Sunday, January 29, 2006

Waving and Drowning

This tipping point debate has stirred controversy within the administration; Hansen said senior political appointees are trying to block him from sharing his views publicly.

When Hansen posted data on the Internet in the fall suggesting that 2005 could be the warmest year on record, NASA officials ordered Hansen to withdraw the information because he had not had it screened by the administration in advance, according to a Goddard scientist who did not want to be identified. More recently, NASA officials tried to discourage a reporter from interviewing Hansen for this article and later insisted he could speak on the record only if an agency spokeswoman listened in on the conversation.

From the story at this link

Every once in a while I get more than a little worried about the future of the planet. I think we should all start getting worried, and soon.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Congnitive Dissonance in action: Dude, where's my Bong?

COurtesy of Crooks and Liars this clip of Bush trying to achieve cognitive dissonance on the go is just ripe with scary disconnect (and things to remember in this election year)

"I will continue to remind people about what I just said"

Yeah, but he didn't say anything!


Thursday, January 26, 2006

Well, Fuck

Hamas Wins Big at the Polls in Palestine

I guess we have at least some proof that Fatah wasn't greasing the polls - or at least not all of them. What a tragedy.

This is exactly what I've been warning people about since Zero Democracy, back in '03. "Everything will be okay in the Middle East when the people there can vote"? Not in Palestine, apparently.

Not in Canada, either - though I doubt Harper's victory is going to bring equally serious consequences.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The Smile / The Handshake

So it turns out Jack Abramoff (Grand Abramoff Tarkin?) is the one passing around the photos* of himself and President Bush, in the wake of the White House's tepid refusals to say whether those photos existed or not. But these photos are not yet to be published. Why?

He has, of course, pled guilty already to the Justice Department. But it does raise a question in my mind at least as to whether Abramoff is maybe sort of sending some sort of signal out here: “Hey, I’ve got this stuff.” Maybe he wants something from somebody at the White House, or he wants someone at the White House not to do something, and just sort of subtly playing with people here. - Michael Isikoff, Newsweek

So he's trying to cut a deal by force, essentially? "Help me out or I set up you the bomB."

Earlier, Isikoff commented "As a general rule, if you’re the president … you don’t like pictures out there of you with convicted felons."

And isn't that the truth? All those incriminating handshake photos with people who turned out to be dirty....

We already know about this one, right?

And then there's this kiss with Hillary and Suha Arafat, just before Mrs. Arafat shoved her feet down both their mouths. Now Hillary tries to be pro-Israel to get the New York vote, and I bet she wishes this had never happened.

But here's one for you to puzzle over... can you guess which embarassing photo this is?

No peeking at the html! ; )

* as an aside - someone really should tell thinkprogress that "shopping" also means "photoshoping," which I wouldn't put past Abramoff at this point... ; )

Sunday, January 22, 2006

When the Empire Fails at Home...

Found at Warren Ellis' forum

“Downtown LA” is kind of a misnomer — LA has no true core, no heart. It is a loose confederation of towns that sprawled into each other, interstitched by freeways. Downtown LA is, generally speaking, a ghost town and a leper colony.

Downtown swarms with the homeless — but these aren’t your ordinary homeless, by and large. There are certainly a great number of functionally homeless individuals who aren’t too strung out or nuts to go about their day-to-day needs… securing food, shelter, hygene, et c.

What’s really going down there is that there is this truly massive number of totally hopeless people. Hopelessly addicted to drugs, no concern for their health and welfare, alternately aggressive and totally withdrawn. Its like walking through Bob Dylan’s “Hard Rain”, or maybe the way I picture 1st century Jerusalem, choked with lepers and madmen. The streets are littered with amputees. Half of the homeless get around by wheelchair; it is really surreal. Toothless mouths in perpetual sneers or screams. There are open wounds, boils, sores. It has to be seen to believed. People screaming, just constantly screaming, with no rhyme or reason. People openly urinating and defecating in the gutter — or the street. I saw a woman bathe her baby in a plastic bucket, dabbing the washcloth in the filthy runoff. I was routinely approached with offers of crack, sex for money, et cetera, by utterly hopeless people.


To call it “heart-breaking” defies the true power of this place. It literally defies description. It really did a number on me — there’s no real SANE way to cope with it, other than the time-honored solution of total apathy, rejection — pretending these people don’t even exist.


