"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

Round Up the Usual Suspects
Keeping us "Safe" from people with video cameras:

"Protesters here in Minneapolis have been targeted by a series of highly intimidating, sweeping police raids across the city, involving teams of 25-30 officers in riot gear, with semi-automatic weapons drawn, entering homes of those suspected of planning protests, handcuffing and forcing them to lay on the floor, while law enforcement officers searched the homes, seizing computers, journals, and political pamphlets. Last night, members of the St. Paul police department and the Ramsey County sheriff's department handcuffed, photographed and detained dozens of people meeting at a public venue to plan a demonstration, charging them with no crime other than "fire code violations," and early this morning, the Sheriff's department sent teams of officers into at least four Minneapolis area homes where suspected protesters were staying.

...

There is clearly an intent on the part of law enforcement authorities here to engage in extreme and highly intimidating raids against those who are planning to protest the Convention. The DNC in Denver was the site of several quite ugly incidents where law enforcement acted on behalf of Democratic Party officials and the corporate elite that funded the Convention to keep the media and protesters from doing anything remotely off-script. But the massive and plainly excessive preemptive police raids in Minnesota are of a different order altogether. Targeting people with automatic-weapons-carrying SWAT teams and mass raids in their homes, who are suspected of nothing more than planning dissident political protests at a political convention and who have engaged in no illegal activity whatsoever, is about as redolent of the worst tactics of a police state as can be imagined."

Massive police raids on suspected protestors in Minneapolis
Via Boing Boing

Clearing Out the "To Blog" Folder
  • PlayCrafter lets you design and play your own Flash games

  • Simpsonized Superheroes:

    modern batman simpsonized springfield punx

    Springfield Punx
    Via Neatorama

  • "Two-thirds of us, according to calculations I have made while brooding inordinately about this inside my Subaru, are lineuppers, slowing rapidly from 70 to 30 or 20 or whatever and taking our places - courteously and patiently, as our mothers taught us to do, respecting the broad tenets of social justice and the primacy of fairness to all persons on the road, regardless of income or ethnicity or car model or perceived level of personal importance - where was I? Oh. Sorry. Taking our places at the end of the line, I was saying, the long two-lane line that has formed to the right, creeping toward the mouth of our tunnel bore. There is still some empty lane space beside us on the left, true, where the cones are gradually closing those left lanes down. But people are already lined up. If we passed them on the left to get in farther ahead, we would be cutting the line.

    One third of us, on the other hand, zoom on by. For purposes of this problem, I shall call these sidezoomers. (When I raised the Caldecott Tunnel Problem with my father, who is 83, he startled me by suggesting a longer label that included more bad words than I believe I have ever heard him use at one time.) Sidezoomers have a variety of strategies, each exaggerated by the configuration of the Caldecott but replicated in bottlenecks across the land: there are the ones who zoom by a few dozen cars, angling in when they see a plausible opening; and there are the ones who zoom all the way up, to the very top of the cone-off funnel, at which point they thrust their aggressive little self-entitled fenders toward the lineup and nudge themselves in. And there are those who opt for frontage-road sidezooming, which requires maneuvering into the far-right highway lane in order to get off at a certain pretunnel exit that dumps cars onto a surface street alongside Highway 24. They zip along that street and get back on 24 at the next entrance, slipping in ahead of the bumper-to-bumper highway lineup they just bypassed. So now they're cutting the line, too, but from the right.

    And that very last exit lane before the tunnel, also on the right? You can't get back onto the highway once you've exited there, but if you're a sidezoomer you can slide into the empty exit-only lane, still on the highway but pretending you're leaving, and then you drive and drive right past all the lineuppers until whoops, now at the last minute you've changed your mind and you're not exiting at all; you're sneaking back into the line.

    Not in front of me, though."

    Almost every weekday I'm a "lineupper" in the exit to the northbound Seattle express lanes. And I'm not going to stop getting as close as safely possible to car crawling ahead of me. Oh, I leave room when I'm near the end of the line, because the line backs all the way into the restricted commuter lanes - so for a while there people have a legitimate excuse for merging in. But as we get closer (and I have a predetermined spot) my generosity evaporates. The idiots who designed I-5 through Seattle ended the northbound express lane exit with a brilliant blind hill, causing easily spooked Seattle drivers (don't get me started) to slow to their natural cruising speed of 15 mph. So letting in "sidezoomers" won't smooth traffic flow, it'll just reward bad behavior.

    The Urge to Merge

  • Impossible Bottles

  • " Before the year is out it's worth giving a belated Metafilter sendoff to Thomas Scot Halpin, who died in February, his place in history secure as one of the great substitutes of all time, alongside Earl Morrall, Mr. Bergstrom, and tofu.

