8/13/2008

July 7, 2008

I wasn’t dreaming then.

They really were that good.

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Sandal-Wearing Tribe

July 4, 2008

“Scalia did not like to vote that way,” he said, slipping into the third person, as he often does during comic riffs. “He does not like sandal-wearing bearded weirdos who go around burning flags. He is a very conservative fellow.”

Scalia would have loved to put the defendant [who I heard wore Doc Martins, actually] in jail, he said. It made him “furious” not to be able to. But “I was handcuffed — I couldn’t help it, that’s my understanding of the First Amendment. I can’t do the nasty things I’d like to do.” Other democracies still proscribe the expression of certain unpopular ideas, from race hatred to Holocaust denial to offensive speech about monarchs. The American concept of freedom, as Justice Scalia well expresses, responds to disfavored, even vile, expression with moral opprobrium alone, not the force of law. Those handcuffs must remain in place.

Bonus Free-Born Albertan Free Speech Moment:

The woman in the video later quit her job because of all the media. Good.

Ukulele Party

April 18, 2008

Click to Enlarge

April 13, 2008

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UPDATED with mp3s and a linke to the Mike Conley Family Memorial Fun.

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Mike Conley – who I played in a band with in the early 90’s – died on Thursday in Chicago. In a tragic accident, he slipped and hit his head on the ice.

Crawl:

Emotional runaway
Try so hard to look away
From everything that I feel

Say goodbye to the american dream
Everything is what it seems
Come on tell me what it is you need
That sets you free

I see you standing so tall
See you run as I crawl

The Daily Pilot:

As the frontman for the Orange County hardcore punk band MIA, Michael Conley raged against war, racism and the isolation of modern life on stage alongside other legendary acts in the 1980s like the Dead Kennedys and Social Distortion.

Boredom is the Reason:

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California Dreaming:

Not surprisingly, none of the obituaries have much to say about his later bands, like Jigsaw…

(That should give you an idea about how very hard he rocked.)

…or the band we were in together, Naked Soul.

We met at the record /crack pipe/coke cutting powder shop where I worked. Mike would hang out and talk about music. His bass player – Jeff Sewell – worked at the shop as well, and I used to go watch them play crappy-awesome covers across the street at Woody’s Warf. Later, they started take me on small tours with them, where we would debauch, or invite me to hang out with them when they recorded.We spent a lot of time together in 91/92 or so, talking about girls we loved who lived far away, and about music.

Once, when he dropped me off at my house he said to me “We’re buddies, huh?” He said it playfully, but its nakedness was unnerving. He wanted people around him who were sincere, and he wore his innocence and loneliness, as he sang, on his sleeve. (Naked Soul might be a dumb band name, but it was a pretty accurate description of him.)

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(Naked Soul at Harbor High School, one of those Friday lunch shows for the kids. Before my time, I’m sitting in the front, between Adam and that cute girl in the purple flannel who went to shows – all four of those girls in the front were hot, but like 15. What happened to them? Along the wall in the back ground looking too cool for school are a bunch of old punk rock yahoos like Nate Shaw, John Klein, Nick Sjobeck, and Mike T. I’ll post a better picture when I figure out the scanner.)

I guess this is the time to say how important he was to my life. It’s hard to say; I never stopped admiring him, but it’s not something you go around telling people. I have known tons of musicians, and have had a lot of friends, better friends, but few who changed my life as much. Despite all his faults, he was magnetically charismatic, and inspiring. Not a hero once I got to know him – it didn’t take much to realize how perched on the edge of disaster he constantly was, and that he was likely to drag everyone over the edge with him – but I certainly looked up to him (even if it almost got me killed when we, say, drunkenly stopped to buy coke in a neighborhood like you can imagine). (This is after he got the band’s van hijacked – with all the gear and a sleeping drummer inside – when he, yes, stopped to buy coke. They lost the gear, but the drummer woke up and jumped out.)

