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Archives for 06/15/2008 - 06/21/2008

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Winning the War on Drugs

posted by on June 21 at 6:49 PM

…and underage drinking in Mexico City.

Panicked youths rushed for the exits during a police raid on a Mexico City nightclub on Friday, leaving at least 12 people dead in the crush of bodies, the capital’s police chief said.

Chief Joel Ortega said three police officers and nine youths, at least three of them minors, were killed. At least 13 others were injured.

Police went to the News Divine club in the working-class district of Nueva Atzacoalco in the early evening to check reports of drugs and alcohol being sold to minors. Ortega told the Televisa network the club’s owner announced to the crowd that the officers were there to arrest them, causing a stampede.

Police may blame the club owner, but the mayor is blaming police:

Mexico City’s mayor expressed outrage Saturday that youths as young as 13 were among the dozen people killed in a nightclub stampede and said the officials involved in the police raid that sparked the crush had been suspended.

“The city is indignant,” Mayor Marcelo Ebrard told a news conference. “What we saw yesterday was ethically unacceptable.”

Juan Carlos Maya, a club employee and the brother of owner Alfredo Maya, acknowledged that alcohol was being served but said patrons were asked for identification at the bar…. [H]e showed the club’s liquor license and an inspection certificate from 2007 and said police blocked the emergency exit, apparently to prevent suspects from escaping.

Video is over here.

Earth Lovers

posted by on June 21 at 6:16 PM

Something to think about:

Boobs and Naked Cyclists

posted by on June 21 at 4:45 PM

Pirates + Flying Spaghetti Monster

Hopefully my post doesn’t steal thunder from anybody else here writing about the Fremont Solstice Parade… though, to be fair, the “nude cyclists and drum-circle floats” description isn’t exactly breaking-news material.

This was my first year to see the parade, and I had a fine time watching nude, color-coated folks biking around. Also enjoyed the set of people dressed as parts of a sandwich who would often crunch into each other to form up Voltron-style. But I felt really odd watching the biking part of it, though not out of prudishness. Rather, the happy, hippie, and shameless biking seemed muted by the crowd watching it—mostly assholes and yuppies. This is who you’re showing off for? The khaki-short entourage who feels compelled to point out when a pair of breasts “looks like udders”? Yeah, well done, Jacob. Who needs good vibes? I figure the nekkid folks would be better off finding their own meadow to bike through, but as has been pointed out to me, maybe even the hippies have a little Girl inside of them that wants to Go Wild.

Anyway, I had fun. Since the Stranger Flickr Pool is currently lacking in nudity, a few photos taken by my ladyfriend are up after the jump to protect the three of you who work and check Slog on a Saturday… the rest of you with better photos, get ‘em up there.

Continue reading "Boobs and Naked Cyclists" »

Excessive Horse

posted by on June 21 at 12:05 PM

Posted by news intern Chris Kissel

A month ago, John and Jenny Edwards, contributers to Charles Mudede’s horse-sex anti-documentary “Zoo” and the “horse rescuers” in charge of a non profit called Hope for Horses, sent Charles a frantic e-mail. They said an incident that occurred down in Pierce County was starting to seriously interfere with their ability to take care of neglected horses. In fact, John said he “expect(ed) long trenches filled with dead horses by the end of the summer.”

It all started back in January when officials investigated frequent complaints from neighbors in rural Pierce County regarding 15 horses in a nearby pasture. The woman who owned the pasture was apparently was buying up horses in order to breed them, then neglecting them to stumble around underfed and injured in her yard, the Edwardses say.

Here’s video taken of the injured horses by concerned neighbors (you might want to put down that hot dog).

A veterinarian, among others, showed up at the pasture on December 31 to see what was going on with the horses. Because Hope for Horses, which usually adopts horses in these situations, was dealing with another emergency, the vet recommended that the two injured horses be given to one of the neighbors. Later, Hope for Horses, working with Pierce County, came in for the rest of the horses. When the county demanded that all horses be returned to HFH, the problems began, the Edwardses say.

The neighbor who claimed the first two horses had become attached to them and didn’t want to give them back. She eventually got to keep them, despite the fact that her case for keeping them, according to the Edwardses, had no legal grounding. Additionally, the fallout from the disagreement, including this article, caused the horse rescuers to lose many of their donations and has given them something of a bad reputation in the area.

The furor may have died down somewhat, but John Edwards is still livid. “We’re just here trying to do the county a favor,” he said. “If they don’t want us to do it, that’s fine.” Meanwhile, Jenny said Donna Gale, the woman who owned the pasture filled with the neglected horses, is now facing charges of drug trafficking in Pierce County. The neighbor couldn’t be reached for comment.

You can pick up your hot dog now.

Today The Stranger Suggests

posted by on June 21 at 11:00 AM


James Pants at Nectar

James Pants is a producer from Spokane. James Pants recently released a solid hiphop/new wave/soul album, Welcome, on Stones Throw Records. How in the world did a person from Spokane get signed to one of the most influential underground labels in hiphop? Pants’s explanation: “In Spokane, rent is very, very cheap and so James Pants can afford to buy records and not work too awfully hard.” (Nectar, 412 N 36th St, 632-2020. 6 pm, free–$20, 21+.)


Reading Today

posted by on June 21 at 10:00 AM


Two open mics and three readings going on today.

At noon, at the Seattle Mystery Bookshop, Elizabeth Sims reads from The Actress, which is about an aspiring actress who gets paid to coach a murder suspect to act more like an innocent human being. I must admit, I’m intrigued by this premise.

At the Elliott Bay Book Company, Russell Howze reads from (and hopefully will have a photo slideshow from) his new book Stencil Nation: Graffiti, Community and Art. I hope some anti-graffiti people show up to complain. That would make for a lively reading.

And then, later in the evening at Elliott Bay Book Company, Susan Linn reads from The Case for Make-Believe. Linn “was mentored by the late Fred Rogers.” I miss Mr. Rogers so fucking much.

Full readings calendar, including the next week or so, is available for your perusal.

The Morning News

posted by on June 21 at 9:05 AM

posted by news intern Chris Kissel

Settling our beef: U.S. agrees to regulate exports of beef to South Korea.

Not buying it, Part 1: Iran says an attack by Israel is ‘impossible.’

Not buying it, Part 2: House and apartment rentals on the rise.

The truth is out there: Mugabe says opposition group lied about political violence.

Rail love: Amtrak ridership breaks records as oil prices climb.

Pulling ahead: Newsweek poll puts Obama at 15-point lead.

Barge dilemma: Mississippi River traffic halted in wake of Midwestern floods.

Deteriorating situations
: Youth Services Center falls apart as King County budget woes get worse.

Just to spite you
: Viaduct sinks a little more after repair work.

Sonics trial, Part 5
: City possibly poisons the well, Licata just doesn’t care.

Happy Saturday.

Friday, June 20, 2008

This Week on Drugs

posted by on June 20 at 6:22 PM

Time Capsule: Contains a surprise.

Smoking Ban: Doesn’t apply to pot.

Mom: Smuggling cocaine with daughters.

Dad: Sentenced to life for overdose of son.

Arlen Specter: Wants to get high.

Black Market Cigarettes: Contain arsenic.

Puerto Rico: Proposes legalizing the herb.

Michigan: Winning the war on drugs.

Israel: Five years for a bong.

Switzerland: Allows therapy using LSD.

Deputy Mayor Tim Ceis’s Testimony Next Week Could be Crucial to City’s Case

posted by on June 20 at 5:56 PM

Day Five of the Sonics trial ended with some pretty irrelevant testimony. Team Bennett called Woody Allenish City Council Member Nick Licata, the anti-sports stadium council member (it’s why he got elected in 1997), to show that a member of the Seattle City Council believed that the Sonics don’t have a major impact on Seattle’s economy! Yep—and that’s what Licata said he believed.

Licata, cool as a cucumber, pointed out that he was the lone member on the council with this view, and he understood that his POV was part of an ongoing debate about the issue. Yawn. He’ll be back to continue his testimony when the trial resumes next Thursday, June 26, and I imagine Bennett’s lawyers will “reveal” that Licata once told Sports Illustrated—as was published in Sports Illustrated—that he doesn’t think the Sonics have much of a cultural impact on the city.

The real news is still former Sonics CEO Wally Walker’s testimony earlier in the day (and real estate developer Matt Griffin’s testimony later on). Both men, under questioning from Bennett’s lawyers, showed that the group trying to renovate KeyArena and orchestrate a buyout—Griffin, Steve Ballmer, Slade Gorton, Mike McGavick, and John Stanton—was working in concert with the city’s lawsuit. It seemed, in fact, that the lawsuit was a weapon in the group’s plan to get Bennett to sell.

The key link is that the city hired Gorton as lead counsel in this case. Sloppy!

Today’s testimony showed that Gorton was deeply involved in pushing a “poisoned well” strategy, outlining the secret plan at a meeting at Walker’s house last October.

The city announced at the end of the day that Deputy Mayor Tim Ceis would be called to testify when the trial resumes on Thursday.

I imagine he’s being brought in to address the “dirty hands” argument that Team Bennett laid out today—the idea that the city’s suit is based on ulterior motives. While this doesn’t have anything to do with the debate over the “specific performance” lease (a specific performance contract is one that mandates the parties to fulfill the obligations of the contract by explicitly disallowing one party to break the contract with economic compensation) which is all that really matters in the case, it could corrupt the city’s case and cause Judge Pechman to just toss the whole thing.

The First Truly Sucktastic Thing Obama Has Done So Far in the General Election

posted by on June 20 at 5:29 PM

He’s backing the FISA “compromise” even though it includes fairly sweeping immunity for telecoms.

As the New York Times describes it,

The deal, expanding the government’s powers to spy on terrorism suspects in some major respects, would strengthen the ability of intelligence officials to eavesdrop on foreign targets. It would also allow them to conduct emergency wiretaps without court orders on American targets for a week if it is determined that important national security information would otherwise be lost. If approved by the Senate, as appears likely, the agreement would be the most significant revision of surveillance law in 30 years.

The agreement would settle one of the thorniest issues in dispute by providing immunity to the phone companies in the Sept. 11 program as long as a federal district court determined that they received legitimate requests from the government directing their participation in the program of wiretapping without warrants.

With AT&T and other telecommunications companies facing some 40 lawsuits over their reported participation in the wiretapping program, Republican leaders described this narrow court review on the immunity question as a mere “formality.”

Remember when Obama was totally down with Dodd’s immunity filibuster? Those were the days.

Don’t do something illegal and ethically problematic just cause the government tells you do to it, OK? Gahh. Now we’ll never learn.

Take One Piece of Anecdotal Evidence. Add Outrage. Stir.

posted by on June 20 at 4:57 PM

That’s the strategy Nicole Brodeur takes in today’s column, in which she bemoans the lack of amenities for urban residents… while drinking wine and eating cheese at the grand opening of a large new downtown supermarket.

You’d think the mere existence of that supermarket (Kress IGA) would disprove Brodeur’s point. People are excited, there’s a buzz in the air, and she’s witnessing all of it. But Brodeur senses discontent—and look! There it is, in the form of a mysterious”crowd” outside the supermarket opening. Apparently, they can’t be interviewed, but Nicole knows what they’re thinking.

They’ve been hungering for a walk-to place that is open past 6 p.m. and has more fortified cereal than fortified beer.

I saw them and wondered: How is it that we can have thousands of units of downtown development, but only one new grocery (Whole Foods) to serve them all?

A new city report offers an answer, but also confirms what we have long suspected: Seattle is growing at near-reckless speed.

In just over three years, Seattle is halfway to reaching its targeted-housing growth for 20 years, according to the Department of Planning and Development report.

Not only that, neighborhoods like Ballard, Eastlake and downtown have already exceeded their 20-year targets.

The only thing not under construction? Plans for a better quality of life.

Anecdotal, yet ominous! And, whoops, totally false. Nicole, allow me to introduce you to the parks levy, the regional parks levy, the open space levy, the library levy, the local transit levy, the regional transit levy, and the fire levy. And that’s just off the top of my head. Seattle voters have shown we’re more than willing to pay for services that provide “a better quality of life”—and, as the example of Kress Supermarket attests, the market has been more than willing to fill in the gaps.

Does Dino Rossi Agree that Environmentalists are Nazis?

posted by on June 20 at 4:29 PM

Via Horse’s Ass: At an appearance yesterday at the Building Industry Association of Washington’s annual luncheon, gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi was introduced by BIAW president Brad Spears as a “candidate who believes as BIAW believes.”

Goldy points out:

Um… the BIAW believes a lot of things Dino, some more offensive than others. So if you don’t believe as they do, that DOE’s stormwater regulations are the moral equivalent of the Holocaust*, isn’t it time you set the record straight and denounce your patrons at the BIAW (an organization that has made your election their top priority in 2008) for their violent, offensive and over-the-top rhetoric?
* And attributed global-warming and growth-management legislation to “radical environmentalists”. And referred to Gov. Christine Gregoire as a “heartless, power-hungry she-wolf who would eat her own young to get ahead.” And referred to her supporters as “witches.”

You Don’t Understand Fuel Economy; Blame MPG

posted by on June 20 at 4:25 PM

Assuming you drive the same miles per year, which change will save more gas in a given year:

* Switching from a Dodge Ram at 13 MPG to a Toyota Tundra at 15 MPG

* Switching from a Honda Fit at 32 MPG to a Toyota Prius at 44 MPG.

(Mileage figures are from Consumer Reports.)

Have your answer? Ok, next question.

Assuming you drive the same miles per year, which change will save more gas in a given year:

* Switching from a Dodge Ram that needs 770 gallons per 10,000 miles, to a Toyota Tundra that needs 667 gallons per 10,000 miles

* Switching from a Honda Fit that needs 313 gallons per 10,000 miles, to a Toyota Prius that needs 238 gallons per 10,000 miles.

Did your answer change?

As a measure of fuel economy, miles-per-gallon is incredibly unintuitive. One must consider both the change and the starting point when deciding the significance of an increase in MPG. Nasty.

How nasty? Richard P. Larrick and Jack B. Soll collected data to discover just how confused people become when considering changes in miles-per-gallon. Their work was just published in the Journal Science.

The most telling passage from the study:

The study was presented in an online survey to 171 participants who were drawn from a national subject pool. Participants ranged in age from 18 to 75, with a median age of 35. All participants were given the following scenario (5): “A town maintains a fleet of vehicles for town employee use. It has two types of vehicles. Type A gets 15 miles per gallon. Type B gets 34 miles per gallon. The town has 100 Type A vehicles and 100 Type B vehicles. Each car in the fleet is driven 10,000 miles per year.” They were then asked to choose a plan for replacing the original vehicles with corresponding hybrid models if the “overriding goal is to reduce gas consumption of the fleet and thereby reduce harmful environmental consequences.”

One group of 78 participants was randomly assigned to a policy choice framed in terms of MPG. They were asked to choose between two options: (option 1) replace the 100 vehicles that get 15 MPG with vehicles that get 19 MPG and (option 2) replace the 100 vehicles that get 34 MPG with vehicles that get 44 MPG. Note that town fuel efficiency is improved more in option 1 (by 14,035 gallons) than in option 2 (by 6,684 gallons). As expected, the majority (75%) of participants in the MPG condition chose option 2, which offers a large gain in MPG but less fuel savings [95% confidence interval (CI) = 65 to 85%].

Participants in the GPM condition (n = 93) were given the same instructions as those in the MPG condition. In addition, they were told that the town “translates miles per gallon into how many gallons are used per 100 miles. Type A vehicles use 6.67 gallons per 100 miles. Type B vehicles use 2.94 gallons per 100 miles.” They read the same choice options as used in the MPG condition, including the MPG information, but with an additional stem that translated outcomes into GPM for the hybrid vehicles [(option 1) replace the 100 vehicles that get 6.67 gallons per 100 miles with vehicles that get 5.26 GPM and (option 2) replace the 100 vehicles that get 2.94 gallons per 100 miles with vehicles that get 2.27 GPM]. As expected, the majority of participants (64%) in the GPM frame chose option 1, which offers a small gain in MPG but more fuel savings (CI = 54 to 74%). Overall, the percentage choosing the more fuel-efficient option increased from 25% in the MPG frame to 64% in the GPM frame (P < 0.01).

When talking about fuel efficiency in terms of gallons per mile, people were nearly three-times as likely to make the rational choice as compared to the same numbers in miles-per-gallon. Remember this when making your next car purchase.

Updated for the graphically minded, like me:

Chief Kerlikowske on Naked Bike Riders

posted by on June 20 at 4:23 PM

J. Steve Mayo’s idea of a rollicking Gay Pride Parade is painting his nude body and cycling through the streets of downtown. That was cool with pride parade organizers, who queued about 20 bare bicyclists in the Body Pride Ride—headed by Mayo—in slot #81 for the parade on June 29. But Mayo got chills when he heard police might arrest him for violating Washington’s indecent exposure law, which bans nudity that is “likely to cause reasonable affront or alarm.”

“A person naked and painted on a bike while cheering is not something sexual and it’s not patently offensive in any way,” says Mayo.

On Wednesday, pride parade attorney David Coffman informed Mayo that—according to one of the parade organizers—an SPD officer threatened to arrest the cyclists if there was a complaint, and the SPD would take parade organizer to the SPD’s West Precinct. Coffman tried to verify that claim, but SPD Deputy Chief Nicholas Metz told him that Seattle’s nude cycling-policy hadn’t changed. And he sent Coffman this letter from Chief Gil Kerlikowske:


Click here for a larger version.

In 1998, SPD officers arrested two naked cyclists in the Fremont Solstice Parade. However, the city attorney declined to prosecute the pair because they hadn’t violated the indecent exposure law cited in the chief’s letter. But this is the first time the naked pride riders, who have ridden in the Capitol Hill pride events, have threatened to shake their junk in the downtown parade.

Had an SPD officer claimed police would bust the cyclist and take a parade organizer to the police station? “It’s was a non-denial denial” from the deputy chief, says Coffman. When I called, police flatly denied any officer had made that threat.

How will it all shake out? “[Police] will not engage anyone who is publicly nude unless someone makes a complaint,” says Coffman. “That person who makes a complaint has to be present at event and be willing to testify in court,” he says. The nude contingent is still scheduled to ride in the parade, somewhere behind Governor Christine Gregoire, who is expected to wear clothes.

This Weekend at the Movies

posted by on June 20 at 4:20 PM

Woo, SIFF is over… and just in time, because it’s sunny outside. Meanwhile, in theaters, a whole lot of middling-to-awful summer movies are landing with a thump.

If you missed it, here is my final take on The Happening: not intelligent design propaganda. Just a very silly movie about the menacing rustling of leaves.

Opening this week:

Speaking of awful summer movies: I try to describe the unique brand of yuck that is The Love Guru (“When Mike Meyers isn’t making inane pseudo-puns, he’s exploiting stereotypes of relatively defenseless sub-minorities, such as French-Canadians and black women. Classy”).

Paul Constant appraises the SIFF alum Mongol (“When your protagonist is responsible for fathering half of a percent of the modern world’s male population through rape and conquest, any aspirations toward romance ring hollow. Casting Genghis Khan as a one-woman man is an unspeakably batshit-crazy maneuver”).


I write up the so-so Get Smart (“Get Smart moves quickly, and the insanely hyperbolic action sequences are enough to distract you from most of the movie’s flaws. Except for the lazy jokes about the character flaws of George W. Bush”).

Bradley Steinbacher sits through the Julianne Moore freakshow (and SIFF holdover) Savage Grace (“As it turns out, no amount of lover swapping and incestuous three-ways can make vacant, uninteresting people interesting”).

Charles Mudede reviews a worthwhile SIFF alum, Bigger, Stronger, Faster* (“Though he is not a user of steroids, [director Chris] Bell is very critical of how his culture codes them. The culture wants you to be bigger and better and faster, and at the same time it marks the use of drugs that make you bigger and better and faster as wrong. The contradiction results in all manner of absurdities, a number of which Bell exposes”).

And Steinbacher destroys the fourth SIFF alum of the week, The Children of Huang Shi (“The film’s biggest weakness is [Jonathan Rhys] Meyers. With a feeble delivery and a pretty-but-blank mug, he’s far too bland to hang an overly earnest film on. Only at the end, as the real-life survivors recount their memories over the closing credits, does The Children of Huang Shi achieve the impact it’s been straining for”).

Finally, Lindy West discusses her glamorous roots.


In Limited Runs this week: Tonight only are two Sichuan earthquake benefit screenings of Made in China, by Genius shortlister John Helde, at Northwest Film Forum. Also at NWFF: Passing Poston, an interesting but badly constructed film about a Japanese-American internment camp in WWII, and Rabbit in the Moon, an excellent film about the internment, and Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, the first in a summer Miyazaki series. Grand Illusion is doing a whole week of Hitchcock’s Vertigo, plus the late-night Joysticks, about a video arcade. Central Cinema has a family-friendly “Balloonamentary”; SAM has a gay-pride screening of Victor/Victoria; Silent Movie Mondays has The Gaucho, with an uncharacteristic bad-dude performance by Douglas Fairbanks (that’s Sr., not Jr., as I mistakenly wrote in the print edition). And the beloved IMAX classic Beavers is back at the Science Center starting tomorrow. (SIFF Cinema reopens next week, by the way, with the new Guy Maddin fantasia, My Winnipeg.)

For all your movie times needs, use us.

Re: 2008 It’s 10 O’clock. Do President Bush and John McCain Know Where Condoleezza Rice Is?

posted by on June 20 at 4:17 PM

Apropos of Josh’s post yesterday about the “pg. 856,000 NYT story” on Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s meeting with Hezbollah… Bush’s own secretary of state, in her capacity as the chair of the UN Security Council, gave a moving speech yesterday just before the council officially classified rape as a “tactic of war.”

According to the BBC, the resolution

described sexual violence as “a tactic of war to humiliate, dominate, instil fear in, disperse and/or forcibly relocate civilian members of a community or ethnic group”.

The document said that the violence “can significantly exacerbate situations of armed conflict and may impede the restoration of international peace and security”.

AFP has more from Rice’s speech.

“Rape is a crime that can never be condoned. Yet women and girls in conflict situations around the world have been subjected to widespread and deliberate acts of sexual violence,” she said.

“Today’s resolution establishes a mechanism for bringing those atrocities to light,” the US chief diplomat said.

She stressed the resolution directs the UN secretary general to prepare an action plan for collecting data on the use of sexual violence in armed conflict and then reporting that information to the council.

Rice cited the example of Myanmar where she said “soldiers have regularly raped women and girls even as young as eight years old.

“What is tragic also in that country is that instead of being allowed to take the office as the elected leader of Burma’s government, (opposition leader) Aung San Suu Kyi is marking her (63rd) birthday this very day under house arrest,” the US chief diplomat said.

“We cannot forget as we examine this issue other women activists who struggle for freedom under violent environments,” she added.

Rice also referred to widespread acts of sexual violence in countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Sudan.

The US diplomat highlighted acts of sexual violence perpetrated by UN peacekeepers in several countries around the world.

“As an international community we have a special responsibility to punish perpetrators of sexual violence who are representatives of international organizations,” she noted.

Amazing as it is that this (like Rice’s meeting with officially designated terrorist group Hezbollah) is coming from the Bush administration, I won’t really be impressed until they start taking seriously the fact that one in three women in the US armed forces has been a victim of sexual assault.

It’s Too Hot Out

posted by on June 20 at 4:06 PM

And the sun is hurting my eyes.

Orange Traffic Cones, Lawn Chairs, and Storage Boxes

posted by on June 20 at 3:57 PM

Dennis Oppenheim’s giant orange traffic cones are not the only new thing at the Olympic Sculpture Park.

Up today are two new benches by Roy McMakin: a regular-sized green lawn chair made not of green plastic but of painted bronze, and a squat object that looks like a cardboard storage box but is made of steel with porcelain enamel. They stand next to a (concrete) bench that is a work of art called Bench that had been sitting there for months already, but it is possible that nobody realized it was a work of art, because it was a bench.


The Crystal Is the New Cube

posted by on June 20 at 3:39 PM

One thing the new Violet Hour show at the Henry brings up: Crystalline forms are everywhere.

I’m thinking of the fake rocks immobilizing the cars in Maljkovic’s videos,

the designs on the bellies of Liu’s creatures, the shatter-pattern of Jackson’s windshield, a navigation chart painting using pennies the world over as stars by Jackson (also brand new and at the Henry), Oscar and Eli,
Eli Hansen and Oscar Tuazon’s Solar Cooker (2008), at Howard House

Susan Robb,

and Noam Gonick and Luis Jacob at the Belkin at UBC.

Everywhere! The crystal is the new cube.

In an interview this morning (that will be posted as a podcast next week), Jackson said he said the form is “a protest against linearity” that reflects the way the Google-era brain really works. (Liu said she thought that was a fantasy, that she wasn’t so sure it was an apt metaphor for the brain. After we stopped recording, they both said they thought the other one was right.)

Hansen and Tuazon have said the crystal is a cross between an organic and an inorganic form, which is why they like it—and naturally, it represents the cheesy/sweet New Age utopianism of the ’70s they also like, while maintaining those particular geodesque charms that made it such a kitschy totem in the first place. To crystal!

Artists of the Apocalypse (Or, There Is No Pain, You Are Receding)

posted by on June 20 at 3:33 PM

If you can not remember the last time you saw an art video featuring Pink Floyd standards sung in Latin plainchant, Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man” performed by a community brass band and performed as an operatic aria for a soprano, cannibalism, brutalist architecture, and pretty young men, then you should get yourself to the Henry Art Gallery at 8 tonight for the opening of The Violet Hour, a new exhibition organized by curator Sara Krajewski including Jen Liu, Matthew Day Jackson, and David Maljkovic.

They are artists of the apocalypse.

Liu made the videos. (Earlier this morning, I posted a painting by her of a giant sloth with a crystal belly, surrounded by little monks in white robes scrambling around him. That painting is not in the show, but others somewhat like it are.)

Here’s an image from one of her videos. The monks are chanting “Comfortably Numb” in Latin.

Jackson’s creations include a brand new, solar-powered, crashed Corvette based on a race car that his cousin in Tumwater (Skip Nichols of Nichols Industries Racing) built, raced, and crashed. The windshield, as if shattered intact, is made of stained glass in a crystalline pattern. Inside the car is a cowboy saddle and an Apollo-era space helmet made of felt, in reference to the car, which is also made of wool felt (in reference to Joseph Beuys; Jackson’s piece is called Chariot #2 [I Like America and America Likes Me]). It’s the next step in Jackson’s series of vehicles, after his Whitney Biennial chariot.

Maljkovic is a Croatian artist whose videos are projected on the wall. But jutting out from the wall, with the videos at their farthest (center) point, are what look like a Renaissance perspective galleries (one on each video) constructed of lumber and green-blue plasterboard. In the videos, people in a post-communist daze linger under the overpowering modernist architecture of the Italian Pavilion of the Zagreb Fair.


First I’d like to say that it’s an honor…

posted by on June 20 at 2:57 PM

…just to be cited as a cultural reference point with these illustrious women. From a theater review in today’s NYT:

All advice givers and etiquette experts—from Emily Post to Ann Landers, Miss Manners to Dan Savage—can probably agree on at least one admonition, namely that reading someone else’s diary is a no-no.

It’s Never Too Early

posted by on June 20 at 2:53 PM

For an update on the 2009 City Council elections, into which Jordan Royer—son of the former mayor Charles Royer and onetime point person on nightlife for Mayor Greg Nickels—has officially thrown his hat.

Royer has not declared which position he is seeking; at least two and as many as four seats could be open in 2009.

The Latest from the 46th

posted by on June 20 at 2:38 PM

UPDATE: The plot thickens. A group of Pollet supporters has filed a formal challenge to White’s candidacy in King County Superior Court, alleging that “County Elections Division Director Sherril Huff improperly allowed Scott White, a senior County political appointee with ties to the County Executive, to have his candidacy reinstated after White filed a signed form withdrawing his candidacy on Thursday, June 12th.”

One of the complainants, Karen Deyerle, says the group’s goal is “not to get Scott off the ballot or to get the elections office in trouble,” but “to have the court review and validate that everything was done properly according to the law.” She continues: “The question in all of our minds is exactly what happened, because we’ve been getting conflicting information.”

Deyerle says she also plans to file an ethics complaint against White with the county on Monday.

Full story, including background info, continues below.

Gerry Pollet, one of two Democrats seeking a seat in the state Legislature from the 46th district (see my exhaustive coverage here, here, and here) has received a letter from King County Elections that one supporter calls “the final word” on whether Pollet’s opponent, Scott White, will be allowed to remain in the race. (White attempted to withdraw from the race, but elections says they didn’t receive his withdrawal form—sent from a King County fax machine in violation of county ethics rules—until well past the deadline. Complicating matters, the form was time-stamped several hours before the deadline, a fact White attributes to a faulty fax machine and which Pollet has contested.)

And the final word is? White can stay in the race. According to the letter, written by elections director Sherril Huff,

Scott White’s attempted request to withdraw his candidacy was not filed with King County Elections by the deadline. According to King County Elections fax activity report, the withdrawal document was received by King County at 4:35 p.m. on June 12th. (The report states that the document was received at 15:35 and the fax machine is one hour behind.) Though Mr. White may have intended to file the withdrawal prior to the deadline, it was not received by King County Elections on time and as a result, RCW 29A.24.131 mandates that the request be rejected.

Contrary to the assertion in your letter, my decision to reject Mr. White’s request to withdraw is not based on any verbal request from him. It is based on my reading of RCW 29A.24.131 and the fact that Mr. White’s request to withdraw was not filed with my office before the deadline. Mr. White is being treated as any other candidate in the same situation would.

I’ve got a call in to Pollet to find out whether he plans to pursue his efforts to remove White from the race.

In other White-Pollet news, the two candidates received a dual endorsement from the 46th District Democrats last night (a separate vote from the official “nomination,” which went to Pollet after a confusing battle that’s documented here). That vote, too, was reportedly complicated.

McCain Staffer Accuses Obama of Sexism, Poor Phone Manners

posted by on June 20 at 2:04 PM

Women-hating extremist Barack Obama (and his band of fellow women-hating staffers) strikes again, this time during feminism-activist John McCain’s conference call regarding campaign finance. You see, Obama’s spokesman tried to interrupt the call and state Obama’s position, and… forget it. Just read the quote, and die a little inside:

UPDATE: [McCain Communications Director] Hazelbaker writes in to add an even tougher shot at Burton’s gambit, raising the gender card.

“This type of boys-club bullying embodies an arrogance better suited for a frat house than a serious campaign about serious issues,” she says.

The context is kind of hard to explain: Somewhere down the hideous rabbit-hole of this campaign season, the conventional wisdom became that the best way to disseminate information to the press was via endless rounds of conference calls. Which is perfect, in a ‘most-of-the-campaign-workers-already-seem-to-be-disembodied-voices-of-malice’ sense.

So, an Obama staffer attempts to interrupt McCain’s conference call, and the most disgusting, lurid kind of sexism seeps through. The kind of sexism directed from one man to another, on an issue that has absolutely nothing to do with either party’s gender. Also, it’s like a fraternity, in that fraternities have given up on GHB and moved into the more nuanced field of disrupting political phone calls.

Am I right, ladies?

The Day in Horror

posted by on June 20 at 2:03 PM

Last summer, US Army Specialist Kamisha Block was killed in Iraq in an incident the Army categorized as “friendly fire.” Except that, as Jezebel points out, the man who shot her, Brandon Norris was an obsessive, jealous ex (the relationship was reportedly not serious) who had been physically abusing Block without punishment for months. Despite the fact that witnesses reported Norris’s assaults on Block to military officials, the only action the Army took was to move him slightly farther from her barracks—to new housing a five-minute walk away. That wasn’t enough to keep him from walking into her room, asking her roommate to leave, and then shooting her five times in the head and chest before turning the gun on himself. No one has been punished for failing to do anything to protect Block from her known, well-documented abuser, nor for lying to cover up the fact that Block was murdered.

Now Who Will Engage in Semi-Anonymous Slander?

posted by on June 20 at 2:01 PM

The 527s—those frisky, often fact-free independent campaigns that brought us the tragic verb ‘swift-boated’—appear to be coming undone at high speed, and for two very different reasons. On the left, Senator Obama is cutting off their traditional sources of funding, hoping to direct his campaign’s message down to the syllable. On the right is Senator McCain:

The truth is that, less than five months before Election Day, there are no serious anti-Obama 527s in existence nor are there any immediate plans to create such a group.

Conversations with more than a dozen Republican strategists find near unanimity in the belief that, at some point, there will be a real third-party effort aimed at Obama.

But not one knows who will run it, who will pay for it, what shape it will eventually take or when such a group may form.

Jonathan Martin’s write-up focuses big on a couple of reasons why John McCain doesn’t seem to be winning the affections of those who would target Obama.

The first appears to be John McCain’s open derision of independent political organizations, even those that aired ads on purely positive terms for him during his primary campaign. Early in the process, when Romneys and Giulianis walked the earth, McCain had called for outlaw 527s in their entirety, and made it known that he wouldn’t tolerate them working on his behalf. While his position has softened, nothing says, ‘Advocate for me!’ like knowing that the man you’re making ads for thinks you’re a kind of mean, ethically-challenged reptile that should be thrown in prison.

The other missing cog is Senator Clinton: They really, really wanted to run against Hillary.

“We spent 18 months and millions of dollars making Hillary: The Movie,” laments David Bossie, head of Citizens United and a longtime Clinton tormentor. “We’re incredibly proud, but the problem is the film has no relevance anymore.”

I bet Hillary: The Movie would have been pretty fantastic. Bossie says he intends to make an Obama film featuring such beloved cast members as the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, but Obama doesn’t have the same vintage appeal to the id of the conservative right.

How many bodies are in Arkansas landfills because of Barack Obama’s clandestine cocaine-smuggling ring? My guess would be considerably less than those deposited by the Clinton family. And how do you make a film out of that?

