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Archives for 02/05/2006 - 02/11/2006

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Email from a Staffer…

posted by on February 11 at 6:00 PM

Dan emailed me earlier to ask if I was mad about this and this. I sent back this email, which he’s asked me to post:

From: Eli Sanders

Date: Sat, 11 Feb 2006 17:39:07 -0800

To: Dan Savage

Well, I am looking forward to my Stranger-financed trip to Beirut, but yes, I think “a tad racist” is a pretty strong charge to throw around. And I think the argument that I’m condescending to the protesters really twists my words, with the intention of making “colonialism” (and me) into an easy punch-line.

Of course I don’t believe Nasrallah and the like are really mad about colonialism. They’re demagogues, opportunists who are well aware of the long-standing frustrations in the Arab/Muslim world (some of which have to do with, yes, colonialism) and are tapping into them to draw a crowd and increase their own political power. And maybe it’s condescending to believe that the crowds they draw are largely uneducated, unemployed, angry Islamists, but it’s usually true in these situations. Or, in the case of (U.S. backed) Saudi Arabia, they’re people who don’t have a lot of choice but to toe the line of people like the Saudi cleric who’s quoted in that AP article you posted. All of which makes looking at the literal content of the crowds’ complaints a waste of time.

You think the way to deal with an angry mob led by religious demagogues is to stand in front of the mob and shout Fuck You. I think it might be better not to give the demagogues so much easy ammunition in the first place, and also to remedy the situation that now provides them such a large group of alienated, angry people to prey upon. That’s where we disagree. The rest we agree on.

And back to Beirut for a minute… The Stranger did send me to a tense place in the Arab world once: Rafah, in the Gaza Strip. And I don’t think that story shows much sympathy on my part for dopey liberals. It’s pretty clear, though, if you spend time in a place like Rafah, that the underlying social and economic conditions, and the unresolved political issues, and the perceived indifference of the West, all make it very easy for Islamic fundamentalism to take hold, and that we ignore all of that, and focus on outrage about cartoons, at our peril.


Great Piece on Slate

posted by on February 11 at 5:41 PM

Michael Kinsley on Toon Wars:

…the limits of free expression cannot be set by the sensitivities of people who don’t believe in it.

Go read the whole piece here.

Email From a Reader…

posted by on February 11 at 5:28 PM

When there is an act of terrorism committed somewhere in the world by ONE Islamic extremist, aren’t we all cautioned by Muslims (and others) to not lump them all together?  Blame the terrorist, they say, not the religion as a whole. Then why aren’t Muslims themselves now practicing what they preach?  TWELVE people drew these cartoons, yet a great many Muslims are taking it out on nations as a whole. Danish tourists are now warned their lives are in danger when travelling to predominately Islamic nations. My point? Why aren’t these same Muslims who have warned us not to judge someone based on their religion, now doing the exact same thing by judging someone based on their nationality? Hypocrisy.

There’s more hypocrisy to be found when you look at the issued of how often some Muslims speak offensively about other religions. Most of us in the western world have no idea how much other religions and peoples are slandered, degraded, and insulted on a daily basis in much of the Islamic world.  Insulted in their schools, their mosques, in their newspapers, and in countless other forums.  It seems to me that if they don’t want others to insult their religion, a good place for them to start would be to stop insulting and degrading other religions, themselves. Saudi Arabia’s chief cleric is calling for the author and publishers of the cartoon to be put on trial and punished.  Why doesn’t this same chief cleric call on the Muslim authors and publishers of books and newspapers that slander non-Islamic religions to be put on trial and punished?  Hypocrisy.

ATTN: Seattle DFA Heads

posted by on February 11 at 4:42 PM

Important Venue Change Announcement

The Sunday Feb. 12 Juan Maclean/Tim Sweeney/DJ FITS show that The Stranger hyped this week in Suggests and Up & Coming has been moved from Consolidated Works to the Crocodile. See you there.

What About It, Robert?

posted by on February 11 at 4:35 PM

In a column titled “Would Jesus With an Uzi be Amusing?” in today’s P-I, Robert Jamieson decries a Danish newspaper’s decision to publish images of Muhammed, calling it “a cartoon attack that strikes at the spiritual core of [Muslims’] religion.” What if someone made a similar “attack” on Christians, Jameson asks. “How many cartoons have you seen showing Jesus as a Level 3 sex offender? Or toting an Uzi?… Christ is off limits.”

Apparently, Jameson didn’t bother doing his research.

This Just In…

posted by on February 11 at 4:03 PM

From the AP:

Saudi Arabia’s top cleric said in a Friday sermon that it was too late for apologies and those responsible for the drawings should be put on trial and punished…

“Now in the West insulting the prophet is allowed, but questioning the Holocaust is considered a crime,” [the Iranian president] said. “We ask, why do you insult the prophet? The response is that it is a matter of freedom, while in fact they (who insult the founder of Islam) are hostages of the Zionists. And the people of the U.S. and Europe should pay a heavy price for becoming hostages to Zionists.”

…Saudi Sheik Abdul Rahman al-Seedes, the imam of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, called on Muslims to reject apologies for the “slanderous” caricatures.

“Is there only freedom of expression when it involves insults to Muslims? With one voice … we will reject the apology and demand a trial,” he said in his sermon, which was published Saturday in the Al Riyad daily.

They sound pretty upset about colonialism, don’t they?

The Right to Offend

posted by on February 11 at 1:22 PM

One of the things we keep hearing during this debate is that the cartoons the Danish paper published aren’t worth defending because they’re offensive. Offense is in the eye of the beholder, and we can debate it, but freedom of speech covers offensive speech, and for all sorts of good reasonsprimarily to avoid having to empower a government or a bunch of clerics with the power to decide what is or is not offensive.

And, hey, when did free-speech advocates go all wobbly on the freedom to offend? Where are all the folks who used to run around quoting Voltaire when an issue like this rose up? “I may disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Muslim immigrant to Holland who lives under constant police protection as the result of death threat (one of which was stuck into Theo Van Gogh’s chest with a knife), gave a speech in Berlin yesterday defending our right to offend. I’m going to reproduce the whole thing here, as I think folks read the whole thing:

I am here to defend the right to offend.

It is my conviction that the vulnerable enterprise called democracy cannot exist without free expression, particularly in the media. Journalists must not forgo the obligation of free speech, which people in other hemispheres are denied.

I am of the opinion that it was correct to publish the cartoons of Muhammad in Jyllands Posten and it was right to re-publish them in other papers across Europe.

Let me reprise the history of this affair. The author of a children’s book on the prophet Muhammad could find no illustrators for his book. He claimed that illustrators were censoring themselves for fear of violence by Muslims who claimed no-one, anywhere, should be allowed to depict the prophet. Jyllands Posten decided to investigate this. They — rightly felt that such self-censorship has far-reaching consequences for democracy.

It was their duty as journalists to solicit and publish drawings of the prophet Muhammad.

Shame on those papers and TV channels who lacked the courage to show their readers the caricatures in The Cartoon Affair. These intellectuals live off free speech but they accept censorship. They hide their mediocrity of mind behind noble-sounding terms such as `responsibility’ and `sensitivity’.

Shame on those politicians who stated that publishing and re-publishing the drawings was `unnecessary’, `insensitive’, `disrespectful’ and `wrong’. I am of the opinion that Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen of Denmark acted correctly when he refused to meet with representatives of tyrannical regimes who demanded from him that he limit the powers of the press. Today we should stand by him morally and materially. He is an example to all other European leaders. I wish my prime minister had Rasmussen’s guts.

Shame on those European companies in the Middle East that advertised “we are not Danish” or “we don’t sell Danish products”. This is cowardice. Nestle chocolates will never taste the same after this, will they? The EU member states should compensate Danish companies for the damage they have suffered from boycotts.

Liberty does not come cheap. A few million Euros is worth paying for the defence of free speech. If our governments neglect to help our Scandinavian friends then I hope citizens will organise a donation campaign for Danish companies.

We have been flooded with opinions on how tasteless and tactless the cartoons are — views emphasising that the cartoons only led to violence and discord. What good has come of the cartoons, so many wonder loudly?

Well, publication of the cartoons confirmed that there is widespread fear among authors, filmmakers, cartoonists and journalists who wish to describe, analyse or criticise intolerant aspects of Islam all over Europe.

It has also revealed the presence of a considerable minority in Europe who do not understand or will not accept the workings of liberal democracy. These people many of whom hold European citizenship have campaigned for censorship, for boycotts, for violence, and for new laws to ban `Islamophobia’.

The cartoons revealed to the public eye that there are countries willing to violate diplomatic rules for political expediency. Evil governments like Saudi Arabia stage “grassroots” movements to boycott Danish milk and yoghurt, while they would mercilessly crash a grassroots movement fighting for the right to vote.

Today I am here to defend the right to offend within the bounds of the law. You may wonder: why Berlin? And why me?

Berlin is rich in the history of ideological challenges to the open society. This is the city where a wall kept people within the boundaries of the Communist state. It was the city which focalized the battle for the hearts and minds of citizens. Defenders of the open society educated people in the shortcomings of Communism. The work of Marx was discussed in universities, in op-ed pages and in schools. Dissidents who escaped from the East could write, make films, cartoons and use their creativity to persuade those in the West that Communism was far from paradise on earth.

Despite the self-censorship of many in the West, who idealised and defended Communism, and the brutal censorship of the East, that battle was won.

Today, the open society is challenged by Islamism, ascribed to a man named Muhammad Abdullah who lived in the seventh century, and who is regarded as a prophet. Many Muslims are peaceful people; not all are fanatics. As far as I am concerned they have every right to be faithful to their convictions. But within Islam exists a hard-line Islamist movement that rejects democratic freedoms and wants to destroy them. These Islamists seek to convince other Muslims that their way of life is the best. But when opponents of Islamism try to expose the fallacies in the teachings of Muhammad then they are accused of being offensive, blasphemous, socially irresponsible even Islamophobic or racist.

The issue is not about race, colour or heritage. It is a conflict of ideas, which transcend borders and races.

Why me? I am a dissident, like those from the Eastern side of this city who defected to the West. I too defected to the West. I was born in Somalia, and grew up in Saudi Arabic and Kenya. I used to be faithful to the guidelines laid down by the prophet Muhammad. Like the thousands demonstrating against the Danish drawings, I used to hold the view that Muhammad was perfect — the only source of, and indeed, the criterion between good and bad. In 1989 when Khomeini called for Salman Rushdie to be killed for insulting Muhammad, I thought he was right. Now I don’t.

I think that the prophet was wrong to have placed himself and his ideas above critical thought.

I think that the prophet Muhammad was wrong to have subordinated women to men.

I think that the prophet Muhammad was wrong to have decreed that gays be murdered.

I think that the prophet Muhammad was wrong to have said that apostates must be killed.

He was wrong in saying that adulterers should be flogged and stoned, and the hands of thieves should be cut off.

He was wrong in saying that those who die in the cause of Allah will be rewarded with paradise.

He was wrong in claiming that a proper society could be built only on his ideas.

The prophet did and said good things. He encouraged charity to others. But I wish to defend the position that he was also disrespectful and insensitive to those who disagreed with him.

I think it is right to make critical drawings and films of Muhammad. It is necessary to write books on him in order to educate ordinary citizens on Muhammad.

I do not seek to offend religious sentiment, but I will not submit to tyranny. Demanding that people who do not accept Muhammad’s teachings should refrain from drawing him is not a request for respect but a demand for submission.

I am not the only dissident in Islam. There are more like me here in the West. If they have no bodyguards they work under false identities to protect themselves from harm. But there are also others who refuse to conform: in Teheran, in Doha and Riyadh, in Amman and Cairo, in Khartoum and in Mogadishu, in Lahore and in Kabul.

The dissidents of Islamism, like the dissidents of communism, don’t have nuclear bombs or any other weapons. We have no money from oil like the Saudis. We will not burn embassies and flags. We refuse to get carried away in a frenzy of collective violence. In number we are too small and too scattered to become a collective of anything. In electoral terms here in the west we are practically useless.

All we have are our thoughts; and all we ask is a fair chance to express them. Our opponents will use force to silence us. They will use manipulation; they will claim they are mortally offended. They will claim we are mentally unstable and should not be taken seriously. The defenders of Communism, too, used these methods.

Berlin is a city of optimism. Communism failed. The wall was broken down. Things may seem difficult and confusing today. But I am optimistic that the virtual wall, between lovers of liberty and those who succumb to the seduction and safety of totalitarian ideas will also, one day, come down.

Toon Wars

posted by on February 11 at 1:11 PM

In our comments section, David writes…

For the record: freedom is good — very, very good. Religious fascism is bad — oh so very bad.


Don’t you think that burning embassies and threatening to behead cartoonists and demanding restrictions on free speech do more to “drum up anti-Islamic sentitment” than printing a dozen cartoons?


That’s good to hear, David, but because your posts make you sound as if you believe the exact opposite.

And Eli & David: It’s seems highly condescendinghey, maybe it’s tad racist, tinged with some of that dreaded Orientalismto insist that Islamic protesters aren’t angry about what they keep claiming to be angry about, i.e. the Danish cartoons, freedom of expression (which covers the freedom to offend and freedom to blaspheme), and the refusal of Western governments to assure them that it will never, ever happen again. I don’t see how insisting that they’re not angry about what they keep telling us they’re angry about is somehow more respectful than taking the protesters at their word.

And their words go like this:

“Defending the prophet should continue worldwide,” Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, told the crowd. “Let (U.S. Secretary of State) Condoleezza Rice, (President) Bush and all the tyrants shut up: We are a nation that can’t forgive, be silent or ease up when they insult our prophet and our sacred values.”

“Today, we are defending the dignity of our prophet with a word, a demonstration but let George Bush and the arrogant world know that if we have to … we will defend our prophet with our blood, not our voices,” Nasrallah added… Nasrallah said there would be no compromise before Denmark apologizes and the European Parliament and individual assemblies in Europe pass laws that prohibit insulting the Prophet.

Note that Nasrallah has nothing to say about colonialism. Perhaps Eli and David need to dash over to Beirut and explain to Nasrallah that he’s really upset about colonialism, not freedom of expression or a few drawings of his supposed prophet. Let us know how that trip turns out, guys.

Sorry, Dan.

posted by on February 11 at 12:26 PM

I was poking fun (at you and me). Didn’t mean to sound condescending.

I agree with you: Freedom of speech trumps religious sensitivities. Our disagreement is one of emphasis. I’m more interested in the why of this controversy, because I think addressing that will be the quicker route to less Islamic fundamentalism, more freedom, and fewer deaths over cartoons in the future.

Careful, Eli.

posted by on February 11 at 11:53 AM

Congrats on being the superior human being, Eli. But be careful you don’t nuance yourself into a corner.

But for the record: Oh yes, colonialism sure was bad. I hate colonialism. Colonialism: Bad, colonialism, very, very bad.

But whatever the roots of Islamic rageand, yes, I think we should understand those rootsand whatever is ultimately motivating demands by anti-Democratic religious fascists for restrictions on press freedoms in the West, it doesn’t change the fact that this is, ultimately, an assault on freedom of speech/thought/expression, and it needs to be, whatever its root cause, resisted.

Freedom of thought and expression are too important to be sacrificed on the altar white, liberal, first-world guilt. Get over yourself.

Showtime at the Apollo!

posted by on February 11 at 11:45 AM

Tonight’s the night for the Seattle stop of Showtime at the Apollo. As readers will recall, The Stranger sent Our Worst Enemy(TM) Cienna Madrid to audition for the venerable talent competition, and you can read all about her soul-crushing/character-building exeperience here.

To check out all those performers who beat Ms. Madrid to the “Showtime at the Apollo” stage—including the female vocal group Colors in Harmony, the jazz saxophonist Brandon Willis, and the Shumba Youth Marimba Ensemble, among many others—head down to the Paramount tonight at 8pm…

More Mr. Nuance Guy

posted by on February 11 at 10:51 AM

Dan’s done being Mr. Nice Guy on the Danish cartoon flap. (For those keeping track, his niceness began at 5:39 p.m. yesterday and ended, 40 minutes later, at 6:10 p.m.)

Meanwhile, I’m going to plug along in my role as Mr. Nuance.

Salon has two good pieces that break out of the free speech vs. censorship binary, one of which concerns the reaction in Morocco, a place I lived for a semester while in college. Morocco is overwhelmingly Muslim and was under control of the French during the colonial era, but it’s not an oil state (its biggest exports are phosphorous and hash). Consequently, the post-colonial era has left Morocco feeling more confident (and more chilled out) than other Muslim nations that are still under the thumb of what some call oil neocolonialism.

Which is why people in Morocco sound a bit like the moderate Muslims everyone’s searching for:

“There comes a point when you’ve got to handle your problems yourself — you can’t go on forever blaming poverty and colonialism and relying on your image as a victim.”

But people in Morocco also understand what’s at the root of the outrage in the Middle East:

“At the heart of this discussion is the feeling that America is trying to divide the world into two parts, Christian and Islamic, and now mythologies are being spread, so that everything that is part of Islam is bad, and every Muslim is a terrorist. This is the West’s caricature of the Middle East.”

Or, as the author of the piece puts it:

Perhaps one revelation to come out of all this may be that by drawing Mohammed down to such an earthly plane, you’re fooling with the hope mechanism of millions of believers, just at a time when modernity has never seemed more oppressive and, in many places, the pain of feeling backward has never been stronger.

A second Salon piece looks at the reasons why some regimes in the Middle East have found it so useful to fan the flames of cartoon rage, and the author, in framing how he sees the reactions, again suggests that the legacy of colonialism is at play here:

Muslim touchiness about Western insults to the prophet Mohammed must be understood in historical context. Most Muslim societies have spent the past two centuries either under European rule or heavy European influence, and most colonial masters and their helpmeets among the missionaries were not shy about letting local people know exactly how barbaric they thought the Muslim faith was. The colonized still smart from the notorious signs outside European clubs in the colonial era, such as the one in Calcutta that said, “Dogs and Indians not allowed.”

Indeed, the same themes of Aryan superiority and Semitic backwardness in the European “scientific racism” of the 19th and early 20th centuries that led to the Holocaust against the Jews also often colored the language of colonial administrators in places like Algeria about their subjects. A caricature of a Semitic prophet like Mohammed with a bomb in his turban replicates these racist themes of a century and a half ago, wherein Semites were depicted as violent and irrational and therefore as needing a firm white colonial master for their own good…

It isn’t just about some cartoons. It is about independence and the genuine liberty to define yourself rather than being defined by the imperial West.

To listen to a somewhat nuanced discussion of the cartoon controversy that took place yesterday on KUOW and included me, P-I columnist Susan Paynter, and P-I cartoonist David Horsey, click here, and then scroll down to “Your Take on the News.”

