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Archives for 12/23/2007 - 12/29/2007

Saturday, December 29, 2007

George Bush = Drunk Rat?

posted by on December 29 at 7:20 PM


Slog tipper Josh detects a series of digs directed at George W. Bush in Paul Steinberg’s op-ed in today’s New York Times. The op-ed is about the long-term impact of binge drinking on rats and the possible implications for human binge-drinkers, current or long-since reformed. And Steinberg’s piece, writes Josh, uses several phrases that—well, let’s just go to the source. But first here’s the experiment…

When put into a tub of water and forced to continue swimming until they find a platform on which to stand, the sober former binge-drinking rats and the normal control rats (who had never been exposed to alcohol) learned how to find the platform equally well. But when the experimenters abruptly moved the platform, the two groups of rats had remarkably different performances. The rats without previous exposure to alcohol, after some brief circling, were able to find the new location. The former binge-drinking rats, however, were unable to find the new platform; they became confused and kept circling the site of the old platform.

Hm… so rats that were binge drinkers have difficultly adapting to new information or changing circumstances on the ground/in the tub. Hmm. Back to Steinberg’s op-ed:

The more we have binged—and the younger we have started to binge—the more we experience significant, though often subtle, effects on the brain and cognition.”… The binges activate an inflammatory response in rat brains rather than a pure regrowth of normal neuronal cells. Even after longstanding sobriety this inflammatory response translates into a tendency to stay the course , a diminished capacity for relearning and maladaptive decision-making

The forebrain—specifically the orbitofrontal cortex, which uses associative information to envision future outcomes—can be significantly damaged by binge drinking… One can easily fail to recognize the ultimate consequences of one’s actions

Does the research on rats have relevance for the more complex brains and behavior of humans? We have come to think so… we not only learn specific skills during these years, with our brains having developed more fully, we also learn in a more subtle way how to deal with ambiguity. Ambiguity comes into play when the goalposts are moved. Can we change course? Can we deal with this ambiguity and with nuances?

Our Dear Leader, of course, is a recovered—supposedly—boozer who, despite years of sobriety, has difficulties changing course, dealing with ambiguity, and the fruits of his seriously maladaptive decision-making processes are everywhere to be seen.

But this line is the real real kicker, says Josh:

The one piece of good news is that exercise has been shown to stimulate the regrowth and development of normal neural tissue in former alcohol-drinking mice.

Writes Josh:

Is this op-ed coded? Am I the only one reading it this way? “Stay the course” is a peculiarly evocative phrase right now. “Change course,” too. Lack of foresight? Check. Lack of nuance? Check. But what’s with the bizarre orthogonal pivot onto exercise? Could this explain why it is so frequently observed that Bush is an obsessive exercise freak?

Perhaps. But seeing as Steinberg’s point is that exercise repairs the damage done by binge drinking, and seeing as Bush, despite his avid exercise routine, retains a strong tendency to stay a failed course, shows no capacity for relearning, and continues to demonstrate his maladaptive decision-making skills, I’d say it’s a coincidence. Unless Steinberg intended to offer the president a subtle compliment, which seems unlikely.

But Josh makes a persuasive case…

Flickr Photo of the Day

posted by on December 29 at 12:43 PM

Another one from Flickr pool contributor Karlheinz Arschbomber


Today in Presidential Politics; Or, 5 Days Until the Iowa Caucuses

posted by on December 29 at 11:20 AM

Tea anyone? Another Obama-Clinton tussle, this one over whether she only sipped tea with world leaders as first lady, and whether suggesting so is sexist.

Romney’s abortion conversion: Must have happened sometime after this.

Swinging hard: Chris Dodd.

Parsing the Pakistan positions: Not easy.

Huckabee’s foreign policy blunders: An overview.

More polarizing than…: A call for less hyperbole.

Obama vs. Edwards: Over who’s really about change.

Race matters: But it’s talked about differently by the Obama generation of black politicians.

The ground war: More ambitious and costly than ever in Iowa.

Going negative: The Republicans.

The “M” Word

posted by on December 29 at 11:17 AM

In the ongoing Blatant and Unapologetic Use of Racial Slurs, Specifically Aimed a Black People, in Standup Comedy Routines meme, it looks as though George Lopez was channeling Michael Richards Thursday night. Here’s the reader report [sic on the whole thing and the emphasis is mine]:

George was going on about text alerts - then he said we have to send each other texts saying Mayate Alert, Mayate Alert. Anyway, Mayate means [The N Word] in Spanish. Some of the Mexicans were making sounds like - Whoa I can’t believe he just said that. See some Black people think Negro or Nigerita means [The N Word] in Spanish. So, he thought the few black people there wouldn’t catch it.

He was also like f*ck ‘em, they ain’t here tonight - and if YOU are here - you’re Dominican tonight damn it.

Then he went on to promote the racial tensions (as if this needs instigating) in LA. He went on and ON about how Mexicans run L.A. and run the U.S. He also spoke about how young Mexican boys are dying on the front line in Iraq while the Whites are in the back partying (offensive to anyone of any race who has lost loved ones in Iraq).

I can take a joke, but I am no longer friend with this Vato. So disappointed - I have love for the LAtinos too.

I didn’t get a chance to record it, but he’s sold out at the Nokia Theater all this week performing up until New Years day.

The word mayate, it doesn’t literally mean “ni**er.” It’s a Spanish word that basically means “black beetle.” It comes from the Nahuatl (Aztec) word mayatli— academically, the fig beetle Cotinus mutabilis, which isn’t even black, but possibly also meaning “dung beetle.” But anyway the word is never used in this context. It is an extremely derisive and offensive term that some racist Mexican-Americans use to refer to black people among their other racist friends and family and that has the same taboo and meaning as the English N-word. The fact that it was used in public—to an audience, no less—is deeply disturbing and upsetting to me as a Mexican and a human being, which of course doesn’t even touch how the black community must feel.

My experience with that awful word comes from hearing my uncle, who was often drunk when I was young, ramble on and punctuate his sentences with all kinds of foul language in English and Spanish. He used mayate on occasion. But then one day when he was working with a crew installing telephone poles alongside a road, someone accidentally unloosed a whole trailer load of the poles, which fell out and crushed my uncle like giant rolling pins.

Take a lesson, Lopez; that is comedy.

UPDATE: In doing a little more research on Aztequismos, I was reminded of another word that I heard in Mexico—camote, from the Nahuatl word camotl (meaning “yam”), used to refer to male partner in a sexual relationship; I heard it used in a gay context. But anyway, here’s a passage from Streets, Bedrooms, and Patios (2000), a book about diversity in Oaxaca, by Michael James Higgins and Tanya Leigh Coen. Apparently some gay male prostitutes there use mayate to refer to their clients!


Today The Stranger Suggests

posted by on December 29 at 11:00 AM


‘Sweeney Todd’

Sweeney Todd has everything—rape, murder, cannibalism, more murder—and whoever decided to open it around the holidays is a marketing genius. Tim Burton’s film of Stephen Sondheim’s Broadway musical is by no means perfect; Helena Bonham Carter can’t sing, for starters. But you couldn’t ask for a better antidote to compulsory holiday cheer than Burton’s nightmare vision. London is a grim and grisly grindhouse. It’s hard to argue with Johnny Depp’s Sweeney when he decides that the “lives of the wicked should be made brief, for the rest of us death will be a relief,” or Mrs. Lovett’s suggestion that they’re going to “save a lot of graves, do a lot of relatives favors.” (See movie times for details.)


The Stranger News Hour. Tonight on KIRO. 710 AM.

posted by on December 29 at 10:59 AM

The year in review and some predictions about 2008 on our weekly sit down with David Goldstein.

Tune in tonight at 7pm.

Unelected Federal Judge Promotes Radical Gay Agenda, Attacks Traditional Family Values

posted by on December 29 at 9:14 AM

In Oregon one of those damn unelected judges thwarted the will of the people and their elected representatives by granting marriage-like “domestic partnership” rights to same-sex couples—oh, wait. The judge blocked domestic partnership benefits for same-sex couples.

A federal judge on Friday placed on hold a state domestic-partnership law that was set to take effect in Oregon on Tuesday, pending a February hearing.

The law would have given some spousal rights to gay couples.

Opponents asked U.S. District Judge Michael Mosman to intercede after the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office ruled in October that they had failed to collect enough valid signatures on a referendum to block the law.

Never mind.

Morning News

posted by on December 29 at 9:10 AM

posted by news intern Brian Slodysko

In Cold Blood: Grizzly Grisly account of Christmas Eve murders in Carnation.

Democracy-Spreading Allies: Musharraf blames Taliban for Bhutto’s assassination. Pakistanis not convinced.

Congressional Hand Wringing: Bush vetoes war spending bill after White House lawyers discover an overlooked provision allowing U.S. to coerce money out of terrorism sanctuary states.

One Out Of Eight: Bush attempting to leave green legacy during last year in White House.

Economies of Scale: Beijing’s push to cut pollution before the Olympics not going as planned.

Use Of Force: Questions raised about trooper shooting man to death on I-5.

Just Because It Burns Greenbacks Doesn’t Mean It’s Green: Military environmental spending a waste.

Education Parity: Harvard sets precedent of taking grants from the poor kids to help upper-middle class with tuition.

Our Saturday Morning Ritual

posted by on December 29 at 9:05 AM

Every Saturday morning at 9 AM, without fail, we scramble over each other to get to the radio and turn the fucking thing off once those “Car Talk” guys start cackling.

Modesty Is a Guard to Virtue

posted by on December 29 at 8:50 AM

My boyfriend’s one-eyed poodle was in our bed last night. And he just couldn’t stop licking himself—the poodle, not the boyfriend—and making these awful smacking sounds all night long, sounds that drove me out of my own bedroom at three in the morning. So I’d happily contribute to this woman’s legal defense fund:

A 25-year-old woman was arrested for investigation of second-degree assault for getting into an argument with her boyfriend over whether his dog should be in the bathroom while the couple were taking a shower together.

A police report said the 26-year-old man wanted his dog to join them in the bathroom, but the woman objected on Thursday night.

She told him if the dog wouldn’t stay out, she didn’t want to be his girlfriend anymore. He replied that maybe his next girlfriend would appreciate the dog more, and called her a name.

The couple—nude, in the bathroom, and unshowered—commenced to “grappling,” the woman then punched the man in the face repeatedly, and finally threw a framed picture at him, which broke and cut him. The woman’s in jail now, her boyfriend is back on the market, and the dog, unfortunately, is unharmed and remains at large.

Friday, December 28, 2007

This Week on Drugs

posted by on December 28 at 6:22 PM

Cancer Cells Are Like People: Less ambitious when stoned.

I’m Definitely Switching: They’re replacing regular coffee with genetically modified coffee. Let’s see if you can tell the difference.

Capitol Bill: Federal ban on D.C. needle exchange lifted.

Imported: More meth in 2007.

Highway Patrol: Officer charged with stealing $1 million in cocaine.

Europe: Where cocaine’s wind blows.

Vietnam: 43 traffickers sent to the firing squad.

Ecuador President: My father was a drug mule.

Australian Smokers: 6-in-10 are dolts.

Happy New Year Recipe

posted by on December 28 at 5:34 PM

OK, admittedly, I’m posting this in part to knock Josh’s Freedom Socialist press release off the bottom of Slog. BUT, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t guarantee yourself luck and riches with black-eyed peas and greens on New Year’s Day, believed to bring prosperity because they resemble coins and cash. (Why it’s called Hoppin’ John, meanwhile, has been the subject of lengthy speculation). Anyway, here’s a recipe I like from the Lee Brothers’ Southern Cookbook, which I own and love.

Hoppin’ John

1 cup dried black-eyed peas or field peas (You can also substitute fresh, often available this time of year; just omit the soaking step and cook until tender.)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 smoked hog jowl, or 1/4 pound (3 strips) thick-cut smoked bacon
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon salt
5 or 6 peeled whole tomatoes, or half a 28-ounce can, drained (optional)
1 1/2 cups uncooked rice.

1. Wash the peas in a strainer, and soak them for 4 hours in ample fresh water. When ready, heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a 4-quart pot, and brown the hog jowl on both sides. (If using bacon, omit the olive oil, and simply render the fat in the pot for 5 minutes.) Add onion, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add 6 cups water, black pepper, red pepper and salt, and bring to a boil.
2. Let mixture boil 10 minutes, and then add peas. Maintain a low boil, uncovered, until peas are nearly tender (25 minutes for black-eyed peas, 30 minutes for field peas). In a bowl, lightly crush tomatoes, and add to pot. Add rice to pot, reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, 20 minutes.
3. Turn off flame, and allow hoppin’ John to steam in pot, lid on, for 5 minutes. If using hog jowl, remove from pot, and shred meat. Fluff hoppin’ John, and add shredded jowl. Serve.

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

posted by on December 28 at 5:34 PM


125th and Densmore Ave N

Last month, I wrote about a Safeway redevelopment in North Seattle’s Pinehurst neighborhood that had a handful of community groups all riled up. Several neighborhood councils made noise about the potential loss of single-family zoned housing as a result of the project, which could require the demolition of three long-vacant homes.

Ironically, the Haller Lake Community Club (HLCC)—one of the groups who opposed the Safeway project—has now asked the City for permission to convert a single-family house into an office. The house, which is next door to the community club, was recently purchased by a dance group which uses the HLCC, and the group has outgrown their current facility.

Sure, the HLCC’s plan won’t require the demolition of the house, but there will be one less single family home in North Seattle once they’re done with the conversion.

And Now France…

posted by on December 28 at 5:00 PM

Say goodbye to France’s famously smokey cafes

French cafes set to ban smoking

France is poised to extend its smoking ban to bars, cafes, restaurants and discos, but the measure will not be enforced fully until 2 January.

The health ministry said smokers would be allowed a 24-hour “grace” period for the New Year festivities.

The fine for smoking in a French cafe, bar, restaurant or disco after January 2 will be 450 euros—or $662. And despite the impression Paris makes, the majority of the French are non-smokers. Out of 61 million French, just 13.5 million smoke.

Was It Revenge for the Nickname?

posted by on December 28 at 4:30 PM

This troubling item comes to us courtesy of News Channel 7—FIRST in South Carolina to broadcast in high definition.

