Your Neighborhood in 5 Keystrokes

Ben Fry has posted this neat little java map that lets see where all the people who share the first digits of your zip code live.


Return of the King (The DystopiaBox Comment)

1. The parts of the movie that compressed long sections of the book into vivid scenes were well done.
2. The parts of the movie that expanded short phrases of the book into lush scenes were overdone.
3. Gollum's story was handled very nicely.
4. The Hobbits' story suffered from trying to reap more than was sown.
5. For the first time in the trilogy, some of the effects seemed more about FX than about Middle Earth.
6. It mildly disappointed this eager viewer, but not nearly so much as the last two installments of "The Matrix" or the prequels to "Star Wars"
6. I'll see it a few more times, I'm sure.


Microsoft Releases a Utility to Remove Inappropriate Symbols from the Microsoft Office System

Apparently it was easier to remove Nazi-appropriates symbols from the software than the entire ruthless-dictator-rid-the-world-of-thine-enemies mentality behind it. Found via Typographica


Phenomenal Fan Site of the Day

Richard Scarry at Rotten.com (Thanks, David)
Useful Fan Site of the Day

The Oracle of Bacon hosted by the University of Virginia Department of Computer Science.
Useless Fan Site of the Day

Neil Bush Agrees that his Sexual History is Unusual

"The women, he said, simply knocked on the door of his hotel room, entered and had sex with him. He said he did not know if they were prostitutes because they never asked for money and he did not pay them.

'Mr Bush, you have to admit it's a pretty remarkable thing for a man just to go to a hotel room door and open it and have a woman standing there and have sex with her,' Brown said.

'It was very unusual,' Bush said."

Yahoo! News Story



Send your Poem's today for Free Examination to:
J. Chas McNeil, A. B. Master of Music 510-HD So. Alexandria, Los Angeles 5, Cal.
Ted Rosen, 17-KM Longwood Rd., Quincy, Mass.
George Liberace Songsmiths, Inc. Dept. 22, P.O. Box 28027, Hollywood 3B, California
Songcrafters, Studio M, 6145 Acklen Station, Nashville, Tenn.
Richard Bros. 34 Woods Building, Chicago, Illinois
Star-Crest Recording Co. Dept. C-16, 1350 N. Highland, Hollywood, Calif.

To hear the results of previous work, visit the

MP3 Collection at the American Song-Poem Music Archives


Melvin Reviews "The Cat in the Hat"

I will not watch it on TV,
I will not watch on DVD.
I will not watch on VHS,
I will not watch on CBS.

I will not watch it in a car,
I will not watch it in a bar.
I will not watch it with my dad,
I will not watch it when I'm sad.

I will not watch it in my bed,
I will not watch with my friend Fred.
I will not watch it on a box,
I will not watch it shown on FOX.

I will not watch it on a table,
I will not watch when it's on cable.
I will not watch it in a chair,
I will not watch it anywhere.

I wish I had not paid eight bucks,
This movie really really sucks.

Postscript: Jim Griffith was kind enough to email me to correct the attribution of the preceding work. Currently we believe the author to be Mark Krosky and the original appearance to have been the rec.humor.funny newsgroup/site.

(Was plain old rec.humor not funny enough so that they had to go and add the redundant qualifier to make room for all the people whose postings didn't quite make the grade?)


Roald Dahl defends his Honor

Here is his reply to Mrs. Eleanor Cameron after she attacked his book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in the October 1973 issue of Horn Book Magazine.


Photoshop and Awe!

4law.co.il presents Leaflet Drops Over Iraq.


Judge Moore Gets the Plank

"Greg Sealy, head of the Sitting at His Feet Fellowship in Montgomery, an inner-city mission, said it was the 'darkest day' he has seen in America since he moved to the United States from Barbados 23 years ago. 'They stole my vote. The judiciary stole my vote. I voted for Roy Moore,' he said."

Hey Greg, in America you can't vote to deny me my freedom. The constitutional issue regards the Bill of Rights' guarantee that our government will not establish a religion.


The Matrix: Revolutions

J. Hoberman of the Village Voice: "Structurally a foretaste of the Lord of the Rings closer, the action alternates between the defense of Gondor (here Zion) and the drama of Sam and Frodo (a/k/a Neo and Trinity) heading for Mount Doom"

Yup, that's about it. Different palette. More computers and less acting. Same myth.


The Periodic Table Table

For those of you interested in learning all kinds of things about the elements, here is Theodore Grays hand-made, hand-carved wooden periodic table, which is an actual table, and which houses samples of all the elements he can find underneath removable wooden covers showing the atomic number, weight, symbol, etc.

Winner of the 2002 Ig Nobel Prize in Chemistry


Bush Repeals Dictionary

Bush's speech on "Mid-East Democracy" is being seen as both "transparent" and "ridiculous" because he twists the word "democracy" to mean "ally to U.S. policy" rather than "government of the people." By the latter, more accepted definition, Syria and Iran are far more democratic than the Saudi and Kuwaiti governments Bush praises.



Why not spend the afternoon with The Gashlycrumb Tinies ?
Meet Your Average Bunny

Jason Salavon has digitally combined the images of every Playboy centerfold for each decade to arrive at a composite image that, to quote the artist "tracks, en masse, the evolution of this form of portraiture." The interesting thing is that, despite the quite indistinct blur that results, you can still tell that a nude woman is pictured and that a certain increasing amount of attention is directed to her chest as each decade offers a slightly more frontal view. There's a certain eerie similarity to the shroud of Turin, as well.


50 new architectural terms for the 21st Century - (from Spa UK, via Todd)

Synthesis of urban theory and interesting taxi rides; a vision of cities properly serviced by blue collar helpers in affordable housing; inferred community events, interactive green experiences, public sculpture, ordinary people engaging with architecture (aerial view).

Impactful yet meaningless elements of computer aided design, showing how powerful multi-media tools can create surreal and challenging architectural collages.

Theoretical path of those trapped in Modernism's gravitas.

end user
Homophobic taunt directed at community architects by members of a residents' association.

Orientation of restored national treasure to showcase tea towels and heritage toffee.



Ping Pong
Web Based Flash Font Browser
Where I'll be this weekend

Chevy Truck Superbike Championship Presented by Parts Unlimited, Sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing, held at the Barber Motorsports Park.

Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival in Downtown Birmingham.


What Do You Think?

'There's trouble in Iraq?! Quickly! To the unilateral- invasion-mobile!'


Hail to the Chef

"I once reached this point when I asked the then professor of astrophysics at Oxford to explain the origin of the universe to me," Richard Dwason said. 'He did so, and I posed my supplementary: 'Where did the laws of physics come from in the first place?' He smiled: 'Ah, now we move beyond the realm of science. This is where I have to hand over to our good friend the chaplain.' My immediate thought was, 'But why the chaplain? Why not the gardener or the chef?'"


Fighting the Mind's Eye

The Guardian has published selected journal entries from Mike May who regained sight after being blind for 43 years.

