Saturday, May 20, 2006

Oh, god

Just when you think you can't be hit hard by what's happening in Iraq anymore, two chilling words get added to the conversation.

"Ethnic cleansing."

The Independent (UK) is reporting:
Across central Iraq, there is an exodus of people fleeing for their lives as sectarian assassins and death squads hunt them down. At ground level, Iraq is disintegrating as ethnic cleansing takes hold on a massive scale.

The state of Iraq now resembles Bosnia at the height of the fighting in the 1990s when each community fled to places where its members were a majority and were able to defend themselves. "Be gone by evening prayers or we will kill you," warned one of four men who called at the house of Leila Mohammed, a pregnant mother of three children in the city of Baquba, in Diyala province north-east of Baghdad. He offered chocolate to one of her children to try to find out the names of the men in the family.

What have we done? Why isn't anybody from the US government going to go to jail for it?

Report via TalkLeft, where we find in the comments a link to Laura Rozen, who posts,
This came out a couple days ago, but a friend in Sarajevo has now pointed me to its significance. Basically the US government is hiring contractors to move arms from Bosnia to Iraq. And credible sources say one of the dealers in the mix that the contractors have turned to is notorious blood diamonds arms dealer Viktor Bout. Here's the Guardian on a piece based on a new Amnesty report:

According to a report by Amnesty International, which investigated the sales, the US government arranged for the delivery of at least 200,000 Kalashnikov machine guns from Bosnia to Iraq in 2004-05. But though the weaponry was said to be for arming the fledgling Iraqi military, there is no evidence of the guns reaching their recipient.

Senior western officials in the Balkans fear that some of the guns may have fallen into the wrong hands.

What have we done?

We're through the looking glass here, people

Not only has Dan Brown, the author of The Da Vinci Code, been accused of plagiarism, but now book reviewers and bloggers are accusing each other of the same crime. In a Language Log post, Mark Liberman points out what he calls "Some striking similarities" to criticism his colleague Geoff Pullum wrote to a new review by Mark Steyn.

He makes a reasonably convincing case. Steyn, by the way, is a Republican-friendly columnist from the UK.

Also by the way, the little glimpse I'm getting into Dan Brown's writing style by reading posts like this is decreasing the likelyhood of my ever reading him even further. And I didn't think that was possible.

Liberman (and Pullum, and Steyn) speak of:
Brown's habit of starting books with phrases like "renowned curator Jacques Saunière", "physicist Leonardo Vetra", and "geologist Charles Brophy".

Hmmmm. "Lesbian museum gift shop worker Annabel..." That's it, I'm a genius, I'll sell a million copies.

Lindsay Lohan loses mind

Lindsay Lohan: I'm Sexier Than Angelina Jolie!
Following Paris Hilton’s ex-boyfriend’s rant at her this week, Lindsay Lohan is taking solace in her top five placing in Maxim magazine’s recent poll.

The actress was branded a “firecrotch” by Brandon David earlier this week, but has been apparently annoying her pals by focusing on coming third in the magazine’s poll instead.

Although she finished behind Desperate Housewives star Eva Longoria and Jessica Alba, Lohan was delighted to beat Hollywood sexbomb Angelina Jolie into fourth place.

A friend of Lohan tells More magazine, “It shouldn’t but the whole thing has gone to her head. She was raving how she’s now officially sexier than Angelina Jolie!”

However, no one’s yet had the heart to tell Lohan the poll was not the traditional men’s magazine staple ‘most sexy’, but judged who was the ‘most successful’ women in the entertainment industry at the moment.

Source: ONTD.

Does it tell you more than you care to know about me if I say it took me three tries to figure out why "firecrotch" was supposed to be an insult? And I'm still not sure I understand it? I hear "firecrotch," the first two things I think of are good...

A couple of cartoons

Friday, May 19, 2006

Friday not-at-all-random "10"

Stealing an idea from Tom, who was inspired by Amanda, who asked:

What makes a great cover song? I don’t mean just the myriad of good cover songs out there, but the really stand-out cover songs.

These are a few of my favorite covers. First, a handful of "special categories," because I'm sneaky like that.

Special category one-Groups or singers who have made a habit of recording really great cover songs, while being not-at-all bad songwriters themselves:

Everything But The Girl-I Don't Want To Talk About It, Love Is Strange and The Only Living Boy In New York

Pet Shop Boys:-If Love Were All, Always On My Mind, Losing My Mind (w/Liza Minelli), Where the Streets Have No Name/I Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You and Try It (I'm In Love With A Married Man)

Kirsty MacColl-A New England, Miss Otis Regrets, You Just Haven't Earned It Yet Baby, Days and Perfect Day

UB40-Red Red Wine, I Got You Babe and all the singles off Labour of Love II.

