June 30, 2006


Dick Francis, after a six-year absence, has written a new book!

His wife was his researcher and collaborator on the 38 books he's previously written. "...after Mary's death in 2000 Dick Francis announced he would write no more books."

But now:

He met his publishers this week to see if they liked the manuscript for his new book. They do. "I did say I wouldn't write another book after Mary died, but she's been dead for five-and-a-half years now. I have got over the fact of missing her."

For an 86-year-old, he sounds pretty spry. I hope the book's good; I've got every one he's ever written but two, and one of those is his autobiography. It's scheduled to be out in September.

Available for pre-order now!

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June 29, 2006

"Democracy forcing"

I've been wandering around legal blogs trying to get a grip on what today's SCOTUS decision in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld means, and I find this conclusion one of the more interesting ones.

The key to understanding Hamdan is that the Court did not tell the President that he could under no circumstances create military tribunals with very limited procedural guarantees (in this case, without any right to know what the charges are or the right to know what evidence is being used against you). Rather, the Court told the President that under Article 36 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) and Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, he could not do so. That is because Article 36 of the UCMJ requires that the rules for military commissions be roughly the same as those for courts martial (which generally are used for offenses committed by our own soldiers). The UCMJ also requires that military commissions comport with the laws of war, which include the Geneva Conventions. Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, in turn, requires that people like Hamdan be tried by "regularly constituted court[s] affording all the judicial guarantees . . . recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples."

That's a little confusing. I think the point the author's trying to make is that the Court found specific reasons why tribunals weren't sufficiently respectful of due process, rather than general ones.

But this analysis is the part I find more compelling, maybe because I want it to be so.

What the Court has done is not so much countermajoritarian as democracy forcing (Emphasis in original). It has limited the President by forcing him to go back to Congress to ask for more authority than he already has, and if Congress gives it to him, then the Court will not stand in his way. It is possible, of course, that with a Congress controlled by the Republicans, the President might get everything he wants. However this might be quite unpopular given the negative publicity currently swirling around our detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay. By forcing the President to ask for authorization, the Court does two things. First, it insists that both branches be on board with what the President wants to do. Second, it requires the President to ask for authority when passions have cooled somewhat, as opposed to right after 9/11, when Congress would likely have given him almost anything (except authorization for his NSA surveillance program, but let's not go there!). Third, by requiring the President to go to Congress for authorization, it gives Congress an opportunity and an excuse for oversight, something which it has heretofore been rather loathe to do on its own motion.

I hope that's right. I also hope the Court, by saying the Detainee Treatment Act doesn't apply here, has reasserted the separation of powers and denied that Congress can strip the Court of its jurisdiction.

Confirming paragraph one and my attempt at an explanation of it:

From the NYT:

Justice Stevens declared flatly that "the military commission at issue lacks the power to proceed because its structure and procedure violate" both the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which governs the American military's legal system, and Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions.The majority opinion rejected the administration's claims that the tribunals were justified both by President Bush's inherent powers as commander in chief and by the resolution passed by Congress authorizing the use of force after the Sept. 11. There is nothing in the resolution's legislative history "even hinting" that such an expansion of the president's powers was considered, he wrote.

Update: More from The American Constitution Society blog via Talk Left:

The Hamdan decision rejects this fast-and-loose attitude to the Separation of Powers. It endorses careful scrutiny of the precise powers delegated by Congress to the executive branch.

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Hamdan v. Rumsfeld

Today the Supreme Court said military tribunals for Guantanamo detainees are illegal, violating both US law and the Geneva Conventions.

The case raised core constitutional principles of separation of powers as well as fundamental issues of individual rights. Specifically, the questions concerned:

  • The power of Congress and the executive to strip the federal courts and the Supreme Court of jurisdiction.

  • The authority of the executive to lock up individuals under claims of wartime power, without benefit of traditional protections such as a jury trial, the right to cross-examine one's accusers and the right to judicial appeal.

  • The applicability of international treaties -- specifically the Geneva Conventions on the treatment of prisoners of war -- to the government's treatment of those it deems "enemy combatants."

There are a whole lot of lawyers writing about this today, as you'd expect. Some of them:

Here's the Technorati list of blogs referring to the WaPo story linked above.

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June 28, 2006

Texas democrats lose at Court

Given today's implicit approval by the Supreme Court of the redrawing of Congressional district lines in mid-decade, rather than shortly after the decennial census, will there be a spate of map-drawing every time a state legislature changes hands from one party to another?

