Foreign Policy Update:

United Nations Security Council Resolutions Currently Being Violated by Countries Other than Iraq; there are an extimated 91 being violated by countries other than Iraq. Test yourself: what country or countries do you expect to be at the top of the list? “This raises serious questions regarding the Bush administration’s insistence that it is motivated by a duty to preserve the credibility of the United Nations, particularly since the vast majority of the governments violating UN Security Council resolutions are close allies of the United States.” Foreign Policy in Focus


Celebrity Stock Exchange: “Celebdaq is the new online share trading game, where you can buy and sell shares in the hottest celebrities.

Watch the papers for your chosen celebs: the more press they get, the more they pay out.” BBC

Brain on a chip

Zombie brains could soon become a powerful tool for drug developers. A biotech company has developed a way to keep slices of living brain tissue alive for weeks, allowing researchers to study the effect of chemicals on entire neural networks, not just individual cells.” EurekAlert!

Political Animals

Christopher Hitchens reviews Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy

by Matthew Scully:

There is a certain culture of humor in the speechwriting division of the Bush Administration—a culture that involves a mild form of hazing. For example, David Frum, the Canadian Jewish neo-conservative who helped to originate the phrase “axis of evil,” was tasked with writing the welcoming address for the first White House Ramadan dinner. And last Thanksgiving, when the jokey annual ritual of the presidential turkey pardon came rolling around with the same mirthless inevitability as Groundhog Day, the job of penning the words of executive clemency on the eve of mass turkey slaughter was given to Matthew Scully, the only principled vegetarian on the team. Scully is a Roman Catholic, a former editor at National Review, and, I should add, a friendly Washington acquaintance of mine. He left his job in the executive mansion to forward this passionate piece of advocacy. Who can speak for the dumb? A man who has had to answer this question on behalf of the President himself is now stepping forward on behalf of the truly voiceless. The Atlantic

Ian Bruce-Douglas: The Ultimate Interview

Whatever happened to Ian Bruce-Douglas?
That is the question one usually hears in regards to legendary founder, singer and songwriter of that fabled and ill-fated band Ultimate Spinach. The creative force behind that magical late 60’s ‘Bosstown Sound’ group seemingly disappeared off the face of the earth nearly 30 years ago, leaving after its 2nd album ‘Behold And See’ had been recorded. A third album was recorded without him.

The Spinach sound was a kaleidoscopic amalgam of Baroque keyboards, modal jazz, French Impressionism, and hypnotic psychedelic improvisation. The lyrics were intelligent, penetrating and caustic observations of Hippie culture and the head games that people play. Their debut album sold over 100,000 copies within the first 2 weeks of its release and became a certified top-40 album without the benefit of a single, something unheard of at the time. It remained on the charts for 20+ weeks.

It will surprise fans to learn that, yes, Ian Bruce-Douglas is still alive and making music and that he has been doing so all along. In fact, all 3 Ultimate Spinach albums have just been reissued by original producer Alan Lorber on Big Beat records and Bruce-Douglas is in the process of recording 3 new albums of his own.

Rexroth Classics

The Classics According to Kenneth Rexroth:

“Rexroth (1905-1982) was a poet and essayist, an influence on the spread of Beat poetry (though not a Beat himself), and a student of languages. His translations of Chinese and Japanese poetry make many beautiful poems accessible to those of us who only know English.

In a series of short essays, he reviewed the classics of world literature from his perspective, which valued art for its involvement with living human beings. In 1985 and 1989, New Directions published 101 of these essays in two paperback volumes, titled Classics Revisited (NDP621, ISBN 0-8112-0988-1) and More Classics Revisited (NDP668, ISBN 0-8112-1083-9). …

In my opinion, publishers of the works that Rexroth recommends should subsidize these two books, and give them away free. And put them on the Web.

…Rexroth’s essays are fascinating, and the reading list is as rewarding as it is challenging. (And you will be appalled at how hard it is to find many of these works in public libraries.) The essays concerning the individual works or authors are the main attraction in these two books, but the introduction to Classics Revisited is also interesting, describing what makes the classics classic. I have provided the entire copyrighted Introduction; please don’t sue me; I mean well.

I have (also provided) a combined list in (approximate) chronological order (the years are not in the original reviews).”

Kenneth Rexroth’s Classics Revisited

From the Introduction:

“Men have been writing for over five thousand years and have piled up a vast mass of imaginative literature. Some of it is just writing that happens to have lasted physically. There are, however, a small number of books that are something more. They are the basic documents in the history of the imagination; they overflow all definitions of classicism and, at the same time, share the most simply defined characteristics. It is usually said that they deal with the archetypes of human experience, with characters at once concrete and universal, and with events and relationships that are invariant in the lives of all men.”

The bunk stops here: “That story that your brother-in-law just sent to you and forty other people sounds true… Put it to the test here. Take a couple key words from the message, paste or type them into one of the boxes below, and press the Enter key…”


“…tells you what BHOs appear on your system, and lets you diagnose and resolve conflicts by temporarily disabling them. BHOs are a special type of add-in for Internet Explorer 4 or higher. Their unusually tight integration with Explorer allows them to be used in a myriad of ways, but also can lead to problems. Poorly written BHOs can cause Explorer to crash. Also, BHOs can conflict with each other, causing problems with Explorer. These problems can be very difficult to diagnose and fix because there’s no way for you to know that a BHO has been installed. Windows doesn’t provide a way to see the BHOs on your system, and some BHOs (for example, adware) operate invisibly and don’t have a user interface. BHO Cop can solve these problems. You can save different configurations for use at different times. Some BHOs perform a self-check each time Windows starts and, if disabled, will re-enable themselves automatically. BHO Cop is smart enough to handle this situation, restoring your most recent configuration each time you start Windows. If a BHO is not installed correctly, BHO will alert you of the problem and allow you to clear the nonfunctioning registry entries from your system.” PCMag

Boys’ convictions in dad’s killing thrown out

A judge granted the motion by the King brothers’ attorney for a new trial because the prosecution had bizarrely argued two contradictory theories of the crime almost simultaneously — trying another man, Ricky Chavis, for the same crime and presenting a different argument. The brothers had at first confessed to the murder but later recanted and implicated Chavis, who was acquitted at his, separate, trial. The verdict in that case was kept sealed until after the conviction of the two boys, who were tried as adults and face sentences of 20-years-to-life. The forewoman of the jury in the brothers’ trial said they were convicted on the assumption that Chavis had actually done the deed but that they were involved in some capacity; jurors were stunned at Chavis’ acquittal. A further unusual twist in this case is that the judge, while granting the motion for a new trial, asks the defense and prosecution to work out a solution by mediation first if possible.

