"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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Lost: Questions, Questions, Questions
Ultimate List of Unanswered Questions
Unanswered Questions: Unlikely to be Answered

I have 2 questions, one that I think must be answered and another that I bet won't be:

1: Who are the Others? What is their mission and what motivates them?

2: If the Universe always "course-corrects", as she said, why did Ms. Hawking bother telling Desmond he had to go to the Island? If she's right, no matter what she said or what Desmond did he would end up in the Swan pushing the button.

Lost: The Top 100 Lost Lines of All Time

"86. LOCKE: Hey. Uh… was he talking about what I think he was talking about?
BEN: If you mean time traveling bunnies, then yes.
- There’s No Place Like Home

85. SAWYER: So, a tribe of evil natives planted a ringer in the camp to kidnap a pregnant girl and a reject from VH-1 has-beens. Yeah, fiendishly clever. And why am I getting the evening news from a six-year-old?
WALT: I’m ten!
SAWYER: Okay, then it must be true.
- All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues"

LOST TOP 100: The Top 100 Lost Lines of All Time (The Ack Attack!)

Lost: Answers (Song Parody)

I have no doubt that after the big finale Damon and Carlton will have to go into seclusion/witness protection for their own safety. Too many questions + Not enough answers = kidnapping.

LOST - Answers?! (Song parody) (YouTube)
Via Day 5 - LOLZ - LAUGH OUT LOUD (Fishbiscuitland)

Who Needs Death Panels? The President Can Order You Killed.

Glenn Greenwald:

"The Washington Post's Dana Priest today reports that "U.S. military teams and intelligence agencies are deeply involved in secret joint operations with Yemeni troops who in the past six weeks have killed scores of people."  That's no surprise, of course, as Yemen is now another predominantly Muslim country (along with Somalia and Pakistan) in which our military is secretly involved to some unknown degree in combat operations without any declaration of war, without any public debate, and arguably (though not clearly) without any Congressional authorization.  The exact role played by the U.S. in the late-December missile attacks in Yemen, which killed numerous civilians, is still unknown.

But buried in Priest's article is her revelation that American citizens are now being placed on a secret "hit list" of people whom the President has personally authorized to be killed:

After the Sept. 11 attacks, Bush gave the CIA, and later the military, authority to kill U.S. citizens abroad if strong evidence existed that an American was involved in organizing or carrying out terrorist actions against the United States or U.S. interests, military and intelligence officials said. . . .

The Obama administration has adopted the same stance. If a U.S. citizen joins al-Qaeda, "it doesn't really change anything from the standpoint of whether we can target them," a senior administration official said. "They are then part of the enemy."

Both the CIA and the JSOC maintain lists of individuals, called "High Value Targets" and "High Value Individuals," whom they seek to kill or capture.  The JSOC list includes three Americans, including [New Mexico-born Islamic cleric Anwar] Aulaqi, whose name was added late last year. As of several months ago, the CIA list included three U.S. citizens, and an intelligence official said that Aulaqi's name has now been added.  

Indeed, Aulaqi was clearly one of the prime targets of the late-December missile strikes in Yemen, as anonymous officials excitedly announced -- falsely, as it turns out -- that he was killed in one of those strikes.

Just think about this for a minute.  Barack Obama, like George Bush before him, has claimed the authority to order American citizens murdered based solely on the unverified, uncharged, unchecked claim that they are associated with Terrorism and pose "a continuing and imminent threat to U.S. persons and interests."  They're entitled to no charges, no trial, no ability to contest the accusations.  Amazingly, the Bush administration's policy of merely imprisoning foreign nationals (along with a couple of American citizens) without charges -- based solely on the President's claim that they were Terrorists -- produced intense controversy for years.  That, one will recall, was a grave assault on the Constitution.  Shouldn't Obama's policy of ordering American citizens assassinated without any due process or checks of any kind -- not imprisoned, but killed -- produce at least as much controversy? emphasis added