A Spartanburg mother is accused of stabbing her son several times Christmas morning, but her son is the person facing charges. City police say it appears the mother, 45-year-old Tammy Jones, stabbed her son because he urinated on her while she slept in her bed. 21-year-old Michael Anthony Carson, nicknamed Pooh Bear, is charged with aggravated assault and battery. Police arrested him at his mother’s home on Wednesday.

City police say Jones stabbed her son six times with a butcher knife. He suffered wounds to his shoulder, calf, and chest. Witnesses in the house heard Jones say “why did you pee on me Pooh Bear?” A few moments later, the witness heard the son say “Mama you done stabbed me.”

This Weekend at the Movies

posted by on December 28 at 4:12 PM

Most everything in the print edition this week opened Tuesday, including The Savages (Bradley Steinbacher says it “deftly walks a tightrope between comedy and mush”), The Great Debaters (“The rhythms are so smooth and the beats so momentous that the story never seems remotely real,” I write. “Which is too bad, because Wiley College had some impressive debate teams”), and The Water Horse (Brendan Kiley: “It’s cute (but not nauseatingly so) and pretty, set in rural Scotland with its big peaks, cobblestoned streets, and a costume closet from the golden age of natty togs”). In a separate piece, Andrew Wright reviews Alien vs. Predator: Requiem (“a big ball of trademarked suck”), which also opened earlier.

But a few choice films are opening today. First up: Diva:


dir. Jean-Jacques Beineix
Opening December 28 at SIFF Cinema.

I am told people retain nostalgic feelings for Diva, an insanely pretentious 1981 French film about smitten postmen, roller-skating shoplifters, freight elevators, spooky recording technology, and an electric blue everlasting wave machine. I hate to break it to you, but the only thing that’s still awesome about this movie is a five-second cameo by a cat named Ayatollah. Ayatollah is très chouette.

Jules (Frédéric Andréi) is a postal worker in his early 20s—ah, the fresh-faced French working class—with a raging crush on the African-American opera singer Cynthia Hawkins (played by one Wilhelmenia Wiggins Fernandez—can I get a holy shit?). He bootlegs one of her concerts, chats her up backstage, and then, in a fit of straight-as-a-board covetousness, snatches her silken robes from a rack and hightails it home. Jules also meets a Vietnamese shoplifter who enjoys roller skating and posing naked for artsy photographs. And her boyfriend, who sits soulfully on the floor of his massive Paris loft and works jigsaw puzzles. But then sometimes the boyfriend gets up and lectures on how to butter a baguette.

Meanwhile, there’s some other nonsense about a prostitution ring the chief of police is implicated in. And something about switching secret cassette tapes. None of this part of the plot makes any sense. All you have to know is the bad guys wear aviator sunglasses. Their favorite weapon is the awl. The awl.

Diva is, unfortunately, two hours long, so pretty soon the crushing weight of its ridiculousness begins to suffocate the modern viewer. Do we really have to listen to Wilhelmenia bleat about how anyone with the audacity to record her precious voice might as well go ahead and rape her? It’s 1981, darling. This behavior has no place. The Vietnamese Frenchie is absolutely intolerable. And there are one too many shots of that goofy wave machine. But if you want to kneel at the altar of the coolest cat name ever recorded, Diva is your flick. C’mere, Ayatollah, you fuzzy thing. ANNIE WAGNER

Competing for the cool vote at Northwest Film Forum: Five Easy Pieces.

The question of whether Five Easy Pieces is sexist or about sexism has been troubling movie nerds for thirty years now, and this screening will open the worm can once again. This unresolvable dialectic is one of the many good things this great film trails in its wake. Because yes, frankly, it is sexist (and not pre-feminist, either). Even the title is a sexist double entendre—those pieces aren’t piano music, dude. Jack Nicholson’s Bobby Dupea bounces from one weak woman to another (including Sally Struthers, most acrobatically), tearing them apart in the process, and Bob Rafelson’s camera makes him a hero for it. Only when Bobby meets a substantive woman (who terrifies him) does the movie take pains to register the hero’s maybe-tragic, maybe-just-psych-101 flaw. Bobby’s suffering excuses nothing and explains everything. His victims (Karen Black as the not-as-ditzy-as-she-acts sex kitten waitress, Struthers as the easy mark with the dimple in her chin) are not without dignity; they are, however, without hope, because they can’t help loving the king of all cruel bastards. And that’s why the movie is about sexism even as it pretends it’s not also looking through Karen Black’s see-through nightie. Throw in the chicken salad sandwich scene and you’ve got yourself an imperishable emotional weather report from the heart of the American ’70s. SEAN NELSON

And Grand Illusion is screening Oswald’s Ghost, a documentary about the JFK assassination.

Movie times are available at Get Out. If you’re going to Pacific Place this weekend, bring an extra sweater. I almost froze to death last night watching Charlie Wilson’s War, which is, otherwise, highly recommended.

Netscape is Dead

posted by on December 28 at 4:12 PM

Netscape is no more.

Netscape, the Web browser once used in 80 percent of all Internet sessions, will be shut down by AOL after failing to regain market share from Microsoft Corp.’s Internet Explorer.

Netscape users should switch to Mozilla Foundation’s Firefox browser, Netscape director Tom Drapeau wrote on his blog. America Online Inc. paid $9.8 billion in 1999 for Netscape, which by then had been crippled by Microsoft.

You gotta love this quote…

“AOL’s focus on transitioning to an ad-supported Web business leaves little room for the size of investment needed to get the Netscape browser to a point many of its fans expect it to be,” Drapeau said.

Netscape had fans? And who’s gonna shut down AOL after its transition to an “ad-supported Web business” ultimately fails?

CHS Tourney Semifinals

posted by on December 28 at 4:08 PM

We’re down to the semifinals at the Capitol Hill Seattle Tourney 2007—it’s Hillku vs. Aloha non-crosswalk and the #10 Bus vs. Coyotes. The Stranger endorses Hillku and Coyotes. Vote here.

Mike Huckabee on Pakistan and the Border Fence

posted by on December 28 at 3:49 PM

Apologies for the long block quote, but this is quite a remarkable series of statements (and misstatements) from the man who is currently leading all other Republicans in Iowa:

DES MOINES — Mike Huckabee used the volatile situation in Pakistan Friday to make an argument for building a fence on the American border with Mexico and found himself trying to explain a series of remarks about Pakistanis and their nation.

On Thursday night he told reporters in Orlando, Fla.: “We ought to have an immediate, very clear monitoring of our borders and particularly to make sure if there’s any unusual activity of Pakistanis coming into the country.”

On Friday, in Pella, Iowa, he expanded on those remarks.

“When I say single them out I am making the observation that we have more Pakistani illegals coming across our border than all other nationalities except those immediately south of the border,” he told reporters in Pella. “And in light of what is happening in Pakistan it ought to give us pause as to why are so many illegals coming across these borders.”

In fact, far more illegal immigrants come from the Philippines, Korea, China and Vietnam, according to recent estimates from the Department of Homeland Security.

Asked how a border fence would help keep out Pakistani immigrants, Mr. Huckabee argued that airplane security was already strong, but that security at the southern United States border was dangerously weak.

“The fact is that the immigration issue is not so much about people coming to pick lettuce or make beds, it’s about someone coming with a shoulder-fired missile,” he said.

The sudden emergency in Pakistan and Mr. Huckabee’s response come at a time when he has come under increasing scrutiny from opponents for his lack of fluency in foreign policy issues, and the situation in Pakistan appeared to have challenged him.

“We have seen what happens in the Musharraf government,” Mr. Huckabee said on MSNBC. “He has told us he does not have enough control of those eastern borders near Afghanistan to be able go after the terrorists. But on the other hand, did he not want us going in, so what do we do?” Those borders are actually on the west, not the east.

Further, he offered an Orlando crowd his “apologies for what has happened in Pakistan.” His aides said later that he meant to say “sympathies.” He also said he was worried about martial law “continuing” in Pakistan, although Mr. Musharraf lifted the state of emergency on Dec. 15. His campaign told CBS News that his statement was not a blunder.

24 Hours on Line Out

posted by on December 28 at 3:45 PM

Wack Addict: Jane’s Addiction Bassist’s Awful New Record

Setlist: We Love the Terrordactyls

Tonight in Music: BlöödHag, Ian Moore, Snowman Plan, and Terrordactyls at the Anne Bonney

Good God Oh No: Eddy Grant’s “Electric Avenue”

Minneapolis: Megan Seling on Janet Jackson’s Twin City Shout-Out

The Year in Disco: TJ Gorton’s Favorite Releases of 2007

Photo of the Day: Strong Killings at the Comet

Meet the Real Dave Mustaine: Worms and All

Not a Real Doctor: Maybe Dave Should See This Guy

Today in Music News: Madonna, Tupac, Warner Brothers & Amazon, Beards, and More

Show Us Your Pics: Share Your New Year’s Eve Pics in the Stranger Flickr Pool

David Beckham is a Big Fag (Hag), Plus! Courtney’s Imaginary Burglars!

posted by on December 28 at 3:32 PM

In a recent interview David Beckham said:

“I’m very honored to have the tag of gay icon.”

Well. I’m confident that I speak for all The Gays when I say that we’re just thrilled to be tagging you, David dear. Now please show us your penis. Please.


And just because we haven’t heard anything from her in a spell, I give you Old Widow Cobain (if I may dust off that old chestnut) and her massive delusions:

“Courtney Love is “devastated” after a pair of $100,000 pink diamond earrings was stolen from her New York hotel room on Wednesday. According to a source: “She had brought the earrings for Frances as her Christmas present. Frances hadn’t even tried them on yet.”

The tragic teen didn’t even get to try on her $100,000 pair of earrings? Oh, the horror! But wait!

But hours after New York police launched an investigation into the incident on Thursday morning, the diamond earrings mysteriously reappeared.”

Turns out they were under the winged pink elephant the entire time.

A Tragic Year For One Seattle Family

posted by on December 28 at 3:19 PM

On Christmas Day, the state patrol received over one hundred 911 calls about a man running across I-5, near Federal Way, whipping passing cars with his belt. Police arrived and, according to reports, tasered Aaron Larson, 28, to no effect before he was shot and killed by an officer.

According to a report in the PI, Larson was upset over the death of his mother. Indeed, Larson was the son of Phyllis Buchert, who was found dead in a Lake City apartment earlier this year.

This summer, I wrote about Buchert and within days of my story going to print, I received a call from her son—and Aaron Larson’s younger brother—Danny, 26. In June, Danny told me about a series of tragic events that had led to his mother’s death. He said that his mother had been in and out of the hospital, in jail, and eventually thrown out of her home by her husband, before she was found dead in a Lake City man’s bathtub.

Earlier this month I remembered my conversation with Danny, and one of the first regrets I wrote for this year was about my flippant coverage of Buchert’s death. Now, it appears that Danny was at the scene when his brother Aaron was killed by police last Tuesday.

Aaron Larson is survived by five siblings, age 26, 25, 16,15 and 11. Again, I’d like to offer my sincerest condolences to his family.

While I Was Gone

posted by on December 28 at 3:15 PM


Jonah and Josh (the male cabal that forms two-thirds of the Stranger’s news staff) took advantage of my absence to write this totally offensive look back at 2007 “with” (they wish!) Venus Velazquez, the foxy onetime City Council candidate last seen losing to Bruce Harrell thanks to a DUI. Those two really know how to kick a lady when she’s down! Anyway, here’s an excerpt.

Best Decision of the Year: No. And Hell No.

The voters get credit for making the best decision of 2007. When it came to Seattle’s waterfront, voters wisely said no to Mayor Nickels’s expensive (and unfunded) tunnel option and no to Olympia’s retrograde elevated rebuild. Both options were bad news for the environment and downtown. Invaluable bonus: The “No” and “Hell No” votes put the “surface/transit” option in play, which is good for the environment and will be killer for the neighborhood. Double bonus: Surface/transit guru Cary Moon is foxy.

Venus Velázquez says: First of all, I’m way foxier than a hippie like Cary Moon. Second of all, the best decision of the year was mine, when I refused to take that fascist sobriety test. Did anyone check to see if Bruce Harrell was fucking drunk? You know, I know where that guy drinks and I know for a fact he’s wasted after two beers.

In Grim Transportation News

posted by on December 28 at 3:08 PM

1) Seattle cabs get 12 miles per gallon, the Sightline Institute points out—not news, exactly (it’s been out there for a while) but a depressing reminder that even those of us who think we’re doing good by taking cabs instead of owning cars (because so much of the environmental impact of cars is in their manufacture) aren’t doing nearly as much as we could. Prius taxis, now, please!

2) Portland is having trouble expanding its beloved streetcar line around the city, thanks to federal rules that favor buses over rail. The new rules deemphasize increased density, reductions in vehicle miles traveled, and improved land use and focus instead on per-rider cost-effectiveness, a measure that strongly favors buses (because, duh, putting buses on the street is cheaper per rider than building rail lines, even though rail lines have other benefits). According to the Oregonian,

The transit administration has published rules that would make cost-effectiveness the key test of whether a project should be funded. Zoning for high density and saving miles driven in cars would be combined with congestion relief under an effectiveness test. Together those would count for half the benefits allowed [a reduction in their impact on benefits].

The result?

“If you build 5,000 units of housing along that line and people walked from those units of housing and get on the streetcar, they would not count
under their criteria,” [US Rep. Peter] DeFazio said.

The only riders that count are the ones that transfer from a bus or other transit to get to the streetcar line, he said.

“It’s totally misanthropic,” DeFazio said. “It’s set up to make streetcar never pencil out.”

Immediately at stake is $200 million in federal money for streetcar projects around the country. In the long term, though, the feds’ philosophical shift toward buses could jeopardize funding for rail projects around the country, including Sound Transit’s light rail and streetcar expansion in Seattle.

Share Your New Year’s

posted by on December 28 at 2:38 PM

Hey y’all—those of you celebrating on Monday night—upload your party photos to our Flickr pool with the tag NYE07. I’ll post a bunch of them to Slog on Tuesday (since we’ll likely be too bleary to read or write much).

