It's, like, salt, in desserts! Who would ever have thought of it, except anyone who's ever had Pralines 'n' Cream ice cream or a chocolate-covered pretzel or, really, had the slightest bit of gastronomical awareness? Something Christine Muhlke apparently doesn't possess, unless, of course, she only starts off her little article by wondering what those crazy cooks will come up with next to avoid mentioning until halfway through that what they've come up with is, in fact, quite common: "A result of neither foam chic nor salt snobbery, salted caramels are what children have long snacked on in Brittany.". Fortunately, since even before salt snobbery, the salt in Brittany was, apparently, worth being a snob about (it's not just salt, but sel gris, you see; it's got its own name), the common origin of the no doubt pricy candies being hawked need be no cause for concern. It still gets to be something dignified and aristocratic, all old-world; nothing you could make with your crappy old Mortons.
None of this is to suggest that I don't believe that different sorts of salt can contribute different things to that which is made with them, of course; only that it's ever so faintly ridiculous to cream oneself so vigorously over applications of the simple principle "salty + sweet = good" without ever once suggesting that you could get something like it with ordinary salt, and that it's some amazing breakthrough and therefore worth top dollar and so on. It's this … credulousness. Ugh.
I also like the way that, in the recipes following the article, seemingly none (I checked only two) of those involving making caramel actually say to what stage to cook the sugar, or give temperatures, or anything like that.
(The link at the bottom of the Graham essay to the patent on the combover is broken. Here it is.)
I think the women around here need to do some serious introspectin' about how annoying they must have been to turn an earnest feminist boy like me (be sure to read the comments) into the poster boy for leftist misogyny.
Making the very reasonable point that determining the precise number of excess deaths to within a couple of hundred thousand each way isn't really the useful function of a study like this:
The question that this study was set up to answer was: as a result of the invasion, have things got better or worse in Iraq? And if they have got worse, have they got a little bit worse or a lot worse. Point estimates are only interesting in so far as they demonstrate or dramatise the answer to this question. . . .
That qualitative conclusion is this: things have got worse, and they have got a lot worse, not a little bit worse. Whatever detailed criticisms one might make of the methodology of the study (and I have searched assiduously for the last two years, with the assistance of a lot of partisans of the Iraq war who have tried to pick holes in the study, and not found any), the numbers are too big. If you go out and ask 12,000 people whether a family member has died and get reports of 300 deaths from violence, then that is not consistent with there being only 60,000 deaths from violence in a country of 26 million.
It's Friday, when I said we should check back in with what we've found out about the current state of play on voting methods in the states we chose. I looked at Florida, and I'm frankly overwhelmed -- their Division of Elections has a memo on voting system standards that says very little reassuring about security (but a whole lot about accessibility for the blind and visually impaired, which seems to be a large part of the drive toward touch-screen machines). Florida has a bunch of local organizations working on this(see the sidebar, with local organizations listed by state) and procurement appears to be done by the supervisor of elections in each county.
I'm not feeling all that much closer to finding something useful to do, much less something useful to do that Unfogged is a sensible means of organizing. Does anyone have any interesting results, or better ideas, or a pep talk?
Freedom Is Not Free is a non-profit that raises money for wounded soldiers and their families. Right now, they're selling a calendar featuring pictures of Marines doing Mariney things, like posing with a smoldering comrade artfully framed in the mirror.
I have something of an eye for these things, so I should point out to the rigorously heterosexual men of Unfogged that these Marines are kinda buff. (Labs is weeping with envy and desire right now.) In fact, they're so buff that I wonder if they shouldn't be spending less time pumping and more time kicking innocent Iraqi ass. But that's for Don Rumsfeld to decide.
Anyway, seems like a good cause, and the dudes are hot, in that handsome killing machine kind of way, so make the man-lover in your life happy.
My parents give good head. (mildly nsfw)
Have you heard about the Disney orgy? It's
Disneyland staff dressed in costumes of Disney favourites Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and Goofy pretending to have sex in a variety of kinky poses ... "It's Disney characters as you've never seen them before. Goofy grabs Minnie's boobs but the highlight has to be Mickey's gay romp."