"I found it very distracting to look at people's faces when I was having a conversation. I can see their lips moving, eyelashes flickering, head nodding and hands gesturing. At first, I tried looking down, but if it was a woman in a low-cut top that would be even more distracting. It was easier to close my eyes or tune out the visual input. This was often necessary in order to concentrate on what they were saying. I am sure there will come a time when all this visual communication will mean more to me, but for now it is just distracting."


What will they put in engagement rings in 2005?

Diamond eyeglasses, watch faces, and semiconductors are coming soon. For the full story, read this article by Joshua Davis in WIRED magazine.

For some background on DeBeer's invention of the diamond's cachet, see this 1982 article from the Atlantic by Edward Epstein


Wesley Willis Died

From a 1996 MTV Interview..

TABITHA SOREN: What's in here?

WESLEY WILLIS: What's in my bag is my portable CD player. I use the CD player to go on bus rides of joy, but then I go on bus rides to hell.

SOREN: I see...

WILLIS: But the demon in my head talks to me with profanity. I do not want to hear. The demon thinks I'm a bum, a jerk, and an a-hole.

SOREN: So whatever you're playing knocks all that out of your head?

WILLIS: Whenever that CD player that I play puts music on.... it keeps me on the joy ride. It keeps out the hell-bus.

SOREN: When you were outside, how did you feel about all those strangers coming up to you and talking to you?

WILLIS: I loved them, and I loved them like super-chicken.

SOREN: Isn't that annoying, having people come up to you that you don't even know?

WILLIS: I just want to meet them. As long as they are nice I can meet them.

DALE MEINERS, The Wesley Willis Fiasco: Wesley's really cool. You know, I've dealt with guys who are addicted to heroin, and stuff like that. That is a real bad time, you know? Did you ever see the Chuck Berry video? These guys... There's some very strange rock stars out there. Wesley in comparison is very cool.


Google's PigeonRank™ Technology

Google exceeds all international standards for the ethical treatment of its pigeon personnel. Not only are they given free range of the coop and its window ledges, special break rooms have been set up for their convenience. These rooms are stocked with an assortment of delectable seeds and grains and feature the finest in European statuary for roosting.



New Ad Campaign Uses Animation to Focus on Benefits of Oven Roasting

(Fort Lauderdale, FL, February 25, 2003) Underscoring its core brand equity of oven roasting, a point of differentiation since the brand’s inception, Arby’s, Inc, d/b/a Triarc Restaurant Group, has launched a new national advertising campaign featuring an animated character, Oven Mitt. The focal point of the campaign, which debuts on March 2nd, is Arby’s consumer-driven brand message: Unlike other chains that fry or grill, Arby’s roast beef is - and always has been - oven roasted in their restaurants for three full hours.

"This campaign underscores our understanding that oven roasting is our point of differentiation for consumers who are looking for higher quality, fresher foods," said Michael Howe, Arby’s President and CEO. "Our continued focus on our core equity, and the Company’s ability to communicate it clearly, gives us a competitive advantage in the marketplace."

Motivated by the desire to further connect with customers, Oven Mitt features the entertaining voice of Tom Arnold. Emotional about food that is “Oven Fresh… Oven Good,” Oven Mitt sings to Arby’s new Italian Beef n’ Provolone sandwich and gives motivational speeches to his fellow crewmembers. The spots take place in an Arby’s kitchen and utilize the power of animation to get through the clutter and spotlight the time and care that goes into making Arby’s sandwiches.

The fully integrated national campaign includes two :30 commercials on cable TV, in addition to radio, print, POP and promotions. Created by Doner Advertising in Detroit, the largest independent advertising agency in the United States, the campaign reinforces the positive emotional connection that consumers have with roasting.

Prior to creating the campaign, Doner used exploratory qualitative research to target consumer trends and perceptions. Their research showed that consumers respect and desire food that is prepared in an oven. Oven roasting also was synonymous with special occasions, comfort, and home cooking.

"In an environment where consumers are looking for food they can feel good about eating, Arby’s has created an advertising campaign that can extend and deepen the relationship we have with our customers," said John Lauck, president of Arby’s Franchisee Association (AFA). "We feel confident that our new campaign will enhance consumer’s perceptions regarding our brand and our oven roasted sandwiches."

So the answer to the immortal question "Who are the ad-wizards that came up with that one?" is Doner Advertising of Detroit, Michigan. I guess they're the ones that chose Tom Arnold to provide the voice, too.


Centennial Light WebCam

Check and see if the bulb at the Livermore Fire Department has finally burned out. Some background info:

Experts from 'Ripley's Believe it or Not', The Guinness Book of World Records, and General Electric have concluded that the light bulb has been burning continuously since 1901 (with the exception of power failutes and three times for moving to another station). The light bulb was manufactured by Shelby Electric Company and was hand blown with a carbon filament.

According to Mrs. Zylpha Bernal Beck (born 1884), the bulb was donated to the Fire Department by her father, Dennis Bernal, in 1901. Mr. Bernal owned the Livermore Power and Water Company and donated the bulb when he sold the company. This has been supported by several volunteer firefighters of that era.

There is a widespread interest in the lightbulb, visitors have come to see it from every state in the Union, and from many foreign countries.


Diary of a Politician Among His Constituency

Senator Tom Daschle's travel weblog documents (with a healthy dose of spin) his annual trip to South Dakota.


Go stroice cunna ifrinn do chuid fo-éadaigh!

An tInneall Mallachta? - The Irish Curse Engine. Choose your words and click on the "Mallacht" button to generate the Irish translation and a phonetic guide.

(BTW, that's "May the Hounds of Hell tear your underwear!")
Steering the Invisible Hand

Faith in the futures market as a predictive tool reached a ridiculous parody of itself recently as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) partnered with the Economist Intelligence Unit (the business information arm of the Economist Group, publisher of The Economist and Net Exchange (which "has a ten year history of applying innovative market technologies to processes not traditionally handled with markets.") to create the PAM, the Policy Analysis Market. Here you can anonymously register as a trader, place bets on the likelihood that Yasser Arafat will be assassinated in March, or that North Korea will launch a nuclear attack, or even that the rebuilt WTC will be attacked within a particular time frame. The idea is that the opportunity to profit anonymously will ferret out clues as to which targets and tactics could be expected to materialize. (In other words, the trading system presumes rampant "insider trading," profitting those with guilty knowledge). This would be a more sophisticated and focussed repackaging of the investigation of futures trading on airlines before September 11, 2001. The global dead pool.

It reeks of a cultist view of market forces. A macabre twisting of Adam Smith. A "root of all evil" approach to national security. A profoundly cynical and deeply flawed appropriation of policy analysis by the most organized of racketeers, the exchanges.

Update: After Daschle pointed out on the House floor that the system provided an incentive to commit acts of terror, the Pentagon agreed to "disestablish" the program. Viva disestablishmentarianism!

