4/30/08

That's my pig


I am...pardon me...tickled pink by this.

Final trip



Albert Hoffman, R.I.P.


Word is, they are going to smoke his remains.

4/28/08

All politics is guilt by association

I think I can put my finger on why politics has become so depressing for me recently. It has to do with a phase the campaign has entered, a phase in which the underlying dynamic is that Obama's opponents are attempting to define him, and he's seeking to resist the frame. It's a moment in the campaign that's anything but unexpected, and yet I'm finding it utterly deflating.

Maybe part of the reason is just the bad taste left over from the Kerry campaign. As best I can recall, that campaign entered this phase around the time of the Democratic convention. The Swift Boat stuff was transparently false and vicious, but it was politically effective partly because Kerry's reaction to it reinforced the underlying frame that the GOP was working to impose. Obama is a better politician than Kerry, and maybe he'll figure it out, but it's not pleasant too watch.

Relatedly, I found this exchange fascinating:
WALLACE: Let me ask you one other question in this regard, which some will call a distraction, some will call values.

In the last debate, you were asked about your relationship with William Ayers, the former '60s radical, and you said that you were no more responsible for what he did back in the 1960s than for your friendship with Tom Coburn, senator from Oklahoma, pediatrician, who has made comments about possibly taking the death penalty for cases of abortion.

Do you really see a moral equivalency between what Ayers did and what Tom Coburn said?

OBAMA: No, of course not. The point I was making — and I actually called Tom Coburn afterwards, because I thought that people were suggesting that I had drawn a moral equivalent, so that's what I was — wasn't what I was doing.

All I was saying was — is that the fact that I know somebody, worked with them, have interactions with them, doesn't mean that I'm endorsing what they say.

And, Chris, I'm sure you've got people who you serve on a board with or have dinner with who, you know, you would never expect to somehow have that seen as an endorsement of their views.

Now, you know, Mr. Ayers is a 60-plus-year-old individual who lives in my neighborhood, who did something that I deplore 40 years ago when I was 6 or 7 years old. By the time I met him, he is a professor of education at the University of Illinois.

We served on a board together that had Republicans, bankers, lawyers, focused on education. He worked for Mayor Daley, the same Mayor Daley, by the way, who, when he was a state's attorney, prosecuted Mr. Ayers' wife for those activities in the '60s.

So the point is that to somehow suggest that in any way I endorse his deplorable acts 40 years ago because I serve on a board with him...

WALLACE: Now, I'm just surprised that you brought Coburn in, because it seems to me it's so apples and oranges.

I wish I could find this exchange on YouTube. Obama has just utterly flattened Wallace's argument, and knows that Wallace can't help but understand that. And yet, Wallace just bulls through and presses the attack. They do a close up on Obama and his eyes are jumping around -- panic? confusion? frustration? -- while he tries to come up with an answer.

The segment continues:
OBAMA: No, no, no, no, no. The point I was making was that I've got a lot of — nobody is saying, "You know what? Barack — he's got a bunch of Republican friends," or, "He's got a bunch of people who are considered on the religious right who he gets along with, who he shares stories with, who he does work with."

The focus is on this one individual whose relations — with whom I have a relationship that is far more tangential than it is with somebody like a Tom Coburn, who I'm working with all the time, and who I consider a close friend, and yet that's the relationship that gets the focus.

WALLACE: Senator Obama, we have to step aside for a moment. But when we come back, we will ask Barack Obama about his plan to change the way Washington works. Back in a moment.

4/25/08

The trade

Speaking for myself, I'm pretty happy with the trade. Kansas City wasn't going to be any good this year, Jared Allen was never going to sign a long term deal in KC, and a mid first round pick plus two (count 'em two) third rounders is going to help the rebuilding process. What's more, now they can pick for value with a defensive lineman at the five spot. Heck, from where I sit I'd like to see them trade Gonzalez and Johnson for picks, though maybe they'd be better off waiting for next year's draft.

Addendum: Yeah, I promoted it. What do you want, a whole new post about the NFL draft?



