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June 10, 2005



"Oldman" identifies himself as a lifelong Republican who has freaked over the Bushes foreign and especially economic policy. Someone who has spent a career in the Washington/NY finance/diplomatic/whatever community. By no means a Green, or even a liberal. Darkly hints at "wet" experience perhaps.

He is just a little....apocalyptic.

How am I supposed to take this stuff? Laugh at it? Call it madness? Worry? Buy bottled water and extra clips? Stop reading ummm...immoderate bloggers? Y'all know I wouldn't have to travel far to find weirdness on the right. And with all the weirdness on both sides, all the madness, well, its contagious, and maybe I won't catch it, but not so sure about the rest of you.

Along the lines of hilzoy's post, we are not in "business as usual" anymore, but how close to the edge, how far into deep water are we?

here's part of an interview with Devo's Jerry Casale (i'll just quote what BoingBoing quoted):

    VR: Going back to your early days. You were present at the Kent State shootings in 1970. How did that day affect you? JC: Whatever I would say would probably not at all touch upon the significance or gravity of the situation at this point of time--it would probably sound trite or glib. All I can tell you is that it completely and utterly changed my life. I was a white hippie boy and then I saw exit wounds from M1 rifles out of the backs of two people I knew. Two of the four people who were killed, Jeffrey Miller and Allison Krause, were my friends. We were all running our asses off from these motherf&*$#ers. It was total, utter bulls--t. Live ammunition and gasmasks - none of us knew, none of us could have imagined... They shot into a crowd that was running away from them! I sopped being a hippie and I started to develop the idea of devolution. I got real, real p--d off.

    VR: Does Neil young's "Ohio" strike close to your heart?
    JC: Of course. It was strange that the first person that we met, as Devo emerged, was Neil Young. He asked us to be in his movie, The Human Highway. It was so strange - San Francisco in 1977. Talk about life being karmic, small and cyclical - it's absolutely true. In fact I just got a call from a person organizing a 30th Anniversary commemoration. Noam Chomsky will be there and I may go talk there if I can get away. I still remember it so crystal clear, like a dream you will never forget . . . or a nightmare. I still remember every moment. It kind of went in slow motion like a car accident.

    VR: You said that the Kent State shooting sort of served as a catalyst for your theory of Devolution, which spawned Devo--
    JC: Absolutely. Until then I was a hippie. I thought that the world is essentially good. If people were evil, there was justice...and that the law mattered. All of those silly naïve things. I saw the depths of the horrors and lies and the evil. The paper that evening, the Akron Beacon Journal, said that students were running around armed and that officers had been hurt. So deputy sheriffs went out and deputized citizens. They drove around with shotguns and there was martial law for ten days. 7 PM curfew. It was open season on the students. We lived in fear. Helicopters surrounding the city with hourly rotating runs out to the West Side and back downtown. All first amendment rights are suspended at the instant the governor gives the order. All of the class-action suits by the parents of the slain students were all dismissed out of court, because once the governor announced martial law, they had no right to assemble.

whole thing here

Well, I know you're not a leg man.

Or is that speculation a Karnak violation? ;)

ooh. here's a good one:

    A House subcommittee voted yesterday to sharply reduce the federal government's financial support for public broadcasting, including eliminating taxpayer funds that help underwrite such popular children's educational programs as "Sesame Street," "Reading Rainbow," "Arthur" and "Postcards From Buster."

    In addition, the subcommittee acted to eliminate within two years all federal money for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting -- which passes federal funds to public broadcasters -- starting with a 25 percent reduction in CPB's budget for next year, from $400 million to $300 million.

$1.40 per person, per year = too much for Big Bird.

Yea, you got to love the whole public broadcasting obsession of the right.

Hey, I was listening to something on my local commie pinko public radio station the other day and heard some frightening statistics. The show was about learning disabilities and the statistics were that 40% of the women on welfare have severe learning disabilities. 70% of the men incarcerated have severe learning disabilities.

I know correlation doesn't equal causation but these statistics are frightening.

Just glad to know our "pull yourself up by the bootstraps" conservatives are right in there making darn sure there are no bootstraps.

