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October 31, 2003
Take back the night

Or, as the case may be, the afternoon.

Makes you proud, doesn't it?

Posted by AnneZook at 03:16 PM | Comments (1)
On the other hand

If Republicans keep making stupid remarks out loud, the Dems may have to start sending them thank-you gifts for the votes the Left will garner.

And, reading the invaluable Avedon Carol, I'm reminded once again of how peculiar it is to me that Conservatives fear sex more than death.

I'm not much of a joiner, or I might join Feminists Against Censorship myself. Having read, and seen, a fair amount of the stuff for one reason and another, I can attest that what this country really needs is better porn, not necessarily no porn.

Anyhow, what is it with people who refuse to acknowledge that thousands of years' worth of attempts at repression have completely failed to eradicate humanity's interest in doin' the deed and that, just maybe, it's time to stop pretending it's not a lot of fun?

Porn isn't competition for women, most porn doesn't promote brutality toward women (okay, we're talking middle-of-the-road vanilla porn here. I'm aware of the existence of...more exotic interests but I don't care to try and define "good" porn and "bad" porn right now) and it's not some outbreak that's symptomatic of the decline of modern civilization.

Okay. Let's move on.

Read Sebastian coming at the question of Conservatives and race from the Right.

Daniel Drezner has some sane and calming thoughts on the 'scandal' of big political donors getting lucrative government contracts.

And Andrew Olmstead has a short post that gives us what should be an obvious truth. Instead of screaming, liar, liar and debating semantic nuances, we really need to focus on the issues. Unfortunately, as most of us know, this doesn't pass muster with the vast body of USofA voters who seem to retain only the sensationalist sound-bites they hear on the evening news.

Via Elayne, check out Lipson's LEGO® Escher structure.

Unsurprisingly I don't often agree with Stephen's politics, but I always check out his recipes and today's looks very good, indeed. I wonder if I cook it on a grill? I have another week to go on this stupid diet and nothing fried, not even in a wok, is permissible right now.

(By the way, I am Atrios, okay?)

Posted by AnneZook at 10:36 AM | Comments (2)
Like Lemmings Over A Cliff

Why do lemmings thrown themselves suicidally over cliffs? Well, like many other stories "everyone knows" it turns out this is a myth.

Ah, well. Let's move on.

Reading Emma on Bush's flightsuit-clad PR trick, I find myself whining, why didn't I write that?

The speech was basically one of the most overripe displays of vainglory ever uttered by a president.

Of all the easy ways to get good PR, it seems that someone in the White House would realize that attending soldiers' funerals, even just one or two of them, is one of the easiest. It's also, I think, a necessary and fitting gesture of respect and honor for the troops sent into a hard, long battle. Too bad the Bush Administration doesn't seem to agree. To be fair, the article doesn't mention how many times, historically, Presidents have made such a gesture but that doesn't change my perception that what the Administration is most concerned with is trying to pretend that "Bush" and "dead soldiers" aren't in any way connected.

I also think that the media blackout on the returning bodies is a disgrace. It's precisely that sort of behavior that gives rise to the comparisons to Vietnam. (No, this is not another Vietnam. Not right now. But parallel Administration behaviors do tend to bring up old memories.)

In the absence of any, you know, actual terrorists, Ashcroft is still persecuting environmentalists. It's a pity that with all of that money he hasn't been able to find any real criminals to justify either his appointment or the formation of the Big Brother Homeland Security agency.

Matt Yglesias on the difference between Conservatives and Liberals:

Roughly speaking, conservatives think more people should be sent to jail for longer periods of time, while liberals believe crime can more effectively be controlled by programs aimed at prevention and rehabilitation.

(He goes on to make a good case for both perspectives.)

By the way, the military is about to hold its first terrorism trial. I doubt we'll be allowed to hear any of the details.

Are things improving in Argentina? I've been following the story of the trials they've been having and there's a very interesting situation developing down there.

I finally found a story about the Zimbabwe doctors' strike today.

To everyone's surprise (not), it seems that those buying up Iraq's assets may find themselves in international legal trouble. (It wouldn't happen to a nicer bunch of thieving profiteers.)