Einhorn case finally comes to a close:

Guilty of murdering girlfriend: “A jury Thursday found former hippie guru Ira Einhorn guilty of murdering his girlfriend 25 years ago and stuffing her mummified corpse in his closet.” Einhorn took the stand in his own defense, unusual for a murder defendant, and “claimed the CIA framed him for his girlfriend’s murder because he had knowledge of a mind-control weapon.” CNN I do quibble with the extent to which the press never fails to identify Einhorn as a former “counterculture leader” or “hippie guru.”

Big Bird

‘A bird the size of a small airplane was recently spotted flying over southwest Alaska, puzzling scientists, the Anchorage Daily News reported this week.

The newspaper quoted residents in the villages of Togiak and Manokotak as saying the creature, like something out of the movie Jurassic Park, had a wingspan of 14 feet — making it the size of a small airplane.’ Reuters/Yahoo! [via Walker]

Roll back: “Sometimes upgrading to a newer version can be a good thing. Other times, your computer may not be compatible with the new version, the new version is bloated, or all the good options are no longer available. If you are looking for an old version of any program, should be your first stop. We are an archive of old versions of various programs. If you don’t see the program or a version of a program that you are looking for, tell us and we’ll try our best to add it.”

Like a Circle Around My Skull…

I’ve been walking around with a reservoir of frustration and rage for several days now because of things going on at work. At such times, others may want to breathe deeply in the thrall of some tranquil contemplative music but I’m drawn like a moth to flame to the rageful cathartic stuff. This bears some relationship to the hateful music featured in this site dedicated to insulting song lyrics; (“stuff … that just doesn’t belong on the radio is what we’re aiming for”), although I’m not talking about misogynist or racist material here. Dylan makes it onto that site for two separate songs; “Don’t Think Twice (It’s Alright)” (listed under ‘D’ for Dylan) and “Idiot Wind” (under ‘B’ for Bob). Now I’m not a real Dylan aficionado, but “Idiot Wind” has always been the consummate contemptuous rage song for me, so I was interested to stumble upon these lyrics, claiming to be the “original version”. Compare the conventional lyrics (below; below the line). A reader who is a much deeper Bob-o-phile writes:

‘I wouldn’t say those are the “original” lyrics. Bob’s known for changing

the lyrics and/or arrangements of songs when he does them live.

But, those surely are the lyrics the way they appeared on the original

acetate of “Blood on the Tracks,” which was released to some radio

stations, but Dylan scrapped it and rerecorded nearly everything before

the official release.

You can hear those versions, which sometimes are superior (in my opinion)

to the official release on a widely available bootleg named “Blood on the

Outtakes.” ‘

On to the blood on the tracks; enjoy!

Someone’s got it in for me, they’re planting stories in the press

Whoever it is I wish they’d cut it out quick, when they will I can only guess

They say I shot a man named Gray and took his wife to Italy

She inherited a million bucks and when she died it came to me

I can’t help it if I’m lucky.

People see me all the time and they just can’t remember how to act

Their minds are filled with big ideas, images and distorted facts

And even you yesterday, you had to ask me where it was at,

I couldn’t believe after all these years, you didn’t know me any better than that, Sweet lady

Idiot wind, blowing every time you move your mouth

Blowing down the back roads headin’ south

Idiot wind, blowing every time you move your teeth

You’re an idiot babe, It’s a wonder that you still know how to breathe.

I threw the I Ching yesterday, it said there might be some thunder at the well

Peace and quiet’s been avoiding me for so long, it seems like livin’ hell

There’s a lone soldier on the hill watching fallin’ raindrops pour

You’d never know it to look at him, but at the final shot he won the war

After losing every battle.

I woke up on the roadside, daydreamin’ about the way things sometimes are

Hoofbeats poundin’ in my head at breakneck speed and makin’ me see stars

You hurt the ones that I love best and cover up the truth with lies

One day you’ll be in the ditch, flies buzzing around your eyes

Blood on your saddle.

Idiot wind, blowing through the flowers on your tomb

Blowing through the curtains in your room

Idiot wind, blowing every time you move your teeth

You’re an idiot babe,

It’s a wonder that you still know how to breathe.

It was gravity which pulled us in, and destiny which broke us apart

You tamed the lion in my cage but it just wasn’t enough to change my heart

Now everything’s a little upside down as a matter of fact the wheels have stopped

What’s good is bad, what’s bad is good, you’ll find out when you reach the top

You’re on the bottom

I noticed at the ceremony that you left all your bags behind

The driver came in after you left, he gave them all to me, and then he resigned

The priest wore black on the seventh day, waltzed around while the building burned

You didn’t trust me for a minute, babe, I’ve never known the spring to turn

So quickly into autumn.

Idiot wind, blowing every time you move your jaw

From the Grand Coulee Dam to the Mardi Gras

Idiot wind, blowing every time you move your teeth

You’re an idiot babe, It’s a wonder that you still know how to breathe.

We pushed each other a little too far and one day it just jumped into a raging storm

A hound dog bayed behind your trees, as I was packin’ up my uniform

I figured I’d lost you anyway, why go on, what’s the use?

In order to get in a word with you, I’d had to come up with some excuse

And that just struck me kinda funny.

