June 27, 2006
simple human decency

A very funny satirical(?) essay from a recent Harpers: On Simple Human Decency

I hardly mean to imply that George W. Bush is a delusional party hack whose aim is to rob and mislead us for the benefit of his friends. That idea deserves to be stated outright: George W. Bush is a delusional party hack whose aim is to rob and mislead us for the benefit of his friends.


Posted by illovich at 12:17 PM
April 11, 2006

Some sites that show the extent of photo retouching:

Media Photoshop Retouching

Glenn Feron - The Art of Retouching

Greg Apodaca's Digital Portfolio

Posted by illovich at 10:57 PM
February 13, 2006
dead eye dick

I don't usually love the Philadelphia Daily News but I love them today.

Posted by illovich at 01:59 PM
February 07, 2006
dissenters prove lambda's case

From the comments to WoW: Blizzard Gets Gay Rights Warning (Kotaku),

"Wow, all I can say is: Mind your own business, and get a real job. The virtual world is NOT the real world, it's Blizzard's game, and they can do what they want. Frankly, in a real court, these jokes would have no case at all, and would likely be thrown out." - Corydorf

"This just sickens me.

I understand why Blizzard would reneg on their reprimands to that one player, but I hope against hope that they never cave into to these rediculous demands. And hey, if homosexuals want freedom to advertise their "gay friendly" (which is pretty much say "gay only") guilds and discussing homosexual topics of interests in public chat, everyone else should have the power to tell them to "STFU" and "GTFO".

It makes me very upset and angry that GLAD has is looking for "equality" in a virtual world. What's next? Busing the Horde into Alliance territory to fight racial hatred?" - Galvon

"I wonder how long until a Nambla friendly guild starts up?" -- Spilt_Milk

"why are they just gay friendly? are they not black friendly? what about penguin friendly? howabout midget friendly? if theyre all those things, why dont they advertise that?

saying youre "gay friendly" and not saying anything else, is basically saying, like Galvon said, "This is a gay only guild". sure they dont mean that, but thats what it comes down to and you all know that." - tony528

"Haha, I love it. As soon as you say ANYTHING against the gay community you are labeled as a homophobe. Any deviation from their agenda and PRESTO, you hate homosexuals!

If they allow this sort of conduct in WoW then I shall form my "terrorist friendly" guild for anyone who is sympathetic to any terrorist cause across the globe.

Heh, maybe then George Bush will wire tap WoW servers and Blizzard will realize that it shouldn't put up with cry babies who can't deal." - Galvon

"I think they want to be hated" - Zoglog

"Finally, if you don't want to be attached (sic, I'm sure he means attacked) don't go telling everyone "I'm gay". Yes you are, that's wonderful... now keep it to yourself. You don't see straight people goung around saying how "straight" the are all the time." -Galvon

and of course my favorite:

I don't think it is too much to ask that people don't advertise that they have sex with poop in a place where children are encouraged to congregate. - Spilt_Milk

There's nothing quite like having your opponents make your case for you, huh? My opinion is that Lambda Legal should use these in their case in the event Blizzard doesn't find a clue, which it actually seems like they will.

Ice cream for everybody! Except that Galvon guy. He's a real tool.

Posted by illovich at 09:52 AM
October 04, 2005
Take that, Rabies!

The Peking Duck: Guangzhou pet dogs beaten to death by government teams

Apparently the government in Guangzhou is tackling a rabies outbreak the only way they know how: by sending brute squads around to beat dogs to death in front of their owners. Take that, Rabies!

Ironically, Guangzhou is one of the only Chinese local governments to charge fees on dog ownership: 10,000 yuan (US$1,235) for the first year and 6,000 yuan (US$741) every year thereafter. It's a shame that they couldn't use that money for research and discover a rabies vaccine, or something like that.

Posted by illovich at 02:57 PM
September 19, 2005
'appy talk like a pirate day, matey!

Today is International Talk Like A Pirate Day!

And just so's ya knows:

You are The Cap'n!

Some men are born great, some achieve greatness and some slit the throats of any man that stands between them and the mantle of power. You never met a man you couldn't eviscerate. Not that mindless violence is the only avenue open to you - but why take an avenue when you have complete freeway access? You are the definitive Man of Action. You are James Bond in a blousy shirt and drawstring-fly pants. Your swash was buckled long ago and you have never been so sure of anything in your life as in your ability to bend everyone to your will. You will call anyone out and cut off their head if they show any sign of taking you on or backing down. You cannot be saddled with tedious underlings, but if one of your lieutenants shows an overly developed sense of ambition he may find more suitable accommodations in Davy Jones' locker. That is, of course, IF you notice him. You tend to be self absorbed - a weakness that may keep you from seeing enemies where they are and imagining them where they are not.

What's Yer Inner Pirate?
brought to you by The Official Talk Like A Pirate Web Site. Arrrrr!


Posted by illovich at 09:30 AM
September 14, 2005
a want ad I can get behind

From: spiked-risk | Article | What's so extreme about extreme sports?

Men wanted: For hazardous journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in case of success. -The advert for Sir Ernest Shackleton's 1914-17 Trans-Antarctic expedition

Posted by illovich at 01:43 PM
August 18, 2005
what makes people gay?

What Makes People Gay?

I know it matters, I guess. If we really know the answer, then a lot of people on one side or another will have to shut up, largely. And probably it will be nice to have the little extra peace and quiet.

But on the other hand, isn't the real question whether or not people are allowed to do what they want to do, no matter the root cause? I mean, I want to be married to my wife, not because I feel like I have to be married, but because I want to be with her at the exclusion of any other possible options.

I don't even really care about being married, per se. I mean, it's nice and all. The small celebration we had for family and friends was lovely, and it was a nice ceremony. But being married is really secondary--even tertiary--to being able to live with her the way that makes us happy.

Which ends up being the point for me with any "gay" issue. The real issue is whether or not in the 21st Century people really have the freedom to do what they want to do (assuming an ethic of social responsibility, i.e. that your actions don't do some sort of measurable harm to others).

Posted by illovich at 11:51 AM
April 26, 2005
jesus was a smack talker

From: Jesus Was No GOP Lobbyist

One parable Jesus taught was this one, from Matthew: "What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, 'Son, go and work in the vineyard today.' And he answered, 'I will not,' but afterward he changed his mind and went. And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, 'I go, sir,' but did not go." Jesus' disciples all strenuously raised their hands. They knew the answer! The first son was the most virtuous!

Whereupon Jesus (whose sense of humor is underrated) replied: "Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you."

Best smackdown ever. I'm going to start using that one.

Posted by illovich at 10:54 AM
April 02, 2005
Response to KC Johnson

I wrote this as a response to Transparency or a 'Selig Strategy'? by KC Johnson:

As a former undergrad and current employee and graduate student of supposedly "very liberal" schools, I've found that many of the faculty that are employed are in the center or to the right of center, as many are also to the right of center.

And of course, there's a small minority of professors on the far left. And far right.

In general, I have fund that actual "punishment " of students (bad grades, public humiliation) is relatively rare. Additionally, I've found it is very easy for the average student to blame their poor academic performance on an external factor.

Furthermore, extremist-activist students (of all shades, both looney left and wing-nut right) tend to push classroom discussions so far out of the realm of reasonable that they are often asked to be quiet by professors who just want to keep the discussion on topic.

To wit: in class, a student does not have freedom of speech. All students speak at the pleasure of the professor and should be silent when asked.

Of course, there are some disciplines that do seem to get a bit more radical than others such as women's studies or the business school (you think it's hard being a conservative in a women's studies class? Try taking a class in any business school and espousing some socialist views... you'll see some academic repression then =)

To stop this from rambling too much, and to summarize: Universities have multiple avenues for students to pursue academic justice if it has occurred already, There is no need for a Students Bill of Rights that will second guess faculty, as students feel plenty free to do that already, believe me.

With most faculty that I've met--if a student actually does the reading/assignments and is able to participate intelligently in class, the professor will be so delighted that someone actually cares about the material that I doubt the student would be punished for having views contrary to the teacher's.

I'm curious to see if the editors greenlight the comment.

Posted by illovich at 12:46 PM
March 29, 2005
Feel Good Fuehrer

I've been frustrated on many occasions discussing the holocaust with various people, because I've found that people generally buy into this whole "how could the holocaust happen without the Germans rising up to stop it?

A new book, Hitlers Volksstaat posits that Hitler was a populist who knew how to buy the goodwill of his citizenry with tax cuts and other benefits (high emplyment, etc.).

A SPIEGEL ONLINE article New Holocaust Book, New Theory: How Germans Fell for the 'Feel-Good' Fuehrer discusses how this threory is beiong received in today's Germany (hint: not well).

Posted by illovich at 01:56 PM
November 14, 2004
They are not sorry

They say "We're Not Sorry"

But who the fuck are they? Mostly, people who don't sign their names, but smugly hold signs that look eerily similar to those carried by homeless apocalyptic doomcriers.

UPDATE: "They" seem to have run out of bandwidth, or something. The webpage now lists itself as for sale. I guess there's no profit in not being sorry.

Posted by illovich at 11:30 AM
November 07, 2004
Shoot a Fag for Jesus

James Wolcott has penned a right modest rebuttal to the notion that Democrats are going to have to become more like Republicans if they're ever going to win the White House again.

It won't be enough for a candidate to execute a retarded black man in the future to prove his or her bona fides. It would smack of unoriginality. One must make bolder gestures, draft a broader, more inclusive message. To appeal to the reddest of the Red States and thrill Bob Novak in his old age, Democrats could campaign to rescind the Martin Luther King holiday, but I fear this would backfire, since everyone likes an excuse to take a day off from work and would resent having to drag themselves that particularly Monday.

No, something ballsier is needed for a turnaround in perception. A taboo or two needs to be smashed.

Therefore I am proposing that the official Democratic slogan for 2008 be "Shoot a Fag for Jesus."

It's a simple, catchy slogan that will look good on a bumperstickers, yet carry a multilateral strike: pro-guns, anti-gay, and unashamedly Christian.

