Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Now, breaking news of charges that their music isn't creative, distinctive, or cutting edge.
I cry, "Nickleback! I knew Canadian rock, and you, sirs, do not represent Canadian rock."
(Be sure and listen all the way through. )
The suspicious devices which forced bomb units to scramble across Boston today were actually magnetic lights that are part of a marketing campaign for a television cartoon.The Mooninites offer their rebuttal here.
The reports forced the temporary shutdowns of Interstate 93 out of the city, a key inbound roadway, a bridge between Boston and Cambridge, and a portion of the Charles River but were quickly determined not to be explosive.
"It's a hoax -- and it's not funny," Gov. Deval Patrick said.
All of the devices are magnetic lights which resemble a character on the show "Aqua Teen Hunger Force", on Turner Broadcasting's Cartoon Network.
After watching Olbermann tear the president's speech in half, I'm starting to think this Onion piece might not be ficticious.
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Mrs. Thrillhous insisted we buy these albums, and since she'd just done the whole 9 months of carrying the kid, I couldn't say no. I was expecting a bunch of lame Mickey and Goofy crap, but it's actually really good. A guy named Larry Groce does all the songs; he's like a poor man's James Taylor, and I'm pretty poor. If the name sounds familiar, he had a hit in 1976 called "Junk Food Junkie."
Larry's entry on Wikipedia is pretty weak - no mention at all of his Disney work. I'm thinking Disney sold approximately 3 billion copies of the children's songs, but I'd like to have some evidence before I go off on Wiki.
WESTERVILLE, Ohio (AP) -- A high school lunch period was disrupted Monday by a greased, naked student who ran around screaming and flailing his arms until police twice used a stun gun on him, authorities said.While CNN was unable to provide video of the incident, we here at LLatPoN have the goods. Watch the greased-up insanity here.
Taylor Killian, 18, had rubbed his body with grapeseed oil to keep from being caught, and got up after the first time he was shocked to continue running toward a group of frightened students huddled in a corner at Westerville North High School, Lt. Jeff Gaylor said.
"That prank went a little farther than he intended, I guess," Gaylor said.
If you're the type who pieces together your knowledge of American history from the trivia questions on oatmeal packets and the comic misstatements of our current president, you should click on the video above to get some insight into the awesome world of J.F.K. It's from the same folks who gave you the inside scoop on Washington.
Monday, January 29, 2007
I know, I know. Conservatives will never let facts or history get in the way of their idolatry of the boy-king. But the rest of us should stay informed.
Sunday, January 28, 2007
I just found a religious blog that lists bands that might turn you "gay".
Now I might say that listening to Nickleback (yes, they are on the list) might make you lame, they won't make you a homosexual.
Saturday, January 27, 2007
Friday, January 26, 2007
Nothing quite embodies the wild world of Dixieland jazz like a group of geriatric, white Shriners at a funeral.
Look at them. The liveliest one of the bunch is the dude in the coffin. The rest exude the kind of excitement and joy you'd only see in a urologist's waiting room. (Please insert your own "eight balls" joke here.)
I'd always thought jazz was all about free flowing music and improvisation, but these guys look about as spontaneous as the Nixon Library. Mr. Magoo on the left can't even find the photographer, so how's he supposed to find the rhythm? Welcome to Squaresville, baby. Population: You.
Anyway, the appearance of the mighty mighty Eight Balls can only mean that once again it's time for the Friday Random Ten. You know the drill, so let's do this thing.
1. Hank Williams, "No No Joe" -- A great little bit of Cold War country, this is Williams' ode to Joseph Stalin. "The Kaiser tried it and Hitler tried it / Mussolini tried it, too / Now they're all sittin' around a fire and did you know something? / They're saving a place for you." Man, I bet Stalin cried like a Trotskyite when he heard that part. 7/10
2. The Flaming Lips, "Pilot Can at the Queer of God" -- I have absolutely no idea what this song's about, and I say that having read the lyrics. Whatever. It's still a nice chunky rocker. 8/10
3. Fishbone, "Subliminal Fascism" -- Once upon a time, these guys seemed to be at the forefront of a great fusion of punk rock, funk, and hiphop, with a sharp political edge. Of course, once upon a time, the Commodore 64 seemed to be at the forefront of home computing, too. 3/10
4. Wolf Parade, "Shine a Light" -- I just scored tickets to see these guys in concert and I am, as the kids say, psyched. Apologies to the Queen Mary is an amazing debut album, and they're supposed to be absofuckinglutely phenomenal live. Here's hoping. 8/10
5. Elvis Presley, "It's Now or Never" -- I have a soft spot for the cheesier songs in the King's repertoire, and this one certainly qualifies, what with the mariachi sounds and the "Five Neat Guys" making an appearance on backing vocals. Still, I suppose this isn't even remotely cool. 2/10
6. Curtis Mayfield, "We People Who Are Darker Than Blue" -- I pretty much love everything Curtis Mayfield ever recorded, but this is a bit of a sprawling Black Power anthem, moving through soul lyrics to congo drums to funk groove to a harp interlude (?) and back again. Not great, but I refuse to give Mayfield anything less than a 5/10.
7. De La Soul, "I. C. Y'All" -- A pretty solid collaboration with Busta Rhymes from Art Official Intelligence. This song has more bottom end than Louie Anderson. Oh, that's right. I went there. 8/10
8. Parliament, "Flash Light" -- The gold standard of funk. I made this my cellphone's ring tone last summer, and ever since, I haven't been able to hear the original without wanting to check the caller I.D. 7/10
9. João Gilberto, "Falsa Baiana" -- A nice bit of classic bossa nova from one of the masters. I may not understand a single word, but my body is still always possessed by the power of Latin rhythms. 6/10
10. Stereolab, "The Seeming and the Meaning" -- One of the most inventive and unique bands around, here with one of my favorites, a tune from the Peng! album. Scorching and sweet at the same time, this is Stereolab at its finest. 10/10
Alright, that gives me an underwhelming 6.4 on the coolness scale. It seems that I, as part of the MTV Generation, really can feel neither highs nor lows. What's that feel like? Eh.
Let's see what you've got. Break out your iPod (or steal a friend's), give us the first ten songs that pop up, and, if you damn well feel like it, throw in a Coolness Self-Audit as well.
Thursday, January 25, 2007
Via Kos, I read this article about how thoroughly Bush screwed up Iraq from a domestic politics point of view.
The biggest complaint I hear from Republicans who may find themselves in competitive '08 races is that Democrats don't own a piece of the Iraq problem. And that was the beauty (politically speaking) of the ISG. There were a few things that didn't thrill some Democrats, but they were generally willing to sign on to most of the bipartisan group's findings. Had Bush bought in, the political pressure would have been on the Democrats to buy in. And the moment Iraq becomes an American problem rather than a Republican problem, the GOP would have a more level playing field.
