October 2004 Archives

Once More, My Friends...

My brother’s in The New York Times this weekend; he had a letter to the Ethicist published (second one).

Lessig On The Candidates

Lessig endorses Kerry, but goes out his way to say some nice things about Bush. He makes some very interesting and woefully underplayed points about the importance of process in there, too…

Just A Note


That well-known lefty commie pinko propaganda rag The Economist is endorsing Kerry for President.

Those Who Do Not Study History...

Or perhaps some study history a bit too well:

I should state right now that obviously the Bush administration and its supporters do not have Stalinist economic policies and do not engage in domestic mass murder of the Stalinist sort. I’m saying rather that there are important parallels in mentality, propaganda, and methods of intimidating dissent between the Republican Party leadership today and the Stalinist regime.

It’s a fascinating read.

!desreveR esruC

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They did it! I've never heard the words "The Boston Red Sox are the Champions of baseball" before, and boy do they sound nice. And boyoboyo, the way they did it? A guy who's struggled all year pitching brilliant baseball, a sweep, and a lunar eclipse, all at the same time? Whoa.

The flip side, of course, is now I have to re-write large parts of my personal mythology. Somehow, I think I can live with that.


And, oh yeah, I made some celebratory t-shirts.

The Soxaholix on the friggin' historic victory. And here's a question: what the heck am I supposed to do with my "God Hates Us" shirt now?

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Happy Birthday


Subway service in New York started 100 years ago today.

Here’s to safe and reliable public transportation.


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For some bizarre reason, the offiical Bush/Cheney re-election website is configured to intentionally deny access to overseas visitors.

The Errol Morris Switcher Ads

Though these switchers aren’t switching from Windows to Macintosh; these switchers are switching from voting Republican to voting Democratic this fall.

Check ‘em out.

On The Application of Quantum Physics to Baseball Fandom

The Times has an article explaining why the curse of the Red Sox is really a matter of quantum physics. No, really…

Almost Too Scared To Believe


That sound you hear? That’s the sound of Red Sox fans rummaging through their hall closets as they look for their brooms.

Losing the Center


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For the first time in eighty years ever, The New Yorker endorses a candidate for political office. This is an absolute must-read.

Temporary Title

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I have temporarily changed the “title” of this blog for the duration. Regularly-scheduled title changes will resume shortly.

In the meantime, if anyone has any ideas for a November title quote, you know what to do.


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Stop The Presses! Was There Corruption In The Halliburton Bids? Heavens! I’m Shocked! Surely The Squeaky-Clean Bush Administration Had Nothing To Do With This!



From the Times: Huge Cache of Explosives Vanished From Site in Iraq

The Iraqi interim government has warned the United States that nearly 380 tons of powerful conventional explosives are missing from one of Iraq’s most sensitive former military installations.

The huge facility, called Al Qaqaa, was supposed to be under American military control but is now a no-man’s land, still picked over by looters as recently as Sunday. United Nations weapons inspectors had monitored the explosives for many years, but White House and Pentagon officials acknowledge that the explosives vanished after the American invasion last year.

So, let me get this straight: under the Bush doctrine, securing the Iraqi oil ministry is vital to America’s security, but letting three-quarters of a million pounds of warhead-grade high explosives just vanish isn’t that important?

But wait! I forgot! Things in Iraq are getting better every day!

To Drink or Not To Drink

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For all my friends out there who have been known to enjoy a tipple or two, check out this great NYT Profile of “Dr. Cocktail”, perhaps the world’s greatest authority on the mixed drink.

My friend Martin has been working with Dr. Cocktail on Cocktaildb.com, the world’s most exhaustive cocktail resource. It’s a cocktail website for the completionist: they put in every cocktail recipe they could find, even those ones that call for defunct ingredients; cross-referenced the ingredients, and even added what kind of glass to serve it in. In the unlikely event you exhaust their library, the website has what they call “The Mixilator”, a nifty tool to automagically generate new drinks on the fly.

I give it three thumbs up.

Red Sox T-Shirts For Sale!