I’ve been double-crossed too much, at times I think I’ve almost lost my mind

Lady killers load dice on me, behind my back, while imitators steal me blind

You close your eyes and part your lips and slip your fingers from your glove

You can have the best there is, but it’s gonna cost you all your love

You won’t get it for money.

Idiot wind, blowing through the buttons of our coats,

Blowing through the letters that we wrote

Idiot wind, blowing through the dust upon our shelves

We’re idiots babe, It’s a wonder we can even feed ourselves.


Someone’s got it in for me, they’re planting stories in the press

Whoever it is I wish they’d cut it out but when they will I can only guess.

They say I shot a man named Gray and took his wife to Italy,

She inherited a million bucks and when she died it came to me.

I can’t help it if I’m lucky.

People see me all the time and they just can’t remember how to act

Their minds are filled with big ideas, images and distorted facts.

Even you, yesterday you had to ask me where it was at,

I couldn’t believe after all these years, you didn’t know me better than that

Sweet lady.

Idiot wind, blowing every time you move your mouth,

Blowing down the backroads headin’ south.

Idiot wind, blowing every time you move your teeth,

You’re an idiot, babe.

It’s a wonder that you still know how to breathe.

I ran into the fortune-teller, who said beware of lightning that might strike

I haven’t known peace and quiet for so long I can’t remember what it’s like.

There’s a lone soldier on the cross, smoke pourin’ out of a boxcar door,

You didn’t know it, you didn’t think it could be done, in the final end he won the wars

After losin’ every battle.

I woke up on the roadside, daydreamin’ ’bout the way things sometimes are

Visions of your chestnut mare shoot through my head and are makin’ me see stars.

You hurt the ones that I love best and cover up the truth with lies.

One day you’ll be in the ditch, flies buzzin’ around your eyes,

Blood on your saddle.

Idiot wind, blowing through the flowers on your tomb,

Blowing through the curtains in your room.

Idiot wind, blowing every time you move your teeth,

You’re an idiot, babe.

It’s a wonder that you still know how to breathe.

It was gravity which pulled us down and destiny which broke us apart

You tamed the lion in my cage but it just wasn’t enough to change my heart.

Now everything’s a little upside down, as a matter of fact the wheels have stopped,

What’s good is bad, what’s bad is good, you’ll find out when you reach the top

You’re on the bottom.

I noticed at the ceremony, your corrupt ways had finally made you blind

I can’t remember your face anymore, your mouth has changed, your eyes don’t look into mine.

The priest wore black on the seventh day and sat stone-faced while the building burned.

I waited for you on the running boards, near the cypress trees, while the springtime turned slowly into autumn.

Idiot wind, blowing like a circle around my skull,

From the Grand Coulee Dam to the Capitol.

Idiot wind, blowing every time you move your teeth,

You’re an idiot, babe.

It’s a wonder that you still know how to breathe.

I can’t feel you anymore, I can’t even touch the books you’ve read

Every time I crawl past your door, I been wishin’ I was somebody else instead.

Down the highway, down the tracks, down the road to ecstasy,

I followed you beneath the stars, hounded by your memory

And all your ragin’ glory.

I been double-crossed now for the very last time and now I’m finally free,

I kissed goodbye the howling beast on the borderline which separated you from me.

You’ll never know the hurt I suffered nor the pain I rise above,

And I’ll never know the same about you, your holiness or your kind of love,

And it makes me feel so sorry.

Idiot wind, blowing through the buttons of our coats,

Blowing through the letters that we wrote.

Idiot wind, blowing through the dust upon our shelves,

We’re idiots, babe.

It’s a wonder we can even feed ourselves.


Paul Hoffman starts blogging. He wonders if he’s late to the party, but IMHO it’s in full swing, just gearing up, and you’re welcome. Break a leg, Paul!

Join the Coalition!

The Sydney Morning Herald editorializes that the Bali bombings — which killed mostly Australian tourists — should lead to Australia’s reassessment of its links to the War-on-Terrorism®, especially as US war plans in Iraq may inflame Islamic radicalism. OTOH, columnist Tim Blair in a widely blinked op-ed piece fromThe Australian, wants to have us believe that killing terrorists wipes out terrorism. His imbecilic argument, which starts somewhere like this —

Heard anything from Italy’s Red Brigades lately? What about Germany’s Baader-Meinhof gang? Where has Japan’s Red Army been hiding? Whatever happened to the Weather Underground?

All of these terrorist organisations have more or less vanished. According to the anti-war lobby, which holds that a violent reaction to terrorism only breeds more terrorism, they should be thriving. Andreas Baader’s suicide in Stammheim Prison in 1977 should have inspired an army of followers.

— and goes downhill from there, is on the level of vituperative illogic we’ve come to expect from the American warbloggers. After the Balinese attack, the ignorant come out of the woodwork in Australia too…

New Wallace and Gromit!

Cracking Contraptions: “Wallace and Gromit are back in their first screen outing for six years. BBC News Online exclusively presents Soccamatic, one of 10 short films, revealing Wallace’s latest inventions. Soccamatic is free to watch or download from this site.”

"I’m not sure which planet they live on"

‘President Bush continues to encounter war critics in the most unlikely places — the United States military, for example. Last summer, retired Gen. Brent Scowcroft, who served as national security advis0r to Bush’s father during the Gulf War, bluntly expressed his doubt about a unilateral war against Iraq. A few weeks later, a trio of four-star generals appeared before Congress to echo that concern.