...I'm sitting here hoping for the Raiders to pick McFadden, and I think this is something I may come to regret.

...and they do! Now, does KC reach, trade, or jump on the Glenn Dorsey bandwagon? I'm telling you, a dominant defense rotates tackles.

...Dorsey! Now begins the long, slow stockpiling of Offensive Linemen. But where do they go for DE? Merling could be available at #17, and Lawrence Jackson when KC picks in the second round.

...Albert! So that's an anchor for each line. And now Detroit is reaching for an OT? They aren't going to like that pick here in SE Michigan.

Friday wtf

(Sorry for the light posting... I'm so tired of the campaigns that I have had little to say. The best I can do for political junkies today is to help answer the question of whether Barack Obama can overcome his -2 to charisma to become our first half-orc president).

This is pretty messed up.
Del Toro’s moving to New Zealand for the next four years to work with Jackson and his Wingnut and Weta production teams. He’ll direct the two films back to back, with the sequel dealing with the 60-year period between “The Hobbit” and “The Fellowship of the Ring,” the first of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.

A reporting error? Or is some hack sitting down to write The Similar-illion: The New Adventures of Bilbo Baggins?

4/22/08

coze

[Origin: 1820–30; from French 'causer' to chat, from Old French 'causer' to reason, expound, from Latin 'causārī' to plead a cause, plead as an excuse, derivative of 'causa' cause]

v.
To converse in a friendly way.

n.
A friendly talk; a chat.

And now, politics

With this blog post I hereby nominate Chuck Norris for the Presidency of the National Rifle Association.

4/21/08

I Hunger

I don't believe we have ever posted a recipe here (bachelor cooking is really more of a lifestyle). In this brief lull before politics heats back up, heat your oven to 300 degrees and whip up my favorite appetizer.

Baked Brie with Apple Chutney

Apple Chutney

1 lb Granny Smith apples
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons onion, diced
2 teaspoons fresh jalapeños, peeled and minced
1/2 teaspoon fresh garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon, allspice
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/3 cup raisins
pinch of salt

Peel and quarter apples. Slice in 1/4 inch slices. Combine apples and remaining ingredients in a large stock pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 45 minutes.

Assembly

2 tablespoons sliced almonds
2 tablespoons medium pecan pieces
8 ounce Brie
1 baguette
1 recipe Apple Chutney

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Place pecans and almonds in a pie pan and toast in the oven for 10 minutes. Carefully scrape the layer of powder from the top of the Brie. Place Brie in a pie pan and heat in 300 degree oven for 10 minutes. Slice baguette into 1/2 inch thick rounds. Remove Brie from oven and transfer to a serving plate. Sprinkle with nuts. Serve with baguette slices and apple chutney.

Meet the new box, same as the old box

I'd been a little bit puzzled by the apparent discrepancy between Clinton's attempt to frame Obama ("He's a liberal elitist!") and the framing prevalent in the wingnutosphere ("He's another angry negro!") but then it occurred to me that you could split the difference with 'uppity'.

4/20/08

Not a passover post

I find myself disappointed to discover that a massive asteroid won't hit the Earth in 2029, or possibly 2036. In 21 to 28 years I'll be approaching retirement age and from two decades out I can say that navigating a post-apocalyptic landscape sounds more romantic than charting a slow decline into assissted living.

It would have taken some luck, obviously, to survive the asteroid impact. Ideally you'd like to be on the far side of the planet from the event, and even then you'd better have a deep hole and plenty of batteries. Seems like 20 years is long enough to get that together.

4/13/08

Missed opportunities

I swear, honest and for true, that the fact that Spike is broadcasting the original Star Wars trilogy this weekend had little or nothing to do with my decision to skip the LaborNotes conference. Sounds like it was pretty exciting:
SERVICE EMPLOYEES UNION ATTACKS LABOR GATHERING CONFERENCE-GOERS ASSAULTED

Dearborn, MI—The Service Employees International Union turned their dispute with the California Nurses Association violent by attacking a labor conference April 12, injuring several and sending an American Axle striker to the hospital.