Since abortion is so problematic for Democrats, "Shoot a Babykiller for Jesus" might do the trick in some of the battleground states as a supplemental bumpersticker.

Posted by illovich at 10:32 PM
November 05, 2004
wildcats on fire

So. I'm standing around this morning, waiting for my tea at Ritchie's, and we're talking about these two stories:

Specter: His abortion remark puts panel leadership at risk


Bush to 'spend political capital'

The people made it clear what they wanted," Bush said. "I earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and I intend to spend it."

and I was laughing about it saying that 51% of the popular vote doesn't really give you a mandate for anything, especially when 48% of the country hates your guts.

This wildcat in a hardhat comes up behind me and says:

"Obviously the people want him as President and not Kerry"

And I said "my point isn't who won the election, but that 51% of the vote is only a little more than half the people, which means that he doesn't have some great mandate where everybody wants him to do what ever he wants" (or something like that)

Ready for it?

Through clenched teeth and squinty eyes he says to me "There's always Canada, buddy."

Conversation was over there, by the way. He turned his back to me after that.

I can't wait for the next four years.

Posted by illovich at 09:43 AM
October 12, 2004
The question is...

if you're going to lose an election, should you still vote?

In the USA, even if you think Kerry's going to lose, please vote for him. If you live somewhere else, I guess it's your call.

But yeah, I'd still vote for television.

Posted by illovich at 10:54 AM
September 06, 2004
the american people are safer

Anyone who thinks this country is heading in the right direction as far as individual freedoms are concerned should read this account of a person who happened to check out what was happening at the RNC protests, and was rewarded with 49 hours of unnecessary incarceration.

Posted by illovich at 02:45 PM
June 04, 2004
prevarication unlimited

Via die puny humans channeling the New Scientist comes an almost literary announcement from Edward Rubin's team at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California regarding mouse DNA:

To find out the function of some of these highly conserved non-protein-coding regions in mammals, Edward Rubin's team at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California deleted two huge regions of junk DNA from mice containing nearly 1000 highly conserved sequences shared between human and mice.

One of the chunks was 1.6 million DNA bases long, the other one was over 800,000 bases long. The researchers expected the mice to exhibit various problems as a result of the deletions.

Yet the mice were virtually indistinguishable from normal mice in every characteristic they measured, including growth, metabolic functions, lifespan and overall development. "We were quite amazed," says Rubin, who presented the findings at a recent meeting of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York.

He thinks it is pretty clear that these sequences have no major role in growth and development. "There has been a circular argument that if it's conserved it has activity."

Virtually indistinguishable, except for the mental telepathy with which they now plot insidious mathematical experiments using idle cycles in human brainwaves.

When you read stuff like this from scientists, of the "we've gone and radically changed a bio-form/ecosystem/food, but huh! Can't tell the difference, so I guess everything is all right..." Out of curiousity, when you read stuff like this, does the ominous theremin and moog music start playing your head to?

The build up is happening in my head right now. I'm waiting for the stabbing chords to start, any minute when the mice take over my brain to calculate the exact value of pi, and I crash my car.

Or keep playing videogames.

Or buy the videogame that really is a control program to keep me running the proper calculations.

Damn you! Damn you mice to hell!

Posted by illovich at 03:59 PM
May 17, 2004
ok, even I think this is stupid

American athletes have been "warned not to wave the U.S. flag during their medal celebrations, for fear of provoking crowd hostility and harming the country's already-battered public image."

Ok, look. If we have a bad image in the world, how will not waving the flag when we win gold medals make it better?

Are we going to send world journalists flowers and chocolates in hopes that they'll cover the US in a more favorable light too?

People are mad.

Posted by illovich at 03:39 PM
i like starwars, but...

mypetjawa takes the cake. Let me see if I can break this down for you, the beloved reader of my blog and possible star wars fan:

Dr. Rusty Shackleford posits that "we" (american citizens, I guess) "can now safely divide our enemies into two camps" (our enemies are, as far as I can tell... arabs and/or muslims and/or other assorted peoples who dress funny according to "us"), and that those two camps are: jawas and sandpeople.

What's nice is that the comparison fails on two distinct levels:

1) The author has a view of these fictional aliens that has been molded slightly (radically in the case of the jawas) to fit his view, and it might sound good to a casual fan of star wars, but if you are a geek like me, you know he's a bit off the mark.

2) The aliens mentioned above have the narrative advantage of being uncomplex one-dimensional beings who can only do what they are required to do by a script. "Our enemies" on the other hand (arabs? muslims? it's what I'm working with) are a lot harder to deal with because they are, well, complex and multidimensional to start with. And they can be painfully unscripted at times.

Rusty really needs to tighten this up a bit, for the slower readers:

[Jawas] despise being a second rate power when they were the most advanced civillization for so long. They hate you but tolerate you. The only thing they hate more than you are the "settlers" that ventured out into the desert. In public, they openly rail against these settlers and say they wouldn't mind the rest of the colonists if we would just withdraw our support for this small minority. This would placate some of them, for sure, but they would just find another excuse to resent us. For the most part, the jawas can be dealt with. They live their semi-nomadic life and simply want to be left alone. But don't misunderstand them, while they wouldn't personally kill you, when a Tusken Raider takes the life of an Imperial Stormptrooper or even an innocent colonist, they secretly (and sometimes openly) celebrate. Jawa political society varies from clan to clan, with some tribes even outwardly adopting many of the customs of the colonists they so despise. However, in all cases leaders rule with an iron fist.
I bolded the sentence in the blockquote to call attention to it, because you might have missed it.

The "settlers" as he calls them, are Israel, if I read him right.


For a sanity check, here's some info on jawas from the Star Wars databank:

The Jawas are a scavenger species. They comb the deserts of Tatooine in search of discarded scrap and wayward mechanicals. Using their cobbled-together weaponry, they can incapacitate droids and drag them to their treaded fortress-homes, immense sand-scarred vehicles known as sandcrawlers.
Nothing in there about hating the jews, or appeasement or any thing. Seriously, Dr. Rusty: take your hate-mongering to some other fantasy world, and leave the jawas out of it.

Or better yet, get your head out of the stars and realize that our "enemies" are complex and shouldn't be reduced to cardboard cutouts, because that always leads to disaster. And in the process you might begin to question who should be our enemies, and who we should try really hard to make friends with again.

I'm not saying I have the answers, just that it's a lot more complicated than every muslim is either a jawa or sandperson.


Posted by illovich at 03:16 PM
March 16, 2004
blix: bugging unpleasant

This morning NPR had an interview with Hans Blix, where he asserted that "[the] leaders of the United States and Britain failed to exercise "critical judgment" in going to war against Iraq a year ago."

The interview at was pretty much a rehashing of stuff said before... except for one bit that I don't remember coming up before the war: no WMDs had been found in Iraq since 1994.

My favorite bit was at the end, where Bob Edwards mentioned the UK bugging of the UN, and asked Blix if he felt he had been bugged.

Blix replied that at the time he assumed he was bugged, and that it was an "unpleasant feeling." He continued to say that he was not afraid, given that he said nothing in private that he had said publicly, but that is was an "unpleasant feeling."

He paused and added "If they were bugging me I wish they had been listening to what I was saying."

Full audio available on the page.

Posted by illovich at 09:50 AM
March 08, 2004
russian death trip

A crazy photojournal of the dead zone around Chernobyl. Unbelievable decay, wonderful horror. I keep looking at it, and I really don't know what else to say.

I actually had a dream inspired by this website the other night.

thanks to die puny humans

Posted by illovich at 04:36 PM
February 24, 2004
pop a cap in the industry's ass

Now that Eminem's publisher is suing Apple over an ad that depicts a 10-year old singing "Lose Yourself" while listening to an iPod, I think that this case has a opened a potential chink in the armor of the music industry, and I think Apple should fight to crack it open a bit wider.

I actually think they could win the lawsuit, if they argue that the song is disseminated widely enough that a 10 year old singing it would be a plausible representation of reality, a reasonable derivative work, and thus not an infringement. or however the lawyers put it.

The point I'm trying to make, unschooled by law, is that "lose Yourself" is everywhere... I have heard that song so many times, on the radio, in stores, at amusement parks, walking down the street, that I don't think Eminem has a plausible claim to total control over it.

Sure, he can prevent/be paid for the recording from being used in an ad, or in a movie, or stuff like that, but a video of a kid singing it is a derivative work, not a copy, not a "cover." It was essentially a joke, and it should not be prohibited.

Seriously, this is a battle that needs to be fought, and Apple can fight it. The overzealous attitude of complete control that pervades the music industry has to be beaten back a few pegs. They've only gotten this way, because no one has tried to stand up to them seriously.

Posted by illovich at 10:08 AM
February 16, 2004
NYT would like to change the subject

The paper of record seems to be playing with non sequiturs today

Iraq's U.S. administrator suggested Monday he would block any move by Iraqi leaders to make Islamic law the backbone of an interim constitution, which women's groups fear could threaten their rights. Roadside bombs killed two more American soldiers.
Hey guys, can't you even be bothered to throw in a meanwhile?

By the way, in case you were wondering, the "U.S. May Block Islamic Law" story has a little more long term impact on the region that the "gunmen killed an American Baptist minister" story (except perhaps for the minister), so why not stick to it?

No really, I'm confused... is the violence to keep my interest, so I don't fall asleep reading the boring political news?

But just in case you were wondering where things really stand in Iraq, but couldn't be bothered to read into the second hundred words, check out this juicy tidbit:

Bremer was asked what would happen if Iraqi leaders wrote into the interim charter that Islamic sharia law is the principal basis of legislation. ``Our position is clear,'' Bremer replied. ``It can't be law until I sign it.''
Viva Democracy, fellas!

Posted by illovich at 03:55 PM
February 04, 2004
woot, go MA Supreme Court

Finally someone (who writes court opinions) states the obvious:

"The dissimilitude between the terms `civil marriage' and `civil union' is not innocuous; it is a considered choice of language that reflects a demonstrable assigning of same-sex, largely homosexual, couples to second-class status."

