Friday, March 31, 2006

Everyone that she plays with dies a little inside

Basic Instinct 2 begins playing today. I saw the first when it opened, which I'm shocked to learn was in 1992 when I was 16.

I was certain I was closer to 12. Seeing something like that in a dark room with your grossly obese, 300+ lb aunt sitting next to you is enough to make anyone feel like a confused little boy, I guess. The same aunt infamously made me take a hit off her marijuana joint when she was babysitting me at age 6. If mom had known what future horrors she had in store for me, the ban would have been closer to two decades than two years.

I clearly need to go see the new one with some hot, sexy nonrelative and purge the horrible, horrible pain. Any takers?

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Whitey go home

It always struck me as mighty strange that the crowd in every espisode of Chappelle's Show was overwhelmingly black, when most of his fans at home are about as white as can be.* Slate discusses Chappelle today in a way that reflects on this dichotomy.
In late 2004, before Dave Chappelle dropped out, he had an incredibly great idea: convince all his favorite musicians to play a free show, in Brooklyn, for an audience comprising random people from New York and random people from Chappelle's home town in Ohio. Dave Chappelle's Block Party is the result of this idea, and, besides being the most overwhelmingly joyous, enjoyable, and affirming movie I've seen this year, it also outlines a vision of a world where black artists make black art for black people—though whites are encouraged to buy in. It's a multiracial vision, but a unicultural one: a black polity.
On his flight to South Africa:
The truth is simpler, and more interesting. Chappelle had, essentially, become uncomfortable with playing a black fool for white audiences. Upon his return from Africa, he told Oprah Winfrey a revealing anecdote: While Chappelle acted out a sketch that featured him as a pixie in blackface, he heard a white crew member laughing a little too hard. This was, apparently, the galvanizing moment that caused Chappelle to reassess the intent of his comedy, and the kind of laughs he was giving his audience. As he told Time, "I want to make sure I'm dancing and not shuffling."
And so on:
The movie presents Chappelle and his guests as preoccupied with notions of blackness, and of how to present blackness in a white world. It becomes apparent that this concert is not only a gift to the audience, but, in that the audience is predominantly black, a gift and a relief to the performers.

* * *

Sad prospects for black artists who are legitimately trying to engage the black personal and political experience. It's no wonder Chappelle is confused: He shares his favorite music with the people who love him. He's unable to escape white people.

* * *

This, then, is what makes the block party such an exciting, heady experience for Chappelle and his guests: a chance to speak to the audience they want, not the audience they have. At one point during the performance, Chappelle, ad-libbing a comic routine from behind the drums, beams as he describes the audience: "5,000 black people chilling in the rain; 19 white people peppered into the crowd." This excitement is infectious even through the movie screen; it's impossible not to get carried away by the immediacy of the performances and the intoxication of the political vision. But, after leaving the theater, it's hard not to reflect on the manufactured nature, and the sheer impracticability, of this vision.

Chappelle seems eager to avoid acknowledging this slight incoherence. During one reflective scene, the perceptive drummer for the Roots, Ahmir Thompson, says, "Dave, like us, is in a situation where his audience doesn't look like him—" But here Chappelle breaks in and diverts attention: "Tell him what I said about the snipers." Thompson smiles, slightly bemused. Chappelle continues, "I said the D.C. snipers had to be black. They were taking off weekends!" Cut to the next scene.



--
* - I only ever discussed Chappelle's Show with one black person during its run, my Employment Discrimination professor. In a heated class argument over reparations, I suggested that the Chappelle reparations skit, where blacks blow it all on trucks of menthol cigarettes, gold chains, FUBU, fried chicken, and so on was in essence what would happen. In something approaching amazement, he asked me if I was aware it was satire. Of course, but only in the aesthetic particulars; the wasteful splurging with no thought of tommorrow was obviously what would happen, just as with lottery winners.

I often wondered if this surface joke/deeper truth ran through most of his sketches, and how differently whites and blacks would perceive it.