    Halpin was 19 in 1973, a rec-room drummer who idolized Keith Moon and had the good fortune to score stageside seats at a 1973 Who show at San Francisco's Cow Palace. Seventy minutes into the show, though, his seat would be upgraded: Keith Moon passed out behind his kit, Townshend asked the crowd if anyone could play drums ("someone really good"), and Halpin's friend made enough of a racket to attract Bill Graham's attention. Graham pulled him onstage, Townshend gave him a shot of brandy to steel his nerves, and The Who featuring Scot Halpin of Muscatine, Iowa, lurched into Smokestack Lightning. Additional youtubery. 2006 NPR interview."

    Warming Keith Moon's chair


  • Via Laughing Squid

  • Zero Dollar Bill


Planet of the Cats

Cat House on the Kings (YouTube)
The Cat House on the Kings (Official Site
Via Cute Overload

Play Along at Home
mccain speech bingo
McCain POW Bingo
Via Ghost in the Machine
 Via blivet 2.0


Still No Explanation for the American Voter
13 things that do not make sense

Via Follow Me Here



Dismal Science

"That term "the economy": what it means, in practice, is the Gross Domestic Product - a big statistical pot that includes all the money spent in a given period of time. If the pot is bigger than it was the previous quarter, or year, then you cheer. If it isn't bigger, or bigger enough, then you call Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke up here and ask him to do some explaining. The what of the economy makes no difference in these councils. It never seems to come up. The money in the big pot could be going to cancer treatments or casinos, violent video games or usurious credit-card rates. It could go toward the $9 billion or so that Americans spend on gas they burn while they sit in traffic, or the billion plus that goes to such drugs as Ritalin and Prozac that schools are stuffing into kids to keep them quiet in class. The money could be the $20 billion or so that Americans spend on divorce lawyers each year, or the $41 billion on pets, or the $5 billion on identity theft, or the billions more spent to repair property damage caused by environmental pollution. The money in the pot could betoken social and environmental breakdown - misery and distress of all kinds. It makes no difference. You don't ask. All you want to know is the total amount, which is the GDP. So long as it is growing then everything is fine.

I am not talking about an obscure technical measure. This is not stuff for the folks in the back room. I am talking about what you mean when you use that term "the economy." Few words induce such a reverential hush in these halls. Few words are so laden with authority and portent. When you say "the economy" is up, no news is better. When you argue that a proposal will help the economy or hurt it, then you have played the ultimate trump card in your polemical deck, bin Laden possibly excepted.

This, by the way, is not an argument against growth. To be reflexively against growth is as numb-minded as to be reflexively for it. Those are theological positions. I am arguing for an empirical one. Find out what is growing and the effects. Tell us what this growth is, in concrete terms. Then we can begin to say whether it has been good.

The failure to do this is insane. It is an insanity that is embedded in the political debate and in media reportage, and it leads to fallacy in many directions. We hear, for example, that efforts to address climate change will hurt "the economy." Does that mean that if we clean up the air we will spend less money treating asthma in young kids? The atmosphere is part of the economy, too - the real economy, that is, though not the artificial construct portrayed in the GDP. It does real work, as we would discover quickly if it were to collapse. Yet the GDP does not include this work. If we burn more gas, the expenditure gets added to the GDP. But there is no corresponding subtraction for the toll this burning takes on the thermostatic and buffering functions that the atmosphere provides. (Nor is there a subtraction for the oil we take out of the ground.) Yet if we burn less gas, and thus maintain the crucial functions of the atmosphere, we say "the economy" has suffered, even though the real economy has been enhanced.

With families the logic is the same. By the standard of the GDP, the worst families in America are those that actually function as families - that cook their own meals, take walks after dinner, and talk together instead of just farming the kids out to the commercial culture. Cooking at home, talking with kids, walking instead of driving, involve less expenditure of money than do their commercial counterparts. Solid marriages involve less expenditure for counseling and divorce. Thus they are threats to the economy as portrayed in the GDP. By that standard, the best kids are the ones who eat the most junk food and exercise the least, because they will run up the biggest medical bills for obesity and diabetes.

This assumption has been guiding our economic policies for the past sixty years at least. Is it surprising that the family structure is shaky, real community is in decline, and children have become petri dishes of market-related dysfunction and disease? The nation conceives of such things as growth and therefore good. It is not accidental that the two major protest movements of recent decades - environmentalist and pro-family - both deal with parts of the real economy that the GDP leaves out and that the commercial culture that embodies the GDP tends to erode. How did we get to this strange pass, where up is down and down is up? How did it happen that the nation's economic hero is a terminal-cancer patient going through a costly divorce? How is it that Congress talks about stimulating "the economy" when much that will actually be stimulated is the destruction of things it says it cares about on other days? How did the notion of economy become so totally uneconomic?"