"$1.40 per person, per year = too much for Big Bird."

On the other hand, no amount of money is too much for a parody of Boomer reading instruction like this

Either oldman's full of crap or I need to arm myself, too. Been thinking about that from time to time, but there never seemed to be a good enough reason to go buy the gun AND the gun safe AND ammo AND a firearms training class AND have to sit down with the kids and tell them that they can never, ever, ever, ever, EVER touch these things. And that in any case they were going to be locked behind something stout, and if I ever even caught them LOOKING at said stout object, they were going to....

So, no guns right now. Maybe next month.

DTM, I've watched that more times than you can imagine. It's what happens when you have young kids.


Me too. I still think it's hilarious.

Bush, ExxonMobil and the Kyoto Protocols: The Untold Story

In briefing papers given before meetings to the US under-secretary of state, Paula Dobriansky, between 2001 and 2004, the administration is found thanking Exxon executives for the company's "active involvement" in helping to determine climate change policy, and also seeking its advice on what climate change policies the company might find acceptable.
I picture GWB in a black robe speaking in a James Earl Jones voice: "I will do the bidding you find acceptible, my Master."

The American military is having a real problem getting new soldiers to fight THE MOST IMPORTANT WAR SINCE WW2...or something like that...why isn't there a movement, from the right-wingers and liberals who view this war as ESSENTIAL TO OUR SURVIVAL, to join up in this noble battle for the soul of Western civilization?

Really, why have'nt you defenders of liberty and democracy going OVER THERE, OVER THERE...or have you guys changed your minds about sacrifice and survival.

I do want to point out that Carson also had writers, guys like Pat McCormack and others, to come up with Karnak etc. (Although Carson was obviously a excellent comedy content provider himself.)

I have also heard that some of Johnny's writes had his schedule, i.e. they didn't work the weeks (and weeks) Johnny didn't work. That had to be one of the sweetest gigs ever.

eliminating taxpayer funds that help underwrite such popular children's educational programs as "Sesame Street," "Reading Rainbow," "Arthur" and "Postcards From Buster."

Let's just say I think this is targeting "Clifford, the Big Red Dog". So wrong for America, on so many levels.

Neodude: "Really, why have'nt you defenders of liberty and democracy going OVER THERE, OVER THERE...or have you guys changed your minds about sacrifice and survival."

Do you have an individual you'd like to address, or is this just posturing to the world in general?

Conceivably, someone might postulate in return that if "you guys" (whomever the heck that would be) feel that it's an illegal, immoral, war of conquest that is slaughtering hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis, you don't go put your life on the line by flying to Iraq and throwing yourself in between coalition soldiers and innocent Iraqis. Isn't that what a true, non-hypocritical defender of liberty and justice would do?

But that would be a pretty juvenile argument. People, it turns out, are actually entitled to have opinions -- public opinions, even -- without offering to die for them. But if you'd like to demonstrate that others are hypocrites, while you are not, do feel free to let us know when you're actually risking your own life in support of your opinions, rather than posturing your belief in your personal moral superiority.

I would imagine, that if this war is as imporatant as many pro-war advocates say it is...they would make sure it is faught...soldiers are needed...why ain't they sighning up to help the cause.

The military needs them, and they seem to be ignoring the call.

Thanks for the DEVO link, cleek!

"I would imagine, that if this war is as imporatant as many pro-war advocates say it is...they would make sure it is faught...soldiers are needed...why ain't they sighning up to help the cause."

I'll try one last time, but given this response of simple repetition, I don't expect a better argument than repetition the second time around: "I would imagine, that if opposing this war is as imporatant as many anti-war advocates say it is...they would make sure it is faught...anti-war activists are needed...why ain't they sighning up to help the cause by flying to Iraq and protecting Iraqis?" Why are you ignoring the call, NeoDude?

For an answer, see previous comment: because your opinion's validity doesn't rest on your willingness to risk your life to stand behind it. Do feel free to argue the opposing case, though.

Since it is an open thread, I might point at the video that I came across on quite a few Dutch blogs these days.
Are tasers really that common? I know that the police in the US are rougher that the western European police are but this is a total culture shock.

