3/31/08

Now this is what I call a sex scandal

The News of the World reported in a front page story that FIA president Mosley, 67, had taken part in a "sadomasochistic orgy" with five prostitutes that reportedly involved Nazi role-playing.

According to a story posted by the London-based Times Online on Monday, Mosley and others "re-enacted a concentration camp scene in which he played the role of both guard and inmate." |source|


FIA="International Automobile Federation", except frenchified.

No serenade, no fire brigade

It's pretty reasonable to think that Hillary Clinton would make a better president than Barack Obama. Wrong, but reasonable. It's also reasonable to think that, other things being equal, Clinton would be a stronger general election candidate. What doesn't seem reasonable, to me at least, is to continue to support Clinton now that it's clear that she can't win the nomination. Especially since she seems willing to sink to incredible depths of selfishness in a futile attempt to win, no matter what the effect on the Democratic Party's chances in November. I know that the Democratic Party isn't exclusively comprised of reasonable people, but surely every reasonable person who prefers Clinton but believes Obama would be okay too is going to support Obama from here on out.

What's more, as near as I can tell the Clinton campaign is running out of money, she's dropping like a rock in the polls, and the news cycle seems to be increasingly dominated by the question of Clinton's viability.

To me, things look utterly hopeless and I can't understand why she hasn't dropped out of the race. This probably just goes to show how little I understand politics but, seriously, what's going on here? I can't bring myself to believe that it's just ego.

Opening Day...

...and it looks like there won't even be any snow when the Tigers host the Royals this afternoon. For what it's worth, I predict that the Tigers will win the American League Central. You can tell that this prediction is uncolored by fan bias, since the Royals are in the same division. I predict that the Royals will finish second, half a game behind.

Update: Royals win 5-4 in 11 and I'm starting to think that maybe those worries about the Tigers bullpen are well founded.

3/26/08

Great news!


Chev Chelios (pictured) appears to have survived that fall! Or perhaps this is set in an alternate universe. Either way, according to IMDB, Jason Statham is attached to the sequel of one the finest pieces of cinema of the 21st century. I give you Crank 2: High Voltage:
Chelios faces a Chinese mobster who has stolen his nearly indestructible heart and replaced it with a battery-powered ticker that requires regular jolts of electricity to keep working.

Presumably the bionic heart has been constructed by Dwight Yoakam. Excelsior!

Normal posting to resume shortly

What I've been up to.

3/25/08

Perhaps this is my chance to be the second spy in my family

(Sorry sis, just kidding. We don't believe you are a spy. No need for more electroshock!)
In many ways, this is an artworking job like any other. But you'll have the satisfaction of knowing that the ultimate purpose of everything you do is to protect the UK. You'll also benefit from very high-quality training in your specialist skills.

We're sure you'll understand that as an organisation that collects secret intelligence, we can't tell you a great deal about what you'll be doing. However, we can tell you you'll use the skills you've developed to produce computer generated artwork for print, web and media. You'll also have the chance to rapidly develop your knowledge of pre-press and printing techniques in a fascinating work environment, within our friendly Design and Print team.

Articulate, customer-focused and helpful, you'll be the ideal addition - particularly if you've worked in a Mac-based environment using Adobe CS and Quark XPress.

Photoshop for freedom at MI6

3/24/08

And you will not believe what his father's uncle's milkman said

Apparently this is what we have to look forward to for months. Over on The Corner, as well as on the Laura Ingrahm show, they are now focused on Jeremiah Wright's spiritual mentor.

It's almost like these people live in bubble. Don't they at least read books?

3/21/08

Baby boomers for Obama

Marc Cooper on how some of them feel.
Obama’s speech came at the precise moment when I’d been mulling over his appeal to my generation of boomers. It’s been somewhat staggering for me to encounter the number of close friends of my own ’60s-generation cohort who, in the past few weeks, have been rather quietly confessing to me their own begrudging admiration for Obama.