More: That latter point probably explains why I'm the biggest fan of the Colbert Report, too. It's hilarious because it's the absolute truth and other people think it's a joke.

Killing them softly

The other interesting Economist review ($) was of Killing Rain by Barry Eisler.

ESPIONAGE thrillers look simple to cook up—international politics, shadowy spy agencies, super-fit heroes and athletic sex offer an easy recipe—but few authors get anything close to providing a gourmet meal. Fewer still can create characters that endure and develop from book to book, and avoid the ghetto of a single arena of national or regional intrigue. One that increasingly looks like bucking the trend is Barry Eisler.

The first two books that featured Mr Eisler's Japanese-American assassin-hero, John Rain, “Rain Fall” (2002) and “Hard Rain” (2003) were written with a delightfully soft touch and a powerful blend of excitement, exotica and what (ever since John le Carré) readers have known to call tradecraft. But they were likely to appeal mostly to those who know or are intrigued by Japan, for that is where they were based.

This book is different and therefore even better, yadda yadda yadda. But it's also hard to find - searching a B&N and Borders for Eisler's work turned up only a single copy of the second book, Hard Rain. I knew after reading the first page it was going to be one of those rare books I actually buy, largely because I knew I could easily gift it to my stepdad when I'm done.

Overall impression: 100% less science fiction, 50% less sociopathy, and 95% less violence than Takeshi Kovacs novels, but just as good in its own way. Great for spy/thriller fans, perfect for Japanese fetishists.

Addendum: Eisler, incidentally, is a Cornell Law grad who then worked for "the government" for three years (the Economist says CIA) and lived in Japan. So I guess lawyers can be good at writing what they know...just know something more interesting than being a lawyer.

Welcome to the jungle

Following up on my global warming rant, I found part of the semi-recent Economist review of The Weather Makers interesting.
Mr Flannery's most intriguing thought, though, is almost a throwaway point. But it is one that only an evolutionary biologist would have come up with. He suggests that if humanity were facing the threat of cold, rather than heat, the talking would have been over long ago and a strong plan of action would be in place. His point is that Homo sapiens is a tropical species which, having only recently spread to temperate and frigid climes, still thinks like a tropical species. It really fears the cold, but rather likes the heat. The word “warming”, therefore, has positive overtones. So perhaps the underlying problem is not so much, as in the case of staying slim, that you have to trade a real sacrifice now for a potential benefit in the future, but that a lot of people who are perfectly willing to believe that global warming is happening don't really see it is a problem at all.

Smug alert!

A note to wannabe bloggers out there: an otherwise fine post can be entirely ruined by overwhelming, transparent homoeroticism. Lyle Denniston shows how not to do it at SCOTUSblog.
When first-rate advocates face off in a Supreme Court argument, it often is difficult to say who had the better of the argument, or who came closest to winning a majority. In fact, only one thing emerged conclusively from the argument Wednesday in EBay v. Mercexchange (05-130) -- the Court is not about to interpret the Patent Act so as to penalize patent "trolls" with lesser remedies for infringement. The "troll issue" only provided a bit of merriment in an otherwise serious hearing.

Seasoned lawyers Carter G. Phillips and Seth P. Waxman elevated the quality of the argument with predictable skill, and with utter devotion to each client's cause. Jeffrey P. Minear, an assistant to the U.S. Solicitor General, competently carried off a cameo role. The Court was fully engaged with them, but did not provide any dependable signs of who will win in the end.

Wait, what's wrong with poor Mr. Minear? Too hairy? A fellow bottom? Forever typecast as the guy who shows up with the unexpected pizza delivery? No matter. This post would have been just as informatively titled "I want to be the meat in a Phillips/Waxman Manwich!"