Paul Young-Love Will Tear Us Apart, Wherever I Lay My Hat (That's My Home), Everytime You Go Away, I'm Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down and Soldier's Things

Special Category two-the great cover albums:

Red Hot + Blue-Kirsty, U2, Salif Keita, and more singing Cole Porter.

Silicon Teens-Music For Parties. Synth cover versions of old '50s and '60s tunes.

Stay Awake: Various Interpretaions of Music from Vintage Disney Films

Twentieth Century Blues: The Songs of Noel Coward

Reggatta Mondatta: The Police Reggae Tribute

Special Category Three: It's long been a maxim of mine that covers have a moral obligation to piss off fans of the original, or at least to have that capacity.

Breakfast Club-Drive My Car and Expressway To Your Heart.

Laptop-It's Still Rock 'n' Roll To Me. It's so deadpan.

Fine Young Cannibals-Ever Fallen In Love. Maybe things have changed, but at the time I remember everybody hating this.

Special Category Four-Covers that made me like songs I previously wanted nothing to do with:

DJ Sammy & Yanou Feat Do-Heaven (Candlelight Mix). I don't have room here to go into my Bryan Adams rant...but I love this piano-based mix.

Shriekback-Get Down Tonight. Humanly impossible to disapprove, cos the Shriek keeps shrieking and the groove don't move...

Special category five: Guilty Pleasures.

Donny Osmond's Somewhere In Time CD. Shut up.

Pseudo Echo-Funkytown. Cheesy? So says you!

Now with them out of the way, The List:

Madonna-I Want You. I'll always believe in my soul that where Madonna went wrong (if you think she did) is in deciding she was a creative artist, instead of an interpretive one.

Sting-Angel Eyes. My favorite version of this classic song. From the Leaving Las Vegas soundtrack.

Thomas Dolby-I Scare Myself. This is just good. I don't know quite how else to say it.

Candy Flip-Strawberry Fields Forever. My favorite Beatles song, but I love this version too, especially the remixes.

Figures On A Beach-You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet. Using a sampler for the stutter effect. So obvious, and yet so brilliant.

Bananarama-Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye. I've discussed this before-I want it played at my funeral.

Hue & Cry-Fixing A Hole. This recording of the Beatles song, done for a charity album, has always struck me as one of the best covers ever done, even outstripping the original. My tape has gone the way of all flesh and I'd love to have it replaced on CD.

Kon Kan-Puss N Boots/These Boots (Are Made For Walking) -- Classic favorite "mash-up" of Led Zeppelin with Nancy Sinatra.

Pop Will Eat Itself-Rock-A-Hula Baby. Leave it to the Poppies to turn Public Enemy's Elvis dis on its head.

Depeche Mode-Route 66. In retrospect, this was an early warning sign of the groups getting into dreary rock, which almost killed Dave and from which they've never recovered to my ears.

Sometimes I really wonder what in the hell the GOP thinks it's doing

...the United States Senate passed a bill yesterday that makes English the "national language" in America and amends title four of the United States Code, "…to declare English as the national language of the United States and to promote the patriotic integration of prospective US citizens."

Now, the first thing that comes to my mind, as it so often does in times like this, is a West Wing reference. In an episode of that fine series, someone responds to the notion of such a bill by saying:

...aside from it being bigoted and unconstitutional, it's ludicrous to think that laws need to be created to help protect the language of Shakespeare.

But thinking a little longer about it...sometimes I really wish my ex-Republican friend was still talking to me because maybe she could tell me what the hell they're even trying to do. With this combined with other recent actions, it's as if they're prepared to just write off the Latino vote, to say nothing of other minorities.

I don't think they should take the Democrats incompetence that much for granted. A little, sure, but...

Giving you the Dickens

My little early-morning expression of outrage that someone got away with naming a character "Sir Leigh Teabing" in a novel attracted a small handful of comments, including this from Jeopardygirl:

Dude, you can't seriously reject reading a book or watching a movie based on a character's NAME. If that were the case, no one would ever read Charles Dickens.

Putting aside for the moment that I rejected reading the book or watching the movie long before I read about this name: Names like David Copperfield, Pip, Oliver Twist, and Ebenezer Scrooge are fantastic.

