Monday, April 30, 2012

Rarely is the question asked: is our government officials learning?

Maybe! From an article about a terrorism trial currently underway, in Federal District Court in Brooklyn, NY:

“As you apply a law enforcement model to these cases, people always cooperate,” said Anthony S. Barkow, a former federal prosecutor who specialized in terrorism cases and now works in private practice. “It took a long time in organized crime; it is taking less time with national security.”


“The federal courts are not just about providing due process and protecting defendants’ rights,” said Jonathan Hafetz, a professor at Seton Hall University School of Law who focuses on national security. “There is an information-producing function that allows the public to see how terrorists act and how the government acts to prosecute these terrorists.”

He added, “That’s something that we lose when we deal with more secretive processes like military commissions.”

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Line of the Day: 2012-04-26

Vatican laments Irish dissent, silences priests

What, you want context?

Okay, here's the lede, with a little added emph.:

DUBLIN, IRELAND -- Just weeks after a report from a Vatican inquiry into the Irish church lamented what it described as “fairly widespread” dissent from church teaching, it was revealed that the Vatican has “silenced” Redemptorist Fr. Tony Flannery.

The Holy See’s move provoked fury among the members of the 800-strong Association of Catholic Priests, which has accused the Vatican of issuing a fatwa against liberal clerics.

As KK says, it's not just the nuns.

(The nuns?)

The Disgraced Former Speaker of the House: an update

The real Newt GingrichFrom the Department of Hate To Say I Told You So, But I Frickin' Told You So:

Newt Gingrich is preparing to make the transition from forgotten-but-not-gone to gone-and-hopefully-forgotten by dropping his presidential campaign next week. And he’s doing it in good Reagan-and-Bush-era Republican fashion – carrying on about fiscal responsibility while piling up a nice fat budget deficit.

Mr. Gingrich currently has $4.3 million in debt, according to TPM Muckraker – about 20 percent of his Gross Campaign Product, which puts him in Greece territory. He has more debt than any other failed Republican presidential candidate since 1992.

Emph. added. Not that you needed it.

[Added] Interesting tidbit from the quoted TPM Muckraker link:

Tim Pawlenty closed out with $435,542 in debts which was paid off by Mitt Romney affiliates.

Hmmm! There aren't many people blander than ol' Wonder Bread Willard, but that guy who is known only for having a mullet longer than anyone else on the planet, who (Some would say) was scared out of the race by whispers that Mr. Mitch Charisma Daniels might jump in, is certainly on the short list.

Developing ...

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


A four-minute clip from Mechanical Principles, a 1930 film by Ralph Steiner, excerpted and set to some new music by VertikalDesign.

(alt. video link)

The music is "Little Boy," by 3 Liquid Hz.

(h/t: Don McArthur)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A startup I'd love to work for [Updated]

Planetary Resources, Inc. (website | Twitter | Google+ | YouTube | Facebook) will be making a public announcement today at 10:30 am PDT, which will stream live on Spacevidcast.

While you're waiting, here's an article about them in the NYT.

[Update] The live broadcast was recorded and posted to YouTube. I watched it live. It's pretty exciting in parts, if you're of a mind like mine when it comes to this sort of thing.

Monday, April 23, 2012

"American electoral politics: a brief introduction"

An oldish Bérubé piece that I somehow missed when it came out a year and a half ago. But! Nothing has changed!

Hard to believe Jonah Goldberg is only ...

... sixth runner-up on Atrios's list of Wankers of the Decade. Ah, well, Pareene didn't think very little of him, either.

Thanks to hat-tippee Henry Farrell, who also gave me a bonus: I now know that there is (should be) a Krauthammer Unit! Which sort of gives away the winner, doesn't it?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Women care about Rick Santorum! They really, really do!

Swiped from Veracity Stew.

ALEC goes mainstream!

Not to make this all about me (because who would stand for such a thing, on a blog?), but in less than a month, ALEC has gone from an organization I'd never heard of to the front page of the New York Times.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Not that I can imagine a scenario where you'd ever want to, but ...

... just in case:

(h/t: Belinda Del Pesco, via email. And I'm pretty sure she sent it because she knew the improper letter casing would really grind my gears.)

Gmail has had enough of my switching back to the old look

Some time in the past hour, I guess they ran out of patience. The new look showed up, and this time, there was no option to switch back. Oh, well. At least they added a settings switch for text labels on the buttons.

Space-nerd porn!

360° panorama of a space shuttle cockpit. In addition to allowing you to spin all around, it's amazingly zoomable, too.

