Saturday, April 28, 2007

Lieutenant General William E. Odom, U.S. Army (Ret.) delivers the Democratic Radio Address

The Democratic Party: "'The challenge we face today is not how to win in Iraq; it is how to recover from a strategic mistake: invading Iraq in the first place. The war could never have served American interests.

'But it has served Iran's interest by revenging Saddam Hussein's invasion of Iran in the 1980s and enhancing Iran's influence within Iraq. It has also served al Qaeda's interests, providing a much better training ground than did Afghanistan, allowing it to build its ranks far above the levels and competence that otherwise would have been possible.

'We cannot 'win' a war that serves our enemies interests and not our own. Thus continuing to pursue the illusion of victory in Iraq makes no sense. We can now see that it never did.

'A wise commander in this situation normally revises his objectives and changes his strategy, not just marginally, but radically. Nothing less today will limit the death and destruction that the invasion of Iraq has unleashed."

Global Warming - Carbon Dioxide - Environment - Climate Change - Air Pollution - New York Times

Global Warming - Carbon Dioxide - Environment - Climate Change - Air Pollution - New York Times: "“The worst of the carbon-offset programs resemble the Catholic Church’s sale of indulgences back before the Reformation,” said Denis Hayes, the president of the Bullitt Foundation, an environmental grant-making group. “Instead of reducing their carbon footprints, people take private jets and stretch limos, and then think they can buy an indulgence to forgive their sins.”"

book notes

Blind Into Baghdad by James Fallows

Within months of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the military set up a school at the U. of Virginia to train and plan for the military government of Germany and Japan. In contrast, the Iraq invaders believed their own bs, seeing themselves as liberators, not occupiers.

Postwar planning was an impediment to war -- because detailed thought about the post-war situation meant facing costs and potential problems and thus weakening the case for launching a "war of choise" (esp. if the data generated by planning were leaked by the press by the State Dept.)

Rumsfeld making detailed last minute adjustment to the TPFDD (war plan) to cut troop numbers was, in the Army's view, like pulling cogs at random out of a machine.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Sex doll for dogs

Monday, April 23, 2007

Sopranos 6.15 "Remember When" notes

Tony dismisses "remember when..." as a the lowest form of conversation

There was the parallel stories of Tony and Paulie vs. "Anthony" and Junior. The kid admired Junior, was gratified in being drawn into his orbit and collaborating with him, compared him to his father, and became disenchanted with him in his age and weakness, and ultimately became homicidally rageful at him. Tony looked up to Paulie, being awed by him as a kid, also used Paulie as a vehicle to consider his relationship to is father, also became and continues become disenchanted with Paulie's flaws and mannerisms, becomes (almost) homicidally angry at him. I think the key to the episode is the difference between the two stories. What accounts for Tony's impulse control at the end (not killing Paulie), in contrast to the total lack of control shown by the kid who simply could not handle the severe disappointment with Junior?

Tony's a guy who, in the past 2 episodes, has been disappointed by Bobby and Chrissy (loved that he's still so embarassed by Cleaver that it "didn't occur to him" to bring a copy for Beansie, only a hat), and now he's disappointed by his own memories. Paulie's the guy he looked up to and idolized - sometimes wishing Paulie was his father, no less - and now he's just a doddering idiot who doesn't know when to shut up and barks laughter at Three's Company. Maybe there was an allusion to AJ in his underwear giggling at his instant messager to emphasize the point, but I sort of got the sense in that scene that Tony was thinking to himself, "I once wanted this buffoon to be my dad? I once wanted to BE this sad old guy?"

If Tony's current life is a result of hero-worshipping and wanting to emulate people like his dad and Paulie, and he understands now that the reality of Paulie is that he's imperfect almost to the point of being intolerable... then what does that imply about his dad? What was the point of these 25 years since he "made his bones"?

Junior appears to have accepted the equivalent of a chemical lobotomy in order to avoid a harsher facility.

From Slate: "Most telling is the fact that Carter Chong's subsequent violent flip-out is triggered when Uncle Junior fails to live up to his celebrity killer-mob-star status. Chong had wanted to become Uncle Junior's junior partner. When Uncle Junior agrees to numb himself out with meds, a disillusioned Chong violently attacks the Soprano mobster for this betrayal.