Oh, I suppose some skeptics might say this isn't about sex, but rather a sick, overwhelming, and entirely unseemly preening over the supposed specialness and importance of oral skills before eight old men and one drag queen made at the expense of firmly grabbing only the relevant legal issues and giving them a vigorous twist to provide rigorous analysis about what result might come out of the friction and pressure of this litigation. Or put differently: maybe what he wants from these men is a job, not a 'job. Be that as it may, I for one would much prefer just reading about the patent law issues, sticky as they may be.

As should everyone else; the perils of overwhelming smugness are well known.

Addendum: A more informative link about the SP episode.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Lt. Colonel of the dance

Combining the subjects of my last two posts, I present you the latest in anti-enlistment agitprop: dancing against military recruiters. If Scalia had known FAIR v. Rumsfeld would lead to this, he surely would have switched his vote. Which young Yale law school professor is that, anyway?

The Protocols of the Elders of Beijing

This is the most amazing piece of agitprop I've seen in some time.
The following is a transcript of a speech believed to have been given by Mr. Chi Haotian, Minster of Defense and vice-chairman of China’s Central Military Commission. Independently verifying the authorship of the speech is not possible. It is worth reading because it is believed to set out the CCP’s strategy for the development of China. The speech argues for the necessity of China using biological warfare to depopulate the United States and prepare it for a future massive Chinese colonization.
I have a certain grudging respect for whoever wrote this. It strikes a nice balance between sick, raving xenophobia and truthful depiction of real ChiCom attitudes. Not having read the real Protocols, I wonder if they have the same slick-yet-patently-silly feel to them.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Bee all you can bee

This week's Postsecret laugher.

This one
, on the other hand, aptly summarizes my first reaction to this Reihan Salaam post on the allegation that only 16% of singles are actively looking for anyone. My second reaction is longer. Maybe I'll rant about that tomorrow.

White man's disease

Finally! I knew I was born with it. Or, rather, without. I'm printing this out for a wedding next month.

One out of one sluts agree

Republicans are better in bed. Cruelty and a total lack of concern for your feelings are turn ons, it seems.

I like to think I'm holding up my side here while also setting the most grim example of quality over quantity you can imagine.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Responsible journalism ends, blog post at 11

Be sure not to miss the most irresponsible piece of "journalism" in the history of mankind. Hyperbole? Not compared to this.
No one can say exactly what it looks like when a planet takes ill, but it probably looks a lot like Earth.

Never mind what you've heard about global warming as a slow-motion emergency that would take decades to play out. Suddenly and unexpectedly, the crisis is upon us.

From heat waves to storms to floods to fires to massive glacial melts, the global climate seems to be crashing around us.
Fantastic, I can skip doing laundry tonight and just buy a sackcloth and burn the rest of my possessions for a good supply of ashes. No doubt I'll drown or burn to death before I run out.

But what really pisses me off about this isn't that I'm convinced it won't happen (or isn't already), but that it just doesn't really matter. Even if the worst predictions will come to pass, nothing can be done to stop it. Nothing ever could have been done to stop it. Oh, I suppose if Paul Erlich and his disciples had become absolute dictator of the world in 1960 we might never have had global warming...or a per capita GDP above about $5k by now, but hey, what price saving the polar bear?

There is simply no fucking way voters would accept the kind of measures necessary to have some hypothetical benefit. This may be short sighted or stupid of them, but it's an undeniable fact. And I don't believe it was short sighted or stupid: we're better off spending $50 billion to build a dike around NYC, letting Houston, New Orleans, and Miami sink, and giving the Maldives some life rafts in foreign aid than having done anything else.
So much environmental collapse has at last awakened much of the world, particularly the 141 nations that have ratified the Kyoto treaty to reduce emissions. The Bush administration, however, has shown no willingness to address the warming crisis in a serious way and Congress has not been much more encouraging.
What a steaming load of shit. The "environmental collapse" of the last, what, year or two, is responsible for these nations ratifying Kyoto years before? Hell, I "ratified" my own proposal for an increase in my allowance in 1982; if only I'd justified it by reference to my stepdad's raise he was sure to receive in '85. Which was, come to think of it, when he lost his job.

