Monday, November 30, 2009

Job For Sarah Palin?

Marauding camels who have held a remote town in northern Australia hostage are to be rounded up and shot.

Tiger Is Just the Tip of the Iceberg


In Search of a Better Bagel-Cutter


Sudden Acceleration

Jim Motavalli:

The problem of sudden acceleration in modern cars, initially blamed by Toyota on floormats interfering with gas pedals, isn't likely to go away soon. And it seems to be an issue with many other manufacturers' cars and trucks, not just Toyotas'. Attorney Tom Murray of the law firm Murray & Murray in Ohio says he's personally handling 20 cases of sudden acceleration, and he claims that 100,000 incidents may have occurred. He maintains that the problem, inherent to all modern throttle-by-wire automobiles, is electromagnetic interference with electronic accelerator controls. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has repeatedly investigated without confirming that diagnosis, but Clarence Ditlow, the longtime director of the Center for Auto Safety, says automakers have long sought to blame drivers for this problem, and NHTSA has supported that view. I'm not presuming to know what causes sudden acceleration, but it is hard to deny so many detailed reports.

Dear Andy Kaufman, I Hate Your Guts


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Only Anti-American Muslim Socialists Let Polo-Playing Socialites Crash Their Parties

What's with the right-wing crazies (and even non-crazies like Dan Senor this morning on This Week with George Stephanopoulos) blaming Obama for Party-crasher-gate?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Could a Book on Village Industry in Indonesia Make the Bestseller Lists?

Obama's mother's dissertation gets star treatment from Duke University Press... seems a bit dubious that the connection to Obama is indicated on the book's cover. Perhaps not a high point for academic publishing.

The New Old World

"[This is] a major work of modern history and political analysis by a leading historian and social theorist. Surveying the post-Cold War trajectory of each European power, and the halting progress towards social and economic integration, Perry Anderson punctures both domestic and American myths about continental Europe. Whilst noting the relative achievement of German integration, Anderson draws out the connections between the EU’s eastward expansion, a foreign policy that is largely subservient to America’s, and the popular rejection of the European Constitution. As a largely economic project, pushed forward by a succession of neoliberal regimes, the European Union cannot afford to allow its people to choose freely: it remains ‘a caricature of a democratic federation’. But if the EU is largely an economic construction, can its member states nevertheless act as Venus to America’s Mars, at least putting a brake on US foreign policy? Perry Anderson’s assessment of Europe’s record, supporting American foreign policy on every major question, shows that the enlarged Union is less independent than ever before." Book rec of the day.

Still Fighting To Save Old Yankee Stadium Gate 2

Randall Beach:

A call has gone out for volunteers who want to help save the endangered gate at the original Yankee Stadium. There is precious little time to make this happen and overcome the New York City bureaucrats as well as the uncooperative Yankees ownership. Since I wrote about the effort in this space last June, citizens from many states have joined in the Committee to Commemorate Old Yankee Stadium. Although virtually all of the old stadium is doomed to be demolished, these activists still hope to preserve the original Gate 2.

It's scheduled for demolition in about a month.

Cruise Ship Review of the Day


She Refused To Give Up Her Montgomery Bus Seat Nine Months Before Rosa Parks


The Great Eggo Waffle Shortage of 2009


Woody Allen's Next Muse?


Death of Barrier-Breaking Sportswriter Mike Penner

From LA Observed:

Sad news at the Los Angeles Times website about one of their own. Mike Penner, the veteran sportswriter who in 2007 and '08 was known publicly as Christine Daniels, was found dead at home. "Suicide was the suspected cause of death," the Times reports.

Holy Smokes! Cannabis College Sprouts Up in Michigan


Friday, November 27, 2009

Sizing Up The Religious/Secular Fault-Line

Kristof sees a possible armistice in the war between secularism and religion. J.J. Goldberg doesn't see much progress either in the US or Israel. For what little it's worth I continue to believe that the real fault-line in the realm of religion is not between theists and non-theists but rather between pluralists -- those who accept that they don't have all the answers -- and non-pluralists.

Secularism and National Prosperity


Right Up There With the Twinkie Defense

How do you know whether someone was asleep when he strangled his wife?