But I especially loved the band, and I played their first demo cassette until the tape evaporated (it sounded like and better than those later Replacements records, but when Naked Soul put those songs on a CD, they were worse. The producer and the record company were hunting for the next Nirvana). I’d give anything to have a copy of that tape…

This song does well by those days:

And now we’re on the row
Heading for the same freak show
I’m out walking around
Catching all the stars on the ground

You and me, dizzy

Find a chair in the Frolic Room
One more glass and I’ll be doomed
Listen to “Live at Leeds”
Oh, It’s send me…

Wait and see,
We will be free, dizzy

Jesus on my radio
Got nowhere to go
Hang on to you
FallingI need a taste
Someone took my place
Looking for you

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When Jeff quit, Mike asked me to join, even though he knew I was only barely competent on bass (he was like that, bringing people – like Jeff and me – under his wing even if they couldn’t cut it at first. He always wanted to help people.)

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Lonley Me, Lonely You:

We did two tours of the US together, and if I wasn’t lucky enough to be touring the US as a member of one of my favorite bands, one of the tours was opening for my very favorite band at the time, Big Drill Car (who were ex members of Mike’s band MIA, who invited us on tour partly to give back to Mike some of what he gave them in MIA).

Nothing wears down a friendship like touring. We had a lot of fun, and a lot of dumb fights. We used to learn songs in the van, and then play them without even rehearsing them. That drove me to panic mode, because I could barely play the songs we’d rehearsed (and all the songs were easy). There was none of the normal money stress from touring – the record company bought us a fantastic van (we left it running with the air-con on at night in Florida, while Big Drill Car sweltered – ha) and they paid us decently – but the romantic notions I had about Mike became less simple as we slept in the same bed.

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After that tour, we got dropped from our record label, and broke up. I worried about Mike, because he was so volatile and didn’t seem able to exist outside of music – he kind of new Naked Soul was his last shot to make a career out of music. But he did well, beyond anyone’s expectations, and raised an amazing family, and opened one of the best bars in Orange County. We didn’t see each other much over the last few years (I live far away) but everything I know says he was a fantastic father, boyfriend, and boss.

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(Mike, sometime recently)

I’m going home to California in the summer, and one of the things I was most fantasizing about was going to see him at his bar, to talk and remember, but mostly, this time, I wanted to thank him. He gave so much inspiration so many opportunities to me, and expected – and got – nothing in return. I’m desperately sad. I’ll miss you, buddy.

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(Mike and I somewhere on the road in Florida. We saw this graffiti out the window of the van the day Kurt Cobain died.)

He leaves behind a long time girlfriend, Syd, and three daughters, Alex, 18, a freshman and Division 1 soccer player at La Salle University (!); Zoe, 9, and Ava, 5. You can help with their education:

Mike Conley Family Memorial Fund

The Daily Pilot Obit
MIA Website

OC Weekly Obit

MIA Downloads at Alternative Tentacles

(try: Boredom is the Reason)
Mike’s Seven Favorite Things about OC

MAKE SENSE OF THIS FOR ME!

February 8, 2008

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READ THIS! READ THIS! READ THIS! READ THIS!

The UNHRC mocks our greatest achievement, and, if it hears about it at all, the world shrugs.

Woody Allen and Mia Farrow’s son, Ronan Farrow, is apparently a precocious super genius (I think he got into Yale Law School at 15). A human rights activist/editorialist for various national newspapers, he no doubt thinks Israel deserves a good talking too (as it does), but it doesn’t – amazingly – seem to be very high on his list of priorities (which it shouldn’t be).

Last week the U.N. Human Rights Council held an emergency session, organized by Arab and Muslim nations, to condemn Israel for its military actions in the Gaza strip. That the council is capable of swift and decisive action is a welcome surprise; that Israel remains the only nation to provoke such action is not. In the 17 months since its inception, the body has passed 13 condemnations, 12 of them against Israel.

That right, 13 resolutions, 12 against Israel, none against Zimbabwe, Syria, China, NORTH KOREA, Hamas, America even… take your pick.

