time of the FBI during this threat period, Mr. Pickard. He says he did not tell the field offices to do this.
And we have talked to the special agents in charge. They don't have any recollection of receiving a notice of threat.
Nothing went down the chain to the FBI field offices on spiking of information, on knowledge of al Qaeda in the country, and still, the FBI doesn't do anything.
That's rather interesting, no? Most charitably, Roemer and the PDB are referring to different kinds of activity. Least charitably, Bush was being lied to. By whom? Why? MORE: Here's a copy-and-pastable version of the briefing. UPDATE: Ted Barlow links to new information about the 70 investigations at the bottom of this post. Those links are well worth following.

 

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Troo Gone

Posted by Ogged
on 04.10.04

jhp, ever alert to the marketing opportunities that present themselves in commission testimony.


 

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[Redacted]

Posted by Ogged
on 04.09.04

I assume you all read Kevin Drum, who already linked to this. But if not, do yourself a favor and read it. Honest, you'll be happy you did.


 

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Parse

Posted by Ogged
on 04.09.04

I guess it all depends on what the meaning of "vague" is. All these steps could have been taken in response to "frustratingly vague" warnings, but, really, how vague could they have been?

(No, I don't believe the Bushies "knew" beforehand, but I think they've been far from honest about what they did know.)


 

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I Hate People When They're Not Polite

Posted by Ogged
on 04.09.04

Fametracker (noted by erstwhile co-blogger Unf) wonders why Billy Zane and Jason Patrick, who are Ridiculously Handsome, Slightly Balding, Curiously Underused Actors of Great Intensity, don't get more attention. Zane leaves me a bit flat, maybe that's a common reaction to him, I'm not sure. But Patrick? Could it be that the man has the look and affect of a serial killer? One who would kill you (wearily) and hate you for making him go the trouble? Everybody loves a little bit 'o serial killer in their stars, but, dude, how about a romantic comedy now and again?

That said, I am a fan.


 

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I'm Through with These Here Critical Faculties

Posted by Ogged
on 04.09.04

Yeah, yesterday's Rice/moron brouhaha has me feeling pretty partisan: I recognize that the folks I quote below sound just like the Clinton haters did a few years ago, but I read and think, "damn right! amen!" It's bad.

Anyway, Atrios notes,

On Saturday, Bush and his father were to go fishing at the ranch's bass pond with a crew from the Outdoor Life Network's "Fishing with Roland Martin." The White House approached the network about coming to film Bush, who is eager to cultivate an image as a sportsman with the millions of voters who hunt and fish. The crew was to bring its own boat for the shoot on the small pond.

Jake asks:

I wonder who'll bring the fiddle...

Heh.

geegirl sums it up:

Once again our idiot manchild has found yet another sub-basement of morality to descend into.

He does seem to be looking for those sub-basements, doesn't he?


 

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Mother May...Ewww

Posted by Ogged
on 04.09.04
Chivalry is alive, though perhaps transmuted by the passage of time and creeping godlessness, in the South.
An apologetic Peeping Tom in northern Arkansas left a $20 bill and a note for his victim asking if she would not mind if he peered at her outside her window, police said on Friday.
Maybe if he'd left a fifty...

 

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Does Crime Pay?

Posted by Ogged
on 04.09.04
Let's ask Jeff Skilling.
Former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling was taken to a hospital early Friday after several people called police saying he was pulling on their clothes and accusing them of being FBI agents, a police source told The Associated Press.
...
Skilling was at two bars in Manhattan - American Trash and The Voodoo Lounge - where he allegedly ran up to patrons and pulled open their clothes, the source said.
"He was shouting at them 'You're an FBI agent and you're following me,'" the source said.
Skilling allegedly did the same thing to people on the street, the source added. He was with his wife at the time.
What was his wife doing?

 

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Just One More

Posted by Ogged
on 04.09.04

Does this make me a bad person? I couldn't stop laughing.


 

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Wagers?

Posted by Ogged
on 04.09.04

How long before we hear that shutting down Sadr's newspaper and issuing a warrant for his arrest was part of a brilliant plan by the administration to bring the Sunni and the Shi'a together?


 

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Enumerated

Posted by Ogged
on 04.09.04

Did the Bushies have any warnings about 9-11? Lists can be so very effective.


 

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Must've Called Krugman

Posted by Ogged
on 04.08.04

I'm usually asleep by sentence two of any unsigned NY Times editorial, but this is very good.


 

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Ogged vs. Seething Hordes

Posted by Ogged
on 04.08.04

The action today, folks, is down here; just follow the trackbacks and also see here.