I sort of never ever want to visit it again. But that won’t help — because I know all too well that it exists, will always exist as it does in my mind’s-eye; choked with misery, self-destruction, hopelessness; the sick, the dying, people literally rotting on the ground, urine-soaked gutters and streets hazarding human feces. The Third World in the heart of the First.

So when we're finished wanking about how we've improved Iraq so much since bombing the living fuck out of it, how about we ask Governor Ah-NOLD what he's going to do to rebuild this.

Or ask Governor Bunko what she's doing about the Big NO.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

When Johnny Comes Driving Home...

We don't know if Doug was taking medication, or had stopped taking medication, or even what medication he had been prescribed.

We do know that he was a truck driver, and that his job in Iraq was driving supply convoys along the shooting gallery between Baghdad Airport and LSA Anaconda in Balad -- a giant military base -- a veritable city -- that is subject to so many mortar and rocket attacks that the troops have renamed it Mortaritaville. We do know, from Doug's interviews, that the stress of those convoys -- each confronting its participants with the possibility that this could be one's last road trip -- were hard on Doug. In July 2003, his convoy was hit with an improvised explosive device, and the mortar attacks at Anaconda were so regular that they were alomst a weather pattern. But Doug said there was something else that was even harder on him. When the grunts came in, they would describe how many civilians they'd killed.

When Doug was in a traffic jam one day, feeling very vulnerable, and the US units dismounted to clear the traffic jam -- angry and afraid and waving weapons at the civilians -- a woman in a bus held up her baby for them to see... like that window-sign we see in cars on American highways -- "Baby on Board." Only she wasn't cautioning other drivers to be careful. She was trying to prevent an armed attack that could kill her child.

Doug may have decomped from medication, I don't know. That could have contributed to his suicide.

Go here for the full story.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Horowitz Decries "Spy on the Prof" tactics of former employee

Talk about weird.

According to this article, "An organization calling itself the "Bruin Alumni Association" that has no official affiliation with the University of California has published an online list of UCLA professors it deems "radical." The Association also posted an online offer to pay students for evidence proving that instructors have been espousing left-wing views in class, in violation of University of California rules."

You'd think David Horowitz would be all over this, and he is...but not how you would think.

Suffice it to say Horowitz's act implodes around the 4th paragraph, and the last few are pure comedy gold when you look at the totality of Frontpage and Discover the Network.

But I wonder what caused the falling out between him and Andrew "Affirmative Action Bake Sale" Jones?

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Frey says "their decision, not mine" - They say "Nay"

“When the manuscript of A Million Little Pieces was received by us at Doubleday, it was received as nonfiction, as a memoir,” said Ms. Talese by phone. “Throughout the whole process of publication, it had always been a memoir, and for the first year and a half it was on sale, it was always a memoir with no disputation. It was never once discussed as fiction by me or anyone in my office.”
Ms. Talese’s statement appears to contradict Mr. Frey, who has said that it was his publisher’s decision to foist A Million Little Pieces onto the public as a memoir rather than a novel, as he had originally written it. ..
Ms. Talese said that she “almost collapsed” when she heard Mr. Frey make that statement.

Interesting little twist, but not unexpected. So who's lying, here...?

Get the rest of the story here


Remember the lady who had about 1/3 of someone else's face transplanted onto hers? Turns out she's smoking with it.

I don't know whether to laugh or... well, make a rude joke about tissue rejection.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Gore on NSA Wiretapping

Courtesy of the Raw Story.

It's Gore, so it's good, but it goes on for way, way, way, waaaaaaaaaaaaay to long. It's almost like one of Tipper's broken Prince records after the halfway mark.

That said, I agree we need to look into this. And dare we all say the I-word, like Specter did the other day...?

Monday, January 16, 2006

Martin Luther King Day for Conservatives

If anyone ever tells you that Conservatives were all hand-in-hand with the civil rights movement, and the liberals were exclusively in the wrong, let them read this

Meanwhile, over on Frontpage, Horowitz shits himself over the speaker roster at Duke, and misses the irony that - were he still alive - it's highly likely that Rev. King would be marching hand-in-hand with those "political and racial cranks" for one cause or another. So he'd probably have his photo up at Discover the Network alongside Fidel Castro and the blind sheikh, too - most likely in the "anti-american radicals" column.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

The Internet strikes again!