Whether you’re going to a fancy dress-up party…
bob-by-kelly-o.jpgKelly O

Or just a karaoke bash in your friends’ moms’ basement…
punks-by-kelly-o.jpgKelly O

We want to see your pictures!

(New Year’s Eve party listings are here.)


posted by on December 28 at 2:27 PM

So… if you ever get caught smoking pot, you’re permanently banned from installing snowchains at Snoqualmie Pass. Who are they going to go after next? Pizza delivery drivers?

Elves for Ron Paul

posted by on December 28 at 2:19 PM

Ron Paul supporters have already used Halo 3 to drum up support. And now they’re taking to World of Warcraft:

On New Years Day, Paul-backing devotees of the online multiplayer game are planning a march through WoW’s sprawling virtual universe to show support their candidate. Participants will be represented by one of an array of mythical avatars that populate the fantasy-themed game, in which players take on adventures and duel against rival characters.

The anti-Paul brigade shouldn’t get their hopes up for a sword-clashing conflict with the marchers, however, since

The event will take place on a server that forbids player vs. player combat.


The One on the Right Is a Killer

posted by on December 28 at 1:21 PM


The crime:

AN ELDERLY circus worker was crushed by an elephant on the North Coast yesterday.

The scene:

Police said a Stardust Circus worker found his colleague lying on the ground soon after entering the elephant’s enclosure in a Yamba park about 5.15 pm.

The motive:

It is believed it was a 50-year-old female Asian elephant named Arna, which was at the centre of an animal-cruelty case dismissed in 2004.

Today in Presidential Politics; Or, 6 Days Until the Iowa Caucuses

posted by on December 28 at 1:00 PM

McCain’s secret attack ad: A Slate scoop.

Who has time for these sites? Other than… well, who exactly?

Much easier to digest: Is this.

Like buttah: Obama endorsed by key Iowa figure, the “Butter Cow Lady.”

Closing with a sermon: Mike Huckabee.

These are greedy institutions: And there are prices to pay.

Edwards and the 527s: More stories like this every day.

Almost out of air: Television ad time now hard to come by in Iowa.

On with Robert Mak this Weekend

posted by on December 28 at 1:00 PM

Tune in to Robert Mak’s year-in-review round up this Sunday. I’ll be on with a panel talking about the year’s top local stories. There’ll also be predictions for ‘08.

Mak’s show airs: 9:30am on KING, 11am on KONG, 8pm on NWCN, 11:30pm on KING.

Flickr Photo of the Day

posted by on December 28 at 12:40 PM

Progress! From Flickr pool contibuter kurt schlosser.


The End of Death

posted by on December 28 at 12:34 PM

The homepage for The Seattle Times:
Death, death, death, and more death. Enough is enough! Let’s have some life!

Re: Hey, Dr. Paul, What Do You Think of Evolution?

posted by on December 28 at 12:13 PM

Both in the comments and in my apartment around midnight last night, the question arose: Does it matter what a presidential candidate thinks of evolution? (Notice I didn’t ask about “whether a presidential candidate believes in evolution,” which is a flawed question.)

My answer: Absolutely.

Ron Paul said:

At first I thought it was a very inappropriate question, you know, for the presidency to be decided on a scientific matter. And, uh, I think it’s a theory, a theory of evolution, and I don’t accept it, you know, as a theory. It probably doesn’t bother me—it’s not the most important issue for me to make the difference in my [life?] to understand the exact origin. I think the Creator that I know, you know, created us, every one of us, and created the universe—and the precise time and manner, and all, I don’t think we’re at the point where anybody has absolute proof on either side. If that were the only issue, quite frankly—I would think it’s an interesting discussion, I think it’s a theological discussion, and I think it’s fine—but if that were the issue of the day, I wouldn’t be running for public office.

That first sentence isn’t awful. Presidential candidates should not be taking sides on current scientific debates—it’s a waste of time to inject politics into a process that universities, conferences, journals, grants, and other mechanisms are perfectly capable of working out independently. But the basic theory of evolution by means of natural selection is simply not a matter of current scientific debate. Current science adds to the theory of evolution, tweaks it, finesses its more complicated implications. But absolutely no one is saying: Uh oh, you guys, this theory is not up to the task of explaining this new trove of evidence, it’s no longer making useful predictions, it’s not as comprehensive or predictive as this other unifying theory. It just isn’t happening.

What the evolution-vs.-creationism debate is about is, instead, a culture war—and it’s a culture war with policy implications. Republican primary voters are clamoring for a candidate who professes disbelief in evolution. (I honestly have trouble believing that a medical doctor who graduated from Duke refuses to “accept” the theory of evolution, but whatever.) This has resulted in a president who publicly disavows evolution, throws massive amounts of publicity at think-tank pseudoscience, and in doing so erodes respect for the United States in much of the rest of the developed world and damages sorely needed scientific literacy here at home.

In the above quotation, Paul disparages evolution as “a theory” (“a theory of evolution,” even, not the theory, which it is), when we should all know by now that a theory is a robust set of statements or principles that explains a wide variety of observations, has stood up to repeated tests, is widely accepted, and successfully predicts natural phenomena. A presidential candidate should never confuse the American public by mixing popular and scientific definitions of the word “theory.”

Does anyone have “absolute proof on either side”? No. Paul is correct there. But we as a society don’t usually ask for “absolute proof.” We put people to death for lesser degrees of certainty. The real question is, is there evidence of equal weight supporting evolution and creationism? And the answer is no. The evidence that is better explained by and further confirms the theory of evolution is overwhelming.

So when Paul deems the analysis of the credibility of evolution “a theological discussion,” he is fundamentally perverting the question. Evolution is not susceptible to theological arguments. It seeks to explain only natural phenomena. The notion that you would start from a theological truth and work backward bespeaks an irrational, antiscientific worldview. And that, in my opinion, is anathema in a president.

Most importantly, federal funding makes science happen in this country. The idea that a cursory understanding of science fundamentals is not desirable in a president is, quite frankly, laughable. The evolution question is relevant. We should expect a more thoughtful answer from our next president.

(See also the libertarian blogger Eugene Volokh on this question when it applied only to Sen. Brownback; and DeWayne Wickham at USA Today.)

Macho Kitty

posted by on December 28 at 12:09 PM

Hello Kitty, the cute, cuddly white feline adored by Japanese girls and young women, is going macho. The cat, made by Japan’s Sanrio, will soon adorn T-shirts, bags, watches and other products targeting young men.

“Young men these days grew up with character goods,” said a spokesman. “That generation feels no embarrassment about wearing Hello Kitty.”

Thanks to Slog tipper Jubilation T. Cornball.

Local Edwards Supporters Come Under Scrutiny for What Could be Serious Campaign Violations

posted by on December 28 at 11:59 AM

It looks like Local SEIU chief David Rolf may have screwed up by attempting to coordinate his union’s support of presidential candidate John Edwards with the Edwards campaign.

Independent political groups like Union PACs and 527s are not allowed to coordinate their campaign efforts with candidates.

Courtesy of David Postman who is on the story.

Sign of the Times

posted by on December 28 at 11:45 AM

This is sort of inside-baseball, but it’s telling for anyone who’s interested in the media world and where it’s going, especially when it comes to political journalism. Mark Halperin today offered a long list of things that reporters shouldn’t hold their breath for as the Iowa caucuses approach. On the list: “Al Gore’s endorsement,” “Huckabee to lose that new 12 pounds,” and this:

An editor to say, “Don’t bother filing for the web – take the time to make your print story that much better.”

Which brings up something I’ve been wondering: Where do you all get your political news? Is it just from blogs and online news sites, or do you actually wait for a well-crafted story on printed paper to tell you what’s going on?

I know asking this of Slog readers on a day when a lot of people aren’t at work is going to make for a strange sample, but hey, maybe strange times call for strange samples. And anyway, I’m just curious.

Y Kant Seattle Read

posted by on December 28 at 11:42 AM

Central Connecticut State University has released their annual list of the top ten most literate cities in the U.S. and Seattle’s number two.

But…but…we were number one last year. And we were number one in 2005. But we were number two in 2004.

I had no idea that literacy was so damn mercurial. Apparently, the information is compiled from (emphasis mine)

U.S. Census data, newspaper circulation rates, magazine publishing, educational attainment levels, library resources and booksellers.

I think our public schools were probably responsible for the dip in literacy in 2004, but I’m placing 2007’s second-place finish directly in the hands of Seattle Metropolitan Magazine (this month: “Linda Derschang brought the fun and the funky to the Pike/Pine Corridor,” a story about cellist Joshua Roman titled “String Theory,” and a story about potatoes titled…wait for it…”This Spud’s For You.” )

Please stop, Seattle Metropolitan. The statistics are showing that you’re making us dumber with every new issue you publish.

(Thanks to Slog tipper Gregory for the literacy news.)

The Open School

posted by on December 28 at 11:41 AM

The land of France could learn a thing or two from Bellevue Community College:
-7.jpg Hardcore!

Today in Everything, Ever

posted by on December 28 at 11:39 AM


Mouth eyes photos, qúúl. Toothèd vagina movie, get the hell away from me. Wait, is it “toothéd”? Will the zeroeth tone please stand up?

Whatever! This is clearly the best part of this post.

Don’t you think headlines like “Largest diamond in galaxy predicts future of solar system” are unnecessarily titillating? Meanwhile, Pravda still has one of the best logos I can think of. At this time.

Similary, OOF! Lasers, crystals, servomotors, fashion, modern sun worship. Hussein Chalayan, Spring/Summer 2008. The “Making of”:

The collection video, in collaboration with Nick Knight’s SHOWstudio, and you will hear dissonant Antony beat interference upp-in. The Good Shit starts around 8:03. YOU. BETTA. VENERATE.:

Dagggg. Chalayan is turning it out and proving that we need more brains in fashion, please. Stop this “cute” bullshit. “Cute top!” “Fabulous skirt.” “Nice touch.” Shut up, with your tired, Barbie-playin’, fishtail-makin’, Old Hollywood Glamour-invokin’ ass.

The elusive ʻokina, which is having “transitional problems.”

Speaking of transitional problems, has anyone else noticed the onslaught of in-depth special reports on transsexuals on MSNBC lately? It’s kind of refreshing because none of the reports carry that “They are freaks, but you be the judge” tone that so many transgender docs on other channels have. They totally just follow some transgirls getting ready for and competing in the Latex Ball in New York. Anyway.

Recursive warning sign!

A Bob Mackie-encrusted Diahann Caroll as a singing, psychedelic, holographic fantasy, pleasuring Chewbacca’s Wookiee Pa:


I know you’re searching for me.
Searching, searching…
I’m here. My voice is for you alone.
I am found in your eyes only.
I exist for you. I am in your mind
as you create me.
Ohhh, yes.
I can feel my creation! [Mmhm!]

I find you adorable.
I don’t need to ask how you find me.
You see, I am your fantasy;
I am your experience,
So experience me.
I am your pleasure,
You enjoy me.
This is our moment together in time,
that we might turn this moment into an eternity.

Great! Happy Life Day!



Clinton on the Housing Market

posted by on December 28 at 11:33 AM

On KUOW this morning I was asked how the Democratic presidential candidates are talking about the housing market, the sub-prime mortgage problem, and possible solutions. You can listen to my answer here, or you can watch this brand new Clinton ad, which happened to be in my in-box when I got back from the show:

First Human-To-Human Bird Flu Case Confirmed

posted by on December 28 at 11:26 AM

Are you scared yet?

Today The Stranger Suggests

posted by on December 28 at 11:00 AM


Xmas at the
Anne Bonny
at The Anne Bonny

Is the Anne Bonny just trying to be weird? The store, best known for selling the possessions of dead people, is having its Christmas party three days after Christmas. I guess they don’t want you to shop, but to have fun—a strange new concept for retail. The world’s greatest child-aping pop songsters, the Terrordactyls, are playing—their members are split cross-country, so this is a once-a-year chance to see them play cute little songs that’ll fit in your pocket. With T.v. Coahran, Team Scrabble, and Tennessee Rose. (The Anne Bonny, 1355 E Olive Way, 382-7845. 8 pm, free, all ages.)


“Why would Santa do this to me?”

posted by on December 28 at 10:45 AM

Harold and Kumar 2

posted by on December 28 at 10:35 AM

America’s favorite post-Cheech&Chong stoners-orf-color are back—and they’re in Guantanamo. Watch the trailer here. Is it a hilarious slap at racism, racists, and the injustices committed in our lil’ War on Terror? Or is it tasteless and too soon, seeing as people—some doubtless innocent of any crime—are still rotting away at Guantanamo?

And can someone tell me what’s in the age-restricted trailer? I can’t get in to see it because I don’t have a driver’s license and they’re discriminating against me.

Via Towleroad.

The Meadows Will Be Open! The Meadows Will Be Open!

posted by on December 28 at 10:30 AM

According to Seattle Art Museum spokeswoman Erika Lindsay, this summer you’ll be able to roam the meadows at the Olympic Sculpture Park. No more fences keeping you from coming anywhere near—let alone standing under, as by design the artist seems to invite you to do—Bunyon’s Chess. This means, essentially, that the people of Seattle will experience this early Mark Di Suvero sculpture for the first time this summer. (The “experience” right now is nothing more than an image held visually—imagine if you weren’t able to walk into Richard Serra’s Wake and you have the idea.)

Mark Di Suvero’s Bunyon’s Chess (1965)

In other OSP news, Glenn Rudolph’s photographs of the way the site used to look and Pedro Reyes’s wall sculpture and swinging structures will be removed from the pavilion in March to make way for an installation by Geoff McFetridge. The installation hasn’t been finalized, but from preparatory drawings, Lindsay described it as a billboard that extends from the wall with parts that reach the floor. I love that the pavilion is a place in the park to consider the relationship between the wall and the floor, and to consider the history of relief.

Battle of the Gods and Giants, from the north frieze of the Treasury of the Siphnians, Delphi (ca. 530 B.C.)

Untitled by Robert Morris (1967)

Troubled Times

posted by on December 28 at 10:25 AM

Originally posted yesterday.

Puget Sound Business Journal has the scoop on financial woes at the Seattle Times.

