March 31, 2006


Originally uploaded by Linkmeister.
Day 41 of miserable weather.

If you think I ought to get over it, I would, but it's so rare that it dominates every news program and every waking moment.

Update: Three hours later, sunshine.

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March 30, 2006

The Cos had something to say about this

This comedy routine is appropriate for our current weather:

Whoompa, whoompa, whoompa, whoompa
Somebody call?
Whoompa, whoompa, whoompa
Who is that?
It's the Lord, Noah


What's going on?
How come you want me to do all these weird things?
I'm going to destroy the world
Am I on Candid Camera?

How you gonna do it?
I'm gonna make it rain for a thousand days and drown 'em right out
Listen, do this, you'll save water
Let it rain for 40 days and 40 nights
And wait for the sewers to back up

(.mp3 here. It's much better heard than read.)

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March 29, 2006

Lost, Season 2, "Lockdown"

At least, I think that was the name of tonight's episode. If so, it's a clever pun.

Did we ever learn how Locke got stuck in the wheelchair in the first place? 'Cause I thought for sure we were gonna see him injured in that flashback tonight.

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March 28, 2006

Socked in

Originally uploaded by Linkmeister.
See that streetlamp in the background? There's an entire mountain range behind it, trust me.

From NOAA:
300 PM HST MON MAR 27 2006




During this six week period Kauai had a large dam break which killed seven people and shocked the hell out of us, mostly because we weren't even aware there were some 60 dams on that island, many of them vulnerable.

NOAA goes on to say that this weather pattern is most like one that happened in March of 1951.

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Snappy answer

Here's the best unanswered question I've seen about immigration:

Why don't workers have the same rights to cross borders that corporations do?

I don't suppose Lou Dobbs, James Sensenbrenner or Tom Tancredo have an answer to that, but I'd love to hear them try.

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March 27, 2006

Bloggers Cook!

Originally uploaded by Linkmeister.
Ginger of Hackenblog had an inspired idea a while back; she decided to create a cookbook to help raise money for Doctors Without Borders. She solicited recipes from other bloggers, and she got lots (including one of mine).

The cookbook can be purchased at Lulu for a measly $15, and the money goes to a truly worthwhile (and Nobel-winning) cause.

What are you waiting for?
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Anatomy of a Phish

The entire content of an e-mail I got today:

From: "" Subject: MYBANK Account Security Measures Notification [ Account Suspended 02:45:10 DST-0400 UTC] To:


Training 101, huh?

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March 26, 2006

Holy Cow!

Do you believe in miracles?



I attended two classes at George Mason between my junior and senior years of high school, so I (now) consider myself an alum.

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Si se puede!

Bob Chamberlin/LAT

Plane Wreck at Los Gatos

The crops are all in and the peaches are rotting,
The oranges are packed in their creosote dumps.
They're flying 'em back to the Mexico border
To take all their money to wade back again.

Goodbye to my Juan, goodbye Rosalita,
Adios mis amigos, Jesus y Maria.
You won't have a name when you ride the big airplane,
All they will call you will be "deportees."

My father's own father, he waded that river.
They took all the money he made in his life.
My brothers and sisters came workin' the fruit trees,
They rode the big trucks 'till they laid down and died.

Goodbye to my Juan, goodbye Rosalita,
Adios mis amigos, Jesus y Maria.
You won't have a name when you ride the big airplane,
All they will call you will be "deportees."

The skyplane caught fire over Los Gatos Canyon,
A fireball of lightnin' an' it shook all the hills.
Who are these comrades, they're dying like the dry leaves?
The radio tells me, "They're just deportees."

We died in your hills and we died in your deserts,
We died in your valleys, we died in your plains.
We died 'neath your trees and we died 'neath your bushes,
Both sides of the river we died just the same.

Goodbye to my Juan, goodbye Rosalita,
Adios mis amigos, Jesus y Maria.
You won't have a name when you ride the big airplane,
All they will call you will be "deportees"

Is this the best way we can grow our big orchards?
Is this the best way we can grow our good fruit?
To die like the dry leaves and rot on my topsoil
And be known by no name except "deportee."

Goodbye to my Juan, goodbye Rosalita,
Adios mis amigos, Jesus y Maria.
You won't have a name when you ride the big airplane,
All they will call you will be "deportees."

All they will call you will be "deportees."

Lyric by Woody Guthrie, Music by Martin Hoffman

Read the article at the LA Times.