The council replaced what was widely viewed as a cancer on the United Nations — an ineffectual “Commission on Human Rights” that also had a single-minded focus on Israel. According to former Secretary-General Kofi Annan, “the selectivity and politicizing of its activities [were] in danger of bringing the entire U.N. system into disrepute.”The removal of the diseased commission two years ago was heralded by U.N. officials as “the dawn of a new era.” Its replacement was designed to have stricter standards for membership, and rules to prevent politicized voting. But such safeguards were neutered by the time the new Human Rights Council was approved, and the results are that the council is no better than its predecessor.

I’ll quote myself, because there’s not much to add and nothing has changed:

“Forget what you think about Israel, for a moment. In during the 61st session of the General Assembly of the UN (2006/2007), while 22 anti-Israel resolutions were passed, none, not a single resolution, was passed on Sudan’s genocide in Darfur, to take just one example. This fanatical obsession with Israel allows hundreds of thousands to be slaughtered with impunity.

“In other words, while perhaps – maybe – hundreds of Palestinians were killed by Israel, and while tens of thousands were killed in Darfur, Israel received 22 times the condemnations while being responsible for 1,000 times less deaths, that is, if you could multiply by zero, the amount of condemnations against Sudan (nevermind the intentions of the Israelis compared with the intentions of the murderers in Darfur, or the guilt of the dead). The computations defy the brain.”

I challenge anyone who is concerned about geopolitics, or who is upset about human rights, to tell me why there is anything more pressing than this. Not because of Israel, but because we, the world, should be doing something about human rights.

A nearly-achieved universal consensus on human rights seems to me to be the greatest achievement of our species. Squandered, defiled, made a mockery of by the UNHRC, ignored and rationalized by the media and the liberals in the bar. (Yes, conservatives don’t care either, but despite it’s mixed past and mediocre present, I still expect more from the left.)

Not only are we not doing anything about human rights, nobody even knows this farce is taking place at the UN.Cheer for Hillel, be astounded by the response, and then start giving serious thought to Ron Paulian, Boltonesque solutions for the future of the UN:

THIS IS REALLY HAPPENING. Tell me if I’m screwed up, or inaccurate, because I can’t believe it myself and never read about it in the paper or in blogs or anywhere. Let me know if I’m misunderstanding this travesty, because I’d be much more comfortable living in a world where the UN wasn’t this fucked.

Here are a couple of long essays. Read them when you’re not spending hours discussing the miniscule differences between Hillary and Obama, reading up on Neocohen shenanigans, or commenting that while you didn’t really agree with Loose Change, it sure made you think. This is something worth demonstrating about.

Hey Thomas,

There was a great Marxist called Lenin
Who did two or three million men in
That’s a lot to have done in
But where he did one in,
That grand Marxist Stalin did ten in.

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A limerick of Robert Conquest’s, one of the few intellectuals to see through the Communist/Trotskyist romanticism, and one of the very few to call others out on their rationalizations and qualifications. His first book, not including poetry, was called “Common Sense About Russia,” a title that well reflects his long career (he’s now 90, and still writing).

“A few years ago Conquest said to me that the old distinctions between left and right had become irrelevant to him, adding very mildly that fools and knaves of all kinds needed to be opposed and that what was really needed was “a United Front Against Bullshit.” “

The book that should have completely overwhelmed left’s romanticizing of the Soviet Union (and Communism) was The Great Terror, but in 1968 the far left was happy to plug their ears, close their eyes and ballyhoo any totalitarian dictator that styled himself red and sang the praises of the wretched while devising their wretchedness.

When his publisher wanted an new title for the book after the fall of communism, Conquest suggested “The Great Terror: I Told You so You Fucking Fools.”Unfortunately, in a more humble moment he accepted “A Reassessment,” which was, after the Soviet archives were opened, more of a confirmation and vindication than a reassessment.

Michael Weiss writes (very well) about “The Great Terror: A Reassessment” in the New Criterion.

The book to read though is Reflections on a Ravaged Century.