Obviously, if U.S. forces are fighting on an actual battlefield, then they (like everyone else) have the right to kill combatants actively fighting against them, including American citizens.  That's just the essence of war.  That's why it's permissible to kill a combatant engaged on a real battlefield in a war zone but not, say, torture them once they're captured and helplessly detained.  But combat is not what we're talking about here.  The people on this "hit list" are likely to be killed while at home, sleeping in their bed, driving in a car with friends or family, or engaged in a whole array of other activities.  More critically still, the Obama administration -- like the Bush administration before it -- defines the "battlefield" as the entire world.  So the President claims the power to order U.S. citizens killed anywhere in the world, while engaged even in the most benign activities carried out far away from any actual battlefield, based solely on his say-so and with no judicial oversight or other checks.  That's quite a power for an American President to claim for himself.

As we well know from the last eight years, the authoritarians among us in both parties will, by definition, reflexively justify this conduct by insisting that the assassination targets are Terrorists and therefore deserve death.  What they actually mean, however, is that the U.S. Government has accused them of being Terrorists, which (except in the mind of an authoritarian) is not the same thing as being a Terrorist.  Numerous Guantanamo detainees accused by the U.S. Government of being Terrorists have turned out to be completely innocent, and the vast majority of federal judges who provided habeas review to detainees have found an almost complete lack of evidence to justify the accusations against them, and thus ordered them released.  That includes scores of detainees held while the U.S. Government insisted that only the "Worst of the Worst" remained at the camp."

Presidential assassinations of U.S. citizens

Strossian Cold War-Lovecraft Riffing

I guess it goes without saying, but I just love this kind of stuff:

"Inspired by Charles Stross' A Colder War and Atrocity Archives stories, noder The Custodian has written a series of fictional, Lovecraftian intelligence briefings entitled "The Benthic Wars": SPECWEAPS, DEEP BLACK, PRIOR TENANT, BENTHIC OUTREACH, PORTAL/ALEPH, VIOLET CAIN, SAKNUSSEM THUNDER and INDRA NEPTUNE."

And you should also get a copy of Tim Power's Declare.


Corgi Puppies Animgif
charging corgi puppy animgif

Lost - 3 Last Supper Promo Pics
Last Supper Pics One and Two
Last Supper Pic Three
Scan of EW's Breakdown of LOST Last Supper Promo Pic (#3)

Torture, Obama, and "Not Looking Backwards"

"(1) The single biggest lie in War on Terror revisionist history is that our torture was confined only to a handful of "high-value" prisoners.  New credible reports of torture continuously emerge.  That's because America implemented and maintained a systematic torture regime spread throughout our worldwide, due-process-free detention system.  There have been at least 100 deaths of detainees in American custody who died during or as the result of interrogation.  Gen. Barry McCaffrey said:  "We tortured people unmercifully. We probably murdered dozens of them during the course of that, both the armed forces and the C.I.A."   Gen. Antonio Taguba said after investigating the Abu Ghraib abuses and finding they were part and parcel of official policy sanctioned at the highest levels of the U.S. Government, and not the acts of a few "rogue" agents:  "there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes.  The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account."

Despite all of this, our media persists in sustaining the lie that the torture controversy is about three cases of waterboarding and a few "high-value" detainees who were treated a bit harshly.  That's why Horton's story received so little attention and was almost completely ignored by right-wing commentators:  because it shatters the central myth that torture was used only in the most extreme cases -- virtual Ticking Time Bomb scenarios -- when there was simply no other choice.  Leading American media outlets, as a matter of policy, won't even use the word "torture."  This, despite the fact that the abuse was so brutal and inhumane that it led to the deaths of helpless captives -- including run-of-the-mill detainees, almost certainly ones guilty of absolutely nothing -- in numerous cases.  These three detainee deaths -- like so many other similar cases -- illustrate how extreme is the myth that has taken root in order to obscure what was really done.

