9.30.2003

Rocky Mountain Not-Quite-So-High -- the mile-high marker at the Denver state capitol, which I visited just over a month ago, was adjusted slightly. Panic did not ensue.
Talking Points Memo is chock full of links, analysis, and even an exclusive in the ongoing (and growing) investigation into Joseph Wilson, his wife Valerie Plame, and whether the White House leaked her name in an effort to shut down his criticism of the yellowcake/WMD lies the Administration told. Juicy.

UPDATE: Over at The Daily Kos, readers are suggesting witty sobriquets for this scandal...should it be "Intimigate"? "The Plame Game"? "The Wet Wing"? I hereby nominate the Steve Winwood classic "Valerie" as the official song of the scandal, in any case...how cool would that be as a background tune on CNN? Not very cool.
That most potent yet unlikely of lustmuffins, Jack Black, is all over the media this week, what with School of Rock coming to theaters, and -- moan -- the Tenacious D DVD coming to stores in a month or so. Here's the Times profile (with excellent photo), and a column from the SF Chronicle. He's also hosting the SNL season premiere on Saturday, with John Mayer...dear god.
Here's some (I assume) unsolicited advice, via Jason Kottke, for Howard "The Internet Candidate" Dean, and it's interesting:

D3an 4 Am3r1ca
A timely post from Steven Johnson about creating "mob spots" for political campaigns. Well, timely for me because I was thinking about something similar last week. As the next step in the utilization of the Web in his campaign, Howard Dean should open up a b3ta-like forum for people who want to create digital media (photos, movies, music, Flash animations, etc.) related to Dean and the election. Give people starting material (photos, soundbites, talking points, important issues, logos, colors) and let them go nuts (you know, participate in the political process). Create ratings systems so that the good stuff bubbles to the top. Use that good stuff (with the permission of the creators) to get ideas for the ads you put on TV and in magazines or run the actual ads on Web sites, on TV stations like MTV, on radio stations (Web & not). And don't sweat the "negative" results (the anti-Dean ads that will inevitably appear) too much...moderate down or delete anything offensive, study the rest for good ideas, and, if necessary, create a separate forum for dissenting views.
This man is some kind of pleasant, smiling super-genius.
Down with DVD's, silicone implants, and nuclear weapons. That would entail the end of SpikeTV, too, I think.
The meek get pinched, the bold survive...and the utter losers quibble over the timeline problems in "Ferris Bueller." To this Mr. J.L. Moss I say, "Be a man! Take some Pepto-Bismol and come on over here!"
In other news, just in case you thought otherwise, it's not against the law to sell real estate on the moon -- after all, this guy says he owns it. America, what a country!
I'm back from Jersey, and TAI needs a freshening -- so let's get right to the most important story of the day...the baseball playoffs. "If baseball is a romance language, the World Series is its wedding vows" -- so opines hardball bard Dave Anderson in the NYTimes, listing the top ten most dramatic possible matchups, none involving the Marlins, clearly. It all begins tomorrow night...it's just like 1999 all again, sigh.

9.23.2003

But wait! Late-breaking news from the statehouse: Governor Mitt conclusively demonstrates his fundamental lack of legal knowledge, and a surprising faith in the scientific method, by naming a committee to draft "a new kind of death penalty" for Massachusetts! That's right friends, just when you thought you might never have to rally on Beacon Street for this issue again, Mitt is out to bring capital punishment to the Commonwealth the old-fashioned way, by writing a new law: ''We want a standard of proof that is incontrovertible...just as science can free the innocent, it can identify the guilty.'' Oh really? That must be news to all the defense attorneys out there struggling to stir up reasonable doubt. Even the head of this panel admitted that it may well be impossible to craft this law...stay tuned.

Coincidentally, today the Globe also reported that federal prosecutors may file federal death penalty charges against Charles Jaynes, one of the two men convicted -- and currently serving mandatory life sentences -- for the murder of a Cambridge boy, Jeffrey Curley. As you might imagine, trying a man already incarcerated for life for the same crime poses some legal issues...but nothing's too harsh for John Ashcroft! I was very surprised to see that the victim's father is opposed to capital punishment...that case is a very troubling one, but maybe some political good can come of it, if he gets invovled with opposing the new trial or Romney's new law.

UPDATE: Robert Travaglini stepped up over the weekend, and promised to fight off this proposal...hey, he's good for something!
"Will you uncuff his right hand so we can perform the ceremony?" No kinky rituals involved, just a couple getting married in front of a judge...once the groom's sentence was handed down and he was sent back to prison. Sigh...romance.

On that note, I am off to NJ for six days...but updates will be forthcoming, that's the magic of the internet.
Are you an A.S.P.? Hisssssssssssss...
Paul Begala and James Carville want YOU to cough up $500,000 in two weeks. Well, not just you, you and all your fellow Dems, to help get the White House back next year. This is admirable and all...but I wonder if the two of them are getting paid to appear on K Street? How 'bout donating that Hollywood booty to the cause?
"I've always wanted to be cool. Not too cool for school, no, just cool, man." So says musical visionary Frank Black, who apparently popped up on a fansite dedicated to himself the other day. Woah. I wonder if he has taken the What Pixies Song Are You? quiz. I did, and it turns out I am "Hey," one of my favorites, yeah!
Logan Airport makes the list of Worst Airports to Sleep In...along with Cairo, Jakarta, and Minneapolis. I concur.
Going up, up, up, up, up -- a 60,000-mile elevator to space could maybe possibly happen. I'd like Bill Bryson to ride it and write about it.