With the White House wholly rejecting the "get the GOP out of Iraq" card, the president managed to do something many thought was nearly impossible: He strengthened the GOP's ties to the war.
Surely Bush, Rove, Cheney, etc. have been in politics long enough to know what they are doing. Surely they know that the ISG, flawed as it was, was their last, best hope to spread blame to somebody -- anybody -- else. This should completely obliterate any lingering doubts that remained about Bush being perfectly content to see Iraq's immolation continue for two more years -- and let the GOP take the blame for it.
I suppose I should be happy that this deeply unpopular war will be strongly associated with this deeply unpopular president and his party, giving the Democrats an even greater chance to win the presidency in '08. I know it should make me smile contentedly and feel smug, but this political suicide scares the hell out of me.
When people who hold great power aren't concerned at all about the future -- events less than two years away -- this is not a good sign.
WASHINGTON - Two minutes in a microwave oven can sterilize most household sponges, U.S. researchers reported on Monday. A team of engineering researchers at the University of Florida found that two minutes of microwaving a damp sponge on full power killed or inactivated more than 99 percent of bacteria, viruses or parasites, as well as spores.Today, we have this:
WASHINGTON - Reports about a study that found microwave ovens can be used to sterilize kitchen sponges sent people hurrying to test the idea this week — with sometimes disastrous results. . . . They described how they soaked the sponges in wastewater and then zapped them. But several experimenters evidently left out the crucial step of wetting the sponge.If ever there was an argument for staying in school, here it is.
The Post has a pair of articles that makes me want to torch my wife's Mustang (she's got a lame 2000, nowhere near as cool as the awesome 1976 Mustang II "mpg" I used to drive). One article is about congress considering an increase in fuel standards for passenger cars, while Bush wants to have control over passenger car fuel standards transferred to the executive branch (shock!) under NHTSA. You remember NHTSA, the agency that took on the auto industry by spiking fuel standards for SUVs and trucks a whopping 1.8 mpg by 2011.
The auto industry, primarily the Detroit-based joints, are deadset against a meaningful increase in fuel standards for cars, which haven't been changed since the mid-1980s. They say that the costs associated with fuel-saving technology are just too steep for them to bear without government giveaways; besides, I don't think anyone could have possibly anticipated that the world's oil supply was limited.
Which brings us to the second article, which is about Ford's gigantic losses in 2006.
Ford Motor Co. lost $12.7 billion last year, a historic amount of red ink that comes as the 103-year-old company scrambles to restructure, cut costs and recapture some of its standing in the auto market.
Nearly displaced by Toyota Motor Corp. as the number-two automaker in the United States, Ford is refocusing on smaller, more fuel efficient cars, renegotiating contracts with its labor unions and closing factories.
So there were several reasons why Ford lost big, but one of the main ones was THEIR CARS AREN'T FUEL EFFICIENT. They have been losing market share for several years to car makers that make FUEL-EFFICIENT CARS, because PEOPLE WANT FUEL-EFFICIENT CARS. If I didn't know better, I'd say that Ford might be able to make some money by building some of them things themselves, maybe some that use this electricity stuff.
I think we know where this is headed; Detroit isn't really opposed to the fuel standards, they just want a free lunch. Congress will increase fuel standards, but they'll also give huge tax credits to Detroit to build more fuel-efficient cars. The CEOs will get more ivory backscratchers, the auto workers pensions will continue to be underfunded, the Mustang II "mpg" will be reborn (okay, I lied when I said it was awesome; it really really sucked), and Toyota will be the world's number 1 car company.
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
If you're really pressed for time, though, Norbizness has offered shorter and funnier versions of Bush's SOTU and Webb's STFU speeches here.
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
It's start off alright -- I predict the state of our union will be some variation of "the strongerest" -- but then Bush will quickly lose control and crash badly in the midst of gibberish language I can't understand.
The authors became flummoxed when contmplating what to drink for a "human-animal hybrid" mention, so here's a brand-new drink. (Patent pending, patent pending, patent pending)
4 parts Three Floyds Dark Lord Russian Imperial Stout
2 parts Smoking Loon Pinot Noir
1 part Trump Vodka
6 parts Jägermeister (for the deer blood)
Muddle with a Scientologist and some feminists.
Garnish with a pickled pig's foot.
If you want to mix your own, you can do so in comments. Just be aware that your intellectual property is my intellectual property.
Would it be irresponsible to speculate? No, no. It would be irresponsible not to.
President Bush will deliver his State of the Union address Tuesday night to a nation that's strongly opposed to his plan for increasing troops in Iraq and deeply unhappy with his performance as president, according to a CBS News poll.According to the metrics developed by Kung Fu Monkey, we're only one percentage point away from the rock-bottom of Republican support.
Mr. Bush’s overall approval rating has fallen to just 28 percent, a new low, while more than twice as many (64 percent) disapprove of the way he's handling his job.
Monday, January 22, 2007
Bill Moyers' "Moyers on America" program does an outstanding summery of the events of the rise and pathetic fall of Abramoff, Reed, and Ney. You simply don't understand how heinous their actions are until you see them as the sum of their parts. Take the time to learn how low a political machine can go. They are all available for online viewing here.
If you watch the show, you will see when I say "A Special Place In Hell" it is well earned.
The fairness doctrine was an evenhanded approach to radio and then television broadcasting, one that had governed our airwaves almost since the dawn of those two media. Even though it had been around for fifty years and withstood challenges all the way up to the Supreme Court, President Reagan's FCC appointees killed it unceremoniously in 1987 and then Reagan vetoed a congressional effort to restore it. As a result, we've been treated to a system in which you can only get your political views aired as long as you're a giant corporation able to purchase a radio station or television network, or a like-minded individual.
Again, I think it's a terrific idea and I hope other congressmen join Rep. Hinchey and Sen. Sanders in pushing it. It would help restore sanity to our national media and, almost as sweet, make Rush Limbaugh go into convulsions he hasn't seen since the last time the maid was late with his hillbilly heroin.
I was going to write about how unenthused I am about Hillary's decision to run, but that's been done to death. Seems about a third of people hate her, a third of people don't care, and a third of people like her but don't want her to run for prez. I don't see a winning calculus here.
Bill Richardson also announced the formation of an exploratory committee, surprising some but putting to sleep most everyone else. I do have a couple ideas for his exploratory committee, however. First, they should explore why this guy thinks he can win an election when he can't even get a front-page headline when he announces his committee. Second, they should explore the most memorable incident of Richardson's tenure as a member of Clinton's cabinet, when he gets 40 lashes from John Warner and Robert Byrd for massive incompetence. They can even watch it here. (For Byrd junkies, he keeps it really real in the last couple minutes.)