One of them was Gen. Wesley Clark, a former NATO military commander… Now comes retired Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni, former head of Central Command for U.S. forces in the Middle East, who has worked recently as the State Department’s envoy to the region with a mission to encourage talks between Palestinians and Israelis… Hawks in the Bush administration may be making deadly miscalculations on Iraq, says (Gen. Zinni.)’ Salon

Of Unicorns and Satyrs and Things With No Knees:

Review: ‘Perhaps there are those who will take delight in a lengthy, picaresque tale that combines historical verisimilitude with unicorns and satyrs and creatures called ponces who had “erect legs and no knee joints” and “phalluses, which hung from the chest.” More likely Baudolino will make you wonder how a storyteller as crafty as (Umberto) Eco ended up producing a novel so formulaic and cluttered as this one.’ NY Times

The Monk Chronicles (Part II)

‘Having decided to become a monk, I quit my job, sold my house, left a life I had built for twelve years on the west coast, and flew east. I had never set foot inside the place where I had resolved to spend the next several years, and possibly the rest of my life. I only had the most general notion of what kind of lifestyle I could expect….’ [more] Rudolf’s Diner [via wood s lot]

"I put shit on my body that means something to me…"

36 Tattoos: “As the start of hoops season nears, well over 50 percent of NBAers are sporting tattoos. David Shields deciphers what’s written on the body:”

According to one more arbiter of hip, Rolling Stone, Paul Booth is “the tattoo artist of choice for rock stars who love death, perversion, and torture.” His “black-and-gray tattoos of blasphemous violence echo the same nihilist madness of the metalheads he inks,” musicians from Slipknot, Mudvayne, Slayer, Pantera, and Soulfly. His East Village shop features cobwebs, rusty meat hooks, a mummified cat, medieval torture devices, a gynecologist’s black leather chair with silver stirrups, a human skull given to him by a Swedish gravedigger, and a note from a customer written in blood. His arms are covered in tattoos, his face is studded with silver loops, and he’s enormously fat. Some of his most popular tattoos are “weeping demons, decapitated Christ figures, transvestite nuns severing their own genitals, cascading waves of melting skulls, muscled werewolves raping bare-chested women.” His clients come to him “because they share his frustration and rage, his feelings of anger and alienation. He understands those emotions and brings them to the surface with his needle. His gift lies in transforming the dark side of his clients�their hurt, their torments�into flesh.” Evan Seinfeld, the bassist for Biohazard, said, “We’re all trying to release our negative energy, our frustration with the world. Through our art and our music, we’re getting it all out.” Shawn Crahan of Slipknot said, “I have a lot of dark ideas in my head. Paul develops those same emotions in very powerful pieces.” Booth said, “If I woke up one day and became happy, I probably wouldn’t tattoo anymore, because I wouldn’t see a need to do it. I would lose my art if I became happy.” Village Voice

A Rejection Letter

If I’m ever The next time I’m in a job-hunting situation I’ll use a version of this response to a rejection letter. Turbulent Velvet reveals he wrote it, finding

it is “from the original email that I sent to seven or eight close friends back when I was in grad school. I had no idea it had ever leaked out from this circle and become an anonymous meme that’s still filling up four pages of Googlesearch seven or eight years after the fact.”

October 18, 2002:

Media Democracy Day is a day of international action based on three themes:

  • Education – understanding how the media shapes our world and our democracy
  • Protest – against a media system based on commercialization and exclusiveness
  • Change – calls for media reforms that respond to public interests, promote diversity, and ensure community representation and accountability

This citizens’ agenda has been abandoned by government and conveniently side-stepped by mainstream media. Media Democracy Day will bring this vision to life with a day of education, protest, and calls for change in the interest of the people.”

Game Theory

A nifty introduction to game theory from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Pretty obvious that the Bush dysadministration’s senior advisors don’t think this is a useful approach to the family feud with Iraq. Oops; it appears that a central assumption of game theory is that players act rationally.

Signal Corps

Columbia Company Spearheads Radio’s Conversion to Digital Signals:

A company can’t often promise to invent watershed technology in an industry that’s remained largely stagnant for 50 years – and then deliver on that.

But iBiquity Digital, a Columbia company working to transform the everyday radio-listening experience, is just a few dials away from its destination: digital radio.

IBiquity Technology May Set National Standard:

Radio, long the low-tech cousin in the media family of television, telephones and the Internet, may be about to break out of its rut with a handful of new technologies that promise better sound and more information without requiring more space on the limited radio band.

both: Washington Post

Another Whale of a Reunion Eyed Off Canadian Coast

Canadian and U.S. scientists, who successfully reunited a lost orca whale with her family pod this summer, are wondering if they should launch a similar effort for a second killer whale.

The whale, known to scientists as L98, has been living alone off Vancouver Island’s west coast since last year, after becoming separated from a pod that normally summers in the waters of Washington state’s Puget Sound.

Canadian fisheries officials said Thursday that a panel of whale experts will decide if they should attempt to capture the young male next summer and relocate it closer to where its relatives normally are. Reuters/Yahoo!

And, while we’re on the topic of doing right by our animal cousins:

Zookeepers Suspended for Eating Animals Reuters/Yahoo!

Judge: Man Can’t Change Name to ‘God’

” A man who wanted to change his name to God chose a new name when a judge turned down his request.

The former Charles Haffey’s new name is I Am who I Am.

The 55-year-old said he sought the name change as a way to gain release from feelings of anxiety and rage that have plagued him since he served in Vietnam.

“I was fatally wounded in the mind and the spirit,” he said. “I didn’t suffer any bodily injury. It’s just what I saw, what I did. I killed myself.”…

Last week, he bought a tombstone to be inscribed with his former name. He plans to plant it in the tall grass on his property.

(Who I Am) said it will read, ‘Charles Walter Haffey, born Sept. 23, 1948, and died Oct. 21, 1968, Republic of Vietnam.’ “

Harvard ties helped Bush company to hide debts

This needs more exposure:

President George Bush has been laid open to further allegations of hypocrisy in his condemnation of the aggressive business practices of the 1990s with publication of more details of his own dealings.

Harken Energy, the oil and gas company behind Mr Bush’s wealth, formed an entity, or partnership, with the investment arm of Harvard University in 1990 that enabled it to move poorly performing assets and debts off its books, says a report that draws comparisons with the failed energy firm Enron.

The move concealed the company’s financial woes and may have misled investors, an independent student and alumni group that monitors the university’s investments said in a report released on Wednesday.