Paul Berman – the man whose writing about “the Neanderthal remnants of the 30’s” got fool and knave Michael Moore canned from Mother Jones – updates the United Front to include Islamism and masterful prose in his primer on the ideas of death, “Terror and Liberalism.” The best non-fiction I’ve read:

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Martin Amis exposes the suckers – particularly his best friend Hitchens – and praises Conquest – his father’s good friend – in Koba the Dread. This is a book written for anyone who flinched when I wrote the left romanticized Communism – they did, and do.

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Bonus useful idiot to satisfy content quota.

Bonus Conquest limerick:

First you get puking and mewling
Then very pissed off with your schooling
Then fucks and then fights
Then judging chaps’ rights
Then sitting in slippers–then drooling

A summary of the Seven Ages of Man…Pretty good, huh?

The Guardian, almost, on Daniel Dennett:

Daniel Dennett took on the grandees of philosophy while still a student at Harvard and Oxford, then turned to pioneering and controversial work on artificial intelligence, consciousness, and free will. With Richard Dawkins he has fought the ‘Darwin Wars’ and, when not sailing or farming, making cider, sculpting or playing jazz, is writing a new book opposing the rise of supernaturalism.

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Here’s Dennett on the student who received a death sentence in Afghanistan for downloading and distributing report on oppression of women in Islamic countries.

Dennett, from Secular Philosophy:

——-

The West screwed up badly when the denunciation of the fatwa on Salman Rushdie was not closer to unanimous. (I will never forget or forgive the shameful silence of some writers who shunned the invitation to join in a firm but not hostile rebuke.) The West screwed up badly again when the Danish cartoons were not reprinted world-wide. What many didn’t understand was that the staged riots were a political strike against moderate Muslims, not non-Muslims. The “tolerance” urged by many voices outside the Muslim world played into the hands of the radical Islamists. Now we get a third chance to come to the aide of moderate Muslims all over the world, but so far, I haven’t heard much outcry. Several days ago I sent the following letter to the Boston Globe, which has not yet indicated that it will publish it:

The conviction and pending execution of an Afghani student, Sayed Parwiz Kambakhsh, for blasphemy is an appalling circumstance, but it offers an opportunity that we should all seize. The time has come for Muslims to step up to the plate and demonstrate that Islam is a great faith that has no need for violence or intimidation to maintain the loyalty of its congregation. And we outside Islam must make it crystal clear that we cannot respect or honor a religion that would consider blasphemy a capital crime, no matter how ancient the tradition from which this decision flowed. Muslims who support–or refrain from condemning–the conviction and sentence of Kambakhsh must be made to realize that they share responsibility for bringing dishonor to their cherished heritage, and if we non-Muslims do not speak out, we too must share in the blame. Friends don’t let friends commit, or condone, evil. The best way of showing our good will towards Islam is by helping it shed an indefensible aspect of its legacy. Every religion has much to atone for, but that is no reason to button our lips and tolerate fresh grounds for atonement.

There is no need, yet, for anger. Let us all just remind Muslims everywhere of what they must surely know: blasphemy is not a capital crime in any society worthy of respect. It is now up to Muslims to prevent some of their number from defiling their own precious culture.

——-

Toxoplasma gondii in this video (신혜위해):

If you can endure Bill Moyers, this is even better:

This book helped me uncomplicate these debates
Dennett vs. Stephen J. Gould and Pinker vs. Gould :

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I stil don’t get free will though. I don’t even understand the question.

Weisberg on Bush

February 4, 2008

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The greatest summary of Bush’s war-type thing I’ve read. Some points he makes:

“Without the anthrax attacks, Bush probably would not have invaded Iraq.” I must say, that’s a new one. Read on, brothers and sisters, and he’ll convince you kinda.

“Cheney himself chose not to be vaccinated [for smallpox. You’ll get it in context].”

“Libby and Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz had long been interested in their friend Laurie Mylroie’s unified field theory of terrorism [if you don’t know who that nut case is, you don’t want to. Suffice it to say she’s the Chomsky of Neocons].”

“In another administration, there would have been various checks on this kind of collective delusion. A Kennedy, a Nixon, a Clinton, and a George H. W. Bush all would have considered evidence to some degree.” Ah, the days of Nixon.

