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  • August 31, 2005

    A Hurricane Katrina Moral Dilemma

    [Posted by ]

    On the way to lunch today, a few of us were talking about the looting going on in New Orleans. Everyone thought it was awful, but we agreed that it was okay for people to loot grocery stores at a time like this. After all, they'd probably only be able to use perishable items anyway and those items were going to just, uh, perish.

    Right Wing News has a post on the same topic today and how, in the author's opinion, it's always wrong to loot. He has a couple of good points. First, that in the process of looting other property like windows and doors are damaged. Second, that it's the first step down a slippery slope. If it's okay to loot in during a natural disaster, then why isn't it okay to steal when your family is hungry?

    They are interesting points and something to chew on. But what do you all think? Please feel free to expand on your opinion in the comments.

    Click here for more on Hurricane Katrina

    Posted by at 07:34 PM | Comments (10)

     

    What is there to say?

    [Posted by John Tant]

    With Louisiana and Mississippi struggling with the aftermath of Katrina, what is there to say that doesn't sound trite?

    I've watched the news over the past few days with growing concern over what's going on in the gulf states and it's very nearly overwhelming. Really. Imagine losing everything...your city, your home, your job, your way of life. That's what so many people are faced with right now. And although we can offer condolences and prayers, is that enough? What can someone say in this situation?

    Fortunately, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. stepped up to the plate with a column that will undoubtedly provide comfort for all the victims of this disaster. In a nutshell: It's Bush's Fault:

    On March 13, Bush reversed his previous position, announcing he would not back a CO2 restriction using the language and rationale provided by [Haley] Barbour. Echoing Barbour’s memo, Bush said he opposed mandatory CO2 caps, due to “the incomplete state of scientific knowledge” about global climate change.

    In other words, Bush changed his mind because he figured that before he started setting up costly regulations that would potentially screw up our economy, we should maybe check into the underlying science first and perhaps resolve the controversies. Of course, that led to:

    Well, the science is clear. This month, a study published in the journal Nature by a renowned MIT climatologist linked the increasing prevalence of destructive hurricanes to human-induced global warming.

    Ah. Damn it, if only we had CO2 caps! Then that hurricane wouldn't have been so bad.

    But wait a minute. He cites a "renowned MIT climatologist." That guy is none other than Kerry Emanuel, and interestingly enough he says about Katrina in this article:

    Professor Kerry Emanuel of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology also claimed, less than a month ago, that ocean surfaces had become warmer, which doubled the destructive potential of tropical storms in the past 30 years.

    But he said that Monday's storm "is part of a natural" cycle of powerful Atlantic storms that have struck since 1995. He told The Independent: "I don't think you can put this down to global warming."

    I hate it when my scientist doesn't agree with me.

    In fact, the article goes on to say:

    Other scientists point out that the 150-year record of Atlantic storms show there is ample precedent for hurricanes of Katrina's power. They say it is part of a natural upswing that has taken place since the mid-90s.

    Interesting. Ample precedent such as, oh, the class 5 hurricane in 1935 that hit the Florida Keys, maybe? Or maybe the class 4 that hit Texas in 1900 and killed around ten thousand people? Did we need CO2 caps back then, Mr. Kennedy? What were our CO2 emissions in 1900 versus today? And in the wake of all of this Mr. Kennedy, how telling that you have to immediately try to pin this on the Bush administration. News to me the weather was under the domain of the Executive Branch.

    John Edwards jumped the shark when he said people in wheelchairs would walk again if only John Kerry were elected. At the time I thought that kind of hyperbole was limited in your party, Mr. Kennedy. Guess not.

    Click here for more on Hurricane Katrina

    Posted by John Tant at 12:20 PM | Comments (70)

     

    Katrina: New Orleans updates II

    [Posted by Laura]

    I'm still glued to the news - here's the latest for today on how New Orleans is recovering from Katrina. The little bit that I've seen on how Katrina impacted Mississippi is unbelievable.

    • BREAKING: Firefighters try to put out the fire, apparently set by looters, at the Crowne Plaza hotel on the corner of Bourbon and Canal. Water pressure is very low, and they are standing knee deep in water with sewage and fuel.
    • Text message from Methodist hospital to reporter: please help us! Apparently they have been unable to get in touch with officials, but have no power, no water, etc. When all this is over, the emergency plan needs to be amended to include alternate communication methods for times like this. Radios or something, to contact officials directly.
    • Here is a really great map with neighborhood flooding info. And I found out from a message board that as of 3pm yesterday my neighborhood was not flooded. That was before the predicted 9 feet of water from the levee break, but still, great news!!
    • WDSU says Mayor Nagin reports that water is flowing out of the city through one of the levee breaks. WDSU did not say which break.
    • 12:44 Michael Chertoff with Homeland Security weighs in: "our thoughts and prayers... we'll work tirelessly... assist and protect those citizens... this is the first time we're going to implement the National Response Plan." Homeland security is apparently going to take the point on this whole mess. This is probably not a good thing, unless they are going to rely heavily on locals who actually know what's going on. As Nagin said, we do not need more cooks in the kitchen, and frankly I don't trust the Feds further than I can throw them in anything but supply - as for organization I'd rather see locals manage it. -FEMA has deployed 39 teams to various areas affected by the hurricane. Truckloads of water, ice, meals, etc. are on the way. -Standards for gas and fuels are being waived for LA, MS, AL and FL so that supply is not affected. -The rules for trucker hours are relaxed to facilitate supply delivery -A public health emergency has been declared (good idea, because we're going to start seeing disease with all this standing water) -More beds will be made available, more shelters will be opened
    • Mayor Nagin said yesterday that "there are way to many frickin' - excuse me - cooks in the kitchen... they should have done these sandbagging operations first thing in the morning and it didn't get done... quite frankly I'm very frustrated" and today he is already on track to get the organizational problems fixed. New Orleans made a very rare, wise decision to elect this man, and I hope they keep him in office for quite a while. He is one Democrat I could vote for if he ran for statewide office.
    • FEMA expects the recovery efforts to go on for months.
    • Reporter Camille Whitworth is on WDSU talking about how terrifying it was in the hospital when the looters attacked. The Jefferson Parish Sheriff - that'd be Harry Lee, who is GREAT - said looters will be shot on sight. Go, HARRY!
    • Several looting arrests have been made (where are they putting them?) and the officer who was shot in the head yesterday by a looter is expected to recover.
    • No gasoline from New Orleans to Jackson, MS
    • 8am - The generators at Charity and University hospitals ran out of fuel this morning.
    • Slidell (north of the city) is still flooded - worse than I expected.
    • Charity is hoping to evac patients to other hospitals, including Parkland Memorial in Dallas. I saw on the local news here in Dallas this morning that Dallas and Houston are doing quite a lot for evacuees, it's a nice counterbalance to all the looters running amok back at home.
    • Entergy has thousands of workers mobilized to get the power back on, but due to new flooding due to levee breaks (thanks a lot to all those folks who decided to "stay at home" "tough it out" and "ride out the storm" you had a large part in creating the post-storm problems) they can't do much.
    • Dan Milham is wondering where the Saints will play. I'm thinking that crowd of evacuees in the Dome could probably do as well as the official team, and that lot is being moved to the Astrodome today, so, problem solved.


    Click here for more on Hurricane Katrina

    Posted by Laura Curtis at 11:16 AM | Comments (3)

     

    August 30, 2005

    Big Brother Recap - Week 9 - Tuesday's Show

    [Posted by ]

    I feel kind of bad writing about things like Big Brother when Laura and so many other people are struggling through the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. But, I guess the show must go on.

    Since I keep up with the live feeds, I knew most of what was going to happen tonight. In a nutshell:

    • April nominated Howie & Janelle for eviction. Her ultimate plan was to backdoor James
    • April shared her plan with Howie & Janelle in order to make sure they wouldn't pick James to play the veto
    • April won the veto
    • April vetoed Janelle and put James up in her place
    • So, look for James to be evicted Thursday, unless things drastically change between now and then (which, you know, can happen sometimes).

    So, that's what happened, but that's so not the whole story and it doesn't at all touch what was so absolutely delicious about this episode. But, if you want to find out exactly what was so great, you're going to have to go to our new reality TV site, Zebrality and read the rest of the article.

    Posted by at 09:25 PM | Comments (0)

     

    Katrina: East Bank of New Orleans is lost to preventable flooding.

    [Posted by Laura]

    From WWL: ****ALL RESIDENTS ON THE EAST BANK OF ORLEANS AND JEFFERSON REMAINING IN THE METRO AREA ARE BEING TOLD TO EVACUATE AS EFFORTS TO SANDBAG THE LEVEE BREAK HAVE ENDED. THE PUMPS IN THAT AREA ARE EXPECTED TO FAIL SOON AND 9 FEET OF WATER IS EXPECTED IN THE ENTIRE EAST BANK. WITHIN THE NEXT 12-15 HOURS****

    This includes my house. I knew it was possible, but now that it's happening, I'm still surprised. Well, in fairness, I didn't know before this announcement whether the house was even standing or full of flood water anyway, so it actually may not make a bit of difference. But if it wasn't before, it certainly will be now. I'm grateful that my family is safe. Everything else can either be replaced or done without. But it's still disconcerting to find that all we own is 3 suitcases of clothing, 1 computer, and 1 Fender acoustic. I'd say we own two cats (they are here in Dallas being boarded at a local vet's) but they kind of own me.

    Updated: When I wrote this, I did not realize that it was PREVENTABLE. (Title changed with this update.) Mayor Ray Nagin says he's "very upset" that the sandbagging did not get done by midday as instructed. "The sandbags were waiting and all the helicopter had to do was pick them up and drop them in the breached area." The reason this did not happen? The choppers never showed up, and the water rose to the point that the pumps failed. Where were the choppers? Going from rooftop to rooftop picking up those Darwin Award candidates who refused, in the face of all evidence and reason, to evacuate the city or go to a designated shelter. I'm a little bit beyond "very upset," this is millions, perhaps billions of dollars lost due to stupidity, and a lot longer before we can begin to rebuild. As Nagin says, with the full bowl effect and the pumps covered in water, they now may have to purposely breach the levee in another place to drain enough water to get the pumps out from under and running again. He's going to get with the Army Corps of Engineers and come up with a strategy.

    Click here for more on Hurricane Katrina

    Posted by Laura Curtis at 09:15 PM | Comments (23)

     

    Katrina: New Orleans updates

    [Posted by Laura]

    Live video from WDSU and WWL. I'm glued to the local coverage, hoping for a glimpse of friends who refused to evacuate, and of my house (preferably not covered by water or my oak tree.)

    I'll be adding new items to the top of this list as they come in:

    • 10:35 Body counts are starting to come in. 5 dead in Jefferson Parish. 7 missing from Grand Isle.
    • A little comic relief... a report of a shark about 10 minutes from my neighborhood and 1 block from my husband's office. (Funny because it's unexpected - obviously this could be a problem for idiots who refuse to stay out of the water, but since we're all brought up from babyhood being told to stay out of flood water because there are lots of snakes in it, this won't affect too many people, and those it does are Darwin Award candidates anyway.)
    • 7pm Like we don't have enough problems - OPP prisoners riot, take hostages.
    • 5:50pm Looting in Slidell. The police chief says he will take a very tough stand on this.
    • If you have a boat, get it to Sams Club on Airline Hwy. to take part in rescue efforts.
    • Looks like severe flooding at Orleans Parish Prison, and the video shows prisoners outside under armed guard.
    • A fire at a pawn shop that was looted (set by the looters), but this time there is enough water pressure for the Fire Department to at least try to put it out. These people should be SHOT.
    • Mayor Nagin says the death in the Superdome appears to be an accident - someone tried to jump from a higher level to a lower one. When I've been in the Dome for games and concerts, the distance between levels looks deceptively close from above, so that could be exactly what happened.
    • NOPD officer shot in back of the head for trying to prevent looting in Algiers.
    • 4:30pm Not just looting but now burning of cars. You can make some excuse for looting if people stole food - I'm not saying it's right but you can understand it - but to destroy for no reason, when we're already up to our necks in destruction, is inexcusable. And there's no practical way to arrest and deal with the criminals right now.
    • Officials are coming up with a plan to evacuate the entire New Orleans area, including the 10,000+ who are in the Superdome. I get the impression I'm not going to get to go home anytime soon.
    • Fellow evacuees, check your neighborhood status here.
    • New Orleans will absolutely be rebuilt. Senators Vitter and Landreiu are putting together a legislative package so the rest of the country can help pay for it. (My phrasing not theirs.)
    • Press conference at 3pm with Gov. Blanco, Sens. Vitter and Landreiu: I-10 between New Orleans and Slidell has sections missing, according to Gov. Blanco, and there is "very deep" water in Metairie near Clearview (that's 5 minutes from my house!!!) Senator Mary Landrieu just said that she flew over the tsunami area right after the tsunami, and she just flew over the New Orleans area, and it is equivalent. There are areas that are just gone. Corps of Engineers: One breach is almost 300 feet (the Lake Pontchartrain one). They are working on preliminary solutions. The Industrial Canal breach is on the St. Bernard side, so that is actually letting water OUT of St. Bernard because the water is higher inside it than out. So there's no rush to fix that breach.