What He Said…

posted by on February 11 at 10:20 AM


.My most devoted reader, Mickey Kaus, calls my defense of freedom of speech, including the right to offend others’ religions, “close to unhinged.” Then there’s the perspective of someone just returning from Europe. By the way, I do not believe that a single one of the cartoons is objectively offensive, given the criteria applied to other cartoons in the West. Muhammad with a bomb as a turban is the only close call. But when mass-murderers specifically cite Muhammad as the inspiration for their terror, are cartoonists the actual blasphemers for depicting that connection - or the murderers they are criticizing? If Islamists blaspheme their own faith on a daily basis, then the West has every right to illustrate that fact. With no apology needed. What we’re seeing here is the emergence of a special dispensation for Islam in the West - to be free from the kind of rough treatment accorded every other faith. The only rational justification for such a double standard is that Islam is somehow more sacred than Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, and the like. But, of course, the actual justification for the double-standard is merely fear. The intimidation is working and has worked.

The Swedish government got a website pulled down for posting an image that wasn’t even Mohammed, but some whackos might read as Mohammed. Hezbollah’s Sheik Hassan Nasrallah is calling for the EU and all member states to enact laws that restrict press freedoms and ban insulting their prophet. The EU has indicated that it may do just that.

So this is, at the end of the day, all about freedom of expressionincluding the freedom to offend.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Northwest Film Forum Announces Spring Program

posted by on February 10 at 6:40 PM

The Film Forum hasn’t posted the new schedule on its website yet, but here’s a sneak peek at some of the highlights:

MARCH 3-16: Duma, the heartwarming cheetah/boy friendship movie that Manohla Dargis called “piercingly beautiful”.

MARCH 17-22: A History of Jean-Luc Godard. The program includes a week of my personal Godard favorite, Band of Outsiders, plus the Seattle premiere of the massive video epic Histoires du Cinema.

APRIL 7-13: The Intruder. Mmmmmm, Claire Denis. This one is reportedly a little zonked, but anything by Denis is an absolute must-see.

APRIL 14-20: Innocence. I am so excited. So excited. Now I don’t have to go to Portland next weekend! (But April 14 is a long time to wait…) Innocence about little girls and ribbons and scary Germanic forests, and it’s by a woman with an unpronounceable last name who sleeps with brutosaurus rex Gaspar Noé. In other words: It’s gotta be good.

Why Does This Depress Me?

posted by on February 10 at 6:33 PM

In flipping through the newest copy of Esquire, I saw on p. 70 a full-page color photo of Steve Pool, KOMO weatherman. He is in a section devoted to “style icons” from around the country.

He looks handsome, sure, but…the STYLE ICON OF WASHINGTON STATE???

I look at his photo and think not “He’s got a great fashion sense” but rather “He’s got a great agent.”

No More Mr. Nice Guy

posted by on February 10 at 6:10 PM

Okay, I got all sensitive. But now, after reading Charles Krauthammer’s op-ed in the Washington Post, I’m going to blow whatever good will my last post might have earned me. I agree with most of what Krauthammer has to sayand that’s not my usual reaction to his op-eds.

There is a “sensitivity” argument for not having published the cartoons in the first place, back in September when they first appeared in that Danish newspaper. But it is not September. It is February. The cartoons have been published, and the newspaper, the publishers and Denmark itself have come under savage attack. After multiple arsons, devastating boycotts, and threats to cut off hands and heads, the issue is no longer news value, i.e., whether a newspaper needs to publish them to inform the audience about what is going on. The issue now is solidarity.

The mob is trying to dictate to Western newspapers, indeed Western governments, what is a legitimate subject for discussion and caricature. The cartoons do not begin to approach the artistic level of Salman Rushdie’s prose, but that’s not the point. The point is who decides what can be said and what can be drawn within the precincts of what we quaintly think of as the free world.

The mob has turned this into a test case for freedom of speech in the West. The German, French and Italian newspapers that republished these cartoons did so not to inform but to defy — to declare that they will not be intimidated by the mob.

What is at issue is fear. The unspoken reason many newspapers do not want to republish is not sensitivity but simple fear.

i agree. Like I told the Seattle Times, the question people should be asking is not “Why are these images in The Stranger,” but, “Why aren’t these images in the Seattles Times and the PI and the Thrifty Nickel.”

You can read the rest of Krauthammer’s op-ed here.

This Week on Slog

posted by on February 10 at 5:50 PM

Friday, February 3

Dan Savage reported that the Danish cartoonists at the center of the shit storm were in hiding, and we received our first request to run the illustrations the world is still talking about. Also, GasGirl and Josh Feit turned the comments thread for last week’s This Week on Slog into a surreal boxing ring. The match ended when Josh invited GasGirl to join him and his friends at their weekly politics-and-margaritas night. (She never showed.)

Saturday, February 4

A dull day on Slogwe must have been busy watching the wild weather or vacuumingwas enlivened by a photo of an all-Danish Super Bowl snack spread.

Sunday, February 5

If you didn’t read Dan’s marathon Super Bowl coverage (start here, then scroll up for “part two” and “final thoughts”), you should. (I now wish I would have taken him up on his game-day invite instead of hiding out at the spa.) The comments are funny, too.

Monday, February 6

In the Super Bowl aftermath, a hung-over Bradley Steinbacher went to the Seahawks’ welcome-home rally. Meanwhile, Erica C. Barnett reported from City Hall, the site of Sally Clark’s swearing in and the building’s first public lesbian kiss. She also carefuly described the Capitol Hill Value Village’s amazing Black History Month window display. And Charles Mudede sparked a discussion on fat athletes.

Tuesday, February 7

David Schmader slogged about the dried, pulverized beetles that give their lives to provide the berry color in at least two popular brands of yogurt. The earnest Catholic activists of C’YA first came to our attention on Tuesday via a press release, and later we saw photos from their rag-tag protest at Westlake. And, as the Danish cartoon meme continued to snowball, we discovered Seattle’s first public display of one of the controversial cartoonson a poster affixed to a light pole outside our offices. In what must be a record for Slog, 93 comments appeared in response. Right now, Wassup has the last word

This issue is not about free speech! It is an attempt to inflame the Muslim world! Remember when Sinead O’Connor tore up a photo of the Pope on Saturday Night Live? No embassies were torched, but many Catholics were extremely offended, and Sinead’s career tanked. Let’s see those papers that published these cartoons publish similar one’s making fun of Jesus, the Pope, Etc. When and if that happens, THEN it will be an issue of Free Speech, since OUR heroes will then have been trashed!
but likely not for long.
Three hours later, Dan posted The Stranger’s March 31 cover cartoon and noted that “no one questioned our right to put this cartoon on the cover of our paper.” And the debate raged on.

Wednesday, February 8

Eli Sanders posted his response to the Danish cartoon controversy. And we got an incredible letter from a self-proclaimed horse fucker. Readers asked practical questions, and another horse fucker (or maybe the same one?) offered answers in the comments thread.

Thursday, February 9

David Schmader recapped the Grammys for all of us who watched Project Runway instead; the cartoon controversy continued to hiss, simmer, and boil; and Annie Wagner penned the best Slog header of the week.

Friday, February 10

Christopher Frizzelle found a typo in the New Yorker, David Schmader and Kelly O teamed up to produce another look at that Value Village window (with pictures, this time), and Larry Mizell Jr. marked the passing of hiphop producer James Yancey.


posted by on February 10 at 5:39 PM

I’m sorry I haven’t been able to Slog at all todayI was out of town for two days, and had a lot of catching up to do, and a feature to edit.

I did want to respond to a guy who is currently ranting up a storm in our comments and forums. Paul writes…

Wake up Seattle. This Islam is not Kind Its a new Mein Kampf a new third reich and instead of Brown Shirts they where Veils and Turbons and even got their Kids doing the mohammed goosestep.

I’ve used the term “Islamo-fascist,” and I’ve been called a racist for doing so. I don’t think it’s racistand it’s not a term applies to all Muslims. I do, however, think it applies to Muslims who want to force everyone else on earth to live by the strictures of their faith. Read Osama bin Laden’s letters to Americahe’s a fascist. Thankfully, however, the term can only be applied to a small percentage of Muslims. You paint with too broad rush, Paul, and I would describe your rants as racist.

By way of evidence, I would point to the reaction of Seattle’s Muslim community to the Stranger’s decision to publish some of the allegedly “blasphemous” Mohammed cartoons. Their reaction? Well, so far as I can tell, it consisted of a giving a few quotes to a Seattle Times reporter. We’ve received no death threats, there have been no demonstrations outside our offices, and my head is still firmly attached to my shoulders.

American Muslims, Seattle’s Muslimsthey get it, Paul. While the editors of other papers pussy around, worrying about giving offense, Seattle’s Muslims reacted to our decision to print the `toons in much the same way that Seattle’s Catholics reacted to our dying Pope cover: they shrugged it off. Sucking up the occasional dig, even the occasional blasphemous outrage, is part of the price of admission in our culture, and Muslims are no less capable of paying that price.

So it’s hardly fair to insist that all of Islam, or all Muslims, are fascist. Islam has a problema mosque was bombed today in Iraq by Muslims. But Islam, like Catholicism before it (which has a long history of coddling fascists), can right itself. The West can help Islam right itself by refusing to enact a double standard, i.e. to carve out an exception for Islam, when it comes to free speech, thought, expression, etc.

Update on animal research at UW

posted by on February 10 at 5:35 PM

In his capacity as acting director of the University of Washington Primate Center, Dave Anderson must endure the occasional attack from an animal rights advocate, and the most recent came from Michael Budkie, the man behind Stop Animal Exploitation Now (SAEN).

On Thursday SAEN sent a blistering press release to Seattle media in which he accused UW researchers of violating research standards in their treatment of macacas — the adorable monkeys that are research subjects in biomedical studies. (For more, see yesterday’s slog post.)

It seems SAEN may not be entirely sane. Anderson says that the group embellishes information researchers submit to federal regulators. Example: Budkie claimed to have “leaked” the documents he posted on-line, which detail the treatment of macacas. Anderson says that in fact those documents are public.

SAEN suggested that UW reported selectively about the primates under its care, noting a discrepancy of nearly a 1,000 between one filing and another. What was happening to those missing 1,000 primates? SAEN smelled a cover-up. Anderson says the truth wasn’t quite so dramatic: One filing dealt purely with the primates in UW labs, while the other added those primates who were off-site, in breeding facilities. So the missing 1,000 monkeys were simply running around, having lotsa sex.

Anderson says that while the documents SAEN posted on-line are authentic, they leave out important context. First, there are layers and layers of regulation, including annual, random inspections by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to make sure that the labs are following by research standards. There is a UW review board (Anderson sits on it) that examines an experiment’s protocol before allowing it to commence. That is, are the researchers going to treat the animals humanely? And is the object of the research important enough to justify the use of monkeys? If not, the study doesn’t happen.

Anderson says that the monkeys involved in experiments are given the same mix of anesthetic and painkillers that humans would be if they were undergoing the same operation.

Finally, there’s the ‘end justifies the means’ argument: The studies at UW may help doctors understand how to restore motor function in people who have had strokes; or they may help lead to an AIDS vaccine, among other study goals.

More on Mohammed

posted by on February 10 at 5:17 PM

Controversial? Outspoken? This woman has balls the size of Texas.

Cheney to be “taken care of”

posted by on February 10 at 4:52 PM

Now that we know Vice President Dick Cheney likely authorized Libby’s leak about an undercover CIA agent’s identity, it might be worth examining again the Bush administration’s policies about how to deal with leakers.

First, here is White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan, speaking on Septemer 29, 2003, just a few months after the scandal broke, declaring that anyone found to have leaked classified information “would no longer been in this administration.”

Second, Bush’s remarks the very next day, at a press conference in Chicago:

Let me just say something about leaks in Washington. There are too many leaks of classified information in Washington. There’s leaks at the executive branch; there’s leaks in the legislative branch. There’s just too many leaks. And if there is a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is. And if the person has violated law, the person will be taken care of.

When a guy who talks with a cowboy twang says someone will be “taken care of”, one assumes that said care involves at least a severe thrashing, which is the least of what Cheney deserves. But our president is incapable of irony — at least the intentional kind. His words should always be taken literally. And so, a prediction: Cheney will resign on the pretext of health concerns, and despite the growing body of evidence that suggests otherwise, he’ll be lauded as a “great American” and praised for his integrity — just a short while before the words “Cheney indicted” appear on front pages worldwide. That’s how Republicans take care of their own.

It Has Begun…

posted by on February 10 at 2:51 PM

Oh, joy: the South Dakota House has passed a bill that would effectively ban abortion in the state.

According to the Associated Press, proposed exceptions for rape, incest, and health issues were rejected, and the bill now proceeds to the South Dakota Senate.

As the AP writes, “Supporters are pushing the measure in hopes of drawing a legal challenge that will cause the US Supreme Court to reverse its 1973 decision legalizing abortion.”

Full story here.

P-I Flip Flop?

posted by on February 10 at 2:50 PM

Thanks to this post on Sound Politics for pointing out the following:

A November, 2003 column in the P-I defended the publication of this Ted Rall cartoon, saying: “Cartoons should provoke discourse, and wild exaggerations do just that. Especially when they make us uncomfortable.”

But then, as Stefan Sharkansky points out, the P-I ran an editorial like this about their decision to not print those zany cartoons that have people pulling their beards out: “It’s hard to understand why any cartoon, no matter how offensive, could be cause or justification for deadly mayhem. But publishing culturally insensitive and offending material as an in-your-face retort to the fanaticism is just as senseless.”

So provocative cartoons that get us talking and make us uncomfortable are great, except… not?

The Kids Ain’t All Right

posted by on February 10 at 2:36 PM

Evidently our little lampooning of last week’s “War on Saint Valentine’s Day” protest didn’t go over well with the dullards doing the protesting. From their site:


We had our successful protest at Westlake, got interviewed by Q13 Fox, but never heard a word from the Seattle Times, the Seattle Weekly, or the Strangerso how come the Stranger is claiming responsibility for our demonstration?

That is TOTALLY FALSE. We’ve never heard of Reverend Buddy, but we’re pretty sure he was made up by the Stranger. Not only are they lying, they’re making fun of putting the SAINT back in Saint Valentine’s Day. And have you seen the issue that’s out right now? With “Saint Misbehavin’” (which sounds of racist, don’t you think?) and scantily-clad people on the cover?

That’s exactly the kind of sexualization, commercialization, and shallowness that has taken the SAINT out of Saint Valentine’s Day. So we’re going to have another demonstrationthis time on February 14, Saint Valentine’s Day, in front of the Stranger offices. Join us to show your displeasure with the Stranger’s mockery, its hyper-sexualization, and its selling out to commercial interests.

C’YA there!

Dear C’YA: If you want to protest against us, grab a number and stand in line. As for our “claiming responsibility” for your weak little demonstration, we weren’t claiming responsibility, we were mocking your supremely misguided asses.

And by the way, Reverend Buddy ain’t the only fictional character we have here at The Stranger.

The Other Night I Found a Typo in The New Yorker (This Hasn’t Happened in Years)

posted by on February 10 at 2:01 PM

There are typos in the New York Times just about every day, and typos in The Stranger every week, but I can’t remember the last time I found a typo in the most meticulously edited magazine in the world. Until two nights ago, when I was catching up on the October 17, 2005 issue of The New Yorker. It was in an article by William Finnegan, who is awesome, and it was about an East Coast dealer of rare maps named E. Forbes Smiley who is an expert in colonial American cartography — he knows more about it than many librarians and scholars and has turned his expertise into a lucrative business selling these maps to the super rich. (Some go for hundreds of thousands of dollars.) It was a mystery to some how he was able to acquire such rare stuff until one day when he was found to have dropped the blade of an Exacto knife on the floor of the special collections library at Yale University. Turns out he may have stolen maps from map collections and rare atlases in libraries around the world. He was also found to be carrying pretty good facsimiles of old maps, which he may have been using to replace the genuine articles in who knows how many libraries. (Most libraries do not know every single item in their collection, or what is on every page of an old atlas, and don’t count pages when visitors are done using them.) The case is currently in criminal litigation, and updates on the trial, and links to coverage of the case, are available here.

The article itself, though, is not online. But if you have your October 17 issue handy, the typo is in the last full paragraph on the second page of the article. It is a closed quotation mark that has no preceding open quotation mark. I stared at it for about ten minutes before I believed what I was seeing. I’ve thought things were typos in The New Yorker before that weren’t. This one is definitely a typo. This is the kind of discovery — we are all fallible, it says — that makes my week.


posted by on February 10 at 1:40 PM

My favorite beatsmith, widely regarded as the best hiphop producer ever, James Yancey AKA J Dilla AKA Jay Dee, has passed- presumably due to the health troubles that have plagued him in the last 2 years.
Image Hosted by
Rest In Peace, brother.

Friday on Bumbershoot’s Mind

posted by on February 10 at 1:12 PM

Venerable Seattle arts festival Bumbershoot has announced it will delete Friday from its Labor Day Weekend extravaganza (it takes place for the 36th time this year September 2-4 at Seattle Center). Friday traditionally has been the weakest day for the fest in both attendance and aesthetics.

On Bumbershoot’s website, festival producer Heather Smith explains the cut from four days to three, “We decided to consolidate every single programming dollar into three days instead of four for maximum impact. We’re trying to achieve a virtual explosion of artistry in the three-day weekend so we can give our audience an amazing experience.”

An informal poll (and my own opinion) reveals that losing Friday won’t necessarily be a bad thing. B-shoot has been spreading itself too thin with the talent-booking anyway. Condensing the fest to three days will likely result in a higher quality lineupand lessen fatigue in attendees and festival workers.

However, Bumbershoot slicing a quarter from its schedule could be symptomatic of a deeper problem, maybe even a foreshadowing of impending doom. We’ll be digging to discover if more worrisome fissures exist within the organization than were revealed in the rather innocuous PR statement and will report our findings in next week’s issue.

Testicular Controversy

posted by on February 10 at 1:04 PM

Jonathan Ames did a reading last night at the Tractor. He was hilarious. Everyone loved him. If you haven’t read his novels, you’re a mad fool. As for the question of whether his right testicle is visible on the cover of his new book, he is taking a poll and invites you to weigh in via email to Is it indeed his testis? His liver has also been floated as an option. This makes no sense; though he’s apparently given it quite a workout at times, it still wouldn’t crawl outside his body. Is it just “an odd shadow”? Or something else altogether?

Mr. Ames previously held a contest to locate the most phallic building in the world.

Value Village Black History Month Display Update

posted by on February 10 at 12:52 PM

Earlier this week, Erica C. Barnett slogged about the black history month display in the window of the 11th Ave Value Village.

Like Erica, I am deeply fascinated by this window display, which I don’t take as an aggressive expression of anyone’s racism, just a muddle-headed attempt to commemorate a month.

Still, what the hell is this doing in there? Or this?

This, however, is adorable. But really, nothing can make up for the extravagant weirdness of this. Did plush burros play an integral role in black history? Am I missing something?

(Photos by Kelly O.)

Shatnergate: Party Crasher Responds

posted by on February 10 at 12:35 PM

In response to this week’s Party Crasher, people have pointed out that the following sentence contains an error:

During the game itself, conversation wanders from the cinematography of Sergio Leone films to the all-Esperanto movie starring William Shatner and Adam West.