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March 25, 2006

When will they ever learn?

Julia suggests "Post an anti-war song." Fine by me.

When you look into a child's face
And you're seeing the human race
And the endless possibilities there
Where so much can come true
And you think of the beautiful things
A child can do

How long -- would the child survive
How long -- if it was up to you

When you think about the money spent
On defense by a government
And the weapons of destruction we've built
We're so sure that we need
And you think of the millions and millions
That money could feed

How long -- can you hear someone crying
How long -- can you hear someone dying
Before you ask yourself why?
And how long will we hear people speaking
About missiles for peace
And just let it go by
How long will they tell us these weapons
Are keeping us free
That's a life

If you saw it from a satellite
With its green and its blue and white
The beauty of the curve of the earth
And its oceans below
You might think it was paradise
If you didn't know
You might think that it's turning
But it's turning so slow

How long -- can you hear someone crying
How long -- can you hear someone dying
Before you ask yourself why?
And how long will it be 'till we've turned
To the tasks and the skills
That we'll have to have learned
If we're going to find our place in the future
And have something to offer
Where this planet's concerned
How long?

From World in Motion, Jackson Browne, 1989.

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March 24, 2006

Going concern

My car has been liberated. It needed fuel injector replacement surgery. Who knew a car with only 44K on it would have that sort of failure?

In the process, it also got a new distributor cap, a new ignition coil, new spark plug wires, and a nice two-night vacation at the bottom of the hill.

Surgery ain't cheap. All of that cost $600.

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First, my car remains languishing in the shop, with no call from the place to advise me of its status. I finally called them and was told the mechanic was still "checking it out."

Then, Duke completely blows up one quarter of my Final Four picks by losing to LSU. Not to be outdone, UCLA does the same in the late game by beating Gonzaga in one of the most exciting games I've seen in quite a while (like, an hour, since poor West Virginia surely thought it was going to overtime until they left that Texas kid off on the wing to hit a three to win in the other game).

Oh, and it's still raining, for about the twelfth consecutive day.

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March 23, 2006

Well and truly said

Via Avedon comes a link to this marvelous essay by Jane Smiley at HuffPo, directed to the recent high-profile defectors from BushWorld:

  1. Bush doesn't know you disagree with him.
  2. Bush doesn't care whether you disagree with him.
  3. Bush does what he feels like doing and he deeply resents being told, even politely, that he ought to do anything else.
  4. President Bush is your creation.
  5. Tyranny is your creation.
  6. As Bad as Bush is, Cheney is Worse.

Now you are fleeing him, but it's only because he's got the earmarks of a loser. Your problem is that you don't know why he's losing. You think he's made mistakes. But no. He's losing because the ideas that you taught him and demonstrated for him are bad ideas, self-destructive ideas, and even suicidal ideas. And they are immoral ideas. You should be ashamed of yourselves because not only have your ideas not worked to make the world a better place, they were inhumane and cruel to begin with, and they have served to cultivate and excuse the inhumane and cruel character traits of those who profess them.

The conclusion is wonderful, but the whole essay is emblematic of the feelings of many many people (see the latest poll numbers). Read it all.

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March 22, 2006

Kites, Knees and Knots

My car has developed an annoying habit of being unwilling to start after the second stop in a series of errands. At first this was a weekly event, but it's progressed to a daily one. It has so far eventually started, but who knows how long it'll keep that up? Off I went to have it looked at today, taking along the copy of Master and Commander mentioned below. As feared, it's entertaining, and I can see why it was made into a movie. Ships, storms, waves, guns, guts and glory; whatever took Hollywood so long?

However. There is an awful lot of sailing-ship terminology contained in it that your average reader is just not gonna know. I kept muttering "A what?" Fortunately, there's an online list of useful terms. It would be even more useful if it were enclosed in the books, but you can't have everything, I suppose. Even without it the book is 457 pages long.

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March 21, 2006


From Stefan Jones's comment at Making Light:

The President, First Lady and Dick Cheney were flying on Air Force One.

George looked at Laura, chuckled and said, "You know, I could throw a $1,000 bill out of the window right now and make somebody very happy."

Laura shrugged her shoulders and replied, "I could throw ten $100 bills out of the window and make ten people very happy."

"That being the case," Cheney added, "I could throw one hundred $10 bills out of the window and make a hundred people very happy."

