"If you understood everything I said, you'd be me" - Miles Davis
"There is much pleasure to be gained from useless knowledge." - Bertrand Russell
"Take away the right to say fuck and you take away the right to say fuck the government." - Lenny Bruce
"Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything that's even remotely true!" - Homer Simpson

Utility Fog Banner

I'm Not a Lawyer, Nor do I Play One on TV
Reuters: The United States said on Thursday that all diplomats in Iraq had lost the immunity they enjoyed under the government of President Saddam Hussein.

"They are accredited to a regime that is no longer existent and therefore their accreditation would have lapsed. They ... don't have diplomatic status any more," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher told a daily briefing.

Boucher initially said diplomatic missions in Baghdad had also lost their protected status but he later said he would check to see if the properties had some residual immunity.

Two thoughts sprung to mind when I heard about this:
If the Iraqi regime (bad governments are called regimes, it sounds more evil) is no longer existent then who are we still at war with? And we are still at war, according to the commanding general of U.S. forces in Iraq, Lt. Gen. David McKiernan:"The war has not ended, that's a point I need you to understand." You could make the case that the Iraqi government never surrendered, Saddam is still unaccounted for, and even if it has devolved down to junior Ba'ath party members, since the war against the Iraqi government is still ongoing, so is that government.

And about that "residual immunity" the embassy properties "might" have-I always thought embassies were the sovereign territory of the nations they represent.

Think About It
I saw this bumper sticker today: "Don't drive any faster than your angel can fly". Does this mean I can get my 20-year-old VW Rabbit to go faster than an angel? That doesn't seem right. Angels are semi-divine creations of God, capable of great feats. The Devil is a fallen angel. I can't cite scripture on the subject, but I feel certain in believing angels can fly pretty damn fast. Conclusion: That was a pretty stupid bumper sticker.

3 good bumper stickers:
I "Heart" My Ass
Born Just Fine the First Time
I Bet Jesus Would Use His Left Turn Signal

Coming to a Large Hadron Collider Near You
"Amazingly, scientists are becoming increasingly confident that they will be able to create black holes on demand, in quantity, using the new atom-smashers due to come online in the next five years. Some estimates suggest that the new Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at the European Center for Nuclear Research (CERN -the acronym is in French) will be able to create an average of one black hole each second. LHC will bombard protons and antiprotons together with such a force that the collision will create temperatures and energy densities not seen since the first trillionth of a second after the Big Bang. This should be enough to pop off numerous tiny black holes, with masses of just a few hundred protons. Black holes of this size will evaporate almost instantly, their existence detectable only by dying bursts of Hawking radiation."
Link
Via AlterSlash

Jhonen Vasquez (Invader Zim) Interview
DRE: You obviously made some money from it.

JV: Yeah, but it's all gone. The last thing that I wanted was to be sitting around in this pile of cash, which is what I did for way too long before deciding it was bad. I had this Hefty bag filled with cash that I would get into and have one of my slaves seal twist tie closed. I'd roll around in it, giggling and laughing like a monster baby until I was tired. But it was dirty money, dirty children money printed on the skin of flayed children. I needed to find an evil way to spend it so that Nickelodeon would be contributing to something unholy in the world.

DRE: What'd you spend it on?

JV: Just whores. Whores over on Sunset Boulevard and Santa Monica. Whores and robots. Some of the whores were robots.
Link
Via Bookslut

Kill Me Now
P. Diddy is going to play seminal bluesman Robert Johnson in a HBO film. The Horror....
Link

Utterly Unsubstantiated Gossip I Prefer to Believe Because it's Amusing
"A friend (claims he) was walking through the Union Square station when Bill Murray walked up to him, gave him a noogie and then whispered into his ear: "no one will ever believe you." Incidentally, this story was told because last month we came across Mr. Murray having a couple drinks at the Stanhope Park Hyatt bar (on 5th, across from the Met.)"
Via Gawker