The opinion added: "For no rational reason the marriage laws of the Commonwealth discriminate against a defined class; no amount of tinkering with language will eradicate that stain."

There will be no backsliding with regards to the Enlightenment. Barring religious (either proscribed officially or simply superstitious) reasons, there is no argument to support the prohibition against gay marriage. Period, point blank.

Thank goodness that a court finally had the nerve to call it the way it is.

Posted by illovich at 02:44 PM
January 27, 2004
drm is for suckers

Cory Doctorow makes an interesting point about appliances, DRM, etc. in Protect your investment: buy open

When Sony invented the VCR, it did so after the movie companies had already decreed that they would only license their movies for use on the "Discovision," a hunk of shit best forgotten on the trashheap of history (much like the products that Sony later delivered instead of MP3 walkmen). With the VCR, though, Sony delivered what its customers wanted, and the movie companies got rich off of it, dragged kicking and screaming to the money-tree again.
It's worth a read, mainly because I agree with everything he says, ergo he's right.

Posted by illovich at 01:56 PM
January 26, 2004
friendly neighboorhood sociopath

A new documentary hopes to psychoanalyze our favorite fictional individual: The Corporation

Self-interested, amoral, callous and deceitful, a corporation’s operational principles make it anti-social. It breaches social and legal standards to get its way even while it mimics the human qualities of empathy, caring and altruism. It suffers no guilt. Diagnosis: the institutional embodiment of laissez-faire capitalism fully meets the diagnostic criteria of a psychopath.
via Boing Boing

Posted by illovich at 01:21 PM
December 05, 2003
she's so hot right now

It's true, she is. I really like the idea of Jesus and Mary being married, it make Jesus a lot more accessible, more human.

I know it doesn't square as well for people who believe that Jesus was God, and everything, and I guess I can see that too, but still:

"As for the Wisdom who is called "the barren," she is the mother of the angels. And the companion of the [...] Mary Magdalene. [...] loved her more than all the disciples, and used to kiss her often on her mouth. - The Gospel of Philip
Go Jesus!

Posted by illovich at 02:05 PM
December 01, 2003
william safire: pro-gay?

That might be overstating, but apparently he is the rare, yet delightful conservative that realizes that liberty demands equality, and that even those one disapproves of (communists, witches, homosexuals) deserve equal rights under law:

That encouragement to making homosexual relationships more permanent is the primary argument for "civil union," the euphemism for "legal marriage but don't call it that because it makes most straight people angry"...

The libertarian in me says: civil union corrects an inequity in the law. There should be no legal or economic discrimination against homosexuals anywhere in the U.S. And what is lawful in Vermont or Massachusetts should be recognized in every other state because we are one nation when it comes to basic rights, popular statutes to the contrary notwithstanding.

I'm really impressed that Safire would write such a thing, but he stops short of the full prize:
The conservative in me wonders: if equal rights can be assured by civil union, why are some gays pushing so hard for the word "marriage"?

The answer is that the ancient word conveys a powerful message. Civil union connotes toleration of homosexuality, with its attendant recognition of an individual's civil rights; but marriage connotes society's full approval of homosexuality, with previous moral judgment reversed.

The pace of profound cultural change is too important to be left to activist judges. As moral-political issues go, this big one deserves examination in communities with minds that can deal with internal contradictions — which is the libcon way. 

Safire is a bit cagey here, and I'm not sure I take his meaning. Is it that he understands the desire of gay folks to be married, but just thinks people aren't ready for it, or is he of the mind that "marriage" is a special state which can only happen if the majority allows it?

If his attitude is the latter, then his own value system ("personal freedom is central") falls apart.

Marriage, as my mother was taught in Catholic School, is a union by a man, woman and god. I'm pretty sure that most christian denominations, not to mention the Jewish and Muslim faiths, also hold this as their essential definition of marriage.

In the secular world of Western Democratic Law, there is no god--at least not one that gets a say in what happens. Therefore any definition of marriage from the point of view of the State can not include any religious values whatsoever, or the fundamental principle of the separation of church and state is violated.

The question can be approached in this way: If non-western marriages are recognized by the State, so then must Gay Marriage. In other words, if I worship the god Nuada of the Silver Hand, and I'm married to Kat by a clergy of that religion (hey, it's a thought), theoretically the State will recognize such a union as valid, even though it's a so-called Pagan religion and completely outside the mainstream of Western Civilization.

If this is true, then there is little ground to stand on for the prohibition of gay marriage. The point, if I seem to missing one is this: Marriage is a commitment between two people (and god if you believe that), and those two people ultimately decide the parameters of what that commitment is. Some marry for love, others for security, or many other things. What a marriage is--and more to the point what is a marriage--is decided not by the State nor any religion but by those who say that they're married.

If you can understand this, then you realize that there is only one difference between same sex marriage and civil unions: The attitude of those being joined.

Posted by illovich at 12:23 PM
November 20, 2003
it's funnier when they're scared

The Headline at InfoWorld saysSCO [CEO]: "GPL threatens $229B software market"

"The world, especially here in America, is shifting to one that is an information society," McBride said. "In the future, is that $229 billion in software still going to be there? Or in the case of the Free Software Foundation's goal, is proprietary software going to go away?"

Attendees of McBride's keynote were handed a WIPO primer on intellectual property (IP) law entitled "Intellectual Property: A Power Tool for Economic Growth." The pamphlet had been shipped to SCO by WIPO free of charge, a SCO spokesman said.

McBride likened the notion of free software to a variety of movements including file sharing, the dot-com bubble, and even free love. He predicted that the proprietary and open-source worlds were on a "collision course," that would ultimately result in the end of the GPL license.


It used to be that when shmoes needed something, they came to us, the rich people, and we would sell it to them. That's why we're big businessmen and they're all factory workers. Or whatever it is they do.

Now these hippies with their free love and free software want to just come along and give things away for free.

When will they grow up and learn that capitalism depends on being able to sell a product again and again and again!

WWWAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!! I'm going to sue everybody who ever used unix! WHAAAAAAAAA!!!!! I'm not a sue happy cowboy!!!!! MOOOOOOMMMMMYYYY!!!!

We need to look at real businesses like Microsoft and Apple that get their customers to pay them for an OS and then pay for bug fixes! Patch? Patch? Fuck the little guy! They need to pay for it!

This freeware crap has got to go!

It IS funnier when their scared. What I think is funny is, when's the last time you heard about any innovation coming out of SCO? It seems all they are now is a whinny sue-happy cadre of suits that occasionally releases a software update.

Posted by illovich at 09:39 AM
November 14, 2003
better politics through chemistry

From The Washington Post

Powell described his killer schedule in an interview Thursday with Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed, a reporter for a London-based Saudi newspaper.

"So do you use sleeping tablets to organize yourself?" Al-Rashed asked.

"Yes. Well, I wouldn't call them that," Powell said. "They're a wonderful medication -- not medication. How would you call it? They're called Ambien, which is very good. You don't use Ambien? Everybody here uses Ambien."

Really? Some folks across the river may conclude that explains a lot.

Posted by illovich at 01:01 PM
November 13, 2003
in case you needed more proof

Michael Jackson is a sad man, who had a very sad life.
His Father, interviewed by the BBC:

"I whipped him with a switch and a belt. I never beat him. You beat someone with a stick."


Theroux asks Mr Jackson if he wishes his son had a partner.

When he describes partner as "boyfriend or girlfriend", Majestik says: "What are you trying to say, that Michael's gay?"

Majestik says the question is disrespectful to Joe Jackson, who later says "we don't believe in gays. I can't stand them." Mr Jackson then calls an end to the interview.

Emphasis added to lock in poignancy.

Posted by illovich at 02:55 PM
November 12, 2003
freedom of speech

From the Boston Globe, CNN planted question at debate, student says:

But when she arrived in Boston for the debate, she wrote, she was "handed a note card" with the question and told [by CNN Producers that] she couldn't ask her alternative "because it wasn't lighthearted enough and they wanted to modulate the event with various types of questions."
What, 2 soldiers dying in Iraq every day, a sluggish economy, environmental protection being gutted, a fucking moron for a President who's alienating the home-base of democracy from every other democratic nation, one by one, I could go on, this isn't lighthearted enough?

This is a big problem: Corporate Media Interests are focus grouping our democratic process. Really, right now we don't need some fucking media whore clowns making the next presidential election into some sort of funny car show.

Posted by illovich at 09:24 AM
November 10, 2003
get your alien abduction rechecked

From the New Scientist:

A study has revealed characteristic activity in the brain that predicts whether a memory is accurate or false. The difference occurs at the time of recall, suggesting that a test for false memory might one day be possible.
Holy David Jacobs, Batman!

Ah, that reminds me of the time I saw Dr. Jacobs giving a talk downtown:

man in audience (MIA): "Dr. Jacobs, if what you are saying is true, and the government knows that aliens are here and abducting US citizens and making some sort of hybrid slave race, why don't we do something? I mean, seriously we must be able to do something to fight them..."

Dr. Jacobs (Dr. J): "Well, I think that when it comes down to it, the government believes that this is plan A, and that it's pretty bad, and that whatever we do, we don't want the aliens to switch to plan B."

MIA: (looks extremely puzzled): "Plan B? What's plan B?"

Dr. J: (pause): "Well, I'm not sure. But I can assure you, it's a lot worse than plan A."

Ah, science.

Conversation is to the best of my recollection, of course.

Posted by illovich at 10:49 AM
November 07, 2003
calm, rational commentary

From What I Have to Say About George W. Bush, Blood-thirsty Christians,Homophobes & People Who Don't Use Their Blinkers:

First, George W. Bush is an odd combination of ridiculous and dangerous. He's sort of an evil idiot savant. He also is the perfect poster boy for hypocrisy. Just this morning I heard Georgie say on the television that the best way to protect our homeland is to hunt our enemies down one by one and stop them, which I suppose means to kill them. The idiot part comes in when I realize that he really believes what he is saying. This guy really believes that he is here to wipe out evil. The savant part --- the genius --- is found in how he gets so many otherwise intelligent people to cheer him on. Now, to the hypocrisy part. President Georgie is a born again Christian, as are the vast majority of his adoring followers. Do they think that Jesus was just kidding around, or maybe having an off day, when he gave the sermon on the mount ---- and when he said turn the other cheek, and when he said put away your sword? Do these people actually believe that if Jesus himself were here on earth, he would be suggesting that we hunt our enemies down one by one? (Emphasis added)
Unfortunately, Thom Rutledge is so worked up about Bush and his cohort of blood-thirsty lambs of Christ that he never quite makes it to seriously lambasting people who don't use their blinkers.