 

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Mmm, Crunchy

Posted by Ogged
on 04.08.04

File this one under unknown unknowns for me:

Most would be even more surprised to learn that if the sushi has not been frozen, it is illegal to serve it in the United States.

Is that rocking your world too? I'd love to make fun of this woman, but there but for the grace of god...

Sabine Marangosian, who works in Midtown Manhattan, said she ate sushi "at least once a week." "I guess I would understand that some sushi is frozen," she said. "But I would hope that's not the case at Nobu."
But Shin Tsujimura, the sushi chef at Nobu, closer to Wall Street, said he froze his own tuna. "Even I cannot tell the difference between fresh and frozen in a blind test," he said.

And this is just gratuitous.

"In Japan," Mr. Kawauchi said, "50 percent of the sushi and sashimi is frozen. Only my American customers are so concerned with fresh fish."

Yeah, screw you, pal. Anyway, more cool info about high-tech freezing techniques in the article.


 

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Never Looked Better

Posted by Ogged
on 04.08.04

John Ashcroft declares war on porn, but porn fights back.

via the bitter and snarky Maroon, Wonkette


 

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PDBs

Posted by Ogged
on 04.08.04

With presidential daily briefings (specifically, the August 6, 2001 briefing to GW--note caution here) in the news and likely dominating the news in a few days, this post, which includes a few declassified briefings, is worth your time.

UPDATE: That's a one-sentence post up there; and it's a really ugly sentence.


 

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Rock

Posted by Ogged
on 04.08.04

A tad earnest for my flinty heart, but a very nice appreciation of Kurt Cobain by Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore.


 

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More to Come, I'm Sure

Posted by Ogged
on 04.08.04

The new and already indispensable Center for American Progress, already has up a fact-check of Rice's opening statement.

AND MORE: Claims vs. Facts.


 

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Flynt Leverett

Posted by Ogged
on 04.08.04

Who? Just the latest person who worked in the White House and quit because questions of policy were always subordinate to questions of politics.

In June, after the war had begun, Bush attended two summits on the road map, in Aqaba, Jordan, and Sharm el Sheik, Egypt, where he uttered words of commitment. He turned the project over to Rice, who never presented him with a plan to achieve it. "He said that Condi would ride herd on this process. She never even saddled up," said Leverett. Six months earlier, Rice had appointed neoconservative Elliott Abrams as her Middle East coordinator on the NSC, and he threw up obstacles to prevent the road map from going forward. Bush, for his part, never followed up on his own rhetoric and was utterly absent from the policymaking.
So Leverett decided he must quit. "When they wouldn't put the road map out in 2002 and brought in someone like Abrams, that meant they weren't going to be serious. I didn't want to stick around for a charade. I say this as someone who voted for Bush in 2000 and was genuinely committed to see him succeed."

 

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Whoa

Posted by Ogged
on 04.07.04

I need to redo the comments entirely to re-enable subscriptions, so please don't post any comments until this post is updated. If you really need to vent, email me.

UPDATE: Comments are working again. I've installed a plugin to notify you by email, if you like, when a new comment is posted in a thread. You can subscribe when you comment, or you can subscribe without commenting. (You can unsubscribe at any time.)

Just one note: at the moment, the plugin doesn't seem to work with the "preview" function, so you can't preview and subscribe. I've emailed the plugin author to let him know.


 

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Who Says Republicans Don't Believe in Affirmative Action?

Posted by Ogged
on 04.07.04

Kevin Drum's intern dug up this devastating pan of Condoleezza Rice's 1984 book on the Soviets and Czechoslovakia. (The reviewer assumes Rice is male.)

he frequently does not sift facts from propaganda and valid information from disinformation or misinformation.
He passes judgments and expresses opinions without adequate knowledge of facts.
he uses a source written by Josef Hodic; Rice fails to notice that this "former military scientist" (p. 99) was a communist agent who returned to Czechoslovakia several years ago.
Rice's generalizations reflect his lack of knowledge about history and the nationality problem in Czechoslovakia.
Rice's discussion of the "Czechoslovak Legion" that was "born during the chaotic period preceding the fall of the Russian empire" (pp. 44-46) is ridiculous. (It was "born" on September 28, 1914.) He is clearly ignorant of the history of the military unit as well as of the geography of the area on which it fought.
Rice claims that "Czechoslovaks are supposedly passive and consider resistance to invading forces unnecessary and dangerous, preferring instead political solution" (p. 4). First, there are Czechs and Slovaks but not Czechoslovaks.

This is just a brutal review, and these aren't differences of opinion; Kalvoda is basically calling Rice incompetent.