Cranky

Evil GOP Bastards
Via Genehack

The Dog has Caught the Car

Faux Pax Americana
"...But the hawks' gloating proved premature. The generals' argument had never been just about what forces it would take to decapitate Saddam's regime. It was also about being ready for the long, grinding challenge after the shooting stopped. By that measure they have been proven dizzyingly correct. April and May brought daily news reports from Baghdad quoting U.S. military officers saying they lacked the manpower to do their jobs. As the doubters predicted, we may have had enough troops to win the war--but not nearly enough to win the peace.
...
Things have not gotten much better over the following weeks. Lawlessness and chaos continue to reign. Women are raped, law-abiding citizens have their property stolen, those who have anything left don't go to work so they can guard what they still have. The prize the United States sacrificed so much to gain--freeing Iraq from Saddam and clearing the way for its democratic rebirth--is being squandered on the ground as ordinary Iraqis come to equate the American presence with violent lawlessness and immorality, and grasping mullahs rush into the vacuum created by our lack of troops. Mass grave sites, with no troops to secure them, have been unearthed by Iraqis desperate to find remnants of relatives killed by Saddam Hussein's regime, but those same Iraqis, digging quickly and roughly, may have inadvertently destroyed valuable evidence of human rights violations and crippled the ability of prosecutors to bring war criminals to justice. Perhaps worst of all, the prime objective of the entire invasion--to secure and eliminate Saddam's weapons of mass destruction capacity--has been dealt a serious blow. Even Iraq's publicly known nuclear sites had been thoroughly looted before American inspectors arrived, because, once more, not enough troops had been available to secure them. Radioactive material, perhaps enough to make several "dirty bombs," has now disappeared into anonymous Iraqi homes, perhaps awaiting purchase by terrorists. Critical records detailing the history and scope of the WMD program have themselves been looted from suspected weapons sites because too few soldiers were available to guard those places. "There aren't enough troops in the whole Army," said Col. Tim Madere, the officer overseeing the WMD effort in Iraq, in a recent interview with Newsweek. Farce vied with disaster when the inspectors' own headquarters were looted for lack of adequate security. Triumph on the battlefield has yielded to tragedy in the streets."
Link
Via Semi-Daily Journal

Wait Just a Darn Minute
TNT is going to show "Rush Hour" tomorrow (5/25/03). In their ads they have a clip from the movie wherein Jackie Chan is sliding down a big, long red banner. Now it catches my suspicious eye that on said banner there is a large black "TNT". Is this an example of post-release computer-generated product placement?

Oh yea, those bottom-left-of-the-screen inserts for "Lucky" that FX runs on top of the "Buffy" reruns suck big time. It's bad enough for there to be extraneous crap distracting from the show, but these advert-nuggets have sound. I keep wondering where that clanking noise is coming from.

I Need Me One of These
Leopard Skin Fez

Neato Gizmo
StrangeBanana generates random webpages via CSS and C# code. It's much cooler than it sounds, especially if you have done any HTML at all. I've got to learn CSS.
Via Daypop, which means everyone else already knows about it, and I am again behind the curve

Nice Rant-Too Bad it's True
"As I sit to reflect on the greatest scam in American foreign affairs history, in the background one of conservatism's more accomplished scammers is yapping away on MSNBC like a rabid chihauhau -- and as a host, no less. For several days now and in so many words, bit by agonizing bit the Bush administration has been forced to concede that the Iraq war, as a WMD threat-stopper, was a hoax. Thousand of lost lives and unaffordable billions later, Bush II's deceit is exposed -- drip, drip, drip. To describe the administration's latest betrayal of public trust as outrageous is choice understatement; nevertheless, what has kept MSNBC's Joe Scarborough, for want of a better word, outraged for the past week? Not the Iraq scam, but ...

Danny Glover. Yes, that Danny Glover, the actor. I kid you not.