Just in case you don't go, the good bit:

And Jesus said to the disciples, "Whenever you feel threatened, hunt thine enemies down one by one and destroy them."

And Peter was confused, asking, "Lord, pardon me, but aren't you contradicting much of what you have been teaching us?"

Jesus looked upon Peter with a smirk and said, "You are either with me or against me. What will it be?"

Posted by illovich at 04:00 PM
November 04, 2003
traditional values

From the document TRADITIONAL VALUES DEFINED, by the Traditional Values Coalition:

We believe in the principles outlined in our Declaration of Independence, our Constitution, and the writings of our Founding Fathers. We support free enterprise, limited government, low taxes, and personal responsibility. We believe in self government, not self indulgence. We do not believe that the federal government should extend its power over every aspect of our lives. The best government is the one that governs the least.(emphasis added)
What is interesting (not tom mention galling) about groups like the Traditional Values Coalition is that they want less government when it comes to things that they want more free reign with (pushing prayer in schools, erecting 10 commandments statues in the courts, other actions that push their brand of religion on everyone) but suddenly when an issue like gay marriage comes up, all of the sudden WE NEED MORE LAWS to protect the fabric of "our" way of life.

I was talking with this guy I know today and he said something pretty good (paraphrased): what drives the far right crazy is that they want free enterprise and capitalism, but capitalism needs to create demand, and demand is ironically created by the things that the far right hates (sex, liberal attitudes and other "bad" things).

So basically they freak out because they can't reconcile freedom and free enterprise, and respond by demanding that everything they don't like be made illegal.

Less government my ass. What we need from the government is less restrictions on personal freedom, especially now.

Let the government worry about clean air and crime, and let we the people decide who we're going to marry, what we're going to smoke, how much we want to drink, what we want to think on our own time.

You would think that their discomfort of having "my" immoral, degenerate, unchristian, homesexual-agenda-pushing, wisecracking, sloth-rocking America pushed down their throat by TV and the other "liberal" media outlets would keep them respectful of everybody's right to live the way they want, but no... they need to make sure everybody lives their narrow version of life, where everybody is straight, dumb and christian.

Posted by illovich at 11:15 AM
November 03, 2003
the plan, it continues

Apparently Blueprint for a Mess is being blogged pretty extensively, but I couldn't resist when I read this:

There was ample warning, both on the basis of the specifics of Iraq and the precedent of other postwar deployments -- in Panama, Kosovo and elsewhere -- that the situation in postwar Iraq was going to be difficult and might become unmanageable. What went wrong was not that no one could know or that no one spoke out. What went wrong is that the voices of Iraq experts, of the State Department almost in its entirety and, indeed, of important segments of the uniformed military were ignored.
Yeah, can the liberal media please start calling this one out a little louder?

This administration does not consult with experts who say things that don't fit in with the plan.

Thanks to This Modern World for the link.

Posted by illovich at 03:50 PM
October 31, 2003
ah, i do enjoy calling myself

An excerpt from Remarks by the President at the 2003 Republican National Committee Presidential Gala:

I recognize that our strength is not in our armies or in our pocketbooks. Our strength is in the hearts and souls of American citizens, people from all faiths, all walks of life -- (applause) -- whether they be Christian, Jew, or Muslim, or Hindu, people have heard the universal call to love a neighbor just like they'd like to be called themselves. No, that's our strength.
Emphasis added to lock in humor freshness.

Posted by illovich at 02:26 PM
October 29, 2003
A scientist funded by the US government has deliberately created an extremely deadly form of mousepox, a relative of the smallpox virus, through genetic engineering.

The new virus kills all mice even if they have been given antiviral drugs as well as a vaccine that would normally protect them.

The work has not stopped there. The cowpox virus, which infects a range of animals including humans, has been genetically altered in a similar way.

New Scientist

You see, we need to know what a terrorist with access to a billion dollar virology lab and a degree in viral genetics might do with these relatively harmless viruses, because if a terrorist were to get a hold of these things, there's no telling what might happen, unless we do it first, and then at least we won't be surprised

Fool me once, shame on. er. you. Fool me. er. Shame on. You can't get fooled again is what I'm saying.

Nie Wieder! Keine mehr Überraschungen!!

Posted by illovich at 03:19 PM
October 28, 2003
high stakes

The Long Bets Foundation tracks Long Bets on "societally or scientifically important" topics. For example, Bet #1 is a wager of $20,000 between Mitch Kapor and Ray Kurzweil debating whether a machine will pass the Turing test by 2029.

I'll be 58, but boy won't it be exciting. It's $50 to make a prediction, $200 to make a bet. Winnings go to your designated charity, and it's all administered by the The Farsight Fund portfolio at Capital Research.

Posted by illovich at 11:19 AM
October 08, 2003
those adorable intact black families
What I saw: A young family of five — father, mother, three young children, well-dressed, well-behaved, enjoying their night out, too. Except for the well-behaved children — mythical creatures with which we have no personal experience with — the family was unremarkable.

But they were black. And my husband whispered that in a nation where 70 percent of black children are born into homes without fathers, it was great to see a picture-perfect black family dining together. "I almost want to go give the guy a high five," he said, somewhat sheepishly.

-Jennifer Graham

I've been reeling from this article for a while, not sure where to begin. I don't even know what to say.

What condescending, paternal, racist bullshit. It's not even worth taking apart--it's just that bad.

My favorite part is this is the person that National Review trots out to defend Rush Limbaugh.

Posted by illovich at 11:34 AM
October 02, 2003
life during wartime
"If someone in the Bush administration leaked this , they need to be punished, and they need to be made an example of, because that's not just a leak, that's treason," Spann, of Winfield, Ala., told The Associated Press. Kansas City Star


I don't mean to, you know, bang the drum as they say, but isn't treason during wartime a capital offense?

What do you think the chance is that a convicted Bush Administration official facing the death penalty could get a pardon from the President? I mean at first it seems like a lock, but he does love to sign those warrants of execution, and he really doesn't get much chance being President.

Posted by illovich at 03:59 PM
america's self-aware deficit

get your war on | page twenty-six

Wouldn't it be awesome if in twenty years America's deficit actually became self-aware and started crushing every nation in its path?

Posted by illovich at 03:15 PM
August 25, 2003
isn't child prostitution legal there?

The Thia government has issued a list of songs it would like to ban in order to combat sexual promiscuity.

The ministry says it wants state-run radio and television to stop using all the songs on the list.

Announcing the list Thursday, MR Chakrarot Chitrabongs, permanent secretary to the culture ministry, said he did not think the ban was in any way an infringement of individual rights.

Instead, allowing such songs to be played on air could be construed as violating the rights of people who disliked them, The Nation quoted him as saying.

Rather than being overly conservative, he said the agency was simply doing its job preventing negative changes to Thai society.

Aside from "Big Flabby Buttocks" ("Tai Aon Yaon"), songs featured on the ministry's blacklist include such titles as "Secret Lover" ("Choo Tang Jai"), "One Woman, Two Men" ("Nueng Ying, Song Chai") and "I Know That, But I Still Love You" ("Tang Roo Koh Rak").

Errr.... yeah. I could be totally wrong, but isn't Thailand's capital Bangkok? As in, the city where you go to have sex with 13 year old girls or boys, or both, depending on how messed up you are?

I mean, I understand you have to start somewhere, but I would start with -- I dunno -- maybe the child prostitution rackets, and then work your way down the cesspool to the dirty songs from there.

Posted by illovich at 11:50 AM
August 21, 2003
shaken to the core

From A Skateboard King Who Fell to Earth:

"When I heard that Gator walked in to the police and confessed to murder, I got sick," Tony Hawk, a veteran pro skater, remembered in a recent interview. "I couldn't skate for the rest of the day."
I was so torn up when I heard about that baby dying in the SUV I didn't play my necromancer for the rest of the day.

Well, ok. A couple hours at least.

Posted by illovich at 02:17 PM
June 04, 2003
OMFG, a democrat is running for president

He's not running as a green, either! This guy Dennis Kucinich actually seems like a left-leaning Dem; so much so that I'm actually wondering what the catch is.

And then I realize what it is: the democrats will probably not allow him to win the Primary. It's a shame, what the Democrats need to get control of the country back is to be different than Republicans, not as similar as possible without switching sides.

My only question is: what cabinet position is he offering to Ralph Nader? Or is he going to offer him his VP slot?

Posted by illovich at 10:52 AM
April 15, 2003
"the one"

So I was just checking out Philosophy & The Matrix, a part of the warner bros. propaganda site about The Matrix (now Reloaded). It's a pretty interesting site, in the way that r.e.m. is a pretty interesting band.

But the thing I can't take, I realized again, is the the phrase "the one," especially in quotes. Especially when "one" is capitalized, like the "the One."

Screenwriters/Authors take note: if you are tempted to include a "the One" in your script, don't do it. Don't even include a character that could be referred to as "the One" even though they're not.

It's stupid, it's juvenile. It's adolescent reductivism at it's worst. It makes your whole story and script seem ten times stupider than it is.

You have been warned.

Posted by illovich at 04:01 PM
April 10, 2003

In a unconcious sort of way, I think it was the Cost of War that has had me so upset (see last entry).

Posted by illovich at 11:53 AM

I'm not sure why I haven't been writing as much lately... it may be a combination of a secret (not exciting, just an NDA I'm under) and plain depression whenever I've looked at the news lately.

I guess you've heard that we won the war in Iraq. This is to say, that we've killed lots of people, destroyed a lot of what little they had left, and now it's total anarchy there. There's no police, rioting and looting is commonplace, thugs are terrorizing people everywhere...

