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Dance results b/w "My imam is a crazy Texan"

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 01.20.07

Music I liked & downloaded based on the earlier thread: Amon Tobin; Juvenile; LCD Soundsystem; Punjabi MC; Turing Machine. Thanks for the tips.

How I wasted more of my afternoon than I'd like to admit: embrace jihad! I'll get around to futzing more with this, but getting the words took some psychological toll, as I had to listen repeatedly to speeches from 9/11 to the following State of the Union. It's pretty interesting to hear the rhetorical transformations over that span in light of what happened afterwards.

(If I botched the strip-my-name part of the production, shoot me, then kill the post.)


 

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Democrats

Posted by Ogged
on 01.20.07

On this, the day that Hillary Clinton has declared her candidacy for President, we revisit a comment by the apostropher.

It isn't just video games and flag burning. She has defended the Defense of Marriage Act, supported building a wall along the Mexican border, supported the Israeli wall in the Palestinian territories, supported the PATRIOT Act, supports the death penalty, opposes single-payer healthcare, only Santorum got more money from the insurance industry last cycle, she voted for the godawful bankruptcy bill...and of course, she still can't bring herself to say the Iraq War was a mistake.

What am I supposed to find appealing here? We do have *actual* Democrats we could run for president.

 

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What You Wish For

Posted by Ogged
on 01.20.07

It looks like there's good chance that California's presidential primary will be moved up to just after New Hampshire's. This strikes me as pretty damn important, but not in a good way. We've long wanted an early primary in a state whose population is more mixed and representative of American than Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, but California is so huge that it's hard to see how winning here will be about anything other than money. In '08. that means a big advantage for Hilary, and in the future, it means that upstart candidates without an established base and nationwide name recognition will have a much harder time running for president.


 

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Offensive

Posted by Ogged
on 01.20.07

I expect I'm going to have quite a collection of "It's not OK when they do it" posts before too long. This time, from the ever-so-liberal NPR.

The reporter further explained that Iranian officials insist the weapons are defensive, but that certain "experts" are worried that they are offensive. To explain, they played a clip from some analyst who said something like:

"This is a very provocative move. Iran is hoping that this hardware will allow their ground units to challenge the air supremacy of US forces."
Does everyone see that? (There was nothing else in the audio clip about offense vs. defense, by the way.) So the fact that Iran wants to be able to defend its armored units against American aircraft proves that they are offensive, not defensive. After all, it's not as if there is a realistic threat that the US would start bombing Iran anytime soon.

via henley


 

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Josh Marshall Works So I Don't Have To

Posted by LizardBreath
on 01.19.07

A listing of all the various bills Congress has introduced to block the 'surge', with a promise that it will be updated as things happen to them. Me, I'm holding out for the bill that completely defunds the war.


 

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Greatest Hits Of The 90s Through Today

Posted by LizardBreath
on 01.19.07

Charles Murray's crawled out from under some rock with an argument that some children are really going to have to be left behind, because they're just too stupid to educate. Ezra has a nice series of links pointing out how deeply wrong Murray has been about everything intelligence-related he's ever written about.

I read the Bell Curve back when it came out, and Samuel Johnson said it best: "Your manuscript is both good and original. Unfortunately, those parts that are good are not original, and those parts that are original are not good."


 

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Dance!

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 01.19.07

My own preferences for dancing involve actual dance music, but most others seem to disagree. So: suggest music that's good for actual dancing at actual parties.


 

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Expanding Horizons

Posted by Ogged
on 01.19.07

My guess is that this is something most people have noticed, but which isn't discussed enough: from the recent Times article about naked parties in college:

...another senior, says the party changed her idea of what an attractive body looks like. "We're used to the naked bodies we see on movie screens," she says, "not natural, typical bodies. I found that people who would have been considered heavy with their clothes on actually looked better naked. I'm not sure why. And definitely the gaunt look was a lot less attractive. Visible hip bones looked alarming. It was a nice reality check."

So right. Clothes makes most women (definitely not true for guys) look worse. Maybe this is just "Newsflash! Naked women look good!" but bodies that seem odd and bulky in clothes look perfectly natural and attractive without them. Partly, I think this is because we quickly and automatically sort bodies into thin/not-thin piles, and are habituated to think that the not-thin pile can't be attractive. But seeing someone naked, since it's not how we typically see people, breaks the habituated response, and lets us engage our natural human enjoyment of seeing other bodies. (Yeah, human nature--suck it, Foucault!) And partly I think it's because clothes generally obscure how the body fits together and is proportioned, so that we're not usually seeing bodies at all, but a silhouette that has itself become what's desired, with the body underneath having become a means to achieve the proper silhouette. When the clothes are taken away, there are a lot more ways for the body to interest us and look good.