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WhyFrank Enterprises is proud to bring you the Reverse Curve Curse t-shirt, just in time for the World Series:


Go buy one (or two, or three) now!

(Original art by the Massachusetts Highway Department and Anonymous; digital art and concept by Mike Whybark; Photoshop tweaking and capitalism by yours truly)

UPDATE: The shirts have been slightly modified in light of recent events.

Holy shit! They're actually in! The Red Sox are going to the World Series!

Gotta admit that Pedro thing was kinda weird, though...

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And Now For Something Really Completely Different


Another music question for the mavens amongst the readership (since the last one did so well):

Is the 17-minute version of In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida heavy metal or prog rock? Or is it some unholy spawn of the two?

Listen and pay attention to the hallmarks of over-the-top prog rock:

  • a 17 minute song
  • a three-minute drum solo
  • pretentious yet meaningless lyrics
  • three keyboard solos, including one that’s built around a passage from a Christmas carol (that’d be the keyboard solo after the drum solo)
  • general self-indulgence in the instrumental solos
  • and did I mention that it’s 17 minutes long?

Points against it being prog rock:

  • entirely lacking in ‘concept’
  • band name (“Iron Butterfly”) entirely lacking in nuance, metaphorical meaning, and/or pretension (Genesis/Yes/ELP)
  • No exotic instrumentation (e.g. flutes, third-world drums with unpronounceable names)
  • radio edit of song (which cuts out pretty much all the prog hallmarks) was actually a big hit

So, what do you guys think?

1984, or Orwell Was Only 20 Years Off


Compare the following quote, from 1984, to the quote from the "senior White House aide" from a few days ago:

O'Brien's manner grew stern again. He laid his hand on the dial.

'On the contrary,' he said, 'you have not controlled it. That is what has brought you here. You are here because you have failed in humility, in self-discipline. You would not make the act of submission which is the price of sanity. You preferred to be a lunatic, a minority of one. Only the disciplined mind can see reality, Winston. You believe that reality is something objective, external, existing in its own right. You also believe that the nature of reality is self-evident. When you delude yourself into thinking that you see something, you assume that everyone else sees the same thing as you. But I tell you, Winston, that reality is not external. Reality exists in the human mind, and nowhere else. Not in the individual mind, which can make mistakes, and in any case soon perishes: only in the mind of the Party, which is collective and immortal. Whatever the Party holds to be the truth, is truth. It is impossible to see reality except by looking through the eyes of the Party. That is the fact that you have got to relearn, Winston. It needs an act of self-destruction, an effort of the will. You must humble yourself before you can become sane.'

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A Tale of Two Restaurants

Perhaps the best thumbnail bio I’ve read in a loooong time, from this article in the Times:

[Jeff] Shade is a local boy, a 38-year-old former high-school football star who left West Virginia with dreams of becoming a minister. But he lost God somewhere in Texas and got kicked out of seminary, he says, for ”asking too many questions.” He studied philosophy and theology at Princeton, then went to massage school in Manhattan while serving as the pastor for a New Jersey church where he preached from The New York Times instead of the Bible. A few years later, he headed back to New Martinsville with his wife, Jill, their 2-year-old son, Soren Aabye Shade (as in Soren Aabye Kierkegaard), and degrees in Greek, theology, philosophy and massage. With all that education, he and Jill decided they wanted to expand the minds of the folks back home. The tool they chose was the burger.

Political Links

Some highly recommended reading, much of it from normally non-political bloggers:

  • I’m not sure which one’s the money graf (there are so many to choose from!) in this profoundly scary article, but this comes close:
    The [senior White House] aide said that guys like me were ”in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who ”believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ”That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued.
    The bit about the Swedish Army is just as frightening.

  • Holy shit. How widespread is the voter fraud in this country?

  • maybe you are Christian
    maybe you are religious
    maybe you are conservative
    maybe you’re even a born-again Christian conservative
    but do you really think the president of the United States should be imposing his religious beliefs on the whole country?
    do you really?
    i mean we might as well go back to the Spanish Inquisition if thats the case

  • Before watching the debates, I thought that Bush was only a dim-witted puppet being pulled along by big corporations and the unholy triumvirate otherwise known as the “True” Axis of Evil - Cheney, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz. After watching the debates, I now believe that Cheney is to Bush as the Emperor is to Darth Vader.