Blethen said the Times’ print revenue losses for 2007 and 2008 will total about $33 million, and senior leadership has “amazingly” found $21 million in cost reductions, but “we still need another $6 million to ensure stability next year.”


posted by on December 28 at 10:20 AM

Scientists have developed a new drug that “reverses the effects of sleep deprivation”—and it comes in a snortable form. Man, what will they think of next?

Thanks to Slog tipper Mr. Poe.

A Regrettable Photograph

posted by on December 28 at 10:05 AM

This one made it into the print edition…

Dan Savage, editorial director of The Stranger, is certain he WOULD regret inviting a group of Stranger staffers over to his house to bake matzo using human blood in place of water IF Mr. Savage had done any such thing. But IF Mr. Savage did invite several coworkers over to his house—including Jewish coworkers—to prepare blood matzo, Mr. Savage’s intentions were pure. If blood matzo was prepared in Mr. Savage’s kitchen on or near Passover in 2007, it was a misguided effort to disprove the “blood libel,” e.g. the claim that Jews prepare matzo, the unleavened bread consumed by Jews during Passover, with the blood of innocent Christians. If Mr. Savage and Brendan Kiley, performance editor of The Stranger, had their innocent Christian blood drawn in Mr. Savage’s kitchen by a licensed phlebotomist, and if their blood was mixed with kosher flour in a food processor, and if this mixture was then rolled out on sheets of wax paper, and then baked in Mr. Savage’s oven, and it was discovered that a fine, deep-purple matzo could be prepared with human blood, that would be very regrettable indeed. Successfully baking matzo with human blood wouldn’t prove, of course, that any Jews anywhere at any time in history had ever actually made matzo with human blood—save, of course, one hypothetical Jewish phlebotomist and one hypothetical Jewish cook—only that it was possible to make matzo using human blood. Which is very different. If any of this had happened, and if a videotape was made of it, and if blood matzo was still sitting on a shelf in Mr. Savage’s kitchen, and if a food processor and a cookie sheet and a rolling pin all had to be discarded after this happened, that would all be very, very regrettable. Luckily, however, none of this happened.

This picture did not…


Another Regret

posted by on December 28 at 9:30 AM

This one got cut from the print edition:

Jen Graves does not regret her June 13 story exposing the strange process behind the rejection of a proposed sculpture by Felix Gonzalez-Torres proposal for Western Washington University in 1992. But she does regret describing the sculpture, which was finally built for this year’s Venice Biennale, as “The One That Got Away,” because that implies that the sculpture is good, and when she arrived at the Venice Biennale, she discovered that—at least in this posthumous version—it is not.


“The Spirit Moved Them”

posted by on December 28 at 9:24 AM


It must be kind of hard to meditate in your living room while a photographer from the New York Times snaps pictures of you.

On the Radio

posted by on December 28 at 9:08 AM

I’ll be on KUOW’s Weekday this morning talking about the news of the week, the biggest news from the year gone by, and the probable big stories in the year ahead. Show starts at 10 a.m.

Got something you think we should discuss? As always, put it in the comments.

Morning News

posted by on December 28 at 8:46 AM

Benazir Bhutto: Hundreds of thousands attend funeral; riots break out nationwide; elections still scheduled.

Post Bhutto: Opening for shift in Bush policy?

It’s the Economy… : Pocketbook Issues replace Iraq as #1 Issue.

Sales of New Houses Plummet: Sales drop 9 percent in last month.

The Carnation Murders: Siblings family killed to cover up murder of parents.

Huckabee Money: The conservative candidate accepted handsome speaking fees from advocates of stem cell research, the morning after pill, and gun control.

David Bowie, 1973

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Offered w/Out Comment and 1 Bold

posted by on December 27 at 5:19 PM

A Revolutionary New Year’s Greeting for 2008 From the Freedom Socialist Party

Workers of the world, uniting
That’s the way to lose your chains.
Mighty regiments now are fighting
That no tyranny remains!

Forward, without forgetting
Till the concrete question is hurled
When starving or when eating:
Whose tomorrow is tomorrow?
And whose world is the world?

As a new year approaches, Bertolt Brecht’s poem “Solidarity Song,” written in the 1930s, rings true. Just as when Brecht wrote the “Song” in the 1930s, the world today still belongs to the exploiters. And, across the globe, they are running amok, led by the ruling class of the United States with tragic consequences for the poor, the powerless, and the oppressed.

From Latin America to China, corporate globalization is wrecking lives. In Iraq, Afghanistan, and Palestine, whole populations pay the price of U.S. or U.S.-backed war and occupation. In the U.S. itself, workers’ real wages decline as costs zoom for everything gas and oil to food, education and healthcare. Home foreclosures are the scourge of the day. Low-income public housing is demolished from New Orleans to Seattle. The “poverty draft” means that young people lacking opportunities become the U.S. casualties of the so-called war on terror. Religious fundamentalists vent
their wrath against reproductive freedom for women and social equality for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people. Retirees and would-be retirees wonder how they are going to survive in the touted “golden years.”

But, as we enter the eighth year of the new millennium, opportunities exist to fight back and to make real change! To borrow from the Asian Zodiac, the coming Year of the Rat will be a time of hard work and constant activity. And that’s where we come in working women and men of every race and nationality, the unemployed, immigrants, students and radicals.

We can build on our victories in 2007 some of them tangible, some of them gains in consciousness. Facing attack by the profit-chasing system, U.S. immigrants, autoworkers, nurses, janitors, teachers, and writers all shoved back. In September, tens of thousands of people flooded the town of Jena, Louisiana, to fight the racist railroading of African American teenagers and the revival of a familiar symbol of terror, the lynching noose. Immigrants of color and their allies stepped up to fend off ICE raids in the workplace. In Los Angeles, Palestinian immigrants thwarted a 20-year effort to deport them because of their politics.

Supporters of jailed revolutionary journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal fought successfully to be heard on the national television show Today after the program scheduled an interview with the widow of the police officer whom Mumia is falsely convicted of killing. Lt. Ehren Watada is a bright voice among GI resisters and their families who are telling the military that it’s immoral and illegal to fight in Iraq.

Attorney and civil liberties hero Lynne Stewart, convicted on terror-related charges for her aggressive defense of a client, won a much reduced sentence against heavy odds and continues her struggle for justice. The Freedom Socialist Party (FSP) has been deeply involved in this campaign, as has our sister organization, Radical Women.

Latin American workers and farmers determined to win a decent, secure, and dignified living are fiercely battling a tide of ever-expanding exploitation. The FSP has also played a strong role in supporting the valiant fight of Costa Ricans against CAFTA, a struggle defeated by lies and corruption emanating from the U.S. White House.

Working people ourselves must make 2008 a year of turning this tide. We can expect little in the U.S. from the two national labor federations as long as their leaderships remain in cahoots with the Democratic Party the second party of Big Business, including the big business of war.

What’s needed to provide a socialist alternative at the ballot box is better and more extensive cooperation among working-class and revolutionary organizations. Outside the electoral arena as well, this collaboration could be key to a stronger, wider, and more effective challenge to the tyranny of profit-mongering that maims and kills in the name of bourgeois “freedom and democracy.” The FSP invites groups and individuals to work with us to make this happen.

The kind of world we need is ours to create. That kind of world is socialist. It’s feminist. It’s egalitarian and fully realizable. Let’s do it!

Freedom Socialist Party

U.S. Section
4710 University Way NE, #100
Seattle, WA 98105


posted by on December 27 at 4:41 PM

Stewart and Colbert to Return Without Writers (NY Times, requires registration…or not)

Lots of “no comment” from all involved, which means the Times is left to merely speculate as to how Comedy Central’s biggest shows will operate during the writers’ strike (hosts “will have to improvise their monologues and interviews,” etc.). Hell, I might as well add my ambivalent, uninformed opinion to the discussion: Uh, it’ll probably be awkward, especially if Jon Stewart winds up interviewing a whole bunch of snoozer athletes while other actors/politicians choose not to cross the picket lines (“Lebron, are you an alien creature?”). The only definite information comes from the hosts themselves, though at least their response is appropriate:

In a statement, the two hosts said they would prefer to return to work with their writers. “If we cannot, we would like to express our ambivalence, but without our writers we are unable to express something as nuanced as ambivalence,” they stated.

In the Last 24 Hours (or more) on Line Out

posted by on December 27 at 3:54 PM

Cartoon Kaz: PWRFL Power gets the esurance treatment.

Year End Lists: Jonathan Zwickel hates ‘em, so he made a mixtape instead.

Best Jukebox in Seattle: Jeff Kirby wonders if Wong’s Kitchen has it.

New Hot Chips: Eric Grandy says their new record will be another grower.

Love Town: TJ Gorton tells you how to get there.

Woozy Space Jazz: Jonathan Zwickel has a crush on the Heliocentrics.

Third Time’s a Charm: The Decemberists plan to play Seattle in January.

Disco’s Brightest Minds: TJ Gorton talks El Coco.

Tonight in Music: I Declare War and Club Pop with the Pharmacy and Holy Ghost Revival (holy shit, that’ll be fun).

Bye Bye 2007: Light in the Attic artists look at lessons learned this year.

Hello Rye Rye: M.I.A.’s protégé is not a gangsta girl.

Flickr (Music) Photo of the Day: Get close to the Triggers.

The Comet Was Sold: Now meet the banker who bought it.

Migrating: More Crocodile shows find new homes.

This Week’s Soundcheck: CD’s suck and the reasons why.

What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?: The listings, the song.


Atlas Clothing Is Moving

posted by on December 27 at 3:49 PM

In the coming months, Capitol Hill’s Atlas Clothing will be moving from their warehouse on Broadway to an antique mall in Fremont. According to one Atlas employee, the building is being sold.

For now, Atlas has stopped buying clothing.

Updates coming soon.

Hey Ron Paul, What do you think about 95% of Black Men?

posted by on December 27 at 3:43 PM

Courtesy of Think Progress.

Nice Tiger, Pretty Tiger

posted by on December 27 at 3:42 PM

The new Stranger t-shirts are beautiful…


…but, man, our timing is terrible.

In other tiger news, it looks like the two surviving victims of the SF tiger attack, and those near and dear to the deceased victim, will soon be enjoying large cash settlements courtesy of SF taxpayers. The zoo now “admits” that the wall of the moat the surrounded the tiger enclosure was shorter than they thought, and not up to national wall-of-moat-surrounding-tiger-enclosure standards. From SF Gate:

Zoo officials have gone back and forth on the grotto’s measurements since a 350-pound tiger escaped on Christmas Day, killing 17-year-old Carlos Sousa Jr. and seriously injuring two of his friends….

Earlier this week, zoo officials said the moat’s wall was at least 20 feet tall. Today, they said it was little over 12 feet. Since the investigation began Tuesday, officials have given at least five different measurements for the enclosure, which is surrounded by a moat, two walls on either side of the moat, a small patch of grass and then another waist-high fence. Experts say that the depth of the moat and height of the walls could have a large impact on the animal’s ability to escape the enclosure.

According to this Wiki page, in the wild tigers can jump as high as 16 feet. This story puts Woodland Park Zoo’s problem with elephant herpes into perspective, huh?

Note to NBC

posted by on December 27 at 3:26 PM

This is how you get people excited about the Olympics.

(Via 100% Injury Rate.)

Hey, Dr. Paul, What Do You Think of Evolution?

posted by on December 27 at 3:11 PM

(Thanks, Slog tipper Tiffany.)

The Man on the Prowl

posted by on December 27 at 3:05 PM

From Slog tipper Davida:

Just a warning: The SPD have a cop stationed on Broadway and John to watch and give tickets to jaywalkers (I got one this morning as I hurried late to work). Makes me happy to live in a city where there are no other crimes, so the police can just hang out on corners, watching for people crossing against the light.

The current jaywalking fine is $46. Beware.

Heavily Fictionalized True Stories

posted by on December 27 at 2:50 PM

I’m kind of hard on The Great Debaters in this week’s film section, and when I read A. O. Scott Stephen Holden’s mostly positive review in the New York Times, I felt bad. (For a second.) I wanted to like the movie, for many of the same reasons Holden lists. It makes it seem cool not only to be smart, but to be intellectual. It defends its protagonist not from accusations of being a Communist, but from the assumption that holding communist ideals—especially in the thick of the thirties—is even remotely scary. It asserts that some kids are gifted, and that it doesn’t necessarily make sense to put them in mainstream classrooms. It also has a cool poster:

The Great Debaters

But the movie refuses to ruffle its audience when it comes to the uniquely abstract challenge of debate itself. As Holden points out,

Robert Eisele’s screenplay imagines a smooth historical arc. The characters’ reactions to these events, it implies, sow the seeds of the civil-rights movement, which is also foreshadowed in the debates, whose topics too conveniently address civil-rights issues. Strangely, the Wiley College team always argues the progressive view. Its initial push to break the color barrier in college debating by competing with a white college in Oklahoma is too neatly paralleled by the debate topic: whether blacks should be allowed to attend state universities. A more intellectually subtle, less manipulative movie would have had the Wiley team arguing at least once against African-American interests.

It’s this—more even than the stupid end crawl that mixes startling facts with patently phony “inspiration”—that brings the movie to its knees. The kids never engage with the most difficult, counterintuitive element of competitive debate: arguing the side you disagree with. The arguments that lead the team to victory always depend on cheap emotional appeals, because why not? Everyone watching the movie already sympathizes with the kids, everyone accepts their initial positions… it’s no wonder the movie moves like a lumbering tortoise. The Great Debaters doesn’t even believe in the skills necessary to be a great debater. It believes in being correct.

How dull.

Nice costumes, though

Performance Enhanced

posted by on December 27 at 2:40 PM

Something to think about if you had coffee this morning:

Despite the potential side effects, academics, classical musicians, corporate executives, students and even professional poker players have embraced the drugs to clarify their minds, improve their concentration or control their emotions.

“There isn’t any question about it — they made me a much better player,” said Paul Phillips, 35, who credited the attention deficit drug Adderall and the narcolepsy pill Provigil with helping him earn more than $2.3 million as a poker player.