And yes, video here.
Matt Y. and Ezra Klein have a series of posts on whether Democrats should be devoting any energy to appealing to libertarians, and conclude that it's pretty much pointless, given that there are remarkably few 'serious' libertarians, and that Republicans who describe themselves as having libertarian leanings aren't an available pickup for Democrats. I think they're both dead wrong.
Oh, they're right about the nonexistence of fullfledged libertarians in any numbers that would make them a voting bloc worth pursuing. But they're wrong to the extent that they take that to mean that there's no point in addressing the concerns of or appealing to libertarian-ish people who now vote (or might under not very different circumstances vote) Republican. I run into people all the time, in real life and on the Internet, who think that a libertarian critique of the New Deal/welfare state/social democracy is a powerful and persuasive one -- some vote for Democrats, but do it uneasily and because the current crop of Republicans are so awful, and others still vote for Republicans, but aren't necessarily totally unreachable.
In so far as I understand libertarian-ish types, they've got, essentially, a two-part critique of Democrats and the social democratic policies we support, one part principled and one part empirical, and I think we can address both of those in an honest and politically useful manner without giving anything up.
The principled libertarian-ish critique of social democratic policies is that such policies are likely to infringe upon important personal freedoms -- libertarians think of themselves as centrally concerned with individual freedom, and worry that social democratic policies might interfere with that. This isn't unreasonable on its face, but there's a perfectly good liberal Democratic answer to it -- as the party most closely associated with the ACLU, we're vitally concerned about individual freedom as well. Sure, a social democracy could be administered in an unfree manner; we recognize that possibility, and we're watching out for it. This doesn't mean that there are no real problems that exist in this regard, but they aren't problems that liberal Democrats have any opposition to finding and fixing. (And, as I mentioned in my earlier post on this, a social democracy isn't necessarily any less free than the most minimal possible government -- misuse of the minimal necessary police powers of a state is sufficient to create as much oppression as anyone could possibly want.)
The empirical libertarian-ish critique is that government interference in anything will (as a pretty reliable rule of thumb) just screw it up, compared to leaving the marketplace to function on its own -- that as a matter of practice social democratic policies will always or almost always fail to successfully solve the problems they address. This is less reasonable, but it's still answerable. First, we need to make it clear that this is an empirical question, not a matter of principle -- if your argument is that poor people are better off without income support programs than with with income support programs, then you need to support it with some facts, and if the facts don't go your way, you need to change your mind. Again, the important point here is that suspicion of the government's ability to successfully fix anything is a rule of thumb, not a principle, and it's only as good as the results it produces. Further, there's no reason that liberal Democrats should be attached to ineffective social democratic programs; where the libertarian-ish suspicion of interference with the market is supported by good data, we're happy to let the market do its thing.
Libertarian-ishness is very appealing to a lot of people. It's all over the news media and the pundit class. And liberal Democrats have done a rotten job of engaging with it. We've got a strong and honest case that we're already very closely aligned with the libertarian-ish on principle, and this can be powerful -- look at what Bush did in the 2000 elections with 'compassionate conservatism'. He was bullshitting, but there's no reason that the 'compasssionate conservatism' type of argument -- "I share your ultimate goals and values, I just have a different idea about how best to reach those goals" -- can't work for Democrats in an appeal to the libertarian-ish. I don't want to abandon Democratic principles, or alienate current Democratic voters, in an attempt to attract libertarians. But there are a lot of people with libertarian sympathies out there, and the principles that they think of as underlying those sympathies are principles we largely share; there's no good reason I can see not to reach out in that direction.
I'm making my way through this list of social networking sites for gay men, but wait, don't all gay people know each other anyway? This was my distinct impression.
More seriously, call me a priss, if you must, but lovetastic is a nice site. It has a clean design, and they seem to understand that you need very little information to decide whether you'd like to meet someone. The questions are silly, but you have quite a bit of choice in which ones you answer. More dating sites should be like this.