There's a blatant bias in this article about international funding for 'reconstruction' in Iraq, but there's also some food for thought.

There's less bias, and even more food for thought in the idea of making defense contractors and profiting investors fight the wars they support so eagerly.

And, hey, annoy a Conservative. Link to and read the excerpts of the Clinton interview available on-line. I'm going to buy the magazine so I can read it all.

Here's a view of a different kind of Muslim society. And here's a view of a war over dress code and what it says about a country and a culture.

I heard a long piece on NPR a couple of weeks ago about the psychological stresses of combat and the effects on soldiers long after the bullets stop flying. It included some history of the years-long fight to get Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) recognized as a real mental health issue. Today, supposedly, the military is on the lookout for overstressed soldiers and is implementing a help system that anyone (unless they want a promotion some day) can use. It's a pity that not everyone in the military was told that policy had changed, isn't it?

While we're watching out for Human Rights around the world, let us not forget the abuses that happen inside our own borders. In any sane world, someone would have gone to court to stop that man by now. That's he's doing it is offensive enough. Gloating is....it makes me sick.

For a little Friday Fun, go read QuickTakes.

Your government at work News Item: Bush administration awards no-bid Iraq contracts to Halliburton. News Item: Halliburton reports 400 percent increase in profits. The system works.
Posted by AnneZook at 09:11 AM | Comments (0)
October 30, 2003
Add me to the list

I support Atrios, okay?

I saw nothing wrong with the entry on Luskin and obviously Atrios is not responsible for what people say in his comments section.

His offer to delete specifically offensive comments was, to coin a phrase, a 'fair and balanced' attempt to treat Luskin with more respect than, quite frankly, I think Luskin treats Krugman.

For that matter, and I can say this openly because I'm an invisible dot on the horizon of blogdom, I think Luskin is a wingnut whose highly partisan, unbalanced writing does a disservice to the rational body of conservatives that do, in fact, exist in this country.

I'd like to be added to the list of supporters (or 'commenters').

And I'll be contributing to a legal fund, should one become necessary.

We need to be careful. It seems, more and more, that this asylum country is gradually being taken over by the lunatics lunatic fringe.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:22 AM | Comments (0)
Things I find interesting

Via Bengt at off_topic, I've added UNWire to my list of sites to check every day. (I need to get my blogroll updated.)

The Award for the Most Interesting Site I Found By Myself (okay, Google helped) has to be Namebase.org. Obviously I've barely skimmed a fraction of the information there, but I think the site deserves some attention. I don't completely understand what it is they're trying to do, but the collection of links and documents they're gathering is fascinating. For instance, here's Enron information.

Transnationale is another interesting site I just discovered, but I haven't yet decided if I'd want or need such detailed information on a corporation often enough to warrant paying about $175 for a year's access.

Those with an interest in the healthcare system and the recent, somewhat frightening history of the corporate version in the USofA might want to browse through the Corporate Healthcare Home Page. Seems to be maintained by Michael Wynne at an Australian university.

Fairness.com seems to be going through a major upgrade, but the main page promises they'll be back on October 30.

Blogwise, those of you not yet reading Riverbend really should go over and read her 10/29 entry, if nothing else.

Me, I say if the Right gets really torqued about you, got gotta be hitting them where it hurts, so you go, Krugman.

The gist of Turkey's decision to withhold troops is, I'd suspect, a lot more a result of the 80% of their citizens who strongly opposed the move than the declared "ineptitude" of the USofA post-invasion plan. (Not that said ineptitude isn't a good reason, in and of itself.) I don't think the government wanted to be seen as bowing to pressure, even internal pressure, but I'd be surprised if the overwhelming opposition wasn't a major factor.

Is it a joke if is isn't funny? If it's not only not funny, but a degrading racial slur made to a fourth-grader? Forget the "temporary transfer" idea and fire Gail Kaplan.

Election Day. It's coming soon (next Tuesday) to a polling booth near you. Vote.

I don't always agree with the IPA's coverage of Bush claims versus the facts but there's good reading and good links, so give the page a try.

Headlinewise, I read that Bush is embarrassed and, no doubt, aggravated that his Administration can't get their words and their actions to match.