Incidentally, I'm glad to see that 97 Senate votes against ratification of Kyoto are not "much more encouraging" than Bush's subsequent veto of the idea. How much less encouraging than Bush was Congress over, say, the Dubai ports deal? Somewhat? A fair bit? Morons.
But lawmakers who still applaud themselves for recognizing global warming are hardly the same as lawmakers with the courage to reverse it, and increasingly, state and local governments are stepping forward.
Reverse it. Reverse it? Reverse it?

Are these people insane or simply brain dead? Every serious person acknolwedges that the cost of simply slowing it down would be crippling. I suppose there's may actually be someone who thinks we have the knowledge and technology to reverse it, and perhaps if we doubled the federal budget and quit spending a dime on Social Security, Medicare, or defense budget we might even be able to afford something that might have a theoretical effect in fifty years or so.
The mayors of more than 200 cities have signed the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, pledging, among other things, that they will meet the Kyoto goal of reducing greenhouse emissions in their own cities to 1990 levels by 2012. Nine northeastern states have established the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative for the purpose of developing a program to cap greenhouse gasses.
Oh, that'll help. Just drive the carbon production and jobs out of your city and into more forgiving regions. What's needed is a national program, so we can send it all to China and India, instead. I suppose I should add some language classes to my new swimming and survival training regimen.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Hello, children, I'm back...again?

Last night's South Park send off of Chef was sweet and even at times totally awesome. But was it all for naught? Page Six claims the "I quit" press release was released by Jane Q. Scientologist, not Isaac Hayes. Hayes allegedly had a stroke two months ago and has been treated since for that and "exhaustion." The Superficial adds that Hayes said publicly in December that he didn't have a problem with the South Park Scientology episode. Everyone says he doesn't want to leave the show, although that feeling predated his electronic effigy being set on fire, dropped off a cliff, and being mauled by a bear and mountain lion last night.

This is, needless to say, hopelessly weird. Did Matt Stone and Trey Parker not actuall call and talk to the guy? Did the Katie Holmes brainwashers get to him too? Will Darth Chef make a reappearance in future episode of South Park? Can Stone and Parker reclaim Hayes from the clutches of Scientology?

I suggest they roshambo for him.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

This one goes to 111

Whoa. Whoa. Whoa!

Via Catallarchy I just learned about Spore, the latest effort from the creator of SimCity and its succesors, and probably the coolest video game undeniably the greatest human achievment of all time. The demo video, if you have 35 minutes to kill, is amazing. Every two minutes it blew me away by ramping things up another level. I'd tell you about it, but I don't want to ruin the surprises. Watch it or live out your miserable, pallid little lives in horrible, horrible ignorance.

Friday, March 17, 2006

O'Stopit

Despite my full name being an explosion of Welsh/Irish awesomeness, I'm not a big fan of St. Patrick's Day. I think it's just because I'm completely turned off by crass, overwrought boasting about where you came from.

Hullabaloo

F34R HAZ A COLOR, AND IT IS MAR00N! B0W B4 TEH SUBTL3 PR0GN0ST1C4T0RS 4ND M0CK THE D0UBTERS - TEH AGEEZ 20 Y34R ER4 OF P1TY 4 TH3 R3ST 0F TEH NC44 IS 0V3R!!1! S0 MUCH 4 Y0U"R3 SUB4V3R4G3 WH1T3 GUY!!1 BW4HA4HA!1!

THE N3XT V1CT1M OF 0UR UNST0PP4BL3 R4MPAG3 - LSU. W1LL TH3Y B3 HUM1LI4T3D ON TEH C0URT OR CH1CK3N 0UT 4ND R3FUSE TO SH0W L1KE WH3N TH3Y C4NC3LED OUR F00TB4LL C0NTR4CT?? 0NLY C0W4RDL33 P4NS33Z WE4R Y3LL0W 4ND PURPL3!11!