You know, victory.

My main opposition these days is that the US now seems to have a policy of breaking one country a year, and then not fixing it.

Remember Afghanistan? How do you think they're enjoying their freedom right now? If you don't know, here's a clue.

The worst thing is the videos of statues being pulled down, as if that means something. As if I could run downtown an pull down a statue, and that would mean that everything would be fixed. But it won't be, the economy will still be hosed, education will still be sliding into the toilet and a rapacious band of evil-doers will still be the running the show.


Posted by illovich at 11:38 AM
March 25, 2003
not good

Arabs Call for U.S., U.K. Iraq Withdrawal.

I think they may have heard the CIA guy talking on NPR last week about how he was pretty sure that we would be attacking Iran and then maybe Libya or Saudi Arabia after we had Iraq locked down.

Probably should have kept quiet about that.

Posted by illovich at 02:41 PM
prisoners of war

I've been thinking about POWs and the Geneva Conventions
today, mainly because of the American soliders currently being held in Iraq.

Well, actually I've been thinking more about whether or not broadcasting their pictures on TV was a violation of their rights as POWs.

I'm not really sure, because the signifigant article is apparently:

Art 13. Prisoners of war must at all times be humanely treated. Any unlawful act or omission by the Detaining Power causing death or seriously endangering the health of a prisoner of war in its custody is prohibited, and will be regarded as a serious breach of the present Convention. In particular, no prisoner of war may be subjected to physical mutilation or to medical or scientific experiments of any kind which are not justified by the medical, dental or hospital treatment of the prisoner concerned and carried out in his interest.

Likewise, prisoners of war must at all times be protected, particularly against acts of violence or intimidation and against insults and public curiosity.

Measures of reprisal against prisoners of war are prohibited.

-Convention (III) relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War. Geneva, 12 August 1949.

The question is whether or not showing someone on television is an offense great enough to be protected against, I guess.

Frankly, the US is so heavily mediated, that I would think an American POW might feel slighted if they weren't on television.

Maybe that's mean, I don't know. I think really what makes the U.S. Government so mad about this incident is that it belies how well Hussein understands us, and how to combat us.

The Iraqis can not defeat us militarily without resorting to weapons of mass destruction. However, it has been demonstrated in the past that we can be defeated (or at least worn down to the point where we go away) via guerilla insurgency.

And images. We are a very media oriented society, and images are very powerful to us. Images of our children captured and dying make us upset and make us not want to fight wars anymore...this is why the military has controled media access to wars since Vietnam.

But Iraq has it's own media, that can give us those same images, and the military can't do anything...because once the image is out, there's no stopping it's circulation.

But getting back to the POWS. We're their rights violated by being shown on TV? I don't know. It doesn't matter, because the way the Geneva Convention works is that it's prosecuted by the winner of the conflict, so if the US wins and says Iraq violated the Geneva Conventions, then they did.

But in the end, probably the soliders were no more violated than any other normal prisoner of war... if there is such a thing. After all, they probably didn't see the broadcast in their cells.

Web bonus link!: Iraq: Are The Geneva Conventions Still Relevant Today?

Posted by illovich at 02:36 PM
March 18, 2003
Iraq issues Bush Family Advice: Surrender Power

Calling President Bush "unstable," Odai Hussein (son of Saddam) today offered the U.S. President the advice that he "should give up power in America with his family."

Lol. I guess Iraq will play the "no, you" card in this one:

Odai also warned that a United States-led attack will force Iraq to broaden the war against the United States. Any attack on Iraq, he said, would leave ``the wives and mothers of those who fight us constantly crying,'' adding, ``They should not believe there is a single safe spot for them inside Iraq or outside Iraq.''

Iraq's foreign minister, Naji Sabri, also said that Mr. Bush should step down, ``because he made the U.S. hated and isolated in the world.''

Myself, I'm psyched for the day Bush and Mr. Cheyney get dragged into the Hague.

I know, but a guy can dream, can't he?

Posted by illovich at 11:42 AM
March 17, 2003
hey wow, war

NYTIMES.com: In Address, Bush to Tell Hussein to Step Down or Face War

The Headline actually read:
U.S. Ends Effort for U.N. War Approval
And Declares Diplomatic Window 'Closed'

Huh. Am I a patriot yet? Are we sending Dennis Miller to fly a flighter jet? Or better yet, infantry?

All in favor of sending all in favor of this war to go fight it, say "AYE!"

Posted by illovich at 03:18 PM
March 03, 2003
"there's just nothing to work with here"

Official Hired to Improve U.S. Image Resigns

I really can't improve on that.

Posted by illovich at 03:17 PM
the invasion you never knew about

Ha ha. We were invaded by Cuba last week, and nobody knew until they surrendered... in down town Key West. Feel safe now?

Ridge Discovers Size of Home Security Task

Carrying two AK-47 rifles and full clips of ammunition, they docked their boat before dawn at the marina of the local Hyatt hotel, a short distance from the United States Coast Guard station. Undetected, the Cubans, still in their camouflage uniforms and black boots, marched into the middle of the sultry Florida resort town looking for someone to surrender to.

Posted by illovich at 02:58 PM

I just read this, thanks to Tom Tomorrow:

White House Concedes That Counterterror Budget Is Meager

Re sponding to criticism from Democrats and to the mounting concern of state and local governments, the White House is now saying that the long delayed government spending plan for the year does not provide enough money to protect against terrorist attacks on American soil.

Ok, let me get this straight--the story so far.

We (speaking for the U.S.A. here) get attacked by a terrorist group. The government toughens up, spends us in to a deficit gearing up for the war against terrorism. Along with this comes spending, what, billions(??) of dollars reorganizing the govenment to be a more effective immanent police state, and of course the impending War on Iraq ][ (which may cost 100 billion by the end of it all, according to the White house)...

and there's no money to actually "protect against terrorist attacks on American soil."

Well, that's just fucking beautiful.

Posted by illovich at 02:36 PM
February 26, 2003
global village idiots

Letter to the editor of the Philly Metro, re Eric ladley's article France should learn from Ronald Reagan:

Eric Ladley has a weak grasp of history and a partisan view of politics.

1) If France followed the lead of Ronald Reagan, we could be counting on them to be supporting and arming Saddam Hussein; it was the Reagan administration that guided Mr. Hussein to power--financially, militarily and politically. Furthermore, we could count on France to be selling missiles to enemy states so that they could fund right-wing guerillas in Latin America, and we could also expect that France would be reducing taxes and increasing military spending to the point of near fiscal ruin.

2) If the Shah had held on to power to this day, Iran would be a seething morass of militant Islam that hated the United States with a fervor that would make Al-Quaeda look like a church booster club. The Shah held on to power via the brutal Savak, an American trained and funded secret police force. Jimmy Carter rightly ended U.S. support for this (and other) repressive regimes, via drastic cuts to the CIA and other policy changes. It is ironic that this action contributed to the overthrow of the Shah and the taking of American hostages, but it was certainly not Mr. Carter's policies that led the Iranian people to hate us.

3) The contention that France is "perfectly in line with the far left in this country, represented ably by former President Carter and numerous movie stars" is cute, but it omits a more important observation. France and Germany are democracies, and the majority of people in both countries are opposed to military action against Iraq at this time--and their government policies reflect that. Perhaps Mr. Ladley admires the sort of democracy that Turkey practices, where the government supports US Policy even though 90% of their population are opposed to war in Iraq. I hope that is what Mr. Ladley likes, becasue it is increasingly the kind of democracy we practice in the United States as well.

4) Mr. Ladley's use of the statistic that "59% of Americans support military action against Iraq" is hard to argue against directly. He probably should have included his source...but that's besides the point. From what I can find, the latest statistics according to a An ABC News/Washington Post survey taken Feb 19-23, 54% of Americans (that's 4% more than half) think we should attack iraq, and 39% (that's 11% less than half) are against it. Those numbers are hardly a mandate from the people. Furthermore, a Zogby poll found that if Americans were asked if we should attack Iraq without "significant United Nations or international support" the numbers fell to 43% in support, and 50% opposed.

Posted by illovich at 01:27 PM
February 20, 2003
newsflash for mr. homelandsecurity.com

This tip comes to you care of Ready.gov--your guide to surviving a terrorist attack:

Time: Minimize time spent exposed [to a nuclear blast and resulting fallout] will also reduce your risk.

My risk of what? Being a pile of radioactive ash? Newsflash for Herr Kapitan, mein Kapitan: Being exposed to a fucking nuclear blast is generally fatal in less than a second.

Also good to know:

Consider if you can get out of the area;
If I read that infographic correctly. my handy-dandy you-are-here point places me down the fucking street from the nuclear blast. I wonder if these guys have ever seen the training films of nuclear bombs going off... I mean, jeezuz chreezuz. This is my govenrment's advice? A nuclear bomb goes off down the street and I should "Consider if I can get out of the area?"

Did I wake up in a cartoon?

Posted by illovich at 05:23 PM
February 19, 2003
tell em, byrd!

My favorite reformed racist Robert Byrd had a few comments on the senate floor the other day. The highlight:

I truly must question the judgment of any President who can say that a massive unprovoked military attack on a nation which is over 50% children is "in the highest moral traditions of our country". 

Posted by illovich at 07:58 PM
February 18, 2003
no democracy for you!
The US is abandoning plans to introduce democracy in Iraq after a war to overthrow Saddam Hussein, according to Kurdish leaders who recently met American officials. The Kurds say the decision resulted from pressure from US allies in the Middle East who fear a war will lead to radical political change in the region.
FAN-tastic. So the US will go fight a war to remove a dictator and replace him with a military junta that will then, no doubt, be replaced with yet another dictator or military junta.


What is facinating about this whole line of thinking is that somehow the argument doesn't think of the current situation (frequent bombings, sanctions, a population near total poverty and starvation, an impending war of possibly unimaginable chaos) as "destabilizing" to the region, and yet democratic elections that might produce a modicum of representation to the 75% of the country's population that are Shia Muslims or Kurds are viewed as too dangerous to the balance of the region.