  • now after watching it [Fahrenheit 9/11]… and being emotionally drained from it, i might add… i don’t think it beat up on him at all… or at least, not enough.

  • In his debate with Edwards, Cheney explained that the 9-11 attacks cost America over one million jobs. Of course, this just isn’t true. … By crediting Osama’s attacks for America’s unemployment crisis, Cheney is, in effect, giving comfort to the enemy.

    Meanwhile, in his second debate with Kerry, Bush explained that we had to invade Iraq and that, indeed, our entire foreign policy had to be changed because of Osama’s attacks. So - according to this statement - Osama not only succeeded in changing our relationship to Al Qaeda, he succeeded in fundamentally altering US policy. Bush, too, is giving comfort to the enemy.

  • If you’re not voting for Kerry, I don’t want to know you.



So, why is the phrase “thunder and lightning” when, in reality, the lightning always precedes the thunder?

A Brief Primer On RSS Readers

A friend wrote a brief introduction to how to use RSS readers: How to Read Blogs via RSS/XML.

Check it out.

Service Journalism Is The New Black

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How to Find a Man in Europe and Leave Him There. Really, I don’t know what else I could add here.

Taking Another Step Towards Global Domination

Completing another step in her inevitable march towards complete and total global hegemony, Elizabeth Spiers has been hired as mediabistro.com’s new Editor-in-Chief.

There’s a joke in here somewhere about expecting to see snarky stormtroopers descend from sky, but I’ve got class in 30 minutes and can’t be arsed to work it out.

Freud Would Have Loved This

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There seems to be something of a pissing match over in the LA neighborhood of the blogosphere: Tony Pierce has the details. I think that it’s funny that Jake Dobkin, who is a born-and-bred New Yorker, is in the middle of it all…

Speaking of Insanity

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I have no idea where this originally comes from, nor do I know the name of the original artist, but if you like the Jackson 5, Bollywood, or just musical weirdness in general, the Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get To Bollywood mp3 is a must-listen.

I know that it’s not going to make any difference whatsoever, but for some reason, I just can’t bring myself to wear my “God Hates Us” t-shirt until post-season baseball is over.

Or until the Red Sox get knocked out, whichever comes first.

Question Time


The F.A.Q. has sadly fallen out of date. In short, it needs new questions. So go ahead; the comments are open. Ask me what you’ve always wanted to know. Gentle Readers, the floor is yours.

(shamelessly nicked from here)

Oops, He Did It Again

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Mike Whybark has been kindly keeping the general public informed about B^2’s on-going attempts at musical archeology. It apparently started with a heroically insane list of 80s covers, which includes an mp3 of “Tainted Love” by a man named Max Raabe; it sounds like the song was re-written by Kurt Weill.

B^2 has followed up with further musings on the mysterious Max Raabe; said musings include a link to Mr. Raabe crooning “Oops… I Did It Again”, backed by a squeaky Weimar-era-sounding cabaret band. It’s utterly brilliant.

While I don’t have anything that good, the brit band Travis’ acoustic version of “Baby Hit Me One More Time” comes very close and is well worth the listen…



What kind of guy uses his cell phone in the men’s room stall?

On second thought, maybe I don’t really want to know.

The Returning Hero (or, Baseball Playoffs!)


Should my beloved Red Sox fail to make the World Series, the match-up I would like to see there would be the Astros meeting the Yankees.


Picture, if you will, Roger Clemens heading out to the mound to start Game 1 at Yankee Stadium. And picture, if you will, the crowd reaction the first time Clemens throws a 94-mile-an-hour fastball at Derek Jeter’s head…

Debate Reaction


Elizabeth Spiers weighs in on last night’s debate:

Is Bush’s ability to stay on message largely the result of Bush’s inability to remember more than two or three catchphrases at once?