What that outburst suggests to me is that The Sopranos' creators are acknowledging that making violent goons whose whole lives are essentially one long killing spree—they don't kill 32 at a time, but they've probably killed a comparable number in their lifetime—seem so sympathetic, even in some ways admirable ("family" values, etc.), might have real-world consequences. As Chong's mother puts it, "You're becoming a bully," and it's because of "that gangster."

Almost as if in their final season they're engaging in what I would call laudable introspection, though some might see it as admitting to feeling guilt."

Maybe admitting guilt. Maybe criticizing that audience segment that watches the Sopranos mostly for the casual violence and are upset when it's not in an episode.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Jeremy Blachman's Weblog: 2007: Bad People

Jeremy Blachman's Weblog: 2007: Bad People: "It's quite something to be an awful person, and at the same time stupid enough to write into the New York Times, using your full name. Unless someone's playing a terrible practical joke on Harvey Hauswirth of Provincetown, Massachusetts, he deserves whatever terrible fate befalls him after this appalling letter in the Ethicist column:"

Sopranos 6.14 "Stage 5" notes

Carmine Jr is priceless.." The sacred and the propane"?

Doctor in jail telling Johnny he killed his wife..and her aunt..and the mailman.Completely hilarious how he kept on calmly tallying up his victims.

What struck me most about this episode was the seaminess of mob life, the "let down" at the end of the "ride." One saw it in Gerry's bullet-riddled body, Sack's cancer-ridden body, while stuck behind bars, and Phil's exhaustion. I thought Carmine's speech to Tony was a great moment--and a telling one.

I know Chase has misled us in the past--and maybe he has this time too---but I really think that this series is going to end with the Mob turning on Tony, and Tony turning on the Mob and the terrorists. I think the terrorists are Tony's way out---to a better life. But I don't think he's getting out unscathed.

"Isaac Newton, some asshole hits him with an apple and he discovers gravity." First of all, it is so Christopher to automatically equate being struck by an object with "some asshole" having thrown the object - ha. And, as I realized later, not only is it funny because of its intimation of Christopher character's constant feeling that people are assholes and he is always getting hit with something, but also because if some asshole threw the apple in the first place, that doesn't explain gravity!

The "Saw"-inspired gore film that seperates Tony and Christopher (because of Christopher's revenge fantasy) is titled "Cleaver" which, in addition to being a murder weapon, also means to separate.

The writer JT tries to fool Tony into thinking the revenge fantasy was inspired by the movie "Born Yesterday" To which, Tony shows he wasn't born yesterday, asking what happended to JT's face. Since JT was forced to try to fool Tony, perhaps his selection of "Born Yesterday" was an intentional signal.

Tony to Dr. Melfi: "I've been coming here for years. I know too much about the subconscious now."

I see Johnny's final days as very instructive about what is happening with Tony and Phil - Johnny's shock to the system was getting pinched, Tony's was getting shot, and Phil had his heart attack. Immediately after, they all decided to ease back - Johnny to quit smoking and clean up his diet, Tony decided to cut out (down?) the running around, and both Tony and Phil decided to be more appreciative of life. (Well, at least their own.) But too little, too late doesn't change the person you've made yourself into. Quitting smoking for a few months after 38 years didn't erase the cancer that'd been building in Johnny's lungs. In this ep, Johnny Sac's character was used brilliantly to show that a sudden change of heart doesn't absolve you of the consequences of your lifestyle, and that change is hard to sustain, and ultimately, you will fall back into the "old habits" Chrissy talked about with his new sponsor, if for no other reason than because it's easy. The tempatations are even worse for Johnny, Tony, and Phil -these are men who have become accustomed to getting what they want through instant gratification. Johnny quit smoking and it didn't immediately make his cancer go away, so he gave in and went back to it. Phil is clearly ready to give up on "the rules" and give in to his vengeful nature. Tony has learned a lot, but he's even slipping. He says at the premiere that he KNOWS spicy food will agitate his condition, but earlier in the ep we saw him eating it (and it bothering him) anyway, because damnit he's still the virile head of the family and he should be able to consume whatever he wants. "What's mine is mine, and what's yours is mine," as his Cleaver counterpart says.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

book notes

Cows, Pigs, Wars and Witches by Marvin Harris

Pork may have have been outlawed by Middle Eastern religions because, in addition to pigs being maladaptive livestock for a desert environment, pigs competed with humans for the same kind of foods: fruits, nuts, tubers, grain. Like humans, they can't digest grass. In a subsistence-level economy, the rich could divert food from the poor to support the rich's taste for pork.