Will someone please admit it? Condoleezza Rice is a moron. She's in way over her head and it shows. But at least now we understand the vaunted intellectual connection between her and Mr. Bush.

Finally, here I go holding my breath for those happy bashers of Howell Raines, Andrew Sullivan and Mickey Kaus, to muse about how Rice's race is the only reason she's risen to her position in the government.

UPDATE: More from Josh Marshall on Rice's competence.

Every administration has its interagency antagonisms, often between the National Security Advisor and Secretary of State. But this one's in a class by itself on pure disorganization and factionalism.
Think how many problems this administration has had which deal with one hand not knowing what the other is doing, contending factions pursuing contrary policies simultaneously. That's what the National Security Advisor is there to ride herd over.
Sometimes if no one is completely happy it means you must be doing something right. Other times, it just means everyone can see you're not doing your job.

MORE: Jane Galt responds, with a personal twist.

STILL MORE Neal Pollack summarizes Rice's testimony today.

UPDATE FOR THE DEFENDERS: Who knew calling someone a moron would cause such strong reactions? Some people even think things have "been done" to me. Seriously folks, I'm no Republican, but I supported the war, and I'm just plain upset that Rice is incompetent. I urge you all to read this but especially this and draw your own conclusions.

YET MORE: Fred Kaplan's take on Rice.

She has been a bad national security adviser—passive, sluggish, and either unable or unwilling to tie the loose strands of the bureaucracy into a sensible vision or policy. In short, she has not done what national security advisers are supposed to do.

Lots of folks are rather enjoying calling me a moron for calling her a moron, but does anyone care to defend the job she's done? I've also been accused of misunderstanding academia, but if the people making the accusations decided to be honest, they'd admit what they know full well: one can hold quite prestigious posts in academia and still be a moron.

Finally, if you want to know what a really partisan assessment of Condoleezza Rice sounds like, take note:

the national security advisor, seemingly open and even vulnerable, posing as the honest broker, but deceitful and derelict, an underhanded lightweight.

 

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A Shot to the Gut

Posted by Ogged
on 04.07.04

To a young prostitute who wonders why actors and rock stars hire prostitutes when so many beautiful women are available for free:

They don't pay you for the sex, you know. They pay you to leave.

I guess there are some true things left to be said. And did Charlie Sheen really say it?


 

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Prince, Found

Posted by Ogged
on 04.07.04

And now for something completely different: Antoine de Saint-Exupery's missing plane seems to have been found.


 

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Democrats, Every One

Posted by Ogged
on 04.06.04

Just a note on something I've noticed recently, and apologies if everyone else noticed this long ago. Seems the hawks want to frame the debate such that skepticism about the likelihood of establishing democracy in Iraq depends on skepticism about the "capacity" of Iraqis (or Iraqi "culture") to sustain it. This is a half-clever way of using against liberals their notorious love and sympathy for crazed savages.

First problem: this frame is false. The possibility of the emergence of a democracy isn't even primarily a matter of the "readiness" of its people. Just a few of the necessary conditions are: basic physical security, population groups distributed in such a way that democratic processes can lead to just outcomes, economic stability, religious homogeneity, and institutions that bridge pre-democratic and democratic periods. Add and subtract as you wish; the content of the list won't change the fact that any focus on the Iraqi people beyond questions of literacy is a red herring.

Second problem: trying to frame the issue this way leaves Bush vulnerable to a delicious rebuttal, namely, that he can't grasp complexity and so must personalize everything. It's not about the Iraqi people's "soul," it's about planning, and institutions, and being ready for contingencies, and being adequately prepared. I don't think that even Bush's supporters (and certainly not swing voters) think that he's good at these things. And the Democrats can make serious hay (hay blessed with the virtue of truth, in this case) by letting the hawks ask about the capacity of Iraqis to make a democracy, and responding with, "It's not about the Iraqi people. Even Benjamin Franklin couldn't vote in these conditions. We went into Iraq expecting democracy to magically appear as soon as Saddam was gone, but building a democracy from scratch requires serious planning, and a willingness to deal with complexity. This President hasn't shown patience for either of those things." Props to the sound-bite man. And when the RNC comes out with some lame-ass talking points trying to rebut charges of inadequate planning, just point to this James Fallows article. Then point to it again. Let's see if they'll piss off Thomas Warrick enough to make him the next Richard Clarke.

HMM: On second thought, saying "It's not about the Iraqi people" in response to a question about Iraqi democracy is a colossally stupid thing to say. Better: "The Iraqi people can't do this by themselves." Ok, I feel better, thanks.


 

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Splat

Posted by Ogged
on 04.06.04

At least Glenn doesn't like Ashcroft. Lately though, Glenn is Drudge, with less traffic.