And while I don't doubt that someone, somewhere, has what they think is a rational explanation for some of the weird things we do, I have to admit that I find reports like this both infuriating and embarrassing.

This column provides a fascinating look at the machinations going on inside of Russia's government.

I'm still following the story of the so-called 'Patriot Act' cases appearing before the Supreme Court. Igt's not easy, because they're all so secret no one knows what most of them are, but I'm trying.

I haven't found any coverage of it online yet (short of time today) but this morning on NPR I heard that Zimbabwe's doctors and nurses are out on strike. The government, such as it is, sent in military doctors to some hospitals to help with the wounded, but many of the hospitals are having to close anyhow. They don't have food or medicine. With a 70% unemployment rate, Zimbabwe had it bad already.

Here at home, George Will argues in favor of the death penalty. He acknowledges that DNA tests prove that innocent people get convicted of capital crimes, but he also argues that some crimes (where, one supposes, actual proof of, you know, guilt, are too heinous not to put someone to death for.

Locally, we've got a sort of sleet/snow thing going on this morning, which has been an enormous help to those fighting the fires around Denver.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:53 AM | Comments (3)
October 29, 2003
Skimming the news

Heh. Color me so sorry that Flight Suit Boy is finding that that blatant PR ploy is causing him problems as the war drags on. Does he really think he can get away with revisionism when we have the whole thing on tape?

Not surprisingly, Molly Ivins is all over the idea of offering PR instead of solutions.

And, for those not yet tired of the subject, here's an offering from Kenny Ausubel on Conservative PR efforts.

(By the way, research says the number of civilian casualties during the Iraq invasion are around 13,000. Actually, it's between 11-15,000. There's no way to be more precise since the DoD decided dead civilians don't count and consequently didn't count them.

I don't think all of these count as "civilian casualties of war, but certainly the story does speak to the idea that peace does not reign in Baghdad.

As does this story:

FALLUJAH, Iraq (AP) - A car bomb exploded Tuesday near a police station on a major street in the tense city of Fallujah, killing at least four people, police said. The attack came a day after a series of suicide bombings in Baghdad left about three dozen dead.

Here's a discussion of strategy in Iraq. Or, rather, of options we've chosen to refuse.

In Liberia, their 'liberation' from Charles Taylor isn't quite a done deal. Have you been reading this diary of an aid worker?

Along with the news that 11 of the remaining 13 Russian miners have been rescued comes the news of yet another mine explosion.

Meanwhile, in the country's far east, an explosion in a mine in the Primorye region claimed five lives. Another 66 miners were rescued after an explosion in the "Tsentralnaya Mine" in the town of Partizansk,

And Texas Democrats have not yet given up the redistricting fight.

Bend it like Cheney.

The good news is that the company that makes those Cross pen and pencil sets we all seem to get for graduation at some point is doing well enough that they're moving into new headquarters. The bad news, of course, is that said headquarters and the company's jobs are moving to China. Here's a related story about the importance of a city's corporate base.

There's no point in a lot of random linking. Just read everything on Common Dreams today. (If you don't have time for all of it, read this fable.)

From an e-mail I received:

Some miscreants are now selling, for 300 clams, a device that mimics the doohickey fire trucks and ambulances have to change traffic lights green as they approach. The authorities use these to get to actual emergencies and save lives, but the bozos who buy these just want to get around faster. Hey! Slimeball! We all want to get there faster! And what happens when two of them approach the same intersection at the same time? This would be worse than two teens fighting for the remote during Monday Night Football/7th Heaven.

There is, in fact, no end to the dangerously egocentric selfishness of some people.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:35 AM | Comments (0)
October 28, 2003
Etc., etc., etc.

More on how we helped create the ugly mess that is the modern Middle East.

We have a history of supporting repressive regimes, okay? More than that, we have actively pursued a foreign policy of placing despots in power and keeping them there.

It goes far beyond the Administration currently in power. The citizens of this country need to pay more attention to world events and to demand more transparency in what our government is doing, and why.

Well, well. Those two 'civilians' killed the other day, the ones rumored to be CIA employees except that the Agency denied ever having heard of them and said they worked for the State Department, except State said not? Turns out they were CIA employees.

