"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

Connie Rice: Top 10 Secrets They Don't Want You to Know About the Debates
"(10.) They aren't debates!

"A debate is a head-to-head, spontaneous, structured argument over the merits of an issue," Rice says. "Under the ridiculous 32-page contract that reads like the rules for the Miss America Pageant, there will be no candidate-to-candidate questions, no rebuttal to your opponent's points, no cross questions or cross answers, no rebuttals, no follow-up questions -- that's not a debate, that's a news conference."

(9.) The debates were hijacked from the truly independent League of Women Voters in 1986.

"The League of Women Voters ran these debates with an iron hand as open, transparent, non-partisan events from 1976 to 1984," Rice says. "The men running the major campaigns ended their control when the League defiantly included John Anderson and Ross Perot, and used tough moderators and formats the parties didn't like. The parties snatched the debates from the League and formed the Commission on Presidential Debates -- the CPD -- in 1986."

(8.) The "independent and non-partisan" Commission on Presidential Debates is neither independent nor non-partisan.

"CPD should stand for 'Cloaking-device for Party Deceptions' -- it is not an independent commission on anything. The CPD is under the total control of the Republican and Democratic parties and by definition bipartisan, not non-partisan. Walter Cronkite called CPD-sponsored debates an 'unconscionable fraud.'"

(7.) The secretly negotiated debate contract bars Kerry and Bush from any and all other debates for the entire campaign.

"Under what I call the Debate Suppression and Monopolization Clause of the contract, it is illegal for the candidates to debate each other anywhere else during the campaign," Rice says. "We need a new criminal law for reckless endangerment of democracy."

(6.) The debate contract effectively excludes all other serious presidential candidates from participating in the debates.

"This is what I call the Obstruction of Democratic Debate Rule, which sets an impossibly high threshold for third-party candidates... Where are we, Russia? Isn't Vladimir Putin wiping out democracy in Russia by excluding all opposing candidates from the airwaves during his re-election campaigns? Most new ideas come from third parties -- they should be in the debates."

(5.) All members of the studio audience must be certified as "soft" supporters of Bush and Kerry, under selection procedures they approve.

"It's not enough to rig the debate -- they have to rig the audience, too? The contract reads: 'The debate will take place before a live audience of between 100 and 150 persons who... describe themselves as likely voters who are soft Bush supporters or soft Kerry supporters.' We should crash this charade and jump up in the middle to declare ourselves hard opponents of this Kabuki dance."

(4.) These "soft" audience members must "observe in silence."

"Soft and silent... In what I'm calling the Silence of the Lambs Clause of this absurd contract, the audience may not move, speak, gesture, cough or otherwise show that they are alive and thinking."

(3.) The "extended discussion" portion of the debate cannot exceed 30 seconds.

"Other than the stupidity of the debate contract, what topic do you know that can be extendedly discussed in 30 seconds?"

(2.) Important issues are locked out by the CPD debate rules and party control.

"Really important but sticky or tough issues get axed, because the parties control the questions and topics," Rice says. "For example, in 2000, Gore and Bush mentioned the following issues zero times: Child poverty, the drug war, homelessness, working-class families, NAFTA, prisons, corporate crime and corporate welfare."

(1.) Fortune 100 corporations are the main funders of the CPD-sponsored debates, and the CPD's co-chairs are corporate lobbyists.

The CPD is run by Frank Fahrenkopf, a pharmaceutical industry lobbyist, and Paul Kirk, a top gambling lobbyist," Rice says. "And the biggest muliti-national corporations write the checks that fund the CPD -- Phillip Morris, Anheuser-Busch and dozens more. The audience may have to be silent and motionless, but the corporate sponsors can have banners, beer tents, Budweiser girls handing out pamphlets protesting beer taxes -- a corporate-sponsored circus to go along with the Kabuki Debates. Could we get a more fitting description of our democracy?""

I don't vote for Democrats, I vote against Republicans. Link
Via Metafilter

Good News
"The American Civil Liberties Union won a tremendous victory for Internet privacy today in the case of ACLU & Doe v. Ashcroft, challenging the constitutionality of "National Security Letters" (NSLs) under the USA PATRIOT Act. The letters, issued directly by the Department of Justice without any court oversight, can be used to demand sensitive financial and communications information about citizens even if they are not suspected of any crime. When Internet Service Providers receive such demands they are forbidden from revealing their existence to anyone.