And as a firefly fan, looking forward to Serenity, I will have very different images when River will talk about 'two by two, hands of blue'. I didn't associate those with police.

The fringey link is really scarey. I got rid of my gun about a year ago. My ex bought it for me for "self protection" because I like to go on camping trips by myself. I carried it around for awhile and decided the whole paranoia thing was silly. A few common sense practices (never be alone with a male) and travel alone while female is safe. So I got rid of it. I destroyed it, basically. I really hated it and the fearfulness ownership implied.
But the point of this is that I took a gun safety class, taught at an NRA outpost out in the county. I've always been aware that the veneer of civilzation gets mightly thin out there, but I hadn't realized how thin. The folks associated with the gun class were genuinely nuts in a mean violent and totally empowered way. I mean they were very casual in their hatefulness, as if everyone would of course agree. They were obsessively paranoid--liberals were trying to take their guns, foreigners were trying to take over the country, etc. This was about fifteen years ago. So I guess I reluctantly believe that right wing militias might be forming again.

"Are tasers really that common?"

Depends what you mean. Compared to Europe, perhaps yes; certainly the growth of use has been sufficient that more and more questions are being raised about their use, or more to the point, possible mis-use (as well as their safety). On the other hand, in 46 years of living in this country, I've actually seen police pull guns on a number of occasions, and discharge them at least twice. I've never even seen a cop with a taser. Also, that greenlantern blog is rather on the wingnut-loon-hysterical side.

On Firefly, the guys with hands of blue, well, have blue hands. I'm not clear what association you're drawing with police, although obviously they're Evil Agents Of The Evil Government.


I’m not being clear and I apologize for this. My question is really not loaded with irony or sarcasm…I really would like to find out why those who believe in this war, and its cause, are ignoring the nation’s call for help. Soldiers are needed badly. It looks like people are not volunteering to fight, what many pro-war advocates see as the essential front on the war on terrorism.

I’m against this war and will do everything to bring the troops home. I do not want American troops on Iraqi soil to kill and be killed. I think this war is a sloppy land grab and ignorant PR move. (As in, “We need to send Americans to kill and be killed by Middle Easterners so that they know we are tough” or “So We kill and will be killed to spread democracy and freedom.” Which ever) ...why are those who advocate sending troops to kill and/or be killed, “because the war is just and necessary” are ignoring their nations call to defense.

Instead of defending the Administration against “strong and despicable” grammar from Amnesty International, shouldn’t they be defending the war against failure?

Troop levers are down. Why can’t they make the necessary sacrifice to see this war through? I would imagine if I believed in this war and its premises, I would advocate being part of it! If I saw this war as they do, I would be organizing fellow Americans to fight it! When WW2 began, it seemed that the draft was beside the point; Americans knew what had to be done and what needed to be sacrificed. There was moral clarity on behalf of America, at that time.

If this war is as necessary as many pro-war advocates claim, why are they shirking their patriotic duty? My patriotic duty is to get those troops home. This is an unnecessary and foolish war…I will do everything in my power to end it…it was doomed to failure from the outset…it’s foundations and justifications are weak and immoral…I will not commit my life or others to die for such reasons…THEY ARE!!!!

Gary and dutchmarbel,

I too am eagerly looking forward to Serenity.

Just from watching Firefly, though, it strikes me those "hands of blue" represent agents of a police state, "secret police," even without the taser / "blue" association. I recall once scene where they are working directly with the military in their search for River.

The imagery stands out to me -- Gary, are you perhaps afflicted with the condition described so often by Dennis Norden on My Word, "literalism"?

"...are you perhaps afflicted with the condition described so often by Dennis Norden on My Word, 'literalism'?"

I'm not familiar with Norden, or "My Word" (I see that they're apparently BBC radio, which tends to explains that), or his usage (found on the web, though), but I've said more than a few times on this very blog in recent months, let alone elsewise, that I have a strong tendency to literalism, yes (which doesn't seem to be what Norden was talking about, but that may be due to my lack of familiarity with him); it's kind of the evil twin side of my tending to have close focus on shades of meaning and distinction. (And without any official diagnosis, I probably also have a slight tad of Asperger's Syndrome.)