(Controls are in the upper left corner. The + and - weren't immediately obvious to me when I first got there.)

(h/t: FlightAware)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Anyone want "12 weeks of complimentary digital access" to the NYT?

First come, first served.* Send me an email or DM. New subscribers only, it sez. And remember that you already get free access if you're getting home delivery of the paper paper.

[Update] Sorry if you wanted it. Already claimed.

*(Unless I don't like you.)

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Senior moment

So, while I'm driving to the grocery store, I'm got the Mavs-Lakers game on. Pull into the lot, get momentarily distracted by someone bent on T-boning me, hear the announcer say, "… and West makes the shot!"

For one brief, terrifying moment, I thought he meant Jerry.

Sorry about that, Delonte.

Make it stop

Bad moment at the grocery store (click to make it more obese):

So, how many people are just going to be cramming handfuls of these, figuring they're Doing The Right Thing?

"Attractive winter promotion!"

Just got a piece of spam with that in the subject line. No doubt some Republican will see this as an opportunity to bash the USPS.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Rent-seeking story of the year

From the never-ending saga of our broken political system, this just in, from the state of Washington:

... a momentous initiative to legalize marijuana for all adults, which will be on the ballot this fall, is being opposed by the medical marijuana industry that the previous initiative created.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Save any web page as PDF without installing any extra software

(Assuming you have the Google Chrome browser installed already, I mean.)

Open any web page inside Google Chrome, press Ctrl+P (or Cmd+P if you are on a Mac) to open the Print dialog and change the destination printer to “Save as PDF.” Hit the Print button and the current web page will instantly download as a PDF document. Simple!

For me, the Print button changed to a Save button, but it did in fact work.

One more thing. You can also use Chrome’s PDF engine to convert your local image files, text files and any local HTML web pages to PDFs – if you an open a file in Chrome, it can convert the file to PDF.

[Digital Inspiration via Don McArthur]

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

GOP: By God, we WILL make this a ©enter-®ight Nation.

It doesn't matter who or what we have to trample on.

pourmecoffee Short, data-rich look at ongoing campaign to restrict voting rights in the states:

The link in that quoted tweet takes you to the Brennan Center for Justice, which must be some kind of historical site? Among the highlights (up is down in today's RealAmerica) of their "2012 Summary of Voting Law Changes:"

As of March 21, 2012, at least 65 bills remained pending that have the potential to suppress the vote. … • Photo ID laws … • Proof of citizenship laws … • Making voter registration harder … • Reducing early and absentee days … • Making it harder to restore voting rights …

So far, pre-registration transvaginal ultrasounds aren't required. But give them time. I'm sure they'll get around to it.

"Confessions of an Iraq War Whistleblower"

In some 24 years of government service, I experienced my share of dissonance when it came to what was said in public and what the government did behind the public's back. In most cases, the gap was filled with scared little men and women, and what was left unsaid just hid the mistakes and flaws of those anonymous functionaries.

What I saw while serving the State Department at a forward operating base in Iraq was, however, different.

My case also illustrates the crude use of "national security" as a tool within government to silence dissent.

As ex- or soon-to-be-ex-government employees all, when we meet, we make small talk about retirement, annuities, and the like. No one speaks of revolution or anarchy, the image of us the government often surreptitiously pushes to the media. After all, until we blew those whistles, we were all in our own ways believers in the American system. That, in fact, is why we did what we did.

A sad story by Peter Van Buren, but important to read.

See also: his Twitter feed and book's website: We Meant Well. And there's an excerpt of his book on MoJo.

Deep thought

Santorum concedes, 2006 edition. Son about as unhappy as daughter, it appears.
Image from another dropping out concession, c. 2006

Today, Rick Santorum dropped out suspended his campaign.

Yesterday, we posted this ad.


(pic. source: I forget. TBogg, probably.)

Line of the Day: 2012-04-10

I think Jesus just carried his Smirnoff Ice into the next room.
    -- Roy Edroso

It's most definitely worth heading over to find out the context.

A couple of elitists. [Update: okay, three]

In honor of yesterday's win, the Yankees' first of the season (which was nice even if it did not break them out of their tie with the Red Sox for last place), I looked up a couple of numbers I'd been wondering about.

  1. Thanks in part to his four hits last night, Derek Jeter now has 3095 for his career, which leaves him only fifteen shy of the #19 spot on the all-time hits list, currently held by Dave Winfield with 3110.

        [Added] Tied Winfield on 19 April 2012.