The medicine cabinet of so-called cognitive enhancers also includes Ritalin, commonly given to schoolchildren for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and beta blockers, such as the heart drug Inderal. Researchers have been investigating the drug Aricept, which is normally used to slow the decline of Alzheimer’s patients.

The scientific and medical community starts asking questions:

Although the appeal of pharmaceutical cognitive enhancers — to help one study longer, work more effectively or better manage everyday stresses — is understandable, potential users, both healthy and diseased, must consider the pros and cons of their choices. To enable this, scientists, doctors and policy-makers should provide easy access to information about the advantages and dangers of using cognitive-enhancing drugs and set out clear guidelines for their future use.

The Nature editorial goes on to ask a few good questions:

When imagining the possible influences of efficient cognitive enhancers on society as a whole, there can be many positive effects. Such drugs may enable individuals to perform better and enjoy more achievements and success. However, cognitive enhancers may have a darker side. Fears have been raised of an overworked 24/7 society pushed to the limits of human endurance, or of direct and indirect coercion into taking such drugs. If other children at school or colleagues at work are taking cognitive-enhancing drugs, will you feel pressure to give them to your children or take them yourself? What if a perfectly safe and reliable cognitive enhancer existed, could society deny it to healthy individuals who may benefit from it?

If others at school are taking these drugs, will you feel pressure to give them to your children?

At present, relatively safe cognitive enhancers with clear effects in healthy individuals are available. Today, in healthy individuals, most cognitive-enhancing drugs yield only moderate effects, and enhance only a subset of cognitive abilities. In the case of some drugs, such as methylphenidate, there are improvement in some domains such as attention, but there may be impairments in others, such as previously learned spatial tasks. Consequently, we believe that current debates must focus on the risks and harms at the level of the individual.

(emphasis added.)

How do a surprising number of medical professionals and academics vote with their own bodies?

In academia, we know that a number of our scientific colleagues in the United States and the United Kingdom already use modafinil to counteract the effects of jetlag, to enhance productivity or mental energy, or to deal with demanding and important intellectual challenges…For many, it seems that the immediate and tangible benefits of taking these drugs are more persuasive than concerns about legal status and adverse effects.

Compare this relatively nuanced discussion—tilting heavily in favor of safe, legal and inexpensive access to brain-enhancing drugs—to the hysteria around body enhancing drugs in athletics.

Do we value the mind more or less than the body? What would you take?

DB makes an interesting point:

Body enhancing drugs (mostly) only benefit the user, where as mind enhancing drugs have more potential to enhance society.

UNICEF’s Photo of the Year

posted by on December 27 at 1:15 PM

Depicts an 11-year-old Afghan girl seated next to her 40-year-old fiance:


The girls’ parents told reporters they had arranged the engagement because “we needed the money.” Asked her feelings about the engagement, the girl said, “Nothing. I do not know this man. What am I supposed to feel?” Half of all Afghan girls are married before they reach 18.

And the Bhutto Assassination Means… ?

posted by on December 27 at 1:00 PM

The initial chatter on the political blogs was that it helps Clinton make her argument that this is a dangerous world in need of steady, experienced leadership. But Obama adviser David Axelrod sees it differently. To him, the Bhutto assassination means an opportunity to remind voters of Clinton’s Iraq vote.

REPORTER: But looking ahead, does the assassination put on the front burner foreign policy credentials in the closing days?

AXELROD: Well, it puts on the table foreign policy judgment, and that’s a discussion we welcome. Barack Obama had the judgment to oppose the war in Iraq, and he warned at the time it would divert us from Afghanistan and Al Qaeda, and now we see the effect of that. Al Qaeda’s resurgent, they’re a powerful force now in Pakistan, they may have been involved — we’ve been here [at an Obama rally], so I don’t know whether the news has been updated, but there’s a suspicion they may have been involved in this. I think his judgment was good. Sen. Clinton made a different judgment, so let’s have that discussion.

The Clinton campaign is not pleased:

This is a time to be focused on the tragedy of the situation, its implications for the U.S. and the world, and to be concerned for the people of Pakistan and the country’s stability. No one should be politicizing this situation with baseless allegations.

Quatuor pour la fin du temps: Maybe the Best Music of the 20th Century

posted by on December 27 at 12:38 PM

In the talk show in my mind, five guests endlessly argue between Quartour and A Love Supreme. But whatever—I am terribly excited about this event, on January 10th.

In a genre-spanning program, Joshua Roman has chosen three innovative 20th century works. Beginning with the Quartet for the End of Time by French composer Olivier Messiaen. Featuring the same instrumentation as the Messiaen (clarinet, violin, cello, and piano), Dan Visconti’s Fractured Jams is an exploration of the thrill, confusion and driving power of rock and carefully-crafted lyrisicm of Tin Pan Alley. In the program’s second half, Roman along with clarinetist Bill Kalinkos, pianist Grace Fong, and violinist Amy Iwazumi, vocalist Sarah Rudinoff, “Awesome’s” John Osebold, and percussionist Doug Marrapodi perform a medley of works by the influential rock band Radiohead.

Not because of Joshua Roman, Sarah Rudinoff, or John Osebold, even though each one is demonstrably better than most things.

No, I’m excited just to hear the Quatuor pour la fin du temps, which was composed by a French soldier (and Catholic mystic) and was first performed in a Nazi prison camp and sounds like a soul leaving a body and floating up to heaven. Then it sounds like a portent of the apocalypse. Then a long clarinet solo that sounds exactly like its name: “the abyss of birds.” Then it sounds like floating again.


Hear more bits of it here.

And read Alex Ross’s very good story about it here

The essay includes solider-musicians: “He [the Quartet’s original clarinetist] was an Algerian-born Jew who survived the war through blind luck and mad courage. He tried several times to escape, and, in April, 1941, he succeeded: while being transferred from one camp to another by train, he jumped from the top of a fast-moving cattle car, with his clarinet under his arm.”

And an improbably kindly Nazi prison guard: “A German patriot with anti-Nazi tendencies, he kept a sympathetic watch over Jewish prisoners, repeatedly advising them not to try to escape, because they would be safer in Stalag VIIIA than in Vichy France.”

And the weird, and weirdly attractive, composer: “He loved God in terms that were sensual, almost sexual.” (He also had synesthesia and said he could, literally, see the music.)


January 10, ladies and gentlemen. I can’t wait.

(Previously posted on Line Out, but copied here because everybody should know.)

The Murder of an Admired Woman

posted by on December 27 at 12:35 PM

Americans admired her even more than Queen Elizabeth II and as much as Thatcher.

Most Admired Woman

After Clinton and Winfrey, the remainder of the top 10 most admired women are Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (5%), actress and humanitarian Angelina Jolie (3%), first lady Laura Bush (3%), former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (2%), former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto (2%), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, author Maya Angelou, and Queen Elizabeth II (all at 1%).

Speaking of Regrets and Pit Bulls

posted by on December 27 at 12:30 PM


I Regret that Pit Bulls Find My Face So Delicious, by a Baby.

I guess I should count my blessings. At least I wasn’t killed, like that month-old girl in Mississippi who died of massive head trauma after a pit bull munched her skull, or, God forbid, raped like that toddler in New York who was sodomized by his family’s pit bull. At least I’ve still got my life, my virginity, and most of my face. Mommy says they can do great things with reconstructive surgery these days. Still, I have my regrets. Mostly I regret knowing what it feels like when a dog decides to eat your face. I don’t eat faces. I eat applesauce. Can you spoon some into my neck shunt?

Flickr Photo of the Day

posted by on December 27 at 12:00 PM

From Flickr pooler Karlheinz Arschbomber


Dept. of Unsubstantiated Rumors

posted by on December 27 at 11:59 AM

Apparently some readers leapt to specious conclusions after Ryan Blethen and David Postman, both of the Seattle Times, wrote the “Public Editor” column in the Stranger in December. (Blethen’s columns are here and here; Postman’s are here and here.) Contrary to what you may have heard at your Christmas party, the Stranger has not been purchased by the Blethen family or the guy that bought the Comet or a developer intent on building condos on the site of our office. The Stranger is not for sale. Only for rent.

Jane Austen in January

posted by on December 27 at 11:50 AM


Starting in January, PBS is showing the “The Complete Jane Austen” series. On Sunday evenings, Masterpiece Theatre will broadcast adaptations of all of Austen’s six novels, plus a new drama based on her life.

The series includes new versions of Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, Mansfield Park, and Sense and Sensibility. It will also include the version of Emma starring Kate Beckinsale, and the Pride and Prejudice miniseries with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle.

Perfect viewing for cold and rainy winter Sundays!

What He Said

posted by on December 27 at 11:41 AM

Seth over at Seattlest on the Christmas Eve murders in Carnation:

The P-I has a handy list of other mass slayings, which include Kyle Huff’s Capitol Hill rampage, which happened nearly two years ago now. We were reminded that the Seattle Times cited the slaying of six people in that incident to argue for stronger government controls on teen dances.

We haven’t yet seen the editorial we can only assume is already planned, arguing for stronger government controls on family Christmas gatherings, but we’re looking forward to it.

Today in Presidential Politics; Or, 7 Days Until the Iowa Caucuses

posted by on December 27 at 11:10 AM

Obama’s new speech: The Page calls it the best of the year. Read it here.

Bhutto assassination: Who might it help and hurt?

The history of the three-point line: Could Obama really have been “raining down threes” as a 16-year old? Did the three-point line even exist back then? An exploration.

Clinton and Bhutto: On the trail and in the past.

Bloomberg on Bhutto: An unusual statement.

Edwards and the 527s: More coordination than previously acknowledged? (Denial here.)

Michelle Obama: In Vanity Fair.

Cell phone etiquette: McCain schools Giuliani.

Minds not made up: Republican voters are still sampling.

Today The Stranger Suggests

posted by on December 27 at 11:00 AM


‘Boundaries of Vacancy’ at Gallery 4Culture

Seattle artist Shawn Patrick Landis built a backyard inside the gallery: a wood fence, a fire pit, a grill, a folding chair, a parked motorcycle. Each component wears an inflated transparent box stuck to its side like a growth. A thicket of big, wormy inflation tubes gums up the scene, making you walk carefully through the alien setting. Each box is a thought bubble whose contents are open to interpretation. (Gallery4Culture, 101 Prefontaine Pl S, 296-8674. 9 am–5 pm, free.)


Seattle’s New Architecture?

posted by on December 27 at 10:58 AM

Banal. Says the American Institute of Architects…

For a city with such strengths — education, culture, natural environment, wealth — the jury hoped to see more evidence of leadership and risk, and less comfort with an already well-digested regional design language. Great architecture occurs when a great designer creates new opportunity.

There’s no argument. Seattle’s design review boards even encourage developers to design new buildings that look like everything nearby. However, there are a handful of exceptions—such as the crystalline lower-half of the WaMu Center and the UW School of Law. And there’s hope for several of the residential towers rising in the Denny Triangle – some with designs presently evolving – that may prove more than glass tributes to prosperity.

But it’s hard to defend most of Seattle’s squat new residential buildings on purely esthetic grounds. A lot of them look like these.



Death to balconettes and flimsy steel beams tacked onto buildings like a fin on a Hyundai. We crave function and statements. But, realistically, new mixed-use development (and that’s most of the development ‘round these parts) can’t have the fine touches we want and remain affordable. Granite ain’t cheap and slavery is gauche. As hard as it is to defend mediocre design, it’s easier to defend than the underused parking lots they replaced, and it’s easier to tolerate than sprawl on the Issaquah plateau. Design review boards and the media should keep developers’ feet to the fire to create magnificent public buildings and skyscrapers. Those are the buildings that become landmarks and define our city. But replacing dilapidated houses and empty lots with multi-story residential developments, ugly as some might be, provide the affordable-ish housing we demand. That’s a balance we have to live with.

History and Happiness

posted by on December 27 at 10:54 AM


From Philosophy of History:

“The History of the World is not the theatre of happiness. Periods of happiness are blank pages in it, for they are periods of harmony — periods when the antithesis is missing.”


They die early, like Alexander; they are murdered, like Caesar; transported to St. Helena., like Napoleon. This fearful consolation — that historical men have not enjoyed what is called happiness…


…History [is] the slaughter-bench at which the happiness of peoples, the wisdom of States, and the virtue of individuals have been victimised…

Edwards Calls for Radical Shift in US Food Policy

posted by on December 27 at 10:44 AM

According to a meatpacker industry journal called Meat and Poultry (via the Ethicurean), John Edwards supports radical changes in US food policy and food-industry regulations. Among other things, Edwards would implement country-of-origin food labeling (currently not required—allowing chickens raised, slaughtered and cooked in China, for example, onto US shelves), strengthen the FDA’s regulatory authority, give one agency clear responsibility for ensuring food safety and grant it authority to mandate food recalls (currently neither the USDA nor the FDA can order a recall), and require all countries exporting food to the US to have food safety systems equal to or superior to the US system. He would also increase inspections of food imported into the US (currently, only 0.7% of food imports are inspected), pass a national moratorium on the construction and expansion of hog farm “lagoons” (open lakes of pig waste), limit farm subsidies to $250,000 per farmer, and expand conservation programs to help farmers preserve their land. Food safety and quality issues may be boring, but in the current Wild-West regulatory climate, it’s important—and Edwards is the only presidential candidate, Democrat or Republican, who seems to be making it a priority.

SF Tiger Attack

posted by on December 27 at 10:04 AM

Investigators think it might have been provoked

San Francisco police are investigating the possibility that one of the victims in the fatal tiger mauling on Christmas Day climbed over a waist-high fence and then dangled a leg or other body part over the edge of a moat that kept the big cat away from the public, sources close to the investigation said Wednesday.

The minimal evidence found at the scene included a shoe and blood in an area between the gate and the edge of the 25- to 30-foot-wide moat, raising questions about what role, if any, the victims might have had in accidentally helping the animal escape.

Transportation Issues

posted by on December 27 at 10:00 AM

The SLUT stalls, the bus tunnel has issues, and it’s snowing. Be careful out there.

Don’t Judge A Sitt By Its Column?

posted by on December 27 at 9:56 AM


The Stranger’s morbid appreciation of the Seattle Times “Girl About Town” Pamela Sitt is well-documented.