Second Update: The American Auction Market (AAM), a new futures market, inspired by PAM is set to open in October, giving academics the chance to bet on the probability that another high level State Department staffer will resign this month in disgust, or that another powerful CIA asset overseas will become public enemy number one.


The Large One, and Small History of Parly 2...

(translation courtesy of Google Language Tools)


An art of living single in the world
IL was once two young ladies who had close to Versailles the field of their farm father and who did not want to sell it. Several companies had made them fabulous proposals. It seemed to them improper that one day these good grounds rented hitherto with nursery gardeners can leave the family and belong to foreigners. One day, the representative of one of these companies says to them that the new city that it intended to build would have its church. A church of 1000 places...

In 1964, while agreeing to yield to the promoter Robert de Balkany, a farm and its dependences located on the communes of Chesnay and Rocquencourt, the Poupinet young ladies allowed the birth of Parly 2. A suspensive clause with this sale contract stipulated the construction of a catholic church on this site. Also was born the church Our-Lady from Resurrection.

The two communes of Chesnay and Rocquencourt which until there were inhabited as a majority by market-gardeners and nursery gardeners, became to the hands promoters and architects...

In June 1964, was thus created the Real Civil Company of Construction Chesnay-Trianon which becomes later the Real Limited company of Construction Chesnay-Trianon (often called SAIC Chesnay Trianon, or more simply SAIC).

Under the impulse of Robert de Balkany, property developer and of Claude Balik, architect, 36 residences left ground in the 10 years space out of 98 hectares acquired by the Company. The residence the Dumb woman was the first delivered in 1968, the last was the Louvre residence in 1978.

The new city thus made up was at the origin to receive the name of Paris 2, but the capital was opposed to this denomination. One thus invented the name of Parly 2.

The architect wanted to found his new design of town planning there, dispersing the buildings in the medium of many parks and integral of tennis and swimming pools for the use of the residents.

To crown the unit, a shopping centre, designed according to innovative ideas' of Jean-Louis Solal opened his doors in October 1969. It will be the first of Europe, joining together all the trade, including cinemas and restaurants.

The construction schedule of Parly 2 being completed at the end of the year 1978, the account closure of construction with the promoter took place in December 1981 WITHOUT LAWSUIT, when the whole of the shares of company SAIC Chesnay Trianon was sold.

The real whole of Parly 2 was an originality in its design. It is it still in its structure and its organization, we do all so that there remains a marvellous framework of life.

If you have anecdotes on the large one or the small history of Parly 2 let it know us , of a clic of mouse will make some to you profit the others.
Spy Network

Enter the address and get a diagrammatic plan and a photograph of the facade. (Works only for addresses in Lille, Paris, Rennes, Strasbourg, Nantes, Lyon, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Marseille & Nice)

Les Photos de Villes



The Bastille Day Briefing:

"THE PRESIDENT: Well, the speech that I gave was cleared by the CIA. And, look, the thing that's important to realize is that we're constantly gathering data. Subsequent to the speech, the CIA had some doubts. But when I gave the -- when they talked about the speech and when they looked at the speech, it was cleared. Otherwise, I wouldn't have put it in the speech. I'm not interested in talking about intelligence unless it's cleared by the CIA. And as Director Tenet said, it was cleared by the CIA.

The larger point is, and the fundamental question is, did Saddam Hussein have a weapons program? And the answer is, absolutely. And we gave him a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn't let them in. And, therefore, after a reasonable request, we decided to remove him from power, along with other nations, so as to make sure he was not a threat to the United States and our friends and allies in the region. I firmly believe the decisions we made will make America more secure and the world more peaceful."

DYSTOPIA BOX: Um. The CIA had doubts from the beginning. Their mistake was to succomb to pressure from your administration to approve the use of known-to-be-very doubtful information. Choosing to ignore the overwhelming mass of information was a political decision, not an intelligence analysis. Also, the weapons inspectors were, indeed, in Iraq. All over Iraq. In caravans of suburbans paying surprise visits to suspected sites and finding a great deal of cooperation and a conspicuous absence of weapons programs. If by "America" you mean "Bechtel", and by "Peaceful" you mean "violent," then we can agree on your summation.
Things We Do In the Name of Freedom (Continued)

This London Times Story is a parade of horrors being perpetrated by U.S. Forces in Baghdad. Try, just try, to imagine if a foreign power tried any of this with us...
Irresistable Urban Images

Check out the Seamless City Project.


What Color is Your Salmon?

Farm-raised Salmon aren't salmon colored unless they're fed shrimp and krill like wild salmon (unlikely) or given artificial colors in their feed, such as Astaxanthin, a carotenoid marketed by Hoffman-LaRoche. Market research indicates that consumers associate darker pink colors with "better quality and better taste." (That's market research, not taste testing. Subjects were asked to LOOK at some fillets and state their preferences.)

In order to assist farmers in regulating the amount of pigment fed to their salmon, Hoffman-LaRoche sells the "SalmoFan" which can be held up to fresh salmon flesh to determine its coloration along a progression of values and then correlate how much Astaxanthin is needed to get the fish to the right color.

For photographs and discussion of the "SalmoFan," exuberently declared a "future classic of design" by no less an authority than Edward Tufte, see The Ask E.T. Forum at edwardtufte.com

Update: Mr. Tufte reports recently that carotenoids are also used extensively in zoos to keep the flamingos pink.


It's Unlawful to Boycott Israel - or even to comply with someone else's boycott.

Suppose you, as a freethinking American, have some deep dislike for the policies of the Israeli government - be it their institutionalized racism or the human rights violations that go with any war on domestic terrorism. Perhaps you would like to express yourself by boycotting Israeli products, so you go into the K-Mart take some of your purchases to the customer service desk and ask if any of them were made in Israel. Well, you just violated the law. And if K-Mart fails to report the incident, they could be penalized up to $50,000 and lose their export privileges. And you thought we had freedom of speech in this country...

For more information, read the U. S. Bureau of Industry and Security's Website - including examples of language that those filthy Arabs might try to sneak into a contract, which, if you sign, will bring the Feds down on your ass. Be warned!


This article by Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times, published in last week's International Herald Tribune, describes the outrage and demoralization of U.S. Intelligence agents at having been used as puppets by Rumsfeld to decieve the American people and their leaders in the legislative and executive branches of government.

"The American people were manipulated," bluntly declares one person from the Defense Intelligence Agency who says he was privy to all the intelligence there on Iraq. These people are coming forward because they are fiercely proud of the deepest ethic in the intelligence world - that intelligence should be nonpolitical - and are disgusted at efforts to turn them into propagandists."


For those looking for a useful review of "The Matrix: Reloaded," click here.

"The computer-created world that Neo is running around in is one that seems to be set in our present day, but it is one in which the current craze is talking philosophy which has caught on in much the same way the Twist caught on in the 1960s. That is everybody's doing it, nobody quite has the hang of it, and it just comes out silly. Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) adds a tad more gravitas to the philosophy by talking in a deep voice."