Is Clark's support ebbing? Are Democrats, as this article says, now actually looking for a Liberal candidate?

Lookee! Lookee! From Mark Evanier, another example of fandom going pro.

Michael Reaves has two new projects out. He was an editor of Shadows Over Baker Street, an anthology of original stories by various authors, including Neil Gaiman. This is the book that asks the musical question: What would happen if Sherlock Holmes and Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos crossed paths?

Unlike most of the fandom-related stories I cite, this one annoyed me. Of all the kinds of fandom stories I dislike, crossovers (mixing two disparate universes) are the type I probably dislike most.

And, finally and sadly, there are homeless gnomes in France. They're gonna need an adopt-a-gnome program. Every gnome deserves a good home.

Posted by AnneZook at 04:36 PM | Comments (1)

Is the economy letting you down? Has the recovery so far been less than you'd hoped for? Well, never fear. There's a new < ahref="http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/10/28/politics/main580352.shtml" target="new">$128 billions corporate tax cut under consideration. Because everyone knows that someone raising four kids on $18,000 a year really benefits when IBM and WalMart pay less in taxes.

Seriously, part of the disagreement is over whether the tax cut should go to domestic businesses or multinationals. Multinationals do employ more people but the last time they got a tax cut, they celebrated by moving jobs out of the USofA and increasing the value of Dick's Halliburton holdings, so maybe that's not the best way to increase the deficit improve the economy.

The BBC leads with the latest attack in Iraq. I know I haven't said much about these attacks recently, so let me say that I really do think a lot of them are being carried out by foreign extremists who have entered Iraq specifically for the purpose. I'd think that bin Laden and his ilk are thrilled that they no longer have to find the resources to send people to the USofA to kill us.

Those extremists may do what Bush&Co have been unable to do. They may mobilize the world to help in Iraq.

But maybe not, if Bush continues to insist that the escalating death toll is a sign of how well things are going, because no one overseas seems to want to ally themselves with someone that blindly stubborn. If we can get the man and his cronies out of office the world would undoubtedly be more willing to step in.

Someone needs to because we're already busy creating the next Iraq. (Once again, proof that you ought to read the newspapers, or turn on the evening news, yourself and not rely upon the sanitized or dismissive reports of underlings.)

Max Boot in a display of historical idiocy, compares the coverage of Iraq with a theoretical story on D-Day and pretends to find a direct parallel between the imperialist ambitions of the Nazis and Hussein.

He also thinks it's bogus for the media to write about deaths in Iraq because more people die of other causes than die of an enemy bullet. He's kind of an idiot.

From today's QuickTakes.

Step right this way

Syria's foreign minister on why Syria has been unable to stop terrorists from crossing the border into Iraq:
"They are very determined and many of them dream of seeing an American tank."

We must do everything we can to help them achieve their dream.

I'm actually okay with that sentiment. At least, at the moment I am.

I don't know. Maybe a single state is the solution for the Israel – Palestine problem. That's a problem I've been considering for over a year now, and I'm no smarter today than I was when I started really focusing on it.

And The Weekly Standard seems to be staffed by idiots. This is only a "christian nation" if (a) you're, you know, one of them, and (b) you're more obsessed with labels than lives. (But maybe I'm just persecuting those whose belief systems don't match mine.)

I wonder if we'll ever know the truth about Farhan?

The next time you fly, don't give them the money for that paid audio news program, okay? It's an advertising scam.

“The public has a right to know that these programs are not fair and balanced presentations of controversial political topics, but rather are advertising vehicles for corporate America. Right now, listeners on airlines are deceived into believing they are hearing from the most informed guests possible, when in fact, programming is limited to guests who can afford to pay. Public interest groups like ours are completely priced out. We hope the FTC takes appropriate steps to remedy this situation.”

Will the next war in the Côte d'Ivoire be over cell phones?

I wonder if the Powers That Be regret the arrest of Mikhail Khodorkovsky. now that it's caused their market to meltdown? I wonder what Putin and the other hardliners are up to? (Those of you who are under 30 probably don't know how astonished us older folks are to see such open debate and criticism in Russia, but I assure you it sometimes just stuns me.)