They have color, they have rhythm. Try saying them aloud, you'll enjoy saying them. Then try saying "Sir Leigh Teabing." Like eating black licorice when your mouth is set for red...the man just shouldn't be able to do that with a name..., I have no plans to see "The Da Vinci Code"

Nor have I read the bestselling book. So I have no opinion on either, though it seems that the critics have a few problems with the movie, according to the Fresh Report from Rotten Tomatoes.'re telling me that both the book and the movie contain a character named "Sir Leigh Teabing?"

"Sir Leigh Teabing?"

No come on, seriously.

"Sir Leigh Teabing?"

That's not a name, that's a degenerative illness.

"Sir Leigh Teabing," for god's sake...

"Sir Leigh Teabing."

I may not be able to get to sleep tonight...

Thursday, May 18, 2006

This is her once a year day

Like Maureen Dowd, Arianna Huffington is a writer I don't like as much as some of my liberal brethren. I consider her to be at best, untrustworthy. At worst, a contemptible opportunist who cynically changed sides when it looked like there wasn't enough room in the spotlight as a conservative. And the liberals promptly forgot about everything she'd said about Clinton and/or done to try to get her empty suit of a husband elected.

All that said, much of this blog post on Hillary Clinton is dead-on.
As a result of the soul-sapping tyranny of trying to please and placate everybody, she's become more processed than Velveeta. You can almost see every word that comes out of her mouth first being marched through the different compartments of her brain -- analyzed, evaluated, and vetted by each of them. What will the consultants think of this? How will it poll? Will working women between 25-35 in eastern Ohio think it's okay? How about likely voters in northern Oklahoma?

Her fear has caused a complete disconnect from who she really is and what she really thinks (that is, if she even knows anymore).

Who came of age with youthful rage at...

From the beginning, Iraqis in the town of Haditha said U.S. Marines deliberately killed 15 unarmed Iraqi civilians, including seven women and three children.

One young Iraqi girl said the Marines killed six members of her family, including her parents. “The Americans came into the room where my father was praying,” she said, “and shot him.”


On Wednesday, Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., said the accounts are true.

Military officials told NBC News that the Marine Corps' own evidence appears to show Murtha is right.

[A] video, obtained by Time magazine, was broadcast a day after town residents told The Associated Press that American troops entered homes on Nov. 19 and shot dead 15 members of two families, including a 3-year-old girl, after a roadside bomb killed a U.S. Marine.

Via Amygdala.

As you might imagine, the republican blogs are covering this by putting the word massacre in quotes and otherwise implying this couldn't have happened.

PZ Myers reminds us of a little thing called My Lai.

I could just cry.

And yet, I still don't want to drink Pepsi

I hate myself for saying it, but Christina Aguilera does look pretty hot in these commercial images.


Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Adding insult to injury

From the Connecticut Post Online:

Paul McCartney and his second wife, Heather Mills McCartney, said Wednesday that they are separating after nearly four years of marriage, blaming intrusion from the media

I have a hard time beliving that's the real reason; you'd think if anyone knew how to deal with intrusion from the media by now it'd be Paul McCartney. And although she may not have been accustomed to dealing with quite his level of fame, wasn't she a model before they even met?

That said, it can't be helpful to have your separation from your wife broadcasted around the world with headlines line "Love Me Don't" and "McCartney, Wife Can't 'Work It Out."

McCartney is about to turn 64, and this is exactly the kind of thing that makes me wish I could send a message to every newspaper editor or writer everywhere who will write about him in any context that year:

Don't do it. Just avoid the temptation. We all know it's there, it's too easy. Just be grown up about this thing.

For similar reasons I avoided listening to the radio for the entire year of 1999. I mean, I've always said Prince was a musical genius, but...

These are really, really, really cool

"You moved, didn't ya?"

Tex Avery statues. Gotta love it. Lord knows I don't have $300 lying around that I could drop on something like this. And even if I did, I'm not sure it's a prudent idea for me to own fragile statuary...I have cats, you know.

Nevertheless, this is really, really cool.

Via Cartoon Brew.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Fucking A

I missed the first half of the "Boston Legal" season finale tonight, because I either didn't know or had forgotten it was a special two-hour episode. Fortunately, the last half offered plenty of laugh-worthy moments, not the least of them the spectacle of Captain Kirk lusting after Seven of Nine (guest star Jeri Ryan).

I note with incipient geekdom this makes three representatives of three different "Star Trek" series who have appeared on "Legal;" besides Shatner and now Ryan, Rene Auberjonois of "Deep Space Nine" is a regular.