(2) Incidents like this dramatically underscore what can only be called the grotesque immorality of the "Look Forward, Not Backwards" consensus which our political class -- led by the President -- has embraced.  During the Bush years, the United States government committed some of the most egregious crimes a government can commit.  They plainly violated domestic law, international law, and multiple treaties to which the U.S. has long been a party.  Despite that, not only has President Obama insisted that these crimes not be prosecuted, and not only has his Justice Department made clear that -- at most -- they will pursue a handful of low-level scapegoats, but far worse, the Obama administration has used every weapon it possesses to keep these crimes concealed, prevent any accountability for them, and even venerated them as important "state secrets," thus actively preserving the architecture of lawlessness and torture that gave rise to these crimes in the first place.

Every Obama-justifying excuse for Looking Forward, Not Backwards has been exposed as a sham (recall, for instance, the claim that we couldn't prosecute Bush war crimes because it would ruin bipartisanship and Republicans wouldn't support health care reform).   But even if those excuses had been factually accurate, it wouldn't have mattered.  There are no legitimate excuses for averting one's eyes from crimes of this magnitude and permitting them to go unexamined and unpunished.  The real reason why "Looking Forward, Not Backwards" is so attractive to our political and media elites is precisely because they don't want to face what they enabled and supported.  They want to continue to believe that it just involved the quick and necessary waterboarding of three detainees and a few slaps to a handful of the Worst of the Worst.  Only a refusal to "Look Backwards" will enable the lies they have been telling (to the world and to themselves) to be sustained.  But as Horton's story illustrates, there are real victims and genuine American criminals -- many of them -- and anyone who wants to keep that concealed and protected is, by definition, complicit in those crimes, not only the ones that were committed in the past, but similar ones that almost certainly, as a result of Not Looking Backwards, will be committed in the future."

I know I post a lot of Greenwald, but he keeps nailing it.

The crime of not "Looking Backward"

Cheer Yourself Up With a Big Collection of Craig Ferguson Intros

It's a great day for America, everybody

Video: Finches and Electric Guitars

Céleste Boursier-Mougenot - YouTube
Via @demis - Twitter
Via Boing Boing

War on Terra

"The new year is not very old, but several recent revelations cast the the US fight against al-Qaeda (a tiny if deadly fraternity of a couple thousand fanatics spread in dozens of countries) in a bad light, if not to say a scandalous one. The entire premise of combating al-Qaeda as though it were an enemy army, using the Pentagon as the lead agency, while simultaneously militarizing the CIA, needs to be questioned. But so too do a lot of other premises about a so-called American 'Long War' with parts of the Muslim world, including drone strikes, secret bases, and torture. Worst of all, embarrassing revelations are coming out about damaging or even criminal actions and policies that can only harm any genuine counter-terrorism program.

1. Evidence is surfacing, according to Scott Horton writing in Harper's, that the supposed group suicide of three prisoners at Guantanamo in summer of 2006 may have in fact been murder--that is, they may have died of asphyxiation during aggressive interrogation that involved stuffing rags in their throats to cut off air. The explosive allegations may put further pressure on President Obama to fulfill his pledge to close the prison.

2. The FBI falsely invoked terrorism emergencies 2000 times between 2002 and 2006 to engage in illegal phone wiretapping of Americans without obtaining a warrant. The agency was using a provision of the PATRIOT act, which Bush administration officials had assured Congress would never be used for ordinary domestic cases."

Top Ten Counter-Terrorism Scandals 2010 - Juan Cole
Via @jricole - Twitter

Reading SF

"Having a world unfold in one’s head is the fundamental SF experience. It’s a lot of what I read for. Delany has a long passage about how your brain expands while reading the sentence “The red sun is high, the blue low”—how it fills in doubled purple shadows on the planet of a binary star. I think it goes beyond that, beyond the physical into the delight of reading about people who come from other societies and have different expectations.

Because SF can’t take the world for granted, it’s had to develop techniques for doing it. There’s the simple infodump, which Neal Stephenson has raised to an artform in its own right. There are lots of forms of what I call incluing, scattering pieces of information seamlessly through the text to add up to a big picture. The reader has to remember them and connect them together. This is one of the things some people complain about as “too much hard work” and which I think is a high form of fun. SF is like a mystery where the world and the history of the world is what’s mysterious, and putting that all together in your mind is as interesting as the characters and the plot, if not more interesting. We talk about worldbuilding as something the writer does, but it’s also something the reader does, building the world from the clues. When you read that the clocks were striking thirteen, you think at first that something is terribly wrong before you work out that this is a world with twenty-four hour time—and something terribly wrong. Orwell economically sends a double signal with that."