Richardson is competing with Vilsack for irrelevancy right off the bat. Who are they going to take votes from, Kucinich?
The NFC championship was the first game of the day, with the Chicago Bears taking on the New Orleans Media Narrative That Would Not Die. It was a good game through halftime, as the Saints climbed back from an early deficit to close the gap to 14-16 somewhere near halftime. (Ed. Details on the actual games will be fuzzy as the Yuengling and poker hands were flowing freely at my place.) But the Manning magic manifested itself in this game, as with all games. Here, that meant that the stunning Saints of 2006 started to resemble the bumbling Aints of the Archie Manning era, and the team crumbled more quickly than a powdery beignet at Cafe du Monde. Even with Rex the Sex Cannon under center, the Bears stomped their way to a convincing 39-14 rout and earned a ticket to the Super Bowl -- the first time they've ever done it without a lameass theme song.
The AFC championship was a classic matchup between the New England Patriots and their perennial prison brides, the Indianapolis Colts. This looked like it was going to be another blowout, with the Pats streaking to a 21-3 lead in the first half. This time, the Manning magic was dispelled, as Peyton Manning -- a man more associated with choking than Dr. Heimlech -- managed to lead his team back from a huge deficit. This was a wild one, with three different linemen scoring touchdowns, two of them on goalline fumbles. but in the end, the Colts executed a terrific late-game touchdown drive to take the lead, and a Tom Brady interception in the last seconds of the game sealed it. Colts win 38-34, and Peyton Manning has now been signed to do every single network television ad. (Look for his new Tampax spot this weekend!)
That gives us a phenomenal matchup for the Super Bowl. Personally, I like both of these teams and their coaches, so I'm torn. As much as I fear the Manning hype, it would be nice to see the Colts win this one and put to rest the endless hours of choke talk from the sports hacks. But I'd be happy to see the Bears win as well. Brian Urlacher survived intimate relations with Paris Hilton. He deserves a little sunshine in his life.
Consider this an open thread for all things football. Feel free to post your Super Bowl predictions, your thoughts on the games, or your rueful complaints about how much you ate/drank yesterday.
Saturday, January 20, 2007
To take just one example from the middle of the pack:
24. Glenn BeckTake a look at the whole list. Just be sure you're not drinking anything when you get to Ann Coulter.
Charges: If the dumbing down of political commentary continues along this trajectory, the next pundit to make the grade will be a hyena. Even the leather-winged shouting heads at Fox News look like intellectual giants next to this bleating, benighted Cassandra. It’s like someone found a manic, doom-prophesying hobo in a sandwich board, shaved him, shot him full of Zoloft and gave him a show. What makes Beck special, aside from appearing to have derived his entire geopolitical outlook from a five-minute segment about Iran on "The 700 Club," is the folksy "golly gee" manner in which he accuses his guests of collaborating with terrorists. At least Hannity and O’Reilly have the decency to act like bellicose pricks when they’re engaging in breathtaking cheap shots.
Exhibit A: "When I see a 9/11 victim family on television, or whatever, I’m just like, ‘Oh shut up!’ I’m so sick of them because they’re always complaining."
Sentence: Stripped bare, trussed like a turkey and airdropped into Waziristan with an apple in his mouth and an American flag in his ass.
But there the similarities end. You see - Peyton will be playing tomorrow for the AFC Championship whereas Michael Vick got into some trouble going to visit his new coach (for the first time) after the last poor coach got fired after a 7 - 9 season.
Even before this latest "legal misunderstanding," Vick has run into a number of other issues off the field as well. He was sued in 2005 for knowingly giving a woman herpes. After the last home game he shot the bird to several home fans who were booing another loss. He had a little fine with that one.
But this latest event demonstrates particular concern for the "brains" of the Falcons offense. As the quarterback of a professional football team, you need to be fairly intelligent - memorizing hundreds of plays with the ability to process changes to these plays depending on the particular defense and situation on the field in a matter of milliseconds.
Here's a review of the events in Miami's airport on Wednesday:
[Vick was] "reluctant to turn over his water bottle during the screening process" at Miami International Airport (the athlete was booked on an AirTran flight to Atlanta). Vick subsequently relinquished the 20-ounce Aquafina bottle, which was placed in a recycling bin by a Transportation Security Administration screener. Suspicious as to why Vick hesitated in handing over the bottle, TSA screener retrieved the bottle. There, officials discovered that the bottle's label "contained a seam which separated the top and the bottom of the bottle." The concealed compartment, the report notes, contained "a small amount of dark particulate and a pungent aroma closely associated with Marijuana."To recap:
(1) He could have smiled and casually tossed the bottle in the trash and nothing would have happened.
(2) He could have not brought liquid in a bottle to an airport after terrorists threatened to blow multiple planes out of the sky in London via liquid in carry-on bottles.
(3) Although I can't guarantee this, but I think you can buy marijuana in Atlanta as well as Miami. I may need to research this before I can commit this fact to our loyal readers, however.
Doubt me? Well, let's just jump into the middle of his latest post on Attorney General Alberto Gonzales:
Cheney and Gonzales have dropped the Constitution into a hole in the White House basement and are currently dancing naked around the pit, penises tucked between their legs, screaming "It rubs the lotions on its Amendments!" at the shuddering, terrified document, and there's nary a peep.Priceless.
Friday, January 19, 2007
I mean, Me and My Bean Bag? Seriously?
I'm hoping this is a pathetic marketing ploy -- this album was released by "Kimbo Records" and the cover shows a "Kimbo Bean Bag" in the photo -- but even then, it just doesn't make sense. I wouldn't think the lowly bean bag would generate enough passion and excitement to merit a haiku, much less a full-length album. But the kid seems amused. I bet that bean bag has provided him with literally minutes of entertainment.
Anyway, with your expectations lowered to subterranean levels, it's time to build them back up again with the Friday Random Ten.