"Some people are predicting a rash of mid-decade redistricting. I am skeptical," said Richard Hasen, an election law expert at Loyola Law School. "It would be seen as a power grab in a lot of places."

Er, Mr. Hasen, what the hell was the Texas redistricting seen as? Did it stop DeLay and his buddies from doing it?

I still maintain there's a need for non-partisan commissions in each state to do the redistricting once every ten years and no more, unless there's a huge displacement of population within a state between censuses. Otherwise the gerrymandering will continue. With new software, the maps can be drawn with such sophistication that there will soon be almost no chance that an incumbent can be beaten. Is that what we want in this country?

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I finished Glenn Greenwald's book, "How Would a Patriot Act?". I didn't learn anything new, but then I'm not the target audience. The audience is the non-blog-reading public. It's a well-crafted and careful exposition of how the Bush Administration has deliberately broken constitutional law in various actions it's taken, from the complete bypassing of the FISA court in the NSA wiretapping to the torture of prisoners in violation of US torture statutes as well as the Geneva conventions. Greenwald makes his case the way a lawyer would when about to present it to a jury, but it's by no means a dry and dusty read, like so much legalese often is.

Buy a copy and lend it to friends.

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June 27, 2006

Demo strategy

Hey! Good advice free! No highly-paid consultants named Shrum needed!

"If you believe the Iraq war is a success, vote Republican. If you believe it is a failure, vote Democratic."

Is our side listening?

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Here's an example of the mindset of Bush's Forest Service appointees: in an article describing a report detailing an increase in violence directed toward Forest Service employees, the guy in charge of the agency said

...the group's 2004 report unfairly manipulated Forest Service data to make a political point and that it was unfortunate the report seemed to be pitting one kind of forest user against another.

"It doesn't assist law enforcement. It complicates it by singling one group out. That's unfair," Rey said. "Most of the assaults in 2004 were as a result of encounters with drunks, drug users or deranged environmental protesters."

Ah, those deranged environmentalists, ever willing to take up arms against beleaguered rangers.

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June 26, 2006

Library expansion, again

Found in the remainder bin (Alas!): "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them", by Al Franken (does anyone know whether he's seriously considering running for Dayton's seat in the Senate?).

I got that when making a trip to Borders specifically to buy "Lapdogs", Eric Boehlert's book about the press's disgraceful rollover in front of the Bush machine. While there I also picked up Glenn Greenwald's "How Would a Patriot Act?" (Support your fellow bloggers!).

I need more bookshelves.

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June 25, 2006

"The One Percent Doctrine"

I just finished Suskind's new book. (WaPo review; NYT review.) Neither the WaPo reviewer nor the NYT one gets what Suskind's aiming at.

Suskind is trying to make a larger point with this book, I think, than just to tell the story of what went on between CIA and the White House during 2001--2004. He argues that the "War on Terror" has removed morality from the American arsenal, to its detriment. This point is also made in the results of a recent poll by the Pew Research people:

America's global image has again slipped and support for the war on terrorism has declined even among close U.S. allies like Japan. The war in Iraq is a continuing drag on opinions of the United States, not only in predominantly Muslim countries but in Europe and Asia as well. And despite growing concern over Iran's nuclear ambitions, the U.S. presence in Iraq is cited at least as often as Iran - and in many countries much more often - as a danger to world peace.

When the United States locks people up in Guantanamo calling them "cold-blooded killers" and "the worst of the worst" and then turns around and releases some of them based on the odd claim that they are no longer enemy combatants, when it practices "rendition" of suspects to countries which torture them, when it allows its own personnel to waterboard prisoners, then the United States has given up one of its best weapons: the idea that it's doing right.

Suskind closes by quoting Deuteronomy 16:20. It reads: "Justice, Justice. This you must pursue." He then says:

Justice--an overused word these days--is not mentioned twice, however, for added emphasis. Here Hebrew scholars agree--and they don't agree on much--that it's once for the ends, and once for the means.

I think he's nailed it. When the President and his minions didn't stop to ask themselves "is this the right thing to do, and is this the best way to do it?" they forfeited much of the residual goodwill this country has had for sixty years, since the end of World War 2. And now is the time when we desperately need that goodwill in order to get cooperation from other countries around the world.