"Huff," "Gilmore Girls" and "Veronica Mars" all got a bit dusty this season. "Boston Legal" may be one of the only favorite series that didn't disappoint me this year, "24" being the other. Meaningless observation: Both series feature a character named Bauer.

One could argue that I expected more from those other shows than I do from this one. I'm a fan because of the Shatner & Spader dynamic, the way they always seem to be running the risk of becoming cartoony.

Some would say they've crossed that line. But for me the witty scripts still kept it one of the most enjoyable hours on television. I'll miss it until next year...

Been there, Dunst that

Your Celebrity Style Twin is Kirsten Dunst

More hippie chic than hippie chick.

Who knew?

One so rarely sees crime with a dash of style these days

The Goedeken food shop on Hamburg's Grosse Elb street is considered a mecca for the city's wealthy gourmets. It draws professional caterers, Tim Malzer -- Germany's equivalent of English TV chef Jamie Oliver -- and plenty of well-heeled hobby cooks decked out in full yuppie regalia.

But two weeks ago, some unusual guests showed up. A horde of young people, dressed up as strange comic book heroes, stormed the store and dragged away cartloads of delicacies -- without paying, that is. Instead of money, the baffled cashier was handled a bouquet of flowers. Then the unwanted visitors posed for a picture and rushed off. The police sent 14 patrol cars and a helicopter, but the culprits were long gone.

An experienced investigator can't help chuckling when he hears about such activities. "They're willing to take risks," he says respectfully.

All emphasis mine.

Cool poster

Who knows if the movie'll be good, though?

This is truly bizarre

And I'm not even sure what to say about it, but it needs to be brought up and talked about. In recent days, conservatives have actually been joining the debate on impeachment-and arguing in favor of it.

Not because Bush is a crook.
Not because he was completely wrong (if we are being very, very generous) about Iraq.
Not because he is to ethics what...actually, he bears no comparision to ethics.
Not because he's a liar.

No, they can't impeach him for any of those things, because they can't admit they were wrong (or that anyone else was right) about those things. But, they do see the need for the Republican party to rid themselves of this crooked, wrongheaded, anti-ethical liar if they are to gain any hope of retaining their snakebite hold on the branches of government.

So, you know what they need? They need an out. They need something that really only they care that much about. But that they care about so much that if Bush crosses them on it, they can throw him under a train without guilt. And without feeling like us godless commie liberals have "won."

Which is the other thing stopping them from impeaching him for the fistfuls of legitimate reasons he's given us-Tom's got a little list (he's got a little list).

But where would they find such an out?

Ladies and gentlemen: Illegal immigrants. How seriously does the rightwing take this issue? So seriously they're talking about stealing an idea from the Nazis. So...seriously, indeed.

ETA-Yes! He's back! The fella advocating for a return to the good old days when at least the trains ran on time is none other than:

The great (and stylish) Vox "Why women's rights are wrong" Day.

Some of you ladies may remember Mr. Day; if not, I encourage you to use the 'search" function above...

ETA again-Or as Jeff Fecke put it on Shakespeare's Sister:
It's what they've needed all along--a reason to abandon Bush. And now they've got it, wrapped up in a neat little bow. No, for John Hinderaker and LaShawn Barber and Michelle Malkin, this isn't about immigration. It's about paying Bush back for making them look like idiots for supporting him. And payback's a bitch.

Thanks for your sacrifice

Crooked Timber finds that the conservative (and myopic) gang of warbloggers have now convinced themselves of a couple things. Not only that they're serving their country better behind their keyboards than they would actually going out and putting themselves in a position to be shot.

But that in fact, they may be suffering from a form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. You know, that thing actual soldiers get. They think they've got that from

defending difficult positions at the forefront of the battle against irredentist Democrats in Congress and their fifth-column in the media.

BTW, I admit I had to look "irredentist" up but I don't think it means what this guy thinks it means.

I could take a paragraph here to say how fucking insane such a comparison is. However, Belle Waring at CT has done just that while also heaping a side order of scorn on Jeff Goldstein.

So I think I'll just let her take it. Belle?
actual real live American (and coalition) soldiers are fighting and dying right now, and one might imagine the Iraqi on the street to be suffering from a bit of battle fatigue herself (better make that himself given current conditions for women walking alone on the streets of Baghdad), and there are thousands of US soldiers returning each month at severe risk for, or suffering from actual PTSD. The armed forces, sadly enough, are not well known for sensitive, effective responses to these emotionally wounded soldiers.