A federal court issued a decision [PDF 3.0M] in the case finding that the statute authorizing NSLs is unconstitutional and barring the DOJ from issuing further NSLs. U.S. District Court Judge Victor Marreo also found the gag provision an unconstitutional prior restraint on protected speech."
Link
Via Boing Boing

What If
"What would America look like if it were in Iraq's current situation? The population of the US is over 11 times that of Iraq, so a lot of statistics would have to be multiplied by that number.

Thus, violence killed 300 Iraqis last week, the equivalent proportionately of 3,300 Americans. What if 3,300 Americans had died in car bombings, grenade and rocket attacks, machine gun spray, and aerial bombardment in the last week? That is a number greater than the deaths on September 11, and if America were Iraq, it would be an ongoing, weekly or monthly toll.

And what if those deaths occurred all over the country, including in the capital of Washington, DC, but mainly above the Mason Dixon line, in Boston, Minneapolis, Salt Lake City, and San Francisco?

What if the grounds of the White House and the government buildings near the Mall were constantly taking mortar fire? What if almost nobody in the State Department at Foggy Bottom, the White House, or the Pentagon dared venture out of their buildings, and considered it dangerous to go over to Crystal City or Alexandria?

What if all the reporters for all the major television and print media were trapped in five-star hotels in Washington, DC and New York, unable to move more than a few blocks safely, and dependent on stringers to know what was happening in Oklahoma City and St. Louis? What if the only time they ventured into the Midwest was if they could be embedded in Army or National Guard units?

There are estimated to be some 25,000 guerrillas in Iraq engaged in concerted acts of violence. What if there were private armies totalling 275,000 men, armed with machine guns, assault rifles (legal again!), rocket-propelled grenades, and mortar launchers, hiding out in dangerous urban areas of cities all over the country? What if they completely controlled Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Denver and Omaha, such that local police and Federal troops could not go into those cities?

What if, during the past year, the Secretary of State (Aqilah Hashemi), the President (Izzedine Salim), and the Attorney General (Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim) had all been assassinated?

What if all the cities in the US were wracked by a crime wave, with thousands of murders, kidnappings, burglaries, and carjackings in every major city every year?

What if the Air Force routinely (I mean daily or weekly) bombed Billings, Montana, Flint, Michigan, Watts in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Anacostia in Washington, DC, and other urban areas, attempting to target "safe houses" of "criminal gangs", but inevitably killing a lot of children and little old ladies?

What if, from time to time, the US Army besieged Virginia Beach, killing hundreds of armed members of the Christian Soldiers? What if entire platoons of the Christian Soldiers militia holed up in Arlington National Cemetery, and were bombarded by US Air Force warplanes daily, destroying thousands of graves and even pulverizing the Vietnam Memorial over on the Mall? What if the National Council of Churches had to call for a popular march of thousands of believers to converge on the National Cathedral to stop the US Army from demolishing it to get at a rogue band of the Timothy McVeigh Memorial Brigades?

What if there were virtually no commercial air traffic in the country? What if many roads were highly dangerous, especially Interstate 95 from Richmond to Washington, DC, and I-95 and I-91 up to Boston? If you got on I-95 anywhere along that over 500-mile stretch, you would risk being carjacked, kidnapped, or having your car sprayed with machine gun fire.

What if no one had electricity for much more than 10 hours a day, and often less? What if it went off at unpredictable times, causing factories to grind to a halt and air conditioning to fail in the middle of the summer in Houston and Miami? What if the Alaska pipeline were bombed and disabled at least monthly? What if unemployment hovered around 40%?

What if veterans of militia actions at Ruby Ridge and the Oklahoma City bombing were brought in to run the government on the theory that you need a tough guy in these times of crisis?

What if municipal elections were cancelled and cliques close to the new "president" quietly installed in the statehouses as "governors?" What if several of these governors (especially of Montana and Wyoming) were assassinated soon after taking office or resigned when their children were taken hostage by guerrillas?