And I do mean confessing. For those of us who grew up reading Ramparts, not Facebook, it’s somewhat uncomfortable, if not downright embarrassing, to admit to investing any real hope in a Democratic presidential candidate. It might be hard for the Millennials or even the Xers to fully grasp, but my generation was radicalized by LBJ Democrats more than by Nixon Republicans. We thought Jimmy Carter was a Southern conservative (and we were right). Bill Clinton, we thought, was the best Republican president since Ike (and I think the record confirms that notion as well).

But along came John Edwards and Obama this time around, and it was hard to deny that we were starting to hear some of the same arguments we had wearily been making over the last four decades finally coming from the presidential-campaign stump.

Not that we’ve been pushovers for Obama’s message of Change We Can Believe In. Coming to us veterans of the Gulf of Tonkin, Chicago ’68 and Kent State, it is a little bit like the Jehovah’s Witnesses trying to hawk the latest edition of The Watchtower at a convention of atheists.

But I know I speak for these same friends when I say you can now count us among the O-boomers. We’ve sipped no Kool-Aid, nor been seduced by focus-grouped campaign rhetoric, nor driven senseless by finely tuned speechifying. Instead, we’ve looked around and reached three simple conclusions:

First, that John McCain, whose personal courage cannot be denied, and who has had some distinguished moments in public life, now finds himself positioned in the American political system with little to run on except a platform of militarized jingoism.

Second, the election of Hillary Clinton would be an absolute guarantee of the political status quo. There might be a forward shift here or there compared to the Bushies, but the system itself would remain intact. And we are convinced that her decision making would, indeed, continue in the well-known Clintonian tradition of unmitigated expediency — as has already been more than amply demonstrated during her lamentable campaign.

Finally, we do not invest naive hope in Barack Obama. We O-boomers are, I fear, ready to be disappointed by a President Obama. It’s a well-worn reflex with us. But for the first time, in a very, very long time, we can sense at least the mathematical possibility of some refreshing change if he is elected. His speech this week served only as a geometrical multiplier.

3/14/08

And there was much rejoicing

A South African alien of my acquaintance remarked earlier today that the appropriate American response to this business of papal mucking about with the date of St. Patrick's Day would be to get falling down drunk both days. My question to you, dear reader, is this: Are you a true American?

Barack Obama should be better than John McCain on this


Via Ben Smith, a comment on the likely direction of the McCain campaign regarding Jeremiah Wright:
Charlie Black: You know what, what Senator McCain has said repeatedly is that these candidates cannot be held accountable for all the views of people who endorse them or people who befriend them. And fortunately, I heard your report earlier that Senator Obama has repudiated these very unusual views. But John McCain believes is that Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton should be held accountable for their public policy views, the things we've described before, big government versus smaller government.

Scarborough: So this isn't an issue for John McCain?

Charlie Black: I don't think Senator McCain wants to get in the middle of a discussion about Senator Obama's former pastor or his faith. He believes that people who endorse you, people who befriend you are entitled to their own views, but you are not held personally accountable. That when somebody endorses you or befriends you, they're embracing your views, the candidates' views, not the other way around.

Indeed.

Unless Obama more forcefully distances himself from Wright (saying he's like a crazy uncle isn't all that forceful), we aren't going to be able to (un-hypocritically) point to McCain's supporters who are racist and/or christianist.

More broadly, we latte-drinking, ivory-tower, etc., liberals don't want to cede the moral high ground that we hold when pointing out that the Republican party has to wed itself to eugenics-loving, flat-earth-believing snake handlers in order to get poor Americans to vote against their economic self interest.

3/11/08

Three questions


Obviously, Spitzer should resign and will resign. And even if he sticks around, nobody's political career could possibly survive this picture, so he won't win another term.

All and still, I want to know more about this investigation. According to the NY Times, here's how it all started:
There, in the Hauppauge offices of the Internal Revenue Service, investigators conducting a routine examination of suspicious financial transactions reported to them by banks found several unusual movements of cash involving the governor of New York, several officials said.