War in primitive societies served as population control but did not do so by killing males. Males are irrelevant to population growth. Rather, the threat of war put a social premium on having boys rather than girls, thereby reducing the girl population through infaside, malnourishment, or neglect. Fewer girls limit population growth.

Edwards' Haircuts Cost a Pretty Penny | The Huffington Post

Edwards' Haircuts Cost a Pretty Penny | The Huffington Post: "WASHINGTON — Looking pretty is costing John Edwards' presidential campaign a lot of pennies. The Democrat's campaign committee picked up the tab for two haircuts at $400 each by celebrity stylist Joseph Torrenueva of Beverly Hills, Calif., according to a financial report filed with the Federal Election Commission.

FEC records show Edwards also availed himself of $250 in services from a trendy salon and spa in Dubuque, Iowa, and $225 in services from the Pink Sapphire in Manchester, N.H., which is described on its Web site as 'a unique boutique for the mind, body and face' that caters mostly to women.

Edwards, 53, who has made alleviating poverty the central theme of candidacy, has been criticized for building a 28,000-square-foot house for $5.3 million near Chapel Hill, N.C. The complex of several buildings on 102 acres includes an indoor basketball court, an indoor pool and a handball court."

As if politicians weren't bad enough Corzine: Comments: "Corzine was late for a meeting (between--guess who!?!--Don Imus and the Rugters women's basketball team). So his driver rushed him through traffic. At ridiculously high speeds. And caused a serious accident.

When you live in the D.C. area, this kind of thing happens all the time (not the accident, the VIPs taking over the road), and just from personal observation, I'd say it's happening more frequently. There seems to be an increasing feeling among many politicians that their meetings, their business, and their appointments are somehow more important than everyone else's. Therefore, they can fly down highways, ignore red lights, and purge everyone else to the side of the roadway. If they can get their own police escort or caravan, even better."

Monday, April 16, 2007

I was against my candidacy before I was for it

9NEWS - Article - Kerry reopens door to possible presidential run: "DENVER - Sen. John Kerry (D-Massachusetts) reopened the door to a possible 2008 presidential campaign during a book signing in Denver and then again, in an interview with 9NEWS.

'Could that change?' Kerry said. 'It might. It may change over years. It may change over months. I can't tell you, but I've said very clearly I don't consider myself out of it forever.'"

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Finally, he bagged one!

Air Force Two Hits Bird Near Chicago - New York Times: "WASHINGTON (AP) -- Air Force Two carrying Vice President Dick Cheney struck a bird as the plane neared O'Hare International Airport on Friday. The aircraft landed safely."

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Fox forgets his sentence's noun: Nobody

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Phelps Family Sings!

MTV News | Snoop Says Rappers And Imus Are 'Two Separate Things'; Talks New Comp

MTV News | Snoop Says Rappers And Imus Are 'Two Separate Things'; Talks New Comp: "'It's a completely different scenario,' said Snoop, barking over the phone from a hotel room in L.A. '[Rappers] are not talking about no collegiate basketball girls who have made it to the next level in education and sports. We're talking about ho's that's in the 'hood that ain't doing sh--, that's trying to get a n---a for his money. These are two separate things. First of all, we ain't no old-ass white men that sit up on MSNBC [which announced Wednesday it would drop its simulcast of Imus' radio show] going hard on black girls. We are rappers that have these songs coming from our minds and our souls that are relevant to what we feel. I will not let them mutha----as say we in the same league as him.'"

Monday, April 09, 2007

Vice President's new grandson

Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts - For the Edwards Kids, It's Time for Stump School - "It'll be a boy for Mary Cheney! Her dad revealed the gender of his future grandchild yesterday during an interview with ABC News Radio.

'I'm delighted I'm about to be a grandparent for the sixth time,' said Dick Cheney. 'I'm looking forward to the arrival of a new grandson.' The veep confirmed that the baby is due next month; this will be the first child for Mary and partner Heather Poe, and the third grandson for the Cheneys.

But he wasn't touching the question about the same-sex family's legal standing. 'I think each state ought to have the capacity to decide how they want to handle those issues,' he said. ' . . . And I obviously think it's important for us as a society to be tolerant and respectful of whatever arrangements people enter into.'"