Seeing The Light

This bit of unintentional self-satire happened to arrive in my inbox (actual press release - NOT from The Onion):


Effective Immediately
Thursday, November 26, 2009
For more information, please contact:
Brian P. Moore (352) 686-9936 or cell (352) 585-2907


Dunedin, Florida, Thanksgiving Day, November 26, 2009:

Mark W. Brandt, an attorney in Dunedin, Florida, and coordinator of a recent speech by invited guest, Socialist Brian P. Moore, to the "Center for Inquiry" (CFI) in Tampa, Florida on Saturday, November 21, 2009, wrote Moore a letter after the speech saying that he now realizes he is a "strong reformer."

In a letter dated November 23, 2009, Mr. Brandt wrote a letter of thanks for Moore's speech on socialism to the Tampa CFI group, as well as stating that the (CFI) organization strongly supports the position that "we should be exploring alternative ideas and views in all spheres of our life."

Attorney Brandt also further wrote in his letter that Moore's talk "helped me crystallize some of the issues facing us." Brandt continued that "while I don't see myself as a socialist revolutionary, I do have the increasing belief that people must be paramount over a profit in all aspects of life."

Brandt concluded his letter by stating that "Your talk helped confirm in my own mind that I am probably a strong reformer, but not a revolutionary."

Moore expressed satisfaction from the letter, stating that "We need people from all economic walks of life to be open to real change, even if it means a radical transformation." "Planting the seeds," Moore stated, "furthers that process

Reconsidering Obama's Asia Trip

Fallows: more failures like this, please!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Sexy Holocaust


Michelle Obama's "Flesh-Colored" Dress


Climbing Permitted on The Golden Gate Bridge?

Seems like an ill-advised way to raise funds...

Moral Hazard Alert

SF's Green Apple Books (many fond memories) is donating 10% of its profits from Going Rogue to the Alaska Wildlife Alliance.

The Un-Americans: Jews, the Blacklist, and Stoolpigeon Culture

“A candidate for instant classic of Jewish cultural studies, Joseph Litvak’s The Un-Americans displays the great capacity for work in that mode to revise our understanding of political-cultural history tout court. Realizing the originating ambition of Jewish cultural studies to arrive at a kind of Jew theory, Litvak’s book articulates the interanimations of queer and Jew theories in its reading of the Jew/queer as un-American comicosmopolitan through his frequently brilliant analyses of the performances of American Jewish writers and actors before the House Un-American Activities Committee. It would be, however, a violation of the very spirit of this spirited book were one to fail to note the gifts of Litvak as a comic writer himself. To misquote a line from the book, the Jewish issues of Litvak’s work are its universal issues.”—Daniel Boyarin, University of California, Berkeley... Book rec of the day.

When The Editors Hire The Publishers


British Actor Faces Police Action After Lunging at Member of Audience

I love how this article in The Times (UK) says the actor in question "does not enjoy the relationship between performer and audience." Apparently a rash of such incidents in the UK has led to a new term being coined: "stage rage."

Book Review Of The Day

Sully on Going Rogue: "four stars for fiction and zero for non-fiction."

About Those Climate Scientists' Hacked E-mails

A letter to The Guardian:

Since climate sceptics seem in no way bothered by the legality or morality of hacking into someone's personal email, does that mean it is alright to hack into the sceptics' sites? Might there even be legal justification, under freedom of information acts, to check for evidence for collusion or illegal activities of those "opposing global warming"? It would be highly revealing to read what climate "sceptic" sites contained. What's good for the goose is good for the gander...

Worth noting, too, that the scientist at the center of the scandal, Phil Jones, has been getting death threats (presumably from climate change deniers, though this is not entirely clear).

Max, Maxine, Patrick, Sam, Peppermint and Nick

What is the GOP's procedure for naming its plush toy elephants?

Boehner PAC Spends Tens of Thousands of $$ on Golf Outings

Golf outing slush fund explains why he has such a good tan.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Nativism Tax

Why should the American taxpayer have to foot the bill for Joe Wilson's racism?

Complexity and Health Care

Kevin drum worries that complexity might kill health care reform (see here, "Will Complexity Kill Health Care Reform"). But there's a sense in which, counter-intuitively, complexity can actually help. Recently in Washington I heard Jon Kingsdale, Executive Director of the Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector (Massachusetts's insurance exchange), say at a TNR-sponsored conference that he thought the only way health care reform would work is if it was so complex that special interests couldn't figure out exactly how they would be affected and therefore wouldn't stand in the way of legislation. You don't want to be see as choosing sides, and you don't want the winners and losers to be too obvious. When reform requires going up against big special interests, some strategic ambiguity can paralyze the lobbyists who'd otherwise monkey-wrench the process.