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June 24, 2006

Stop blogging, start reading

More book purchases: Suskind's "One Percent Doctrine"; Gordon and Trainor's "Cobra II"; and Hopkirk's "The Great Game".

The first two probably need no introduction; the third is the story of the low-level Russian-British conflict over the Caucasus and Southwest Asia in the late 19th century. Why am I interested in that? Probably because the Khyber Pass has always sounded very intriguing to me. Also because it seems that we're re-living parts of that history right now.

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June 23, 2006

War on Americans

It's not enough that the Veterans Administration may have lost my SocSec info, putting me at risk of identity theft. Now the Bushies have decided to sift through millions of bank transactions with no warrants?

Throwing out its catch-all excuse for every bit of bad behavior,

Vice President Dick Cheney and other officials said the program, whose existence was revealed today in an article in The New York Times, was both legal and necessary to deter terrorism.

Treasury Secretary John Snow, in his first public remarks about the program, called it "government at its best." He told reporters that the operation, first disclosed today in The New York Times, was carefully controlled to trace only those transactions with an identifiable link to possible terrorist activity.

If you believe "carefully controlled" is a phrase that describes any part of this Administration, except possibly with regard to information it would prefer the people it's supposed to be governing shouldn't know, I've got a bridge in Brooklyn I'd like to sell you.

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The Lost has been, well, replaced

Sometime over the past 30 years my hardcover copy of Rex Stout's last Nero Wolfe book disappeared. Published only one month before his death, "A Family Affair" is almost a coda to the entire series. I wonder if Stout realized he'd be unlikely to write another book.

Anyway, I went into the local used bookstore on a whim yesterday and browsed around for a few minutes. In a box on the floor, not yet shelved, was a whole stack of mysteries, and one of them was this book. My collection is now complete!

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June 22, 2006

The not-so-high cost of...

I guess I've become accustomed to inflation. While reading a wonderful article by James Wolcott about his perusal of the entire collection of The New Yorker on DVD, I noticed the price was $100 for the eight-disc set. My immediate response was "That's cheap!"

It is cheap, but not so long ago I'd have gulped at the idea of spending $100 on anything without serious thought. The fact that I didn't this time does not, I assure you, mean that I've graduated into bloated plutocrat status (would that it were so!). No, it's just that in a time when a tank of gas can cost $50, $100 doesn't seem quite as stupendous an expense as it once did.

Update: Good God, it's gotten cheaper! Only $49.99 directly from the magazine!

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June 21, 2006

Don't pay him, just pay me

News item: Congress raises its own pay again.

Congressional pay raises between 1997 and 2007 will add up to $34,900. That's more than average workers make in a year.

Meanwhile, the minimum wage has been $5.15/hour since -- you guessed it -- 1997.


A bid to boost the U.S. minimum wage by about 41 percent failed Tuesday as Republicans in the House of Representatives pushed back an effort by Democrats to force a vote on the measure.


House Speaker Dennis Hastert, an Illinois Republican, said last week that he wanted to hold off on debating minimum wage legislation until possibly after the November elections. House Majority Leader John Boehner also said he probably wouldn't allow the legislation to reach the House floor this week.

Who do these guys work for again?

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June 20, 2006

Springsteen Live

I've been hearing about the remastered CD of Springsteen's Live at Hammersmith Odeon, London '75 with the E Street Band for a while, so I bought a copy.

Somehow I never got into buying Springsteen's records. I like the music just fine; maybe it was so ubiquitous that I never felt a need to actually own any. Anyway, this is the first album of his I've ever owned.

This is emphatically not the polished band it later became; this is raw and raucous rock n' roll. The band absolutely cooks, and they've done a great job of remastering it to get all the extraneous crap live albums often have out of here. (I'm thinking screaming fans at the wrong moments, microphone stands tipping over, that kind of thing.)

Oh, yeah. It's damn near 2 hours of music.

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June 19, 2006

An existential question

A thought on the occasion of venturing out to the local bookstore:

If it's been proven that at some point I'm gonna shuffle off this mortal coil, why do I keep trying to assimilate information through buying and reading a gazillion newspapers and books and acquiring and listening to music?

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June 18, 2006

Bisy backson

Family visiting. Your regularly scheduled Bush-related outrage will return shortly.

Happy Fathers' Day to everybody who's got one.