 

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Not Even

Posted by Ogged
on 04.06.04

If you can't take gratuitous partisan shots at the President when you're pseudonymous, well, you've got no business blogging, that's what. Two commenters in a thread at Kevin's site put the issue of Bush's intelligence into clear focus.

travey asks, "does anyone believe bush would be among the smartest people they know?"

some guy wonders, "Really, let's say your a corporate dude at Walmart - would you hire Dubya to manage Walmart Number 567 in Bumpdump, Texas?"

Great bijiminy, just contemplating the answer to that second question gives me willies.


 

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Two Things

Posted by Ogged
on 04.06.04

This is a good exercise.

A few years ago, I was chatting with a stranger in a bar. When I told him I was an economist, he said, "Ah. So . . . what are the Two Things about economics?"
"Huh?" I cleverly replied.
"You know, the Two Things. For every subject, there are really only two things you really need to know. Everything else is the application of those two things, or just not important."
"Oh," I said. "Okay, here are the Two Things about economics. One: Incentives matter. Two: There's no such thing as a free lunch."

Nifty. There are some more interesting ones if you follow the link. A couple:

The Two Things about Marketing:
1. Find out who is buying your product.
2. Find more buyers like them.

And...

The Two Things about Teaching History:
1. A good story is all they'll remember, not the half hour of analysis on either side of it.
2. They think it's about answers, but it's really about questions.

Kinda fun, eh? So I thought about how I'd answer for philosophy. Like all things philosophical, this will strike some as obvious, some as inane.

The Two Things about Philosophy:
1. Plato
2. Aristotle

Bring it.

UPDATE: More info and sourcing for Two Things at thisCliopatria entry.


 

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Hooray!

Posted by Ogged
on 04.06.04

I'm hungry; is this North Korea yet?



 

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100,000 Servers

Posted by Ogged
on 04.06.04

If you're a geek who cares about Google's back-end technology, this is a fascinating read. (via Brad DeLong)

Ha!: Pick salient fact; put in title. I think Paul had it first, though I hadn't seen his post.


 

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Face First

Posted by Ogged
on 04.06.04

Can this be true? (via Atrios) (And it's the whole thing so you don't have to register.)

Posted on Tue, Apr. 06, 2004
$2,000 meal, but no utensils
Silverware banned to prevent clinking while president was speaking
JIM MORRILL
Staff Writer
It was a mouthwatering menu. Not that you'd expect less for $2,000 a plate.
Seered [sic] beef tenderloins with golden tomatoes on an herb-encrusted baguette. Grilled garlic chicken with smoked gouda on a honey wheat wrap. Fruits and gourmet olives and crudite. A gourmet luncheon with only one thing missing: something to eat it with.
The explanation was at the bottom of the menus distributed at President Bush's $1.5 million Charlotte fund-raiser Monday.
"At the request of the White House, silverware will not accompany the table settings," it said in discreetly fine print.
No silver. No plastic.
The lack of utensils might have been why many plates went virtually untouched.
The reason: So the tinkle of silver wouldn't disrupt the president's speech.
"They're just doing it so people can eat their meals prior to or after the president's speech," said spokesman Reed Dickens, who said it's standard procedure for fund-raisers. "It's just a logistical issue. Nothing more."
Apparently the White House doesn't worry about all diners.
Behind a rope on the side of the ballroom next to many paying guests, reporters scarfed down their own buffet. It came with silverware.

Dickens' explanation makes no sense. Why have a note on the menu if 1) this is standard and 2) people can eat before or after the speech? Bizarre.


 

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Construction

Posted by Ogged
on 04.06.04

Seems the comment subscriptions aren't working properly. Hmm. I'll try to fix that sometime today. Apologies.


 

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More Thoughts on Dylan

Posted by Ogged
on 04.06.04

There's a nice way to say this, and a churlish way to say this, and I've been blogging long enough to know that churlish is the way to go. Crooked Timber links to this poll of "best-loved" Dylan songs, to which I say: People, people, people, tear yourselves away from the radio for a minute, for cripe sakes.

I'm not arguing that the best-loved aren't great songs, but to say, as Chris does, that including just one post-1976 song "is as it should be," is preposterous. (That's right Bertram, preposterous.) Check it:

On 1989's Oh Mercy, there's the wicked Man in the Long Black Coat. And Dylan does a wildly different rendition of this live, which is just rock & roll.

On 1993's World Gone Wrong, there's Lone Pilgrim, and the title track, both of which are great songs. And then there's Delia, which is sublime. If you can listen to Dylan singing "all the friends I ever had are gone," and not get all choked up, you must be, I don't know, an analytic philosopher or something.