Five Reasons Vampires Aren't Jewish

Rabbi David Wolpe argues that there is something "essentially un-Jewish" about vampires. In case you were wondering.

"My Life Is Over Now"


"There's Not a Price On Me"

ABC News profiles Michael Forbes, a stubborn and delightfully colorful Scotsman who refuses to give up his land for a Trump golf resort in Aberdeenshire.

After Walking On Water and Being Your New Bicycle...

... President Obama catches a touchdown pass from Drew Brees.

Not So Insignificant After All

Lara Friedman of Americans for Peace Now schools Ron Kampeas of JTA on the importance of the Israeli government's decision to expand Gilo in southern Jerusalem.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Oil: Enough Energy To Melt Glaciers!

A 1962 advertisement that will make you laugh and cry.

War On Christmas Revealed!

In Nazi Germany, that is. Researchers for the Glenn Beck Program are now working on a conspiracy theory based around "Julfest" that will connect Nazi Germany, secular humanism, the war on Christmas, Van Jones, and ACORN.

An Opera About a Freeway?


Studs Terkel's Massive FBI File

Recently released documents show that agency continued tracking him until 1990...

What The Fuck Is She Talking About?

Ben Smith wonders if Sarah Palin's "flocking to Israel" crazy talk is perhaps a dog-whistle message about the end-times to millennialist evangelicals?

"She May Look Like a Sunday School Teacher..."

Former pro wrestler Superstar Billy Graham lays the smackdown on Linda McMahon and her campaign for Senate. Lesson: the Democrats should lay off criticizing McMahon for the sex- and blood-soaked WWE/WWF directly -- let others do this for them. Did someone from DSCC ask Superstar Billy Graham to let loose about McMahon? Let's hope not.

Paging Chevy Chase


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Smoking and Society

Richard Florida on the geography of smoking:

Might smoking be related to states' broader social and psychological climates? To get at this, we looked at the relationship between smoking and a commonly used measure of subjective well-being or happiness developed by the Gallup Organization. Smoking is negatively associated with state happiness (with a correlation of -.71). Since these correlations only reflect associations between variables and not causality, it’s hard to say whether this reflects the fact that happier people smoke less or unhappier ones smoke more, or that both smoking and happiness levels reflect something else... Common sense would suggest that more affluent people smoke less and poorer ones would smoke more, but that’s not what the data indicate – at least when comparing states. State smoking levels are not related to state income levels or to Gross State Product per capita; the correlations for both are not statistically significant.

He concludes that prevalence of smoking has more to do with the types of work that people do.

Green Metropolis

"Why Living Smaller, Living Closer, and Driving Less are the Keys to Sustainability." Book rec of the day.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Too Much Information


Friday, November 13, 2009

74-Year-Old Graffiti Artist

Believed to be the oldest tagging suspect in LA County history...

Why Is The Price of Gold Rising?

Is it because of economic uncertainty or because we are seeing the beginning of "peak gold?" NPR:

Global gold production is falling worldwide despite its rising price and aggressive efforts by mining companies to discover fresh sources of bullion in remote locations.

At an annual gold conference in London this week, the president of the world's top gold producer, Barrick Gold of Canada, said that "production peaked around 2000 and it has been in decline ever since, and we forecast that decline to continue. It is increasingly difficult to find."

Animated Video on Dock Ellis's 1970 LSD No-No

Definitely the best animation I've ever seen about a narcotics-fueled sporting achievement.

Something To Do in New York

Friday, November 13, 2009 7:00PM
City Symphonies Out of Doors: Text of Light

Acclaimed avant-garde ensemble Text of Light—composer and saxophonist Ulrich Krieger, guitarist and composer Alan Licht, turntablist and visual artist Christian Marclay, and Sonic Youth co-founder Lee Ranaldo—presents a live musical score to Berlin: Symphony of a Great City (Walter Ruttman, 1927), a feature-length "city symphony” film that captures urban life through a vibrant mix of documentary footage, abstract visual compositions, and impressionistic montage techniques.

Text of Light’s loosely structured improvisational score will feature the remarkable intonarumori (Futurist noise machines), among many other instruments. The live performance to Berlin will be preceded by a screening of the short film Manhatta (Charles Sheeler and Paul Strand, 1921), another city symphony that depicts a day in New York City.