    He's fewer than one hundred behind five more: #18 Tony Gwynn (3141), #17 Robin Yount (3142), #16 Paul Waner (3152), #15 George Brett (3154), and #14 Cal Ripken (3184).

    A solid season could put him past #13 Nap Lajoie (3242) and #12 Eddie Murray (3255). A 196-hit season, which he's done seven times in his career, most recently in 2009, would put him past #11 Willie Mays (3283).
  2. Andy Pettit has 240 career wins. So, I think 300 is a long shot. He'd need four years at 15 wins/yr, and he's only won 15 once in the past five years: 15, 14, 14, 11, and 0 (didn't play last year).
  3. Alex Rodriguez has 2778 career hits. 222 to go to be part of the 600/3000 club, which is elite company, indeed.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Rick Santorum will watch this ad many times! (So he can tell you how shameful it is.)

(alt. video link)

Stay in touch up to date on the Twitter!

(h/t: PB, via email, and HuffPo)

"Clear and Present Safety"

Micah Zenko and Michael Cohen have a longish piece up on Foreign Affairs on the problem of threat inflation. Here's the article summary:

A political cartoon about threat inflation

U.S. officials and national security experts chronically exaggerate foreign threats, suggesting that the world is scarier and more dangerous than ever. But that is just not true. From the U.S. perspective, at least, the world today is remarkably secure, and Washington needs a foreign policy that reflects that reality.

If you're not already a subscriber, you'll have to register to read the article. But that's free, and painless.

Of course, given the reality of our political system's utter ownership by the military-industrial complex, it's hard to imagine that this article will do much more than get people like me to nod with approval. But you never know, and you gotta start somewhere, and maybe at least, it'll make it easier to keep at least some pressure on the brakes.

(h/t: Foreign Entanglements)

Looks to me like an insidious plot to bring back the fanny pack ...

... but, that aside, pretty adorable.


Pic from here. Image "© All rights reserved by utilikilts."

Sunday, April 08, 2012

More rope in Aisle 6 for Mr. Erickson, please

The GHEMRotRSTF fails another self-awareness test. Or maybe his pop-up ad server has been taken over by Obots?

Click here to learn from an actual Deacon (Emeritus) how a job, drugs, and hobbies are all God!

(h/t: M. Bouffant)

The next time you hear some wingnuts whimpering about Teh Librul Media ...

... which will likely be by noon tomorrow at the latest, point them to this proclamation from one of their own flagship sites:

"Place Hacking: All up in your infrastructure"

A website which makes you wish awesome hadn't been killed by overuse. The only thing better than the pictures is the attitude.

(h/t: Paul Hayes, RTed by Mike Forester )

But does it say that thing about being screwed to two morsels of lumber?

My wife is a Muslim with years of madrassa education behind her, but when I mentioned Jesus’ virgin birth to her she was skeptical. “Does the Koran really say that?” she asked. I started to look it up, but five seconds later she waved me off. “Don’t bother,” she said, “I found it on Wikipedia.” And so it was written.

Thanks, Easter Bunny! Bawk, bawk!


Clearly, the hardest thing about being President is having to force a smile while posing for pictures

Who even knew Eva Longoria had an agenda? Good on her.

Oh, snap

Meanwhile on Google+

Even harsher: the above was swiped from a post with the title
"6 So-Bad-They’re-Actually-Still-Bad Scams."


Saturday, April 07, 2012

Apparently, John Edwards is now working as a 404 model?

But really, John. Under that URL?

Some of you may not wish to march in reverse chronological order through the blue circles on the calendars of the Wayback Machine, because of sadness. Others may get a cackle. I don't judge.


Just in case you're wondering what brought me to that ex-parrot of a campaign site: it was due to wondering, from the previous post, if I knew anything about Libby Copeland, and if so, could Wikipedia help jog my memory? Apparently not so much (although the bit about how she got her start at the WaPo is worth the trip, even if you I don't judge) but anyway, there was that Wonkette thing from long, long ago (2006).

Best opening paragraph of recent memory

And by "recent" I mean only that I can't think of one that was better, offhand, just this moment, but odds are, it was not that long ago and it was written by the same author.

Show Us On The Doll Where The Reagan Administration Touched You, Libby

I HAD reached the end of the third paragraph here--and the last of the laudanum--when it all became cosmically clear: Slate is a sort of fractal of the facile and the disingenuous, from its smallest headline teases to its very raison d'être; the phrase If there was any need for Slate it wouldn't exist seemed to stretch the boundaries of my skull like some virtual underground sea, and I swerved to find the keyboard when the phone rang.