The investigators working out of the three-story office building, which faces Veterans Highway, typically review such reports, the officials said. But this was not typical: transactions by a governor who appeared to be trying to conceal the source, destination or purpose of the movement of thousands of dollars in cash, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Ok, first question. How typical is this sort of surveillance? If this is something that all Americans are subject to then I'm not too happy with that. If, alternately, this sort of surveillance is focused only on a limited pool of targets, then I'd like to know how those targets are selected. In either case, the pattern seems to involve surveillance prior to suspicion and then escalation of investigation prior to the identification of any illegal act.

Back to the NY Times for a description of the next stage of the investigation:
But before long, the investigators learned that the money was being moved to pay for sex and that the transactions were being manipulated to conceal Mr. Spitzer’s connection to payments for meetings with prostitutes, the official said.

Then, with the assistance of a confidential informant, a young woman who had worked previously as a prostitute for the Emperor’s Club V.I.P., the escort service that Mr. Spitzer was believed to be using, the investigators were able to get a judge to approve wiretaps on the cellphones of some of those suspected of involvement in the escort service.

Second question. Why did the investigation continue once it was discovered that the suspicious transactions were concealing cash transfers to an escort service? What I'm getting at is that escort services routinely advertise publicly and post prices. See, for example, the website of the very escort service used by Spitzer. Maybe law enforcement agencies should routinely investigate such services, but the fact is that they don't. Instead, the arrangement seems to be that society will look the other way so long as the escort services don't explicitly say that the service being offered is sex. Moreover, the target of this investigation is clearly Spitzer, but even assuming that the allegations are true the most serious charges he is likely to face are misdemeanors. Recruiting confidential informants and installing wiretaps goes well beyond the norm for investigation of such crimes.

Leaving all that aside, here's one last question. Would you expect a corrupt politician to pay for his own call girls?

3/10/08

Bill Clinton appears on Limbaugh; Sullivan's head explodes

Now just wrap your mind around this: the Clintons were happy to support a cynical, partisan Republican campaign to wound the Democratic front-runner, and they were brazen enough to go on the Limbaugh show to do so.

There also seems little doubt that Republican mischief played a real role in affecting the results. And they call Obama's call for them to release their tax returns a tactic worthy of Ken Starr. I repeat: the chutzpah and the cynicism just leave you speechless. And as you find it impossible to do much but splutter, the Clintons plow on with new self-serving lies.

You know how I realized this? I saw first hand the way they dealt with gay issues in their first term. They didn't just winp out on our ouch for marriage equality, they actively pivoted off homophobia to get a few points (ask Dick Morris; it's one of the things he's actually ashamed of in retrospect). The Clintons even put anti-gay ads on Christianist radio stations in the South to build support for the 1996 re-election. And they continue to show up at gay events claiming to be avatars for our civil rights. And the stupid gays still believe them!

linky

Notes on storming the ivory tower

Over at Lawyers, Guns, and Money, D has a post up about the new CBA for Profs at the University of Alaska. In it and in the comments are a few despairing remarks about the prospects for organizing in academia. I have my own thoughts on the subject, but it was striking that I came across the following passage in an email having to do with the Andrea Smith tenure case immediately after reading D's post. It's from a short essay Andrea Smith wrote called, "Social-Justice Activism in the Academic Industrial Complex."
Academics give one of several excuses as to why they cannot engage in collective engagement, all of which are indicative of the extent to which academics become unconsciously (or consciously) loyal to the current capitalist system. Academics will often say, for instance, that they are "too busy" to do activist work. The reality, however, is that everyone is "too busy" for organizing. If we were to build mass movements around those who are not busy, we would have three people to do the work. So, the assumption behind this excuse is that academics should have some kind of special dispensation from activist work. But why should academics be any less responsible for taking part in activist work than florists, garbage collectors, or beekeepers? The assumption that academics should have some special dispensation suggests an investment in social elitism that would hold academics in a special category from other workers of the world. |Andrea Smith|

Incidentally, you should sign the Grant Andrea Smith Tenure Petition.