Of course, Noam Chomsky has a few ideas about this, but he seems to be generally dismissed as a silly old liberal partisan by most people I talk to.

Posted by illovich at 12:23 PM
February 07, 2003
my kingdom, 'tis of thee

I just found out about this great new law we have here in Pennsylvania.

Under a state law that takes effect today, almost every student in Pennsylvania - from preschool through high school, in schools public and private - must face the Stars and Stripes each school day and say the pledge or sing the national anthem. It is "one of the most stringent pledge laws in the United States," said Greta Durr, a researcher for the National Conference of State Legislatures, which tracks state lawmaking across the nation.... Private and parochial schools may claim an exemption if compliance would violate the religious conviction on which the school was based. Quakers and Mennonites may pledge allegiance only to God, so those schools will not have to comply. Individual students may refuse on religious or philosophical grounds, but their schools are required to report their decisions to parents or guardians.

I feel more patriotic already. Nothing like liberty without a little less choice, eh?

Posted by illovich at 07:02 AM
January 31, 2003
grandaddy kurt lays it down

In this interview, Mr. Kurt Vonnegut
lays it down in a way so perfectly said:

To say somebody is a [psychopathic personality, or “PPs.”] is to make a perfectly respectable medical diagnosis, like saying he or she has appendicitis or athlete'foot. The classic medical text on PPs is The Mask of Sanity by Dr. Hervey Cleckley. Read it! PPs are presentable, they know full well the suffering their actions may cause others, but they do not care. They cannot care because they are nuts. They have a screw loose!

And what syndrome better describes so many executives at Enron and WorldCom and on and on, who have enriched themselves while ruining their employees and investors and country, and who still feel as pure as the driven snow, no matter what anybody may say to or about them? And so many of these heartless PPs now hold big jobs in our federal government, as though they were leaders instead of sick.

What has allowed so many PPs to rise so high in corporations, and now in government, is that they are so decisive. Unlike normal people, they are never filled with doubts, for the simple reason that they cannot care what happens next. Simply can’t. Do this! Do that! Mobilize the reserves! Privatize the public schools! Attack Iraq! Cut health care! Tap everybody’s telephone! Cut taxes on the rich! Build a trillion-dollar missile shield! Fuck habeas corpus and the Sierra Club and In These Times, and kiss my ass!

Emphasis mine, as they say.

Posted by illovich at 02:11 PM
al Qaeda guarding the henhouse

Those wacky conspiracy theorists over at Fortune Magazine are puzzled as to why the Chariman of the Commision to Investigate 9/11 has financial ties to the Bin-Laden family and individuals who are strongly suspected of materially supporting terrorists.

Of course, Fortune seemed less concerned that Thomas Kean is also a former oil comany executive (like everyone else in the Bush administration it seems), but I guess someone else can harp on that.

Posted by illovich at 10:59 AM
January 27, 2003
I feel more secure already

Thought/rant for the day:

Think back to when I was ranting about getting these RPC Windows Messenger spams and how much I hated it. For those that can't recall, the problem turned out to be simple: turn on Windows XP's firewall and disallow messenger traffic with the appropriate checkbox. Since that discovery I have been messenger service spam free at home.

Last night, I installed some updates on my PC at home, including a few patches that were called "Security Updates" by Windows Update...my natural assumption being that when you apply a security update, your computer becomes less susceptible to outside mischief.

So, given Microsoft's track record on security I guess I shouldn't have been suprised by the stack of Messenger Service spam on my PC's screen this morning.

Which brings me to the actual thought/rant of the day: Why is it that (I dunno, since the events of 9/11?) now whenever somebody does something for "my" security, protection, whatever... I end up more vulnerable and more at risk? I mean is this some sort of sick joke or is it some sort of bizarro not-world? I mean, will Superman pull Bush's face off and reveal that Bizarro is actually President?

I mean really... every law that has been passed since 9/11 for my protection seems to put me more at risk, either because the law causes more people to hate the United States or because it diminishes my rights to be protected from abuse while augmenting the right of the government to fuck with me whenever a low-level bureaucrat happens to decide that I'm a terrorist, or a possible terrorist, or somehow linked to terrorists, or went to second grade with a terrorist, or the money that I sent to the fucking Sierra Club got diverted to some refugee relief fund that gave a terrorist a fucking drink of water.

What am up with that? Stop protecting me already, before I'm a serf in some feudal monarchy with 5 disparate groups of terrorists blowing up the fucking 7-11 on some sort of co-op schedule...


Posted by illovich at 12:04 PM
omfg, the Daily News has journalists?

On staff? I can almost not believe it, but the Philadelphia DN has produced not only the best cover they've ever had, but Invading Iraq not a new idea for Bush clique is actually a pretty decent article, and it was actually wrtten by a Daily News staffer.

Bravo, DN.

I recommend the article as a good quick read, it summarizes the hawks in Bush's cabinet (including Cheyney, Rumsfeld, Libby, Armitage and others) and also looks at their connections to the oil industry...

It also looks into their involvement with the creepily monikered Project for the New American Century, which has apparently been pushing for war with Iraq since 1997 (3 years before Bush was in office or 9/11, for the historically challenged). Cheney, Rumsfeld and Jeb Bush are all members, incidently.

Posted by illovich at 11:20 AM
January 25, 2003
Happy MLK/SHL Day!

Celebreate american style--by getting your war on.

"We're pro-democracy, pro-human rights, whatever... but you don't see us running around proving it."

That is so awesome.

Posted by illovich at 10:39 PM
January 24, 2003
celebrate oligaristy!

I know, it's oligarchy. There's a nice editorial in today's New York Times by Nicholas D. Kristoff called A Boy and His Benefits about affirmative action, meritocracy and diversity in university admissions procedures.

It all gets back to the current brouhaha surrounding UMich not accepting some white folks, who it seems are pretty sure they would have gotten in if the law school wasn't giving preferential treatment to black folks--and of course that President Bush is against "quotas" (which by the way, is not how admissions systems work. see the article for an idea of how it really does work) and therefore is on the side of the white folks in this case.

Affirmative action is a tough issue because it reflects the collision between two aspirations -- diversity and meritocracy -- all in the hyper-sensitive zone of race. But this spring as we debate the cases before the Supreme Court, it would be a mistake to consider preferences for blacks in isolation. How can we evaluate the justice of preferences that favor blacks without considering preferences that benefit whites (legacy), athletes (football players), the wealthy (children of donors), and farm kids from Oregon (me when I applied to colleges)?
Kristoff is talking about the point system that schools use for admissions here; i.e. you can also get points for being the son of an alumni (for example, if your father went to yale, you have a better chance to get in), or if you are in some way associated with the Unversity (for example, if you apply to Yale and your grandfather is on the Yale board of directors, you have a better chance of getting in), or if you come from a different part of the country (for example if you are from Texas and you apply to Yale, you have a better chance that a kid from Connecticut).

And this is sort of the point, beyond that affirmative action for all of its flaws is still most successful method of bringing African-Americans to economic and political equality with European-Americans, who by the way have and still do practiced their (our) own forms of affirmative action for centuries in this country.

Extra credit: What current United States President benefitted from Andover and Yale's point systems which not only help African American students get accepted at higher rates, but also mediocre students from Texas who only got SAT scores of 566/640 whose fathers are alumni and have grandfathers on the board? Explain how this does not constitute an unfair admissions policy, but allowing a degree of preference to the race of an applicant does.

Posted by illovich at 10:33 AM
January 23, 2003
needle in the rich man's eye

I was just listening to him on my way into work this morning, and here he's a political commentator now:
Brian Eno has written an op-ed piece in Time entitled The U.S. Needs to Open Up to the World where he laments (probably in vain) that the United States is on a slow decent from a brave, vigorous nation to a bureaucratic paranoid empire.

Surely this isn't the America that anyone dreamed of; it's a last resort, nobody's choice. It's especially ironic since so much of the best new thinking about society, economics, politics and philosophy in the last century came from America. Unhampered by the snobbery and exclusivity of much European thought, American thinkers vaulted forward -- courageous, innovative and determined to talk in a public language. But, unfortunately, over the same period, the mass media vaulted backward, thriving on increasingly simple stories and trivializing news into something indistinguishable from entertainment. As a result, a wealth of original and subtle thought -- America's real wealth -- is squandered.
It's a shame; I believe he's right, and I'm not clear that it is a trend that can be countered short of some sort of tremendous social crisis (which may or may not be building) that would force the American Giant to reawake.

I'm talking there about the Giant that Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto saw after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. That was the last time the giant awoke and for a while, at least to hear the oldsters tell it, the U.S was a shining beacon of democracy and freedom.

For about 6 years.

Then the communist spectre loomed, and the cold war began. For a while there was a see-saw of liberty and paranoia... McCarthyism then Civil Rights, etc. I'm not sure how it really all went down, but essentially parts of our society were "progressing" (that's my classic liberal bias of course) while others were growing more insular and paranoid.

Anyway, as far as I can tell the giant was completely asleep by 1970. I think maybe it took a few too many 'ludes in the summer of '69, or maybe it was just bored to tears by idealistic hippie rhetoric. Nevertheless, as far as I can tell the American Giant has been asleep since then, maybe even before.

Despite earnest nationalistic sentiments to the contrary, the giant is not awake again either. And if there is a giant that's awake, I'm afraid that it is a very different giant...one that does not measure force against diplomacy, but only weighs if it can live with the consequences of the force it uses.

I'm starting to rant and get off the topic, but I don't really care. We don't need to stop. We need to wake up. The United States that is. We need to wake up. We are the sleeping giant, and we must wake up because our castle in the clouds is on fire.

Posted by illovich at 12:34 PM
January 15, 2003
hate the RIAA because they hate you

The the Hollywood-Insdustrial Complex is pushing a new consensus agreement on the social landscape regarding what is and isn't ok with them. What else is new?