One such e-mail response goes, partially, as follows:

There was no such movie. Presumably your writer is referring to Incubus, which starred William Shatner. I have no idea where he got Adam West from…Although the movie is interesting, the Esperanto pronunciation and grammar is often bad.

That is true. Though there was a Shatner movie filmed in Esperanto, there was no Adam West/William Shatner movie filmed in Esperanto. However, the confusion in the conversation probably blossomed from the following bit of Hollywood trivia: there was a television pilot, filmed in English, starring William Shatner as Alexander the Great. This pilot also featured Adam West and John Cassevetes. Why this television show was not picked up and, in fact, why this television show is not still on the air is something that I will never understand.
Nevertheless, I would like to take this opportunity to apologize. To everyone who was troubled by my reporting a conversation that referred to a William Shatner film that did not exist: I’m sorry.
I’d also like to apologize to fans of Mr. Shatner and/or Mr. West.
Also, I’d like to apologize to speakers of Esperanto: the language was a great idea, but it just didn’t catch on. It’s great that you’re still trying, though. Keep it up!


posted by on February 10 at 12:33 PM

“The two things that everyone assumes about me are not true: that I like KISS and that I like to do shots. Neither is true.”Hannah Levin (newest staffer)

Ask Me What I Had for Dinner Last Night

posted by on February 10 at 12:20 PM

Go ahead, ask. Okay, it was hot dog on a stick. And boy was it yummy! We were downtown to see Transamerica (so good!) and were looking for a quick snack before the movie. We were poking around the food court at Westlake Center, when I spotted the elusive delicacy. Mine was a veggie dog, or course, and they batter and cook it right in front of you. It was fresh, hot, and deeelicious.

Sex workers and small wrongs

posted by on February 10 at 11:31 AM

Non-asexuals with carsthe Sex Workers’ Art Show is coming to Portland tonight and Oly tomorrow (no Seattle date), with burlesque, spoken-word, music, multimedia performance art, and visual art. The idea is to “dispel the myth that (sex workers) are anything short of artists, innovators, and geniuses!” Performers include Whitney Biennial artist and burlesque performer Julie Atlas Muz, queer author Michelle Tea, hip-hop poet Juba Kalamka, prostitutes’ rights mama Scarlot Harlot, Olympia filmmaker Bridget Irish, y mucho mas.

This from the orgasmic promo:

The show includes people from all areas of the sex industry: strippers, prostitutes, dommes, film stars, phone sex operators, internet models, etc. It smashes traditional stereotypes and  moves beyond “positive” and “negative” into a fuller articulation of the complicated ways sex workers experience their jobs and their lives. The Sex Workers’ Art Show entertains, arouses, and amazes while simultaneously offering scathing and insightful commentary on notions of class, gender, labor, and sexuality!

For more information, visit

2/10 Portland, OR   Reed College
2/11 Olympia, WA   The Capitol Theatre

One other thing: I’ve no idea how I left Viveza Gallery off of the vis art calendar this week, since I received the press release for its opening tonight several dozen times, so here’s the info, with an apology. Sorry.

VIVEZA Gallery, 2604 Western Ave., welcomes the work of figurative painter Doug Smithenry Feb. 10 to March 19. Smithenry will be at the opening reception from 6 to 10 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 10. This is a rare chance to meet this breakthrough figurative painter. Smithenry proves that art is indestructible. He culls images of people and landscapes from the Internet as his only source for generating art. The outcome is often an intentionally flighty collection of paintings that mirror the arbitrary nature of search engine results.

My Name Is Christopher and I’m Ex-Gay

posted by on February 10 at 10:28 AM

Just kidding. That’s what my mom would LOVE to hear. When I came out a couple years ago she started sending me books and magazines and kits of Christian propoganda about how to become ex-gay. Once I went home to visit her in California and she loaned me her car and had sneakily put a tape designed to reprogram my mind in the cassette deck. I love her, and I tried to be nice about it, and then I had to not be nice about it, and we didn’t talk for a year.

I was reminded of all this reading Dan Savage’s op-ed piece in the New York Times this morning. Representative sentence: “If anyone reading this believes that gay men can actually become ex-gay men, I have just one question for you: Would you want your daughter to marry one?”

Funny Old Men

posted by on February 10 at 10:26 AM

Before we jump back into the land of Danish cartoonists (new slogan the tourism industry never thought it’d see: “The DanesThey’re a Riot!”), here’s a funny:

Last night, I read Kennth Tynan’s 1978 profile of Johnny Carson, which is pretty good, but not as good as Hilton Als’s 1999 profile of Richard Pryor.

Anyway, two lines cracked me up. One, by Carson, satirizing the pro-gun lobby: “Always remember: you can get more with a smile and a gun than you can with just a smile.”

The other, by Gore Vidal, when he agreed to accept Tynan’s daughter as godchild: “Always a godfather, never a god.”

My Flowery Junk

posted by on February 10 at 10:16 AM

Not too long ago, while visiting my favorite bookstore in this city, Magus, I found and bought a used hardback copy of Dickens’ London. Once owned by a woman named Betty L. Kubersmith, the book is a collection of Dickens’ writings on what he saw and experienced during his long walks through famous and neglected sections of the world’s first industrialized metropolis, whose everyday life “was inexhaustible food” for his literary imagination. The chapter “Chinese Junk” stands above the rest. It’s a copy of a letter Charles Dickens wrote to his friend and biographer John Foster in 1848, concerning a junk called Keying that was docked in London at the time. “Drive down to the blackwall railway,” writes Dickens, “and for the matter of eighteen pence you are at the Chinese Empire in no time…How the flowery region ever came into this latitude and longitude is the first thing one asks.”
In this district where London’s “chimney-pots, backs of squalid houses, narrow courts and streets, swamps, ditches, masts of ships, gardens of duckweed, and unwholesome little bowers of scarlet beans, whirl away in a flying dream, and nothing is left but China,” Dickens comes across the junk. This is what he sees:

“…Gaudy dragons and sea monsters disporting themselves from stem to stern, and on the stern a gigantic cock of impossible aspect defying the world…it would look more at home at the top of a public building, or at the top of a mountain…than afloat on the water…But by Jove! Even this is nothing to your surprise when you go down into the cabin. There you get into a torture of perplexity. As what became of all those lanterns hanging to the roof when the junk was out at sea? Whether they dangled there, banging and beating against each other…Whether the idol Chin Tee, of the eighteen arms, enshrined in a celestial Punch’s Show, in the place of honor, ever tumbled out in heavy weather. Whether incense and the joss stick still burnt before her, with faint perfume and a little thread of smoke, while the mighty waves were raging all around. Whether that preposterous tissue-paper umbrella in the corner was always spread, as being a convenient maritime instrument for walking about the decks with in a storm? Whether anybody on the voyage ever read those books printed in characters like bird-cages and fire-traps?”

Dickens is amazed at how “the crew of Chinamen aboard” this junk, which was rescued from a storm by a sturdy and practical British ship, ever imagined “their good ship would turn up quite safe, at the desired port.” But what he finds to be preposterous, I find to be the very attitude one should take towards life, which is itself a vast, often troubled, often stormy sea. It is in accordance with this impractical junk that I decorate my little apartment. I want it to be full of inconveniences, full of the tissue-paper thin things that are in the Keying’s cabin, so that as I sleep, dream, read, these impractical perfumes, lamps, lanterns and other frail fancies are “banging and beating against each other” as the “mighty waves” of human existence are “raging all around” my apartment.

Mike Fancher Vs. the Dave Ross Show

posted by on February 10 at 6:15 AM

I was on the Dave Ross show on Thursday afternoon talking about our decision to reprint four of the Muhammad cartoons.

First I explained our reasons for running the images.

1) We’re a newspaper. It’s a huge news story, and the cartoons are the central part of the story. (It’d be condescending to protect our readers from that central piece of the story)

For example, every paper in the world republishes the president of Iran’s arguments that the Holocaust is a “myth.” That’s offensive to Jews, but everyone publishes his commentsand they should!because it’s the heart of that story. (Yes, those stories also include other world leaders’ condemnations of his offensive POV, but the stories never actually haul out the massive objective evidence to set him straight.)

2) Our story came out in favor of freedom of speech, and so it seemed obvious that we should exercise our right to freedom of speech, even if it makes some people uncomfortable.

3) In the context of the current debate, the cartoons have taken on a larger meaning than simply being offensive drawings. They are now symbols of free speech.

Then I asked Ross why the Seattle Times wasn’t on the show defending its position NOT to run the cartoons. That seemed to me, like the more relevant question.

Well, about ten minutes later, Seattle Times executive editor Mike Fancher phoned in to defend his paper’s position. Ross gave him about 5 minutes, and then he turned the microphone back to me. (Gotta say: Ross didn’t seem to be buying Fancher’s postion.)

I’d like to find an audio clip of the show so Slog readers could check out the exchange, but I can’t find one on KIRO’s web site.

KIRO tech staff, are you out there? How do I link to the broadcast?

Thursday, February 9, 2006

Re: Emerald City Soul Club. There Wont be a Cooling-Off Period

posted by on February 9 at 7:32 PM

Megan, you beat me to it.
I was going to Slog about the Emerald City Soul Club.
I went to my first ECSC last month, and I will never miss one now.
This is the best dance night in the city. And if you stay until 2am, as I did last time, the DJs start handing out free CDs culled from their soul sets.

John Lewis (the young turk who almost upstaged MLK Jr. at the March on Washington w/ an angry speech criticizing John F. Kennedy’s pending civil rights bill) says it all with this quote from his 1998 autobiography about the civil rights movement:

But the one person who made more of an impact than anyone else on our meetings that fall 1959 was a young woman named Diane Nash. The first thing you have to say about Dianethe first thing anyone who encountered her noticed, and there was no way not to noticeis that she was one of God’s beautiful creatures, just about the most gorgeous woman any of us had ever seen…She was from Chicago.

And here’s Lewis in ‘63 from his March on Washington speech, two speakers before King:

“True, we support the administration’s civil-rights bill, but this bill will not protect young children and old women from police dogs and fire hoses. What is in the bill that will protect the homeless and starving people of this nation? What is there in this bill to insure the equality of a maid who earns five dollars a week in the home of a family whose income is a hundred thousand dollars a year? This bill will not protect the hundreds of people who have been arrested on trumped-up charges, like those in Americus, Georgia, where four young men are in jail, facing a death penalty, for engaging in peaceful protest.

Listen, Mr. Kennedy, listen, Mr. Congressman, listen, fellow citizensthe black masses are on the march for jobs and freedom, and we must say to the politicians that there won’t be a ‘cooling-off’ period. We won’t stop now. All of the forces of Eastland, Barnett and Wallace and Thurmond won’t stop this revolution.”

Animal activists target UW

posted by on February 9 at 6:04 PM

A group that crusades against unethical animal research is accusing the University of Washington of abusing the primates in its medical laboratories.

Stop Animal Exploitation Now (SAEN) leaked documents on its website that purport to be UW’s filing with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which monitors animal research. Those documents suggest that the university’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee approved 44 exceptions to the usual standards for treatment of lab animals.

SAEN executive director Michael Budkie says that list of exceptions is “the largest I’ve ever seen.”

Macacas, which are small monkeys, allegedly were implanted with eye coils and “head-stabilizing acrylic lugs.” Researchers allegedly drilled tiny holes into Macacas’ skulls and performed surgeries such as laminectomies (involving the removal of an arch of a vertebra), and laparotomies (involving examination of internal organs).

Budkie said the USDA “accidentally” published the documents online. A spokesman for UW, Craig Degginger, withheld comment until he could examine the documents himself.

Emerald City Soul Club

posted by on February 9 at 5:47 PM

Sadly, this information wasn’t received in time to include it in this week’s calendar, but the Emerald City Soul Club events are pretty rad (and they star our receptionist, Mike Nipper, as resident DJ!), so I wanted to make sure ya’ll knew about it.


Force-feeding Guantanamo detainees

posted by on February 9 at 5:30 PM


Anti-Muslim Editorial in LA Times

posted by on February 9 at 5:16 PM

This will send some folks panties straight up their cracks…

In case you missed it, David, the LA Times ran an op-ed today admonishing Muslims all over the world for losing their shit over a bunch of cartoonssome of which are, yes, inflamatory, but some are completely neutral. A few of the original 12 are even critical of the newspaper that ran them in the first place. (Read this excellent BBC story for a good picture of what was actually in that Danish paper.) Anyway, I was in LA today, doing my part to advance the collapse of Western Civ. by taping an inane TV program, and I picked up the LA Times and spotted this:

Can [the world] help but think that Muslims are violent? Several newspapers have reported that some Muslim leaders have called for the deaths of those who published the cartoons. Muslims have burned Danish flags and destroyed Danish embassies in Muslim countries; people have died in the protests.

The violent response also makes it seem that the cartoons are worth viewing, that they are important. If the intent is to prevent people from seeing offensive images about Islam, the tactic has backfired. Everyone (including me) now wants to view the cartoons.

And Muslims appear to have a double standard. [They] cry out that Islam should not be desecrated, but in several countries where the majority is Muslim, it is illegal or incredibly difficult for minority religions to build churches, synagogues or temples.

Finally, it seems as if Muslims do not believe in freedom…. when others express views that are offensive to Muslims, there is no tolerance.

Wow. What bigotry! Off with that man’s Orientalist head!

Oh, waitthe author is a Muslim. Jamil Momand is a prof at Cal State in Los Angeles. Go read the whole op-ed by clicking here.

In other news, before I left for the airport in LA I heard a speaker at a rally shown on CNN insist that the protests would continue until Europe changed its laws about free speech. We should certainly be aware of the damage that colonialism did to the Middle East, but we can aslosimultaneoulsy evensee this threat for what it is.

When I landed in Seattle, I opened my laptop to this headline: EU mulls media code after cartoon protest. So is it okay to view this conflict as a fight over freedom of thought and expression now?

More Sexy Peeps

posted by on February 9 at 4:46 PM

Seattle’s Sexiest Saints (and the runners-up) have been baked into one delicious batch for your viewing pleasure.
a shame-faced Stranger shout-out to sexy, sexy Patrick Dent2006’s cutest cupid and Patron Saint of Waiters (and ex-Stranger intern)whom we misidentified on page 20 of today’s paper.

Is It Wrong…

posted by on February 9 at 3:52 PM

….that I find this more offensive than any blasphemous cartoon?


posted by on February 9 at 3:51 PM

So far, 8 U.S. newspapers have reprinted some of Jyllands-Posten’s Muhammad cartoons.

In Chronological order:

1) The New York Sun (Feb 2) (2 Cartoons)

2) Riverside Press Enterprise (California) (Feb 3) (1 cartoon)

3) Austin American-Statesman (Feb 3) (1 cartoon)

4) Philadelphia Inquirer (Feb 4) (1 cartoon)

5) Denver Rocky Mountain News (Feb 7) (1 cartoon)

6) Victorville Daily Press (California) (Feb 8) (1 cartoon)

7) The Stranger (Feb 9) (4 cartoons)

8) Daily Illini (Newspaper of the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana) (Feb 9) (6 cartoons)

81 papers have have reprinted them worldwide. The Stranger was the 77th to do so.

Tres controversial.

Attention Eagle-Eyes

posted by on February 9 at 3:51 PM

The Stranger needs an ace proofreader part time (Mon-Tues, 11 am-8 pm). Applicants must have two years of proofreading or editing experience and be able to remain precise and unflappable under pressure. Send your resumé and a brief letter of introduction to No phone calls, please.

Freedom to Offend

posted by on February 9 at 2:46 PM

Letters are pouring in regarding the paper running four of the controversial Danish cartoons, and you’ll be able to read them all online in a day or two. In the meantime, and in case you haven’t weighed in yet, check out these lively forum threads on the topic:
Denmark & Etcetera, Cartoons, and Boycott the Stranger.

Who Likes Leaking Classified Information? Dick Cheney

posted by on February 9 at 2:40 PM

Via the amazing Murray Waas, who always seems to be ahead of the rest in reporting on the CIA leak case:

Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff, I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby, testified to a federal grand jury that he had been “authorized” by Cheney and other White House “superiors” in the summer of 2003 to disclose classified information to journalists to defend the Bush administration’s use of prewar intelligence in making the case to go to war with Iraq, according to attorneys familiar with the matter, and to court records.

Scraping Santorum into a Little Puddle and Putting It in a Garbage Can

posted by on February 9 at 2:28 PM

By now everyone is familiar with our dear editor’s effort to besmirch the dubious name of Senator Rick Santorum by defining his surname (lowercase) as “the frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex.”

Seattlest has the goods on the sneaky, humorless Senate staffers (presumably Santorum’s own) who have edited Wikipedia articles to remove any reference to the nasty substance which is now inextricably linked with the homophobic legislator’s tenure in the halls of government.

I should note that as of right now, the Wikipedia entry in question does include a reference to the new definition of santorum. Keep fighting the good fight, wiki editors!

Geek gourmet

posted by on February 9 at 1:32 PM

I don’t know what’s more thrillingthat these hacker geeks are teaching themselves to cook analytically, or that they have an event called “Dorkbot.”

Loves me some Dorkbot.

Devo 2.0. Not a joke.

posted by on February 9 at 1:25 PM

We just got this e-mail telling us all about Walt Disney Records’ new project, Devo 2.0.

Partnering with one of the 80’s most innovative and iconic bands, Devo, Devo 2.0 is a group of five talented kids that have re-recorded ten of Devo’s original songs, and added new energy. The original members of Devo played on the album and are very much involved and supportive of the project, which allowing them to pass the timeless music of Devo onto a new generation.

I just threw up in my mouth a little bit…

Not Safe For Work (Unless You Perform Oral Sex In Video Games For Work)

posted by on February 9 at 1:06 PM

I don’t know which is sadder…
The fact that this movie is counting on a Grand Theft Auto-type outrage to advertise itself, or the fact that the makers of the promotional video game think that cunnilingus follows the same rules as Dance Dance Revolution.

Cartoon Clarity

posted by on February 9 at 12:50 PM

It’s becoming very clear that the Danish cartoon controversy is not a simple matter of Western respect for freedom of speech colliding with the sensitivities (or oversensitivities) of some Muslims.

Take a look at this article in today’s New York Times, which shows how the governments of Egypt and Saudi Arabia (both of which rely on U.S. military and financial support in order to maintain their power) helped transform the Danish cartoons from a controversy in one small European country into a cause for rioting in the Middle East. Why would they do this?

Sari Hanafi, an associate professor at the American University in Beirut, said that for Arab governments resentful of the Western push for democracy, the protests presented an opportunity to undercut the appeal of the West to Arab citizens. The freedom pushed by the West, they seemed to say, brought with it disrespect for Islam.

He said the demonstrations “started as a visceral reaction of course they were offended and then you had regimes taking advantage saying, ‘Look, this is the democracy they’re talking about.’ “

The protests also allowed governments to outflank a growing challenge from Islamic opposition movements by defending Islam.