Although I'm not doing a regular radio show this quarter, I am doing one this friday—tomorrow—from noon to 2pm PST. It promises to be, dare I say it, killer? With a higher than normal proportion of klezmer-related program activities and the best possible embedding of a Richard Thompson cover between tracks by these groups. As usual, one can stream the show using the links here.
I heart Dahlia Lithwick:
Just days ago, we watched as several senators voted for a bill to redefine the treatment, detention and trials of enemy combatants, even as they expressed doubts about its constitutionality....Specter's justification for then voting for a bill he deemed unconstitutional? "Congress could have done it right and didn't, but the next line of defense is the court, and I think the court will clean it up."
There is some irony in this congressional willingness to see the Supreme Court as a kind of constitutional chambermaid -- an entity that exists to clean up after Congress smashes the room. It is especially ironic when it is articulated by members of Congress who like to invoke judicial restraint as a constitutional value. But it is beyond ironic, and approaching parody, when Congress asks the court to clean up a bill it knows to be unconstitutional, when the bill itself includes a court-stripping provision.
Criticizing the court for overturning the laws passed by Congress -- as Specter did repeatedly during the confirmation hearings for John G. Roberts Jr. and Samuel A. Alito Jr. -- is fair. But crying "judicial activism" at the same time you rely on the courts for political cover when you're too timid to defy the electorate -- or your president -- is hypocritical.
Why should the Supreme Court defer to a Congress that adopts laws it suspects are unconstitutional? And what should we think of those elected officials who would take so cavalier an attitude toward their oath to uphold the Constitution?
Members of Congress take the same oath as Supreme Court justices do, after all. And Congress regularly asserts its institutional capacity to interpret the Constitution -- to act on an equal footing with the Supreme Court in deciding the constitutionality of a law. Moreover, the justices are supposed to assume that Congress never intentionally adopts an unconstitutional law, and you need attend oral argument for only a few moments to know how seriously they take that charge. So how is it possible that an oath-bound member of Congress can support a law that he or she believes violates the Constitution?
So instead of pointing fingers at the court, let's call the whole relationship what it is: dysfunctional. For all its railing against the court, Congress sometimes relies on it to achieve substantive aims. The court, sheltered from political fallout, can sometimes afford to be brave when Congress cannot. But this suggests that cries of "judicial activism" from the Congress should be suspect. As is the case in any dysfunctional relationship, Congress has a vested interest in being upheld when it wants to be, and struck down when it needs to be bailed out.
The popular debates about the terms and parameters of judicial activism or restraint must be understood in institutional terms. Congress behaves strategically. When it is convenient, members of Congress will praise and advocate judicial restraint, and when it is not, they will hope for "activist" judicial intervention. Specter's argument during the Alito and Roberts hearings bears this out. It distressed him not that the court was too activist in striking down acts of Congress, but that it was too activist in striking down the wrong acts of Congress. Yet this judicial backstop serves his goals when he is unwilling to make the call.
The strategic use of the court reduces accountability, it corrupts the lawmaking process, and it is deeply cynical. Lawmakers should take their constitutional obligations seriously. And if they do not take their own obligations seriously, then they have no right to criticize the judicial branch when it does.
When there's just one short paragraph about what you can actually read on the latest e-book, you know that people still don't get it. If you want to sell e-books, people have to be able to get the books that they want. The technology is secondary. If I knew that everything on Amazon would be available for an e-book, I'd buy one in a second. So would everyone else, eventually.
I know, I know, there's a lot to like about physical books. They don't have DRM, they bring back memories, etc. But you can't move more than three times in your life and not develop a special loathing for physical books.
Dagger Aleph has been running the awesome Video Deconstruction Friday for a while now, where she takes a look each week at one crazy and crazy popular video from the 80s. This week, in the comments, Matt "anywhere but unfogged" Weiner linked to Animotion's Obsession video.
It had been about twenty years since I'd seen the video, but I remember it like it was yesterday...
When I first saw this video, for reasons that were as obscure to me then as they are now, I was totally convinced that I must be gay. I can't begin to guess what it was about the song or video that did it, but I clearly remember thinking, "this means I'm gay." And then, total gay panic. Now what do I do?