So imagine my surprise when I read this news report, which features exactly none of the labored whimsy and tortured prose that’s distinguished Sitt’s column since its inception.

Let this be a lesson to us all.

Naturally Juicy

posted by on December 27 at 9:46 AM


I Regret

posted by on December 27 at 9:30 AM

Many items on this year’s Stranger annual regrets list are jokes. This one isn’t.

Jen Graves, The Stranger’s visual art editor, regrets that she was so judgmental about Matthew Kangas on Slog, because it caused Slog to become a referendum on her ethics rather than Kangas’s, and that meant that her comments were not only ethically questionable but stupid. But she does not regret the resulting March 8 story about Kangas.

Pit Bulls Maul Woman to Death

posted by on December 27 at 9:24 AM

Schmader’s out of town, so I’m picking up the murderous pit bull beat:

A pack of pit bulls surrounded a woman and mauled her to death, authorities said Wednesday. Deputies found Kelly Caldwell, 45, lying in the street in Yermo around 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, and took her to a hospital, where she later died, the San Bernardino County sheriff’s department said.

After the mauling, the dogs ran to a nearby house. Deputies shot one dog to death when it returned to the scene and acted aggressively as paramedics were trying to save Caldwell’s life, authorities said.

A second dog was shot to death Wednesday morning when it too returned. Deputies said it became aggressive as an animal control officer was trying to capture it.

Mauling you nearly to death on Christmas day isn’t enough. Pit bulls don’t want any damn paramedics to show up and try to save your life. Too bad we have to wait until a pit bull attacks before we shoot the damn things.

In other pit bull news: police officers in Ohio opt to taser two pit bulls that were terrorizing a city block—and a children’s hospital. A mother and daughter were attacked by a pit bull on Christmas Eve in Indiana. And here’s another one we missed in November: a pit bull—a good one, nice to children, never aggressive—jumped an 11 year-old boy named Seth, ripped open his neck, and killed him.

The attack happened while Seth and his brother, Brenden, 9, were running through their house in the 2900 block of Fairlane Drive….

The attack came as a shock to some neighbors, who said the dog never showed signs of aggression and was frequently in the company of children.

“All these kids being in the backyard—I just cannot believe it,” neighbor Kenneth Lawhorn said in a November interview. “Things just happen, I guess.”

They certainly do.

Candidates on the Bhutto Assassination

posted by on December 27 at 8:50 AM


I am shocked and saddened by the death of Benazir Bhutto in this terrorist atrocity. She was a respected and resilient advocate for the democratic aspirations of the Pakistani people. We join with them in mourning her loss and stand with them in their quest for democracy and against the terrorists who threaten the common security of the world.


I am profoundly saddened and outraged by the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, a leader of tremendous political and personal courage. I came to know Mrs. Bhutto over many years, during her tenures as Prime Minister and during her years in exile. Mrs. Bhutto’s concern for her country, and her family, propelled her to risk her life on behalf of the Pakistani people. She returned to Pakistan to fight for democracy despite threats and previous attempts on her life and now she has made the ultimate sacrifice. Her death is a tragedy for her country and a terrible reminder of the work that remains to bring peace, stability, and hope to regions of the globe too often paralyzed by fear, hatred, and violence.

Let us pray that her legacy will be a brighter, more hopeful future for the people she loved and the country she served. My family and I extend our condolences and deepest sympathies to the victims and their families and to the people of Pakistan.


The assassination of Benazir Bhutto is a tragic event for Pakistan and for democracy in Pakistan. Her murderers must be brought to justice and Pakistan must continue the path back to democracy and the rule of law. Her death is a reminder that terrorism anywhere — whether in New York, London, Tel-Aviv or Rawalpindi — is an enemy of freedom. We must redouble our efforts to win the Terrorists’ War on Us.

More candidate reactions here and here.

Morning News

posted by on December 27 at 8:31 AM


Bhutto Assassinated: Fired on at political rally.

More Bhutto Coverage.

Bhutto Obituary.

Health Care Benefits Scaled Back: New federal rule allows employers to cut back benefits to older retirees covered by Medicare.

Christmas Eve Murders:Daughter and boyfriend arrested for killing six members of the woman’s family in Carnation, WA.

Priests Come to Blows: Greek and Armenian priests get into fight at Jesus birth site.

S.F. Zoo Tiger May Have Been Taunted: Investigation into Christmas Day mauling

Benazir Bhutto

posted by on December 27 at 7:18 AM

We haven’t even gotten around to electing our first female head of state—but Pakistan? They’re already assassinating their former female heads of state.

An attack on a political rally killed the Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto near the capital, Islamabad, Thursday. Witnesses said Ms. Bhutto was fired upon by a gunman at close range before the blast, and an official from her party said Ms. Bhutto was further injured by the explosion, which was apparently caused by a suicide attacker.

Ms. Bhutto, a former prime minister of Pakistan, was declared dead by doctors at a hospital in Rawalpindi at 6:16 p.m. after the doctors had tried to resuscitate her for thirty-five minutes. She had suffered severe shrapnel injuries, the doctors said. At least a dozen more people were killed in the attack at the rally, which was being held ahead of elections scheduled for January, at a popular park in Rawalpindi, the garrison city adjacent to the capital.

Pakistan, of course, is our ally in the War on Terror.

Epileptic Fits? How DID You Know?!

posted by on December 27 at 6:54 AM

Christmas: It’s a shotgun wrapped in a jaunty bow, ready to blast you in the face; a coiled cobra lurking at the bottom of a gift bag.

Indeed, there are deadly dangers lurking in every Yuletide nook and cranny—-red-nosed rummies driving through the snow, toxic and Chinese-y toys waiting to leaden little blood streams (and apparently ravenous tigers ready to lunch upon them at the slightest provocation), hot buttered in-laws expressing their political, ahem, “opinions” (if I’m forced to endure one more drunken tirade on Ron fucking Paul or whomever, I’m climbing the water tower, I promise you).

But none of these holiday horrors can hold an Xmess candle to the evil that is “High School the Musical”, specifically the so-called “Sing It!” karaoke edition game for Playstation2. I have two young nieces, so I know.


And the dangers of HSM are not merely limited to the obvious peril inherent in arrogant WASP-ish mall-rats with devastating eyebrows singing and dancing and being douche-baggy in that singular Disney way. There are hidden perils, far more insidious than you might imagine, but you have to look closely to find them. And if you do look closely, what you will find is this, in really small print, in a corner on the back of the box…

WARNING! If you have a history of epilepsy or seizures, consult a doctor before use. Certain patterns may trigger seizures with no prior history.

Epileptic seizures? Just what I wanted!

Oh, Santa. How DO you avoid massive lawsuits?

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

In Other (Bleak) News

posted by on December 26 at 4:41 PM

Six people found murdered this morning in a rural Carnation home. Two suspects have been arrested.

So, How Was Your Christmas?

posted by on December 26 at 4:26 PM

However depressed you were or disappointed by what you did or didn’t get, at least you didn’t have to watch a state trooper shoot and kill your dad.

I finally got around to reading this story in today’s Seattle Times—a man, possibly on drugs, jumps from the car carrying his girlfriend and two kids, ages 11 and 12. He runs through traffic on I-5, his pants around his ankles, whipping cars with his belt and, according to police, trying to cause accidents. A trooper arrives, tasers the man, but it has no effect. So the trooper pulls his gun and shoots him dead—possibly in front of his kids. (The story is unclear.)

The trooper—Mike Cheek—says the man choked him and struck him repeatedly. I assume there were lots of witnesses and I don’t necessarily doubt the trooper’s statements. I’m just wondering… is there a non-lethal way to apprehend a strung-out nut running down a highway? Back off and wait for backup and then a couple of troopers tackle him? Something in between attempting-to-taser and shooting-and-killing?

Cap and Trade Bill Queued Up in Olympia

posted by on December 26 at 4:11 PM

During the 2007 session in Olympia, I bitched and bitched that the supermajority Democrats weren’t rolling up their sleeves on the environment.

In part, I was exasperated by leadership’s environmentally stupid push for a viaduct rebuild.

But mostly, I was dumbfounded the Democrats weren’t getting off the dime and passing a cap and trade bill. (Instead, we got Gov. Gregoire’s press conference panel something la di da.)

Well this year, Rep. Dave Upthegrove (D-33, Des Moines), the new chair of the Ecology and Parks Committee, says his priority is a cap and trade bill.

Last year’s cap and trade effort was led by Rep. Maralyn Chase (D-32, Shoreline), and she was not taken seriously.

I’m glad to see that committee chairs are now behind the idea. Well, at least some. As I reported last week, the supermajority dems are up to their old tricks.

Colby Underwood No Longer with Burner Campaign

posted by on December 26 at 3:30 PM

Local fundraising consultant Colby Underwood got a lot of glowing press this year.

He was hyped, for example, by Crosscut’s Casey Corr as “The Most Important Person in Seattle Politics.”

Well, “The Most Important Person in Seattle Politics,” who was the fundraising consultant for one of the most high-profile pending races in local politics—Darcy Burner’s 2008 Democratic challenge to Rep. Dave Reichert (R-8, Mercer Island)—has left that campaign just in time for, well, 2008.

I think that’s weird. However, Burner’s campaign tells me the plan all along was to get an in-house fundraising team in place for ‘08, and “that didn’t make sense for Colby.”

Additionally, McKenna Hartman, director of development for Underwood, reportedly left Underwood’s firm.

On Progress And Darwin

posted by on December 26 at 3:30 PM


I. Consider the three ways scientific understanding of the world to progresses:

1. A new observation

2. A new technology for making observations

3. A new way of thinking about existing observations

Of the three, the last is the most powerful and profound, the most unpredictable and precious.

A properly conveyed conception can rewrite our sense of the universe without changing a single fact. With a new interpretation that better fits human knowledge we can better predict outcomes and gain mastery.

II. Darwin developed few new techniques, observed few new things. Even the concepts behind evolution were simmering before his time.

Darwin’s achievement was one of presentation, of setting the ingredients into a formidable whole, of a crystal clear distillation of complex ideas.

1. Life, through random mutation, generates variation.

2. The most successful variants reproduce more than the less successful.

From these concepts, all of the rest follows.

III. The political action of the modern creationist is to prevent untainted exposure to these ideas, until it is too late.

Our exposure to the Christian creation story is early and pervasive—in art, in popular culture, in song, in school and in our homes.

The observations behind creationism fit better in an evolved world. An evolved world explains more, of what we’ve observed since, of what we’ve observed with new abilities and of what we’ll observe in the future.

Denial of this is as hopeless, requiring an adult’s capacity to disassociate a sense of reality from reality itself.

I don’t fear, Annie.

Is There Anything I Love More than a Pretty-Boy Comedian?

posted by on December 26 at 3:02 PM

Maybe a funny model. Print only, no runway.

Meet Nick Thune, my current and former obsession of this nature:
Hey, you!

Nick’s playing tonight at Laff Hole, in their “Home for the Holidays” special. He’s originally from ‘round here. Also playing is Reggie Watts, Jimes, Fahim Anwar, Oedipus Complex, Jake Dill, and Joe Larson. It’s at Chop Suey, $5 gets you in, and it starts at 9.

Here’s a vid:
hometown heroes

Add to My Profile | More Videos

I’m gonna wear a pretty dress.

The Look of Life

posted by on December 26 at 3:01 PM

hannah_starkey_may.jpg The struggle we face in life is to find a way to overcome this trap, this loop or looks, this locked arrangement of gazes. Youth looks at itself; the old looks at youth; no one looks at the old.

The Jewish Cabal Strikes Again. (How Do I Join?)

posted by on December 26 at 2:45 PM

Ron Paul supporter blames Jewish cabal for charges that Ron Paul is anti-Semitic.

Courtesy HorsesAss, which gives this the “World Record in Irony” award.


posted by on December 26 at 2:40 PM

You might think I’d be psyched about today’s NYT hit piece on Hillary’s White House “experience”—I’ve said before that I hate the fact that she’s running on her husband’s record. (The article is still here, if you passed up Josh and Eli’s links.) But I’m not happy about this piece.

Patrick Healy starts out nicely, reminding us that the amount and type of influence HRC exerted in the White House is relevant because: “In seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, Mrs. Clinton lays claim to two traits nearly every day: strength and experience. But as the junior senator from New York, she has few significant legislative accomplishments to her name. She has cast herself, instead, as a first lady like no other: a full partner to her husband in his administration, and, she says, all the stronger and more experienced for her ‘eight years with a front-row seat on history.’”

But soon, he seems to lose sight of the fact that he’s dinging her for claiming that experience, not because she failed to exert quasi-presidential powers while Mr. Clinton was in power. E.g.:

Mrs. Clinton said she was “only tangentially involved” in Mr. Clinton’s first major overseas test, whether to send American soldiers after the Somali warlord Mohammed Farah Aidid and his forces, a raid that ended in 18 American deaths. Asked if she had pressed for an invasion, she said she had acted “more as a sounding board” for Mr. Clinton.

Um, thank god, right? She wasn’t elected. The last thing I want to hear is that she was usurping presidential powers. “Not overstepping her bounds” screams one section heading, as though it were her timid femininity that kept her behind certain lines. Please. How about respect for the office of president?

HRC should stop claiming her eight years in the White House as professional experience because it wasn’t professional experience. Not because she somehow should have insinuated herself into decisions reserved for the elected representative of the American people. I think Maureen Dowd hit on the legitimate complaint about Hillary’s supposed experience:

It’s hard to feel sorry for Hillary [on account of Bill’s various campaign gaffes] because the very logic of her campaign leads right to Bill. When she speaks of her “experience,” she is referring not to the Senate but to the White House, thereby making her campaign a plebiscite on the ’90s.

Running this way, she is essentially asking people to like her if they liked him. Whether she knows it or not, this is a coattails strategy. It’s almost as if she’s offering herself to Clinton supporters as the solution to the problem of the 22nd Amendment.

Hit pieces like Healy’s, on the other hand, just add fuel to the argument that HRC isn’t being treated fairly by the media.