9.22.2003

Are the people of Iraq ready for self-government? They say yes; so does most of the UN. But what does L. Paul Bremer III, the interim poobah of the US occupation say? "Nay!" He also insists that Bagdhad has "dramatically" changed for the better (!) since the US arrived (!!). Perhaps he has not been briefed on the latest bombing of the UN headquarters, or the near-fatal shooting of Aquila al-Hashimi, a member of the Iraqi Governing Council who had been receiving death threats for "collaborating with the occupying force." Furthermore, he is confident that the proposed $87BILLION "will be sufficient to put Iraq on the path of stability." (!!!) For that much money it had better be as stable as Switzerland...but something tells me that's not gonna happen.
Dear god, another Wal-Mart wedding. This one seems particularly corporate, as much of the store's merchandise was either purchased for or used in the ceremony...and the reception was in the employee lounge. :-o Michael Rockland, Rutgers professor and all-around New Jersey expert, once said he expected that eventually his students would list "Menlo Park Mall" as their home address, since there are so many residential-commercial developments going up all over the state and it will soon be possible to never leave the six square blocks around your dwelling for work, school, shopping, and entertainment. If people are wedding at Wal-Mart (i.e. at work, and where they spend plenty of free time too, apparently), how long before they're literally living there?
Josh Marshall critiques William Safire's column on how Clark might just be an errand boy for Bill & Hillary...be sure to click on the link to his own article on why HRC will never run for Prez, I agree with that 150%.
Mitsi Kato, why couldn't you be my fifth grade teacher? Her class got to listen to Radiohead and make interpretive drawings...which are bizarre and hilarious. We can only imagine what they would have drawn for the Vetoed Song Titles.
Matt Singer over at Not Geniuses starts off the week with "A Look Forward," a briskly optimistic view of the horse race shaping up 'twixt Dean and Clark...be sure to click on the Comments, too.
Nine people were shot in Boston over the weekend, one fatally. Not all at the same time, and none in Beacon Hill...therefore, it's not even on the front page of the Globe. The man who was killed was the 31st homicide of the year -- nearly all of those were from gun violence, and most of the victims were under 21. Where's the outrage in this town?

9.19.2003

OK, try to parse this out: Wesley Clark says he would've voted for the Congressional resolution to invade Iraq, yet in the next breath he says Dean's criticism of the war is right on. To me the bottom line is that WC needs a crash course in talking to the press, pronto. Interesting also is the general spin on Clark as the Establishment candidate...hmmmmm.
Not-So-Bon Appetit: The World's Worst Food is a British (and therefore even scarier) companion to James Lilek's Gallery of Regrettable Food, featuring abominable, technicolor treats of the 50's. Not at all recommended for postprandial viewing.
This afternoon, Joseph Druce was arraigned for killing John Geoghan, convicted sex abuser and former priest, in his cell at a Massachusetts prison. He pleaded not guilty, and then on his way out of the courtroom he shouted, "Let's keep the kids safe!" and "Hold pedophiles accountable for their actions!" Of course, that's why there are prisons, and people like Geoghan and Druce are locked up in them. This bizarre ending to the case is bringing up a lot of conflicting feelings in this town -- namely that the guy got what he deserved, a nice Christian attitude, as I recall. Apparently Geoghan was tormented by prison guards and other inmates before this happened, too. I wonder if Druce would get less sympathy from the public if they knew he is a neo-Nazi serving a life sentence for murdering a bus driver who made a pass at him? Maybe there's a hot seat in hell reserved for everyone involved...
Microsoft wants to crush Google -- sounds like a Godzilla vs. Mothra battle in the making, with Google as Godzilla, of course. Despite MS's enormous R&D staff and cash pile, and the optimistic bluster displayed in this article, clearly Google has them scared because until G goes public nobody really knows what's going on over there...except that they may be out to become the next Microsoft themselves. Stay tuned...
Before I do a little political web-mining, it's time for this week's Friday Five -- today's theme is music, la la la:

1. Who is your favorite singer/musician? I think I'll answer Questions 1 and 4 in Rob Gordon Top Five format, given the near impossibility of narrowing it down to one selection...so, I'll say Jeff Tweedy (Wilco), Ben Folds, Diana Krall, Ani Difranco, and Michael Stipe (REM). And by "favorite" I mean that I could happily listen to their music anytime at all.

2. What one musician can you not stand? I'll say Nelly -- pretty much everything about him annoys me.

3. If your favorite musician wasn't in the music business, do you think you would still like him/her as a person? Assuming that if I met Jeff Tweedy in a coffeehouse where he was working as a busboy and not making any music, then probably no...or better, how would I know? All I know about him is his music. This question flirts with irrelevance.

4. Who put on the best concert you've ever seen? Big: U2, Springsteen, the Rolling Stones, the first and second Lollapaloozas. Small: Ben Folds Five (at Lupo's in Providence), Shawn Colvin, Cassandra Wilson, Prince (at the Palladium in Worcester!), Tori Amos.