    • The Army Corps of Engineers is desperately trying to plug up the breaks in the levees; until they are plugged, water continues to flow into the city and even areas that were not flooded before are flooding now.
    • Heat indexes in the low 100s hamper rescue efforts.
    • Other area rivers (i.e. the Pearl River) are at or near flood stage and this may well cause more problems in the area.
    • Water is flowing into the whole downtown area at a rate of 6 inches per hour.
    • 1200 rescues have been successfully completed in the New Orleans area, but hundreds still calling 911.
    • There are several confirmed levee breaches - at least one on the south side of Lake Pontchartrain, one a couple of blocks long in the 17th St. Canal on the New Orleans side, and reportedly one in the Industrial Canal. This is why the flooding is getting worse, not better.
    • The only way in or out at this point is the Crescent City Connection (the main bridge over the Mississippi River.)
    • People who evacuated told to stay out until further notice, people who didn't evac told to get out as soon as possible via the Crescent City Connection.
    • Mayor Ray Nagin: 80 percent of New Orleans is underwater, up to 20 feet deep.
    • Tulane Medical Center is being evacuated due to fast rising water and they are moving people to the Superdome.
    • The Superdome already has about 10,000 people, little or no potable water, no bathroom facilities, and several large holes in the roof. But this is the best available.
    • At least 20 collapsed buildings.
    • $26 BILLION in damage and counting.
    • I just saw video of the twin spans; at least one huge chunk, maybe 50-60 yards worth, is missing. And many collapsed sections where it's over land.
    • I-12 has been re-opened, I-10 in the New Orleans area is closed and will remain so indefinitely.
    • Over 800 calls in the 911 database queue that LA State troopers and others are trying to deal with and get help where needed.
    • New Orleans Police Dept. headquarters is getting 6 inches an hour of water, still rising. What did they do with the prisoners in lockup?
    • Martial law, but looting is still occurring.

    Other sites watching all this - Michelle Malkin as always has a fantastic roundup on various Katrina topics, this link to the latest on what's going on with the Superdome. New Orleans local Paul from Wizbang has plenty.

    Apparently the water in my part of the city (Metairie) is getting deeper, and a LOT of trees are down. I'm glad I'm in Dallas right now - I'm simultaneously frantic to get back and dreading it.

    Click here for more on Hurricane Katrina

    Posted by Laura Curtis at 02:08 PM | Comments (2)

     

    The Music of my Youth

    [Posted by ]

    Daimnation has a fun new meme. Find the top 100 songs from the year you graduated high school and critique them: bold the ones you love, strike the ones you hate and list and laugh at the ones you're indifferent too. Damian covered the year 1991 and Eric over at Viking Pundit covered 1986. Here's my take on 1990. I'm actually surprised by how much I like on this list. There's just so many excellent, goofy rap songs. Ah, how I long for that kind of hip hop.

    1. Hold On, Wilson Phillips: You know, I don't like this enough to bold it, but I do like it. Those girls could sing.
    2. It Must Have Been Love, Roxette: I always hated Roxette. No talent hacks.
    3. Nothing Compares 2 U, Sinead O'Connor
    4. Poison, Bell Biv Devoe: Whatever happened to Bell Biv Devoe?
    5. Vogue, Madonna
    6. Vision Of Love, Mariah Carey
    7. Another Day In Paradise, Phil Collins
    8. Hold On, En Vogue
    9. Cradle Of Love, Billy Idol
    10. Blaze Of Glory, Jon Bon Jovi

    11. Do Me!, Bell Biv Devoe
    12. How Am I Supposed To Live Without You, Michael Bolton
    13. Pump Up The Jam, Technotronic: And pump up the jam they will
    14. Opposites Attract, Paula Abdul: Hey, it's Paula!
    15. Escapade, Janet Jackson
    16. All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You, Heart: Sadly, this isn't the worst song on the list
    17. Close To You, Maxi Priest
    18. Black Velvet, Alannah Myles
    19. Release Me, Wilson Phillips
    20. Don't Know Much, Linda Ronstadt and Aaron Neville
    21. All Around The World, Lisa Stansfield
    22. l Wanna Be Rich, Calloway
    23. I Remember You, Skid Row: I never cared for their music, but Sebastian Bach was hot back in the day
    24. Rub You The Right Way, Johnny Gill
    25. She Ain't Worth It, Glenn Medeiros Featuring Bobby Brown
    26. If Wishes Came True, Sweet Sensation
    27. The Power, Snap
    28. (Can't Live Without Your) Love and Affection, Nelson: Those girls were cute. What? They weren't girls? No way!
    29. Love Will Lead You Back, Taylor Dayne
    30. Don't Wanna Fall In Love, Jane Child: She's the freak with the mohawk and one really long braid, I think
    31. Two To Make It Right, Seduction
    32. Sending All My Love, Linear
    33. Unskinny Bop, Poison
    34. Step By Step, New Kids On The Block: I'm ashamed that NKOTB is on this list
    35. Dangerous, Roxette
    36. We Didn't Start The Fire, Billy Joel: This is the worst song on the list
    37. I Don't Have The Heart, James Ingram
    38. Downtown Train, Rod Stewart
    39. Rhythm Nation, Janet Jackson
    40. I'll Be Your Everything, Tommy Page
    41. Roam, B-52's
    42. Everything, Jody Watley
    43. Back To Life, Soul II Soul: Absolute classic
    44. Here and Now, Luther Vandross
    45. Alright, Janet Jackson
    46. Ice Ice Baby, Vanilla Ice: Stop. Collaborate and listen
    47. Blame It On The Rain, Milli Vanilli: Yeah, they didn't sing it but it still has some camp value
    48. Have You Seen Her, M.C. Hammer
    49. With Every Beat Of My Heart, Taylor Dayne
    50. Come Back To Me, Janet Jackson
    51. No More Lies, Michel'le
    52. Praying For Time, George Michael
    53. How Can We Be Lovers, Michael Bolton
    54. Do You Remember, Phil Collins
    55. Ready Or Not, After 7
    56. U Can't Touch This, M.C. Hammer
    57. I Wish It Would Rain Down, Phil Collins
    58. Just Between You and Me, Lou Gramm
    59. Something Happened On The Way To Heaven, Phil Collins
    60. Black Cat, Janet Jackson
    61. Can't Stop, After 7
    62. Janie's Got A Gun, Aerosmith
    63. The Humpty Dance, Digital Underground: Oh yeah! Some guys were playing us an acoustic version of this song the other day. It was fabulous
    64. I'll Be Your Shelter, Taylor Dayne
    65. Free Fallin', Tom Petty
    66. Giving You The Benefit, Pebbles
    67. Enjoy The Silence, Depeche Mode: This is no Personal Badini, but I still like it
    68. Love Song, Tesla
    69. Price Of Love, Bad English
    70. Girls Nite Out, Tyler Collins
    71. King Of Wishful Thinking, Go West: wuss rock
    72. What Kind Of Man Would I Be?, Chicago
    73. Get Up! (Before The Night Is Over), Technotroic
    74. Here We Are, Gloria Estefan
    75. Epic, Faith No More: This song signified the birth of grunge and the birth of rock/rap. It's incredibly influential even if no one has figured it out yet
    76. Love Takes Time, Mariah Carey
    77. Just Like Jesse James, Cher
    78. Love Shack, B-52's
    79. All Or Nothing, Milli Vanilli
    80. Romeo, Dino
    81. Everybody Everybody, Black Box
    82. I Go To Extremes, Billy Joel
    83. Whip Appeal, Babyface
    84. Oh Girl, Paul Young: I'm a sucker for Paul Young
    85. C'mon and Get My Love, D-Mob With Cathy Dennis
    85. (It's Just) The Way That You Love Me, Paula Abdul
    87. We Can't Go Wrong, Cover Girls
    88. When I'm Back On My Feet Again, Michael Bolton
    89. Make You Sweat, Keith Sweat
    90. This One's For The Children, New Kids On The Block: I honestly don't know this song, but I'm sure it sucks
    91. What It Takes, Aerosmith
    92. Forever, Kiss
    93. Jerk Out, Time
    94. Just A Friend, Biz Markie: Oh man! I'm so proud this is on the list. Heh.
    95. Whole Wide World, A'me Lorain
    96. Without You, Motley Crue
    97. Swing The Mood, Jive Bunny and The Mastermixers
    98. Thieves In The Temple, Prince
    99. Mentirosa, Mellow Man Ace
    100. Tic-Tac-Toe, Kyper

    I'd love to hear see some other lists. You can find your own top 100 here. Just enter your year and "top 100" in the search box.

    Posted by at 12:33 PM | Comments (6)

     

    August 29, 2005

    Spinning Away on Green Day & The VMAs

    [Posted by ]

    The Times Online has an interesting view of last night's Video Music Awards. Here's the first sentence of their article:

    GREEN DAY, the anti-war punk rockers, swept the MTV Video Music Awards in a sign that American popular culture is turning against US presence in Iraq.

    One, I had no idea that you could use the VMAs were such a powerful sign of which way the pop cultural winds are going to blow. If that's the case, I better start wearing a bra & panties or a swimsuit to work. What am I thinking?

    Two, turning against? Since when were spoiled pop stars for the war in Iraq?

    Truth be told, I watched all of the VMAs and even Green Day barely mentioned the War in Iraq and not a single other presenter or winner said anything political. As much as the UK press wants to spin this as some anti-war, anti-Bush fest, it wasn't. The VMAs were all about T&A. That's it.

    Posted by at 07:16 PM | Comments (3)

     

    Hurricane Katrina - New Orleans aftermath

    [Posted by Laura]

    We evacuated to Texas and like thousands of others, are desperately looking for news and trying to get in touch with the idiots friends and neighbors who refused to evacuate or go to shelters. Katrina is obviously impacting more than just New Orleans, and because she passed on the east side of New Orleans, we made out much better than we expected. Bad news for Mississippi and Alabama, again. As far as I can find out, the water is waist deep where I live (a suburb called Metairie) but in other parts of the metro area like St. Bernard, 15-20 feet deep. Some people have been rescued from their roofs. Overall, the bowl that is New Orleans apparently did not fill beyond what we can deal with - yesterday the guy from the Corps of Engineers was describing the expected scenario where the eye of the storm passed over my parish (Jefferson) and the whole city would be around 20 feet deep - he said it would be a minimum of 6 months just to get the water out. We got really lucky with that eastern path. You can read more about how Katrina affected New Orleans at the blog of a local news station, WDSU. Here are links to lots of video (raw footage.)

    We left New Orleans not really expecting our house to be there when we got back. Because of the more easterly course of the storm, it may actually be there, albeit three feet deep in water. The huge oak tree I left in my front yard is quite likely in the living room now, but those kinds of things can be dealt with. We're praying for friends who stayed, both that they made it through the storm alive, and that they have the sense next time to know that everything can be restored or done without - except your life. We are entering into a cycle of decades of increased hurricane activity. People who live near the coast need to be ready, and have their priorities straight, because increased hurricane activity is the new normal. Tropical Depression 13 is forming in the Atlantic, about 965 miles east of the Lesser Antilles, moving toward the west-northwest at about 13 mph with sustained winds of near 30 mph. If Tropical Depression 13 strengthens into a tropical storm, it will be called Lee.
    Katrina photos below

    St. Berard Parish deputy sheriff Jerry Reyes uses his boat to rescue residents after Hurricane Katrina hit the area causing flooding in their New Orleans neighborhood, Monday Morning, Aug. 29, 2005. Officials called for a mandatory evacuation of the city, but many resident remained in the city. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)


    The roof of the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans was shredded by strong winds of Hurricane Katrina as it battered the Crescent City on Monday, Aug. 29, 2005. (AP Photo/Bill Haber)


    The North side of the Hyatt hotel in New Orleans was shredded by 140mph winds when Hurricane Katrina made landfall on the Louisiana coast on Monday, Aug. 29, 2005.(AP Photo/Dave Martin)

    Click here for more on Hurricane Katrina

    Posted by Laura Curtis at 03:58 PM | Comments (6)

     

    Help Hurricane Katrina Victims

    [Posted by ]

    While it sounds like Hurricane Katrina weakened a bit before landfall and isn't quite as bad as it could have been, it's still really bad. People are going to need food, water, shelter, clothing, you name it.