SF reading protocols - Jo Walton
Via Making Light

Congress: "Do as We Say, Not as We Do"

"It should go without saying that all of the sponsors of the pending bill to ban American companies from collaborating with domestic Internet spying in foreign countries -- the inspirationally-named Global Online Freedom Act of 2009 -- voted in favor of the 2008 bill to legalize what had been the illegal warrantless interception of emails and to immunize telecoms which helped our own government break the law in how it spied on Americans.

That's our Government and political class in a nutshell: vocally condemning other countries for abuses which we ourselves engage in with impunity. Earlier this year, Business Week described how "Senators Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) are making fools of themselves with their war on Nokia Siemens for supplying the Iranian government with equipment that lets authorities monitor wireless phone calls and data transmissions." Why, as Business Week described it, must this crusade be the by-product either of "ignorance or hypocrisy"? Because U.S. law "requires that all wireless carriers provide the technological means for law enforcement authorities to tap wireless accounts" and the Congress has done nothing about mountains of evidence of abuses by the U.S. Government within the U.S.

It goes without saying that countries like China and Iran -- along with many of our closest allies -- are far more repressive of internal dissent than is the U.S. But the role of the American Congress is supposed to be to check surveillance abuses by the U.S. Government and to safeguard the privacy of American citizens inside the U.S. Instead, they do the opposite: flamboyantly condemn transgressions by other governments (at least the ones we don't like) while enabling, empowering and protecting our own government officials and private telecoms who illegally spy within our own country."

Congress takes a bold stand against surveillance abuses (Sarcasm)

The Blame Game

"For what we’ve learned in the last few years as one scandal after another spilled onto the front pages is that the bubble economies of the last two decades were not merely monstrous Ponzi schemes that destroyed trillions in wealth while making a small handful of people rich. They were also a profound expression of the fundamentally criminal nature of our political system, in which state power/largess and the private pursuit of (mostly short-term) profit were brilliantly fused in a kind of ongoing theft scheme that sought to instant-cannibalize all the wealth America had stored up during its postwar glory, in the process keeping politicians in office and bankers in beach homes while continually moving the increasingly inevitable disaster to the future.

That is a terrible story and it is also sort of a taboo story, since we don’t really have a system of media now that is willing or even able to digest that dark and complicated truth. Instead, our media — which has always been at best an inadvertent accomplice to these messes — is basically set up to take every revelation about the underlying truth and split it down the middle, feeding half to one side of the political spectrum and one half to the other, where the actual point is then burned up in the useless smoke of a blame game.

The essentially complicit nature of the two ruling political parties was in this way covered up for decades, as the crimes of the Democrats were greedily consumed as entertainment by the Limbaugh crowd while the crimes of the Bushies became hot-selling t-shirts and bumper stickers for the Air America listenership. The abiding mutual hatred the red/blue groups shared consistently prevented any kind of collective realization about the structure of the overall scheme.

What worries me is that we’re now reverting to the same old pattern with the financial crisis story. We’re starting to see fault lines develop, where one side blames the government while another side blames Wall Street for the messes of the last two decades. The side blaming the government tends to belong to the free-marketeer class and divines in safety-net purveyors like the GSEs and in the Fed’s money-printing fundamental corruptions of the capitalist ideal, while the side blaming the bankers tends to belong to the left-liberal tradition that focuses on greed and seeming absence of community conscience among the CEO class as primary corruptors of the social contract.

In the former view the government is to blame for punting on its oversight responsibilities and for corrupting the financial bloodstream with market-altering guarantees, while in the latter view the bankers are at fault for lobbying the politicians to make exactly the same moves. The antigovernment folks like to focus on the irresponsible (and typically low-income or minority) home-borrower and their political allies in Washington as chief villains, while the anti-banker crowd looks at the massive personal profits and outsized influence of the executive class and waves the Cui bono? stick in that direction.