In my opinion this one was meatier, but also fattier and overcooked. To a great extent when we're talking eye-candy and brain-bending deadpan revelations, more is better. When we're talking about jibba-jabba and hopeless attempts to untangle and re-weave plot threads, enough is enough. Call in a ruthless editor and then you'd have something to relish.


Producing a Rescue

The BBC follows up on the rescue of Pvt. Jessica Lynch at a hospital in Nasariya and finds that her "rescue" was much more media production than military maneuver.


Occupying Iraq

Here's the rundown on how we're taking care of business in the middle east.


Petition the Nobel Committee

"Harald T. Nesvik, a Right-wing Norwegian Member of Parliament, has nominated U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair and U.S. President George W. Bush for the Nobel Peace Prize for their 'decisive action against terrorism'."

Whatever else you may think of the "war on terror", it is not a victory for peace-making. Like the bumper sticker says, if you want peace, work for justice.


All the President's Lies

(Maybe not ALL of them, but some real Texas-sized whoppers.)
Iraq's Most Wanted Playing Cards (PDF)

Defective Yeti's list of games you can play with your Iraq's Most Wanted Playing Cards:

1. Operation Iraqi Freecell
2. Gin Rumsfeld
3. Hearts and Minds
4. Halliburton Lucrative Contract Bridge
5. War


Coalition (Solitaire)
Go Fish (for WMD's)
Looter Take All
Torture Room Strip, Poke 'Er

& if you prefer, Greenpeace's Deck of Nuclear Weapons Hoarder Cards.


Decaturs (ordered by 1990 population)

Decatur City, Iowa: 177 (40.7 N, 93.8 W)
Decatur, New York: 356 (42.7 N, 74.7 W)
Decatur, Nebraska: 641 (42.0 N, 96.3 W)
Decatur, Arkansas: 918 (36.3 N, 94.5 W)
Decatur, Wisconsin: 1,076 (42.6 N, 89.4 W)
Decatur Township, Ohio: 1,114 (39.3 N, 81.8 W)
Decatur, Mississippi: 1,248 (32.4 N, 89.1 W)
Decatur, Tennessee: 1,361 (35.5 N, 84.8 W)
Decatur, Michigan: 1,760 (42.1 N, 86.0 W)
Decatur Township, Pennsylvania: 3,004 (40.9 N, 78.3 W)
Decatur, Texas: 4,252 (33.2 N, 97.6 W)
Decatur, Indiana: 8,644 (40.8 N, 84.9 W)
Decatur, Georgia: 17,336 (33.8 N, 84.3 W)
Decatur, Alabama: 48,761 (34.6 N, 87.0 W)
Decatur, Illinois: 83,885 (39.9 N, 88.9 W)


A Primer on US Fabrication of Evidence

This memorandum issued by a group of former CIA analysts summarizes a handful of important cases in which the US has fabricated evidence in order to justify military offensives as foreign policy. Good stuff to keep in mind as the US investigates the status if Iraq's compliance with UN weapons sanctions.

It's not suspicious at all that even though we have a shortage of U.S. experts available to conduct inspections, that we have specifically told the UN weapons inspection program that they will not be needed.

(via Robot Wisdom)


Android Meme's Xenochrony - Part 04

Beter: Yes, I think so. Since the Bolsheviks and the Pentagon, both now panicking state socialists, or McLuhan's military bureacracies, are forced to team up, they are going to have to control the coming temple bureacracies. And the Christian Fundamentalists are very useful and necessary to bridge that gap. But that would create a problem for the American corporate socialists, the old temple bureacracy of Liberalism. That's one hell of a conflict I see on the horizon, I fear.
Dobbs: Yeah, it'll tear the country apart.
(Feb 6, 1979)

See also the reference to a 1940's article by Marshall McLuhan that outlines the plot of The Matrix.

The Victims of Liberation

"To initiate a war of aggression," said the judges in the Nuremberg trial of the Nazi leadership, "is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole." In stating this guiding principle of international law, the judges specifically rejected German arguments of the "necessity" for pre-emptive attacks against other countries."

- from John Pilger's first person Indictment of the crimes perpetrated in Iraq. The contrast between this account and what you've seen on TV is overwhelming. Common sense forces you to see that the truth hovers between, but when it lands, it lands right here on the mark. (Thanks again to Jorn Barger's Robot Wisdom for keeping me informed)



(Words fail me.)
I Miss America - Even Dick Nixon Looks Good to Me Now.

What I mean is, I miss the days of Richard Nixon when, even while the Trickster and Spiro Agnew were abusing power, a loyal opposition resided in Washington, D.C. I miss the days when a loyal opposition was bipartisan, well-spoken and independent-minded, when it included people like Daniel Moynihan, who died this week, and Lowell Weicker, then a Republican Senator from this great state. I miss the time when the Republican Party had smart people in it, even if you disagreed with them, people like Mark Hatfield, Barry Goldwater, John Chaffee. I miss the time when even so-called "doves" like William Fulbright, Mike Mansfield, George McGovern and Morris Udall were admired by those who voted differently from them. I miss the checks and balances that were built into our Constitution and worked so well for this nation up until November 2000."

- from the Hartford Advocate via Robot Wisdom.
Primary Sources for Looking at War in Iraq

This site at CalTech links everything from the U.S. Constitution and the U.N. Charter to Hans Blix's inspection reports, Al-Jazeera coverage, and Jimmy Carter's editorials.


The War We're Fighting in the Press

I cannot help remembering an Iranian hospital train on which I travelled back from the Iran-Iraq war front in the early 1980s. The carriages were packed with young Iranian soldiers, coughing mucus and blood into handkerchiefs while reading Korans. They had been gassed and looked as if they would die. Most did. After a few hours, I had to go around and open the windows of the compartments, because the gas coughed back from their lungs was beginning to poison the air in the carriage.

At the time, I was working for The Times. My story ran in full. Then an official of the Foreign Office lunched my editor and told him my report was "not helpful". Because, of course, we supported President Saddam at the time and wanted revolutionary Iran to suffer and destroy itself. President Saddam was the good guy then. I wasn't supposed to report his human rights abuses. And now I'm not supposed to report the slaughter of the innocent by American or RAF pilots because the British Government has changed sides.

- from a strident, but confident, editorial by Robert Fisk in The Independent
The War We're Fighting in Nasiriyah

"Immediately, the level of force levelled at civilian vehicles was overwhelming. Tanks were placed on the road and AAVs lined along one side. Several taxis were destroyed by helicopter gunships as they drove down the road...

...This was the start of day that claimed many civilian casualties. After the lorry a truck came down the road. Again the marines fired. Inside, four men were killed. They had been travelling with some 10 other civilians, mainly women and children who were evacuated, crying, their clothes splattered in blood. Hours later a dog belonging to the dead
driver was still by his side...

...Though civilians on foot passed by safely, the policy was to shoot anything that moved on wheels. Inevitably, terrified civilians drove at speed to escape: marines took that speed to be a threat and hit out. During the night, our teeth on edge, we listened a dozen times as the
AVVs' machineguns opened fire, cutting through cars and trucks like paper...