    The Red Cross makes it extremely easy to donate online. You can use your credit card to contribute to their National Disaster Relief Fund. Even if you can't give a lot, every little bit helps and it all adds up. Americans gave millions and millions to victims of last December's tsunami, and I'm sure people will open up their pocketbooks for folks down on the Gulf Coast too.

    Click here for more on Hurricane Katrina

    Posted by at 10:14 AM | Comments (0)

     

    August 28, 2005

    MTV's Video Music Awards-Part 2

    [Posted by ]

    Click here for part 1 of our coverage on Zebrality.

    One thing I'm a fan of is the use the orchestras in rock music. To me, that almost always works. Even when they're accompanying some rapper I don't know. But then Snoop comes out. To know him is to love him.

    Hey, it's Ron Livingston from Office Space. Oh no, I guess it's just Johnny Knoxville. Why is it never Ron Livingston? I'd much rather see him. He presents the MTV2 Award. I'm rooting for Fall Out Boy. And, it's another winner for me. Sweet!

    Fat Joe (who really isn't that fat) introduces some of MTV's newest faces: a bunch of Latin hip hoppers. Heh, whoever this first Latin dude is, he's terrible. His "singing" is unbearably screechy. The second guy is like a short Latin Snoop, but without the unique lazy style. The last guy is Daddy Yankee. He's the best so far. He's incredibly fast and energetic. Even if I don't like the music, I can at least appreciate his enthusiasm.

    Now the award for Best Hip Hop Video. I'm rooting for Snoop Dog, just because. And the winner is...Missy Elliot, featuring Ciara and the Cult Jam with Full Force (just a joke there for the oldsters).

    I missed a bit of the show, but I come back just in time to see Kelly Clarkson win the award for Best Pop Video. Alright! For some reason, Kelly has to duck through a bunch of fountains to get to the stage. Weird. Kelly has changed out of her beautiful gold gown and is wearing a more rock appropriate black half shirt with cropped flowy black pants. I saw about 100 girls wearing the same damn pants yesterday afternoon. I'm not sure it's the best look for everyone.

    My boy Snoop Dog is wearing a fabulous hat and matching sportscoat. He introduces Danny (?) Cook, a comedian. He is...not funny. Snoop presents the award for Best New Artist. I want The Killers to win. And they do. What a strange night. Normally my picks never win things like this.

    Who will win Diddy's $100,000 fashion challenge? The winners are Gwen Stefani and Snoop Dog. If they're smart they'll both give the money to the Red Cross for Hurricane Katrina victims. But now, Gwen gives it to a children's hospital and Snoop gives it to the Snoop Youth Football League. That's not the exact name, but it's his youth football charity.

    Eva Longoria, who I normally like, comes out in a pink quasi-swimsuit. She looks great, of course, but WTF? Speaking of questionable wardrobe choices, Eva introduces a live performance by Mariah Carey. You can usually count on Mariah to wear some bizarre outfit, but unfortunately, she's a little conservative (for her) in a sparkly light blue gown. Oh Mariah. Girl, I was counting on you for some unintentional comedy.

    The Breakthrough Video Award is up next. I want Gorillaz to win. Hey! Another winner for me. I rule!

    50 Cent has some nice guns. Take that however you want. To prove he's cool, 50 Cent finishes his performance with a string of F Bombs. Once again, classy.

    I don't get what's so great about My Chemical Romance. To me, they are nothing more than a poor man's Smashing Pumpkins. Speaking of things I don't get, here comes Paris Hilton. Paris is on stage a) because she's an attention whore and b) to give out the Viewer's Choice award. The early polls showed Green Day in the lead, so I'm assuming they're going to win. Whatever. I still think they're boring. And they do win.

    We're almost done (thank God). I think all that's left is the Video of the Year Award and Kelly Clarkson's finale performance.

    Oscar-winner Jamie Foxx gets to present the last award of the night with Destiny's Child. For Video of the Year, I hope Snoop Dog wins. And the winner is...Green Day. They still suck.

    Kelly Clarkson hits the stage to sing "Since You've Been Gone". It's hard to believe Kelly was on American Idol. She's like a million times better than anyone else who's ever been on the show. She's a little screechy tonight, but she makes up for it with her energy and the fact that she's performing barefoot. You can tell that her band just loves her too.

    At last, this is the end. Best moments: Kelly and The Killers. Worst: Green Day.

    Posted by at 10:23 PM | Comments (1)

     

    MTV's Video Music Awards-The First Hour

    [Posted by ]

    We are live blogging the VMAs over at Zebrality. Here's a look at the first hour of the show.

    MTV may not play music anymore, but it does play host to the biggest show in music. I remember when MTV first started. Our cable company was one of the first ones to get MTV. In fact, the very first MTV contest winner was from Stevens Point, Wisconsin.

    Anyway, on with the show. Green Day kicks it off. Why do rock stars wear eyeliner? I know they want to all look weird and alternative, but why heavy eyeliner? Why not borrow the devil guy from the Tour de France's outfit for the night or something? Anyway, Green Day finishes up in a blaze of glory as the stage behind them is suddenly filled with shooting flames. Fire!

    Diddy (P. Diddy no more) is hosting the show. Are you serious? Couldn't they get a bigger star than that? My God, how self-important is this freak? He's dressed in an all-white suit and emerges on the stage to the sampled strains of Frankie Goes to Hollywood's "Relax". Not that he'll acknowledge that it's not even his own music. If he had a sense of humor, he would have at least rolled up in a Pepsi delivery truck.

    The stage is filled with half-naked female dancers for what will undoubtably not be the last time tonight. Where are the half-naked men for us female and non-traditional male viewers?

    The first presenters of the evening are Nelly and Lindsay Lohan. Good thing for Lindsay that she's way too old for Nelly. She also looks like she might have eaten a sandwich in the last couple of weeks. Good for her. Best female video goes to Kelly Clarkson. Yay! Kanye West wins one for the boys. Kelly's looking gorgeous in a light gold dress. And, heh, Gwen Stefani is looking pissed that she lost. Awesome!

    Oooh, Snoop Dog is in the house! He licks his lips rather lasciviously as Kelly gives her acceptance speech. She could do worse.

    Hey, it's the return of Beavis & Butthead. I miss those dumbasses. Fire!

    Ludacris is up next with a live performance. Admittedly, this isn't my style of music, so I've maybe heard this song once. It seems to be full of "hey"s and "yo"s. No "ho"s yet. Maybe that's later. Once again the stage is full of half-naked women, although they're apparently Brazilian dancers, so that's actually kind of cool. They're "pimping all over the world".

    To prove he's cool, Diddy now goes on a profanity rampage. Saying that he's too classy to say all the words he's now saying. What a punk? Seriously, I just absolutely hate him. Although I do like his gray velvet suit jacket. Diddy is also giving away a $100,000 cash to the charity of choice for the best-dressed performers at the show. He's choosing between: Usher, Kanye West, Snoop, Eva Longoria, Ann Marie and Gwen Stefani. I hope Snoop wins. He's sporting an awesome hat.

    Ahh...it's Orlando Bloom. He's a handsome devil. They are presenting the award for the Best Rock Video. I'm rooting for Weezer's Beverly Hills. I'm sure The Killers or boring Green Day will win. And the winner is Green Day. Yawn.

    As an aside, I really love the Award's teardrop logo. It's just beautiful, don't you think?

    Now there's some lame setup where a "groupie" tries to get Diddy to dance. And dance he does. When did it become important for musicians to dance? When did every thing on MTV have to include a bunch of half-naked women shaking their asses? God, I'm old, aren't I?

    Big Brother isn't the only one having a "Summer of Secrets". The VMAs have "secret" performances. And who is the big secret? It's MC Hammer doing a reworked version of "Can't Touch This". Sadly, he's not wearing the Hammer pants. What was he thinking?

    The next presenters are Jessica & Ashley Simpson. Jessica is basically wearing a black bra and panties with a white doily over it. It's needlessly bizarre. They're presenting the award for best R&B video. I'm rooting for Alicia Keys' "Karma" or for Mariah Carey because she's a big cheeseball and I can't help but kind of like her. And the winner is...Alicia Keys. She too is wearing a pale gold dress. That must be the latest trend.

    Lucky Dwayne Wade gets to present with Jessica Alba. Wade is another handsome devil. He's certainly done Marquette proud. He claims to be Miami's big daddy. That is, until Shaq comes out and eclipses him. Wow, Shaq is just huge. He just towers over Wade. They're all there to introduce Shakira. Shakira's wearing a bra and some pants and she's all about thrusting her pelvis out. I can see why some people would like her because she is hot, but would you really sit down and listen to her music without seeing her? I doubt it.

    Be sure to check out Zebrality for more coverage.

    Posted by at 07:56 PM | Comments (0)

     

    August 27, 2005

    Powerful Katrina

    [Posted by Laura]

    Katrina is coming to scour the Gulf Coast, and I'm pretty unhappy about that since I live below sea level here in New Orleans. I'm not sorry that Florida and Alabama are getting a break, but New Orleans is uniquely ill-suited to deal with hurricanes. As it turns out, Paul from Wizbang is in N.O. also (who knew!?) and he has reposted an excellent article, "Pray II" explaining why it's so bad here.

    For those who don't know, New Orleans is a bowl and, for all practical purposes, an island. We have Lake Pontchartrain to the north and the Mississippi river to the south. The east and west are water too.

    Most of the city is below sea level. Over the last century we have surrounded the city by 10-12 foot earthen levees and installed some of the most massive pumps in the world. We can, unlike most cities, laugh at 24 inches of rain in 24 hours. -- As long as it comes at the rate of an inch per hour. We simply pump the water out and go on with our lives.

    We've been talking for years about the "big one" - a Camille or a Betsy that comes in at a particular angle and can kill thousands. As Paul quotes in his article,
    emergency officials' worst-case scenario: hundreds of billions of gallons of lake water pouring over the levees into an area averaging 5 feet below sea level with no natural means of drainage.

    That would turn the city and the east bank of Jefferson Parish into a lake as much as 30 feet deep, fouled with chemicals and waste from ruined septic systems, businesses and homes. Such a flood could trap hundreds of thousands of people in buildings and in vehicles. At the same time, high winds and tornadoes would tear at everything left standing. Between 25,000 and 100,000 people would die, said John Clizbe, national vice president for disaster services with the American Red Cross.

    My family knew people who, during Hurricane Betsy, climbed to their attics to escape rising water and drowned there. If the path doesn't change by tomorrow morning, we're heading to Dallas.

    Click here for more on Hurricane Katrina

    Posted by Laura Curtis at 01:28 PM | Comments (17)

     

    Survivor Guatemala: Snap Judgements of the Latest Cast & Our New TV Project

    [Posted by ]

    We are launching a new all-TV site, Zebrality. At Zebrality, we'll publish recaps and commentary on a slew of TV shows. We'll continue to cross post some of that here at Dummocrats (like this post, for example), but if you like our recaps, be sure to check out Zebrality for even more. And, if you're interested in writing recaps, please let us know. We'd love more contributors and finally, once you've taken a look at the site, we'd love to hear your suggestions. It's still a work in progress, so please pass on your comments about it below.

    Now on to more of the good stuff. I really liked the first couple seasons of Survivor. But lately, the players are just too damn self-righteous and they act appalled, appalled that some people are actually going to try to outwit or outlast them for a million dollars. The nerve!

    But, with each new season, there's always the chance that someone will break out and make the show interesting again. CBS has the new cast bios up, so let's take a look at the new Survivors and ponder what the season may bring.