5. What are your thoughts on downloading free music online? Do you feel the RIAA is right in its pursuit to stop people from dowloading? It's technically improper, but also the product of a shady system. If the industry wants a piece of the online pie, they should innovate (a la iTunes) rather than waste money litigating. People still buy crappy music, they just buy less of it...the road to better quality and higher profits seems clear to me.
Fair Harvard, indeed -- a black female librarian at Widener Library is suing the Crimson Compound for race and sex discrimination, after being repeatedly passed up for promotions because she is too "pretty," wears tight clothes and has a "bad reputation." Before you ask, "What kind of library system are they running over there?" consider that Harvard has some of the most powerful lawyers on the planet keeping them out of court. I spent a summer working in a dean's office over there, and let's just note that if you plagiarize on a term paper you're immediately expelled, but if you sexually assault someone you probably won't even get kicked out of your dorm...bad publicity, of course.
Arrrrrr! It's International Talk Like A Pirate Day...for real. Or should I say shiver me timbers? Test your fluency with the Pirate Lingo Quiz, too. This will help while away the time til this comes out on DVD...and this arrives in theaters.....arrrrrrrr, indeed.

And for some additional Friday seafaring fun, don't miss the Led Zeppelin Viking Kittens...thanks to George for reminding me of their existence. Also available in White Stripes flavor. I think this will serve as today's Which is More Bizarre? feature...a tough one to call.

9.18.2003

Billy Bragg sang, "Mixing pop and politics, he asks me what the use is/I offer him embarrassment and my usual excuses." Hmmmm. That said, check out the probing of this unholy blend over at Progressive Review, where the following explanation appears for this awful link:

HBO'S NEW SERIES, 'K STREET,' confirms our long held belief that America is in the midst of an era driven by myth rather than reality, a new Middle Ages with MSNBC and Fox playing the role of the church. It is a time in which Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez seem strangely more real than the Bennifer politics of Wesley Clark, George Bush, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Hillary Clinton. As part of our continuing service, therefore, we shall report on Bennifer as a model of reality towards which our politicians and media can strive.

Wow. All sarcasm aside (for the moment), and in preparation for the day we lay the cornerstone to the USA Patriot's Cathedral of FoxNewsCorp., I actually enjoyed K Street quite a bit on Sunday night, and not just because it featured Howard Dean "as himself" (duh). I think they should dump the fake embedded personal storylines altogether, though, and just film what happens when the real politicos react to a fake political problem, as with the whole Dean debate prep issue. Stay tuned...just not to E!.
Daily Kos offers some analysis of Wesley Clark and his nascent campaign team, which is chock full of former Clinton and Gore aides...see also Matt Singer's "What...Me Worry?" post at Not Geniuses, re: how will all this Clarkness affect Dean? Speaking of which, here's Josh Marshall over at Talking Points on Clark's first domestic policy slip-up, of which, frankly, I expect to see many more.

And while we're on wishful thinking, here's Neal Pollack's hilarious take on the "What's your favorite song?" questions posed to the Dem contenders last week in the debate...hee hee hee.
Tom and Ray take on AAA -- did you know that aside from Trip-Tik maps and motel discounts, your AAA card gets you an army of lobbyists on Capitol Hill fighting against safer cars, green transportation initiatives, and anti-driving-while-cellphoning laws? Well, the Car Talk guys are on it, and they are promoting The Better World Club as an enviro-friendly alternative. They offer roadside assistance (for bikes too!), insurance, and travel services just like AAA, without the pro-SUV stance -- cool!
Another brilliant synthesis of nerd design and Tolkien trivia -- behold, driving directions from The Shire to Mordor. *cue Zeppelin's "Ramble On"* Do Not Attempt -- Professional Hobbits, Closed Course.
Jupiter and "its posse of quirky moons" will no longer have the Galileo spacecraft watching over them -- around 1pm Sunday, the 14 year veteran will crash into the big red planet. This makes me sort of sad...vaya con Dios, little space friend!

9.17.2003

Mmmmmmm, whoopie pies. See also the sidebar on "pies that aren't," including the WP and the Moon Pie, but strangely skipping the Boston Cream Pie, the official dessert of the Commonwealth. *Homer drooling noise*
It seems to be Quote Day around here...and the Onion has a great one:

Revised Patriot Act Will Make It Illegal To Read Patriot Act

WASHINGTON, DC—President Bush spoke out Monday in support of a revised version of the 2001 USA Patriot Act that would make it illegal to read the USA Patriot Act. "Under current federal law, there are unreasonable obstacles to investigating and prosecuting acts of terrorism, including the public's access to information about how the federal police will investigate and prosecute acts of terrorism," Bush said at a press conference Monday. "For the sake of the American people, I call on Congress to pass this important law prohibiting access to itself." Bush also proposed extending the rights of states to impose the death penalty "in the wake of Sept. 11 and stuff."