 

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50 most loathsome people of 2006

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 01.19.07

The Buffalo Beast's list was a big hit last year, if I remember right. So here's the ranking for 2006, via the Apostropher.


 

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Followup on storage technology

Posted by Ben
on 01.19.07

Too bad, however, that I can only actually mount the fucker after stopping my firewall altogether. (Oh wait, that's not true; if I open everything up to the server, then it mounts eventually. But it mounts really snappy with the firewall stopped.)

Filesystem            Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on

192.168.1.4:/nethdd 698G 992K 698G 1% /home/w-lfs-n/tmp


 

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The Trauma!

Posted by Becks
on 01.19.07

I know this is ground well trod on this blog but I can't resist pointing out that the NYT has once again topped itself in "Who the hell do they think their average readers are?" absurdity: a 1900+ word article on how hard it is to get good service for high-end kitchen appliances in your vacation home.


 

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Sledding

Posted by Ogged
on 01.19.07

If it had snowed in San Francisco, and people had tried to drive, I imagine it would have been a lot like this. (Seems to be Portland, Oregon, and I'm assuming that there's a slope, but it's hard to be sure.)


 

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Mewling Wussies Reconsidered

Posted by Ogged
on 01.18.07

During the glory days of the blog, I claimed that pop music sucks, and sucks because it's too earnest. Today, I stand before you to say that I was wrong. What was going on, best as I can tell, is that I was substituting moral and characterological considerations--which I understand, and can make shit up about--for musical considerations, which I don't understand at all beyond "I like it" and "I don't like it." But now I suspect that there's something musically different between the music I like and the music I don't--and I also suspect that y'all might have the musical knowledge and vocabulary to tell me what it is.

(Of course it goes without saying that I still hate mewling wussies and earnestness, and there are still a lot of earnest mewling wussies making pop music. Also, there was much debate about what "pop" meant. For the purposes of this discussion, it means pretty much anything recommended by Yglesias or Catherine.)

So, here's something from the White Stripes, which I like a lot, and here's something from Bloc Party, that I don't like at all. Something from the Be Good Tanyas, which I love, and something from The Blow, which I don't. Finally, a bit of Blind Willie Johnson, which is maybe the best thing ever, and then something from Taj Mahal, which is just meh.

If we can skip the part where you tell me I have terrible taste in music, that would be great. If you can tell me about the musical differences between the things I like and the things I don't, that would be extra great.


 

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It's A Paradox

Posted by Ogged
on 01.18.07

1. I complain that using Google's services lets Google keep track of my searches, which feels intrusive.

2. Google reads my mind; allows disabling of "personalized search."

3. I am thrilled.


 

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Two neat things from a talk on graphics and grammar

Posted by Ben
on 01.18.07

Gapminder (also take a look at some of the other axes available, and run the video and whatnot); Amaznode.

We were also shown a poster done by (or under the aegis of) Otto Neurath captioned "Schicksal der Soldaten", but I can't find the image online.

Also I just ran amaznode on John Crowley and discovered this! Hooray!


 

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A Biographical Note On 'Dirty Hippies', Or Why I Don't Deserve All That Much Credit For Being Right About The War: Listening To Silly People

Posted by LizardBreath
on 01.18.07

When talking about who was right about the war to begin with, the words 'dirty hippie' have emerged as a description of the sort of silly leftist sensible people are ashamed to be associated with. ("Hippies" is of course a ridiculous oversimplification -- I'm including everything from actual hippies to the academic far left to the 'activist community'. You probably know what I mean -- if not, harass me in comments.) Some people (did Matt Yglesias say this? Or am I thinking of Ezra Klein?) based their initial support for the war partially on not wanting to line up with the sort of person who carries puppets to demonstrations, and I think that attitude was pretty widespread among liberal hawks. War opponents were silly people: the kind of puppet-wielding, speech-code-instituting, red-dye-on-fur-coats-throwing, homeopathic-medicine-taking, conspiracy-theorist nitwits who no one should be listening to about anything. So once you knew the hippies were wrong, because, you know, hippies, the arguments for the war got a lot more persuasive.

And I have a lot of sympathy for people who felt that way -- back in college, I spent a fair amount of time as the rightmost person in a leftist bunch, and rolled my eyes a lot. If you're putting most of your energy into coming up with a really cool acronym for your group, you're not a sensible person. I went to a couple of New York State Green Party meetings in the early nineties, and stopped largely because of the platform's focus on the importance of literally homeopathic medicine. Really, that's just dumb -- both homeopathic medicine at all, and thinking that nattering about it in a political platform makes any sense.

