Monday, June 30, 2008

'Bout Time Someone Said So

Someone to whom the media will listen, anyway:

I don't think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president.
-- Gen. (ret.) Wesley K. Clark

I'm not looking for a Swiftboat-style attack on John McCain. I have no interest in trafficking in stories that allege that he was brainwashed by the Vietcong or that he turned traitor while in captivity or anything like that.

However, it has long irritated me that virtually no one in the MSM is capable of mentioning John McCain -- in any context -- without appending the words war hero. I respect the mindset that views military service as honorable and I admire his grit for surviving his years as a POW. But really, Wes Clark speaks the truth.

I thought Barack Obama put it nicely in a statement that some are sure to label as a non-apology apology (Clark is an Obama adviser):

For those like John McCain who have endured physical torment in service to our country, no further proof of such sacrifice is necessary.

Exactly. We're not questioning McCain's handling of himself during that time. But it did happen upwards of forty years ago, it's not like he's the only one who's ever gone through this, and in any case, it says nothing about his ability to be Chief Executive. The way that many pundits and even journalists refer to McCain, however, suggests that it happened last week, and that it serves as sufficient qualification for the job he now seeks.

There is also the sense in the phrase of an all-purpose Get Out Of Jail Free card. As soon as "war hero" is said, nothing more gets said about his history of shady land deals, his lack of understanding about economic or technological or environmental issues, his wish to continue the Bush policies on taxes and judicial appointments, his flip-flopping, the contradiction between his self-styled maverick image and the number of lobbyists who run his campaign, or the fact that his foreign policy views begin and end at the point of a bayonet.

So, good for Wes Clark for pointing out that what looks like a halo is really nothing more than a slightly elevated ring around the collar. And let me close by proposing that we should -- literally -- throw under the bus anyone who calls for Obama to throw Clark under the bus, or indeed, who even uses that most tiresome of political phrases.

[added] You really ought to have a look at Twin's follow-up remarks in the Comments. Thanks, Twin.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

In Which We Begin to Learn How Frustration Can Promote the Urge to Torture

Harry Shearer played some excerpts from John Yoo's testimony before Congress on the 29 June 2008 edition of Le Show. The whole program is well worth listening to, but if you're in a hurry, the lead-in to the Yoo bit starts at about 36:40 and the actual excerpts start at about 38:10 (Short commercial promotional message plays first, after which you'll see a slider.)

Saturday, June 28, 2008

23 Skid. Oooo.

The people have spoken.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Security Update: Adobe Reader, Adobe Acrobat

Adobe has released a security patch for Acrobat and Reader, for Mac and Windows.

You can get the update directly here, or use Help → Check for Updates from within the program. You'll need to be logged in as Administrator to see this menu option and to do the update in either case.

Krebs says to do it right away.

Iraq Update

Terry Gross interviewed NY Times Baghdad bureau chief James Glanz yesterday on Fresh Air. Well worth a listen.

Executive summary: You know how the Bush Administration has been telling us that things are now going great? Sorry to spring this on you, but not so much.

[added] Here's Glanz's recent piece that was mentioned in the interview: Government Study Criticizes Bush Administration’s Measures of Progress in Iraq.

[added] Jargon watch: Writing in a letter disputing the GAO's report, as noted in the article, the acting deputy assistant secretary of defense for the Middle East says that the Pentagon ...

... "nonconcurs" with the conclusion that a new strategy for stabilizing Iraq was needed.

I don't know which is more hilarious, his jargon or his job title.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Why Flickr is Eating Our Lunch, Part 973

Just got the following by email from Kodak Gallery:

Dear Brendan,

Kodak Gallery appreciates the opportunity to serve you and we hope you'll continue to choose to keep your photos with us. Our Terms of Service require that you make at least one purchase from us every 12 months in order to maintain free storage of the photos in your account.

You need to make a purchase by July 25th 2008 to continue to enjoy free storage at the Gallery for another 12 months and to avoid deletion of your photos.

For a limited time you can save 25% on your purchase of $10 or more with coupon code: GET25NOW when you place an order.*

To maintain your free photo storage, simply sign in to your account and make a purchase today.

File under: Ain't Gonna Happen. See Ya!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

How Long Until Everyone on the Planet
Bookmarks ...

... this site?

I beg you: Use it. Don't abuse it.

(h/t: Joel Spolsky)

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Woo-hoo! No Woo!

I am almost always made impatient when people wax philosophical about science, particularly when a vague familiarity with a few aspects of quantum mechanics is put forth to "explain" free will, consciousness, changing the universe by changing your state of mind, and all manner of New Age woo. Therefore, when I make the following recommendation, you can be sure that I really found a striking exception.

This week's episode of "Science Saturday" on is a diavlog between theoretical physicist Sean Carroll and philosopher of science David Albert. A glance at my blogroll and through the archives shows how much I admire Sean.

I had not heard of David before today, but I found him fascinating to listen to. My affinity for him was enhanced right at the beginning of the diavlog, when he talked briefly about being sandbagged by the makers of the movie What the #$*! Do We (K)now!?. The moment that resonated most, though, is shown below. This half-minute clip is the kind of thing I wish I could hear more often from all philosophers:

If the above embedded video doesn't work, watch the clip here. But if you're at all interested in theoretical physics, or more broadly, in thinking about how we know what we know, you really should watch the whole thing.

By the way, you can read more about What the #$*! Do We (K)now!? on Salon. David is quoted on page 2 of this article. There's a good post about the movie on Skeptico, too.

And finally, if you have some more time, Sean's other appearances on are well worth watching, too.

Firefox 3: Make the Location Bar Yellow for Secure Sites

In Firefox 2, the background color of the location bar would turn yellow when you were at a secure site (one whose URL begins https://). By default, that is no longer the case in Firefox 3. If you want to bring back this behavior, see Lifehacker's Power User's Guide to Firefox 3.

The procedure involves adding some text to a configuration file called userChrome.css. If you don't have such a file in the expected location as Lifehacker's post describes, you probably have one called userChrome-example.css. Copy that to userChrome.css and modify as described in the LH post. Save the file, restart Firefox, and you should be see the changes the next time you visit a secure site. If you'd like to test the behavior right here, clicking the Comments link will do it.

Firefox 3: Awesome Bar Not So Awesome?

I let this loose in my first post about Firefox 3:

One minor gripe: The new location bar (where the URL of the website that you're visiting appears) is a bit busy for me, when I'm typing in a new URL. If you're the sort of person who types in URLs by hand, you may notice this, too. The old way that the location bar worked is that as one began typing, a drop-down menu would appear. The menu would list possible matches from your browsing history, based on the letters typed so far for the new URL.

Turns out there is an add-on, called oldbar, that will change the drop-down appearance back to the way it was in Firefox 2 (although the underlying algorithm remains the same). I haven't added it yet, since I'm not yet hating the new way, so this is mostly a note to self.

(h/t: Lifehacker's Power User's Guide to Firefox 3)

Friday, June 20, 2008

Firefox 3: Disappeaing Quick Edit Icon Problem Solved

I noted in a previous post that after installing Firefox 3, I could no longer see the "quick edit" icons (the pencil under the posts and the wrench/screwdriver under the sidebar items) while logged into and viewing my own blog. I have just solved my problem.

It turns out that Firefox 3 added a new privacy option (Tools → Options → Privacy tab), labeled "Accept third-party cookies." As installed on my system, possibly in accordance with settings from my previous installed version of Firefox 2, this box was unchecked. Checking this box makes the quick edit icons/links reappear.

IIRC, this specific privacy setting was in Firefox 1.x and was removed from Ffox 2.x. And now, apparently, it is back.

The unfortunate aspect to this is that in most cases, I do not want third-party cookies to be set. Ah, well. At least the technical problem has been cleared up.

BTW, the Blogger Help page that gave me the hint to look for this setting is here.

(This info cross-posted to the Blogger Help Group on Google Groups.)

I'm Dreaming of a New MSM

Swiped from the Evolutionary Middleman:

(alt. video link)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Glenn Greenwald Interview of Jeff Cohen

Glenn Greenwald of Salon interviewed Jeff Cohen a few weeks ago. Here's an excerpt from the show page:

This morning, I interviewed Jeff Cohen, the former producer of the MSNBC show Donahue, which was canceled weeks before the invasion of Iraq despite being that network's highest rated show because, as a leaked NBC memorandum revealed, that network did not want to host an anti-war commentator -- not even a single one.

Cohen's comments, particularly as the interview progresses, are very illuminating regarding the corporate and political pressures at MSNBC at that time to promote only a pro-war, pro-Bush view. It's roughly 30 minutes long. The sound quality of the interview is quite good (we're continuously trying to improve sound quality) and Cohen makes many trenchant observations and reveals some very interesting facts about NBC, MSNBC, GE and its various on-air personalities. The interview can be heard here.

You may think the interview will do nothing more than confirm some of your suspicions, but it's well worth listening to, anyway. It is just astounding to what lengths the selling of the Iraq invasion went.

Firefox 3 and XPL LinkScanner Lite

Yesterday, I noted that the add-on XPL LinkScanner Lite was not compatible with Firefox 3. I heard back from support today. Here's the meat of the email:

We have added Firefox 3 support into LinkScanner and this is currently available in AVG Anti-Virus and Internet Security versions 8.0.125 and later. We do have plans to release an update to the older stand alone LinkScanner 2.7 to support existing customers. The update will contain support for Firefox 3. This is currently scheduled for release by the end of July. NOTE: When using LinkScanner Pro with Firefox 3 your online activities are still protected via active exploit and malsite blocking. Only the SearchShield functionality (search icons) is missing from Firefox 3.

Update (June 19th, 2008): An interm hotfix to add support for Firefox 3 is now planned for the week of June 30th. A full update to LinkScanner 2.7 is still planned for the end July.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Fiddling Ended

Regarding the last post, I have stopped fiddling around. Appearances should be back to normal. Please let me know if you see anything strange.

Pardon Our Appearance

If things look strange on this blog, it's because I'm fiddling with some layout settings, trying to debug a couple of glitches. Sorry for any inconvenience.

I'll add another post when I've stopped fiddling.

Security Notice: OpenOffice

OpenOffice, the free alternative to the Microsoft Office suite, has released a patch to close a security vulnerability that's being called "highly critical." This brings the latest version to 2.4.1. The vulnerability affects all versions of OO from 2.0 through 2.4. Details here. (Hat tip: Ryan Naraine.)

I downloaded and installed it. It went fine.

Some gripes, some of which I've noted before:

  • You can use Help → Check for Updates from within any OO program to get the new version. You have to be logged in as Administrator, however, even just to check for the update and to download it. I don't mind, much, having to log in as Administrator to install software, but I should at least be able to check for updates as a regular user. In fact, this a top priority for OO to address, and indeed, notification of the availability of security updates should be automatic, since smart computer users do not regularly work while logged in as Administrator.

  • Still no patch mechanism, which means the entire 127 MB installer has to be downloaded.

  • During the installation, OO launches your web browser to display some sort of "thank you" page. Later on in the installation, it pauses, saying it needs to make a change that requires you to close the browser. Later on still, it fires up the browser to display the same "thank you" page. I don't remember this happening before -- either one of the two different invocations of the browser or the "browser must be closed" hurdle smells like a bug in the installation program. Hard to believe this one got through testing. Could be a peculiarity of my system, conceivably, but it's hard for me to write it off that easily. My machine, I'd wager, is cleaner than most Windows boxes.

  • The installer unpacks files to a new folder during installation, but does not clean up after itself. Granted, the new folder is created, by default, on the Desktop, so it's easy enough to delete, but there is no reason why the standard installation procedure shouldn't delete this folder automatically at the end of the process. After all, there are several times during the looooooong installation process where the status window says something like "cleaning up" or "removing temporary files." Why not finish the job?

  • No matter what the previously installed version's settings were, OO insists on adding a "QuickLaunch" icon to the System Tray. This reflects yet another program that runs at start-up and never stops. Granted, it's probably a small program, and most people have more RAM than I do these days, but still. It should not do this without asking.

  • OO insists on adding a bunch of entries under the "New" entry in the Windows menu that you see when you right-click on the Desktop.

The bloat aspect -- no patch mechanism, meaning a complete download and install cycle is required just to close a security hole -- strikes me as lazy programming. So does the fact that there is no notification mechanism for updates available to non-Adminstrator accounts.

The last two gripes strike me as bad design -- I hate when programs insert themselves into all sorts of Windows nooks and crannies. It is not obvious to most regular users how to get rid of or disable these things; in fact, to clean up the "New" menu requires a separate utility. At minimum, both of these behaviors should be the sort of thing that the user is asked about upon installation of the program, and the default should be not to do them.

I like OO well enough for my limited word processing and spreadsheet needs, especially at the price, but I'm starting to like it less. Compare it to the new version of Firefox: Firefox's whole installer weighs in at 7 MB (about 5% the size of OO), I can install it and maintain it as a regular user, installation is polite and speedy and doesn't leave intermediate droppings behind, applying a security patch takes less than a minute from first being notified through the end of downloading, installing, and restarting, and so on. I get that a full office suite is more complex than a Web browser, but still, if Sun and don't get their act together on some of these things, they're going to lose yet another customer to the Borg Cloud.

Firefox 3: More on Add-ons and Minor Glitch Observations

I mentioned in my previous post that upon launching Firefox 3 for the first time, two of my add-ons were noted as incompatible, that no updates could be found, and so were disabled.

The first, Get Mail, which I use only so that CTRL-m will launch my email program from within Firefox, has an update available on the author's website. From previous communication, I recall that the author does not like the amount of hoops that Mozilla asks its add-on developers to jump through before they'll host an add-on and integrate it into the "Check for Updates" machinery. If you use this add-on, or want to find out more about it, visit the home page for the Get Mail Add-On for Firefox.

The second, XPL LinkScanner Lite, is a safe-surfing utility that scans websites for potential malware and other undesirable behaviors. It has never played within the standard Mozilla framework for add-ons, so I tried uninstalling the existing version, and downloading and installing the latest version. No soap. Firefox still thinks it's not compatible and keeps it disabled. The "console mode" for LinkScanner, accessible by double-clicking its icon in the Windows System Tray, still works -- among other things, this allows individual links to be checked by entering them by hand (or by paste). I have notified XPL of its add-on incompatibility, and if I hear back, I'll pass along whatever I learn.

As I mentioned in the last post, I also use another safe-surfing add-on, McAfee' SiteAdvisor. This utility adds a flag to the lower right corner of the browser that turns green (safe), yellow (warning), red (danger), or gray (no info) as you visit a new page. It also adds flags to the results returned by doing a Google (as John McCain might say). Find out more at the McAfee SiteAdvisor home page.

I have observed one minor glitch which may be of interest to those who run a Blogger blog: The "quick edit" link (the pencil icon), which allows for one-click editing of posts while viewing your own blog, is not appearing at the moment. I have confirmed that I'm logged in and that the appropriate setting is enabled in the Options. I have flushed the cache and restarted Firefox, and it still isn't there.

On a possibly related note, the icon to "Email this Post" is also not visible, although by hovering in the right area, it can be detected by the change in the cursor and the tooltip window that pops up. Clicking in this apparently blank area results in the correct behavior.

If I do a View → Page Source, I can see the code for both of these links where I'd expect it to be. I have no idea why neither icon appears, nor why one should invisibly work and the other not at all.

If any other Blogger users who are running Firefox 3 can weigh in on these in the Comments, I'd appreciate it. Do you see the same problem or not? I have posted this bug in the Blogger Help Group forums, and I'll pass along anything (else) that comes up. (So far, I have received one reply, which suggested that I check my scripting settings. I interpreted this to mean "make sure Javascript isn't disabled in the browser," and I have done that. No soap.)

Firefox 3 Released

Version 3.0 of Firefox is now available. Visit to get it.

Some quick notes based on my first impression:

  • You can't get the new version by using Help → Check for Updates, at least not right now. You must visit the site and click the big green download button.

  • The site is a little slow to respond right now, unsurprisingly, but not prohibitively so.

  • Download and installation proceeded without a hitch.

  • The new version will overwrite your existing version of Firefox, assuming you have one installed. This did not cause any problems for me. As far as I can tell, my settings were preserved; e.g., bookmarks and browsing history carried over, my existing choice of which toolbars to display and how to display them is correct, my non-default start page remains as specified, and so on. I don't use any skins or customization of this nature, so I can't say how that will work. Drop a note in the Comments if you experience something weird in this regard, please.

  • The out-of-the-box appearance of Firefox 3 is not greatly different from Firefox 2. The menus and keyboard shortcuts appear pretty much the same, which is a relief to those of use who like not to reach for the mouse. The icons in the navigation toolbar look new, but they're in the same positions.

  • The first time you start the new version of Firefox, you'll notice a short delay while it checks your add-ons for compatibility. If it finds any that are not compatible, it reports these and offers to look for updates. Add-ons for which incompatibilities exist and no updates can be found are disabled, with a promise from Firefox to check for such updates periodically in the future.

    Two add-ons that I use that had to be disabled: Get Mail, which basically adds the shortcut key CTRL-m to launch my email program, and XPL LinkScanner, a utility that checks websites for nastiness. I believe that both of these are non-standard add-ons, that Get Mail can be updated by an alternate method, and that the disabling of LinkScanner, as I use it, is a non-issue. I'll have more to say about this in my next post.

    Add-ons that I use that were not disabled by the the new version of Firefox: Flashblock, Image Zoom, McAfee SiteAdvisor, and PDF Download. Note that PDF Download did not offer an update when I first started the new version of Firefox, but it did, to v., when I just clicked the "Find Updates" button in the Add-ons Manager (Tools → Add-ons). Could be that they just made one available in the hour or so that I've been playing with the new version.

So far, I have noticed only one tiny hiccup: the default installation procedure results in shortcut icons being added to the Windows Desktop and to the Windows Quick Launch toolbar. If you already have a Firefox shortcut on the Desktop, you may get a second one. I did already have a shortcut icon in the Quick Launch toolbar, and the installation added a second one. No problems were caused b deleting this or the one on the Desktop. My old Quick Launch shortcut still works, as does the shortcut I created in my customized Windows Start menu -- kudos to the Firefox team for this.

One minor observation: The default appearance of Firefox 3 means that the "back" button in the navigation toolbar is larger than the other button. If you have customized Firefox to specify smaller icons in the nav toolbar, this does not show up -- the back button is the same size as the other buttons. (I note this with happiness.)

One minor gripe: The new location bar (where the URL of the website that you're visiting appears) is a bit busy for me, when I'm typing in a new URL. If you're the sort of person who types in URLs by hand, you may notice this, too. The old way that the location bar worked is that as one began typing, a drop-down menu would appear. The menu would list possible matches from your browsing history, based on the letters typed so far for the new URL.

The new approach preserves this behavior, but also adds to the list matches from the titles of previously visited pages. The display, consequently, is more cluttered. The old version displayed a list of URL, one per line, all in the same font. In the new version, each candidate entry now takes up two lines. The first is the title of the page, the second is the URL for that page. The URL appears in a smaller font.

This could be something that everyone except me likes from the get-go. It irritates me because if I'm typing a URL, I am thinking of URLs, not page titles, so I'd prefer to see only URLs as candidates for completion. In the rare case that I'm trying to recall a previously-viewed page by keywords in its title, well, that's what CTRL-h is for, right?

I expect that I'll get used to it, but it's annoying that I can't flick a switch in about:config to restore the old behavior.

[added] Oh, one more minor observation: In what must be connected to the developers' love for their new location bar, the History appears to be set to 90 days by default. I had mine set to 10 days, I believe, but I can't swear to it. Since there does not appear to be any penalty for leaving the (new?) default setting as is, I guess I will.

Overall, no complaints. The claim is that the new version is slimmer and speedier. It does feel that way to me. There are bunches of improvements described on Mozilla's FAQs, Features, Tips & Tricks, and Release Notes pages that I have still to look at.

In the meantime, while I'm working on my next post about the disabled add-ons, feel free to share any new goodness that you've come across.

Shameless rah-rah-ism and a cool interactive map here:

Download Day - English

As of this moment, Firefox 3 has been downloaded 1,091,511 times from the US. Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Spain, and the UK all show about 100K downloads.

Iran is already up to 58,294. China (77,086), Russia (32,905), and India (15,835) are all surprisingly low, but I'm thinking time zone differences are at work here. (I explain away Iran with absolutely no evidence by asserting that this coffee-loving, teetotaling nation is filled with night owls.)

Some also-rans: Greenland: 28, Afghanistan: 38, Iraq: 82, Nepal: 146, Cuba: 513, Sri Lanka: 656.

Israel: 7583. Palestinian Territories: 95.

South Korea: 17,872. North Korea: 0.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

E Pluribus Unum, v2.0

If you're interested in this sort of thing, IEEE's Spectrum has put together a special report on the coming Singularity. There are articles and videos, featuring both optimists and skeptics. I haven't gone through it yet, but it looks good.

On a related note, John Horgan, a science writer and skeptic about all this, interviewed and debated a leading proponent, Eliezer Yudkowsky, on's Science Saturday, last week.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Neologism of the Day: 2008-06-13

I think I saw this mentioned somewhere else a day or two ago, but as I've just happened across the original source, now I really have to note it.

Can you guess the definition before you click the link?

John Scalzi introduces ... nerdgassing!

I love it.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Mouse Who Roared

Remember my post about the lion? With the video showing one of the Factor toadies who tried to ambush Bill Moyers getting pwned?

Unsurprisingly, the all mouth and no spine Bill O'Reilly has his own version of the video, complete with selective editing. Oh, and yet another paid sycophant to help with his self-reassurance:

(alt. video link)

"It doesn't matter what he says," says the Falafel Master. Which, I guess, is why he quickly stopped the tape before his viewers could hear for themselves.

I used to get annoyed at this blowhard. Now I just feel sorry for him.

(h/t: DJ)

Not for the first time in my life, I am not proud of my country

Hello, dolly.

Hey, baby.

(h/t: Jesse Taylor, via bean)

Oliver is not happy, either. Nor is Brad.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Mistaking Self-Importance for Importance

On another note, I've received zero reach out from the Obama team, which is their prerogative to do or not, but it's a mistake.
-- Taylor Marsh

MSM Love for McCain Rages On

This time, it's Chuck Todd in denial.


I don't follow baseball much anymore, but I always did like Ken Griffey, Jr. Sports writer and blogger extraordinaire Joe Posnanski, on occasion of Junior's milestone, reminds me of why.

(h/t: MetsGrrl, via Scott Lemieux)


[Update 2010-09-25 Old link changed to point to Joe's new home online.]

A Small Sign of Hope

KO > BillO!

Evolving Thoughts

Even if you think you've absolutely, positively read the last thing you're going to read about the Democratic primary contest, you should still read "Ask Not What Your Country Can Do For You ..." by John Rogers.

Notice the mood change as the essay progresses. It's exactly what happens to me whenever I try to talk about the situation he describes.

To help ease the anger, though, be sure afterwards to follow his link within, labeled "Crazification Factor," which points to another post of his from about two and a half years ago. Not only will it remind you what's really at stake come November, it's hilarious. Plus, it explains the deep significance of "27%." (But save it for dessert. Trust me on this.)

Now That, My Friends, Is ...

... a screen grab we can believe in.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Security Notices: QuickTime (and that time of the month)

Windows users: Today is Patch Tuesday. If you don't have Automatic Updates turned on, you know what to do.

I just did mine -- four updates for me, running Windows 2000. Reboot required afterwards with a somewhat long turnaround time, or so it seemed. But other than that, no drama.

Windows and Mac users: Apple has released a patch for QuickTime that closes at least five security holes. This brings the latest version to v7.5. Note that this latest version, as with the past few releases, is only available for Windows XP and Vista, and Mac OS X 10.3.9 and higher. Software Update should take care of you, it is claimed. See Ryan Naraine for details and helpful links.

Reminder to Windows users: If you have iTunes on your computer, you also have QuickTime. Even if you never use it, it's worth keeping it up to date.

More Insider Video

If you liked the video of Barack Obama speaking to his headquarters staff, you might also like this one. It was recorded on 30 April 2008 in Indianapolis, IN, according to the notes on the YouTube page. I don't know who he's speaking with here, whether it's a group of volunteers or just a bunch of voters, but it's some kind of informal small group. His remarks have to do with his reflections on building an organization and how he wants to preserve the existing connections and outreach once he gets into the White House.

The article whence I swiped this video, Micah R. Sifry's "Obama's Organization, and the Future of American Politics," on, goes into more detail on these themes, and contains further links to related thoughts from Dave Winer and Doc Searls. It's well worth reading.

The overarching theme of Sifry's article wonders, now that Obama has built this organization that connects and empowers so many people, what will be done with it after the election? Will it fall apart the way previous grassroots organizations that were centered around one person have in the past? Or does this one have a better chance of surviving? The video shows Obama outlining how he wants to keep it in place, as part of an effort to open government back up, to work as a force against special interest groups and lobbyists, and as a way to pressure Congress and the Cabinet officials to do the right thing.

Yes, it's easy to be cynical about all this -- seems like everyone who goes to Washington talking this kind of talk, even if he or she starts out sincere, gets caught up in the Beltway insider system almost overnight. Mr. Smith is fiction, after all.

But maybe, just maybe, this really is a different kind of candidate. Or maybe, at least, the organization that came together around his campaign has become a self-sustaining critical mass of people, who believe his message and will have enough clout to (help him with/hold him to) his promises. Maybe this time, the bubble will be pierced. And to that end, this five minutes of video could be something to remember.

(alt. video link)

(h/t: Matt Yglesias and Jane Hamsher: diavlog)

New Epitome

Bush golfCould there be anything more symbolic of the rampant cronyism and the country club mentality of the Bush Administration than a revelation that it awarded $500,000 to a low-ranked "community" program, whose honorary chairman is George H. W. Bush, that purports to deal with juvenile delinquents by teaching them ... how to play golf?

In fairness, this is probably pretty much how Poppy dealt with W for the first few decades of his life.

(pic. source)

Time for Another Exciting Round of Dumb or Dishonest?

Brought to you, of course, by the Straight Talk Express!

Remember the "gas tax holiday?" Remember how anyone who could count past ten without needing to remove shoes understood that it's a stupid idea? Remember how it saves practically nothing for consumers -- even in the rosiest of scenarios -- and how it will mean the loss of billions of dollars from the highway fund, not to mention thousands of road construction jobs?

And remember how the rosy scenario isn't going to happen, anyway, because those who sell the gas will be all too happy to bump the prices back up to where they were with the tax, and pocket the extra profit?

Remember how     Not.     One.     Economist.     could be found who would say that this was a good idea, the last time it came up?

Evidently, John McCain does not. Is this leadership we can believe in?

Recommended with Regret

Among my regrets, the one that's probably been ticking along steadily for the longest is this: I can't draw.

And this isn't helping.

But you go watch, you have fun. I'll be fine here by myself.

Preach It

You'd think if PZ Myers were to post a five-minute video of a guy talking about religion on Pharyngula -- and not for purposes of mockery -- the man at the podium must have something good to say.

You'd be right.

[Update 2008-11-02] Video at above link no longer available. I found some others which appear to be of the same speech, which I believe was given 28 June 2006.

Here's a five-minute excerpt:

(alt. video link)

Here's the whole thing (about 40 minutes):

(alt. video link)

Attention, Hipsters

No more saying "the Google." There's a new sheriff in town, and the article has gone indefinite.

(h/t: Oliver Willis)

Monday, June 09, 2008

The Resurrection ...

... of the Village People?

Best picture I've seen in days. And look, Ma, no Photoshop!

(pic. source: The Meema Files)

(h/t: Ripley/Whiskey Fire)

Descend Into Madness

... but have some laughs along the way:

There is no Cabal

The above is an animated image with two frames. Wait a few seconds for it to cycle through. Or just click it, whenever.

Non-Political Flip-flopping

Ever heard the old expression, Don't teach your grandmother to suck eggs?

Not sure how she'd would react to this new thinking, but there does seem to be some reason to tell her to blow them, instead.

StraightDoubletalk Express Watch

He is either lying, or he does not remember what he said.
-- John Cole

Wasn't it impressive how the MSM leaped right on this one? Oh, wait. (Note Cole's link to Alter.)

Good Speech by Bill Moyers

Bill Moyers speaking at the National Conference for Media Reform in Minneapolis, June 7, 2008.

About forty minutes long.

Meanwhile, Back at Headquarters ...

Yeah, you can be a little cynical and realize this also was intended for a larger audience. Even so, the feeling of being on the inside is nice, and the whole thing is pretty inspiring.

Here's Barack Obama, speaking to his campaign staff on Friday, 6 June 2008. This is what real straight talk sounds like:

(alt. video link)

(h/t: TC, via email)

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Why It's Never a Good Idea To Poke a Lion with a Shtick

Via my buddy TwinSwords, watch what happens when Bill O'Reilly sends one of his toadies out to make his bones by ambushing Bill Moyers:

(alt. video link)

Epic Fail!

Could you not feel the little bastard's flop sweat? He probably kicked three puppies on his way home.

[added] TRex, quoting C&L, says the tool's name is Porter Barry. (And who wouldn't want to know that?)

To Coin a Phrase ...

... the stupid, it burns.

In today's installment, some of Hillary's completely reasonable (Motto: Yes we are, too!!!) fans are upset because, during Hillary's concession speech today, Obama was apparently playing golf with his wife.

To coin another phrase, I am not making this up.

Here's an excerpt:



Show your power and stay in Hillary’s Camp.Do not move anywhere.We do not owe anyone anything.Not the DNC who is only worried about Money.Not Obama who has bought the superdelegate votes so he and Michelle can golf today during this great day in History.On the day of Hillary’s speech.

No, I don't have any idea why they don't use spaces after their periods on that site, either.

Oh, wait. I said periods. Sorry for my blatant sexism.

The capacity of some of these people to become outraged over everything remotely connected to Obama is just jaw-dropping. Had he not found some place to lay low while Clinton was speaking, you just know the same people would have been furiously typing, "Obama hogs media spotlight!!! Won't even show respect to Hillary while she's speaking on this great day in History!!!"

Next question: How long until one of those completely reasonable people comes over here to scream, "It wasn't a concession speech!!! She only suspended her campaign!!! She conceded nothing!!!"

The good news is, there's no need to worry about how these people claim they're going to vote come November. At the rate they're going, I predict an early summer epidemic of aneurysms.

In My Mind, I'll Always Be 14

Following Tim F.'s serious link to a serious article about a glitch that Mars lander Phoenix is experiencing, knowing full well the context of the story before and while reading it, I was still unable not to snicker when I read this phrase:

Or, it could be that incorrect readings from the vibrator made it look like it was working when it was not.

In related news, I can't say the name of the seventh planet of our solar system, using either pronunciation, without smirking.

Yeah, I'm still single. You had to ask?

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Eyebrow Raiser

The NYT has a long piece analyzing the Clinton campaign which makes for some interesting reading (or, perhaps, too close a look at the sausage-making process, depending on your tastes). This, in particular, caught my eye:

Unlike her opponents, Mrs. Clinton refused to make solicitation calls to donors and had to be talked into calling the party officials known as superdelegates.

Nothing is offered to back this up. Still, if true, it does not at all jibe with my impression of Hillary Clinton. She's been in politics virtually her entire adult life, she (her campaign) raised enormous amounts of money for her initial bid for the Senate in 2000, she's been a key player in everything her husband has done from the late 1970s through the late 1990s, she has a rep for building bridges in the Senate, and on and on. I can certainly imagine why making such phone calls would be tiresome or even unpleasant, but I'd think if anyone would have had had a chance to get used to it, it would have been her.


[added] The article does say, later on, referring to the time around the Pennsylvania primary:

Mrs. Clinton was too far behind to catch up to Mr. Obama among delegates selected by primaries and caucuses, so she hoped to persuade the superdelegates that she would be the stronger candidate in the fall. Only then did she agree to start calling superdelegates personally, something Mr. Obama had been doing for months.

Thanks, Sen. Clinton

Excerpts from the transcript of the speech she gave today:

The way to continue our fight now, to accomplish the goals for which we stand is to take our energy, our passion, our strength, and do all we can to help elect Barack Obama, the next president of the United States.


Today, as I suspend my campaign, I congratulate him on the victory he has won and the extraordinary race he has run. I endorse him and throw my full support behind him.


And I ask all of you to join me in working as hard for Barack Obama as you have for me.


I have served in the Senate with him for four years. I have been in this campaign with him for 16 months. I have stood on the stage and gone toe-to-toe with him in 22 debates. I've had a front-row seat to his candidacy, and I have seen his strength and determination, his grace and his grit.

In his own life, Barack Obama has lived the American dream, as a community organizer, in the State Senate, as a United States senator. He has dedicated himself to ensuring the dream is realized. And in this campaign, he has inspired so many to become involved in the democratic process and invested in our common future.

Now, when I started this race, I intended to win back the White House and make sure we have a president who puts our country back on the path to peace, prosperity and progress. And that's exactly what we're going to do, by ensuring that Barack Obama walks through the doors of the Oval Office on January 20, 2009.


Now, I understand -- I understand that we all know this has been a tough fight, but the Democratic Party is a family. And now it's time to restore the ties that bind us together and to come together around the ideals we share, the values we cherish, and the country we love.

We may have started on separate journeys, but today our paths have merged. And we're all heading toward the same destination, united and more ready than ever to win in November and to turn our country around, because so much is at stake.


Just think how much more progress we could have made over the past 40 years if we'd had a Democratic president. Think about the lost opportunities of these past seven years on the environment and the economy, on health care and civil rights, on education, foreign policy and the Supreme Court.

Imagine how far...


... we could have come, how much we could have achieved if we had just had a Democrat in the White House.


We cannot let this moment slip away. We have come too far and accomplished too much.


It is this belief, this optimism that Senator Obama and I share and that has inspired so many millions of our supporters to make their voices heard. So today I am standing with Senator Obama to say: Yes, we can!


Straight Talk Ducking and Babbling

John McCain recently explained why his lobbyists aren't lobbyists in his usual fashion -- by serving up a string of random fragments of clichés, smothered in his patented soporific drone. My favorite comes at the one-minute mark:

I have a record of working with all Americans to bring this nation back to its future greatness …

(alt. video link)


Here is Matt Taibbi's promotional video for his new book, The Great Derangement: A Terrifying True Story of War, Politics, and Religion at the Twilight of the American Empire:

(alt. video link)

Swiped from Guzman at JAZZ from HELL. Also from that post: a link to Guzman's October 2007 interview of Taibbi, which itself includes some more good links.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Your Moment of Awwwwww!

Orphaned, rescued polar bear cub. Pix, story, and vid. Go see.

(h/t: TRex)

Why It's Hard To Resist the Temptation to Make "Old" Jokes

McCain Compares Obama To William Jennings Bryan

Just because he saw him speak ...

Wholly Joe

And speaking of things I refuse to get upset about, I see by TPM Election Central that Joe Lieberman has sent out a letter promoting his new grassroots Astroturf campaign, "Citizens for McCain," in which he refers to his erstwhile political allies as "the Democrat Party."

The TPM post points to a good essay by Hendrik Hertzberg on why the missing "ic" matters to some. I take the point that it's intended to be a slur, and so, yeah, choosing to use it marks yet another step in Lieberman's descent into utter zellmillerization.

Still, though, as far as I'm concerned, every time I hear some lame use this formulation on purpose, all I hear is "I AM A WINGNUT WITHOUT IDEAS!!! THEREFORE, I MAKE FUNNY OF YORE NAME!!1! LOL!!!" and usually not spelled that well. You know, instant loss of respect.

Assuming I had any left, I mean.

Lieberman kisses Bush

And Now, Your Moment of Give Me a Fucking Break Already

TPM Election Central headline:

Franken Apologizes For Writing "Porn-O-Rama" Essay In Playboy.

Eight years ago, mind you.

Up next: Franken forced to dismiss campaign worker who says "Shit!" after hitting his thumb with a hammer.

The limitless supply of feigned outrage in this country, and not just from Republicans, never fails to amaze me. I can only hope this post's title draws some of it.

If you feel like being more mature and constructive about this than I have just been, you can donate to his campaign at

Franken's reply, included in the post under the above headline, is pretty good. (He said as he calmed down a little bit).

The Gloves Come Off, But The Fists Are Weak

One of the deranged Obama-haters over on NoQuarter was only too happy to feature a new RNC-sponsored web site called It's about what you'd expect if you hired a graphic designer to pretty up the paranoid pantings of a political faction that has nothing to offer this election besides the FUD-raising question, What do we REALLY know about Barack Obama???

I was especially amused at the lameness of the poll that appears on the home page, a screen-capture of which appears below. poll

I suppose the first choice is arguable. About the third, I can only respond, Hey, you say that like it's a bad thing. And as for the second, let me just borrow this image from TRex and ask, how much does this look like the exemplary First Family to you?

Obama Family

(click pic to enlarge)

Liberal Media, Constrained

Ruth Rosen has a medium length piece up on TPMCafe that's well worth a read. It concerns constraints on publishing during the early years of the Bush Administration, even for those writing for the opinion pages of a liberal newspaper.

Rosen's bio, TPM version, may be of some use for understanding where she's coming from.

It may sound like a cliché to say that censorship, whether from without or from within, is the quickest way to kill a democracy, but that doesn't mean it isn't still true. Given that we're just now learning about the false intelligence and other lies that the Bush Administration used to get us into war more than five years ago, it seems like we should be saying this more often.

(A sightly modified version of this post appears on the forums.)

Some Jokes Never Get Old

From Olbermann, via Chez:

(alt. video link)

Other takes here.

"Hmmm ..." Follow-up

You read this post, right? If that didn't creep you out enough, now there's video.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Mac Security Guides Now Available for Download

Via Krebs: Apple has released some security guides to help you learn how to further secure your computer. If you're using OS X Panther (10.3), Tiger (10.4), or Leopard (10.5), and you consider yourself somewhat technically adept, you might visit Mac OS X Security Configuration Guides.

I haven't gone through any of them yet, so this is as much a note to self as anything else.


L: New McCain logo and slogan

If you can't beat 'em ...?

See also: Golf We Can Believe In.

(pic. source | h/t: The Carpetbagger Report)

New McSame Ad

He can squirm, but he's already stuck on the fork:

(alt. video link)

(h/t: The Carpetbagger Report)

Need Another Shot of Schadenfreude?

That video I posted earlier wasn't enough?

Then read James Wolcott's review of McCain's big speech.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Wouldn't You Know

As soon as I published my last (admittedly mean) post, I came across some whispers. [Added: and more.]

Let's just say that I'll believe it when I see it, so I'm not going to delete the last post just yet.

Meanwhile, please enjoy some eye candy.

Never Mind the Green Backdrop ...

... how's this for an unfortunate image?

How fitting that, on the night Barack Obama finally claimed the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton delivered her non-concession speech from a concrete bunker. To reach the Baruch College gymnasium where Hillary spoke with such surprising defiance her supporters had to descend two flights below street level. The thick subterranean walls blocked out cell phone and BlackBerry signals, and no televisions were provided in the main event hall, thereby insulating Hillary’s cheering supporters (intentionally, some theorized) from the dispiriting events unfolding at the Xcel Center in Minneapolis.

Does it get worse? Uh ... let me just give you the first sentence of the second paragraph.

In the bunker there exists a different reality.

What? You want more? Read here.

What? You have no idea what the post title refers to? Well, then, time for a little Veracifier. (Thanks for the tip, twin!)

(alt. video link)

(h/t for the bunker link: Kevin K./rumproast. And, via Instaputz, see also Kevin's next post.)

Things That Make You Go "Hmmm ..."

As TPMmuckraker's Kate Klonick reports, Rohrabacher managed to use some variation of the phrase "panties on the head" eight times in his 13-minute statement.
-- David Kurtz

That's Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), as if you couldn't have guessed.

Maybe instead of just saying, "Hmmm," the thought that comes to mind is: Move over, David Vittner* Vitter!

* Thanks for the proofreading, twin.

You know who gives good Photoshop?


Accompanying text here.


Barack and Michelle Obama, before nomination victory speech

(pic. source) | (post title explained)

[added] BAGnewsNotes has another shot from a different angle.


Here is our nominee, speaking in St. Paul, Minnesota, 3 June 2008.

(alt. video link)

(The video is a little choppy in places. Sorry. I'll replace it if I come across a better copy) (replaced video --bjk)

[added] Full text of the speech, as prepared, here.

Excerpt from the conclusion:

In our country, I have found that this cooperation happens not because we agree on everything, but because behind all the labels and false divisions and categories that define us; beyond all the petty bickering and point-scoring in Washington, Americans are a decent, generous, compassionate people, united by common challenges and common hopes. And every so often, there are moments which call on that fundamental goodness to make this country great again.

So it was for that band of patriots who declared in a Philadelphia hall the formation of a more perfect union; and for all those who gave on the fields of Gettysburg and Antietam their last full measure of devotion to save that same union.

So it was for the Greatest Generation that conquered fear itself, and liberated a continent from tyranny, and made this country home to untold opportunity and prosperity.

So it was for the workers who stood out on the picket lines; the women who shattered glass ceilings; the children who braved a Selma bridge for freedom’s cause.

So it has been for every generation that faced down the greatest challenges and the most improbable odds to leave their children a world that’s better, and kinder, and more just.

And so it must be for us.

America, this is our moment. This is our time. Our time to turn the page on the policies of the past. Our time to bring new energy and new ideas to the challenges we face. Our time to offer a new direction for the country we love.

The journey will be difficult. The road will be long. I face this challenge with profound humility, and knowledge of my own limitations. But I also face it with limitless faith in the capacity of the American people. Because if we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth. This was the moment – this was the time – when we came together to remake this great nation so that it may always reflect our very best selves, and our highest ideals.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Shocked, Shocked, Part 978,473,204

Maybe you saw this story already, or maybe it's escaped your attention due to the excitement over the last day of the Democratic primary campaign. In case of the latter, I did want to note it for the record.

According to the NYT, NASA's assistant inspector general released a 48-page report yesterday that concluded that Republican political appointees "distorted and suppressed" data related to the problem of global warming.

Despite the snarky and world-weary tone of this post's title, I do want to say that I am happy to have "what everyone knows" officially documented. This is one of many steps that we must take to get a complete picture of the damage wrought by the Bush Administration's preference for pro-religion and pro-big business ideology over science. Let us never forget the name George Deutsch as a symbol of how bad a government can get, even in a democracy.

I haven't found a link to the report itself yet. If you know of one, please drop it in the Comments. Thanks.

(h/t: TPMMuckraker)

Monday, June 02, 2008

Enabling Your Short Attention Span

The NYT has a funny story about Phoenix, the Mars Lander, using Twitter. The story, posted a couple of days ago, says it is already the 30th most popular Twitter feed to follow.

As of this moment, according to Twitterholic (the same source the NYT used), it is now 14th. Have a look at Phoenix's Twitter page.

While looking at Twitterholic, I noticed that spot 29 is held by our good friend, Stephen Colbert. Lots of funny lines. When does this guy sleep?

Oh, and the third-most popular feed in the entire known Twitterverse? Hint: Yes We Can!

Someone else is 99th, but I'm sure Lanny Davis or Terry McAuliffe or Taylor Marsh or Larry Johnson will be along at any moment to explain how being 99th is actually ahead of being 3rd.

Not in the top 100? You guessed it!

What's In a Name?

How great is this? The guy who broke the world record for the 100-meter dash is named … Bolt.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

When Quote Marks Are Required

Over at Too Sense, dnA quite properly refers to Tim Rutten as a "media critic." From Rutten's review of Scott McClellan's new book:

He should be granted part of the point on the press -- though only part. The news media, no less than the nation, endured a wrenching trauma on 9/11 and no less than any other institution in society felt the moral obligation to demonstrate solidarity with a country under deadly threat. In that situation, not giving the administration the benefit of the doubt, when it presented "facts" it said were based on the best and most sensitive intelligence available from the CIA and other spy agencies, would have been mindlessly adversarial. Moreover, since the media lacked the ability to do original reporting on the ground in Iraq, what basis would there have been for contradicting the administration's assessment of Saddam Hussein's aims?

The MSM needs no help in making excuses for itself for its utter failure during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, least of all from those who style themselves as watchdogs of the news media. As I noted in the comments over there:

You know who people like Rutten remind me of? All those top dogs in the MSM who were at the 2006 Correspondents' Dinner, who got properly reamed by Stephen Colbert, and spent the next week fluttering around assuring each other, "No. He wasn't funny. Not funny at all."