Nice.
So yeah, blah blah, Wesley Clark is jumping into the prez race...there's an ocean of ink being spilled about this today, but Salon has a nice pithy piece that touches on Dean's sudden "vulnerability" as the "de facto frontrunner" (?!) and on the Dems' obsession with "electability." (subscription caveat) Here's a quote: "Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., who has not committed to any of the current candidates, sees it as 'an entirely predictable cycle' in which Democrats assess who's in the race, judge the field too weak, and wonder who might make a late entrance or be drafted to bolster the field. With Clark's entrance, Weiner says, 'This is the field, nobody else is getting in, and we'll all rally around the nominee. And he'll be at 40 percent going into convention, he'll get a bump to 46 and then climb through the fall and the election will be [won by] two or three points.'" Now that's some pragmatism...I think I'll subscribe to that long view, and wait for a Dean/Clark ticket to shape up.

Also of note, the Zogby poll showing Bush and good old Al Gore in a dead heat...how 2000. Here's Maureen Dowd 's take: "One terrorist attack, two wars, three tax cuts, four months of guerrilla mayhem in Iraq, five silly colors on a terror alert chart, nine nattering Democratic candidates, 10 Iraqi cops killed by Americans, $87 billion in Pentagon illusions, a gazillion boastful Osama tapes, zero Saddam and zilch W.M.D. have left America split evenly between the president and former vice president."
Wow, and I thought this only happened in the movies...like, for example, The Muppets Take Manhattan: Norwegian police are trying to help Mr. X discover his identity, after he turned up with amnesia and a sack of random belongings...if this wasn't sort of sad, it would make an intriguing, dark, independent film...oh wait.

9.16.2003

It's sort of cold and rainy outside today...why not get your blood boiling with this mind-numbing excerpt from "Find a Husband After 35: Using What I Learned At Harvard Business School." I especially like the part where "Rachel Greenwald, M.B.A." (!?) says, "It was inevitable that I began to see personal relationships through my 'marketing eyes.'" That pretty much says it all, I think.

If that doesn't work, you can always count on the Bush administration, namely VP Cheney who continues to lie like a rug about the nonexistent 9/11 - Hussein connection -- I saw his performance on Meet the Press and I would've laughed at the absurdity if I weren't mesmerized by his gleaming pate and twisted sneer...of evil.

9.15.2003

Take a sec to check out Ezra Klein's "Shorter Anti-Idiotarian" posted to Not Geniuses yesterday, wherein he sends up many conservative yahoos and their faulty logic (and humor). Nice. (Scroll down to 9/14)
How badly do I want a Neighborhoodie? Quite badly.
...every town is Bridgeport -- Joel Kotkin in the Washington Post on a resurgence of "second tier cities" like St. Louis, Orlando, and Phoenix, as people flee NYC and LA for better living.
I like to push the pram a lot -- "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" is coming to Broadway...as Spamelot. What can one say about this, except "Ni!"?
A $200 bill with W's picture on it...not to mention wacky signs on the White House lawn. I wonder what would happen if I paid the clerk at Foodmaster with a Trillion Dollar bill stolen from Mr. Burns...

9.12.2003

If Archie McPhee's Librarian Action Figure is a real person...well, that means someday I could have my own McPhee action figure! Hmmmm...
OK, karma be damned, I'm going to be a little catty. I just saw a personal ad blurb on boston.com, a woman who lists the following as her answer to "If you could be anywhere in the world at the moment...?": "At a Red Sox/Yankees World Series game."

Wow.

Someone should not only explain to her the whole American League/National League schism, but also that you can prevent your personal from appearing on big portal websites where thousands of baseball fans can mock you. Oops.
Sometimes spam is helpful -- I cannot escape the grasp of The Nation, which sends me almost as much email every day as the people at MoveOn.org. But today's missive yielded two articles on this weekend's contentious WTO meeting in Cancun: William Greider lambastes the WTO as a sham run by lemmings who are most interested in market exploitation and protecting intellectual property. Naomi Klein says, mmm, pretty much the same thing.
Speaking of regular Friday Features, I neglected to post the Friday Five last week...so you, lucky TAI reader, get to read My Own Private Friday Ten, mwa-ha-ha-haaaaa....First, last week's Five:

1. What housekeeping chore(s) do you hate doing the most? Everyone who's seen Mt. Washmore in my room knows the answer to this is laundry. Also, putting away the dishes after they're dry.
2. Are there any that you like or don't mind doing? I love to sweep or vacuum. Very satisfying.
3. Do you have a routine throughout the week or just clean as it's needed? I wish we had either...I guess more the latter.
4. Do you have any odd cleaning/housekeeping quirks or rules? I am ruthless about some things, deeply lackadaisical about others. I'll let the sink fill up with dishes, but I hate it when they're on the counter or the table. I also get possessed about cleaning the bathroom mirror, like in the middle of brushing my teeth I'll go get the Windex and clean it.
5. What was the last thing you cleaned? Hmmm...I think last night I cleaned the kitchen counters and table, and dining table, after we had Karen and Lee Ann over for pizza...before they departed for Texas. :(

And now this week's, which I think I like better:

1. Is the name you have now the same name that's on your birth certificate? Yup. Although my mom's maiden name is spelled wrong: it's Skrupskis, not Skurpskis. Duh.
2. If you could change your name, what would it be? I like my name, though I've always wondered if "Emily" truly suits me...I'm more of an m., which is good. Clearly there are some reasons to eschew Durand, too. But "Katherine Brookdale" makes a fine stage name (middle name + childhood street), so that works.
3. Why were you named what you were? My parents named me after a woman they met in Appalachia, while doing a volunteer service vacation trip in college. There's also that S&G song, "For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her," which (disappointingly, to a little kid) does not actually mention my name.
4. Are there any names you really hate or love? I've always disliked "Chad" for some reason. For girls, any kind of gaggy Krystal/Kaitlyn/Mikayla-type nightmare. I secretly like pretentious, preppy boys' names, but not girls' -- last week's NYTimes had a wedding announcement for a woman named Tripler Pell (from Newport, of course)...yikes. My picks run from the plain (Margaret, Elizabeth, Jason, Cameron) to the plainer (Ben, Sam, Sandra, Lila).
5. Is the etymology of your name accurate? Emily has a mysterious history; it comes from the Roman surname Aemilius, meaning "rival," or from the Teutonic Amalia, meaning "work." Since I'm fairly lazy and cooperative, it's a little off.
I think I might make this a regular Friday feature: Which is More Bizarre? Since Friday is often Wacky News Day, there are some very odd items popping up...compare these and decide for yourself. First, a Retuers story that not only has the indisputably weirdest headline of the day, its content is equally unfathomable: "British monkey nut nudger reaches end of a hard road." I quote Jon Stewart: "Whaaaaa?"

And for comparison, this quote from Presidential Con-didate Al Sharpton, commenting on conservative bow-tie model Tucker Carlson's latest book, Politicians, Partisans, and Parasites: My Adventures in Cable News: "A must-read for Americans of any party. If I win, I'll make him head of Amtrak." Oooh, now that's a plum assignment!

In case you need a tiebreaker, here's a really big fish. TGIF.

9.11.2003

And as part of my ongoing republication of Salon.com content, I have to post this piece of Cary Tennis' advice column from today...it seems like something from good ol' Kirk Israel and his Blender of Love...

Q: If one were to decide to eschew any further attempts to have romance, relationship, sex, etc., what would be some good alternative hobbies/activities to take the place of the aforementioned for the rest of one's life?

A: Unfortunately, there are no perfect alternatives to romance. Like romance, they are all but painful reminders of our human imperfection. "Monopoly" begins to repeat after 10 years or so. Playing the market ages you. The horses drive you mad. Gardening is too solitary. Hang-gliding makes you giddy. With rock climbing, the insurance will kill you. Philately is for dilettantes. Art collecting is for the rich. Writing ruins your skin. Surfing is seasonal and the injuries are severe. Travel is broadening but will bankrupt you too. Poetry makes your teeth go bad. Drinking works only short-term; the booze will take your wallet in the middle of the night just like a bad hooker. You could be a decorator, but you'd have to change your phone number. Dogs are fun but their politics are suspect; they're all closet totalitarians. Mice are fine for men but bad for women; they make women jump on tables. Snakes are only for shirtless adolescents. Photography will keep you awake in the darkroom. Lepidopterology was good for Nabokov but he was one of a kind. Cooking will sustain you but you'll get fat. Politics will break your heart. Religion is only for the pure and the criminally insane.

I could go on, but you get the picture: You might as well fall in love.

ESPN.com's list of Worst Group Efforts, in honor of the Detroit Tigers -- everything from Nixon's plumbers to Toto, ouch!
This just in from Santa Cruz -- 50 Reasons Not to Vote Schwarzenegger in the CA recall...thus bringing the total up to about 7 zillion.
Here's another wacky engineer at work in the field...this time hosting a Sodium Party. As in the wildly explosive sodium, not the tasty sodium.
The title of this collection says it all: American Social Hygiene Posters. I like this one the best -- it's a triumph of euphemism in every word!
Ah, a Scrabble blog.
Howard Dean is getting flamed by pro-Gephardt Dems for commenting that "an enormous number of Israeli settlements must go" before peace can be achieved...what troubles me about this is it's a prime example of the factioning that could very easily bring down the whole party, even before the primary actually takes place...if it hasn't already, that is. sigh.
Well, we all know what day it is, so before I post several completely unrelated and mood-elevating links, let me direct you to Maureen Dowd's column, which somehow encompasses the weird blend of general melancholy and political anger I think a lot of people are feeling today...

...or, if you're just feeling the political anger, check out GWB's Scorecard of Evil!

and to cleanse that with some altruism, check out One Day's Pay, where you can pledge to devote today to service. Hmmmm.