The group, HarvardWatch, likened the venture to that Enron used to disguise debts before it collapsed. Minutes show that Mr Bush, a director at Harken from 1986 to 1993 and a $US100,000 a year consultant at the time, personally approved the deal. Sydney Morning Herald

US has occupation plan for Iraq

US has occupation plan for Iraq. The White House unveiled the plan as soon as the Congressional resoltuion was passed. The plan, apparently based on the U.S. occupation of Japan after WWII, has Gen. Tommy Franks in the Douglas MacArthur role. The plan marginalizes Iraqi opposition parties to prevent a repetition of the infighting in post-Taliban Afghanistan, and, most galling, calls for war crimes trials for Iraqi officials. Sydney Morning Herald As far as I can tell, U.S. oil company executives will not have above-board posts in the occupation government as they do in the US government.

Gays to be the Scapegoats of the Priestly Pedophilia Scandal?

Vatican Contemplates A Ban on Gay Priests:

“The wave of sex abuse scandals in the U.S. Catholic church ignited a debate over whether homosexuality per se played a role. The equating of homosexuality and abuse riled critics who say there is no evidence that gays are more likely to engage in abuse than heterosexuals.

Others contend that pointing the finger at gay priests is a way to deflect attention from the alleged responsibility of bishops who allowed the scandal to unfold.” Washington Post

Playing Tricks With Reality and Realism in Washington

The nation’s capital may be the single biggest political power generator on earth, but its grip on reality can seem mighty relaxed. Never mind the government, just look at the city: so rich but so poor; so monumental but so run down. Does anyone ever know what’s really going on? Anyway, it makes sense that reality, or maybe realism, is the underlying theme of exhibitions at three of the city’s major museums.

[Escaping Criticism, Pere Borrell del Caso (1874), National Gallery]
Escaping Criticism, Pere Borrell del Caso (1874), National Gallery

The biggest attraction is “Deceptions and Illusions: Five Centuries of Trompe l’Oeil Painting,” devoted to tricking the eye. It opens on Sunday at the National Gallery of Art. It’s a blast and should be a hit. NY Times

It’s the War, Stupid

Frank Rich:

“As soon as President Bush rolled out his new war on Iraq, the Democrats in Washington demanded a debate, and debates they got, all right. There was the debate between Matt Drudge and Barbra Streisand about the provenance of an antiwar quote she recited at a party fund-raiser. There was the debate about whether Jim McDermott, Democratic Congressman from Washington, should have come home from Baghdad before announcing on TV that we can take Saddam Hussein’s promises at “face value.” There were the debates about why Al Gore took off his wedding ring, why Robert Torricelli took a Rolex, and why Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson took noisy offense at so benign and popular a Hollywood comedy as Barbershop.

But as for the promised debate about Iraq, it became heated only after Congressional approval of the president’s mission was a foregone conclusion.

It’s the War, Stupid


As soon as President Bush rolled out his new war on Iraq, the Democrats in Washington demanded a debate, and debates they got, all right. There was the debate between Matt Drudge and Barbra Streisand about the provenance of an antiwar quote she recited at a party fund-raiser. There was the debate about whether Jim McDermott, Democratic Congressman from Washington, should have come home from Baghdad before announcing on TV that we can take Saddam Hussein’s promises at “face value.” There were the debates about why Al Gore took off his wedding ring, why Robert Torricelli took a Rolex, and why Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson took noisy offense at so benign and popular a Hollywood comedy as “Barbershop.”

But as for the promised debate about Iraq, it became heated only after Congressional approval of the president’s mission was a foregone conclusion. Though the party’s leaders finally stepped up, starting with Mr. Gore, most of them seemed less concerned with the direction of the nation in 2002 than with positioning themselves for the White House in 2004 (or ’08). They challenged the administration’s arrogant and factually disingenuous way of pursuing its goal, then beat a hasty retreat to sign on to whatever fig-leaf language they could get into the final resolution. (Mr. Gore, after his Sept. 23 Iraq speech, dropped the subject altogether.)

Even at their most forceful they failed to state their qualified, Bush-lite case for war with anything like the persistence, eloquence and authority of Chuck Hagel, the Republican Vietnam War hero. Speaking with almost mournful resignation from the floor on Wednesday, the senator was naked in his doubts about what lies ahead. “We should not be seduced by the expectations of `dancing in the streets’ after Saddam’s regime has fallen,” he said.

That Democratic leaders added so little to the discussion is attributed to their intimidation by the president’s poll numbers, their fear of being branded unpatriotic and their eagerness to clear the decks (whatever the price) to return to the economy, stupid, before Election Day. None of these motives constitute a profile in courage; no wonder George W. Bush was emboldened to present himself as the new John F. Kennedy in his Iraq speech on Monday night.

Agree with him or not, the president does stand for something. He led, and the Democrats followed. The polls, far from rationalizing the Democrats’ timidity, suggest they might have won a real debate had they staged one. Support for an Iraq war is falling, with the dicey 51 percent in favor in the latest CNN/USA Today survey dropping to a Vietnam-like 33 percent support level if there are 5,000 casualties, as there could well be. But even so, the Democratic leaders never united around a substantive alternative vision to the administration’s pre-emptive war against the thug of Baghdad. That isn’t patriotism, it’s abdication.