Here's what I've got:
1. Thievery Corporation, "Marching the Hate Machines (Into the Sun)" -- This is one of those musical collaborations that ends up being greater than the sum of its parts. I like the dulcid electronica of TC just fine, and I appreciate the quirky-breathy vocal stylings of the Flaming Lips' Wayne Coyne as well. But they come together here in the sweetest union since you got your chocolate into my peanut butter. 9/10
2. Charlie Louvin, "Great Atomic Power" -- This is one of my favorite old bluegrass/country songs, a tune that treats the Second Coming as a nuclear armageddon. Louvin is a country legend and, with a forthcoming album featuring Jeff Tweedy, Elvis Costello and Will Oldham, he seems to be primed to follow in the footsteps of fellow Country Music Hall of Famers like Johnny Cash and Loretta Lynn in making friends with a new generation of hipsters. Bring it on. 7/10
3. Dead Kennedys, "Too Drunk to Fuck" -- Talk about your abrupt transitions. Not sure what needs to be said about this song, since the artist and title tell you pretty much everything you need to know. 6/10
4. Propellerheads, "360 (Oh Yeah)" -- Another nice collaboration, bringing together the vocals of De La Soul and the electronica love of the Propellerheads. Actually, it pretty much sounds like a De La tune, which is fine by me. 8/10
5. Chuck Womack and the Sweet Souls, "Ham Hocks and Beans, Pt. 1" -- It may surprise you, given the name of this artist and the title of this song, but this is a 1960s soul tune. I know, I know. Stunning. Sadly, it's a minute-and-a-half long and none too exciting. 3/10
6. The Byrds, "So You Want to Be a Rock'n'Roll Star" -- There's not a lot of hippie-era rock that I love. Most of it belongs to Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Hendrix produced a lot of the rest. But this song is right up there. Short, sweet, and catchy as hell. 8/10
7. Johnny Cash, "Personal Jesus" -- I'm a big fan of the American Recordings albums Cash did at the end of his career, but I can never decide how I feel about this one. Like Milhouse Van Houten and Martin Prince watching the all-nude Top Hat Channel, I find this Depeche Mode cover to be both gross and strangely compelling. 5/10
8. The Subways, "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away" -- And while you're at it, hide this cover, too. 3/10
9. Broken Social Scene, "Cause = Time" -- Friends have been recommending BSS to me for a couple years now, but due to my patented combination of forgetfulness and apathy, I only got around to getting some of their songs after the ITunes gift certificates started rolling in after the winter season holiday. (No, no. Fuck you, Bill O'Reilly.) Anyway, I'm kicking myself for not getting to them sooner. This song in particular, a strummeriffic bit of indie rock, is catchy as hell. 9/10
10. The 6ths, "In the City in the Rain" -- The 6ths are one of the forty-three side projects of the Magnetic Fields' Stephin Merritt, the one where he recruits indie rock all-stars to do the vocals. This is a nice slow number with Sebadoh's Lou Barlow at the mike. Pretty nice. 7/10
Well, that gives me a 6.3 average on the coolness scales, somewhere between Tito Jackson and Tito Puente. Oh well.
Alright, let's see what the rest of you have. Drop your own FRT in the comments below, with or without the coolness self-audit.
Thursday, January 18, 2007
I'd have to say that Fineman's latest column is the single shallowest bit of political commentary I've ever read. I wouldn't be surprised if he had text messaged the column from a matinee showing of Code Name: The Cleaner and had his editors remove all the "sux" and "pwned!" comments before putting it to print.
Nice work, Howie! But I think yer mom is here to pick you up, dood.
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Just be careful not to smoke too close to Christopher Hitchens. Every fiber of that man's body has been soaked in gin, and he's liable to spontaneously combust at the first spark.
MR. LEHRER: Let me ask you a bottom-line question, Mr. President. If it is as important as you've just said - and you've said it many times - as all of this is, particularly the struggle in Iraq, if it's that important to all of us and to the future of our country, if not the world, why have you not, as president of the United States, asked more Americans and more American interests to sacrifice something? The people who are now sacrificing are, you know, the volunteer military - the Army and the U.S. Marines and their families. They're the only people who are actually sacrificing anything at this point.I remember what New York was like after 9/11. People did everything imaginable. Donations of clothing and food skyrocketed. Outside the door to virtually every school gymnasium or church basement, people were lined up around the block to donate blood -- so much so that the Red Cross couldn't even find a way to store it all. Tributes and gifts scattered around all the firehouses. Networks set up to help find the missing and, when that failed, to help comfort the people who'd lost loved ones. All of that, and no one even had to ask.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, you know, I think a lot of people are in this fight. I mean, they sacrifice peace of mind when they see the terrible images of violence on TV every night. I mean, we've got a fantastic economy here in the United States, but yet, when you think about the psychology of the country, it is somewhat down because of this war.
Now, here in Washington when I say, "What do you mean by that?," they say, "Well, why don't you raise their taxes; that'll cause there to be a sacrifice." I strongly oppose that. If that's the kind of sacrifice people are talking about, I'm not for it because raising taxes will hurt this growing economy. And one thing we want during this war on terror is for people to feel like their life's moving on, that they're able to make a living and send their kids to college and put more money on the table.
We, as a country, would've done anything in the wake of 9/11. Just think about what we've done before. During the Second World War, our grandparents welcomed the rationing of key food staples, the abandonment of luxury items like silk stockings, the implementation of massive scrap drives for rubber, steel, and tin, etc. They took on double shifts and long hours in defense plants and grew their own food in "victory gardens" to help out. The Greatest Generation not only accepted the government's expansion of the income tax to all brackets, but willingly, time and time again, ponied up their own spare change -- still very spare, in the shadow of the Depression -- to buy U.S. War Bonds and help fuel the war effort.
Yet what we were asked to do after 9/11? Nothing. Actually, less than nothing, for we were told that the most patriotic thing we could do would be to go shopping, to splurge on our own basest consumer instincts and engage in our own self-gratification. The president might as well have told us all to "masturbate for freedom."
As others have noted, President Bush has insisted, over and over again, that this war is the crucial struggle of our generation, a pivotal battle which we cannot lose. And yet he went to war not only with a fraction of the troops we needed, but with a fraction of our national strength as well. Ridiculous.
I suppose we shouldn't be surprised that President Bush doesn't want to impose on the American people. His is a life bathed in privilege and excuses, one where he's always been bailed out of the tough spots -- Vietnam, his failed businesses, the 2000 election -- by his daddy's rich friends. He's never had to sacrifice anything more significant than Schlitz.
Why would he dare ask us to do any more?
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Apparently, the Bush Administration has been stealthily firing U.S. Attorneys in the middle of their terms, under an obscure clause in the latest version of the Patriot Act. So far, it seems they've fired seven in all, but there might be more. And in a stunning coincidence, a lot of the ones fired were the very ones busy investigating Republican corruption! Wow, what are the odds?
Update: Tim F. at Balloon Juice has the best zinger so far: "I only hope that the estate of Richard Nixon is getting royalties."
Well, after watching this video, I have my choice.
Monday, January 15, 2007
Anything that is in the world when you're born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.
Anything that's invented between when you're fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.
Anything invented after you're thirty-five is against the natural order of things.
Sunday, January 14, 2007
More than any writer before or since, Twain somehow managed to combine excellent story-telling, first-class sarcasm, and biting social commentary in a nice tight package. I've always loved him for the first two traits, but the more and more this country comes under the sway of the Banana Republicans, I'm really appreciating his clear-eyed take on patriotism and democracy.