Listening to Scarborough -- a proto-fascistic former U.S. representative turned network media whore -- is a lesson plan in Goebbels-ese. As his beloved president's sordid rock of deceit is overturned, the less-than honorable gentleman from the great state of Florida diverts public notice by waging a cruel, word-twisting campaign against the harmless Glover, who Scarborough says blames only America as the proximate cause of 9/11. Glover does no such thing as MSNBC's barking dog contorts it, yet lawyer Joe Scarborough attacks with the zeal of a drunken Joe McCarthy. He demands that MCI, the long-distance company, fire Glover as its spokesman; he's anti-American (meaning anti-Bush) and should be banished. Scarborough plasters MCI's phone number on the screen and urges viewers to likewise demand Glover's head. The host later declares the virtuous campaign a success: because of his relentless pressure, says Joe, MCI canned Glover. For the moment we are safe in our beds.
...

To ramrod an illegal war, the president had said "we know" of Saddam's illegal goods. The vice president said Iraq both has "reconstituted nuclear weapons" and in time would acquire "nuclear weapons." (Try sorting that one out.) The secretary of state said he "knew" the Iraqi tyrant possessed warheads full of biological agents. And when asked by Congress if Saddam kept weapons of destruction, the Defense Policy Board's chairman said "sure he does."

But it was all a fraud -- "facts" cooked up by a hastily created office of Pentagon yes-men to trumpet what the C.I.A. and Defense Intelligence Agency had found impossible to confirm. Like the American public, Task Force 75 had trusted it leaders. Both got knifed."
Link
Via Booknotes

You Are Not Ready
Dear fictitious Comcast ad dweeb:
If you're so stupid you haven't figured out how turn down the nasty modem noise you really shouldn't be making the leap to broadband.

I find his impression of modem noise infinitely more annoying than the real thing. In fact I'm slightly fond of hearing my modem sputter away. For one thing it lets me know that I'm actually dialing out and not just wanking off.

Don't Make Promises
I don't watch much FoxNews. I have to watch my temper and I can't afford to replace a destroyed television. But I was interested in this promise by Bill O'Reilly:

"O'REILLY: Colonel, if weapons of mass destruction aren't found, your reputation, my reputation -- because I will have to apologize because I bought into it, I bought into it -- and out of a scale 1 to 10, 10 is the best, how certain are you that we're going to find these weapons of mass destruction? MAGINNIS: There's a 10 there, Bill.

[A little later in the conversation]: O'REILLY: Real fast, Colonel, any prediction of when something is going to happen on your part? Real fast.

MAGINNIS: In the next two weeks, we are going to have many hundreds of people in there. I would say within a month, we will have a lot of..

O'REILLY: All right, a month from today, we'll do this story again, and then we have it on tape. Gentlemen, thanks very much. Very interesting

That was April 22nd. Still no apology. I'd settle for a resignation.
Link

I am not alone
Static Zombie also noticed the featuring of the 25th Amendment in this year's TV.

$1 trillion missing
"The Department of Defense, already infamous for spending $640 for a toilet seat, once again finds itself under intense scrutiny, only this time because it couldn't account for more than a trillion dollars in financial transactions, not to mention dozens of tanks, missiles and planes.

The Pentagon's unenviable reputation for waste will top the congressional agenda this week, when the House and Senate are expected to begin floor debate on a Bush administration proposal to make sweeping changes in how the Pentagon spends money, manages contracts and treats civilian employees.

The Bush proposal, called the Defense Transformation for the 21st Century Act, arrives at a time when the nonpartisan General Accounting Office has raised the volume of its perennial complaints about the financial woes at Defense, which recently failed its seventh audit in as many years.

Among the provisions in the 207-page plan, the department is asking Congress to allow Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to replace the civil service system governing 700,000 nonmilitary employees with a new system to be detailed later.

The plan would also eliminate or phase out more than a hundred reports that now tell Congress, for instance, which Defense contractors support the Arab boycott of Israel and when U.S. special forces train foreign soldiers, as well as many studies of program costs.

The administration's proposal, which would also give Rumsfeld greater authority to move money between accounts and exempt Defense from certain environmental statutes,
prompted influential House Democrats to write Speaker Dennis Hastert last week complaining that the proposals would "increase the level of waste, fraud, and abuse . . . by vastly reducing (Defense) accountability."

"The Congress has increased defense spending from $300 billion to $400 billion over three years at the same time that the Pentagon has failed to address financial problems that dwarf those of Enron," said Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Los Angeles, one of the letter's signatories.

