"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

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Oshiri kajiri mushi

Follow The Money
" Operation Iraqi Freedom, it turns out, was never a war against Saddam ­Hussein's Iraq. It was an invasion of the federal budget, and no occupying force in history has ever been this efficient. George W. Bush's war in the Mesopotamian desert was an experiment of sorts, a crude first take at his vision of a fully privatized American government. In Iraq the lines between essential government services and for-profit enterprises have been blurred to the point of absurdity -- to the point where wounded soldiers have to pay retail prices for fresh underwear, where modern-day chattel are imported from the Third World at slave wages to peel the potatoes we once assigned to grunts in KP, where private companies are guaranteed huge profits no matter how badly they fuck things up.

And just maybe, reviewing this appalling history of invoicing orgies and million-dollar boondoggles, it's not so far-fetched to think that this is the way someone up there would like things run all over -- not just in Iraq but in Iowa, too, with the state police working for Corrections Corporation of America, and DHL with the contract to deliver every Christmas card. And why not? What the Bush administration has created in Iraq is a sort of paradise of perverted capitalism, where revenues are forcibly extracted from the customer by the state, and obscene profits are handed out not by the market but by an unaccountable government bureauc­racy. This is the triumphant culmination of two centuries of flawed white-people thinking, a preposterous mix of authoritarian socialism and laissez-faire profit­eering, with all the worst aspects of both ideologies rolled up into one pointless, supremely idiotic military adventure -- American men and women dying by the thousands, so that Karl Marx and Adam Smith can blow each other in a Middle Eastern glory hole."

The Great Iraq Swindle
Via Fark

Measure Twice...
Computing the volume of a cat (Space, not db)
Via need coffee dot com

"Would it Surprise You, Sir..."
Walter Jon Williams considers The Maltese Falcon:
"Spade is described as looking like a "genial Satan." He's sleeping with his partner Archer's wife, he's not terribly put out by Archer's death, he doesn't seem interested in vengeance or justice at all. He treats women badly. He keeps telling people that all he really cares about is the money, and you have no data to indicate otherwise. To all appearances, Spade is a heel.

If you were reading this book fresh in 1930, and hadn't seen the movie and knew nothing other than what the book told you, you wouldn't know that Sam Spade is the good guy--- not until the last scene, when he sends Brigid up the river for murdering Archer. That reversal would have come as a complete surprise, and a revelation. Hammett succeeded in hiding that particular football right up to the book's climax.

Now suppose're in a theater in 1941 to watch the Huston film adaptation. You haven't seen the earlier adaptation with Ricardo Cortez and Bebe Daniels, and you haven't seen the comic adaptation with Bette Davis, and you haven't read the book. And there you are watching Humphrey Bogart play Sam Spade.

You've seen Bogart before, and you know he isn't a leading man. Up to this point, Bogart has always played the heavy. He's the gangster, the gunman, the crooked lawyer, the criminal kingpin. You have no idea that this is the breakout role that makes him a huge star.

If you're watching the film in 1941 with no prior knowledge of the story, you would have had no idea that Bogart was the good guy. In that final scene, you would have been just as poleaxed as the first readers of the book in 1930."

Thin Man, Thick Plot

Insert Bush Reference Here
Huge Hole Found in the Universe
Via The Big Mobodaddy, who would rule the world if he got his own blog.

Not Happy to See You
Girls With Guns on Flickr.
Via Fanboy.com

Suddenly Not Hungry
Colonel Sanders mural painted in Teriyaki Boneless Wing sauce
Via Exploding Aardvark

Big News
Comically Large Things
Via MetaFilter


The other day I began to wonder about the relationship between the words "Polynesia" and "Amnesia"-why did they have the same ending? Was amnesia poetically considered an "island of the mind"? It turns out that although both are from the Greek, they have different roots.

Polynesia : Nesos - "island
Amnesia: Mimneskesthai - "to recall,"

"The US military cannot account for 190,000 AK-47 assault rifles and pistols given to the Iraqi security forces, an official US report says."
US 'loses track' of Iraq weapons

A God Among Men
Peter O'Toole is 75.
"I can't stand light. I hate weather. My idea of heaven is moving from one smoke-filled room to another."

Amen, brother

Via No Smoking in the Skull Cave

Nice Hat
very large chandelier hat
Via things magazine

A Flickr scraper: X.wallpaper.sytes.org, where "X" is the subject. Via things magazine

None More White
Barbershop Quartet covers Sousa (Youtube Video)


William Gibson spent an hour discussing his latest novel, "Spook Country", and other topics on KUOW, one of Seattle's NPR stations.