For instance, take this passage from The Papers of the Adams Family:
Against our traditions we are now entering upon an unjust and trivial war, a war against a helpless people, and for a base object — robbery. At first our citizens spoke out against this thing, by an impulse natural to their training. Today they have turned, and their voice is the other way."The nation has sold its honor for a phrase." I can't think of a better single-sentence condemnation of the Bush Administration's empty slogans and dead hearts.
What caused the change? Merely a politician's trick — a high-sounding phrase, a blood-stirring phrase which turned their uncritical heads: Our Country, right or wrong! An empty phrase, a silly phrase. It was shouted by every newspaper, it was thundered from the pulpit, the Superintendent of Public Instruction placarded it in every schoolhouse in the land, the War Department inscribed it upon the flag.
And every man who failed to shout it or who was silent, was proclaimed a traitor — none but those others were patriots. To be a patriot, one had to say, and keep on saying, "Our Country, right or wrong," and urge on the little war. Have you not perceived that that phrase is an insult to the nation?
For in a republic, who is "the Country"? Is it the Government which is for the moment in the saddle? Why, the Government is merely a servant — merely a temporary servant; it cannot be its prerogative to determine what is right and what is wrong, and decide who is a patriot and who isn't. Its function is to obey orders, not originate them. Who, then, is "the country?" Is it the newspaper? Is it the pulpit? Is it the school-superintendent? Why, these are mere parts of the country, not the whole of it; they have not command, they have only their little share in the command. They are but one in the thousand; it is in the thousand that command is lodged; they must determine what is right and what is wrong; they must decide who is a patriot and who isn’t.
In a monarchy, the king and his family are the country; in a republic it is the common voice of the people. Each of you, for himself, by himself and on his own responsibility, must speak. And it is a solemn and weighty responsibility, and not lightly to be flung aside at the bullying of pulpit, press, government, or the empty catch-phrases of politicians. Each must for himself alone decide what is right and what is wrong, and which course is patriotic and which isn't. You cannot shirk this and be a man. To decide it against your convictions is to be an unqualified and inexcusable traitor, both to yourself and to your country, let men label you as they may. If you alone of all the nation shall decide one way, and that way be the right way according to your convictions of the right, you have done your duty by yourself and by your country — hold up your head! You have nothing to be ashamed of.
Only when a republic's life is in danger should a man uphold his government when it is in the wrong. There is no other time.
This Republic's life is not in peril. The nation has sold its honor for a phrase. It has swung itself loose from its safe anchorage and is drifting, its helm is in pirate hands.
I want my goddamn country back. I only hope there's enough of it left to salvage once the Bush gang gets done stripping it for parts.
Make your own here.
After a week in which Holy Joe emerged as the poster boy for escalation in Iraq *and* backtracked away from the investigation of Bush's bungled handling of Hurricane Katrina, it was nice to see him given a much deserved wedgie on national television.
In light of the clear difference of opinion between these two senators, I'd like to propose a hostage exchange with our Republican counterparts. We'll give you Lieberman in exchange for Hagel. Clearly, the insane one belongs on your circle, and the clear-eyed guy has a seat waiting here in the Reality Based Community. Deal?
Saturday, January 13, 2007
Friday, January 12, 2007
Check out the video at Crooks & Liars linked above to watch him kick Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-Kindergarten) up and down the aisles of the House chamber.
If you're not familiar with McHenry, you should first check out this appearance on CNN where he accuses Democrats of engineering the whole Mark Foley scandal as an electoral gambit. Also, Tom DeLay has anointed him "the next Tom DeLay." That should tell you all you need to know.
This smackdown couldn't have happened to a bigger douchebag.
WASHINGTON, DC—The recent departure of Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary Of Defense has reportedly left his former staff noticeably tense and preoccupied in anticipation of the sweeping changes his successor is likely to bring. "At first I didn't care what the new guy [Robert Gates] had in mind, just so long as punch-in was still noon, shoes remained optional, and we were given plenty of time to keep up with our multiplayer online gaming," said Assistant To The Secretary Of Defense For Nuclear And Chemical & Biological Defense Programs Dale Klein, adding that he hoped Gates would not break the May 12-to-Oct. 1-summer-vacation tradition. "First thing today, though, I walk in and someone hands me a briefing on joint-transformational delivery-system initiatives that they just absolutely need me to read right away. Not a good sign." Several staffers also expressed concern that a recent memo urging them to construct a viable exit strategy for American military personnel in Iraq could affect their regular Margarita Mondays.Well played, folks. Well played.
Yeah, I've got nothing.
In any case, I'm pretty sure the deep sadness of this album cover speaks for itself, like one of those tacky oil paintings of a depressed clown or an extended commentary by retarded manchild John Madden. It's just wrong.
Maybe the Friday Random Ten can help ease the pain. You all should know the drill by now -- set your computerized, electronic music box to random and give us the first ten songs that show up. If you damn well feel like it, conduct a Coolness Self-Audit as well, rating the songs on a scale from a craptacular Welkian zero to a perfect Funkadelician ten.
1. Lush, "Sweetness and Light" -- If there were ever a perfectly apt band name and song title, this is it. Lush stood at the forefront of the shoegazer movement, and this is a strummy, fuzzy little number. A little too ethereal at times, but it certainly gets the job done. 7/10
2. Tortoise & Bonnie Prince Billy, "Daniel" -- Yes, the Elton John song. Covered here by Tortoise and one of the many alter egos of alternafolk hero Will Oldham. I never really cared for the original, but this is just edgy and dark enough to make it work beautifully. 9/10
3. Ramasutra, "Marder" -- Who doesn't love South Asian electronica? Me, apparently. 5/10
4. Tapes 'n' Tapes, "Insistor" -- T'n'T is one of those music blog favorites that I've never really understood. (See also, "The National," "Of Montreal," and "The Arctic Monkeys.") Actually, T'n'T doesn't really belong on that list, as I merely think they're good -- and this song is good -- just not as mindblowingly, pantsshittingly great as the hip bloggers all tell me. Those other bands I mentioned can burn in hell. Yeah, I'm lookin' at you, Of Montreal. 6/10
5. Jurassic 5, "If You Only Knew" -- I love this group, but this is definitely the weak link on Power in Numbers. Eh. 5/10
6. Willie Eason, "Franklin D. Roosevelt, a Poor Man's Friend" -- A six-minute blues tribute to the death and legacy of FDR. It's a little plodding at times, especially the blow-by-blow description of his passing, but the general sentiment is nice. Sort of a "George W. Bush Doesn't Like Black People" of an earlier generation. Except it's, you know, favorable. 4/10
7. Modest Mouse, "Gravity Rides Everything" -- One of my all-time favorites. This song just doesn't get old. Not even the Volkswagen ad took the shine of this one. 10/10
8. Silversun Pickups, "Lazy Eye" -- I stumbled across this band only recently, thanks to multiple recommendations -- including a TBogg post that features the video for this very song. If you miss the heyday of the Smashing Pumpkins, you should definitely check this one out. The album version is better than the single used at TBogg's, because it has a nicely warped synthesizer interlude. 8/10
9. Gloria Jones, "Tainted Love" -- This is the original, '60s soul version of a song that Soft Cell would turn into their one-hit wonder in the '80s. It blows that nancy-boy, synthesized piece of shit right out of the water. 9/10
10. Neil Young, "One of These Days" -- I picked this song up after watching the imminently enjoyable DVD of Heart of Gold. Young's entering the last years of his career, but he's doing it with a lot of style and class. This is a nice, sweet, reflective ballad. If you like that kind of crap. 7/10
I stumbled pretty badly there in the middle, but a nice string of songs at the end helped bring me back up to a 7.0 average. I did it by a whisker, but I finally passed Coolness 101! Goodbye, G.E.D.!
