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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Gerard Damiano, R.I.P.

posted by on October 29 at 2:00 PM

The writer and director of Deep Throat is dead at age 80:

Over three and a half decades, Deep Throat has been damned by religious groups, decried by feminists, defended by First Amendment advocates, derided by critics and debated by social scientists. It dragged for years through local and federal courts around the country in a welter of obscenity trials in which it was variously banned, unbanned and rebanned. All this had the effect, observers agreed, of sustaining acute public interest in the film.


In interviews over the years, Mr. Damiano credited his work as a hairdresser with having given him a keen understanding of women. This helped him greatly, he made clear, in his later career.

“I was just a nice guy, which is why I think I did pretty well,” he told The News-Press of Fort Myers in 2005. “I mean, I’d meet an actress and have to say, ‘Sit down, take your clothes off — I’m going to ask you to do some nasty things.’ You have to be pretty nice.”

NYT obit here.

The Deadline

posted by on October 29 at 12:52 PM

A gloomy story in today's BBC about the men who died after Armistice was signed:

...hundreds of these soldiers would lose their lives thrown into action by generals who knew that the Armistice had already been signed.

The recklessness of General Wright, of the 89th American Division, is a case in point.

Seeing his troops were exhausted and dirty, and hearing there were bathing facilities available in the nearby town of Stenay, he decided to take the town so his men could refresh themselves.

"That lunatic decision cost something like 300 casualties, many of them battle deaths, for an inconceivable reason," says [historian] Mr Persico.
At 10.45 another 40-year-old soldier, Frenchman Augustin Trebuchon, was taking a message to troops by the River Meuse saying that soup would be served at 11.30 after the peace, when he too was killed.

Augustin Trebuchon's grave - along with all those French soldiers killed on 11 November 1918 - is marked 10/11/18. It is said that after the war France was so ashamed that men would die on the final day that they had all the graves backdated.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

From Our Archives: "Was This House Worth Her Life?"

posted by on October 28 at 11:40 AM

In 2003, Eli Sanders went to the Gaza Strip to report on the death of Rachel Corrie, the Evergreen student and anarchist who became an accidental martyr after she was killed during a protest.

gazastripduo.jpgPhotos by Joel Sanders

The bulldozer's advance, according to ISM activists who witnessed it, pushed up a mound of dirt that Rachel came to be standing atop, so that she was looking straight at the bulldozer driver in his high cab. The bulldozer kept advancing.

Here the stories get a bit confused. Some say Rachel kneeled atop the mound of dirt. Others say she tried to run down off the mound, away from the bulldozer, but lost her footing. Either way, all the activists who saw it agree that the bulldozer pushed the mound of dirt over Rachel, burying her alive and dragging the giant blade across her body, first forward as the bulldozer advanced, and then backward as the bulldozer driver backed up.

Click here to read the full, powerful story.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A Monument to All That Is Broken

posted by on October 22 at 1:39 PM


This is Barnett Newman's Broken Obelisk, which stands in Red Square at UW. Four versions of it exist, one in Houston. Guardian art critic Jonathan Jones today provides a reminder of the obelisk's political life.

In Houston in 1969, city officials didn't want it to be a public memorial to Martin Luther King Jr. in the wake of his assassination.

The proposal to treat it as a prominent King memorial was put forward by the famous art collecting family the Menils. (Their museum complex currently houses the sculpture.) In another version of the story told here, they initially responded this way:

After being told that city officials would reject a public memorial to King, the de Menils proposed that the sculpture be placed in front of City Hall and that the base bear the words Forgive Them, for They Know Not What They Do.

The story about the obelisk as a sign of race relations is something to keep in mind as you pass this thing by on the eve of the election that may give us our first black president. Are black voters going to be held back at the gates again (like in 2000)? Is the obelisk going to fall all the way this time? Or maybe the obelisk is a totally outdated symbol of race relations at this point; what would a new one look like?

Broken Obelisk represents more than one broken system: public art is another. Newman said he intended the obelisk as a beacon of hope—a sign that things, even broken things, could get better. But part of what's so great about the sculpture is that it has an equally dark heart. It represents something already fallen, but only halfway. This present state of grace feels like its bounce moment, the moment its tip hits a ground point before the whole thing crashes down to pieces.