“For the congenitally pessimistic vice president, transforming the political culture of the Middle East can’t have been more than a castle in the sky, a long-shot best-case scenario. But the vice president surely recognized that the grandiosity of the neocon vision of a new Arab world would resonate with the president.”

“Had he been someone capable of acknowledging error, Bush’s misjudgment in invading Iraq might have been mitigated by skillful improvisation.”

“He should have blocked, reversed, or at least understood the significance of Paul Bremer’s two first and most disastrous orders, to disband the Iraqi army and bar those with Ba’ath Party connections from serving in the government. (Bush later told author Robert Draper that disbanding the army wasn’t his policy, and that he wasn’t sure why it had happened.)” Oh, hi.

“This obstinacy has been evident in his personnel practices as well as policy choices. The more the media demanded Bush yield up a head—CIA Director George Tenet, Rumsfeld, Karl Rove, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales—the longer that person was likely to be staying around.”

My favorite: “[In 2004 Bush Sr.] gave him a memo that Scowcroft had asked him to pass along about Iraq. The president glanced at it before throwing it aside, telling his dad, “I’m sick and tired of getting papers from Brent Scowcroft telling me what to do, and I never want to see another one again.” With that, 43 [said ‘boo hoo,’] stalked out of the room and slammed the door behind him.”

“It is hard to believe that anyone other than Bush and his speechwriters, who seemed increasingly to be making his foreign policy, thought about the issue of democracy promotion in such shallow, utopian terms. [More about that in a sec.] Within a year, no one in the administration other than Rice wanted to talk about the Freedom Agenda. This idea did the impossible: it caused Dick Cheney and the State Department bureaucracy to agree about something, namely that the president’s policy was a pipe dream. The dissonance between Bush’s message and his cavalier attitude toward civil liberties discredited him as a moral messenger.”

“The final irony of Bush’s foreign-policy crackup was the way it vindicated his father’s choices. Not “finishing the job” and taking ownership of Iraq in 1991 now looked like an act of wisdom. Not making a triumphal speech when the Berlin Wall came down appeared as shrewd management of a dicey situation, which advanced the practical cause of freedom more than a provocative speech would have. Appreciating the value of stability sounded like maturity. Avoiding needlessly bellicose rhetoric seemed like common sense. As the historian Timothy Naftali writes in his generally admiring 2007 biography of George H. W. Bush, “As the younger Bush’s own presidency limped to an end, many missed the elder Bush’s realism, his diplomacy, his political modesty, and, yes, even his prudence.” [It would have been prudent if you hadn’t voted for Nader.]

But read the whole thing. The first chapter’s on the NYTimes website, but it’s booooring. Just begat, begat, begat.

Kaplan in his new book follows up on the Utopian theme:

“Finally, the world might be a more peaceful place if every nation were free and democratic (or all alike in some other way). It’s merely utopian to believe that this someday might happen; it’s folly to base policies, as Bush did in his second term, on the premise that this utopia is imminent.”

“There is no Universal Man marching inexorably down a common path to freedom.”

Justin Sullivan has the last word, in Purity, the song in the far right sidebar, and here:

Across the flatlands
We came out of nowhere special
Like a peasant revolution –
Makeshift weapons in our hands
We crashed the gates so hard
We’d never heard that kind of sound before
And braced ourselves for victory
And the spoils of the land
Defences melt away
Before our frozen blank surprise
From the palace now we stare
Into a million waiting eyes

——–

Oh, in case you thought this post would be devoid of Jew content, here’s the first comment on the Newsweek website. A perfectly common example of the comments – particularly the incomprehensibility – you will find in almost any politics post on the internet:

“Besides the attack on Iraq being a Bush War with Cheney in control, I’d say that for a great part it was the notion of putting Israel ahead of our own country with manipulations by Wolfowitz, Perle, Libby, Hadley, Kristol [Ah! All Jews! Run for the hills! Hide your daughters! Wait, he forgot Weisberg!] and all the others who signed that first letter to Bill Clinton about attacking Iraq and deposing Saddam Hussein.