Which brings us to 1997's Time Out of Mind, which is one of Dylan's best albums, and Not Dark Yet, which is one of his best songs.

I'm not sure yet whether any of the songs on Dylan's lastest, 2001's Love and Theft are "great," but Floater, High Water, and Cry a While are all damn close.

And we haven't even talked about the really early stuff that you'll find on the Bootleg series. These aren't Dylan originals (though he does make some changes of his own) and, among them, Seven Curses stands out as a great song, and--I admit it--I have a soft spot for Talking Hava Negeilah Blues.


 

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Dementors!

Posted by Ogged
on 04.05.04

The new Harry Potter trailer is available. With Alfonso Cuaron directing, it could be (and looks to be) the first good movie of the bunch.


 

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Oh Shit

Posted by Ogged
on 04.05.04
I hope this isn't indicative, and I hope to God it doesn't become America's Hama.
A coup d'etat is taking place in Iraq a the moment. Al-Shu'la, Al-Hurria, Thawra (Sadr city), and Kadhimiya (all Shi'ite neighbourhoods in Baghdad) have been declared liberated from occupation. Looting has already started at some places downtown, a friend of mine just returned from Sadun street and he says Al-Mahdi militiamen are breaking stores and clinics open and also at Tahrir square just across the river from the Green Zone. News from other cities in the south indicate that Sadr followers (tens of thousands of them) have taken over IP stations and governorate buildings in Kufa, Nassiriya, Ammara, Kut, and Basrah. Al-Jazeera says that policemen in these cities have sided with the Shia insurgents, which doesn't come as a surprise to me since a large portion of the police forces in these areas were recruited from Shi'ite militias and we have talked about that ages ago. And it looks like this move has been planned a long time ago.
No one knows what is happening in the capital right now. Power has been cut off in my neighbourhood since the afternoon, and I can only hear helicopters, massive explosions, and continuous shooting nearby. The streets are empty, someone told us half an hour ago that Al-Mahdi are trying to take over our neighbourhood and are being met by resistance from Sunni hardliners. Doors are locked, and AK-47's are being loaded and put close by in case they are needed. The phone keeps ringing frantically. Baghdadis are horrified and everyone seems to have made up their mind to stay home tomorrow until the situation is clear.
via Insty UPDATE: Color me chastened. Zeyad has posted an update saying, bascially, "well, maybe not so bad after all." Next time, I'll wait for confirmation.

 

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Redirect

Posted by Ogged
on 04.05.04

Here's a googlebomb I can support. Jew.

Seen here; more info here.


 

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Sometimes Funny Isn't the Best Idea

Posted by Ogged
on 04.05.04

Hearts and minds, baby, hearts and minds.

SO: This might be a fake, of course. I know very little about the topic, but this seems like a fine time for proponents of methods to detect alterations in digital content to speak up. It's become very easy to alter photographs and we really need a way to know if what we're seeing is a more-or-less faithful representation of a scene. It's your big chance, marketing dudes!


 

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Big Tex

Posted by Ogged
on 04.04.04

Seriously, this just rocks.

Hey, I'm an "O," right? Hmm.


 

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Review

Posted by Ogged
on 04.04.04

Gary Farber has a bunch of great stuff up, as usual. (And drop him a few bucks if you've got a few to spare.)


 

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"a clockwork orange is not the only fruit"

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 04.04.04

This is a hilarious thread at CT. I say that not because Holbo gives me undeserved credit in the comments, but because the entries are really, really funny. The game is: fiction mash-ups. Put book titles together for to make amusement.

Now calculate what great problems might have been solved with the intellectual energy displayed on the comments thread, and laugh or cry, depending.

My new favorite:

Moby Dick Tracy ("Call me, Ishmael-- on your wrist-radio") from chuchundra


 

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The blogging of a scandal; the scandal of blogging

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 04.04.04

Matt Stoller has a good discussion of the Kos debacle here.

I didn't think this was possible, but I've become even more annoyed by Glenn Reynolds' outrage-when-expedient stance. Remind me to email his advertisers the next time he "heh"s something extraordinarily stupid. Wait, in order to do that, I'd have to read his fifty-seven posts a day. And that's not possible, because I have a job. Like he does. Heh. Ass.


 

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Show Me Pictures of the Good Word Auto, Fucking

Posted by Ogged
on 04.04.04

Ok, if the referrers are any indication, people aren't even trying to act sane anymore. These were all within a couple of hours this morning.

if i got hit by auto when walking,can i still do good that way?
relation of fucking between men and women show me pictures
good word to say for each player eat drugs

 

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