Spin on crazy rainbow wheel

Here's an odd thing. Lately I've been experiencing web browser crashes -- whether using Safari or Firefox -- when using a number of websites. In particular, ESPN.com and SLATE.com consistently cause browser hangs, and other sites cause crashes from time to time. In general, it seems that the common denominator is multimedia content. Thankfully, my preferred pornography gateway hasn't been affected.

Any idea what's going on? My default answer, namely that Safari is an unstable piece of shit that just happens to be a great browser along all other dimensions, is stymied by the fact that similar crashes seem to be occurring in Firefox. Could it be a hardware problem? Or is there some common plug-in, maybe Java or Flash, clogging my tubes?

Addendum:: Interestingly, Safari scores only 39/100 on the Acid3 Standards Compliance Test. By way of contrast, Firefox scores 100/100 and then crashes.

3/7/08

This began as a comment ... really!

This is in response to Tyson's comment to my comment under DR's post "Think of this as a comment..."

I'll provide the best sourcing that my at work net-surfing allows. But first, my point in general ...

I'm willing to write off any one of the issues I mentioned as some crazy staffer, except the "as far as I know" that came straight from the candidate's mouth (more on this one below). But if enough crazy staffers do enough offensive things close enough to a "do or die" primary date, then I think it becomes legitimate to question whether or not the campaign itself is creating an atmosphere that encourages questionable practices. For instance, I don't think any senior commanders at Abu Ghraib officially sanctioned any of the more egregious abuses that went on there. However, they created an atmosphere that allowed their subordinates to think that such action could be engaged in with impunity.

I'm not sure which photo circulation you are referring to as "hearsay" ("a statement, other than one made by the declarant while testifying at the trial or hearing, offered in evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted." (source) I'm not really sure how that applies to a photo being circulated, but I believe the classic lawyer response to that objection is that it is offered not to prove the truth of the matter asserted, rather to illustrate a pattern of behavior). The photo of Obama in Somali garb (not Kenyan as I mistakenly said in my previous comments) was definitely circulated to many sources, not just the Drudge Report. (Who knew that so many Kenyans read the Drudge Report?) That is not the question, the questions are: who did it, and was it "officially" sanctioned. We'll likely never know and probably not. But what's offensive about being in Kenya, dressed in Somali garb? Nothing, at least to 80% of those voting in the Ohio Democratic primary. But I bet if you asked the other 20%, they might have a different answer. (Or, maybe not. The guy in the 60 Minutes interview linked below was leaning towards Obama in spite of the fact that Obama doesn't know the national anthem and is a closet Muslim. Maybe there's hope that America is ready for a non-patriotic heathen in the White House after all!)

As for the darkening of skin tone in a TV ad (not a mailer as I previously stated), perhaps it was done as part of a normal “saturation-desaturation” process typical in commercial production as the Clinton spokesperson Jay Carson posited (It's plausible, it appears everything is darker, from eyebrows and hair down to suit jacket and tie). However, you'd think the Clinton campaign would not be ignorant of the O.J. Simpson/Willie Horton baggage that is associated with darkening skin tone for effect. Maybe they are. Anyway, judge for yourself. Here's the ad and here's the original debate footage.

"... as far as I know" -- I couldn't find the 60 Minutes interview as it aired, but I was watching it live and about spit my drink out when I heard her add it. Why add it? Why not just say, "There is no truth to it and I denounce and reject those that spread this rumor." Especially considering her debate moment where she insisted Obama not just denounce, but also reject Farrakhan's "endorsement."