Hearing their exchange, the pilot rolled his eyes and said to his co-pilot, "Such big-shots back there. Hell, I could throw all of them out of the window and make 210 million people very happy."

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A Fateful Decision

On this recommendation, I picked up a copy of Robert Charles Wilson's Spin at the library. While there I got a couple of his other books. I read them all and enjoyed them. I went back to the library to turn them in and had an impulse. For years I was getting catalogs from Daedalus Books, and the catalogs always had an insert proclaiming the magic of Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin series. I'd always resisted buying them, but I thought, well, here I am at the library, so let's see if it has any copies.

I've now borrowed the first two, including Master and Commander. Since there are twenty books all told, I'm almost afraid I'll like them.

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March 20, 2006

Next year will be different

Resolved: If my check register fills up in mid-year I will file the old one with the business expense receipts, rather than throw it in an old check box and have to spend an hour hunting for it.

In light of this discussion over at Kevin Drum's place, I wonder how we're supposed to support our deductions if we no longer have canceled checks?

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March 19, 2006

Unhappy Anniversary

Back on March 20 of 2003 I wrote this:

This is the wrong war against the wrong enemy, but it's started. I can only hope it ends well, with minimal casualties to US military men and women and to the Iraqi population, both military and civilian, and that there will be no retaliatory terrorist attacks on the United States and its people. Defenses against the latter are still weak, from what I've been reading; hopefully they will be sufficient.

I also hope that the Administration makes good on all its promises to rebuild Iraq. Watching its performance in Afghanistan and remembering candidate Bush's sneer at nation-building during the campaign, I'm not all that sanguine about that happening; I hope I'm proven wrong.

Regarding paragraph 2, I guess I wasn't wrong.

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March 18, 2006

Balkans version 2.0?

I ran across word of this conference at Shakespeare’s Sister's place. I’m really beginning to believe that there’s a small group of American Christians who’ve been studying at Slobodan Milosevic’s School of Serbian Victimhood. Look at the panels offered:

  • The Gay Agenda: America Won’t Be Happy
  • The ACLU And Radical Secularism: Driving God From The Public Square
  • Hollywood: Christians Through A Distorted Lens
  • Jews Confront The War On Christians
  • The Judiciary: Overruling God
  • The Media: Megaphone For Anti-Faith Values
  • Taking Our Faith To The Ballot Box

Now look at the scheduled speakers:

Senator Sam Brownback
Senator John Cornyn
Congressman Tom DeLay
Congressman Todd Akin
Congressman Louis Gohmert
Rick Scarborough
Phyllis Schlafly
Alan Keyes
Gary Bauer
Janet Parshall

There's even an online poll which the viewer can take to decide which godless judge should be impeached first.

Ordinarily I'd blow this off, but after hearing about the 50,000 mourners thronging a public square in Belgrade to pay tribute to Milosevic today, I'm not so sure. Milosevic came to power and held onto it by claiming to defend Serbia against the outside. From another NYT article: "In fact, refugees here [Belgrade] say that like themselves, Mr. Milosevic was a victim of foreign powers, a theme that is an obsession for Serbs and has been repeated throughout their history."

Given that Milosevic managed to start four wars by utilizing Serbian victimhood as a rallying cry, maybe we shouldn't just laugh at the radical Christian right when it tries to do the same. There are some similarities between the two. Look at the list of enemies.

  • The non-Christian (Here: The Secular; there: Muslims in Bosnia-Herzogovina)
  • The media
  • The outsider (Here: Gays; there: non-Serbs)

Then look at the list of politicians aligning themselves with this: Brownback, who may run for President in 2008; Cornyn, who believes "the Supreme Court seems more inclined to protect pornography than to protect religious expression"; DeLay, a man who needs little introduction; Akin, whose claim to fame or notoriety seems to be that he's a fiscal conservative rated as far right as you can get by the National Journal; and Gohmert, who seems to have gotten his seat in Congress as a result of the mid-cycle Texas redistricting directed by Tom DeLay. Don't they just fill you with confidence about the road they'd like to take your country down?

The remainder of the speakers are the usual suspects, although I've never heard of Janet Parshall. (Update: I looked her up. She's host of a religious radio broadcast in D.C.). I'd hate to assign guilt by association, but given the company she's in (Scarborough? Schlafly? Bauer? Keyes?) I doubt that she's the token liberal.

Maybe we ought to take these people a little more seriously.