Later this guy chimes in. Watch how he goes from making some kinda reasonable statements, to totally nuts when he decides to talk about “Zionist Jews,” back to sanity:

“What an appalling indictment of this sad excuse for a leader of men, a President of our poor Republic. The story appears to be done with some sympathy for the man if not the peoples he has destroyed, the nation that is in shambles, a world facing its greatest crisis with opposition rather than leadership from America.

“It is equally appalling that so many GOP leaders have been equally poor enablers of this corruption. The failure of the news media, the rise of Fox propaganda outlets, the implementation of American Fascism have flowed from George, adding to the misery of America and the world. Of course the acceptance by George of the Zionist propaganda and his exuberant support of their illegal, immoral, and deadly practices both in their “nation” [because it’s only hypothetically a nation, or perhaps a provisional one], within the “occupied” [are they not occupied?] territories, and especially their invasions of neighboring states by the Zionist Jews in Palestine have made a mockery of George’s grandiose schemes.

“It is a shameful indictment of the peoples of America that such a shallow, ill-prepared, and incompetent man could be elected and reelected to be our leader. It continues to be an indictment of the once respectable Republican party that the current crop of aspirants are no better than George in more than one case are much worse!”

YAO-MAN FOR PRESIDENT!

IDF Women

February 4, 2008

 For you, elite unit man Kobi Mor!  Well done.

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A picture of three things you won’t find on a beach in Palestine: equal rights for women (imagine this: the only women allowed to serve in any military capacity are the female suicide murderers), alcohol (one “journalist” complained that he didn’t want to go to Gaza after the Hamas takeover not because it was dangerous, but because you could no longer get a drink there), and hints of lesbianism (the biggest suckers in the world have got to be Queers For Palestine).

Yau-man: Purity

January 29, 2008

Obama says “change” so much it makes you remember the suckering they got by “accountability” back in 2000 — and he’s stinky in the morning too. Hillary’s got ambition dripping down her cheeks, and she’s probably one of those lesbians. McCain went and warned them in song, and never tried to escape either.

So, after much soul searching, I endorse Yau-man Chang.

The dude could bedroom-eyes Sayyid Qutb into an alliance and turn him into a culturally sensitive softie faster than you can say “The person who is voted out will be asked to leave the Tribal Council Area immediately.”

We need him, not only because of the alliances he’ll build for our great and free nation, but because ultimately there’s no challenge the Yau-man couldn’t overcome: Israel/Palestine? Please. Give the man an afternoon, a bow and arrow, some ball bearings, a bottle of WD40, and a wooden box with no hinges, key or lid, and he’ll get it done.

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Is he generous and honest? Check. Does he hold a grudge? Negative. Does he care about the wretched of the earth? You bet he does. Is he a doer? Yep. A complainer? Not likely. Does he want change? You’d be wise to believe he does (but he doesn’t yap about it: Yau-man lives Change. ) Can he solve Iraq? Come on people: did he not open a box with no hinges, keys, or lid when no one else could?

The voting starts Feb 7th. It’s his world, and we just live in it. The time has come for him to lead us: rock the vote, kids.

John Dickerson Funny

January 27, 2008

Barack Obama beat Hillary Clinton so badly in South Carolina it may spawn some new kind of Southern colloquialism. When Clemson spanks an opponent by five touchdowns it will be called an Obama. Fans will taunt the losing team as they walk off the field by making an “O” against their foreheads.

Holy Crap! I Want One!

January 18, 2008

The hell with Pearl Harbor and Laird Hamilton, I like my ukulele punk rock or bluegrass. How did I live this long without owning one?

For Thomas:

Top that, Tony Rice!

Same guy. This one’s for Adam:

This one’s for Susan, super genius:

For me. Not cause I’m in the closet. Cause she’s hot and a Coulton fan:

And for Kurt, some frakkin’ harmonies (featuring Ad on the lead guitar):

Some Random Pictures

December 23, 2007

For Mom and Kali for Christmas. I can’t figure out how to organize them well. You can view as a slideshow, but they’re not in any order. In the slideshow you can click “options” (bottom right) and enable descriptions.  Merry Christmas!