Youth Pastor Watch

posted by on June 20 at 1:50 PM


A Fort Worth pastor is free on bond after being arrested on accusations he sexually assaulted a girl who attends his church.

James “Jay” Virtue Robinson IV is pastor of Southwood Baptist Church…. The warrant says Robinson was the youth minister when the relationship began about two years ago.


The former St. Helena High School coach who pleaded no contest to sexually molesting two students more than a decade ago must undergo a psychological evaluation…. As part of the plea bargain, Sandler must register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

The incidents with a girl under 16 happened from 1997 through 1998, while Sandler was a volleyball coach at St. Helena High School. He was also serving as a youth minister at his former St. Helena church.


A Bedford couple has won free fertility treatment from a church whose pastor says it wants to “do for people what they can’t do for themselves.”

The eleven7 church of Southlake attracted considerable news coverage by arranging a free round of fertility treatment and encouraging childless couples to apply for it.
Matt and Christina Jonker were selected at random Friday and were presented to the church during its Sunday morning, Father’s Day worship service. “We’re just blown away and amazed at God’s goodness,” Mr. Jonker said Monday.

He’s a former youth pastor who’s working part time as a golf course caddie and hoping to return to ministry.

Woman Becomes Hamster Art Project

posted by on June 20 at 1:42 PM

And so convincing! (From Hi-Fructose.)

Thanks, Slog tipper P!

Um… Wow.

posted by on June 20 at 1:38 PM

This is a day old, so I apologize if anyone else has already posted about it, but… HOLY CRAP, MSNBC illustrated a segment on Chris Matthews’ Hardball about Michelle Obama with silhouettes of STILETTO-WEARING STRIPPERS. Truly, they have lost their fucking minds.


Interview With a Bookseller

posted by on June 20 at 1:06 PM


It’s been a slow news week in the publishing industry—possibly the slowest since I started on this beat back in February. Summer is not the newsiest time for books. But the New York Times has a lovely page with quotes from New York independent booksellers about the weirder parts of their jobs. It’s the perfect Friday book-link—undemanding and interesting, at the same time.

Bad Girls

posted by on June 20 at 1:04 PM

I’m thinking there was plenty of toot-toot on board to fuel this 1980 exercise in showmanship, pizazz, and talent with a capital T. It’s from Goldie and Liza Together, what used to be called a television “spectacular” and today is pretty much nonexistent. The choreography may be weak, the narrative sketchy, but enjoy a legend in her prime, doing what she was born to do… (make sure you hold out for 2:45. It’s dreamy!).

Now just to compare and contrast, here’s a slightly more downtown version, with fabulous celebrity background hookers (Pat Ast!!) Donna Summer looks suspiciously like local falsettist diva Adé. This is the party I would have wanted to be at…

It was nowhere near that glamorous when I was arrested for soliciting…

The sun is out and so am I. It’s my birthday today, so have a great Slog without me until Monday.

Sure, She Fed Her Living Son’s Flesh to Cannibals And All…

posted by on June 20 at 1:03 PM

A lot of people are sending me the link to this story, suggesting that it might make a really good “Every Child Deserves a Mother and a Father” post. But there’s no father or step-father or boyfriend in this story, people, so it doesn’t qualify. Perhaps it might make a good “There Is No Morality Without Religion” post—mom appears to have been motivated by her deeply and sincerely held religious beliefs—but for a story to rate an ECDAMAAF post, it really does require one of those opposite-sex couples that the religious right insists all children deserve. Please make a note of it.

Team Bennett Reveals City’s “Machieavellian” Plot

posted by on June 20 at 12:59 PM

I switched my keyboard to “CAPS LOCK” mode at one point during this morning’s Sonics trial because what was going down seemed like a pretty big deal: Judge Marsha Pechman had just overruled the city’s desperate series of objections to Team Bennett’s interrogation of former Sonics player and later CEO, Wally Walker.

The city’s lead attorney, Paul Lawrence, was trying in vain to stop a line damning questioning by Bennett’s attack dog, attorney Paul Taylor, by arguing that Team Bennett had provided no proof that Walker was a consultant for the city while simultaneously working with a group of local bigwigs (former Sen. Slade Gorton, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, former Safeco CEO and GOP muckety-muck Mike McGavick, and local wireless mogul and billionaire John Stanton) to sabotage Bennett’s ownership and buy the team back.

The judge repeatedly overruled the city’s objections because Taylor had a letter, signed by Walker, that identified Walker as a consultant for the city as early as September 2007. From my notes:

Inexplicably, Walker kept denying the implication of the signed letter.

Team Bennett’s point was to show that even as Walker was working as a consultant for the city on the Sonics, he was working with the group of bigwigs on a plan to force Bennett to stay in KeyArena by suing, and leveraging that (expensive) burden to make Bennett sell. Hmmmm… that’s kinda what’s happening right now.

During this morning’s questioning, Team Bennett hauled out incriminating emails and a plan dubbed the “poisoned well” strategy by the memo’s author, Mike McGavick. The secret plan explained: “For the best likely outcome … the Oklahomans have to be willing to sell.”

Taylor went on to show Walker’s assignment in the plot—according to an email—was to “drive a wedge between the NBA and the Sonics.”

And then, with the city’s objections overruled, Team Bennett ruffian Paul Taylor went forward with the antagonistic questioning, presenting an email from Walker to Stanton, one of the potential buyers, that Walker sent after meeting with mayor Greg Nickels’s staff. The email said the city was in “total agreement” with the strategy to make Bennett’s situation “too litigious and too expensive.”

The larger point of Team Bennett’s argument, identifying Walker as the link between the city and this “Machiavellian” plot, was to show that the city’s lawsuit is disingenuous and should be tossed. (“Machiavellian” wasn’t Team Bennett’s term, but actually turned up in an email from Mike McGavick to Walker, gleefully describing their efforts: “Machiavellian stuff that might work or at least be fun.”

In cross-examination, the city amplified Walker’s earlier defensive responses to Taylor: Although the letter he signed says he was a consultant, he didn’t think he was. Walker insisted his only job for the city was helping them work on a KeyArena solution for the Sonics that had nothing to do with any plot to wrest ownership away from Bennett.

p.s. One thing I forgot to include in yesterday’s Sherman Alexie coverage. He says he likes Oklahoma City a lot. “It’s the first place I ever kissed a Native American girl,” he said.

The Rock of Our Sun

posted by on June 20 at 12:58 PM

What philosophy has in common with the pharaoh Akhenaten is Atenism—both worship the sun. One philosophical text: “[O]ne morning with the rosy dawn, [the philosopher] went before the sun, and spake thus unto it: Thou great star! What would be thy happiness if thou hadst not those for whom thou shinest!” Another text: “Spirit often seems to have forgotten and lost itself, but inwardly opposed to itself, it is inwardly working ever forward, until grown strong in itself it bursts asunder the crust of earth which divided it from the sun, its concept…” In the Republic, the sun is nothing less than the truth. Even today, Badiou talks about the truth (scientific innovation, a work of genius, a moment in love) as a “return” from the sun.

But the sun in philosophy is not as great as the sun in reality. Our star is not destined for greatness. In the deepest future, it will begin to grow smaller and smaller. Its death will be a rock the size of our planet. A hard and compressed rock drifting through the stupidity of space. As our deaths reveal the corspes that are buried in our living bodies, the death of the sun will reveal the rock that’s buried in its brightness.

Imagine how wonderful it would be if the sun was destined to explode like the great stars do. Explode into the brilliance of billions of stars. Explode positive stuff into the depths of negative space. Stuff that would eventually cool into new stars and systems of planets. If this were our sun’s end, it would truly deserve all of our philosophy and praises.

“Liberty Wants To Be In Hump!!!!!”

posted by on June 20 at 12:52 PM


The indulgent management at Liberty, the best little cocktail-and-sushi lounge on 15th Avenue, is inviting filmmakers making pieces for HUMP to shoot at their bar. Liberty would be a great location for anyone that wants to add some local color—and perhaps some delicious sashimi—to their HUMP submission.

Liberty’s HUMP classified ad is here. Full details on making and submitting a film for HUMP—Seattle’s amateur (and locally produced!) porn festival—are here.

Fox News “Sexpert”

posted by on June 20 at 12:32 PM

Many people are completely in the dark that their partner likes porn, much less has a serious relationship with it. Ignorant as to any issue, they trust their lover unconditionally. They assume their partner understands that using porn, at least beyond a magazine like Playboy, is the equivalent of having an actual affair.

Just how big an idiot is Fox News “sexpert” Yvonne K. Fulbright? She wrote the paragraph above, which posits that using porn is no different than committing adultery. Andrew Sullivan follows the the burgeoning debate about how big an idiot Fulbright is here and here. Of course, Savage Love readers have known that Fulbright is an idiot for years.

Lunchtime Quickie

posted by on June 20 at 12:19 PM

Look what happened to these sweet old Russian Grandmas after just one day of reading SLOG comments. Tsk!

VVM Chain Sells Money-Losing Cleveland Paper

posted by on June 20 at 12:13 PM

From the comments on my post about an impending strike over reduced health-care benefits at the Village Voice, owned by the same chain that owns Seattle Weekly:

The troubles at the Voice and elsewhere have absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the chain and you know it. The Seattle Weekly is obviously very much alive and well, so you’d better get back to work.

From a press release issued by the Times Shamrock Alternative Newsweekly Group this morning:

Friday, June 21: Times-Shamrock Communications today announced the acquisition of the Cleveland Scene and the Cleveland Free Times, alternative newsweeklies separately owned by Village Voice Media and Times Publishing Co. of Erie, Pa., respectively.

Terms of the purchase were not disclosed. The deal is to close on June 25.

The two alternative publications will continue to publish separately for their next three issues and then merge into a single newsweekly, the Scene, on July 23, according to Don Farley, publisher of the Alternative Group for Times-Shamrock Communications.

Last year, the Cleveland Scene had $3.9 million in sales and $5.1 million in expenses—or $1.2 million in losses. But hey, since nothing that happens in one division of a company ever affects another division of a company, VVM’s other 16 papers have nothing to worry about.

This Week’s The Happening?

posted by on June 20 at 12:00 PM

Hey, remember how everybody was hating on that The Happening movie last week? Me neither! That’s because this week, everyone is hating on The Love Guru, Mike Myers’ newest movie.

The New York Times’ A. O. Scott hates the hell out of it:

To say that the movie is not funny is merely to affirm the obvious…No, “The Love Guru” is downright antifunny, an experience that makes you wonder if you will ever laugh again.

And this is, come to think of it, something of an achievement. What is the opposite of a belly laugh? An interesting question, in a way, and to hear lines like “I think I just made a happy wee-wee” or “I’m making diarrhea noises in my cup” or to watch apprentice gurus attack one another with urine-soaked mops is to grasp the answer.

But my favorite bad review of The Love Guru is Ain’t It Cool’s Harry Knowles, who generally writes atrociously written favorable reviews of movies. He once equated Blade II to excellent cunnilingus, among other things. But the best part of Knowles’ reviews is that they’re usually overwhelmingly positive, atrociously written reviews of terrible movies, movies like AI and Fantastic Four 2: Rise of the Silver Surfer. Just about every bad movie, like Daredevil, reduces Knowles to tears of joy. But he hates The Love Guru. The title of his review is “If Shit Got THE LOVE GURU On It, Shit Would Wipe It Off!” and it contains one of the funniest, and poorly written, paragraphs I’ve ever read in a film review:

Reviews of this film are nearly universally grotesquely negative - and with good reason. With this film, Myers puts a shotgun in the mouth of comedy and kills it. This isn’t merely a bad film, but a painful experience that you keep telling yourself to leave. However, I have a very strong belief in witnessing the terror. People had to survive the Holocaust to hold those responsible, responsible. This film isn’t as bad as the Holocaust. Nothing could be. But in the realm of film going experiences - it’s a third trimester abortion. It is a pregnant woman smoking a cigarette and drinking a Coors Light.

Hopefully, for Lindy West’s next column, she’ll take in a marathon multiple viewing of The Love Guru and report back to us on the kinda-not-really Holocaust of this film.

Tonight in Gay

posted by on June 20 at 11:36 AM

The music will be amazing, the location a Capitol Hill classic. Think Emerald City Soul Club but gay.
I’ll see you there…

For Your Stomach’s Consideration

posted by on June 20 at 11:04 AM

Black Bottle in Belltown is now serving lunch. Black Bottle is a Stranger reader-reviewer favorite, home of great light bulbs, favorite first-date venue of Grant Cogswell, and temple of blasted broccoli

The menu calls it, simply, “broccoli blasted.” It’s an $8 hill of broccoli that appears to have survived a fiery, salty apocalypse. The tips are ashy, crunchy, almost dust. The rest of it is deep green. (Must be all the vitamins, the nutrients, the anticancer stuff.) I have walked from the far reaches of the city in the hard rain, cars splashing water at me, all the way to Black Bottle to wait for a seat at the bar, just to eat a plate of broccoli while staring into a candle, alone. Christopher Frizzelle

Blasted broccoli is not on the all-new lunch menu (after the jump), but “like all special requests, we want everybody to feel free to ask and we will always do what we can!” (sounds like yes).

Continue reading "For Your Stomach's Consideration" »

Today The Stranger Suggests

posted by on June 20 at 11:00 AM


‘All’s Well That Ends Well’ at Center House Theatre

The marketing campaign for this play is horrifying—Seattle Shakespeare Company is calling the problematic problem play a “romantic comedy”—but the production doesn’t seem to be much affected. The vibrant Sarah Harlett stars as Helena, a girl physician whose evident smarts don’t prevent her from throwing herself at a snotty, unworthy boy. Bitterly funny, fast-paced, and well acted, All’s Well That Ends Well is thoroughly enjoyable. Just don’t call it a romantic comedy. (Seattle Shakespeare Company at Center House Theatre, Seattle Center, 684-7200. 7:30 pm, $20–$34.) ANNIE WAGNER

Lunch Date: Farewell Navigator

posted by on June 20 at 11:00 AM


(A few times a week, I take a new book with me to lunch and give it a half an hour or so to grab my attention. Lunch Date is my judgment on that speed-dating experience.)

Who’s your date today? Farewell Navigator, a collection of short stories by Leni Zumas

Where’d you go? Cafe Stellina .

What’d you eat?
A potato, provolone, and bacon tart ($10).

How was the food? Stellina is a controversial restaurant around these parts, but I really dug on that tart. There wasn’t too much bacon, the crust was light and flaky, the potatoes made the whole thing just heavy enough to be satisfying, and the tart was surrounded by greens coated in Stellina’s delicious rosemary dressing. It was a good lunch.

What does your date say about itself?
Ten short stories by a fairly new author “who plays drums in the post-punk band S-S-S-Spectres.” “Attention unrequited lovers, sisters of suicidal brothers, children of the legally blind: you are not alone. Leni Zumas understands your quiet agony and describes it with such a wry, unflinching familiarity that even the gory details ring true. If darkness has ever been your friend, your story is in here.”—Miranda July

Is there a representative quote?
“The word is moxa, I say, and here are your choices: a medieval fortified keep; a small instrument used to brush hair off the South American goose; a preternaturally skilled hoagie maker; or a flammable material obtained from the leaves of Japanese wormwood.
Hoagie is a disturbing word, my mother says.
You have ten seconds.
Well, she says, I don’t know what hoagie means so how can I choose?”

Will you two end up in bed together? Yes. In one lunch, I got through two stories, and the first one was way too vague for my tastes, the second one—the one quoted above—was a bit too eccentric for me, and the third seems just right. So we’ll see where it goes from here. There’s enough in the language to remind me of Aimee Bender, who’s one of my all-time favorites, to keep me happy even in the vaguest of the stories. I don’t get the sense that Zumas is a writer biding time until her novel gets edited; she seems to really like short stories, and that makes all the difference.

Snacking for Obama

posted by on June 20 at 10:48 AM


This weekend, June 21-22, people all over the country are hosting bake sales to support Barack Obama’s campaign for the White House.

To find a sale near you, go to and enter your zip code.

Some of the ones in the city include:

Sat June 21, 12:00 PM
Corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Way and Union St
Let’s help get Obama in the White House! We’re having a bake sale to raise funds for MoveOn’s efforts to elect Obama—Please spread the word!

Sun June 22, 2:00 PM
The War Room, 722 E Pike St
Seattle DJs and nightlife participants come together!!! The War Room, The Original Hot Mess and Re:launch HitGirl host HUNGRY FOR CHANGE! Come purchase all sorts of delectible goodies, listen to some of Seattle’s hottest DJs spinning music from all genres, mingle with some of Seattle’s NightLife Celebutantes - all on the lovely rooftop deck at The War Room! ALL MONEY RAISED GOES TO MOVEON.ORG TO HELP PUT BARACK OBAMA INTO THE WHITE HOUSE!

Sun June 22, 10:00 AM
Alaska Junction/corner of Alaska SW & California Ave SW
Zeb and Celeste are 10 and 7. They’ve been following the election closely and want to do something to make sure “we don’t end up with another scary president.” Bring your kids on down for a treat!

Sun June 22, 2:00 PM
Gasworks Park
Come out to a rocking bake sale on a sunny day in Seattle. Shrug off that summer diet for a day to support that main man, Obama. We hope to have some Barack-oli quiche on hand, and plenty of brownies for sale to help support MoveOn’s campaign for Obama.

More complete listings after the jump.

Continue reading "Snacking for Obama" »

“Guessing the Flavor Is Just the Beginning”

posted by on June 20 at 10:40 AM

Wishing you’d never tried any is the rest.

Doritos has introduced yet another variety of chips. Frito Lay declares it a “Mystery Flavor,” and you’re supposed to guess what you’re eating.


I’m going with salted-Jolly-Rancher-powder-on-communion-wafer flavor. That or Kool-Aid-and-corn. Maybe other bags have different seasonings but, personally, I’m done with the mystery flavor.

Unlike the Dorito flavor naming game—see “X-13D” which David Schmader declared “Beef Tallow n’ Tartar Sauce Crunch” which Doritos executives claimed to be “Cheeseburger“— these packages direct snackers to an X-Box-hyping web page that makes no sense and are adorned with “extreme-green” to emphasize that this is a gamer-snacker promotion—an obvious cross-marketing demographic if there ever was one.

PS—My most regretful apologies to David and Megan for stepping on the gross-experimental-snack beat.

It’s a Small World, After All

posted by on June 20 at 10:36 AM

A recent email from my friend Erika, an anthropology Ph.D. student at Indiana University, who is studying in Beijing. (She and I have been going back and forth about my reactionary antipathy for the Dalai Lama.)

I am having a very complicated morning. I’m trying to help a teacher here with very limited English skills to find an apartment in Bloomington where she will be teaching Chinese next year. I just found a very promising furnished place and then discovered through a google search of the landlord’s very unique-sounding name (“Kunga Norbu”) that he is a nephew of the Dalai Lama (whose brother lives in Bloomington). Zoinks! There goes that option.


posted by on June 20 at 10:30 AM

It’s official, Paul Constant. You and I will have to become superheroes by conventional means.

From a scientist:

I do drug research for a biotech company. One day, when I was taking blood samples from some rats that had been dosed with a radiolabeled (Indium 111) MS drug, the little son of a bitch bit me (not that I really blame her, we fuck them up pretty good). So, I am proud to say that I have been bitten by a radioactive rat.

I have as of yet developed no superpowers. If I do, I will let you know.

Another childhood dream bites the dust.


This Too Shall…

posted by on June 20 at 10:16 AM

Yes, Amanda, the end is in sight:

[The investigation is done and a] final report on the… by prosecutor Giuliani Mignini indicates that Knox and two other suspects are likely to be charged with voluntary homicide, sexual assault and simulation of a crime.
We will all go into the dark.

Can I Get a Uterus Scrape with That Drug Cocktail?

posted by on June 20 at 10:14 AM

In the Senate, a handful of Republicans are holding up the expansion of the Global AIDS Bill, pretty much the only program fro the current administration that doesn’t make me completely want to tear my hair out.

From the AP:

Some conservatives are also leery of more money going into politically sensitive prevention programs involving the distribution of condoms, male circumcision or family planning. Conservatives already have had to give up a provision in the 2003 act that required that one-third of all HIV prevention funds be spent on abstinence programs. In turn, liberals accepted some restrictions on family planning groups participating in AIDS programs.

Abstinence programs? Still? Really? I thought that ship had sailed. I guess in the Land of Magical Thinking it’s still a viable option, despite evidence to the contrary.

But wait! What’s this? It’s not really about abstinence?

While the program has wide bipartisan support, the White House and many Republicans objected to the original Democratic-crafted draft because it removed a provision requiring that a certain amount be spent on abstinence programs and bolstered links between AIDS treatment and family planning. Some Republicans said that would open the way for family planning groups to spend money on abortions.

You see? It’s about protecting God’s precious, innocent life in the womb from those embryo-sucking monsters at Planned Parenthood and the like, not providing treatment to the dirty sinners that have successfully fought their way past the birth canal to find that life is nasty, brutal, and short.


Politics as usual. Good morning Slog.

Currently Hanging

posted by on June 20 at 10:00 AM

Jen Liu’s The Brethren of the Stone: Sloth (2007), watercolor on paper

At the Henry Art Gallery. (Gallery site here.) The opening for the exhibition that includes Liu’s works, The Violet Hour, is tonight at 8.

Saying Nothing

posted by on June 20 at 9:59 AM

Yes, Zoo was released and promoted by ThinkFilm:

“May you be in heaven a full half hour before the devil knows you’re dead.” The Irish saying, which inspired the title of ThinkFilm’s highest-grossing release “Before the Devil Knows Your Dead” is an apt one for the specialized distributor, which is currently facing the worst financial crisis of its seven-year history. If last year’s release of the acclaimed Sidney Lumet drama marked the heavenly highpoint of the company’s career, now Lucifer appears to be breathing down its neck.


Producers associated with Robinson Devor’s documentary “Zoo,” Susan Kaplan’s “Three of Hearts: A Postmodern Family” and David Sington’s “In the Shadow of the Moon” all refused to comment for this story on the advice of their lawyers.

I ain’t saying nothing.

Reading Tonight

posted by on June 20 at 9:56 AM


A book about a one-night stand that magically turned into a baby and several other events this evening.

Up at the University Book Store, W. Hodding Carter reads from Off the Deep End: The Probably Insane Idea that I Could Swim My Way to Youth, and Qualify for the Olympics, at Age Forty-Five. An alternate title could be: My Mid-life Crisis, and How I Got a Book Deal and Pruny Fingers Out of It.

Also up in the U District, Nancy Pearl is interviewing William Gibson onstage. This is the kickoff for this season’s Clarion West sci-fi reading series. The title for this interview is “Virtual Lust.” I wonder how Nancy Pearl, author of Book Lust, feels about having the word ‘lust’ appendaged onto everything she touches. In any case, this should be good.

At Elliott Bay Book Company, Diana Kennedy, the author of The Art of Mexican Cooking will sign her cookbooks. There will be free food. It will probably be Mexican food. This is what advertising people refer to as “synergy,” and what poor journalists refer to as “manna from heaven.”

And at Town Hall, Robert Scheer reads from The Pornography of Power: How Defense Hawks Hijacked 9/11 and Weakened America. It sure does sound important, although, as I noted in the calendar listing for this reading, the book has nothing to do with pornography or actual hawks, so if you had your hopes inflated by that title, you should deflate them now.

Questions can be sated by the full readings calendar.

German Black

posted by on June 20 at 9:44 AM

This doll is supposed to be the likeness of who?
-4.jpg Obama!

Marcel Offermann, chairman of the ‘Puppenklinik’ (doll clinic), presents the new Barack Obama doll he created in collaboration with the traditional German dollmaker Schildkroet on June 9, 2008 in Neuss, western Germany. Dressed in a black silken suit, a blue necktie and leather shoes, the miniature-Obama is on sale for 139 euros. The edition is limited on 999 pieces.

What’s wrong with this Nemeski’s vision? Obama is a grown man; the doll is not more than a toddler. Obama is on the lighter side of brown; the doll is as black as they come. And Obama is destined to walk into the White House; the doll is doomed to stand on a lawn holding a lantern.

The Morning News

posted by on June 20 at 8:40 AM

posted by news intern Chris Kissel

Getting some practice in: Israel looks like its getting ready for an attack on Iran.

Scott-free: Telecom companies spend fortunes on lobbyists, get away with helping the government spy on Americans.

Treaty trouble: Czechs may join Irish in not ratifying Lisbon Treaty.

The system is broken: Obama’s decision to refuse public money rattles financing system.

Stepping out: Zimbabwe opposition party may concede in order to stop violence that’s already claimed 70 supporters.

Stepping out, Part 2: Yahoo executives abandon the sinking ship.

The Plame game: McClellan calls Bush out on cover-up of CIA leak.

Ice, ice baby: Mars lander finds some serious “ice crumbs.”

We suck: Sonics argue that leaving Seattle wouldn’t make a difference to local the economy.

Also: Sherman Alexie gets all homoerotic.

Bad lending
: Six arrested in federal operation.

Bad baseball: John McLaren fired.

The best of the 2007-2008 school year, concluded:

From “Awareness and Advocacy: A Theological Examination of Real Change,” by Chris Kissel. March 12, 2008.

The weight of coming to a conversion on the issue of poverty is tremendous, certainly one of the most powerful things a person can do, and I believe it’s the closest we’ll come to an earth-shattering change. With regard to pastoral planning, the privileged should focus on giving ourselves up the way the Tim Harris and those who work and volunteer for the homeless and many of the advocates in Seattle have. But at the most basic level, we should be ready to look into the eyes of the poor, to take responsibility for their suffering, to reach out to the victims of the economic status quo. And, finally, we should be grateful that the opportunity to do so exists on more than 40 street corners in the city of Seattle due to the efforts of Real Change.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


posted by on June 19 at 7:01 PM

Israel carried out a major military exercise earlier this month that American officials say appeared to be a rehearsal for a potential bombing attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

And While We Were Arguing About Dogs…

posted by on June 19 at 6:26 PM

Congress caved to the Bush administration and granted the telecoms retroactive immunity for helping the Bush administration spy on American citizens without a warrant—oh, and they also expanded the governments ability to spy on us in the future. From the NYT:

With some AT&T and other telecommunications companies now facing some 40 lawsuits over their reported participation in the wiretapping program, Republican leaders described this narrow court review on the immunity question as a mere “formality.”

“The lawsuits will be dismissed,” Representative Roy Blunt of Missouri, the No. 2 Republican in the House, predicted with confidence.

The proposal—particularly the immunity provision—represents a major victory for the White House after months of dispute. “I think the White House got a better deal than they even they had hoped to get,” said Senator Christopher Bond, the Missouri Republican who led the negotiations.

Hm… I wonder if the Democrats in Congress will continue to give George W. Bush, whose approval ratings have hit new lows, everything he wants even after he’s no longer the president—you know, just out of reflex?

More Data for the Great Slog Pit Bull Debate, ‘08

posted by on June 19 at 5:42 PM

I put this figure together, based on data from a May 1997 MMWR.

Undeniably, more people have been killed by “pit bull” breeds, or dogs with some “pit bull” mixture, than any other breed. This does not prove the breed is bad. Fatality is a combination of a whole variety of factors—age of the victim, size of the dog, the training of the dog and the breed.

Also of note? Nearly two-thirds of fatal attacks involve unrestrained dogs, at the owners house or running wild in the streets.

Fatalities from dog attacks are very, very rare. Vastly more people are bitten by dogs each year, often with enough injury to require medical treatment. It’s much easier to study what leads to a dog bite, accounting for breed, training and so on. A 1994 study in the journal Pediatrics did just that. The money table:

(Click for a larger version.)

“Pit bulls” aren’t included in this study. This study is based on data from Denver, where pit bulls were already banned.

If the matched odds ratio 95% confidence interval is entirely below 1.0, this factor makes a bite less likely to happen. If the interval is completely above 1.0, this factor increases the risk of a bite. If it spans 1.0, the factor doesn’t necessarily increase or decrease the risk of a bite.

Big factors increasing the risk of a bite? Breed. Male dogs. Non-neutered dogs. Big dogs (> 50 pounds). Young dogs (<5 years old). Dogs chained in yards. Dogs that don’t get regular rabies vaccines. Having a child in the house. The owner not bothering to license the dog in the past year.

Reducing the risk? Dog that were ever disciplined by a takedown (holding a dog to the ground, on its back, while holding its neck) or stringup (lifting a dog by its neck chain). That’s it.

Training and discipline didn’t seem to significantly reduce the risk of biting, at least in this study.

Have at it!

County Politics Get Interesting (Really!)

posted by on June 19 at 5:39 PM

As I mentioned in my column this week, King County Executive Ron Sims is facing probable opposition in his bid for reelection from King County Council member Larry Phillips. So as you can imagine, things have been a little tense around the county courthouse. To alleviate some of the pressure, Sims recently hired consultant Heather Andersen to conduct focus groups of county staffers to, according to an email from county council chair Ross Baker, “discuss relations between the King County Council and Executive.” The consultant, the email notes, was a finalist to conduct this year’s council retreat, and “is highly regarded locally.”

Last week, though, the focus group was abruptly canceled after it came to light that the consultant Sims chose was more than just a highly qualified mediator. In fact, Andersen was a donor to Sims’s campaign—and even served as a “table captain” at Sims’s campaign kickoff at the downtown Westin this past Tuesday morning. And Andersen’s relationship with Sims goes back even further—she was the lead plaintiff in the case challenging Washington State’s Defense of Marriage Act, AKA Andersen v. Sims a lawsuit gay-marriage supporter Sims wholeheartedly encouraged.

Speaking of executive-council relations, Sims sent a frosty four-page (!) letter to King County Council members in response to a disparaging statement his likely opponent Phillips made after Sims announced a $68 million county deficit. In 2005, Phillips charged, Sims declared that “the era of big budget deficits is over”—a statement Phillips is likely to use on the campaign trail to portray Sims as asleep at the wheel while the county drove off a cliff. Sims’s letter says Phillips took that statement out of context.

I take great exception to Mr. Phillips’ statement that I have somehow jeopardized public safety funding which I have prioritized each year in my proposed budgets. His press release ignores the very next two sentences in the same speech that warn of the need for diligence. Later in the speech I say the structural deficit has not been permanently solved and highlight the need for annexations of urban unincorporated areas.

The letter goes on to quote several subsequent Sims speeches at length, and concludes,

Given Mr. Phillips’ press release, I have asked Mr. [Budget Director Bob] Cowan to make a follow-up presentation to the County Council … to provide an update on our financial status… and answer any questions councilmembers may have.

Finally, I am disappointed that this letter is even necessary. The Sheriff, the Prosecutor and the Judges did not politicize this problem or point fingers when describing the criminal justice impacts of the cuts faced by King County. Neither did I. …

For your convenience I am also attaching a copy of my full remarks from last Thursday.

It is unfortunate that Mr. Phillips has chosen to make the 2009 budget challenge a political issue as the problem was created by reality, not rhetoric. It can only be solved by creativity and collaboration, not competition and conflict.

Of course the budget is a political issue, and will continue to be so throughout the campaign.

And speaking of Sims’s reelection campaign, his kickoff reportedly featured an (unintentionally?) ironic call-and-response: “There’s a train coming! Get on board!” Sims opposed last year’s roads and transit measure and has been cool to the idea of putting Sound Transit expansion on the ballot in 2008.

Props for Golob

posted by on June 19 at 5:30 PM

Jonathan Golob’s Dear Science gets some love from my beloved MetaFilter.

Congrats to both.

Re: Breed Bans Are Stupid

posted by on June 19 at 5:05 PM

Here’s the problem with Malcolm’s point re: pit bulls:

Then which are the pit bulls that get into trouble? “The ones that the legislation is geared toward have aggressive tendencies that are either bred in by the breeder, trained in by the trainer, or reinforced in by the owner,” Herkstroeter says. A mean pit bull is a dog that has been turned mean, by selective breeding, by being cross-bred with a bigger, human-aggressive breed like German shepherds or Rottweilers, or by being conditioned in such a way that it begins to express hostility to human beings.

How many of the fucking pit bulls running around out there have been cross-bred with Rots and German shepherds? No one knows, no one can know.

What we do know, however, is this: These piece-of-shit dogs, bred to be vicious, are being pumped out by scummy puppy mills to satisfy demand among the kind of dumb fucking scum that get off on owning aggressive dogs (even if their own children have to pay with their lives), and that these dumb fucks are inclined to “condition” their dogs to be aggressive, because the aggressiveness is the whole point of owning the stupid, vicious dog in the first place. These dogs are also being bred to satisfy demand among sentimental dolts in love with their own capacity to feel for these poor, misunderstood dogs—such good doggies, doggies that just need love and hugs and, of course, for your kid to stand very, very still when a pit bull runs up, barking and threatening to bite, and if your kid should flinch or scream or run, why, then it’s your own kid’s fault that he or she got bit or mauled or killed because, hey, it was just the dog’s natural response to the kid running away and screaming. (Never mind that running and screaming may be your kid’s natural response to being threatened by a dog.)

A breed ban is a blunt instrument, and it’s imperfect—just like a handgun ban. But I support the latter for the same reasons I support the former.

Oh, and probably should’ve included more details on this one:

A neighbor initially heard Annette Williams’ faint cry for help, but by the time help arrived, Williams had been on the ground in her backyard for more than an hour. Lieutenant Larry Dance of the Greensburg Police Department said one of the officers who has been on with this department for over 30 years, and is a Vietnam vet, described it has the “worst thing he’s seen.”

Neighbors said the dog, a pit bull named Toby, continued to circle Williams keeping her rescuers away until an officer shot the dog. “She was, like, in the middle of the yard. She was up. If they went in, that dog would have tore them up,” said neighbor Shirley Hines. Neighbor Stephen “Pete” Roszell said that Williams’ left arm has been amputated just above the elbow.

