Or does Noah's Ark not look very seaworthy?
Friday, June 30, 2006
Or does Noah's Ark not look very seaworthy?
I'm selling some in Boston. You know you want that lawn chair, Nabil.
So, loyal readers, it turns out we were wrong about the Superman logo business.
The studio execs and writers weren't concerned about the international box office returns. They were interested in avoiding lawsuits.
Two independent sources have given us a confidential memo which states that
Kellogg, Brown and Root (subsidiary of HALLIBURTON CORP.) has been granted an exclusive no-bid contract guaranteeing sole rights for 'construction and maintenance of The American Way.' Construction to begin immediately; the first day of labor should start in 13.2 years, and cost overruns are already expected to be somewhere around 57,000%. KBR executives are pleased with the contract, and have increased the frequency and quality of their ritual sacrifices to Beelzebub.
Our sources also confirmed that KBR and its parent company,
Thursday, June 29, 2006
So there's a new Superman movie out. Yay.
I never cared much for Superman as a kid. Yeah, it's neat that he could fly, and see through shit, and beat up mad scientists by the boatload. But, really, Superman gets old. Nothing can hurt him, except for kryptonite. And, somehow, every two-bit purse snatcher manages to get his hands on a hunk of the green shit.
Still, though, Superman stories can be entertaining. Just not for long. Fortunately for moviegoers everywhere, two hours is not that long, so they should be alright.
However, the usual right-wing douchebags have their draws in a bunch over something in the movie. Over at Libertas, there's a committed platoon of morally-outraged hankie clutchers who valiantly and vigorously keep watch on the collective output of the Hollywood movie studios. They've found that--horror of horrors--Superman's motto has changed. Instead of fighting for "Truth, Justice, and the American Way," Clark Kent's nonbespectacled alter ego now stands for "Truth, Justice, and all that stuff."
Clearly, as Jeanne Wolf mentions, the writers, director, and producers were after that filthy, filthy overseas lucre, so they dropped "The American Way," hoping that people in countries that, say, aren't terribly fond of "The American Way" these days will still plunk down their cash to see the latest film about the Man of Steel. Predictably, the hapless halfwits at Libertas (A Forum for Conservative Thought on Film) have taken this fact as further indication of the decadence of the American Left, which of course finds its willing accomplice in another favorite, monolithic rightwing bogeyman: Hollywood. Yes, the movie industry. In case you didn't know, the movie industry is an almost perfect model of Adam Smith's capitalist dreams. Studio decisions (for these gigantic summer movies, anyway) are driven by profit and nothing else. I'm kind of shocked that Superman isn't wearing this on his chest:
Anyway, these fearless paladins of conservatism are, predictably, outraged by this obvious perversion of a Great American Icon by those dastardly liberals who hate America SO MUCH, they just can't stand to have any positive depictions of the USA in any movie ever. Here's Govindini Murty, shrewdly seeing through that "It's all about the international dollar" excuse:
Now this is really sad. It used to be that American films counted on making a significant amount of their money - in America! “Gone With The Wind,” the number one grossing film of all time, made over $1.29 billion dollars domestically (adjusted for inflation). The first “Star Wars” made $1.13 billion dollars domestically, “The Ten Commandments” made $838 milion domestically, and “Titanic” made $821 million domestically (all adjusted for inflation). I imagine that the rest of the top ten or twenty grossing films of all time (check out the full list on Box Office Mojo) also made much if not most of their money in America. The American market is still the single largest and most lucrative film market in the world, so it’s strange that Hollywood seems so willing to discount that American market at home in order to pander to the presumed anti-Americanism of markets overseas.Not to poke another hole in his blow-up-doll of an argument, but Titanic made twice as much overseas as it did in its domestic release. Also, they changed the Superman's motto to make more money. What could be more American than that? As for the rest of his confused screed, I just don't know where to start. What are these "fairly traditional values" that "people in the rest of the world" cling to in such a heart-warming way? Burkas? Vendetta warfare? Just asking.
And why do the makers of “Superman Returns” assume that the words “the American way” or some other such pro-American sentiment would necessarily keep moviegoers away in the rest of the world? The “Spiderman” movies had American flags waving all over the place, and they made huge amounts of money both in America and abroad. The same is true of “Independence Day,” which very much had a pro-American message. Having lived extensively overseas, in particular in Asia, I can say that overseas anti-Americanism is greatly overstated, and I’m tired of hearing Hollywood liberals cite that as a reason for not including pro-American sentiments in their films.
Since 9/11 and the commencement of the War on Terror, Jason and I have travelled to Japan, Hong Kong, India, Thailand, Malaysia, Italy, England, and Canada - and we haven’t had a single anti-American comment directed at us. Whether visiting friends and colleagues, or chatting with people on the street, we’ve always been treated well as Americans abroad - and that includes in a Muslim country like Malaysia. (The media and diplomatic elites in some of these nations are another matter). Frankly, we find more anti-Americanism in the West Side of L.A. than we do in the average person we encounter overseas. People in the rest of the world (who tend to still have fairly traditional values) think that patriotism is a normal human emotion, and find it odd that America’s immensely wealthy and immensely privileged cultural elites have such trouble demonstrating it in their own films… Ironically, Hollywood’s lack of respect for America may in itself be one of the leading contributors to anti-Americanism abroad.
It's fascinating and terrifying that people this incapable of rational thought have managed to learn to use computers.
Libertas star and favorite TBogg target Jason Apuzzo weighs in, as well. He actually "reviewed" the movie a couple of weeks ago, so now he only adds the following lament:
[T]here’s nothing anybody can do about this current tsunami of comic book movies. Here, for example, is the new Spider-Man 3 trailer, as Hollywood slips further into it’s (sic) dark night of anodyne stupidity.Oh, lawd, please not that. If you're gonna use a word like "anodyne," Mr. Apuzzo, you might want to make sure you're not misusing the contracted form of "it is" earlier in your sentence. It makes you look like the dumbass that you are.