Click the chick:

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Morning Head: WWJD?

November 24, 2007

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Now, touching this business of old Jeeves — my man, you know — how do we stand? Lots of people think I’m much too dependent on him. My Aunt Agatha, in fact, has even gone so far as to call him my keeper. Well, what I say is: Why not? The man’s a genius. From the collar upward he stands alone. I gave up trying to run my own affairs within a week of his coming to me. That was about half a dozen years ago, directly after the rather rummy business of Florence Craye, my Uncle Willoughby’s book, and Edwin, the Boy Scout.

The thing really began when I got back to Easeby, my uncle’s place in Shropshire. I was spending a week or so there, as I generally did in the summer; and I had had to break my visit to come back to London to get a new valet. I had found Meadowes, the fellow I had taken to Easeby with me, sneaking my silk socks, a thing no bloke of spirit could stick at any price. It transpiring, moreoever, that he had looted a lot of other things here and there about the place, I was reluctantly compelled to hand the misguided blighter the mitten and go to London to ask the registry office to dig up another specimen for my approval. They sent me Jeeves.

I shall always remember the morning he came. It so happened that the night before I had been present at a rather cheery little supper, and I was feeling pretty rocky. On top of this I was trying to read a book Florence Craye had given me. She had been one of the house-party at Easeby, and two or three days before I left we had got engaged. I was due back at the end of the week, and I knew she would expect me to have finished the book by then. You see, she was particularly keen on boosting me up a bit nearer her own plane of intellect. She was a girl with a wonderful profile, but steeped to the gills in serious purpose. I can’t give you a better idea of the way things stood than by telling you that the book she’d given me to read was called ‘Types of Ethical Theory’, and that when I opened it at random I struck a page beginning:

The postulate or common understanding involved in speech is certainly co-extensive, in the obligation it carries, with thesocial organism of which language is the instrument, and theends of which it is an effort to subserve.

All perfectly true, no doubt; but not the sort of thing to spring on a lad with a morning head.

I was doing my best to skim through this bright little volume when the bell rang. I crawled off the sofa and opened the door. A kind of darkish sort of respectful Johnnie stood without.

‘I was sent by the agency, sir,’ he said. ‘I was given to understand that you required a valet.’

I’d have preferred an undertaker; but I told him to stagger in, and he floated noiselessly through the doorway like a healing zephyr. That impressed me from the start. Meadows had had flat feet and used to clump. This fellow didn’t seem to have any feet at all. He just streamed in. He had a grave, sympathetic face, as if he, too, knew what it was to sup with the lads.

‘Excuse me, sir,’ he said gently.

Then he seemed to flicker, and wasn’t there any longer. I heard him moving about in the kitchen, and presently he came back with a glass on a tray.

‘If you would drink this, sir,’ he said, with a kind of bedside manner, rather like the royal doctor shooting the bracer into the sick prince. ‘It is a little preparation of my own invention. It is the Worcester Sauce that gives it its colour. The raw egg makes it nutritious. The red pepper gives it its bite. Gentlemen have told me they have found it extremely invigorating after a late evening.’

I would have clutched at anything that looked like a lifeline that morning. I swallowed the stuff. For a moment I felt as if somebody had touched off a bomb inside the old bean and was strolling down my throat with a lighted torch, and then everything seemed suddenly to get all right. The sun shone in through the window; birds twittered in the tree-tops; and, generally speaking, hope dawned once more.

‘You’re engaged!’ I said, as soon as I could say anything.

I perceived dearly that this cove was one of the world’s workers, the sort no home should be without.

‘Thank you, sir. My name is Jeeves.’

‘You can start in at once?’

‘Immediately, sir.’

Read on:

Question: Why do you execute homosexuals in Iran?

Ahmadinejad (smirking at the question): In Iran, we don’t have homosexuals like you do in your country!