The rest.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Al Franken wins the Internet

At least, in the category of Emails From Politicians Seeking Contributions.

Don't retreat! Reload!


Giacinto “Gino” Paoletti is Bristol Palin's new boyfriend.

Not only that, but Gino, a former high school classmate, is the ex of Levi Johnston's sister, Mercede Johnston! [...]

"She may have everyone else fooled, but Bristol gets around," Mercede told Star in an exclusive interview …

Bristol is apparently living with this new BF, which is being spun by Palin defenders as a "trial marriage." And don't go yelling Hypocrite! the next time Bristol takes money to give some canned speech on abstinence, because according to Elisabeth Hasselbeck (aka the only woman in America too dumb to get the middle spot on the couch on Fox & Friends), these two youngsters will live together AND remain celibate, and there is such a thing as "born-again virginity," also.

Ignore. Only a test.

For more info, send me an email.

(In case it's not obvious to you non-bots, I won't actually respond to anything sent to that address.)

I didn't know you could dance with a brawl

headline: 'Drunken wedding guest arrested after dance with groom and brawl'

Also a little concerned that Yahoo thinks this is a Top Story, but that's another gripe.

The Ninth Commandment? That Commandment is no longer operative.

The church apologized for the deception on Thursday and restored the original photo to the site, but not before Patriarch Kirill weighed in, insisting in an interview with a Russian journalist that he had never worn the watch, and that any photos showing him wearing it must have been doctored to put the watch on his wrist.

Will a picture help?

Monday, April 02, 2012

RIP: 4th Amendment

And while we're at it, we might as well also admit that the terrorists have won.

Justices Approve Strip-Searches for Any Offense

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday ruled by a 5-to-4 vote that officials may strip-search people arrested for any offense, however minor, before admitting them to jails even if the officials have no reason to suspect the presence of contraband.

The rest.


Political Poster of the Day

Women Beware: there ARE no safewords when you vote Republican

Swiped from Teabonics on Facebook.

All together now: If You Haven't Done Anything Wrong, You Have Nothing To Fea®

In case you haven't heard about the goings-on in Utah, "The NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say):"

In the process—and for the first time since Watergate and the other scandals of the Nixon administration—the NSA has turned its surveillance apparatus on the US and its citizens. It has established listening posts throughout the nation to collect and sift through billions of email messages and phone calls, whether they originate within the country or overseas. It has created a supercomputer of almost unimaginable speed to look for patterns and unscramble codes. Finally, the agency has begun building a place to store all the trillions of words and thoughts and whispers captured in its electronic net. And, of course, it’s all being done in secret. To those on the inside, the old adage that NSA stands for Never Say Anything applies more than ever.

One such insider was willing to go on the record for the article, William Binney. He is "a senior NSA crypto-mathematician largely responsible for automating the agency’s worldwide eavesdropping network," who "left the NSA in late 2001, shortly after the agency launched its warrantless-wiretapping program."

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Inscription of the Day

This book is dedicated to
everyone working in any way
to combat the religious right’s
revisionism of American history.

From Liars for Jesus: The Religious Right's Alternate Version of American History, by Chris Rodda. You can download it and read it for free (PDF), because that's how she rolls.

You can also buy a bound or Kindle version. Or, perhaps, just donate to the effort.

(h/t: Sorry, I forgot. But somewhere on Freethoughtblogs, I think.)


Previous mentions of one of Chris Rodda's principle targets, David Barton, appeared on this blog here and here.

[Added] I see from her HuffPo bio that Chris Rodda is also Senior Research Director for the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. So, you know, a good egg.

[Added2] Looks like some more recent writing appears on Alternet.

[Added3] Another site: Rodda runs a blog on Freethoughtblogs, called "This Week in Christian Nationalism." Here's a good place to start: "U.S. Military Program Teaches Foreign Military Students That Liberals Subverted America’s Judeo-Christian Heritage."

Line of the Day: 2012-04-01

From "A Quantum Theory of Mitt Romney:"

... and any person who tells you he or she truly “understands” Mitt Romney is either lying or a corporation.
    -- David Javerbaum

There's even a Feynman diagram! Go!

(h/t: John Quiggin, on the FB)

Does this statement make you paranoid?

If chronic Facebook or Twitter posting is not an exercise in neurosis, then nothing is.

From "Where Have All the Neurotics Gone?," which is not nearly as sour as that one line, ripped from context, might make it sound, and is in any case worth visiting for the animation alone. The lede is pretty darned good, too.

(Apologies to Ocean for misuse of terms.)