So: The Bush administration tells Americans not to fret about the U.S. propping up undemocratic regimes in the Arab world because a) the U.S. needs to prop them up in order to ensure regional stability and maintain the flow of cheap oil to the West and b) the U.S. is pushing these regimes to become more democratic. But then these governments, trying to triangulate between the Western push for democracy on the one hand, and the push from radical Islamists for a medieval theocracy on the other, are using the cartoons to bash democracy and seem more radical than the radical Islamists. Which provides yet another indication of how well Bush’s push for democracy in the Middle East is going.

The Times article zooms in on the role our friends the Saudi’s have played in all of this:

On Jan. 26, in a key move, Saudi Arabia recalled its ambassador to Denmark, and Libya followed suit. Saudi clerics began sounding the call for a boycott, and within a day, most Danish products were pulled off supermarket shelves.

“The Saudis did this because they have to score against Islamic fundamentalists,” said Mr. Said, the Cairo political scientist…

The issue of the cartoons came at a critical time in the Muslim world because of Muslim anger over the occupation of Iraq and a sense that Muslims were under siege. Strong showings by Islamists in elections in Egypt and the victory of Hamas in the Palestinian elections had given new momentum to Islamic movements in the region, and many economies, especially those in the Persian Gulf, realized their economic power as it pertained to Denmark.

“The cartoons were a fuse that lit a bigger fire,” said Rami Khouri, editor at large at the English-language Daily Star of Beirut. “It is this deepening sense of vulnerability combined with a sense that the Islamists were on a roll that made it happen.”

Meanwhile, we in the West are debating free speech vs. censorship. Which is a worhty debate, but one that no doubt leaves Bush, the Saudis, and the Egyptians quite happy, since it takes the focus off the failed policies that have created in the Middle East a mass of alienated, frustrated people whose passions are so easy to manipulate all it takes is a cartoon.

Over at Slate, there is a very good piece by Reza Aslan that further explains how the freedom of speech debate misses the deeper point. It also looks at why these cartoons have pushed some Muslims’ buttons so hard.

The fact is that Muslim anger over the caricatures derives not merely from their depiction of Mohammed. That may have upset more conservative Muslims, but it alone would not have engendered such a violent and widespread response. Rather, most Muslims have objected so strongly because these cartoons promote stereotypes of Muslims that are prevalent throughout Europe: Mohammed dressed as a terrorist, his turban a bomb with a lit fuse; Mohammed standing menacingly in front of two cowering, veiled women, unsheathing a long, curved sword; Mohammed on a cloud in heaven complaining that Paradise has run out of virgins. It is difficult to see how these drawings could have any purpose other than to offend. One cartoon goes so far as to brazenly call the prophet “daft and dumb.”

So, while in Europe and the United States the row over the cartoons has been painted as a conflict between secular democratic freedoms and arcane religious dogma, the controversy is really about neither. Instead, it’s another manifestation of the ongoing ethnic and religious tensions that have been simmering beneath the surface of European society for decades, like last year’s Paris riots and the murder two years ago of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh.

In the minds of many Muslims in Europe, the cartoons were intentionally inflammatory, published to further humiliate an ethnic and religious minority that has been socially and economically repressed for decades.

This is similar to a point I made in a post on the Slog yesterday (that post has now been made into a short essay on The Stranger’s homepage, which you can see here).

Aslan further explains how this issue is now being exploited by radicals and certain political leaders in the Middle East:

Extremist groups and some political leaders in the Arab and Muslim world are eager to exploit any opportunity to propagate their belief that Islam is under attack by the “West” and thus rally Muslims to their murderous cause…

Of course, the sad irony is that the Muslims who have resorted to violence in response to this offense are merely reaffirming the stereotypes advanced by the cartoons. Likewise, the Europeans who point to the Muslim reaction as proof that, in the words of the popular Dutch blogger Mike Tidmus, “Islam probably has no place in Europe,” have reaffirmed the stereotype of Europeans as aggressively anti-Islamic. It is this common attitude among Europeans that has led to the marginalization of Muslim communities there, which in turn has fed the isolationism and destructive behavior of European Muslims, which has then reinforced European prejudices against Islam. It is a Gordian knot that has become almost impossible to untangle.

And that is why as a Muslim American I am enraged by the publication of these cartoons. Not because they offend my prophet or my religion, but because they fly in the face of the tireless efforts of so many civic and religious leadersboth Muslim and non-Muslimto promote unity and assimilation rather than hatred and discord; because they play into the hands of those who preach extremism; because they are fodder for the clash-of-civilizations mentality that pits East against West. For all of that I blame Jyllands-Posten. We in the West want Muslim leaders to condemn the racial and religious prejudices that are so widespread in the Muslim world. Let us lead by example.

Defanging the Village Voice?

posted by on February 9 at 12:50 PM

SF Bay Guardian’s Tim Redmond depicts a chilling scenario for venerable liberal alt weekly Village Voice. Mike Lacey, new owner of Village Voice Media (the post-merger term for New Times and VV), recently met with VV editorial staff and laid down the law: no more Bush-bashing commentary/criticism, more hard news and long-form human-interest stories.

Redmond writes:

[Lacey] also insulted the entire news department by saying Voice reporters “need to stop being stenographers” and, the sources told the Guardian, warned the staff “to be ready to say goodbye to some of your friends.”


They kicked off NICK?!

posted by on February 9 at 12:36 PM

Are you serious? Yeah, his suit looked like shit, but at least his was FINISHED! Santino’s garment was glued to the poor woman’s body and falling apart before she even hit the runway! And then he lied about it! Christ. Way to blow it, Project Runway.

Still No Date for Valentines Day?

posted by on February 9 at 11:27 AM

Maybe you need to stay in bed with some chocolates, and one of these.

From Gulag to Prime Time

posted by on February 9 at 11:16 AM

While we all freak out about the free press/the clash of civilizations/political manipulation of the passionate faithful/fatally humorless zealotry/etc., here’s a nice bit of truth-will-out cheer from the International Herald Tribune:

Just a few decades ago, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (the once-exiled writer who served eight years in a Gulag camp for criticizing Stalin in a private letter, then fled to Vermont, then won a Nobel Prize, and is still writing at the ripe old age of 254) smuggled a potentially deadly novel he’d written out of the USSR.

Now Russian state television is showing a 10-part adaptation of that “fiercely anti-Soviet” novel, The First Circle:

“I assumed that bringing it to the screen would be possible in 300 years,” the director, Gleb Panfilov, said in a television interview, recalling his desire to make the film after first reading The First Circle about 30 years ago, while it was still banned. “But it happened earlier.”

The first episode was the most watched program in Russia that week, beating Terminator 3 (if only just). There’s hope.

Broken Hearts

posted by on February 9 at 11:02 AM

If you’re one of the hundred or so people who got an e-mail from the Stranger yesterday informing you that your valentine didn’t make it into the print edition due to lack of space, I feel your rage: Mine didn’t make the cut either. It seems we (idiotically) cut the very first batch we received, which rewarded procrastinators and punished those of us who have our shit together.
If you hop over to the Stranger home page, the neglected love notes are there (marked “Extra Special Valentines”) in case you need to e-mail the link to your loversave him or her from searching the entire paper in vain and prove that you do care.
We really did receive way more valentines than we expected or had room for (trust me, we wouldn’t have cut your horoscope otherwise). Sucks hard, though, I know.

Grammy Whammy

posted by on February 9 at 10:32 AM

I do not love a parade. But I love love LOVE award shows. A good award show is like a good life: sporadically glorious, ultimately arbitrary, and, overall, more fun than not.

Case in point: Last night’s Grammys, which, after a lame opening lip-synch by Madonna and Gorillaz, turned out to be more fun than usual. The big surprises were the live performances, where superstar after superstar—perhaps juiced by the culture of American Idol—“brought it,” in the soul-baring, foot-stomping, shrieking high-note kind of way.

Kelly Clarkson gutted herself with some self-abasing power ballad. Mary J. Blige gutted herself belting “One” with U2. Sir Paul McCartney gutted himself screeching “Helter Skelter.” By the time Mariah Carey got around to her gut-wrenching power-medley, she practically went into labor to make sure she’d reach a peak left unscaled by her evening’s predecessors.

And then there was Kanye: God knows I love him, value his work, etc etc etc. But he was a complete tool last night. Yeah, it’s not bragging if it’s true, but whoever said honest bragging made for good entertainment? Between his endless self-reference at the podium and his frantic “Gold Digger/Touch the Sky” performance, he came off like the asshole blowhard his detractors have been blasting for years. (Confidential to Kanye: You’re not great because you say you’re great. You’re great because your records are great. And, whaddya know, your records are primarily about subjects other than your greatness. And may you live in shame for dragging the lame skits from your CD onto the Grammy stage.)

Gay penguins staying gay

posted by on February 9 at 10:12 AM

Screw cowboys. There is nothing more romantic than a gay penguin love story (take note, Disney).

Although if the German zoo where these six gay penguins live is concerned about getting them to mate with females (who aren’t being aggressive enough, the shy little dears), the zoo should design something like thisonly penguin sizedto encourage procreation.

It would be the cutting edge in penguin bondage and domination, and give the females a much needed boost of confidence.

69 Magnetic Love Songs

posted by on February 9 at 9:05 AM


Tonight at the Crocodile, the Three Imaginary Girls have organized a 69 Love Songs Tribute, which includes performances by members of Visqueen, Vendetta Red, Math and Physics Club, Tullycraft, and tons more. It’s gonna be amazing, and it’s gonna sell outso get tickets now!

p.s. Pitchfork wrote it up yesterday!! (scroll down about 5 posts)

Mohammed Cartoons ReprintedIn an Egyptian Newspaper.

posted by on February 9 at 7:39 AM

Henry, a Stranger reader, just sent me this link. I’ve never heard of this blog before, and some folks will find it offensive (the author, apparently an Egyptian, calls himself “Sandmonkey”), but… uh… gee… it seems that an Egyptian newspaper reprinted the Danish cartoons in October of 2005.


Sandmonkey writes:

Guess we will have to Boycott Egypt now as well, huh?

Now while the arab islamic population was going crazy over the outrage created by their government’s media over these cartoons, their governments was benifitting from its people’s distraction. The Saudi royal Family used it to distract its people from the outrage over the Hajj stampede. The Jordanian government used it to distract its people from their new minimum wage law demanded by their labor unions. The Syrian Government used it to create secterian division in Lebanon and change the focus on the Harriri murder. And, finally, the Egyptian government is using it to distract us while it passes through the new Judiciary reforms and Social Security Bill- which will cut over $300 million dollars in benefits to some of Egypt’s poorest families. But, see, the people were not paying attention, because they were too busy defending the prophet by sending out millions of e-mails and SMS-messages, boycotting cheese and Lego and burning Butter and the danish Flag. Let’s not even mention the idiots who went the usual route of “It’s a jewish conspiracy”, spouted the stupid argument about the Holocaust, or went on a diatribe with the old favorite “There is an organized campaign-headed by the west and the jews- to attack and discredit Islam, and we have to defend it”. They proved, once again, that the arab world is retarded and deserves no better than its leaders.

UPDATE: I just clicked into, and I see that he’s got the Egypt story up already. Sullivan links to another blogFreedomForEgyptians.blogspot.comwith even more images from the Egyptian newspaper that published the cartoons.


Sullivan writes:

So we now discover that the hideously offensive and blasphemous cartoonsso blasphemous that CNN, the New York Times, and the Washington Post, won’t publish them … were reprinted last October. In Egypt. On the front frigging page. No one rioted. No editor at Al Fager was threatened. So it’s official: the Egyptian state media is less deferential to Islamists than the New York Times. So where were the riots in Cairo? This whole affair is a contrived, manufactured attempt by extremist Muslims to move the goal-posts on Western freedom. They’re saying: we determine what you can and cannot print; and there’s a difference between what Muslims can print and what infidels can print. And, so far, much of the West has gone along. In this, well-meaning American editors have been played for fools and cowards.

UPDATE 2: In a story in today’s Seattle Times about The Stranger’s decision to republish four of the cartoons (we used them as illos for a piece Bruce Bawer wrote for The Stranger about the controversy), reporter Janet I. Tu quotes local Muslims who are upset about our decision to show the cartoons to our readers:

Jamal Rahman, a Muslim and minister with Interfaith Community Church in Ballard, said republishing the cartoons is an “unnecessary provocation.” …At the same time, many local Muslims said they find horrifying the violent demonstrations, in which seven people have died in the past two days. “If it’s the image of Islam they’re trying to protect, they’re doing exactly the opposite,” said Jeff Siddiqui… a real-estate agent. “Some morons in the Middle East decide they want to burn some buildingstalk about walking into the arms of the enemies.”

Still, they found it dismaying that The Stranger would be publishing four of the cartoons in this week’s edition and on its Web site.

Janet I. Tu needs to call these folks backboth sound sensible and reasonable (the folks burning buildings are, as Siddiqui says, “morons”), and for the record they have every right to their opinions about what The Stranger decided to doand ask them how they feel about the Egyptian paper that re-published the images long before The Stranger. Are they dismayed about the Egyptian paper too?

Wednesday, February 8, 2006

Islam, Islam, Islam!

posted by on February 8 at 10:01 PM

Can we talk about something else?

Oh, I know: let’s talk about PROJECT RUNWAY! It’s on now, bitches.


David Albert: ‘What the BLEEP’ Is Wildly and Irresponsibly Wrong

posted by on February 8 at 6:08 PM

Last Friday, I mentioned an email I received from What the BLEEP director/producer William Artnz. He took issue with my complaint about his inclusion of a Columbia University professor of the philosophy of physics, David Albert, in the new version of the film. (Albert had previously denounced the filmmakers’ misrepresentation of his views about the intersection between quantum physics and spirituality.)

I emailed David Albert to ask what was up, and he wrote back with an explanation of why he agreed to appear in the new version, the actual events that transpired at the conference Artnz referenced, and what he thinks of the claims made by the movie. His verdict: What the BLEEP is “swarming with scientific inaccuracies, and its overall thesis is (in my opinion) wildly and irresponsibly wrong.” Artnz’s initial letter, my response, and Albert’s elaboration appear behind the jump.

Continue reading "David Albert: 'What the BLEEP' Is Wildly and Irresponsibly Wrong" »

I Have a Dream

posted by on February 8 at 5:16 PM

While some people are salivating for the timely death of George Bush or the legalization of prostitution, I get rather excited at the prospect of Clear Channel being taken to court for payola.

Attic envy

posted by on February 8 at 2:26 PM

When I was a kid, I found a stack of newspapers from 1927 hidden in my attic, along with an ancient bottle of wine. I was impressed.

This man just found an alien fetus in a jar in his. Suddenly my attic seems geeky and uninteresting.

Political Speak

posted by on February 8 at 2:20 PM

Last week I got a newsletter from my state senator, Adam Kline. While political newsletters customarily contain the usual… committee work, improving services, etc., Kline has a tendency to be a little more, um, straightforward. In his discussion about the NASCAR Racetrack he had this to say:

Viewed as an economic development project, the cost to the taxpayers in cash alone is too high. In other respects, the cost is even greater. Auto-racing is a destructive enterprise, involving gas-hogs racing around a track in a kind of cult-worship for testosterone-poisoned young men. Unlike real sports (football, baseball, basketball, soccer) it involves no physical exertion, and no talent that isn’t destructive when applied off the track.


My Not-So-Secret Shame

posted by on February 8 at 1:50 PM

Every other winter or so, I decide to forego shaving for a while and grow myself a real man’s beard. Once I get past the itchy stage I have a nice face muffler that I’ll never forget at home or leave behind at the Comet. After a couple months I get tired of it and shave it off. No big deal…

Until today, when I discovered I suffer from an acute case of “beard dandruff”. I’m wearing a black t-shirt and the whole front is covered with little white speckles. Imagine my horror. I never really thought about how it turns my face into a second scalp. Plus it traps odors just like my head hair, except it’s right under my nose.

I don’t think the beard will be around much longer (sorry Cori).

my beard
my beard.jpg

my beard dandruff
beard dandruf.jpg

Catfight Club

posted by on February 8 at 1:37 PM

And I thought boys had cornered the market on doing dumbass things in front of a video camera.

Ariel Pink… and you?

posted by on February 8 at 1:19 PM

Are you a fan of home-tape maestro Ariel Pink, who is playing Chop Suey next Monday, Feb. 13? And are you a member of a local band, who would welcome the chance to learn one (or even a couple) of Mr. Pink’s songs - your choice - from any of his albums, and perform with him during his Seattle show? If so, e-mail tour publicist Katy Martineau,, and express your interest ASAP. Many of the other dates on his tour have had numerous applicants, but for some reason, no Emerald City candidates have come forth. WTF, people? His latest album, House Arrest, is full of twisted, idiosyncratic pop gems - somebody in this burg should be up to whipping at least one of them into decent shape, in time to give Ariel an onstage assist.

More on The Sonics’ 6th Man…

posted by on February 8 at 12:23 PM

Here’s a smart presentation about the the city’s financial relationship with the Sonics by city council legislative staff.

Inside the link, click on: “Parks, Education, Libraries, and Labor Committee 2/1/2006” and then fast forward to about 38:00 on the streaming video.

Note from a Horse Fucker

posted by on February 8 at 12:11 PM

One of the delights of The Stranger’s recent Regrets Issue was an ostenible letter from the horse that fucked that guy to death in Enumclaw.

Today brought a response to the Enumclaw horse’s letter, from a man whom I shall allow to speak for himself:

The letter of regrets from the Enumclaw horse [Regrets, Dec. 29]: Your attempt at satirical humor, in my opinion, did not work. Did you think this was funny? You are mistaken. And, to bring up a few other pieces of misinformation—NO,it does not require teamwork to have horse sex!! I’ve been involved with animals for over 45 years, and getting stallion fucked for about 30. My roomie has also been sucking on and getting fucked by stallion cock, for about that same amount of time. We have never needed any kind of helpers to get the job done. I chat with about 100 other horse guys, from around the world. They have never needed assistance either, in getting horse fucked. And, I am sure, the other approximately 30 or so million others, in this country, which also participate in animal sex, would concur with that. Plus, I communicate with about a dozen of so fistees and fisters from several English speaking countries, who have expressed an interest in the horse sex concept. This activity also DOES NOT KILL people [nor injure/harm/cause pain/victimize animals]. I have also talked with an ER tech, at one of the larger local hospitals, who claims, they see about 11 to 14 colon type injuries a year, in King County. Out of all of the people I have mentioned above, over the last 25 years, I have only known about 5 rectal injuries, 4 of which were induced from stallion sex. All are still alive. One guy, has had the same injury twice, and is still going at it. He can take a full sized stallion’s cock entire length. Which is something that many fistees can accomplish, in equivalency, with some guy’s arm? Neither my roomie nor I have ever had any negative medical situations, from getting horse fucked. Two other facts: the deceased, was not dumped at the hospital. He was alive, up to the point of reaching the emergency room. Nor did he give that horse the nick name of Mr. Big Dick [someone else did that]…

The moral: Never doubt the self-sufficiency of a horse fucker.



posted by on February 8 at 12:09 PM

That liberty-loving Danish paper apparently rejected an offensive cartoon of Jesus Christ. That doesn’t surprise me in the least. Nor do the images of deeply offended Arabs going nuts, burning flags, jumping out of windows. The Arabs are not upset about the cartoon but about white people making fun of them. White people are making them go crazy. If that cartoon had been published in a black African newspaper and drawn by a black African, Arabs would have yawned about it, if even that. What does a black person mean to them? Nothing. But white people mean everything. And so when they are made fun of by Europeans, they go ape shit.