But I was never tempted to think that the war was a good idea because there were silly people who opposed it; not because I'm more sensible than the people who made that mistake, but because of how I was raised. My parents had kids a little late -- while most of my contemporaries are children of Boomers, my parents were born in 1938 and 1940. And they really weren't keen on hippies. The Beatles ruined rock&roll, sex and drugs simply weren't spoken of, and you look like an idiot with long hair. Astrology is bullshit, as is anything describing itself as 'spirituality', and pretending you're Native American is unseemly if you aren't. The "Jesus Christ you people are embarrassing" reaction to anyone waving a sign is the one I was raised with.*

But, they were also always leftists. They opposed the Vietnam War from day one, were right out there on civil rights from the beginning, and raised my sister and me as feminists without any questions about it. Capitalism was something that needed to be watched closely, and picket lines were not to be crossed. So my knee-jerk reaction to "hippies", any sort of silly, embarrassing leftists, is that while I don't want to be seen with them, I probably agree with them about most things. Even if their politics are reflexive and not well thought out, they're using basically the right rules of thumb, and on any issue that I haven't thought out thoroughly myself, I'm more likely than not to come down on the same side as they do. Where I haven't figured out an opinion that I can solidly back up yet, and usually where I have, I'm lining up with the people dressed as sea turtles.

This isn't good judgment; it's literally a prejudice. But I do think in general it gives good answers more often than not. You can't successfully get anything right by trying to avoid agreeing with silly people. There are too many silly people, and they're all over the map -- no matter how sane, or well reasoned, or intelligent some position is, some absolute ninny out there agrees with it. The best thing to do is not to let prejudice affect your decision-making. But if you're going to be swayed by prejudice, and we all are, trying to avoid idiots is going to lead you astray -- better you should align yourself with the gang of idiots who you think have the best track record generally.

*This is my parents, rather than me, talking. Apologies to any insulted hippies out there.


 

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Are we not men? We are the robots!

Posted by Ben
on 01.18.07

When The Residents tour, it is said that they usually book two shows for the same evening in different but nearby cities, and split up actual members of the band with touring members so that people won't know who's actually a Resident and who's just been contracted by the Cryptic Corporation to be a Visitor. My question to you: given the advanced state of animatronic robot technology, and given that Kraftwerk used to threaten just to stay home entirely and send robots on tour, why doesn't Kraftwerk adopt a similar strategy? Two members tour with two animated mannequins.


 

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Tough, But Not Indestructible

Posted by Ogged
on 01.18.07

When I read about ex-NFL player Andre Waters' suicide a couple of months ago, the name was familiar, but I didn't pay much attention. But when I saw the picture at the top of this Times piece, I thought, "Of course! Andre Waters, the insanely hard-hitting safety for the Eagles...." I probably watched the game the picture is from. The story, unfortunately, is a mostly bitter bittersweet tale about the long-term effect of multiple concussions. Waters, at 44, had brain degenration equivalent to that of an 85 year-old with early Alzheimer's. And the seriousness of concussions is only beginning to be understood. But Chris Nowinski, a former fooball player who now suffers from migraines and depression, read about Waters and convinced his family to give him parts of Waters' brain to have analyzed. That's what revealed the degeration and gave some solace to the family, who were wondering why the previously happy and gregarious Waters might have killed himself. So, words of caution:

"The young kids need to understand; the parents need to be taught," said Kwana Pittman, 31, Mr. Waters's niece and an administrator at the water company near her home in Pahokee, Fla. "I just want there to be more teaching and for them to take the proper steps as far as treating them.

"Don't send them back out on these fields. They boost it up in their heads that, you know, 'You tough, you tough.' "

 

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Party All The Time

Posted by Becks
on 01.18.07

Yet Another NYC Unfogged Meetup: M. LeBlanc (if you haven't figured out who that is by now, *THWAP*) is going to be in town next week to once again put the rest of us to shame by actually doing something about the enemy combatant/habeas corpus issue besides bitching about it on the Internet.

Who's up for drinks or something on Thursday night?


 

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On Dicking Around

Posted by LizardBreath
on 01.17.07

AWB has a post on 'dicking around' -- the sort of nonproductive 'work' that you do in a field that interests you just for the hell of it. Computer people code for fun; literature types argue about theory in their spare time, or blog about it; and it's an awfully productive way to learn more about anything.

Go read her post -- it's interesting, and I haven't put together anything to say about it.