But while Capitol Hill sees the need, and possibly has the will to reform the Pentagon, the devil remains in the details, and the administration aroused Democratic suspicions when it dropped its 207-page transformation bill on lawmakers on April 10 -- leaving scant time to scrutinize proposals that touch many aspects of the biggest department in government.

"We have as much problem with the process as with the substance," said said Rep. John Spratt, D-S.C., who co-signed Waxman's letter calling the transformation bill "an effort by the Department to substantially reduce congressional oversight and public accountability."

Defense's Zakheim counters that the reform proposals would "remove the barnacles of past practices (and provide) DOD with modern day management while preserving congressional oversight and prerogatives."

But Waxman, a critic of the administration's handling of Iraqi reconstruction contracts, called the proposals "a military wish list" to take advantage of "the wartime feeling."

"Secretary Rumsfeld is hoping to march through Congress like he marched through Iraq," Waxman said."
Link

The trillion dollars isn't "missing"-we're never going to find it, "wasted" would be a better word. And the military doesn't need more exemptions from environmental laws, it needs to stop being the massive polluter it is now.

What Would Kubrick Do?
Rugrats just had a visual quote from "2001"

Nothing to See Here, Move Along
"A commander with the Texas Department of Public Safety ordered the destruction of all documents and photographs gathered in the search for the Democratic state legislators who fled to Oklahoma to block a congressional redistricting bill."
Link
Via Fark

Never, ever, that thirsty
I'm all for loud drunken parties, so I find the ads for Keystone Light mildly amusing. But why anyone would try to party down on watered-down second-rate Coors is beyond me. Coors is bad enough.

Not a Pleasant Alternative
Let's suppose that Iraq did possess large quantities of ready-to-use WMDs, even if we can't locate them. That could mean that some bad people have absconded with them to parts unknown. Still think invading Iraq in order to make us more safe was a good idea?

If GWB had a resume

Accomplishments as president:

* Attacked and took over two countries.
* Spent the surplus and bankrupted the treasury.
* Shattered record for biggest annual deficit in history.
* Set economic record for most private bankruptcies filed in any 12 month period.
* Set all-time record for biggest drop in the history of the stock market.
* First president in decades to execute a federal prisoner.
* First president in US history to enter office with a criminal record.
* First year in office set the all-time record for most days on vacation by any president in US history.
* After taking the entire month of August off for vacation, presided over the worst security failure in US history.
* Set the record for most campaign fund-raising trips than any other president in US history.
* In my first two years in office over 2 million Americans lost their job.
* Cut unemployment benefits for more out of work Americans than any president in US history.
* Set the all-time record for most foreclosures in a 12 month period.
* Appointed more convicted criminals to administration positions than any president in US history.
* Set the record for the least amount of press conferences than any president since the advent of television.
* Signed more laws and executive orders amending the Constitution than any president in US history.
* Presided over the biggest energy crises in US history and refused to intervene when corruption was revealed.
* Presided over the highest gasoline prices in US history and refused to use the national reserves as past presidents have.
* Cut healthcare benefits for war veterans.
* Set the all-time record for most people worldwide to simultaneously take to the streets to protest me (15 million people), shattering the record for protest against any person in the history of mankind.
* Dissolved more international treaties than any president in US history.
* My presidency is the most secretive and un-accountable of any in US history.
Full Resume
Via Boing Boing

Picture Me with a Big Light Bulb over my Head
So I'm listening to Ry Cooder's "Chicken Skin Music" CD in the truck this morning, zipping along the viaduct (why not?) when his version of Leadbelly's "Goodnight Irene" comes on, replete with lovely conjunto accordian (which is alternatively spelled "accordion", go figure).
And part of the lyrics go like this:

Sometimes I live in the country
Sometimes I live in town
Sometimes I take a great notion
To jump in the river and drown

And it hits me-this is where Ken Kesey got the title for "Sometimes a Great Notion", which clicks even louder in my head when I remember that there is a big drowning scene. I'd always assumed Kesey had got it from Shakespeare, whenever I thought about it at all. Figuring things out is cool.