...Next morning I saw the result of this order - the dead civilians, the little girl in the orange and gold dress...

...In the days afterwards, the marines consolidated their position and put a barrier of trucks across the bridge to stop anyone from driving across, so there were no more civilian deaths.

They also ruminated on what they had done. Some rationalised it.

"I was shooting down a street when suddenly a woman came out and casually began to cross the street with a child no older than 10," said Gunnery Sergeant John Merriman, another Gulf war veteran. "At first I froze on seeing the civilian woman. She then crossed back again with the child and went behind a wall. Within less than a minute a guy with an RPG came out and fired at us from behind the same wall. This happened a second time so I thought, 'Okay, I get it. Let her come out again'.

She did and this time I took her out with my M-16."

Mark Franchetti tells the horrific story to the London Times. (Use this link if you don't subscribe to the Times online)

This page gathers up all the available material on the disputed origin of this southernism.


Hawks & Hornets

Find yourself curious about our real motives? William Raspberry lays it out clearly and concisely:

There are, basically, two views regarding the source of anti-American terrorism in the Arab world. The first was articulated by retired Marine Gen. Joseph P. Hoar in testimony last September before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The problem, he argued, is that the Muslim world does not trust us. "They believe the U.S. government has acted unilaterally, sometimes as a bully, sometimes has used other nations for its own interests and abandoned them when the objective has been achieved. And most important, they believe the U.S. has unjustly supported Israel over the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people.

"At the end of the day, the war on terrorism will be won only when we convince 1 billion Muslims that we are, in fact, a just society; that we do support peace, justice, equality for all people; that in fact we really are the 'City on the Hill.' "

On the other hand, the administration's plan, says Marshall, is "to use U.S. military force, or the threat of it, to reform or topple virtually every regime in the region, from foes like Syria to friends like Egypt, on the theory that it is the undemocratic nature of these regimes that ultimately breeds terrorism."

The problem is not that this second view is wrong (though I have no doubt that it is dangerously so) but that its adherents have consciously avoided letting it become part of the public debate. Instead, they have sold a sort of incrementalism-without-retreat by which we have only to accept the necessity of getting rid of Hussein to wind up supporting the radical realignment of the Middle East.


Wesley Willis Takes Over for Ari Fleischer as Spokesman for Bush Administration

Play that rock lead guitar!
Rock it like a magikist!
Rock and roll is the joyride music!
Whip that snow leopard's ass!

Rock Saddam Hussein's ass!
Rock Saddam Hussein's ass!
Rock Saddam Hussein's ass!
Rock Saddam Hussein's ass!

Play that Westone guitar!
Rock it to the break of dawn!
Rock in on the mic in front of 50,000 people!
Rock the jam session on Saddam Hussein!

Rock Saddam Hussein's ass!
Rock Saddam Hussein's ass!
Rock Saddam Hussein's ass!
Rock Saddam Hussein's ass!

Play the rock solo as hard as you can!
Make the crowd roar like a tidal wave!
Rock the jam session on a good free will!
Whip the hell out of that snow leopard's ass!

Rock Saddam Hussein's ass!
Rock Saddam Hussein's ass!
Rock Saddam Hussein's ass!
Rock Saddam Hussein's ass!

Rock over London!
Rock on Chicago!
TCBY, it's The Country's Best Yogurt!



Among the many bloggers doing a magnificent job in these times:

Insightful commentery at Body and Soul
Breaking news from The Agonist

Myself, I'm all busy with Solitaire and sleep.
God Bless the Onion

U.S. Forms Own U.N.


Pardon My French Freedom

From this week's "Get Your War On":

Man on Phone: "Just promise me one thing. Promise me that when you hear Saddam is dead, you'll stop moaning about this war for a moment and think of all the people that odious motherfucker killed. Raise a glass to his victims."
Second Man: "You know what? Don't give me that shit. I know when to grieve and for whom. Our sanctions made Saddam stronger and his victims weaker. And somehow, mentioning this fact to people over the years made me a 'hippy?' I'm a middle manager who doesn't like the smell of marijuana! Meanwhile Donald Rumsfeld is about to be treated as a humanitarian liberator! You don't need to tell me who to 'raise a glass to,' you fucking idiot -- I raise six glasses every night, just to get drunk enough to love this country like I did as a kid: without feeling like it's using me.
First Man: "Come on, I was trying to have a moment!"


Mattbr reports from the front

over the past few weeks, i've visited the camps at doha and arifjan in kuwait, talked to the grunts, given them a few cigarettes.
they're good kids.
they're totally unaware of what they're going to be commiting here, but they're doing it sincerely.
they're doing it because they believe in their country.
they're doing it because it's paying for their education.
they're doing it because they've been told they were going to rid the world of a monster and free a population from poverty and slavery.
i admire their sincerity.
i admire their candor.
i admire their courage.
i despise their leaders.


Weasel words to watch for

'Inevitable revenge' - for the executions of Saddam's Baath party officials which no one actually said were inevitable.
'Stubborn' or 'suicidal' - to be used when Iraqi forces fight rather than retreat.
'Allegedly' - for all carnage caused by Western forces.
'At last, the damning evidence' - used when reporters enter old torture chambers.
'Officials here are not giving us much access' - a clear sign that reporters in Baghdad are confined to their hotels.
'Life goes on' - for any pictures of Iraq's poor making tea.
'Remnants' - allegedly 'diehard' Iraqi troops still shooting at the Americans but actually the first signs of a resistance movement dedicated to the 'liberation' of Iraq from its new western occupiers.
'Newly liberated' - for territory and cities newly occupied by the Americans or British.
'What went wrong?' - to accompany pictures illustrating the growing anarchy in Iraq as if it were not predicted.

by Robert Fisk of the Independent (found via Robot Wisdom)


Little Mouse

Little mouse has little feet.
And little mouse, he loves to eat.
He finds a snack and so to have it he;
Simply opts to defy gravity


To: bobney@bobney.org
Subject: freedom fries

Representative Ney,

I think the renaming of "french fries" in House eateries on behalf of your committee is ridiculous. President Chirac's position regarding UN Security Council resolutions is a principled stance reflecting the interests of the people he represents, both as President of France and as the leader of a UN Member Country. It is the United States that is threatening world security both directly, by pledging offensive attacks, and indirectly, by undermining the charter of the United Nations. In no objective way can the position of France be interpreted as treasonous to the friendship it has enjoyed with the United States (since the American Revolution, you will recall). It is, instead, clear that France's actions reflect a commitment to justice and peaceful means of coercion that are sadly lacking in the reigning administration in Washington.

If "French Fries" is offensive, it is only so because it gives short shrift to the contribution of the Belgians to our national cuisine.


John Morse


George H. W. Bush not so convinced we're doing the right thing...

The London Times has this story on a speech George Bush Sr. gave at Tufts University where he openly expresses concern that Bush Jr. is making big mistakes in his rush toward regime change in Iraq at all costs. Interesting stuff, and interesting that you haven't heard it anywhere else...