NBA Draft (long post warning)
I decided to make up for my sparse blogging with a marathon NBA running diary a la Bill Simmons. I’ll kick things off by noting that my ancient (pirated) copy of Word thinks “blogging” is not a word and would instead prefer bogging, logging, flogging, clogging, or slogging.
– Today while taking a break from “bar studying” I watched the A-team. Nothing gets me riled up like injustice as depicted in the A-team. I think my testosterone level reached a new all-time high. Damn those Watkins brothers! Who do they think they are bullying people around and not letting anyone go to Ray Brenner’s funeral. Well they got their comeuppance.
Also, don’t you ever wonder what crime they were locked up for but didn’t commit? Come to think of it, there are lots of unexplainable things about the A-Team. Maybe this can be its own post one day.
But what does all this have to do with the NBA draft, Jon? Glad you asked. After watching the A-Team, I detoured back to the bar study by way of ESPNews and lo and behold they announced that the Celtics traded the 7th pick to
– Adam Morrison is now appearing in NBA live commercials for EA sports. One centers on his mustache. “In the off season my mustache and I will drive around in a muscle car solving mysteries. My mustache is very wise.” I’ve about had it up to here with your mustache, Adam. Maybe deep down I just wish I could grow my own. Or maybe I just wish Adam could actually grow his own. It really looks like these crazy house centipedes that plague my Allston apartment.
– Dan Patrick is serving as ESPN’s front-man for tonight’s festivities. He’s joined by Jay Bilas, Greg Anthony, and the infamous Steven A. Smith. Steven A. always reminds me of that Chris Rock bit where the guy goes back to his old neighborhood and tells the guys he has a master’s degree and the guys responds: “Oh so you think you’re my master now.” Steven A. always yells at me and I’ve never done anything to him.
Does he always talk this this? “I’ll have a glass of the house Chardonnay please! Wait, is that a
– Someone alludes to
Needless to say I’m fantasizing about the Pistons trading Ben Wallace for Tyrus Thomas after the draft.
– First Rachael Nicholson sighting. Whenever my wife wants to piss me off she accuses me of having a secret affair with Rachael and her hideous hair-do. I get pissed off like a 4th grader accused of liking a girl. Damn you Rachael Nicholson.
– NYC fans boo J.J. Redick before he’s drafted. Now they’re asking him about playing X-box live against Adam Morrison. Adam is apparently better. Maybe it’s because he plays sober. At least J.J. doesn’t look wasted right now.
– I’m starting to think Adam Morrison just grew the ‘stache to detract from his bangs. Seriously, does diabetes affect his personal hygiene habits?
– World Cup commercial. I’m reminded of my new favorite phrase, “Bulges the Ol’ Onion Bag.” Hehehe.
– I think fans just booed the WNBA. Good for them. David Stern calls them a rowdy crowd. Then the fans boo the announcement that the Raptors have 5 minutes to make their pick. Wow, that room must be electric.
– Bargnani goes first to the Raptors. Italians are known for their suits. The NBA draft is know for its suits. Now we have an Italian at the NBA draft and I can’t wait to see what kind of suit Andrea Bargnani (Bargain, Bargains) is wearing. Is it possible for him to live up to this hype? Can he get the job done? Will a tear form in the fabric of the universe? Um, no, it’s very understated. But it might be the best fitting suit in NBA draft history and he’s a 7-footer.
By the way his name is pronounced Barn – Yani. Which of course makes me think of Yani in a barn. And his nickname is the Magician! I wonder if it’s because he saws women in half or because he holds his breath for less than world record lengths of time?
Stu Scott asks what it’s like to be the first pick. Bargnani is gracious and timid – exactly what you want in a number one pick.
– Another trade and it’s the god-awful
Of course the fans boo because this should have been the Knicks’ pick.
– The Bobcats select Morrison. Now he can afford a haircut. Apparently he’s quite liberal and hates Bush. Maybe he can be the anti-Curt Schilling, who by the way, would probably play as much defense as Morrison. Morrison shed tears when Rage Against the Machine broke up.
Ahhhhh, Rachel Nichols is back.
– Is there anything more idiotic than making these guys in suits wear bright, ugly baseball caps. Why not just give them a beauty pageant-style sash and oversized bouquet.
– Shelden Williams goes 5th to the Hawks. Apparently rabid sea lions are in charge of this organization. Vitale says Williams plays bigger than his size. Well that’s good to know since he’s too short to accomplish anything in the NBA. I’m about 78% certain I could beat Shelden Williams one-on-one. He can’t jump or move around the basket, his jump shot is unreliable and he’s slow. But he has good post moves! Yippidy do dah --- that’s great for when Dan Dickau defends him.
Now we learn that he sang in choir and color coordinates his closet. Ah, it all comes together.
– Gay hasn’t been drafted yet but we just caught a glimpse of his watch. Holy shit, it looks like it weighs 19 pounds and can time travel. I wonder if his left arm is longer than his right because of that thing. What if it affects his shot?
– Stu Scott tries to count the diamonds in Gay’s watch, but alas, there are too many.
– Mohammed or Saer Sene is 7 feet tall, but he has a 7’8” wingspan. He just shook Stern’s hand and I pretty sure he has two elbows in each arm.
– The Magic just drafted J.J. Redick. Is
– Stern puts Dan Patrick in his place, from the podium, and Dan Patrick says he likes Paul Tagliabue better. The best moment yet.
– Shawne Williams is drafted at 17 unexpectedly. According to ESPN he needs to improve: Focus. Well that’s easy enough, I’m sure he can afford a great optometrist.