N0, TH3 R33L QU3ST1ON: W1LL PUK3 OR GWho SUC33D IN THR0W1NG TH3IR G4M3 4ND AV01D1NG 0UR F33RES0M3 WR4TH??? W4TCH TEH "W1NN3R" W33P B1TT3R T34RS!!!1! L1ST3N TO MY CRU3L L4UGHT3R 4T TH31R P4TH3T1C 3FFORTZ!!1 F33L M1LB4RG3'S 4G0NY 4 C4US1NG TH3 D1S4ST3R!1!!

CL1MB 0N TH3 TR41N, ITZ N0T ST0PP1NG F0R NE1!!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Will return at:

Last Wednesday was a good day I didn't want to talk about, and Saturday was a horrible day that makes me not want to talk about anything for a while. Don't expect much blogging any time soon. Maybe none for a long while.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Bobby Ewing is dead

Tonight Battlestar Galactica somehow changed from a remake of Battlestar Galactica to a remake of a bad old series that should have a cult like following...V. This probably blew my previous top science fictional mindfuck. I presently think this is brilliant, but I reserve the right to decide it is actually the greatest human artistic achievment of all time. I may also have myself checked into a psychiatric ward.

Is "towel head" on the WSJ style sheet?

Um:
Dubai Ports World finally threw in the kaffiyah on its American operations yesterday...

I'm proud to be out of touch

Most ridiculous item of the day, in response to a proposal to give every Illinois seventh grader a laptop:
But it seems hard to deny that computer-users, even children, are likely to learn things from their computers. When I was in middle- and high- school I used the internet to learn about the interactions between objectivism and libertarianism, a lot of arguments about the moral character of Shakespeare's Hamlet, how (not) to flirt with girls, lots of poems, and more.
My libertarian sympathies arise from the fact I'm an uncaring, cruel asshole who feels nothing for the stupid, ignorant, and hopeless masses who really can't lead successful lives without someone beating virtue into them or paying them enough not to starve on the streets or riot. It never occurred to me that others might arive at the same conclusions because they honestly thought everyone else was like them. Wow.

Addendum: I look forward to the followup post suggesting that Illinois should also buy all 16 year olds cars and collision insurance. After all, he no doubt used his to visit distant museums on the weekends and run errands for [insert cliche here].

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

War is politics by other means

I saw a couple of interesting posts today on politics and the military.

Daniel Solove is concerned about military computer networks blocking access to leftish political sites, but without restricting their opposite numbers on the right. As I've noted in the comments there, I don't think this is necessarily an evil plot to restrict disfavored ideas. It's defensible as an effort to maintaine morale and good discipline.

As an example, it's not hard to believe that every one of the banned sites might have linked to or discussed at some point one of those "we support our troops when they shoot their officers" banner or t-shirt. I'm sure Wonkette's touched on that sort of thing in the past in a faux approving manner, and I can well imagine some uptight martinet trying to block everything of the sort. Perhaps it's still not a good idea and most likely it's for less defensible reasons. But it is defensible.

The other, more compelling issue is the presence of U.S. military personnel, in uniform, at some "political" events. Jim MacDonald, who makes Andrew Sullivan look serene and unflappable, gibbers about a secret plot to influence politics through uniformed PR, if not...well, something diabolical and evil.

If I understand his argument, which is difficult to do when in a normal mental state, he has taken a Bob Novak column, mixed it with the presence of a uniformed Marine Sergeant at a GOP county social event, and discovered horribly illegal shenanigans.

Latest step in the hit parade as Bush and his cronies move to destroy our military is the use of uniformed troops at partisan political events.