Neighbors said Williams raised Toby since he was puppy and nobody ever witnessed any aggression. Hines said that Toby was taking obedience classes on the weekends. Police and neighbors aren’t sure why the dog would turn on Williams.

More info here, and here, where you can read this:

The traditional approach to dangerous dog legislation is to allow “one free bite,” at which point the owner is warned. On second bite, the dog is killed. The traditional approach, however, patently does not apply in addressing the threats from pit bull terriers, Rottweilers, and wolf hybrids. In more than two-thirds of the cases I have logged, the life-threatening or fatal attack was apparently the first known dangerous behavior by the animal in question. Children and elderly people were almost always the victims.

The humane community does not try to encourage the adoption of pumas in the same manner that we encourage the adoption of felis catus, because even though a puma can also be box-trained and otherwise exhibits much the same indoor behavior, it is clearly understood that accidents with a puma are frequently fatal.

For the same reason, it is sheer foolishness to encourage people to regard pit bull terriers and Rottweilers as just dogs like any other, no matter how much they may behave like other dogs under ordinary circumstances.

Temperament is not the issue, nor is it even relevant. What is relevant is actuarial risk. If almost any other dog has a bad moment, someone may get bitten, but will not be maimed for life or killed, and the actuarial risk is accordingly reasonable. If a pit bull terrier or a Rottweiler has a bad moment, often someone is maimed or killed—and that has now created off-the-chart actuarial risk, for which the dogs as well as
their victims are paying the price.

What Will They Think of Next!

posted by on June 19 at 3:47 PM


The hard-boiled egg’s packaging problem—solved!

Breed Bans Are Stupid

posted by on June 19 at 3:42 PM

Breed bans are based on a simplistic view of the violent-dog issue and they don’t work because they don’t address the real cause of aggressive dogs: irresponsible humans.

The current problem with pit bulls (the frequency of bites and the bad press) is a direct result of pit bulls being the current favorite among people (“thugs” is maybe a better term?) who want to own an aggressive dog. It used to be Dobermans. It might be wolf-mixes or nasty fighting Dachshunds in the future. An obvious solution is harsher criminal penalties for owners and breeders of problem dogs. Regulating breeders, requiring obedience classes of all dog owners, and teaching children basic dog safety would be more effective at preventing attacks.

Malcolm Gladwell deals intelligently with this topic in his 2006 New Yorker piece “Troublemakers: What pitbulls can teach us about profiling”.

A Georgia-based group called the American Temperament Test Society has put twenty-five thousand dogs through a ten-part standardized drill designed to assess a dog’s stability, shyness, aggressiveness, and friendliness in the company of people. A handler takes a dog on a six-foot lead and judges its reaction to stimuli such as gunshots, an umbrella opening, and a weirdly dressed stranger approaching in a threatening way. Eighty-four per cent of the pit bulls that have been given the test have passed, which ranks pit bulls ahead of beagles, Airedales, bearded collies, and all but one variety of dachshund. “We have tested somewhere around a thousand pit-bull-type dogs,” Carl Herkstroeter, the president of the A.T.T.S., says. “I’ve tested half of them. And of the number I’ve tested I have disqualified one pit bull because of aggressive tendencies. They have done extremely well. They have a good temperament. They are very good with children.” It can even be argued that the same traits that make the pit bull so aggressive toward other dogs are what make it so nice to humans. “There are a lot of pit bulls these days who are licensed therapy dogs,” the writer Vicki Hearne points out. “Their stability and resoluteness make them excellent for work with people who might not like a more bouncy, flibbertigibbet sort of dog. When pit bulls set out to provide comfort, they are as resolute as they are when they fight, but what they are resolute about is being gentle. And, because they are fearless, they can be gentle with anybody.”

Then which are the pit bulls that get into trouble? “The ones that the legislation is geared toward have aggressive tendencies that are either bred in by the breeder, trained in by the trainer, or reinforced in by the owner,” Herkstroeter says. A mean pit bull is a dog that has been turned mean, by selective breeding, by being cross-bred with a bigger, human-aggressive breed like German shepherds or Rottweilers, or by being conditioned in such a way that it begins to express hostility to human beings. A pit bull is dangerous to people, then, not to the extent that it expresses its essential pit bullness but to the extent that it deviates from it. A pit-bull ban is a generalization about a generalization about a trait that is not, in fact, general. That’s a category problem.

(Dan, I left a copy of the the entire article on your desk.)

One more quote from Gladwell:

“I’ve seen virtually every breed involved in fatalities, including Pomeranians and everything else, except a beagle or a basset hound,” Randall Lockwood, a senior vice-president of the A.S.P.C.A. and one of the country’s leading dog-bite experts, told me. “And there’s always one or two deaths attributable to malamutes or huskies, although you never hear people clamoring for a ban on those breeds.

Fatal dog-on-human attacks in the last 30 years have been attributed to dogs of at least 30 breeds. Remember the recipient of the word’s first face-transplant, Isabelle Dinoire? She was mauled by her Labrador.

The CDC believes that irresponsible owners are to blame dog bites and calls the problem “mostly preventable.” The CDC does not support breed bans and points out that there is no way to accurately measure which breeds are actually most dangerous.

Each year, 4.7 million Americans are bitten by dogs. These bites result in approximately 16 fatalities; about 0.0002 percent of the total number of people bitten. These relatively few fatalities offer the only available information about breeds involved in dog bites. There is currently no accurate way to identify the number of dogs of a particular breed, and consequently no measure to determine which breeds are more likely to bite or kill.

A thorough study conducted by Toronto’s Department of Public Health and published in the Canadian Journal of Veterinary Medicine, “Will breed-specific legislation reduce dog bites?”, concluded that breed-specific bans don’t work and are impossible to enforce (what exactly is a “pit bull” and who decides?). The author implores instead that “all dog owners must be made aware that they are fully responsible for the actions of their dogs.”

If you’re riled up about dog attacks enough to work on the problem, donate to a spay/neuter campaign through your local shelter (no fatal dog attack involving an altered dog has ever been reported). Ask every dog owner you know to train his or her dog. Report off-leash animals to animal control. And teach your children to be wary of all dogs, to never run screaming from a dog, and to stand still if approached by a strange dog.

This Week in The Stranger

posted by on June 19 at 3:35 PM


Paul Constant Goes to a Los Angeles Convention to Survey the State of the Book-Publishing Industry and Eat Bison at Larry King’s House
“Larry King’s backyard in Beverly Hills, with its high hedges, glittering pool, and verdant lawn, is full of Industry People. Besides Larry King, there aren’t any movie or television stars here, but you get the sense that these are the people who hire the stars. There is a giant portrait of Larry King made entirely out of Jelly Bellies in the room overlooking the lawn. On the buffet table in the dining room is a mountainous spread of medium-rare bison, a layer-cake-like dip composed of seven varieties of goat cheese, dishes of duck pâté, and platters of other things so bizarre they almost seem like they were ordered off a menu from a myth…”

Erica C. Barnett on Ron Sims and the Budget
“Two weeks ago, Ron Sims announced the county would have to cut $68 million from its budget in 2009, a crisis Larry Phillips and other critics called both predictable and utterly avoidable. The cuts are more than superficial. They slash away at the heart and soul of county government—policing (Sheriff Sue Rahr predicts she will have to eliminate more than 100 deputies), public health (the county’s cash-strapped health clinics may have to close), and human services (whose funding from the county will be slashed over three years to nothing).”

Kurt B. Reighley on the Place Where Hiphop’s James Pants Lives
“Cheap rent and a penchant for making his own fun keep Pants in Spokane. But the city’s biggest selling point is how uncool it remains compared to most cities, including other towns he’s called home, like Austin, Texas, and Richmond, Virginia. ‘Spokane is a weird place. It’s a magnet for strange people. One of those cities that looks pretty downtrodden—and it is—but within that you’ll find strange pockets that wouldn’t exist in other metropolitan areas…’”

Christopher Frizzelle on Musicals, Avenue Q, and Barack Obama
“Like Sesame Street, Avenue Q is a mix of puppets and actors, but unlike Sesame Street, the puppeteers are visible, too, giving some characters three surface dimensions: the puppet, the person controlling the puppet, and the shadow they both cast. Unlike Sesame Street, the subject matter includes the fuckedness of being a closeted gay Republican (poor guy has to say things like ‘I can’t wait to eat her pussy again!’), the fuckedness of childhood celebrity (Gary Coleman is a character), how fucked you are if you get an English degree, the politics of hetero fucking on a first date, the deliciousness of beer, the wonderfulness of porn, and racism…”

Angela Garbes on the Restaurant Options on a Single Block in Greenwood
“Recently a friend boldly declared her belief that the block of Greenwood Avenue North between North 85th and North 87th streets is home to ‘the best food in Seattle.’ This friend being the sort of woman possessed of inherent charisma and credibility, I listened. (It also doesn’t hurt that she used to manage a cafe, owns her own stand mixer, and makes her own pork rillettes.) I tried to picture the area she was talking about, but the only things that came to mind were a Washington Mutual, the PAWS Cat City Adoption Center, and a McDonald’s…”

Dan Savage on God’s Mysterious Ways
“Homos are marrying in California as of this week (congrats to all), and should a tornado—or an earthquake or a meteor or the Incredible Hulk—flatten, say, San Francisco’s City Hall during a big gay wedding, respected leaders of the religious right will rush to cable broadcast studios to insist that the tornado/earthquake/meteor/Hulk was God’s divine judgment, His righteous wrath, the Baby Jesus’s latest temper tantrum, wocka wocka wocka…”

ALSO DISCUSSED IN THIS ISSUE: Clay Bennett’s case; R. Kelly’s acquittal; Sherman Alexie’s testosterone; the writing of one filthy German; Lindy West’s name (“My name was foisted upon me by CBS radio!”); black art; half-hearted Jello-O wrestling; the deadliness of undercooked turkey; and so much more.

My Spiky-Sacked Dragon

posted by on June 19 at 3:28 PM

I just got back from a beautiful road trip down the Oregon coast and all the way into the Redwood National Forest in northern CA. First thing I do when I load the computer on my return? No, not load the zillions of amazing dune/forest/coast photos into Flickr. Didn’t answer a bunch of e-mails, either. Instead, I had to design critters on my computer.


This little dude is my first creation in the Spore Character Creator—note the spiky balls. You might’ve heard of Spore—the “Sims meets evolution” game from Sims creator Will Wright, set for release in September, that has been as hyped as it’s been lamented. You follow a creature’s entire existence—from its cellular stage all the way to where it, ahem, hops in a UFO and dominates the galaxy. I think. Still trying to make sense of the thing. Some worry that the game’s evolution concept won’t sell the way The Sims’ dollhouse play did; I was in that camp as well, but this teaser Character Creator thing has been amusing enough. Think digital Play-Doh that animates with realistic skeletal physics.

Whether or not this tinkering will amount to a great game is anybody’s guess. In the meantime, the free teaser is undoubtedly recommended. Snakes with feet? Blue monkeys with eight arms and no legs? Go to town by downloading the demo here. To unlock more creature “parts,” you can pony up $10, but I managed to create genitalia with the free version, so I’m gonna save my cash. Now it’s time to work up Spiky’s poor, poor mating partner.

And Is Shia LaBeouf the New Cousin Oliver?

posted by on June 19 at 3:23 PM

Has “nuke the fridge” already jumped the shark?

Kathleen Wilson: Still Telling It Like It Is

posted by on June 19 at 2:37 PM

The perfect antidote to your mid-afternoon slump: a refreshing dose of Kathleen Wilson, who writes:

Hi Dave,

Are you familiar with It’s a much-improved service modeled on the old You order from a huge selection, and they deliver it to your door in brightly colored plastic bins at various times of the day, at a time of your choosing. They offer a special “pre-dawn” delivery for customers like my idealistic husband who imagines waking to the doorstep delivery of eggs, dairy and fresh produce to be a tiny step toward a bucolic existence among the condos on Capitol Hill.

Having lived on the Hill for more than a decade, I scoffed at his enthusiasm, knowing full well that “pre-dawn delivery” would translate to “Free Food Here” for any drunken yahoo staggering down our street in the wee hours. My husband said I was crazy and did it anyway. At 6am he skipped down the stairs, threw open the front door only to be faced with the soul-crushing reality of brightly colored bins busted open and much of our groceries gone. I told him!

Anyway, my advice to anyone who might find the idea of pre-dawn delivery of groceries a happy way to start the day: Go ahead if you want to prove you are a complete idiot. On the whole amazonfresh is an excellent way to grocery shop and we’ve never had a problem before this because I did the ordering and made sure that delivery was made between 8-10am, when people are more likely to have their sense of shame intact.


Let this be a lesson to us all. (As for me, I won’t even try AmazonFresh until they add regularly updated celebrity newsmagazines to their virtual checkout lanes.)

The Agony and the Irony

posted by on June 19 at 2:30 PM

An eagle-eyed—eared?—commentor on this post, about Intiman’s mysterious new Disney musical, says:

Sher mentioned working on a new musical adaptation of “The Huncback of Notre Dame” in Seattle on KUOW last week. Could that be the Disney musical?

Of course, if Intiman were to produce Hunchback, it’d be the greatest stroke theatrical irony since Molière keeled over and died while playing a hypochondriac.

The last Hunchback musical in Seattle was, of course, this Hunchback, from 1998. As Dave Schmader once wrote:

Hunchback captured the imagination of everyone who’s ever wondered, “What’s the worst thing that could happen if a New-Agey blues rocker with a lot of money and a weird Hunchback fixation decided to take it to the stage?”, and left its small but lucky audiences cheering a world that would allow such a monstrosity to come to fruition.


Please God, let Intiman’s new Disney musical be Hunchback. And please let it star Styx frontman Dennis DeYoung.

The Obama Ad Washington & Oregon Aren’t Getting

posted by on June 19 at 2:29 PM

Eli isn’t around, so I’ll pass on the general election fodder he’d normally be all over. This is Obama’s big new ad buy—full of white relatives, describing “values straight from the Kansas heartland”—and it’s going up in Alaska, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Virginia, according to Ben Smith. It’s notable that there are a lot of red reaches—Alaska, Montana, Georgia—and that Washington and Oregon have dropped out. The Obama campaign is feeling pretty cocky in the NW, looks like. We won’t be getting much love.

In/Visible Is Up: How Does It Feel Winning the Contemporary Northwest Art Awards?

posted by on June 19 at 2:29 PM

On the beleaguered morning after the opening party for the Contemporary Northwest Art Awards last Saturday, the five winning artists sat down in a conference room in the Portland Art Museum and gave each other insane love. This recording is the result of that union.

There was Whiting Tennis,

Dan Attoe,

Marie Watt,

Cat Clifford,

and Jeffry Mitchell.

The Next Big Thing

posted by on June 19 at 2:11 PM

As we know, the only sort of sculpture worth showing at the Olympic Sculpture Park is something ordinarily small reproduced several times its normal size.


Also at the park: enormous memos, elephantine push pins, humongous typewriter erasers, and giant chairs. This be trite. But there’s something about this image…


…that makes me quite satisfied. A birdie—or as I prefer to call it, a shuttlecock—actually belongs on the lawn. And the big lawn at the Nelson Art Gallery (thank you, Wikipedia, for the image) deserves the biggest, most massive, hardest steel shuttlecock it can get. [UPDATE: Christopher Frizzelle informs me that a cock/shuttlecock joke is the lamest joke ever on Slog. Dominic takes a bow.] Giant traffic cones and office supplies in bourgeois private parks on the other hand? Snoring.

Thanks for the tip, NaFun!

The Irrationalities of the Credit System

posted by on June 19 at 2:07 PM

Banks Find New Ways To Ease Pain of Bad Loans:

In January, Astoria Financial Corp. told investors that its pile of nonperforming loans had grown to about $106 million as of the end of last year. Three months later, the thrift holding company said the number was just $68 million.

How did Astoria do it? By changing its internal policy on when mortgages are classified on its books as troubled. The Lake Success, N.Y., company now counts home loans as nonperforming when the borrower misses at least three payments, instead of two.

It’s 10 O’clock. Do President Bush and John McCain Know Where Condoleezza Rice Is?

posted by on June 19 at 1:59 PM

I’ve been writing about the Sonics trial, so I missed this story about Condoleezza Rice and Hezbollah.

Given the Bush/McCain vs. Obama debate over “appeasing” our enemies, I’m sorta surprised the second paragraph of this pg. 856,000 NYT story wasn’t a pg. 1 headline:

Rice met with government leaders from both the government majority and the Hezbollah-led opposition, signaling her support for a compromise…”

That’s right, Bush’s own Secretary of State is doing what the “naive” and “dangerous” Obama said he’d do: She’s talking to “the terrorists.” (The U.S. considers Hezbollah a terrorist group.)

Conclusion? Even President Bush’s own secretary of state thinks Bush is out of office already.

Sherman Alexie On and Off the Court

posted by on June 19 at 1:44 PM

I was going to be a little hard on Sherman Alexie (which I was a while back when he gave a dopey antiwar speech). I thought his testimony today came across a little naive, a little entitled, a little “spoiled-rich-kid”: He gave an account of how the new ownership mistreated season-ticket holders this year, citing a curt letter he got about next year and about the time he and his sons went to the locker room this season, something season-ticket holders get to do on occasion, and they weren’t treated right. “And that’s my sons’ favorite thing every year,” he complained.

I guess if Jack Nicholson or Spike Lee testified at a trial about the Los Angeles Lakers or New York Knicks respectively, it’d come across the same way.

But whatever with me: Alexie held a press conference afterward where he made a great case. I even teared up when he told a story about his father. (He teared up too, I think.)


First of all, though, he responded to Bennett’s attorney Brad Keller’s gotcha argument. In the courtroom, Keller had pointed out that Alexie had written (in The Stranger) that he would still be a fan if the team moved to Oklahoma City.

Keller was clever enough to point out that Alexie’s father—who Alexie regularly and poignantly brings up as the guiding force for his own love of the NBA—remained a huge Los Angeles Lakers fan even though the Lakers originally played in Minneapolis in the ’50s (ever wonder why a team from L.A. is called the Lakers?), which is when Alexie’s father first became a fan.

I asked him about this in the press conference: Didn’t Keller make a good point? Alexie could (and probably would) still be a big fan. What’s the big deal?

Alexie said he’d wish he’d gotten to address that in court: “My father didn’t live in Minneapolis,” he said.

He was also more candid in the press conference than he was in the courtroom, reemphasizing a point he had tried to make at the trial: “For a city where black culture is not celebrated or even acknowledged… there are more black people at KeyArena [for a Sonics game] than for any other public event in Seattle.”

In the press conference, Alexie finally acknowledged his affluence, but he used it to reframe his position as “the spokesman” for “all fans” (something he said was “lighter” than his more regular position as a spokesman for “all Native Americans”) by explaining that he grew up poor, yet here he was with season tickets. That rags-to-riches imagery is what the NBA is all about, he said.

He then told a touching story about the time he brought his sick father to a game. As they approached Alexie’s sixth-row seats, his frail father seemed awed. He was quiet as they sat down, but eventually turned to Alexie and said simply, “These are great seats.”

Alexie explained: “It was the acknowledgment of an incredible journey. He and my mother had enabled this to happen. [Every time I’m at a game now], I sit in the arena with my father’s ghost. No matter who’s in the seat next to [my family], my father is sitting between us.”

Alexie also stuck to his faggy Stranger testimony (the TV news will call it “colorful” I imagine.) He repeated his whole thing about the Greek gods. He said, “LeBron James, sure it’s being a little homoerotic, but that’s great, serious abs!”

Ultimately, though, what sticks with me is something Alexie said in his courtroom testimony. He referred to KeyArena as “the gym” (as in “when you’re sitting in the gym watching the game.”) The gym?

Here’s where Alexie is both beautiful and naive. He still thinks of the NBA as something that’s played in a gym. It’s the Minneapolis Lakers. Funny: The whole reason Bennett wants to take the Sonics to Oklahoma City is because KeyArena isn’t up to NBA arena standards. He needs clubs and restaurants, retail stores, media dining areas, more courtside suites, family lounges.

Bennett wants a yuppie entertainment plaza, a mall with a basketball court. Alexie thinks he’s in a gym.

I’m not saying Alexie’s fantasy is a bad thing (and I’ve criticized the NBA/Bennett Model over and over in The Stranger and on Slog), but Alexie’s idealism is running up against the reality of the league. And that seems to sum up the standoff between Seattle and its I-91s (74 percent voted no money for corporate sports) vs. the NBA and its yuppie suites.

And in that sense, if the city loses this case and the Sonics leave because we’re not up to NBA standards, well, the NBA loses because they’re not up to ours.

There Are No Vicious Animals…

posted by on June 19 at 1:32 PM


…only vicious actions.

A pit bull fatally mauled a 5-year-old boy staying at a southern Texas home with relatives, authorities said.

The boy was pronounced dead at the scene Wednesday. Hidalgo County Justice of the Peace Rosa Trevino said the condition of the child’s body suggested there was no way emergency responders could have saved his life.

Authorities were trying to determine whether the dog had been confined and how it came in contact with the boy, Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Trevino said. Trevino declined to identify the boy pending notification of his mother, who lives in Washington state.

In other pit bull news…

In Seattle a pit bull attacks a girl in a school playground. In Illinois a pit bull attacks a woman working in her garden—and then attacks the two passersby that came to her aid. A woman in Washington D.C. attacked by her own pit bull is grateful to the cop, also mauled, that shot her dog. A woman in Indiana also mauled by her own pit bull. Pit bull chews man’s face off in Oregon. Two pit bulls maul one year-old boy in LA. Pit bull in Pennsylvania mauls seven year-old boy. In Ohio a pit bull breaks through a storm window to maul a mail carrier. In Tulsa, Oklahoma, police have had to shoot thirty vicious dogs in the last year—more than two dozen of which were pit bulls. And, after police had to kill five vicious dogs in six months, the small Washington town of Wapato banned pit bulls this week. Pit bulls also banned this week in Edina, Missouri, Osceola, Nebraska, and the South American nation of Guyana.

All the above went down this week, and there are more stories—but I don’t have all day, and have to get back to work.

Gee, nice dogs. Shame if we banned ‘em, huh?

Dumb Impressionist Fact of the Day

posted by on June 19 at 1:04 PM

The rain eventually stopped, and Monet took his painting things into the forest. As soon as he began to work, he was stopped in his tracks by a bizarre accident. Discus throwers used to practice in the forest, and Monet was injured when a flying discus hit him in the leg. Again, Bazille was summoned, this time for his medical expertise. Using a large earthenware pot, which he suspended from Monet’s bed with a chain, he improvised a drainage system for the suspended leg. Nursed by Bazille, who painted the scene, Monet was soon back in the forest.

From Sue Roe’s The Private Lives of Impressionists, a slightly trashy book I’m reading in honor of the SAM show.

Bazille’s portrait of Monet in bed, from 1865, L’Ambulance improvisée (The Improvised Field Hospital) (not in the SAM show):


Tonight at 6 is a lecture at SAM by Inspiring Impressionism co-curator Ann Dumas. I can recommend it because Dumas is quite the art historian and also charming and offhanded in the way only the English can be.

On the press tour, she shared things like, “I’m very proud of this corner. It’s the sort of thing that brings joy to an art historian’s heart,” referring to a corner with a painting by Velazquez and his assistants, a copy by Manet, an etching based on the copy by Manet, and a Renoir still-life in which Manet’s etching appears. It really is a nice corner.

She also shared that, in order to borrow a Berthe Morisot for comparison to a Francis Boucher, the curators had to court an elderly couple from the Morisot family that owns the painting. The husband was willing to lend, but the wife resisted. “I don’t know how many dinners we took them out to,” Dumas admitted. (Securing loans for many of the works in the show, including Titian’s stunning Danäe, required coups of diplomatic begging.)

When we arrived at a Renoir bather with a low gate in front of it for protection, Dumas quipped, “Is this a National Gallery stipulation? This is National Gallery of London, so thou shalt not approach.

All This Useless “Beauty”

posted by on June 19 at 1:03 PM

Wordle, which is the current free web application being tossed around the internet at the moment, bills itself as creating “Beautiful Word Clouds.” You cut and paste words into a box, press a button, and it makes a word cloud out of the text you inserted. I’m not sure if I think of word clouds as ‘beautiful,’ exactly, but I’ve certainly wasted some time with Wordle since I came across it last night.

And so have lots of people. Here’s Wordle’s gallery.

And here’s a cloud that I made by dumping all of The Merchant of Venice into Wordle:


And now I am done with Wordle.

Rossi’s Buddies

posted by on June 19 at 12:56 PM

Speaking of Dino Rossi: The Republican gubernatorial candidate is the speaker of honor at the Building Industry Association of Washington’s annual luncheon in Stevenson, Washington, today—an engagement that isn’t reflected on his public schedule. Guess he doesn’t want to be associated with a group that called his opponent a “power-hungry she-wolf who would eat her own young to get ahead.” But he’s happy to help them raise money.


Hide Yer Tallboys! Guard Yer Kools! It’s Another Spears!

posted by on June 19 at 12:56 PM

It is my sad duty to inform you that the dread Spears Gene—a faulty allele associated with unabashed white-trashness, exhibitionistic sluttery, and vile, gum-smacking republican tendencies—has scored yet another Darwinian triumph:

People and Us Weekly are reporting that Jamie Lynn Spears has given birth to a baby girl.

This tragic news has, of course, been accompanied by massive flooding in the Midwest and a tornado or two, and if Revelations can be trusted (and I’m really beginning to wonder), the wise would do well to prepare for, like, spontaneous rains of toads or some kind of weird shit like that. Wear a hat maybe. Couldn’t hurt.

Sexism and Gregoire

posted by on June 19 at 12:45 PM

You can attack Governor Christine Gregoire for a lot of things: Preaching her environmental credentials while pandering to road-building interests, taking meaningless stands against global warming while supporting watered-down environmental legislation that does nothing to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, screwing cities over so Tim Eyman can have his way.

But sexist attacks? Not a great way to get people to see your point of view.

First there was the Building Industry Association of Washington, which referred to Gregoire as a “heartless, power-hungry she-wolf who would eat her own young to get ahead” and said she was backed by “witches.”

Then there were nasty bloggers on the right, who have spent at least four years trying to get the “Queen Christine” label to stick.

Then the state Republican Party attempted to cash in on the sexist attacks on Hillary Clinton, lumping Gregoire and Clinton together as scary, power-mad women cut from the same cloth in mailings and e-mails to supporters.

And just this Tuesday, on the KVI show “The Commentators,” Republican host John Carlson said Gregoire hadn’t “screwed” Washington State tribes—she had “serviced” them. The transcript:

(Democratic spokesman Kelly) Steele: How could it be a quid pro quo then, Carlson, I want to know that…

(Carlson co-host Ken) Schram: Kelly, Kelly…

Steele: …if she screwed them…

Schram: Kelly…

Steele: …how is it a quid pro quo?

Schram: Kelly..

Carlson: She didn’t, she serviced them.

There are plenty of legitimate questions to be asked about Gregoire’s arrangement with Native American tribes—for example, whether it’s ethical for her to take campaign contributions from tribes when she has the authority to approve or reject gambling arrangements with those same tribes (the substance of what Steele and Carlson were discussing on KVI). But implying Gregoire’s sucking the dicks of the tribes in question is bad politics—even if it is good radio.

(P.s. Don’t believe there are sexist Gregoire haters out there? Googling her name and any number of gender-specific slurs should disabuse you.)

“…this was not a problem that money could solve. It was a problem that the scientists could solve.”

posted by on June 19 at 12:35 PM

Oh Mark Mitchell, thanks for reminding me of the Reagan administration.

Margaret Heckler, Reagan’s heath secretary, lead the charge against AIDS. Specifically, she made sure to cut the CDC’s budget right at the start of a massive global epidemic, leading the charge right into a ditch. Sweet!

Check out this exchange from the exemplary Frontline documentary, the Age of AIDS:

NARRATOR: Margaret Heckler became Reagan’s secretary of health and human services in 1983. She says she was looking to the scientists to set her priorities on AIDS.

MARGARET HECKLER: AIDS was a mystery. It was a puzzlement even to the scientists. And before we knew what to do or how much it would cost or anything like that, we needed to find out what the scientists could tell us. And my goal was simply to expedite the process.

NARRATOR: But at the CDC, an agency Heckler supervised, officials said their efforts had been severely hurt by the budget cuts.

WALTER DOWDLE, Ph.D., Director, CDC 1989-90: The Reagan administration had come in, and there was a mandate to cut all government activities, but CDC was slated to be cut by at least 25 percent. There was no travel allowed at all. And so therefore, we virtually had our hands tied.

DON FRANCIS, M.D., CDC 1972-92: My area of responsibility at the time was to establish a laboratory to investigate the cause, develop a blood test, and do all of these things. And we really had nothing for the first two years, essentially nothing. We had to steal equipment from the other laboratories. We had to dig out space, and we had to- this was not an appropriate response to a disease that had a mortality that looked like greater than most other infections that we had to deal with.

NARRATOR: In April 1983, four months into her term, Secretary Heckler told a congressional committee that all the federal agencies researching AIDS had adequate funding.
“In the AIDS situation,” she said, “I really don’t think there is another dollar that would make a difference because the attempt is all-out to find an answer.”

INTERVIEWER: There were a lot of people who felt that more money should have been spent.

MARGARET HECKLER: I disagree with that. I think that we could not have gained anything more by increasing the cash expenditures. We were in the right direction. We were placing the emphasis on those who could provide the answers. And in a peculiar case, this was not a problem that money could solve. It was a problem that the scientists could solve.

Money can’t solve the problems. Scientists can! Ergo? Cut the scientists’ funding, and things will go faster—the making of an all-out effort. Neither Orwell nor Kafka ever hit this absolute high in doublethink. I’m practically crazed, thinking she was in charge. Even better? The Reagan administration was an order of magnitude more competent than W’s.

This is some of the central thinking behind the conservative movement, the movement over half the country still adores. Step 1: Science and progress will solve everything! Step 2: We don’t have to spend money on science; tax cuts for everyone! Step 3: Profit!

Any wonder why we’re so totally and absolutely fucked today?

Lunchtime Quickie

posted by on June 19 at 12:30 PM

Italy 1, Hot Headed French National Soccer Team Bus Driver, 0

The Flaw of the Intimate Revolt

posted by on June 19 at 12:28 PM

For your pleasure, a little lecture by the Žižek, “Enjoyment as a Political Category”:
zizek_display.jpg It’s entertaining from start to finish.

L.A. Communism

posted by on June 19 at 12:17 PM

Despite all of its utopian talk about “the future society,” “society of knowledge,” “communities [being] organized structures,” and the “dynamic development of our society,” Arcspace’s article failed to recognize the real inspiration of the tower for Coop Himmelb(l)au’s Central Los Angeles Area High School #9:
The Tatlin Tower:
On overcast days, the top of the Tatlin Tower, which never made it into the world (in 1917, the Soviet Union had the desire but not the resources to make it real), was to project international news, important information, empowering slogans on the belly of passing clouds. That is the stuff of my dreams.

Tim Russert: Our Princess Diana?

posted by on June 19 at 12:13 PM

I have a feeling that, just a few short months from now, we’re going to feel slightly embarrassed about the mawkish overkill with which we’ve greeted—excused me, grieved—the death of Tim Russert. In the same way that the Brits were embarrassed by the way they lost their collective shit over the death of Princess Diana, we’re going to look back on this outpouring and try to figure out just what it was, exactly, that was really going on here. The latest from the NYT:

In death, Tim Russert did on Wednesday what no living journalist has accomplished this campaign season: he got Barack Obama and John McCain to sit together and talk, quietly.

Specifically, it was Mr. Russert’s son, Luke, 22, who got the presumptive Democratic and Republican nominees together. He requested that they sit next to each other at his father’s funeral at Holy Trinity Church in Georgetown. Then, in remarks from the pulpit, he exhorted them and other politicians to “engage in spirited debate but disavow the low tactics that distract Americans from the most important issues facing our country.” At the end of the service, the two candidates embraced.

“Five months from now,” Luke Russert said a few hours later, “I wanted them to remember that this occasion brought them together.”

Gee, perhaps Tim Russert should die more often?

There are some folks out there who thought that Tim Russert wasn’t perfect. Some even thought—and dared to write—that Russert occasionally engaged in the kind of low tactics that distracted Americans from important issues facing our country. (“Timmeh!” anyone?) Now may not be the time to say so, in the immediate wake of his death, which is a tragedy and I can certainly empathize with his son’s pain. But this desire to turn Russert into some sort of universally beloved moral force for good, and the creepy emotional manipulativeness on display today, strikes me as highly bizarre and deeply unseemly.

Yesterday vs. Today

posted by on June 19 at 12:08 PM


As the presidential election revs into high gear, President Bush drilled the “Democratic-controlled Congress” for opposing White House energy policies, which he said has resulted in the rise of “gas prices to record levels.”

Bush also inserted himself in the middle of the heated presidential race by reversing a long-held executive position on offshore oil drilling.

Shorter: There’s an oil shortage, and high prices are the the Democrats’ fault.


Exxon Mobil, Shell, Total and BP — the original partners in the Iraq Petroleum Company — along with Chevron and a number of smaller oil companies, are in talks with Iraq’s Oil Ministry for no-bid contracts to service Iraq’s largest fields, according to ministry officials, oil company officials and an American diplomat….

It is not clear what role the United States played in awarding the contracts; there are still American advisers to Iraq’s Oil Ministry.

In all cases but one, the same company that had provided free advice to the ministry for work on a specific field was offered the technical support contract for that field, one of the companies’ officials said.

The first oil contracts for the majors in Iraq are exceptional for the oil industry. They include a provision that could allow the companies to reap large profits at today’s prices: the ministry and companies are negotiating payment in oil rather than cash. The impact, experts say, could be remarkable increases in Iraqi oil output.

Shorter: There’s lots of oil, but high prices are Bush’s and his oil-industry cronies’ fault.

One Man, One Woman

posted by on June 19 at 11:57 AM

OK, I get it: Obama (or his campaign staff) think he needs to pander to homophobic bigots to get elected in November.