Feel free to drop your own snark about my choices in the comments below or, better yet, give us your own FRT.
Thursday, January 11, 2007
Hotline has the scoop:
Colorado is a marquee states for Democrats, who have, in the past two years, gobbled up the governor's mansion, control of the state legislature, and two congressional seats.Kos details the ways in which the problems were addressed, but the upshot is that the Democrats under Dean have made a smart choice. The West and Southwest are and will continue to be the major growth region for the party, and anything we can do to make ourselves better known there is a good move.
But Denver's bid was shot through with holes from the start. The first technical submission was greeted with dismay by party regulars; revised bids were better. Labor unions threatened to balk unless Denver began to unionize its hotels; others wanted to extract compromises from the DNC and the state about union participation. The DNC worried about whether Denver could raise the $50 million necessary to stage the marquee event for the '08 Dem nominee. Promises by out of state governors to raise millions were greeted skeptically.
Plus, as someone who's dreading the prospect of Hillary Clinton as the nominee -- not just because she's a DLC centrist, but because I'd love to break the Bush-Clinton-Bush dynastic cycle -- holding the convention in someplace other than New York City will diminish her campaign at least a little bit.
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
If you need inspiration, check out the latest over at TCR. Apparently, a key motivation for the bold, stupid direction of President Take My Ball and Go Home is ... spite.
Christ, I wish I were kidding.
Have at him!
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
This latest meme is actually an interesting one, focused on questions about art and culture and all that shit. Here we go:
1. Name a book that you want to share so much that you keep giving away copies: Personally, I think this question is a little flawed. I don't really go around giving away copies of books, and if I did, I'd make a career out of it by working for those Gideon people, sneaking into hotel rooms and planting Bibles in nightstands.
But there are books I've loaned out to a few friends. (Take that, you stupid library!) Chief among these would be David Sedaris's Me Talk Pretty One Day, which is probably the funniest thing I've ever read, and Dan Savage's Skipping Toward Gomorrah: The Seven Deadly Sins and the Pursuit of Happiness in America, which is the funniest socially-critical thing I've ever read.
2. Name a piece of music that changed the way you listen to music: This is an interesting one and I could probably answer it a million ways.
As the regular contestants on our Friday Random Ten will attest, I have a serious soft spot for lesser-known R&B, funk, and soul songs that have gained greater fame as sampled beats in hiphop songs. It's hard to pinpoint where this obsession came from, but one of the earliest finds was a terrific scorching bit of organ-driven jazz called "Mystic Brew" by Ronnie Foster. It's a great song on its own, but what really sold me was that finding it finally answered the question of where the backing music for Tribe Called Quest's "Electric Relaxation" came from. Ever since, I've developed a subconscious habit of keeping an ear out for where rhythms and beats have surfaced in later songs, and vice versa.
3. Name a film you can watch again and again without fatigue: This is another hard one, seeing how I'm a film junkie. I could go with any of a number of classic films that I can, and have, watched over and over. They're mostly comedies, like Raising Arizona, Blazing Saddles, The Big Lebowski, and Stripes, with a couple epic westerns in the mix, like The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly and The Magnificent Seven.
But based on empirical studies, I'd have to give the nod to GoodFellas. It seems I am physically incapable of turning this movie off whenever I stumble upon it on cable. Doesn't matter what part of the movie I come in on, I generally toss the remote across the couch and let it roll. Scorcese is a genius, regardless of what the Oscar clowns may say, and this is his masterpiece. I still can't believe that Kevin Crapner's Dances with Cliches won Best Picture that year instead of this. Boooooo!
4. Name a performer for whom you suspend of all disbelief: This one's easy. Philip Seymour Hoffman.
No matter what he plays -- whether it be an uptight nerd (Big Lebowski, 25th Hour) or a comatosely cool slacker (Almost Famous, Along Came Polly); a pompous asshole (Scent of a Woman, The Talented Mr. Ripley) or a meek loser (Boogie Nights) -- I tend to buy it completely. (In fact, looking over those titles, I'm struck by the fact that I only really liked a few of those films, but loved his acting in every one.) My God, he's a man who's been known for playing big, loud, bearish men and the second I saw him in Capote as a diminutive, dainty socialite, I was gone.
The lovely and talented Malibu Stacy and I once saw him play the loser brother in a production of Sam Shepherd's "True West," where he and John C. Reilly (another potential answer here) were trading the leading roles each night. He nailed it perfectly. My only regret was that we couldn't get tickets to see them switch the tables and see him work the uptight brother for a while.
5. Name a work of art you'd like to live with: Another easy one, as there's a single print that appears in both my home and office: Jasper Johns' "Map" (1961).
I'm a sucker for Pop Art in general and Johns' work in particular. I couldn't tell you why this one is my favorite, but at some subconscious level, it's always seemed to sum up a vibrant, liberal vision of American patriotism to me. It has energy, chaos, diversity and passion. And it's my country, dammit, no matter how many miniature American flags the Republican Party spews out for the dittoheads.
Plus, it's got all them pretty colors in it what I like.
6. Name a work of fiction which has penetrated your real life: As an ex-pat Southerner living in the North, I've always had a soft spot for Southern fiction. It always seems to breathe life into a past that's half-forgotten even when you live in the region. I'll go with Robert Penn Warren's All the King's Men, as it never lets me forget the good and bad of the South, all rolled into one.
7. Name a punch line that always makes you laugh: I'll follow Mike's lead here and go with a classic bit of Woody Allen -- when Annie Hall parks her car a full yard off the street, and Allen's character says reassuringly, "No, no. It's OK. We can walk to the curb from here." Never fails to make me laugh.