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June 17, 2006

World Cup

I know less than squat about soccer, being a little old for its entry into American sports consciousness with AYSO and having no kids to drag to practice. However, my latent nationalism has cropped up today, so go U.S.A.!

Here's a fairly realistic assessment of the state of play as the game begins:

Group E is a bit of a mess now after Ghana shocked the Czechs 3-0 [actually 2-0] earlier in the day. Italy, Ghana, and the Czech Republic all have 3 points and the USA has none. If the Americans pull off the upset, everybody would [be] tied going to the last match.

But most likely, at the end of the day, Italy will have 6 points and a goal difference of at least +3. The Czechs are at 3 points and +1 and Ghana is at 3 points and 0. Ghana would be able to advance if they could pull off a tie and the Czechs lose by 2 or more to Italy.

If the USA wins, they would still need to beat Ghana in their last match to have a good shot of advancing.

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June 16, 2006

Greed or Bias?

Dear NBC:

Has the potential decline in your ratings (after Katie's departure from Today) caused you to embrace Ann Coulter on Leno, Today, and various MSNBC programs, or do you just like the slimy witch?

Posted by Linkmeister at 11:59 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 15, 2006

HEY! Get that camera outta here!

From Editor and Publisher:

In the aftermath of the three suicides at the controversial Guantanamo prison facility in Cuba last Saturday, reporters with the Los Angeles Times and the Miami Herald were ordered by the office of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to leave the island today.


The Pentagon spokesman told E&P that Rumsfeld's office was overruling any of the permissions from military at the base.

Mike Gordon of the Charlotte Observer told E&P today he had not received the letter from Rumsfeld's office but had been told that he could leave Wednesday or stay until Saturday -- but access to the prison had been ended.

"He was doing a hometowner, a hometowner takes one day," J.D. Gordon, the Pentagon's press officer, said. "You would think that a man allowed down for a whole week would be a bit more gracious about it. Have the good grace and class to leave."

The Pentagon spokesman told E&P that recent activities surrounding the suicides of three detainees required heavier security and the removal of outside media.

The Bushies cannot stand any daylight shining on their activities.

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June 14, 2006

Flag Day 2006

Flag Day 2006
Originally uploaded by Linkmeister.
We haven't had a Hawai'i State flag for a while, because it had gotten torn somehow. Today I went out to the local flag store and bought one. The proprietor said that May through July was a flag store's equivalent of the Christmas season for other retailers, which makes sense: Memorial Day through July 4.

The State flag is nylon, with mill-sewn stripes (the other alternative is 100% printed). The American one (a few years old) is cotton. The flag seller said he didn't even sell cotton anymore, because the price of the fabric meant he'd have to charge nearly twice as much, which might drive off customers.

The official rules of flag etiquette are here. The American flag is always displayed to its own right (viewer's left), which is why it looks further away in this photo.
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June 13, 2006


88 °F / 31 °C Partly Cloudy

Too hot to type, and the mousepad's soaked in sweat.

Oh, all right. Name a poem you can recite from memory. My entry's Gunga Din. I used to recite it on my Wednesday morning weekly newspaper delivery route in Los Angeles when I was 10.

You may talk o' gin and beer
When you're quartered safe out 'ere,
An' you're sent to penny-fights an' Aldershot it;
But when it comes to slaughter
You will do your work on water,
An' you'll lick the bloomin' boots of 'im that's got it.
Now in Injia's sunny clime,
Where I used to spend my time
A-servin' of 'Er Majesty the Queen,
Of all them blackfaced crew
The finest man I knew
Was our regimental bhisti, Gunga Din.
He was "Din! Din! Din!
You limpin' lump o' brick-dust, Gunga Din!
Hi! slippery hitherao!
Water, get it! Panee lao!
You squidgy-nosed old idol, Gunga Din."

The uniform 'e wore
Was nothin' much before,
An' rather less than 'arf o' that be'ind,
For a piece o' twisty rag
An' a goatskin water-bag
Was all the field-equipment 'e could find.
When the sweatin' troop-train lay
In a sidin' through the day,
Where the 'eat would make your bloomin' eyebrows crawl,
We shouted "Harry By!"
Till our throats were bricky-dry,
Then we wopped 'im 'cause 'e couldn't serve us all.
It was "Din! Din! Din!
You 'eathen, where the mischief 'ave you been?
You put some juldee in it
Or I'll marrow you this minute
If you don't fill up my helmet, Gunga Din!"