    Amy is a 39-year old cop from Revere, MA. Hmmm, do you think she gets a lot of "one if by land, two if by sea" jokes? She's a jock who's played professional football, but her bio does mention a husband, so I don't think she's the season's token gay player. I'm inclined to like Amy because she shares my birthday, but, she thinks she'll be great at Survivor because she's a good motivator. Oh dear, that could spell trouble. People are going to hate her if she's bossing them around. I don't think playing bad cop is going to work for her here.

    Blake is a 24-year old real estate broker/model from Dallas. Why are so many people on reality TV something-slash-models. Ugly people are interesting too, you know. Anyway, Blake lists one of his favorite colors as "camouflage", so I immediately dislike him. That's just needlessly obnoxious. Ugh, he also lists "kissing" as one of his three favorite activities. Is this guy for real? Can anyone be that cheesy? Blake thinks he'll excel at Survivor because of his competitive drive. But, he also states that he's not the type of person to scheme and backstab. Uh, why are you in the game then? The damn non-schemers make for boring TV. The Survivor casting director really needs to weed some of these people out and make room for some hardcore players.

    Brandon is 22-year old farmer/rancher from Manhattan, KS. On one hand, Brandon completely turns me off by saying that one of his favorite scents (of course, that's also an incredibly stupid question) is "the scent of a woman", but on the other hand, his other favorite scent is freshly cut grass. Yay! I love the smell of freshly cut grass too. I'm just going to assume that CBS screwed up and that scent of a woman answer was really from Blake. It certainly sounds like Blake. But back to Brandon. His bio doesn't have much about how he intends to play the game, but you do get the impression that Brandon is nothing but an outdoorsy, fun-lovin' young guy. I like him. I don't know if he'll be a good player, but I'll root for him at first.

    Brian is a 22-year old "Ivy League Student" from New York City. First off, let's just say it, Brian looks like a member of (as Big Brother's Howie would say) the Nerd Herd. I'm also sure that he's the token gay, as he lists his favorite color as "deep teal". Come on, no straight man would say that. When you delve deeper into his bio, however, Brian suddenly becomes interesting. He promises to check his ethics at the door and claims that his "background in psychology will allow me to pinpoint people's insecurities and weaknesses and to manipulate them to my advantage." Well, hey, good luck with that Brian.

    Brianna is a 21-year old make-up counter girl from Edmonds, WA. Brianna is counting on her ability to use a Hawaiian sling to help her in the game. I don't know if that's great strategy. Richard Hatch didn't win because he could fish, he won because he was sneaky, set up a good alliance and won some crucial immunities. The game really isn't about surviving in the wild, which is something too many of these contestants can't seem to get through their thick skulls. Brianna is on the show to "test her own self willingness". I have no idea what that even means.

    Brooke is a 26-year old law student from Hood River, OR. Actually, according to her bio, she graduated from Pepperdine in May. I wonder if she knows Ken Starr? She lists one of her favorite books as George Orwell's "Animal Farm", so I think it's safe to assume that she's not a communist. Whew! Brooke grew up on a farm, so maybe she and Brandon can form an alliance based on that. Actually, if Brandon was a little bit older, he'd be the perfect guy from Brooke. Just read their bios!

    Cindy is a 31-year old zookeeper from Naples, FL. She lists one of her favorite outdoor activities as "yard work". For some reason, I think this is hilarious. Cindy admits to having a short fuse and wants to fight for her beliefs. Hmm, based on that, Cindy sounds like the girl most likely to rub everyone the wrong way immediately. She could be our first boot.

    Danni is a 30-year old sports radio talk show host from Tonganoxie, KS. She'd be quite beautiful is she'd close her mouth. Seriously. I hate those people that walk around with their mouths half open all of the time. Anyway, Danni is a true Sporty Spice as she lists "PTI" as one of her favorite TV shows. Well, she has good taste. Danni was first runner-up in the 1996 Miss USA pageant. Unfortunately for Danni, the winner that year must have been able to fulfill all of her duties as Miss USA, so Danni never got her shot at the crown. Where's a newly unearthed porn tape when you need one, eh Danni? So, Danni is beautiful (when she keeps her mouth closed) and is a sports nut. From that I think we can deduce that the rest of the women will hate her but the men will love her. Look for Danni to form a quick alliance with a bunch of the boys, with the most likely suspect being...

    Gary (Hogeboom) is a 47-year old ex-NFL quarterback from Grand Haven, MI. He played with the Cowboys, Colts, Redskins & Cardinals. Gary thinks he can win Survivor because of his outdoor skills and because he's a hard-working team player. Do these people even watch the show? Gary starts the game with a huge strike against him because people will assume he doesn't need the money. If he's smart he'll tell people he's just "Gary from MI" and play the nice old man game.

    Jamie is a 24-year old water ski instructor from North Hollywood, CA. "Water ski instructor"? Yeah, right, he's probably a porn star. Aha! I'm right. His bio says that he's considering a career in acting and has appeared on "All My Children" and other "various productions". We all know what "various productions" means. Jamie thinks he'll win Survivor because of his uncanny ability to read and connect to people. Well, if that's true that could help, but I bet he just thinks that because he has an identical twin and they can do all that freaky twin stuff together. I doubt he has that ability with other people.

    Jim is a 63-year old retired fire captain from Northglenn, OH. What's with all the firemen on reality TV shows? Shouldn't they be busy putting out flames and saving kittens in trees? Wow, Jim is an interesting guy. In his spare time he's building a jet turbine sport helicopter. I'm not sure how that skill will help him in Survivor though. I guess if the goal of the game was to get off the island he'd be all set. From his bio alone, he's my 2nd favorite player (behind Brandon) so far.

    Judd is a 34-year old hotel doorman from Ridgefield, NJ. I suspect Judd was cast to be the show's fat & funny guy. Oddly enough, Judd's bio is the third one that mentions that a contestant has an identical twin. I can think of some interesting twists that could come from that. Oh, I like Judd. He lists his dad as his hero because he started a successful cheese business in the basement, served in Vietnam and had five kids. Unfortunately, Judd's dad died when he was just 33. Wow, he certainly did a lot with his time. Judd thinks he's a strong leader and that he can keep everyone laughing. Actually, on Survivor I think keeping people entertained is probably a more important skill that keeping people full. Judd seems like a promising Survivor. I'm putting him in my "like" pile.

    Lydia is a 42-year old fishmonger from Lakewood, WA. What in the world is a fishmonger? I have no idea. Lydia's favorite Survivor is Rupert (gag-I couldn't stand friggin' Rupert after about 10 minutes) and her hero is Oprah. You know, I suspect that's all we really need to know about Lydia. Let's move it along.

    Margaret is a 43-year old family nurse practitioner from Chardon, OH. Margaret spent time in Aeromedical nursing, so perhaps she and Jim could bond over their love of helicopters. Margaret's bio doesn't give us any clues about how she might play the game, although I'm sure she'll try to do so with integrity. Can you tell I'm rolling my eyes?

    Morgan is 21-year old magician's assistant/waitress from Decator, IL. Morgan is like a breath of fresh air because she admits she can be conniving and wants to do so all while making everyone around her think she's a sweet team player. That's hard to do, of course, but it's a noble goal. She's probably going to be that annoying girl on the show, but for now I like her.

    Finally, we come to Rafe. Rafe is 22-year old "Ivy League Student" from Providence, RI. What's up with labeling these people as "Ivy League Students"? Either name the college or just call them "students". Rafe is a Mormon and he's kind of a freak as he's most proud of his ability to play "Ode to Joy" with his toes. Weirdo. Although, I have to say, in Survivor, sometimes the weird go very far.

    So that's it for the announced cast. The big rumor is that this year's twist will be that there are two additional Survivors: Stephenie and Bobby Jon from last season will join the rest of the group in Guatemala. I guess we'll see if that pans out. I'm betting it will, but I'm also betting that they won't last long. The rest of the cast will (rightly) note that they already had their chance to win.

    Posted by at 12:11 PM | Comments (0)

     

    August 25, 2005

    It's Back-New Caption Contest

    [Posted by ]

    We haven't done a caption contest in a long time, but Laura found this priceless Cindy Sheehan image and frankly, we just have to. So, give it your best shot and we'll give the winner a $10 Amazon certificate. You can use it to buy the latest from Al Franken ;-) Don't laugh, I'm sure he could use the royalty money.



    "Swing Your Partner ‘Round and ‘Round, and Turn Your Country Upside Down"


    Submit entries to the comment section by the end of the day on Sunday. We'll pick a winner and will announce him or her here. If the winner has provided contact info, we'll contact the winner via email and send them their prize. So, make sure you provide your email in the comments or send it directly to james or me (it's "james at dummocrats.com" or "kris at dummocrats.com").

    Update: We have a winner! Lemon Tetra wins the contest and the $10 Amazon certificate with his entry which is shown above. Mr. Tetra, your certificate will be emailed to the address you provided in your profile. Spend it wisely ;-)

    Posted by at 07:30 AM | Comments (15)

     

    Don't like it? Clear off, mate.

    [Posted by Laura]

    Clearly, Aussies don't have a CAIR. (Cheesy pun intended.) Federal Education Minister Brendan Nelson actually said that Muslims in Australia who don't want to accept local values should leave the country.

    He says that:

    • Muslim schools should denounce terror
    • ALL Australian schools are required to teach the national values framework, including tolerance, responsibility and understanding, to students. (Excellent - I like how he doesn't leave a loophole for anybody to restrict that teaching to, say, the custodial staff.)
    • he will meet with the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils to discuss programs that ensure students understand Australia's history, culture and values

      "We believe in giving every person a fair go, we don't care where people come from, we don't mind what religion they've got," Dr Nelson said.

      "But what we want them to do is commit to the Australian constitution, Australian rule of law and basically, people who don't want to be Australians, and they don't want to live by Australian values and understand them, well then they can basically clear off."

      Good on ya, Brendan Nelson!

      Read the whole article.

      Posted by Laura Curtis at 01:56 AM | Comments (3)

       

    August 24, 2005

    Religious Politics

    [Posted by Laura]

    Just currently there is a nice juicy story proving that Pat Robertson earned the title Idiotarian. He suggested the United States break its own laws and assassinate the leader of another country. He's now backpedaling desperately but nobody's buying. Fox News reported that Jesse Jackson is going to go smooth it over. As a Christian, I am particularly offended when fellow Christians act like asshats. It makes all of us look bad. The 700 Club notwithstanding, in the last twenty years I have never met a Christian who likes and admires Robertson. I acknowledge that such people must exist, because Robertson has managed to build an empire starting with what was apparently a genuine ministry and now is a political advocacy group. Jackson never was a religious leader. He dropped out of the Chicago Theological Seminary during his first year and was given an honorary degree years later when his Congressman son was on the board. He was ordained as a Baptist minister right after MLK was assassinated even though he did not meet the qualifications (a 2+ year process, submitting to the authority of the church, etc.) and has never had a church of his own. His title of Reverend is a ridiculous affectation intended to further his political career. James Dobson is certainly heading into Robertson territory, if he is not there already. I seldom listen to his radio show so I don’t know what he’s up to lately. I’ll give Dobson and even Robertson the benefit of the doubt and say that they are sincere people who honestly want to do good for this country and the world. And to show that I really do wish them well, I’ll give them a little tip:

    You can’t be both a religious leader and a political leader. Each of those professions requires your full attention and dedication to succeed. You can start with one, and switch to the other, but it is simply not possible to do both simultaneously. Stop trying. I’m not suggesting that a person can’t be a political leader with strong religious convictions, or that a religious leader can’t hold strong political convictions, and act on those convictions. But you should not use one platform to promote the other. You cannot do justice to leadership positions in both arenas, and you harm Christianity when you try. If you sincerely want Christianity to change the world, work on your ministry. Jesus did not lobby the Roman Empire or present a political agenda or have talking points. He educated people in the faith, served the poor, and sacrificed himself for others. There’s no need for you to be crucified – and acting like an asshat so the media can crucify you doesn’t count anyway – but you can certainly sacrifice your desire for publicity and go about your business educating people in the faith and serving the poor. The world would be a better place if you did.