Full text from Tufts' website. (thanks to Gumbo Pages)
Conservative vs. Neoconservative

Old time right winger Pat Buchanan accuses Bush's foreign policy team of hijacking America for the sake of Ariel Sharon's Likud Party.

Robot Wisdom)


Hyperlinked Manhattan (An Exercise in Educated Site Navigation)

New York Songlines generates slightly abstracted maps of New York City streets and tells you everything interesting about particular addresses, such as who wrote their classic novel on the upper floor, or who got murdered by whom in the basement. It's like a museum guide for real life. An early implementation of an augmented reality system. I love it. I want to go.

(via Kottke.org)


Just War - or a Just War? a New York Times Editorial by Jimmy Carter

The former U.S. President and holder of a Nobel Prize for Peace outlines the Christian doctrine of a "just war" (a.k.a. jihad):

"Profound changes have been taking place in American foreign policy, reversing consistent bipartisan commitments that for more than two centuries have earned our nation greatness. These commitments have been predicated on basic religious principles, respect for international law, and alliances that resulted in wise decisions and mutual restraint. Our apparent determination to launch a war against Iraq, without international support, is a violation of these premises.

As a Christian and as a president who was severely provoked by international crises, I became thoroughly familiar with the principles of a just war, and it is clear that a substantially unilateral attack on Iraq does not meet these standards. This is an almost universal conviction of religious leaders, with the most notable exception of a few spokesmen of the Southern Baptist Convention who are greatly influenced by their commitment to Israel based on eschatological, or final days, theology.

For a war to be just, it must meet several clearly defined criteria.

The war can be waged only as a last resort, with all nonviolent options exhausted. In the case of Iraq, it is obvious that clear alternatives to war exist. These options - previously proposed by our own leaders and approved by the United Nations - were outlined again by the Security Council on Friday. But now, with our own national security not directly threatened and despite the overwhelming opposition of most people and governments in the world, the United States seems determined to carry out military and diplomatic action that is almost unprecedented in the history of civilized nations. The first stage of our widely publicized war plan is to launch 3,000 bombs and missiles on a relatively defenseless Iraqi population within the first few hours of an invasion, with the purpose of so damaging and demoralizing the people that they will change their obnoxious leader, who will most likely be hidden and safe during the bombardment.

The war's weapons must discriminate between combatants and noncombatants. Extensive aerial bombardment, even with precise accuracy, inevitably results in "collateral damage." Gen. Tommy R. Franks, commander of American forces in the Persian Gulf, has expressed concern about many of the military targets being near hospitals, schools, mosques and private homes.

Its violence must be proportional to the injury we have suffered. Despite Saddam Hussein's other serious crimes, American efforts to tie Iraq to the 9/11 terrorist attacks have been unconvincing.

The attackers must have legitimate authority sanctioned by the society they profess to represent. The unanimous vote of approval in the Security Council to eliminate Iraq's weapons of mass destruction can still be honored, but our announced goals are now to achieve regime change and to establish a Pax Americana in the region, perhaps occupying the ethnically divided country for as long as a decade. For these objectives, we do not have international authority. Other members of the Security Council have so far resisted the enormous economic and political influence that is being exerted from Washington, and we are faced with the possibility of either a failure to get the necessary votes or else a veto from Russia, France and China. Although Turkey may still be enticed into helping us by enormous financial rewards and partial future control of the Kurds and oil in northern Iraq, its democratic Parliament has at least added its voice to the worldwide expressions of concern.

The peace it establishes must be a clear improvement over what exists. Although there are visions of peace and democracy in Iraq, it is quite possible that the aftermath of a military invasion will destabilize the region and prompt terrorists to further jeopardize our security at home. Also, by defying overwhelming world opposition, the United States will undermine the United Nations as a viable institution for world peace.

What about America's world standing if we don't go to war after such a great deployment of military forces in the region? The heartfelt sympathy and friendship offered to America after the 9/11 attacks, even from formerly antagonistic regimes, has been largely dissipated; increasingly unilateral and domineering policies have brought international trust in our country to its lowest level in memory. American stature will surely decline further if we launch a war in clear defiance of the United Nations. But to use the presence and threat of our military power to force Iraq's compliance with all United Nations resolutions - with war as a final option - will enhance our status as a champion of peace and justice.


U.S. Diplomat's Letter of Resignation [from the New York Times]

The following is the text of John Brady Kiesling's letter of resignation to Secretary of State Colin L. Powell. Mr. Kiesling is a career diplomat who has served in United States embassies from Tel Aviv to Casablanca to Yerevan.

Dear Mr. Secretary:

I am writing you to submit my resignation from the Foreign Service of the United States and from my position as Political Counselor in U.S. Embassy Athens, effective March 7. I do so with a heavy heart. The baggage of my upbringing included a felt obligation to give something back to my country. Service as a U.S. diplomat was a dream job. I was paid to understand foreign languages and cultures, to seek out diplomats, politicians, scholars and journalists, and to persuade them that U.S. interests and theirs fundamentally coincided. My faith in my country and its values was the most powerful weapon in my diplomatic arsenal.

It is inevitable that during twenty years with the State Department I would become more sophisticated and cynical about the narrow and selfish bureaucratic motives that sometimes shaped our policies. Human nature is what it is, and I was rewarded and promoted for understanding human nature. But until this Administration it had been possible to believe that by upholding the policies of my president I was also upholding the interests of the American people and the world. I believe it no longer.

The policies we are now asked to advance are incompatible not only with American values but also with American interests. Our fervent pursuit of war with Iraq is driving us to squander the international legitimacy that has been America?s most potent weapon of both offense and defense since the days of Woodrow Wilson. We have begun to dismantle the largest and most effective web of international relationships the world has ever known. Our current course will bring instability and danger, not security.

The sacrifice of global interests to domestic politics and to bureaucratic self-interest is nothing new, and it is certainly not a uniquely American problem. Still, we have not seen such systematic distortion of intelligence, such systematic manipulation of American opinion, since the war in Vietnam. The September 11 tragedy left us stronger than before, rallying around us a vast international coalition to cooperate for the first time in a systematic way against the threat of terrorism. But rather than take credit for those successes and build on them, this Administration has chosen to make terrorism a domestic political tool, enlisting a scattered and largely defeated Al Qaeda as its bureaucratic ally. We spread disproportionate terror and confusion in the public mind, arbitrarily linking the unrelated problems of terrorism and Iraq. The result, and perhaps the motive, is to justify a vast misallocation of shrinking public wealth to the military and to weaken the safeguards that protect American citizens from the heavy hand of government. September 11 did not do as much damage to the fabric of American society as we seem determined to so to ourselves. Is the Russia of the late Romanovs really our model, a selfish, superstitious empire thrashing toward self-destruction in the name of a doomed status quo?