Alright, now for the hardest part -- passing this along. I always hate doing this, because it feels vaguely like sending along a chain letter. A chain letter that requires homework. But these are some interesting questions and I'm genuinely curious how a pack of cultured sophisticates like Norbizness, Travis G., and Mr. Furious answer them.
Tag, fuckers. You're it.
Monday, January 08, 2007
With Leather titles it "The Gayest Thing You'll See All Day," but I bet this one holds the title all year long.
Well, look out, Zombie Coolidge, because George W. Bush is giving you a run for the money. More and more, it's looking like Dubya might wind up winning not just the title of Worst President Ever, but Least President Ever too. Craig Crawford at Congressional Quarterly makes the case:
With a new Congress that’s run by Democrats, a restive public that’s pining for change and a government in Iraq that’s descending into chaos, the way forward in Washington might not include George W. Bush.Daaaaaaamn.
Despite the power he has to ramp up his use of the veto, and his tenacious hold on his powers as commander in chief, Bush faces a tough challenge to remain relevant in the waning 24 months of his presidency. Indeed, if not for his war-making clout, this president might be the lamest lame duck ever.
There was something almost sad about Bush putting his own name on an op-ed piece in The Wall Street Journal that laid out his legislative agenda on the eve of the formal Democratic takeover of Capitol Hill. Clearly gone are the days when Vice President Dick Cheney could use a private meeting with Republican lawmakers to set the congressional priorities list. Now, it seems, the president is positioning himself as just another spectator on the outskirts of power — firing off letters to the editor. Perhaps he should start his own blog.
While I'm wary about writing off the president just yet -- as many did with Clinton after the 1994 midterms, only to eat crow later on -- I am looking forward to many months of The Decider stamping his feet like a spoiled yuppie kid and demanding that everyone do as he says.
(Thanks to Crooks and Liars for the link.)
Friday, January 05, 2007
Well, to be honest, I don't have much of a justification. Sure, I could chalk it up to post-traumatic stress disorder from the long and bloody War on Christmas, or the fact that our tree will likely remain up until mid-March. But I think I'll just let the awesomeness of this album cover make the case for me.
First of all, there's the simple fact that it's a Six Million Dollar Man Christmas album. (I guess we now know how Santa knows when you've been sleeping, etc. -- bionic vision, my friends.) But get a load of the titles of his four adventures. "Christmas Lights" sounds pretty boring, but the other three have real potential. "The Toymaker" could be a showdown with Batman's old nemesis, while "The Kris Kringle Caper" sounds like a precursor to Bad Santa. But the real winner here is "The Elves' Revolt." I have an image of Herbie the Would-Be Dentist seizing power in the workshop, only to be removed in a reindeer commando raid. Chilling, chilling stuff.
Anyway, the lingering presence of Steve Austin, Secret Santa, can only mean that it's time once again for the Friday Random Ten. You know the drill -- set the iPod to random and forthrightly admit the first ten songs that show up. Here's mine:
1. The Chemical Brothers, "Galvanize" -- Whether you know it or not, you've already heard this song a trillion times. It's a catchy song that's being used in the Budweiser ads currently airing on network TV every three minutes. (That's none other than Mos Def instructing you that there's a party over here, so you might as well be here, where the people care ... so ... don't .. hold ... back!) Even though it's been beaten to death by our corporate overlords, it's still a solid tune. 7/10
2. The Beatnuts, "Who You're Fuckin' With" -- It's only 50 seconds long, but this tune has a hook that's catchy as hell. I just wished they'd developed it into a full-length song. 6/10
3. RJD2, "Through the Walls" -- I really, really like the Since We Last Spoke album, but this song is the rare exception. Its guitar riffs and breathy vocals always remind me of Rick Springfield singing "Jesse's Girl." Sad, but true. 5/10
4. Spider Harrison, "Beautiful Day" -- This is an incredibly funky R&B number, with some nice guitar and organ hooks and soulful vocals. I came across this tune through a great collection, The Funky 16 Corners. If you're looking for lesser-known soul strutters, this is the place. 7/10
5. The Church, "Under the Milky Way" -- Hey, remember high school? 6/10
6. The O'Jays, "Love Train" -- Well, this makes for two separate beer commerical anthems in a single FRT. (Assuming we can count Coors Light as "beer." I tend to lump that weak brand in with all the other mildly minerally-enhanced water products, like Vitamin Water or Fresca.) Unlike the Budweiser ad, this one's so annoying I'm going to hold it against the O'Jays. Sorry, boys, but that's the price you pay for hitching your wagon to the Coors Empire. 5/10
7. Band of Horses, "The Great Salt Lake" -- I didn't have the time or sobriety to do one of those "Best of 2006" lists that make up most of the non-porn traffic on the internets these days, but if I had been so inclined, Band of Horses would've made it there. It's solid, if occasionally listless, indie rock along the lines of the Shins and their ilk. 7/10
8. Dr. Octagon, "Trees" -- Dr. Octagon is one of the 38 personae of schizophrenic hiphop genius Kool Keith. This is a funky little number that seems to be channelling the musical sensibilities of electrofunk bands like Zapp or Laid Back for environmental ends. How many times have we seen that before? 8/10
9. Hank Williams, "Cold, Cold Heart" -- A classic tune from a country superstar. It's hard to believe that a genius like Hank Sr. was in any way related to a mouthbreathing sellout like Hank Jr., but apparently that's the case. So sad. 6/10
10. Danger Doom & Talib Kweli, "Old School" -- If you haven't discovered The Mouse and the Mask, the join collaboration of Danger Mouse and MF Doom, you've missed out on one of the most entertaining hiphop CDs of the past couple years. The songs aren't simply catchy, but they're liberally sprinkled with dialogue stolen from the shows on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim. Beautiful all around. 9/10
Alright, that gives me a 6.6 rating. While some people might relent in the face of consistently mediocre showings like I've had in the past few months here, I'm hoping that my musical lethargy is in its last throes. Hey, that attitude's working for the president, right?
As always, feel free to lambast me for my ratings above, or else drop your own Friday Random Ten in the comments below. May the power of Steve Austin be with you!
Thursday, January 04, 2007
Some things never change. Like conservatives and their legal use of hard core, mind altering drugs. How about conservative judges who put in prison, the poor who sell drugs to support themselves? Surely, a Supreme Court Justice would stand firm against such a weak personality trait. Opps! AP reports:
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The FBI's file on former Chief Justice William Rehnquist -- made public more than a year after his death -- offers insight into hallucinations and other symptoms of withdrawal that Rehnquist suffered when he was taken off a prescription painkiller in 1981.And by the way, the story also indicated that "an additional 207 pages were withheld under the federal disclosure law, and the FBI said an entire section of his file could not be found." I believe that is held under the "What Happens in Tijuana Stays in Tijuana Statute of 1953"
When Rehnquist checked into a hospital in 1981 for a week long stay, doctors stopped administering the drug, causing what a hospital spokesman at the time said was a "disturbance in mental clarity."