Perhaps more than he intended, Tom Daschle summed up the feeble thrust of his party’s opposition on “Meet the Press” last weekend when he observed, “The bottom line is . . . we want to move on.” Now his wish has come true � but move on to what? The dirty secret of the Democrats is that they have no more of an economic plan than they had an Iraq plan.” NY Times op-ed

Nobel Peace Prize Awarded to Carter…

…With Jab at Bush: ‘For his peacemaking and humanitarian work over the last 25 years, former President Jimmy Carter was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize today, and the Nobel committee used the occasion to send a sharp rebuke to the Bush administration for its aggressive policy toward Iraq.’ NY Times

Tempest in an Italian-American Teapot

Sopranos Uninvited, Mayor Finds a Parade He Can Refuse. So the story is that New York mayor Michael Bloomberg took it upon himself to invite two stars of The Sopranos he describes as his friends to march with him in the Columbus Day Parade. The parade’s organizers, who objected both because of the aspersions The Sopranos are said to cast on Italian-American culture and because the mayor had not asked them for permission, obtained a court order to bar the mayor’s invitation. (He could be arrested for contempt if he ignores it…) So the mayor simply won’t march. “It is highly unusual for a sitting mayor to refuse the invitation of a major ethnic group to march in its parade. But there have been controversies…. (And) the point at which a mayor enters a parade route — for example, after St. Patrick’s Cathedral in the gay pride parade — and with whom he marches is always a matter for political dissection.” NY Times

Moles at Work

Paul Krugman: ‘So here’s my theory: Michael Oxley, Harvey Pitt and George W. Bush are all Communist moles who have worked their way into the center of the capitalist system in order to destroy it. How else can you make sense of their actions?

It’s true that in July they grudgingly agreed to a corporate reform bill, which briefly calmed the growing investor panic. That was because it’s essential for them to control Congress— they need maximum leeway to wreck the U.S. economy. But then they found a better answer. Saber-rattling over Iraq does double duty. It distracts the media: on Wednesday the Dow fell 215 points, hitting a nearly five-year low, while consumer confidence fell to levels not seen since 1996, yet neither story was treated as front-page news. And war talk itself helps depress stocks and consumer confidence, and further undermines the economy.’ NY Times

Tupac and Biggie alive and well in the rumor mill:

New Theories Stir Speculation on Unsolved Rap Deaths:

‘ “Tupac is alive and in Cuba,” said José Reyes, 19, a senior at Fort Hamilton High School. “How else could he keep putting out records?”

“Tupac is alive and in Cuba,” said José Reyes, 19, a senior at Fort Hamilton High School. “How else could he keep putting out records?”

“I think Suge Knight killed both of them,” said Jose Colon, 26, a sneaker salesman…

“Tupac was killed by the government,” said Arnold Evans, 39, a Fulton Street barber…

Mr. Wilson of XXL magazine said he expected even more frenzy next September, on the seventh anniversary of Shakur’s death, when many fans say he will return from hiding. Fans have devoted Web pages to the prevalence of the number seven in Shakur’s work and life. “That’s what everyone is waiting for,” Mr. Wilson said.

…Anthony Pena, a freshman at Touro College, did not know what to believe. There are just so many theories, he said. “One of them has to be true.” NY Times

Congress Must Resist the Rush to War

By now, everyone has read Sen. Robert Byrd’s concerns: ‘How have we gotten to this low point in the history of Congress? Are we too feeble to resist the demands of a president who is determined to bend the collective will of Congress to his will— a president who is changing the conventional understanding of the term “self-defense”? And why are we allowing the executive to rush our decision-making right before an election? Congress, under pressure from the executive branch, should not hand away its Constitutional powers. We should not hamstring future Congresses by casting such a shortsighted vote. We owe our country a due deliberation.’ NY Times While Byrd gives lipservice to the mockery of the term self-defense that the Bush Doctrine entails, he is unfortunately far less concerned with the merits of the upcoming war than the preservation of Congressional prerogatives. Is this the fullest extent of “antiwar” sentiment that will emanate from among our elected “leaders”??

One in Every Three Primates Now Threatened with Extinction

“New evidence of the peril facing the world’s apes, monkeys, lemurs and other primates, with one in every three now endangered with extinction, is revealed in a new report – The World’s Top 25 Most Endangered Primates-2002 released today by Conservation International (CI) and the Primate Specialist Group of IUCN — The World Conservation Union. Primate species and sub-species classified as critically endangered and endangered jumped nearly 63 percent from 120 to 195 since the initial report was issued in January 2000.”

::: wood s lot :::

Sunday was the second anniversary of the founding of wood s lot, the curiously named, rich and dense weblog of the mercurial Mark Woods. Could there be anyone in the FmH reading universe who doesn’t frequent wood s lot? If so, get ye hence; the fruits are ripe for the plucking, courtesy of Mark’s generosity. Happy blogiversary, Mark! Many many more…

Arts & Letters up in smoke:

“The magazine Lingua Franca and its parent company University Business LLC filed for bankruptcy earlier this year…(T)he assets of University Business, including this Website, are to be auctioned in New York City on October 24, 2002…

Since the filing, Arts & Letters Daily has been kept afloat by the goodwill of its editors, Tran Huu Dung and Denis Dutton, and it is now time for them to move on. They will continue to supply content on other similar sites with which they are associated: SciTech Daily Review; Denis Dutton’s Philosophy & Literature site; Business Daily Review. Human Nature Review has fine science reporting, Arts Journal is our favorite for arts news, and Google News is invaluable for newspapers and magazines.”

As Real?

Chimps do not ape culture: “Experts will today debate whether chimpanzee traditions such as Masonic-style handshakes, mutual back scratching and smashing nuts with hammers make up as real a culture as human art, music and poetry.

If the public meeting in London, backed by the British Academy and the Royal Society, agrees that chimpanzees are part of the cultural domain it may trigger a rethink of mankind’s evolution, putting more emphasis on society and less on genes.” Telegraph UK

Slate’s writers debate Iraq moves:

Rafe Colburn at rc3 has put together a cheatsheet to the Slate writers’ dialogue about whether we ought to go to war against Iraq. ” If you haven’t yet made up your mind about whether somebody ought to storm into Iraq and send Saddam Hussein to Boot Hill, you should check out the ongoing dialogue among Slate writers arguing for and against the war. Unfortunately, the navigation for the series sucks, because it spans two weeks.” It would seem that Slate writers are mostly pro-war by Colburn’s categorization, but he warns that “the arguments defy easy categorization, and are nuanced and qualified, so don’t just accept my one word summaries.” rc3

Regression to the Mean

When Jeb Bush speaks, people cringe: “The governor’s lesbian joke about the women arrested in the Rilya Wilson case is the latest example of his mean sense of humor — when he thinks the media isn’t listening.” Salon I know there’s a particular sense of gleeful satisfaction to be found in going after the Bushes of the world [I’m a prime offender! — FmH], but is this any more mean-spirited than what you’d hear off-mike from any number of our respected elected officials?