Worst. Sentence. Ever.

posted by on February 8 at 11:59 AM

Following yesterday’s I, Anonymous extravaganza, the forum has been graced by a couple more entries riffing on the phenomenon of food service workers fucking with food.

Subject-line justifying example: “I’ve actually witnessed a waiter wipe his ass with someone’s steak.”

Read the full rant here.

I’m Waiting, Lane…

posted by on February 8 at 11:50 AM

On the Boards artistic director Lane Czaplinski promised me yesterday that he would update his blog today. The last post is from January 7. (A month and a day! That’s exactly one hundred ten years in blog-time.) So, Lane: I’m waiting…

Cartoon Thoughts

posted by on February 8 at 11:49 AM

A point that keeps being made in the debate over the Danish cartoons is that other religious groupsJews, Hindus, and Catholicsdon’t resort to riots and violence when they feel their faith has been insulted. Setting aside the fact that members of all these groups have, at times, resorted to such tactics, it seems to me there’s a better comparison to be made here, one that might be more helpful, at least in this country.

In America, the group whose experience of economic discrimination and social subjugation most closely resembles that of Muslims in Europe (and, historically, that of Muslims in the Middle East vis-à-vis European colonial powers) is not a religious group. It is racial group: African Americans.

This is far from a perfect comparison, I know, but I bring it up simply to illustrate what I see as a blind spot on the part of some Americans who want to make this debate into a simple referendum on free speech. Even in America, home of free speech, there are things we don’t joke about, things that editors are reluctant to publish cartoons about. These are things that touch on historical hurts and unresolved power relationships in a manner that’s so provocative it could result in violence.

For example, it’s not hard to imagine a cartoon that, had it been published to coincide with Coretta Scott King’s funeral yesterday, would have led to condemnation and boycotts, and perhaps violence. And it’s not hard to imagine most American editors refusing to publish such a cartoon, and most Americans supporting that refusal.

Or, for an example in a slightly different arena: If I, a well-dressed white guy, were to walk into certain black neighborhoods carrying offensive depictions of blacks and jokingly calling people niggers, I would almost certainly be hit, or worse. And the feeling of most Americans (and myself), would probably be that I deserved what I got for being so insensitive. It would not matter if I had only been joking, or if I had been trying to make some high-minded point about race being a social construct. The fact that I had trampled on the understandable sensitivities of black Americans in order to make a provocative statement would be seen as poor judgment, at best.

Does this reality restrain my free speech? I suppose so. Does it bother me? Not enough that I want to emphasize lectures about freedom of expression more than efforts to right historical wrongs.

There are always going to be negotiations about who can make fun of whom, and after what cultural changes have been accomplished. And it seems to me that people’s willingness to have their identity or beliefs mocked by outsiders is usually in direct proportion to the sense of power and safety they feel. We are familiar with this phenomenon in America, where blacks, Jews, and gays all made fun of themselves long before they found it acceptable for outsiders to make such jokes. I think something similar is at play in the cartoon debate, but on a global scale.

I’m not saying this to excuse the violence committed by Muslims in response to the Danish cartoons. It’s inexcusable. (But not without precedent and a certain familiarity.) What I’m saying is that the response from some Americansessentially, that Muslims need to lighten up and be able to take a jokefeels a bit too simplistic.

It’s easy to say Muslims should calm down and get over the perceived slight, but harder to answer the question: How do you tell people they are wrong without humiliating them? Especially when you have had a hand in creating circumstances that already make them feel humiliated.

Bruce Bawer has a great piece in this week’s Stranger about the Danish cartoon controversy, and to The Stranger’s credit, it’s being published alongside some of the cartoons that have made certain Muslims so upset. One of the most interesting parts, to me, is when Bawer notes that Saudi Arabia, the “top funder of Europe’s radical mosques and Muslim schools,” has been stoking the Muslim backlash against the cartoons, in essence manipulating the sensitivities of Muslims to increase its geopolitical power.

But here’s a question Bawer fails to ask: Who is the top funder of Saudi Arabia? It’s the West, and in particular America. We finance and protect the repressive religious radicals who make up the Saudi regime, in order to maintain our global dominance and feed our dependence on cheap oil. In this sense, we are not quite the righteous defenders of free speech we now see ourselves to be. Rather, we are first defenders of our own comforts.

The Sonics’ 6th Man: The Screwed Taxpayer

posted by on February 8 at 11:17 AM

This morning’s PI reports that the legislature may be willing to extend the hotel, motel, and restaurant taxes (currently paying off Safeco and Qwest) to renovate Key Arena and keep the Sonics in town.

This is disappointing. The legislature laughed at the idea last year. Giddy with Seahawks mania, it looks like the legislature is ready to subsidize Sonics owner Howard Schultz’s $200 million plan.

Fortunately, the city council (led by Nick Licata) seems to be against publicly financing the Sonicsand with good reason: Taxpayers are getting screwed on the current deal. Hopefully, they will torpedo this blatant bit of corporate welfare.

We shelled out $75 million ten years ago for a Key Arena update, and instead of getting paid back (the Sonics are supposed to pay us about $7million a year), we’re covering the Sonics to the tune of about $2.5 million a year.

The PI is misleading on this point saying simply that the poor Sonics only get 40% percent of the revenue on luxury seats and must shell out the remaining 60% to the city. What they don’t say is: That 60%which was the carrot to the city when we loaned the Sonics $75 million the first time outisn’t enough to cover the debt service (which overall totals about $140 million)…and so, the city is continuing to loan the Sonics more money. That debt service doesn’t expire until 2014.

Even worse: The restaurant portion of the tax is infuriating. The Key Arena revamp is a cookie cutter design straight from the NBA’s playbook. The idea is to create a sort of one-stop entertainment mall in the stadium. Yuppieswho can afford the outrageous ticket priceswill drive into Queen Anne, park in Key Arena’s expanded lot, eat, drink, and buy in the expanded Key Arena, watch the game, and then leavenever having set foot in the neighborhood. Local Queen Anne bars and restaurants, which will still be paying off the Key Arena expansion, will essentially be paying for their competition.

State Sen. Erik Poulsen (D-34, W. Seattle/Burien/Vashon) told the PI: “We’re talking about extending an existing hotel and motel taxbig deal.”

Here are two columns I’ve written about the damn Sonics scheme in the past year.

Net Losses

Nickels’s Corporate Priorities

Brokeback Jokes

posted by on February 8 at 8:09 AM

Okay, I still haven’t seen Brokeback Mountainfull disclosure, yadda yadda yadda.

Still, I thought this AP story in today’s PI was bizarre:

Flood of ‘Brokeback’ jokes gets mixed reactions from gays

…Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, says he’s sick of it: “It may be funny, but there is a real element of homophobia. It’s making jabs about sex between gay men.”

Jay Leno made at least 15 “Brokeback” jokes in January. Many were references to gay sex. One that wasn’t: “The cold weather continues to spread across the United States. In fact, down South it was so cold people were shaking like Jerry Falwell watching ‘Brokeback Mountain.’ “

Um, that jokes is making fun of Falwell for his homophobia, not of gay sex, so it’s an odd example to follow Foreman’s quote with. And most of the Brokeback jokes I’ve heard have been told by gay men. Gay people, as a general rule, have a sense of humor about ourselves, our sex lives, and cultural stereotypes about gay menmost of which are positive.

Like these from a Letterman Top Ten list, also mentioned in the article:

Top Ten Signs You’re a Gay Cowboy:

You enjoy ridin’, ropin’ and redecoratin’.

Instead of a saloon, you prefer a salon.

Native Americans refer to you as “Dances With Men.”

Hee-haw, we enjoy redecorating, salons, and dancing with men. All stereotypes, all harmless, and there were funnier ones on Letterman’s list:

You’re wearing chaps, yet your ‘ranch’ is in Chelsea.

You love riding, but you don’t have a horse.

You’ve been lassoed more times than most steers.

What do these jokes reinforce? That gay “cowboys” wear chapseven if they live in urban areas (true); that we like sex (true); and that we’re sexually adventurous (also true). If these are stereotypes we’re stuck with, we don’t have much to complain about.

Tuesday, February 7, 2006

What Makes Our Country Great

posted by on February 7 at 5:47 PM

Sure, it’s been around for awhile, but whenever I see this, I am reminded of what is truly great about our country. Hallelujah. Praise Jesus.

Editorial Integrity

posted by on February 7 at 5:38 PM

The entire New York Press editorial staff walked off the job today because they were told not to re-print the now infamous Danish cartoons.

From Editor-in-Chief Harry Siegel’s email announcing the resignations:

New York Press, like so many other publications, has suborned its own professed principles. For all the talk of freedom of speech, only the New York Sun locally and two other papers nationally have mustered the minimal courage needed to print simple and not especially offensive editorial cartoons that have been used as a pretext for great and greatly menacing violence directed against journalists, cartoonists, humanitarian aid workers, diplomats and others who represent the basic values and obligations of Western civilization. Having been ordered at the 11th hour to pull the now-infamous Danish cartoons from an issue dedicated to them, the editorial groupconsisting of myself, managing editor Tim Marchman, arts editorJonathan Leaf and one-man city hall bureau Azi Paybarah, chose instead to resign our positions.

We have no desire to be free speech martyrs, but it would have been nakedly hypocritical to avoid the same cartoons we’d criticized others for not running, cartoons that however absurdly have inspired arson, kidnapping and murder and forced cartoonists in at least two continents to go into hiding. Editors have already been forced to leave papers in Jordan and France for having run these cartoons. We have no illusions about the power of the Press (NY Press, we mean), but even on the far margins of the world-historical stage, we are not willing to side with the enemies of the values we hold dear, a free press not least among them.

August in August

posted by on February 7 at 5:38 PM

So the old Seattle Rep continues its tributes to Mr. Wilson, the playwright who was born and buried in Pittsburgh but lived and died in Seattle.

There’ll be a “celebration of the art and language of August Wilson” next Monday, February 13 (for free!), featuring actors doing scenes from his 10-play cycle.

Why stop at scenes? I propose an annual marathon of the entire Wilson cycle, which begins in 1904 (Gem of the Ocean) and ends in the late ’90s (Radio Golf) with some descendents from the first play. When should we hold it? August, of course! You could drop in for a play or two or camp out and take in the whole glorious cycle like they do for that other German opera-writing man.

Marathons of Wagner and Wilson. A perfect Seattle pairing.

Brokeback to the Future.

posted by on February 7 at 5:25 PM

Ha HA!

The Cover of Wax Poetics

posted by on February 7 at 5:19 PM

It ain’t the cover of the Rolling Stone, but it’s probably a more prestigious honor that has been granted to the Mizell Brothers, who wrote and produced a helluva lot of music that’s been sampled by loads of hiphop producers. Among crate-diggers and beat-seekers, they are revered figures. (One of said brothers also happened to father The Stranger’s hiphop columnist, Larry Mizell Jr., who, as far as I know, hasn’t been sampled… yet.) The Mizells are on the cover of what has become my favorite music magazine, Wax Poetics.

This bi-monthly glossy is essential reading for lovers of jazz, funk, soul, reggae, dub, psychedelia, world music, and fusions thereof; its writers are seriously obsessed with their usually obscure subjects and they’re allowed to probe deeply into their obsessions. Issue 15 should be on stands now. It’s also worth it for a fantastic interview with producer extraordinaire David Axelrod.

Re: Because Christmas Wasn’t Enough

posted by on February 7 at 4:43 PM

Regarding Brad’s earlier post

When we got this group’s press release today at 10-something announcing a demonstration at noon todaymight want to get those press releases out a little earlier next time, kidswe thought it might be bullshit. Here’s the group’s website. I didn’t want to waste my time on it, but I’m always happy to waste a photographer’s time. So we sent one down to Westlake. Lo and behold, the group gathered and protested…


Be minehilarious.

Oh, and it looks like TV people came. Maybe we’ll see Jean Enerson discussing the anti-See’s activists tonight on King 5…


Warning! Offensive Cartoon!

posted by on February 7 at 4:30 PM

Here’s a cover of The Stranger that some folks found offensiveit’s Pope John Paul II and Terry Schaivo racing each other to the grave.


After this cover ran, the Knights of Columbus did not march into our offices and start beheading people with their dress swords. The Vatican did not demand that Greg Nickels shut down The Stranger.

And that’s one of the markers of a great, big, all-grown-up-now world religion: The ability to take an intentionally offensive jab in stride. Although we weren’t necessarily making fun of the Pope’s death or Schaivo’s (but of our death-obsessed culture and the media’s coverage of both their impending deaths last March, which made it feel like a morbid race), this cover hurt some folks’ feelings. And we knew it would. The hurt folks wrote us letters and screamed at usand that’s their right, and we printed their lettersand they questioned our judgment. But no one questioned our right to put this cartoon on the cover of our paper.

Tacoma Does it Again

posted by on February 7 at 3:46 PM

Jen Graves, what say you about this? Are you not ashamed? Is Tacoma not embarrassed?

Re: King Eulogists to Bush: You Suck

posted by on February 7 at 3:33 PM

It’s better with visuals:


King Eulogists to Bush: You Suck

posted by on February 7 at 3:26 PM

Thanks to Rev. Joseph Lowery and former President Jimmy Carter, the absurdity of George W. Bush attending and speaking at the funeral of a civil rights leader didn’t pass unnoticed.

Speakers took a rare opportunity to criticize U.S. President George W. Bush’s policies to his face at the funeral on Tuesday of Coretta Scott King, widow of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

Civil-rights leader the Rev. Joseph Lowery and former President Jimmy Carter cited Mrs. King’s legacy as a leader in her own right and advocate of nonviolence as they launched barbs over the Iraq war, government social policies and Bush’s domestic eavesdropping program.

Reverend Lowery received a standing ovation for this poem…

She extended Martin’s message against poverty, racism and war / She deplored the terror inflicted by our smart bombs on missions way afar

We know now there were no weapons of mass destruction over there / But Coretta knew and we knew that there are weapons of misdirection right down here / Millions without health insurance. Poverty abounds. For war billions more but no more for the poor.

More like this, please.

I, Anonymous Extravanganza

posted by on February 7 at 2:57 PM

Maybe Seattle can’t win a Super Bowl, but we sure can stink up a forum for nameless blame mighty quick.

Evidence: the I, Anonymous forum, which is jumping with fascinating finger-pointing.

Among the delights:

*A dissed waitress who reports spicing up an enemy’s cole slaw with spunk!

*A furious reader who blasts the aforementioned slaw-tainting waitress with 1,001 curse words!

*A 37-year-old recent divorcee who’s shocked by the ridiculous crap guys will say to get into her 37-year-old divorcee pants!

and finally…

*The angriest all-purpose anti-Valentine in history.

Enjoy! And keep ‘em coming!

Attention Knee-Jerk Liberals

posted by on February 7 at 2:51 PM

Steven Groopman of The New Republic says you’re only pleasing Karl Rove with your mockery of Bush’s freedom rhetoric.

(Free registration required.)

Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World

posted by on February 7 at 2:30 PM

Given that Iran’s president has already labeled the Holocaust a “myth,” it’s not really clear to me what free-speech limits the Iranian newspaper thinks it’s testing with its “Holocaust Cartoon” contest. They can already say whatever they want about the Holocaust and Jews. And they have been for years. And nobody goes out and burns down their embassy.

Here’s the latest, in which Iran’s Supreme Leader blames the publication of the Dutch cartoons on Israel.

And free speech on this point has already been tested in the West. Right here in the heart of the Zionist controlled United States, you can also say whatever you want about Jews and the Holocaust. The point is: Jewish students aren’t burning down Northwestern University.

Raging Mad Artists

posted by on February 7 at 1:17 PM

Ken Johnson’s NYT review today of Thomas Hirshhorn’s furious, political show ended on a note that made me wonder whether any Northwest artists, visual or otherwise, are doing work in this spirit. And if they were, where would they show/appear? He writes:

Continue reading "Raging Mad Artists" »

Danish Cartoon On Display in SeattleFinally!

posted by on February 7 at 1:06 PM

Okay, it’s on Seattle’s light poles, and not in any of Seattle’s newspapersyetbut I was pleased to find this flyer tacked up on Capitol Hill this morning.


I’m not sure where the quote is from, or if the person or persons behind the poster wrote it. Either way, I love it. I couldn’t agree more. Bravo. If the folks who did this are reading this blog, keep putting ‘em up!

And the appearance of this poster on Capitol Hillthe most liberal neighborhood in one of the West Coast’s most liberal citiesgives the lie to this right-wing talking point: The left doesn’t care about this issue, and is willing to cede free speech to mollify Islamic haters. It’s not true, and this poster is evidence that it’s not true.

Uh …

posted by on February 7 at 12:36 PM


Evidently, this guy got a tattoo of Angelina Jolie’s adopted kid.

Founding Guitarist of Poison Idea Passes Away

posted by on February 7 at 12:33 PM

Influential guitarist Tom Roberts, formerly of the punk band Poison Idea died last week at the age of 47 after a life-long struggle with obesity and kidney problems.

Hillary’s Bling

posted by on February 7 at 11:59 AM

I love The New York Daily News….

Hillary’s bling shows couple is rock-solid

The state of Bill and Hillary Clinton’s union is apparently strong - at least judging by the mongo diamond that Hillary was sporting on her ring finger yesterday.

Sources say the former President quietly gave the iceberg-sized bling - thought to exceed 3 carats - to his wife months ago, in advance of their 30th wedding anniversary on Oct. 11 last year.

West Memphis 3 Events in Seattle

posted by on February 7 at 11:51 AM

At 6:45pm this Wednesday, the UW Law School will host a book signing and reading by Lorri Davis, wife of death row inmate Damien Echols (of West Memphis 3 notoriety ). In addition to Davis’ readings, she’ll also be playing recorded readings by Damien from death row , and commentary from comedian Margaret Cho, a passionate WM3 supporter. UW Law School is located at Gates Hall; the event is free and open to the public.

On Thursday, the Varsity Theater in the U-District will be screening After Innocence. A Q&A with Academy Award-nominated director Jessica Sanders and one of the film’s subjects, the exonerated Wilton Dedge will follow. The film starts at 6:45suggested donation is $50.

Because Christmas Wasn’t Enough

posted by on February 7 at 11:33 AM

While Savage has his panties in a knot about religious extremists on the other side of the world, this idiocy just arrived in my inbox:

For immediate release Contact: Kim Lund

C-YA! (Catholic Youth Abstaining) to Protest the War on SAINT Valentine’s Day!

A demonstration in front of See’s and Hallmark’s on Tuesday, February 7 at noon in Westlake Center

What are you going to buy for your loved ones on February 14? A Valentine’s Day card? Or a SAINT Valentine’s Day card?