Constitution fans go apeshit
Who would have thought that two different TV shows would feature the 25th amendment as a crucial plot device?

Marketing Good
The Quisp cereal page is surprisingly odd and entertaining:

"My Evil-o-meter goes right off the scale when the Evil Collector Wand is placed near one of these demon rolling scooters," says Dr. Makenitup. "Obviously these 'Scooteroids,' as I call them, are spewing bits of negative energy which are causing major bruising and scabs all over the world."

Independent observers agree that it appears they are making energy slaves of humanity as youth are driven madly to move, move, move on their shiny metal instruments of destruction in endless circles of despair, ironically providing the power needed to fuel their own demise!

One small pink alien in green tights who grew up in the vicinity of the Scooter planet was skeptical of this invasion theory, saying, "Heck with Scooteroids. You should be terrified of those small fake animals full of beans... they're the ones that have taken over entire solar systems leaving nothing but cold, dark space in their wakes! They use those cute little faces to gain entry to homes all through the universe, springing to life to viciously attack with their smiling hand-stitched faces, adding to the macabre horror. So why fear Scooteroids? It's the bean animals that are the real menace! ""
Via MZ

How much do I hate professional sports?
"Cable networks like ESPN are raising rates to make up for higher rights fees, which result from skyrocketing player salaries. Basketball players, for instance, make an average of $2.6 million this season, a fourfold increase from 1990. Because owners are paying more, they want more from the TV networks, which pass along costs to cable operators, which raise the monthly cable bill. During a Congressional hearing last week, cable operators blamed ESPN and other programmers for soaring costs. The operators said customers should be allowed to pick networks a la carte. Government mandates now force viewers to buy a complete package."

F*#&$#ing Baseball raises my cable rates! I hate professional sports a lot.
Link
Via Fark

Manly Interior Design
TooCoolKits
Via the BigMoboDaddy

You have dishonored my master, now you must die!
Mmmmmm....Sweet Hong Kong Cheese! - Showtime Extreme is showing Master of the Flying Guillotine, aka "The One Armed Boxer vs. The Flying Guillotine".
From the Village Voice review:
"Never anger a man who ventures forth from his own home by setting it ablaze after leaping through the ceiling."

Please, Baby Baby, Please
"Microsoft's latest security lapse with its Passport information service could trigger a $2.2 trillion fine on the company courtesy of the US government."

A man can dream, can't he?
Link
Via Fark

I call Bullshit
I like "The Matrix"-Laurence Fishburne could make ice-fishing dramatic and Carrie-Anne Moss in tight black plastic is always a good thing. The greenish tint is annoying, but I can let that slide. But there's one thing that continues to bug me: The whole reason the uber-computer Matrix has kept humanity alive in pods is to harvest our body heat for power. Even if the people are fed soylent green and processed algae this can't be an efficient way to generate heat. A much better rational for humanities continued existence would have been that their brains are used for extra computing power. A little parallel processing/quantum multiple reality mumbo jumbo and I would have been satisfied.

Home assignment: Given that current environmental concerns would be irrelevent and avoiding carbon sources as too short-term, provide the Matrix with power.

Somebody Needs a Hug...
Or an introduction to the business end of a speeding bus.
Link
Via Blog of a Bookslut

I'm Curious
Just how do the Israelis identify suicide bombers after the explosion? Is there that much left of the bomber? Do they have that many fingerprints or other data on file? I'm just wondering because the bomber's families' house is destroyed in retaliation, so accuracy is important, and it seems that every bomber I hear about is identified.

Galactus has a Blog
"Revealed myself to the Earthpeople today. There were many tears amid the calamities caused by my having devoured the moon and several continents. It is as Dr. Phil has stated, must admit that my actions have consequences."
Link

Utilizations Fogged Blower
Check out the Fog as interpreted by the Eater of Meaning.
Via Metafilter

Howard Dean's Closing Remarks
From the South Carolina Democratic Presidential Candidate's Debate:

"We can't win this election if we worry so much about electability that the American people can't tell the difference between us and the Republicans.

The great unspoken political lie, which comes from stages like this, is elect me and I'll solve all of your problems.