[They] will argue against efforts in Congress to amend U.S. laws to broaden the rights of consumers, such as explicitly permitting viewers to make backup copies of DVDs for personal use or copy downloaded songs onto handheld listening devices.
I would probably be more upset if the majority of so-called entertainment under the wing of the RIAA/MPAA didn't totally suck, but the underlying problem with this is that along with many other rights, the rights of US Consumers are being trampled by the almost out-of-control entertainment industry, who of course wants to be as restictive as possible in who can watch a copy of a DVD or listen to a cd.

I'm sure that if they could make it so that you had to buy a copy of a cd for every simgle person that listened to it they would, if it were technically feasable.

Frankly, I would also prefer that the government not impose hardware level copy restriction, but I would also prefer that the governement protect my rights to be able to copy media that I paid for.

Now that I mention it, I would prefer that the federal government get back in the business of upholding my civil liberties in general instead of brainstorming clever new ways to reduce them.

Posted by illovich at 12:41 PM
January 10, 2003
no more rogue cops!

What infuriates me the most is that if James Smoak does anything in retaliation to Cookeville Police Officer Eric Hall, the pig that murdered his dog in cold blood he'll be branded a criminal with double-punishement and jail time.

But Eric Hall will be protected from public outrage and social repercussions. He has been 'reassigned' to administrative duty until 'the matter is resolved' (until it all blows over) according to the Cookesville Police Department. The dog and the family that loved him receives no protection, and no justice. The department has already decided that Eric Hall was protecting himself, and will defend him accordingly.

That's the story: a policeman murdered a family dog in front of an american family and gets to walk away laughing. And the officer will be protected.

"I saw one of the THP officers walk over to the city officer who had shot the dog and grin," he said.
He reported that to the supervising officer, THP Lt. Jerry Andrews, and Andrews "was very nice, very professional," Smoak said.
"He told me the officer was not laughing, but I know he was," said Smoak.
It is truly alarming, because recent studies (and common sense) will suggest strongly that this police officer is not long from doing the same thing to a human... he has exhibited extremely poor judgement with a firearm and woefullly poor impulse control.

This is a policeman who is more akin to a wild predator; dangerous, unpredicatable and potentially deadly to the citizenry that it's his duty and obligation to protect.

And since the Tennesee Highyway Patrol has all but officially decided to protect Eric Hall they not only confirm that they are not interested in protecting the people from rogue policemen, but in my mind they will be liable for any crimes this officer commits.

And the police of this country should also be concerned. I suspect that very few police are malignant in the manner of Eric Hall, but when rogue officers are protected by their departments it is a stain on every police officer. This is something police should think about in conjunction with their concerns that violence against police is on the rise, that the majority of the american public has a falling respect for the police... I believe that more people fear the police than respect their authority, and policemen like Eric Hall are the cause.

For myself, I can only send my ill will wishes for Eric Hall, and hope that he ultimately suffers despair and brutal pain for his crime.

Or at the very least that he would get fired, and be ostracized from his community.

The former does seem more just, however.

Posted by illovich at 11:25 AM
porter township tea party

So the good (and in my mind reasonable) folks of Porter Township, PA have passed a law specifying that denying corporate personhood. In other words, corporations do not have the rights afforded to natural human beings, but only the privleges afforded to them by the society at large. They do not have a right of "free expression" (nice example: Nike has been claiming in court it has a "right to lie" in it's advertising and press releases, since it has the "right of free speech"), they do not have the right to be protected from discrimination. and they do not have 5th ammendment protections as many corporations have claimed over the years.

Many people, namely conservatives but I'm sure also moderates and liberals alike will be uneasy about this direction, afraid that it will hurt companies and business in the US.

Frankly, the US is the only place where a corporation is a "person" under law, and business seems to do quite fine in other places too.

And the recent reduction of civil rights in the US gives a great precedent of reassurance: "Only the corporations who have done something wrong have anything to worry about" with a reduction in rights of this nature.

And I'm sure the business community will agree that corporations that do wrong are the very small minority of businesses.


Posted by illovich at 10:18 AM
Christian Broadcasting Network = Terrorists

This just in, Tom Tomorrow establishes the clear link between Pat Robertson and Al Qaeda.

Posted by illovich at 09:07 AM
January 08, 2003
avarice without representation

First day back, and we're already relaxing the rules? House Republicans celebrated their new found power by weakening rules on lobbyist gifts.

The new food rule applies, for example, when lobbyists want to have dinner delivered to a committee office when lawmakers and their staffs are working late on legislation.
Which should be understood as when the lawmakers are working on the lobbyists legislation.

God damn bastards. Government via smash-and-grab. Seriously, forget the war on terrorism. They'll only bring it up when they want us to look the other way... and I'm talking Democrat and Republican... the real story is that the wealthy are changing the rules back to pre-New Deal, and sadly most Americans seem to be supportive of it, although I have no idea why.

In other news: it turns out that when black people kill white people, they're more likely to get the death penalty.

Posted by illovich at 11:17 AM
January 01, 2003
rock-n-roll racists
...Eminem has proved his staying power as rock & roll's biggest pain in the ass, at a time when most music is trying its damnedest to be dull. -ROB SHEFFIELD (RS 911 - Dec. 12, 2002)
This little sentence in Rolling Stone's People of the Year 2002 caught my eyes and then caused them to roll skyward--not because of the cliched overwrought phrasing (is music trying its "damdest" to be dull?), but because it brought racism to my full attention again.

I bolded rock -n-roll because Eminem has nothing to do with rock-n-roll whatsoever. He's a rapper, an emcee, a hip-hop guy whatever. It's not rock. It's not rock-n-roll. It's rap.

The reason I make the distinction is because the only reason I can figure that Rolling Stone associates him with rock-n-roll is that Eminem is white. I may be wrong, but I've have seen very few instances where Jay-Z, Busta Rymes, Mos Def or even Dr. Dre were described as belonging to rock-n-roll at all... which is as it should be. Because they belong to the same genre of music as Eminem. Even though they are black, and he's white.

Sort of the same way that Chuck Berry and Little Richard belong to the same genre as Elvis, even though they are black and he is white.

Of course, I'm not trying to compare Eminem to Elvis. Another story there, and not to favorable to Eminem.

The reason I bring it up is that in my opinion this wink-wink racism is what creates the ideological space for greater crimes of bigotry to continue unabated in our society.

I hear them all the time, unchallenged-- blacks have good rhythm, whites can't dance, asians are studious, blah blah blah. With the exception the relatively bland but still negative ones I hear about whites*, most are the positive stereotypes that originate from the same places as the negative ones. It's just now people voice the positive and are demure with the negative.

But I posit that where the one is, the other can not be far. There are very few things that I feel comfortable being dogmatic about, but the mental virus of racism has demonstrated to me dogmas use: as an antibiotic for the brain. I hold that you can not defeat racism until you have convinced yourself that race itself does not exist, and that it is as equally false as it is convenient.

Eminem is a rapper, an emcee. He doesn't do rock...from the few songs I've heard him sing, he would really suck as a rock-n-roller. That's fine for him, because he can rap and write really well. The same way as I can play rock drums fine, but pretty much suck as a classical percussionist.

It's just two different things. Neither of which have anything to do with the color of anybody's skin. Or shouldn't, anyway.

* Whites (European-Americans) are the only ethnic group I'm aware of that can be insulted publicly by anybody without real fear of negative repercussion--an unfortunate byproduct of holding social and political power I guess, especially for those whites who hold neither. An interesting corollary is that you can only make fun of "whites." Once you start straying into specific ethnic territory you're asking for trouble.

Posted by illovich at 06:41 PM
December 20, 2002
fusion is confusion

There was a funny little idea in the op/ed piece Hold Your Nose and Negotiate [registration required] today, regarding the current mess of a situation with North Korea...

All our options regarding North Korea are hideous, and those responsible for making policy on North Korea must have committed mortal sins in previous lives for God to torture them so. - Nicholas D. Kristof
It's funny how the postmodern condition creeps in when you aren't looking isn't it? Or just not paying attention... or maybe it's a celtic christian thing that sort of dimly remembers reincarnation instead of the one way ticket to an eternal afterlife. I dunno.

Score 1 for the multiplicity of metanarratives team.

Posted by illovich at 12:26 PM
December 18, 2002
ann coulter is #1!

I would like to be the first to congratulate Ann Coulter on being named #1 of the 50 Most Loathsome People in America by The Beast. I'm sure it was difficult for her to beat out such luminaries as Lynne Cheney, Joe Lieberman, David Horowitz, William Rehnquist, Ari Fleischer, Eminem, Karl Rove and Bono...but I truly believe she deserved every word of her award.

Goebbels with tits indeed.

Congratulations Ann!

Posted by illovich at 12:38 PM
December 14, 2002
blessed are the peace keepers

I guess I got my first inkling (and desire for) G*I*Joe as the Vietnam war conflict was weraing down, and they were pretty much gone by the time the Star Wars action figure revolution occured.

It wasn't until Reagan took office that good 'ol Joe was resurrected in action figure size...I always loved having G*I*Joe and the Rebel Alliance take on the Lego Empire fantasy sessions in my playroom...I guess I should be happy now that kids have the option of choosing the Peace Keepers as their own childhood heroes.

Except that each Peace Keeper seems to come with a lot more guns than my entire G*I*Joe army had when I was a kid... and there only seems to be one solider.

I guess that's valid. Soliders are supposed to be essentially faceless and interchangeable. Might as well teach the future "peacekeepers" the deal from the start, so they don't get any ideas about their future individualism as an Army of One.

I won't even start on the doublespeak jokes.

Posted by illovich at 05:08 PM
December 13, 2002
traitors-in-chief (special reprint edition)

An interesting thread appeared recently in the writings of some conservative bloggers regarding their perception of irony that former US President Jimmy Carter had received the Nobel Prize for Peace (I wonder if they feel the same irony for Henk Kissenger's Nobel Prize, but that's another story). One blogger, the so-called Greatest Jeneration called for his summary execution because of his treasonous diplomacy. I was particularly taken by her obvious contempt of southerners belied by her clumsy attempts at a written hilbilly dialect. Scrumptious.

My guess is she's going for the "dumber than Ann Coulter radical right feminazi" thing... not sure, her ranting is too painful to read without providing a good enough humor payoff. So I stopped reading.