Why Are We Protesting?

Because there is a war on Saint Valentine’s Day. Our commercialized, secularized, hyper-sexualized culture has purged the “Saint” from February 14 and it’s time to fight back. Join us as we demand that stores who profit from SAINT Valentine’s Day remind shoppers that it’s a SAINT’s day by putting the “St.” back where it belongs!

What Do We Want?

Not much! We want the SAINT back where he belongs! That’s why we’re calling on See’s Chocolates and Hallmark Cards to stop leaving the SAINT out! Until they do, we’re going to ask people to stop shopping in See’s and Hallmark’s stores.

At our protest we will throw Valentine’s Day merchandise from See’s and Hallmark, such as cards and chocolates, into a largetrashcan.

What’s C’YA?

We are Catholic youth and young adults who have come together to raise awareness of abstinence and to reclaim St. Valentine’s Day. We still want people to celebrate the day, and St. Valentine is the Patron Saint of Love. But we want people to remember that God calls on us to only have sex within wedlock. Putting the Saint back in Saint Valentine’s Day will help accomplish this goal. We are not affiliated with any parish or established Catholic youth group. C’YA! is a DIY effort by faithful, hip, and chaste Northwest Catholic young adults.

Of course they have a websitewhat wacko religious group doesn’t nowadays?

“Pro-Transit” Smokescreen

posted by on February 7 at 11:30 AM

Yesterday, the Regional Transportation Investment District, a proposed transportation taxing district that encompasses the Puget Sound region, got several changes it was seeking from the state House, including amendments that would allow the RTID to go to a single ballot with Sound Transit, forcing voters to make a Hobson’s choice between transit-plus-roads and no transit at all. (Voting yes on Sound Transit would also mean approving the roads-heavy RTID; voting no on RTID would mean also rejecting Sound Transit.).

Otherwise, the RTID still includes virtually no transit (except transit fixes during road construction, something Transportation Choices regional policy director Rob Johnson calls a “smoke screen”) and no money for road or transit maintenance or preservation. The legislation would also change the RTID’s boundaries to make them the same as Sound Transit’s; reduce the local match cities would be required to pay from 33 percent to 15 percent; and eliminate a proposed amendment that would have allowed so-called Transportation Benefit Districts (basically, mini-RTIDS for local transportation and transit projects).

It does include a change that allows RTID funds to pay for pasenger-only ferries - a very minor concession to the pro-transit lobby that will likely not be enough to win transit supporters’ backing for the taxing proposal, which will go on the ballot sometime in the next two years. Last week, Johnson said his pro-transit organization would need “significant changes to the [project] list to be supportive”; so far, those changes have not been made.

Uncle Sam Wants You…To Pay For Getting Wounded

posted by on February 7 at 11:23 AM

From the Charleston Gazette (via News Blog):

The last time 1st Lt. William “Eddie” Rebrook IV saw his body armor, he was lying on a stretcher in Iraq, his arm shattered and covered in blood.

A field medic tied a tourniquet around Rebrook’s right arm to stanch the bleeding from shrapnel wounds. Soldiers yanked off his blood-soaked body armor. He never saw it again.

But last week, Rebrook was forced to pay $700 for that body armor, blown up by a roadside bomb more than a year ago.

He was leaving the Army for good because of his injuries. He turned in his gear at his base in Fort Hood, Texas. He was informed there was no record that the body armor had been stripped from him in battle.

He was told to pay nearly $700 or face not being discharged for weeks, perhaps months.

Rebrook, 25, scrounged up the cash from his Army buddies and returned home to Charleston last Friday.

“I last saw the [body armor] when it was pulled off my bleeding body while I was being evacuated in a helicopter,” Rebrook said. “They took it off me and burned it.”

Mad Feline Disease

posted by on February 7 at 11:01 AM

Not exactly an unpredictable event, given her history of meltdowns, but it’s still a drag that the perpetually neurotic Chan Marshall has once again cancelled a tour.

Give It Up

posted by on February 7 at 9:39 AM

The female squirrels of Seattle must stop playing games and give their males sex. They need it badly, and I’m tired of seeing how badly they need it. This morning, I came across three (THREE!) situations that involved a desperate male squirrel hopping, hoping, summersaulting, hanging by a limb—doing everything it could to get a fleeing female squirrel. And the sordid drama consumes an entire street. You try to move this way, and the squirrels hop this way. You try to move that way, and the squirrels hop that way. You cant get around the damn things, so you have to abandon the street and take the longer way to work. And all I want to do is listen to music and look at houses and buildings. At one moment this morning: I’m just about to relish the beautiful conclusion to Dollar Brand’s “Sathima,” a marvelous work of South African jazz. Dollar Brand is poised to play the melody that expresses the majesty of the Table Mountains, the Cape of Good Hope, the flowers of the African city—suddenly, everywhere, here then there, a male squirrel is trying to get some. And he wont give up, and she wont give in. And I’m totally distressed. I have to go the long way, I have listen to the whole song again (11 minutes). Squirrels get your fucking act together!

When Red is Dead

posted by on February 7 at 9:21 AM

We’ve all been there, enjoying a glass of Tropicana Ruby Red grapefruit juice, or a handful of Good & Plenty, when the question arises: How did my beverage/snack get to be such a lovely shade of red?

Finally, we have an answer: Crushed beetles.

The weird truth is supplied by The Wall Street Journal, which reveals the crushed bugs in question to be female cochineal beetles, whose bodies are dried, ground, and heated until a “colored powder” is filtered out.

According to the WSJ, it takes 70,000 beetles to make one pound of marketable color. (Among the other products using the color: Dannon Boysenberry yogurt and Yoplait Strawberry yogurt.) Thanks to an FDA loophole, food companies are allowed to identify the crushed bug product as merely “added color” or, weirder, “artificial color.”

Whatever they call it, it has vegetarians and observant Jews crying foul, and a Washington public-health advocacy group is pushing for stricter labelling guidelines. As Rabbi Moshe Elefant, chief operating officer of the kosher division of the Orthodox Union, told the WSJ, “There are a lot of people who will not be happy to know that they are eating products that contain dried beetle.”

Full story here.

Speaking of crushed bugs: Yesterday suspended South Seattle gynocologist/convicted rapist Dr. Charles Momah was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

JT Leroy Unmasked

posted by on February 7 at 9:04 AM

This guy was on the inside and has come forward to explain how the ruse went down.

Brothers from Another Mother?

posted by on February 7 at 1:13 AM

Nivs & Flavs?

It’s weird, right? Is anyone with me?

Raging Mad Artists

posted by on February 7 at 1:02 AM

Ken Johnson’s NYT review today of Thomas Hirshhorn’s furious, political show ended on a note that made me wonder whether any Northwest artists, visual or otherwise, are doing work in this spirit. And if they were, where would they show/appear? He writes:

This is the third major exhibition this season by a male artist throwing everything but the kitchen sink into the gallery without regard for aesthetic niceties. Mike Kelley recently filled Gagosian Gallery with a similarly immersive, albeit conceptually obscure series of theatrical tableaus imitating high school theater productions. And at P.S. 1, John Kessler presented an entertaining, enveloping installation of motorized contraptions and videos focused on protesting the United States involvement in Iraq.

All three shows seem at least partly animated by desperation, as though the artists had been driven into arm-waving frenzies of impotent rage by the inability of traditional art forms to address adequately the terrible and infuriating things that are going on in the world.

Mr. Kelley and Mr. Kessler, at least, appear to have had some fun. In Mr. Hirschhorn’s show, a puritanical fervor rules out fun and pleasure. He bullies the viewer and induces a vague, free-floating guilt; he’s the art world’s Lars von Trier. Few artists have taken so seriously Theodor Adorno’s famous admonition that creating poetry should be impossible after the Holocaust. It is scary to think what Mr. Hirschhorn might do next.

Monday, February 6, 2006

Smug ‘n’ Corny

posted by on February 6 at 6:06 PM

I’m not one of those assholes who likes to dig up old-timey quotes and throw them around in a “history repeats itself” kind of way it’s usually obvious and smug and incredibly corny. That said, I’m about to break my own rule. I was revisiting some texts from my fave war (World War I - HOLLA!!) and I came across Siegfried Sassoon’s “A Soldier’s Declaration” (published as an open letter in The Times in 1917):

I am making this statement as an act of wilful defiance of military authority, because I believe the War is being deliberately prolonged by those who have the power to end it.
I am a soldier, convinced that I am acting on behalf of soldiers. I believe that this war, upon which I entered as a war of defence and liberation, has now become a war of aggression and conquest. I believe that the purposes for which I and my fellow soldiers entered upon this War should have been so clearly stated as to have made it impossible to change them, and that, had this been done, the objects which actuated us would now be attainable by negotiation.
I have seen and endured the suffering of the troops, and I can no longer be a party to prolong these sufferings for ends which I believe to be evil and unjust. I am not protesting against the conduct of the War, but against the political errors and insincerities for which the fighting men are being sacrificed.
On behalf of those who are suffering now I make this protest against the deception which is being practised on them; also I believe that I may help to destroy the callous complacency with which the majority of those at home regard the continuance of agonies which they do not share, and which they have not sufficient imagination to realize.


The parallels between the Great War and our current debacle are beyond tenuous, but the subsequent frantic political sandbagging is what makes Sassoon’s declaration interesting.
The British government first tried to court martial him (that means possible execution!), but decided to forgo the bad press and have him declared mentally ill instead. Sassoon was sent to Craiglockhart hospital in Scotland, where he was treated for shellshock and became both a middling poet and a big, flaming homo.

Sassoon (center) and pals

My Smobriety, One Month In and Looking Back

posted by on February 6 at 5:57 PM

It’s been a month now since I’ve begun my journey into smobriety, and so it’s time for a slow-motion, sappy-music-tinged recap.
Well, no, not really. The thing that’s consistently surprised me in this month of smoking cessation is how little of an issue the actual cigarette-smoking has been. Cigarettes have not consumed my every waking thought. Pangs have been virtually nonexistent, even in situations where smoking was abundant and accessible. Neither of my two non-smoking cohorts, both of whom have logged smoking careers longer than even my twelve-year habit, have come close to falling off the wagon, either.
Which is not to say that it’s been easy.
Full roundup after the jump.

Continue reading "My Smobriety, One Month In and Looking Back" »

Totally Hot

posted by on February 6 at 5:27 PM

This guy (pictured below) wants to know whether “Christopher Frizzelle and Brendan Kiley are totally hot.”


What should we tell him?

Say It Aint So

posted by on February 6 at 5:14 PM

This Bettis chap is an athlete? The whole essence of the word is crushed by his fat.


The body of an athlete is the body one wants to have in both senses. I do not desire this body in anyway.

New vis art pub

posted by on February 6 at 5:09 PM

Check out Visual Codec, a new monthly journal covering the visual arts in Portland, Seattle and Vancouver, B.C. Stranger writer Carrie E.A. Scott has a piece in the first edition.

The Black History Month Display at Value Village

posted by on February 6 at 4:15 PM

In an unusual turn, the Value Village next door to the Stranger has an incredibly disturbing window display just in time for Black History Month.

It includes:
1) A black plastic doll, wearing a tiny swimsuit, overturned in
2) A miniature red wagon that looks like it’s seen better days.
3) A rumpled white sheet with the words “Martin Luther” spray-painted in black over a field of pink and purple spray-paint scribbles (the sheet is folded in half, obscuring “King”);
4) Three books: “Colin Powell: My American Journey”; Bo Jackson’s autobiography, “Bo Knows Bo,” and a slim black volume called “Major Black Writers Teaching Guide”;
5) An assortment of vaguely African-esque jackets, scarves, and housedresses, including one that looks like a black graduation gown;
6) Several torn pieces of fabric painted with minstrel-ish images of black men and women in dreadlocks, one of which is wearing
7) A giant blue housedress;
8) Miscellaneous “ethnic” wooden jewelry; and
9) A collection of records representing Value Village’s African-American offerings: Grover Washington, Jr.; Christmas with Nat Kng Cole; Joan Armatrading; and Philip Bailey. And Steel Band Music of the Carribbean.

See it while you can.

The Jaws of Death

posted by on February 6 at 4:14 PM

Posted on the PI’s website is an article about Zimbabwe that has nothing to do with the usual—the country’s economic and political woes. It is instead about a man who was pulled out of the jaws of a crocodile by villagers who formed a human chain. The best line in the article is this: “Before rescuers dragged [me] free, ‘one thing was clear that they wanted to salvage at least a piece of my flesh for burial should the crocodile get the better of [me],’ Sidumbu said.” If nothing else, Zimbabweans are a practical people.

Nine Months and Counting

posted by on February 6 at 4:09 PM

New council member Sally Clark, surrounded by friends, family, and rowing buddies, was sworn in today by her partner Liz Ford, after which the pair shared what may have been City Hall’s first public lesbian kiss. In her brief remarks, Clark said she would work to reach out to neighborhoods, increase the number of city contracts awarded to women- and minority-owned businesses, and defeat the Tim Eyman-sponsored initiative that would repeal the state’s new anti-discrimination law.

Then everybody ate cake:


The Agony of Defeat

posted by on February 6 at 3:57 PM

Hungover and depressed, I trudged down to Qwest Field for the 2 pm post-Super Bowl rally/wake, during which I learned:

That the Seahawks have a band perched high above the stadium called “Blue Thunder”presumably in reference to the team’s color, and not the abysmal Roy Scheider movie from 1983.

That I am an often oblivious idiot for not knowing the Seahawks a) had a band, and b) said band had a nameespecially since I’ve watched just about every damn game the past 20 years.

That Governor Christine Gregoire’s voice trembles like she’s a 7th grader in the National Spelling Bee. Maybe the audible boos from the crowd as she took the podium caused her confidence to falter?

That day after Super Bowl t-shirts have a going rate on the street of a paltry $5.

That you have to respect former NFL receiver/local TV talking head/Seahawk play-by-play man Steve Raible’s long-standing commitment to the moustache.

That despite the loss, seeing a couple thousand fans waving “12th Man” flags in support of their team is mighty impressive. (And that on a related note, Texas A&M can suck it.)

That we really must come up with a better name for our cheerleaders than the “Sea Gals.”

That by the looks on their faces, not the mention the brevity of their speeches, the Seahawk players aren’t too thrilled about the whole post-loss rally thing.

That local fans are a tad pissed over the officiating of yesterday’s game. Case in point: the sign that read “We Were Cheated!” Another case in point: the sign that read “Refs 21, Hawks 10!” Final case in point: Coach Mike Holmgren saying, “You know, we knew it was going to be tough playing Pittsburgh. We didn’t know we’d have to play the officials as well.”

That despite the good intentioned/supportive community/rah-rah nature of the post-loss rally, cheering on and congratulating your team for a year well done in no way begins to fill that massive pit in your stomach left after your team horked it in the world’s biggest game, especially when just getting to that game was a 30-year struggle for both the team and its city, and especially when your Super Bowl viewing left you hungover, bitter, and close to vomiting for the bulk of the day with nothing to show for it besides an order from your editor to drag your ass down to Qwest Field to slog about the rally, and a free “12th Man” flagboth of which offer little comfort to your bruised body and soul.

Still, there’s always next year…GO HAWKS!

Gay, Gay, Gay

posted by on February 6 at 3:51 PM

Here is an article by Daniel Mendelsohn about Brokeback Mountain. It is from the New York Review of Books, and is dated February 23.

Here is my article about Brokeback Mountain. It is from The Stranger, and is dated December 15.

That is all.

Too good to be true

posted by on February 6 at 3:45 PM

Via Drudge: Michael Jackson might soon be working with members of the Catholic Church to produce a sing-along for a few of the late John Paul II’s prayers.

Father Giuseppe Moscati of the Edizioni Musicali Terzo Millennio, which specializes in church music and organizes musical events at the Vatican, said his company had the rights to 24 of Pope John Paul’s prayers and wanted to put together a group of international artists to set them to music.

Jackson’s keen to work on the project, and Father Moscati is considering his proposal, which might or might not include children’s songs like:

“I’m not a Priest if you call me Big Daddy”
“There’s Candy in My Pocket and the Lord is with Me!”
or the simple lullaby (and insta-classic)
“Get in the van.”

Cheers to new friends and new beginnings, kids.

Body Prop

posted by on February 6 at 3:42 PM

In rugby, a real sport, the prop is the big man who does all of the pushing and heavy work. The team is built on the prop’s body, which looks like this:


Andy Coley is a prop forward in England’s rugby league.

Super Bellies

posted by on February 6 at 2:33 PM

I was trying to gather materials on Cape Town jazz. The process was slow going. Finally, a technical difficulty forced me to stop the research and spend the remainder of the afternoon watching the Super Bowl. I watched the last two quarters and this is what I saw: a lot of players with pronounced beer bellies. Now how can a man who looks no better than a couch potato be an athlete? I have a suspicion that American football is not really a sport, but something closer to professional wrestling. A sport is performed by an athlete, and the body of an athlete is agonized (in the Greek root meaning of that word) into shape by that sport. The body of a man who performers a sport is an athletic body. A man with a beer belly can never be an athlete.

The Three States of Being a Zimbabwean

posted by on February 6 at 2:15 PM

This weekend, I read an excellent collection of essays by Chenjerai Hove (my favorite novelist at the moment) called Shebeen Tales (shebeen is an illegal bar). The essays are about Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe (which means house of stone, but these days it should be called Mafukose, which means: everything here is dead). One of the best essays in the collection, Marengenya: Tipsy, Dead Drunk. or Having a Head, concerns alcoholism in Zimbabwean society (“A Zimbabwean is either drunk, just about to become drunk, or is recovering from drunkenness. Our three states of being, Zimbabwean men, black and white…When a Zimbabwean says, ‘Let’s go for a drink,’ he means it”). The best passage in this essay lists the fantastic names of beer halls in Harare. “The name of beer halls [in our city],” Hove (hove means fish) writes, “tells it all—Rambanayi (go ahead and divorce); Mapitikoti (a place of many petticoats); Manhede (lying on the back, suggesting the sexual act); Makovhorosi (booze during lunch break with overall on); Mushayambereko (one who abandoned child rearing in pursuit of the joys of alcohol and sex). Beer-drinking and women: the leisure pursuits of Zimbabwean men.”

If you chance to find one of Hove’s novels in a bookstore, buy it right away.

Rock Royalty

posted by on February 6 at 1:57 PM

Did anyone watch Prince on Saturday Night Live this weekend? He was H-O-T. Seeing someone with so much natural talent just further highlights the completely pathetic nature of the Ashlee Simpsons of the world with their pretend talent.

Why Did the Seagulls Lose?

posted by on February 6 at 1:53 PM

Apparently it wasn’t the refs, the coaching, or time management. It was the gays. David Goldstein over at reports…

The anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, KS, announced plans to picket Seattle’s civic mourning in the wake of the Seahawk’s disappointing loss in Super Bowl XL.

The city’s championship dreams collapsed last night under the weight of sloppy play, questionable clock management, and drive-killing penalties, which the Rev. Fred Phelps blamed on “divine retribution” for recently passed gay civil rights legislation, declaring “The Lord works in mysterious ways… and sometimes through the zebras.”