Public art with a dark heart is rare these days. The obelisk reminds me of something Seattle artist Dan Webb recently wrote in an essay called "I Heart Public Art" in which he critiques both the gallery system and the public art system (published in La Especial Norte and available at galleries):

Conceptual art has become the new orthodoxy, rooted in something that was hard won, and enduring, and has since evolved into something that is too frequently facile and rote. Hard won principles become short cuts to lesser practitioners; many artists today seem content to be merely clever.

Public art is in quite a bubble as well. It is fixated on trying to be art, without the teeth. When Brian Eno was asked his opinion of New Age music, which he is generally credited with inspiring, he said he didn't like any of it because it lacked a sense of evil. True that. When public artists voluntarily dumb things down, erase the evil, they ultimately come across as condescending.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

From Our Archives: "The Animal in You"

posted by on October 21 at 3:00 PM

In 2006, Charles Mudede wrote about the infamous death of Kenneth Pinyan and how bestiality came to be illegal in Washington State:

horsefeature1.jpgPhotos by Rob Devor

The absence of a law banning bestiality was never more apparent than it was on the day James Michael Tait—the man who, according to the Enumclaw Police Department, filmed the exact moment that the horse's monstrous penis fatally ruptured Pinyan's colon—stood before a judge last November. The prosecutor's office wanted to charge Tait with animal abuse, but the police found no evidence of abused animals on the many videotapes they collected from his home. As there was no law against humanely fucking a horse, the prosecutors could only charge Tait with trespassing. At the time of Pinyan's death, Tait lived in a trailer on a 39-acre lot next to a ranch that breeds Arabian stallions, and at night he and another man would, according to the "Charges in Enumclaw Horse Case" document filed by the office of the prosecuting attorney, "repeatedly visit the [farm's] barn and have sex with several of their [neighbors'] horses." Because the owners of the violated farm "were not aware that [Pinyan, Tait, and others who connected with them via the internet] were repeatedly coming into their barn and having sex with their horses," the prosecutors decided to file criminal trespass first degree charges against Tait. The other man was not charged because he wasn't on the videotape that captured Pinyan's last night on earth.

Read this story and others in The Stranger's "Best Of" archives.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Our Cradle

posted by on October 16 at 9:52 AM

For those whose happiness is all the more intense when exploring the ins and out of the cradle of our type of mind...
...that cradle being the Victorian world of trains, detectives, factories, Dickens, industrial cities, steam power and so on, you (as I did) will love this little detail in a BBC report about an MP who wants to establish a law that bans the keeping of primates as pets:

The Shropshire MP said he would use his Ten Minute Rule Bill, which he will present in the Commons on Tuesday afternoon, to highlight why the practice of keeping the animals had no place in modern society.

"Are we a modern country or are we a country stuck in Victorian times that likes to keep primates in confined spaces in order to entertain us," he told BBC News.

To be totally unstuck from Victorian times is to change precisely what it is that makes us what we are now.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A Googley Stroll Down Memory Lane

posted by on October 1 at 10:45 AM

Today Google turns 10, and to celebrate, they're directing users to their "oldest available index," which isn't exactly ten years old—it's from January 1, 2001—but it's still a fascinating portal into olden times.

For example, Googling "Sarah Palin" in 2001 brings up nothing on the current VP candidate until page 4, where the Frontiersman expresses it's gratitude that "Wasilla Mayor Sarah Palin has approached city council members about using Wasilla’s bountiful sales-tax revenues to erect" something or other. (The link stubs out.)

Also in 2001, Googling "Chris Crocker" got you a New Zealand music writer and an Austin doctor, but no weeping Britney fans.

Experience the virtual time-traveling pleasures for yourself here.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

On the Dissolution of Belgium

posted by on September 30 at 2:08 PM

So Belgium is trying to break up with itself, like it has since the 19th century when its two ethnic groups—the Flemish (who are slovenly and have chronic coughs) and the Walloons (who are adorable and favor yellow galoshes)—resolved to stop getting along.

The political crisis has paralyzed its government, enhungered its illegal immigrants, and compromised its masculinity.

Which is too bad, since the combined forces of the Flemish and the Walloons have produced some of the world's greatest inventions, including beer, colonialism, and awkward silences.

And, of course, Plastic Bertrand...

... who is, in fact, the new identity of Joseph Pujol, aka Le Pétomane, le grande fartiste.