A recently retired member of United Auto Workers Local 235, Dianne Feeley, suffered a head wound after being knocked to the ground by SEIU International staff and local members. Other conference-goers—members of the Teamsters, UAW, UNITE HERE, International Longshoremen’s Association, and SEIU itself—were punched, kicked, shoved, and pushed to the floor. Dearborn police responded and evicted the three bus loads of SEIU International staff and members of local and regional health care unions. No arrests were made.

The assault took place at the Labor Notes conference, a biennial gathering of 1,100 union members and leaders who met to discuss strategies to rebuild the labor movement.

Ahhh, Kansas!

Speaking of Kansas, one of the less appealing things about the state is that it is home to Fred "Got Hates Fags and I'm going to hold up signs saying so at the funerals of Iraqi vets" Phelps and his noxious Westboro Baptist Church.

On the brighter side, Kansas also has folks who will go to Westboro's rallies and do this:

4/10/08

All your money won't another minute buy

Here's a phrase I never expected to see: "...an ancient, secluded exotic location 650' below the Kansas prairie!"

It's part of a description of the Kansas Underground Salt Museum in Hutchinson.

The Underground Salt Museum, I'd have you know, is one of the eight wonders of Kansas. Can you imagine? Kansas has eight wonders when the ancient world had only seven. Land of Ahhhs is right!

The other seven:

4/8/08

A Euro-Asian man don't need him around anyhow

I found this about where you'd expect.
As with all the verbiage coming out of the reptilian stems of Farrakhans and Wrights, too many folks who should be thinking, are listening to cogitate, are applauding a concert or a vocal solo. Brothers don't ask themselves about the content of the words they is hearing from our unelected Negro leaders, who are only too happy to oblige with their histrionics, their impulsive head-twists, arm waving, plosive "ps" and labial "bs" their rising in terror "Ays" and descending to solemnity "um-hums" I'd say these ventriloquists have perfected the art of "pretense speech". They pretend to speak sense, but its mostly rhetorical smoke and mirrors expressing indignation at not having the choice to simply come-in and jive.

No, the Lord demand they speak - and lo, they imitate speech. A a bit of righteous outrage, colored words, shrill invocations, aphoristic mumbojumbo, and hyperactive metronomic gestures, to conjure up moral indignation and the Lords wrath. The brothers growing up and listening to this crap perfected the art of smiling, "a-huming" and getting up and swinging-a-clapping while not at all listening for logic, consistency, and implication. Its an ethnic circus show where everyone joins in on the act. Christian or Islamic, suffused with Ghanian shamanism.

While the Euro-Asian man has perfected the art of calm reflection and rational creative destruction - and made this the foundation upon which our world was built, a world transcending huts and canoes - the Negro leadership in this Euro-Asian world has decided to proclaim pride in its Tropical heritage, and perfected the art of "show thinking, and cliche pimping" in order to assault the foundations of the Euro-Asian world. This leadership has dug Americas blacks into a dark hole called "Fake Wisdom thought," but to suggest so is to be a Colonialist, anti-Africanist, Racist, Supremacist, or Race-Traitor.|Stop Obama|

Just to make the utter vacuity of the argument clear, let's note for the record that nowhere in the post is any concern shown for "the content of the words" spoken by Obama. It is entirely a critique of style, and a critique driven by two of my favorite fallacies, guilt by association and ad hominem. You can read the whole thing if you want, but it says here not to bother.

Anyway, what I want to draw attention to is the way that 'Euro-Asian' crops up at all the points in the argument where one would expect to see appeals to 'Western Civilization.' What's going on here? In particular, is this form of the argument something that arose sui generis in upper Wingnuttia, or is it an artifact of leftist critiques that contrast the industrial North with the so-called Global South? Not having read any of those leftist critiques, I'm at a bit of a loss here. It does sound similar to things I've heard at talks over in that neighborhood of the academy, though of course the application is rather different.