Plant a Creationist in Every Classroom

posted by on December 26 at 2:08 PM

This is scary: An online university that requires Master’s in Science Education candidates who wish to minor in biology to take courses like BI 504 Advanced Comparative Anatomy/Lab (“There is a limited discussion of embryology and accompanying histology, specifically in regards to evolutionary theory and its alternative—the creation of fully functional major groups of animals”) and BI 505 Biological Concepts (“A survey focusing on the various theories of biological origin and diversification, their historical development, current versions and their impact on biological thought. The evolutionist and creationist models of nature are reviewed in light of contemporary biological knowledge. Emphasis is placed on distinguishing between observation, hypothesis, evidence, and confirmation as applied to evaluating evolutionists and creationist paradigms and their implications”) is asking the state of Texas for approval to dispense degrees. The Dallas Morning News has the story. (Via The Volokh Conspiracy.)

The nonprofit Institute for Creation Research in Dallas wants to train future science teachers in Texas and elsewhere using an online curriculum. A state advisory group gave its approval Friday; now the final say rests with the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, which will consider the request next month.

Seems these jokesters have been popping out science teachers in anything-goes California for years.

In 1988, California education officials tried to remove the institute’s authority to grant master’s of science degrees, arguing that the program didn’t pass academic muster. The institute sued the state, arguing that the decision violated its constitutional rights. The school received $225,000 in a 1992 settlement. By then, a new state panel was in charge of evaluating such private schools.

But wait—how did I miss this?

The institute’s search for approval in Texas comes just weeks after the science director of the Texas Education Agency resigned under pressure over allegations that she had inappropriately endorsed evolution. She had forwarded an e-mail about a talk in Austin by a professor and author who opposes teaching creationism in public schools.

The New York Times had that story on December 3.

Soft Power

posted by on December 26 at 1:41 PM

I really just overheard this pre-fab (?) conversation between two old ladies in the QFC:

Old Lady 1: I’d like to see Hillary and Obama run as a team.

Old Lady 2: I’m for Hillary. [And then, I kid you not, this is what she really said]: She has more experience. She’s has eight years in the Senate and eight years in the White House.

Old Lady 1: Obama has experience. He was a community organizer in Chicago.

Old Lady 2: He’s just a junior senator. He means well.

Old Lady 1: Well, [I kid you not, this is what she really said]: I like that if Hillary’s the president, we get Bill Clinton. He’s the smartest president we’ve had.

Old Lady 2: George Bush isn’t very smart. But he won so big.

Old Lady 1: It was the Evangelical Christians. Do you think America will elect a woman?

Old Lady 2: Israel has a woman prime minister. [Take that Ehud Olmert!]

Speaking of “Experience” … I linked the NYT article that questioned HRC’s experience in this morning’s Morning News post.

It truly raises a red flag about a Clinton candidacy.

Remember how the Republicans turned Kerry’s strength (his valor in Vietnam) into a weakness. Well, there’s certainly a GOP opportunity here to turn Clinton’s “strength” into a weakness. A weak woman at that. Here’s some red meat sexist bait for the GOP machine:

Her role mostly involved what diplomats call “soft power” — converting cold war foes into friends, supporting nonprofit work and good-will endeavors, and pressing her agenda on women’s rights, human trafficking and the expanded use of microcredits, tiny loans to help individuals in poor countries start small businesses.

Asked to name three major foreign policy decisions where she played a decisive role as first lady, Mrs. Clinton responded in generalities more than specifics…

I can picture those two old ladies next November.

Lady 1: I want to vote for Hillary, but her experience is so… soft.

Lady 2: Yeah. It’s true. We don’t need soft power right now.

Flickr Photo of the Day

posted by on December 26 at 12:00 PM

The Not-So-Fun Forest, by Flickr pooler seattlescott69.


Your Wednesday Morning Pairing

posted by on December 26 at 11:58 AM


In a strong little collection show up at MoMA now (which includes a piles sculpture and a vaguely sexual video by Lynda Benglis that sets the stage for the ur-’90s video Head with Cheryl Donegan drinking from and spitting milk back into a carton for 3 minutes), two works are engaged in total mutual mockery—unintentional.

Gilbert & George (pictured above), in a 1972 video, sit around in a posh parlor, drinking, to pompous music by Wagner and Elgar. As they do this, they chant, “Gordon’s makes us drunk,” which is the title of the piece, adding as time goes by, “Gordon’s makes us very drunk,” and then, “Gordon’s makes us very, very drunk.”

If you take this seriously, there is no way to take the museum seriously, and if you take the museum seriously, there is no way to take this seriously. This is the bind Gilbert & George set up when they declare the regular actions of their lives art, and it comes to a head here.

Meanwhile, in the gallery next door is John Baldessari’s 1971 “I Am Making Art,” in which he chants, “I am making art,” while waving his arms around ridiculously.


I wonder if Baldessari has seen Trisha Donnelly’s Canadian Rain (2002), a video that turns the arm-waving into a ritual rain dance. Like both Gordon’s Makes Us Drunk and I Am Making Art, it raises questions about what makes an authentic artist—or an authentic person, for that matter.

Obama on the Court

posted by on December 26 at 11:55 AM

He goes one-on-one with a writer from Sports Illustrated, talks some trash, and sinks a shot that the writer declares is “for the presidency”:

The first game flies by in a blur of missed (mine) and made (his) jumpers: I lose 11-5. Obama throws out a cheap “Wooooo!” whenever I shoot but never resorts to ticky-tack calls; before the second game he notes our 15-pound weight difference. “If you wanted to bang inside a bit,” he says, “you could.”

I’m no fool. I start banging. After I commit that criminal foul under the basket, he lofts an air ball and I pull ahead 2-1. But we’re both gasping, and proceed to play the ugliest, slowest game in history. A handler steps in, says his man must leave, so we decide to play to seven.

Obama hits two jumpers to go up 3-2, and I remember what Michelle told me: “He’s very good at the last minute.”

“All right,” I say coyly, flipping him the ball. “This is for the presidency….”

He drills a 19-footer, heels barely leaving the ground.

Photos and memories of Obama’s first dunk here. (Via Ben Smith.)

Blame Me

posted by on December 26 at 11:30 AM

In 2007, I got rid of my car, joined Flex car, and bought a real bike.

I’ve had goofy bikes in the past, but I never made biking a real part of my life because I’m pretty klutzy. Now, I bike everywhere.

So what happens? First the Flex Car tax and now this idea.

I’m not sure where I stand on the idea of making bikers register. My gut tells me it’s not as simple as angry car owners make it out to be. Car owners gripe that they pay for roads through car fees, so why shouldn’t bikers help fund roads and bike lanes and bike trails?

Well, actually car owners pay for roads mostly through gas taxes, not car fees.

And here’s the real rub: Car owners are the ones who use and batter roads and cause congestion and emissions—all things that spike the cost of living for all of us.

Meanwhile, bikes save us all money—lowering congestion, easing emissions, and barely leaving any wear and tear on roads. So, why should government put up a barrier to getting more people on bikes?

Youth Pastor Watch

posted by on December 26 at 11:30 AM


Police say a former youth pastor who had threatened a man who was dating his estranged wife shot and killed the man Sunday, then killed himself. Police identified the gunman as Michael Beckworth, 30, and his victim as Joe Lee, 31….

Trupe said several witnesses, including Beckworth’s wife, saw the shooting. Beckworth made no attempt to harm his wife or the other people in the apartment, he added.

A Word About A Word

posted by on December 26 at 11:17 AM

Roberta Smith has called for the banishment from art writing of the word “practice,” as in, “it’s a part of the artist’s practice.” Jeff Jahn of PORT has piled on: “one has to have a receptionist and a lobby to have a practice.”

Smith writes: “The impetus behind practice may be to demystify the stereotype of the visionary or emotion-driven artist, and indeed it does. It turns the artist into an utterly conventional authority figure. First off, there’s the implication that artists, like lawyers, doctors and dentists, need a license to practice.”

OK, OK, fair enough. “Practice” is, undeniably, used in excess in the art world, and we should decree that it be doled out only to those who can use it without being haughty. (A search of our archives shows I’ve used it 3.5 times per year; I vow to be more sparing.)

Except I’d like to put in a little plug for the word before it is totally discredited.

The noun “practice” refers not only to the proprietary concern of a businessperson, but also to rehearsal, to a field of open play, to an event during which self-betterment is more important than who wins or loses. There is no reason to think that, when applied to art, the labor-oriented definition trumps the rehearsal definition. In fact, they overlap nicely.

Furthermore, what’s a better noun to describe the play/labor that artists do over time?

Today in Presidential Politics; Or, 8 Days Until the Iowa Caucuses

posted by on December 26 at 11:10 AM

Caucus night weather: Sunny, freezing, and clear, says the forecast.

Obama’s stump speech: Moving the masses—and David Broder.

Clinton’s closing argument: Experience, experience, experience.

On the hunt: Huckabee shoots birds, scares reporter.

The more Romney speaks: The less believable he becomes.

The more Ron Paul gains: The more this comes up.

Trend-spotter or outlier? An unusual poll from Iowa.

But: An aggregation shows Obama ahead.

Accepting no sympathy calls: Clinton’s campaign manager.

Glamour-blogging: The candidates, starting with Hillary.

Today The Stranger Suggests

posted by on December 26 at 11:00 AM


‘The Diving Bell and
the Butterfly’

Julian Schnabel’s first film since Before Night Falls is a gorgeous, canny, and sensual adaptation of a most unlikely story: the memoir of Parisian fashion magazine editor Jean-Dominique Bauby after he was paralyzed by a sudden stroke. The camera becomes the one eye Bauby can still control, and it roves—back to memories of a night under the glow of a light-up Virgin Mary in Lourdes and over the wind-ruffled curtains in his modest hospital room. (See movie times at for details.)


Remember Me

posted by on December 26 at 10:15 AM

Someone from the depths of my past wrote this email:

…If you are the Charles Mudede I think you are, we were childhood friends attending a small elementary school in Sharptown, MD. I remember your father, mother and sister. I also remember the sad day you and your family moved away to Zimbabwe in 1981. I watched from my parents’ home as the VW Bug your father drove carted all of you away. I was in tears because you were one of the best friends I had at the time. I think we were huge Star Wars fans at the time…

We never change.


posted by on December 26 at 10:02 AM

So you don’t want those beer-bong/blackface/bisexual-experimentation-phase pics to haunt you for the rest of your life. And so you decide you’re gonna delete your Facebook account.
Good luck with that.

Newspaper Layout of the Year

posted by on December 26 at 9:59 AM

From the December 13 issue of The Lewiston Tribune.

First note the large photo and caption under the headline “Sign of the Times.”

Then note the story—about the convenience-store wallet thief caught on security camera—directly below it.

I could not love this more.

Thank you, MetaFilter (where interested parties can find some fascinating additional info in the comments.)

People of America

posted by on December 26 at 9:57 AM

We have spoken, apparently, via a USA Today/Gallup poll, and for the 12th time we have picked Hillary Clinton as the woman we most admire.

But, and perhaps good news for Barack Obama: Oprah Winfrey is the second-most admired woman in the country, and just barely behind Clinton in the national admiration department.

Worth considering: This same poll also found that President Bush is the most admired man in the United States.

The Stranger Endorses…

posted by on December 26 at 9:56 AM



The evil geniuses behind Capitol Hill Seattle have pitted Capitol Hill’s coyotes against 15th’s Wax On spa in the latest round of CHS Tourney 2007. The Stranger Election Control Board met this morning and we are tossing our support to coyotes in this contest—because, hey, there’s a lot of pussy on Capitol Hill and someone’s gotta eat it. Vote here. Polls close at 9 PM.

The Nation Endorses…

posted by on December 26 at 9:40 AM

Well, no one, as far as I can tell from reading this long editorial. But the campaign of Dennis Kucinich is calling attention this excerpt:

In his stands on the issues, Dennis Kucinich comes closest to embodying the ideals of this magazine. He has been a forceful critic of the Bush Administration, opposing the Patriot Act and spearheading the motion to impeach Vice President Dick Cheney. He is the only candidate to have voted against the Iraq War in 2003 and has voted against funding it ever since. Of all the serious candidates, only he and Governor Bill Richardson propose a full and immediate withdrawal from Iraq. And only Kucinich’s plan sets aside funds for reparations. Moreover, Kucinich has used his presidential campaigns to champion issues like cutting the military budget and abolishing nuclear weapons; universal, single-payer healthcare; campaign finance reform; same-sex marriage and an end to the death penalty and the war on drugs. A vote for him would be a principled one.


But for reasons that have to do with the corrupting influence of money and media on national elections as well as with his campaign’s shortcomings—such as its failure to organize a grassroots base of donors and web activists—a democratic mass movement has not coalesced around Kucinich’s run for President. The progressive vision is there, but the strategy necessary to win and then govern is lacking. In most cases, the rules of the Iowa caucus require that a candidate reach 15 percent of the vote to achieve “viability”; supporters of candidates who fail to do so can choose another candidate. Simply put, many Iowans will soon face a question that the rest of us may have to answer later: if not Dennis, then who?

As Goldy Goes

posted by on December 26 at 9:39 AM

Wait—Goldy isn’t a great big fag? So he’s been leading me on all this time? I’m crushed—crushed!


posted by on December 26 at 9:36 AM

From the Seattle Times:

A schoolteacher has been accused of starting a sexual relationship with one of his fifth-grade students, then dating and moving in with her mother while continuing to have sex with the child.

Hard News

posted by on December 26 at 9:15 AM


Slog somehow missed this very important story: Shots of David Beckham in Armani tighty-whities—reproduced above for reference purposes only—sent sales of tighty-whities soaring in the UK. TWs are now outselling boxers in the UK by two-to-one. The ad also sparked some debate over whether Beckham stuffed his shorts for the photo shoot. In other Beckham news, he’s proud to be a gay icon.

As you were.

Morning News

posted by on December 26 at 8:25 AM

Falling Housing Prices: The price of a single-family house fell for the 10th straight month, dipping a record 6.7 percent over prices a year ago.

Disappointing X-Mas Season Sales: Weakest sales growth in four years.

Troop Families Down on Bush: 55% disapprove of the President, according to a USA TODAY/Gallup poll of relatives of military.

Turkey Bombs Norther Iraq Again: Third attack on Kurdish rebels in 10 days.