What if the leader of the European Union maintained that the citizens of the United States are, under these conditions, refuting pessimism and that freedom and democracy are just around the corner? "
Lifted wholesale from Juan Cole's Informed Comment
Via Metafilter

Some Things Will Be Better In 2009
Bush can't be president, some as-yet-unknown teen starlet will be legal, and Conan O'Brien will take over the Tonight Show from that deeply unfunny hack Jay Leno.

Lotsa Lists
Wikipedia's list of reference tables

More Cold Killr Sightings
Buffoonery.org on the case

Headline Of The Day
Bush: I'm not deluded


Canada Rocks
The University of Alberta has a Computer Poker Research Group


Beware Of The Walls
coldk graffiti 1

coldk graffiti 2

I've learned more about the enigmatic graffiti mentioned in an earlier post.
The artist is "Cold Killer" aka "ColdK" and he's part of the "BOTW" or "Beware of the walls" crew. And they aren't paintings of evil pac-men, they're ghosts.
Stranger Article
Tom Harpel's coldk photos
Beans for Breakfast Blog has pics.
Murmur Blog has more pics

Searching And Not Finding
Ask for help finding the stuff you can't find
"Welcome to CantFindOnGoogle.com

Most of the time, you punch what you want to know into Google, and you instantly get what you're looking for. But have you ever had that experience, where you try query after query and no matter how hard you try, you just can't find what you're looking for? That's what this site is for -- because the things Google can't find is more interesting than the stuff Google can find."
I can relate. I'm constantly trying to find out where I can buy stuff at an actual brick and morter store. There are a gazillion sites who will sell me any product under the sun and ship it to my tiny unsecured mailbox but I'm flabergasted that there is no good way to find who in my area has sweatshirts with big hoods.
Link
Via RealityCarnival

Noodles
"Opened in March 1994, Shin Yokohama Raumen Museum is an unique and exciting museum that introduces all the interesting features of raumen of a kind in the world,this museum is comprised of three floors: the ground floor, and basements one and two. Displayed on the first floor are various data on raumen noodles including a replica of the first raumen dish ever tasted by Mito Komon, a prominent samurai of the 17th century. There is also a reproduction of the first raumen noodle restaurant that ever operated in Tokyo, over a century ago.

The collection of over 300 raumen noodle bowls from throughout the country is quite a sight,too."
Link
Via Plep

Arrr, It Be Bad Food
"#6: Armour Pork Brains in Milk Gravy (Dial Corp.): If you're really looking to clog up those arteries in a hurry, you'll be pleased to learn that a single serving of pork brains has 1,170 percent of our recommended daily cholesterol intake. All the more ingenious, then, that the label on this product helpfully features a recipe for brains and scrambled eggs."
World's 9 Worst Convenience Foods
Via Other Crap

Naming The Dead
"The most complete attempt yet to identify some of the estimated 15,000 Iraqi civilians killed since the US-led invasion in March last year was unveiled in Chicago today.

Iraq Body Count (IBC), a volunteer group of British and US academics and researchers, came up with 3,000 names by combining its database of dead civilians gleaned from media reports with the work of on-the-ground Iraqi researchers.
...
Neither the US nor the UK, the former occupying powers, attempted to count or identify the civilian dead and the IBC list represents the most comprehensive project of its kind.
...
A spokesman for the Pentagon said it did not keep track of civilian casualties because it was not fighting civilians. "
Cold comfort, that
Link
Via Metafilter

Obviously Not Evil Enough To Charge With A Crime
" Sept. 15 - The first U.S. government-declared "enemy combatant" in the war on terror will soon be released from a military prison in South Carolina under an agreement that will allow him to fly home to Saudi Arabia as a free man, administration officials tell NEWSWEEK.

The agreement to free Yaser Esam Hamdi represents a stunning reversal for the Bush administration, which argued for more than two years that the former Taliban fighter was potentially so dangerous that he had to be detained indefinitely in solitary confinement with no access to counsel and no right to trial.

But in a landmark ruling last June, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered that Hamdi, an American citizen, be allowed to consult with his lawyer and challenge the basis for his imprisonment. This pushed the case back into federal court and forced the Justice Department to mount a hasty retreat.