'E would dot an' carry one
Till the longest day was done;
An' 'e didn't seem to know the use o' fear.
If we charged or broke or cut,
You could bet your bloomin' nut,
'E'd be waitin' fifty paces right flank rear.
With 'is mussick on 'is back,
'E would skip with our attack,
An' watch us till the bugles made "Retire",
An' for all 'is dirty 'ide
'E was white, clear white, inside
When 'e went to tend the wounded under fire!
It was "Din! Din! Din!"
With the bullets kickin' dust-spots on the green.
When the cartridges ran out,
You could hear the front-files shout,
"Hi! ammunition-mules an' Gunga Din!"

I shan't forgit the night
When I dropped be'ind the fight
With a bullet where my belt-plate should 'a' been.
I was chokin' mad with thirst,
An' the man that spied me first
Was our good old grinnin', gruntin' Gunga Din.
'E lifted up my 'ead,
An' he plugged me where I bled,
An' 'e guv me 'arf-a-pint o' water-green:
It was crawlin' and it stunk,
But of all the drinks I've drunk,
I'm gratefullest to one from Gunga Din.
It was "Din! Din! Din!
'Ere's a beggar with a bullet through 'is spleen;
'E's chawin' up the ground,
An' 'e's kickin' all around:
For Gawd's sake git the water, Gunga Din!"

'E carried me away
To where a dooli lay,
An' a bullet come an' drilled the beggar clean.
'E put me safe inside,
An' just before 'e died,
"I 'ope you liked your drink", sez Gunga Din.
So I'll meet 'im later on
At the place where 'e is gone --
Where it's always double drill and no canteen;
'E'll be squattin' on the coals
Givin' drink to poor damned souls,
An' I'll get a swig in hell from Gunga Din!
Yes, Din! Din! Din!
You Lazarushian-leather Gunga Din!
Though I've belted you and flayed you,
By the livin' Gawd that made you,
You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din!

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June 12, 2006

A Man for All Reasons

I was putting a book back on the shelves last night when I noticed The Daughter of Time one shelf over. I haven't read it in years, so I pulled it down and started. 150 pages later I was still reading. I'd forgotten how compelling the story is. From the Amazon review:

Tey focuses on the legend of Richard III, the evil hunchback of British history accused of murdering his young nephews. While at a London hospital recuperating from a fall, Inspector Alan Grant becomes fascinated by a portrait of King Richard. A student of human faces, Grant cannot believe that the man in the picture would kill his own nephews. With an American researcher's help, Grant delves into his country's history to discover just what kind of man Richard Plantagenet was and who really killed the little princes.

There's a lot in here, and it doesn't hurt to have a little background in the history of English royal families while reading it, but it's unnecessary. It's a marvelous detective story, complete with revelations about the witnesses that will surprise you. For example, "the sainted Thomas More," as Grant begins to refer to him, was five years old when Richard ascended to the throne. More was eight when Richard died at Bosworth. Every word More wrote about Richard III (History of King Richard III) was written long after the events took place, and was thus hearsay. More apparently used the account of a man named John Morton as the basis for his own story of the princes in the Tower. Who was Morton? The Bishop of Ely, Richard's most implacable enemy. (Go here, search for Bishop Morton, then see page 16.)

In one of those amusing tributes novelists occasionally pass along within their own writings, in one of the Nero Wolfe books Rex Stout (in Archie Goodwin's voice) has Wolfe banishing More from his shelves. Why? Because in Wolfe's view, More framed Richard III. I don't think Stout could have written such a thing unless he'd been favorably impressed with the reasoning in Josephine Tey's book. If you haven't read it, do.

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Cellphone update 2.0

It turned out that Tracfone was upgrading its systems just as I was trying to add minutes (or so I was told). I've been assured that I should never run into this problem again.


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June 11, 2006

Cellphone update

Why is it that technical writers assume that the circumstances they create are the only ones the end users will encounter? Last night I tried to activate the new phone; I got halfway through the process and got an error. "Push this key sequence," the screen informed me, without telling me what I should be seeing on the phone screen when doing that. Since I didn't know, I tried from where I'd left off. Then I tried going back to what looked like a screen which required input. Neither screen allowed that sequence to work, and resulted in "Invalid code" messages.