Bob “I didn’t say ‘Valerie Plame,’ I said ‘Ambassador Joe Wilson’s wife’ and that could have been anyone” Novak told us it was coming:

… the Bush administration is going directly to the public with its war message. Raul Damas, associate director of political affairs at the White House, has been on the phone directly to Republican county chairmen to arrange local speeches by active duty military personnel to talk about their experiences in Iraq. To some Republican members, this unusual venture connotes a desire to go directly to the people to sell the president’s position without having to deal with members of Congress.
As an inital matter, this isn't clearly anything to worry about. It could just be the modern equivalent of sending WWII war heroes around to make appearances and give speeches to boost morale, recruitment, and war bond purchases. The sour note, however, comes from the fact they're setting this up (whatever it may be) through contacts with "Republican county chairmen." And why is the White House, not the DoD, behind this? These are important questions worthy of serious answers.

So bring on the hysteria!

This wasn’t just blue-skying: they’ve gone and done it:

The clank of silverware echoed above the polite dinner conversation about topics such as fiscal discipline, permanent tax cuts and the war in Iraq when more than 250 Republicans gathered in Fort Collins on Friday night for the Larimer County GOP Lincoln Day Dinner.

U.S. Congressman Mike Pence of Indiana, the keynote speaker, provided the audience with a message of hope that the party will keep its promises to bring democracy to Iraq, end big government, reduce spending and return to Republican core values.

Check the photos to see Marine Sergeant Brandon Forsyth, in uniform, being introduced by Representative Marilyn Musgrave.

Yes, folks, Laramie County in Colorado had its annual dinner honoring Lincoln and a Marine in uniform...was there. Oh, he probably did something fiendish, but the newspaper story hushed it up and declined to mention Sergeant Forsyth actually playing any role or speaking a word, only, we are sinisterly informed, being "introduce[d]." Pull the other one! After you put me in Guantanomo, presumably.

MacDonald then launches into a breathless recitation of various regulations:
What does DOD 1344.10 forbid? A pile of things, including but not limited to:

4.1.2. A member on active duty shall not:

4.1.2.1. Use his or her official authority or influence for interfering with an election; affecting the course or outcome of an election; soliciting votes for a particular candidate or issue; or requiring or soliciting political contributions from others.

4.1.2.2. Be a candidate for, hold, or exercise the functions of civil office except as authorized in paragraphs 4.2. and 4.3., below.

4.1.2.3. Participate in partisan political management, campaigns, or conventions (unless attending a convention as a spectator when not in uniform).

4.1.2.4. Make campaign contributions to another member of the Armed Forces or an employee of the Federal Government.
Enclosure 3 to DOD 1344.10 provides examples of prohibited activities, including:

E3.3. EXAMPLES OF PROHIBITED POLITICAL ACTIVITIES

In accordance with the statutory restrictions in 10 U.S.C. 973(b) (reference (b)) and references (g) and (h), and the policies established in section 4., above, of this Directive, a member on active duty shall not:



E3.3.8. Speak before a partisan political gathering, including any gathering that promotes a partisan political party, candidate, or cause.

E3.3.9. Participate in any radio, television, or other program or group discussion as an advocate for or against of a partisan political party, candidate, or cause.
I've emphasized the most relevant words of prohibition, none of which, of course, there is any evidence Sergeant Forsyth did. All we know is he had dinner and was introduced. We don't know if he spoke. We don't, even, really know what kind of event this was. Yes, the keynote speaker spoke some partisan boilerplate. But what was this "Lincoln dinner," really? Sure, it was "partisan." But was it actually a fundraiser, or just an annual social event to rub shoulders and connect? We don't know, all we can be absolutely sure of is that it's a grave threat to the Republic.