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Clinton sleaze: lying about money

ABC News: EXCLUSIVE: Obama Bests Clinton in Primary Fundraising: "April 4, 2007— ABC News has learned that the $23.5 million Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., raised for his presidential campaign for use in the primaries is more than that raised by the Democratic frontrunner, Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y.

Of the $26 million Clinton has raised in the first quarter of 2007 for her presidential campaign, approximately $20 million is to be used in the primaries and caucuses, sources told ABC News.

Clinton campaign officials cautioned that its campaign was still ascertaining how much of its $26 million raised is available for primary use."

Monday, April 02, 2007

Blowback + incompetence

The botched US raid that led to the hostage crisis - Independent Online Edition > Middle East: "A failed American attempt to abduct two senior Iranian security officers on an official visit to northern Iraq was the starting pistol for a crisis that 10 weeks later led to Iranians seizing 15 British sailors and Marines.

Early on the morning of 11 January, helicopter-born US forces launched a surprise raid on a long-established Iranian liaison office in the city of Arbil in Iraqi Kurdistan. They captured five relatively junior Iranian officials whom the US accuses of being intelligence agents and still holds.

In reality the US attack had a far more ambitious objective, The Independent has learned. The aim of the raid, launched without informing the Kurdish authorities, was to seize two men at the very heart of the Iranian security establishment."

Book notes

The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan

A lot of the prairie sod was busted for wheat production in anticipation of WW1. Prices remained high in the 1920's on account of poor Russian harvests. Then they collapsed in the 30's because of record American production + resurgence of Russian harvests.

Boise City, Oklahoma, was created as a real estate scam. Boise is French for trees. Just as Greenland had no green when it was named, Boise City had no trees.

Many ethnic Germans were recruited from the Russian steppes to farm the south prairie of America. These German farmers were first recruited to Russia by Catherine the Great (herself a German) with promises of waivers from taxes and military service, promises later reneged by Alexander II.

April 19, 1935 "The senators went to the window. Early afternoon in mid-April and it was getting dark. The sun over the Senate Office Building vanished. The air took on a copper hue as light filtered through the furry of dust. . .'This, gentlemen, is what I'm talking about,' said Bennett. 'There goes Oklahoma' Within a day, Bennett had his money and a permanent agency to restore and sustain the health of the soil."

In keeping with the big-government projects of the time, pushed by politicians with a flair for the dramatic and no expertise, Roosevelt overruled his advisers and started a plan to plant a 100-acre strip of forest from San Antonio to Canada.

George Will: On May 10, 1934, a collection of dust storms moved over the Midwest carrying, Egan says, "three tons of dust for every American alive." It dumped 6,000 tons on Chicago that night. By morning, the storm was 1,800 miles wide -- "a great rectangle of dust" weighing 350 million tons -- and was depositing the surface of the Great Plains on New York City, where commerce stopped in the semi-darkness.

Poor Nations to Bear Brunt as World Warms - New York Times

Poor Nations to Bear Brunt as World Warms - New York Times: "“We have a message here to tell these countries, that you are causing aggression to us by causing global warming,” President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda said at the African Union summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in February. “Alaska will probably become good for agriculture, Siberia will probably become good for agriculture, but where does that leave Africa?”

Scientists say it has become increasingly clear that worldwide precipitation is shifting away from the equator and toward the poles. That will nourish crops in warming regions like Canada and Siberia while parching countries — like Malawi in sub-Saharan Africa — which are already prone to drought."

The Reality Challenged

Robert D. Novak - Thompson Is for Real - "Sophisticated social conservative activists tell me they cannot vote for Giuliani under any conditions and have no rapport with McCain or Romney. They do not view Sen. Sam Brownback, representing the social right, as a viable candidate. They are coming to see Thompson as the only conservative who can be nominated. Their appreciation of him stems not from his eight years as a U.S. senator from Tennessee but from his role as Manhattan district attorney on the TV series ' Law and Order.'"

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Glenn Greenwald - Salon

Glenn Greenwald - Salon: "Two of the three leading Republican candidates for President either embrace or are open to embracing the idea that the President can imprison Americans without any review, based solely on the unchecked decree of the President. . . What kind of American isn't just instinctively repulsed by the notion that the President has the power to imprison Americans with no charges? And what does it say about the current state of our political culture that one of the two political parties has all but adopted as a plank in its platform a view of presidential powers and the federal government that is -- literally -- the exact opposite of what this country is?"