Ok, I thought, I'll call 'em in the morning (open 0850-1750 on Sundays, EDT). I did that, and after a wait of less than six minutes I got a human being who had me enter about six 20-number code sequences. Once that was done I was told I'd be able to find my phone number in fifteen minutes. I said thanks and hung up.

Well, I couldn't find the number using the method she'd told me to try, but I was able to find it by looking in my "Contacts" book (once; it's no longer in there, so it's a good thing I wrote it down). It works, in the sense that it rings when called.

Off I went to the store for other things, and since I had only 10 minutes worth of time on the phone, I decided to buy a phone card for 60 minutes worth of time to add to it. There's a PIN on the back of the card; scratch that off, find the "Add/Redeem Airtime" part of the phone system, key in the PIN, and the minutes will be added (supposedly).

Nope. I got a terse text message: "Call Customer Service." Oh fine. I dutifully picked up the landline, called the number, and reached -- nobody. It was after hours, so all the Customer Service reps had gone home for the night. Now I have to call them tomorrow morning (the hours are 0850-2050EDT Monday through Saturday).

If this were the first act in a play, I'd call it the foreshadowing of dismal things to come. It may yet be. We'll see.

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June 10, 2006

The last cellphone user

The damnfool phone cable between the computer and the wall died overnight, so the cordless I usually carry into the bedroom wasn't working this morning. This prompted me to join the cellphone world (Yes, yes. What took you so long? Um, frugality?). I went out and bought a Nokia 1100 enabled for Tracfone, since the only reason I can think of to have the phone is a roadside emergency. I don't think I need to surf the web or collect e-mails via phone, but we'll see.

I am so 20th century.

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June 09, 2006

Greenwald on Specter

From Glenn Greenwald:

If the Congress is unmoved by their constitutional responsibilities, then at least basic human dignity ought to compel them to object to the administration's contempt for the laws they pass. After all, the laws which the administration claims it can ignore and has been breaking are their laws. The Senate passed FISA by a vote of 95-1, and the McCain torture ban by a vote of 90-9, and it is those laws which the President is proclaiming he will simply ignore. And yet not only have they not objected, they have endorsed and even celebrated the President's claimed power to ignore the laws passed by Congress. And that failure, more than anything else, is what has brought us to the real constitutional crisis we face as a result of having a President who claims the power to operate outside of, and above, the law.

Like Glenn, I simply do not understand why Congress is so willing to let itself be ignored. All of these men and women have sought and held significant and powerful positions in the US Government, in some cases for decades. What explains this abject behavior? Have they all been collectively traumatized by 9/11, even five years on? Where is their self-interest in keeping their once-proud institution relevant? Where is their sense of duty to the country?

Where is their courage?

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No more duplicate book purchases!

My stars and little fishes! Library Thing (previously posted about here, here, and here) has just come up with a version you can use on your cellphone!

Think about this. There you are in your neighborhood used bookstore and you see some title you want to buy, but you can't remember whether you already own it or not. Poof! Use the internet function of your cellphone to call up Library Thing's mobile URL, enter your user name to log in, and search your catalog for the title in question. Brilliant!

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June 08, 2006

Home movies

If you've got a pile of old 8mm or Super8 home movie reels lying around gathering dust, and you have a desire to archive them in a format which might be viewable by your descendants, here's an option which might work: DigMyPics.

They do all manner of photo scanning, not just film, and the pricing seems halfway reasonable.

DigMyPics! offers comprehensive 35mm slide scanning services, film scanning services, print scanning services, photo restoration services and photo archival products. You send us your slides, film or prints, we send them back to you along with a CD or DVD containing high resolution scans of your photos. Once on disk, your photos can be shared, enjoyed and preserved for generations to come.

Found at David Pogue's blog

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June 07, 2006

Tied to the house

Add refrigerator repair people to the list of those (cable, telephone) who give you a range of hours during which they might show up to fix your problem.

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Meet the Press goes to Hell

If you're as tired of he said/she said journalism as many of us are, you'll appreciate this:

Tim Russert: Thank you for joining us. Today on our panel we’re proud to have bestselling author and Constitutional expert Ann Coulter, and author and internet sensation Michelle Malkin. Our guest in studio this morning is Jesus Christ, leader of the Heavenly Host. Joining us by satellite is his opponent, Bob Satan, Chairman of the National Republican Committee for a New World Order, and author of the bestselling guides to conservative parenting, “Fatherhood: of All Lies” and “O-Me! O-My! O-Men! Raising Antichrists That Liberals Will Hate.” He joins us from the Green Zone in Megiddo. Mr. Satan, thank you for being here.