Addendum: By the way, I'd bet dollars to donuts that stop-obama.org is straight up politcal astroturf and that the bloggers at the site are little more than characters (the link goes to the whois entry). The interesting question, it seems to me, is whether it's Clinton astroturf or McCain astroturf.

4/7/08

megrim

[Middle English 'migrem', variant of 'migraine', from Old French 'migraigne', from vulgar pronunciation of Late Latin 'hēmicrānia', from Greek 'hēmikrāniā', from 'hēmi-', half + 'krānion', head]
n.
1.
A severe recurring vascular headache, usually confined to one side of the head.
2. A caprice or fancy -often used in the plural.
3. Depression or unhappiness -often used in the plural.
4. Any of numerous diseases of animals marked by disturbance of equilibrium and abnormal gait and behavior —usually used in plural.
5. A European flounder, more commonly known as a scaldfish.

Fun with conditionals

“The U.S. is no closer to being able to leave Iraq than it was a year ago,” it concluded. “Lasting political development could take five to 10 years of full, unconditional U.S. commitment to Iraq.”

Or, if we continue to be "no closer" for "five to 10 years," it "could" take 50 to 100 years of "full, unconditional U.S. commitment to Iraq" before we see the "lasting political development."

On the other hand, we could leave right away.

(via)

4/5/08

Abortion is no longer in the neocon lexicon

Recently, a medical librarian at the University of California - San Francisco noticed that a health database named Popcite (similar to Medline) was returning odd results when she searched for health information related to abortion.
Puzzled, she contacted the manager of the database, Johns Hopkins' Debbie Dickson, who replied in an April 1st e-mail that the university had recently begun blocking the search term because the database received federal funding.

"We recently made all abortion terms stop words," Dickson wrote in a note to Gloria Won, the UCSF medical center librarian making the inquiry. "As a federally funded project, we decided this was best for now."

There was no notice of the change on the site.

Dickson suggested other kinds of more obscure search strategies and alternative words to get around the keyword blocking.

"In addition to the terms you're already using, you could try using 'Fertility Control, Postconception'. This is the broader term to our 'abortion' terms and most records have both in the keyword fields," she wrote.

She also suggested using a euphemistic search strategy of "unwanted w/2 pregnancy." But the workarounds don't satisfy critics of the censorship.

"The main function of their site is keyword search, and if you use a phrase that contains the word 'abortion,' it ignores it," notes Melissa Just, the library director at the cancer research institute and hospital named City of Hope in Duarte, California. Just followed the conversation on a listserv and said she was outraged when she found out about the censorship incident. |U.S. Funded Health Search Engine Blocks 'Abortion' - Wired|


As a librarian, much of my time is spent working with different ontologies.
Ontology is both a branch of philosophy and a fast-growing component of computer science concerned with the development of formal representations of the entities and relations existing in a variety of application domains. Ontology has been shown to have considerable potential on the level of both pure research and applications. It provides foundations for diverse technologies in areas such as information integration, natural language processing, data annotation, and the construction of intelligent computer systems.|National Center for Ontological Research|

Popcite has chosen to deny reality by lobotomizing its ontology.

Apparently this was in response to pressure in the form of complaints from the Bush administration about medical literature related to abortion.

University administrators of the world's largest scientific database on reproductive health blocked the word "abortion" as a search term after receiving a complaint from the Bush administration over two abortion-related articles listed in the database.

"The items in question had to do with abortion advocacy -- the two items dealing with abortion were removed following this inquiry, and the administrators made a decision to restrict abortion as a search term," said Tim Parsons, a spokesman for the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Maryland.

The blocking of the keyword "is a decision that the dean does not support in any way," he added, and the administrators are unblocking the search for the term right now. |Overreaction to Bush Administration Complaint Prompted Block on 'Abortion' Searches - Wired|


While they've reversed the action, it still offends me that librarians would cave like this.

4/4/08

It's the big money, stupid!