Crowd: Ha Ha Ha, Boooo!

Ahmadinejad: I don’t know who told you that, but we don’t have that “phenomenon”!

Crowd: Ha Ha Ha, Booo!

Here are a couple of Iranian teenagers, 14 and 16.

Pull the truck away (instead of a platform, so they dies slooow), wait a couple minutes and – presto! – no more homosexuals! (Don’t forget to keep them in prison for a year first, where they should be tortured and sodomized with broomsticks.)

Meanwhile, on the street outside the university, we remind you what we’ll do with your Jews when we’re done with our fags!

Greatest Placard Ever

August 5, 2007

Leave the Che shirt, take the poster.

Leave the Che shirt, take the poster.

That’s how to play the guitar.  He found the neckless body of his guitar in some junk heap, tapped on it, thought it might sound amazing, put a neck on, and it does indeed sound amazing.

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George Packer in the New Yorker.

Of all the mistakes and disasters America has made in Iraq, this is the least excusable and most reprehensible. As we prepare to leave Iraq to anarchy, we are betraying the Iraqis who worked hardest with the Americans to set up a new country. However impossible that might have been, there’s no reason to leave the drivers and interpreters to almost certain death by the gangs of religious fanatics who are sure to kill all the “collaborators” they can.

Many of them are scrambling but unable to escape the country, and the corporation the US contracted to hire Iraqi interpreters pretends they don’t exist. Everyone of them should be greenlighted for a visa immediately – Bush could snap his fingers – but we can’t even get them back pay or medical care after bomb blasts. Who would ever trust America again if we can’t even take care of the Iraqis who risked the most to help us?

Listen to Terry Gross interview George Packer.

“Millions of Iraqis, spanning the country’s religious and ethnic spectrum, welcomed the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. But the mostly young men and women who embraced America’s project so enthusiastically that they were prepared to risk their lives for it may constitute Iraq’s smallest minority. I came across them in every city: the young man in Mosul who loved Metallica and signed up to be a translator at a U.S. Army base; the DVD salesman in Najaf whose plans to study medicine were crushed by Baath Party favoritism, and who offered his services to the first American Humvee that entered his city. They had learned English from American movies and music, and from listening secretly to the BBC. Before the war, their only chance at a normal life was to flee the country—a nearly impossible feat. Their future in Saddam’s Iraq was, as the Metallica fan in Mosul put it, “a one-way road leading to nothing.” I thought of them as oddballs, like misunderstood high-school students whose isolation ends when they go off to college. In a similar way, the four years of the war created intense friendships, but they were forged through collective disappointment. The arc from hope to betrayal that traverses the Iraq war is nowhere more vivid than in the lives of these Iraqis. America’s failure to understand, trust, and protect its closest friends in Iraq is a small drama that contains the larger history of defeat.”

“In Mosul, insurgents circulated a DVD showing the decapitations of two military interpreters. American soldiers stationed there expressed sympathy to their Iraqi employees, but, one interpreter told me, there was “no real reaction”: no offer of protection, in the form of a weapons permit or a place to live on base. He said, “The soldiers I worked with were friends and they felt sorry for us—they were good people—but they couldn’t help. The people above them didn’t care. Or maybe the people above them didn’t care.” This story repeated itself across the country: Iraqi employees of the U.S. military began to be kidnapped and killed in large numbers, and there was essentially no American response. Titan Corporation, of Chantilly, Virginia, which until December held the Pentagon contract for employing interpreters in Iraq, was notorious among Iraqis for mistreating its foreign staff. I spoke with an interpreter who was injured in a roadside explosion; Titan refused to compensate him for the time he spent recovering from second-degree burns on his hands and feet. An Iraqi woman working at an American base was recognized by someone she had known in college, who began calling her with death threats. She told me that when she went to the Titan representative for help he responded, “You have two choices: move or quit.” She told him that if she quit and stayed home, her life would be in danger. “That’s not my business,” the representative said. (A Titan spokesperson said, “The safety and welfare of all employees, including, of course, contract workers, is the highest priority.”)”