– The NY Knicks fans want “Marcus Williams, baby!” apparently unaware that the Knicks already have 3½ point guards. The one thing going for them is that of all the things Isiah Thomas does poorly, drafting is what is does the least poorly. And the Knicks take . . . “Renaldo Balkman. Renaldo is not here.” Sigh. No, no he’s not.
Who is here? Marcus Williams. Still. He must be hungry. If I were Marcus Williams I would order a pizza. “Yes, I’d like a large pepperoni. What? Oh,
Steven A. Smith says “I’m almost speechless.” Oh, Steven, we can only hope. Don’t tease us.
– Marcus Williams is picked 22nd by the Nets. Apparently he’s out of shape. If he’s out of shape, what is the rest of
Apparently Jason Kidd can teach him so many things. Oh really, Steven A.? Since when is the only qualifier for teaching being good at what you are supposed to teach? Maybe Kidd is a horrible teacher and he can’t explain anything. Isn’t teaching an entirely separate skill set? Isn’t that why people major in education?
– I’ve neglected to mentioned that the NBA draft is presented by Sprite. Also this draft commentary is made possible by Martin Miller’s gin, my own jambalaya, and my wife’s paying the rent.
– Some kid from
– Two players were drafted in the first round that I’ve never heard of. Both were picked by the Knicks. Apparently one of them is named Mardy. Microsoft Word suggests: Marty, Mary, Marcy, Mandy. Wow his parents misspelled 4 names at the same time.
– Ok, a running diary is harder than I thought. I just saw Lil’ (Lila, ill) Jon in a commercial and I couldn’t understand anything he said. This must be a side effect of having 15.3 ounces of platinum in your mouth. Lil’ Jon, not me. I’m wondering if I can make it all the way through to the pistons pick.
– David Noel is picked 39th. Jay Bilas says “he won’t do you any harm on the floor.” What an endorsement. That’s probably the number one quality I look for in a basketball player. That and “Is not untalented.” Oh an also, “won’t assassinate foreign leaders while violating donkeys that suffer from fetal alcohol syndrome.” Big contributor that David Noel.
– Adam Morrison’s mustache is speaking to him again. It is indeed very wise. Michael Jordan, new owner of the Bobcats, has a mustache that is strikingly similar to Adam’s. Coincidence? Not likely. I’m starting to root for Kevin Pittsnogle C/West Virginia lasting to number 60 for the pistons (I need something to aim for). Everyone cross your fingers.
– Damn you Chris Mullin get a new haircut!
– Yes, the first Israeli ever is drafted! Shalom, Lior, shalom. And then he gets drafted to
– We’re at 57 and Pittsnogle is still there.
– Rod Thorn who runs the Nets is a goofy, nerdy white guy. How do these guys end up running NBA teams? Tell me. Please. I’d like to join up.
– The experts are discussing who had the worst draft. The all take the Knicks. It’s unanimous. And just when we thought it couldn’t get worse.
– The 60th pick is here and the pistons can take Pittsnogle if they want him. Tick tock tick tock. And they take . . . Will Blalock from
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
In his latest attempt to further cow the press, Bush blasted the NY Times as "disgraceful" for printing their recent story about the US government tracking the finances of suspected terrorists.
Well, guess who was the first person to tell us that our government would be tracking the finances of terrorists and suspected terrorists*?
That's right. It was George W. Bush.
Just a few days after September 11, 2001, Bush addressed the country and the Congress in this speech, the "With us or with th' terra-ists" speech.
What did he say? Read on:
Americans are asking: How will we fight and win this war? We will direct every resource at our command -- every means of diplomacy, every tool of intelligence, every instrument of law enforcement, every financial influence, and every necessary weapon of war -- to the disruption and to the defeat of the global terror network.That's right. Bush told us that we'd be tracking financial records to try to find terrorists. This shit would hardly be a state secret, even if he hadn't said so. How'd the government nab Al Capone? Income tax evasion. Not murder, not bootlegging, not any of the strongarm shit that Capone was famous for (and good at). They tracked his money, and busted his ass. If I remember my history correctly, Kevin Costner was instrumental in bringing Capone to justice.
Our response involves far more than instant retaliation and isolated strikes. Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign, unlike any other we have ever seen. It may include dramatic strikes, visible on TV, and covert operations, secret even in success. We will starve terrorists of funding, turn them one against another, drive them from place to place, until there is no refuge or no rest.
So cut the bullshit already, Bush. You're calling out the NY Times for reporting on a program that everyone assumed existed. They just filled in a few details that one could easily have imagined. Same with the wiretapping shit a few months ago. We all know who's "disgraceful" here.
*Oh, yeah, in case you'd forgotten--"suspected terrorists" is a category that is broad enough to include anyone. Especially you.
UPDATE: Glenn Greenwald, of course, has more and better stuff along these same lines. So go check it out.
Well-known gasbag Rush Limbaugh, who cut a sweet deal to avoid jail over his addiction to Oxycontin, was recently nabbed for illegally having prescription pills again.
This time it was the Pfizer riser, the little blue pill, the hard-on in a bottle. Viagra.
I was gonna make a joke about another famous blimp crashing into a tower, but that seemed to easy.
Monday, June 26, 2006
From Anthony Bourdain.
Regarding Whole Foods (and assorted food crusaders):
No. It would be nice to think that people know the difference between a crap chicken and a good chicken. If you can afford a good-quality free-range chicken, it's nice that you have options. A lot of people in the world can't afford that.
I like the idea that we could live in an agrarian wonderland, where there are heritage animals wandering freely and making delicious farm-fresh eggs, but that ain't gonna happen; there are too many hungry people in the world.
I love Whole Foods talking about lobster and clam cruelty, when people are being fucked to death, kidnapped, starved, bombed. [The grocery chain recently stopped selling some live shellfish on the grounds that the practice is inhumane.] There is so much cruelty to humans -- so much cruelty to animals -- in this world. And people are worried about a fucking mollusk. Unbelievable.