    Posted by Laura Curtis at 01:59 PM | Comments (4)

     

    Sterling Hall Bombing: 35 Years Later

    [Posted by ]

    35 years ago today, four Madison men bombed Sterling Hall, home of an Army Math Research Center, on the University of Wisconsin campus. Karl Armstrong, David Fine, Leo Burt & Dwight Armstrong set the bomb off in the middle of the night, but, tragically, a young physics researcher, Robert Fassnacht, was killed in the explosion and several others were injured. Until Oklahoma City, it was the largest act of domestic terrorism the United States had ever seen.

    While Leo Burt still has never been found (and was, for a time, a prime suspect in the Unabomber case), the Armstrongs and Fine were put on trial and served their time. Karl Armstrong ran a food cart business while I was in college in Madison. I never went there. I respect the man's right to earn a living, but I'm not going to help him do it.

    I don't think many people knew who he was back then and, even with the extra attention surrounding this anniversary, few know who he is now. The whole bombing has kind of been swept under the rug by the Madison Left. I think they are rightly horrified and embarrassed by how far someone took their rhetoric. Although, back in the day, some of the most radical wore t-shirts proclaiming "Free Karl" (see the example) and tried to justify the bombing as somehow for the greater good. What's one life when Army Math indirectly contributed to the deaths of thousands of Vietnamese?

    To put Sterling Hall in today's terms is difficult. I don't want to hang today's anti-war movement because of crimes from the Vietnam Era, but, it is disturbing to me that the anti-war crowd is full of the usual suspects, the same people who were about as quick to condemn Sterling Hall as Muslim clerics were to condemn 9/11. Usually, the Cindy Sheehans, Michael Moores and Jane Fondas of the world strike me as nothing more than petulant children stomping their feet and holding their breath until they get their way. However, some of the white hot hatred on the far Left scares the crap out of me, particularly when that hatred is legitimized by people like Howard Dean calling their enemies (Republicans) "evil", "corrupt" and "brain-dead". If some Lefty really thinks that, what's to stop him from making the same calculation that the Madison terrorists did? Perhaps someday some loon will decide it's for the greater good to kill a few hundred conservatives.

    There's a 99% chance I'm just being paranoid, but sometimes hateful rhetoric isn't just words. The actions of the Islamofascists and domestic terrorists like Armstrong and company and Timothy McVeigh are horrible evidence of that fact.

    Posted by at 07:36 AM | Comments (1)

     

    August 23, 2005

    Big Brother Recap - Week 7 - Part 3

    [Posted by ]

    The Tuesday episode of Big Brother is mostly filler, and, if you keep up with the live feeds, you already know what's going to happen. In this case, Beau nominated Rachel & Howie, James won the veto and didn't use it. In all likelihood, Rachel will be evicted on Thursday.

    What's funny about this episode is how it reveals what the CBS editors think of the players. Clearly, they don't like Ivette, Beau, April & Maggie. They showed Ivette in the Diary Room bitching about how nasty Rachel was and what a bad sport she was about her nomination. Cut to Rachel, calmly laughing about her nomination. The nerve!

    Then, we have Ivette calling the 33-year old Rachel an "old hag". Cut to Rachel playing for the veto in a bikini. For an old hag, let's just say that Rachel has a spectacular body.

    But that's not all. We got to see the "Fiendship's" (Ivette, et all) creepy shrine to Cappy. And, we were treated to Janelle calling Beau out on national television as a "male prostitute posing as a personal shopper". Wow. I think this show is intriguing and hilarious, but I certainly hope people aren't letting their kids watch it.

    So anyway, Thursday we'll say goodbye to Rachel and hopefully Janelle or Howie will pull through and win the Head of Household competition. If one of the Fiendship wins, I'll be hard pressed to keep watching.

    Click here for more on Big Brother

    Posted by at 08:57 PM | Comments (0)

     

    Liberty on the Block in Iraq

    [Posted by ]

    You know, I'm not all "U Rah Rah W!" all the time, but every once in awhile the President says something that reminds me of why I like him so much. I love this quote from today on Iraq's Sunnis:

    "This talk about Sunnis rising up, I mean the Sunnis have got to make a choice. Do they want to live in a society that's free, or do they want to live in violence?" Bush told reporters at a resort in Idaho.

    Exactly. Sooner or later, the Iraqis have to take responsibility for the future of their country. I understand that the typical "Mohammed Iraqi" is a) probably still paralyzed by fear of the terrorists and b) still suspicious that the United States will cut bait and leave their country to be ruled by whoever has the most weapons. Be that as it may, at some point Iraqis have to have the courage to defy the terrorists in their midst. Of course, many of them have and there's great progress (as Chrenkoff regularly reports) in much of Iraq. To get there themselves, the Sunnis need to take this quote from Richard Nixon of all people, to heart:

    Yet we can maintain a free society only if we recognize that in a free society no one can win all the time. No one can have his own way all the time, and no one is right all the time.

    Heck, the rest of us, from the Cindy Sheehans to the Pat Robertsons would do well to remember that sentiment.

    Posted by at 12:30 PM | Comments (0)

     

    August 22, 2005

    Is Howard Dean a voodoo priest?

    [Posted by Laura]

    Greatest movie line. Ever.

    I thought of Cindy Sheehan and the Kos Kids when I saw this.

    But does that make Howard Dean or Michael Moore the voodoo priest? Any other candidates? (Karl Rove?)

    Posted by Laura Curtis at 03:15 PM | Comments (3)

     

    9/11 Movie Poll

    [Posted by ]

    I've been watching the results of our 9/11 movie poll. As of now, our readers are split 50/50 on whether or not it's too soon to make movies about 9/11.

    I already gave my opinion on the matter, so now I'm curious why some of you think it's inappropriate or just too soon for movies. If you think it's too soon, how long do you think it's respectful to wait? Are you worried more about a particular type of movie? Basically, I want to understand why this is such a divisive question.

    Feel free to expand on your opinion in the comment section.

    Posted by at 01:10 PM | Comments (18)

     

    August 21, 2005

    Roll With The Changes

    [Posted by ]

    The Wisconsin State Journal had a rather refreshing article about how music stores are surviving in the era of internet downloads. Why refreshing? Well, most of the time, articles like this are written from a woe-is-me perspective. They're all about how the poor Mom & Pop shop is being driven out of business by the evil Wal-Marts and iPods of the world. This article, on the other hand, was about business owners who may just be up to the challenge of changing times:

    Despite the surge in music downloading and CD burning, Madison record shop owners say they're holding their own in the battle for their share of the market, many by focusing on non-tech-savvy customers, customer service and hard-to-find titles.

    Ron Roloff, owner of Strictly Discs at 1900 Monroe St., said his business has never been better. He attributes his success to the assortment of music his store offers that draws a special crowd of consumers.

    "We're a music enthusiasts' music store," Roloff said. "The people who are buying things online aren't real music customers."

    Roloff said his customers are not likely to buy music over the Internet. A broad selection of titles and a knowledgeable staff, Roloff said, puts his business ahead of music download Web sites like iTunes or Napster. He said Strictly Discs fills more than 1,500 special orders a month for hard-to-find record titles in addition to the daily sale of CDs on hand.

    "That's an example of people coming into a specialty store and getting service that they're just not getting anywhere else," Roloff said.

    So wait a second here. Instead of whining that government should help them out, some stores are actually specializing and providing great customer service? No way!

    I get so sick of the bitching about big chain stores and how it's impossible to compete with them. Of course it's impossible if by "compete" you mean "do everything the same but hope for different results".

    Posted by at 05:48 PM | Comments (0)

     

    Big Brother Recap - Bye Bye Bitches

    [Posted by ]

    The good news is that skanky Jennifer is gone at the hands of our delightful Janey. The bad news is that Beau is the new Head of Household and he's nominated Howie & Rachel for eviction.

    It seems like people are gunning for Rachel, but hopefully what will happen is that Janelle will win the Veto and take off Howie. Beau will have to choose between James, April & Maggie to put up in his place. I think any of those three would go before Rachel. Here's how it would break down:

    James: Maggie, Howie & Janelle would vote against him.
    April: Howie, Janelle and James would vote against her.
    Maggie: Howie, Janelle & James would all vote against her.

    Worst case scenario is that Rachel wins the veto and takes herself off. Janelle would most likely be put up and we'd lose either her or Howie.

    I realize that at this point, my analysis and interest in this game is all about keeping Janey in it.

    If CBS is smart, they're already talking to Kaysar about participating in the next 2-person edition of The Amazing Race. He could do it with Michael or, more ideally, with Janelle. America loves Kaysar and we just didn't get enough of him this season. CBS should realize it and take advantage of it.

    Update: James won the veto competition. I suspect he won't use it unless he can convince Beau to put up Maggie. I doubt that'll happen.

    Update #2: Now it looks like Janelle and James may be teaming up. I'm lovin' this development. It could keep Janelle in the game for awhile and plus, James is no dummy. He's got to know that Janelle is one of the few people who could beat in the Final 2.

    Click here for more on Big Brother 6

    Posted by at 09:37 AM | Comments (2)

     

    August 19, 2005

    New Roberts Memo: The Gun That Didn't Smoke

    [Posted by ]

    The headline at Talk Left says "Roberts to Women: Stay in the Kitchen". Well, I guess he fits right in with the rest of the Bush administration. ;-)

    Why the latest furor about Roberts? It's this quote from a memo written during his days in the Reagan administration:

    Some might quesiton whether encouraging homemakers to become lawyers contributes to the common good, but I suppose that is for the judges to decide

    For this, Talk Left says, "Judge Roberts presumably rubbed sticks together to start a fire in his cave before using a dinosaur bone to scrawl these words on the wall"

    Uh, okay guys. Apparently there's a whole category of moonbats that a) have never heard of lawyer jokes and b) can't imagine the someone might be of the honest opinion that homemakers are more valuable to society than lawyers.

    I assume that Roberts was joking, as in "who in the world thinks it's a good idea to have more lawyers!". But assuming he was serious, I again ask, what's the big deal?

    I secretly think it's kind of hilarious that the moonbat faction's reaction to this quote immediately showed that a) they have no sense of humor and that b) their knee jerk reaction was that being a homemaker was a bad thing.

    Posted by at 02:45 PM | Comments (2)

     

    9/11 Movies: How Soon Is Too Soon?

    [Posted by ]

    It was bound to happen. A few 9/11 movies (including one from Oliver Stone) are in the works. Not surprisingly, some people think this is inappropriate. Entertainment Weekly has a poll up right now asking readers if it's too soon to make movies about 9/11. The results show that the public is pretty evenly split.

    What do you all think?

    Personally, I have no problem with 9/11 movies. Back in the day, Hollywood made WWII movies during WWII. In the last couple of years there's been a slew of movies and specials about the genocide in Rwanda, which was only 10 years ago. Making movies about historical events, even horrible historical events is perfectly normal. It's part of how a society deals with its events.

    I think some of our reactions to 9/11 have been just plain weird. We were shielded from some of the truly horrible aspects of it (what happened on the ground around the towers, the jumpers, etc.). You never see video from that day anymore. Even on the upcoming fourth anniversary, I'm sure no network will dare to play video of the planes hitting the WTC.

    I remember how shortly after 9/11 there was talk of digitally removing the Towers from TV shows and movies. I thought that was the strangest thing I've ever heard. People seemed to think that they could just pretend that 9/11 never happened, that by erasing the tapes they could erase history. Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way.

    Posted by at 08:15 AM | Comments (5)

     

    August 18, 2005

    Big Brother-Recap Week 7-The King is Dead, Long Live the Queen

    [Posted by ]

    Unfortunately, due to some horrible tornados in my area, I wasn't able to watch much of tonight's live Big Brother episode. It sounds like there was a lot of damage, so please keep the folks in Stoughton, Wisconsin in your thoughts and prayers tonight.

    Now on to much more shallow matters. Here's what I was able to piece together tonight:

    1. This week will have a double elimination. One on Saturday and one on Thursday. Let's hope that Howie, Rachel & Janey can take all the HOH competitions.

    2. Our dear, sweet Kaysar was voted out. Again. Poor, hot, sweet Kaysar. He was too good for the likes of these losers.

    3. Tonight's HOH winner will immediately make their nominations for eviction. I don't know if the double elimination week means that there will be no Veto competition or not. I guess we'll see...because the new HOH is...

    Janelle! Woot! I'm so happy that the buxom blonde will be able to get some revenge on Kaysar's betrayer.