An interesting story about how the web is playing a part in bringing geniune, homespun democratic reform to the Muslim Middle East, minus the Vulcans and Use-America Right.

In other tiny revolutions news, Trogdor turned three a few days ago. All hail the meme.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

'A Memoir Full of Feces' and a real switcheroo

"I am an Alcoholic and I am a drug Addict and I am a Criminal"

- James Frey, A Million Little Pieces

It would seem, according to a painstaking investigation by the Smoking Gun, that James Frey is also a massive liar, having concoted major portions of his "memoir," A Million Little Pieces.

What started out as TSG's search for Frey's mugshot - to go along with many other celebrities' - turned into a damning expose. And Frey has had to cop to embellishing the truth... though he stands by the truth of the book, even if there isn't a whole lot in there.

Right around the same time, someone else's house of cards came tumbling down. It seems that JT Leroy, author of Sarah, is actually not a twenty-someting, HiV+ man who used to be a teenage truckstop hustler, but rather a complete fabrication created by the couple who supposedly took him in. All public appearances have been courtesy of his adoptive mother's sister-in-law, wearing a wig and dark sunglasses.

If true, both of these lies are reprehensible. These authors have sold ersatz personal tragedy to the masses and reaped the reward of cash and fame for things they just haven't done, and experiences they never went through. The books would have been fine if they'd just been works of fiction, but by calling them "memoirs" - or intimating that they based on the life of someone who never existed, in the case of "the Novel," "Sarah" - we do great injustice to the idea of what a memoir is supposed to be.

Then again, memoirs are always something of a dodgy business. How much of what Casanova or the Marquis de Sade wrote about their lives can be verified in any way, shape or form? And what about Papa Hemmingway? The very act of autobiography is always fraught with hubris, victimized by changing memories and subject to the twin temptations of grandstanding and - lets not beat around the bush, here - making shit up.

Yet, oddly enough, I find what Frey did to be terrible, and what "Leroy" did to be kind of funny in a sick sort of way.

Why? I think it's because, by and large, I find Leroy's whole shtick - with its peek-a-boo tale of underage transgender prostitution, and cloak-and-dagger angle - to be more of a hoax. And I love hoaxes: Joey Skaggs is one of my personal heroes, even if I can hardly remember his name when pressed, and anyone who gets a good prank out and makes people think has done good in my eyes.

I cannot abide outright fraud, on the other hand. And from where I'm sitting, Frey's work has fraud writ large across it.

That said, I'm not really sure where the line can be drawn. Both sets of folks were clearly in it for the money. Both of them had multiple chances to say "ha! fooled you" and run away. And both of them have had the opportunity to fess up once the jig was up, and have tried to excuse it, instead.

(Then again, it's still early - "Leroy" may yet come clean, or be exonerated.)

Maybe it's more to do with the fact that Frey scammed Oprah, whose Book Club has become a hideous juggernaut of literary complacency. Millions of people who otherwise wouldn't deign to set foot in a library or bookstore can go read Oprah's books and feel good about themselves, instead of asking why they sit on the couch and be absorbed by the Spectacle. And a redemptive story of a white guy on drugs who pulls himself up by his bootstraps when the big system just knocks him down and chews him up instead of helping him out - a conservative message if there ever was one - is par for the course, there.

"Leroy," on the other hand, pulled the coup of getting that exact same audience to care about the sort of person they might otherwise have had no sympathy for whatsoever: a "switcher" - a teen hustler in drag who catered to homo truck-driving men. Sure, when they're a kid, you feel sorry for them, but when they're grown up, still gay and have AIDS... how many Oprah fans would really want to befriend such a person?

They would if they could read their tearjerking "memoir" - which is called "a novel," anyway - and that's the lesson of "Leroy." "A Million Little Pieces," on the other hand, just tells us what we already "know" - any white junkie can kick the habit (even if he never really kicks it) with a lot of toughness and grit.

That's what Frey's novel was about, apparently. The 17 publishers who turned it down did so because they'd heard it all before. Then someone at the 18th hole in the golf course said "say it's all true, Jimbo," and he did.

I'd say "that'll learn him," but the real lesson here is for us.