Thursday, July 31, 2008

Magic Trick: Disappearing Head of State




Beware the "Shrewd Friend"

That elusive recurring character at The Corner...

Know Thy Enemy

I'm not really sure how or why this is useful, but it seems like a useful device if you're, say, planning some sort of Walmart-based reality show or gonzo documentary. I do wonder about Walmart Watch (creators of the Waldemart campaign)... it has to go out of business, doesn't it, as Walmart slowly and grudgingly co-opts its message? I'd give the watchdog group another year or two but not more. (Related story: what will happen to MoveOn after Bush?)

Airport Naming Switcheroo

Kos wants to drop Ted Stevens as an eponym and replace him with Reagan. Or does he?

How Important Was the Surge? A Symposium


Stop Hoarding Those Rare Books, You Misers!

Not content with his almost-certain Darwin Award, British rare-book thief Raymond Scott tries to start a class war!

What's with the shirt? That shirt is definitely not going to help him beat that "theft of priceless national treasure" rap.

Kevin Drum to Dana Milbank: Stop Trying to Be Maureen Dowd


Cauliflower Ear

"A familiar chasm separates what women dig from what dudes imagine women dig. But for mixed martial arts, a combination of boxing, wrestling and jiu-jitsu that has found favor among young men, cauliflower ear has assumed a place alongside such evocative conditions as torn elbow ligaments in pitchers, knee tendinitis in marathon runners and torn anterior cruciate ligaments in female basketball players... In gym locker rooms and online discussion forums, teenage boys trade advice on ways to gain that telltale look."


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Perhaps By Louisiana Standards...

Does NPR political reporter Mara Liasson call Bobby Jindal a "Republican reformer" in this piece? Bobby Jindal is a lot of things, but a "reformer" he is not, unless the definition of reformer can be stretched to include hard-right conservative ideologues beloved by Rush Limbaugh. (Memo to Mara: "reformer" is not a synonym for "under 50 years old.")

Narnia Cybersquatting

The C.S. Lewis estate lays a smackdown.

Alternative Campaign Metrics

Alternative campaign metrics.

Yet Another Scrap Metal Scandal...

A real doozy -- including bribery of public officials!

What is the Plural of Starbucks?


DNC Weighs in on Veepstakes?


Kaus Coins a New Term

Omertapparatchik. And worries that without the release of actual photos of Edwards turning white and hiding in the bathroom at the Beverly Hills Hilton, the perfectly coiffed prey will somehow manage to get away: "It's like the famously parodied scene in a Bond film where instead of just shooting poor Bond the villain tries to stage some more elaborate and prolonged auto da fe, with the result that Bond is able to escape."

Connecticut People Power

The Hilltop Brigade, a grassroots organization in Connecticut ("our fair state," to paraphrase Click and Clack) that mobilizes volunteers in safe Dem congressional districts to work for Dem congressional candidates in adjoining non-safe districts, is lauded by Nancy Pelosi's daughter in her new book, "Campaign Boot Camp." Get the book and learn about other success stories from the frontlines of the progressive uprising.

(There is nothing particularly revolutionary about what Hilltop Brigade does -- but it is astonishing how many perfectly well-informed people have no idea what is going on in House races outside their own CD, even when the foreign district is geographically right around the corner; and while the Internet theoretically works against ignorance and provinciality, expensive media markets and increasingly targeted advertising work for it. HB has stepped into the void where utterly pathetic and feckless state parties have inexplicably failed to go.)

Daniel Schorr, National Treasure

"Schorr joked that a unique vantage point earned by 70 years in journalism often leaves him remembering the lessons of yesterday rather than focusing his still-razor-sharp skills on today’s headlines. As NPR’s senior news analyst, he alternates between offering historical parallels to the week’s events and analyzing the issues of the day."

Actually, the problem with Schorr's NPR work, and in particular his Weekend Morning Edition conversations with the execrable Scott Simon, is that he doesn't really exploit his unique seven-decades-in-journalism vantage point. He spends way too much time regurgitating CW about the day's headlines rather than placing it in historical context. No doubt my views are skewed by overbrimming exasperation and annoyance at Simon, but still Schorr sometimes seems a bit like Mariano Rivera coming into a game and choosing not to throw any cut fastballs, when that's his best pitch, and one of the best pitches by any pitcher ever.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Oil Shale Myths

"While new technologies are being developed that wouldn't require thousand-foot deep strip mines and surface retort (which creates volumes more toxic tailings than the actual rock removed as it 'popcorns' when retorted), these also carry severe environmental impacts. 100% of the ground above the resource being developed is stripped of all vegetation, bladed flat, drilled, and pin-cushioned with heating rods that heat the ground hundreds of feet deep to 700 degrees (F) for three years or longer."

Read the whole thing.

How You Know the Real Estate Market Has Really Gone Sour...

Extreme Home Makeover should have a periodic "where are they now?" show - that is, if the prospect of seeing the featured families struggling with their ramped-up property tax and utility bills (tack on a few hundred extra kilowatt-hours per month energy to heat that new 800 square foot rec room), and still struggling to pay that ARM mortgage weren't so damn depressing...

Monday, July 28, 2008

A Bush/JFK Resemblance

Early JFK, up until the Bay of Pigs, that is... perhaps Bush is finally learning to reject his own cadre of ultra-hawkish advisers, with less than a year left of his presidency (JFK's reckoning with sanity was a year into his presidency), though prospects of an attack on Iran still loom large, so it remains to be seen whether W has really moved out of his "team of unrivals" phase at all...

Sunday, July 27, 2008

For L.A., Does Size Matter?

DJ Waldie asks, "Now that the city's population has nearly stopped growing, how do we define ourselves?"

San Francisco's Charles Bukowski

"Critics have labeled him too much Tony Soprano and too little literary sophisticate."

Dan Fleshler Responds to Phillip Weiss

"There is nothing stopping you and all of your fans from organizing all Americans." Indeed! By all means, if your group is on the verge of ending the occupation and bringing a just and lasting peace to the Middle East, J Street certainly isn't stopping you... otherwise why not let someone else have a shot?