We should ask ourselves why we have failed to persuade more of the world that a war with Iraq is necessary. We have over the past two years done too much to assert to our world partners that narrow and mercenary U.S. interests override the cherished values of our partners. Even where our aims were not in question, our consistency is at issue. The model of Afghanistan is little comfort to allies wondering on what basis we plan to rebuild the Middle East, and in whose image and interests. Have we indeed become blind, as Russia is blind in Chechnya, as Israel is blind in the Occupied Territories, to our own advice, that overwhelming military power is not the answer to terrorism? After the shambles of post-war Iraq joins the shambles in Grozny and Ramallah, it will be a brave foreigner who forms ranks with Micronesia to follow where we lead.

We have a coalition still, a good one. The loyalty of many of our friends is impressive, a tribute to American moral capital built up over a century. But our closest allies are persuaded less that war is justified than that it would be perilous to allow the U.S. to drift into complete solipsism. Loyalty should be reciprocal. Why does our President condone the swaggering and contemptuous approach to our friends and allies this Administration is fostering, including among its most senior officials. Has ?oderint dum metuant? really become our motto?

I urge you to listen to America?s friends around the world. Even here in Greece, purported hotbed of European anti-Americanism, we have more and closer friends than the American newspaper reader can possibly imagine. Even when they complain about American arrogance, Greeks know that the world is a difficult and dangerous place, and they want a strong international system, with the U.S. and EU in close partnership. When our friends are afraid of us rather than for us, it is time to worry. And now they are afraid. Who will tell them convincingly that the United States is as it was, a beacon of liberty, security, and justice for the planet?

Mr. Secretary, I have enormous respect for your character and ability. You have preserved more international credibility for us than our policy deserves, and salvaged something positive from the excesses of an ideological and self-serving Administration. But your loyalty to the President goes too far. We are straining beyond its limits an international system we built with such toil and treasure, a web of laws, treaties, organizations, and shared values that sets limits on our foes far more effectively than it ever constrained America?s ability to defend its interests.

I am resigning because I have tried and failed to reconcile my conscience with my ability to represent the current U.S. Administration. I have confidence that our democratic process is ultimately self-correcting, and hope that in a small way I can contribute from outside to shaping policies that better serve the security and prosperity of the American people and the world we share.


Offensive Speech Barred from Albany Mall

A 61 year old lawyer had a t-shirt made that said "Give Peace a Chance". He put it on over his regular shirt and walked to the food court. Mall security asked him to either remove the t-shirt or leave. He refused. He was arrested. If convicted he could spend a year in prison for trespassing. This is America. [Newsday story]

Meanwhile, good citizens who don't express opinions on matters of global significance while engaged in the shopping experience were offered 10% off their entire purchase at Bath and Body Works when applying for a new credit account.
Cartoon Recycling

The New Yorker published the same gag twice. Also it's not really funny.

(Search inspired by and URL hacking modeled after Robot Wisdom)
Mardi-Gras for Rent

If you missed the party, pass around the hat and put together your own parade with floats and props from Blaine Kern Studios. You'll also want to plunk down a chunk of change at Accent Annex for the loot you'll need to get shirts flapping. (It might also help to load up a few kegs from the Dixie Brewery.

Laissez les bon temps rouler, mon chere!


More on Bush (Moron Bush)

The House Appropriations Committee of our U.S. Congress hosts this point by point unmasking of President Bush's broken promises. (Complete with photos of him at the events where he made the promises, and relevant passages from his speeches.)

many thanks to Robot Wisdom for the pointer.


Bush Makes Bald Faced Lie

Raise your hand if you're surprised about this. I shouldn't be, but I am. How can this be that the President of the United States can just make things up and use them as support for his agenda? Does it give you more confidence in his other unproven assertions about Hussein's capabilities or North Korea's impotence? What is going on with this guy? Why is he putting us in these straightjackets? Who's future does he think he's risking on these schemes?

to quote a Haiku by an esteemed Scranton poet and baker:

Ugh. Ugh. Ugh. Ugh. Ugh.
Sigh. Sigh. Sigh. Sigh. Sigh. Sigh. Sigh.
Ugh. Ugh. Ugh. Ugh. Damn.


The University Carillon in Leuven

Is made up of 63 bells, the largest of which, known as the "Leuven Liberty Bell" weighs about seven tons. Concerts are played regularly by Luc Rombouts, the University Carilloneur or by guest musicians. The instrument was donated as part of the reconstruction of the library, funded mostly by American universities and academies who were heartbroken at the destruction of the historical university library by Axis troops in the first World War. The library was again heavily damaged in the second war (this time by an Allied bomb), but was repaired. The tower that houses the bells is replete with American imagery (eagles and stars) and dominates both the Ladeuzeplein and the Herbert Hooverplein.

The inscription on the No. 4 bell reads:

Interpres variae sum interpres vitae voce sonora :
Fortunam celebro sit bona sitve mala.
Sit pax in Terris, concordia regnet in orbe :
Ex alto cunctis haec pia vota cano.

[My voice reveals life's changes;
I celebrate fortune in good days and bad;
Let there be peace on the Earth, understanding around the globe;
This is my wish to all of you from this tower.]
Other Notable Urines


Speechwriters Wanted

This site lets you compose a speech for President Bush, complete with sound effects, by dragging text, similar to composing a poem on someone's refrigerator. Then you can see and hear the result. Very fun.


Sleepwalking Through History

From the conclusion to a speech given by Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) before Congress on February 12, 2003:

"To engage in war is always to pick a wild card. And war must always be a last resort, not a first choice. I truly must question the judgment of any President who can say that a massive unprovoked military attack on a nation which is over fifty percent children is 'in the highest moral traditions of our country'. This war is not necessary at this time. Pressure appears to be having a good result in Iraq. Our mistake was to put ourselves in a corner so quickly. Our challenge is to now find a graceful way out of a box of our own making."

See the full text at Sen. Byrd's website or, with all the usual Senatorial interjections and cockstrutting, in the Congressional Record.


Pre-Positioning (Dr. Laura gets blown off)

This memo to the staff at Sacramento's KBFK (NewsTalk 1530) & KSTE (Talk 650), both owned by ClearChannel Communications, dictates how station staffers are to carry out wartime coverage, and also to make sure that the new desperately panicked listeners remain loyal consumers after the panic dies down.

"Remember to ask me if regular programming should continue to run on weekends and if we have specialty shows that can't or won't talk about the war we will probably blow them off. Even Dr. Laura. Remember, no fishing shows, gardening shows. We are AT WAR."
The US and the UN

We're at odds because Bush wants to undermine the central guidelines of the UN Charter, not because the UN has fallen away from its task. Stephen Zunes offers a fairly clear rebuttal to the rhetoric in this article.


Happy Friday

Just the thing for the bitter valentine hater in you, NotSoSoft offers
Anti-Valentine E-cards

I Cover the War

At a recent press conference for the UN security council, the large reproduction of Picasso's Guernica which depicts and evokes the horror of war, was covered by a blue curtain. Irony is still dead. (the real story) - apparently ArtDaily's take on it, no longer available online, was a bit one-sided)



If you need anything made into a giant airbag, go see the professionals at the Art of Air


l33t xpl41|\|d

Ever run across gibberish like the above? Hie thee to How to Speak Like a Cyber Freak.