Satan: Always a pleasure, Tim.

Russert: Mr. Satan, let’s start with you. Yesterday the New York Times reported that forces of the New World Order swept through a village, burned it to the ground, then decapitated every man, woman and child who lived there. They hung the victims by their heels until they were utterly desanguinated, then the soldiers made sausage from their blood and threw a large pancake breakfast while dogs and vultures feasted on the flesh of the innocent. This has caused some on Capitol Hill to question whether we have a clear strategy for victory. How would you respond?

Satan: Tim, this is just the Left’s way of saying, fine, let’s just cut and run. We shouldn’t even be in Armageddon, we shouldn’t even be fighting a battle to bring about the end of the world.

Russert: So you think this story is mostly partisan.

There's lots more. If you're offended by the thought of a blogger putting words in the mouth of Jesus Christ, don't read it.

Seen in Making Light's Particles.

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June 06, 2006


In the interest of spreading knowledge as widely as possible, according to Wikipedia the fear of the number 666 is called hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia.

Anyone who cares to pronounce it, send me a podcast.

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:22 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 05, 2006

Can Florida be topped?

Last night "60 Minutes" aired an interview with Carl Hiaasen, the Miami Herald columnist and novelist (video; transcript). He had some rather unflattering things to say about his home state, and Steve Benen (guest blogging for Kevin Drum) picked up on it. Steve threw down the gauntlet: as a former Miami resident, he says, he agrees with Hiaasen's assessment of the state and suggests that no other state can beat it for weirdness. As you might expect, others rise to the defense of their own states. The resulting comments section is a riotous compendium of governmental malfeasance, dubious citizens' behavior, and general loopiness. During your next coffee break, go dip into it and enjoy.

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June 04, 2006


What am I to take from the fact that Chris Berman and Peter Gammons turned up in one of my dreams last night?

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June 03, 2006


I've lost touch with nearly all of my old college fraternity buddies, so a month or so ago I was delighted to get an e-mail from one of them. He'd been searching various places and found me in a Kwajalein address list. We corresponded back and forth, just advising what we'd each been up to for the past 30 years, and I was looking forward to keeping up the conversation.

Well, it's not gonna happen. I got an e-mail from his son today saying he'd died suddenly at the age of 56. The family sent out notifications to everyone in his e-address book.

It's a little hard to believe that after so long we'd gotten back in touch and a month later he's gone.

So long, Bob. I hope they've got 12-string guitars and basketball courts where you are now.

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Billmon's journey continues

When last we saw our intrepid blogger, he was negotiating currencies while trying to buy a ticket from Cairo to Luxor. In the second installment he documents the train trip, with photographs and word pictures of rural Egypt.

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June 02, 2006

Unlawful search

Do you do any unusual web searches? The FBI and AG Gonzales want to know about it. Moreover, they want the ISPs and search engines to hand over that information to them.

While initial proposals were vague, executives from companies that attended the meeting said they gathered that the department was interested in records that would allow them to identify which individuals visited certain Web sites and possibly conducted searches using certain terms.


An executive of one Internet provider that was represented at the first meeting said Mr. Gonzales began the discussion by showing slides of child pornography from the Internet. But later, one participant asked Mr. Mueller why he was interested in the Internet records. The executive said Mr. Mueller's reply was, "We want this for terrorism."

"Which individuals visited certain Web sites." Who defines the websites in question? If I go read the Koran online, am I suddenly a terrorism suspect? If I do online research on the Weather Underground or the Black Panthers, am I a threat to national security?

Where does it end? When was the Fourth Amendment repealed?

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June 01, 2006

Will the MSM pick up on this?

Any story which appears in Rolling Stone is going to be cast into the darkness by Republicans; take that as a given. It's a hippie-loving leftist tabloid, so what value could it have?

If that canard doesn't work, then they'll point to the name of the author: Robert Kennedy Jr. "He's a Kennedy! He won't be honest! He's related to Teddy!"

Nonetheless, Kennedy's written a terrifying logical article entitled Was the 2004 Election Stolen, in which he cites numerous examples of malfeasance bordering on fraud and illegality, particularly in Ohio. He concludes that it was, and he backs it up with an awful lot of evidence (also available through that link).

Read it and weep for American democracy.

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