And then there’s this guy:

“Those darn speechwriters. Did it again. I know they’re trying to make me seem smart but this is ridikilis. Okay, let’s rock and roll. If I really try I can pronounce this word, even though it’s got four sillibulls. The fate of the free world depends on it.”

One fight for rights that’s wrong:

” Tomorrow in Washington, Stanford University law professor Lawrence Lessig will ask the Supreme Court to overturn the 1998 Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, cynically dubbed the Mickey Mouse Preservation Act. The act is notorious not only because its sponsor was one of the dimmer bulbs in the Congressional chandelier, but also because it purports to be the handiwork of the evil Walt Disney Co. (remember when Disney was good?), which wants to lock up its rights to Mickey and Donald for another 20 years.” Boston Globe

Is there a link between soy formula and attention deficit disorder?

“Does soy-based infant formula lead to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)? There’s much speculation — but little science — on this association. Shedding some light on this problem, a UC Irvine-led study discovered that a mineral found in high levels in soy milk appears to be linked to behavioral problems.

The study in rats, one of the first scientific inquiries into soy milk and ADHD, indicates that the mineral manganese may cause behavioral problems if consumed in high doses. The study appears in the August issue of NeuroToxicology.

Francis Crinella, professor of pediatrics, and his colleagues at UCI and UC Davis found that giving rats increasing levels of manganese during infancy resulted in behavioral changes at higher doses. The researchers also found that manganese exposure resulted in lowered levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which plays a key role in inhibiting behavior seen in cases of ADHD.” EurekAlert!

Hubble Spots the Biggest World Since Pluto

A cold new world:

‘Astronomers have dubbed it “Quaoar” (pronounced kwa-whar) after a Native American god. It lies a billion kilometers beyond Pluto and moves around the Sun every 288 years in a near-perfect circle. Until recently it was just a curious point of light. That’s all astronomers could see when they discovered it last June using a ground-based telescope.

But now it’s a world.

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has measured Quaoar and found it to be 1300 km wide. That’s about 400 km wider than the biggest main-belt asteroid (Ceres) and more than half the diameter of Pluto itself. Indeed, it’s the largest object in the solar system seen since the discovery of Pluto 72 years ago.’ NASA

Not in my name:

Has anyone noticed anyone else using the “Bush: Not in My Name” graphic I whipped up as a “consensus-busting” message (it resides over in the sidebar to the left)? I use it to link to the “Not In Our Names” project. It is also offered over at the shinybluegrasshopper “Attack Iraq? No” site. Feel free to grab it and use it for your own purposes. Please let me know of any sightings.

Backpack Nation

“Backpack Nation is a work in progress, taking shape day by day. The basic idea is to transform American foreign policy by deputizing and deploying individual travelers as “ambassadors” of the people of America. Each ambassador will be funded with $10,000 in personal expense money for an extended trip through some of the world’s less-wealthy countries, and $10,000 more to give to whatever individual/family/organization/village that he or she deems appropriate.” [via Rebecca’s Pocket]

A homeless guy finds a refuge on the Internet

He writes about God, Jung and the symphony. But mostly he writes about what he knows best: life as a homeless man in urban America, a world so far beneath the social radar that many step right over it.

By day, Kevin Barbieux writes in the free-form diarist style of Web logs — known in Internet circles as “blogs” — as “The Homeless Guy.” His Web site ( has developed a worldwide following.

By night, the balding, blue-eyed 41-year-old stays in a shelter, a car or sometimes a new spot that he has heard might be safe. USA Today

No such thing as luck??

Man lives after he is shot 25 times: ‘A 20-year-old New Orleans man has survived being shot 25 times last weekend by an assailant who is still on the loose, New Orleans police said…”Once that weapon emptied, he produced a second weapon and continued to fire,” police said. “When the second weapon emptied, he produced yet a third and continued to fire.” ‘ New Orleans Times-Picayune

Google Poetry

GooPoetry lets you enter a query (any query you’d use with regular Google, with the exception of the phonebook: and stock: searches), and choose a “flavor” (hippie, Shakespeare, beatnik, Swedish Chef, or none).

GooPoetry will run a search, take the titles of the returned pages, and make you a lovely poem. (Or make you a really bizarre word salad.)…”

Here’s a GooPoem generated by entering “Gelwan” and “weblog”, although the site says that the weirder the query, the better the poetry.

Here think… edge !

Here: the Here:

Follow Follow is

Follow Follow Follow closer Follow Here

you is Here: think… Follow

than Follow Follow Follow than think…

Me Follow think… think… Follow Gelwan

you Here Here: Here Herezilla think… Here closer

Here — Here: Follow closer Here

Is your brain wired for wealth?

An owner’s manual for the investor’s brain: “Suddenly, stunning investment insights are coming from the frontiers of one of the least likely fields you could imagine: neuroscience. In university and hospital laboratories around the world, researchers are using the latest breakthroughs in technology to trace the exact circuitry your brain uses to make the kinds of decisions you rely on as an investor.” Money [Mine certainly isn’t wired for wealth! — FmH]

Fighting Terrorism With Democracy

Richard Rorty: “If we cannot forestall such attacks, we may nonetheless be able to survive them. We may have the strength to keep our democratic institutions intact even after realizing that our cities may never again be invulnerable. We may be able to keep the moral gains–the increases in political freedom and in social justice–made by the West in the past two centuries even if 9/11 is repeated year after year. But we shall only do so if the voters of the democracies stop their governments from putting their countries on a permanent war footing–from creating a situation in which neither the judges nor the newspapers can restrain organizations like the FBI from doing whatever they please, and in which the military absorbs most of the nation’s resources.” The Nation [via Walker]

What does the Internet look like?