"It's about the superior feeling you get when posting on a forum that you are the only person who knows what you've written. It's about being able to call somebody else a llama simply because you are l33t3r than they are. And most of all, it's about feeling closer to the gaming community that you know you are the worst part of."
Campaigns of Deceit

Tony Blair's government cobbled together some student work from the web, threw in a few tidbits of "intelligence," and called it a "Dossier" attesting to Iraq's efforts to decieve UN arms inspectors. They didn't provide proper citations for their sources, and implied that the report was the work of British Intelligence. A bit sad, especially for all the Iraqi's we're about to kill on such manufactured "evidence" of wrong-doing, which, even if substantiated, doesn't amount to much. The weapons programs Iraq is accused of hiding were openly supported by the West (the US and UK) during the Iran-Iraq war.

Here's the Yahoo story which links to Blair's "Dossier" and to the paper by Ibrahim al-Marashi, a student researcher in Monterey, California, from which large sections of it were lifted. Check for yourself.
The Periodic Table in Verse

Mike Stanfill has put Tom Lehrer's classic "The Elements" into a nice Flash animation. [link]


The Island of San Serife

Lost Things in the Garden of Type is a pleasant introduction by John Trantor to some of the concerns of the historian of typefaces. [Note: In keeping with its policy to earn humongous profits, Microsoft no longer offers its "web fonts" for free.]


Fun and Happy

And more than a little bit strange...

We Like The Moon - found via Dave Barry's weblog. (!)


Globalization Primer

I was going to put something fun and happy here. This isn't it. This is a concise tour of why the world is in such bad shape right now, and getting worse. This is the evil empire at work. It's not a pack of snarling wolves, just a cabal of fat cats getting fatter riding on the backs of the other 6 billion of us.

Greg Palast On Globalization - via Robot Wisdom



Slowpoke Comics

It's [not] funny, 'cause it's true!


Gaudí in New York

Architect, visionary, and alien abductee Paul Laffoley is campaigning to build a design by the Catalan master Antoni Gaudí on the former site of the World Trade Center. (BBC Story)

Meanwhile, Christo and his wife have gotten permission to erect their "The Gates: Central Park" project, first proposed in the late 70's.


Revenge of the Irony

Olivier de Kersauson was skippering his yacht, the Geronimo, in the 'round the world "Jules Verne Cup" competition when his hull was captured by a Giant Squid.

(Cape Times (NZ) article)

- via Flutterby
Paranoiac Logic

Donald Rumsfeld, the Secretary of Defense for these United States, gave us the following sterling example of newspeak in a press conference last Wednesday:

"The fact that the inspectors have not yet come up with new evidence of Iraq's WMD program could be evidence, in and of itself, of Iraq's noncooperation." (cnn story)

Speaking of noncooperation... Who's going to toast our asses for ignoring World Court rulings and encouraging our allies not to comply with Security Council and General Assembly resolutions? Is making Saddam dance for us more critical than, say, preserving the global environment?

- via Flutterby


Mrs. Orchid Thief

John LaRoche's fiance is posting to this Message Board about "Adaptation", the movie about the writer who is struggling to adapt a book by a writer who struggled while writing a book about him.

Word is that Mr. LaRoche was never a porn king, but did put together a porn site for another company in Florida once. No one has volunteered the link, but word is that no photos of Meryl Streep or Susan Orlean can be found there anyway.


Online Iconographical Reference

Saints in Art by Clara Irskine Clement is now available free to the public.


Step Right Up and Get Your Free Money!

Capital, EMI, Virgin, Priority, Time Warner, Warner-Elektra-Atlantic, Warner, Warner Bros, Atlantic, Elektra, Rhino, Universal, UMG, Bertelsmann, BMG, Sony, MTS, Tower, Musicland and Trans World settled a lawsuit that was filed on behalf of all those who bought prerecorded music products between 1995 and 2000 and were thereby victims of illegal conspiracy to fix prices.

This means you.

To claim your share of the $6,375,000 settlement, fill out a form at the official
site and wait. Depending on how many people file claims, the individual award will be either nothing, or a check for between $5 and $20. (The "nothing" comes into play if too many people file claims to justify the expense of mailing out checks, in which case the award will go to charities.)


Opt Out!

The Central Opt-Out Database provides bulk mailers with a list of encrypted addresses which will allow them to remove your email from their mailing lists. Currently this is voluntary and unlikely to have much effect, but the tide is going to turn against the spammers, and databases like this one may someday be the enforcement tool (either from ISP's or the Gov't.)

At least your participation counts as a vote for opting out of unsolicited mail.


Free Maria Callas!

World renowned operatic soprano Maria Callas, under contract to EMI Records since 1952, is now beginning to shed her cash-cow straitjacket and enter the public domain --- our domain. Yesterday her first EMI recording - a test of "Non mi dir" from "Don Giovanni" - became the shared property of the citizens of the European Union. It's still the property of EMI in the United States, though. (See the New York Times Story on Yahoo). Callas, who cashed her last royalty check before she died in 1977, has since become the property through which EMI takes in as much as five percent of its annual corporate earnings. (I use the word "earnings" in the loose commercial sense).

At this point, it seems silly to argue that extended copyright protection for her recordings is fulfilling the original intent of copyright law, which is to encourage the distribution of creative works. It appears to me quite the opposite - EMI uses its ownership of Callas' rights to stifle any distribution that does not enhance their corporate profits and steers its resources into protecting and enhancing the marketability of fifty year old creations at the expense of fostering new creative work. Copyright, intended to protect the artist's ability to reap the rewards of appreciation of her work, is siezed and harnessed to the service of capital investors, the least creative group you could imagine.

It is those investors, through their good friends and golfing buddies in congress, that have succeeded in extending copyright protection for creative works from the original seventeen years to as much as one hundred years after the death of the artist. These rights can be bought and sold on the market and benefit only publishers and heirs. They provide no benefit to the public and should never have been enacted by a body sworn to serve the public.

As it now stands, European artists and publishers will be free to re-release, re-interpret, revise, alter, incorporate, enhance and distribute any recording more than fifty years old. Anyone who attempts to share any of that creative effort and public property with the citizens of the free United States will be subject to felony prosecution. How different this is than the rhapsodizing of Thomas Jefferson on the free nature of human creative output:

"That ideas should freely spread from one to another over the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man, and improvement of his condition, seems to have been peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature, when she made them, like fire, expansible over all space, without lessening their density at any point, and like the air in which we breathe, move, and have our physical being, incapable of confinement or exclusive appropriation. Inventions then cannot, in nature, be a subject of property."

The Electronic Frontier Foundation keeps this Copywrite FAQ archived for your reference. The Jefferson quote is from an inspiring essay by EFF co-founder John Perry Barlow