Perhaps even stranger, the panic lasted about 30 minutes, went away, and though I saw the video a bunch of times after that, all I thought was "what the hell was that about?"
Never be a teenager.
Remember the Lancet study that reported that there had been around 100,000 excess deaths in Iraq in the 18 months after our invasion? The same researchers have done a follow-up study, which now appears to show 655,000 excess deaths from the invasion through this June. (Link to study here, thanks to Duvall in comments.)
To recap the reasons for invading Iraq, there were 'WMDs'. But none of the cool people who still support the war say that was the real reason -- that was just to sell it to the rubes. And there was the humanitarian service to the people of Iraq, at least those Iraqis who have so far have survived our attentions. But Republican spokespeople have moved away from that justification as well: after all, according to Senator DeWine, "We're not in Iraq for the Iraqis; we're there for us.". Which is good to know, because that's a hell of a death toll for a humanitarian operation. So we're down to the fantastic geopolitical benefits we've garnered from tying our entire military force up in Iraq for the last four and a half years. And that's worked out just great.
I'm very excited. I have a new man in my life. I was waiting to tell all of you until I was sure it was going to work out but I think this is the beginning of something special.
Yes, I have a new coffee guy.
As you may recall, I've had some trouble in this department for the last couple of years, with many disappointments, but my new guy treats me so well. He greets me with a non-creepy smile, he gives me extra milk, and he knows exactly how I like it without me having to ask. I hope you all can be happy for me. I promise not to be one of those girls who gets a new coffee guy and then forgets all of the friends who supported her through along the way. Thanks, everyone.
Armsmasher made an Unfogged Flickr group, which you can join by adding him as a contact and then sending him a message asking to be added to the group. The more the merrier, so if you're a lurker, don't let that stop you. If you don't have a Flickr account, or don't want to join the group, you can still see who all is in it and look at their photos by going to my contacts page. Questions?
And two cheers for the NYPD. Lindsay Beyerstein posts on a story that illustrates one of the less considered benefits of having a strong union: that when your supervisor tells you to do something that's just wrong, you can tell them to go pound sand without worrying about repurcussions.
Five cops who heard an NYPD captain give a controversial order told the Daily News yesterday the message was crystal clear: Stop and frisk every black man at a robbery-plagued Brooklyn subway station. "The captain said the descriptions of the [suspects] vary a lot, so we were to stop all black males at the station, stop and frisk them because 'they have no reason being there,'" said one white officer who was outraged by the command.
Capt. Michael Vanchieri, commander of Brooklyn Transit District 30, gave the orders at Thursday's 7 a.m. roll call, the cops said.
A sergeant and a lieutenant opened the meeting, then turned the meeting over to Vanchieri, who described a series of robberies on the F line in Brooklyn, concentrated near the Seventh Ave.-Park Slope station.
"All black men were to be stopped - no description other than that," the white officer said. "So some 30- to 40-year-old man who had every right to be at the station - he'd get frisked too."
Good for the cops who wouldn't go along with it, and good for the union that protects them.
I have the honor of hating this week and next at The Weblog. Please, friends, come and hate with me.
One of the many interesting features of the godawful Military Commissions Act recently passed was the fact that it defined the status of 'unlawful enemy combatant' in a manner that could include both American citizens and aliens, but all the legal consequences in the Act following from that status applied only to aliens. In order to know what the legal consequences of an American citizen's being designated an unlawful enemy combatant, we'd have to know what the government had been doing to such people before the Act was passed.
As luck would have it, we have an example. Jose Padilla is an American citizen and an 'unlawful enemy combatant', and he's just filed a motion describing his treatment in the three years he's been detained without trial pursuant to that status:
In an effort to gain Mr. Padilla’s "dependency and trust," he was tortured for nearly the entire three years and eight months of his unlawful detention. The torture took myriad forms, each designed to cause pain, anguish, depression and, ultimately, the loss of will to live. The base ingredient in Mr. Padilla’s torture was stark isolation for a substantial portion of his captivity. For nearly two years - from June 9, 2002 until March 2, 2004, when the Department of Defense permitted Mr. Padilla to have contact with his lawyers - Mr. Padilla was in complete isolation. Even after he was permitted contact with counsel, his conditions of confinement remained essentially the same. He was kept in a unit comprising sixteen individual cells, eight on the upper level and eight on the lower level, where Mr. Padilla’s cell was located. No other cells in the unit were occupied. His cell was electronically monitored twenty-four hours a day, eliminating the need for a guard to patrol his unit. His only contact with another person was when a guard would deliver and retrieve trays of food and when the government desired to interrogate him.