Some of the highlights of his stage act involved playing a flute through a rubber tube in his anus, farting sound effects of cannon fire and thunderstorms as well as farting La Marseillaise. He could also blow out a candle from several yards away. His audience included Edward, Prince of Wales, King Leopold II of the Belgians and Sigmund Freud.

Mr. Pujol faked his own death in 1945—to get away from child stalkers who followed him around with cigarette lighters—and reinvented himself as Plastic Bertrand.

When asked for comment on the delicate political situation in Belgium, he responded with a YouTube video (be sure to watch when your boss is standing right behind you):

Also: Belgium is an anagram for "I be glum."

I think we all finally understand why.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

My American Education

posted by on September 24 at 3:20 PM

Upon reading this...

Rep. Barney Frank, the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee and the chief House Democrat negotiating the bailout package, called McCain's move "the longest Hail Mary pass in the history of either footballs or Marys.
...I wondered: What the hell is a "Hail Mary pass."

Google gave me this answer:

And from Wikipedia:

A Hail Mary pass or Hail Mary play in American football is a forward pass made in desperation, with only a small chance of success.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Man Who Shot Santa Claus

posted by on September 19 at 10:33 AM

The cover of this month's American Scholar reads: "Meet the World's Most Evil Man." Which sounds like dumb hyperbole until you actually read the article—it makes a pretty good case.

I can't exactly recommend you read it too, because it's deeply depressing—about an evil German Evangelical named Paul Schaefer who founded a lil' utopia (32,000 acres) in Chile where he could terrorize, torture, and rape its inhabitants into submission.

In exchange for being left alone, Schaefer did lots of Pinochet's dirty work—tortured and executed political dissidents, mostly, who were brought to Schaefer's small kingdom of terror, up in the Chilean mountains.

Here is probably the gentlest, kindest thing Schaefer ever did:

All challengers to Schaefer’s authority—real or imagined—were rooted out and destroyed. No one inspired greater love and admiration among the children of the Colonia than Santa Claus. It is said that in the days shortly before Christmas one year in the mid-1970s, Schaefer gathered the Colonia’s children, loaded them onto a bus, and drove them out to a nearby river, where, he told them, Santa was coming to visit.

The boys and girls stood excitedly along the riverbank, while an older colono in a fake beard and a red and white suit floated towards them on a raft. Schaefer pulled a pistol from his belt and fired, seeming to wound Santa, who tumbled into the water, where he thrashed about before disappearing below the surface. It was a charade, but Schaefer turned to the children assembled before him and said that Santa was dead. From that day forward, Schaefer’s birthday was the only holiday celebrated inside Colonia Dignidad.

Schaefer was finally arrested in 2005. He lives in jail now.

The rest of the horrible story is here.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Princess Complex

posted by on September 16 at 3:29 PM

Here we have a visual problem. The women in the middle (a Swazi princess--indicated by the red feathers--at the reed dance ceremony) is, one, modern and, two, in a very traditional situation. Her face is Vogue, but her breasts are National Geographic. How should we look at her? The traditional breasts negate the modern face (we are seeing nothing)? Or the face negates the breasts (we are seeing everything)? Or should there be no negation and just a coexistence of the two codes (everything/nothing)? Or should we look at the face as the surface (the modern city), and the breasts as the buried past (the ancestral underground)? But these breasts are fresh; they are not old, cold, or dead. Both face and breasts are youthful, yet one is about the youth of now and the other about the youth of the past. How does one resolve this visual complex?

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Re: What Palin Should Say Tonight

posted by on September 3 at 4:50 PM

McCain's problem if Palin declines the nomination is written in history.



Thursday, August 7, 2008

Laughing 'Til It Hurts

posted by on August 7 at 10:00 AM

It's funny because it's hysterical!

And, related: Humor: The International Journal of Humor Research: It's funny because it doesn't sound funny at all.

Thanks to Slog tipper and erstwhile Stranger writer Thadius Van Landingham III.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Same As It Ever Was

posted by on July 31 at 11:01 AM

Craft vendors in Pike Place Market, 1975


Madison Park beach, 1930


More more more at the hours-devouring Seattle Municipal Archives photostream of Flickr.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Supremes

posted by on July 17 at 12:57 PM

I'm a big fan of outgoing NYT Supreme Court reporter Linda Greenhouse, so I was kind of disappointed by her lackluster retrospective piece for last weekend's Week in Review.