    Janelle nominates Jennifer & Maggie for eviction. Good job. I hate Jennifer, but Maggie is the "brains" of that operation. Although, for future gameplay, it might have been better to pit Jen/April against Beau/Ivette. Ah well. I'm just happy that Janey, Rachel & Howie are safe for at least a few more days. Heck, I'll even add James in there.

    Sorry again for this abbreviated recap. Click here for more on Big Brother 6

    Posted by at 08:02 PM | Comments (1)

     

    August 17, 2005

    I Know Where You Live

    [Posted by ]

    Site Meter has added a bunch of cool new features lately. One that I just noticed today is the ability to map the latest 100 visitors to our site. Here's where you all were coming from this morning:

    The red dot is the last visitor. The green dots represent our last 10 visitors, while the rest of you are in white. I knew that most of our visitors come from the midwest and east coast, but I am a little surprised by the amount of readers from Western Europe, not to mention that lone wolf in the middle of Australia. I had no idea our readers were so far flung. Hmmm...maybe some of you can put me up if I ever get around to traveling the world :-)

    Posted by at 09:22 AM | Comments (2)

     

    August 15, 2005

    Four Letter Words

    [Posted by ]

    I was thinking today about two four letter words that have been in the news lately: "Gaza" and "Kelo".

    The Supreme Court's ruling in Kelo v New London was roundly panned. People on the left and the right were appalled that a person's home could be taken from them for a potential economic benefit.

    Today Israeli settlers in Gaza are being forcibly removed from their homes with little such outcry. Rather than dwell on the losses being inflicted on those individuals, we're sold a different story:

    While the withdrawal from Gaza has long been demanded by Palestinians, it is in Israel's interest as well. It will free up Israeli soldiers who have been devoted to the defense of far-flung clusters of Jewish housing surrounded by hostile Palestinians. It is a rational response to the demographic challenges that threaten to leave Jews a minority unless Israel loosens its hold on the West Bank.

    I wonder why the individual homeowners in New London are treated like tragic heroes, while Gaza settlers are labeled "extremists" and "hard-liners". To me, there are a hell of a lot of similarities going on here (ignoring for a moment that Gaza settlers don't have the US constitution to appeal to). In both cases, government is taking something from the individual for some nebulous greater good.

    Of course, it shouldn't be surprising. The same people that wanted to make public policy out of what Terri Schiavo's family said are the same people attacking Cindy Sheehan now. And vice versa. Too many of us are focused on the outcomes we want at the expense of what good government is, so we'll hold up a representative individual to acclaim or scorn, depending on whether we agree with their politics.

    Posted by at 10:40 PM | Comments (7)

     

    We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful

    [Posted by ]

    Apparently Morrissey was right, we really do hate it when our friends become successful:

    The real secret to happiness isn't just money. It's more money. And not just having more money than your neighbor. You've got to be making more money than your friends and your work peers.

    "If a 25-year-old is making $30,000 a year, they're probably happy, but if you're 45 and making $30,000, you're not so happy, because your friends are making more," says Glenn Firebaugh, a professor of sociology and demography at Pennsylvania State University.

    One newspaper suggested that "one alternative strategy would be to "hang out" with poor people, according to the findings." So, if you want to be happy for the rest of your life, find those philosophy PhDs, seek out the sanitation engineers and befriend the busboys.

    Actually, I'm not sure that's the best strategy. Who wants friends that can't afford to do anything with them? Don't you feel slightly uncomfortable around those who are less fortunate than you? I think the ideal situation is to make lots of money and have friends who make lots of money but be better looking than those friends. I think a situation like that would probably make most people happy.

    In any case, I thank God every night that we have socialogists out there who can study these burning questions (with taxpayer money!).

    Posted by at 12:54 PM | Comments (2)

     

    August 14, 2005

    Hell's (White House) Kitchen

    [Posted by ]

    Google News has nearly 250 stories about Laura Bush's choice to be the new White House executive chef, Cristeta Comerford.

    The fact that Comerford is the first woman to hold the position accounts for some of the interest in the story. But, in general, Americans are interested in chefs and cooking. It's weird that a nation that swears by McDonalds also tunes into shows like Hell's Kitchen and supports an entire Food Network.

    Speaking of Hell's Kitchen, I think that both Fox and the White House missed a huge opportunity here. Apparently the White House had a hard time filling the chef position because the pay (between $80,000-100,000) wasn't enough to attract a star. They should have combined their efforts and created their own star.

    Can you imagine a reality show where the winner gets to cook for the White House? How fabulous! Fox would have benefitted with better ratings and the White House would have had an opportunity to showcase the most popular Bush every week. And just think of the guest judges: the twins, Condi Rice, GHWB, the Cheneys and even Barbara Bush (I suspect she'd be the Simon Cowell of the show).

    The only downside I can think of is that the Dems might have agitated for equal time. Although, I think the search for a chef for, say, Teddy Kennedy, would be high comedy. Well, it would be if he were anything like The Simpson's Freddy Quimby, which, of course, I think he is.

    Sometimes I think being a network television executive might very well be the world's easiest job.

    Posted by at 11:03 PM | Comments (1)

     

    August 13, 2005

    The Wisdom of Zero Tolerance Policies

    [Posted by ]

    James posted a link to an article about a Kansas teen who was just awarded $250,000 in a bullying lawsuit. The case started an interesting debate about what schools should be responsible for.

    I'm no fan of zero tolerance policies. We pay some people (judges, school administrators) the big bucks because we expect them to make tough decisions. Zero tolerance sounds nice and it might make some people happy, but it's at the expense of justice.

    Anyway, that's my one cent. There's a great discussion on the topic in our Daily Page comments section.

    Posted by at 06:31 PM | Comments (0)

     

    August 12, 2005

    Big Brother-Week 7-New Head of Household Is...

    [Posted by ]

    After nearly 13 hours of holding her finger on a button, Jennifer wins it. It came down to her and Kaysar and Kaysar basically let her have it.

    Ugh. All I can say is that a) he's an idiot and b) she better not nominate him or Janelle.

    Update: Jennifer nominated Janelle and Rachel. Rachel won the Power of Veto (which I'd imagine she'll use on herself) and now Jennifer's group is talking about going back on their word to nominate James and instead using this as an opportunity to get rid of Kaysar. Bitch.

    Update #2: Well, our darling Kaysar was nominated again today and then all hell broke loose. Howie went on a rampage against April. Janelle went on a drunken rampage against everyone. I almost feel like Janey's doing it on purpose so that they may vote her out instead of Kaysar. I also think that Big Brother is giving them liquor in the hopes that there's a huge incident and someone will get kicked out and Kaysar will be saved for a week. I guess we'll see.

    Posted by at 09:59 AM | Comments (0)

     

    August 11, 2005

    Big Brother Recap - Week 6 - The Return of King Kaysar

    [Posted by ]

    I have a confession to make. I've been watching Big Brother. Big Brother has a reputation as the sleaziest of the major reality TV shows. While that may be true, it's also the most strategically interesting. Because the Head of Household decides who the House Guests even have the chance to evict, alliances are easily broken. Unlike Survivor, it's almost impossible for one alliance to just pick off another alliance one by one.

    We're already six weeks into Big Brother 6, and 10 houseguests remain. But don't worry, you can easily catch up with the action. I'll help. I'm not a live feed watcher, but I've been reading the recaps. Doing so certainly gives you more insight into the game than CBS' shows. Here's who I like and who I think has a chance of winning it all.

    April:
    Strengths: Everyone thinks she's an idiot who could never win a Head of Household competition.
    Weaknesses: She is an idiot who could never win a Head of Household competition.
    Secret Partner (every houseguest has a partner and they'll double their winnings if they make it to the final two. It's not much of a secret since everyone knows about it): Jennifer
    Dirty Little Secrets: She just quit smoking and is now even more insane than normal.
    Prospects: Dim. Although she's not a threat, her own alliance thinks she untrustworthy. By hemming and hawing on whether to evict Ivette or Sarah she branded herself as a loose cannon. Dumb move.

    Beau:
    Strengths: Beau who? He's completely under the radar. In his alliance of five (he's with April, Jennifer, Ivette & Maggie) he'd probably be the last one targeted for eviction.
    Weaknesses: Everyone recognizes that he's flying under the radar. People hate that crap.
    Secret Partner: Ivette
    Dirty Little Secrets: He's gay. Not that you wouldn't be able to figure that out in about 10 seconds.
    Prospects: Not bad. If an all-out war breaks out in the house, I can easily see Beau being the last man standing.

    Howie:
    Strengths: He's funny and everyone likes him. He's also not as dumb as he acts, although nominating James & Sarah, who were part of his own alliance last week was pretty damn stupid.
    Weaknesses: Because he's a big guy, people automatically think he's a threat.
    Secret Partner: Rachel
    Dirty Little Secrets: He's worked as a stripper.
    Prospects: Fair. Once the annoying players are gone (see April & Ivette), Howie could have a big 'ole target on his back.

    Ivette:
    Strengths: She's not a complete moron. She's made overtures to get allies outside her big group.
    Weaknesses: She's incredibly annoying and people could vote to evict her just for that. I would.
    Secret Partner: Beau
    Dirty Little Secrets: She's a lesbian. Although CBS doesn't air it, she's also a racist bitch who's called the muslim Kaysar "Osama".
    Prospects: She's a goner. Beau and Maggie are the only people who don't want her out of the house.

    James:
    Strengths: Wins competition after competition. He's smart and plays the game rather than worrying about whether people will like him.
    Weaknesses: He lies even when he doesn't have to. Sometimes James thinks so far ahead that he makes moves to counter moves that other people haven't even made yet. He's overthinking everything.
    Secret Partner: His girlfriend, Sarah, who was evicted this week.
    Dirty Little Secrets: He's a Republican who enjoys Hannity & Colmes, but not Rush Limbaugh.
    Prospects: Okay. Right now, everyone thinks they're going to vote James out, but if he can hang around for another week the alliances are going to implode and James can pick of the pieces and team up with other people.

    Janelle:
    Strengths: Brains. She's one of the few houseguests who can play the game using logic rather than emotion.
    Weaknesses: Beauty. The other women don't like her and since they are playing the game with emotion, that could hurt Janelle.
    Secret Partner: Ashlea, who was voted out in Week 1. However, she and Kaysar are very close and are essentially playing like partners.
    Dirty Little Secrets: Oh, Janelle
    Prospects: Excellent. In her alliance, people see Howie and Rachel as big threats and Kaysar as a dangerous brain. Janelle is a minor target. Plus, she's strong in the competitions and could easily win one when it's most important.

    Jennifer:
    Strengths: Far more likeable than anyone else in her alliance.
    Weaknesses: Too flighty. She could get caught for trying to kiss everyone else's ass.
    Secret Partner: April
    Dirty Little Secrets: Known as the blow job queen of Baylor.
    Prospects: Fair. She's not a target yet, but I don't think she's smart enough to make new alliances once her old one completely falls apart.

    Kaysar:
    Strengths: Super smart and strategic.
    Weaknesses: He knows he's smart and can overplay his hand. That's why he was voted out in the first place.
    Secret Partner: Michael, who was evicted in week 2. He and Janelle have formed a strong alliance.
    Dirty Little Secrets: He's a virgin, but he has a huge crush on Janelle. He's also America's Choice, as 82% of the voters chose him to reenter the house this week.
    Prospects: Fair. Everyone likes Kaysar, but they also respect his gameplay. He will need to win a lot of competitions and he'll need Janelle to win some too to stay alive.

    Maggie:
    Strengths: A strong personality and the ability to intimidate people into voting how she wants them to.
    Weaknesses: She comes off as too tough and threatening.
    Secret Partner: Eric, who was voted off in week 3
    Dirty Little Secrets: I think Maggie's an open book. She has the world's worst poker face and I can't imagine she could ever keep a secret.
    Prospects: Poor. If anyone in Kaysar's alliance wins Head of Household this week, she'll most likely be nominated for eviction.

    Rachel:
    Strengths: A smart player who's also good in competitions.
    Weaknesses: Can, like Maggie, be a bit rough and can come off as a bitch.
    Secret Partner: Howie
    Dirty Little Secrets: She could secretly be in love with Howie.
    Prospects: Good. I think Rachel could be our winner. She's smart and determined. The only thing I worry about is that everyone will see the partnership of Rachel and Howie as a threat and, since Howie is more likeable, they'll vote out Rachel instead.