Also, we have the greatest quote ever, in which Mr. Bourdain manages to insult both vegans and Rachael Ray:
If I ever saw her getting trashed on Old Crow, pistol-whipping a vegan after a bar crawl, I would think, "That's an interesting woman. I would like to know her."
Pretty neat, huh?
Sorry I have been away, faithful readers. I have recently returned from a trip to New Orleans (for a job interview) and central Mississippi (to see the folks). As luck would have it, I was offered and accepted a job at a New Orleans law firm and have been celebrating ever since. Now all I have to do is pass the bar.
Interestingly enough, CNN recently did a piece on the current situation of the legal system there. Apparently not much progress has been made since Hurricane Katrina destroyed much of the legal system's infrastructure. But several steps have been taken to get back on track.
The state bar association has kicked in about $1 million. The Justice Department has awarded the New Orleans indigent defender program $2.8 million -- though the study it sponsored said more than $10 million is needed for the year. And Gov. Kathleen Blanco's call to double to $20 million the amount going to indigent defense for Louisiana was approved last week by the Legislature.So at least the powers that be understand what's at stake here and have resolved to fix it. The article also hints at severe problems before the hurricane struck and suggests that this disaster could be a blessing in disguise if it leads to a more equitable legal system.
Although the population has dwindled and the character of the city has been severely altered along with the changing demographics, everyone is determined to bring back the Big Easy. And with billions of dollars in aid coming into the city, few doubt that there will be a substantial economic boom in New Orleans. Hopefully fundamental building blocks of society, like the criminal justice system, will be adequately repaired along with the character and economy. Hopefully New Orleans will be spared this hurricane season.
Katrina "removed the pretension that the system was working," he says. "They're now able to start with a clean slate."
To rebuild, this tradition-minded community must come up with not only money but fresh ideas and the political will to make them a reality.
Some changes already have occurred. A board has been selected to oversee the New Orleans indigent defender program, which represents about 85 percent of people arrested.
The program has been cash-starved for years because it's funded primarily by fees tacked on to traffic fines. After Katrina, tickets became nonexistent because everyone had evacuated the flooded city. With little money, three-quarters of the defenders were laid off, leaving thousands of prisoners in legal limbo.
Two judges recently ruled this kind of funding system is unconstitutional. The legal battle is now heading to the Louisiana Supreme Court, which has declared in other cases that reforms are needed.
Sunday, June 25, 2006
Saturday, June 24, 2006
Last month, I warned you all to be terrified of the unbelievable success of the Detroit Tigers. However, I did say that it was early in the season.
Over a month later, they're still the best team in baseball.
I'm really starting to get worried. After a careful reading of the Revelations of St. John the Divine, I'm convinced that the Apocalypse is at hand. Be warned, everyone.
That's right, Bush kept one of his campaign promises. He's a uniter, not a divider.
Wary of U.S., Syria and Iran Strengthen TiesI'm not sure that's what he meant, though.
For a long time, the top-selling poster in Hassan al-Sheikh's gift shop here showed President Bashar al-Assad of Syria seated beside the leader of Hezbollah in Lebanon. A few weeks ago a slightly different poster overtook it, this one with the Syrian president, the Hezbollah leader and Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
A poster in Syria, with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, left, President Bashar al-Assad of Syria and Hassan Nasrallah of Hezbollah.
Mr. Sheikh's shop is on a bustling street in Sayeda Zeinab beside the entrance to a Shiite shrine that shares a name with the town, and both have been packed with Iranian pilgrims, many more than in years past.
Those changes illustrate what may well be a worrying phenomenon for Washington as it seeks to contain Iran and isolate Syria: the two governments, and their people, are tightening relations on several fronts as power in the region shifts away from the once dominant Sunni to Shiites, led by Iran.
This is, in part, the result of the American installation of a Shiite-dominated government in Iraq after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and his Sunni-led government. But it is also spurred by the growing belief in Arab capitals that the Bush administration may soon negotiate a deal with Tehran over Iraq and nuclear weapons.
Arab governments once hostile to Iran have begun to soften their public posture after decades of animosity toward Tehran. President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt met Iran's national security chief, Ali Larijani, in Cairo recently, and Saudi Arabia's foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, visited Tehran this month and declared the two nations to be good friends. In addition, Iranian officials recently sent messages of friendship to every Persian Gulf state.
Amid all that activity, Syria has managed to inflate its power in the region by playing a subtle double game and setting itself up as a possible go-between.
On one hand, it is offering Iran the chance to develop a strong and unified crescent of influence extending from Syria to the Palestinian territories, now led by Hamas, a Syrian and Iranian ally. On the other, Syria, which has a secular-oriented government but is made up of different religious sects and ethnic groups, has held itself out as an important player in the Sunni effort to limit the spread of Shiite influence. That has helped it with Arab countries and has attracted investment from the around the gulf, diplomats and political analysts in Syria said.
"Syria will work to use its role as a pivotal point to get the most from both the Arabs and Iranians," said Ayman Abdel Nour, a political analyst and Baath Party member who works for more political freedoms.
Syria's strategy has helped it win crucial support at a time when it is cut off from the United States and Europe. But political analysts and government officials say it is also a risky strategy, one that could weaken Syria if Iran cuts a deal with the West over its nuclear program — and abandons its ally in Damascus.
"Syrian officials are worried about America making a deal with Iran," said Marwan Kabalan, a political science professor at Damascus University. "Syrians fear that Iranians will use them as a card to buy something from America."
At the same time, Iran's efforts to bolster Shiism in parts of Syria come as the government here is confronted by the rise of radical Islamic ideas that many say are being exported from the gulf region. Though relations with Iran are widely perceived as a political alliance rather than a religious one, the confluence of the two forces could aggravate sectarian rivalries. Tensions among Syria's many religious and ethic groups burn so hot beneath the surface of the society that newspapers are forbidden from identifying sects even when reporting on Iraq.