Co-presented by Performa and Friends of the High Line with Rooftop Films. Curated by Lana Wilson and Esa Nickle. Sponsored by Viper Studios.

Friday, November 13 at 7:00 PM
City Symphonies Out of Doors
Text of Light (Ulrich Krieger, Alan Licht, Christian Marclay, and Lee Ranaldo)
On the High Line in the 14th Street Passage

Non-members: $15
Performa and Friends of High Line Members: $12

Performa 09 (November 1-22, 2009, New York City) is the third edition of the internationally acclaimed biennial of new visual art performance presented by Performa, a non-profit multidisciplinary arts organization dedicated to exploring the critical role of live performance in the history of twentie

(PHOTO CREDIT: Jonathan Flaum)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Truth Behind the NHTSA Study Finding Hybrids More Likely to Hit Pedestrians and Bicycles

Push-back on the "hybrids are too quiet" argument...

More on "Climate McCarthyism"

I was initially somewhat sympathetic to Nordhaus and Shellenberger... but "Joe Romm is far more influential today than Joe McCarthy was in the 1950s?" The Breakthrough Institute clearly needs a breakthrough of oxygen to their brains.

How A Flu Virus Invades Your Body

This video, done by a professional medical illustrator, is pretty mind-blowing...

NY-23 Race Not Over?

Narrow margin, thousands of ABs still uncounted, results still uncertified... could Hoffman still win? (His possibly premature concession has already had real-world consequences... though to be fair, NOT conceding would have given ammunition to critics of the Palinista right. And remember Republican Jim Tedisco's embarrassing braggadocio going into a recount in another upstate NY congressional special election? That didn't turn out well.)

Mosques Closed by Feds

Earlier this week I linked to a WSJ story on Iran's international network of mosques extending to far-flung places like Nicaragua. Now this.

Fort Hood Media Epic Fail

Greg Mitchell:

Some of those witnesses said they yelled at the second cop to shoot Hasan--which he did, and then went up and kicked his gun away. Yet for almost a week the media rarely questioned the military's "official" story of Munley as savior. The New York Times was one of many who put Munley on the front page and declared that she was the person who nailed Hasan. Yes, she is a hero for facing the bullets. And, no, this isn't another Jessica Lynch case, but it does have some disturbing similarities. Just coincidence that a white woman got the credit over a black male? We'll soon find out.

IKEA Insider Tell-All


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Echoes of the Wounded George Wallace?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Two Sides of the Same Coin?

French couples flock to a divorce fair in the ultimate city of romance.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Watch Out Chris Christie

Still early, but Cory Booker's numbers look good for NJ gov race in 2013... including excellent name-recognition for a non-statewide official.

Hollywood Sequels: Too Big To Fail

Mathematicians find the formula for a hit film sequel.

Iran's Superpower Aspirations

Is the best way to project power abroad really to finance mosque construction in Nicaragua?

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Appalachian Trail File

After dropping out of the California gubernatorial race, SF Mayor Gavin Newsom seemed to disappear off the face of the earth... no messages on his beloved twitter for more than a week! Widespread worry has turned to anger...

Friday, November 06, 2009

With Friends Like These

This Jeffrey Goldberg interview with American Task Force on Palestine's Hussein Ibish is interesting for various reasons, not least because he seems to be attacking J Street from the right. (How exactly this serves ATFP's objectives I don't know.) Other false notes: 1) Ibish claims Jewish Voices for Peace is a "one-state group all the way and without reservation," which is factually incorrect; and 2) Ibish is a bit tactless when he says: "[Tony] Judt put out this [bi-national state] argument and... since then, he basically has more or less withdrawn from the conversation." How dare he curtail his work schedule by becoming afflicted with ALS!

Islands Seen From Space

Great pics. (Seen above is another awesome satellite pic of an eruption on one of the Kuril volcano islands.)