But her ongoing Q&A with readers this week is definitely worth checking out. For instance, Obama has been indicating he wants "people who have life experience and [who] understand what it means to be on the outside, what it means to have the system not work for them" on the Supreme Court--making it rather hard for federal court-watchers to guess who he'd nominate. Here's Greenhouse on the subject:

Q. Do you think that the justices of the Supreme Court are becoming further removed from the everyday world of the average U.S. citizen and lawyer when so many of them have spent most, if not all of their careers, as judges or academics or both? If so, what does this portend for the future of the court, its decisions and respect for the court? —Charles L. Riter, South Dakota

A. I think I'm on safe ground in saying that the current court is the first in United States history on which every member's immediate past job was as a judge on a federal appeals court. In the not-too-distant past, it was common to select justices from among leading figures in American public life—Earl Warren was a three-term governor of California who had run for vice president on the Republican ticket. Other members of the Warren Court had been senators, cabinet members, and presidential intimates.

There is general agreement that a greater diversity of background would be useful today. Some fine justices had never been judges at all (Powell, Rehnquist). Justice O'Connor had served only an intermediate state court. Being on the Supreme Court is an inherently isolating experience, so the life experiences that justices bring with them matter perhaps more than in other venues. The experience of advising clients, helping real people solve problems, or working in a different branch or level of government could perhaps help a justice insist less on doctrinal purity and more on real solutions to our legal problems. The early justices lived in boarding houses and "rode circuit,": sitting as federal trial judges in distant cities, often at great inconvenience and sometimes peril. Clearly the framers of the Constitution didn't expect justices of the Supreme Court to lead remote, isolated lives. (For a fascinating historical novel based on the lives of the early justices and their wives, see "A More Obedient Wife" by Natalie Wexler.)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

"George Washington's Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation"

posted by on July 15 at 2:50 PM

Found in a coffee shop this morning: a 30-page book, allegedly written by the alleged father of this alleged country—when he was allegedly 14 years old!—on how not to be a total jackass.



"2nd: Put not your hands to any part of the body not usually discovered."

"13th: Kill no vermin as fleas, lice, ticks &c in the sight of others; if you see any filth or thick spittle, put your foot dexteriously upon it; if it be upon the clothes of your companions, put it off privately; and if it be upon your own clothes, return thanks to him who puts it off."

"38th: In visiting the sick, do not presently play the physician if you be not knowing therein."



Saturday, July 12, 2008

Space Needle Captured: The Video

posted by on July 12 at 11:45 AM

Dear Sub Pop, Happy Birthday! I almost sh*t my pants climbing to the top of the Space Needle with you, but now I love you even more. Yours, Kelly O

More photos after the jump...

Continue reading "Space Needle Captured: The Video" »

Friday, July 11, 2008

I Also Enjoy Brad

posted by on July 11 at 4:42 PM

Fuck all this work nostalgia--golf memories!

There's the time Brad shanked the hell out of a little chip shot and the ball skipped across the pond and rolled up the bank and onto the green. Brad didn't realize it had made it to the other side, though, because he had already dejectedly put his head down and started cursing the world. We laughed and hollered, and he thought we were all dicks for reveling in his misfortune.

Or when my 6-iron popped into another dimension, and Brad laughed at me for about 20 minutes, possibly more. Bring it up to him now, he'll laugh at me again.

Mostly, though, I'll remember looking across the fairway from the right rough (read: deep in the woods to the far right of the right rough) to Brad skulking through the left rough, our opposite-handedness and identical slice-y-ness keeping us on opposite sides of the golf course but in similar states of mind most of the day.


Because He’s Brad. He’s Brad. He’s Really, Really Brad.

posted by on July 11 at 3:53 PM

I’ve worked with Brad in the office for less than two months. So while I don't know him very well, in this time we’ve been very close—our desks are separated by a thiiiiin wall. He's always been polite enough to pretend like he didn't see or hear the stupid things I write/say/do. And I do a lot of them. All the best, Mr. Stranger.

I know you don't want any more of these posts, but too freakin' Brad.