Syria and Iran began establishing closer ties decades ago, but the real strides have been recent.
Syria has signed expanded military and economic agreements with Tehran covering everything from telecommunications projects to higher education. Syria will buy missiles from Iran. Iran will build cement and car plants in Syria.
At the same time, Arab nations that have been cool to Syria are now reaching out to it. Syria received the king of Bahrain this month, he met Thursday with Mr. Mubarak, and this week President Assad held a telephone conference with King Abdullah II of Jordan. Relations between Amman and Damascus became strained when Jordanian officials accused Syria of allowing Hamas to smuggle weapons across Syrian territory and into Jordan — charges Syria has denied.
"Iran injected Syria with a lot of confidence: stand up, show defiance," said Sami Moubayed, a political analyst and writer in Damascus. "Iran is giving them advice. This is certain."
European diplomats here said that Syria's turn away from the West — and toward Iran and other Eastern countries — had also been part of a domestic power struggle between two forces within the government. Those who favored at least trying to keep a foot in the door with Europe have been silenced, and those seeking to shift Syria toward the East have been empowered, said the diplomats who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid aggravating tensions between their governments and Damascus.
Oh, well. That's as good as he's done with any of them, I suppose.
Friday, June 23, 2006
Thursday, June 22, 2006
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
It seems that we are beyond redemption after shit like this:
One example out of many comes in Ron Suskind's gripping narrative of what the White House has celebrated as one of the war's major victories: the capture of Abu Zubaydah in Pakistan in March 2002. Described as al-Qaeda's chief of operations even after U.S. and Pakistani forces kicked down his door in Faisalabad, the Saudi-born jihadist was the first al-Qaeda detainee to be shipped to a secret prison abroad. Suskind shatters the official story line here."Youre not going to let me lose face on this, are you?"
Abu Zubaydah, his captors discovered, turned out to be mentally ill and nothing like the pivotal figure they supposed him to be. CIA and FBI analysts, poring over a diary he kept for more than a decade, found entries "in the voice of three people: Hani 1, Hani 2, and Hani 3" -- a boy, a young man and a middle-aged alter ego. All three recorded in numbing detail "what people ate, or wore, or trifling things they said." Dan Coleman, then the FBI's top al-Qaeda analyst, told a senior bureau official, "This guy is insane, certifiable, split personality."
Abu Zubaydah also appeared to know nothing about terrorist operations; rather, he was al-Qaeda's go-to guy for minor logistics -- travel for wives and children and the like. That judgment was "echoed at the top of CIA and was, of course, briefed to the President and Vice President," Suskind writes. And yet somehow, in a speech delivered two weeks later, President Bush portrayed Abu Zubaydah as "one of the top operatives plotting and planning death and destruction on the United States." And over the months to come, under White House and Justice Department direction, the CIA would make him its first test subject for harsh interrogation techniques.
Tenet and his loyalists also settle a few scores with the White House here. The book's opening anecdote tells of an unnamed CIA briefer who flew to Bush's Texas ranch during the scary summer of 2001, amid a flurry of reports of a pending al-Qaeda attack, to call the president's attention personally to the now-famous Aug. 6, 2001, memo titled "Bin Ladin Determined to Strike in US." Bush reportedly heard the briefer out and replied: "All right. You've covered your ass, now." Three months later, with bin Laden holed up in the Afghan mountain redoubt of Tora Bora, the CIA official managing the Afghanistan campaign, Henry A. Crumpton (now the State Department's counterterrorism chief), brought a detailed map to Bush and Cheney. White House accounts have long insisted that Bush had every reason to believe that Pakistan's army and pro-U.S. Afghan militias had bin Laden cornered and that there was no reason to commit large numbers of U.S. troops to get him. But Crumpton's message in the Oval Office, as told through Suskind, was blunt: The surrogate forces were "definitely not" up to the job, and "we're going to lose our prey if we're not careful."
Suskind's portrait of Tenet, respectful but far from adulatory, depicts a man compromised by "insecurity and gratitude" to a president who chose not to fire him after 9/11. "At that point, George Tenet would do anything his President asked," Suskind writes.
Which brings us back to the unbalanced Abu Zubaydah. "I said he was important," Bush reportedly told Tenet at one of their daily meetings. "You're not going to let me lose face on this, are you?" "No sir, Mr. President," Tenet replied. Bush "was fixated on how to get Zubaydah to tell us the truth," Suskind writes, and he asked one briefer, "Do some of these harsh methods really work?" Interrogators did their best to find out, Suskind reports. They strapped Abu Zubaydah to a water-board, which reproduces the agony of drowning. They threatened him with certain death. They withheld medication. They bombarded him with deafening noise and harsh lights, depriving him of sleep. Under that duress, he began to speak of plots of every variety -- against shopping malls, banks, supermarkets, water systems, nuclear plants, apartment buildings, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty. With each new tale, "thousands of uniformed men and women raced in a panic to each . . . target." And so, Suskind writes, "the United States would torture a mentally disturbed man and then leap, screaming, at every word he uttered."
I can't think of a better way to sum up the Bush years that that line.
Dogs kick ass. Don't believe me? Look at this:
Dog dials 911 to save ownerDamn, dogs are awesome. This makes me miss my little doggie.
RICHLAND, Wash. - Leana Beasley has faith that a dog is man’s best friend.
Faith, a 4-year-old Rottweiler, phoned 911 when Beasley fell out of her wheelchair and barked urgently into the receiver until a dispatcher sent help. Then the service dog unlocked the front door for the police officer.
“I sensed there was a problem on the other end of the 911 call,” said dispatcher Jenny Buchanan. “The dog was too persistent in barking directly into the phone receiver. I knew she was trying to tell me something.”