His isolation, furthermore, was aggravated by the efforts of his captors to maintain complete sensory deprivation. His tiny cell - nine feet by seven feet - had no view to the outside world. The door to his cell had a window, however, it was covered by a magnetic sticker, depriving Mr. Padilla of even a view into the hallway and adjacent common areas of his unit. He was not given a clock or a watch and for most of the time of his captivity, he was unaware whether it was day or night, or what time of year or day it was.
In addition to his extreme isolation, Mr. Padilla was also viciously deprived of sleep. This sleep deprivation was achieved in a variety of ways. For a substantial period of his captivity, Mr. Padilla’s cell contained only a steel bunk with no mattress. The pain and discomfort of sleeping on a cold, steel bunk made it impossible for him to sleep. Mr. Padilla was not given a mattress until the tail end of his captivity. Mr. Padilla’s captors did not solely rely on the inhumane conditions of his living arrangements to deprive him of regular sleep. A number of ruses were employed to keep Mr. Padilla from getting necessary sleep and rest. One of the tactics his captors employed was the creation of loud noises near and around his cell to interrupt any rest Mr. Padilla could manage on his steel bunk. As Mr. Padilla was attempting to sleep, the cell doors adjacent to his cell would be electronically opened, resulting in a loud clank, only to be immediately slammed shut. Other times, his captors would bang the walls and cell bars creating loud startling noises. These disruptions would occur throughout the night and cease only in the morning, when Mr. Padilla’s interrogations would begin.
Efforts to manipulate Mr. Padilla and break his will also took the form of the denial of the few benefits he possessed in his cell. For a long time Mr. Padilla had no reading materials, access to any media, radio or television, and the only thing he possessed in his room was a mirror. The mirror was abruptly taken away, leaving Mr. Padilla with even less sensory stimulus. Also, at different points in his confinement Mr. Padilla would be given some comforts, like a pillow or a sheet, only to have them taken away arbitrarily. He was never given any regular recreation time. Often, when he was brought outside for some exercise, it was done at night, depriving Mr. Padilla of sunlight for many months at a time. The disorientation Mr. Padilla experienced due to not seeing the sun and having no view on the outside world was exacerbated by his captors’ practice of turning on extremely bright lights in his cell or imposing complete darkness for durations of twenty-four hours, or more.
Mr. Padilla’s dehumanization at the hands of his captors also took more sinister forms. Mr. Padilla was often put in stress positions for hours at a time. He would be shackled and manacled, with a belly chain, for hours in his cell. Noxious fumes would be introduced to his room causing his eyes and nose to run. The temperature of his cell would be manipulated, making his cell extremely cold for long stretches of time. Mr. Padilla was denied even the smallest, and most personal shreds of human dignity by being deprived of showering for weeks at a time, yet having to endure forced grooming at the whim of his captors.
A substantial quantum of torture endured by Mr. Padilla came at the hands of his interrogators. In an effort to disorient Mr. Padilla, his captors would deceive him about his location and who his interrogators actually were. Mr. Padilla was threatened with being forcibly removed from the United States to another country, including U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where he was threatened his fate would be even worse than in the Naval Brig. He was threatened with being cut with a knife and having alcohol poured on the wounds. He was also threatened with imminent execution. He was hooded and forced to stand in stress positions for long durations of time. He was forced to endure exceedingly long interrogation sessions, without adequate sleep, wherein he would be confronted with false information, scenarios, and documents to further disorient him. Often he had to endure multiple interrogators who would scream, shake, and otherwise assault Mr. Padilla. Additionally, Mr. Padilla was given drugs against his will, believed to be some form of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) or phencyclidine (PCP), to act as a sort of truth serum during his interrogations.