Brad Was the First Sane Person I Met at the Paper

posted by on July 11 at 3:33 PM

After I quit my job to join this little rag five years ago, Josh and Dan invited me for a little post-work celebration on Friday afternoon. I was a little ragged, having just given told my boss that I was going to work for the competition that morning. Anyway, I showed up at Bill's off Broadway half an hour after Josh had told me people would be there, and found one guy with brooding away at a table big enough for twelve. I think we said nine words between us. It was an awkward million years. I thought, "Well, I guess THIS guy didn't want to hire me."

Two things I didn't realize at the time: 1) Brad—like most writers, including me—is actually sort of shy. 2) Brad is a wonderful dose of sanity and calm--a gatekeeper to certain Stranger staffers' more, um, dramatic impulses. I AM TALKING TO YOU, SAVAGE Case in point: That very same evening, before Savage had even said hello, the VERY FIRST THING HE DID was undo my bra (yes, through my shirt. It's a skill he claims—CLAIMS—he learned doing drag.) Another time, as we were having an argument ABOUT THE DUKE RAPE CASE, Savage absentmindedly dropped trou (in fairness, to change into shorts for racquetball). On those and countless other occasions, Brad has been the guy who turns around and says, "Dude, what the fuck?"

Who will say "Dude, what the fuck?" for me now, Mr. Steinbacher? WHO?!

I Would Also Like to Say Something Nice About Brad

posted by on July 11 at 3:25 PM

Brad, I don't care what anybody says - the fact that you're leaving us to train for THIS - hey, I think it's cool.


I Too (or Three, or Four, or Five at This Point) Would Like to Say Something Nice About Brad

posted by on July 11 at 3:05 PM

Brad has suffered a lot at the hands of the homosexuals around this office. Knowing this, and knowing how gamely he's taken all the waxing, Ben Gaying, and suggestions that he and I go to gay couple's counseling together as a stunt (the joke of which neither he nor I ever quite understood), I've tried very hard not to add to the general gay-pression of this kind and lovely fella.

So you can imagine my mortification when, some while back, I found myself making repeated drunk-dial calls to Brad, weekend after weekend, only to realize, and then inform him, that I'd meant to call "the gay Brad in my phone" instead of, you know, my Managing Editor.

A typical conversation might begin sometime between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. on a Friday or Saturday:

Me: Hey Brad...

Brad: Hey Eli. It's Steinbacher. I'm not the one you want, am I?

Me: Oh shit. Not again. Sorry! See you in the office on Monday.

It is a very special straight man who can let you know, all with a certain warmness and humor in his voice, that your doofus drunk-dialing has been noted, silently mocked, appreciated in a slapstick sort of way, and also unappreciated in a "Don't haunt my nights with your gay drama too!" sort of way.

The best thing, though, was that I always felt like he was rooting for me to hang up, drunk dial someone else, and quickly end up engaged in certain activities that are far more exciting than drunk-dialing.

I eventually drunk-proofed my cell phone so that Brad and I stopped having our late night chats, but I've always kind of missed them. Maybe I'll un-drunk-proof my phone now that I won't be seeing him during the weekdays anymore.

I Have Nothing Nice to Say About Brad

posted by on July 11 at 2:44 PM

Because he is a quitter, and quitters never win.

Brad Steinbacher Was the First Person to Ever Terrorize Me at The Stranger

posted by on July 11 at 2:23 PM

When I started as a Stranger intern years and years ago in 2000, there were two kinds of people: there were the nice, supportive people who tried to teach me the ways of the paper, understanding that I'm working for free so the least they could do was buy me lunch once in a while and make sure I learned something, and then there were those who just ignored me. I wasn't their intern, I didn't exist.

Brad Steinbacher was the first person to break the mold. Taking a bratty big brother role, he'd prey on my naive insecurities and flip me shit about missing a deadline by one minute. When he was film editor, he was the man who started the tradition of sending me to all the shitty movies. He nicknamed me Scooby, one time he kicked a hole in my desk, one time he broke promo CD I intended on listening to (while in its case!) with his bare hands, and he also went through a phase of pulling the hood of my hooded sweatshirt over my head and shutting it in my desk drawer. I'd have to flail my arms about for a few seconds, before I could set myself free.

The worst of it: I also used to have a little, cute, fuzzy lamb doll at my desk--some cheesy movie promo thing. Now, thanks to Mr. Steinbacher, it rests not on my computer monitor, but feet above my head, out of reach, on the dirty, dusty ledge above a vent in the office.