Oh, sorry, I knew I ran the risk of you not having heard the show. It's very funny and the stories Dennis tells based on his "literalism" are often the best.

[babbling on...] The show is old and plays on some NPR/APR stations; I guess I'm trying to say I think you might enjoy it, if you look around you can probably find it, perhaps streaming though not archived.

"I guess I'm trying to say I think you might enjoy it...."

Probably so; thank you. I certainly like word-centered stuff, although I tend to not be much of a radio person; I tend to get far too impatient with the ratio of information input compared to directly reading text (which is why I have similiar tendencies to be impatient with lectures, author readings, audiobooks, and so on; it's the downside of a fast reading speed).

I don't know about the whole of Europe, it differs from country to country. In the Netherlands tasers are only allowed against agressive animals (and officially only after permission by someone in higher rank). And I agree about the greenlantarn blog: I would not count it as a reliable source, hence my question here.

The gloves the police in the US uses are blue I saw in one of the video's - hence the blue hands (aren't those in firefly gloves too?)

"The gloves the police in the US uses are blue I saw in one of the video's...."

But there's no national police force in the US; it's all local, with a variety of levels (municipal, county, state), and no, um, uniformity in uniform. (Although I'm quite sure that blue or black gloves are more common than pink or mauve.) Blue does tend to be a police color, but so does grey, khaki, and a variety of other shades.

Alas, I don't have the Firefly DVD, although I watched the series in both original broadcast, and then again on a borrowed DVD, so I can't pull out the DVD to check. I thought I remembered literally blue hands, but a quick web-check says they were thin blue latex gloves.

As a freebie, here is an apparently rather ludicrous anecdote of tasering, which otherwise proves as much as any anecdote does. There has certainly been an ongoing increase in the acquisition and use of tasers by U.S. police forces, and a resultant set of controversies as to whether their dangers are being underestimated, are they being used too casually or frequently, and so on, and undoubtedly in some cases they are; on the other hand, if the alternative is pumping high-velocity lead through someone, that's probably not an improvement; clubbing isn't always necessarily better, either; the growth of use of tasers is certainly something to keep an eye on, but it's not exactly gotten to the point where I'd say the public yet needs to live in fear. Use of "stun-belts" in courts and prisons is of considerably greater concern to me at this time. Proliferation of public traffic cameras, say, is a far huger public concern. (Some coverage and links here, or, of course, elsewhere on the web.)

Oh, and a relevant filk song, also using a Certain Word. (Certainly the first filk song I've noticed that does, but, then, I mostly don't know from particular filk songs; that now-sub-fandom is kinda slightly down the hall from me.)

Incidentally, since this is the open thread, is it just me who has found in recent weeks that to get any page here to fully load, one has to load it twice? I'd mildly like to know if this is something on my end, browser-related, or server end, or what.

I've run into it as well, Gary. I'm using Apple's Safari browser under OS X 10.4, FWIW.

Happens to me once in a while using the latest Firefox. Always has, really. Honestly, not the first time I've wished ObWi would migrate to its own site instead of blogs.com. :)

Joseph Lelyveld on torture issues.

Phil (and others),

What's your experience with OS 10.4 been like? I know it has some very nice features, but I've also heard that it's still a bit buggy, as one might expect. Hence I'm inclined to wait just a bit. What do you think? Any problems?

So far, extremely positive. I'm running it on a G4 iBook w/640MB of RAM, and have had no noticeable bugs or problems, aside from perhaps a lengthy wakeup time from Sleep mode when I'm on battery power. Mind you, I'm not a developer or power user, so I might not be the best example. But I've been very happy with the improvements in AirPort performance, the Dashboard features, the changes in the Apple Mail reader (although the reader itself is still not as powerful as I'd like it to be), and the overall stability.

Still, Leopard is around the corner, and with the change to Intel chips coming, it might be prudent to wait if an upgrade isn't crucial.

"...with the change to Intel chips coming...."