Still, I’m disappointed. Opponents of gay rights aren’t going to vote for Obama anyway. And isn’t he in a position—now of all times, when acceptance of the idea of gay marriage is at an all-time high—to take a bolder position than “I oppose gay marriage but I support civil unions”?

It’s so … Clintonesque.

Black Helicopters!

posted by on June 19 at 11:47 AM

In a post titled “Preparations For the DNC ? Military Excersie (sic) Drills in Denver,” We Are Change Colorado, the Denver chapter of a nationwide 9/11 Truth group, has a video reporting on black helicopters that are flying over Denver.

It begins with an in-depth study of a 5-year-old child’s drawings of helicopters (“Wow, that’s frightening,” one of the Truthers says), continues with some Truth guys acting like they’re in the first half of some sort of paramilitary Blair Witch Project, uncovering the secrets of these helicopters, and goes on from there. Confusingly, a soldier throws a glow-stick wrapped in an American flag at the Truthers. They theorize about this glow-stick in their blog:

Now whether or not this glow stick meant we just got ‘fragged’ by a drill grenade, or if it was just a friendly gesture by our boys in the military is unknown, but coming with in feet of our position you can rest assured they are deadly accurate from that height.

The local news sources say that the black helicopters are part of an anti-terrorism test. Truthers theorize that…well…that they’re going to do something nasty at the Democratic National Convention. Of course, when the black helicopters don’t sweep in and abduct Barack Obama, the Truthers will find another reason for the helicopters. No doubt it’s all tied in to…9/11 (cue melodramatic music now)!

Way to be credible, guys.

Coming Vaguely Soon…

posted by on June 19 at 11:46 AM

The oddly titled The Secret of the Grain (the “secret” turns out to be that someone has made off with the couscous) was my favorite movie at SIFF. Certain commenters seem to have felt that a movie about couscous didn’t deserve to be two and a half hours long. I disagree—the triviality of the subject matter made the insane suspense all the more delicious—but you’ll be happy to hear that the subject of Abdellatif Kechiche’s new movie is much heftier.

Hottentot Venus

Yeah, Abdellatif Kechiche is making a period film about the Hottentot Venus. After all the crazy stereotyping of black women I’ve been seeing lately (Michelle Obama, the hockey star’s mom in The Love Guru), I wish it were coming out now, but we’re going to have to wait. It’s shooting in 2009, so Cannes should get it in 2010, and SIFF should get it in… 2011. (Maybe.) I can’t wait.

Via GreenCine Daily.


posted by on June 19 at 11:29 AM

From today’s Seattle Times.

Sher’s win catapults him to the top of the A-list of Broadway directors. Though he moved recently from Seattle to New York, and has various Big Apple projects in the works (including a new musical about martial-arts superstar Bruce Lee), Sher is contracted through 2009 to head Intiman, where he just staged the new play “Namaste Man.”

Asked if his win helps his hometown company he said, “Of course it does — it helps us attract better artists, better producers and other things down the road.” He also mentioned that Intiman will develop “a big Disney musical next year,” with the title to be revealed later.

A “big Disney musical”? At Intiman? Why?

It’s not like Disney really needs the resources of a non-profit theater to develop its next Broadway flop, and Intiman certainly doesn’t need its cultural capital devalued by producing Toy Story 2, starring Larry Ballard. (As much as I’d like to see that… )

I’ve got a call out to Intiman and am postponing my freakout until I have more information. But—really? Seriously?

I can’t believe it.

(Thanks for the heads up, Mike Daisey.)

First Lady

posted by on June 19 at 11:18 AM

This woman is for real.
Check the skirt. Dries Van Noten, I think.

Today The Stranger Suggests

posted by on June 19 at 11:00 AM


‘A Peculiar Brightness in the Sky’ at Platform Gallery

Patte Loper’s melancholy paintings and drawings of fluffy little dogs adrift in modernist interiors and fawns added to a series of famous minimalist installation photographs from the 1970s were charming to look at but also secretly thick with references and questions about art, sex, and nature. Now, in a show of new drawings and animation, she’s taking on Antarctica. (Platform Gallery, 114 Third Ave S, 323-2808. Reception 5–7 pm, free.)


Sherman Alexie Takes the Stand

posted by on June 19 at 10:59 AM

Author and Stranger columnist Sherman Alexie is up on the stand, giving testimony in the Sonics trial RIGHT NOW!

Josh Feit will post a full account of Alexie’s apparently very enthusiastic testimony later today, but he called in to drop a few gems.

On the stand, Alexie was asked what makes NBA players so special. He responded, “the great thing is that they wear such little clothes. You can see their muscles.” Alexie also likened players like LeBron James to Greek gods, referring to them as “the current mythology we’ll look back on in 100 years.”

Alexie went on to complain about how the Sonics ownership is treating current season ticket holders. Apparently, when Alexie attended a season ticket holder party earlier this year, Key Arena staff didn’t recognize him and he had to introduce himself. The horror.

A final note: When Alexie was asked who he wrote for, he listed Time magazine, the New York Times and The Stranger. Alexie was then asked to define The Stranger, stating “oh, you know, it’s a local lefty gay-friendly paper. It’s the best paper in the city.”

Now it’s a matter of record.


Ladies First

posted by on June 19 at 10:39 AM

[It’s Mark Mitchell is your new guest Slogger. I know you’ll make him feel welcome.]

I wasn’t old enough to appreciate Jacqueline Kennedy before she became the Jackie Oh! of my soon-to-be misspent youth. I do remember the Mrs. Onassis years as deeply glam—nude sunbathing, the Christina, sister Lee the Polish Princess by her side. Even at 10 I wondered how often Jackie had to actually do the trollionaire. Rona Barrett fed my taste for the sordid. (Notice Ari’s cowboy boots. He wanted the height).


I barely remember Pat Nixon, vague and ladylike, but that mighty wave of teased hair is burned onto my retinas. My Aunt Zoo Zoo had hair like that. She’d have it set once a week at the beauty parlor, and it was always lacquered stiff, but strangely flexible, like spun fiberglass.


There’s a great story about Betty Ford, drunk before some grand state dinner, sitting quietly on the side of her bed, but too swacked on hooch and goofballs to put on her little evening slippers. Here with Hirohito she looks totally blissed out. Can’t tell if she’s wearing shoes or not.


Rosalyn Carter was like my mother, down to earth and country. Rosalyn favored Simplicity patterns. I suspect she hand-stitched this joint herself.


Then along came Nancy, she-beast of the 1980s.

I hated this woman with a fiery passion throughout her and her Depend-able husband’s reign of terror. I would wrack my filthy imagination to come up with the most appalling imaginary tortures for her. For me, she was the Marie Antoinette of all that was callous and entitled, as it seemed like everyone I knew was, or soon would be, sick or dying. She wore Adolfo’s big, ugly copies of Chanel suits in hideous red tweeds with giant gold buttons. Big gold chains. Witch.


Barbara Bush has had (at least!) two Presidents of the United States of America inside her vagina. Still, she strikes me as nothing more than a spoiled rhinoceros in a powdered wig.

Of Hillary, I cannot speak today.

But Michelle Obama is everything amazing and strong.

$5 Billion Dollar Shock

posted by on June 19 at 10:27 AM

What happens when the U.S. government tries to eradicate coca crops in South America? Farmers grow more of it—a lot more.

The amount of land devoted to production of coca, the leaf used to make cocaine, has grown at a dramatic pace in Colombia despite a huge American-funded counter-drug program of aerial fumigation and aggressive interdiction, a U.N. agency said Wednesday.

In a 132-page report based on satellite imagery and on-the-ground surveys, the United Nations’ Office on Drugs and Crime said that Colombian farmers planted 245,000 acres of coca last year, 27 percent more than in 2006. Coca cultivation in the world’s three top producers, Colombia, Peru and Bolivia, increased 16 percent, to 448,743 acres, a swath of land slightly smaller than Delaware.

“The increase in coca cultivation in Colombia is a surprise and shock,” Antonio Maria Costa, director of the Office on Drugs and Crime, said in a statement. “A surprise because it comes at a time when the Colombian government is trying so hard to eradicate coca; a shock because of the magnitude of cultivation.”

The findings follow almost eight years of heavy aerial fumigation of drug crops in Colombia, an American-designed strategy that has cost more than $5 billion.

Costa’s naiveté is just astounding. He’s the world’s drug czar, yet he experiences “surprise and shock” at supply and demand. Perhaps someone needs to tell him that cocaine sells for $100 a gram.

But it’s not just economics. The fumigation itself is actually propagating more coca fields. According to a report released in March, every time the U.S. sprays crops, farmers have to move to other regions, where they plant more. Betcha that if Costa had bothered to read that report, he wouldn’t be shocked.

The Bloodbath Continues

posted by on June 19 at 10:09 AM

Mariners skipper John McLaren has been fired. Bench coach Jim Riggleman will be taking over.

Update: Here’s the official press release.

Currently Hanging

posted by on June 19 at 10:00 AM

Detail of Randy Hayes’s diptych Ruins, Aphrodisius, Turkey/Pass Christian, Mississippi (2008), oil on pigment prints on canvas mounted on canvas, 48 by 72 inches each panel

At Tacoma Art Museum. (Museum site here.)

Reading Tonight

posted by on June 19 at 10:00 AM


An open mic and then four non-fictional-type book readings going on today.

At the University Book Store, Andrew Ward reads from his most recent work as an editor, a collection of hundreds of diaries, letters, and biographical accounts of the African-American Civil War experience, edited into a book called The Slave’s War. Simultaneously, speaking of African-American history, at Elliott Bay Book Company, Eric Etheridge reads from his book Breach of Peace: Portraits of the 1961 Mississippi Freedom Riders, which is about hundreds of people who went to Mississippi to fight segregation laws.

Up at Third Place Books, Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois read from their cookbook Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. Hopefully, they’ll bring samples. This reading was canceled. Don’t go to Third Place asking for bread tonight. They will not give you bread. No bread! Sorry for the inconvenience—my hard-working intern, Tori Centanni, told me this was canceled some time ago, and I completely forgot to take it off the calendar. Then, being an incredibly gracious intern, she informed me that I could blame it on her. That, ladies and gentleman, is a real intern.

And at the Seattle Public Library, Mary Pols reads from Accidentally on Purpose, which is a book about how she had a one-night stand, got pregnant, and became a single mom. Pols is reading everywhere in the next week or so, so if you can’t make it out tonight, don’t feel bad.

The full readings calendar, including the next week or so, is on our books page.

Project Runway

posted by on June 19 at 9:50 AM

The coming season of Project Runway features another contestant from Seattle—here’s hoping he does better than Jack. WestSeattleBlog has the news, the pictures, and the lattes.

French AIDS Prevention Advertisements

posted by on June 19 at 9:24 AM

Check out these HIV prevention AIDS out of France…



I’ll leave the discussion about whether all those disembodied under-the-sea penises, and all those out-in-space tits, vulvas, mouths, etc., are so revolting that this campaign amounts to a subtle form of aversion therapy. What I think is compelling is the campaign’s explicit and implicit messages. Viewers are encouraged to dive in/blast off and “explore” their sexualities, so long as they explore safely (“just protect yourself”). And all those cocks, asses, pussies indicate quite clearly that the funders of this ad campaign—the French government—assumes that your explorations will involve multiple partners. And the government approves of your explorations, and of your having sex with multiple sex partners, so long as you protect yourself.

I would compare this pro-sex ad to some of the anti-sex ads our government funds but, man, it’s just too depressing.

Via CopyRanter.

The Morning News

posted by on June 19 at 8:45 AM

posted by news intern Chris Kissel

They’re back: American oil companies negotiate no-bid contracts to service Iraqi fields.

Going for the privates: Obama declines public funding, calls finance system “broken.”

Can’t Bear it: Bear Stearns managers arrested for “misleading investors.”

Dangerous decision
: Violence surrounding presidential run-off vote in Zimbabwe escalates.

Real original: Republicans pick up where Hillary Clinton left off.

Hell or high water: Small towns along the Mississippi continue to battle flooding.

Full recovery
: Man injected with immune cells is cancer-free.

Foot parade, Part 6
: Sixth foot washes up in B.C.

Got 520 problems, but a bridge ain’t one: Mediation team has plans for Evergreen Point Bridge.

Two years of sadness: Bennett predicts a grim future for the Sonics if forced to stay in Seattle.

Risky move: Attorney General’s Office, Utilities and Transportation Commission argue against proposed sale of Puget Sound Energy.

Represent: Government Accountability Office sticks up for Boeing.

The best of the 2007-2008 school year, continued:

From “Love and Happiness: A Study of Etymology in Shakespeare’s Sonnet 138,” by Chris Kissel. December 8, 2007.

An investigation of the poem yields several conclusions: Although the first-person narrator insists that love exists between himself and his lover, the ultimate conclusion is that the objects of the poem are more interested in separating themselves from their lies and satisfying each other’s egos than in maintaining a relationship based on love, and that the narrator himself is deceived by the false nature of his relationship with his lover (and it is important to separate the feeling the speaker’s view of his relationship from Shakespeare’s overarching message). Thus, the message Shakespeare seeks to convey in this piece is that relationships between those who cannot trust one another are doomed to be deceptive and self-serving.

The Terror War

posted by on June 19 at 7:30 AM

Because it needs to be repeated:

According to some, Iraq has more unexploited reserves of oil than anywhere else in the world. It has 115 billion barrels of proven reserves, but industry estimates say potential oil fields could more than double that.

“Iraq is the one country that has so much proven and potential reserves - that puts it on a par with Saudi Arabia,” saysTariq Shafiq, a veteran Iraqi oil engineer who started his career with the Iraq Petroleum Company.

Pumping it out of the ground is technically cheaper than anywhere else in the world, making it even more attractive to foreign oil companies, Mr Shafiq explained to the BBC World Service’s Newshour programme.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Anderson Cooper 360

posted by on June 18 at 8:20 PM

It must be said: Anderson Cooper 360 is the best show on television—their insistence on calling Candy Crowley, David Gergen, et al. “the best political team on television” has clearly rubbed off on me—but it is a little less best-ish now that Obama and Clinton aren’t locked in what Jon Stewart had taken to calling their “long, flat, seemingly endless bataan death march to the White House.” (The other best show on television is, of course, The Daily Show; there’s a case to be made for The Colbert Report.)

It used to be that Anderson Cooper 360 was Obama vs. Clinton for the first—what?—20 minutes of the show? And then correspondent Erica Hill would come on and do the other headlines, and then they’d go right back into Obama vs. Clinton for, like, the rest of the hour? Had to be they did other stories too, but no one can remember them. Candy Crowley in particular, with those eyebrows and that improbable name and that Shakespearean character actress aspect, is mesmerizing; nothing earth-shattering ever comes out of her mouth, but it’s always evident there’s a full day of reporting behind whatever she’s saying. Or at least, that used to be evident: Crowley didn’t have much to say tonight about Michelle Obama’s appearance on The View, because, well, what exactly is there to say about Michelle Obama’s appearance on The View?

I didn’t realize how much I enjoyed it all until it disappeared into the past—Crowley and Gergen and the gang chewing on Obama’s performance versus Clinton’s performance in a debate or the latest Rev. Wright “development” or Bill Clinton’s most recent belittling toss off or the gas-tax holiday or the speech on race in Philadelphia or the DNC Rules Committee hearings or whatever. Sure, it was agony to endure, but it was a gorgeous agony, one that the casual, colloquial, no-bullshit tone of the show (a credit to Cooper) developed around. (I remember the time Cooper was grilling Donna Brazille about something and he knew she knew more than she was saying, and when he pressed her she shot him down by saying, “Anderson, you’re not my boo.” And Cooper said, “I want to be your boo,” and then, “I don’t even know what that means.” And then Cooper and Erica Hill had a whole conversation about the meaning of the word “boo,” wherein Hill gave an explanation that was capped off with a loud kissing sound effect, which prompted Cooper to look up into the studio lights, WTF-like, and then to praise Hill’s grasp of slang by saying, “You’re very street, Erica. Keeping it real,” to which Hill replied, “Well, that’s how I roll.”)

Now that the Democratic primary story’s over—and Obama is going up against such a weirdly bad candidate, as opposed to a candidate bursting with ideas and intelligence—Anderson Cooper 360 is just a little more watery. Jesus, that’s a terrible metaphor. My apologies to the Midwest.

Will Michelle Obama Be Asked to Comment on Cindy McCain’s Drug Problems Now?

posted by on June 18 at 8:09 PM

And Cindy’s theft problems and her plagiarism problems? From ABC News:

“I don’t know why she said what she said,” Mrs. McCain explains in an interview with ABC News’ Kate Snow airing on “Good Morning America” Thursday…. Snow asked McCain is she was “insulted when Michelle Obama said she was proud of her country for the first time,” referencing remarks [Michelle] Obama made at a Wisconsin rally during her husband’s fight for the Democratic presidential nomination…

South Park vs The Schrammie

posted by on June 18 at 5:30 PM

Normally, I ignore KOMO’s resident editorial curmudgeon, Ken Schram. He’s a poor man’s Andy Rooney, but sometimes he means well. The rest of the time, the S.S. Schram seems adrift in a sea of crazy.


Not one to disappoint, Schram’s latest column again proves he’s too blustery for his own good:

Maybe it’ll happen.

Maybe it won’t.

But just the fact that somebody’s even considering the idea is just nuts. So if Tim Croll would stop digging for castaway treasure, I’d like him to come on down. Tim’s the Solid Waste Director of Seattle Public Utilities.

He’s right in the thick of it when it comes to spending about $115 million to rebuild and expand Seattle’s two garbage transfer stations.

Now, aside from the resident artists that have been hired to spruce things up; aside from the notion of opening a “used-goods” store because one person’s trash is another person’s treasure, the piece de resistance is the idea of opening up...A TRANSFER STATION CAFÉ!

Ah yes, nothing like a finely cooked meal with all the accompanying ambiance - including the possibility of watching a large TV monitor with a live feed from the disposal pit.

Special of the day waiter?

Depends on what went into the pit last night, sir.

Tim, Tim, Tim: It’s just so ridiculous, rancid, revolting and really, really dumb, which is why you should take a bow, because this “Schrammie” is for you.

And Tim, let’s not do lunch.

Well, I’m not sure what kind of research Schram did before he wrote/recorded his piece, but the Transfer Station cafe wasn’t the city’s idea.

Several months ago, I wrote a short piece about a scrap over the upcoming rebuild of the city’s dumps. I met with Tim Croll to talk about the city’s plan for rebuilding Seattle’s north and south end dumps, and he did indeed bring up the idea of a cafe.

Like Schram, I was puzzled by the idea, but Croll explained that the cafe would be several hundred yards away from the actual garbage dump, near the edge of the property, just off Highway 99 on 5th Ave South.

Croll also told me that the cafe was actually something neighbors in South Park had come up with as one of many potential neighborhood benefits to offset the unpleasantness of rebuilding and expanding the south end dump. Finally, the cafe was primarily going serve coffee, rather than the full meals Schram seems to have dreamed up.

Well, neighbors in South Park caught wind of Schram’s latest tangent and, of course, fired off an email to set the record straight:

Continue reading "South Park vs The Schrammie" »

What’s the Difference?

posted by on June 18 at 5:28 PM

At my barbecue last weekend we had some local Mongoose IPA to drink. But when I looked at the label, I was baffled:


This is obviously a picture of a meerkat—I know all about it from watching Meerkat Manor. Copy editors are picky about these types of things. Granted, meerkats are adorable—but what the hey? THEN I found out that a meerkat is a type of mongoose. A learning moment, thanks to beer.

Now please enjoy this photo of meerkat babies:


Not Exactly on the Garden Tour

posted by on June 18 at 5:26 PM

The sign:


The garden:


I’m not a gardener myself, but I think a little dog shit in there would improve this “garden.”

UPDATE: I should’ve seen this objection coming: “Maybe it sucks because people keep letting their dog piss in it,” w7ngman writes in the comments thread. “DID YOU EVER THINK OF THAT?” The evidence that it wasn’t dog piss that destroyed an otherwise lovely little garden can be found less than twenty feet away….


This little garden patch is lovely and lush, and just steps away from the dirt patch shown above. And there’s no note on the tree from an angry group of gardeners (“our garden”) demanding that dog owners to curb their pets.

Case closed.

How to Read a Poll

posted by on June 18 at 5:14 PM

As we approach November, I anticipate a tidal wave of blog posts on polls. Reading the polling data improperly is hazardous to your health. The disconnect between the polling and the 2004 election results nearly resulted in my death. Avoid my mistakes.

1. Remember that polls are always of a population that may or may not resemble who actually goes to the polls. Only pay attention to polls that randomly select respondents. Consider how the poll selects the respondents.

For example, almost all polls used in the presidential race are based off random telephone surveys of landline telephones. I only have a cell phone. Therefore, I am not in the statistical population surveyed.

Thus, even if the poll is perfect, it might not reflect the reality at the polls in the fall, as the populations might not match.

2. A poll only shows a statistically meaningful difference between two candidates if the difference between them is more than twice the margin of error. Most political polls in the United States are designed to have a margin of error of +/- 3%. Therefore, the difference between the candidates must be greater than 6% to be anything other than a tie.

A margin of error of 3% tells us that the true percentage in the population has a 95% chance of being somewhere between three percent above or below the number reported by the survey.

For example, the Rasmussen June 9 2008 poll of Michigan voters has Obama at 45%, McCain at 42%. The actual percentage of the population for Obama ranges from 42% to 48%, McCain 39% to 45%. The ranges overlap, and therefore we cannot say that one is leading over the other, often called a statistical tie.

Another fun thing to consider. 95% confidence means that for one in twenty polls, the true population percentage will not be in this range.

The practical meaning of all this? Beware selectively looking at the poll results! If you are selective enough, you can only see the error you want to see. Net result? Suicidal thoughts in November.

3. Often the real trends are smaller than the error ranges of the surveys. We can employ two math tricks to make things better.

First, we can aggregate many surveys together and get an average of percentages. We have to be careful when estimating the confidence interval after this averaging, but we can get a better guess at the true population’s percentage just by looking at more than one survey at a time.

The second trick is to use moving averages as a mathematically safe way to sort out random ups-and-downs in the poll numbers from the real longer term changes in the sampled population.

Think of how much your weight changes each day, by when you’ve last gone to the bathroom, how much water you’ve drank and so on. The change on a day-by-day basis is far larger than what you’ll typically gain or lose in a week. So, if you measure your weight each day, and then average together the last seven days, you end up smoothing out all the variance. Left behind is the actual change on a week-long basis. We can use the same math on the polls.

Quite a few websites are around that basically do all of this for us, limiting themselves to polls with some statistical rigor, base their analysis on the confidence intervals, and aggregate multiple polls together in a moving average. None are perfect, but I’ve taken a shine to for it’s non-commercial goodness and openness. I think the site is too aggressive in calling states—Michigan is listed as barely Obama, I think it should be a toss-up—but overall it’s a decent place to start.

Several readers have pointed me to as the source for aggregated poll data on the 2008 election.

This is great Science. Have you checked out yet? Election data porn for DAYS…complete with charts! Would love to hear your thoughts on its methodologies Posted by sherman | June 18, 2008 5:22 PM
no, dude, you need more than a cursory glance at 538 uses detailed methodology to apply trends across congressional districts with similar demographics. The guy who runs it is the same genius who created PECTOA for the Baseball Prospectus.

Trust me, is so 2004. This years it’s all about Nate at 538.
Posted by el ganador | June 18, 2008 6:43 PM

538 is the real deal.

Nate Silver is the brains behind it and the guy is a math wizard - he’s a legend in baseball circles for being by far the most accurate at ball player projections (PECOTA)

You need to read a his FAQ - much of the stuff is over the head of anyone without a PHD in statistics but it is grounded in hard science. He was recently hired by Rasmussen and appeared on CNN - FWIW the ‘main stream’ is taking him very seriously.
Posted by DavidC | June 18, 2008 6:45 PM

After reading over the faq and methodology, I agree. 538 seems a very worthwhile place to follow the 2008 polls. Thanks guys!

The Saga in the 46th Continues

posted by on June 18 at 5:12 PM

The saga surrounding Scott White—a Democratic candidate for state legislature in North Seattle’s 46th District who got pneumonia, withdrew (or tried to withdraw), changed his mind, and got back in (or didn’t) again—continues.

Last night, White broke his long illness-related silence to tell his side of what had happened. According to White’s telling of events, after he was diagnosed with pneumonia and told he would not be able to doorbell for “a couple of months,” he decided to pull out of race “based solely on my health.” So at “the end of the day” last Thursday, June 12, he faxed a form to King County elections withdrawing from the race. However, the elections office didn’t receive the form until 4:35—after the deadline for candidates to withdraw their names from the primary election. “Not only did I fax it after the deadline, but they received it after the deadline,” White said.

Here’s where it gets weird(er): The fax White sent in includes a time stamp of 1:29 pm—three hours before King County Elections officials say they received it, and not the “end of the day,” when White says he sent it. However, a fax log provided by King County elections shows the fax coming in at 3:35—actually 4:35, elections spokewoman Megan Coppersmith says, because the fax machine was never adjusted for Daylight Savings Time. White says the machine he used had a faulty time stamp (I’ve got a call in to his office to find out), but his opponent Gerry Pollet disputes this, arguing that the 1:30 time stamp speaks for itself.

In any case, elections spokeswoman Megan Coppersmith says her office believes White is “absolutely” still in the race. In an email, a spokesman for the Washington Secretary of State’s office confirmed that his office, too, considers White still in the running. In White’s words, “As far as I’m concerned, this is an administrative matter. I am a candidate in this race, I’ve been told that I’m a candidate in this race by King County Elections, and I’m totally confident about this race.”

But those statements are hotly contested by White’s opponent Pollet, who has said that if his opponent “wants to stay on the ballot, he’ll have to go get a lawyer.” Pollet has filed several records requests seeking to find out whether any withdrawals filed after White’s were accepted (King County received at least four other candidate withdrawals from the August primary) and exactly what time White actually sent in the withdrawal form.

In another twist, White sent the form from an office at King County (White works in the county’s facilities management division, which answers to King County Executive Ron Sims)—a violation of the county’s ethics code, which bars both personal use of county equipment and using county equipment for campaign purposes. Although White notes that he paid the executive’s office $1.50 to send the fax, a spokeswoman for Sims, Natasha Jones, says that doesn’t excuse sending a campaign document from a public fax machine. “You’re not supposed to use county resources for campaign work, and that’s very clear and were very diligent about it,” Jones said. Had they known what White was doing, she says, “we would have told him you need to go somewhere else.” Ironically, the office arrived at the $1.50 figure by looking up the fee charged the nearest copy shop—which just happens to be on the ground floor of the county building.

Pollet compares the whole thing to a “circus.” When I pointed out that it was a circus largely of his making (because of the way he has relentlessly tried to draw attention to it)—and over a $1.50 charge and a campaign he had assumed would include White until White tried to pull out—he replied, “[White] definitely withdrew his candidacy on Thursday before any deadline.” As for the $1.50 fax, he says, “It’s not about whether or not you pay for it. It’s illegal to use a county fax machine for private use.”

One other thing that remains unresolved is how White came to be listed on King County Elections’ web site as “withdrawn.” Coppersmith says she doesn’t know who made that notation, but says it was an “error. Our web site is a working web site and it wasn’t final until Tuesday (June 17), when all of the information was listed and stated as official,” she says.

It’s unclear how this whole drama will end. King County and the state consider White to be in the race; Pollet seems determined to do all he can to get White out of it. If both opponents stay in, it’s going to be a long campaign—assuming both candidates make it through the August “top two” primary (a safe bet in the solidly Democratic 46th), they’re going to be running against each other until November.

Basketball Court Day 3: Nick Collison Likes Pizza

posted by on June 18 at 5:04 PM

Unlike yesterday, there were not a lot of revelations today.

The city’s lawyers argued that the Sonics are active in the community, showing videotape of Sonics players like Kevin Durant reading a story about a chicken and an eagle at a Burien Middle School and of Nick Collison reading a Christmas story at an elementary school (is that legal) while telling the kids that his favorite food was pizza. The judge finally cut off the maudlin presentation when attorney Jeff Johnson tried to run video of fans cheering, “Save Our Sonics” at the last game.

Meanwhile, the Sonics’ lawyers trotted out financial data documenting the teams woes: Plummeting suite sales (going from $1.5 million in 2001 to $231,403 today, or 23.5 suites booked to 5.5 booked); heavy attrition of season ticket holders; and declining gate receipts, a 25 percent drop since 2002, down to $457,863 with average headcount dropping from 11,400 to 9,100 per game.)

Sonics President Daniel Barth also told the grim anecdote of the day this Spring the Sonics had sales people manning the phones when they grabbed the 4th pick in the draft (typically when high drafts are announced, ticket sales calls pour in…) and not a single phone call came in. (The city’s attorneys later pointed out that the Sonics tickets aren’t currently for sale.)

Way to waste my day. Neither of these presentations—video footage of do-gooder Sonics or data about lousy ticket sales—was relevant to the central question in the case: Do the Sonics have the right to break their lease?

While the Sonics financial woes are, in part, due to the terms of the lease, they don’t have anything to do with whether or not the lease says they’re required to stay. And as the city’s lawyers rightly pointed out in cross-examination—the Sonics signed the lease and Clay Bennett knew about its problems when he bought the team and agreed to honor the terms. It’s a little odd to be complaining about the lease now.

The only relevant testimony today came when the city, cross examining Bennett, used quotes from his letters and emails to argue that Bennett, who was mandated by the terms of the sale and by the NBA to make a “good faith” and “best effort” to keep the Sonics in the Seattle-area for a 12-month period after the sale—was actually angling to move the team prior to that.

One letter caught Bennett asking his advisors if the preliminary work he’d done to look for a local stadium (preliminary meaning he hadn’t secured any money and hadn’t drawn up any legislation) would count as his “best effort.” The city read this to mean Bennett was trying to skimp on his obligation. Bennett argued back that it showed he was constantly focused on abiding by the mandate.

Another “smoking gun” letter caught Bennett asking the NBA honcho Joel Litvin about the possibilities of moving the team six months into the “Best Effort” period.

We’re Nothing Without a Theme

posted by on June 18 at 4:42 PM

Props to SOAP, the people behind the downtown Pride Parade; last year’s was huge and better than ever (in my lifetime), and this year they’ve promised to make it shorter (only three hours!), with less gaps, less garbage, and more sanicans. And the new announcers… thank god.

But what’s with the flaccid theme, Out for Change? What is anyone supposed to do with or learn from that? It conjures beggars and not much else. Yet float-makers and participants are emplored to “use this theme to guide your Pride Parade expression!” The Dyke March theme is not much better: Start it Up! Pfffft.

Pride is not prom and it comes ready-packaged with a plenty rich theme. The theme of the Pride Parade should be gay pride, visibility, and civil rights. The theme of the Dyke March should be, obviously, Yay, dykes!

It’s possible that the necessity of these vague themes is a gay thing that I don’t get.

Other Pride news: If you’re a planner-aheader, we have Pride listings online already.

Too Much Sexy For Me

posted by on June 18 at 4:39 PM

Is there a casting couch for interns?

World’s Greatest Dad, a motion picture being filmed in Seattle over the summer, starring Robin Williams and directed by Bobcat Goldthwait, is in search of full-time, unpaid interns in a variety of departments. This is an excellent opportunity to learn about filmmaking and to make valuable contacts in the Seattle film industry.

College credit is available to currently enrolled students, if applicable. Non-students are welcome to apply. Internships begin immediately and run through the end of August.

If interested, please email resume to


Re: Emmanuelle

posted by on June 18 at 4:23 PM

Yes! Sorry! This is not Emmanuelle Chriqui.
megan_fox_gq_02.jpg This is Megan Fox.

Marijuana: Like a Bullet Through Your Brain

posted by on June 18 at 4:09 PM

Over at the drug czar’s blog, the hyperbole is pretty unbelievable. The post at the top of the page today is about a report called Marijuana: Rite of Passage or Russian Roulette?

“The good news is that in recent years teen marijuana use has declined. The bad news is that 10.7 million teens still report that they have used marijuana. The worst news is that teens who use the drug are playing a dangerous game of Russian roulette with the bullets of addiction, accidents, crime and mental illness in the chamber,” noted Califano. “With all the evidence now available, simple prudence requires parents to prevent their children from using marijuana. Those parents who fail to do so are uninformed or irresponsible, or both.”

Pot may be more potent than it used to be, but not by much, and people smoke less of it to get the same effect. But does anyone believe that getting baked is suddenly akin to putting a gun to your head? People have been smoking pot for thousands of years; this is not an emerging threat. If pot were so dangerous, we would have already seen the marijuana-related crime, accidents, and insanity.


National Institute on Drug Abuse

The language isn’t just hyperbolic, it’s intentionally misleading. This blog comes from the Office of National Drug Control Policy, and U.S. drug-control policy is clear: Drugs are illegal. We spend tens of billions a year arresting and locking up people who break the law, yet we under-fund treatment programs so they run month-long waiting lists.

But the posts on the front page of the blog manage to avoid the words “police,” “jail,” and “prison,” and they gratuitously repeat the word “treatment.” According to the federal government’s own findings, treatment has proven more effective at reducing drug use than jail. Nevertheless, the drug czar’s office is using sensationalized reports that illustrate the need for treatment—kid are using drugs!—to justify a bloated budget that emphasizes police, jails, and prisons.


posted by on June 18 at 3:43 PM

She is in a very bad movie.
She is the sole reason to watch this very bad movie.

Re: I’d Rather Go Down on a Goat

posted by on June 18 at 3:05 PM

So, I know you guys have already discussed it to death already, but I promised you I would investigate M. Night Shyamalan’s The Happening (and any intelligent design tendencies therein) over the weekend. And so I did.