RIP, Lamby.

But with all the crap he's put me through (lovingly, I'm sure), Brad was also one of the first people are The Stranger to be nice to me, sincerely, without following it up with the question "Do you have time to transcribe this tape for me?"

So thank you, Bradley Steinbacher, for flipping me shit all these years which consequently brought me out of my shell and made me feel at home at The Stranger. We'll miss you.

I Would Also Like to Say Something Nice About Brad

posted by on July 11 at 2:20 PM

The first time I saw Brad, he was dressed like a lady. It was his 21st birthday, which he was celebrating as all former Catholic schoolboys in Seattle do: By allowing Dan Savage to put him in full drag then sign him up for a lip-synch competition at the dearly departed Brass Connection.

Brad is a handsome man. But he is an ugly woman. He looked glamorous, with a gorgeous wig and a full Zora-executed professional glamour face. But he also kinda looked like one of the wives in the "home beauty parlor" scene in GoodFellas.

I don't remember exactly what kind of dress Lady Brad was wearing, but I know it involved extensive waist-up shaving, perhaps taking weeks. What's burned in my brain is the song: "Back in Baby's Arms," the jaunty Patsy Cline number which Brad mouthed gamely before executing a truly stunning finale, in which he was swept up into the arms of a 250-pound man wearing a diaper.

He came in second in the night's competition, but he won first place in my heart.

I Too Would Like to Say Something Nice About Brad

posted by on July 11 at 2:12 PM

This one time, when I was drunk and ranting wildly at the Bus Stop on stultifying subjects no one else in the tiny bar cared a whit about but about which they were all getting quite the earful, Bradley Steinbacher kindly hoisted me out of my chair and removed me to the sidewalk outside. That was really nice of him. I don't like to make a fool of myself in bars.


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Bush Vs Brezhnev

posted by on July 10 at 2:55 PM


Leonid Brezhnev, leader of the Soviet Union from about 1964 to 1982, is widely regarded as one of the worst leaders of the modern era. His bungling has served as an inspiration for other aspirant incompetents, a sort of absolute zero for national leadership of a dominant nation.

The miraculous years under W, however, bring risk to this title! Both men were/are preening, self-lauding fools, and would care deeply who holds the legacy. A pressing question awaits us!
Who wins the title of absolute zero for leadership, George W Bush or Leonid Brezhnev?

A handy comparison table:

Personal Accomplishments before rising to power: Destroyed the Texas Rangers. Ran several oil businesses into oblivion. Fails to commit suicide due to rigorous unthinking about everything. Studied metallurgy. Successfully retreated from Germans. Survived purges through rigorous unthinking adherence to Stalinist ideals.
Wartime Service Faked Air National Guard records. Drank heavily. Drafted into Red Army during the Great Patriotic War. Served only in a political capacity.
Wartime Record as National Leader: Invaded Afghanistan and Iraq. Lost. Invaded Afghanistan. Lost.
Response to economic troubles: Tax cuts for the wealthy. Cuts in research funding. Promoted increased consolidation of industry. Gutted regulation. Massive deficit spending on the military, leading to the collapse of the currency. Ignored the fundamental economic problems underlying the decline. Promoted increased consolidation of industry. Massive deficit spending on the military, leading to the collapse of the currency. Ignored the fundamental economic problems underlying the decline.
Drug addictions: Alcohol. Probably cocaine. Nembutal (a narcotic)
Cult of Personality: Prone to giving out medals to himself and close political allies. Prone to giving out medals to himself and close political allies.
Overall Legacy: Lazy, short-minded, self-centered and dishonest leadership imperils the entire teetering substructure of the gluttonous American society. Inept, short-minded, dishonest and self-centered leadership directly lead to the downfall of the Soviet Union and collapse of communism worldwide.

I say, winner Bush! USA! USA!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Ever Wanted to See a Shitload of Photos Taken in China Between 1908 and 1932?

posted by on July 9 at 1:01 PM

Well, this is your lucky link.




Thursday, June 19, 2008

"...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?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

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!"

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.

Monday, June 16, 2008

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?

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.)

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Secret History of the Secret Service

posted by on June 4 at 11:33 AM

When a Marxist reads this...