Throughout most of the time Mr. Padilla was held captive in the Naval Brig he had no contact with the outside world. In March 2004, one year and eight months after arriving in the Naval Brig, Mr. Padilla was permitted his first contact with his attorneys. Even thereafter, although Mr. Padilla had access to counsel, and thereby some contact with the outside world, those visits were extremely limited and restricted. Significantly though, it was not until Mr. Padilla was permitted to visit with counsel that one of his attorneys, Andrew Patel, was able to provide Mr. Padilla with a copy of the Qur’an. Up until that time, for a period of almost two years, Mr. Padilla was the right to exercise his religious beliefs.
As a closing thought: do you know the legal standard for declaring an American citizen an unlawful enemy combatant? Me neither.
(via Talk Left.)
The nice thing about beautiful places is that it takes no special photographic skill to take pleasing photographs of them. So, having decided that Zooomr is too slow, and has a stupid name, Bubbleshare looks like it's for kids, and Ookles isn't up yet, I've put my photographs on Flickr, despite the fact that it asked for my birthday when I signed up.
I don't have much to add to this story, but thought it really ought to be shared here.
Thousands of Ivy Leaguers circulate their resumes each year to New York's investment banks, but few garner as much attention as Aleksey Vayner, who last week submitted an 11-page resume and video to UBS's human resources department. By the week's end, the Yale University senior's video had raised scores of eyebrows and sparked much laughter in nearly every firm on Wall Street.
Mr. Vayner identifies himself on his resume as a multi-sport professional athlete, the CEO of two companies, and an investment adviser. The video depicts him lifting a 495-pound weight, serving a tennis ball at 140 miles an hour, and ballroom dancing with a scantily clad female. Finally, Mr. Vayner emerges enrobed in a white karate suit and breaks six bricks in one fell swoop.
I just can't resist Stevie B's freaky Jesus-lovin' ass. Somebody hold me back.
Radar: So can you name the seven deadly sins?
SB: Dude, I'm totally clueless.
Radar: Lust, greed, sloth, gluttony, wrath, envy, pride.
SB: Although wrath in the Bible isn't a sin.
Radar: Not in the hands of God, but it is in the hands of a mortal.
SB: Hey, you're pretty hip to this whole deal. Are you like some Jesus freak?
Radar: We did a little homework. Which deadly sin have you been most guilty of in your life?
SB: Wow. What's sloth?
Radar: Total laziness.
SB: Hold on, I have a dictionary right here. I carry one because now I'm getting into ministry and I gotta know what I'm talking about. So let's look it up and be little Poindexters. Here it is: Slow-moving nocturnal mammal. Dude, that's it.
Radar: Can you name the Ten Commandments.
SB: Gosh, I should know this. I spank my children because they don't know this. Let me think.... Thou shall not kill.... Thou shall not steal.... [Long pause] Honor thy mother and father.... [Another long pause] Shall not covet thy neighbor's wife....
Radar: That's four.
SB: Gosh ... I can't think.... Do not commit adultery.... Murder!
Radar: You did that already.
SB: Dang ... hmm ... don't use the Lord's name in vain?
SB: How many do I have?
SB: That's it? That's all I got? What's the other four?
Radar: They don't make sense to me.
SB: Well, if they don't make sense to you, and you're reading them, how am I supposed to know?
Radar: Because you're born-again.
SB: Just because I'm born-again doesn't mean I have to have the Ten Commandments memorized. See, that's the bad rap the born-again thing has gotten. What being born-again means for me is that I'm having so much fun in this interview that we're not going to go out and get an 8-ball of blow tonight and go crazy. That's what born again means to me: Inasmuch as I'd like to do that, gosh, I'll just go home and read some scripture with the wife.
Radar: The 8-ball sounds like fun, though.
SB: Of course it does!
Radar: Do you speak to Alec?
SB: No, I really don't talk to Alec about politics. Billy has always been far more open to any particular conversation, but Alec is a little bit more hard core.