The result, officials say, is a highly detailed agreement that is expected to be made public later this week. It will result in Hamdi being flown back to Saudi Arabia on a U.S. military aircraft without ever being charged with any terror-related activity?a symbolic victory for critics who have long pointed to the case as a prime example of what they see as the Bush administration's overreaching in combating the terrorist threat.

Still, Justice Department officials said today the agreement contains important provisions to protect U.S. interests, including requirements that Hamdi renounce his U.S. citizenship, agree not to return to the United States and consent not to travel to an extensive list of countries, including Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq or Syria, where he could be presumably be recruited for terrorist activity. Hamdi is also supposed to keep Saudi authorities notified of his whereabouts?a requirement that even government officials say will do little, if anything, to restrict his movements in the country. "
Link
Via Eschaton

Global To Local
Cory Doctorow, Pat Murphy, Kim Stanley Robinson, Norman Spinrad, Bruce Sterling and Ken Wharton consider the future.
Link
Via Boing Boing

Pictures
pac man graffiti 1
I've spotted quite a few of these around town.
I don't know if they're evil Pac-Men or what.
This one is by Seahawk Stadium.

pac man graffiti 2
Capitol Hill

pac man graffiti 3
U-district: this might be unrelated to the first two.

scuba graffiti 1

kerry lemonade stand
Lemonade stand for Kerry

sidewalk sale
Somebody doesn't get the concept.

Consistency
"It's the dishonesty, stupid. The real issue in the National Guard story isn't what George W. Bush did three decades ago. It's the recent pattern of lies: his assertions that he fulfilled his obligations when he obviously didn't, the White House's repeated claims that it had released all of the relevant documents when it hadn't.

It's the same pattern of dishonesty, this time involving personal matters that the public can easily understand, that some of us have long seen on policy issues, from global warming to the war in Iraq. On budget matters, which is where I came in, serious analysts now take administration dishonesty for granted.

It wasn't always that way. Three years ago, those of us who accused the administration of cooking the budget books were ourselves accused, by moderates as well as by Bush loyalists, of being "shrill." These days the coalition of the shrill has widened to include almost every independent budget expert."
Link
Via Booknotes

What They Said
"This is a collection of 21 al-Qa'ida statements. At 131 pages long it is, at time of release, the most complete collection of statements available to the English speaking public."
Link goes to a 2.1MB Zipped PDF file.
Timeline of Documents
Via choof.org

Yup, We're Screwed
"The numbers of sufferers of brain diseases, including Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and motor neurone disease, have soared across the West in less than 20 years, scientists have discovered.

The alarming rise, which includes figures showing rates of dementia have trebled in men, has been linked to rises in levels of pesticides, industrial effluents, domestic waste, car exhausts and other pollutants, says a report in the journal Public Health."
Link
Via the bitter shack of resentment

Follow The Money
"If House Speaker Dennis Hastert is really concerned about drug profits being laundered into the U.S. political process, he would not be sliming billionaire financier George Soros with that suspicion. Hastert would be looking at a principal conservative funder: South Korean theocrat Sun Myung Moon.

While Hastert was unable to cite a shred of evidence that the liberal Soros is funneling illicit money, there is a substantial body of evidence that Moon has long commanded a criminal enterprise with close ties to Asian and South American drug lords. The evidence includes first-hand accounts of money laundering disclosed by Moon confidantes and even family members. Besides those more recent accounts, Moon was convicted of tax fraud based on evidence developed in the late 1970s about his money-laundering activities.

Since serving his tax-evasion sentence in the early 1980s, however, Moon appears to have bought himself protection by spreading hundreds of millions of dollars around conservative causes and through generous speaking fee payments to Republican leaders, including former President George H.W. Bush.

Moon himself has boasted that he spent $1 billion on the right-wing Washington Times in its first decade alone. The newspaper, which started in 1982, continues to lose Moon an estimated $50 million a year but remains a valuable propaganda organ for the Republican Party.

How Moon has managed to cover the vast losses of his media empire and pay for lavish conservative conferences has been one of the most enduring mysteries of Washington, but curiously one of the least investigated ? at least since the Reagan-Bush era.