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United States & Israel entanglement

How much influence did the Israeli lobby AIPAC have on the Bush Administration's decision to go to war in Iraq? Quite a bit, say John Mearshimer and Stephen Walt in the London Review of Books. They make that point in the latter third of this article which attempts to explain the often inexplicable: how the hell did US foreign policy get so tied to Israel, a country which often ignores US desires and ambitions in the Middle East? It's worth a read, even if you agree with none of it.

via Juan Cole.

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March 17, 2006

Tournament, Day 2

I'm now 22-10. I take no responsibility for Northwestern State defeating Iowa, but clearly Bradley beating Kansas was solely as a result of my picking them.

Hey, my Elite Eight picks are still intact!

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Ports are so last week

In an otherwise ho-hum article about Congress passing a budget which goes way past what it had said it would spend, there's this charming item:

Lawmakers narrowly defeated a Democratic amendment to increase port-related spending by $1.2 billion. The measure, offered by Rep. Martin O. Sabo (D-Minn), failed 210 to 208.

Despite all the hooha about Dubai and the UAE managing some American ports, the Republican Congress can't be bothered to upgrade our lousy security at those places. (Not a single Democrat voted against that amendment; 12 Republicans crossed the aisle, voting for it.)

One would hope that Rep. Sabo and some of his colleagues might point out this anomaly to all those Americans who were outraged about foreigners handling port operations.

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March 16, 2006

Tournament follies

Way to go, Oklahoma. You just screwed up my brackets big time.

On the brighter side, I picked Wichita State to beat Seton Hall and BC to beat Pacific (although I didn't think it would take double overtime to do it!). I'm currently 2-1.

Update: Now 5-3. Florida kept to form, Marquette and Nevada did not, Winthrop (who?) scared the hell out of Tennessee before losing, and in a battle of the Bruins the UCLA ones won.

Update 2: 10-6 after Day 1. I got Duke right (how hard was that?), along with Texas A&M, LSU, Gonzaga, and Washington. Guessed wrong on UNC-Wilmington, San Diego State, and Air Force (I thought that Princeton offense would give Indiana trouble).

In case you're wondering, I've got Duke-UConn in the final, with Duke winning.

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March 15, 2006

Media cheerleading

So how did the Iraq war look shortly after that statue was toppled?


"Iraq Is All but Won; Now What?" (Los Angeles Times headline, 4/10/03)

"Now that the combat phase of the war in Iraq is officially over, what begins is a debate throughout the entire U.S. government over America's unrivaled power and how best to use it."
(CBS reporter Joie Chen, 5/4/03)

"Congress returns to Washington this week to a world very different from the one members left two weeks ago. The war in Iraq is essentially over and domestic issues are regaining attention."
(NPR's Bob Edwards, 4/28/03)

"Tommy Franks and the coalition forces have demonstrated the old axiom that boldness on the battlefield produces swift and relatively bloodless victory. The three-week swing through Iraq has utterly shattered skeptics' complaints."
(Fox News Channel's Tony Snow, 4/27/03)

"The only people who think this wasn't a victory are Upper Westside liberals, and a few people here in Washington."
(Charles Krauthammer, Inside Washington, WUSA-TV, 4/19/03)

"We had controversial wars that divided the country. This war united the country and brought the military back."
(Newsweek's Howard Fineman--MSNBC, 5/7/03)

"We're all neo-cons now."
(MSNBC's Chris Matthews, 4/9/03)

And the media wonders why it gets such low marks from the public.

via Atrios.

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The unkindest cut

Y'all know a little about Claude Allen, right? He's the highly-placed domestic policy adviser to President Bush who recently resigned to spend time with his family (yeah, yeah). Well, turns out he was allegedly a shoplifter of sorts, doing a kind of refund scam where you buy an item, take it outside, walk back into the store a day or two later with the receipt, find the identical item on the store's shelf, and "return" it for a refund. That's bad enough, but now the NYT, commenting on the current Congress and its lack of will to perform any oversight of the executive branch, has this to say in Wednesday's editorial:

The founding fathers understood that there would be times in American history when the country lost confidence in the judgment of the president. Congress and the courts are supposed to fill the gap. But the system of checks and balances is a safety net that doesn't feel particularly sturdy at present. The administration seems determined to cut off legitimate court scrutiny, and the Republicans who dominate the House and Senate generally intervene only to change the rules so Mr. Bush can do whatever he wants. (If the current Congress had been called on to intervene in the case of Mr. Allen, it would probably have tried to legalize shoplifting.)