Drat...conference call time.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:00 AM | Comments (0)
October 27, 2003
Mostly other stories

For those in need of a little amusement, check out the QuickTakes update.

At 5/4", I'm not tall, but I'd still like to have a Knee Defender. People who lean their seats back on airlines drive me nuts. I have about eight inches of space in front of me when I'm flying and as far as I'm concerned, someone shoving their seat into my face is an intrusion on my personal space. It makes it essentially impossible to use the tray table (for those of us working or wanting something to drink during the flight), to get anything out of the luggage under the seat in front of you, or (for those stuck in inside seats), to let someone out of the row. Plus which, I'm a bit claustrophobic and having someone's seat back four inches from my face gives me the heebie-jeebies. I say, stop making seats that recline. If, at 5'4", I find myself banging my knees on the seat in front of me when it's reclined, I hate to think how painful it must be for a tall person.

13 of the Russian miners are still missing but I'm glad for the ones who have been rescued already.

Is USofA firm Bechtel aiding and abetting terrorism by working with a terrorist front company? Or is the arms' length relationship of Bechtel's partner with a designated terrorist front company enough to keep this Halliburton subsidiary out of trouble? I'm beginning to wonder if those claiming Halliburton and all of its offspring are the spawn of evil might have a point.

To be sure, who gets put on Treasury's "terrorist" list is not exactly a strict science, legal experts say. Georgetown law professor David Cole notes that "groups are designated behind closed doors, in a secret process, without any notice, without any hearing and even without any substantive criteria for what counts as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist. It's just a term the Bush Administration made up."

This Administration holds secret meetings and makes stuff up. Big surprise to all of us.

Michael Moore is very popular in Germany but his appeal, as the article points out, is largely negative.

Israel is failing to honor its part of the bargain under the Bush Administration's so-called 'road map' for peace.

Over in Iraq, someone is commemorating the onset of their religious season with a wave of mass murder. Here's a list of recent attacks. (It doesn't include all deaths or injuries from fighting, just "attacks.")

Also for the list-inclined, here's a list of 9/11-related cases at the Supreme Court. Some consider the absence of such cases until now are a pattern of the Court staying out of Bush's 'war on terror' but me, I think that it just takes a while for a case, almost any case to work it's way through the system and up to the Supreme Court.

Check out Darkening of a Nation.

Basic civil liberties are in dire jeopardy when anti-terrorist laws are used for day-to-day policing

The U.K. is having a few Patriot-Act-style problems of its own. Their crisis moment came about a decade ago and Cohen says they've been living under authoritarianism since then.

And the LATimes, a publication not known for pulling its punches, educates the California citizenry about the connection between the hated "car tax" and the hard-working firemen and policemen even now battling the killer fire sweeping across the southern part of the state.

What kind of an idiot feeds a baby french fries and soft drinks anyhow?

[...] research showed soft drinks were being placed into the bottles of infants as young as seven months old, and most toddlers between 19 and 24 months old consumed sweets "at least once a day."

Once again, I consider lobbying for a law that says people who demonstrate a lack of basic common sense shouldn't be allowed to breed.

I'm really considering very carefully whether these are all unacceptable racial remarks or whether some of them are just a case of race having become such an "untouchable" topic in this country that even a mention of having noticed that different people have different skin colors is enough to get you into big trouble.

Some of the incidents (the gorilla remark) are clearly racist. Others (it pains me to say this, but Limbaugh and the football player) might simply be a case of someone too stupid to communicate clearly.

His actual point wasn't racist in my eyes. (It hurts to say this. Really it does.) In querying whether or not there's a double-standard for how sports figures are covered by the media, he was, in my opinion, bringing up a legitimate topic.

After all, if we're never allowed to mention race, just how are we going to discuss the appalling inequity between the number of minority professional sports stars and the number of minority coaches and owners?

The article mentions a "zero tolerance" for controversial statements...but I disagree with that. I disagree very, very strongly. If we can't discuss these issues, how do we know where problems exist?

Posted by AnneZook at 09:41 AM | Comments (0)