Whatever its other faults (and there are plenty), The Happening is not intelligent design propaganda. The lecture about disappearing honeybees that science teacher Mark Wahlberg delivers is totally incoherent, but it doesn’t follow that its particular brand of nonsense is the cleverly disguised creationism we’ve all grown to know and love. Yes, the science teacher uses the phrase “just a theory.” But he’s using it in the colloquial sense—he’s actually criticizing a student’s hypothesis, not evolution or gravity or another thoroughly substantiated explanation of natural phenomena. And even as he asserts that sometimes it’s proper to attribute scientific phenomena to “an act of nature,” he drills his students on a decent approximation of the scientific method. There is some nonsense about “rapid evolution” that occurs across several separate populations simultaneously, but that’s just a junk-science plot convenience. It won’t make anyone more susceptible to believing in ID.

The funny thing is, in the movie’s universe, “an act of nature” is no mystery. It’s literal.

I’m hiding the rest of this after the break, but honestly, I don’t see how something can be a spoiler when it’s revealed in the first half hour. (There is no final act twist—Shyamalan has abandoned his gimmick.)

Continue reading "Re: I'd Rather Go Down on a Goat" »

Muslim Women Refused Seat Behind Obama

posted by on June 18 at 2:53 PM

According to the San Francisco Chronicle:

A young Muslim woman said she and another woman were refused seats directly behind Barack Obama — and in front of TV cameras — at a Detroit rally because they wear head scarfs.

Hebba Aref said Wednesday that she and Shimaa Abdelfadeel were among 20,000 supporters who gathered to see the Democratic presidential hopeful on Monday at the Joe Louis Arena when the groups they were with were separately invited by Obama campaign volunteers to sit behind the podium. But Aref said the volunteers told members of both parties in separate discussions that women wearing hijabs, the traditional Muslim head scarves, weren’t included in the invitation and couldn’t sit behind the podium.

Aref, a 25-year-old lawyer, said a member of her group was told by a volunteer that she could not invite Aref because of “a sensitive political climate.”

Obama spokesman Bill Burton issued a statement saying such actions are “not the policy of the campaign.”

I guess it’s an indication of how ugly things have gotten in America—in a campaign season where the supposedly venerable National Review demands Obama present his birth certificate to prove he’s not a foreigner; where seven percent of Americans falsely believe he is a Muslim; where Fox Fucking News refers to an affectionate fist bump with his wife as a “terrorist fist jab”’ ; where supposedly reputable media outlets repeatedly refer to him (“accidentally,” of course!”) as “Osama” (or Osama bin Laden as “Obama”); where right-wing pundits—from wingnuts to anonymous nutjobs—repeat his middle name like some kind of Republican mantra (Hussein Hussein Hussein!); where mainstream papers literally ask if he is a “Muslim apostate”; and where Obama’s own campaign has to set up a web site called “Fight the Smears” in part to assert, again, that he was never a Muslim—that my first reaction to the news was, well, if the campaign did make them move, can you really blame them?

Sims Should’ve Known

posted by on June 18 at 2:53 PM

Surprise, surprise: Businesses won’t pay extra to jump through hoops. King County had been privately negotiating with YarrowBay Development Group to sell a 156-acre parcel in the middle of Maple Valley, called the “donut hole”, which I wrote about over here. But after the county opened up the bidding process, YarrowBay—still the only bidder—reduced its offering and now says it will no longer hand over a pristine piece of environmentally sensitive land the county had hoped to protect. So the county is saying the deal is off.

Reports Jim Brunner:

YarrowBay’s bid of $35 million came in far lower than the $45 million to $51 million the company had offered for the land in January, according to a letter from Kathy Brown, the county’s facilities-management director, to YarrowBay managing partner Brian Ross. Brown called YarrowBay’s latest offer “completely inadequate” in a May 19 letter obtained by The Seattle Times.

“We’re still in negotiations. The current proposal does not meet our needs,” said Brown, whose letter had threatened to call off talks if YarrowBay didn’t raise its bid substantially.

This is the county’s own damn fault. After getting bad press in January for the no-bid contract, King County Executive Ron Sims opened up the bidding process—but not really. The bidding window lasted only 60 days and the request for proposals was 14 pages long. It would be virtually impossible for another developer to submit such a detailed proposal in such a short amount of time. Sims knew—or should have known—that the only bidder who could turn around a proposal was YarrowBay. Sims also knew—or should have known—that YarrowBay would resent the additional time, money, and bad press the ordeal created and would lower its bid. Sims also knew—or should have known—that county budget would face a $68 million shortfall next year, and that this is no time for multi-million dollar blunders.

Note to county officials: If you’re going to enter a no-bid contract, brace for bad press—but keep at it. And if you want to open a request for proposals, make the conditions conducive to competition and higher bids.

Headline of the Day

posted by on June 18 at 2:50 PM

Sixth severed foot surfaces off Canadian coast

CNN has the best headline, but the Independent has the story:

In the latest grisly twist to a saga that has spawned dozens of conspiracy theories, two dog-walkers spotted the left foot, inside a shoe, floating in water off Westham island, near the mouth of the Fraser river, on Monday morning.

It was detached near the ankle, and had apparently been in the water for some time. Police are trying to determine whether it is linked to some near-identical discoveries which began when a size 12 right foot came ashore last August.

And my favorite detail:

The five feet are at the Centre for Forensic Research at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver. Local reports say that a forensic anthropologist at SFU, Mark Skinner, is boiling the flesh off them in an effort to extract DNA samples and study the bones to identify characteristics that could suggest the cause of death.

Boiling the flesh off of the feet (destroying the evidence?) to extract DNA samples from feet that’ve washed up on a rocky Canadian shore, found by two dog-walkers—are we suddenly in an Annie Proulx novel?

“I’m beginning to think it might be a boat or plane that went down, and then something shifted, through seismic activity or a boat, that is making it release all these body parts now,” Ms Anderson said. “The reason only feet have been found is because they are in running shoes and protected.”

Yes. Yes, we are.

Act Now! Supplies are Limited, Going Nowhere Fast!

posted by on June 18 at 2:29 PM

Via Instaputz comes the exciting news that the George W. Bush Store has a new line of items to commemorate the last days of Dubya’s historic reign. Items such as the “Thank You President Bush” yard sign ($7.95 each, or $4.25 each if purchased in packs of 50-99) and “W Thank You” travel tumbler (also $7.95).

Best of all is the site’s welcome note:

As licensee for the last eight years to the George W. Bush Presidential Campaigns, and as the creator of the George W. Bush Store, Spalding Group has been fortunate to experience the tremendous popularity and respect that President Bush has attained. As President Bush enters his last year in office, we are receiving countless requests for new items that allow supporters to demonstrate their appreciation and admiration for our President.


Less than one-quarter of Americans think President George W. Bush is doing a good job, giving him the worst marks of his two-term presidency, a poll showed Tuesday.

The poll also showed 80 percent think the United States is on the wrong track.

Only 24 percent of those surveyed gave Bush a positive rating, a score “worse than that of any president, except for Jimmy Carter (22 percent in July 1980) since Harris first started measuring them,” the Harris polling agency, which conducted the survey, said.

Bush’s previous low came in April, when 26 percent of Americans said he was doing a good job.

“I Like to Be Pretty”

posted by on June 18 at 2:19 PM

Via Wonkette, we have a clip of Michelle Obama on The View. This is the longest sustained viewing of The View that I’ve ever endured.

Holy. Fucking. Shit.

When did Talking About Pantyhose With Barbara Walters become one of the biggest shows on morning t.v.? I used to feel bad for politicians for having to endure the gauntlet of stupid television news shows. Now I feel worse for their wives for having to put up with this shit.


posted by on June 18 at 1:53 PM

Obama has expressed his “deep disappointment” in John McCain for failing to denounce attacks on Obama’s wife, Michelle. In an interview with the Brody File, Obama said,

I think families are off limits. I would never consider making Cindy McCain a campaign issue, and if I saw people doing that - I would speak out against it. And the fact that I haven’t seen that from John McCain I think is a deep disappointment.”

Now, some criticism of Michelle Obama is inevitable. Unlike Stepford heiress and cookie recipe thief Cindy McCain, Michele is a strong surrogate for her husband’s campaign. On the other hand, the kind of ridiculous “angry black woman” accusations made against her by right-wing pundits in recent weeks (highly recommended: here) deserve denouncing, and if McCain wanted to take the high road, he would denounce them.

But I wonder: Where was Obama’s strict “families are off limits” stance when he was snapping at Clinton that he “didn’t know who he was running against” sometimes—her or her husband—in the South Carolina debate (after Clinton pointed out that she, not her husband, was Obama’s opponent)? Where was his “families are off limits” stance when he blasted Clinton in that same debate for “your husband[’s]” criticism of Obama’s statements on Ronald Reagan? Where was it when he implied Clinton was dipping into her wealthy husband’s assets to pay her campaign debt? And for that matter, where was it when media pundits like Chris Matthews were implying that Clinton didn’t win her Senate race on her merit, but because people felt sorry for her because her husband “messed around”?

If families are off limits, they’re off limits—whether the spouse in question is a former President or a whip-smart corporate attorney working full-time for your presidential campaign. I find it disappointing that Obama’s desire to take the high road didn’t emerge until it was his spouse under attack. Nor will I be surprised if Obama has a similar revelation about sexism, a topic he consistently declined to address when it was used to against his female opponent, once it’s turned against his wife.

Is Obama’s Victory—or at Least McCain’s Defeat—So Important for the United States and the World That We Have to Play by the Idiots’ Rules?

posted by on June 18 at 1:35 PM

That’s my question upon reading this ABC News story, about the two Muslim women who claim they were barred from sitting behind the podium at Obama’s rally in Detroit because of their headscarves.

Discuss and squirm.

Flickr Photo of the Day

posted by on June 18 at 1:34 PM

When Titans Clash!


posted by earinc

Dumb Impressionist Fact of the Day

posted by on June 18 at 1:28 PM

[Degas] felt a particular horror for the necks and shoulders of women past their prime.

From Sue Roe’s The Private Lives of Impressionists, a slightly trashy book I’m reading in honor of the SAM show.

In the SAM show:

Edgar Degas, Visit to a Museum (ca. 1879-90), oil on canvas, 36 1/8 by 26 3/4 inches, picturing Berthe Morisot and her sister at the Louvre

Townhouses and Trader Joe’s

posted by on June 18 at 1:25 PM

Every last person in Seattle is completely appalled by our rapid rate of growth—in just three short years, “Seattle already is halfway to reaching its targeted housing growth for 20 years”—and views every new development as a threat to our cherished way of life. Every last person in Seattle views every last town house built in Seattle as an ugly piece of shit. And every last resident of Seattle adores that little old lady in Ballard who refused to sell her house to developers for $1,000,000 dollars. Westneat:

The tiny house in the industrial flats once was part of a row of picket-fence-lined cottages along a working-class street. That was old Ballard.

Today it sits walled in on three sides by what will be a five-story health club and a Trader Joe’s. New Ballard.

Gosh, old Seattle had soul—didn’t it? And a Denny’s. Man. Those were the days.

What’s New Seattle got? Phht. Health clubs and condos and Trader Joe’s. Ugh. And everyone knows that there’s nothing better than the chow at Denny’s and nothing worse than all those health clubs and town houses and Trader Joe’s. Which is why the Ballard Denny’s was always packed and all those health clubs and town houses and Trader Joe’s sit empty. Because no one in Seattle will live in a structure that post-dates the World’s Fair, eat in a restaurant that’s less than 30 years-old (soon we’ll only have Dick’s), or shop in a supermarket that sells those pretentious canvas sacks.

And people in Seattle only work out in olde tyme gymnasiums, thank you very much, and not those pansy-assed “health clubs” developers insist on building despite the fact that no one ever goes to them.

Lunchtime Quickie, Now With a Gallon of Lube

posted by on June 18 at 1:15 PM

A couple weeks ago I went down to Portland for The 7th Annual Masturbate-a-Thon. The event promised dancing girls, comedians, jugglers, trannies, porn stars, a tarot card reader, fellatio demos, The Thrill Hammer, and last, but certainly not least, a play-space called “The Rubitorium.”

I took two very brave friends with me. Upon our third or fourth pre-Masturbate-a-Thon shot of courage, one of them remarked, “I can’t believe we’re going to this. One of us is going to go blind.” One of us did indeed go blind. About two hours into the event, the video camera just inexplicably stopped working. It was also about the same time one of my friends had to pull me out of a potentially terrifying scenario with Mae West, using the event’s official safety chant, “No Means No! No Means No!”.

Anyway. I went there to make a How Was It? video. And I did. The sound might be NSFW, but everything else has been sanitized for your pleasure. You didn’t want to see the actual Rubitorium anyway. Like a strange dream, I’ve already almost forgotten what it looked like. It’s probably better that way. I do remember thinking, during our post-Thon decompression shot at Mary’s Club, that whatever it was that we just saw, I was glad it existed. There’s a reason we saw that “Keep Portland Weird!” billboard on the way there. Something so wild and free could never happen in a club in Seattle. Not a million years.

Bringing Bowling Back

posted by on June 18 at 12:50 PM

Ballard hasn’t always been “hep,” or whatever. Fifteen years ago, Ballard Avenue was full of industrial warehouses instead of bars, there was no “NoMa” (*snicker*) and Market Street was inhabited by crappy bookstores, a rundown one-screen movie theater and tiny shops selling troll statues, lingonberry preserves and lutefisk to old swedes.

Just like the rest of the city, Ballard’s changed drastically over the last 20 years—not necessarily for the worse, either—but when the Denny’s and Sunset Bowl closed down last April, it was clear that ol’ blue collar Ballard was on the way out.

The bar at Denny’s was, up until the end, an indisputably a blue collar dive. The Sunset on the other hand, had become just as much a destination for irony-loving, Bud Light swilling karaoke crooners as it had for real, hardcore bowlers. But that was kind of the beauty of the Sunset. That weird mix of loud obnoxious twenty-somethings rocking out to “Don’t Stop Believin’” as grumpy, old men with bowling gloves puttered around the lanes was sort of the perfect balance between new Ballard and ye olde Ballard. Bowling was the great equalizer.

The Sunset’s gone—soon to be replaced by apartments and retail—but on Ballard resident is trying to keep old Ballard alive. Jim Bristow, the man behind Save the Sunset, has been talking to banks, businesses and Avalon Bay—the new owner of the Sunset Bowl site—about what it will take to bring bowling back to Ballard.

Continue reading "Bringing Bowling Back" »


posted by on June 18 at 12:50 PM

Hat tip to ECB for introducing me to the term for this close-to-home break I’m currently taking. And thanks to urban dictionary for providing an example of proper usage:

With the price of gas soaring, a staycation is what most Americans will experience during the summer of 2008.

I’ll be back next Wednesday, ready once again for all the knuckle bumps and chuckle heads that campaign 08 can provide. But until then…

Suggestions for (non-Capitol Hill) spots to enjoy the Seattle staycation life?

Hanged Jury

posted by on June 18 at 12:30 PM

The Massachusetts School of Law at Andover is preparing to convene a conference to try President Bush as a war criminal:

“This is not intended to be a mere discussion of violations of law that have occurred,” says MSL’s dean Lawrence Velvel in a statement announcing the conference. “It is, rather, intended to be a planning conference at which plans will be laid and necessary organizational structures set up, to pursue the guilty as long as necessary and, if need be, to the ends of the Earth.”

The dean, who I imagine as looking exactly like Keith Olbermann, goes on:

“We must insist on appropriate punishments,” Velvel said, “including, if guilt is found, the hangings visited upon top German and Japanese war-criminals in the 1940s.” Sending administration officials to the gallows, he added, “would be a powerful lesson to future American leaders.”

Um, wow. Maybe we should wait until after the election to talk about this, guys.

Council Adopts Tax Breaks for $1,300 Apartments

posted by on June 18 at 12:05 PM

The city council’s housing committee just voted, four to one, to dramatically expand an existing program that gives long-term tax exemptions to multifamily housing developers who provide a specific number of units at rates “affordable” to certain income levels. Currently, the program provides a 12-year tax breaks to multifamily housing developers who set aside between 20 and 30 percent of their units to people earning between 60 and 70 percent of the Seattle median income—about $38,000 for an individual..

Although much of the media coverage of the tax exemption expansion has focused on the fact that the council expanded the geographical scope of the program to include parts of the city that are already far exceeding their growth and density targets, the real story here is that the revised program would increase “affordable” rents to levels far above market rents in many parts of the city. Subsidies, currently limited to developers who provide units affordable to people making lower-middle-class to middle-class incomes, would expand to units affordable to individuals who earn up to 90 percent of the Seattle median. That’s individuals earning up to $49,000, couples earning up to $56,000, and families with one child earning up to $62,300. Although Mayor Greg Nickels and other supporters of the program argue that it will provide housing for, as Nickels’s press release put it, “police, firefighters, nurses, grocery clerks and others,” it in fact funds housing that is out of reach for most people in those and similar occupations. For example, according to the Washington State Employment Security Department, a typical nurse’s aide makes $28,700; a medical assistant, $34,552 a construction worker, $32,700, and a cashier, $22,000.

Jan Drago, who voted for the new exemption levels, said her concern was that “we need more housing at more income levels, which includes affordable housing for low-income people and for middle-income people… Those are the people who are leaving the city. Council member Nick Licata responded that middle-income people are hardly the only ones being pushed out of Seattle by a lack of affordable housing. “To focus on the higher end and say they’re leaving town because they can’t find housing—there’s no data that says they’re leaving any more than anyone else,” Licata said. People making under 60 percent of median, in contrast, “are driving in [to Seattle] to be the janitor, to be the nurse’s aide, to be the clerks downtown. These are the people with the greatest need that isn’t being met.”

What’s “affordable” at the income levels the council endorsed for subsidies this morning? The program just adopted defines an “affordable” studio apartment anywhere in the city, including lower-income neighborhoods like the Rainier Valley, as one that costs $1,090 a month. An “affordable” one-bedroom is $1,314; an “affordable” two-bedroom, $1,577. Those don’t sound like rents that I could afford, and they don’t sound like rents that anyone I know is paying. What they sound like is what you’d pay to live in one of the high-end luxury apartment buildings currently going up all over town. In contrast, maintaining the affordability levels of the program adopted in 2004, as Licata wanted to do, would have given developers incentives to charge rents of between $823 and $969 a month for studios, between $929 and $1,096 a month for one bedrooms, and from $1,041 and $1,229 a month for two bedrooms—not cheap, but not entirely out of reach for people making a decent, middle-income wage.

It’s hard not to agree, then, with housing and low-income advocates who pleaded with the council to preserve the old eligibility levels—which, as council member Nick Licata has pointed out, have already created 763 units of long-term affordable housing (affordable to people making 60 percent of the Seattle median or less) in the city’s urban villages since they were adopted in 2004. John Fox of the Seattle Displacement Coalition noted that the subsidy council members adopted gives tax breaks for units that are “$200 above what most tenants can afford” in the neighborhoods the council added to the program today, “and twice the average housing price in southeast Seattle neighborhoods.”

And it’s not as if market-rate housing is in short supply. Bill Kirlin-Hackett, a member of the Interfaith Task Force on Homelessness and the Greater Seattle Church Council, told council members, “No one needs incentives to reap a ripe profit in this town.” As Licata added later, “All but one of the neighborhoods (that were added to the program) are already providing market rate housing at lower rates than the programs we’re subsidizing.”

The changes to the tax-exemption program will go before the full City Council on Monday.

The Freeway Blogger Strikes Again

posted by on June 18 at 11:50 AM

The international man of mystery known as the Freeway Blogger is on his way back to Seattle.

This time, he’s taking on global warming:


FB says he’ll be in town in the next month or so. Keep an eye out for his work.

Unicorn Combover. Prepare Yourself.

posted by on June 18 at 11:47 AM

I did not know there is a velvet-painting museum in Portland, but thanks to Newsweek’s slide show narrated by its admiring owners, now I do.

I suppose it is your choice whether you want a Unicorn Combover in your life, but I know I’m glad to have it. If I could post the image here, I would. A poor substitute will have to do.


Ahpra Noozzzzz

posted by on June 18 at 11:35 AM

(*Absurd spelling in honourr of Nick Scholl, sometime Stranger web genius, sometime Stranger opera writer, all-time opera blogger, and, as Dave Segal once said, “original aesthete.”)

Not long ago, an American lutenist who’s as successful as an American lutenist can get returned to the city where he grew up: Seattle. His name is Stephen Stubbs, and he came here to found the Seattle Academy of Baroque Opera.

A private academy entirely devoted to baroque opera run by a master lutenist is pretty much the bomb all on its own, but Stubbs’s return also means there will be public performances of baroque opera, too.

I emailed Stubbs yesterday and got this response today:

There’s lot’s to tell. We have founded a new chamber opera company called Pacific Operaworks which will have its debut production next March with a production of Monteverdi’s Ulisse in the production of the South African artist William Kentridge who will come to town with the South African Handspring Puppet Company to direct the production. I will musically direct the singers and orchestra from Seattle and around the US. After that I have productions in the pipeline with a series of terrific stage directors including Stephen Wadsworth, Peter Kazaras and Mark Morris.

Could this be Seattle’s version of a great alternative to the big guy, like (the admittedly more general) New York City Opera?

Speaking of NYCO, it’s staging a Brokeback Mountain opera, to be composed by twelve-tonalist Charles Wuorinen. (Add that to recent news of an opera version of An Inconvenient Truth.)

Even better, here’s an NPR interview that just went up this morning with the aforementioned, crazy-spelling Nick Scholl about Brokeback and the subject of current-events operas (from Nixon in China to Marriage of Figaro). It’s a great listen. (From the host: “I’m just worried that the ‘Brokeback Mountain’ opera will lose to the ‘Crash’ opera.” Wah, wah.)

And here’s Nick’s blog, Trrill.

I’d Rather Go Down on a Goat…

posted by on June 18 at 11:33 AM


…than pay money to see another M. Night Shyamalan film.

Nevertheless, The New Republic’s point-by-point, spoiler-ridden dissection of the endless stupidity of The Happening makes me think I need to go see it right now.

(Thanks for the heads-up, MetaFilter.)

Dino Rossi: Seattle Voters Suck Ass

posted by on June 18 at 11:27 AM

Gee, look what Dino Rossi is telling voters in Eastern Washington…


That’s right: Seattle stole the last election. And we pulled off this daring heist by showing up at the polls in 2004 and giving Christine Gregoire a majority—a bare majority—of the votes cast.

Hm. I don’t see as how it’s in Dino’s best interest to call Seattle voters a bunch of crooks seeing as how Dino is gonna need to scare up some more votes in Seattle this time if he actually wants to be Governor. But, hey, I’m sure that Dino cleared this Seattle-bashing crap with his political consultants, who in turn assured Dino that no one in Seattle would ever see these yard signs.

Via Horseass.

Currently Hanging

posted by on June 18 at 11:11 AM

Doug Jeck’s Cain and Abel (2000); stoneware, paint, concrete, plastic foliage, wax, hair, and wood; 77 by 20 by 16 inches

At Tacoma Art Museum. (Museum web site here.)

*Is it too much to ask that the penis jokes sure to appear in the comments at least be clever?

Hillary For You and Me

posted by on June 18 at 11:02 AM

Remember being told that only Hillary could carry those big, must-win swing states—your Ohios, your Floridas, your Pennsylvanias—and so we just had to support her? Goodbye to all that:

Just a few weeks after claiming the slot as the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, Sen. Barack Obama has overtaken Republican contender Sen. John McCain in a swing-state poll of Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania voters… The poll, which surveyed 1,396 likely Ohio voters from June 9 to 16, found Obama edged out McCain in a match-up 48 percent to the Republican’s 42 percent.

In Florida, Obama leads McCain 47 percent to the Republican’s 43 percent, while he leads by a double-digit margin in Pennsylvania, 52 percent to McCain’s 40 percent.

Today The Stranger Suggests

posted by on June 18 at 11:00 AM


Can Can Castaways at Can Can

Sometimes it seems like every bar, club, and Laundromat has an amateur burlesque night, with dilettante dancers who are as supple and sexy as a paper bag full of coat hangers. But the subterranean, candlelit Can Can remains a haven for the genuine article. You won’t find any desultory shimmying here: These dancers are strong, limber, and explosive. They swing from chains, slam each other against walls, and generally steam up the almost-too-intimate stage. The Castaways are the soul and flower of burlesque. (Can Can, 94 Pike St, 652-0832. 9 pm, $5, 21+.) BRENDAN KILEY

O They Will Know We Are Christians…

posted by on June 18 at 10:48 AM

…by all the children we send home to Jesus.

A 16-year-old boy whose parents rely on prayer instead of medical care has died following an illness marked by stomach pains and shortness of breath, authorities said….

In March, the boy’s 15-month-old cousin [also] died at home from bronchial pneumonia and a blood infection. Her parents, Carl and Raylene Worthington, also failed to contact a doctor and are awaiting trial on criminal charges in her death.

The Other Happening

posted by on June 18 at 10:38 AM

A letter from a good friend:

There’s a very interesting play of paradoxical requirements within the neoliberal order that I saw highlighted today on the Abu Aardvark website. It has to do with garrisoning defective territories for capitalist domination. The military is pursuing all kinds of advanced social and behavioural modification methods for subduing hostile populations and has recruited social scientists and theorists to that end. They have published a much discussed field manual [U.S. Army/Marine Counterinsurgency Field Manual (FM 3-24)] as the outcome. But, to be successful in its implementation at all levels of society, as the manual requires, the military must have immanent command over resources and institutions. A problem arises with the simultaneous privatisation of these same resources and institutions. It can’t be both a hegemonic military force and an open field for economic exploitation! Which is more important?

What Wendy Brown (political theorist from UC Berkeley) has to say about all this:

If the manual can be reduced to a single didactic point, it is that successful wars against insurgents involve erudite and careful mobilization of every element of the society in which they are being waged. These wars will be won through a new and total kind of governance, one that emanates from the military but reaches to security and stability for civilian life, formal and informal economies, structures of authority, patron–client relationships, political participation, culture, law, identity, social structure, material needs, ethnic and linguistic subdivisions, and more (pp. 81–99). So the COIN military not only must coordinate closely with other agents of regime change, including in the host nation, but must itself apprehend and manipulate every aspect of a society if it is to bend the society to its cause rather than to the insurgent one.


The boundary breakdowns and erasure of settled jurisdictions articulated and advocated throughout the volume, however, are also at the heart of a set of contemporary problems for counterinsurgency that the manual cannot address or solve. What happens when the military is no longer in charge of the wars it wages because the wars themselves are outsourced to private contractors, and when an occupier is no longer in charge of its occupation because the resources and enterprises of the occupied country have been sold off to the highest bidders in the world market? These are the problems signified today by proper nouns like Blackwater, Halliburton, Abu-Ghraib, and J. Paul Bremer. While the new manual clearly represents a serious effort at securing American hegemony through stabilizing and transforming rather than simply sacking the regions targeted as critical to this hegemony, insurgents are often the least of the forces exceeding the military’s control. There are more than 180,000 private security employees in Iraq, substantially more than the total number of U.S. troops even after the spring 2007 surge. The deadly Blackwater shooting spree of September 2007 revealed the extent to which these private security forces are not only beyond the pale of American military command but also beyond the pale of law, any law. As nonmilitary personnel, they are not subject to the U.S. Uniform Code of Military Justice and, if fired, could not be court-marshaled in any event. Operating as combatants outside the boundaries of the United States, they are not subject to American constitutional law. International law would be awkwardly and ineffectively summoned in a context in which international justice instruments have been spurned from the outset.


So the manual represents something of a tragic irony, in which the American military has grasped the importance of conducting counterinsurgency on all fronts and with a transformed military culture at the very moment that it is neither capable of controlling most of these other fronts nor in charge of outsourced military operations. The deliberate facilitation of capital’s superordination in the new Iraq radically undermines the possibility of coordinating and controlling the elements of counterinsurgency identified as critical in the manual. Similarly, even as the manual repeatedly stresses the importance of unity of effort in counterinsurgency struggles (Chapter 2 is wholly concerned with this), such unity is rendered impossible by the ubiquitousness of privatized security forces, privatized resources, privatized infrastructure building and rebuilding, privatized industry, and privatized prisons and water supplies. How is unified and coordinated effort to be expected among agents produced and governed by a neoliberal rationality whose ruling principle is lack of regulation, restriction, or control by anything outside the private enterprise? And what motivation could there be for investors and contractors involved in these operations to organize their efforts around any end other than profitability, an end that might well collide with “successful” counterinsurgency? It is hard to know why the private enterprises lured to Iraq specifically to sustain an occupation would aim to conclude that occupation. It is even harder to know why any of the foreign capital that flooded post-Saddam Iraq would become invested in national sovereignty and substantive democracy there.

My conclusion: What’s happening in Iraq is what always happens when capital thinks it’s nothing but itself—pulling itself up by the hair like Baron Munchausen. Iraq marks the dreamy (or nightmarish) moment when capital starts to believe its own fiction. When it sees its own ideology as the world, as the rational, as the real. But capital can not function without state force, state power, the state apparatus. It orders weaker economic systems to do so (Economic Structural Adjustments Programs, and so on), to be like it sees (imagines) itself—a consequence of itself. But it is in reality a consequence of cannons “battering down China walls,” and state funded operations and adventures of every kind. The separation of state from capital is not in any way realistic. In the way labor power is the substance of an object and use value is the object, the state is the object and capital its substance.

“La Pequeña Hillary Clinton”

posted by on June 18 at 10:36 AM

The search for Obama’s running mate is over.

Thank you, Radar.

Reading Tonight

posted by on June 18 at 10:10 AM


A poetry slam and a few other things going on tonight.

At Third Place Books, Kris Steinnes reads from Women of Wisdom: Empowering the Dreams and Spirit of Women. So if any of you ladies need your dreams and spirits empowered, you know where to go tonight; tell ‘em Paul Bobby sent you.

At the University Book Store, Sam Gosling reads from Snoop: What Your Stuff Says About You, which is supposed to be about learning about people through their stuff. I have a confession to make: in the readings calendar, I say that this “looks like a fascinating book,” and I give the reading a star. This weekend, while I was sick, I read about half of Snoop. It’s a terrible book, one that makes Malcolm Gladwell look like Albert Einstein. We’re supposed to be shocked that people who use Stephen Wright quotes as signatures at the end of their e-mails are quirky and a little outsiderish. We’re told that a college student, a member of a sorority, has a bumper sticker in her dorm room that reads “Be Your Own Goddess,” and that that means she “broadcast(s) public self-affirmation with a feminist twist.” This is one of the dumbest, most obvious books I’ve read in a long time. Ignore the star, and don’t go to the reading. Sorry I got suckered.

At Elliott Bay Book Company, Sasa Stanisic reads from How the Soldier Repairs the Gramophone is a debut novel that’s getting great reviews. I want to say the author’s name over and over again. I’d also like to read the book, but I haven’t yet. Beware!

And at Town Hall is the most interesting reading of the night: Jeremy Scahill reads from Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army, which is just out in paperback. I’m convinced that if more people understood the story behind Blackwater, it would be the biggest scandal in America. Scahill’s a good writer, and this is an important book, and not at all stupid like some other books in this post that I could mention.

A full readings calendar, with mostly believable recommendations, is on our Books page.

Transsexual Prostitute Beaten by Police Officer in Memphis

posted by on June 18 at 10:00 AM

The officer hit Johnson several times with the handcuffs wrapped around his knuckles. In the video, you can see the flash of the metal.

Video here.

Charge for Carry-Ons, Not Checked Bags

posted by on June 18 at 9:45 AM

Someone give this guy an airline to manage…

Airlines know that people prefer to bring their bags on board because they want to avoid the time and hassle needed to collect them at baggage claim and the risk that they’ll be lost.

Charging to check bags, then, is foolish because it is an attempt to get passengers to pay for something that they don’t want to do anyway—and will seek to avoid by trying to bring more of their baggage on board.

That’s why charging for bringing luggage on board makes good sense.

I’m flying American Airlines—the first to start charging to check bags—this summer, and I’m already dreading it due to the chaos I anticipate during boarding. People already carry too much crap onto airplanes, and it’s absolutely insane that the airlines are giving people an incentive to carry still more crap on. Charging to carry bags on, as opposed to checking them, makes infinitely more sense—that’s one fee I’d happily pay.

Remember Nicholas Francisco?

posted by on June 18 at 9:41 AM


The 28-year-old SeaTac man and father of two who disappeared without a trace on Feb. 13?

In the wake of his disappearance, Nicholas Francisco’s (pregnant) wife Christine led an increasingly desperate search. Here’s video of Christine on Nancy Grace, in which she weeps for her missing man, whom she describes as “so sweet.”

This past Monday, Christine Francisco filed for divorce from her vanished husband. What’s more, as the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports:

In requesting custody of her children, Christine Francisco’s petition alleges “willful abandonment that continues for a period of time” and a “history of acts of domestic violence … or an assault or sexual assault which causes grievous bodily harm or the fear of such harm.”

Alrighty then.

As the Right Wing Gets to Work Smearing Michelle Obama…

posted by on June 18 at 9:35 AM

…now might be a good time to memorize this.

In 1989, following two back surgeries, Cindy McCain became addicted to the painkillers Vicodin and Percocet. To keep up with her daily need of 10 to 15 pills, she used other people’s names for prescriptions and stole drugs from the American Voluntary Medical Team, a mobile surgical unit she’d begun in 1988 to provide emergency medical services around the world. A 1993 DEA audit of the amount of painkillers her charity had obtained quickly uncovered her thefts. She avoided prosecution for those crimes through an agreement with the Justice Department in which she submitted to drug testing, paid a fine, performed community service in a soup kitchen, and joined Narcotics Anonymous.

Good info to have at your fingertips just in case you, like, get into an argument with a Republican relative about which potential First Lady is the bigger disgrace.

Oh, and in addition to being a thief and a drug addict, Cindy McCain is also a serial cookie-recipe plagiarist.