Less random than people thought:

“Any effort to map the Internet is necessarily incomplete and out of

date the moment it appears. Instead, Albert-Laslo Barabasi and his

colleagues at the University of Notre Dame, in Indiana, treat the net

as though it were a natural phenomenon. What scientists generally do

with a natural phenomenon that they do not understand is to build a

model of it. Dr Barabasi’s latest paper on the matter, just published

in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, presents a

general framework for improving the accuracy of Internet models.” The Economist

R.I.P. Norman O. Brown

[Norman O. Brown]

Playful Philosopher, 89, Is Dead: Life Against Death

and Love’s Body were required reading for me, and still ought to be.
” ‘Reading Brown was a little like taking drugs, only it was more likely to lead to tenure,’ the sociologist Alan Wolfe wrote in The New Republic in 1991.” NY Times

Oh, Now I Get It

Politician turns blue from drinking ‘health’ solution

Stan Jones, Montana’s Libertarian candidate for Senate, started taking colloidal silver in 1999 for fear that disruptions linked to the millennium might lead to a shortage of antibiotics.

He made his own concoction by electrically charging a couple of silver wires in a glass of water.

His skin began turning blue-grey a year ago.

“People ask me if it’s permanent and if I’m dead,” he said. “I tell them I’m practising for Halloween.”

He does not take the supplement any longer, but the skin condition, called argyria, is permanent.” Ananova

I may be the only one around who hadn’t already heard of this, but I’m posting the news item as a public service to any FmH readers who may be as clueless as I had been about the Stan Jones jokes you may have noticed around the internet recently.

Down on Your Ni’s:

The ancient sacrificed remains of 200 fishermen have been excavated from a beach in Peru. Archaeologists believe they were kneeling, tied and blindfolded, facing the waves, then stabbed through the heart as an offering by their conquerors to Ni, god of the sea.

The grisly find represents the biggest case of human sacrifice discovered in South America. Hector Walde, chief of the excavation project at Peru’s National Institute of Culture, says the men probably died in a victory ceremony conducted by the Chimu people in about 1350.” New Scientist

BugBear computer virus rolls on

“The computer virus BugBear, also known as Tanatos, is shaping up to be the nastiest released in 2002. Since its first logged occurrence on Sunday, anti-virus company Message Labs said on Thursday it has stopped at least 70,000 copies, 22,000 of which were identified in the last 24 hours.

It can also capture passwords and credit card details entered on an infected machine using a hidden program that stores keystrokes. The worm bundles up this information into a local file and emails it to a set of encrypted email addresses stored within the worm.

Patches to fix the hole that BugBear exploits have been available for 18 months. But Cluley believes the worm will persist for several more months before it dies out. He says the fundamental problem is that end users are lazy: “They just don’t install the patches and update their anti-virus programs frequently enough.” New Scientist.

More about BugBear here, also from New Scientist.

Strikingly Underappreciated:

Housewife seeking appreciation quits housework CNN [Not to be a stick-in-the-mud, but why is this story getting played for its laugh value? Are we that post-feminist? The undervaluation of women’s labor in the home remains a grievous fault with our society. Perhaps it is an example of that adage, “If you tell the truth you had better be funny or they’ll kill you”? — FmH]

Ostrich Sex, Barking Dogs Score ‘Ig Nobel’ Prizes

12th Annual ‘Ig Nobel’ Prizesarrive the week before the Nobels: “Ever wonder why belly button lint tends to be blue? Curious about the sex life of ostriches? Want to know what Fido is really trying to say or how best to bathe him? The answers to these probing questions are included in research honored this week by the irreverent and quirky science magazine Annals of Improbable Research.

The 12th annual ‘Ig Nobel Prizes’ are awarded to scientific achievements that ‘cannot or should not be reproduced.’ ” Yahoo!

Hopes and Limits …

…of Bionic Parts: an interview with Dr. Willem J. Kolff, “the inventor of the artificial kidney and the leader of the team that created the first artificial heart, (who) was awarded the Albert Lasker Award for Clinical Medical Research last week. He is now working on a wearable artificial lung.” NY Times

Is This It?

They Are It: a ridiculous groupie piece on the Strokes (I don’t see the point; to paraphrase, I knew the Velvet Underground and they’re no Velvet Underground…) that tries much, much too hard to tie any significance they may have to the post-9/11 mindset in New York:

“Which is to say the Strokes are a better band than they were a year ago, maybe even more of a band, in the way that all sorts of ”brotherhoods” in the city — and not just firemen — seem tighter now. One rap that the members of the Strokes have had to endure is that they grew up privileged (in Upper Manhattan, mostly) and met at one or another private school and can’t possibly be, you know, authentic. But class got a little more complicated in New York after the trade center dead were tallied and described, and rock ‘n’ roll was never about authenticity anyway but about the contingencies of place and time, identity and pose, inspiration and drive. Who knows for how long, but for now, in New York, and not only in New York, the Strokes are for real.” — Gerald Mazorati in the NY Times

Red Dragon is no Manhunter

I haven’t seen Red Dragon, but am glad its release is prompting a reappraisal of Manhunter, the previous filmed version of the Thomas Harris novel, which was entirely overlooked despite Michael Mann’s Miami Vice cachet: “…(I)ts scenes of Graham wandering the crime scene and murmuring into his tape recorder are mesmerizing. Manhunter sired and John Doe and Profiler and Millennium and all the other TV shows and movies that borrowed both Harris’ theme and Mann’s hypnotic tone. After this, thrillers would not only become positively fetishistic about forensics, they’d also tend to fixate on a single protagonist who would wander fresh murder sites and re-live the slaughter from the killer’s point-of-view — who would be able, at a terrible cost, to plunge deep into a psycho’s roiling psyche. Manhunter ushered in the age of empathy for the devil.” — David Edelstein in Slate