The FBI file, citing one of his physicians, said Rehnquist experienced withdrawal symptoms that included trying to escape the facility and discerning changes in the patterns on the hospital curtains. The justice also thought he heard voices outside his room discussing various plots against him.
The doctor said Placidyl is a highly toxic drug and that she could not understand why anyone would prescribe it, especially for long periods.
Prior to his hospitalization, Rehnquist occasionally slurred his speech in his questions to lawyers at Supreme Court arguments. Those problems ceased when he changed medications, the doctor said.
Fun Fact of the Day : During their hayday, on the street Pacidyl were known as "jelly-bellies".
It's only a matter of time before J. Jonah Jameson orders his Fox News minions to denounce him right away.
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
And then there's the predictions. Most people base it either on who they like or who they think has the best football team, as if either of these things matter. The real question is, who does God want to win? The winner always thanks him afterwards, so obviously God is calling the shots.
It's pretty hard to tell who God wants to win; I can't even tell if he meant for me to enjoy the wardrobe malfunction so much. Let's go by something obvious: the coachs' religion. From what I can tell from their bios, 11 coaches are Christian and one is Jewish. The Jewish one, Marty Schottenheimer, has been dubbed "the coach who can't win in the playoffs," which tells you all you need to know about God's views of Jewish football coaches. Of the Christians, we've got Catholics (Parcells, Mangini, Edwards, Belichick, and I think Coughlin), evangelicals (Holmgren, Dungy), Mormons (Billick, Reid), and Indeterminate (Payton, Smith).
Last year the two evangelicals lost in the playoffs to Bill Cowher, who is essentially godless (i.e., Protestant). In fact, 2006 was a pretty lousy year for evangelicals across the board, what with the elections taking a decidedly moderate turn and those Colorado preachers gaying it up with their meth buddies. I'm thinking God will throw the evangelicals a bone.
So, here's my call: the Colts beat the Seahawks for Super Bowl XXXetc.
So far, we've already had Bush the Cowboy, Bush the Construction Worker, Bush the Biker, Bush the Cop, and of course, Bush the Military Man.
The Decider has almost finished running the table, and only needs to work on a Bush the Indian costume. Be patient. It's only a matter of time.
Why is this important? For this unprecedented track record of wrongness, Kristol is being rewarded with the plum position of a featured column in Time Magazine.
I guess all the Presidential Medals of Freedom had already been doled out to Tenet, Bremer and the other true American heroes.
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
The whole list is solid, though I could probably live without an in-depth investigation into their #9 choice. Probably.
Monday, January 01, 2007
Thousands of people died in the Iraqi civil war, which was costing the United States $100,000 a minute. U.S. forces began to negotiate with Sunni insurgents, and the Pentagon, short of buglers who can play taps at military funerals, ordered 700 automated digital bugles. Oil companies announced record profits; President George W. Bush said that America is “addicted to oil” and also asked Congress to pass laws outlawing human/animal hybrids. Scientists in Taiwan bred three glowing pigs. Samuel Alito was confirmed to the Supreme Court, and a study found that Antonin Scalia is the funniest of the Supreme Court justices. Robert Grenier, director of the CIA counter-terrorism center, was fired for opposing “excessive” interrogation techniques like waterboarding, and U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney shot and severely injured a fellow hunter while aiming at quail. Osama bin Laden released a tape in which he warned of new attacks on the United States; he also called on his followers to travel to Sudan and fight against the U.N. forces in Darfur. Al Qaeda members were communicating via social networking website MySpace.com, and the Taliban established a “mini-state” in Peshawar. Iran announced that it had successfully produced low-grade enriched uranium; to celebrate, men in traditional dress danced with uranium samples. U.S. senators insisted that attacking Iran must remain an option. “I can drink beer out of my leg,” said Matthew Braddock, a 25-year-old National Guardsman who lost his left foot and nine inches of his left leg to a mine in northern Iraq. “How many people can do that?”
Ariel Sharon was still alive, and war erupted between Hezbollah and Israel. Authorities in the United Kingdom announced the discovery of a terrorist plot to blow up as many as ten passenger planes in the air. Riots over blasphemous cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad broke out in India, Indonesia, Kashmir, Palestine, Thailand, the autonomous Somali region of Puntland, and Afghanistan. Yanni was arrested for allegedly hitting his girlfriend, and Keith Richards fell out of a coconut tree. Coretta Scott King, Gordon Parks, Octavia Butler, Stanislaw Lem, James Brown, Don Knotts, Syd Barrett, Betty Friedan, Milton Friedman, John Kenneth Galbraith, Slobodan Milosevic, Abu Mussab Al Zarqawi, Kenneth Lay, Gerald Ford, and “Grandpa” Al Lewis died. The Massachusetts legislature voted to make health insurance mandatory for all state residents by July 2007, and a whistleblower accused AT&T of providing the National Security Agency with full access to customer phone calls and Internet usage records. Polls found that while only 36 percent of Americans worry a great deal about global warming, 90 percent were prepared to fight its effects by caulking. Twenty percent of U.S. teenagers admitted to huffing household products in order to get high. SAT scores in the United States showed the largest decline in 31 years, and after 15,000 tries a California scientist was able to teach starlings some grammar. At least 2.5 million American children were taking antipsychotic drugs; the same number of Kenyans were close to starvation. The United Nations said that 1,200 people were dying in Congo each day, and Zimbabwe faced an acute tampon shortage. At a zoo in the Netherlands three bears ate a monkey.
Even though Saddam Hussein was sentenced to death two days before the U.S. midterm elections, the Republican Party lost its majority in the House of Representatives and the Senate. Hussein was later hanged. The Pentagon classified homosexuality as a mental defect akin to retardation, and Russian President Vladimir Putin kissed a young boy on the stomach. Kansas raised its minimum marriage age to 15. NASA said that there might be water on Saturn's moon Enceladus, as well as on Mars, and researchers discovered that the buried lakes of Antarctica are connected to one another by secret rivers. Dick Cheney was retaining fluids. Starbucks announced plans to add 28,000 new locations to its extant 12,000, and Chinese Wal-Mart workers unionized. Americans had nearly $800 billion in credit-card debt. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld resigned. Researchers in Chicago verified that a quantum computer does not have to perform any calculations in order to arrive at results. In New York City a corpse flower bloomed, and construction began at Ground Zero. The human population reached 6.5 billion, and scientists found that new infectious diseases were emerging at a faster rate than they had in the past. “These are good times,” said a scientist, “for pathogens.”