 

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O My People

Posted by Ogged
on 01.17.07

First, we had the Iranian guy sprinkling feces on donuts, now we have Kim Kardashian, Iranian chick, best friend to Paris Hilton, daughter of former OJ lawyer the late Robert Kardashian, set to appear in a sex tape which ends, apparently with someone peeing on her. Remember the good old days when the baddies might drag your country's name through the mud?

(Also, one might note that again in the good old days, we used to wonder why the hell Paris Hilton was famous. Now, just being Paris Hilton's friend makes you famous.)

(And, now that I've looked at the linked pictures, I shudder at the epic depilation this woman has undergone.)


 

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Ogged done me wrong

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 01.17.07

On Ogged's recommendation I signed up for a trial of emusic. It's been a frustrating experience. I downloaded the "download manager," selected some tracks, and..."file not available." Every time. What, demand for Mahler 5 is such that not everyone can get to it at once? Ah, I'll check the FAQ.

Issue: Why do I get a "File: Not Available" message when trying to get songs I queued for download?
A: The files in your Download Manager queue are temporary files that will expire if you do not download your song(s). If you see the error message "File: Not Available", please re-download your track(s). You will not lose download credits.

That's completely unhelpful. It keeps happening. I have yet to download anything, though I have managed to become very, very irritated.


 

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Chew On This

Posted by Becks
on 01.17.07

I saw the preview for Lucky You when I was at the movies last weekend. I feel conflicted about Drew Barrymore. She's kind of likeable but some of her mannerisms annoy me and are distracting, most notably the way she sort of chews her face when she is talking while trying to act all cute. It's the same problem that Katie Holmes has (with her acting - girl's got plenty of other problems).


 

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Contrapted

Posted by Ogged
on 01.17.07

It seems kind of elaborate as a cure for constipation, but ingenuity is its own reward.


 

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Why Were You Right About The War?

Posted by LizardBreath
on 01.17.07

There's a discussion richocheting around the blogs I read on whether people who opposed the Iraq war should have any additional credibility going forward on the basis of having made correct predictions about how badly it would turn out, or whether their opposition was generally based on being reflexively opposed to war, and didn't involve being right about any of the specifics. Kevin Drum isn't sure how to settle this, given that he's having a hard time finding antiwar positions from before the war to evaluate.

In response, Dave Johnson at Seeing the Forest dug up an April 10, 2003 post from Steve Gilliard describing how things in Iraq were likely to slide downhill toward civil war, in what looks today like astonishingly prescient detail. I'd say that if we're awarding credibility on the basis of having seen how things were likely to go, Steve gets a fair helping.

I wasn't blogging back then, but I was posting on a forum that's still around and has archives, and while I was arguing back and forth more than writing position papers, I found this of mine from March 28, 2003, in response to another poster who had accused me of not caring sufficiently for the welfare of the Iraqi people:

I understand this war is upsetting for you, it's upsetting for everyone. You're right that I don't have a miracle solution for wiping out war, and torture, and oppression, and rape, and fear, and poverty worldwide.

This war isn't a solution either. Saddaam is a nightmare, but he isn't that unusual as far as nightmare dictators go. People are tortured in lots of places. Prisoners are tortured and raped in Turkey, in Burma, in Morocco. Armies go around cutting off people's hands in Sierra Leone. Egypt, Syria and Jordan will use torture to interrogate prisoners, and we've shipped some of our Al Qaeda prisoners to those countries for interrogation -- we hope not with the purpose of having them tortured.

The fact that Hussein isn't that unusual doesn't mean that we shouldn't try to make things better, but it does mean that we've got no guarantees that he won't be replaced by someone just as bad. We'll win this war militarily (we could hardly manage to lose it) but we'll kill a lot of Iraqis doing it. They won't love us when this is over. Do you think we'll be able to set up a stable, pro-American democracy in Iraq after attacking them, bombing their cities, and killing thousands of their conscript soldiers and civilians? If we want a pro-American government in power, we're going to have to set up another dictatorship, and dictatorships are brutal.

You don't know how much I wish you were right -- that we could march into Baghdad, be greeted as the liberators of the Iraqi people, free them from oppression, and lead them into a peaceful future as citizens of the wealthy and stable nation that Iraq has the potential for being. I hope I'm wrong that we're going to exchange one psychotic dictator originally aided by the US because his interests were aligned with ours, for a new dictator who may be more or less psychotic, but will certainly be brutal. There's a U.S. Army maxim, "Hope is not a plan," and I can't help but believe that anyone who thinks that this war is certain to improve the lot of the Iraqi people is mistaking their hopes for a plan that has any decent chance of coming true.