Now that's cold.

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March 14, 2006

A theory

As of January 2005, Senators and Representatives receive $162,100 per year. Certain positions have higher rates of pay. The Majority and Minority Leaders in both the House and Senate and the President pro tempore of the Senate earn $180,100. The Speaker of the House earns $208,000.

A table of historic data on Congressional salaries is accessible here.


What if we reduced their pay to $30K a year? Would they recover some of their principles if losing their jobs didn't cause such an economic hit?

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March 13, 2006


How much fun can one have with
Posted by Linkmeister at 03:14 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 12, 2006

Winter visitor

Originally uploaded by Linkmeister.
This bird (he's a plover, or kolea in Hawaiian) was hanging out in our back yard for a while. He may have taken off for the mainland by now, but I kept my cameras in the kitchen so I could try to get a decent shot of him before he left. He's really skittish, and my digital Canon doesn't have a strong enough zoom to capture him, so I broke out the Canon A-1 with the 35-105mm lens and used real film. Remember film?

I have a few more shots of him with the zoom which need tweaking/cropping. I'll get to them later this week.
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March 11, 2006

Vinyl to CD

Hmm. If you've got a laptop and a vinyl collection, this gadget might be the way to make CDs out of all those albums. You can edit the sound levels using Audacity, an open-source program supplied with the turntable. I wonder if I could get a 40-foot long USB cable?

Of course, this presumes you've got a lot of hard disk capacity; the rule of thumb seems to be one LP equals 500mb. Add in the software required (one-time only, I presume) and you're using up one GB for the first album and 500mb for each one after that.

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March 10, 2006


From the NYT article telling its readers that Gale Norton resigned today:

Word of her departure elicited mixed reviews. In a statement, the Industrial Energy Consumers Of America praised Ms. Norton as "outstanding." Defenders of Wildlife said, in a two-word press release, "Good riddance."

I'm with Defenders of Wildlife. Couldn't have said it better myself.

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Stop the music

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says Iran is the greatest challenge facing the United States.

In testimony before the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee Thursday, Rice characterized the Tehran government as "determined" to defy the international community by going ahead with its nuclear program, CNN reported.

Rice's testimony came in support of a $92 billion appropriations measure to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Rice described Iran as the "central banker" of terror, accusing it of backing militants in Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories.

What world is she in? Iraq and Afghanistan are consuming about $5 billion a month, we've got ~160,000 soldiers and Marines tied up in those two countries, Iraq's on the verge of a civil war, our man in Afghanistan is basically mayor of Kabul and that's all, and she's worried about Iran trying to acquire nuclear weapons when even our own National Intelligence Estimate of nine months ago says it's ten years away?

Oh, and let's not forget that North Korea may already have a nuclear weapon or two.

I've heard this song before, and it was discordant when the subject was Iraq. Can my fellow citizens be stupid enough to believe a word of what she and her boss say again?

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March 09, 2006

An ingenious proposal

Jon Carroll has a clever idea to manipulate voting patterns in South Dakota which is perfectly legal: establish residence there by parking an RV in a lot outside Sioux Falls or Rapid City for a week or two each year, and then vote your own interests.

You don't have to move to South Dakota to register. You just have to vacation there long enough to have a temporary address at a campground, motel or RV park. "In Hanson County, population 3100, more than 800 RV'ers are registered. Most have never stayed in South Dakota for more than a few weeks."

Ok, I doubt too many folks will take him up on the idea, but it's a thought.

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March 08, 2006


Beyond the "how many discs do I want to put into the machine to play sequentially" question, what criteria should be used to evaluate CD players?

Update: I should have specified that the desired player is a desktop/cabinet variety which will be plugged into an amp to be played through whacking great 80-watt speakers.