The Morning News

posted by on June 18 at 8:50 AM

posted by news intern Chris Kissel

This land is your land: Israel says it would consider giving disputed area to Lebanon.

This land is my land: Number of individuals arrested and prosecuted for crossing the U.S.-Mexico border skyrockets.

This land was made for you and me: Hamas brokers Gaza cease-fire with Israel.

The international peace organization strikes back
: 23 Taliban fighters killed during NATO/Afghani offensive in Afghanistan.

Only a drill: Bush asks Congress to end ban on offshore oil drilling.

Redefined: Michelle Obama battles image of herself as an angry, whitey-hating black separatist who hasn’t ever been proud of her country.

Word: Huckabee defends Obama, celebrates America’s “landmark achievement.”

Somebody call an exorcist: Clay Bennett is “a man possessed” by a lot of confusing-ass contradictions, City argues.

And then: Sonics jump on City’s expert witness.

Blowing up: City worries about coming up with government services to match unprecedented growth.

Police beat: P-I busts out “Seattle 911” blog.

Maple Valley mess
: Land deal hits a snag.

The best of the 2007-2008 school year, continued:

From “The Abandonment of the Ideal in The Red and the Black,” by Chris Kissel. October 31, 2007.

The author demonstrates his frustration with French society in the post-Revolutionary period through the life and death of Julien Sorel. In Julien, Stendhal creates a character with the prospect of achieving something outstanding in fulfillment of a dream that could only be realized from a liberal viewpoint. The process of realizing this dream is hindered, however, by a French high society that propagates ignorance and values lineage over merit. Throughout the novel, Stendhal expresses his frustration with the unjust structure of French society, the power of public opinion, and the inauthentic individuals who are slaves to both.

Daily Show on Gay Marriage

posted by on June 18 at 7:59 AM

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Men Who Wear Speedos

posted by on June 17 at 8:48 PM


Hagee Still Says Nutty Shit

posted by on June 17 at 5:50 PM

John McCain’s erstwhile spiritual advisor John Hagee—the preacher who blamed gays for Katrina, said Hitler was doing God’s work, , and openly bashed Catholics from the pulpit—had some interesting insights into God’s “ideal woman”—and what the “secular humanists” want her to turn into.

Partial transcript:

God paints the portrait of the ideal woman and he takes time to mention that she is a mother. If the secular humanist of the 21st century took his brush to paint the portrait of the thoroughly modern Millie, it would be with a cigarette dangling out of her mouth, smoke twirling out of her nostrils, language that would make a sailor blush – even Rosie O’Donnell. Her breath would smell like a brewery, a condom in one hand and the feminist manual in the other, listing the local abortion clinics to snuff out the life that was within her body. Her allegiance is always to her career. Her children are latchkey children who come home and who live alone until mother and daddy finally arrive after dark.

Women can render service in many secular fields, but God says her highest and best field—in God’s opinion!—is that of being a mother. [… ] When mothers instill into their children honesty, responsibility, integrity, truth, industry, and a sense of honor, America’s future is secure. But when mothers abandon those principles, America is finished it’s over.

Neat! I can’t reveal any of the super-secret details about the Feminist Manual, but suffice it to say it’s right there on my bookshelf next to the Loose Girl’s Guide to Your Best Abortion Ever! and Lesbian Sodomy for Dummies.

We Shall Have Fighter Jets

posted by on June 17 at 5:49 PM

I couldn’t make it to the public forum last week about Mike Ross’s controversial proposal to install a fighter-jet sculpture on Capitol Hill.

But Seattle artist Ellen Forney was there, and this is what she had to say about it:

It went really well—CHAC’s Lower Level was SRO (!for a public art forum!)—and most of the audience stayed until about 8 (the meeting was scheduled to end at 7:30, and anyone who wanted an un-awkward exit was given the chance). It was a thoughtful discussion, and most people were thumbs-up. (Yay!)

Forney also has work going up in the same Sound Transit station where Ross’s pink jets will be. Here’s an image of her proposal, and go here to her blog for more images, including video.


Fred Wilson and Impressionism

posted by on June 17 at 5:42 PM

Now there are two subjects that don’t often share a headline.

But just this afternoon, as I was leaving the press tour of the “Inspiring Impressionism” show that’s about to open at Seattle Art Museum (worst title ever, but actually a decent show, and for the most part it makes the impressionists look bad by comparison to older artists, which seems right), I found myself right next to the unmistakable curly head of New York-based star artist Fred Wilson.

I couldn’t pass up the chance to talk to him, so I introduced myself and asked for a few minutes on the record. (I had my digital recorder on me and was tempted to ask him for an on-the-spot podcast, but I thought better of it.)

He’s in Seattle (just until tomorrow morning) working with Dante Marioni, a glassblower he met during a residency at Pilchuck a few years ago, and he was visiting “my favorite museum,” he said with a grin, referring to when his “Mining the Museum” project came to SAM.

I asked what he thought of the architecture of the newly expanded museum (likes it), and we got to talking, too, about the museum’s recently installed “Black Art” show.

I asked, and he said he couldn’t think of another generalist museum with a room specifically devoted to artists of African descent—and he wasn’t sure he liked the idea long-term.

“It’s like this impressionism show,” he said. “It’s not your typical impressionism show. But if all people see is the label—’impressionism’—then they might not go in. Labeling is,” he started, but then someone came and interrupted us, and I couldn’t get him to finish the thought—but that seemed to capture his ambivalence.

He talked about one museum—he couldn’t remember the name—that got a “diversity” grant and wanted to use it to promote African artists’ works. “But many African American artists feel that as a segregation,” he said. “So it is that question of both doing it and not doing it.”

When he said that, I thought of a term I read in this morning’s New York Times: “anti-racist racism.” It appeared in a piece by Michael Kimmelman (both Wilson and I had read it and agreed it was some of Kimmelman’s finest recent work, though it’s not about art) about the problem of colorblindness in France.

Official policies promoting color-blindness have instead led to a total lack of honest discussion about what it means to be black in France—which deprives black French people of their voices and deprives non-black French people of truly knowing their fellow citizens.

I could barely believe it when I read the Kimmelman story this morning because I have a piece coming out in tomorrow’s paper about post-black art, and about these very ideas:

So [Youssoupha] turned to rap, out of frustration as much as anything, finding inspiration in “négritude,” an ideology of black pride conceived in Paris during the 1920s and 30s by Aimé Césaire, the French poet and politician from Martinique, and Léopold Sédar Senghor, the poet who became Senegal’s first president. Its philosophy, as Sartre once put it, was a kind of “antiracist racism,” a celebration of shared black heritage.

Négritude and Césaire are back.

… At the same time, it’s against the rules for the government to conduct official surveys according to race. Consequently, nobody even knows for certain how many black citizens there are. Estimates vary between 3 million and 5 million out of a population of more than 61 million.

“Can you imagine if French officials said, ‘Well, we’re not sure, the population of France may be 65 million, or maybe it’s 30 million’?” declared a somewhat exasperated Patrick Lozès, founder of Cran, a black organization devised not long ago partly to gather statistics the government won’t.

When he sat down to talk the other morning, the first two words out of his mouth were Barack Obama. “The idea behind not categorizing people by race is obviously good; we want to believe in the republican ideal,” he said. “But in reality we’re blind in France, not colorblind but information blind, and just saying people are equal doesn’t make them equal.”

I wanted to ask Wilson about what he’s working on (besides something involving glass), and about what he really thinks about all these ideas. But a curator came up and rescued him from me with an offer of free espresso. I had to say goodbye.

Here’s an image of a piece first seen in Wilson’s 2006 PaceWildenstein show, a crown to match the Queen of England’s, but made in black diamonds and black pearls:


Bennett’s Lawyers Taunt City’s Expert Witness

posted by on June 17 at 5:35 PM

The story this afternoon was not Clay Bennett’s testimony, but rather the cross examination of the city’s sports economics expert.

Smith College sports economist (and Harvard PH.d) Andrew Zimbalist was brought in by the city to talk about high-falutin concepts like “consumer surplus” and “externalities” and “contingent valuation.”

The point of his testimony was to introduce the idea of intangible value—mainly that intangible value—like water cooler chatter—exists in cities with sports teams, but you cannot put a $ figure on it.

This is key to the city’s case because they want the judge to enforce their “specific performance” lease. (A specific performance contract is one that requires the parties to fulfill the obligations of the contract by explicitly disallowing one party to break the contract with economic compensation.)

Zimbalist’s testimony was intended to make it harder for the judge to accept the Team Bennett’s efforts to buy their way out of the lease.

However—and this is why Zimbalist is the story this afternoon rather than Bennett—the Sonics’ lawyers went after him.

My sense is that Sonics lawyer Paul Taylor’s TV-showy impeachment of Zimbalist was kinda bullshit, but it was an effective show.

Taylor disdainfully presented example after example showing how passages from Zimbalist’s report for the city were taken directly from a report he’d written for a case involving the Los Angeles Angels baseball team in 2005.

“Take a moment to read that,” Taylor badgered Zimbalist. “It’s identical isn’t it?” he repeated again and again.

Zimbalist wasn’t so hot at defending himself, limply saying he often uses “notes” that he’s already written on the subject when he’s writing new reports. “Notes” ? It was so vague, it almost sounded more incriminating.

The city’s main lawyer, Paul Lawrence, addressed the issue much better in a press conference moments after Zimbalist’s testimony ended. He explained that the duplicate passages were just boiler plate “definitions of economic terms” that Zimbalist uses from report to report. They were not from passages that were central to the findings of the study.

Indeed, while Taylor momentarily wowed the courtroom with his Perry Mason act, he eventually came across like a book-burning ruffian, who had no patience for basic academics, where, of course, it’s necessary to repeat terminology (without re-writing it every time.)

However, Taylor’s cross examination did raise one troubling question for the city’s case to keep the Sonics here. There was one big difference between Zimbalist’s report on Seattle and his repot on L.A.: While Zimbalist couldn’t put a number on the intangible value of the Sonics (which helps the city’s specific performance case) he could, and did, put a number on intangible value of the Angels.

And this point seemed to stick with Judge Pechman, who concluded the heated cross examination by asking Zimbalist to confirm that he put a number ($7.75 million, she said) on the L.A. case, but not in this case.

When Zimbalist tried to explain the difference, she cut him off: “You’ve answered my question,” she said.

Asked at the press conference if they would address the inconsistency—which struck me as kind of a bombshell—the city’s lawyers said they might come back to it in closing arguments.

The Surge Is Working

posted by on June 17 at 5:08 PM

Since Barack Obama announced yesterday he would visit Iraq before the election, the McCain campaign has been trying to reframe the war debate: Obama hasn’t been to Iraq, so he doesn’t know “the surge has worked.”

Man, what bad timing. Breaking news:

In one of the deadliest attacks in Baghdad in months, at least 51 Iraqis were killed and 75 were wounded Tuesday in a car bombing, an Iraqi Interior Ministry official said.

Earlier Tuesday, four civilians were killed in a suicide attack in northern Baghdad targeting a predominantly Sunni group opposed to al Qaeda in Iraq, an Interior Ministry official said. The suicide attack is the latest in a flurry of strikes targeting the groups of predominantly U.S.-allied Sunni fighters known as the Awakening Councils or Sons of Iraq. Al Qaeda in Iraq is believed to be responsible for many of these assaults.

In other violence Tuesday, gunmen killed an employee of the Council of Ministers and wounded his father in western Baghdad, the Interior Ministry said. The man was driving and his father was in the passenger seat when gunmen in another vehicle shot them.

Also Tuesday, a bomb killed a municipal police chief in a volatile Shiite region south of Baghdad, police said.

Obama’s Hispanic Problem Doesn’t Exist

posted by on June 17 at 4:00 PM

The recent NBC poll on Hispanic preference for the next president isn’t just interesting for the fact that a major piece of conventional wisdom appears to have been based on mind-blowingly inane supposition—it’s also interesting for the fact that the NBC political team is using the kind of language that makes it nearly impossible for anyone to continue using Obama’s Hispanic problem as a talking point and retain any kind of credibility.

In addition to our recent NBC/WSJ poll, which showed Hispanics breaking for Obama 62%-28%, a new survey of 800 Latino voters from 21 states finds that 60% of them plan to vote for Obama versus 23% for McCain. That is down considerably from the 40%-plus Bush received in 2004. It’s no longer fair to say that Obama has a problem with Latino voters; McCain does. This was a case of conventional wisdom that was never based on fact, just semi-informed speculation based on primary exit polling and bad stereotypes of Latinos.

Polling is a really shoddy way to make a fact-based argument, unless the polling indicates a seismic 37% gap between two candidates. In which case, it is probably safe to say that Hispanic voters favored Clinton over Obama, but overwhelmingly favor Obama over McCain.

Letter of the Day

posted by on June 17 at 4:00 PM

To Whom it May Concern,

I want to start by saying that I love The Stranger. It truly is the best newspaper in Seattle, and I look forward to it every week. When you launched the Slog on your web site, I was thrilled. It was like a dose of The Stranger every day of the week.

Then I made the mistake of reading the comments section on one of the Slog posts. I have seldom seen a more ignorant, hate-filled miasma of crap in my life. I’m on the Internet a lot; I’ve seen some pretty messed-up stuff out there, and the Slog comments are in the top five. Many of the Slog commenters are misogynistic, homophobic, and lash out violently with death threats when accused of being such.

“Hey, it’s all in fun! Don’t read it if you don’t want to read it.” That seems to be the prevailing attitude of both the Slog commenters and of The Stranger in regards to this issue. When you publish articles condemning misogyny and then organize social events for people telling your female writers to go kill themselves, it’s tough to believe your job is not just to cash in on human misery while pretending to care. You run what appears on the surface to be a wonderfully progressive and intelligent newspaper, but your tacit endorsement of the ugliness in the Slog comments make you look incredibly hypocritical, or shockingly ignorant of what’s happening on your web site.

In closing, I apologize for not signing my real name to this post, but I am not afraid to admit that I genuinely fear your commenters. They have threatened to kill people they don’t like, and I don’t want to die at the hands of your Stranger-endorsed band of sociopaths.


John Doe
A Concerned Reader


A Small Reassurance That Ron Paul Will Never Leave Us

posted by on June 17 at 3:36 PM

Unsuccessful runs for the presidency—and especially campaigns that show that faint glimmer of success, only to be stomped on by the realities of the process—seem to adhere to a kind of ghoulish, ‘high school yearbook signing’ orthodoxy. Everyone promises that this is only the beginning of a lifetime friendship, and then they form a political action committee, and then they slowly cease having any relevance in your life.

It would appear that Ron Paul wants to sign your yearbook.

The Revolution was officially suspended last Friday night, and has now contorted itself into The Campaign for Liberty, which will carry forth the Paul message of limited government, airships, and tearing down the elaborate Rothschild-created banking structures that secretly run our lives from cradle-to-grave.

Here are some of the choicer ‘grassroots’ moments from their “Strategy” section:

• Encouraging the formation of discussion groups and book clubs at the local level to help people learn more about our ideas.

• Establishing a speakers bureau to give presentations around the country about the great principles we champion.

• Developing materials for homeschooling families, to help them educate their children in history, sound economics, and related fields.

Obviously, what doomed fellow Texan Ross Perot’s independent efforts to reshape the American electorate was his unwillingness to declare to his followers that it was finally time to yank their children out of school and give them a Perot-based education on the cruel realities of history and economics.

To digress slightly, there is a precedent for what Paul is hoping to do here: you don’t need to look any further than Howard Dean’s perch as Chairman of the Democratic Party to see that movement-based politics, if applied with enough enticements for the existing power structure, can actually change things.

But the problem is, Paul doesn’t want control of something as minor as the leadership of some National Committee. He wants to tear down the party and reshape it into a cross between an oddly noble brand of Jeffersonian literalism and shrill pamphleteering for backwoods militia groups. And unlike Dean, the Revolution isn’t interested in incremental change. Its brand of politics is as unpalatable to the Republican Party as the Green Party’s is to the Democrats.

When you combine that with Paul’s decision to toss out his real leverage, which would have been a third party run for the presidency… well, it doesn’t seem to bode well for the future prospects of the Revolution. Which must be of some relief to the Rothschild-Rockefeller banking axis, and a cruel arrow to the heart of the the nascent zeppelin industry.

Cyd Charisse

posted by on June 17 at 3:25 PM


End of the Affair

posted by on June 17 at 3:24 PM


I suppose this should get a mention on Slog, considering the great big fuss we made

Charges dropped in career-toppling sex scandal

Prosecutors have dropped all charges against gay porn model Cody Michael Castagna stemming from a sexual encounter in a Spokane hotel last October with a conservative state lawmaker that ended the Republican’s political career.

Castagna, a 27-year old waiter and part-time porn model, was charged with six felony counts of extortion and theft after the evening with Richard Curtis, a 48-year old Republican legislator from LaCenter, near Vancouver, Wash. Curtis, who opposed gay rights measures as a lawmaker, resigned from the Legislature shortly after the incident last October became public….

Curtis sent a note Monday to Spokane County Deputy Prosecutor Larry Steinmetz saying he didn’t want to testify against Castagna. Steinmetz, supervisor of the Major Crimes unit, proposed the dismissal, which was signed by Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen.

“My wife, daughters, and son-in-law have paid a very high price for my actions ….My family and I have found ourselves closer as a result and are settled into a new chapter in our lives and are moving past this incident,” Curtis said in his letter.

Prosecutors say that they don’t know where Curtis is and have no way of contacting him.

I Still Hate Safari

posted by on June 17 at 3:00 PM

Today is Firefox 3 Release Day, and apparently, they’re going for some sort of world record of most downloads in a single day. I just downloaded the new browser, and it’s pretty smooth so far, although it looks a little too much like Safari to put my mind completely at ease. But it does seem to be a marked improvement.

If, you know, things like browsers really matter to you.

Boy Nearly Beaten to Death Has Two Mommies

posted by on June 17 at 2:50 PM

Fair’s fair:

On the same day that prosecutors charged a mother and her live-in girlfriend with torturing and starving a 5-year-old boy and then trying to cover up the abuse, Los Angeles County supervisors today demanded a full accounting of the case from child welfare officials….

Meanwhile, Starkeisha Brown, 24, and Krystal Denise Matthews, 21, both of South Los Angeles, were each charged with one count each of torture, child abuse, corporal injury to a child, dissuading a witness, and two counts each of conspiracy. Brown and Matthews are scheduled to be arraigned this afternoon in Compton and are expected to plead not guilty. They each face up to 25 years to life in prison if convicted.

Los Angeles police said the 5-year-old was hung by his hands and wrists from a doorjamb and beaten with some sort of leash or chain, police said. He was routinely denied food and water, burned with cigarettes on his body and genitals, and left to sit in his own urine and feces.

The website People You’ll See In Hell has more horrifying details—and some of the love notes Starkeisha Brown and Krystal Denise Matthews sent each other via their MySpace pages. Ugh.

Dunn vs. Dunn

posted by on June 17 at 2:30 PM


Yesterday afternoon, King County Council member Reagan Dunn, a Republican, introduced a bill that would penalize landlords who don’t try to quell troublesome tenants. The bill would apply to rentals in unincorporated King County suspected of harboring drugs, prostitution, or felonious activity:

Notice may be sent whenever the sheriff’s office has probable cause to believe that criminal conduct has occurred on the rental property….

If a landlord receives more than three notices… regarding instances of criminal conduct committed in the same dwelling unit or anywhere on the rental property by the same tenant or any guest of the tenant within any six-month period, the landlord is guilty of a civil infraction if they have not taken reasonable steps to reduce the likelihood that criminal conduct will reoccur on the rental property.

But Eric Dunn—an attorney who handles housing cases and is not related to Reagan Dunn—says the bill “raises a lot of constitutional problems.” While it requires officers to have probable cause that a crime has been committed before notifying the landlord, it doesn’t require any charges or conviction against the tenant. In other words, a tenant wouldn’t have to be guilty to be evicted. And although the bill targets landlords, Eric Dunn says the tenants would bear the brunt of evictions. However, those tenants would have no legal recourse to prove their innocence. “That’s a due process problem,” says Dunn.

“Under this ordinance, all that would have to happen is the police have to be called,” says Dunn (the lawyer again). “The police come but they may not do anything… at that point, the landlord is obligated to take reasonable steps.”

Dunn (the council member now) didn’t return calls for comment, but the bill itself points to some of the thinking behind it: “Existing county laws have proven ineffective in encouraging rental housing property owners who have criminal activity occurring on their property, to take the proper steps necessary to help the sheriff’s office in stopping crime.”

But pointing to a lack of county laws seems disingenuous. Federal law makes it illegal to maintain meth labs and other drug-involved premises—a woman in New Hampshire convicted earlier this month faces 20 years in prison for running a crack house. Under state and federal law, police can raid a home to make an arrest. And landlords who have a preponderance of evidence that a crime has been committed can evict the tenant under existing laws.

Obviously, nobody wants to live near a crack house, but this bill could, at worst, be applied to renters who have no way to prove their innocence, and would, at best, just push crack houses from neighborhood to neighborhood.

If You’re Going to Get All Shakespearean On Our Asses, Dwight…

posted by on June 17 at 2:20 PM

…do try to get it right. Dismissing the complaints of die-hard Clinton supporters, Dwight Pelz described their gripes to Eli as…

“…sound and fury which signifieth little.”

Lots of people—particularly politicians—like to work a Shakespeare reference into their public statements because, you know, it sounds so damn smart. But there’s nothing smart about botching the reference and making Shakespeare’s language seem more elaborate and archaic than it actually is. Most of the prose and poetry in Shakespeare’s plays is remarkably clear, straightforward, and direct. So while that “signifieth” of Dwight’s sounds all Elizabethan and shit, not only is the third-person singular present simple form of “signify” archaic as hell, it’s not the word that Shakespeare himself used.

Informed in Act V that the queen, his wife, is dead, Macbeth responds…

She should have died hereafter;
There would have been a time for such a word.
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

If “signifying” was good enough for Shakespeare, Dwight, it ought to be good enough for you. And why leave off the best part of the line? The next time someone asks you about those Clinton dead-enders, Dwight, you can quote Shakespeare and call ‘em names. Just smile and say…

Tales told by idiots, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Basketball Court Day 2: The Bennett E-mails & Tim Ceis on Key Arena

posted by on June 17 at 1:21 PM

Sonics owner Clay Bennett has been on the stand all morning, and he’ll be on again when the trial resumes after lunch.

Bennett was grilled by the city’s attorney Paul Lawrence about the infamous email exchange where Bennett told his co-owners that he was “a man possessed.” (The e-mails seemed to make it clear that Bennett was angling to move the team to Oklahoma City all along):

“Is there any way to move here [Oklahoma City] for next season or are we doomed to have another lame duck season in Seattle?” Ward wrote.

Bennett replied: “I am a man possessed! Will do everything we can. Thanks for hanging with me boys, the game is getting started!”

Ward: “That’s the spirit!! I am willing to help any way I can to watch ball here [in Oklahoma City] next year.”

McClendon: “Me too, thanks Clay!”

Bennett stuck by the explanation he gave in his deposition, saying this morning that he meant he was “a man possessed” about keeping the team in Seattle.

Lawrence asked Bennett why he didn’t email his colleagues back to say, “Now, hold on boys, you misunderstood me…”

Bennett said there was no need to because he was well aware of his cohorts’ feelings on the matter.

Lawrence then called the court’s attention to what Bennett did in the days following the e-mail exchange: He contacted the NBA about the possibility of moving the team to Oklahoma City. “Within a few days of being a ‘man possessed’ about keeping the team in Seattle,” Lawrence said skeptically, “you were talking to the NBA about moving to Oklahoma City.”

Bennett explained that he was simply “exploring that option” in case his bid to stay in Seattle failed.

Bennett was also asked why he never tried to re-negotiate the KeyArena lease. Bennett said repeatedly that he “had no interest in KeyArena.”

His plan, he said, was to find a new arena and then negotiate with the city for a new lease there.

This round of questioning about his lack of interest in KeyArena turned up the best quote of the morning—or at least a quote of a quote.

Bennett related the story of his first meeting with Mayor Greg Nickels and Deputy Mayor Tim Ceis at Wild Ginger. Lawrence asked if Nickels made it clear to Bennett at this meeting that the city was interested in re-negotiating the lease at a renovated KeyArena. Bennett repeated that his group had “no interest in KeyArena, so that conversation didn’t last long…” and then added this gem: “Tim Ceis did say that he thought ‘KeyArena was the best basketball arena in the country,’ and I knew we were off track.”

Tim Ceis thinks KeyArena is the “best basketball arena in the country” ?? This is totally rad. Talk about framing the debate!

Observation: While the Lawrence did score some big points for the city this morning (like this game winner: “[Mr. Bennett], do you know of any provision in lease that allows you to leave early … under any circumstances,” to which Bennett replied, “No”) Lawrence has a pretty grating style—alternately unctuous and snippy—which seems to be bugging Judge Marsha Pechman to no end. I know it’s not supposed to be related, but she has been sustaining Team Bennett’s objections to Lawrence’s evidence all morning. And the one time she let Lawrence proceed over an objection, she sighed, warning him that she really didn’t think his line of argument was relevant.

Waiting for a Sign (Or: Things to Do in Denver When Your Candidate’s Nomination Hopes are Dead)

posted by on June 17 at 1:15 PM

In my column in the coming issue of The Stranger, I report on the mood among the 28 pledged Hillary Clinton delegates from Washington State who are headed to the Democratic National Convention in Denver this August. These delegates know that their candidate has conceded defeat in the Democratic primary fight, but they’re not giving up just yet.

Hillary Clinton has suspended her presidential campaign, endorsed Barack Obama, thrown her “full support” behind him, and called upon her supporters all across the country to join her in doing “all we can to help elect Barack Obama the next president of the United States.” But here in Washington State, Clinton’s 28 pledged delegates to the Democratic National Convention in Denver are, according to one of the group’s leaders, still waiting for a clearer sign from on high.

Absent some further instructions from Clinton, these delegates all plan to vote for her, not Obama, at the convention in late August.

Those who don’t understand the motivations of these self-described “hardcore” Clinton supporters will find further explanation in my column, in which Clinton delegates complain of being treated shabbily at the Democrats’ state convention in Spokane last weekend and make it clear that more needs to be done (like, say, giving the vice presidential slot to Clinton) in order to win them over.

But there are some things that wouldn’t fit in the column, like the following letter, which should also go some way toward explaining the mindset of our state’s Clinton delegation. Here’s a clickable PDF of the letter, from Clinton national delegate Marvin Wells of Tacoma, who complains the primary race left him feeling like a “nobody”:


And here’s a quote that I couldn’t fit in the piece, from Spokane attorney Cynthia Schwartz, another displeased Clinton delegate who—even now, ten days after Clinton suspended her campaign—spoke to me in the present tense about how Clinton “is” (not “was”) the more viable candidate against McCain. Schwartz also said:

It seems to me that the media has continued to count her out when the public did not count her out… We’re just essentially being told by the media or the Obama campaign—I’m not sure which it is—that we should just essentially fall in line behind him. We’re not convinced. We’ve not seen anything from the Obama campaign that would make us want to do that.

In my column, Dwight Pelz, an Obama superdelegate and the chair of the Washington State Democrats, describes all this talk as “sound and fury which signifieth [sic] little.”

But if other Clinton delegations from other states follow the Washington example, it could “signifieth” something. There are, after all, more than 1,500 pledged Clinton delegates around the country who might well be moved to cast their votes for Clinton in Denver—which would not exactly be a telegenic showing of party unity.

Belgian Novelist Weirder Than Anyone Would’ve Guessed

posted by on June 17 at 1:00 PM

The Literary Saloon has a link to a Guardian profile of Amélie Nothomb, the Belgian novelist who writes semiautobiographical fiction. Two of her books, The Character of Rain and Fear and Trembling, have been published over here, and they’re both lovely little novels. She writes more than gets published over here, though. A lot more:

Sixteen published novels represent only a fraction of her prodigious output, however. Nothomb declares herself to be in the middle of her 64th manuscript, having reached a rhythm where she completes three or four manuscripts a year, publishing only those which she feels comfortable sharing with others. She describes her writing as being guided completely by instinct, saying she becomes “pregnant” with a book and must deliver it, no matter what. Publication isn’t her main reason for writing, it’s a side-effect of a drive to write which she does not fully understand herself.

I knew she was weird, but I had no idea she was this weird. She also only writes books that are loosely based on her life before she was 25, when she became a bestselling success. That was back in ‘92. Her life after that “doesn’t inspire” her.

If you haven’t read Nothomb before, you might want to give her a look—I bought both her novels used up at Third Place a little while back and virtually swallowed them whole. Also, the movie made of her novel Fear and Trembling is really good, though it’s only available at Scarecrow because it hasn’t been released on video in America.

She Said She Didn’t Need a Bigger Home

posted by on June 17 at 12:38 PM

And she was right. A year after Edith Macefield rejected a developer’s offer to buy her house, Seattle’s most tenacious homeowner is dead.

Writes MyBallard.

Edith Macefield has passed away of natural causes, according to the King County Medical Examiner’s office. My Ballard has received a few emails in the last couple of weeks saying that ambulances have been seen coming and going from her home. She was 86 years old.

Edith lived in the same house on NW 46th St. for the last 56 years. She made national news in 2006 when she refused to sell her home for $1 million to developers. Construction crews then proceeded to build the development around her.


I know I’m always chanting and ranting about the need for density, but every time I think about Macefield’s house surrounded by that humongous building, it makes me damn proud of her. Check out this excellent passage:

Inside, the place is clean and organized. Pictures of herself as a girl, posing with her mother and brother at Alki Beach, stand on bookcases. There are framed pictures of opera singer Enrico Caruso and composer Giacomo Puccini on one wall. A collection of glass animal figurines are lined up along every windowsill and sash. A bookcase is neatly stacked with old movies on video.

She has no regrets about refusing to sell her house. She said she doesn’t mind the noise at the construction site. She turns the television up, or plays her opera so loud you can hear it outside.

“I went through World War II, the noise doesn’t bother me,” she said. “They’ll get it done someday.

Macefield’s house shouldn’t be torn down—it should be preserved as a historic landmark of this building boom, a homage to tenacity and stubbornness. Happy travels, Edith Macefield.

No They Didn’t

posted by on June 17 at 12:07 PM

Yes they did.


It’s Time for Pride!

posted by on June 17 at 12:07 PM

From flickr user Rob Gruhl

Want to see your Gay Pride event listed in The Stranger’s comprehensive guide? Anything can get in, as long as it’s celebrating homosexuality and open to the public, so yes, your costumed bowling night counts.

Send an email with all the details (time, date, place, gay-osity) to as soon as possible to be included!

I’m Working on a Story

posted by on June 17 at 11:46 AM

And I happened across this video of a couple who, instead of a first dance, had a first light saber duel. I always hate it when married couples shove cake in each others’ faces—the cake-eating is supposed to suggest that you’ll feed each other for as long as you’ll live—so the idea of having a space-sword battle be one of your first acts as a married couple just reeks, to me, of bad idea.

An Inconvenient Opera

posted by on June 17 at 11:28 AM

Following the news last month that “An Inconvenient Truth” is being adapted into an opera, The New York Times responds with a (fictional) letter from the composer, Giorgio Battistelli, to Gore.

This is my favorite section. Poor Gore. The idea that he would create a theoretical formula to generate a melody—and that the melody would then actually be unlistenable—is somehow perfect.

Dear Mr. Gore:

… During Algorino’s instruction in the Weather Seer’s castle, you again accuse me of “caving” to the critics by omitting your famous chart correlating rising temperatures and rising carbon dioxide over the past 600,000 years. But it is of no consequence to me which came first, the carbon dioxide or the temperature. As an artist, I simply felt it would be jarring to interrupt the Seer’s aria with a PowerPoint presentation.

I did plan to use a simpler chart etched on the castle wall for the duet we originally planned for Algorino and the Seer. I loved your idea of matching the musical notes with the graphs of temperatures and CO2 concentrations, but the resulting melodies were unfortunate. I was unable to find any tenor or baritone able to sing either of the graphs. A pity—as you said, the High C0 Duet would have been “an opera first.”

I don’t share your fear that audiences will expect Prince Algorino to “offset his travel footprint,” so I don’t see the need for the tree-planting scene you suggest. Once the Weather Seer has explained Poseidon’s passion and shown him the rising seas, Algorino should immediately rush back to save Gaia. And why, with his lover in peril, would he pause en route to rescue a drowning polar bear?

There Are No Bad Dogs

posted by on June 17 at 11:27 AM

Only bad dog owners—right? A mauling caught on tape:

This particular dog owner seems remarkably nonchalant, doesn’t she? And can anyone tell us what breed of dog that is?

Thanks to Slog tipper Andy.

Le réseau du monde

posted by on June 17 at 11:09 AM

The New York Times has a neat article today on Paul Otlet, a Belgian who imagined the internet 57 years before the first web browser was released:

In 1934, Otlet sketched out plans for a global network of computers (or “electric telescopes,” as he called them) that would allow people to search and browse through millions of interlinked documents, images, audio and video files. He described how people would use the devices to send messages to one another, share files and even congregate in online social networks. He called the whole thing a “réseau,” which might be translated as “network” — or arguably, “web.”

A short excerpt from a documentary about Otlet, describing his idea for the “electric telescope” network in his treatise Le livre sur le livre.

Otlet is also credited with being the first to declare: “l’Internet est pour la pornographie!”

Do You Live in Ballard and Crave a Backyard Full of Soggy Naked People?

posted by on June 17 at 11:08 AM

Speaking of naked cyclists: Perennial Slog tipper Jake alerted me to this gem from Craigslist:

We are looking for a location for our nude cyclist body painting. We need a location in the Ballard area where the bike riders won’t have to ride too far. There may be about 200 riders before they ride to the parade and will return to clean off their body paint. We are looking of a large back yard, front yard, etc. Reply ASAP. Location: Seattle Compensation: no pay

The Only Thing Worse Than Being Talked About Is Not Being Talked About

posted by on June 17 at 10:49 AM

Last June the Stranger sent writers to churches all over Seattle—and the odd temple and mosque too—to review their services and sermons for a feature package we called “A Month of Sundays.” Some churches we reviewed were ticked—as were some that we overlooked (sorry, Scientology, but we’re still not convinced yer a church)—and the Church Council of Greater Seattle tried to call me down to the rectory for a spanking.