Faith is trained to summon help by pushing a speed-dial button on the phone with her nose after taking the receiver off the hook, said her owner, Beasley, 45, who suffers grand mal seizures.
Guided by experts at the Assistance Dog Club of Puget Sound, Beasley helped train Faith herself.
The day of the fall, Faith “had been acting very clingy, wanting to be touching me all day long,” Beasley said Thursday.
The dog, whose sensitive nose can detect changes in Beasley’s body chemistry, is trained to alert her owner to impending seizures.
But that wasn’t what was happening on Sept. 7, and Faith apparently wasn’t sure how to communicate the problem. During Beasley’s three-week hospital stay, doctors determined her liver was not properly processing her seizure medication.
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
I'm glad that I'm not in Paris. There, City Ordinance 132-R prohibits ze begging. Or so I've been led to believe.
I'm doing zis begging on behalf of Relay for Life, in which activity I'm participating this year. So dig into your wallets, purses, pocketbooks, under your mattresses, or into your numbered Swiss bank accounts (I'm lookin' at you, Nabil), and toss a little cash this way.
I'll be putting this up every day until I've gotten enough cash. Please, don't make Becky break my knees. She'll do it, too.
It's a good cause, peoples. Not just the proper working of my knees. The whole Relay for Life thing--do it for Aly, and everyone else.
I found this while looking around at Dave Barry's blog (link to the right).
Ahh, Ohio. Thank you for diverting our attention away from Florida:
I respond to the photograph that accompanied the Tuesday Cox News Service article, "Whale shark breeding put under microscope," in the Dispatch Science pages. The photo showed a truck hauling a large crate containing two live sharks.Uhh, so this is completely fuckin' stupid for a lot of reasons. How many innocent motorists are gonna get out of their cars and walk up to a goddamn shark on a highway?
What might happen if such a shipment were to be involved in a highway accident and the crate broke open?
How many innocent motorists would be bitten in half as the freed beasts squirmed and flailed on the road until they suffocated or a state trooper came along and shot them to death?
To anyone at our own Columbus Zoo and Aquarium who might be tempted to be involved in such monkeyshines, please, ship your sharks by rail.
Also, whale sharks? No teeth. Check it out. It eats plankton. Not peoples.
Thanks for the diversion, Matt Carmean.
Monday, June 19, 2006
Why did we invade Iraq?
I mean, I know that we were once told that it was to get rid of Saddam Hussein's Weapons of Mass Destruction.
Which didn't exist.
And the invasion was because of Iraq's Dastardly Links to al-Qaeda.
Which were total fiction.
Then it was because we were Bringing Democracy To Iraq.
That didn't happen.
Also, I believe one of the justifications for the war was that Saddam Was A Very Very Bad Man.
Apparently, one of the noisiest and most bloated of the rightwing gasbags no longer believes that Saddam's style was such a bad thing. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Bill O'Reilly:
O’Reilly: Now to me, they’re not fighting it hard enough. See, if I’m president, I got probably another 50-60 thousand with orders to shoot on sight anybody violating curfews. Shoot them on sight. That’s me… President O’Reilly… Curfew in Ramadi, seven o’clock at night. You’re on the street? You’re dead. I shoot you right between the eyes. Ok? That’s how I run that country. Just like Saddam ran it. Saddam didn’t have explosions - he didn’t have bombers. Did he? because if you got out of line, your dead.So there you have it, folks. If they wanted Saddam's style, why not just leave him in power? I thought the Republicans were supposed to be efficient.
Thank you, and goodnight!
Was it the chicken or the egg?
That doesn't matter. What matters is who wins in the end. In Norway, it's the egg.
Egg kills henAnd there you have it.
A hen from Molde managed to lay an egg roughly twice the normal size.
The Sponås family in Strande, Molde had a hen that managed to lay an egg weighing 122 grams (4.3 oz), compared to the norm of 50-60 grams, newspaper Romsdal Budstikke reports. It was the last thing the bird did.
"I couldn't believe my own eyes when she laid an egg that was more than twice the size of a normal hen's egg. It looked completely unreal, with a 122-gram egg," Solveig Sponås told the newspaper.
The hen, a Loman Brown, came from Erlend Aarskog's poultry farm, and he has never heard of an egg like it.
"It is at least extremely rare. With eggs like this you would only get eight eggs to the kilo, and normally you get 16," Aarskog said.
Sponås wondered if diet, as well as talent, was behind the record production, saying her hens are fed much fruit and vegetables in addition to their feed.
The story ended sadly. As the newspaper put it, it is no joke laying an egg twice normal size, and the hen suffered injuries so serious that it had to be put down.
How much you wanna bet Erlend Aarskog was always first in line in elementary school? Whose name, alphabetically speaking, could be ahead of his?
Oh, Louisiana. How you disappoint.
Louisiana Democratic Gov. Kathleen Blanco signed into law a ban on most abortions, which would be triggered if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns its 1973 ruling legalizing the procedure, a spokesman said on Saturday.What the hell, people? Wouldn't, say, rebuilding your goddamn largest city take precedence over worrying about pleasing the all-your-uterus-are-belong-to-us crowd?
The ban would apply to all abortions, even in cases of rape or incest, except when the mother's life is threatened. It is similar to a South Dakota law that has become the latest focus of the abortion battle.
The South Dakota law was enacted partly to invite a court challenge in the hope a more conservative Supreme Court would overturn its Roe v. Wade decision that established a woman's right to abortion.
The Louisiana ban would take effect if Roe v. Wade is overturned. Medicaid, which provides health benefits for the poor and disabled, requires funding for abortions in cases of rape or incest. Louisiana would allow those exceptions so long as it was required for Medicaid funding.
Seven states have such abortion trigger laws, and Louisiana already had a trigger law, although abortion legislation has been blocked by courts. The new law would mean the ban would happen quicker in the case of a new Supreme Court decision.