I don't get anything like Steve's credit for prescience -- I overestimated the chance of a stable outcome in Iraq, assuming that we'd be able to set up a brutal pro-American dictatorship, at least for awhile. But I think I can at least be acquitted of believing that the problem with the war was going to be achieving initial military victory, rather than handling the aftermath, which is the main error that premature antifascists opponents of the war now appear to be accused of, and I don't remember being out of step with other opponents of the war at the time.

I'm not suggesting that anyone needs to abase themselves before me -- I didn't have any concerns before the war that weren't blindingly obvious. But I do think that anyone who had trouble successfully seeing the same blindingly obvious things I saw at the time should be putting a lot of effort into reevaluating their decisionmaking.

Anyone else who had a position opposing the war beforehand that's still online someplace should link it in the comments. I'm interested in knowing what people were thinking.


 

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Reading Group?

Posted by LizardBreath
on 01.17.07

Ezra Klein's thinking of starting one, oriented toward political non-fiction. While ours have tended to run into the ground (Being and Time still lurks ominously on my office bookshelf), anyone who's interested should go check it out.


 

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Rip It

Posted by Becks
on 01.17.07

Say I've got a message on my cell phone's voicemail and I want to turn it into a mp3 and post it to the Internet? What's the best way to do that?

Constraints: I don't think my computer has a microphone and I run Windows.


 

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Your Other Brain

Posted by Ogged
on 01.16.07

The hosting recommendation thread was a success (I'm very happy with TextDrive--I can send mail like, whenever I want!) and I hope these are useful for other people too, soooo...I'm looking for a web-based service where I can store notes and clips and links and whatever else pops into my head or I come across that I want to remember or save. Beyond that, the only thing that it must have is a way to add to it easily with a bookmarklet or some such.

Google Notebook more or less does what I want, but I can't be the only person who hates having google track what I search for in a way that's associated with my mail account, so I only sign into Gmail to search my mail and then sign out again--and not being signed in means that I'd have to sign in each time I wanted to add something to Notebook.

I took a look at Remember the Milk, which seems pretty slick, but only does to-do lists. del.icio.us, as far as I know, only handles bookmarks. I'm just about ready to go with Backpack, but that, inexplicably, doesn't allow you to search what you've saved, and maybe y'all know of something that's even better. As always, if you recommend something, a word or two about why you think it's good would be helpful.


 

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Darned If I Know

Posted by LizardBreath
on 01.16.07

TPM has a peculiar story: seven, possibly eight, US Attorneys have resigned in recent months, some at least under pressure from the Administration, and are being replaced by appointees. Until the reauthorization of the Patriot Act, US Attorneys appointed to fill vacancies could only serve for 120 days without confirmation, but a provision in the Act that didn't get a lot of attention removed that requirement; these appointees will be able to serve out the remainder of their predecessors' terms without having to go before the Senate.

What does this mean? Look at the post title. But that's an awful lot of resignations in a short time, and it certainly gets the paranoid fancy spinning.


 

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Golden Globes

Posted by Ogged
on 01.16.07

You, you haters of awards shows, probably missed Sacha Baron Cohen's acceptance speech at the Golden Globes last night. Too bad for you. Like the scene on which it riffs, much of the comedy derives from the fact that he keeps at it long after you think the joke is exhausted. Nice.


 

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Maybe He Didn't Mean It

Posted by Ogged
on 01.16.07

Paragraphs that make even erstwhile aspiring "continental" philosophers cry.

Philosophers since Descartes have been taken with the idea that we know our own conscious experiences or "phenomenology" directly and with a high level of certainty. Although infallibilism in this regard has been under heavy attack since the 1960's, philosophers still generally assume that our knowledge of our own phenomenology is quite good and that, for example, we are extremely unlikely to be grossly mistaken about our own current phenomenology when we concentrate extended attention on it. I argue against this claim.

Take it away, John Emerson.

(The problem with this weep-inducing paragraph is that plenty of philosophers haven't believed that we know our conscious experiences "directly and with a high level of certainty," and how someone can write something like that after Nietzsche, whose every fifth sentence is about our ignorance of our own thoughts and motivations, is a mystery probably best left mysterious.)

But: A good rant, spoiled: Labs makes a good point in defense.