Well, no, apparently we can't be sure of that, either. MacDonald doesn't say so, but he does implicitly realize all his sound and fury thus far signifies nothing, and soadds in some quotes from an Air Force(!) publication for recruiters (pdf), discussing how recruiters should not attend political events, period.
Capt. D’Andrea helpfully informs the eager recruiters who might be tempted to show up at partisan events in uniform, even if they’re there as mere spectators, that they will become subject to punishment under Article 92 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ): Failure to Obey Order or Regulation.
Well, yes. And that order or regulation is...Air Force Instruction 51-902, Political Activities by Members of the U.S. Air Force. MacDonald doesn't quote this, but I shall. Among the prohibited activities:
Attend, as an official representitive of the armed forces, partisan political events, even without actively participating.
Now we're getting somewhere! Why, if Forsyth was there "as an official representative" and, ah, in the fucking Air Force, he'd be guilty, guilty, guilty! But he presumably wasn't, and he certainly isn't, so the problem is...what, precisely?

MacDonald and the many other feebs grasping onto this in their intellectual bankruptcy and political desperation are assuming many, many things to make this look bad. I'm going to assume some things as well: Forsyth is not a recruiter. He's in a line unit that has been deployed to Iraq, and he's visiting his family in Colorado on leave. Some friend or family member is plugged into the local Republican establishment, they talked, and someone invited Forsyth to come have a free dinner. He stood up, was introduced as a veteran, the crowd applauded him for his service, and then he sat down and ate. The end.

Maybe that's not what happened. Maybe he's a Marine recruiter breaking the Air Force rules, and maybe even those of the USMC, in order to get his monthly quota by pushing some 50ish white collar types to sign up and serve their country. Maybe he's a plant from USNORTHCOM sent to engage in proganda and get the Congressmen in attendance to increase their budget. Maybe he's Karl Rove's nephew.

And maybe this is all a lot of nothing, and all of the time wasted worrying about this could be better spent persuing the serious issue of what Novak's article that started this off was really all about. Maybe the local Democrats might even consider inviting Forsyth to a similar dinner to commend him on his service in a time of war.

Or maybe that's too much to hope for.

Addendum: Joshua Marshall is investigating and commenting on this in somewhat more sober fashion. The link includes a better (and worse) photo of two Marines standing next to the podium. Marshall correctly notes that we "need" (well, ok) to know more before reaching any certain conclusions, but I disagree that "just what appears within the four corners of this photograph seems in direct contravention of military regs."

I will say that my sense is there is little inappropriate, and nothing illegal, about an appearance in uniform if my suggested scenario above is correct. But pretty much anything else is bad and shouldn't be done, even if it would be legal. And again, the question of whether the Bush administration is engaging in other activities that would be clearly against the law is an important one.

It's nice to know that not everyone exercised about it is a credulous fool. There is some sense in MacDonald's comments:

According to my Constitutional specialist, this particular "edge" has been walked by both parties many times. The current ruling on this issue is that military personnel in uniform may appear at such functions, may speak in a generic "rah rah support the troops" speech, but in no way speak in support of a political position/person/party. A picture of an elected official introducing a person in military uniform doesn't cross that line. What did the Sergeant say?

It would still be a good idea to counsel troops exposed to these "invitations" to make sure they completely understood what they could and could not do.

It also doesn't look good. But George "run as the more moral person" Bush seems to been disregarding morality issues since before his second presidential election.

MacDonald predictably misses the point and whines that it's not a "Constitutional" issue. That's not right, of course. Just because the UCMJ or some other authority may pretend to limit the political rights of uniformed servicemen doesn't mean the First Amendment allows it. Someone, I think Slate, possibly its Explainer, had a good summary of the issues a couple of weeks ago.

More: It just gets better!
Lin, please inform your Constitutional specialist that the Bill of Rights does not apply to active duty military members. What applies to the military is Article 1, Section 8. Freedom of speech quite explicitly does not exist in the military.
At all! Absolutism is so much fun. I guess the only people the military can constitutionally torture is the military itself, then. In fact...I am a damned genius. Draft the "insurgents" and then have our way with them! To hell with your constitutional rights, you're in the Army now, and you have none. Muahaha!

Monday, March 06, 2006

FINALLY

And I didn't even have to call.