Blanco cited "overwhelming" support for the bill in the state Legislature.
"The central provision of the bill supports and reflects my personal beliefs," she said in a statement, adding she had hoped for legislation with exceptions for rape and incest.
Thanks a lot, Governor. You dipshit.
Saturday, June 17, 2006
Friday, June 16, 2006
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
My dear, dear friend Jessica alerted me to this site, of which I was shamefully unaware.
If you have a few extra bucks to spend, please consider sending them to the Harrison County libraries. If they didn't exist, I for one would be a much dumber human being. If you can imagine such a thing.
So please, consider a contribution.
And thank you.
God damn, how I love pralines.
And that's pronounced "Prah-leenz." NEVER "Pray-leens." Never ever. Trust me on that one, mes amis.
Like I said, I love 'em. Delicious, sugary goodness.
I live in Wisconsin. Ergo, if I want pralines, I gotta make 'em myself. You wanna know how? It's easy enough.
Pots and shit:
- One good, heavy, 2-quart or larger saucepan
- Wooden spoon
- Candy thermometer (not a necessity, but it makes the process much simpler)
- Wax paper
- 1 cup dark brown sugar
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup evaporated milk
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 1/2 cup pecan halves
- pinch salt
Now drop tablespoonsful onto the wax paper, and let cool a couple of hours.
That's it. And you've got yourself the best goddamned dessert I know of. If you're feeling really adventurous, throw in some bourbon with the vanilla, butter, and pecans. It tastes good, cher.
I don't want to go on in great detail about my love for Dr. Katz, but it's really one of the great comedy shows of all time. I cut my teeth on Dr. Katz and Kids in the Hall reruns when I was a freshman in college. Anyway I thought if there are other Dr. Katz fans reading the site they might want to check out this on the Onion AV Club.
Sorry I published to soon. Now I have to include this gem from the interview:
AVC: You were a ping-pong champion until you went to college, and that was that?
JK: It's a great place to meet chicks, by the way.
AVC: College, or ping-pong?
JK: Both. David Mamet and I used to travel around hustling people. We'd go from college to college, and I'd let him beat me. We'd pretend we were playing for money, and then David would say, "If you want to play me, you have to beat my friend first."
I'm not proud of this lifestyle. My favorite hustle was, I would spot somebody 15 points, and during every point, I had to recall some really painful experience from my adolescence.
AVC: You were saying them out loud as you were playing?
JK: No. It was the honor system.
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
I think the allergy season gets worse for me every year. Also, every year, the symptoms are a bit different. Oh, well. I'm just happy that I don't live as a hunter-gatherer, where this shit would have killed me long ago. Huzzah for settled civilization and modern medicine.
Anyway, in the spirit of tiny things beating up on larger critters (like, for example, pollen and me), I give you the story of Jack, a 15-pound tabby cat from Milford, New Jersey.
Cute little guy, isn't he?
What did Jack do?
A black bear picked the wrong yard for a jaunt, running into a territorial tabby who ran the furry beast up a tree — twice.
Jack, a 15-pound orange and white cat, keeps a close vigil on his property, often chasing small animals, but his owners and neighbors say his latest escapade was surprising.
"We used to joke, 'Jack's on duty,' never knowing he'd go after a bear," owner Donna Dickey told The Star-Ledger of Newark for Friday's editions.
Neighbor Suzanne Giovanetti first spotted Jack's accomplishment after her husband saw a bear climb a tree on the edge of their northern New Jersey property on Sunday. Giovanetti thought Jack was simply looking up at the bear, but soon realized the much larger animal was afraid of the hissing cat.
After about 15 minutes, the bear descended and tried to run away, but Jack chased it up another tree.
Dickey, who feared for her cat, then called Jack home and the bear scurried back to the woods.
"He doesn't want anybody in his yard," Dickey said.
Bear sightings are not unusual in West Milford, which experts consider one of the state's most bear-populated areas.
And now for the photo of the week:
That's so funny I don't know what to say.
I'm gonna say that Jack needs a new name. Something inspiring, something triumphant. Something like Felis cattus the baddest motherfucker on this or any block, but pithier.
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
Jeremy has an interesting post about being six degrees of separation from a president via handshakes. Turns out he's only two from Bill Clinton. I started thinking about it and I'm pretty sure I'm close to both Bushes. As for Bill, not sure if this counts, but my good friend Devon swears that he "accidentally touched her boob" at his book signing in Boston. Yeah right. Accidentally.
As suspected New Orleans is not the "chocolate city" it once was. New figures now indicate that new orleans is "whiter, older, and more affluent." Article here, stats here.
Of course, now that I'm moving to nola, I'll help make the city a little less old and a lot less affluent. But, as those of you who know me can attest, I'll make it considerably whiter. My bad.
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
Dan Savage occasionally makes me giggle, but his readers rarely do -- they're too serious and fucked up. But there's a great line today:
Dan Savage, you really are the straight man's best friend, even if you keep trying to get people to put things up their assholes.Hehehe. And good ol' Dan printed it, so I guess he's got more than a lick of sense.
Monday, June 05, 2006
Some Ukranain guy decided to play modern-day Daniel. He climbed into the lion cage at the Kiev zoo, daring the lions to eat him. He claimed that god would protect him from the beasts.
Well, god must have been busy, because a lioness jumped all over that dude and gave him a kill bit right to the neck.
KIEV (Reuters) - A man shouting that God would keep him safe was mauled to death by a lioness in Kiev zoo after he crept into the animal's enclosure, a zoo official said on Monday.I like that he took off his shoes. Nice touch.
"The man shouted 'God will save me, if he exists', lowered himself by a rope into the enclosure, took his shoes off and went up to the lions," the official said.
"A lioness went straight for him, knocked him down and severed his carotid artery."