Anyway, not all the churches we reviewed were upset. Some, it seems, were hoping we were going to make “Month of Sundays” an annual event.

Antarctic Winters Not So Wintery Anymore

posted by on June 17 at 10:46 AM

From the ominously titled European Space Agency press release, Even the Antarctic winter cannot protect Wilkins Ice Shelf:

Wilkins Ice Shelf, a broad plate of floating ice south of South America on the Antarctic Peninsula, is connected to two islands, Charcot and Latady. In February 2008, an area of about 400 km² broke off from the ice shelf, narrowing the connection down to a 6 km strip; this latest event in May has further reduced the strip to just 2.7 km.

This animation, comprised of images acquired by Envisat’s Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar (ASAR) between 30 May and 9 June, highlights the rapidly dwindling strip of ice that is protecting thousands of kilometres of the ice shelf from further break-up…

Wilkins Ice Shelf has experienced further break-up with an area of about 160 km² breaking off from 30 May to 31 May 2008. ESA’s Envisat satellite captured the event – the first ever-documented episode to occur in winter.

Excellent! The jury might be coming back on climate change. Perhaps this would be a good time to remind you of my posts and introduce you to a new podcast on nuclear power listen.

Scary animated GIF of the ice shelf breaking off is after the jump…

Continue reading "Antarctic Winters Not So Wintery Anymore" »

Reading Tonight

posted by on June 17 at 10:37 AM


Three readings today.

At the University Book Store, Lawrence Cheek reads from Year of the Boat, about building a boat in his garage over the course of a year. Just like Noah! Only without the animals.

At the Seattle Mystery Bookshop, we have Jeffery Deaver, who wrote the Lincoln Rhyme thriller The Broken Window. Deaver read last night at the University Book Store. I was not in attendance, so I can’t tell you if it was a thrill ride or a snoozer, but I can tell you that this is your last chance for some Deaver-affection until at least his next book. So go on and cuddle up today:

Awwww, he wuvs puppies!

And at Elliott Bay Book Company, Thomas Kohnstamm reads from Do Travel Writers Go To Hell? I thought that this book was going to be just another ‘wacky’ book about travel writing, but after doing a little research, I discovered that it looks really interesting. Kohnstamm was a writer for Lonely Planet travel guides, and he alleges that the industry is so ill-paying that the authors have to do illicit things like take freebies and sell ecstasy to keep financially afloat. This is clearly the reading of the day.

Full readings calendar, including the next week or so, is over here.


posted by on June 17 at 10:35 AM

Okay, it’s done. The money has been spent. I thought on it and took suggestions from friends over the weekend. One insisted I should go to a strip club and make it rain, but I rejected that idea for a host of reasons, foremost that I would have to use one-dollar bills, which is just sad. Plus, Seattle clubs are lit up like Wal-Mart and don’t allow smoking or drinking, so scratch that. Another friend suggested I buy a gun, which is insane and a little frightening. Most of my buddies thought I should use the money to get a delicious meal and some pampering, like a massage, but that didn’t grab me either. So, I decided to go through the comments on “Fuck This” and “I Win” for inspiration. Here’s what I landed on: Get something for me, something for everyone, and something for Mr. Poe.

For me: I normally think my purchases to death, so as a treat I let myself buy the first shiny thing that caught my eye. This:


It’s sufficiently functional, it cracked me up, and it’s made of sustainably grown hemp (a definite plus, as I have a pretty severe case of carbon-footprint anxiety), so I bought it. Done.

For everyone: $50 to the Washington State Democrats.


What’s up, Big D?

For Mr. Poe: Dude, you made fifteen comments on “Fuck This” that I got paid for. That’s not even counting the ones you posted after 4 pm. This leads me to believe that either you are unemployed or the job you have is not keeping you busy enough. I got really excited about getting you a deluxe membership. Think about it! You could go from this:


to this:


But then I remembered that those sites are free, so I spent the money on a pizza. It was delicious. Thanks!

So, unless Keck pulls another weird deus-ex-slogina, this is goodbye for reals. Here’s hoping the next guest Slogger has a better time of it than I did. I’ll see you fuckers in hell!

Currently Hanging

posted by on June 17 at 10:31 AM

Dan Attoe’s Bottle Rocket (2006), oil on MDF board, 5 by 7 inches

At Portland Art Museum. (Museum web site here.)

I’m Proud To Be an American…

posted by on June 17 at 10:22 AM

…where at least I know I’m free. Sorta.

Howard Weyers tried the “carrot” approach by giving his employees incentives and encouragement to quit smoking. But when that didn’t work, he resorted to the stick. A big stick.

Weyers, owner of a health care benefits administrator in Lansing, Mich., gave his 200 employees an ultimatum in 2004: Quit smoking in 15 months or lose your job. He refused to hire smokers. Ultimately, he extended his smoking ban to employees’ spouses and monitored compliance through mandatory random blood testing.

Let me go on the record right now: While I don’t think people should be able to smoke in bars, restaurants, movie theaters, office buildings, gymnasiums, factory floors, train compartments, buses, or my house—basically any space that smokers and non-smokers have to share—I don’t think employers should be able to force people to stop smoking on their own time. I certainly don’t think an employer should be able to tell an employee’s spouse that he/she can’t smoke.

But Howard Wyers isn’t fucking with his smoking employees for shits and giggles:

In addition to lost work hours, employers have a vested interest in getting their workforce to kick the habit, given that they pay a large portion of health care costs and are the main source of health insurance for more than half the population.

The “right” of employers to monitor the smoking habits of their employers is just another consequence of our ridiculous health-care “system.” Just as health insurance companies have an incentive to insure only the healthy, employers that are expected to cover health costs (or most of them) have an incentive to cherry-pick the healthiest possible employees.

What To Do?

posted by on June 17 at 10:19 AM

Being Marky Mark is hard, dog.

Actor Mark Wahlberg has blamed filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan for turning him into a nervous wreck while filming The Happening - insisting the director has made his life a living nightmare. The 37-year-old teamed up with Shyamalan for the new thriller about a killer airborne toxin. And The Sixth Sense director helped him to prepare for his role by teaching him to get in touch with his inner paranoia. And Wahlberg admits he is still suffering from the experience. He tells the New York Daily News, “He’s literally made me afraid of everything. I can’t enjoy my life the way I used to.”

What to do? Star in a movie that requires a fearless, confident character.

Joy in California

posted by on June 17 at 9:52 AM

Robin Tyler and Diane Olsen shortly after they were legally married in Los Angeles yesterday. Who couldn’t be happy for these women?


Well, this douchebag.

The Capitalist Imperative

posted by on June 17 at 9:47 AM

European researchers said on Monday they discovered a batch of three “super-Earths” orbiting a nearby star, and two other solar systems with small planets as well.

If lifeless, if we can reach them (only 42-light years away), what’s in store for these super-Earths?

Capital, wage labour, landed property. Their interrelation. Town and country. The three great social classes. Exchange between them. Circulation. Credit system (private). Concentration of bourgeois society in the form of the state. The ‘unproductive’ classes. Taxes. State debt. Public credit. The population. The colonies. Emigration. The international relation of production. International division of labour. International exchange. Export and import. Rate of exchange. The world market and crises.

Cecil Rhodes:

To think of these stars that you see overhead at night, these vast worlds which we can never reach. I would annex the planets if I could; I often think of that. It makes me sad to see them so clear and yet so far.

The Gore Endorsement

posted by on June 17 at 9:41 AM

For those upset that they missed it, and the notable booing, yesterday:

Whaddaya Know?

posted by on June 17 at 9:04 AM

Capitol Hill Arts Center is closed—had its garage sale yesterday—but the old King Cat Theater, down on Sixth Avenue, is open again.

The King Cat is most famous, to my mind, as the theater where the scorched-earth horror of Hunchback (supposedly the worst musical ever produced in America) went down. That was 10 years ago.

The King Cat became a church run by snake-oil evangelicals for a few years (Sean Nelson wrote about them here), then it was nothing.

Now it is something.

Read the PI story here.

City Lawyers Will Question Bennett Today

posted by on June 17 at 8:55 AM


NBA Commissioner David Stern with Sonics Owner Clay Bennett.

Hopefully the city’s lawyers will ask Sonic’s owner Clay Bennett today why he never tried to re-negotiate the lease at KeyArena.

This question seems central to the case. Yesterday, Bennett’s lawyers made a big deal about how the terms of the lease were “economically dysfunctional” and did not allow the Sonics to be a financially successful franchise.

However, rather than trying to deal with that problem over the last two years, Bennett simply tried to build a new stadium—which, to continue with Bennett’s attorneys’ own marriage analogy from yesterday, would be like trying to save your marriage by going out and looking for a hotter mate.

Bennett’s lawyers spent a lot of time yesterday establishing that KeyArena is an inadequate stadium (kind of irrelevant); that the economics on the ground have changed since they signed the lease (kind of irrelevant); and again, that the lease itself wasn’t viable.

However, they’ve never talked about any effort to try and re-negotiate that lease.

The city’s lawyers wrapped up yesterday’s session by asking rhetorically: “Is there anything in the lease that says the Sonics can get out of the lease early if NBA standards change, if they’re losing money, if a football stadium is built, if a baseball stadium is built?”

They should continue this line of questioning today with the obvious follow-up: Mr. Bennett, why didn’t you make a pass at renegotiating the lease?

I’ll report back after I watch Bennett’s testimony.

Yesterday’s basketball court coverage here, here, and here.

The Morning News

posted by on June 17 at 8:50 AM

posted by news intern Chris Kissel

Israel and Hamas: Egyptian media announces cease-fire, to take effect on Thursday.

: “Most Atlanticist president” in 50 years announces restructuring of French military.

Odd couple
: Comparing Bush and McCain.

Happy Firefox Day: Executives aim for 5 million downloads in 24 hours.

Foot parade: Fifth severed foot washes up on Canadian shore.

Bad research: Even McCain tells a different story than the New York Times on his Navy past.

Bad business
: Israel may be buying Iranian oil indirectly.

Tap that: McCain proposes an end to the off-shore drilling ban.

Sonics trial, day one
: Nickels looks bad, but the City redeems itself in the second half.

Conflict of interest: State legislators call for committee to examine Gregoire’s tribal gambling compact.

Finally getting interesting: Possible executive candidate Larry Phillips calls out Ron Sims on budget, Sims calls Phillips a “complainer.”

The best of the 2007-2008 school year, continued

From “Unity, Accuracy, and the Importance of the Apostolic Tradition in the Rise of Christian Orthodoxy,” by Chris Kissel. February 14, 2008.

In choosing to follow the Apostolic tradition, epitomized the writings of the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John and the epistles of Paul, these followers took a clear stance against syncretism and toward a system of belief that traced its lineage through the apostolic tradition and to its roots in the Jewish faith. This approach, whose ultimate goal was to achieve accuracy in portraying Jesus’ teachings, had the effect of excluding all that was not of the apostolic tradition, ultimately exiling the syncretistic, Greco-philosophical tradition of Gnosticism, as well as many other traditions, into relative obscurity. Despite the alternative perspective—and possible spiritual value—of traditions such as this, the early Christian authorities chose the narrower, less-syncretistic apostolic tradition for its unifying effects and professed accuracy. Thus, the development of orthodoxy had the effect of centering Christian belief on the ideas expressed in the apostolic tradition; namely, the physical nature of the resurrection of Jesus, the importance of Church (or apostolic) authority, and a firm ideological link to the Jewish tradition. Orthodoxy affected the ideas by centering them on the apostolic tradition, and the institution of Christianity was, in turn, shaped by the authority of the Apostles and the notion of ideological exclusivity.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Skid Marks Against Climate Change

posted by on June 16 at 6:36 PM


Someone stapled flyers to all the bikes locked up around our offices—I’m assuming this is happening all over town—inviting one and all to participate in the 2008 Cyclos Nudistas, a.k.a. the World Naked Bike Ride. Somehow riding nude, or as “bare as you dare,” around Gas Works Park on July 12 and/or Denny Blaine Park on August 17 will “SAVE the CLIMATE!” Nude cycling will allow us to “protest oil dependency and celebrate the power and individuality of our bodies,” according to the flyer, and by experiencing “the liberation and simplicity of human-powered transport” we will somehow or other save the planet.

I’m not buying it.

Gay Marriage…

posted by on June 16 at 5:00 PM

…is legal in California as of now.

Our congrats to Phyllis and Del.

Village Voice on the Brink of Strike

posted by on June 16 at 4:57 PM

The first strike in The Village Voice’s 53-year history seems a distinct possibility. Contract talks between the Voice’s employees and its owner, Village Voice Media, center on proposed cuts in health care coverage in the latest contract offer from management, which the union considers unacceptable.

The potential strike* comes one week after Village Voice Media (formerly New Times), which also owns Seattle Weekly, was ordered to pay nearly $16 million to the San Francisco Bay Guardian in a predatory-pricing case involving VVM’s SF Weekly and its lone San Francisco rival. It also comes on the heels of a series of shakeups at the Voice and throughout the 17-paper chain. According to the New York Press:

In the last three years, the Voice has gone through five editors-in-chief: Donald Forst, the paper’s editor-in-chief during the New Times merger, left shortly after the merger; his replacement, Doug Simmons, was fired after an internal scandal involving fabrications in reporting. Next, Erik Wemple from Washington City Paper was brought on, but quit within days of being hired in June 2006. David Blum served as editor-in-chief from September of 2006 until he was fired in March of 2007. (Blum is now the editor-in-chief of the New York Press.) Tony Ortega, previously an editor-in-chief of VVM papers in Kansas City and in Florida, has been the paper’s editor-in-chief since March of 2007, and has presided over much of the cutbacks.

* Although I think it’s great that VVM is unionized—they’re one of the only alt-weeklies in the country that is—I’m not sure they’re picking their battles wisely here. Health-care costs are rising nationwide thanks to the for-profit US health care system, not greedy employers. Fix the system, and you’ll fix the problem. Maybe I’m wrong in this case—hell, I love to think of the greedy New Times overlords rolling in piles of cash in their gold-plated mansions outside Phoenix—but I also know that my premiums, deductibles, and copays have gone up every single year at every single place I’ve worked. Is that all the work of greedy employers? I don’t think so. And, as Gawker points out, strikes haven’t gone so well for employees of “shaky print outlets” in the past.

[This post has been changed from its original form—the first quote from the New York Press has been properly formatted to reflect the fact that it is a quote, and the attribution has been changed to the Press to correct an earlier misattribution to the Voice.]

Whoa! The City Strikes Back

posted by on June 16 at 4:56 PM

First of all, I don’t know if they saw my Slog post about their underwhelming performance in the morning, but they did pounce on the question, “Why didn’t Bennett try to re-negotiate?”

The city got the chance to “re-cross” Nickels and they went straight to the point:

“Would you be wiling to re-negotiate the current KeyArena lease?” the city’s attorney asked.

“Yes I would,” Nickels said.

“Has Mr. Bennett ever asked to re-negotiate the KeyArena lease?”


“Has Mr. Bennett ever offererd any money to renovate KeyArena?”


“Would you be interested in that?”


But more important was Virginia Anderson, former director of Seattle Center. Hello star witness.

Unlike Mayor Greg Nickels, she didn’t let Bennett’s attorney push her around. Quite the opposite: She jumped on the questions to turn them around on Bennett’s lawyers.

And she wasn’t just being contrarian for the sake of being contrarian. In fact, Anderson completely blew up one of Team Bennett’s main points.

To make their big point that the lease from 1995 no longer makes sense for anybody, they contend that the revenue-sharing lease, once a “win-win,” has turned into a “lose-lose” for both the Sonics and the city.

While Nickels accepted that characterization, Anderson—who negotiated the lease back in ‘93 and ‘94—pointed out that it wasn’t so simple.

She described the original situation not as a “win-win” but as an investment based on shared risks. And she wasn’t sold on the current state as a “lose-lose,” pointing out that the Sonics would be much worse off right now if the city hadn’t of floated the bonds in the first place. Indeed, if the city hadn’t given the Sonics such a friendly deal in the first place, she explained, the Sonics would be in massive debt right now.

She also disputed Team Bennett’s simplistic explanation about the Sonics current woes—competition on luxury suites from SafeCo and Qwest Fields, nonexistent in 1993, have made the original lease untenable. Anderson repeatedly pointed out that part of the problem was the Sonics’ crummy record.

She noted that if they ever made the playoffs they could double their revenues. Bennett’s attorney tried to derail Anderson by pointing out that a recent study showed even if the Sonics sold out every game of every season they’d still be making less than the NBA average. But, quick on her feet, Anderson said his number lacked context, explaining that he was discounting all the concessions, sponsorship, and media revenues that come with a successful team.

Oh, and there was a HUGE “Save Our Sonics” rally outside the courthouse.



posted by on June 16 at 4:15 PM

I forget where I bumped into this…maybe a press release?…but this website, which looks like a joke, seems to be real. now has a “Radar” function (emphasis mine):

Radar lets you keep track of what’s happening around you right now simply and easily. Using Radar you can:.

* See what’s happening within 1000 feet of where you are currently (as well as what’s happening in your neighborhood and city)
* Keep track of places and topics that are of special interest to you
* Receive instant alerts of things going on right around you

…and more

To use Radar, you have to be signed in. And if you haven’t yet registered, you’ll need to do that of course, too.

Wow, a totally useless aggregating website that seems painfully convinced of its own utility. It feels like 2000 all over again.

Eyman Closes In

posted by on June 16 at 4:12 PM

On the 225,000 signature mark—the total needed to get his HOV-lane-killing, toll-revenue-hogging, road-building-happy Initiative 985 on the ballot in November. Eyman hopes to get 275,000 signatures total, to account for duplicates and signatures that get tossed for other reasons.

If Eyman’s relentless pleas to supporters for money are successful, he’ll have more than $600,000 to spend on his initiative —a total that amounts to about $2.25 a signature, or about twice the going rate for the paid signature gatherers Eyman relies on to push his pseudopopulist initiatives.

Stupid Comment of the Day

posted by on June 16 at 4:01 PM

On the death of pioneering special effects guru Stan Winston:

Oh, give it a rest, they grow producers, executive producers, script writers, actors, directors, and all that in orange groves all over Cali, @3.

Heck, the closing night film had something like seven producers …

Posted by Will in Seattle | June 16, 2008 2:08 PM

The Water Wars

posted by on June 16 at 3:39 PM

They’re on.

Four years behind schedule and nearly $80 million over the original budget, the nation’s largest sea water desalination facility finally supplies much-needed drinking water to 2.4 million people in the Tampa Bay region.

Despite the plant’s troubled history, a handful of Florida communities want to follow Tampa Bay’s footsteps in a high-stakes bid to keep water flowing to meet the state’s growth. […]

This spring, the Legislature debated a bill that would have helped utilities develop their own desalination systems. The idea was approved, but the bill stalled because of the state’s budget woes.

Nevertheless, utilities and water supply planners believe it is only a matter of time before more facilities like Tampa Bay’s dot Florida’s landscape.

The new focus on desalination comes as the federal government has released a 300-page report on the technology’s status as a viable drinking water source.

The report concluded that sea water desalination could forestall looming water crises in many regions of the country, but cited significant environmental issues needing more study.

The increased focus on harnessing oceans for drinking water is easy to explain: Many places are running out of fresh water and have few alternatives.[…]

While many environmentalists would like to see Florida slow growth, state leaders say that is not realistic.

“You can’t stop people from coming to Florida,”
said state Sen. Burt Saunders, R-Naples, who sponsored the proposed desalination law.

Two things:

1) The environmental issues surrounding desalination “need more study”? Hardly. According to a report issued last year by the World Wildlife Fund, the process of filtering the salt out of seawater creates massive greenhouse-gas emissions that worsen climate change, leading to drought and glacial melting and (ironically) threatening existing freshwater supplies. Desalination has also been linked to saltwater leaching, pollution, and damage to marine ecosystems. Moreover, desalination promotes sprawl and unsustainable population growth.

2) Statements like “You can’t stop people from moving to Florida” remind me of arguments like this one against investing in mass transit (or like this one against requiring density around transit stops): People drive now, after all, and by God, we can’t force them not to! These kind of arguments—don’t socially engineer me out of my car/ uninhabitable desert / suburb—ignore the fact that those high-speed freeways/ massive, unsustainable irrigation systems/ miles upon miles of uncontrolled sprawl are just as artificial or “engineered” as transit/ living sustainably/ density. There’s nothing “natural” about moving to Florida and drinking desalinated water, any more than there is about taking transit to work from your dense urban community with a sustainable water supply. Both are choices about the way we live—and what kind of future we want to leave to our children—something even some suburban communities are finally starting to recognize. Once we can acknowledge that choices like where to live and how to deal with our limited resources are “engineering,” it becomes possible to engineer things differently.

UPDATE: Just came across another nice example of engineering that could be called unengineering (ungineering?): Parking meters in San Francisco that are cheaper when demand is low, and higher when demand is high. Unlike the traditional (“natural”) approach to parking (increasing supply as demand increases), pricing meters reduces demand to equal the existing parking supply.

Whose Streets?

posted by on June 16 at 3:16 PM

Bikers’ streets. For three Saturdays, anyway, and for six hours each day, in New York City:

Emulating similar experiments in Paris, London, and Bogotá, Colombia, New York City will close off to traffic a 6.9-mile route from the Brooklyn Bridge to East 72nd Street on three consecutive Saturdays, giving New Yorkers to a chance to explore and enjoy “car-free recreation corridors.”

Every Child Deserves a Mother and a Father

posted by on June 16 at 2:40 PM

Readers who wonder why I post those distressing “Every Child Deserves a Mother and Father” items might want to check out this ad, which the Family Research Council ran in newspapers in California this weekend:


Yes, yes—every child deserves a mom and a dad. Someone run down to the morgue and tell this kid how very lucky he was to have a mom and a dad.

Ad via JoeMyGod.

The Making of a Commie

posted by on June 16 at 2:37 PM

From this:

To this:

HAVANA — The Cuban boy at the center of an international custody battle eight years ago has joined Cuba’s Young Communist Union.

Communist youth newspaper Juventud Rebelde quotes Elian Gonzalez as saying he will never let down ex-President Fidel Castro and his brother Raul Castro, who succeeded Fidel earlier this year.

Now 14, Elian was 6 when Miami relatives lost their fight to keep him in the United States and he was returned to Cuba in mid-2000 with his father.

Elian had survived a boating accident off the Florida coast that killed his mother, who was attempting to get to the U.S.

What kind of man will Elian become?

Who’s Ashamed To Be a Republican?

posted by on June 16 at 2:21 PM

Washington State Sen. Curtis King.

“It Is Then That I Plagiarized From You”

posted by on June 16 at 2:17 PM


Bookslut links to a story about the origin of the “Footprints” poem that’s absolutely everywhere. There are a number of people who are claiming to have written the poem, and most of them want royalties.

Although several people have suggested to Webb, as consolation, that God gave the idea to multiple authors in order to more efficiently spread His Word, Webb is unsettled by the idea that “the Lord would be the author of confusion.” However the verse came into being, its message has reached all over the world. “Footprints” is the kind of poem we all seem to know without remembering when or where we first saw it. We’ve read it dozens of times, never paying attention. The verse is dislocated from context, so familiar and predictable that the boundary between writing and reading seems to disappear.

Be sure to read the comments to the Poetry Foundation story, too, as one woman, Carolyn Joyce Carty, claims to have written “Footprints” and also the lyrics to the poem she calls “In My Life I Loved You More,” which was callously stolen by The Beatles.

If you’re as fascinated by this as I am, NPR also has a story about the lawsuits that are brewing over the poem. And then there’s this classic Onion take on the whole thing.

Gas Prices and Light Rail

posted by on June 16 at 2:11 PM

Pricey gas seems may result in a bigger, better light rail plan landing on the ballot this November, Mike Lindblom writes in today’s Seattle Times.

Just two months ago, the transit board’s three Snohomish County members questioned whether the agency would be ready to go back to voters this year — especially if the proposed rail line stopped at Northgate.

But now board members are talking about whether they can stretch the rail line to Lynnwood, instead of stopping it at Northgate, five miles shy of the King/Snohomish line.

Representatives from South King County also are seeking support to push the line beyond SeaTac to Federal Way.

Mass transit has always been a hard-sell in the ‘burbs, but with gas prices rising and more people crowding on to what passes for transit around here, now would be a great time to call a vote on a truly regional transit system. While housing prices are falling all across the country, houses in ‘burbs served by transit—by rail, not bus—are holding steady or increasing in value. And voting “yes” on light rail can be sold to suburban voters not as some commie plot to pry them out of their SOVs, but as a good way to protect their property values.

Sly Fox

posted by on June 16 at 1:55 PM

(In an especially stinky alley off Pine St near First Ave)

Read It and Weep

posted by on June 16 at 1:46 PM

George W. Bush suggests there might be more President Bushes in our future.

Basketball Court

posted by on June 16 at 1:30 PM

This morning, before the Sonics trial started, I said I’d be scared to face off with sassy Deputy Mayor Tim Ceis if I was one of Clay Bennett’s lawyers.

Unfortunately for the city, Ceis wasn’t the witness this morning. Mayor Greg Nickels was.

Bradley S. Keller, Bennett’s stentorian lead attorney, eviscerated Nickels in this morning’s opening round. (He also made the city’s attorney, Jeffrey Johnson from K&L Preston Gates Ellis—who was prone to freezing up into anxious minute-long silence when his exhibits were tossed, couldn’t identify documents, couldn’t get an objection sustained for his life, and elicited an incredulous, “That’s your response to his objection?” from Judge Marsha Pechman—look like an amateur.)

The defining (embarrassing) moment for the mayor came when Keller—silver hair, black glasses, trim, a sense of pacing and drama—asked a red-faced Nickels if he supported the behind-the-scenes-strategy of forcing Bennett’s Sonics to stay in Seattle for another two years because it would make the team bleed money, forcing Bennett to sell. Nickels, prone to preface every answer with “I believe” or “as far as I know” said, definitively for once, “No.”

It was the wrong time for Nickels to be so adamant.

Keller went to the video tape of Nickels’s deposition, at which Nickels said “Yes” and “absolutely” when asked if he agreed with employing such a strategy.

This was more than merely a gotcha moment. The point was also central to Bennett’s defense—which, in part, aims to prove that the city has been actively trying to sabotage Bennett’s chance for success in Seattle.

Keller’s other ace was a 2006 report commissioned by Nickels himself that found the KeyArena lease and KeyArena itself were not economically viable. This is Bennett’s main argument for moving the team. As Keller said repeatedly in his opening statement and while cross examining Nickels: The “economically dysfunctional” lease and outdated KeyArena do not allow the Sonics to “have the revenue to be a successful NBA franchise.”

Nickels was backed into a corner here and had to concede that, indeed, the revenue sharing agreement in the lease wasn’t good for the Sonics and KeyArena wasn’t profitable in the “long term.”

However, I’m not sure this argument will carry the day for Bennett. After all, the city did offer to re-negotiate the lease, an offer Bennett wasn’t interested in.

Keller kept returning to the idea that a fundamental principle of the lease—in addition to the fact that the lease stipulated the Sonics play there for 15 years—was that it had to be economically viable for the Sonics. Okay. But why, then, didn’t Bennett make a good faith effort to re-negotiate the lease when the city made that offer?

We’ll see if the city pounces on this overarching flaw in Bennett’s case. The point of the crummy lease plays well in its own right, but taken in the larger context, it actually raises a damning question for Bennett: Why is he trying to get out of the lease before even attempting to re-negotiate it?

A Sad Day for Geeks

posted by on June 16 at 1:11 PM

Stan Winston, the man who gave us this:




and this


has died.

The Old Man Down the Road is Now in Federal Custody

posted by on June 16 at 1:08 PM


My dad was born and raised in Lucinda, Pennsylvania, a small town in the western part of the state where a fair percentage of citizens are named Schmader and where my family visited every other summer over the Fourth of July.

A perennial highlight of these trips was a visit to the home of Morgan Jones, a friendly mad-scientist type everybody called Morgie. Morgie was known for his vast collection of explosives, many of which were self-invented, some of which were for sale. (Over the years my dad bought some truly frightening fireworks custom-made by Morgie.) On the night of the 4th, Morgie welcomed visitors to his property, for whom he’d put on a small show, featuring the annual firing of his homemade cannon and various other kaboomy delights.

Yesterday my dad forwarded me the news story from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

A Clarion County man who the FBI charges is an officer in a Western Pennsylvania militia will remain in custody at least through the weekend as his federal detention hearing Thursday was continued until next week. Morgan A. Jones, 64, of Lucinda is…one of five people arrested Sunday on weapons charges by the Pittsburgh Joint Terrorism Task Force.

Yocca said Jones is a captain of the 91st Warrior militia, one of three groups under the umbrella group Pennsylvania Citizens Militia that investigators first infiltrated in October 2006. Militia documents introduced in Jones’ hearing included a Pennsylvania Citizens Militia manual, “Get America Up In Arms” pamphlet and a document titled “Defenders of Liberty, Territory 91.”

Testimony from four hearings over two days revealed that Jones hosted annual flamethrower parties on his property. Attending those events, Yocca said, were militia members, gun enthusiasts and neighbors who watched Jones fire a homemade flamethrower and cannon as well as a lightning-making contraption inside a barn.

Good luck, Morgie.

In other weird news news: A couple years ago I met this judge when we both attended my best friend’s wedding. Good luck to him as well. GOOD LUCK TO EVERYONE!

Headline of the Day

posted by on June 16 at 12:56 PM

From the LA Times

Women voters lining up behind Obama

So can we please stop talking about, and handing the mic to, the handful of crazy motherfuckers who supported Clinton and are now throwing their support to McCain? They represent a statistically insignificant group and they are not going to give McCain the winning edge in this election. As Frank Rich pointed out in his column in Sunday’s NYT, McCain is doing terribly among women. McCain is doing terribly among Republicans.

McCain is old, he’s tired, and he’s losing. We shouldn’t be complacent, and it’s a long way to November. But let’s not be so easily panicked by a few attention-seeking psychopaths.

American Apparel Waves Magic Wand

posted by on June 16 at 12:47 PM


Jezebel informs us that American Apparel has started selling the Hitachi Magic Wand. This is the first time that American Apparel has been linked to masturbation, ever.

(As a side note: I think that this is good news for cities that might not have great sex shops, but Seattleites should continue to buy their Hitachis from Babeland.)

Al Gore Endorses

posted by on June 16 at 12:46 PM

Guess who?

Lose Control

posted by on June 16 at 12:45 PM

To see the point in history that marks the birth place of our society, control society, we should look here, at city planning:
But let’s take a step back.

In his short essay “Society of Control,” Gilles Deleuze separated this older order of society, one that’s under discipline:

Foucault located the disciplinary societies in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries; they reach their height at the outset of the twentieth. They initiate the organization of vast spaces of enclosure. The individual never ceases passing from one closed environment to another, each having its own laws: first the family; then the school (“you are no longer in your family”); then the barracks (“you are no longer at school”); then the factory; from time to time the hospital; possibly the prison, the preeminent instance of the enclosed environment. It’s the prison that serves as the analogical model: at the sight of some laborers, the heroine of Rossellini’s Europa ‘51 could exclaim, “I thought I was seeing convicts.”

From the current order, one under control:

The family, the school, the army, the factory are no longer the distinct analogical spaces that converge towards an owner—state or private power—but coded figures—deformable and transformable—of a single corporation that now has only stockholders. Even art has left the spaces of enclosure in order to enter into the open circuits of the bank. The conquests of the market are made by grabbing control and no longer by disciplinary training, by fixing the exchange rate much more than by lowering costs, by transformation of the product more than by specialization of production. Corruption thereby gains a new power. Marketing has become the center or the “soul” of the corporation. We are taught that corporations have a soul, which is the most terrifying news in the world. The operation of markets is now the instrument of social control and forms the impudent breed of our masters. Control is short-term and of rapid rates of turnover, but also continuous and without limit, while discipline was of long duration, infinite and discontinuous. Man is no longer man enclosed, but man in debt.

In the older form of society, management of the population was direct and rigid; in the present one, it is fluid and soft. And the end of control is you managing you, you schooling you, you doctoring you, you hiring you, you punishing you. In an environment that has you doing everything, self-help books thrive.

But control society has an origin. It’s in 19th century urban projects like Trafalgar Square and Haussmannization. What it is that dislocates these projects from their moment, disciplinary society, is that the management of the poor comes with real benefits. In the case of Trafalgar Square, fountains, art, an open space for leisure and also political activities; with Haussmannization, improved sanitation, the beautification of the city, and so on. But as open as they might be, both the square in London and the boulevards of Paris have as their essence the control of the poor with the visible benefits of life and the obscured threats of death—exposure to fresh air and sunshine comes with the exposure to cannon balls. From these open spaces issues a society that will obscure state power and replace it with the visibility (or simulacrum) of self-empowerment. In disciplinary society, your factory boss is your worst enemy; in control society, you are your own worst enemy.

Obama’s Smartest Staff Pick Ever

posted by on June 16 at 12:10 PM

There’s lots of talk today about Obama nabbing Patti Solis Doyle, the former Clinton campaign manager who may or may not have a grudge against the Clinton campaign for pushing her out, and who definitely has strong ties to the Hispanic community.

Solis Doyle’s new job in the Obama campaign? Chief of staff to Obama’s VP pick, whoever he or she ends up being. (Which, to my mind, makes it a lot less likely that the VP pick will end up being Clinton.)

This is all part of a larger staffing up that Obama is doing as he heads into the general, but it reminds me of something I’ve been meaning to post for a while now.