Our Phony Economy
Via MetaFilter

DHS Sucks

"A Hong Kong computer programmer who had legally resided in the US for 15 years (since he was 17) and fathered two American children went for his final green card interview and was locked up, detained until he died of cancer that the DHS refused to treat him for. He had overstayed a visa (the DHS sent a key notice to the wrong address), and this prompted the DHS to lock him away and demand that he waive all right to immigration appeal and be immediately deported. In detention, his complaints of excruciating back pain were treated as fakery, and he was dragged around in shackles after he lost the ability to walk, taken on long, bumpy drives while official demanded that he drop his immigration appeals. The jailers who caused his death were private contractors with fat deals with the DHS to lock up immigration detainees.

As he lay dying, his family -- wife and two children, aged 1 and 3 -- were denied access to him while the warden considered their request to visit."

Ill and in Pain, Detainee Dies in U.S. Hands
Via Boing Boing

I Don't Think the AG's Heart Is In It

So Attorney General Michael Mukasey has stated that Justice Staffers Won't Be Prosecuted For Illegal Hiring Practices.

Now I'm not a lawyer, but I have watched a lot of Law and Order, and I think an enterprising prosecutor could make a case against Goodling et al for Criminal Conspiracy:

"The statute is broad enough in its terms to include any conspiracy for the purpose of impairing, obstructing or defeating the lawful function of any department of government . . . (A)ny conspiracy which is calculated to obstruct or impair its efficiency and destroy the value of its operation and reports as fair, impartial and reasonably accurate, would be to defraud the United States by depriving it of its lawful right and duty of promulgating or diffusing the information so officially acquired in the way and at the time required by law or departmental regulation. "

923 18 U.S.C. § 371 -- Conspiracy to Defraud the United States



Yikes

"On Friday at the National Urban League, McCain suggested he'd fight crime using "tactics somewhat like we use in the military."

He went on to describe how it would work:

"You go into neighborhoods, you clamp down, you provide a secure environment for the people that live there, and you make sure that the known criminals are kept under control," he said. "And you provide them with a stable environment and then they cooperate with law enforcement.""

McCain's Cure-All
Via Slog

It's Not The Water, You're On Acid

It's amazing, someone without a brain walking and talking like a normal person:

One reaction to extra-strength stupid:

picard facepalm

And another:

Thanks, Fran!



Matchup Mashup

Henshin's Trailer: The Sequel



High Crimes

"Members and advisors of the administration-in-waiting have formed largely informal working groups to take up a whole host of issues related to the Bush administration's legacy, like what to do about the Guantánamo detainees. While they have not been asked to develop a formal recommendation for Obama on the question of criminal accountability for torture, those who are weighing the issue, a group that includes some of the 300 people the New York Times recently described as Obama's "mini State Department," are moving toward consensus on some key points. Specifically, don't hold your breath waiting for Dick Cheney to be frog-marched into federal court. Prosecution of any officials, if it were to occur, would probably not occur during Obama's first term. Instead, we may well see a congressionally empowered commission that would seek testimony from witnesses in search of the truth about what occurred. Though some witnesses might be offered immunity in exchange for testimony, the question of whether anybody would be prosecuted would be deferred to a later date -- meaning Obama's second term, if such is forthcoming. "

I wonder if Bush will resist granting pardons because they might look like an admission of guilt.

The article only considers the possible crime of torture. I can well imagine a constant stream of revelations of Bush administration crimes- FISA/eavesdropping, the leadup to war, Iraq procurement, Justice department hiring, etc. The will to prosecute might bend under the weight of more evidence.

Would Obama prosecute the Bush administration for torture?

Those Who Remember History Are Still Doomed

"Ever since the Allies bombed the Axis into submission, Western civilization has had a succession of counter-culture movements that have energetically challenged the status quo. Each successive decade of the post-war era has seen it smash social standards, riot and fight to revolutionize every aspect of music, art, government and civil society.

But after punk was plasticized and hip hop lost its impetus for social change, all of the formerly dominant streams of “counter-culture” have merged together. Now, one mutating, trans-Atlantic melting pot of styles, tastes and behavior has come to define the generally indefinable idea of the “Hipster.”

An artificial appropriation of different styles from different eras, the hipster represents the end of Western civilization – a culture lost in the superficiality of its past and unable to create any new meaning. Not only is it unsustainable, it is suicidal. While previous youth movements have challenged the dysfunction and decadence of their elders, today we have the “hipster” – a youth subculture that mirrors the doomed shallowness of mainstream society. "

...

"Punks wear their tattered threads and studded leather jackets with honor, priding themselves on their innovative and cheap methods of self-expression and rebellion. B-boys and b-girls announce themselves to anyone within earshot with baggy gear and boomboxes. But it is rare, if not impossible, to find an individual who will proclaim themself a proud hipster. It’s an odd dance of self-identity – adamantly denying your existence while wearing clearly defined symbols that proclaims it. "

Hipster: The Dead End of Western Civilization
Via Swan Fungus