The Secret Service wasn't always in the business of protection. It was created in 1865 as part of the Treasury Department, and it had one mission — to prevent counterfeiting of U.S. currency. Then, in 1901, President William McKinley was shot and killed by an anarchist in Buffalo, N.Y., and Congress changed the agency's mandate.
...the ears of that Marxist go up!

What does this change in mission mean? A change at the dawn of the 20th century. What connects the protection of the authenticity of American money with the protection of the life of an American president? Yes, there is something here we must decipher.

Friday, May 23, 2008

CA Same-Sex Marriage & the Ripple Effect

posted by on May 23 at 11:26 AM

If you're interested in the legal implications of the California marriage decision--like, will other states follow California's lead?--then I highly, highly recommend this series of Volokh Conspiracy posts (by University of Minnesota Law School prof Dale Carpenter). It's dense reading, but not inaccessible to the lay person.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

If I May Intrude...

posted by on May 15 at 10:43 AM

... on Dan's analysis of the CA marriage decision, it strikes me that the Court's decision to go with strict scrutiny is the most important and courageous element of the opinion. If you recall, the Washington State Supreme Court went with so-called "rational basis" review, which basically permits the court to assume and applaud any irrational justification whatsoever on the part of the legislature that enacted the offending legislation (DOMA, in that case).

Furthermore, the circumstance that the current California statutes assign a different name for the official family relationship of same-sex couples as contrasted with the name for the official family relationship of opposite-sex couples raises constitutional concerns not only under the state constitutional right to marry, but also under the state constitutional equal protection clause. In analyzing the validity of this differential treatment under the latter clause, we first must determine which standard of review should be applied to the statutory classification here at issue. Although in most instances the deferential “rational basis” standard of review is applicable in determining whether different treatment accorded by a statutory provision violates the state equal protection clause, a more exacting and rigorous standard of review — “strict scrutiny” — is applied when the distinction drawn by a statute rests upon a so-called “suspect classification” or impinges upon a fundamental right. As we shall explain, although we do not agree with the claim advanced by the parties challenging the validity of the current statutory scheme that the applicable statutes properly should be viewed as an instance of discrimination on the basis of the suspect characteristic of sex or gender and should be subjected to strict scrutiny on that ground, we conclude that strict scrutiny nonetheless is applicable here because (1) the statutes in question properly must be understood as classifying or discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation, a characteristic that we conclude represents — like gender, race, and religion —a constitutionally suspect basis upon which to impose differential treatment, and (2) the differential treatment at issue impinges upon a same-sex couple’s fundamental interest in having their family relationship accorded the same respect and dignity enjoyed by an opposite-sex couple.

Under the strict scrutiny standard, unlike the rational basis standard, in order to demonstrate the constitutional validity of a challenged statutory classification the state must establish (1) that the state interest intended to be served by the differential treatment not only is a constitutionally legitimate interest, but is a compelling state interest, and (2) that the differential treatment not only is reasonably related to but is necessary to serve that compelling state interest. Applying this standard to the statutory classification here at issue, we conclude that the purpose underlying differential treatment of opposite-sex and same-sex couples embodied in California’s current marriage statutes — the interest in retaining the traditional and well-established definition of marriage — cannot properly be viewed as a compelling state interest for purposes of the equal protection clause, or as necessary to serve such an interest.

I'm not a lawyer, but I do know this: Getting "suspect class" designation is paramount. Armed with the strict scrutiny that the "suspect class" designation triggers, the court can be much more skeptical about the motives of the legislature.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Wait--Where Am I? What Year Is This?

posted by on May 9 at 11:02 AM

And what IS the deal with riboflavin?!?!


Thursday, May 8, 2008

The New World of Desire

posted by on May 8 at 1:14 PM

Tamil actress Namitha Kapoor is one way to picture the globalization of desire:

Global Namitha loves:

White and Black colors. White roses are her favorite flowers. She swims and plays Badminton in her leisure. Interestingly she used to coach swimming for kids. Namitha reads the novels of Sidney Sheldon and prefers reading Comics. Coming to films, Namitha likes Nandita Das, Tabu, Paresh Rawal. She likes Animals and Birds aswell.

Abundance is the global ideal:
namitha2bf0.jpg The abundance of globalization is what replaces the abundance of Americanization. Only from the current decline of American power does globalization emerge from what has been called globalization but was in fact Americanization.