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March 07, 2006

Tournament time

Ah, March Madness. It's nearly upon us. The time of year when schools you've never heard of pop up on your basketball radar screen. Most of those blips immediately fall off again after the first weekend of the NCAA tournament, of course, but in the meantime, here's looking at (so far):

---- ---------- ---- --------

Pennsylvania (19-7) * Ivy League 3/3 2005
Belmont (20-10) Atlantic Sun 3/4 none
Gonzaga (27-3) West Coast 3/6 2005
Iona (23-7) Metro Atlantic 3/6 2001
Murray St (24-6) Ohio Valley 3/4 2004
Winthrop (23-7) Big South 3/4 2005
Davidson (20-10) Southern 3/5 2002
Southern Illinois (22-6) Missouri Valley 3/5 2005
UNC Wilmington (25-7) Colonial 3/6 2003

Ok, I know UNC Wilmington a little bit. Southern Illinois has one of the best nicknames in sports (Go Salukis!). Penn is pretty well known (joke! joke!), and Gonzaga is no longer a Cinderella school. Iona we never hear about till the tournament; ditto Murray State. I think Davidson is in North Carolina, but Winthrop? Who's Winthrop? I thought Belmont was a horse race; who knew it was also a college?

I wish 'em all well. Knock off some of the big guys, willya?

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South Dakota chooses fetus over women's lives

I once visited South Dakota. It seemed like a pleasant High Plains state, with the Black Hills, Wall Drug and Mt. Rushmore. I won't be going back.

To get a sense of what the legislators are like there, read this. Click the link to the video, too. I saw that interview live on The News Hour and couldn't believe what I was hearing. Remember One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest? This guy qualifies as the bull-goose loony of the year.

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March 06, 2006


If you don't expect too much from the Oscars, you won't be disappointed. I don't think that was Jon Stewart's best work, but it was a lot better than some of his predecessors have done.

I haven't seen any of the films, so I won't comment on the merits of any of them.

I liked George Clooney's acceptance speech (Proud to be non-mainstream!). I liked Reese Witherspoon's acceptance speech. Rambling as it was, I liked Phillip Seymour Hoffman's acceptance speech.

All due respect to Dolly Parton, but I don't think any of the three nominated songs were worthy of an Oscar. Couldn't Ang Lee have found a good soulful C/W song for Brokeback Mountain?

Some of the shorts (both documentary and animated) looked interesting; I wonder if anyone does compilations of Oscar nominees for those films on DVD?

I'd heard good reviews of both Tsotsi and Paradise Now; I wonder if the voters felt they'd rather pick a South African movie than a Palestinian one.

I liked the joke about tearing the Oscar statue down, as well as Stewart's line after the montage of "socially-relevant" films: "All of those problems went away after that." I suspect that offended some of the Hollywood types, who often seem to believe they're a little more powerful social force than the rest of us think they are.

And hey! It ended more-or-less on time!

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March 05, 2006

It's awfully chilly

Is the White House threatening journalists with prosecution for acting on leaks?

Numerous employees at the CIA, FBI, Justice Department and other agencies also have received letters from Justice prohibiting them from discussing even unclassified issues related to the NSA program, according to sources familiar with the notices. Some GOP lawmakers are also considering whether to approve tougher penalties for leaking.


"Almost every administration has kind of come in saying they want an open administration, and then getting bad press and fuming about leaks," said David Greenberg, a Rutgers University journalism professor and author of "Nixon's Shadow." "But it's a pretty fair statement to say you haven't seen this kind of crackdown on leaks since the Nixon administration."

The CIA has been conducting polygraph exams to try to learn whether employees have had any contact with journalists. Then there's this:

"It is my aim, and it is my hope, that we will witness a grand jury investigation with reporters present being asked to reveal who is leaking this information," Goss told a Senate committee.

This is still the United States, right? It's getting awfully close to Orwell-land here. What's next, mind control? Oh, right, we've got Fox News for that. Never mind.

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March 04, 2006

In search of picturesque speech

We have a new law which says pedestrians have the right-of-way when they're in crosswalks, and drivers who ignore it do so at their peril (seems to me the pedestrians are the ones imperiled, but that's another issue). Anyway, there's a new PSA out exhorting drivers to follow the law. It tells you that you must stop, otherwise you risk a $97 monetary assessment.

I wonder what PR genius thought up that euphemistic term for "fine."

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Rules? What rules?

What do you do if you're Senate Majority Leader and the Senate Intelligence Committee plans to hold hearings which might harm your President's standing (and, not incidentally, your party's)?

You threaten to change the rules.

In response to a letter sent to him by Senator Reid demanding that Sen. Roberts allow a vote on Rockefeller's motion to hold NSA hearings and threatening to bring the matter to the full Senate if Roberts again blocks an up-or-down vote on the motion, Frist writes:

I am increasingly concerned that the Senate Intelligence Committee is unable to carry out its critically important oversight and threat assessment responsibilities due to stifling partisanship that is exhibited by repeated calls by Democrats on the Committee to conduct politically-motivated investigations. . . .