Limited investigations of Moon?s organization have revealed large sums of money flowing into the United States mostly from untraceable accounts in Japan, where Moon had close ties to yakuza gangster Ryoichi Sasakawa. Former Moon associates also have revealed major money flows from shadowy sources in South America, where Moon built relationships with right-wing elements associated with the cocaine trade, including the so-called Cocaine Coup government of Bolivia in the early 1980s."
Link


No Record, Just Fear
"Why are the Republicans so angry? One reason is that they have nothing positive to run on (during the first three days, Mr. Bush was mentioned far less often than John Kerry).

The promised economic boom hasn't materialized, Iraq is a bloody quagmire, and Osama bin Laden has gone from "dead or alive" to he-who-must-not-be-named.

Another reason, I'm sure, is a guilty conscience. At some level the people at that convention know that their designated hero is a man who never in his life took a risk or made a sacrifice for his country, and that they are impugning the patriotism of men who have.

That's why Band-Aids with Purple Hearts on them, mocking Mr. Kerry's war wounds and medals, have been such a hit with conventioneers, and why senior politicians are attracted to wild conspiracy theories about Mr. Soros.

It's also why Mr. Hastert, who knows how little the Bush administration has done to protect New York and help it rebuild, has accused the city of an "unseemly scramble" for cash after 9/11. Nothing makes you hate people as much as knowing in your heart that you are in the wrong and they are in the right.

But the vitriol also reflects the fact that many of the people at that convention, for all their flag-waving, hate America. They want a controlled, monolithic society; they fear and loathe our nation's freedom, diversity and complexity.

The convention opened with an invocation by Sheri Dew, a Mormon publisher and activist. Early rumors were that the invocation would be given by Jerry Falwell, who suggested just after 9/11 that the attack was God's punishment for the activities of the A.C.L.U. and People for the American Way, among others. But Ms. Dew is no more moderate: earlier this year she likened opposition to gay marriage to opposition to Hitler.

The party made sure to put social moderates like Rudy Giuliani in front of the cameras. But in private events, the story was different. For example, Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas told Republicans that we are in a "culture war" and urged a reduction in the separation of church and state.

Mr. Bush, it's now clear, intends to run a campaign based on fear. And for me, at least, it's working: thinking about what these people will do if they solidify their grip on power makes me very, very afraid."
Link
Via Booknotes

Do It Some More
"We all saw the anger and distortion of the Republican Convention. For the past week, they attacked my patriotism and my fitness to serve as Commander-in-chief. We?ll, here?s my answer. I?m not going to have my commitment to defend this country questioned by those who refused to serve when they could have and by those who have misled the nation into Iraq.

The Vice President even called me unfit for office last night. I guess I'll leave it up to the voters whether five deferments makes someone more qualified to defend this nation than two tours of duty.

Let me tell you what I think makes someone unfit for duty. Misleading our nation into war in Iraq makes you unfit to lead this nation. Doing nothing while this nation loses millions of jobs makes you unfit to lead this nation. Letting 45 million Americans go without healthcare makes you unfit to lead this nation. Letting the Saudi Royal Family control our energy costs makes you unfit to lead this nation. Handing out billions of government contracts to Halliburton while you're still on their payroll makes you unfit. That's the record of George Bush and Dick Cheney. And it's not going to change. I believe it's time to move America in a new direction; I believe it's time to set a new course for America."
Link
Via Eschaton

Hot Spot City
" For about $10 million, city officials believe they can turn all 135 square miles of Philadelphia into the world's largest wireless Internet hot spot.

The ambitious plan, now in the works, would involve placing hundreds, or maybe thousands of small transmitters around the city ? probably atop lampposts. Each would be capable of communicating with the wireless networking cards that now come standard with many computers.

Once complete, the network would deliver broadband Internet almost anywhere radio waves can travel ? including poor neighborhoods where high-speed Internet access is now rare.

And the city would likely offer the service either for free, or at costs far lower than the $35 to $60 a month charged by commercial providers, said the city's chief information officer, Dianah Neff. "
This would be so sweet. I really hope this idea gets some traction, if only to give an alternative to cable company broadband.
Link
Via Boing Boing