Regarding, "I don't think it was Obama's campaign policy to station people at my caucus precinct to swipe the vote sheet from my hand before my rolls could be tallied, but it did happen." I've heard similar reports and "as far as I know" there is no reason to doubt them. :) If true, that's pretty crappy. I'm a little curious about what "vote sheet" you refer to. Were you one of the party volunteers running the convention? The only people with "vote sheets" at my convention location were the people running the the thing. And they only let me have the "vote sheet" long enough to sign my name, address, phone number, email address, candidate choice, and whether or not I wanted to be considered to be a delegate. Anyway, there was no such malfeasance at my polling station. In fact, I had a very pleasant conversation with a group of Hillary supporters for about a half hour while standing in line. We both wanted John Edwards somewhere on the ticket. Anyway, I'm pretty sure someone would've been punched in the face if my vote sheet was swiped from my hand before I was done with it.

Next we can talk about the 3am "Daisy-Lite" ad or Hillary's repeated statements that she and McCain have the experience to be Commander-in Chief, but not Obama. Since when did praising your Republican rival at the expense of your fellow Democrat become a good idea for beating the Republicans in November?

3/5/08

What kind of fool takes dice to a knife fight?



I hereby declare this to be The Bellman blog's official Gary Gygax memorial thread.

3/4/08

Think of this as a comment...

...because I swear I wouldn't have started a new election night post if haloscan seemed to be working.

Anyway.

MSNBC just dropped this exit polling stat. In Ohio, 1 in 5 voters said race was a factor in making their decision. Those voters broke for Clinton 80-20.

How do you like them apples?

...more recent numbers put Clinton's racist edge closer to 60-40.

...a very flat speech from Obama. Speaking for myself, I don't think much of the 'the world is watching us' line of argument.

Election day Austin

12:30

It takes about an hour to get through the line to vote. The person who checks the registration card recognizes me from work, but I don't recognize him. He seems happy to see me, and then a little disappointed when I ask for the Democratic ballot. Later I notice that his name tag identifies him as a "Republican Alt. Judge."

Everyone here is voting in the Democratic primary. Most are returning to caucus. Even the election workers call it a caucus, although the sign on the door identifies them as Precinct Conventions, which is what I understand them to actually be.

The election workers say that we'll most likely have to have the Democratic caucus outdoors, since there is clearly not enough room in the little church for hundreds of democratic voters. Fortunately, it's really nice outside. I hope wintery Ohio has planned a little better.

6:30

Waiting on the wife before heading the the caucus. Reading about The coming caucus chaos in Texas, and from Ohio, WTF?
but perhaps the most unfortunate situation is that apparently (Ohioans out there, let me know if I've got this wrong) the paper ballots have a stub along the bottom that says "Vote Will Not Be Counted If Removed" -- except that it actually does have to be removed, and the poll workers' manual instructs election workers to tell voters to tear it off, provoking alarm among those voters whose elementary school teachers taught them to follow simple written instructions.


To be continued....

3/3/08

"Pioneer anomaly" joined by the "flyby anomaly"

For some time, the Pioneer probes hurtling out of our solar system seem to be slowing down without explanation. Now it seems that some other probes, when flying by the earth, seem to be going faster:
In five of the six flybys, the scientists have confirmed anomalies.

"I am feeling both humble and perplexed by this," said Anderson, who is now working as a retiree. "There is something very strange going on with spacecraft motions. We have no convincing explanation for either the Pioneer anomaly or the flyby anomaly."

Bow Down Before Your Shadowy Puppet Masters

This may be a bit too "on the nose" to actually be funny, but I laughed anyway. (I was crying on the inside.)

3/1/08

The big game

They called the 1988 Jayhawk title team, "Danny and the Miracles." I think this year's K-State squad should be called, "Michael and the initially surprising but ultimately explicable by normal science phenomena."

Nobody remembers anymore, but Manning's Jayhawks made quite a run through the tournament two years earlier, losing to Duke in the Semifinals after several Jayhawk players got into foul trouble. Can't say what has me thinking about foul trouble...
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