The great unspoken truth is that the future of this country rests in your hands, not mine.

You have the power to rise up and take this country back. You have the power to give this party the backbone to challenge this President, and all of the harm he has done to our country. You have the power to create jobs, balance the budget, and bring us our dream, which Harry Truman put in our platform in 1948 - health care for every American.

The reason people don't vote in this country is that we don't give them a reason to vote. This campaign is about giving all of you a reason to vote.

Abraham Lincoln said, "A government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the earth." President Bush has forgotten the ordinary people of this country.

It's time to take our party back and it's time to take our country back."

Howard Dean's Blog

Another One Bites the Dust
File this along with "Liberal Media" in the "Conservative Victim Myths" drawer:
The Myth of the Spat-Upon Veteran
Via Follow Me Here

I can't Think of a Heading, I'm too Disgusted
"U.S. says Canada cares too much about liberties"
I can't listen to a Bush speech-Every time he uses the phrase "enemies of freedom" I have to fight the urge to vomit.

Not Very Observant
So I'm watching "The Phantom" (1996), and villian #1 is rowing into a cave that contains a "abandoned" hidden fortress. He's sure that he has found the location of the maguffin he needs to rule the world, bwaahahaha. Now what I would be doing in his place is wondering "Who lit all those torches?".

"COME INTO THE FUNHOUSE CAUSE WE BEEN SEPARATED, BABY, FAR TOO LONG!"
Iggy and the Stooges reunited! Please tell me this set will come out on CD. "Funhouse" is a touchstone album for me. I once was invited into a party bathroom for illicit activities because when asked "who is the best guitarist?" I answered "Ron Ashton is god".
Heads-up courtesy of the Big MoboDaddy

Rummy's North Korea Connection
"Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld rarely keeps his opinions to himself. He tends not to compromise with his enemies. And he clearly disdains the communist regime in North Korea. So it's surprising that there is no clear public record of his views on the controversial 1994 deal in which the U.S. agreed to provide North Korea with two light-water nuclear reactors in exchange for Pyongyang ending its nuclear weapons program. What's even more surprising about Rumsfeld's silence is that he sat on the board of the company that won a $200 million contract to provide the design and key components for the reactors."
Link
Via Metafilter


The Emperor's New Clothes are the Finest in the Land
"At a news conference last Thursday, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, Kevin E. Moley, accused Annan of making "egregious misstatements" regarding the administration's case for military action against Iraq. Moley, joined by Jeane Kirkpatrick, a U.S. ambassador to the United Nations during the Reagan administration, organized the news conference to respond to an assertion by Annan that the United States launched its war "without specific authorization" from the Security Council." Link

What Annan said:
Referring to the war in Iraq, he said: "The decision to go to war without specific authorization by the Security Council has created deep divisions that will need to be bridged if we are to deal effectively, not just with the aftermath of Iraq, but with other major challenges on the international agenda." Link

The Bush administration can get really testy when people it can't control tell the truth. Especially people who might make it into the news. I'm sure Ambassador Moley would assert that security council resolution 1441 gave the U.S. the authorization to invade Iraq. Here's the relevant part of the resolution:
12. Decides to convene immediately upon receipt of a report in accordance with paragraphs 4 or 11 above, in order to consider the situation and the need for full compliance with all of the relevant Council resolutions in order to secure international peace and security;

13. Recalls, in that context, that the Council has repeatedly warned Iraq that it will face serious consequences as a result of its continued violations of its obligations;


Does that sound like "specific authorization" to you?

Creative Elephants
Elephant Art Photo Gallery
Paintings by Elephant
And last but not least, The Thai Elephant Orchestra

I Gotta Go See a Man About a Book
John Varley has a new book out! "Ophiuchi Hotline" and the "Titan" trilogy are 2 of my most re-read books. What a pleasant surprise-I had no idea it was even coming. This could tide me over until "Redemption Ark" shows up in a month.

Missing a Little Something
I notice the Jack In A Box commercials for their fish and chips refers to them being made of "Alaskan Fish Filets". And exactly what kind of fish would that be? I do wonder.