 

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Space

Posted by Ogged
on 01.16.07

Consider this a survey of the attitudes of the young and good-looking about urban living. The other day, I passed a building of what seemed to be quite hip and cool lofts, so I made a note of the address and looked it up when I got home. They're surely very nice to look at, with all their clean lines and big windows, but if you take a gander at the virtual tour, and then at the floorplans, you'll see quite clearly the shoebox shape of each unit, and the fact that other than the front door, there doesn't seem to be another door in the place. They're lofts, duh, but I hadn't given much thought to what it would be like to live in one. Now that I have, it seems like it would be kind of awful. It's probably the midwestern grandmother in me, but where do you go in such a place if you want to feel cozy, or if you want some privacy? So, do any of you live in such a place, or want to?


 

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Texas meet-up

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 01.16.07

Another Unfogged social event. The elite Washington establishment had theirs; now it's time for Real Americans to step up.

Details: Austin TX, Saturday January 20, dinner location TBA, drinks afterwards at Carousel Lounge.

Guest list/reasons to attend: M/tch M/lls, Sir Kraab, "soubzbqskrisquket," heebie-geebie, Neil the EW, and some local leftists. Anyone who can make it is welcome. This should be fun and I'm sorry I won't be there.

RSVP/plan in comments.


 

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Funny Arar

Posted by Ogged
on 01.16.07

Little Mosque on the Prarie. Yes, it's the newest Canadian sitcom, indicating that our neighbors to the north are at least a bit less on edge than we are.

...the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's new situation comedy, "Little Mosque on the Prairie," is attracting such attention here. "It is a risk doing a sitcom about what can be considered a very touchy subject," said Kirstine Layfield, executive director of network programming at CBC.

But last Tuesday's series premiere attracted 2.09 million viewers, impressive in a country where an audience of one million is a runaway hit. The CBC had not had a show draw that size audience in a decade, according to the network.

And thanks to the miracle of internet lawbreakers, you can watch the whole pilot episode yourself. It is, as the Times notes, pretty hokey, but you have to start somewhere.


 

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The Day The Clown Drank.

Posted by LizardBreath
on 01.16.07

Clownæthesiologist is taking a job outside Manhattan, and is celebrating by drinking at Chumley's. The time is 6:30 until late on this Friday, the 19th. Expected are RL friends of the Clown's, Roy of Alicublog, and anyone reading this who'd like to show (lurkers, as always, included.)


 

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Banned! Not!

Posted by Ogged
on 01.15.07

Some pretty cool pictures from Iran up on MSNBC. Look for Kurt Cobain and Santa Claus.


 

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디지털 권리 관리

Posted by Ogged
on 01.15.07

In a very clear and informative article on DRM in music and iTunes specifically, there's something that I did not know.

IN the long view, Mr. Goldberg said he believes that today's copy-protection battles will prove short-lived. Eventually, perhaps in 5 or 10 years, he predicts, all portable players will have wireless broadband capability and will provide direct access, anytime, anywhere, to every song ever released for a low monthly subscription fee.

It's a prediction that has a high probability of realization because such a system is already found in South Korea, where three million subscribers enjoy direct, wireless access to a virtually limitless music catalog for only $5 a month.

Cool. In the meantime, the author, like so many other people lately, says to check out emusic, which sells DRM-free songs.


 

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Traditional Modern Love Blogging Has Been Delegated

Posted by LizardBreath
on 01.15.07

Yesterday's Modern Love column left me boggling too hard to write anything about it. So go read Pandagon, with additional disturbing details.

Where do they find people to write these columns? They frighten me.


 

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Fair and balanced.

Posted by Apostropher
on 01.15.07

I think that Barack Obama's presidential aspirations can probably survive his being outed as the Antichrist, but the child molestation conviction is going to be a tough one.


 

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A regular gig

Posted by Ben
on 01.15.07

After an absence of many months, I once again have a weekly radio show, to be entitled "Jena and Gomorrah" and broadcasting on KZSU from 9am to 11am PST every Tuesday morning—meaning, of course, that the first show will be tomorrow morning. I'm toying with the idea of doing only themed shows (m-radio!), and, even if that doesn't pan out, you'd better believe that tomorrow's show will be devoted ad maiorem gloriam of the second-most-underrated instrument played by squeezing, viz., the accordion, with contributions likely to appear from Accordion Tribe, both as a group and in some cases individually, Frode Haltli, A Hawk and a Hacksaw, Gogol Bordello, Richard Thompson, Luciano Berio (as composer, not instrumentalist, obvs.), at least two Finns, Andrea Parkins, and Hamster Theatre.


 

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MLK

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 01.15.07

We honor the life and legacy of the Reverend Dr Martin Luther King jr and the many others whose lives were dedicated to the fight for civil rights.