Both sides are right and both sides are wrong. I know that sounds like pox-on-both-their-houses pundit sophistry. But the point is that if you focus on one side and not the other, you miss the entire point. That’s why I get freaked out when I see an important story like this GSE thing come out, and have it be immediately accompanied by arguments that “market observers, rating agencies and investors were unaware of the number of subprime and Alt-A mortgages infecting the financial system,” as though the irresponsibility of the government agency precluded similar (and, I might add, intimately related) abuses on the private side."

Fannie, Freddie, and the New Red and Blue

Diet of Fear

"I never thought I'd hear myself say this, but David Brooks actually had an excellent column in yesterday's New York Times that makes several insightful and important points.  Brooks documents how "childish, contemptuous and hysterical" the national reaction has been to this latest terrorist episode, egged on -- as usual -- by the always-hysterical American media.  The citizenry has been trained to expect that our Powerful Daddies and Mommies in government will -- in that most cringe-inducing, child-like formulation -- Keep Us Safe.  Whenever the Government fails to do so, the reaction -- just as we saw this week -- is an ugly combination of petulant, adolescent rage and increasingly unhinged cries that More Be Done to ensure that nothing bad in the world ever happens.  Demands that genuinely inept government officials be held accountable are necessary and wise, but demands that political leaders ensure that we can live in womb-like Absolute Safety are delusional and destructive.  Yet this is what the citizenry screams out every time something threatening happens:  please, take more of our privacy away; monitor more of our communications; ban more of us from flying; engage in rituals to create the illusion of Strength; imprison more people without charges; take more and more control and power so you can Keep Us Safe.

This is what inevitably happens to a citizenry that is fed a steady diet of fear and terror for years.  It regresses into pure childhood.  The 5-year-old laying awake in bed, frightened by monsters in the closet, who then crawls into his parents' bed to feel Protected and Safe, is the same as a citizenry planted in front of the television, petrified by endless imagery of scary Muslim monsters, who then collectively crawl to Government and demand that they take more power and control in order to keep them Protected and Safe.  A citizenry drowning in fear and fixated on Safety to the exclusion of other competing values can only be degraded and depraved."

The degrading effects of terrorism fears (Glenn Greenwald)

Wherein I Succumb to a Internet iPod List Meme

You can learn a lot about someone by the music they listen to. Hit shuffle on your iPod or mp3 player and write down the first 25 songs. No cheating or skipping songs that are shameful. That is the fun!

  1. Beatles - Back in the USSR
  2. Led Zeppelin - Sick Again
  3. Neil Young - Lookout Joe
  4. Sarah McLachlan - Fumbling Towards Ectasy
  5. Muggs - White Boy Blues
  6. DuKe Ellington - Pyramid (Cootie Williams and his Rug Cutters)
  7. RotoR - Transporter
  8. Traffic - Shootout At The Fantasy Factory
  9. Mixtape - audite_-_choen_dabbish_2.mp3
  10. Kocani Orkestar - Ederlezi Avela
  11. Creation Rebel - Give Me Power (Feat. Jah Woosh)
  12. Robert Johnson - Malted Milk
  13. Of Montreal - She's A Rejecter
  14. Audio Active - coolness in my foolishness
  15. Miles Davis - Capricorn
  16. Rolling Stones - Gimme Shelter
  17. Nicky Thomas - Love Of The Common People
  18. Tom Waits - Goin' Out West
  19. Pinch - Lazurus
  20. AC/DC - Give The Dog A Bone
  21. Frank Sinatra - My Kind Of Town
  22. Richard Thompson - Two Left Feet
  23. Oumou Sangare - Wayana
  24. Astor Piazzolla - Milonga del Angel
  25. Eagles of Death Metal - Speaking In Tongues
Via my girl's got miraculous technique :killingbambi:lottieeeee:indieboy:tijanaxx:staaaaciiiieeee:samyoung: insidealeosbrain

Best Mashups 2009

Culture Bully - Top Mashups of 2009
Mash-Up Your Bootz Party "Best of 2009"
Best of Bootie 2009

Video Sampler: