Friday, December 31, 2010

Your Year-End Moment of Awww

Don McArthur has posted a delightful two-minute video of polar bears not falling for the camouflaged spycams.

Which, of course, brings to mind this:

(alt. video link)

"Jon Swift Memorial Roundup 2010"

I have not actually read* "The Best Posts of the Year, Chosen by the Bloggers Themselves" …

But I will! And a shoutout to Batocchio of Vagabond Scholar for the effort in reviving this grand tradition.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Another of our Sisyphean trips up the hill

Nicholas Kristof had a good column a few days ago about cutting military spending. John Quiggin's comments on it are even better, including this nice variation on the old "wouldn't it be great if the Air Force had to hold a bake sale" bumper sticker:

An obvious reason for the focus on military spending is that Americans have massive confidence in their military and much less in their education system, particularly the public school systems.

Yet judged by results, the opposite should surely be the case. Why is this so?

The US military has fought five large-scale wars in the past fifty years, resulting in a draw in Korea[1], a defeat in Vietnam, and three inconclusive outcomes in Iraq (twice) and Afghanistan. That’s a record that makes the worst inner-city public school look pretty good. At least the majority of students, even at the worst schools, end up more or less literate.

Your new Majority Leader, of course, has already announced that when discussing ways to be Fiscally Responsible™ and cut the budget, even mentioning military spending would make him cry.

Fun stat of the day, via Quiggin: we could pay for all of Afghan higher education by reducing our US troop presence by …?

243 soldiers.

And if you read the footnotes, it's probably not even close to that many.

Of course it is not that simple. Of course we are not Serious for talking about such things in such ways. Of course.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

World O' Crap Has Moved (Pass It Down)

Evidently, there were some technical problems at the old site, so for now at least, there is a new home for World O' Crap.

(h/t: Doghouse Riley)

Monday, December 27, 2010

Vote Early and Often!

TBogg must win this contest.

Because of course you were dying to know St. Sarah's teevee ratings!

Here is a graph I have swiped from News Corpse, to show you the ratings for the first five episodes of Sarah Palin Pretends To Know How To Do Outdoorsy Things She Thinks Will Annoy Liberals, in Alaska.

Palin 'reality' teevee ratings, first five weeks

So, after not much more than a month, she's managed to hold onto half of her starting audience! At this rate, she should be … eligible for a big raise for season 2!

Wait, what?

Yep. Apparently, that's what she thinks, anyway: ONE MILLION PER EPISODE GIMME.*

That's how to fleece 'em: never let reality interfere with your sense of entitlement!

* On the other hand, that's what she asked for, and didn't come close to getting, last time, also too.

The Fauxtrage Follies

Pareene recalls some of the 2010 highlights (?) of the near-daily attempts by the RWNM to say "THIS IS THE WORST THING OBAMA OR ANYBODY ELSE HAS EVER DONE!!!1!"

Never mind how stupid or made-up all of these nontroversies always are, I have to say that even after a decade of studying these people, I don't know how they find the energy to get this furious this often. Pity we can't harness it and put it to some worthwhile use.

A List for Connoisseurs

"The 10 Best Rightblogger Rants of 2010," chosen by your sommelier, Roy Edroso. Intro here, full column here.

Yeah, and he never invented a pendulum, either

Oh, wait. That was that other Foucault.

Anyway, marking a new record for casting swine before pearls, W's record of presidentin' is examined at length in the London Review of Books, by Caspar Eliot Weinberger. Here's an excerpt:

Decision Points holds the same relation to George W. Bush as a line of fashion accessories or a perfume does to the movie star that bears its name; he no doubt served in some advisory capacity. The words themselves have been assembled by Chris Michel (the young speechwriter and devoted acolyte who went to Yale with Bush’s daughter Barbara); a freelance editor, Sean Desmond; the staff at Crown Publishing (who reportedly paid $7 million for the book); a team of a dozen researchers; and scores of ‘trusted friends’. Foucault: ‘What difference does it make who is speaking?’ ‘The mark of the writer is … nothing more than the singularity of his absence.’

As a postmodern text, many passages in the book are pastiches of moments from other books, including scenes that Bush himself did not witness. These are taken from the memoirs of members of the Bush administration and journalistic accounts such as Bob Woodward’s Plan of Attack and Bush at War. To complete the cycle of postmodernity, there are bits of dialogue lifted from Woodward, who is notorious for inventing dialogue.

We need a word like schadenfreude to describe the feeling of taking delight in intellectual elitism without even a shred of guilt.

(h/t: Ken Layne)

Friday, December 24, 2010

Fun with ngram [Updated]

Because why not?


[Added] By the way, last week, when I came across this fun new thing from Google Labs, their Books Ngram Viewer (via the NYT), I noticed some artifacts in the plots, implying artifacts in the data from which the plots were made. For example, words that I would have thought would not have appeared so early did. For another, many plots for these spurious words showed a curiously similar hump just after 1900, with a peak, time after time, at 1902. Here are some examples:

I looked into this a little more by searching for some of these words in Google Book Search. For example, television, as mentioned in books, only in the 19th century. (Which seems unreasonable, right?) If you look at the first hit, ostensibly "National regulation of inter-state commerce: Volume 23, Issue 1 - Page 54, Charles Carroll Bonney - 1882," things start seems really fishy. If you scroll through the book, you see at the first 32 pages do indeed look like what's advertised, but after that, it's something else (or some other things) entirely. In short, there is more than one scanned book in this file. Or at this URL, if you like. (It is in the latter segment(s) that the word television actually appears, since they're the scans of much more recent books.)

The other glitches I found were similar -- the word you wouldn't expect to find in books before some date is found, in a book with a really old date, and it turns out to be in a file/at a URL where more than one scanned book is stored.

I figured I couldn't be the first one to have noticed any of this, and there didn't seem to be any sort of obvious Report an Error link on either Google Labs Books Ngram Viewer or Google Book Search, so I set it aside, wondering if it was worth looking into more carefully and writing up.

As it happened, I just came across something by Geoffrey Nunberg from late August 2009 (blog post, published article) that talks about these and other problems in Google's collection of scanned books in a more organized and more detailed fashion. So, work saved!

But it's actually a much more serious issue than I had realized, as Nunberg points out. From the beginning of his blog post:

Google Books: A Metadata Train Wreck

Mark has already extensively blogged the Google Books Settlement Conference at Berkeley yesterday, where he and I both spoke on the panel on "quality" — which is to say, how well is Google Books doing this and what if anything will hold their feet to the fire? This is almost certainly the Last Library, after all. There's no Moore's Law for capture, and nobody is ever going to scan most of these books again. So whoever is in charge of the collection a hundred years from now — Google? UNESCO? Wal-Mart? — these are the files that scholars are going to be using then. All of which lends a particular urgency to the concerns about whether Google is doing this right.

My presentation focussed on GB's metadata — a feature absolutely necessary to doing most serious scholarly work with the corpus. It's well and good to use the corpus just for finding information on a topic — entering some key words and barrelling in sideways. (That's what "googling" means, isn't it?) But for scholars looking for a particular edition of Leaves of Grass, say, it doesn't do a lot of good just to enter "I contain multitudes" in the search box and hope for the best. Ditto for someone who wants to look at early-19th century French editions of Le Contrat Social, or to linguists, historians or literary scholars trying to trace the development of words or constructions: Can we observe the way happiness replaced felicity in the seventeenth century, as Keith Thomas suggests? When did "the United States are" start to lose ground to "the United States is"? How did the use of propaganda rise and fall by decade over the course of the twentieth century? And so on for all the questions that have made Google Books such an exciting prospect for all of us wordinistas and wordastri. But to answer those questions you need good metadata. And Google's are a train wreck: a mish-mash wrapped in a muddle wrapped in a mess.

Start with dates. To take GB's word for it, 1899 was a literary annus mirabilis, which saw the publication of Raymond Chandler's Killer in the Rain, The Portable Dorothy Parker, André Malraux' La Condition Humaine, Stephen King's Christine, The Complete Shorter Fiction of Virginia Woolf, Raymond Williams' Culture and Society, Robert Shelton's biography of Bob Dylan, Fodor's Guide to Nova Scotia, and the Portuguese edition of the book version of Yellow Submarine, to name just a few.

So, yes. A problem, and definitely one worth something worth thinking about. It sounds from later on in the blog post and the article (both of which are worth reading) like Google is aware of the problem but not at all sure how to tackle it. They may have come up with some ideas in the year and a half since Nunberg published, but it seems clear from the bit of fiddling around I reported up top that things sure aren't fixed yet.

You might recall that Google deals with errors it encounters in the scanned text itself in a brilliantly clever way, by getting pretty much everyone online to do a tiny bit of work a few times a week. So I think we need something imaginative like that, since it seems clear that there are too many errors to do anything straightforward like emailing them in as you notice them.

Sorry this is all muddled, even more so than you've come to expect on this blog. Lots of things to think about.


[Added] Published paper and supplement by Michel, et al, mentioned in the NYT article above, are available for free download from the web site of the journal Science. You may need to register (which is free).

American Republican Exceptionamalism!

We're Number One! We're Number One! We're Number One!

111th Senate Breaks A Filibuster Record

If you're wondering why Dems are all of a sudden smitten with the idea of reforming Senate rules, check out this chart, passed along by a Democratic source.

Over the last two years, Dems broke more filibusters than any Senate in recorded history. In fact the only other Senate that comes close was the last Senate, right after the GOP lost its controlling majority on the Hill.


Let's move to another article and ask, so how did that work out for the Party of Hell No?


According to a CNN poll released Wednesday, 56% of Americans approve of President Obama's job performance during the lame duck session -- 14 points higher than the 42% approval rating for Congressional Republicans over the same period. Even the Democratic Party, which just one month ago suffered enormous midterm losses, polled slightly higher than the GOP, with 44% of Americans approving of their job performance in the lame duck session.

Respondents also said they believe Obama's policies rather than those of the GOP would move the country in the right direction. Fifty-five percent of respondents said Obama's proposals would move the country in the right direction, while 42% said they would do the opposite. By contrast, 51% said the Republicans' policies would be good for the U.S., versus 44% who said they would be bad for the country.

What's more, the poll also found that voters overwhelmingly think Republicans -- more so than Democrats or Obama -- need to be more open to compromise.

Breaking: "NFL" did not ALWAYS mean "No Fun League"

Well, at least for the general counsel representing the Cleveland Browns in 1974.

(Rozelle probably had him shot and dumped in the Cuyahoga.)

A Comment Reblogged

Sorry, too good not to steal. From Zora (#32), under the dsquared item linked to in the previous psot.

“It’s a psot targeted at ‘craft beer’”

I like psot better than post.

Will it spread? Will it survive? Teh, pwned, and cow-orker have survived; foregin didn’t.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

"The Christmas sermon"

By Daniel Davies, via Substance McGravitas.

So good.

Great view from across the pond

Especially when your eyes are as sharp as d-squared's.

Another Fact-Free Wingnut Meltdown, This Time Over Net Neutrality

Lots of liberals think the FCC's proposed Net Neutrality guidelines don't go far enough (see Sen. Al Franken for a good brief example), but the reality-free foaming at the mouth from senior Republicans and the usual radio gasbags is nothing short of astounding.

And given what I already think of these people and their willingness to ignore the truth if it means an excuse to rile up the base, that is really saying something.


[Added] More on this from Roy Edroso.

The first thing that Josh Brecheen would like you to know about him ...

... is this:

Josh has earned an AQ rating from the NRA - the Highest Rating Possible for a non-incumbent. Josh is not just a gun advocate on paper. He has a lifetime fishing and hunting license since 1995.

So apparently the good people of Oklahoma now have among their state senators a fifteen-year-old?

The second thing Josh Brecheen would like you to know about him is this:

Josh earns a 100% pro-life rating from Oklahomans for Life. Josh choice to run on the Republican ticket centers on this issue.

And not, one presumes, on making English the official language of the United States.

On a related note, one wonders how much attention to detail we can expect in the bill he will be proposing to direct the teaching of creationism in public schools. We have some hints here, because he has written a fancy op-ed to explain his beliefs, and PZ Myers has helpfully tracked it down and marked it up.

Even given my view of Oklahoma Republicans, it is truly jaw-dropping.


P.S. Shudder: he also describes himself as a motivational speaker and he is now threatening offering to give it away for free, to the children!

More Good Geekery

If you liked that talk by Marcus Ranum I posted yesterday, you might also enjoy a discussion he had with Dan Geer, in March of last year. I thought it was utterly fascinating.

No way to embed, so you'll just have to head over to Rear Guard Security, look for "#5: Interview with Dan Geer," and do that right-click, Save As thing on the .mp3 link right below that. (Or just do that r-c, SA thing here.)

Dan's name may be familiar to you, from a kerfuffle during the early Pleistocene era of the Internet: he co-authored a paper in 2003 describing the monoculture of Microsoft as a threat to national security and was fired the day it was published. Not to worry -- he has since about the day after been gainfully and happily employed, the company that fired him is gone, and later versions of Windows reflect enough acknowledgment of his critique that he can confidently claim victory. (When you hear him speak in the podcast, you'll realize how modest he is, which makes the claim all the more significant.)

Marcus and Dan start by talking about cloud computing and what that means for security. They then branch off into a more broad discussion of how we have moved from a problem of worrying about the network being secure to today, where our biggest headaches are due to our endpoints not being secure. (Spoiler alert: Microsoft-driven systems? Still not completely fixt.) They also discuss the problems that have obtained by the reality of today's state of the art, where it is more expensive to delete files than it is to store them. Dan then draws some fascinating analogies to biological systems (evolution of course, but also considerations of (1) inherent limits on size, and (2) parasites. Part of the conversation is even philosophical. There is a question raised at the end which I shall not spoil. Suffice it to say that I thought pffft, of course when I first heard it, but the more I think about it, the more I'm not so sure.

All this is to say that it's not overly technical, and you don't need special knowledge to follow the discussion. If you can use a computer and/or a smart phone, you won't get lost, and come to that, if you do use those things, I think you should care about the issues Dan and Marcus consider. Finger-wagging aside, it's highly recommended, just for the pleasure of it.

Liberal Media Still In The Tank For Obama!!!1!

Or, you know, not.

[Added] I guess we can unfade the ol' bumper sticker one notch, too, while we're at it, in line with the first couple of paragraphs of this.

DADT Repeal: A Tale of Four Senators

In the years to come, the story of the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" will come to be seen as the story of four senators: Obama, Reid, Lieberman, and McCain.

Obama, the one-term wunderkind who ascended to the presidency with astonishing speed and alacrity — and who then did the hardest thing: slowed himself down, shifted the spotlight back to the legislature, recognized that he was no longer the representative of one party but of a whole nation, and began to play what Andrew Sullivan has been calling "the long game." In two years, in the face of a uniformly cynical and hostile opposition, he has managed time and again to win political battles, any one of which can be called major: universal health care, banking regulation, fair pay for women, draw-down in Iraq and ramp-up in Afghanistan, the rescue of Detroit, the prevention of global economic collapse, the end of discrimination against immigrants with AIDS, same-sex benefits for government workers, two massive middle-class tax cuts, and, yes, the repeal of DADT. If, as suddenly seems distinctly possible, the new START treaty is passed this week, his place will be cemented as the shrewdest ex-senator in the White House since LBJ. And his record will be far more kindly viewed by history.

For his part, Harry Reid has quietly become one of the great Majority Leaders in the nation's history: Obama's victories are his, too, and in fact most of the heavy lifting is Reid's alone. And what Reid has done in the current lame-duck session will soon be legendary. The extension of the Bush tax cuts was a piece of brilliant political judo, at once extending tax breaks for the middle class, kneecapping the national GOP on one of its main talking points — Obama's "pro-tax liberalism" — and yanking the Senate GOP from beneath Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's feet. The tax-cut repeal lit a spark of revolt in the Tea Party wing of the caucus, and though Jim DeMint managed to keep it from catching fire, it's still smoldering. McConnell knows he has to deal with the devil on both sides of the aisle now — a fact only underlined by the defection of eight Republicans in support of DADT repeal on Saturday. He is considerably weaker than he could have guessed on the night of November 2.

(Thanks, Ocean.)

But only one notch, for now.

No, Joe. The Sarah Palin glasses won't do it, either.

Remember, those are the style of a failed politician.

Joe Miller in Sarah Palin-style rectangular rimless glasses

Oh. You mean you didn't know that as of Wednesday afternoon, non-Lower-48 time, Palin protegé Joe Miller still hasn't admitted he lost that election?

The Alaska Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled unanimously on all counts against Joe Miller’s challenge of last month’s U.S. Senate election, saying Miller’s interpretation of the law would erode the integrity of Alaska’s election system.

“There are no remaining issues raised by Miller that prevent this election from being certified,” the Supreme Court justices declared in their 24-page ruling.


Miller didn’t agree to an interview after the Supreme Court ruling but e-mailed a statement saying he was weighing what his next move will be.


Miller has been challenging the results of the Nov. 2 election with the help of money from South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint’s political action committee, the Senate Conservatives Fund. Miller’s campaign spokesman has said they might attempt to take the fight all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Murkowski campaign manager Kevin Sweeney said he was elated by the Supreme Court ruling and expects Beistline will let the election results be certified next week. “We also anticipate that Joe will continue to pursue his baseless claims in federal court until his money runs out,” Sweeney said.

(h/t: John Cole | pic. source)

"How the Republican Party broke up with Science"

A good post from a couple of weeks back, from Doctor Science on Obsidian Wings, reflecting on the Pew findings that only 6% of US scientists identify themselves as Republicans.

(h/t: Armchair Generalist)

Armchair Generalist Wins ...

... the caption contest. (And so what if he's the one holding the contest.)

NOW can we take Jon Kyl out back, smear him with honey, and tie him to an anthill?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

If the answer is "Nothing," what is the question?

The question is: what is slimier than a Senate Republican?

(h/t: TechniPol)

You know how you and your friends are on the Internet all the time? That's why we can't have nice things.

So, I was reading this CT post about the legal intricacies involved with Amazon booting Wikileaks from its servers, and I saw mention of a computer security guy named Markus Kuhn, and I thought that name sounded vaguely familiar, so I looked him up. Though he sounds like an impressive guy (ADE 651, anyone?), I realized he wasn't who I was thinking of. I was thinking of computer security guy Marcus Ranum. I don't know about Markus, but Marcus can sure make highly geeky stuff fascinating to listen to.

Here is a TEDx talk he gave in November of 2009, and here is how he introduces the video on his home page:

When TED invited me to do a talk, I was in a bit of a panic. The initial request was that I do a talk about Department of Homeland Security, based on my rather unsuccessful book "The Myth of Homeland Security." I explained that if TED is supposed to be forward-thinking and optimistic, it would probably be a bad idea to stand up and say "I told you so" and point and jeer. So I asked if I could do a sort of historical talk, instead. The idea behind this talk has been in the back of my mind for the better part of a decade, ever since I started looking closely at FTP, and wondering "if the guys who coded that knew it'd be around for this long, would they have done it differently?" As Ray Wylie Hubbard says: "the most important thing about songwriting is, when you finish a song, to ask yourself if you still want to be playing it 25 years later." As I look at computing, I see these kind of simple "tiny" mistakes all over the place - and they are constantly costing us insane amounts of effort to maintain and deal with. We have become curators. Curators in The Museum Of Bad Software.

It's about 22 minutes long, and though some of the terms at the beginning are necessarily jargon, you won't get lost if you're computer-savvy enough to surf the Web.

(alt. video link)

(Clicking the full-screen button there in the lower-right corner of the video may help if you want to see the slides more clearly.)


More about TEDx on YouTube, their blog, and on the TED site itself.

More about Marcus Ranum on Wikipedia, and of course his own site. He also shoots pictures and other things. (Currently at the top of his home page looks like something stolen from me! ;) Trike forces are everywhere!)

Zombies everywhere!

I have not actually watched Mythbusters, but I don't need to to like this:

xkcd cartoon featuring Zombie Feynman(embiggen/original)

Hat tip to commenter Landru (#55) under a recent Bérubé post on Crooked Timber. That post is worth a read if you want some good news from the liberal arts world and/or the words Sokal hoax mean anything to you.

While looking up something related to links in that post, this Google Book Search result pleased me. I mean, not as funny as xkcd, but a minor lol.

screenshot showing the word 'highlighted' highlighted

You may say that I'm a dreamer

And yeah, this is never going to happen. But can you imagine?

Ideas from history - "wealth conscription"

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

ROFL @ Life's Darkest Moments

Easy enough to do when they happen to other people. As with, for example, Prof. Dave Noon:

The End of Education

…in which I emerge briefly from the end-of-semester grading abattoir to note that I have detected a student plagiarizing from Conservapedia.

I’m now going to go roust a bear from hibernation and make him eat my kidneys.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Fox Tries to Spin Story About How It Misinforms Its Viewers, Gets Facts Wrong.

Following up from the previous post …


… this, from HuffPo:

UPDATE: Fox News senior vice president for news Michael Clemente has responded to the study which found that his network's viewers are more misinformed about American political issues than any other channel. In a statement to the New York Times' Brian Stelter, Clemente disparaged the University of Maryland, where the study was done.

"The latest Princeton Review ranked the University of Maryland among the top schools for having ‘Students Who Study The Least’ and being the ‘Best Party School’ – given these fine academic distinctions, we’ll regard the study with the same level of veracity it was ‘researched’ with," Clemente said.

"For the record, the Princeton Review says the University of Maryland ranks among the 'Best Northeastern Colleges," Stelter notes. "It was No. 19 on the Review’s list of 'Best Party Schools.'"


(graph source)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

"There were however a number of cases where greater exposure to a news source increased misinformation on a specific issue."

Bet you can't guess what that title is about.

Hint: Reality has a well-known liberal bias.

You should click over, to see the specifics, though. Pretty amazing.

(h/t: @EricBoehlert)

Turn off FoxNews

Compare and Contrast

Regarding the repeal of DADT:

Honorable™ John McCain:

I hope that when we pass this legislation that we will understand that we are doing great damage.

Bryan Fischer (yeah, that guy):

Rarely can you point to a moment in time when a nation consigned itself to the scrap heap of history.

You'll note if you follow the links that, admittedly, Fischer goes on at greater length. But not to worry. I'm sure Angry Johnny will have his choice of talk shows to go on tomorrow, to explain how horrible he thinks civil rights are.


[Added] Also, from the first link above (and following up on an item mentioned earlier), you tell 'em, Harry:

Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader and a crucial proponent of the repeal, noted that some Republicans had indicated they might try to block Senate approval of a nuclear arms treaty with Russia because of their pique over the Senate action on the ban.

“How’s that’s for statesmanship?” Mr. Reid said.

Tweet of the Day


Being on the left means perpetual dissatisfaction, as it should be. But important for the soul to savor victories when they come.

(h/t: @digby56)


[Added] Via @OpheliaBenson, NYT story on the repeal of DADT. Also, full roll call and interactive map here.

[Added2] Runner-up for tweet of the day here.

[Added3] Also in contention:

daveweigel Party right now on John McCain's lawn! #DADT

DADT Progress (added: despite Republican threats)

Not quite there yet, according to this article just posted to the NYT:

Repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Advances

By a vote of 63 to 33, with six Republicans joining Democrats, the Senate acted to cut off debate on a measure that would let President Obama declare an end to the Clinton-era policy, known as “don’t ask, don’t tell,” which allows gay members of the armed forces to serve only if they keep their sexual orientation a secret. The vote indicated that there was easily enough support to push the measure to final passage.


The Senate must take a second vote to approve the repeal and send it to President Obama for his signature.

I don't yet understand why that is. I'll add updates if it becomes clearer to me.

[Added] In a move low even by their standards, some Republicans in the Senate said yesterday that "the future of an arms treaty with Russia was endangered by Democratic efforts to repeal 'don’t ask don’t tell' at the end of the lame-duck session." Shameless scumbags.

[Added2] TPM is reporting that the second vote is scheduled for 3 pm and this time, it will only take a simple majority to finish the process. I really don't understand the Senate sometimes.

[Added3] CNN says, "Republicans can seek 30 hours of post-cloture debate, but it was not immediately clear whether they would pursue that."

[Added4] C-SPAN's live stream is here, and they're saying on that page that the vote is scheduled for 3 pm (EST). Right now, however, Angry Johnny is yelling about the new START treaty.

[Update 3:30 pm] Okay, they finally did it! DADT IS REPEALED.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Would you give money to support cat-blogging?

What about Mongolian cat blogging? WITH WILD SNOW LEOPARD CUBS?

snow leopard cub approaching camera(embiggen)

The NYT's Green blog tells me that Panthera (lions …

two lion cubs wrestling(embiggen)

… and tigers and jaguars, and cheetahs and cougars and leopards, oh my!) is just getting started with their Cameras for Cats effort, and could use your help.

(P.S. Pretty good 404 page, too.)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

We're gonna need a Poe's Law judge for this one

Either that, or it's the best bit of wingnut unintentional hilarity I've read all week:

“It’s not enough that Marvel attacks conservatives values,” the post states, “now mythological Gods must be re-invented with black skin.”

Yes. How dare anyone make shit up about made-up shit?

And wait'll someone tells the Council of Conservative Citizens (yeah, them) that blond-haired, blue-eyed Jesus probably wasn't … oh, never mind.

(h/t: Joe Vince (@MKE), via Roy Edroso | title: cf.)

[Added] Moar outrage!!!1!

"Scott Brown And Lisa Murkowski Back Standalone DADT Repeal Bill"

The latest bit of hopeful news, from TPM, via Jack Stuef.

Of course, given earlier threats by Jim DeMint (R-SC) to demand full reading of other bills on the Senate floor, it's still not clear that the DADT repeal bill will get a chance to be voted on. The Party of Hell No could well be looking to run out the clock, and Brown and Murkowski might know that, and might just be trying to buy themselves some cred as "reasonable," knowing that they won't actually have to cast the vote they've said they will.

Cynical about Republicans? Moi?

I look forward to being proven wrong.

[Added] More from Greg Sargent on the time issue.


Whatever you think of Wikileaks, ...

... you probably ought to read Glenn Greenwald's post, "Getting to Assange through Manning," and at least skim his earlier one, "The inhumane conditions of Bradley Manning's detention."

Presumption of innocence and freedom of the press are just empty slogans if they're only applied in the easy cases.

(h/t: Jack Stuef)

[Added] And remember, brave war-fighters, that you are fighting for America's freedoms!

The Air Force is barring its personnel from using work computers to view the Web sites of The New York Times and more than 25 other news organizations and blogs that have posted secret cables obtained by WikiLeaks, Air Force officials said Tuesday.

When Air Force personnel on the service’s computer network try to view the Web sites of The Times, the British newspaper The Guardian, the German magazine Der Spiegel, the Spanish newspaper El País and the French newspaper Le Monde, as well as other sites that posted full confidential cables, the screen says “Access Denied: Internet usage is logged and monitored,” according to an Air Force official whose access was blocked and who shared the screen warning with The Times. Violators are warned that they face punishment if they try to view classified material from unauthorized Web sites.

As long as they can still hear Rush Limbaugh on Armed Forces Radio …

House votes to repeal DADT

Probably you heard about this already, but on Wednesday evening, the House of Representatives "voted 250 to 175 to repeal the 17-year Defense Department law that bars gays and lesbians from serving openly in uniform."

Of course the hard part is the Senate, but Ed O'Keefe's post makes things sound hopeful; e.g.:

Sens. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) introduced the new bill last week, believing it will earn broader Republican support after the Senate completes consideration of the New START Treaty and government spending. Forty-seven senators, including Reid, are cosponsoring the bill.

Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) said Wednesday she would join Republican colleagues Scott Brown (Mass.) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) in voting to end the ban if the Senate votes again on the bill.

The NYT has a complete roll call of the House vote, along with an interactive map, if you like. A quick summary: the 250 votes in favor of repeal came from 235 Democrats and 15 Republicans. The No votes came from 160 Republicans and 15 Democrats. Five Democrats and four Republicans did not vote.

Another FoxNews memo leaked, leading to more news of the unsurprising

Ben Dimiero, Media Matters for America:

In the midst of global climate change talks last December, a top Fox News official sent an email questioning the "veracity of climate change data" and ordering the network's journalists to "refrain from asserting that the planet has warmed (or cooled) in any given period without IMMEDIATELY pointing out that such theories are based upon data that critics have called into question."

The directive, sent by Fox News Washington managing editor Bill Sammon, was issued less than 15 minutes after Fox correspondent Wendell Goler accurately reported on-air that the United Nations' World Meteorological Organization announced that 2000-2009 was "on track to be the warmest [decade] on record."

This latest revelation comes after Media Matters uncovered an email sent by Sammon to Fox journalists at the peak of the health care reform debate, ordering them to avoid using the term "public option" and instead use variations of "government option." That email echoed advice from a prominent Republican pollster on how to help turn public opinion against health care reform.

There's a bunch more, including a wealth of on-air examples.

(h/t: Doghouse Riley)

Turn off FoxNews

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Not yet the Ball-and-Chainster

When I first heard the news about Nigeria issuing an arrest warrant for Dick Cheney, I had a moment of hope, but then I thought about one second later, eh, just an Internets rumor. I mean, c'mon. Nigeria? That place that keeps sending us emails and so forth?

But I keep seeing mentions of this story, which makes me think … It Would Be Irresponsible NOT To Speculate, as they (used to!) like to say.

Cheney is off to the left, in the shadows(note shadowy figure off to the left)

And now there's this, from Raw Story, via StrangeAppar8us/Rumproast:

Halliburton reportedly agrees to pay Nigeria $250 million to drop bribery charges against Cheney, firm

The massive industrial conglomerate Halliburton has reportedly offered to pay $250 million to settle charges against its former chief executive, ex-Vice President Dick Cheney, in a multi-million dollar bribery case.

Nigeria filed charges against Cheney last week in an investigation of alleged bribery estimated at $180 million. Prosecutors named both Halliburton and KBR in the charges, as well as three European oil and engineering companies -- Technip SA, EniSpa, and Saipem Construction. Eleven Halliburton officials were arrested last month and freed on bail Nov. 29.

The charges allege that engineering contractor KBR, until 2007 a subsidiary of Halliburton, was among companies that paid bribes to secure a $6 billion contract for a natural gas plant. KBR pleaded guilty to the same bribes in a US court in 2009, and agreed to pay a $382 million fine. The Nigerian charges appear to stem from the US case -- though, in that trial, Cheney was never directly charged.

The $250 million figure would include a direct $130 million fine by the company and an agreement to repatriate another $120 million from Switzerland.

Representatives for Cheney and Halliburton met with Nigerian officials in London over the weekend.


I'm guessing Bigus Dickus approved of this and growled, "Just a cost of doing business."

And then shot a friend in the face, just to hear him apologize.


[Added] The Wall Street Journal of all places is reporting the same story.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Aletheia in Logos: Let's Get This Party Started!

Below left: a graphic designed by Thomas Porostocky, used since 2008 (or 2007) as a logo for More Party Animals, a group seeking more choices besides Democrats versus Republicans.

Below right: a graphic "designed" by Dave Warren, used {since|up until} mid-December 2010 as a logo for No Labels, a group seeking more choices besides Democrats versus Republicans.


And now let us watch the babbling evolve over time.

In a NYT City Pages blog post timestamped "December 13, 2010, 6:13 pm," this:

Dave Warren, a 30-year veteran of Madison Avenue, said that he came up with the concept completely independently. Mr. Warren said that he decided to riff on the donkey and elephant using clip-art animal shapes that are available free of charge or copyright.

Wait. Before we get to the real hilarity … You can get paid … You can get a job on Madison Avenue surfing the Web and downloading clip art?

Please, continue.

Mr. Warren, who among other things did groundbreaking work for Absolut vodka, bristled at the suggestion that he had stolen the design.

“I do my own thinking, man,” he said. “Feel free to come to one of my classes at Parsons.”

He added: “I have a long and storied history on Madison Avenue. I’m not stupid enough to steal anybody’s work; I have too much faith to come up with my own ideas.”

As for Mr. Porostocky, Mr. Warren said, “Tell the other guy to Google my name.

Emph. added.

The post is also marked "Updated 12:38 a.m. Tuesday," with a note that the totally not at all stolen work was "removed from the No Labels Web site by early Tuesday."

In a later City Pages post timestamped "December 14, 2010, 10:42 am," this (emph. added):

The ad man, Dave Warren, said this morning that a designer he hired had grabbed the logo featuring red-white-and-blue animals from the Web site of the group More Party Animals and incorporated it in the design.


On Tuesday, Mr. Warren apologized to the designer of the More Party Animals logo, Thomas Porostocky, and accepted responsibility for the theft, writing in an e-mail message to Mr. Porostocky:

[...] I take full responsibility for it. [...]

Dave Warren sounds like a real politician, all right. When deny, deny just won't fly, blame a subordinate and then Accept Full Responsibility™.

Presumably, he will be announcing his candidacy any day now. Right after he finds a new home for that unnamed underling, under some bus somewhere.

Meantime, here is a new logo for Dave Warren:

(h/t: Jack Stuef | source for pants on fire, unsurprisingly | title: cf.)

P.S. By the way, neither of the City Pages posts reports that Dave Warren works for FLY Communications (or at least did through this morning), where he is (or at least was) "creative director." You have to go to Gothamist for that. Which you might want to do to see more of the intermediate babbling. (And then you can steal part of their slightly less blurry screen shot, too.)

P.P.S. We decided to Google Dave Warren, man. As of this moment, the top hit is for someone at a local teevee station working as a "weekend meteorologist." Which suddenly seems like an honorable position, for some strange reason.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

"Last night I dreamed I had faith in everything"

After lo these many years, still one of my all-time favorite songs.

(alt. video link)

(had I only known ...)

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

The GOP has figured out yet another way to be the Party of No

Alex Pareene:

GOP will just delay "don't ask, don't tell" repeal to death

Co-blogger Steve Kornacki is a bit more hopeful, but it looks like our last hopes for this year come down to, as Pareene puts it, "whether or not Susan Collins falls in line with her party or actually votes her supposed 'conscience,' and we all know how that joke turns out."

And we also have to count on the stalwart leadership of … Joe Lieberman, acting against John McCain's wishes {!), plus a belief that now that the tax-cuts deal has been made, the Republicans might this time keep a promise made. And we all know how that joke turns out, too.

Prediction: Holy Joe knuckles under in the Senate cloakroom, makes a public statement about "needing more study," which will be a lie no one will call him on, and then, Merry Christmas, gotta go!

I would really like to be wrong about this prediction.


Best Part About the GOP Winning Back the House? The Glorious War on Science Resumes!

Following up on yesterday's post on the Republican Party's unique stance of AGW denialism, here's an excerpt from a post put up yesterday by Thomas Levenson, who in addition to running Inverse Square is now also a contributor to Balloon Juice.

Leap now from 1922 to 2010: are [Rep. Adrian] Smith [(R-Nebraska)] and [Rep. Eric] Cantor [(R-Virginia)] denouncing particular research grants because of the ethnic or religious affiliation of the researchers?


Are they setting up the conditions in which the question of whether or not a given piece of research is “American” enough?

Yes. They are.

Is this dangerous?

Well, duh.

A last note, just to make myself clear: I don’t think that this latest witch hunt is (yet) a direct threat to people interested in inappropriate ideas. It does make us dumber, day by day. Pace every invocation of American exceptionalism, there is no particular reason, as readers of this blog know better than most, that the US of A will remain the undisputed king of all disciplines forever. There is some uncertainty, however, about how fast our competition will arrive, and how likely it will be that we slip beneath the top rank of scientific and technologically innovative national leaders.

And there, the answer is— if Smith and Cantor have their way—sooner and more grievously than we think.

I'd call TL's post an early warning worth paying attention to, and I'd encourage you to read all of "First They Came For The NSF..."

And I wonder if Chris Mooney is taking notes for Volume 2.


Help a blogger out

He needs a title to go with this post:

Ayn Rand based for-profit college closes because… it couldn’t get federal aid.


Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Wingnut Taste

Donald Douglas, the Wingnutty ProfessorHey, what do you think this sequence represents?

2, 0, 0,
0, 0, 0,
51, 0, 0,
0, 0, 0,
1, 0, 1,
0, 1

If you guessed the number of comments left under the posts currently appearing on alleged college perfesser Donald Douglas's blog home page, and that outlier is undoubtedly due to something disgusting because posting cheesecake photos, begging for links from RS McCain, and moralizing about Teh Nihilist Left just isn't driving the traffic, you know your wingnuts!

(h/t: TBogg, via Jack Stuef, via @jim_newell)

[Added] And doubling down on his sad clown belief that "anything that pisses off Teh Left is a win for conservatives!!!1!," he sanctimoniously notes the death this morning of Elizabeth Edwards in his latest post. (Not counted in the numerical series above.) I'd say let's hope for another round of people taking him to task in his comments section, but as he has made clear in the past, he is impervious to criticism. Not to mention to the notion that he should set aside his one-wingnut culture war and at least try to act like a human being once in a while. I probably shouldn't even link to him, but at least this way he knows some more eyes are upon him. For all the good that'll do.

Can't Make This Stuff Up

U.S. Will Briefly Stop Persecuting Reporters to Host World Press Freedom Day


Clay Shirky on "Wikileaks and the Long haul"

If you're not up for reading the whole thing, here is the conclusion:

I think the current laws, which criminalize the leaking of secrets but not the publishing of leaks, strike the right balance. However, as a citizen of a democracy, I’m willing to be voted down, and I’m willing to see other democratically proposed restrictions on Wikileaks put in place. It may even be that whatever checks and balances do get put in place by the democratic process make anything like Wikileaks impossible to sustain in the future.

The key, though, is that democracies have a process for creating such restrictions, and as a citizen it sickens me to see the US trying to take shortcuts. The leaders of Myanmar and Belarus, or Thailand and Russia, can now rightly say to us “You went after Wikileaks’ domain name, their hosting provider, and even denied your citizens the ability to register protest through donations, all without a warrant and all targeting overseas entities, simply because you decided you don’t like the site. If that’s the way governments get to behave, we can live with that.”

Over the long haul, we will need new checks and balances for newly increased transparency — Wikileaks shouldn’t be able to operate as a law unto itself anymore than the US should be able to. In the short haul, though, Wikileaks is our Amsterdam. Whatever restrictions we eventually end up enacting, we need to keep Wikileaks alive today, while we work through the process democracies always go through to react to change. If it’s OK for a democracy to just decide to run someone off the internet for doing something they wouldn’t prosecute a newspaper for doing, the idea of an internet that further democratizes the public sphere will have taken a mortal blow.

(h/t: Ryan Tate)

Via Clay: Glenn Greenwald is a bit harsher: "The lawless Wild West attacks WikiLeaks." I must say after reading it that in addition to the US government, there is no shortage of US businesses covering themselves in disgrace here, too. And by "US businesses," I include a discouragingly large number of media outlets.


[Added] Via Glenzilla: Why Is Wikileaks A Good Thing Again?

"Chart of the day: U.S. taxes."

See Felix Salmon's post from yesterday. As he says:

This chart should be ingrained in the mind of anybody who cares about fiscal policy.

Which, despite megatons of hot air emanating from our politicians and pundits, appears to be approximately nobody in power.



Oh, hey, look at that. I remembered my blog's fifth birthday. Happy birthday, blog!

Thanks for reading, for however long you have been.

(And no, it's just a coincidence that I started on Pearl Harbor Day.)

Some perspective on Obama

Yes, it's easy for a liberal to be pissed off these days. But if you'd rather not completely wallow in the depths of despair, there's a good post by Scott Lemieux over at LGM, with a lot of links worth clicking, especially the one to Matt Yglesias.

There's no denying it: they're the only ones denying it

Just for the record, when the nonpartisan National Academy of Sciences last reviewed the data this spring, it concluded: "A strong, credible body of scientific evidence shows that climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for a broad range of human and natural systems." Not only William Hague but such other prominent European conservatives as French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have embraced that widespread scientific conviction and supported vigorous action.

Indeed, it is difficult to identify another major political party in any democracy as thoroughly dismissive of climate science as is the GOP here. Eileen Claussen, president of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, says that although other parties may contain pockets of climate skepticism, there is "no party-wide view like this anywhere in the world that I am aware of."

It will be difficult for the world to move meaningfully against climate disruption if the United States does not. And it will be almost impossible for the U.S. to act if one party not only rejects the most common solution proposed for the problem (cap-and-trade) but repudiates even the idea that there is a problem to be solved. The GOP's stiffening rejection of climate science sets the stage for much heated argument but little action as the world inexorably warms -- and the dangers that Hague identified creep closer.

-- Ronald Brownstein, via Sean Carroll, whose post is also well worth reading.


Monday, December 06, 2010

Pull the lever, Conan!

Jack Stuef calls attention to that guy best known for getting his ass kicked thirty-five years ago by some small Chinese person, who these days is a regular columnist at WingNutDaily, who has posted another in an endless series of screeds about our godless Kenyan overlord and his godless minions:

Chuck Norris: Atheist National Park Service Sullying Founding Fathers

Because I can never get enough of arguments about why the only way Chuck Norris's fundamentalist butthurt -- "it alarms me when omissions are exclusively divine and so easily exit [sic] and are excused by the U.S. supreme leader," "the National Park Service guide leading their group blurted out five unbelievable lies and distortions about our founders' religious beliefs and history, with school-aged children present as well in the room," etc. -- can be salved is by jamming the Bible down the throat of every public school student in America, I clicked on over. There at the bottom was the real comedy:


Cool! Fleecing the True Believers by copying, pasting, and packaging a bunch of stuff available for free all over the Internet! St. Sarah would be proud. Let's click that "Order" link:


(title: vide)

Sunday, December 05, 2010

A play button I will never, ever click

Looks like we picked the wrong week to update the DSM.

Speaking of American Exceptionamalism ...

... which we were, stumbling across this should not have surprised me.

Old joke, new to me

What wingnuts see when they look at the New York Times.

(via, via)

Maybe also see here, but (and this'll shock you) I can't tell because Tumblr is down again.

Hey liberals and other sad Obama fans: Need a pick-me-up?

I just finished listening to the latest episode of Liberal Oasis, and the interview of David Rees is especially good. (Starts around 32:47, if you're pressed for time. But if you have time, you don't want to miss the always delightful Bill Scher and his new-delight-to-me partner in podcasting, Traci Olsen.)

And … excitement plus! "The Return of 'Get Your War On'!"

What's that you say? You can't quite place the name David Rees? Hints: "The Moustache of Understanding" and the classic short vid, "New World Order."

Mo' Rees: best response to Lewis D'Vorkin I've read in a while.


P.S. I don't always use a pencil, but when I do … stay sharp, my friends.

David Rees,

P.P.S. Get your PowerPoint on!

Meet the base of the Republican Party

If you're wondering how the party of Palin, Beck, and Limbaugh managed to reacquire control of the House, here's a hint:

Hurrah for American Exceptionalism, huh?

(h/t: KK)

[Update] Also.

Eight seconds without context

Just because. (Because maybe it will make MPF laugh?)

(alt. video link)


(They're talking about altruism in vampire bats, if you haven't already figured it out. The whole diavlog, Science Saturday: Beyond Sex, is pretty good.)

Bill Maher interviewed by Fareed Zakaria

Here is a 13-minute clip that's quite good. Probably you should not watch it if you're the sort of person who gets butthurt for being called a teabagger. Instead, just do what you always do -- skip watching it, and immediately fire off comments about how much you hate Bill Maher, because he is rude and likes to smoke pot.

(alt. video link)

Parts I liked best: how he shot down the question "is it because maybe the electorate is farther to the right than you would like them to be?" and his dismissal of the MSM's favorite fetish, Teh Independent Voters. And of course fundie-mocking is always FTW.

He's right about what we're looking for Obama to do, too. (Maybe some of this stuff is starting to get through to the White House?)

(h/t: Twin)

Should I be impressed or scared?

I just clicked Send and got this pop-up window.

"Wikileaked:" FP's new blog

Foreign Policy magazine has started a blog dedicated to stories from and related to Wikileaks. Looks pretty good.

Introductory post here.

Remember the X-37B! (?)

Yeah, that thing.

Did you remember it was gone? Because now it's back.

Secret robot spacecraft, left to its own devices for seven months in orbit. Eh, no way that's going to cause any paranoia.

No, no. It's NORMAL for groundcrew to be in suits like that
when greeting returning spacecraft. Or so They say.

The Air Force had emphasized that the primary purpose of the flight was to test the craft itself but classified its actual activities in orbit, leading to speculation about whether it carried some type of spying system in its small payload bay.

Program manager Lt. Col. Troy Giese said in a statement that all objectives were completed and the landing culminated a successful mission.

The Air Force immediately announced that a second X-37B, which had only been revealed last April, is scheduled to be launched next spring.

Universe Today has more pictures besides that one I stole, above. Be advised that if you look at them, though, you might never get a job at the State Department.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Any questions?

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) gives two thumbs up to denying a middle-class tax cut

The lede:

Senate Republicans today successfully filibustered two Democratic tax cut bills that would have allowed Bush-era tax cuts benefiting only the wealthiest sliver of the country to expire. The party-line votes were intended by Democratic leaders to put Republicans on the record blocking the extension of tax cuts that would have benefited all Americans in order to secure additional tax cuts for the highest-income earners in America.

How much longer will it be before the Palinistas, the teabaggers, the Christianists, and other components of the Republican base wake up and realize the GOP really does not give a shit about them?


News of the Unsurprising


Republican opinion outfit ConservativeHome polled 1,152 Republican activists (according to "YouGuv America") on their favorite conservative pundits. The results: mostly unsurprising. Rush Limbaugh is No. 1 and Glenn Beck is No. 2. Republican activists love being angry and scared, and getting lied to.

The only newspaper columnists Republican activists actually like are George Will, at No. 10, and human smarm machine Charles Krauthammer, all the way at No. 3, thanks in large part (I assume) to his frequent appearances on Fox and the fact that he has a professional wrestling stage name. (There is also Ann Coulter at No. 9, but she's more of a mascot than a columnist.)

The winners, in order:

Rush Limbaugh: 41 percent
Glenn Beck: 33 percent
Charles Krauthammer: 29 percent
Bill O'Reilly: 24 percent
Sean Hannity: 21 percent
Newt Gingrich: 16 percent
Michelle Malkin: 16 percent
Mike Huckabee: 13 percent
Ann Coulter: 13 percent
George Will: 13 percent


And what are the GOP's favorite pundits up to, lately? Rush is dialing up the racial rhetoric and attacking American Indians. Glenn Beck is still flagrantly ripping off his worshipful followers. Krauthammer would like us to act a bit more like the KGB and assassinate Julian Assange. Bill O'Reilly is attacking Andy Griffith. Ann Coulter just wrote an astoundingly homophobic column.

So, these are the people we're dealing with.

From the original source, more observations:

  • The list reveals the massive gap between broadcast pundits and newspaper commentators.
  • Limbaugh, for example, was named as a favorite by 41% of ConservativeHome's Republican Panel.
  • Worryingly, columnists often regarded as among the most thoughtful conservatives did not fare well. David Brooks of the New York Times only mustered a mention from 1.3% of the panel (14 people). Ross Douthat, also at the NYT, won just four votes and Mike Gerson, Washington Post writer and former speechwriter to President Bush, gets just three mentions.
  • Another former Bush speechwriter and Rush Limbaugh's leading critic, David Frum, only gets three mentions. Peggy Noonan, however, gets favorited 35 times.
  • The ticket to high status is clearly Fox News. One of only two upmarket newspaper columnist to appear in the top ten being Charles Krauthammer, who combines his syndicated Washington Post column with his Fox punditry. He was named by 29% of grassroots Republicans. The other broadsheet columnist, at number ten, is George Will, syndicated Washington Post Op-Ed writer and ABC News veteran.

In other news, the forecast for today calls for periods of light, with increasing darkness expected in the evening.


Friday, December 03, 2010

Subtlety, Hateway Pundit Style

Jim Hoft begins a post on news related to the push to repeal DADT thus:

Note: This post neither endorses nor opposes gays serving in the US military. It is intended to offer you more information on the topic because once again the corrupt media has decided to campaign for and not report on the subject.

He continues:

Once again a timely report was released today just as Congress is scheduled to debate the topic today in Congressional hearings. The state run media wants you to know that gays can serve in the military openly without hurting the military’s ability to fight.

After a blockquote from an AP story, Hoft concludes:

Of course, what the corrupt media will not tell you is that occasionally a rogue gay soldier may wig out and leak over 250,000 documents to Wikileaks after a relationship falls apart. The media does not believe that this is something you should know. The information does not help them with their cause. Granted, straight soldiers could do this too- They just haven’t yet.

Hard to imagine what it would sound like if he were to write a post in which he opposed gays serving in the military, isn't it?

By the way, don't know if you heard, but Hateway recently moved his blog from FirstThings to RightNetwork. Which will make watching Frasier re-runs considerably less enjoyable. Not that this was ever a big part of my life, but you know.

(h/t: Sadly, No!)

Report from the ground in Afghanistan

Here is Chris Hayes guest-hosting Rachel Maddow's show, interviewing Jeremy Scahill of Nation magazine. It's about six minutes long. I believe it originally aired 23 Nov 2010.

(alt. video link)

(h/t: Glenn Greenwald)

The Sinking Ship of State

I highly recommend Kevin Drum's post, "Willful Self Destruction."

(h/t: Glenn Greenwald/Matt Welch ← a diavlog worth your time, as well) down. Other sites available.

It looks like, at the moment, is down, and further, that the URL is claimed not to be known by various DNS services.

Various mirror sites are going up; e.g. in Switzerland and in Sweden. Best bet is probably to start with the Wikileaks Twitter feed and Facebook page, since the powers that be seem to be shutting some of the mirrors down as well, or blocking the DNS lookups.

Here's one that's working at the moment: Note that a lot of mirrors will likely feature the requirement that you use a numerical IP address to visit them.

[Added] The BBC says the DNS shutdown was due to the provider responding to massive DDoS attacks.


John McCain in his own words ...

... collected by Ta-Nehisi Coates: "Fear Is the Path to the Dark Side."

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Hurrah for Mike Mullen

From (gasp) FoxNews:

Mullen: Troops Who Balk at Change in Gay Service Policy Can Find Other Work

Military members who have a problem with a change in policy to allow gays to serve openly may find themselves looking for a new job, Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned Thursday.

Mullen told a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing that the military is based on meritocracy, "what you do, not who you are." He said if Congress changes the don't ask, don't tell policy then the U.S. military will comply.

And if some people have a problem with that, they may not want to join the service.

"Should repeal occur, some soldiers and Marines may want separate shower facilities. Some may ask for different berthing. Some may even quit the service," Mullen said. "We'll deal with that."

Mullen added that "there is no gray area" in the debate when it comes to standards of conduct in the military.

"We treat each other with respect or we find another place to work. Period," he said.

Shoutout also to Gen. Cater F. Ham, commanding general of U.S. Army Europe:

"If the law changes, the United States military can do this, even in a time of war," said Ham, who helped lead the working group that conducted the 10-month long study on the impact of openly gay members serving alongside straight troops.

"I do not underestimate the challenges in changing the law, but neither do I underestimate the willingness and capability" of U.S. forces to adapt to change, Ham said.

More from the chairman:

Mullen, who claimed he worked alongside gay service members through his entire career, said combat units who are most opposed to having gays serve openly in the military could lead the way in a smooth transition to a policy switch.

Saying he expects less turbulence, "even in the combat arms world," than some would predict, Mullen added, "In fact, it may be the combat arms community that proves the most effective at managing this change, disciplined as they are. It's not only because our young ones are more tolerant. It's because they've got far more important things to worry about."

Mullen said that U.S. military members are already working on the battlefield with NATO forces from countries where being gay is not a disqualification from service.

"I don't recall a single instance where the fact that one of them might be openly gay ever led to poor performance on the field," he said. "Gay or straight, their troops patrolled with ours and bled with ours."

This being something posted on FoxNews, the comments are an absolute sewer. It's quite possible to read FoxNews's headline and posting of this article as designed to draw just that, but we'll take the good news at face value.

(h/t: JonIrenicus)

[Added] Joan McCarter at DailyKos has posted his full testimony.