Lo-Fi Tennessee mountain angel

I'm sure I saw more than one movie last year, but I couldn't tell you what the others were. So it's perhaps unfair for me to say that I don't understand why Reese Witherspoon won Best Actress. I'll just pretend it's overdue recognition for Election.

Reviews of Jon Stewart seem pretty mixed. They're all right, but none more so than this:
Stewart, it turned out, was not a very good Oscar host. But he was a great anti-host. His best moments came not when he was playing the gladhanding Hollywood cheerleader--both he and the audience seemed uncomfortable with that--but when he played the role of the cynical uncle making the toast at the wedding.

All this played better at home than it seemed to in the hall. Whatever Hollywood's political affinities with The Daily Show, there is a big divide between L.A. showbiz (earnest, effusive, credulous) and Stewart's New York sensibility (ironic, deadpan, skeptical).
It was more than that, however. Frankly, much of the Academy crowd just isn't smart enough to get his jokes without a helpful graphic or his usual audience of NYU stoners to clue them in. Hell, I was a little slow on the uptake at times. My first thought about Clooney allegedly ending his dates with "good night, and good luck" was: venereal disease?

Saturday, March 04, 2006

There are three kinds of women

But no one, apparently, can agree what they are. Myself, I'm persuaded by a theory advanced by one of Harry Hutton's readers:
large dog= biker ex-boyfriends
cat= nightly headaches
small dog= blowjob city
Of those women on my blogroll with known pets, I would be somewhat surprised if Scheherazade hadn't dated a biker even before her one day stint as a bartender in the "diviest" local bar; we know Amber has migraines a lot; and we know the Hot Librarian likes comments.

I'll let you debate the general applicability of this in my comments (expect no reward), but I've got to get down to the dog park and meet some hot tail.

Addendum: Oh, shit. Before long term readers remind me, yes, I do recall that my mom and teenage sister live in a home with two mini-dachshunds. And, no, I don't know if Phoebe's desire for one of the hyperactive slobber monsters (dachshunds, not my mom and/or sister) has been fulfilled yet.

Friday, March 03, 2006

What would you do if you were stuck in one place and every day was exactly the same, and nothing that you did mattered?

That about sums it up for me.

I apologize for the extended silence this week and the intermittent, every other day stuff before that. I've advanced from Charlie Brownesque hope forever denied to Phil Connors-like apathetic fatalism. I applied for something in early November and was supposed to hear back in a week. They lost my paperwork, I resubmitted it after Thanksgiving. They then said yes, but not until January. I should have known better.

So after interminably waiting for it to supposedly be resolved through other channels, I finally resubmitted the whole packet last Friday and started over, seemingly a wise course since both of the front end bureacrats originally "helping" me left for new jobs. Naturally, no one has called me in the intervening week, although I was assured on Tuesday that they were checking up on it. I think I might have to do some crazy shit Monday.

Anything different is good.

Joan of Orange County

If I knew any Los Angeles residents in need of serious counseling I'd try to throw some business Wafa Sultan's way, but instead I'll just share this video of her appearance on Al Jazeera. Apparently she's an Arab American (but atheist) shrink in LA who they get on to debate the raving nutballs every now and then. The transcript is good, too, but doesn't give you the full effect of her rather ball breaking tone and the surreal experience of seeing someone on a news show allowed to speak uninterrupted for more than three seconds.
The clash we are witnessing around the world is not a clash of religions, or a clash of civilizations. It is a clash between two opposites, between two eras. It is a clash between a mentality that belongs to the Middle Ages and another mentality that belongs to the 21st century. It is a clash between civilization and backwardness, between the civilized and the primitive, between barbarity and rationality. It is a clash between freedom and oppression, between democracy and dictatorship. It is a clash between human rights, on the one hand, and the violation of these rights, on other hand. It is a clash between those who treat women like beasts, and those who treat them like human beings. What we see today is not a clash of civilizations. Civilizations do not clash, but compete.
Via Gene Expression.