The incident, Sunday evening when the zoo was packed with visitors, was the first of its kind at the attraction. Lions and tigers are kept in an "animal island" protected by thick concrete blocks.
It's good to see natural selection in action, isn't it?
Sunday, June 04, 2006
Saturday, June 03, 2006
When did tennis players start looking like this?
This is Gael Monfils, from France. He's 19 friggin' years old.
He could just jump the net and kick his opponent's ass without having to worry about any stupid little fuzzy green ball.
Well, I don't have a beignet recipe. I looked through all my things, and I've got nothin'.
I also couldn't find a believable recipe anywhere that didn't involve a stand mixer. Since I don't have one of those, I couldn't try anything and make my own modifications. My mother used to make her own beignets, and she never had a stand mixer. But I can't exactly ask her any questions these days.
So I just don't have a recipe for you.
I did, however, find this scrumptious delight. So, if you have a stand mixer, knock yourself out.
Friday, June 02, 2006
Since we've told you all how to make gumbo before, I thought I'd throw in a recipe for beignets. But first, a little lagniappe. The Cajuns have a breakfast pastry of their own. I really like them, and what they call them: oreilles de cochon. Pig's ears. The Cajun style isn't anything like city/Cafe du Monde beignets, but it's damn, damn good. So I'll give you both, starting with the pig's ears.
If you live in Louisiana, then you obviously don't need this. However, for the rest of us, here it is.
Pots and shit:
- One large, deep saucepan. If you've got a cast-iron chicken fryer, then you are sitting pretty indeed. I suppose you could use a deep fryer, but that really seems like cheating to me. You bastard.
- Slotted spoon or skimmer
- Draining rack/paper towels
- Deep-fry/candy thermometer
- Another good, heavy saucepan
- Wooden spoon
- A fork, preferably with a long handle
- Rolling pin
- Knife (something small, like a paring knife)
- 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus extra for your rolling needs.
- 1/4 teaspoon table salt (not iodized, if possible)
- 1/8 to 1/4 cup water (don't overdo this)
- Crisco for your fryer ( You could also use a good vegetable oil, like canola)--enough for at least 1/2" in your frying vessel
- 1 can (12 oz.) Steen's Cane Syrup (or corn syrup, if you must)
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans--ONLY pecans. I don't wanna see any silly shit like walnuts or almonds here. If you don't like pecans, or have nut allergies, then leave 'em out. But you'll be missing something irreplaceable.
First, stir together the flour and salt. Easy enough, right? Now heat your shortening/oil to around 360 °F. Combine the flour/salt with just enough water to form a stiff dough. Then turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Roll it out thin. Thin, like you're rolling out pasta thin.
Now cut out squares that are just a little wider than your palm (including the thumb). Then cut those squares diagonally, so you'll have a bunch of little triangles.
Drop those suckers, one at a time, into the hot oil. As soon as one hits the oil, you stick that fork in the middle of it and give it a twist. This makes it an ear, not just a triangle. Flip once, to get it nice and golden brown on each side. Remove with your skimmer/slotted spoon and drain.
While you're finishing the frying, remove the thermometer and wipe it down, 'cause you're gonna need it for the glaze. Combine the cane syrup and pecans in your other saucepan, and cook over medium-low heat until the syrup gets to the soft ball stage (about 238 °F). Now's when you finally get to use that wooden spoon to stir occasionally. When it hits the right temperature, remove from heat and drizzle some of the mixture onto each ear.
Serve immediately, hopefully with Community Coffee.
That's some damn good eatin'.
Don't tell anyone, but this is a recipe you can actually serve to vegans. How about that?
I'll have beignets later. Maybe tomorrow. It's a more complicated dough, but there's no glaze.
Thursday, June 01, 2006
I'm glad to see this. Jay Williams had a lot of potential before his accident and point guards are even more valuable these days. And if the Raptors can land him, he can play near his old level, Bosh and Villenueva stay, and they have the number one pick . . . Well things might change for the Raptors.
But driving a motorcycle is stupid.
I'm sure you've all seen about this by now, but I couldn't let Thursday end without some stupid shit to post.
So here it is.
The Department of
The DHS argued that New York City "has no national icons."
I guess this little item didn't make the cut as being a national icon:
Nah. Not at all.
What about this?
Only of interest to giant apes, I suppose.
I couldn't find an image of Patsy Grimaldi's, but that's a national treasure worth protecting. Donnie, I'm sure you've been. You know what I'm talking about.
Man, that's some stupid shit!
It's not as stupid as this, though. The consequences are more dire, but this is much, much more stupid.
I mean, really. Take a look:
Stupid, stupid shit.
I started thinking about this post and really just wanted to talk about Ricky Williams. In case you're out of the loop, poor ol' Ricky tested positive for a banned substance and was suspended from the NFL for an entire season, but gets to play for the Argonauts in the Canadian Football League this year. Good for him.
Of course, I love Ricky (though I'm not sure why) and draft him every year in our fantasy football league. Jude and everyone else teases me. But it's somewhat of a tradition and, if allowed, I'll draft Ricky again this year. What can I say, he's my good luck charm.
But when I went to snag that article from the onion I realized all the sports articles are awesome. I've always thought of Sam Cassell as E.T. and the Onion agrees. Danica Patrick is only popular because she's so unbelieveably hot. And Tom Emanski is hilarious. Once I was in an elevator and someone mentioned Tom Emanski in jest, and half a dozen men in the elevator said in unison "Back to Back to Back AAU National Titles." The women in the elevator were paralyzed in fear, thinking that the borg had suddenly reprogrammed all of us simultaneously. Finally, I hate to be racist, but is this funnier because Matsui is foreign? Or is it because he just moves like a horse? Or maybe because I'm a default Sox fan and I hate him? Oh go ahead and shoot me too.