Maybe it's not just ego after all. For all the press Obama is getting for pulling in $40 million last month, it's also true that Clinton raised $20 million, which in a normal year would be record setting. Strikingly, they're doing things very differently, with Obama relying on small donations and Clinton working the established fundraiser circuit:
Obama's ability to capitalize on a sustained wave of online support has enabled him to spend almost all of his time campaigning. Clinton has attended more than a dozen fundraisers since Jan. 1, and her husband, former president Bill Clinton, has appeared at more than 40, while Obama and his wife have attended fewer than 10 during that time.

Sen. Robert P. Casey Jr. (D-Pa.), an Obama supporter, said he was shocked when he learned Obama attended just one fundraiser in February. Casey, by contrast, attended 450 fundraisers during his 2006 Senate campaign. He said a typical day involved three hours of calling donors, followed by as many as three fundraising events per night. "It was pick-and-shovel work, just chipping away."|Washington Post|

An integral part of Clinton's experience of the campaign is spending lots of time in rooms with or on the phone with big money donors. So she spends a great deal of time talking to the sorts of people who are willing to write a $2000 check in exchange for access and who, I'm guessing, aren't exactly happy about the fact that a candidate like Obama can fund a campaign without letting them in the room. Which is to say that Clinton is the candidate of big money access, and big money isn't going to give up without a fight.

4/3/08

The question is, does the fundamentalist Right have enough of a hard-on for war to get the fuck out of the bedroom?

Quoted below are the last two paragraphs of an article on CNN about John McCain. They don't really have anything to do with the nominal topic of the article, but there you go. I'd wager that McCain's handlers are happy about the inclusion.

Anyway:
"When I left the academy, I was not even aware I had learned that lesson. In a later crisis, I would suffer a genuine attack on my dignity, an attack, unlike the affronts I had exaggerated as a boy, that left me desperate and uncertain," McCain said in an apparent reference to his time as a POW.

"It was then I would recall, awakened by the example of men who shared my circumstances, the lesson that the academy in its venerable and enduring way had labored to impress upon me. It changed my life forever. I had found my cause: citizenship in the greatest nation on Earth," he said.

Call me crazy, but I think this is John McCain's conversion narrative. A little bloodier than W's, but the patterns are the same.

The nominal subject of the CNN piece, by the way, was McCain's (secret!) list of prospective VPs. The McCain campaign trotted it out after James Dobson lit into McCain in the Wall Street Journal.

Dobson's broadside -- being of the nature of the affronts McCain exaggerated as a boy rather than a genuine attack on his dignity -- served as cause for dancing:
"I'm very pleased at the polling data that shows that our party is very unified," McCain said. "More Republicans say they'll vote for me than Democrats say that they will vote for either Sen. Obama or Sen. Clinton.

"My job now is to try to energize our party so that we get the kind of energy associated with this campaign, which I think we can do in the coming months."

McCain said he has never spoken with Dobson but would be willing to do so.

(There is, of course, no reason to make mention of the fact that James Dobson, in addition to being a Christian, is white, old, and recognized by all the right sorts of people to be completely non-scary, especially in light of the fact that Dobson's religious views are completely reasonable and uncolored by hate, prejudice, or fear)

What I'd like to know is whether the fundamentalist Right will accept McCain's conversion narrative as is or whether they'll insist, with Dobson, that Jesus make an appearance in McCain's foxhole. Maybe McCain could thread the needle by emphasizing the known godlessness of Communism. Or by working passages of God is my Co-Pilot into his stump speech.

(There is, of course, no reason to make mention of the happy coincidence that racism, sexism, militarism, and religiosity tend to overlap in the American electorate)

4/1/08

Here's an idea: don't suck

There's an article in today's NY Times about an investment group that's going to try to revive CNET. The main idea seems to be to be more like Yahoo, to which I say, good luck with that.

But, anyway, I seem to run across CNET pages all the time on web searches and what I know for sure is that it's always a bad idea to follow the link to CNET. Almost as bad an idea as following the link to an about.com page.

Here are two tips for CNET: (1) A collection of advertising copy is not a very useful "product guide"; and, (2) camouflaging a pop-up ad as an embedded link doesn't make it less annoying.
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