The Age of Nonpolarity What Will Follow U.S. Dominance By Richard N. Haass

From Foreign Affairs , May/June 2008
Summary: The United States' unipolar moment is over. International relations in the twenty-first century will be defined by nonpolarity. Power will be diffuse rather than concentrated, and the decline as that of nonstate actors increases...

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Will the Hunchback Curse Strike Again?

posted by on May 7 at 10:21 AM


As local theatrical masochists will remember forever, in 1998, Seattle was blessed with a locally produced world-premiere rock musical based on Victor Hugo's The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Not since HAIR has a stage musical come along with the power to capture the imagination of an audience and leave them cheering like HUNCHBACK, an entirely new, blazingly original work by C.Rainey Lewis.

That's a quote from the still-active Hunchback website, and it is factual. 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.

I'm proud to say I saw Hunchback, and it was so extravagantly bad I shall never forget it. On one hand you had the producers' hubris, which drove them to book a world-premiere rock musical based on Victor Hugo's Hunchback of Notre Dame, written and directed by a fledgling theatrical talent with an iffy track record, into the humongous King Cat Theater for eight shows a week for four weeks, resulting in largely empty houses and cancelled shows. On the other, you had the vast limitations of the material and the delusions of its creator. "HUNCHBACK's twenty songs include numerous 'instant classics,' and several which are candidates to become radio hits," hypes the website, which also does a good job of characterizing the individual compositions:

"(Oh Let Me Be) Your Obsession": A new twist on the seduction song, "Obsession" succeeds in combining innocence and lust in a homage to male power and sexuality combined with a fervent prayer for peace and harmony between the Universal Male and Female Principle. "Oh, let me be your obsession. Your love's in need of expression". Musically, the song lilts, swells, and sparkles in a brilliant and infectious melding of Western classical and Mideastern exotic, made all the more entertaining by the Gypsy girls' dancing.

What's more, a number of Seattle's best-and-brightest--actors, dancers, musicians, designers--were dragged onto the sinking ship of Hunchback, lured by four simple words on the audition notice: "All positions are paid." Among the brave Hunchback veterans: Derek Horton, Meghan Arnette, Jonathan Hochberg, Bhama Roget, Diana Cardiff, Hassan Christopher, Holly Eckert, and many more, each of whom deserves a fucking medal.

Why I'm bringing all this up now: A decade after Seattle's Hunchback, another rocker is creating another new rock musical based on The Hunchback of Notre Dame. To learn the identity of this rocker and more about his soon-to-be-opening show, please see Line Out.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

As We Wait for the Final Numbers...

posted by on May 6 at 10:02 PM

I recommend this NYT editorial on John McCain:

While Democrats voted in North Carolina, which Mr. Obama won, and in Indiana, which was too close to call at press time, Mr. McCain spoke about his judicial philosophy. He is determined to move a far too conservative and far too activist Supreme Court and federal judiciary even further and more actively to the right.

Mr. McCain predictably criticized liberal judges, vowed strict adherence to the founders’ views and promised to appoint more judges in the mold of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito. That is just what the country does not need.

Since President Bush chose Justices Roberts and Alito, the court has ordered Seattle and Louisville to scrap voluntary school integration, protected employers who illegally mistreat their workers and constrained women’s right to choose and citizens’ right to vote.

Mr. McCain did not mention, of course, how the Roberts-led court blithely overruled Congress by nullifying an important part of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law. He did wax nostalgic about what “the basic right of property” has meant “since the founding of America.” (He did not mention that in 1789, many women could not own property and African-Americans were property, but he did criticize the idea that values evolve over time.)

I am very close to a 3L law student, and I have been distressed as to the slow migration of his ideas about the judiciary over the last couple of years. The Constitution is neither living nor dead—it's a text, like any other. Call me a doctrinaire English major, but I know that even words and phrases change meaning over time. We cannot divine the founder's true intentions through their writings, and it's useless to try.

I've had a very hard time understanding why the court's most hardcore Catholics have cleaved to dunderheaded, precedent-defying originalism. Weren't they taught from the cradle that both scripture and tradition have their place? Literal interpretation of anything, from the Bible to the Constitution, is folly. "We the People" now signifies something wholly different from the meaning it had for the founders, and we're all better off for it.