    So those are the houseguests. If you watched tonight's episode, you know that the Head of Household competition is still going on. I'll post an update when it's finished. And try to guess who will be nominated.

    Posted by at 09:26 PM | Comments (1)

     

    Firefox extension for getting around registration requirements

    [Posted by james]

    As I'm sure you all know, some news sites require registration before you're allowed to see their content. (silly policy if you ask me, but that's another matter.) However, some of these sites, e.g. nytimes.com, are configured such that if you're coming from google, you don't need to register. For instance, you can't see this story unless you're logged in, but if you simply paste the link into google then click on the link google presents you with, you're in.

    I set out today to write an extension for Firefox to exploit this useful feature, but there was no need to, as an extension already exists that does exactly what's necessary.

    1) Go download and install the RefControl extension.

    2) In the configuration screen, add entries for both nytimes.com and www.nytimes.com, with the selected action being set to send the string "http://www.google.com/search"

    3) Voila - you now have full access to nytimes.com, b/c your browser will tell the nytimes.com server that you're always coming from google.

    Anyone know of other sites that use a similar scheme? Post them in the comments.

    Posted by jkhat at 01:47 PM | Comments (4)

     

    Family of fallen soldier pleads with Cindy Sheehan to stop

    [Posted by james]

    Drudge has the scoop:

    FAMILY OF FALLEN SOLDIER PLEADS: PLEASE STOP, CINDY! Thu Aug 11 2005 12:56:21 ET

    The family of American soldier Casey Sheehan, who was killed in Iraq on April 4, 2004, has broken its silence and spoken out against his mother Cindy Sheehan's anti-war vigil against George Bush held outside the president's Crawford, Texas ranch.

    The following email was received by the DRUDGE REPORT from Cherie Quarterolo, Casey's aunt and godmother:

    Our family has been so distressed by the recent activities of Cindy we are breaking our silence and we have collectively written a statement for release. Feel free to distribute it as you wish. Thanks Ð Cherie

    In response to questions regarding the Cindy Sheehan/Crawford Texas issue: Sheehan Family Statement:

    The Sheehan Family lost our beloved Casey in the Iraq War and we have been silently, respectfully grieving. We do not agree with the political motivations and publicity tactics of Cindy Sheehan. She now appears to be promoting her own personal agenda and notoriety at the the expense of her son's good name and reputation. The rest of the Sheehan Family supports the troops, our country, and our President, silently, with prayer and respect.

    Sincerely,

    Casey Sheehan's grandparents, aunts, uncles and numerous cousins.

    Developing...

    Posted by jkhat at 01:12 PM | Comments (9)

     

    August 10, 2005

    The Greatest (but not obvious) TV Shows of all Time

    [Posted by ]

    Buzzmachine is asking for the Top Ten Greatest (but not obvious) TV Shows of All Time so I'm in. You know, there are few things I like better than a good top ten list. Here's mine (with the usual added Big Ten bonus):

    11. My So Called Life: I suspect that if I had seen more episodes of "Freaks and Geeks" that it would be here instead. Nevertheless, "My So Called Life" was a wonderful slice of teenage girl life. Too often, teenage girls are depicted as airheads. It was nice to see a character like Angela. Sure, she could be whiny and moody, but she was also smart.

    10. Star Trek: The Next Generation: In general, I’m not a big science fiction fan. As a little kid, shows like “The Twilight Zone” and “The Outer Limits” scared the crap out of me. But, as an adult, I came to appreciate how intelligent and well-made this series was. Unlike the original series, it never descended into camp. Individual episodes could stand on their own, but the show (and hell, the entire Star Trek series) reached its zenith with the Borg story arc. Finally, the show must be good because it performed the minor miracle of making me like Whoopi Goldberg.

    9. The Simpsons: Is this still an obvious choice? Because the show has slipped a bit I think people are forgetting how brilliant it was for the first 4 or 5 seasons. Now I think it relies on parody too much. At its best, “The Simpsons” had a brilliant, twisted take on everyday family life.

    8. Brisco County, Jr.: Bruce Campbell is just one reason why this show was so great. The minor characters like Socrates, John Bly and Lord Bowler were intriguing too. The show was full of clever, tongue in cheek humor. One of the funniest things I've ever seen on TV was the episode where Terry Bradshaw guest-starred as a colonel who gave orders to his men football-style. I don't understand why good shows like this don't click with the public. My theory, in this particular case, was that people were turned off because they thought it was "just" a western.

    7. Ned and Stacey: I loved Thomas Hayden Church long before he hit the big time with "Sideways". I even liked Debra Messing before she became a star (and annoying) on "Will and Grace". It's all because of "Ned and Stacey". I appreciate a show where the characters are allowed to just be strange, as Ned was with his "fake wife" and loganberry obsession. Sure, it all went downhill when Ned and Stacey started falling for each other, but before that the show was weird and wonderful.

    6. The Young Ones: I'm only going to say two things about this show and those of you who have seen it will get it: "Jester Balowski's Medieval Torture Hour" and "Rick with a silent P". Heh. Go watch the whole thing.

    5. Hercules: I love Greek mythology, so naturally I loved “Hercules'” "fractured fairy tale" take on it. The show was much less successful when it strayed from the Greek oeuvre. I never understood that. Greek mythology is full of fascinating characters and stories. With a source that rich, why stray? When it was all Greek, to me "Hercules" was one of the best shows on television. I loved the take on the Greek gods: Aphrodite as surfer chick, Ares as a heavy metal dude, Hades as a misunderstood romantic.

    4. WKRP in Cincinnati: Everyone remembers the classic Thanksgiving Day episode (”With God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly”), but nearly every episode was just as funny. And, the characters were all so unique and richly drawn. There has never been anyone on TV like Les Nessman and Herb Tarlock is an hilarious, if slightly tragic, take on a salesman. To this day, I can never look at a white belt without thinking of him.

    3. Seinfeld: It’s obvious. But, in this case it’s obvious because it’s true. I remember reading something about how the writings made a point to make sure that the characters never learned anything from their adventures. They never grew and so the show never descended into sappiness. Thank God for that.

    2. Futurama: I’ve seen “Futurama” on a lot of lists. I wonder how big of a hit it could have been if Fox hadn’t made it nearly impossible to figure out when it would air. The main characters aren’t that great, but I loved recurring characters like the Captain Kirkesque Zapp Brannigan and the evil Santa Bot. Heh. I just giggle thinking about the XMAS (yes, it’s called “XMAS” in the future) episodes.

    1. The Amazing Race: Hands down the best show on television. It has it all: heroes (Jill), villains (Team Guido), comic relief (Brian & Greg), human drama, action, adventure, romance and incredible scenery. You can catch reruns on the Game Show Network this summer every night at 9 pm eastern time and a brand new season starts up this fall on CBS.

    So that's my list. I'd be interested to see what other people are into.

    Posted by at 11:45 AM | Comments (13)

     

    Heroics, Defined

    [Posted by Laura]

    According to Democrat John Conyers - "I know you all agree with me that what Cindy Sheehan is doing in Crawford, Texas is heroic and important."

    According to the NY Times - Where are the heroes?

    According to Planned Parenthood - Dianysis
    (Absolutely classic line from the PP cartoon character: "Sure, but I don't plan on getting a sexually transmitted disease!" I, on the other hand, have that listed in my Franklin Covey for November 23rd. Isn't that how you get an STD? You plan for it, right? Or isn't everyone as well organized as I am? I may pencil gonorrhea or chlamydia in sometime in February, but for right now, herpes in November is the only STD I've got scheduled.)

    According to Marxists - Spiderman, the Proletarian Hero

    Now for some real heroes:
    According to Black Five - Someone You Should Know articles :
    Staff Sergeant Sheik Dale Horn
    Soldiers Angels
    Captain David Rozelle
    First Sergeant Brad Kasal

    Just when I want to get all cynical, Black Five and the other milbloggers bring me right back into the Jimmy Stewart zone where imperfect, good, honorable people keep fighting to do the right thing against all odds. Thanks.

    Posted by Laura Curtis at 01:29 AM | Comments (0)

     

    August 08, 2005

    The Top Ten Things Freshmen Really Need To Bring To The Dorms

    [Posted by ]

    I realized that by merely mocking the latest list of ten items to bring to the dorms, I wasn't really doing anything to help this year's crop of freshmen. So, I've prepared this list of the ten things you'll really need in the dorms. Take it from me. I've been there and done that.

    10. You're going to want some art. In my time, everyone had the same poster of Michael Jordan showing off his wingspan. I'm thinking that there's probably a similiar Lance Armstrong poster out there. Now, I'm sure you're thinking "I don't want the same thing as everyone else. College is my time to show my individuality!" Uh sure. You'll show your individuality later, but when you step into the dorms, for awhile you're going to want to be just like everyone else. Freshmen travel in packs. Eventually you might be a lone wolf, but not just yet.

    9. A guitar. You don't actually have to play guitar. The mere presence of a guitar in your room will increase your attractiveness by anywhere from 10-12%. Seriously, it's scientifically proven.

    8. Pictures of your boyfriend or girlfriend. You know, the one that's either still at home or at a different school and that you'll soon be cheating on.

    7. Tacky beer memorabilia. College is the only time in your life that it's okay to decorate with beer. Take advantage of it while you can. Put up that flashing neon sign. Use that giant inflatable can as a chair. Forget about some pretty floral border, wouldn't it be cooler to rim your room with "beer bottles of the world"?

    6. Plants. No matter how much of a dump your room is, it'll look better with plants in it. When your parents visit they'll think you're healthy and wholesome and they'll slip you a $50 when they leave.

    5. An item of clothing from a different college, so you can be "alternative".

    4. This one's for the girls: throw pillows. Love of throw pillows is really what divides the sexes. In your dorm room, not only will you lounge around on your cozy pillows, they'll also provide a soft landing for that inevitable moment when your loft proves unsexworthy.

    3. Music that was popular approximately 15 years ago. I have no idea why freshman listen to dated music, but they do. In my time, the omnipresent CDs were Bob Marley's "Legend" and Jimmy Buffett's "Songs You Know By Heart". So, my prediction is that today's freshmen might want to bone up on their hair metal bands like GnR, Poison, Whitesnake & Bon Jovi.

    2. A fake ID in inverse proportion to your attractiveness. The cuter you are, the worse your ID can be.

    And the number one thing to bring to college...

    1. Earplugs-so you can more easily pretend to be sleeping when your roommate's hooking up

    Posted by at 02:46 PM | Comments (10)

     

    Dorm Life

    [Posted by ]

    With a new crop of kids getting ready to head to the dorm, madison.com helpfully provides a list of the top ten items to make a room cozy. On the list are things like a sound system, laptop, an extra bed and an $80 "phone system".

    What the hell? Are today's college kids living in the lap of luxury? Back in my day, you were lucky to have an illegal hot plate, a piece of remnant carpeting and a rickety loft built by some shady stonerscharacters hanging out near the dorm.

    I hate to say it, but I think this may be yet another sign of the wussification of today's kids. There's something to be said for roughing it in a crappy dorm room with a worse roommate.

    For freshman, living in the dorms is a first, tentative step away from the nest and out into the real world. I think they lose some of that when the dorms are just as nice as home.

    Damn. You know you're getting old when you start bitching about "kids today".

    Posted by at 01:03 PM | Comments (4)

     

    August 06, 2005

    Fun at Work

    [Posted by Laura]

    School begins in a couple of weeks, and most people are heading back to the office after their summer vacations. Wouldn't you like to welcome your coworker back with a nice surprise? Something to make that dreary, depressing return to reality a little more interesting? Here are a few ideas.

    Every cube is brightened up by a plant. Surprise your coworker with the new Chia keyboard! (picture below)

    Everyone loves those surprise redecorating shows. Show your coworker how much you missed them with this easy, fast, inexpensive theme:

    If you have the time, you can really go all out with this modern look:

    Finally, everyone loves opening presents. You can surprise your coworker and save money with this fun idea:

    Posted by Laura Curtis at 11:51 AM | Comments (3)

     

    August 05, 2005

    Top Ten Reasons College Football Is Better Than The NFL

    [Posted by ]

    With August, my thoughts, and the thoughts of many of my fellow Americans, turn to football. Ah, glorious football. It's the only thing that makes the end of summer bearable. While Americans love their football, what do we love more? College football or the NFL. For me, it's a no brainer, and here's ten reasons why:

    10. Every game matters. When your team loses on Sunday, it's bad, but it doesn't destroy your season. On Saturdays, however, a loss is almost always devastating. College football may not have a playoff at the end of the season, but each game does have a playoff atmosphere.