It is wrong, today of all days, to use the words of Dr King for our own purposes, but it is not too much of a stretch, I think, to say that this is a good time to reflect on the great courage and wisdom required to insist on justice while rejecting the easy appeal of violence.

In 1958, King was stabbed, and the tip of the knife came right up to his aorta without cutting it. The Times reported that a sneeze would have killed him, and one well-wisher wrote him to say how glad she was that he didn't sneeze. The night before King died, ten years later, this is what he said:

And I want to say tonight, I want to say that I am happy that I didn't sneeze. Because if I had sneezed, I wouldn't have been around here in 1960, when students all over the South started sitting-in at lunch counters. And I knew that as they were sitting in, they were really standing up for the best in the American dream. And taking the whole nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the Founding Fathers in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. If I had sneezed, I wouldn't have been around in 1962, when Negroes in Albany, Georgia, decided to straighten their backs up. And whenever men and women straighten their backs up, they are going somewhere, because a man can't ride your back unless it is bent. If I had sneezed, I wouldn't have been here in 1963, when the black people of Birmingham, Alabama, aroused the conscience of this nation, and brought into being the Civil Rights Bill. If I had sneezed, I wouldn't have had a chance later that year, in August, to try to tell America about a dream that I had had. If I had sneezed, I wouldn't have been down in Selma, Alabama, to see the great movement there. If I had sneezed, I wouldn't have been in Memphis to see a community rally around those brothers and sisters who are suffering. I'm so happy that I didn't sneeze.

And they were telling me, now it doesn't matter now. It really doesn't matter what happens now. I left Atlanta this morning, and as we got started on the plane, there were six of us, the pilot said over the public address system, "We are sorry for the delay, but we have Dr. Martin Luther King on the plane. And to be sure that all of the bags were checked, and to be sure that nothing would be wrong with the plane, we had to check out everything carefully. And we've had the plane protected and guarded all night."
And then I got into Memphis. And some began to say that threats, or talk about the threats that were out. What would happen to me from some of our sick white brothers?
Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn't matter with me now. Because I've been to the mountaintop. And I don't mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people will get to the promised land. And I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.

 

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Ipod

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 01.15.07

I'm trying to decide between a nano and the larger hard-drive ipod. In favor of nano: smaller, more convenient, and 4gb is all I'll need at a time (he says, blithely). Also I have this feeling that since it's a flash drive it will be more durable and reliable. In favor of the larger sibling: lots of memory, for not that much more money, and video might be a fun toy once in a while. But it looks just large enough to annoy me, I'm not sure I need the extra space, and it does cost more. Thoughts?


 

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Commander In Chief

Posted by LizardBreath
on 01.15.07

Jacob Levy has a post asking to what extent Congress may, constitutionally, block Bush's escalation of the war, or may affect the military course of the war at all. While Levy is unsympathetic to Bush's generally expansive claims of executive power, he's concerned that this may be an area where Bush's claims are constitutionally justified:

And yet, whatever else the president may be, he is the commander-in-chief. If we accept that Congress' authorization of force against Iraq was the constitutional equivalent of a declaration of war (as de facto it seems we must--insisting on formal declarations of war has apparently become the constitutional equivalent of grammarians insisting on "thou" instead of the singular "you") then I think it pretty well ended Congress' involvement in military decisions. Moving troops around among the places where they're legally authorized to be is central to the role of commander-in-chief, isn't it?

The administration has been putting a lot of weight on Levy's argument here, that Bush is the commander in chief, and as such his authority in national security matters cannot be trammeled. I think that's a bad argument as a reading of the Constitution, for the following reasons*.

Given that we're making a constitutional argument, it makes sense to begin by comparing the enumerated war powers of Congress to those of the President. Congress's powers that bear on war are the following:

To define and punish piracies and felonies committed on the high seas, and offenses against the law of nations;

To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water;

To raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years;

To provide and maintain a navy;

To make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces;

To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States, reserving to the states respectively, the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress...

In contrast, the full extent of the President's war powers, as described in the Constitution, is this:

The President shall be commander in chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several states, when called into the actual service of the United States...

The obvious contrast between the two passages is that Congress has enumerated powers relating to war, and the President has a job title. Further, Congress's enumerated powers, including the power to financially support (or fail to support) the military, are clearly practically sufficient, if aggressively exercised, to allow Congress to control the President's activity as CinC. It is clear that, under the Constitution, Congress could, tomorrow, require that all funding to the military be cut off unless the Administration fulfilled some specific condition; it has the practical power to micromanage the President's military decisions.