9.09.2003

Teresa Nielsen Hayden's post on The Fabric of the City -- a comprehensive array of links on NYC's tangled transportation infrastructure and how it affects the life and history of the place. Good stuff.
Just when you think it can't get any more Ashcroftian, CAPPS II comes on the scene -- the Transportation Security Administration's proposed air traveler screening software, which would analyze your name, address, itinerary, identification or credit history, and cities of departure and destination, in order to code you Green, Yellow or Red for travel -- all without telling you. Read the Metafilter thread on this for some nice irate comments.
Another gratuitous music recommendation from yours truly: Down With Wilco by The Minus Five. Run, don't walk...it's like Yankee Hotel Foxtrot covered by The Magnetic Fields, with a dash of Velvet Underground. Fantastic.
You-Know-Where Rocks -- as a shoutout to Melissa, why not subscribe to an e-newsletter on all things cool going on in Cleveland? :)
I love technology -- here are some photos from this morning's Faneuil Hall protest of Darth Ashcroft and his "Patriot" Act Roadshow. If you look closely, in the lower left corner of the fourth photo you can see a woman with grey hair sporting one of Marc & Sharon's custom made Pirate Patriot Paperhats! A good time was had by all, even those without hats -- several hundred people surrounded the "cradle of liberty" and made plenty of ruckus while a sea of state troopers filed inside to hear all kinds of nonsense from the AG. I caught the noon newscast at home, and Ashcroft apparently took a page from the W. playbook: "Lie. Smile. Repeat." Somehow phrases like "We are winning the war on terror" and "We will finish the work begun on September 11th" (?!!?) take on a particularly Orwellian tone when the public is literally shouting outside the doors to be heard...note that later, in the Govt. Center T stop, I spotted a castoff protest sign with this on it...definitely the order of the day. There was a pretty jolly mood throughout the morning, even after some of the grownups had to head off to work and the late-sleeping anarchist youth showed up with their black hoodies and free-floating hostility (I was a little concerned when the police decided to cordon them off right in front of the Abercrombie & Fitch...wait, did I say "concerned"?). Amid the chestnut protest chants (I hereby vote to retire "Hey Hey, Ho Ho" forevermore) and a few rambling speakers, there were some very clever signs, slogans, and a peppering of presidential candidate material, namely from Kucinich and Dean. A highlight was Congressman Michael Capuano, former mayor of Somerville, speaking out on the Act alongside local firebrand Chuck Turner, a pretty bold move when you think about it. All things considered, it was a great turnout for such short notice, with a diverse crowd, and people seemed truly fired up about this...I like Marc's idea of sporting our little tricornered hats in solidarity...though they don't stay on in the wind too well.
What could be better than Geeks4Dean.com (note their clever, though copyright-infringing, "curiously strong" design)? The animated Star Trek on Ice movie found on their sister site...wow, Tribbles can skate pretty well, even with no limbs...

UPDATE: Coincidentally, today on Salon there's an article on Dean reaching out to offline voters (which apparently means minorities, retirees and blue collars workers), since "the geek vote will not be enough" to elect him. (subscription caveat)

9.08.2003

In happier, entertainment-based news, it appears Simon & Garfunkel are reuniting for a tour, TBA tomorrow...just think how great it would be if the "A Mighty Wind" bands opened for them...And for more instant gratification, Wilco is scheduled to play The Tonight Show tomorrow, yay yay.

UPDATE: Tonight's, uh, Tonight Show features not only Wilco, but also Dennis Miller and Shoshana Johson...yes, the Shoshana Johnson who was a POW in Iraq. Um, OK. Tomorrow Fountains of Wayne is on, and on Friday they've booked Pamela Anderson, Jerry Springer, and Steve Miller, so I guess anything is possible.

And for all you crazy engineers out there (and the women who love them), behold The Skittlebrau Project -- "As with most crazy ideas, the Simpsons thought of it first." Right on.
When in doubt, trust Samuel Adams to have uttered the perfect protest slogan:

The liberties of our country, the freedom of our civil Constitution, are worth defending at all hazards; and it is our duty to defend them against all attacks. We have received them as a fair inheritance from our worthy ancestors: they purchased them for us with toil and danger and expense of treasure and blood, and transmitted them to us with care and diligence. It will bring an everlasting mark of infamy on the present generation, enlightened as it is, if we should suffer them to be wrested from us by violence without a struggle, or to be cheated out of them by the artifices of false and designing men.

ok, it's more an inspirational quote than a slogan, but it should still fit on my sign.

And speaking of "false and designing men," what did we all think of El Presidente Mentiroso's little speech last night? Which line was your favorite (i.e. caused the most strangled, bitter laughter and/or hurling objects at the TV)? Several gems stood out for the 29 Whitfield gang -- how about this one, re: finally getting help from the U.N.: "We shouldn't let past problems stand in the way of future cooperation." Right! Another thing we shouldn't do? Cause those problems in the first place. The "What WMD's?" tapdance number was also memorable...but after he dropped in the "So, we're going to need about, oh, say, 87 BILLION DOLLARS to do this thing," the nadir was reached with this oh-so-earnest promise: "We are committed to building schools, roads, and hospitals, to provide education, opportunity, and health care to the Iraqi people." To which we shouted, "Since we can't afford to do that at home anymore!" The next time we have a simpering puppet Republican in office, I hope Karl Rove picks one with an even more arrogant demeanor, that will make these little propaganda pieces even more enjoyable. On the editorial front, the usual suspects weigh in...here's a particularly good take from David Corn in The Nation. All together now: gaahhhh!
Update on the Ashcroft protest -- here's an article from today's Times on the "Patriot" Act roadshow, to get you fired up enough to come down tomorrow. And for further reading, the Washington Post points out that the terms of the Act itself prevent us from finding out exactly how it's being (ab)used, since it's cloaked in secrecy.

9.07.2003

Well, Mary Grady wins the Sharp Tack Award for today -- she alerted me that Ashcroft is coming to Boston on Tuesday morning, to speak to law enforcement personnel at Faneuil Hall. The press coverage will be between 8 and 9am...the most convenient hour to exercise our Constitutional rights, of course. Believe it or not folks, I have a doctor's appointment at 10:30, so I could head downtown first and try to know mine enemy a little more closely. Anyone else around? Let me know...