I have a theory that Obama’s smartest staff pick ever is to be found in this Atlantic article from earlier this year. It’s about how Obama’s web savvy, as much as (or more than) anything else, made his campaign the money-making juggernaut that it is today. Deep within the article is this revealing paragraph:

Staffers credit the candidate himself with recognizing the importance of [online social networking] and claim that his years as a community organizer in Chicago allowed him to see its usefulness. Another view is that he benefited greatly from encouraging a culture of innovation and lucked out in the personnel department, with his own pair of 20-something wizards. Joe Rospars, a veteran of Dean’s campaign who had gone on to found an Internet fund-raising company, signed on as Obama’s new-media director. And Chris Hughes, a co-founder of Facebook, took a sabbatical from the company and came to Chicago to work on the campaign full-time.

Having Patti Solis Doyle on your staff is great and all, but my guess is that this cycle it doesn’t mean a whole lot if you don’t also have a Chris Hughes working on the back end of your web presence.

Meanwhile, McCain’s big tech-related moments have been his comments on his computer illiteracy (Mac or PC? “Niether, I am a illiterate that has to rely on my wife for all of the assistance that I can get”) and his statement explaining how his campaign is using “a Google” to vet his potential VP picks. (Not to be confused with “the Google,” which is what our current president uses.)

The Mariners are in the Market for a New General Manager

posted by on June 16 at 12:09 PM

Bill Bavasi has been fired. Official press release here.

How much longer does John McLaren have?

Lunchtime Quickie

posted by on June 16 at 12:01 PM

R.I.P. Tony Schwartz, creator of maybe the scariest political ad ever made…

McCain, Cunt, McCain, Cunt

posted by on June 16 at 11:52 AM

Sunrise on Friday

posted by on June 16 at 11:46 AM


I’ve been as good as unconscious all weekend, due to the nasty cold that’s circulating, but I wanted to write one last SIFF post about the showing of F.W. Murnau’s Sunrise at the Triple Door on Friday. The Album Leaf, who Eric Grandy interviewed here, performed a new score for the movie.

Sunrise is amazing—one of the greatest movies of all time, and one of the first to really, completely understand what can and can’t be done in a movie. That’s about all that I can say about it without going over the top like user Dario P on IMDB:

I have no words. This is cinema. This is not a story, this is not a plot. This is THE STORY, this is THE PLOT…This film holds the tragedy and the comedy, the laughing and the crying. “Sunrise” doesn’t belong to the past, but It belongs to the story, to the time. Sunrise, yes…the sunrise of the modern cinema waiting for “Citizen Kane”.

But I can talk about the Album Leaf’s score. At first, I was unsure; for the first twenty minutes all the band really managed to do with their guitars and keyboards and drums was create an ambient kind of hum that didn’t interact with the movie at all. But as the plot (or THE PLOT, depending on who you ask) ratcheted up, so did the score. There were moments of perfect conversation between the band and the screen, where actions were imitated with music, and it was perfectly lovely. There were echoes, too, from the screen down to the band and back up to the screen, where action became sound became action again.

As the movie drew to a close, too, and the ambient hum returned, the whole piece of music really operated as a complete musical work. I have my doubts if it functioned exceedingly well as a score—the first twenty minutes had maybe too much of a disconnect between the music and the movie—but if the Album Leaf ever performs this one again, you should definitely attend. It was a perfect ending for my SIFF experience.

Youth Pastor Watch

posted by on June 16 at 11:41 AM

We’ve got a story out of North Carolina featuring your typical YPW creepiness. Take it away WXII 12 News Team:

Man Accused of Secret Peeping Was Church Youth Leader

The husband accused of filming his wife’s friends while they used a tanning bed in the couple’s basement and sexually assaulting two minors was a longtime member and youth leader at Peace Haven Baptist Church, WXII12 News has learned.

More than 100 charges were filed this week against Tony Gray Sloop, 49, of Hamptonville, including sexual abuse of two girls under the age of 13 and secret peeping.

The photos and videos, which allegedly were taken from cameras installed in pinholes in a basement and a bathroom and according to investigators, show women of a variety of ages.

But check out this detail about the arrest of Tony Gray Sloop from an earlier report in the, er, Yadkin Ripple:

What had started out as a relationship with one girl as an “acquaintance” had become a full-blown investigation that tied Sloop to other underage victims….

Sloop, the search warrant says, has admitted to investigators that he had a sexual relationship with an underaged girl. The victim’s mother noticed in late April that her daughter was allegedly receiving frequent telephone calls and text messages from Sloop. Those conversations became so noticeable, the warrant says, that they were observed by a youth minister at Peace Haven Baptist Church on a field trip.

So a decent youth minister at Peace Haven Baptist Church gave evidence to the police that helped bring an indecent youth minister at Peace Haven Baptist Church to justice.

Who says Youth Pastor Watch isn’t fair and balanced?

Coming Soon to a Strip Mall Near You

posted by on June 16 at 11:39 AM

Pro-life pharmacies. From the Washington Post:

When DMC Pharmacy opens this summer on Route 50 in Chantilly, the shelves will be stocked with allergy remedies, pain relievers, antiseptic ointments and almost everything else sold in any drugstore. But anyone who wants condoms, birth control pills or the Plan B emergency contraceptive will be turned away.

That’s because the drugstore, located in a typical shopping plaza featuring a Ruby Tuesday, a Papa John’s and a Kmart, will be a “pro-life pharmacy” — meaning, among other things, that it will eschew all contraceptives.

The pharmacy is one of a small but growing number of drugstores around the country that have become the latest front in a conflict pitting patients’ rights against those of health-care workers who assert a “right of conscience” to refuse to provide care or products that they find objectionable.

Pro-life pharmacies, naturally enough, do stock Viagra. Because a pill that allows a ninety year-old man to get it up and get one off could, if his seed is righteously implanted (i.e. not in his 90 year-old wife), create new life. Selling that same man a condom, on the other hand, or selling a condom to the traumatized hooker servicing him, could result in his precious, precious seed going to waste.

Noodles: Boom!

posted by on June 16 at 11:36 AM

The Globe Cafe on Capitol Hill closed at the end of 2007 to some controversy (see comments here), but what’s taking the Globe’s space is promising in the extreme: Justin Neidermeyer’s long-awaited restaurant and artisan pasta company. Neidermeyer’s a jovial pasta genius; he was originally going to open a place down on Eastlake (as prematurely reported here). His new endeavor, which may or may not be called Pian Pianino, is supposed to open on 14th at Pine in early July (though peeking through the papered-over windows this weekend, it looked like more than a couple weeks’ work remained—no kitchen was visible).

Gentrification hand-wringers, yes, some change is terrible (e.g., the paving of paradise for a parking lot further down Pine). But until you eat some of Neidermeyer’s noodles, you can’t know how encouraging this development is for the neighborhood and the city. Picture that scene in Lady and the Tramp, with you at one end of the noodle and, I don’t know, God at the other.


This Is Why ECB and I Get On So Well

posted by on June 16 at 10:36 AM

MRI and PET scan studies are showing remarkable similarities between the brains of gay men and straight women, and between those of lesbians and straight men.

For example, the brains of straight men and of gay women share certain common features: both are slightly asymmetric, with the right hemisphere larger than the left, say the Swedish researchers. On the other hand, the brains of gay men and straight women are both symmetrical.

Similar trends emerged when scientists tracked connectivity in the amygdala, the region of the brain involved in emotional learning and in activating the fight-or-flight response. They noted strong similarities between gay men and straight women, and lesbians and straight men.

The findings are published in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Carrot Top at Iron Maiden

posted by on June 16 at 10:30 AM


Shot in the parking lot before the Iron Maiden show at the White River Amphitheatre.

[Brayden to his photographic subject:] Hey, that security guy is coming for you!

[Security:] Hey, you two! What are you taking photos for? You can’t have a camera with a detachable lens here! [Into radio:] We have a situation in the east parking lot… I’m going to need backup.

[Brayden:] What? Really? Can you make sure and ask someone on your walkie-talkie before I walk all the way back to the car?

[Security:] Just did—NO cameras with detachable lenses.

[Brayden:] Weird, well, I’ll put it back in the car then.

[Security:] Hey, Carrot, you are gone, Do i need to personally remove you?

[Brayden, to Carrot:] What’s going on, man?

[Carrot:] These dudes are kicking me out before I have even gotten in. These assholes don’t know how to party. I pissed behind a bush; who cares? It’s Iron Maiden—those fucking bastards!

[Security:] Hey wait there just one minute, Carrot! [Into radio:] They are now on the move in the east parking lot.

[Brayden:] I’m gone—later Carrot!

(And, for the record, I stuffed the camera in my the back of my pants.)


The Civil War, According to Fifth Graders

posted by on June 16 at 10:28 AM


From Mr. Roemer’s Fifth-Grade Class in Tampa comes a short play about the Civil War. Says Mr. Roemer:

This play was written by the students in groups. Each group took one act. A committee of eight students then compiled the acts, provided continuity, and entered the work into a computer (including HTML) or edited first drafts. About the only advice I gave was: “Keep Working, it isn’t good enough!”

Read the play here. (And thanks for the heads-up, MetaFilter.)

Reading Tonight

posted by on June 16 at 10:23 AM


A thriller, a book about gardening, an open mic, and three more events going on tonight.

First, at the University Book Store, Jeffrey Deaver is reading from his new Lincoln Rhyme thriller, The Broken Window. I wrote about my guilty attraction to Lincoln Rhyme thrillers a couple weeks back. I expect that Jeffrey Deaver is probably unwittingly hilarious in person—all of his essays and introductions are so sincere that he seems utterly unaware of himself as a schlock mystery writer with a deaf ear to dialogue and a hook-hand for typing plot. This could be a good time, especially since his fans are probably religiously devoted to him.

At Town Hall, Ahmed Rashid reads from Descent into Chaos: The United States and the Failure of Nation Building in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Central Asia. This is one of those readings that proves to be eerily relevant, given the news that the Taliban is making advances in Afghanistan. Rashid’s last book, about the Taliban, was titled Taliban.

And at Elliott Bay Book Company, Ed Park is reading from Personal Days, his first novel. I took Personal Days out on a Lunch Date a little over a week ago and I loved it. I’ve long since finished the book and it’s pretty amazing. The the first person plural narration that I was nervous about subsided early on—the book’s in three parts, and each is narrated differently—and the book finishes in a satisfying way. Plus, it’s a paperback original, so it’s easier on the wallet than most first-time novels. I’ll probably write more about Personal Days in a week or so in the books section, but this reading is totally worth your time.

Full readings calendar, including the next week or so, is up for your inspection.

Russert’s Replacement

posted by on June 16 at 10:14 AM

I’m not betting a cent on it, but it should really be Gwen Ifill. David Gregory would be all right, but Ifill has both an inquisitional style and a likeable, distinctive personality. And she’s really smart. She’d be perfect. If it’s Chris Matthews or Katie Couric, I’m never watching Meet the Press again.

(Yes, I know Washington Week sucks, but that’s mostly because of the stupid convention in which reporters are expected to quiz each other. It’s stilted, but it’s not Ifill’s fault.)

“E-Mail Bankruptcy”

posted by on June 16 at 9:48 AM

My favorite new phrase, picked up while reading this timely New York Times article over the weekend—an article that also introduced me to my second-most-favorite new phrase, “e-mail apnea.”

Currently Hanging

posted by on June 16 at 9:47 AM

Ed Ruscha’s Azteca/Azteca in Decline (2007), acrylic on canvas (diptych), 48 by 330 inches each

At Portland Art Museum. (Museum site here.) Nice interview with Ruscha on PORT here.

McCain’s Chances, Historically Speaking

posted by on June 16 at 9:44 AM

Historians belonging to both parties offered a litany of historical comparisons that give little hope to the Republican. Several saw Barack Obama’s prospects as the most promising for a Democrat since Roosevelt trounced Hoover in 1932.

Details at Politico.

Whiting Tennis Wins the Prize

posted by on June 16 at 9:35 AM

Saturday night in Portland, Whiting Tennis was given the first $10,000 Arlene Schnitzer Prize in the first Northwest Contemporary Art Awards competition and exhibition. (Portland Art Museum organized the awards, and intends to do them every two years.)

The show is a knockout. New work by every artist. Well worth the drive. A podcast with the five artists—Tennis, Dan Attoe, Cat Clifford, Jeffry Mitchell, and Marie Watt—will go up later this week, and later today, I’ll post more.

But for now, here’s a detail of an enormous new Tennis painting (6 by 14 feet) in the show, called Bitter Lake Compound. It’s based on a dilapidated backyard the artist came across.


The Morning News

posted by on June 16 at 8:40 AM

posted by news intern Chris Kissel

Iran and Afghanistan: Britain announces tighter sanctions, increased troop strength.

: Stubbornly votes “No” on EU reform treaty.

The Midwest: This is the last thing we needed.

Ohio and Florida: Obama can do without ‘em.

Oil, sweet nothing: Crude oil hits $140 a barrel.

Blogged down: American citizen charged with insulting Singaporean judge on his blog.

Getting married: Scores of same-sex couples in San Francisco.

Today in roadkill: Sack of kittens tossed into North Carolina traffic.

Nickels, for three: Sonics trial begins today.

FHA real: More Seattleites are taking advantage of housing administration loans.

More options: High gas prices cause push for light-rail measure.

Early start: John Ladenburg sets his sights on Rob McKenna’s job.

The best of the 2007-2008 school year:

From “The Doomed Struggle for Freedom in The Trial,” by Chris Kissel. December 13, 2007.

Kafka uses the Court, which engages his protagonist, Josef K, in what becomes a yearlong trial, to express his frustrations with the irrational barriers that stand in the way of the individual’s potential for freedom. The barriers themselves are actualized through many facets of society, from religion to politics, all of which are imbued with the liberal thought-structure that predominated in Kafka’s time. This social structure, according to Kafka, stands in stark contrast to the attainment of freedom, the goal it supposedly serves, and this contradiction is portrayed through the relationship between the Court and the Law. K. is a man who is guilty of at least partially grasping the nature of this contradiction.

Free Sonics Tickets. $15.4 Million Worth.

posted by on June 16 at 7:45 AM

Deputy Mayor Tim Ceis is a total smart aleck.

If I were a lawyer, I would not want to cross examine him. But if you’re rooting for Ceis, he’s a treat. And, the way this Sonics story is shaking out, it’s likely you’re rooting for him.


Despite the fact we all voted against city subsidies for the Sonics in 2006 (74 percent of us anyway), you know in your heart you want the Sonics to stay, and you’re rooting against Clay Bennett and his homophobe Oklahoma ownership group.

That means you’re rooting for Deputy Mayor Tim Ceis, one of the potential witnesses in the city’s lawsuit against Bennett, going to trial today, to make the Sonics play at KeyArena for two more seasons. (Oklahoma businessman Bennett, whose group bought the Sonics and Storm in 2006 for $350 million, pledged to keep the Sonics in Seattle. However, after failing to get $400 million in public assistance in 2007 to build a new stadium in Renton, Bennett won NBA approval this Spring to move the team to Oklahoma City. Seattle has sued to make Bennett honor the Sonics’s KeyArena lease agreement, which locks them into playing at KeyArena through 2010. Bennett also tried to buyout the remainder of the lease for $26.5 million. The city, which still owes about $30 million, turned that down.)

To get an earful of Ceis’s excellent smarty pants ways, all you have to do is read his April 28 deposition.

My favorite part of his deposition—in addition to when Ceis points out that his signature actually isn’t on a supposedly damning document that Bennett’s lawyer Paul Taylor seems to think it’s on—is when Taylor tries to trip up the Deputy Mayor (and by implication, the city) for dealing with Bennett’s Sonics in bad faith. (Yes, even though Bennett is the one who got caught sending what appear to be double-crossing emails, Bennett’s team of lawyers is out to show that it’s actually the city who was dealing in bad faith.)

Early on in Ceis’s deposition, to try and establish that Ceis is an untrustworthy character, Taylor asks Ceis why Ceis alerted a local Save Our Sonics activist to the fact that Seattle Times reporter Jim Brunner had evidence that Ceis had been at a top-secret NBA meeting—a meeting that Ceis agreed not to disclose.

Ceis’s candid, F.U. answer: “Because he [Brunner] did [have the evidence].”

Ceis’s factual statement—Brunner had done a public records request that proved Ceis was in New York—cleverly exonerates Ceis from breaking any non-disclosure agreement. It also reveals that Ceis is interested in letting the public know exactly what’s going on. Right on, Deputy Mayor.

However, I have to admit, there’s a moment in Ceis’s deposition that captures the weird schizophrenia of the city’s position and of this whole Sonics thing. Referring to the city’s attempt late last legislative session to get the state to authorize $75 million in King County taxing authority to help pay for a KeyArena expansion, Taylor asks Ceis, “If the public was not supportive of investing in KeyArena, why were you trying to seek public money to invest in KeyArena?”

It’s a fair question. And even Ceis cannot quite answer this one. He yammers about being a “responsible public official…trying to find a way to satisfy the needs of the franchise and hopefully have a long-term relationship with the Sonics.”

This is all well and good for a parse-y legal answer in a deposition, but it sidesteps the real question that Taylor (unwittingly or not) is asking; a question that 74 percent of us are probably asking ourselves: Do we want the Sonics to stay or not?

Again, you’re probably rooting for the Sonics to stay, but simultaneously, you’re proud of our city (and our legislature) for not being sycophantic NBA ass kissers; for being the only place in the United States of America to say no to the NBA’s crass business model; for setting a precedent against David Stern and Co.’s corporate blackmail.


Despite all the Slick Watts (headband!)/Dennis Johnson (1979!)/Jack Sikma (white guy)/Shawn Kemp/Gary Payton/Ray Allen memories, wouldn’t it be great if Seattle made national news for setting a Just-Say-No precedent to arena subsidies and the bloated world of professional sports that those subsidies condone and perpetuate.

If the the city wins the lawsuit, and the Sonics are here for two more seasons, do you really want the city to use that window of opportunity (as their plan appears to be) to hustle up a “reasonable” public subsidy to make them stay?

I think the city has a good shot at winning its lawsuit. I’m not a lawyer, but City Attorney Tom Carr’s beautifully bitchy brief is hard to dispute: The Sonics signed a lease that said they’d play in KeyArena until 2010. There you have it.

If yesterday’s Seattle Times account of U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman is accurate—that she’s a no-nonsense fact checker—then I like the city’s hand a lot better than Bennett’s.

Here’s what I think the city should do if it wins: Make the Sonics pay us back the money they still owe us on the current subsidy. And I’m not talking about the estimated $30 million that’s still due. I’m talking about the estimsted $15.4 million in back debt service they owe us. Remember? The city revamped KeyArena for the Sonics in 1995 for about $74 million, and the city has ended up picking up the Sonics’ payments to the tune of $2 to $3 million a year going back to 2001.

If Judge Pechman ends up ruling in favor of the city, she should order the Sonics to make $15.4 million worth of free tickets available to the public. With an average price of $40, that’s about 385,000 tickets. I’d say it’d take about two seasons to hand out that many tickets. The public would finally get what it wanted when it agreed to fork over $74 million dollars: the chance to go to a basketball game

Here’s a link to a Soincs primer I wrote when this story first started brewing.

And here’s a link to the Seattle Times comprehensive coverage.

I’ll be filing updates from the U.S. District Courthouse in downtown Seattle all week.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Re: Bart Sher…

posted by on June 15 at 10:17 PM

South Pacific won seven Tony Awards in all, including Best Director and Best Revival of a Musical.

(For the first commentor on Christopher’s post below—Sher is the longtime artistic director of Intiman Theatre. This is his third nomination for Best Director, and his first win. Last year, Intiman won the Tony Award for regional theater. At a Tony Awards party this evening, a spokeswoman for Intiman told the crowd: “Bart says he couldn’t do what he does out there if not for the support he has here.” “That’s very, very sweet of [Bart] to say,” whispered a longtime Intiman subscriber sitting next to me, “but it’s just not true.”)

Other big winners tonight: In the Heights (a musical about a Latino neighborhood in upper Manhattan), Passing Strange (a picaresque musical about a middle-class black kid from Los Angeles who travels to Amsterdam and Berlin), and August: Osage County (Steppenwolf’s play about a family of fuckups and pill poppers).

The musical performances tonight were, as usual, ill-suited for television broadcast. They just weren’t designed for, and don’t translate well onto, screens. I wonder how much damage they do each year, as people channel surf into their favorite number from Grease and think: “fuck, that’s awful—see, that’s why I don’t go to theater.”

Between those and the ads for Vesicare (“fewer urges and leaks!”), the message seems to be that theater is for the tone-deaf and the incontinent.

Still: Congratulations, Mr. Sher.

Bart Sher…

posted by on June 15 at 8:45 PM

…just won a Tony for directing South Pacific.

SIFF 2008: Award Winners

posted by on June 15 at 12:36 PM

The press release:

SIFF 2008 New American Cinema Competition

Grand Jury Prize:
Em, directed by Tony Barbieri (USA)
Jury Statement: “In Em, writer-director Tony Barbieri tackles the timely and original subject of love and mental illness, with the help of his two excellent leads, Stef Willen and Nathan Wetherington. It’s a sweet, sad, scary movie that feels completely contemporary.”

Special Jury Prize:
Jury Statement: “The Special Jury Prize is awarded to The Bluetooth Virgin and writer-director Russell Brown for his fresh and squirmy script.”

The New American Cinema jury was comprised of: Rajendra Roy, Chief Curator, Film Department at MoMA; David Schmader, associate editor at The Stranger; and Kyle Thorpe, Vice President of Publicity at Focus Features.

SIFF 2008 New Directors Showcase Competition

Grand Jury Prize:
Everything Is Fine, directed by Yves-Christian Fournier (Canada)
Jury Statement: “The New Directors Showcase Prize for director of a first or second feature goes to Yves-Christian Fournier from Quebec, Canada, and his film Everything Is Fine, for its skillful avoidance of the nihilistic clichés in its treatment of contemporary youth. The jury would also like to commend the outstanding performance of Marie Turgeon in the role of the mother.”

Special Jury Prize:
Mermaid, directed by Anna Melikyan (Russia)
Jury Statement: “The jury would also like to award a special mention to Mermaid by Anna Melikyan from Russia for its entertaining portrait of Russia and its growing pains as it transitions into a capitalist society.”

The New Directors Showcase jury was comprised of: Frederic Boyer, programmer for Director’s Fortnight, Cannes Film Festival; Oliver Mahrdt, president of Hanns Wolters International, and East Coast representative of German Films; and Charles Taylor, film critic for the Newark Star-Ledger and Bloomberg News.

SIFF 2008 Documentary Competition

Grand Jury Prize:
Derek, directed by Isaac Julien (UK)
Jury Statement: “The Grand Jury Prize is awarded to Isaac Julien’s Derek for the strength of both the subject and the filmmaking.”

Documentary Competition Special Jury Prizes:
Jury Statements:
Combalion, directed by Raphaël Mathié (France), “…for its artistic integrity and visually arresting composition.”
Accelerating America, directed by Timothy Hotchner (USA), “…for capturing the inspiration of the subject and the humanistic heart of the film.”

The Documentary jury was comprised of: Ken Eisen, president of Shadow Distribution; Julie Goldman, founding partner of Cactus Three; and Steven Raphael, founder of Required Viewing.

SIFF 2008 Short Film Jury Awards

SIFF 2008 Grand Jury Short Film Award winners receive a $2,500 cash prize, a hand-made glass creation by artist James Mongrain, Movie Magic Screenwriter software, a DVD replication prize package from Discmakers, and an annual subscription to FilmTracker from Baseline Studio Systems.

Documentary Grand Jury Prize:
“Self Portrait With Cows Going Home” and Other Works: A Portrait of Sylvia Plachy, directed by Rebecca Dreyfus, USA

Documentary Special Jury Prize:
The Ladies, directed by Christina Voros, USA

Animation Grand Jury Prize:
The Pearce Sisters, directed by Luis Cook, UK

Animation Special Jury Prize:
Home, directed by Kim Slate, USA

Narrative Grand Jury Prize:
Rewind, directed by Atul Taishete, India

Narrative Special Jury Prizes:
Walnut, directed by Amy Gebhardt, Australia
Dog Altogether, directed by Paddy Considine, UK
A Mate, directed by Teemu Nikki, Finland
New Boy, directed by Steph Green, Ireland

Honorable Mentions for Inventive Filmmaking:
Introduction to Lucid Dreaming, directed by John Grigsby, USA
On the Assassination of the President, directed by Adam Keker, USA

The Short Film jury was comprised of: Scilla Andreen, co-founder of IndieFlix; Seattle filmmaker Douglas Horn, winner of the 2006 Golden Space Needle for Best Short Film; and Jeff Shannon, film critic for the Seattle Times and P-I.

SIFF 2008 FutureWave Jury Award

SIFF 2008 FutureWave WaveMaker Award winner receives a $2,500 cash prize.

Grand Jury Prize (WaveMaker Award):
Disorder, directed by Rose McAleese

Honorable Mentions:
4th Floor, directed by Misami Kubo, “…for excellence in visual storytelling.”
Driving to the New Age: American Automobiles and You, directed by Meng Mao, Eli Shalcross, Charlie Shelton, and Matt Yaggy, “…for delivering a serious message through outstanding use of satire.”
New Perspective, directed by Dave Riff, “…for clarity of vision.”

The FutureWave jury was comprised of the participants in the 2008 Fly Filmmaking challenge: Cheryl Slean, Megan Griffiths, Rob Cunningham, Andy McCone and Joe Shapiro.

SIFF and IndieFlix 2008 MyFestival Winners

SIFF and IndieFlix MyFestival Feature Film winner receives a $1,500 cash prize; Short Film winner receives a $500 cash prize.

SIFF Official Selection and MyFestival Feature Film Winner:
Perfect Sport, directed by Anthony O’Brien

SIFF Official Selection and MyFestival Short Film Winner:
Robbie’s Withdrawal, directed by John Burish

MyFestival Special Recognition Awards:
Eternal City, directed by Jason Goodman
Hot Wind: America’s Fallout Casualties, directed by Kirsten Alaqidy


SIFF 2008 Golden Space Needle Award winners receive a hand-made glass creation by artist James Mongrain. Golden Space Needle Award Best Short Film winner receives $1,000 of Color Negative Motion Picture Film from the Eastman Kodak Company Entertainment Imaging Division, and an Apple Intel 15” Laptop Computer loaded with the Final Cut Pro Suite of products from IrisInk and The Mac Store.

Best Film Golden Space Needle Award:
Cherry Blossoms: Hanami, directed by Doris Dörrie (Germany)

The remaining top ten audience favorites (in order)
Frozen River, directed by Courtney Hunt (USA)
Fugitive Pieces, directed by Jeremy Podeswa (Canada)
Captain Abu Raed, directed by Amin Matalqa (Jordan)
The Drummer, directed by Kenneth Bi (Hong Kong)
Summer Heat, directed by Monique van de Ven (the Netherlands)
Letting Go of God, directed by Julia Sweeney (USA)
Late Bloomers, directed by Bettina Oberli (Switzerland)
Bliss, directed by Abdullah Oguz (Turkey)
Michou d’Auber, directed by Thomas Gilou (France)

Best Documentary Golden Space Needle Award:
The Wrecking Crew, directed by Denny Tedesco (USA)

The remaining top ten audience favorites (in order)
Great Speeches From a Dying World, directed by Linas Phillips (USA)
Man on Wire, directed by James Marsh (UK)
Accelerating America, directed by Timothy Hotchner (USA)
Creative Nature, directed by John Andres (USA)
Emmanuel Jal: War Child, directed by C. Karim Chrobog (USA)
Trouble the Water, directed by Carl Deal and Tia Lessin (USA)
Stranded: I’ve Come From a Plane that Crashed in the Mountains, directed by Gonzalo Arijon (France)
Good Food, directed by Melissa Young and Mark Dworkin (USA)
They Killed Sister Dorothy, directed by Daniel Junge (USA)

Best Director Golden Space Needle Award:
Amin Matalqa, for Captain Abu Raed (Jordan)

The remaining top five audience favorites (in order)
Courtney Hunt, for Frozen River (USA)
Nina Paley, for Sita Sings the Blues (USA)
Dorota Kedzierzawska, for Time to Die (Poland)
Nic Balthazar, for Ben X (Belgium)

Best Actor Golden Space Needle Award:
Alan Rickman, for Bottle Shock (USA)

The remaining top five audience favorites (in order)
Nadim Sawalha, for Captain Abu Raed (Jordan)
Andrew Garfield, for Boy A (UK)
Zdenerk Sverák, for Empties (Czech Republic)
Greg Timmermans, for Ben X (Belgium)

Best Actress Golden Space Needle Award:
Jessica Chastain, for Jolene (USA)

The remaining top five audience favorites (in order)
Catinca Untaru, for The Fall (USA)
Melissa Leo, for Frozen River (USA)
Danuta Szaflarska, for Time to Die (Poland)
Melanie Diaz, for American Son (USA)

Best Short Film Golden Space Needle Award:
Felix, directed by Andreas Utta (Germany)

The remaining top five audience favorites (in order)
Sleeping Betty, directed by Claude Cloutier (Canada)
Bailey-Boushay House: A Living History, directed by Terence Brown (USA)
Zoologic, directed by Nicole Mitchell (USA)
Spider, directed by Nash Edgerton (Australia)

Lena Sharpe Award:
Frozen River, director Courtney Hunt (USA)
This award is given to the film by a woman director that receives the most votes from the public.

OK, so Cherry Blossoms was the actual audience award winner—Frozen River was just a runner-up. But since Cherry Blossoms was already scheduled to screen today (albeit during the awards ceremony), SIFF is screening Frozen River tonight in the narrative TBD slot (7 pm at SIFF Cinema).

Good job not picking anything too embarrassing, guys! But no acting prize for Haifsia Herzi (The Secret of the Grain)? Shame. I suppose a César is worth more, anyway.

Today The Stranger Suggests

posted by on June 15 at 11:00 AM


‘Avenue Q’ at Paramount Theatre

Avenue Q is Sesame Street for adults: a puppet musical set in an “outer borough of New York,” whose residents get drunk, have sex, fall for Scientology, and mourn their useless college diplomas. Song titles include “I’m Not Wearing Underwear Today,” “The Internet Is for Porn,” and “It Sucks to Be Me.” Avenue Q opened in a 120-seat, off-Broadway theater in 2003 and surprised everyone by becoming a magnet for Tony and Drama Desk awards. (Paramount Theatre, 911 Pine St, 292-2787. 1 and 6:30 pm, $25–$70. Through June 22.) BRENDAN KILEY

SIFF 2008: The End

posted by on June 15 at 10:10 AM

It’s the very last day of the festival and I, for one, cannot muster a tear. Thanks for reading, anyway. There are no new films today (unless you count Head-On [9:15 pm at Pacific Place], which is making up for the gay Australian-Greek movie of the same name that mistakenly screened in its place earlier in the festival), but you can’t have possibly seen all the good stuff, so I’m still doing a slate of recommendations.

Start off Father’s Day with Cherry Blossoms: Hanami (noon at Cinerama). We didn’t get a chance to review it, but the Variety review sounds very promising.

Next is your last chance to see Alexander Nevsky (2 pm at Benaroya Hall) accompanied by the Seattle Symphony. Don’t miss.

In the early matinee slot, we recommend Julia Sweeney’s Letting Go of God (4 pm at SIFF Cinema). She should be in attendance.

Feel free to stay at SIFF Cinema for… what I assume is the Golden Space Needle audience award winner for narrative film. (That’s usually what they fill the final TBD slots with, but the official press release hasn’t yet gone out.) Let’s hope, at least, it’s something as unembarrassing as Frozen River (7 pm at SIFF Cinema).

Frozen River

I’m not quite so psyched about the presumptive doc winner, The Wrecking Crew (9 pm at SIFF Cinema). Better than Be Like Others? Better than Trouble the Water? But it isn’t a terrible movie by any means.

Still, we’d suggest that you head to Pacific Place to see that replacement screening of Head-On. Wrap up your festival with a fantastic movie—even if it’s not exactly “new” in the starburst sense.

The Morning News

posted by on June 15 at 10:00 AM

posted by news intern Chris Kissel

Big guns: Investigators find plans for advanced nuclear weapon on computer of Pakistani nuclear scientist.

High tension: Karzai threatens to send troops into Pakistan.

Here to stay: After a year, Hamas maintains power in Gaza.

Big flood: Downpour in China leaves 55 dead, forces more than a million out of their homes, government says.

Speaking of floods
: Cedar Rapids, Iowa is underwater.

Tainted by experience
: John McCain’s 1974 analysis of United States war policy.

Mr. Bush goes to Europe
: Bush bashes Iran with Sarkozy, compliments Sarkozy’s wife, drinks tea with the Queen of England.

The kids aren’t alright: Cops crack down on high school keggers.

Badass: Marsha Pechman doesn’t take shit from anyone.

“Tragic accident”: UW student dies after fall from frat house window.

From “Imprisoned Narrative? Or Lies, Secrets, and Silence in New Mexico Women’s Autobiography,” by Genaro Padilla. Criticism in the Borderlands, Calderón, Héctor and José David Saldívar, eds. Duke University Press, 1991.

We must account for the complex textual voicings of socially subordinate writers without losing ourselves to a form of progressive intellectual snobbery that overlooks or ignores those flashes in imprisoned discourse that are the textual signal of embryonic consciousness, whispers of antecedent resistance that have provided us the opening for clearly revisionary and resistive utterance.

Reading Today

posted by on June 15 at 10:00 AM

There’s only one reading this Father’s Day, and it’s dad-related. At Elliott Bay Book Company, James P. Lenfestey reads from A Cartload of Scrolls: 100 Poems in the Manner of T’ang Dynasty Poet Han-Shan. They are a bunch of poems about being a father.

For non-dad related readings, please consult the full readings calendar, including the next week or so, here.