Levy's (or, I should really say the Administration's -- Levy seems to be raising it, rather than wholeheartedly endorsing it) argument is that Congress may not exercise its enumerated war powers to counteract the President's military policy (once we have legally entered a state of war, which deserves another post for itself), because the Constitutional grant of the title 'Commander in Chief' to the President implies that the President's military policy judgment, where it conflicts with that of Congress, should be supreme. All the weight of the argument is that the job title 'Commander in Chief' so clearly means 'Person properly subject to no higher authority in matters of military policy' that even where the Constitution grants Congress a power that does, in practice, allow it to constrain the CinC's actions, that it would be improper for Congress to exercise its power.

Put in these terms, the argument is weak to the point of nonexistence. 'Commander in Chief' wasn't a new title created by the Constitution to signify an unprecedented level of military authority; it was a conventional term for the general in charge of a nation's armed forces. Washington was the Commander in Chief of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War; it would be absurd to suggest that that title, before it was incorporated in the Constitution, gave him the legal authority to disregard the Continental Congress's wishes with regard to the conduct of the war. And nothing in the text of the Constitution states in any fashion, implicit or explicit, that the term 'Commander in Chief' has been redefined from the office Washington held to include a power to override Congress on matters of military policy.

The American presidency has great policy powers because Congress is a slowmoving, internally conflicted, five hundred and thirty-five headed monster. But where Congress can get itself pointed in one direction sufficiently to establish a military policy, there is no basis for the belief that the executive may countermand Congress's orders as enacted into law.

*Note: This is going to be an argument based on the text of the Constitution -- anyone reacting to it by pointing out that I am not generally an originalist or a textualist (a) can bite me, and (b) should understand that my point is that the text of the Constitution does not compel us to grant Bush the power he claims. If you want to argue that Bush should have that sort of absolute power for reasons of practical policy, I'm perfectly willing to argue with that on those terms.

Update: Cass Sunstein responds to Levy.


 

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A question about end times

Posted by Ben
on 01.14.07

After the millenium, does everyone go to heaven, or are the damned still in hell? If so, who's in charge?

Also, I haven't been keeping up with the Left Behind books—have a third of all the waters turned to blood, and all that stuff? This is all supposed to happen in a timely manner, right? I'd think that that would sort of interfere with running around trying to do whatever it is that the characters are trying to do (presuming they're trying to do anything more than stay alive).


 

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"I have here in my hand a list..."

Posted by LizardBreath
on 01.14.07

Of law firms with the temerity to represent those imprisoned at Guantanamo.

I was out of town, so I'm a couple of days late reacting to Charles Stimson's (deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee affairs) public listing of firms that represent detainees and suggestion that the clients of those firms should withdraw their business. This is literally an attempt to create a McCarthyist-type blacklist; Stimson is trying to ruin people professionally because he's politically opposed to the causes (like, oh, the rule of law) they're working for. I doubt it will have any effect; they've left it too late. Dark accusations of aiding the terrorists might have had some resonance in 2002, but the last five years of watching the administration drain every last bit of political advantage from the GWOBadThingsAndScaryPeople should (I hope) make this look like the pathetic flailing that it is.

Over the past few years I've read a couple of attempts to rehabilitate McCarthyism, claiming that it was justified because there were real Communist spies out there. Stimson's nasty little attempt at a 21st century blacklist is a beautiful illustration of what a stupid, stupid argument that is. Of course there were Soviet spies in the US in the 1950s, and we were perfectly justified in trying to find them and arrest them. But the actors, and musicians, and professors, and schoolteachers, who were blacklisted and had their livelihoods taken away weren't those spies, and nothing HUAC did to them had any positive effect on our national security. Likewise, there are real terrorists out there -- Al Qaeda isn't imaginary -- but punishing lawyers for representing detainees isn't going to do a blessed thing to keep us safe from them.


 

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I Did Not Know That

Posted by LizardBreath
on 01.14.07

While spending the weekend in Rochester for a family wedding, I found, in the hotel gift shop, a series of Amish-themed romance novels. I have to say that it would never have occured to me that there was a market for such things.


 

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You're A Goner

Posted by Ogged
on 01.14.07

Verily, well do I recall the terrors and mystifications of puberty.

But I was never this clueless.

Two weeks ago I decided to taste my own semen. Right now I feel like I have a fever and also see white patches on my tongue, even though I've never had sex. Is it possible to catch HIV from your own semen?

Plenty more cluelessness where that came from. All from Jackinworld, "The ultimate male masturbation resource."


 

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A Find

Posted by Ogged
on 01.14.07

If you're a fan of the blues, K.M. Williams is the real deal (sound at the link).


 

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