In other unsettling news, I saw Brian Dennehy on Martha Stewart's cooking show earlier today, making homemade yogurt. I'll just let you ponder that one for a while.
Grady "Igor" Little! Theo "Mad Scientist" Epstein! The weekend of the Bronx Siege continues...dare I hope that the sweep brooms come out tomorrow afternoon? *Glee*

9.05.2003

Salon.com's Joan Walsh on the Dem debate and the irksome waffling of those who voted in favor of the Iraq Carte Blanche resolution (Joe, Dick, John, I'm looking in your direction): "I think the folks who supported the war should be forced to sit down on "60 Minutes" for a mea culpa chat as humiliating and yet character-building as the one Bill Clinton endured after the Gennifer Flowers revelation in 1992. They'd have to confess to their faithlessness and bad judgment in voting for the Iraq war, and promise to try to be true to the American people from now on." Click here to read the rest (subscription caveat).
For those who just can't get enough of Kevin Millar, you can see the infamous Rally Karaoke Guy video (that would be a teenaged Millar impersonating Bruce Springsteen) on boston.com these days...we need all the help we can get against the Yanks this weekend, I'll admit...
"Self-date" your way to a healthier prostate! An Australian study found a lower incidence of prostate cancer in men who ejaculate five or more times per week, inspiring good old Gary Trudeau to address the issue in this Sunday's Doonesbury. But will you see it in your local puff-piece-and-coupon-delivery system (aka Sunday paper)? Maybe not -- many papers are pulling away from the touchy topic. And speaking of really juvenile puns, the editorial I linked there is Exhibit A for Why You Shouldn't Read College Newspaper Editorials. Oh well. Goodonya, brave Aussie researchers...to be updated when I see which way the Sunday Glob goes on this.

UPDATE: Way to go, Globe! They ran it, and it's quite droll. Check out Jim Romenesko's MediaNews page for feedback from editors around the country on why they did or did not run the strip...you have to admit, it's pretty funny that the Modesto Bee didn't run it. (/tempest)
"More sense to the brain" -- I'm all for that. The Oath of Allegiance, taken by newly sworn-in citizens, is going to be tweaked a bit, and made less arcane (no more potentates). Read the oath and ask yourself, would you take it these days? A better question: if I type "no," will Ashcroftian goons abduct me from the parking lot after work tonight?
La guerre du chocolat -- not to be confused with The Chocolate War.
You're not from around here are you? Oh dear...on Tuesday, a black kindergartener from Wellesley was put on the wrong bus at the end of his afterschool program. Which bus? Why, the Metco bus, which dropped him off in Dorchester, where another kid's mom took him home and called his parents. Now, there are many mix-ups in the world of five-year-olds and afterschool transportation -- in fact, my coworker had an identical wrong bus situation with her son last year, because there are no bus monitors to guide the little kids who aren't sure where they're supposed to go. But was there some subtle bias at work in this incident? Much hand-wringing ensues.
So did anyone see more than the last three minutes of the candidate's debate last night, unlike me? From what I've read, the most interesting part of it was the outreach to Spanish-speaking voters...I've noticed most of the candidates have a few phrases en espaƱol to throw in during public appearances, but in the online world it appears once again that whatever Dean does, suddenly everyone else does it too. Hmmmmm...

9.04.2003

Happy birthday to me, care of the Globe's Thought for Today:

"One should respect public opinion insofar as is necessary to avoid starvation and to keep out of prison, but anything that goes beyond this is voluntary submission to an unnecessary tyranny, and is likely to interfere with happiness in all kinds of ways." — Bertrand Russell

9.03.2003

Today's Irony Break is provided by Tom DeLay, who called Howard Dean a "cruel, loudmouth extremist." Yep, this is Tom DeLay, the House majority leader who probably broke several state laws raising GOP campaign funds [Salon has an excellent article on this today -- get the day pass to read it], among other capers. Ezra over at Not Geniuses put it nicely: There's something about the internal deception needed for DeLay to call a Democrat "cruel" that just amazes me. I mean, this guy is as black-hearted as they come, willing to deny our men and women in service Child Tax Credits if he can't have another 80-some billion in tax cuts. And he wants to call a man who gave every child in his state full health insurance and gays equal rights cruel? It boggles the mind.
First Fajitagate, now this -- San Francisco police and prosecutors, including the current Chief of Police, may have "systematically withheld" exculpatory evidence from defense attorneys, like those of this man, released after 13 years of wrongful imprisonment. Do these scandals say something about SF, about the legal system in general, or just make you wonder what's going on here in Boston that we don't know about (yet)?
This sounds promising -- birddogger.org, an online forum and guide to showing up at candidate events and asking pointed questions...it's sort of a clearinghouse, run by a Quaker peace activist from Maine, who calls the NH primary season "a goldmine of opportunity for those struggling to get their voices heard in an environment where fluff and nonsense are frequently passed off as news." Here are some tips.
Elmo is an undercover American operative -- well, not really, but Sesame Street can apparently be co-opted to export red-blooded (or red-handed?) American values abroad. This piece bears the hallmarks of online BBC journalism -- provocative, readable, and with a truly hilarious caption to the Cookie Monster photo that would never make it into print around here.