Hillary Clinton’s “Experience”: Does being First Lady really count?

Afghanistan Expels Diplomats: EU and UN workers expelled for meeting with Taliban.

Buffet buys Marmon Holdings: Pays $4.5 billion for the manufacturing firm.

Indonesian Landslide: Nearly 80 dead.

Washington State Trooper Kills Man: 27-year-old man shot on I-5 after attacking cars and trooper.

David Bowie (Space Oddity, original version, 1969)

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Less Happy Christmas

posted by on December 25 at 8:31 PM

Uh… harsh.

One San Francisco Zoo visitor was killed and two others injured early this evening after a tiger escaped from its cage. The tiger that got loose was fatally shot while it was attacking a patron, said San Francisco Fire Department spokesman Lt. Ken Smith.

The attack happened shortly after the zoo’s 5 p.m. closing time at a cafe on the east end of the zoo, officials said. The tiger cages are located near the center of the zoo.

Tigers should be boiled alive and fed to their idiot zookeepers.

Happy Christmas

posted by on December 25 at 8:07 PM


All the neighbors came over and we managed to polish off 13 bottles of champagne in four hours. We were makin’ kir royales—and with good champagne too. Being from a big family, but far from ‘em on Christmas, it’s always nice to have a crowd around on Xmess day.

Anyway, my son got a Wii, the boyfriend got an iPhone, and I got two bundt cake pans, new snowboarding goggles, and The Happiest Corpse I’ve Ever Seen by Ethan Mordden. I think I won—and, yes, it’s a contest.

Offered Without Comment

posted by on December 25 at 3:06 PM

Thanks, Matt. I think.

Wanna See a Movie?

posted by on December 25 at 2:13 PM

Reviews of today’s releases—The Savages, The Great Debaters, and The Water Horse (but not AVP2, which will be reviewed tomorrow)—are here.

Merry movies!

Assignment: Engineer a Christmas Miracle

posted by on December 25 at 1:48 PM


Last week I received this email from a woman in Seattle:

Oh Public Intern,

While you are down at the UWMC, perhaps you would like to bring some holiday cheer to the infirm? My fiance woke up this morning after I left for work with a collapsed lung - also known as a spontaneous pneumothorax. Having experienced this once before, he threw some stuff in a bag, hopped on the trusty 65 and walked to the UWMC. Such a trooper.

In any case, now he’s awaiting surgery and then a chest tube for 2-3 days. Once it’s taken care of, it’s not that serious of a thing, and we should hopefully not be hanging out in the hospital Christmas Day direct. However, because of the chest tube and the nature of collapsed lungs, he can’t fly for two weeks, which effectively rules out his/our plan of going to North Carolina to see relatives, friends and experience the joy of southern cuisine. The trains are sold out, we don’t have a car, and a greyhound cross-country sort of seems like a different kind of hell.

I’m not sure what I’m asking:
Find a car for us to drive cross-country?
Convince Amtrak to let us sleep in the aisles?
Bring NC to us?
Something else?

Yours in Hospital Cafeteria food,


Dan suggested bringing Amy and her fiancée Brian (the one with the collapsed lung) a southern-cooked dinner on Christmas Eve, paid for by the Stranger. I asked the Slog community for help, and the response was overwhelming. Dozens of southerners living in Seattle wrote to me and told me they wanted to help cook. I realized after the eighteenth email that I had more cooks than I could possibly use. I randomly chose six Sloggers, told them about Amy and Brian, and asked them what dish they wanted to prepare.

On Sunday and Monday, the Sloggers dropped food at my house. Cleve brought delicious corn bread muffins, Rebecca made an incredibly moist turkey with an exotic hazelnut gravy, Brandon cooked a sweet pecan pie, Alex and her father made buttery mashed potatoes, Kim delivered with a massive (and delicious) sweet potato pie and red velvet cake, and Tiffany sautéed green beans with butter and garlic, and surprised me with ice-cold sweet tea.

The food did not fit in the fridge. I cleared off a space in the garage and left much of the food there overnight. Monday around 5pm I loaded the side-dishes into my trunk, rested the turkey platter on the passenger seat, and drove to Amy’s apartment. As I drove, the turkey slid around on the platter, veering perilously close to the edge of the seat. I softened my turns, and patted lightly on the brakes. I didn’t want to fuck this up.

I didn’t really surprise Amy and Brian; they already knew I was coming because I had to make sure they hadn’t already cooked a meal for themselves. But I would like to believe they were surprised by how much food had been donated. The turkey was ginormous, and so were all the deserts. We had to take three trips back and forth from the car to the house just to get it all into the kitchen.

Brian had recovered well from his lung operation. He was walking around, laughing, and cracking jokes when I first saw him. He wanted to help bring the food into the house but I told him to sit down and relax. I mean come on, Brian. Take a load off for once in your life. Jesus Christ.

This was my first Christian anything, so I was a bit nervous. I thought I wouldn’t know how to give thanks or praise Jesus, or I’d use the wrong tone or something. Thankfully, Amy and Brian aren’t really Christian either. Nothing Christian happened during the whole dinner. Amy played a Sufjan Stevens holiday album.


Amy and Brian are adorable, but they do not play Apples to Apples correctly. The point is to pick the most ludicrously ironic noun to match the adjective, not the most boring obvious noun.

The food was amazing. Thank you to everyone who donated their time, and to those who refused to be reimbursed by the Stranger- your generosity is much appreciated. The Stranger will use the saved money to buy a new vaporizer! God bless everyone! Namaste! The snow is sticking!

Steven Blum
Public Intern

P.S. Brian, you’re hot.


Flickr Photo of the Day

posted by on December 25 at 12:00 PM

Awww. Merry Christmas, from Flickr pooler pretty-kitty.


Today The Stranger Suggests

posted by on December 25 at 11:00 AM

Left Behind

The Rapture

I have seen the Rapture—or, at least its annual Christmas Day approximation, when everyone’s at home opening presents and it’s just us Jews (and Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, chronic inebriates, and assorted sinners and apostates) out on the streets. If the Rapture really comes, and all the world’s righteous Christians are whisked away to heaven, this is probably what it will feel like—peaceful, empty, and nobody left to defend intelligent design. It’s really quite nice. (Free, all morning long.)


Merry Christmas from The Stranger

posted by on December 25 at 9:45 AM

Morning News

posted by on December 25 at 9:27 AM

Democratic Presidential Candidates: Running against their consultants.

Health care coverage: the California model for trying to expand coverage could be a harbinger.

Turkey Bombs Kurds: Airstrikes in Northern Iraq kill 150.

Putin Youth: The Authoritarian Russian leader finds strong support in wave of organized youth groups.

Green Pope: Pope’s Christmas speech laments environmental upheavals.

Downtown Seattle Bus Tunnel: Remains closed indefinitely.

17-year-old David Bowie (1964) defends long hair:

6 years later:

Working Today?

posted by on December 25 at 9:25 AM


Doctor? Nurse? Bus driver? Quik-E-Mart clerk? Web site administrator? Sex worker? Covering a research lab? Tending animals? Hearing confessions?

I’m working today, at least part of the day. Let’s commiserate.

(It’s a start, Homo Will.)

Monday, December 24, 2007

Skiing A Winter Storm

posted by on December 24 at 1:09 PM

Looking for something to do tomorrow?
Yesterday, the snow at Stevens Pass was excellent—even on the backside.

Shit’s in the P-I

posted by on December 24 at 12:36 PM

I think P-I reporter Mike Lewis has just announced that a nice, tax-paying Seattleite is a vampire:

In the reverse world, where breakfast is dinner, much of daily life is a little harder to get.

Manny has been on the night shift for years. Part vampire, pale as a ghost, he prefers working at night unloading trucks.

Poor, no-last-name Manny. It’s so hard being part vampire in Seattle.

Flickr Photo of the Day

posted by on December 24 at 12:00 PM

The perfect gift, from Flickr pool contributor gluechuck.


Today The Stranger Suggests

posted by on December 24 at 11:00 AM

Dangerous Levels of Holiday Cheer

Roger Whittaker and
at Westlake Center

Everybody knows Christmas Eve is better than Christmas, and if you follow these instructions, this will be the best Christmas Eve ever. Get The Roger Whittaker Christmas Album from 1978—the one with the cover showing a bunch of fake snow on Whittaker’s comb-over. Go to Westlake Center. Get on the merry-go-round and press play on the song “Darcy the Dragon.” You will get the Christ. (Westlake Center, 400 Pine St. 10 am–6 pm, $2 suggested donation.)


Happy Holidays From The Jews

posted by on December 24 at 9:11 AM

More specifically, from the three Hebrew kings of Stella. I know, I know, I’m not Megan Seling, but I too happen to be a raving, longtime fan of The State and its cast. Far as I’m concerned, Christmas isn’t Christmas without the trio Showalter, Wain, and Black riding on the storm and eating Mrs. Claus’ cookies. Even more NSFW than a photo of rashy pubes:

(Find more uncensored clips from Stella’s original, pre-Comedy Central DVD here.)

Morning News

posted by on December 24 at 8:48 AM

Pakistan: Musharraf government uses billions in U.S. anti-terrorist funds for its own unrelated political ends.

Credit Card Debt: American credit card debt surges in past year.

Blackwater: U.S. ignored warnings about using private security firms in Iraq.

Huckabee: Wants to abolish income tax and replace it with a 23% national sales tax.

Ron Paul: The maverick Republican won’t rule out a 3rd Party run.

Reverse Shoplifting: DIY artists and political activists sneak their own products and messages onto the shelves.

Abstinence Only Money: Feds cut funding to Washington state thanks to accurate sex ed bill.

Political Donations: Local corporations reverse course, prioritize Democrats over Republicans.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Me and Iraq

posted by on December 23 at 10:24 PM

I should post something once a day, I suppose, about Iraq, so that folks that would like to let me have it—and, man, I deserve it—for supporting the invasion of Iraq five years ago have a place to vent and don’t need to hijack every comments thread. So here goes: I was for it, I was wrong, and I’d like to see us get the hell out of there—which I wrote in August of 2005, on Andrew Sullivan’s site (when he gave me the keys to his blog for a week), and reprinted in a revised form in the Stranger.

In 2006 my feelings of guilt over my support for the invasion lead me to donate the max to Ned Lamont, the anti-war Dem who challenged pro-war Dem Joe Leiberman. I also gave dough to Bob Casey and the ACLU—again, to pay my debt to society where the Iraq war is concerned.

Having shot off my mouth so… effectively… in 2002, today I bite my lip where this war is concerned. I’m not trying to hide my past support for the war—the pieces are still up on our website, for crying out loud—but I believe my initial support of the Iraq invasion forever disqualifies me from holding forth on issues of national security. So I’m going to stick to road-testing triple-pronged dildos, as a wise man once urged me to do.

And to those that insist the Stranger supported the invasion of Iraq… uh… that’s not the case. My “say yes to war” piece was a sidebar to Josh Feit’s much longer, and much more prescient, anti-war piece. I was one of just two pro-Iraq-war staffers at the Stranger. (My fellow traveler had the good sense to keep his/her mouth shut.) Anyway, read Josh’s piece here. He was right, I was wrong.

Killer Spammers from Outer Space

posted by on December 23 at 9:37 PM

Readers, excuse the massive mess some stinky asshole troll made in comments today. We usually delete spammy, redundant, off-topic comments by hand and leave a reason in their place (which takes a good two minutes each), but we’ve no patience today, and it’s Sunday, the day on which the Lord wants us to rest, so we’re simply deleting them.

Those of you who have engaged or attacked this douchebag have our sincere gratitude, but please ignore this troll so that when we erase his rants yours won’t read like nonsense.

Mr. ‘Dan Says Yes,’ you whiny little dingleberry, please fuck off.

Need a Last Minute Stocking Stuffer?

posted by on December 23 at 2:57 PM


From Taboo Video, open 24 hours…

Flickr Photo of the Day

posted by on December 23 at 12:00 PM

I don’t know what this is, but I like it. Thanks to Flickr pool contributor Fecki.


The Local War on Christmas

posted by on December 23 at 11:31 AM

Ugh. Let’s all pray to the non-denominational baby something-or-other that our region will soon stop handing the war-on-Christmas shriekers ammunition like this.

The past few weeks, visitors to the U.S. District Court building have been treated to a hapless display of irises, primroses and other spring flowers.

Why spring flowers in the dark of winter? It was a rush replacement. For what has been there in winters past—dozens of bright-red poinsettias….

Long story short: No more poinsettias in the lobby (workers can still have them in their offices). The landlord, the General Services Administration, felt it had no choice after hearing “a series of complaints” that poinsettias were “too Christmas-y,” says Bill Lesh, the agency’s spokesman.

Today The Stranger Suggests

posted by on December 23 at 11:00 AM



A sweet and surprisingly clean comedy about the pitfalls of teen pregnancy, Juno is so smart and cleverly written that it risks being too cute for its own good. Thankfully, the performances—especially from the startling Ellen Page and the always welcome Michael Cera—rescue the movie from its own self-conscious trappings. The result is perhaps the best comedy of the year: cynical yet heartfelt, funny yet kinked by a hint of sadness. (See movie times at for details.)


Will It Blend?

posted by on December 23 at 10:29 AM

What happens if you put an iPhone in a blender?

Via Americablog.

Morning News

posted by on December 23 at 8:05 AM

posted by news intern Brian Slodysko

No Child Left Behind: Trash talking Bush’s education policy from the stump.

Warring Terror No Longer: Iraqi government prepares to disband U.S. armed Al Qaeda-fighting Sunnis.

Writing On The Wall: Slumping national housing market prompting homeowners to reassess their homes, cutting government property tax revenue… you can thank Tim Eyman later.

Let’s Have a War:Turkey bombs Kurds in Northern Iraq. Twice.

Pulling a “Ringo”: British medical journal debunks turkey myth, defines “disco-biscuit” and gives unnecessary longevity to a B-list celebrity who should have disappeared with Berlin Wall.

Union Busting: Labor relations board rules against employee use of company email for union organization.

And They Say We Can’t Drive In The Snow: Midwest snowstorm leads to fifty-car pile-up and five deaths.