J Street has actually been extremely effective in its first few months of existence. It has received a tremendous amount of free publicity, had its Lieberman/Hagee petition plugged by MoveOn and DFA, sponsored a widely publicized and eye-opening survey on American Jewish public opinion, and most importantly, been attacked by The New Republic. So why is the Free Palestine crowd so eager to summarily dismiss it as 'AIPAC lite?' What have Jeremy Ben-Ami and his team done wrong? Exclusion of non-Jewish voices? (Are they filtering out non-Jewish names from their petitions or something?) Not expended their nascent political capital constantly denouncing IDF atrocities like a broken record? (Do we really need another group doing that?)

And in fact it's not just the Free Palestine folks who seem excessively aggrieved. People I know in the mainstream peace organizations (a.k.a. the "pro-Israel, pro-peace" bloc, namely APN and Brit Tzedek) mentioned by Fleshler are miffed that new-kid-on-the-block J Street is consuming all the media oxygen. Why doesn't Jeremy Ben-Ami mention in every one of his media appearances that APN and BTVS paved the way for J Street? How dare he?!?!

The left just never learns.

Bush To Issue Mass Pardons?

Like father, like son.

Friday, July 25, 2008

McCain Camp: Reagan is Unpatriotic


Sure, I Had Sex With Those Prostitutes, But There Was No Nazi S/M


High School Blogger Fights for Rights


Thursday, July 24, 2008

No More Google-Bombing?

Methinks that blogospheric troublemakers will not take long to prove that rumors of google-bombing's demise are greatly exaggerated. Any search-ranking algorithm can be successfully gamed in the absence of artificial (or real) intelligence. Call it the Merry Pundit Law.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

'The Onion' on the Demise of 'Ebert & Roeper'

"And thus the sun sets on the golden era of opposable-digit-based art criticism."

Beware of Foam Parties


Miley Cyrus, Environmental Hero?


WNBA Brawl

I'm probably just ignorant on this topic, but I don't recall ever hearing about this kind of brawl in women's basketball before. Auburn Hills just has a bad vibe, I guess.

Bolstering the Arab Center

Muasher, Jordan's first ambassador to Israel, knows of what he speaks.

A Glossary of Prison Slang

MoJo compilation includes "Buck Rogers time: a sentence with parole unimaginably far in the future." Buck Rogers? That's pretty damn old school.

And apparently the realism of MoJo's Prison Issue was just too much for prison censors, who seem to believe Mojo is worse than Hitler.

Amazing Business Cards


For Lazy Locavores

The rise of the remote-control backyard garden. True bioregionalists will have very mixed feelings about this.

Just Fucking Idiotic

"D-Beijing?" That's idiotic on so many levels, not least of which is the fact that Pelosi has been one of the biggest China critics in the entire Congress.

Benny Morris's Lunatic Harangue

William Hartung:

So why did the Times run the Morris piece? He's obviously entitled to his opinion, but as the paper has shown in its recent rejection of John McCain's op-ed on Iraq, there is no inherent right to be published in the New York Times. Did the editors think Morris's view was representative of some sort of consensus of Israeli opinion, as Morris (wrongly) implies? Did they think it was newsworthy that a well-regarded historian could hold such views? Were they seeking to provide that ever elusive quality -- balance? We may never know. Now that it is on the record, the only positive outcome will be if opponents of Morris's views speak out clearly and loudly in favor of a "diplomacy first" approach to the Iranian conundrum.

My guess is that David Shipler (who knows the Middle East well) does believe Morris's views are representative of Israeli public opinion... and perhaps this is wrong. What is more noteworthy is that Morris seems to believe that by publicizing in the US media Israel's growing consensus about confronting Iran he is somehow pressuring US policy-makers into having Washington do Israel's 'dirty work' for it, an assumption which is almost certainly wrong. In fact Morris is merely spotlighting what many will consider a delusional mass hysteria among Israeli elites, and the grating tendency in the Middle East to expect Washington to be the deux ex machina in every crisis. Nobody likes being confronted with ultimatums (least of all an American public that has grown somewhat weary of Middle East interventions) and Morris's piece has "ultimatum" written all over it.

Matthews on Leno

I watched it live, and it seemed to me about as close to an endorsement as you can get without actually showing a filled-out copy of your absentee ballot. (There was an explicit endorsement, however, when Kyra Sedgwick urged Matthews to run for President - which was a little, uh, painful and weird.)

Power Moby Dick, The Online Annotation

Seems well-done and user-friendly. And of course it's fascinating to see what ads google pairs with Moby Dick.

McCain's Crappy Record on the Grand Canyon

"McCain’s claim to Roosevelt-style environmentalism has been badly bruised by his silence on uranium mining near the park and on the Navajo Nation."

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Judaism Through Chinese Eyes

"Highly cosmopolitan Chinese, who are aware that Jews have distinct communities with deep roots in countries all around the world, especially in large cities, are the ones who tend to be most unsatisfied with the explanation of Judaism as merely a cultural tradition. That's because the notion of a generations-old diaspora made up largely of merchants, businessmen, and professionals is readily comprehensible to the Chinese. These kinds of tight-knit, assimilation-resistant, financially successful communities would appear to Chinese just like the tight-knit, financially successful overseas Chinese communities that exist today in countries around Asia -- including Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines -- and, of course, Chinatowns all over Europe and the Americas."

Where Old Politics Meets New Politics

David Kurtz has an interesting and wide-ranging chat with SF Mayor Gavin Newsom. Apparently Newsom met Ella Baker Center head honcho Van Jones (whom Newsom introduced at a panel at Netroots Nation) when Jones was protesting outside SF City Hall... a token gesture of the 'new politics,' or the very old-politics trick of 'keeping your enemies closer'?

Is Newsom usually this garrulous? And does he really think Jerry Brown is his main competition in the Dem primary for Governor?

Pay Money to Have Fish Nibble Dead Skin Off Your Feet

But do they respond to dinner bells?

Grillin' Out At "The Cabin"

What Ben Smith said. And note how Meghan talks about "the cabin" - referring to a massive vacation spread that is surely far larger than most people's primary residence.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Zellification Continued...

The trickle continues apace.