Radar: Have you guys fallen out?
SB: No, we just don't talk about it. I think that his perception of me is that I don't understand what the truth is in reality, and my perspective is, I don't think he understands what the truth is in the supernatural.
Radar: But you still sit down and break bread with him.
SB: Absolutely. Alec and I talk almost four times a week, but we talk about the important things, like fart jokes.
Radar: Can you name me the 12 disciples?
SB: Dude, I got kicked off Celebrity Mole twice 'cause I suck at this. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Timothy—
Radar: There's no Timothy, there's a Thomas.
SB: Thomas. Same thing. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, Thomas, Peter, Oscar. Who else? Hold on, I'll go to the Bible. There, I'm telling you in advance that I'm cheating. I know them, I just can't think of them now.
Radar: That's pretty good.
SB: Listen, I need to know as much scripture as I possibly can. That helps me to continue in my path.
Check out this editorial on the Foley affair from The Hill, culminating in the immortal conclusion:
Hastert and former Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) got along beautifully, partly because DeLay helped engineer Hastert’s ascension to Speaker. Hastert and Boehner need to get on the same page or Republican troubles will continue to mount.
Now that my location isn't Top Secret, I'm thinking of posting some of the photos I've taken over the past few years. There's a lot to love about Flickr, but there are also some things about it that suck: it takes a lot of clicking back and forth to select and view specific photos in a group, and worst of all, it's slow. I'm digging Zooomr (hover over a photo on this page and select "Click to view this photo in a Lightbox." This seems like a basic function that any photo site should have, but only Zooomr, as far as I know, does.) And part of me wants to be cooler than thou, and hold out for Ookles. What say you, photo sharers?
We're confirming that the North Korean nuclear test was real. I don't expect anything immediately awful to come of this, but it I'm wrong, it's been nice knowing you guys.
I just heard that the high school kid who set fire to our lawn while housesitting a few years ago because he liked playing with matches has been accepted into the USMC's elite demolitions and explosives training program.
Megan encouraged me to ask out an officer of the law as he was ticketing illegally-parked cars.
Maybe one of the posters can put this up on the main page, but you guys want to help out with the fight against the government's holding of people at GTMO without access to trial? Then you can help me. I need news stories of people detained at GTMO against whom the allegations are slim/nonexistent/unsubstantiated. As I understand it, there have been a lot of these stories over the past few years, but it's hard to know what to look for, because I'm not very good at remembering names. So if you want to help out, you can email links to me.
rockpaperswords at gmail dot com
And for Katherine:
Does anyone know where I can find transcripts of oral arguments from the Guantanamo cases on remand before the D.C. District and D.C. Circuit? Especially Judge Leon and Judge Green on the D.C. District.
So we've been talking about harnessing the massive brainpower and productive energy of the commentariat here to do something useful, rather than having pointless conniptions when we realize at the last moment that our country is legalizing torture. Under the assumption that such brainpower and energy exists, here's a plan for an Unfogged-sized project so that we can continue talking like idiots in our usual manner the rest of the time with less guilt. The underlying plan is not set in stone -- it's what came out of prior discussions that sounded practical and useful to me. Criticism welcome and almost certainly necessary; alternative ideas also welcome; but if it sounds good to you, the comments are for volunteering to do some work. (Note: No one who comments here should consider this a guilt-trip. There will be no looking askance at anyone uninterested in doing this in other threads, and assuming this takes off, we'll try to keep it confined to the comments to dedicated posts.)
Voting Machines Project:
(The following is the result of absolutely no focussed research. It is distinctly possible that someone else is already doing exactly this and just needs help. But I don't know offhand of anything filling precisely this niche.)
We've all read a million stories about horribly insecure voting machines; clearly something needs to be done about this globally. I read the stories when I come across them and am horrified, but I don't do anything because I have no idea where purchasing or procedural decisions about voting methods are made, or when they're being made. I know it's at the state level, but that's it. The goal of the project is to figure out who, in each state or locality, is responsible for making decisions about voting methods, and to pressure them (writing letters, getting in touch with journalists) to make those decisions correctly (correctly, from my perspective, means in a manner that incorporates a voter-verified paper trail that functions as the official ballot and is available to be recounted. Talk me out of this position if you think I'm wrong).