Supposedly those won't actually show up in the consumer market until at least 2008, if I'm not garbling what I've read; as well, of course, laptops are likely to have them later than desktops, if past behavior is any lesson.

Several articles I've read have speculated as to a possible "Osborne effect" damaging Apple sales due precisely because of people thinking as you suggest; they've poo-pooed it, but I'm wondering, although not to the extent of at all thinking Apple will come close to being put out of business, like Osborne Computers was, that although surely Apple will be taking at least some hit in sales because of some wanting to hold off buying a new machine, just how large the hit, compared to if they'd not made the switch, will be. I'm not even sure that's measurable, though, and no idea how significant or significant it would be if it is.

Bernard: 10.4 is awesome. The best upgrade so far, I think (though I wasn't around for the very earliest; it's conceivable that the first major upgrade, the one that took OS X from 'should still be beta' to usable was better.)

I have always had an intermittent problem with this site -- one of the sides doesn't load, and I have to refresh -- but it existed on Panther as well. I use Safari, fwiw.

In other news: finally, the intensive course is over! It was lots of fun once I was actually in DC, since my students were really great, but never again will I agree to teach for a course in DC that starts at 9am, unless they offer me lodging. Leaving the house at 6, and driving 2 1/2 hours each way because of rush hour, is absolutely out (and would have been from the outset had I thought of the rush hour aspect when I should have, i.e. before I agreed.)

Phil and Hilzoy,

Thanks. I'm no power user either. I still have a 3+ year-old G4 desktop. It freezes up mysteriously every now and then, and sometimes this site doesn't load right with Safari, but just reloading almost always works.

New features are great, but I hate crashes much more than I like features, so I am more concerned about that. Good to hear neither of you have been having a problem.

As for Leopard and Intel, well, if we always waited six months for something better we'd never buy anything. Besides, from the point of of view of a user, it's not clear to me why the shift to Intel ought to be a bigger deal than a new OS on the current chip.

I'm a little surprised at the choice of "leopard." I guess they're afraid to go to "lion" on the theory that that's the top. What next, "cheetah," for speed, or maybe "kitty," for friendliness?

I don't think the "failure to load" is a browser problem. I'm using Mozilla under Linux on a PC and I see the same problem (the left and right sides occasionally stay blue and have no text).

Bernard: no crashes at all. It looks gorgeous. IanaPowerUser either, but: Smart folders and Searchlight are great. Searchlight finds anything on your computer containing a given word, including not just documents but e.g. appointments on your calendar -- anything. And it does it instantly: the first time I tried, I used 'Kant' (which, as you might imagine, comes up a lot for me), and it had located the several hundred things containing 'Kant' by the time I finished typing. Awesome.

Smart folders basically are search results that act like folders. Which means: you set up a folder that contains anything (or: anything of a given type; e.g., any document) including a given word (or Boolean combination of terms), and it automatically updates itself when something containing the search term appears or disappears from your hard drive. Very handy to have a folder that keeps track of every document I have containing the term 'stem cells', all by itself.

Plus it's very fast and stable, and Safari is improved, as is Mail. The speed difference was quite noticeable on the same computer.

I am told that if I were a power user, I would appreciate the extensible metadata, but, as I said, I'm not.


Yes. That's exactly the problem I have.


Thanks for the details.

You know, every time I read some phrase like "extensible metadata" I am amazed to think that I used to be a programmer - actually got paid for it and everything.

Bernard: "I used to be a programmer". -- Me too. But it was in 1981. I recall thinking to myself, when better job offers in programming started to appear, that I had to decide whether or not to commit to working in computers. Obviously, I decided not to. But in an alternate universe, there is a me that started working at Intel in 1981...

I don't think the "failure to load" is a browser problem.

It hangs up when trying to load either the typepad url or the truthlaidbare url. Googling around, I found this note for a wordpress plugin that caches your blogroll, which might help.

Good Karnakiana, but the best ever (IMHO) was:

Karnak (holding the envelope to his forehead, provides the answer):

And in the envelope, comes at last the question:
"How do you tell Marcello Mastroianni his doodah is down?"

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