Amazing Sand Sculptures

From the New England Sand Sculpting Festival. Apparently no attempts at portraying Obama or McCain (you never know the politics of the competition judges, I guess).

What's the Motivation Here?

Kevin Drum thinks there's something fishy about the Obama fundraising numbers, but wonders what the strategic motivation would be for shell-gaming by the campaign.

"Stupid Credulous Hack of the Day"

A (very thinly disguised) literary hoax, exposed.

New York Post Takes on the Kabbalah Center

Seems uncharitable since they are getting mucho mileage out of the A-Rod/Madonna-as-kabbalistic-seductress story.

What the Hell is Wrong with the Smithsonian?

Sometimes I wonder if conservatives aren't right about government being completely hopeless. I've been trying to order some old exhibit catalogs from the National Portrait Gallery for a couple months now to no avail. What seems to be the problem? This gives a clue:

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What Happened?
An outside company that operated both our call center and distribution center shut down unexpectedly on Friday, March 14th, leaving hundreds of their loyal employees out of work. This is a most unfortunate and complicated situation involving bankers, lawyers, a dozen clients including the Smithsonian Catalogue, and several other catalog companies.

2. Why wasn’t the Smithsonian Catalogue better prepared for this situation?
Our service provider has been in business for 35 years. Up until the moment they shut their doors, they continued to provide us and our customers with excellent service. We had no reason to suspect that a suspension of services was imminent.

Well, the Smithsonian has been "in business" for over 100 years and I had "no reason to suspect" they would be so incompetent and helpless just because of a glitch in their service outsourcing. Lesson learned!

SC Legislator "Trying To Figure Out" How to Remove the Osama-Obama Image From His Website

Sounds like a perfect running mate for John "Getting On Myself" McCain. Interesting, too, that he pathetically cites the New Yorker cover as justification.

Captive Audience


Israel-Hezbollah Prisoner Swap Reconsidered...


Friday, July 18, 2008

Good Riddance

For more than a week now my post office (which is also used by the local university) has been completely littered with Jack Wills catalogs. (I give the link just for context and out of a pro forma sense of blogging responsibility - I despise the thought of giving them any free advertising.) They're in all the trash bins, all the recycling bins, on the floor, on the counter-tops... everywhere! Do they send catalogs to every college student in America? Why does the company think sending these things to college students during the summer (when nobody is around and so the junk mail and catalogs go directly into the recycling) is a good expenditure of money? But forget the money - what an obscene fucking waste of paper!

Campaign Advertising and American Democracy


Thursday, July 17, 2008

Kevin Drum: Cheer Up, Environmentalists!


Zellification Update

Kevin Roderick catches the LA Times in an editorial slip-up, and wonders if this is the trickle at the start of the deluge.

New Study Looks at American Inequality

"Asian-American males have the best quality of life and black Americans the lowest, with a staggering 50-year life expectancy gap between the two groups." Yikes.

Forget E-mail...


Australia's Luckiest Marsupial

Hit by a car going 60 mph, dragged with his head jammed through the vehicle grill for 7 miles, and lives to tell the tale. Sign this little bugger up for a stint on Jackass.

An Argument For Gun Control


Props to The Shark, Sort Of

I have to give props to Greg Norman (even if he is a Republican) for his stellar British Open performance today. But this is ridiculous: the guy's worth hundreds of million of dollars (his ex-wife just walked away with $100 million in the divorce settlement) and yet he weasels his way out of a $100 traffic ticket for talking on his cell phone while driving? Sheesh.

Who Says There's a Real Estate Slump?

Trump sells Florida estate to Russian oligarch for $95 million. I love the description of him as "waxen-haired serial sacker and noted golfer Donald Trump."

A Brief History of US Political Buttons in Hebrew


National Priorities Shuffle

Apparently there are some staffing changes at the National Priorities Project, a scrappy little nonprofit think-tank based in western Massachusetts. Longtime Executive Director Greg Speeter is leaving, as is longtime staffer Pamela Schwartz. Good luck to NPP as they re-organize their office, and good luck to Speeter and Schwartz in their new roles, whatever those may be.

Sad State of Boy Scouts

Henry Fernandez marvels at the fact that for today's Boy Scouts of America it's apparently fine to operate a poorly managed nonprofit that releases fraudulent membership data, ties up the courts with frivolous lawsuits that it repeatedly loses, and sheds nearly half its members in ten years, but admitting gays? No way.

Obama and Advani Compared

Chotiner: "Obama has not (to my knowledge) instigated a group of Hindu fanatics to burn a beloved mosque just so a Hindu temple could be built on the site." Maybe not, but it might still make a good 'satirical' New Yorker cover cartoon!

The Intersection of Science, Art, & Bullshit

"Analysis" of the commonalities of post-Einstein physics and philosophy always seems to come from the scientifically unlettered humanists, and never from the physicists... and it shows.

No exception is Joshua Cohen in The Forward:

To the scientist, such tendentious parallels foolishly reduce their model, denigrating the absolution of mathematics while depriving art of joy. But exploring analogies between Einsteinian relativity and the work of contemporaneous artists is a way of both relating an esoteric theory to the layperson and exorcising whatever ineffable power it was that, in the early days of the past century, chose to express itself so similarly in equations, music, paint and words.

Gag me with a spoon.

Louisiana Infighting Clouds Picture for Democratic Pickup


Kos Wins


Sen. Carl Levin: Liechtenstein's War on America


Code Pink's Struggle to be Relevant

A lot of the negativity heaped on Code Pink in left-leaning publications reminds me of the scorn heaped on the New Left by the Old Left.

Isn't Water Kosher? Sometimes Not...


The Right's George Soros (Only Twenty Times Richer)

Get to know Sheldon Adelson, here and here. A nice tidbit from the subscriber-only WSJ profile: Adelson believes the "two fundamental threats" to society are 1) radical Islam; and 2) secret ballots for union-organizing elections. At least he's identified his priorities.

My Neighborhood Scores a 75, and Yours?


Beer Pong Becomes "Pong Toss"

New Haven Advocate:

Connecticut's attorney general, worried that "Beer Pong" would entice minors to drink, successfully pressured JV Games to remove the booze reference from the game name—which will now be called "Pong Toss."

But Blumenthal failed to persuade the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) to change the game's rating from T (13+) to Adults Only (18+). Certainly not for a lack of his signature zingers, though.

"The video game rating board is under the influence—rating frat party video games suitable for minors," the AG said in a statement widely circulated through the local print and broadcast media.

Website, which picked up the story, quoted a letter from ESRB President Patricia Vance to Blumenthal warning the AG that he's simply drawing more attention to the game. "Ironically, this is likely to result in more rather than less consumers being drawn to this game, particularly those very minors all of us seek to protect."

If they do, kids will find a game with a newer, cleaner title, but an age-old premise: Get drunk and you'll score.

It is often joked that the most dangerous place in Connecticut isn't the gang-ridden inner city of Bridgeport or Hartford but between Dick Blumenthal and any TV camera.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Philippe de Montebello: Overseer of Ground Zero Rebuilding?

Letting a Frenchy (a French aristocrat, no less) be in charge of Ground Zero? Heresy!

Trump in Scotland


Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Michelangelo Code

Like the Da Vinci Code but with a Jewish angle.

Canada's Schiavo Case

Did Canada's medical system let Mr. Golubchuk of Winnipeg down? Or perhaps not like Schiavo at all?

Ambinder: McCain's Bipolar Economics Team

It's the Eisenhower Republicans versus the Kemp Republicans.

Death of Buddhism in Japan?


Obama's Missing 2 Percent


Bush Tours Damage Caused By Presidency


Michael Moore's Next Movie, "Fahrenheit Levi 501"?


McCain Viagra Billboard


Benihana's Founder Dies - Brutal Year for Food Founders


Begin the Beguine


Christian Right No Longer Matters?


Friday, July 11, 2008

The Last Witness

Hitler's bodyguard, and the last survivor of the group that was with the Fuehrer in the Berlin bunker where he committed suicide, is already a celebrity in Germany, and now is making money off his memoir. Please tell me the profits are going to charity.

Yiddish Porn Poem

Opening stanza:

Tsu Yiddish kumt a naye vort,
Un oykh tsu Is-ra-el iz dort:
Dos vort iz porn, a shmutsike zakh
Vos mener haltn fun a sakh

Thoughts on Koppel and Guy Raz as Talk of the Nation Hosts?

Koppel was atrocious - totally out of element with a studio audience (which he viciously chewed out for clapping at the wrong time). Raz has been somewhat better, but still mediocre. The only guest with whom he seemed to really be having a good time was master baker Shirley Corriher - they actually seemed to have quite a sexy rapport.

Question: has every MSM broadcast been moved to the Newseum, or does it just seem like it?

New Life For McCain Birth Issue?


In the most detailed examination yet of Senator John McCain’s eligibility to be president, a law professor at the University of Arizona has concluded that neither Mr. McCain’s birth in 1936 in the Panama Canal Zone nor the fact that his parents were American citizens is enough to satisfy the constitutional requirement that the president must be a “natural-born citizen.”

America's Pastime, America's Pests

The days of maple baseball bats may be numbered. Ash, the main alternative, has its own issues. But are metal bats any better?

Charlie Rangel's Four Rent-Stabilized Apartments

"Why should I help you embarrass me?" says he. One does wonder if some of this information came from leaks, and if so, from whom.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Solving Tomorrow's Problems Today

Oil companies: "Say, we must be making a fortune, huh? How the heck did that happen?"

Why Americans Don't Trust Government

Arugula From Farmers' Markets - Not Just For Liberals!

Speaking of Wendell Berry...

Kosher Agriprocessor Public Relations Shenanigans

Is this really newsworthy? Isn't this kind of stuff basically standard practice for public relations companies in this day and age? Not in the sense that these firms are any more immoral or amoral than they used to be. It's just a case of technological determinism and situational ethics. What it isn't is an anomaly.

World's Top Intellectuals

Wolfe in Sheep's Clothing

In sneering at Alan Wolfe (whose editors probably deserve equal contempt in this case), Douthat helpfully links to his own 2007 post about Russell Kirk, which I hadn't read before and which is well worth reading (if only for the off-hand slap at Jedediah Purdy and Wendell Berry), unless or perhaps especially if you are a fan of Alan Wolfe.

Does This Guy Really Have Sam Zell's Ear?

Actual quote from an actual memo by a Tribune Company executive:

THE WORLD OF SOUND: Still tied to earth? Escape! There's a world of sound: Natural: Thunderstorms Human: Running...panting....sleeping...crying Electronic: Phasing, Backwards songs, repeat echo, STEREO panning Created: Get out your audio brush and paint! Musical: We once tried Bagpipes on A Rock station and it sounded great! Harps, Oboes, Strings, Ukulele, Banjo,'s all there to use. Challenge the ear.

Tell Zell
has other fun ruminations.

Who's This Crazy "Global Warming" Alarmist Bill McKibben?


Colombia Hostage Rescue - The Israeli Angle


"Post-Secular" Society - What's It All About, Jurgie?


I cannot discuss in detail the controversy among sociologists concerning the supposed Sonderweg of the secularized societies of Europe in the midst of a religiously mobilized world society. My impression is that the data collected globally still provide surprisingly robust support for the defenders of the secularization thesis. In my view the weakness of the theory of secularization is due rather to rash inferences that betray an imprecise use of the concepts of ‘secularization’ and ‘modernization’. What is true is that in the course of the differentiation of functional social systems churches and religious communities increasingly confined themselves to their core function of pastoral care and had to renounce their competencies in other areas of society. At the same time, the practice of faith also withdrew into more personal or subjective domains. There is a correlation between the functional specification of the religious system and the individualization of religious practice.

Too Cool For School

In case you haven't been following, Andrew Sullivan has been knocking Obama around a bit the last few days for being unusually cocky in some of his latest campaign decisions. Now I completely agree with the underlying critique that Obama is essentially a cocky bastard (to the extent that all Presidential candidates are cocky bastards, and probably even a little beyond that) and I agree with some of the specifics Sullivan cites (for instance, the faux-Presidential seal), but how is letting your kids be interviewed an example of this? (In contrast, while I think the stadium thing is a good move, I can at least understand how that would be interpreted as hubris.) Is it that he's TOO proud of his kids? He's obscenely eager to show off their perfectness because it's a reflection of his own perfectness?

Symbolic of What?

Or not symbolic at all? Santiago Calatrava's Jerusalem project keeps them guessing.

Pickens-Perot 2008?

Folksy indeed. And perfect for a 30-minute campaign infomercial!

Gay Marriage: The Key To Happiness?


Do Blogs Take Labor Issues Seriously?

Nathan Newman: "And what really annoys me is that in the major union decision of the term, Chamber of Commerce v. Brown, one of the most anti-union results in decades, there was essentially zero commentary across the blogs."

Greatest. Bookstore. Ever.

And multiple book recs of the day from Chris Arnott, one of the many excellent arts writers toiling away all across this great land at heroically unglamorous free weekly newspapers.

JMM on the Perils of Small-Donation Fundraising


Censorship At My Local Library!

You just never think that it will happen to your own community. And you never think that when it does happen, you won't really give a shit!

Destefano is the man whom Kos has credited "in large part" with winning Connecticut for Barack Obama.

Something to Do in Madison, Wisconsin

Chris Farley Remembered

Celebrate the life of Madison native Chris Farley, a comedian who made it big on Saturday Night Live, with an exhibit featuring mementoes from his years in Wisconsin and as a celebrity. Included will be his rugby jacket from Marquette University, his "Callahan" baseball cap from the movie Tommy Boy, the campaign jacket he wore in Black Sheep, and the swords he used in Beverly Hills Ninja. The exhibit opens in conjunction with the release of a new biography The Chris Farley Show, co-written by his brother Tom Farley.

Add'l Contact Info: Call 608-264-6555

Ticket Info: Museum admission by donation: $4.00/adult, $3.00/child, $10.00/family. Free for WHS members

Location Description: Four floors of changing exhibit galleries, permanent exhibits and the museum store — located on Madison's Capitol Square

Venue: Wisconsin Historical Museum

Address: 30 North Carroll Street

City: Madison

Accessibility Info: The site is fully accessible to visitors requiring a wheelchair for mobility.

Event Location URL:

Enemy Surveillance

This Sullivan post reminded me that according to Alan Weisman's recent biography (and also mentioned on wikipedia, but without citation), arch-neocon and France-basher Richard Perle has long enjoyed his own little vacation spread in Provence, where he now apparently spends a good deal of his time. Love thy enemy - and don't forget to vacation there.

Turn on the Tour de France And Let the Inspiration (and Perspiration) Begin



Fight back against professional Dark Age fanatic Bill Donohue!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Trotting Out the Old GOP Jalopy

Sullivan thinks that McCain's new ad deploys anti-hippie messaging in an effective fashion. I'm of two minds about it. This is not re-introducing McCain, or "regaining the McCain brand" (per Sullivan), this is about re-introducing the old Nixon/Jesse Helms/Lee Atwater formula. And why not? It's been spectacularly successful: while there's a tendency to believe Democrats lose elections based on "cultural issues" like guns and gay marriage, in fact the seminal Republican triumphs in 1972, 1980 and 1992 were not based on particular issues but more on a general backlash against the perceived excesses of the 1960s combined with a law-and-order sensibility that had some racial politics mixed up in it. "Cleaning up that mess in Berkeley," Ronald Reagan called it. (This is one reason why it's pointless for Democrats to choose a smattering of "cultural issues" on which to tack to the center.) So the McCain spot would have been great in 1980... but in 2008? In this day and age "hippie" connotes a retro fashion statement or a joke. I guess this is proof that McCain considers old people his base, or that he's running the right campaign but a quarter-century too late.

Forget Mike Murphy... John McCain just needs to add to his senior staff someone - anyone - under 50.

Voting Against Your Own Bill and Other Maverick Tendencies

Jake Tapper explains why the issue of immigration presents at once problems and opportunities for both candidates: "McCain worked much harder and risked far more to pass that immigration bill than Obama did. On the other hand, Obama never claimed he would vote against a bill he helped author."

In Bed With Lobbyists at the Craps Table

McCain's other gambling problem.

The Sky's The Limit

What's So Funny About a Dead Terrorist?


Gay Rights Group Boycotted by Gay Activists

Wow. Just looking at the list of boycotters, this is REALLY embarrassing for HRC. This would be like every major Jewish politician in New York boycotting an ADL banquet.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Mad As Hell at Newspaper Layoffs and Not Going to Take It Anymore

Watch out, Sam Zell.

Haim Watzman on Returning to Nashville


Collapse of Federal Firefighting


Joshua Generation Meets Lawsuit Generation


Surf Your Watershed


Some Middle East Reading

One Giant New Hampshire

Dante Atkins on McCain's campaign strategy:

Running a general election campaign where there is one nationwide election day to focus on is not the same as a primary campaign, where (at the beginning at least) you can do retail politics across states with low population.

McCain's brand of retail politics may have been effective in Iowa (where, remember, he came in second) and New Hampshire (where he won in a state that has traditionally been sympathetic to him), at which point the Republican nomination had essentially come down to between him and Huckabee when it was shown that Romney was such a disaster that he couldn't even win in his own backyard.

But in a general election where you have to appeal to hundreds of millions of voters and get them to enthusiastically volunteer for your campaign and turn out all their friends and neighbors to vote for you as well, talking to 150 people in Cincinnati a couple of times a week just won't cut it.

Dromi and Horn

Texas and Israel simultaneously declare "fire away!"

Book Rec of the Day

Not quite the oldest profession, but pretty old nonetheless. Even older than John McCain.

Dirt Road Chic


Beijing 2008: Biblical Proportions

Add locusts to China's list of calamities. Via Kevin Drum.

Daily Kos Does Geology


Sunday, July 06, 2008

Sam Harris Debunks Pew's God-Fearing Atheists


Kos Diarist Scoops NY Times?


Two Thoughts on Ingrid Betancourt

1) Very little of the media coverage has mentioned the fact that her politics are extremely far to the left. (An amusing tangent: her first campaign distributed condoms and used the slogan "corruption is the AIDS of our society - let's protect ourselves."

2) Doesn't the fact that the army commandos who rescued her posed as members of a fake NGO make the FARC much less likely to cooperate with NGOs in the future on humanitarian and other projects? Doesn't it make rebel groups all over the world less likely to trust NGOs for anything?

Fucking With Paparazzi


Saturday, July 05, 2008

China's Fifteen Minutes of Fame

Jed Perl: "Warhol set the pattern for the new Chinese art, with its nauseating mix of romantic authoritarianism, ironic leftism, and capitalist realpolitik."

Defining Helms

On the subject of conservatives lavishing praise on Jesse Helms, I'm guessing that conservatives feel they have no choice but to embrace and defend Helms. (Douthat and Boot, and Jonathan Rauch in 2002, are notables who are not under this illusion. One is tempted to include pseudo-(neo)conservative Hitchens here as well - but who will Hitchens not throw under the bus just for the sake of gleeful disloyalty?) But anyway the more conservatives embrace him, the greater ease with which the media can portray him as a conservative or Republican "icon," someone whose racism and homophobia not only comports with but epitomizes the racist and homophobic DNA of the modern Republican party (in the sense that the modern Republican Party was birthed from an electoral realignment in which racial politics were determinative and in which southern whites became the base of the Party). This media treatment is politically beneficial for liberals and Democrats.

If the media can't bring itself to actually call Helms what he was (a disgusting, raving, delusional bigot), the next best thing is for them to call him a "conservative icon."

Book Rec of the Day


Fantasy Novel Where NY Times Editor Gets Murdered

In good humor, of course! Didn't Bill O'Reilly write something like this (in less good humor)?

Stop Making Sense

The type of prisoner exchange that Israel and Hezbollah are about to make is probably necessary (that is, the kind of thing that will need to happen for peace to come about), but it doesn't establish healthy incentives for either side, and doesn't really seem "fair" in terms of the disproportionate number of prisoners each side is releasing, or the disproportionate nature of the prisoner's acts. It's like a truth and reconciliation commission without the truth or the reconciliation. Most people seem to think Israel's consent is mainly about honoring its sacred oath to its citizen-soldiers, but I think it's probably also about PR: looking reasonable and willing to negotiate, and making Iran seem unreasonable by comparison. Of course for Hezbollah it's about PR as well - the difference being that Hezbollah is interested in domestic public opinion, whereas Israel is targeting international opinion.

Flying Lawn Chair Man

"'If I had the time and money and people, I'd do this every weekend,' Couch said." His wife must be a very patient person.

This sounds a bit more comfortable.

Hamptons Eruv Hullaballoo

There's ALWAYS a huge public stink when one is proposed. NIMBY opposition surfaces, which is then caricatured as anti-semitism.

The eruv is not only silly and superstitious (much of halachah is, and one can argue that to attack these legalisms is to attack Judaism itself), but it affects the whole community aesthetically, and is therefore not a simple matter of religious liberty. Ultimately these public debates do not make the Jewish community look good.

Matt Cooper: Everyone is Wonderful!

Hillary is wonderful! Cindy is wonderful! Michelle is wonderful! I guess this is the kind of 'journalism' that gets you places in Washington.

Leaving So Soon?

Ackerman: "It's a shame, I suppose, about Jesse Helms. I really wanted him to live to see January 20, 2009."

Straying in the Middle East

Robert Farley talks to Bob Wright about his Foundation for the Defense of Democracies-sponsored trip to Israel. He also notices that there are a shitload of stray cats in Israel.

Friday, July 04, 2008

The Internet is the New Sweatshop


Wimbledon Blogging (Sort of)

Sounds like a sweet exhibit. (On a tennis theme, at least.)

Death to the Internet!

Gosh, who's running Iran -- Lee Siegel?

Requiring Lawns to Be Green In the Middle of a Drought

I guess the silver lining of this stupid policy is that it helps prevent fires!

More Trouble For the Newspaper Industry


Atlanta Jews Pay Tribute to David Duke?


Madame Tussaud's Takes a Stab at Hitler

Along with Lola!

Rupert the Genius!


The $10 Educational Home Computer Initiative


Independence Day Cheese Carving

America's first "big cheeses" - get it?

Edwards and Rove to Debate in Buffalo

But what happens if he's BHO's Veep pick?

Knowledge Will Set You Free, Though You'll Still Be Living Under a Dictatorship

I've always appreciated that the Smithsonian is free, compared to the extortionary prices charged by most museums (including famous churches and cathedrals) in continental Europe.

And China

Eugene Robinson on Black Patriotism


Guerrilla Gardening in the Semi-Desert


How Fast Would Tyson Gay Have Run Without a Tailwind?

Wind actually makes a pretty big difference (when a couple tenths of a second is the difference between a world record and last place).

Google Earth Tour of McCain's 10 Homes


Following Up on "The Itch"


My Review of SNL's First Episode

So last week I watched the George Carlin "tribute episode" of Saturday Night Live (the 1st ever broadcast, which Carlin guest-hosted - he does a bunch of lousy stand-up, including his crappy Mars-Venus routine on baseball vs. football, but doesn't appear in any of the skits)... it was interesting as a historical document, perhaps, but as comedy (or social/political commentary) it was truly execrable. The Albert Brooks short movie (precursor to Robert Smigel?) was fair, and the "Show us your guns" skit was passably humorous. The rest was shit.

So anytime you hear someone lamenting about the sad state of SNL, just tell them to go back and watch the 1st episode for a dose of perspective.

Book Rec of the Day: "Names on the Land"


Thursday, July 03, 2008

Watermelon = Viagra?


Utah Adopts 4-day Workweek to Save Energy


Unusual Obama Convention Stunt That Just Might Work!

Liberalizing membership restrictions for the Democratic Mile High Club, so to speak. Via kos.

More Dough For New Jersey Bakers?

New Jersey hopes NYC trans-fat ban will redound to neighboring areas' benefit... (as a friend recently said, July 1 will forever be known as The Day That Freedom Died, overshadowing the lesser-known Canada Day...)

But I say, long live the black market!

Newt the Zookeeper


Red Wine, On the Rocks?

"Cold, cool, brisk, whatever you want to call it, we are going to enjoy this red wine at a temperature that refreshes, restores and revitalizes even the most exhausted soul."

UPDATE: More oenological unpretentiousness.

No Farmers Running Around With Stolen Plasma TVs (Just Billions in Ag Subsidies)

A kos diarist fisks a racist e-mail making the rounds... and doesn't even mention the fact that all these industrious and self-reliant Midwestern farmers get billions of $$ in agricultural subsidies -- welfare for white people on tractors!

For Consumption On Premises Only

My friend April just wrote this piece for the NY Times saying that China's government really doesn't give a shit if the rest of the world thinks it's unfit to hold the Olympics, an analysis which I think is basically correct.

Did You Know Solomon Burke Has 89 Grandchildren?


Take the 2 Mile Challenge


Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Bjorn Lomborg Tells It Like It Isn't


Kos On L'Affaire Giordano


Is Obama A Secret Shiite or Sunni Muslim?

Probably Shiite, it seems.


Looks kind of like a hearse... and probably doesn't get very good gas mileage either.

BREAKING!!! Mini Me Sex Tape Update


The BUZZ of Paris Opera Season

Opera version of David Cronenberg's "The Fly" set to debut in Paris. Perez Hilton says yum.

Making Heller Irrelevant

Guns don't stun people, people stun people!

Pride Pays!

A country where members of the armed forces are not only allowed, but encouraged and even paid, to attend gay pride parades? Reading this story is a complete culture shock.

Manhattan Real Estate Price Insanity Strikes Again!

EDGE is out. $6,000 to $58,000 rent hike in barely 10 years? Now that's some serious inflation!

Quintessential Ladies' Man Also Liked Men

And, apparently, Jewish mysticism. UPDATE: Madonna uses kabbalah as a wing-man, too!

Supersonics Moving To Oklahoma City

"Only six franchises in the four major professional sports (none in the NBA) spent more time in a city before leaving than the Sonics"... those ungrateful bastards!

How to Get More Diversity in Higher Education: Photoshop!


Sarko Pulls an O'Reilly!


Book Rec of the Day

Just some of the marvelous fruits of Title IX.

Film Rec of the Day

"Duckpin" - a charming little film about duckpin bowling. Did you know that nobody has ever rolled a 300 (perfect score) in duckpin bowling? Do you know what a "rubber duck" bowling pin looks like? Find out.

Ralph Nader, Sports Fan


Help Save Arthur

Arthur is a LA-based hipster publication with pitch-perfect writing and design... they've hit a rough patch and need some emergency funds to keep publishing. Shoot them a couple bucks you were going to fritter away anyway at the Starbucks down the street that just closed.

McCain Poised to Win Connecticut

Only down 21 points in today's Quinnipiac poll. Competitive!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Kill Your AC


Cory Booker at Midpoint

At least the Upper West Side liberals still love him -- I mean that's what counts!

Sacha Baron Cohen Loose in the Middle East?

Poor Yossi Alpher...

Rich and Ruthless

Laddie magazine publishing magnate Felix Dennis has a new book. It's about how you have to be a soulless asshole to make big bucks (actually, make that REALLY BIG BUCKS - the distinction is important). There was a pretty incredible call-in show Tom Ashbrook did with him on NPR the other day - almost as deliciously confrontational as that epic Gene Simmons interview with Terry Gross from years gone by... be sure to check it out.

How To Make Friends in Aspen



I don't really follow this whole debate...

From Ben Smith:

Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt said: “Sen. Obama supports civil unions, and he has consistently opposed federal and state constitutional marriage amendments because as we have seen in some states, enshrining a definition of marriage into the constitution can allow states to roll back the civil rights and benefits that are provided in domestic partnerships and civil unions."

So Obama opposes the amendment (despite also opposing gay marriage "at this time") because it might lead to rollback of even civil union privileges, which he believes are non-negotiable. Where's the contradiction?

Windows Down Versus AC

"Every car has a speed at which rolled-down windows cause so much drag as to decrease fuel economy more than a switched-on AC. As you might expect, however, that milestone speed varies widely from car to car—and in some cases, it may be well north of posted speed limits."

Duh. But why don't they tell you what this speed is in the owner's manual?

Idiot of the Day

Just based on this bloggingheads diavlog (well, also his book, his blogging, and pretty much all his journalism) Mark Stricherz seems like a real idiot.

Manny Being Manny Greatest Hits


Battle of UK Supermarket Chains on Zimbabwe Divestment

Tesco is for, Waitrose is against (as is Simon Jenkins).

Something to Do in New York...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008
12:00 p.m.–1:00 p.m.

Modern Poets
Concerts, Readings & Performances

Frank O'Hara: Selected Poems at Lunchtime

The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden, exterior, first floor

Revitalizing Frank O'Hara's legacy and MoMA's historical commitment to poetry, this series invites poets and performers to bring the literary tradition to the Museum's collection. They read historical works and their own work that reflects on modern and contemporary art.

Alfred A. Knopf, The Museum of Modern Art, and the Poetry Society of America present a reading from the recently published Selected Poems by Frank O'Hara, edited by Mark Ford (which includes poetry, a play, and essays). Held at lunchtime, the program commemorates O'Hara's tradition of writing poetry during his lunch hour while working at MoMA. Participants include poets Lee Ann Brown, Dan Chiasson, Hettie Jones, Vincent Katz, Philip Schultz, and others. Selected Poems, as well as O'Hara's In Memory of My Feelings, will be available for sale following the reading.

Please note: Lunch will be available for purchase at the Espresso Bar in the Garden. In case of rain, the program will be held in the Titus Theater 2, also accessible through the 11 West 53 Street entrance.

This program is free with Museum admission. Seating is available on a first-come first-served basis.

Kaus: Klein Comes Out Unscathed...

... so have "the rules" changed?

I was going to write about this before, to say that Ami Eden is correct that the 'main problem' (that's my gloss) with the neocons isn't dual loyalty (this is a canard) -- rather it's their twisted Manichean world-view which conditions them not only to support Israel unconditionally but also to be BFF with terrorist groups like the Contras and the Afghan mujahidin. Now this doesn't mean that neocons aren't dually (duly? unduly?) loyal; maybe they are (see Kaus on Peretz), and so what? If patriotism is so great, why isn't double patriotism even better? And if we let people have dual passports and dual citizenship, why the hell can't they have dual loyalty?

"Ricochet Pander"


Gravel Goes Green

After flirting with the Democrats and the Libertarians, now apparently he wants us to support the Green Party candidate.

Oldest Mosque In America...

... damaged in Midwest flooding, plans to rebuild.

Wes Clark: Stingy With Fundraising $$, Not With Mouth

IMHO this reflects more poorly on Wes Clark than his comments about McCain's military service (though apparently John Edwards is even worse!)...

Incidentally, isn't it odd that Obama Veep prospects keep shooting themselves in the foot? (Hillary with her RFK comments, Chris Dodd with his VIP mortgage, and now Wes Clark.) Seems they either don't really want the job or they want it so much they're psyching themselves out.

Japan's Booming Elder Porn


Judge Fines Man $200 For Cell Phone Ringing in Court

You'd think the comments would be overwhelmingly favorable, but they're actually pretty mixed.

Something To Do in San Francisco

William Steig and the World of The New Yorker - An evening with Robert Mankoff

Robert Mankoff, cartoon editor at The New Yorker, will present a short history of cartooning at the magazine, with an emphasis on the work of William Steig. The evening will also include clips from Leah Wolchok's upcoming documentary on The New Yorker cartoonists, and a discussion with Mankoff and The New Yorker cover artist Owen Smith.

Don't miss this opportunity to explore the world of The New Yorker and the brilliant cartoonist William Steig.

Co-presented by the Cartoon Art Museum.

When: Thursday, July 17; 7 - 8:30 PM

Where: Contemporary Jewish Museum, 736 Mission Street (between Third and Forth streets), San Francisco

Admission: Members, $8; General, $12.

To purchase tickets: Visit or call 415.655.7837

This program is presented in conjunction with the exhibition From The New Yorker to Shrek: The Art of William Steig, on view through September 7.

From The New Yorker to Shrek: The Art of William Steig was organized by The Jewish Museum, New York and was made possible, in part, by the Eugene and Emily Grant Family Foundation and the Skirball Fund for American Jewish Life Exhibitions.

Lost Beatles Interview Resurfaces


To Reiterate: Lieberman Is Not Going to Help McCain Win Connecticut


Denmark Happiest, Zimbabwe Least Happiest Country in World


Worst. Surrogate. Ever.


FLDS Clothing Brand


California Hands-Free Law Doesn't Ban Texting

Maybe this is why!

Isn't It Ironic

Calderone misses the best part of the exchange, where Hewitt defends himself by saying he was using "irony."

Will Cleveland Lose Lebron?


Wexler: Fear Not, Paranoid Jews!

I don't know how Wexler stands it, having to be a broken record like this. It's a well-intentioned effort, but I don't like this at all:

Does anyone believe that Sen. John McCain is anti-Israel because of former Secretary of State James Baker's role in his campign? As secretary of state under President George H.W. Bush, Mr. Baker conditioned billions in loan guarantees to Israel on its cessation of new settlement activities in the West Bank and chastised Israelis about their commitment to the Middle East peace process. In 2006, Mr. Baker reportedly proposed a controversial regional peace conference that excluded Israel.

Isn't this a pandering and pathetic ("reportedly proposed"?) affirmation of the ugly, McCarthyist accusations against Baker? I don't think defending Obama from smears means having to join a crazy chorus of smears against someone else.

McCain's On/Off Environmental Record

LA Times:

McCain's record of tackling energy policy on Capitol Hill shows little of the clear direction he says would come from a McCain White House. Instead, the Arizona senator has swerved from one position to another over the years, taking often contradictory stances on the federal government's role in energy policy.

Inconsistency is only part of the problem. Supporting $3.7 in subsidies for the nuclear industry but opposing tax credits in 2001 or 2006 for renewables is just dumb.

But anyway the main reason John McCain's energy record is so inconsistent is that he has no larger vision about the environment or sustainability, just a set of scattered -- and shifting -- positions. The same is true for the economy, about which McCain has expressed both ignorance and disinterest. For better or for worse, McCain only demonstrates excitement (kinda) and intellectual coherence (sorta) when talking about foreign policy.

Granny D Is OK With Obama Opting Out of Public Financing

Dear All,

Everyone I know seems quite upset that Mr. Obama has said that he will opt out of the public financing system. I have been a big fan of campaign finance reform in general and public campaign funds in particular. Indeed, I have put quite a few miles on my shoes to promote such reforms.

But the point of using public money to finance campaigns is to get the fat cats out of the system so that regular citizens might again be heard. Mr. Obama's creative use of the Internet to raise small donations from a million and a half people essentially achieves the same result: Regular people are again being heard over the shrill and selfish voices of the fat cats. Young people and new voters, long so cynical, now feel they have a role in our democracy. You can chase away a fat cat with any dog you please, so let's not be upset that he is using a dog we did not expect. The fat cats are on the run, and that is what counts.

So, yes, I am fine with what he is doing. If Mr. McCain will get a million or so small donors, and if he will just say no to fat cat money and lobbyist-bundled money, then I will say good for him, too.

Mr. Obama has reformed and changed the system in his own way. He has used the social networking aspects of the Internet to get around the problem of fat cats. He owes some thanks to the old Dean campaign as devised by Joe Trippi, as I'm sure he knows.

There are no permanent problems or solutions in our politics. But for now, I like the looks of Mr. Obama's small donor miracle.

Very sincerely,

Doris "Granny D" Haddock
Dublin, New Hampshire
(603) 563-8086

Book Rec of the Day

Havana: Autobiography of a City. "Ignore the confusing subtitle," says Publishers Weekly. Probably good advice for most books.

"Short List" Versus "Shit List"


British Security Going to the Dogs?

IMHO, the taxi driver issue seems in the gray area; but special exemptions/exceptions at airport security? (Perhaps a kind of back-door compensation for racial profiling?)