I would propose that we meet with Senators Roberts and Rockefeller as soon as possible. The Committee was established and structured to reflect the Senate’s desire for bipartisanship, and to the maximum extent possible, nonpartisan oversight of our nation’s intelligence activities. If attempts to use the committee’s charter for political purposes exist, we may have to simply acknowledge that nonpartisan oversight, while a worthy aspiration, is simply not possible. If we are unable to reach agreement, I believe we must consider other options to improve the Committee’s oversight capabilities, to include restructuring the Committee so that it is organized and operated like most Senate Committees.

What that last sentence means is "instead of the longstanding bipartisan structure which gives neither party majority standing in the Intelligence Committee, I'm gonna restructure it so there are more Republicans than Democrats on it and we can then block hearings."

The man is so subservient to Bush he's lapping the soles of the man's boots. Go read Glenn's analysis at that link.

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March 03, 2006

The inimitable Fafblog

"This year the war would like a new bicycle, a gift certificate or an exit strategy."

Huh? Go read.

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March 02, 2006

More "Heckuva jobs"

God, what would it be like to have ethical people in the Federal government again?

Mr. Peltier's role influencing decisions that could have a direct financial impact on his former employer is part of a pattern at the Interior Department over the last five years, critics say, with a revolving door between managers on the government side, and the people who buy or lease federal water, land or forests on the other side.

At the Interior Department, at least six high political positions have been occupied by people associated with businesses or trade associations tied to public lands or resources. One of those appointees, J. Steven Griles, a deputy secretary, continued to receive $284,000 a year from his old lobbying firm while working for the government. Mr. Griles stepped down last year, saying he had not done anything to violate ethics rules at the department.

If Mr. Griles is correct, maybe the ethics rules at Interior should be reexamined?

...some of the current appointees came from groups that stand to benefit financially from the decisions made at the Interior Department about how much businesses will have to pay for public water, grazing land, timber and minerals.

The appointees, both former and current, include William G. Myers III, who was the department's solicitor from 2001 through 2003 after working as a lawyer for ranching interests which rely on public grazing land; Bennett W. Raley, who was assistant secretary for water and science from 2001 to 2004 after working at a law firm whose clients had clashed with the federal government over the use of public water; Rebecca W. Watson, assistant secretary for land and minerals management, who is a lawyer who represented mining, logging, oil and gas interests; and Kit Kimball, director of external and intragovernmental affairs, who was a lobbyist on behalf of mining, oil and gas companies doing business on public lands.

Yessiree bob, it's good to have all those people with prior experience in their industries now in position to regulate, award contracts, and otherwise influence government policy towards land and water that belong to all Americans, isn't it?

Isn't it?

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March 01, 2006

Eyes but cannot see

New videotapes show Bush was told Katrina would be disastrous.

Linked by secure video, Bush expressed a confidence on Aug. 28 that starkly contrasted with the dire warnings his disaster chief and numerous federal, state and local officials provided during the four days before the storm.

I wonder if this is more of that "comforting" business he seems to think is the primary point of the Presidency.

VARGAS: When you look back on those days immediately following when Katrina struck, what moment do you think was the moment that you realized that the government was failing, especially the people of New Orleans?

BUSH: When I saw TV reporters interviewing people who were screaming for help. It looked — the scenes looked chaotic and desperate. And I realized that our government was — could have done a better job of comforting people.

Comforting people? They're freakin' drowning, you incompetent fool! Throw them a FEMA life ring!

This is the same outfit that laughed at Clinton's "I feel your pain" language, mind you. I submit that at least Clinton meant it, while GWB is talking through his hat.

These tapes even redeem good ol' Brownie, if only a little bit.

Video footage of the Aug. 28 briefing, the final one before Katrina struck, showed an intense Brown voicing concerns from the government's disaster operation center and imploring colleagues to do whatever was necessary to help victims.

"We're going to need everything that we can possibly muster, not only in this state and in the region, but the nation, to respond to this event," Brown warned. He called the storm "a bad one, a big one" and implored federal agencies to cut through red tape to help people, bending rules if necessary.

"Go ahead and do it," Brown said. "I'll figure out some way to justify it. ... Just let them yell at me."

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