Bill Clinton in Pristina


Transcending Moderate Bias, or How the Media Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Nutjobs

As media-bashing has gone platinum (which one might attribute to an era of hyper-partisanship, or one might not), claims about the media's liberal or conservative bias have actually -- ironically, perhaps -- reinforced the media's "moderate bias." Stephen Colbert famously said that reality has a well-known liberal bias. Or it might have a conservative bias. Charlie Gibson doesn't care! He's not interested in reality - he is interested only in the meta-reality that is the Beltway political conversation, which is viewed two-dimensionally along a left-right spectrum. By and large that's fine -- using centrism as an approximation for objectivity is not altogether without merit, as long as everyone knows how the game is played. But as Poniewozik says, "Our conception of politics is broken if it cannot account for the fact that Michael Moore and Glenn Beck come to some of the same conclusions while having very different philosophies. Yet pollsters and the media still rely on it, to frame politicians and themselves." I'm not sure I agree that 'left' and 'right' are becoming increasingly inadequate (they've always been inadequate)... but even if I did agree, what is the alternative - a Borgesian map of the world? The media's abiding faith in a "neutral center" unicorn remains a useful fiction.

Go Go Matsui!


Covering All The Bases

Pressure your non-voting representative on the health care bill!

So Many Pretty Colors... And Useful, Too


If Women Can Defend Fort Hood, They Can Defend America

A good time to end the ban on women in combat? (As long as they're not Muslim women, of course.)


NPR has an interview with the woman dressed as Nancy Pelosi burning in hell ("So I have a suit on that's singed and covered in blood, and I have chains on, and I had dead babies draped from me") at yesterday's Capitol Hill tea party.

'Dede Effect' on Gay Marriage?

Sometime in the near future New York seems destined to join neighboring states like Connecticut and Massachusetts in adopting gay marriage... but will Scozzafava's tribulations scare NY moderates away from supporting gay marriage? Weigel says no.

UPDATE: You might call this effect "being Scozzafavaed." (Via TPM.)

Why is H1N1 Vaccine Being Fast-Tracked to Wall Street Bankers?

Dodd wants answers. Gov't should claim vaccine is harmful after all. Problem solved.

Black Conservative Intellectuals of Modern America

"In Black Conservative Intellectuals in Modern America, Michael L. Ondaatje delves deeply into the historical archive to chronicle the origins of black conservatism in the United States from the early 1980s to the present. Focusing on three significant policy issues—affirmative action, welfare, and education—Ondaatje critically engages with the ideas of nine of the most influential black conservatives. He further documents how their ideas were received, both by white conservatives eager to capitalize on black support for their ideas and by activists on the left who too often sought to impugn the motives of black conservatives instead of challenging the merits of their claims. While Ondaatje's investigation uncovers the themes and issues that link these voices together, he debunks the myth of a monolithic black conservatism. Figures such as Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, the Hoover Institution's Thomas Sowell and Shelby Steele, and cultural theorist John McWhorter emerge as individuals with their own distinct understandings of and relationships to the conservative political tradition." Book rec of the day.

Two Nations Separated By A Common Language

British PM Gordon Brown is in hot water over hiring US speech-writers to polish his speech to Congress in March. Is $7,000 for some mediocre references to Ronald Reagan money well-spent? (Does Brown think Americans are so easily wowed?) What is the market rate for 19 standing ovations by the legislature of the world's pre-eminent superpower? My guess is that this is fairly standard practice for foreign leaders making public speeches in the US... but can one imagine a US President hiring foreign speech-writers (other than David Frum) without a bonanza of right-wing outrage?

Long-Distance Relationship

Sacramento Mayor (and former NBA star) Kevin Johnson is reportedly engaged to reformist DC schools chancellor Michelle Rhee. Good news for school reform in Sacto?

Happy Guy Fawkes Day


Thursday, November 05, 2009

Obama Very Good For Real Estate Industry...


Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Climate McCarthyism?

Joseph Romm's victims strike back. Of course Romm is heavy-handed, but the casualties of his attacks generally have it coming to them.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Question about NY-23

What does John McHugh think?

Question: How Can the Golden Globes Upstage the Oscars?

Answer (maybe): Ricky Gervais. On the other hand, Matthew Gilbert makes a compelling case that there's really not much upside for Gervais: "hosting awards shows is a mostly thankless and doomed job, one that usually only brings criticism and disappointment. It's the very rare awards-show host who doesn't get tiresome by hour three."

UPDATE: The Oscars go all-American with Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin, which should be interesting. Do they both get paid the usual fee for hosting or do they split it? If the ratings are bad, how do you know which one to blame?

Two Wheels and Two Kegs

Awesome party bike in (where else?) Portland.

Head Injuries in the NFL

After a week of heated discussion about brain trauma in the National Football League, NPR's Scott Simon argues that the NFL should get rid of helmets because they give players a false sense of complacency about head injuries.