New noise.

posted by on February 6 at 1:52 PM

Everyone’s getting a podcast these days. Unfortunately, a lot of the music ones I find are just full of predictable hip crap being played by cocky hosts trying to one-up each other. But there’s a new one in town that’s worth a listen if you’re into rad bands like the Zoinks, Capn Jazz, Braid, Orchid, Sicko, Inquisition, Christie Front Drive, and a bunch of other good shit that rarely gets any mention any more.

It’s produced by Eric Christianson (guitarist of Kane Hodder) and handful of his music geek friends (I use that as a term of endearment). With only two broadcasts recorded as of right now, the hosts are still a little shaky and new to the medium, but they’re working out technical difficulties. They geek out over the music, tell funny stories, and make fun of themselves and others while playing some really great stuff that has been long forgotten in the current wave of vapid rock (cough…Fall Out Boy…cough).

So, if that sounds awesome to you, click here (

Debunking the “Day of Dread”

posted by on February 6 at 12:28 PM

From Dan’s post:

Considering the supposed connection between the Super Bowl and domestic violence, which may or may not have been debunked (someone Google it and email me what you find), aren’t commercials that make light of men doing grave bodily harm to women in poor taste?

The backstory: In 1993, a coalition of women’s groups held a press conference announcing that a study had uncovered a 40 percent upsurge in emergency-room admissions for domestic violence on Super Bowl Sunday. The media quickly seized on the “Abuse Bowl” claim. The Boston Globe, for example, reported that women’s shelters and hotlines are “flooded with more calls from victims [on Super Bowl Sunday] than on any other day of the year,” while a wire story claimed that Super Bowl Sunday “has become a day of terror for thousands of women nationwide. According to women’s groups, the day now ranks as one of the worst days in the year for violence against women in the home.”

Only one reporter, Ken Ringle of the Washington Post, bothered to call the sociologist who had done the study, Janet Katz, to check the facts behind the activists’ alarming claims. According to Ringle’s story, Katz told him, “That’s not what we found at all.”

One of the most notable findings, [Katz] said, was that an increase of emergency room admissions “was not associated with the occurrence of football games in general, nor with watching a team lose.” When they looked at win days alone, however, they found that the number of women admitted for gunshot wounds, stabbings, assaults, falls, lacerations and wounds from being hit by objects was slightly higher than average. But certainly not 40 percent.

So: Football does not incite men to violence. Alarmist urban legends tend to take on a life of their own, however, and the “Abuse Bowl” myth persists to this day.

Laugh it off

posted by on February 6 at 11:36 AM

According to The Times Online, Iran’s most widely read newspaper is launching a competition to find the 12 “best” cartoons about the Holocaust, to counter the original 12 cartoons satirizing Muhammad which first appeared in a Danish newspaper.

Farid Mortazavi, graphics editor for Tehran’s Hamshahri newspaper, said that the deliberately inflammatory contest would test out how committed Europeans were to the concept freedom of expression.
“The Western papers printed these sacrilegious cartoons on the pretext of freedom of expression, so let’s see if they mean what they say and also print these Holocaust cartoons,” he said.

The twelve winning artists will be rewarded with gold coins and probably ass slaps by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is affectionately known for hating Jews, denying the Holocaust, and calling for Israel to be “wiped off the map.”

What Readers Really Care About

posted by on February 6 at 11:34 AM

From my voice mail this morning:

“Yeah, I was trying to get ahold of Rob Brezsny. I guess I don’t like some of the things he wrote in regards to Capricorn…”

All the Rage

posted by on February 6 at 11:08 AM

Two quick thoughts about the riots that continue to pick up steam in the Islamic world…

First: Today angry crowds attempted to set fire to the Austrian Embassy in Tehran.

A crowd of about 200 people pelted the Austrian Embassy in Tehran with petrol bombs and stones on Monday to protest against the publication of satirical cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad in European newspapers.

The protesters, chanting “God is Greatest” and “Europe, Europe, shame on you”, smashed all the diplomatic mission’s windows with stones and then tried to hurl petrol bombs inside.

Why? Because Austria currently holds the presidency of the European Union. Danish and Norwegian embassies have already been burned down in Lebanon. The violence and the violent rhetoric continues to rise. Which leads me to wonder if perhaps it’s time for the Europe to borrow a page from Israel’s playbookunilateral disengagement, anyone? They can’t burn down embassies that don’t exist. They can’t kill diplomats they can’t get their hands on. Just a thought.

Second: Check out this cartoon that a Belgian-Dutch Muslim group posted on their website (via


WowHitler and Anne Frank in bed together. Surely that offends the Jews, the Dutch (Frank was Dutch), Dutch Jews, and anyone with any moral sense to speak of. But what, exactly, is the point they’re trying to make? That offensive cartoons are offensive? Okaaaay. But the response of the the Jews, the Dutch, Dutch Jews, and anyone with any moral sense makes all those outraged Muslims less sympathetic, no more. No one is burning down Mosques or Saudi embassies, no one is calling for the artists to be beheaded, no one is rioting in the streets of Amsterdam, Tel Aviv, Miami, or Skokie, Illinois.

So the Dutch-Belgian Islamic group is actually helping to make the West’s point: it’s showing the Islamic world how grown-ups civilizations react to offensive cartoons. You say, “Gee that’s offensive. Only an asshole would draw, post, or print that cartoon.” Maybe you write an angry letter. Maybe you attend a peaceful demonstration. You don’t, by way of contrast, burn down embassies, shoot Catholic priests, and demand that the “artist” behind it be executed.

Oh, here’s a third thing: I haven’t posted any of the offensive cartoonsexcept for that anti-semetic doozie, above. So here’s one of the comics that has turbans in a twist: Mohammed wearing a turban that appears to be a bomb.

this one.jpg

This comic outraged the Muslim world because, as we all know, Islam means peace. So offended were Muslims by the publication of this cartoon last September, a cartoon that associates Islam with violence, that they faithful Muslims had no other choice than to riot, bomb, burn, and issue death threats.

In other news…

Via Sullivan: The U.S. Supreme Court building has images of Mohammed in ithonoring him as a lawgiver, along with Moses and others.

Via Kos: Our good buddies the Saudis appear to be stoking this.

Via GatewayPundit: Fake cartoons are being circulated to stoke Muslim angercartoons that have appeared in no European publications. These cartoons were drawn, one expects, by Muslims. Off with their heads!

Al Jazeera Poll on Muhammad Cartoon

posted by on February 6 at 11:05 AM

This latest poll from Al Jazeera doesn’t really seem to be asking the right question. Shouldn’t they be asking if violence and death threats are an appropriate response to a cartoon?

Upon Review

posted by on February 6 at 10:30 AM

That “Instant Replay” feature in yesterday’s game (even, though the Seahawks got robbed) is pretty handy. I haven’t paid much attention to the NFL in the past 20 years, but my memory is that they introduced the review thing and then bagged it. Anyway, I like it.

Wouldn’t it be great to have that in real life? Not only to settle squabbles with your girlfriend or boyfriend, but in matters of grave import. The opposition party would be allowed to call one “Instant Replay” a year on the President, as in “We don’t think there are any weapons of mass destruction” or “We don’t think your Medicare reform bill actually lowered the cost of prescription drugs.” If the challenge is verified upon review, the President has to change the policy.

No jokes about the monorail.


posted by on February 6 at 10:05 AM

There is one downside to the first sunny day after many months of rainy, dark, winter weather—seeing your house in the strong light and realizing you are living in a spider refuge. I strongly believe that spiders are our friends—but I still don’t need to live in a Munster house. So instead of spending a lovely sunny day outside, I spent it attempting to regain the upper hand against the arachnids.

Winning Isn’t Everything

posted by on February 6 at 10:00 AM

Yes, losing your first shot at the Super Bowl is a little like getting dumped at prom, but sometimes winning, by bringing attention your otherwise shameful life, is even more humiliating. Take the sad case of Jimmy Sturr, the fourteen-time Grammy winner who still lives with his parents and looks, according to the New York Times, like Regis Philbin. Poor bastard.

Or Steelers fans like this jackass, who should have to go through life with a bucket on his head:

Jay Adams, 30, of Atlantic City, N.J., promised his girlfriend Kimberly Pascarelli that he’d marry her last night if the Steelers won. During the game, however, Pascarelli, 28, said Adams began hitting on other women, so she dumped him.
“But I’m OK with that, because the Steelers won and that’s all that counts,” said Pascarelli, of Philadelphia, who lived in Pittsburgh for six years.

(From, whatever the hell that is.)

Post-Superbowl Diet Aid

posted by on February 6 at 9:49 AM

According to USA Today, many Super Bowl viewers scarf down more than 3,000 calories during the game, with nutritionists blaming the communal gorging on “nervous snacking.”

Whatever the cause, here’s something to help you counteract your Super Bowl stuffing. If there’s a better appetite suppressant than Burger King’s splashy new Whopperettes commercial, I don’t know what it is.

(Granted, I’m a homosexual vegetarian, making me the last person a hamburger made out of women should appeal to. Still, that lady gussied up as a grilled all-beef patty makes me never want to eat anything again. Thanks, Burger King!)

A Better Bowl

posted by on February 6 at 9:14 AM

The Super Bowl was tough, it’s true. But everyone was a winner at the Puppy Bowl!

And I’d rather watch the Kitty Halftime Show than the Rolling Stones any Sunday of the goddamn week.

Sunday, February 5, 2006

British Parliament Rocks My World

posted by on February 5 at 9:48 PM

I just watched 10 minutes of a broadcast on C-SPAN from the British House of Commons, where Tony Blair was being peppered with questions by his fellow pols on Wednesday. Say what you will about Blair and Labor and lapdogs, but at least this guy can speak without someone else having to write him a script. Plus, how come our Congressional debates are so damned dry and polite and canned? The House of Commons is like black church, crowded and with everyone shouting out approval or booing at will. There are plenty of TV shows this shit could destroy in terms of ratings. Now spread the word!

Monday Morning Talking Points

posted by on February 5 at 9:10 PM

Didn’t watch? Don’t give a shit? Here are some talkking points from Metroblogging Seattle to help you fake it tomorrow.

I mean, the Seahawks are owned by a man that can buy and sell the NFL 10 times over, and he couldn’t buy a ref?

The commercials were awful, except for that one, you know, that one. (Wait for work mate to cycle through commercial descriptions until you hear one that sounds half-funny.) Yeah, that one.

(If someone mentions their power was out all weekend) You were lucky. What an awful game.

There are more.

Go Seagulls! Final Thoughts…

posted by on February 5 at 7:17 PM

Well, it’s all over ‘cept the blame-placing. My brother Bill blames time management and the coaching. Who do you blame? I blame the Danish. If they hadn’t run those cartoons of Mohammed, then the Gulls would have won. Damn Danes. Hey, Seattle: Let’s go burn the Danish embassy, shall we? That’ll show the damn Danes.

Best Commercial: a toss-up between the Bud Light riotbottles are hidden around an office to “boost morale,” and when the boss shows up the workers are tearing the place apart, pulling plants out of planters, punching holes in the drywall, etc.; and the Burger King commercial in which dancing girls represent various parts of a Burger King Whopper, and do a sort of a Busby Berkeley dance, as they assemble themselves into a Whopper under the watchful eye of the creepy, plastic-headed King.

Best cheese: the Danish blue.

Best Drink: Lillet, l’ aperitif de Bordeaux.

Best Play: Angels in America.

Best Hair: That Stealer with the naturally curly hair. I nominate him for “most likely to come out five years from now and write a book about being a gay NFLer.”

Best Boyfriend: Terry Miller, who wanted to go snowboarding but stayed home to make hotdogs and serve cheese to a bunch of my drunk friends.

The Last Word: We’re going to give the last word to a reader:

A loss is no reason not to riot.

Go Seagulls! Dan’s Super Bowl SlogPart Two!

posted by on February 5 at 5:19 PM

Well, the intermission was nice. The Stones rockedso skinny, so flat (Mick’s stomach and his singing). And the commercials were nice. But I couldn’t understand a damn thing the four guys who walked us through the first half the game said.

I’m getting more messages about the Diet Pepsi commercials, and their new Folks seem to think it invokes, in a subtle way, my own santorum. Well, not my own santorum… my santorum campaign.

Hm. An “I’m going to Disney World!” commercialbut only Stealers are features. Clearly Disney put its chips on the Stealersthey didn’t think that the Seagulls had a chance. So: Boycott Disney! It didn’t work when the fundies tried it, but angry Seagulls fans can make a boycott stick!

A reader writes…

dan! CHIMPANZEES, not monkeys. god, i can take any kind of bad spelling, but not that. you’re killing me.

Sorry about that, Annee! I’m Slogging just as fast as I can, and there isn’t time for spellcheck. Monkies, monkeys, chimpswhatever.

5:30: We kick, and it’s on! Why are the Stealers all so hairy? We have a better Logothere logo looks like a Subaru logo. Ours looks like a mighty bird sweeping down.

Um, the ugly-logo-havin’ Stealers just ran a ball 75 yards into our swimsuit area. So they’re kind of winning. One of my guests just announced that she’s originally from PA, so she’s actually a Stealers’ fan. She’s switched allegiance! Mid-game! Can you believe the nerve? It is the “longest play in the history of the Super Bowl.” Ouch.

Oh, another Lost promo.

My brother Bill, who gave novice Seattle football fans advice on the Slog all week long, was going to call me later with advice for novice riotershow to behave at an post-Super-Bowl-victory riot. Only break the windows at big chains, for instance, not mom-and-pop stores. Don’t attempt to loot tavernsbar owners know enough to carry guns on big game days, etc. Looks like we may not need the advice.

5:40: Everyone cheered because… we almost caught a ball. It wasn’t an intercession, which really would have sucked, but it’s starting to look bleak for our suddenly beloved ‘Gulls.

Oh, it’s a third-down-and-five-at-the-thirty-two.

What? Does? That? Mean?

Another long throw to one of our ball catchers, but, alas, no caught ball.

Oh, another missed field goal! Oh, things look bleak! Everyone in my living room is convinced we’re going to losethere are no 12th men here. Just a bunch of people who, by their own admission, have never watched a football game before. Fags, lefties, political junkies.

Wait, I missed a bestiality commercialsome old man and his dog. Ew. Is Pam Roach watching, I wonder? And an “old Fabio” commercial. I was looking down, typing.

5:48: The game, the game, the game… goes on. I’m getting a little tipsy on my drink of choice, delicious Lillet Rouge. I can’t keep up with the plays, the commercials, or the yammering of John Madden anymore. It looks like the Stealers are moving the ball down toward our swimsuit area, because all the folks in the stands are waving their yellow come rags around. This was our mistake: Seagull fans need come rags of their own to wave around. Or maybe tit clampsmaybe Seagull fans should bring tit clamps to the game, and wave them around over their heads.

Oh, my Godwe caught a ball that was meant for them! We are running the ball! We may… no, no touchdown! But we did something of some signifigance! Go gulls!

Touchdown! We did it! Everybody wave your tit clamps around over your head!

tit clamps.jpg

Yippie! There’s hope!

Commercial Break: The Hummer commercial requires comment: Godzilla and a giant robot destroy a city. Then they mate somehow and Godzilla gives birth to a Hummer. Is this an ad, something that’s supposed to make us want a Hummer, or an admission of guilt? Hummer’s destroy cities? Creepy.

5:59: Okay, we’re down by four. And there’s six minutes left in this act of the game. And those were apparently chimps, not monkeys. Thanks, Annie. What would we do without you?

That slap your hands together and go “Yeah!” I make that face when I turn my column in on Wednesday afternoons. “Yeah! Totally kick-ass sex advice! Yeah!” Then I spike my laptop.

Commercial Break: A truck commercial that references the video footage from the Asian Tsunami? A car parked near the shore, herky-jerky, low-quality video of the tide coming in, tossing the car around in the surf. Now the Muslims should riotthat’s offensive shit right there. A quarter of a million people died in that freakin’ tsunami, Toyota! For shame!

6:10: Our guy is throwing the ball around, but no is catching it. So we punt, and now they’ve got the ball. Gee, I hope we intercede.

Hey, did you know Grey’s Anatomy is coming up after the Super Bowl? In case you missed the four hundred thousand ads, the announcer just let us know about the ER-esque episodecode black! code black!that’s on later. It’s somehow in the mold of Desperate Housewives and Lost… somehow. Or other.

6:12: A reader writes…

We do have [our own] come rags. They are white and say 12th Man on them. Much more useful.

Bootleg, bootleg, bootlegwhat the hell does that mean?

He he. Madden said “tight end.” That never gets old.

Oh, we’ve made two big catches in the last few minutesbut the third quarter is over. Fifteen minutes left, fourteen to ten, and our beloved Gulls are still in the game. Wave your tit clamps high, Twelth Men!

Loved the Benny Hill reference in the Sprint commercial!

6:12: We seem to be moving the ball. Gosh, I hope we score. Our guy just throw a ball to another one of our guys, and now we’re very close to their swimsuit area. No, wait. The refs called a foul, and we’re back to the place we were at before. Why are the refs cheating?

Number 98, one of the Stealers, hardly looks like an athlete…

So… we may not score. We may have to kick the ball for one of those three point deals.

No, wait! Interruption! The Stealers steal the ball! Hence, the “Stealers.”

Wait, the ref in tight pants is saying something. Not sure what happened. A call in our favor, for once? We’ll find out after the commercials.

Bootleg explainedcourtesy of a reader.

6:27: We’re having a bad case of “only child syndrome” here at the house. There are not one but two only childrenwait, another Stealers’ touchdown. Hm. Things don’t look good for our Gulls.

Okay, back to the only child thing: There’s a room full of adults andhorrors!none of us are paying attention to them. We’re watching TV, talking about the game, and one of is Slogging. So they’re picking on each other, getting in the way, attracting attention to themselves, knocking shit over, fighting. They can’t take itthis not being the center of attention stuff.

A touchy fan of the other team writes…

fine, you go ahead and call them stealers, and when seattle loses because of all the time they steal the ball, it’s on your head. you called it. brilliant.

Hm. The Stealers stole the ball. “First down, Pittsburgh.” Buttterfingers…

6:36: Waitdid a ref make a call that benefited the Gulls? Holy shit!

Meanwhile, here’s a news headline that’s a pleasure to read: “Bush is thinking ahead, already, to retirement.” We’re all looking forward to it, Mr. President.

A nickname that could stick after today: Hasslesack.

6:45: Okay, not much time left, the Gulls will need two touchdowns to win. This seems, well, unlikely. So there won’t be riots tonight in Seattle.

A reader asks…

Are we seeing a new feature starting on the Stranger? Savage Sports? Dan needs to do this for the upcoming Olympics. I’d enjoy reading his comments on a Nascar race!