9.02.2003

Okay people, I think I just witnessed a Victoria's Secret commercial featuring a Bob Dylan song. :0
Walter Cronkite's Memo to the Democrats -- ten propositions to "help define the party." I'm all for updating the Democratic mission statement, but these points seem somehow naive and stodgy all at once...as someone once said, nothing gets stale quicker than optimism. Am I too hopelessly cynical, or too dazed by life in the W. era, to recognize the progressive kernels embedded here? Or am I just turned off by the scolding, schoolmarmish tone? Well, it is Walter Cronkite...
"The Courage to Do What's Right For America" -- please tell me that someone from the Dean campaign planted this slogan with Kerry's people...it's just too perfect.
William Greider on the political resonance of Blackout '03 -- will the public finally grasp that massive deregulation (aka "smaller government") is not always the wise choice?
Beware the Democrats and their red-hot rhetoric -- Bush '04 fundraising strategy presents him as an underdog (!) who'll be outspent (!!) by the ravenous, Nazgul-like Dem gang. Oh, this bodes well.
Check this out -- Brian McGrory tracked down the fan who threw back Jorge Posada's home run ball, and advocates with John Henry on his behalf. Sometimes, you have to love this town.
Another reason to visit Providence these days -- it's the home of the American Diner Museum! :-D oooh, they have mugs...and speaking of diner-related exhibits, "New England Neon" is only at the Museum of Our National Heritage in Lexington til the 14th...I think I will be taking myself there for my birthday this weekend, what with it being free and all...
FCUK this dress code -- Chicago principal nixes tshirts from French Connection UK which read "FCUK: Scent to Bed." This is, of course, simply a catchy, irreverent reference to their cologne line, and perfectly acceptable for school, work, or play. Riiiiight. Best line: '"You know what? It doesn't bother me," said Nadine Buzek of Chicago, whose daughter, Megan, 13, was wearing a single-sleeved tank top with the red letters "Sexy" on the front.' Now that's objective reporting!
Caffeine as a revenue-generating vice -- Seattle proposes an espresso tax. An extra dime for a $3 schmancy coffee drink, to pay for day care for poor children, sounds fair to me, but not to Starbucks, apparently. What could we tax in Massachusetts -- microbrewed beer? Donuts? Lobsta? Sox tickets? How about we lower the drinking age to 16 and tax the teenage party animals 300%, to fund anti-drunk driving campaigns? Hmmmm...

UPDATES: Apparently we could tax espresso right here at the local Dunkin Donuts....the horror...

and in other Seattle news, this past weekend was Bumbershoot, the uberfestival of music that lucky Miss Amy attended, wrapping up last night with Wilco opening for R.E.M. [insert your own sigh of longing here]. Perusing the Seattle Post-Intelligencer site today for a review of the show, I found this shining example of Why People Loathe Music Reviewers:

Chicago's Wilco opened with an hour of music that was formally akin to alternative country, but had a lot more depth and vision. Leader Jeff Tweedy, sharply dressed in a green shirt and jacket, writes bookish lyrics such as "rest my weary head on California stars," then sings them as if they were just ordinary honky-tonk lines. The centerpiece of their set was an extended version of "I Am Trying To Break Your Heart" in which Floyd Cramer-style piano licks faded into waves of psychedelia while a simple folk melody was swallowed in a hysteria of guitar feedback.


I say again, gaahhhhh -- between the tortured sentence structure, alterna-nerd namedropping, and factual errors, this hits the Jackass Music Writer Trifecta. Jeff Tweedy didn't write "California Stars," Woody Guthrie did; therefore, it is just an ordinary honkytonk line. And he quoted the line wrong anyway. That's the funny thing about liner notes, the internet, and real live Wilco fans (surely a few were there at the concert, right?) -- they can tell you lots of facts about the band you're reviewing, so you can fake it more credibly. Rrrrrrrr.
To keep TAI easy on the eyes, I'll stick all the links people sent me over the weekend in one E-Z tabloid style post:

They're circling thirty, but shamelessly enjoying themselves like children -- Rejuveniles, act your age!

Prez W. to Kids of America -- I'll slash the education budget, you work on your love handles (this link might be my favorite, it's a plea to bring back Home Economics to fight childhood obesity...written by the head of the Dole Nutrition Institute, home of fresh, unprocessed fruit treats...she's also a former Bush 41 speechwriter, how convenient)!

and here's a classic everyone can enjoy: Giant asteroid on collision course with Earth! Or possibly not.
The Globe wants to know, What would you change about Boston? Unfortunately they only want 75 words, not a lengthy jeremiad, but it's still a good query:

What could be done to make Boston a better city in the next five years? What would be your priority - housing, city government, medicine, transporation, the environment, the arts? Please let us know in fewer than 75 words, and include your name and daytime phone number in the message to ciweek@globe.com. Your comments could make it into a future edition of City Weekly.

Urban planning boys (you know who you are), take note. ;-) My response was all about law enforcement, starting with gang violence and gun control, which something tells me won't make the cut, since the Globe seems to have a self-imposed embargo about this particular local epidemic...grrrrrr.