    9. Location. Location. Location. With the notable exception of Green Bay, the NFL is only in big cities. It shares the scene with all of the other thousands of events going on in that city. Big time college football, on the other hand, is often played in small cities. In those cities, gameday is everything and the electric atmosphere reflects that.

    8. There is no "I" in team. Sportwriters wax poetic about what a "team" the New England Patriots are. In the NFL, the team concept has become a novelty. Too many players are all about themselves (I don't necessarily blame them, but it is a fact). In college, the team is still what's most important. Players don't play for a bigger contract the next season. They play to win.

    7. Permanence. NFL teams can pack up in the middle of the night and leave town. The Ohio State University will always be in Columbus.

    6. One man can make a difference. In the pros, a truly great coach can maybe get a winning record out of a subpar team. Maybe. At the end of the day, the caliber of players a coach can get depends on how much money a team has to spend. In college, a great coach can inherit a bad program and make a huge difference through both recruiting and coaching.

    5. Gameday. Even if you don't care about the teams, it's fun to watch ESPN's Gameday when it goes on campus. There's no pro equivalent to it, just like there's no pro analyst as cute as Kirk Herbstreit or as weird as Lee Corso.

    4. Mascots & Cheerleaders. The Big Ten alone has the likes of Bucky Badger and Sparty the Spartan. The NFL has, uh, I don't think they have any. The NFL has spandex-clad skanky cheerleaders who pose in lingerie calendars. College has fresh-faced girls who still actually carry pom-pons. You just know that NFL cheerleaders are just an application away from an appearance on a sleazy reality show.

    3. Rivalries. The NFL does have some great rivalries like the Packers vs. the Bears. But college football has hundreds of great games. And they make a big deal out of it. The games have names like the "Iron Bowl", the "Holy War", the "Egg Bowl" and the "Border War". Teams play for trophies like Paul Bunyan's Axe, the Golden Egg and the Indian War Drum.

    2. Traditons. There's absolutely no NFL equivalent to college football traditions like dotting the "I" in Ohio State, Wisconsin's Fifth Quarter & Jump Around and Texas A&M's 12th man. Even when your team is having an off year, you can hold on to these traditions that make the games far more special than a typical Sunday matchup between, let's say, the Arizona Cardinals & Indianapolis Colts.

    1. Marching Bands. Pro stadiums can pump in all the loudest, hippest tunes they want and it still won't beat hearing 120 plus geeky kids in the marching band play "On Wisconsin", "Hail to the Victors" or the Notre Dame Victory March. NFL teams don't even have songs, much less songs that are frequently played at their fans' weddings.

    I love pro football and I think the NFL is by far the best pro league. College football just has that little bit of extra something that makes it a whole different ballgame.

    Posted by at 01:07 PM | Comments (6)

     

    August 04, 2005

    Another Democratic Scandal?

    [Posted by Laura]

    I was watching the local news with bated breath, waiting for more information on what may be the latest local Democrat scandal, hopefully bigger than Cleo Fields being caught on tape accepting a bribe. I had to wait through stories on the murder of a local convenience store clerk and how many troops died in Iraq today, which segued into the story of one troop who lost his life in Iraq who was from around here, which also took the standard party line. His parents said, "He felt like terror needed to be stopped... and there were good Iraqi people who wanted us there... and that it was the right thing to do..." but the reporter said that the family has serious doubts about our policy in Iraq, and cut back to them questioning whether or not it is a quagmire. (Just to clarify: their son who was actually IN Iraq said it was worth doing and he was proud and glad to be there. But the family and the reporter, having never been to Iraq, are privy to better information than the Marine in his second tour stationed there had, and are now GWOT or GSAVE policy experts. Riiight. That's why troops in Iraq have such a high re-enlistment rate.)

    Finally, grudgingly, they get to William Jefferson, D-LA, who was subject to searches of his homes and car as part of a federal criminal investigation. Jefferson is an 8 term Democrat, and has been mentioned in several scandals, from the Edwin Edwards/Cleo Fields bribe to when his brother in law, a former state judge, was recently convicted of mail fraud in a bail-bond corruption investigation. Total reporting on this topic took maybe two minutes. None of this is shocking in the least - a Democrat is investigated for corruption and the media doesn't want to talk about it - but Jefferson's seat is extremely secure. IF he needs to be replaced, doubtless Governor Blanco (D), back from another controversial trip to Cuba, will appoint a Democrat, but without 8 terms of incumbency, that Democrat will probably have a much tighter race in 2006.

    UPDATE: the 6 o'clock news had an additional minute and a half, commenting on the unusual move of including his car in the search warrant, and speculating that perhaps the Feds had a tap on his cell phone, or had some other specific reason to want to search his car.

    Posted by Laura Curtis at 05:43 PM | Comments (1)

     

    August 03, 2005

    Semantics & The War On Terror

    [Posted by ]

    The "War on Terror" is over:

    Top officials of the Bush administration have changed the way that they talk about terrorism. They have stopped speaking of a “war on terrorism.” Thinking it too narrowly defined, they now talk of a “struggle against global extremism.”

    Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld calls it a “global struggle against the enemies of freedom, the enemies of civilization.”

    Folks on both the left & the right are seeing this as not merely semantics but rather as "a clear-headed redefinition of America’s long-range strategic aims", as Fox News puts it.

    Lefties are up in arms because:

    Now, the War on Terror has just as quickly become a Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism. In the words of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Richard Meyers, "if you call it a war, then you think of people in uniform as being the solution?. [The solution] is more diplomatic, more economic, more political than it is military." Sound familiar? During the 2004 presidential election, John Kerry was lampooned by the right for arguing that the War on Terror must be fought with diplomacy and intelligence, as much as with the military. The truth is that the old War on Terror became a War for Terror, fueling the flames of what we all wanted contained.

    It's just semantics, folks. I'll post a quote (again) from Bush's September 20, 2001 address to the nation:

    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.

    This war will not be like the war against Iraq a decade ago, with a decisive liberation of territory and a swift conclusion. It will not look like the air war above Kosovo two years ago, where no ground troops were used and not a single American was lost in combat.

    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. And we will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism.

    The President has been remarkably consistent on this. I don't think our strategy is changing, we're just making it more clear to those who read or hear the word "War" and can only think of one definition for it. It's not failed strategy, but rather a lack of imagination that drove this decision.

    Posted by at 12:35 PM | Comments (1)

     

    The Mighty Bat Hunter

    [Posted by ]

    Many regulars know that a couple of my siblings post regularly in the comments section. Today, I'd like to announce that one of those siblings, KVBigSis, is also a bat catcher extraordinaire.

    I was woken up around 4 am this morning by a bat flying around in my apartment. This has happened before and I'm usually able to just open my side door and wait for it to fly out. Well, this bastard was having nothing to do with that. It settled itself up high on a wall in kitchen, a little too far up for a short person like me to do anything about.

    After about an hour of waiting for it to just fly out, I called my sister and begged her to come over and help me. She was terrified, but she did it. She had a good strategy to get the bat, and, because she's taller than me she ended up having to do about 99 44/100% of the actual bat-nabbing work.

    There's not many people you can call at 5 in the morning to help you with something like that. So praise the Lord for sisters, even liberal ones ;-)

    Posted by at 06:00 AM | Comments (5)

     

    August 02, 2005

    Sprawl, Shills and Life in the Blandburbs

    [Posted by ]

    I was reading a review of a book by a Joel Hirschhorn called "Sprawl Kills: How Blandburbs Steal Your Time, Health And Money". A critic describes the book as "A brash, hard-hitting account of the forces that encourage sprawl and their impact on human health and well-being." Now, I haven't actually read the book, but the review gave me a good idea of what it's all about.

    As you might imagine, it's all about the evils of suburbia and the "sprawl shills" who apparently force Americans to move to the suburbs against their free will. Not only that, these sprawl shills are actually killing Americans because living in the suburbs cause something called "Sedentary Death Syndrome". I guess guns don't kill people anymore, tract housing kills people.

    The review and the book are full of hatred for the usual suspects:

    "These shills are conservative, right-wing extremists who oppose giving Americans alternatives to sprawl living and automobile addiction," he argues. "They lie all the time about smart growth, even calling it a communist conspiracy. They lie about us having enough land. They lie about public transportation. They use government regulation to maintain an unfair marketplace favoring sprawl."

    Isn't it possible that people move to the suburbs for reasons other than affordability? While Hirschhorn thinks the "blandburbs", as he so charmingly calls them, are places where:

    "people are fundamentally separated from other people and from their jobs and virtually all other destinations and needs is fundamentally unhealthy," he writes. "Like swimming upstream, people can try many different strategies to be healthier but find themselves still stuck with an emptiness that may defy complete understanding."

    Hence, he argues, the growing dependence on religion, plastic surgery, the Internet, medication and the drive to acquire more "stuff."

    People want castles. They want yards. They want neighbors just a fence away. They want to build something. These are almost primal urges. The suburbs originally grew in the 40s and 50s when returning WWII GIs got married and had kids in record numbers. After spending some of the best years of their lives amidst despair and destruction, so many of them wanted to build something instead. Build a family. Build a neighborhood. There was no place in the city for a man to stake a claim anymore. I don't think the suburbs are an evil right wing plot. I think they're a reflection of the changing desires of Americans.

    Some of us are just country mice at heart. Hirschhorn, on the other hand, is apparently a city mouse who found suburbia isolating. Instead of just accepting that experience as his experience, he uses it to damn the entire concept. I didn't like it so it's bad and the government should get rid of blandburbs. Chimpy McFlightsuit. Halliburton. Hitler.

    This is another good reminder that extremists on both ends of the political spectrum show a complete disdain for people who live a lifestyle they don't agree with. Some on the far right hate urban gays. Likewise, many on the far left hate suburban soccer Moms. Those of us in the middle would be wise to ignore them both.

    Posted by at 09:46 PM | Comments (11)

     

    August 01, 2005

    John Bolton: Boogie Man

    [Posted by ]

    With boogie-man John Bolton headed to UN, I thought I'd check out what some of the liberal rags had to say about it. I thought I'd read some whining about the fact that Bolton received a recess appointment, but people must have quickly realized that all Presidents make recess appointments. Even Bill Clinton (140).

    Luckily, the rhetoric was still pretty silly, at least from the reliably liberal Minneapolis Star Tribune. The Star Tribune thinks Bolton's appointment was "anything but wise". Why's that?

    Bush attributed Bolton's failure to win Senate confirmation to "partisan delaying tactics by a handful of senators." It wasn't that at all. The Democrats and one Republican who opposed Bolton really believed him to be the wrong man for a sensitive job at a particularly sensitive juncture for the United Nations.

    So, it wasn't a partisan delaying tactic, it was just coincidence that all the Dems and just a single Republican thought a man who was previously confirmed to sensitive State Dept. jobs was so unsuited to another diplomatic post that he couldn't even be brought before the Senate for a vote. M'kay.

    It gets better:

    As the organization heads into a period of comprehensive reform, the United States will be represented by someone known internationally to be mean as a junkyard dog and dogmatically opposed to most of what the United Nations stands for.

    So let me get this straight. The UN needs to go through some comprehensive reforms, presumably because there's a bunch of bad stuff going down there (Oil for Food scandal, sex abuse scandal, etc.). Therefore, the absolute wrong person to represent the US is someone who believes the UN, which needs serious reforming, is a terrible organization. M'kay again.

    My favorite part of the Star Tribune's editorial:

    Yes, Bolton will be known in New York as Bush's man, but he's clearly not America's man, and Bush is rapidly heading for lameduckhood. This particular recess appointment is not likely to serve the nation's or the world's interests well at all.

    How is he "clearly" not America's man? Americans are hardly in love with the UN. It seems to me that quite a few Americans share Bolton's views.

    Finally, what's this about Bolton not serving the "world's interest well"? Well I should hope not. John Bolton's job isn't to serve the interests of the world. It's to serve the interests of America. Period.

    Posted by at 10:15 PM | Comments (4)

     


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