I’ve never been able to screw up much interest in the Winter Olympics. The Summer Olmpicssure. Divers, wrestlers, gymnastslove ‘em, can’t get enough of ‘em. Athletes in the Winter Olympics, by contrast, wear lots more clothes. No reason to watch, as far as I’m concerned. Maybe if the speed skaters did it in thongs, or if the snowboarders wore chapsmaybe then. And Nascar? If I can’t be bothered with real athletes in winter clothes, I certainly can’t be bothered with fake athletes wearing whole cars.

6:50: It’s over, right?

Wait, what? There’s another game after this game? Huh? What’s the pro-bowl about?

7:00: “Your guys are fucked,” my brother Bill says. “You can win if Moses parts the red sea and gives you a miracle.” Why are we losing? “You’re losing because of bad time management and bad coaching. And I was right about half the scoreI said Pittsburgh would get 21. Be glad that you didn’t win. Now you don’t have to go riot and loot. You can just go to bed.”

Go Seagulls! Annie’s Interruption

posted by on February 5 at 5:17 PM

Okay, Dan. Those were CHIMPANZEES. Thanks.

Super Bowl: Halftime Show!

posted by on February 5 at 5:07 PM

Okay, one thing: The Rolling Stones have a song called “Sweet Neocon,” which is about Condi Riceand she’s there, at Ford Field, watching the game. Perhaps they’ll do the number?

You call yourself a Christian/ I think that you’re a hypocrite/ You say you are a patriot/ I think that you’re a crock of shit

Start Me Up, one of my guests informs me, has a lyric that goes… “You make a dead man come.” The older Mick gets, the more appropriate that lyric gets. They bleeped “come.” They also bleeped “cock” in “Rough Justice,” even though it’s a reference to a barnyard animals.

A friend just called to say that the streets are emptythe city, it seems, is a ghost town. “You could rob, kill, rape, murderyou could do ANYTHING!”

From the comments…

Doesn’t anyone else get the feeling that the Diet Pepsi people failed to research ‘santorum’ when they made up this ill-thought “Brown and Bubbly” ad campaign?
Posting a picture of Shelly Winters in a slog about the superbowl is gay, gay, gay! God what a boring first half. Dan, your slog is more entertaining than the game.

Go Seagulls! Dan’s Super Bowl Slog

posted by on February 5 at 3:10 PM

3:10 PM: It’s only 3:10, and the game doesn’t start until 3:25, but things are already underway, it seems. I just turned on the TV and the audience is waving what look likethere’s no nice way to put thiscome towels. They’re yellow, these come towels. Are all the fans waving them? Is it a football thing? No one was waving come towels during the playofffsis this a Super Bowl thing exclusively? So many weird new rituals for a football notice to learn.

Oh, here comes Aretha. I just yelled “Bitch, get me a drink!” And my boyfriend brought me a drinkshit, is that Condi Rice in the audience? Doesn’t she have a war to run? Shouldn’t she be on the phone explaining “freedom of the press,” the concept and the practice, to her counterparts in the Islamic world? And who told Aretha to wear horizontal stripes? She’s too big a girl for that.

3:16: First commercial break. Ah! The Cheesey Bites pizza! It looks like little edible toesor worse. Ads for movies. No beer commericals yet. Grey’s Anatomycode black. Is that bad? Dr. Suess? Wha? Harrison Ford? What the fuck? Oh, my Godpoor Dr. Suess is spinning in his grave. How much did they pay Ford for this? What is this a commercial for? Can we have everyone involved shot? It’s an ad for the game we’re already watching? What the fuck?

3:20: The fat guy has some advice for Seattle: basically, move the ball or toward the other team. Or something. Yack, yack, yack. Isn’t he the guy married to Kathi Lee? Didn’t he cheat on her? Whobesides Coricould be into him?

Oh, a coin toss! Thathey, that Lofa Seagull guy is hot. The Steeler named Sean is kinda hot too. Wow, two hot football players in one game. How’d that happen? Seagulls win the toss! We will receive! We’re the bottoms!

Apparently they’re not come towels that everyone is wavingalthough they’re the right size, and usually comes towels are a color, because come stains white towels. A reader writes…

they are “terrible towels” and belong to steeler’s fans. wtf was up with the maudlin “bittersweet symphony” the seahawks give in before hand in order to keep their uniforms clean?

3:26: Commercial break #2… was really short. I wonder if there will be more children’s books rip-offs? Goodnight Moon?

Time for the big kickline. We have got the ball andoh, we’re down already. The 18 Yard Line! How exciting! Someoen on the Stealers has really long hairit looks like naturually curly hair. Is it an homage to Charles M. Schultz’s Peanuts? Someone in the room tells me that the Seagulls are all about tempohe read it in the New Yorrk Times. Yay! We caught the ball! Youch! One of our Gulls got knocked over by some of their Stealers!

Oh, our quarterback threw the ball but no one was there to catch it! This is not good! Now our quarterback got knocked over! A man in white pants is saying something! In the replay it looks like one of those little yellow come rags got thrown on the field. Now we’re punting. Is punting good?

Commercial Break: Bud Lightit’s a riot in the office. We liked that commercial! Do women who look like that eat Whoppers? Do they make Whoppers out of women who look like that? Wow! That meat woman was disgusting! Wow! Its’ a woman sandwhich!

During the break Terry asked if the “Mariner’s fumbled.” “No,” another fag said, “they got sacked.” Which is not what I think happened at all. Still, “sacked” sounds like a good alternative term for teabagging, don’t you think?

In Comments, Dyke says… “the girl sandwich was creepy.” If your girl sandwhich doesn’t appeal to the Lesbian Community, there’s something wrong with your girl sandwhich, no?

3:36: The other guys, the Stealers, have the ball. They have not yet shown Paul Allen, which is good. Now the Stealers have to punt. Their punter is cute. Okay, we’ve got the ball. And now our ball-getting has been tackledtime for some commercials!

Commercial Break:Seirra Mist commercialit’s got this brown-haired guy in it, a commedian, that I can’t decide if I think is cute or not. Bruce Willis looks like a guy whose ex-wife would marry a teenager.

UPDATE: A reader writes…

The commedien was Michael Ian Black. He was on VH1’s I Love The XX’s series. I think he’s kind of cute. If you search for his name on Yahoo one of the other suggestions they give you is Michael Ian Black gay… I’m think his sexuality has been questioned before.

3:41: Our quarterback slidhe doesn’t want to get tackled, because he’s a huge pussy. Man, what a pussy. Whoa! Big yellow butt shot! There are four fags in the room watching the game, and one straight guy. How does that feel? “I feel bad, because it seems that you guys all know more about this than I do.” Why does our quarterback run backwards before he throws the ball forward? How does that help? Apparently we made the ten-yardy-thing we have to make to keep the ball.

More come towels being waved around. That’s so gay.

Oh! Our QB threw the ball, but no one caught it. We are very sad. We are kciking the ball away. There is a great deal of punting in this game, and very little scoring.

Commercial Break: A car thing. People living at the same times as dinasoursclearly outreach to the creationists. They like football. Bear chasing straight guys clearly a beer commercial. Bud Light. They spend so much marketing their beerit seems that the worse a beer is, the more money has to be spent to market it.

3:48: This game is not as exciting as the penultimate game. There was a lot of scoring in that gamea lot of our guys in their end zones. This time, nothing. What’s with the little talking heads? The other guys still have the ball. Maybe soon the Stealers will have to punt. Oh, they’re punting now. So many punts today! We have the ball! Oh, goodie! Time for more commercials!

Commercial Break: London’s Parliment explodesvery Independence Day. Diet Pepsi. Apparently Diet Pepsi is a rapper now. Oh, there’s P. Squiddy, or whatever the hell he’s called now. Okay, another commercial for the game we’re watchingthis one starring the Stealer with the naturally curly hair. He seems very sensitive. Back to the game!

3:54: One of our guys, with the ball, just basically tripped over one of their guys. Which seems rather unathletic of them. “I think the Seagulls are playing a little bit better,” someone just said. We’re going to lose now. No, wait! We’re going to win! Touchdown! No, wait. We didn’t get a touchdown. We got… a yellow come towel thrown at us. Oh, too bad. We are going to lose. Another ball is thrown to another Gull in the scoring place, butoh!we couldn’t catch the ball! Another not-a-touchdown. But we “got on the board first,” with one of those kicks-that-score three points.

Commercial Break: It’s Leonard Neemoy. (sp?) Hee-hee men sneaking beers on their roofs, because their castrating wives won’t let them drink beer in the house! It’s so tough to be a married straight guyso much is taken from you. But thankfully other straight guys understand, and there is a straight guy underground. Tips about how to sneak beers are shared there.

4:01: We’re back in the game! Their QB just thew the ball to one of his ball-catchers, but our ball-catcher-knocker-downers knocked him down! And that is the way the game is played! And again! Our ball-catch-preventers prevented the catching of a ball! And we are still in the lead! Again, the Stealers QB throws the ball, and no one is there to catch it! The ball is uncaught! We are still in the lead! And that ends the first quarter!

Commercial Break: Now Diet Pepsi is an action-movie star. I wish they would show that Harrison Ford/Dr. Suess thing again. Some stoned people showed up and watching it would, I’m sure, kill these stoners dead. On to Miller Lightanother not-so-good-beer that they have to spend shitloads of money convincing people to drink.

The Second Quarter Begins4:07: We have the ball. Does anything that female commentator says make sense? I hope we get to see John Madden defibrilated before the end of the game. We’re on their 30, or our 30, I don’t know. And… the throw, and we catch! Yay for the Hawks!

Incidentally, my guests are drinking Danish beer. I am drinking Lillet, le Aperatif de Bordeaux. It is delicious.

Oh, we missed the ball! Goldangit. Now we must punt. Now more commercials… that preview for Grey’s Anatomy makes it look like a late ER episodeyou know, when every week it’s gotta be somethingterrorists, ebola, helicopters crashing. Ho-hum, just another day at the office.

4:15 Back to the game. The Stealers have the ball, and they’re ball-thrower is actually getting the ball to their ball-catchers. This is not good. Oh, good a monkey commercial! Smoking monkey! Jumping monkey. The messageget a job some place where you don’t have to work with monkies. I would love to work with monkies! Except the smoking monkies. Gross.

4:23: Hey, one of our ball-catchers caught a ball intended for one of their ball-catchers! This is called an intercession. Only Popes and ball-catchers can do this. So it’s time for a commercial. Mission Impossible 3! Truman Capote is the villian! Oh, the Dove Self-Esteem Fund! Maybe the Dove Self-Esteem Fund can provide counseling to all the girls who were traumatized by the Burger King girl-Whopper commercial. You are not a piece of meat, girls! Well, not unless you’re hot.

4:28: We have got the ball but we are far, far from the place where touchdowns occur. Someone was standing in front of me. Either we punted or they interceded. You know, we’re getting close to half-time, and we’re still ahead three-to-nothing. Now a commercial for a Tim Allen moviethey’re always quality, those Tim Allen meetings. Ford has a hybrid SUV.

Oh, my God… a Michalob (sp?) commercial in which a woman is basically body-slammed. Considering the supposed connection between the Super Bowl and domestic violence, which may or may not have been debunked (someone Google it and email me what you find), aren’t commercials that make light of men doing grave bodily harm to women in poor taste?

4:30: The Stealers QB almost completed a touchdown pass! See, I’m getting the lingo! Still, no touchdowns in this game, and we’re still in the lead. But they’re getting close to our swimsuit area. Oh, now they’re very, very close to our swimsuit area. I have a feeling that a Stealers’ touchdown may be in the offing.

Commercial Break: Go Daddy!

4:36: They’re at our one yard line! No! No! NOOOOOO! Depends! Depends! Depends!

Commercial Break: The new Posedianno “adventure” this time. And no Shelley Winters. Wouldn’t you like to buy some razors?

4:40: Touchdown! The Stealers are now in the lead! John Madden saw it coming, of course. Wait! No, way! That was not a touchdown! The guy moved the ball! The play is being reviewed “upstairs,” which gives us time for one of those fucking freaking “All about the O” commercials. Touchdown! We was robbed! They wouldn’t get away with this if Shelley Winters was still alive!


Commercial Break: Disney World sucks.

4:46: We have the ball, the Stealers have the leads. The halftime of the Rocking Dead is coming up. I will not be Slogging during the halftime show, because union blogging rules require a break. 1:13 left in the half! We’re on the 50! Golly, I hope we make it to their swimsuit area! Why, an email asks, am I calling it the swimsuit area? Because I don’t know what it’s called. I do know, however, that it’s a sensitive spot, and the other team will do all it can to prevent us from touching them there.

4:53: Thirteen seconds left, and the Stealers take a timeout. Our coach appears to be perusing a Ford Field menu with our quarterback. They’re ordering something for halftime noshing, I guess. We attempted one of those three-point kickies, but it didn’t work. So we’re down by four as we go into the Halftime Show of the Living Dead. Okay, my break begins now. Join me after the halftime show for more insightful commentary.

Time for delicious Danish Cheese and Hebrew National hotdogsmy own little stand against the Islamic whackjobs who are pissing their pants about a fucking cartoon. Yum…

Danish Cheese.jpg

A Silver Lining

posted by on February 5 at 3:06 PM

Muslim crybabieshow else can they be described?set fire to the Danish consulate in Beirut today. One bit of good news:

One protester, among those who set the consulate on fire in Beirut, was encircled by flames and died after jumping from the third floor. Police fired tear gas to disperse the protest involving thousands of people.

Pre-Game Mania: Artsy Local Ad Man Makes Good!

posted by on February 5 at 2:24 PM

I just got the missive below from invaluable local citizen Kerri Harrop, concerning the REAL draw of Super Bowl Sunday: the commercials.

I am still totally fascinated by the culture surrounding Super Bowl advertising. It’s like a debutante ball for the companies that earmark their ad dollar budgets for today’s extravaganza. A tremendous effort is made to put the best face forward during each precious second aired.

My friend Russell Bates makes commercials. Years ago, when he and his wife lived in Seattle, he directed a bunch of music videos. Since moving back to L.A., he has spent a lot of time directing TV ads and I am sure you have seen some of them. Like Russ, they are clever and smart. He is a funny and talented man and I was very happy to learn that he has directed not one but TWO commercials that will run during today’s game.

The first offering from Master Bates is an ad is for Michelob Ultra Amber, a beer that I do not condone, no matter how great the commercial is.( I think everyone is pretty clear on where I stand with regard to beer; if it ain’t High Life, don’t bother. It’s called the Champagne of Beers for a reason.)

The second commercial is for a little old steakhouse called Outback. You may know them by their blooming onion. I actually sampled my very first blooming onion this past summer, while in Terre Haute, Indiana. It was disgustingly delicious.

Anyway, I’m very proud of my friend Russ today and would like to encourage you to voice your approval of his wares, should they turn you on. The media giants at USA Today will tally votes in an online poll of today’s best Super Bowl ads. You can find it here here.

For a look at some of the stuff that Russ has already done, check his website. You Seattle residents should scroll down the page and view the spots that were made for the Symphony, featuring the likes of Mark Arm, Steve Turner, and the boys of Gas Huffer. I think you’ll be very amused.

xx kerri

Congratulations, Russell Bates! And go, ‘Gulls!!!!!!

The 12th Human

posted by on February 5 at 1:35 PM

The excitement in my apartment is reaching a fever pitch as I stroll around in my slippers. I have a phone call in to my mother to ascertain what snacks will be available at the family Super Bowl extravaganza, snacks being my primary interest in the event (if not in life itself). One problem: I do not know what time the game begins. I may be alone in the country in this (if not in the world). What to do? Well, I just visited, which besides informing me of game time (3 p.m. here on the West Coast, F.Y.I.) offers a link to an article entitled “The Prediction: Dr. Cheeks says the Steelers will win with defense and intanglibles.” Intanglibles! Do they not have spell check in Super Bowl Land? One of these intanglibles is, per this Dr. Cheeks, the fact that “both teams have deep receiving corps (including good, young tight ends),” which via some pretty intense sports logic is somehow a disadvantage for our dear Seagullsbut clearly a big advantage for Dan.

What Does ‘Terrorist Surveillance’ Really Mean?

posted by on February 5 at 10:12 AM

Obviously nobody is going to see this article today, because everybody’s all hepped up on Superbowl XL and spicy guacamoleor whatever your traditional sporty sustenance may be. But listen: bookmark this article for a more thorough Monday morning perusal. The Washington Post has a fantastic piece by Barton Gellman, Dafna Linzer, and Carol D. Leonnig on Bush’s FISA-bypass programyou know, the one alternately known as “domestic spying” or “terrorist surveillance,” depending on who’s talking.

It seems to me that the furor over domestic spying has died down a little in the wake of the State of the Union. Bush was smart to dangle that alternative-energy carrot off in one corner of the speech, because people paid little heed to the section about intercepting domestic communications. Here’s a refresher:

It is said that prior to the attacks of September the 11th, our government failed to connect the dots of the conspiracy. We now know that two of the hijackers in the United States placed telephone calls to al Qaeda operatives overseas. But we did not know about their plans until it was too late. So to prevent another attackbased on authority given to me by the Constitution and by statuteI have authorized a terrorist surveillance program to aggressively pursue the international communications of suspected al Qaeda operatives and affiliates to and from America [ … ] The terrorist surveillance program has helped prevent terrorist attacks. It remains essential to the security of America. If there are people inside our country who are talking with al Qaeda, we want to know about it, because we will not sit back and wait to be hit again.

So everyone sitting at home is like, cool, my secretary never beeps in and says “al Qaeda operative on line 1.” Nobody’s spying on me.

Not so fast. Obviously the government doesn’t have a stable al Qaeda phone treethe program, according to the Washington Post, works through stats-based computer analysis, which whittles down an enormous amount of data into a few thousand suspicious calls to be monitored by people. Of those thousands of calls, say, from you to a friend who’s studying abroad, only about ten (10!) have contained enough terrorist keywords, or whatever, to justify the government requesting permission to extend the surveillance net to domestic calls. That means the vast majority of the program is used to listen in on the conversations of innocent Americans.

Maybe you think that’s acceptable, maybe you don’t. But according to the Post, that high “washout” rate raises some real Constitutional issues.

We Are All Danes Now

posted by on February 5 at 9:53 AM

From the Boston Globe:

HINDUS CONSIDER it sacrilegious to eat meat from cows, so when a Danish supermarket ran a sale on beef and veal last fall, Hindus everywhere reacted with outrage. India recalled its ambassador to Copenhagen, and Danish flags were burned in Calcutta, Bombay, and Delhi. A Hindu mob in Sri Lanka severely beat two employees of a Danish-owned firm, and demonstrators in Nepal chanted: ”War on Denmark! Death to Denmark!”In many places, shops selling Dansk china or Lego toys were attacked by rioters, and two Danish embassies were firebombed.

It didn’t happen, of course. Hindus may consider it odious to use cows as food, but they do not resort to boycotts, threats, and violence when non-Hindus eat hamburger or steak. They do not demand that everyone abide by the strictures of Hinduism and avoid words and deeds that Hindus might find upsetting. The same is true of Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Mormons: They don’t lash out in violence when their religious sensibilities are offended. They certainly don’t expect their beliefs to be immune from criticism, mockery, or dissent.

But radical Muslims do.

Go read the whole thing.