Envisioning the Future with William Gibson (KUOW Program Archive w/ streaming audio links)

Not Dead, Still Funky
"To cynics and music-industry veterans, this very premise is laughable: an appointment with Sly Stone. Yeah, right. For 20-odd years, Stone has been one of music's great recluses, likened in the press to J. D. Salinger and Howard Hughes. And in the years before he slipped away, he was notorious for not showing up even when he said he would. Missed concerts, rioting crowds, irritated promoters, drug problems, band tensions, burned bridges.

But in his prime, Stone was a fantastic musician, performer, bandleader, producer, and songwriter. Even today, his life-affirming hits from the late 60s and early 70s-among them "Stand!," "Everyday People," and "Family Affair"-continue to thrive on the radio, magically adaptable to any number of programming formats: pop, rock, soul, funk, lite. He was a black man and emphatically so, with the most luxuriant Afro and riveted leather jumpsuits known to Christendom, but he was also a pan-culturalist who moved easily among all races and knew no genre boundaries. There was probably no more Woodstockian moment at Woodstock than when he and the Family Stone, his multi-racial, four-man, two-woman band, took control of the festival in the wee hours of August 17, 1969, getting upwards of 400,000 people pulsing in unison to an extended version of "I Want to Take You Higher." For one early morning, at least, the idea of "getting higher" wasn't an empty pop-culture construct or a stoner joke, but a matter of transcendence. This man had power."

Sly Stone's Higher Power
Via { feuilleton }

Oh Yea, Things Are Looking Up
"Iraq's power grid is on the brink of collapse because of insurgent sabotage, rising demand, fuel shortages and provinces that are unplugging local power stations from the national grid, officials said Saturday.

Electricity Ministry spokesman Aziz al-Shimari said power generation nationally is only meeting half the demand, and there had been four nationwide blackouts over the past two days.

Power supplies in Baghdad have been sporadic all summer - when average daily temperatures reach between 110 and 120 degrees - and now are down to just a few hours a day, if that. The water supply in the capital has also been severely curtailed by power blackouts and cuts that have affected pumping and filtration stations."
Iraq's national power grid nearing collapse

If I Could Afford It I'd Pound My Head Into a Wall
"It is staggering, and truly disgusting, that even in August, 2007 -- almost six years removed from the 9/11 attacks and with the Bush presidency cemented as one of the weakest and most despised in American history -- that George W. Bush can "demand" that the Congress jump and re-write legislation at his will, vesting in him still greater surveillance power, by warning them, based solely on his say-so, that if they fail to comply with his demands, the next Terrorist attack will be their fault. And they jump and scamper and comply (Meteor Blades has the list of the 16 Senate Democrats voting in favor; the House will soon follow). (Note: the House caved in too

I just finished a discussion panel with ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero which was originally planned to examine his new (superb) book about the work his organization has done for years in battling the endless expansion of executive power and presidential lawbreaking. But the only issue anyone in the room really wanted to discuss -- including us -- was the outrage unfolding on Capitol Hill. And the anger was almost universally directed where it belongs: at Congressional Democrats, who increasingly bear more and more responsibility for the assaults on our constitutional liberties and unparalleled abuses of government power -- many (probably most) of which, it should always be emphasized, remain concealed rather than disclosed.

Examine virtually every Bush scandal and it increasingly bears the mark not merely of Democratic capitulation, but Democratic participation. In August of 2006, the Supreme Court finally asserted the first real limit on Bush's radical executive power theories in Hamdan, only for Congress, months later, to completely eviscerate those minimal limits -- and then go far beyond -- by enacting the grotesque Military Commissions Act with the support of substantial numbers of Democrats. What began as a covert and illegal Bush interrogation and detention program became the officially sanctioned, bipartisan policy of the United States. "

This is exactly why people voted for Nader. Dear Democrats: Please grow a pair-You're an opposition party, start acting like one.

Democrats' responsibility for Bush radicalism.

Let's see what my YouTube embedded player looks like:
Pretty swank.

Not Sexy Enough
"Between 2000 and 2003, the percentage of the nation's 590,750 bridges rated structurally deficient or functionally obsolete decreased slightly from 28.5% to 27.1%. However, it will cost $9.4 billion a year for 20 years to eliminate all bridge deficiencies. Long-term underinvestment is compounded by the lack of a Federal transportation program.
Aging wastewater management systems discharge billions of gallons of untreated sewage into U.S. surface waters each year. The EPA estimates that the nation must invest $390 billion over the next 20 years to replace existing systems and build new ones to meet increasing demands. Yet, in 2005, Congress cut funding for wastewater management for the first time in eight years. The Bush administration has proposed a further 33% reduction, to $730 million, for FY06.
America's Infrastructure G.P.A. = D"
Maintaining America's critical infrastructure is a national security issue. Too bad we're losing the war on maintainence.
Report Card for America's Infrastructure

Head Bone
polystyrene cup skull
Skull-A-Day is producing a skull every day for a year.
Via Boing Boing