The first step is to get information organized about this. There are loads of people on the web covering the issue, but I haven't come across anything that would serve as the kind of reference I think is necessary. What I think is necessary is a wiki organized with a page for each state. That page would start with links to any press coverage or blogging about voting-methods-related issues in that state; from those links or other research, there would be a summary written of (1) what the current governing law in the state says about voting methods; (2) what person or organization within the state is responsible for making discretionary decisions about voting methods; (3) what the current and near future state of affairs is -- is the state testing new machines? Have they just bought? Are they making purchasing decisions? What do they have now? And the goal would be to identify soft spots where a state can be pressured away from an undesirable method, and toward something acceptable. We'd want to cross-reference the pages to pages relating to particular manufacturers and models -- I know that Diebold is the boogeyman here, but I don't know a thing about other manufacturers. And a link to the relevant federal law, HAVA.
We've got a couple of volunteers to do the wiki administration -- pdf and mrh both piped up. What I think we need now is people to take on responsibility for a state or set of states. Ideally, if you wanted to volunteer, you'd snag your home state, given that local knowledge is likely to be helpful. Practically, we have an oversupply of New Yorkers and no one that I know of from, e.g., Maine. So name your preferred state or states in the comments, and I'll keep a list of who's doing what. And come up with improvements to the plan -- this is my first shot at this, and I don't have any special attachment to doing it this way rather than any other.
Some sites that have useful voting machine-related information:
[Note: Even if we don't successfully create a useful reference source, if we find specific issues where we can exert some pressure, that was the point. So keep that final goal in mind.]
I never thought I'd hear the Anchoress say this:
Can I get an “AMEN” for Cunnilingus? AMEN for cunnilingus! Can I get a “You know how to whistle, don’t you” for Fellatio? “You know how to whistle, don’t you?” Can I get a “Ride’em Cowboy” for my husband? Yippeekayae! Can I get an “arghghghghg” for Readi Whip and maraschino cherries? Arghghghghghg! What, no brownies?
More hilariously, the post is prefaced by this self-defeating disclaimer:
WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS THE WORDS CUNNILINGUS AND FELLATIO. IF YOU ARE OFFENDED BY THE WORDS CUNNILINGUS OR FELLATIO YOU SHOULD NOT READ THIS POST. ALSO IF YOU GET A CASE OF THE VAPORS BY THE SHOCKING IDEA OF MARRIED SEX, DO NOT READ THIS POST. GOT THAT? CUNNILINGUS, FELLATIO AND MARRIED SEX NOT YOUR CUPPA? THEN DO NOT READ THIS POST. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!!!!!
Via Roy. I have a little blogcrush on the Anchoress, I think, but I also have a morbid fear that one day someone will suggest using Redi-whip as part of a sexual act.
I just realized why I've never been able to get into classical music: I can't remember what the fuck anything is called. It turns out that I enjoy Brahms's Intermezzo in A Minor, Opus 76, No. 7. Will I ever listen to it again? Probably not, because I'd have to look up this blog entry to remember what it was. The naming of classical music pieces seem a lot like remembering books by Dewey decimal number. "Oh, I loved 813.14fh. Now where did I put it?" I propose that humanity should go back and rename all the good stuff with catchy, memorable titles.
Why am I listening to Brahms in the first place? Because this is a guy after my own heart.
Once a singer asked which of his songs he might recommend. ...he advised her to try his posthumous ones. "And which?" she asked politely. ... "Ask Kalbeck," he told her. "He knows everything." So, she did go and ask his friend and future biographer Max Kalbeck to recommend some of Brahms's posthumous lieder, inspiring Kalbeck to collapse with laughter. When the lady appeared afterward in a huff, Brahms was, for him, kindly: "Dear lady, don't ask me such things. I'll usually just make some sort of a joke—and if a good one doesn't occur to me, then a bad one."