...manning the keyboard against the evil MSM and “irredentist” Democrats is not very much like going out and getting shot at every day, or having a car bomb kill your daughter, or having to go to the morgue to identify your son’s mutilated body. (Let’s keep in mind that there’s likely to be a line at the morgue too, if we’re talking about Baghdad itself.) Not much like it at all. And you know the closer-to-home scrum of domestic politics? Also not like that at all. Not a bit of it. Now, and I hate to belabor the point...but we are talking about some strikingly dissimilar things. I’m not saying that the desire to conflate the rigors of combat with the crushing burden of being, say, Jeff Goldstein means that you’re a dishonest person with an extraordinarily inflated self-regard, I’m just…No, take that back. I am saying that.

Thanks, Belle.

Monday, May 15, 2006

A fairly lackluster episode

...of "24" tonight, I thought, especially coming only one week before the season finale. In previous years at this time we've had things like:

  • A candidates wife trying to entrap her husband in an affair
  • An attempt to fabricate a reason to start a war for oil interests (imagine that), Jack's daughter terrorized by a child-abuser and wife killer
  • Tony betraying his country
  • The son of the secretary of defense first implicated in a conspiracy to commit terrorism, and then outed as gay, Michelle & Tony reuniting, the return of Mandy (played by everyone's favorite bisexual, Mia Kirshner) and Tony taken hostage.

Comparatively speaking, tonight, nothing happened.

As murderers with whom Jack has to force himself to work despite his overwhelming desire to kill them go, Henderson is really making me miss Nina Myers. Just as hissable a villain, and a damn sight sexier to boot.

And-obviously it's too late, not like there's much of a chance they'd read this anyway-but if I could have just a word in the ears of the writers: I still want to know why the constant repetitions of "Henderson killed David Palmer" aren't being followed by "and Michelle and Tony."

For second tonight it seemed like Jack was at least alluding to them when he said Henderson had killed "People I care about," but Henderson assumed he was only talking about Palmer and Jack didn't care to correct him.

Still not a show-killing, "shark-jumping" mistake, but I better hear their names mentioned next week (preferably as part of a litany Jack recites as he puts at least three bullets in Henderson's brain) or I'm gonna be very cross.

Good thought, Rev.

As quoted in Living The Truth In A World Of Illusions by the recently deceased William Sloane Coffin,

In my office is a poster that reads: "Do not follow where the path
leads. Rather go where there is no path and leave a trail."

Tell me what's-a-happenin'

Via Pharyngula, once again, blogs on the left are buzzing about how Al Gore Is Going To Come Back And Save Us All.


Once again, I don't care how good he looks now, we have seen, and we have seen, and we have seen how he copes with the pressure of actually running for President. It ain't good. He starts running again, we're gonna be back to Robocandidate.

And my memory goes back to those ludicrious PMRC Senate hearings, too.

Um...I don't know much about symbolism, but...

Photo via Digby.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

As "Huff" starts to go after the "L Word" dollar

Jen-"JeopardyGirl", who I turned onto the Showtime series "Huff," wrote me a few weeks ago that this season she was really disliking the character of Beth, Huff's wife. At the time I defended the character, but with the last couple of episodes I've done an almost complete 180.

Last week ended with a precious scene in which Beth, who had lately been on a spirtual quest, visiting a church in the middle of the night and mewling something about looking for her family. No Beth, your family is back at the house. You'll know them, they're the ones you keep shouting at when you should be talking (and listening!) to them.

And this week, Bethy goes out drinking with an old college buddy (female) and they end up making out in the ladies room.

Earlier in the episode, Huff gave a concise encapsulation of the schizophrenic (ironic, for this series) road his wife has been on this season, the impulsive choices she makes...which only seem to last for an episode or two, if that.

I couldn't help yelling at the screen, "You'd almost think she were a character on a badly-written television series!"

This is "Huff?"

If Karl Rove Is Indicted

As it looks like he will be, it'll mean that the Bush administration has employed not only the first (Libby) but the first and second sitting White House staffers to be indicted in 135 years. Damn partisanship.

Back in November, Time Magazine said
several of the most important lawyers who deal with special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald said they saw more clues last week that Fitzgerald is continuing to look into the possibility of charging Rove with lying to investigators or the grand jury or both. If that happens, Rove almost certainly would resign immediately, as did I. Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, when Libby was indicted two weeks ago.

To which I said,
Of course, Bush could score a few points if he fired Rove before the next round of charges...that is, if he actually wanted to "promote ethics"...

But he didn't do that (he didn't actually want to promote that), and now it looks like we're gonna get a chance to see how he does without Rove's hand up his ass. Of course, he's been doing so well with it we may not even notice the difference.