Anyway, I actually found out about it through The Eleven Day Empire, another conservative blogger who seems to, in general, have his head connected to his spleen a bit better than some others I've read. I found his site doing a bit of research about my friend and yours, Trent Lott.

One exception to my favorable opinion of this site is the following comment on Jeneration's proposal of Carter's execution:

You know what? Given Carter's support of anti-American governments, as well as terrorist murderer Yasser Arafat (a man who we know personally ordered the killing of American diplomats back in his PLO days), whom he also did a bit of speechwriting and PR work for, I think a legitimate argument could be made that he has in fact committed treason. I don't think that's so far-fetched at all.
-- Posted by: James DiBenedetto on December 10, 2002 11:40 PM
My response to this is reprinted below, because I can't believe people want to execute Jimmy Carter!!!

Before we start putting a blindfold on Mr. Carter and handing out the cigarettes, perhaps we could begin with Mr. Reagan and his cabinet? If I recall correctly, there is much evidence suggesting that Mr. Regan and his people "promised arms and money to Iran to delay release of 52 American hostages until after the Nov. 4, 1980 presidential election."

The so-called "October Suprise" and the Reagan Administration's subsequent arms dealing to Iran (let's forget the Contra part for this discussion... different piece of the big picture) are in my mind the greatest act of treason by governmental officials. Not to mention that it broke my heart... I remember wanting Reagan to be President because I believed the fluff that he would be tough on Iran-- I was so angry about the hostages. When I found out about the backroom arms deals (Arming our enemies? Were they crazy? the answer is probably: no, just greedy) [sic -- apparently I forgot to finish this sentence, lol.]

So if you want to execute President Carter for attempting to use diplomacy to encourage democracy, please only after we've done justice by the flag-draped traitors Reagan (too late, probably), Bush Sr., North, Poindexter, et.al.

At least demand that Bush Jr. release Reagan's Presidential papers--after all we have a right to know what really happened, don't we? Even if it ends up indicting Bush Sr. and a lot of Jr's cronies?

So there you have it. My opinion of the order in which we should execute former Traitors-in-Chief. Well... I might have one or two more to throw in before we got to Mr. Carter, if we get all "French Terror" up in the face of the gub'mint.

Posted by illovich at 06:36 PM
December 12, 2002
d00d! OMFG! WTF?!?!?

All I can say is: wow. The whole Trent Lott thing got me checking out the Councill of Conservative Citizens website, and I found this awesome article on their website.

The burden of slavery will probably never be lifted from the white man. And yet, the real shame of slavery is that Africans were ever brought to America in the first place.
All I can say is: wow.

These guys are really not casually racist. In the event that you weren't clear, these guys are full-on-no-holds-barred-in-your-face-we-are-wackos-from-hell racists. These are the white collar good-ole-boys that give financial and material support to the KKK, these are the guys that looked the other way when it cam time to investigate a lynching, who gave the wink-wink to the Sherrif that gave the mob the key to the jail.

This organization is the enemy of any one who values the idea of equaliy and civil rights.

And aparently Trent Lott and Bob Barr are honorary members.

Posted by illovich at 11:48 AM
Fire Trent Lott

While we're still paging through the New York Times, let's consider the proposal to Fire Trent Lott from the Op/Ed section.

I would suggest that the Rebublican party do it. There's a lot of racists in the Republican party (and the Democratic party too, but they apparently choose their words a bit more carefully), and every body knows it.

Mr. Lott's record, from his 20 year stretch of endorsing Senator Thurmond's Presidential bid ex post facto in speeches to his cozyness with wonderful organizations like the Council of Conservative Citizens, of which he is or is not a member* point to a pattern of racist ideology and sympathy to bogotry.

I'm not particularly a fan of the party in general, so they're not losing my vote anyway... but naked racism turns the stomach of a lot of people, including conservatives and the republicans don't need a wedge issue like this driving some middle of the road voters away from them in the next election.

So, they should ask Lott to step down.

*Lott denies that he knows much about the group, but his Uncle Artie and a few others are under the impression that he's not just a keynote speaker, but also a member.

Posted by illovich at 11:28 AM
damn you coca-coloa!

An article in the New York Times today (registration required) talks about an anti-santa backlash in austria, by Austrians who are concerned that the American version of the Christmas spirit is encroaching upon and threatening to marginalize the Austrian Christkind.

Mr. Tengg noted that the modern likeness of Santa is a creation of the Coca-Cola Company, which uses the figure, conveniently dressed in Coke's red-and-white corporate colors, to sell its product in winter. Santa, it seems, is viewed here as another example of the corrosive global reach of American multinationals.
The article says later that the image was actually originally drawn by Thomas Nast, a german illustrator and immigrant for the cover of Harper's Weekly... I guess, coca-cola just ran with it.

I'm actually not mad at coca-cola for Santa as much as I am dubious of any company that essentialy sells low grade toxins as a refreshing beverage...

i recommend that anyone who drinks soda stop for a couple months. When you have it again I think you'll be amazed at what a negative reaction your body has to it. Not only will a tooth dissolve quickly (one or two days) in a glass of Coke, but the high acidity can damage your digestive system over time. And don't get me started about Nutrasweet.

But back to Santa. I don't know what to do about it...except recommend that other countries besides India start rocking a serious media blitz. The only way to fight the empire is to become the empire.

Which sucks, but hey--if you have to live under the empire and it sucks bad enough, start your own.

So I am pro the Pro-Christkind organization, even if in general I'm ambivalent about religious organizations.

Posted by illovich at 11:01 AM
November 21, 2002

An article at wired is detailing a Lego fansites problems with online Maori partisans that object to the Lego Group's (mis)appropriation of Maori words to be used in one of their product lines...

New Zealand lawyer Maui Solomon wrote to Lego on behalf of three Maori tribes objecting to the use of the Maori words. "It was an unauthorized use of traditional names and language, and it was an inappropriate use" Solomon said. "There had been no consultation, no prior informed consent. And it's a trivialization, especially when you are using names like Tohunga (Maori for priest). So there are cultural and moral issues."

While I support the struggle of indigenous peoples against capitalist hegemony as much as the next guy, I still find myself saying "WTF?"

The last time I checked languages and cultures are not intellectual property that you have to get permission from [who?] to use or reference in your painting, novel or carbonated beverage product...

Don't get me wrong. I think plundering cultures for exotic words, concepts and textures is pretty weak in general, but I also question whether you should have to clear it with [who?] before you do it... and then I ask [who?]

Who has authority over a culture? Who has the sign-off authority? Do the japanese have to ask the editors of the OED for the ok before they put nonsense english on t-shirts?

No, and they shouldn't have to... as much as I despise the Disneyfication of the globe where every culture can be distilled into a funky new version of the american (post)nuclear family, I also can't abide by a world where nationalists attempt to claim ownership and unilateral control of their own language. All lanuage is in the public domain, by definition, ad astra.

Why live in a world where everything is true and nothing is permitted?

Posted by illovich at 04:29 PM
November 14, 2002
i would vote for nader again

The Center for Voting and Democracy has published a document titled The 2002 Elections and the Case for Reform, in which they lay out their case for electoral reform in the United States. Interestingly enough, they claim that 75% of elections are close to being infailably predictable:

We can confidently make these projections without knowing anything about the quality of the candidates and inequities in campaign finance because we use "winner-take-all" elections in districts that generally tilt clearly toward one party or the other. This lean is no accident, as state after state enacted incumbent protection plans in redistricting over the past year. With only a few exceptions, incumbents and party leaders gerrymandered districts to guarantee the reelection of incumbents, as well as the over-representation of whatever party controlled the redistricting process in their state. In California, the Democratic Party incumbents actually paid "protection money" in the amount of $20,000 apiece to have their legislative districts drawn to guarantee them a safe seat, an audacious example of political "insider trading."

This document supports something I've believed since the early 90s... that our electoral system needs to be switched from a two party duopoly to a more scalable representational system.

I'm certainly not an expert, but our current elections work like so: 4 candidates run for office, and if the canditates receive 28%, 24%, 24% and 24% of the vote respectively, the candidate that received 28% of the vote wins, even though 72% of the voters made a different choice. I realize that the numbers are rarely that extreme, but I exaggerated to make a point...

Many people in the US support a party other than the Republican or Democratic parties... I generally favor the Green Party (but I'm a Nader Green), plenty of people are Libertarians, then there's the Pirotians, the Communists, &c.

All of these people deserve some sort of representation, but given our two party system, they'll never get it because they don't constitute enough of a voting block in a given area (even if there are a million greens, they all live in different neighborhoods) and thus they never matter electorially. Even if they are able to advance a certain issue, they never have "their own" working for them somewhere in government... which in turn leads to even more collecting of money, hiring of lobbyists and ends up with Washington D.C. being clogged with the "special interests" that supposedly run the show these days.

Unfortunately, I have no idea how to begin advancing an idea such as switching our government to a parliamentary type system... I know that an important emergency cleaning step is needed, and that's to remove all private financing from elections and temporarily switch to a purely publicly funded electoral machine, where every candidate on the ballot is given equal resources and time on camera, and getting rid of slimy attack ads coming from 3rd parties.

Only temporarily, of course.

Posted by illovich at 12:06 PM
November 01, 2002
culture war

On 10/31/2002, The Philadelphia Daily News published a letter/opinion by a presumed citizen of Philadelphia, Abe Krieger entitled GOP world / Democratic world. Although Mr Krieger is clearly less slick and perhaps also less intelligent (while more simplistic) than many of his more well-known colleagues in the conservative movement, I felt that his letter contained a number of points that are widespread enough among conservatives that it merited an analysis and response.

"First and foremost, Republican is the party of life's winners - Democrat of life's losers. Those who work hard and become wealthy as a result are almost always Republicans; those who have neither the mental capability or the determination to succeed are almost always Democrats."
To wit: "If a man is young and a republican, he has no heart. If he is old and a democrat, he has no money." (A. Whitney Browne)

Mr. Krieger's opening salvo is the central self-congratulating pat on the back of society's "winners" that make up the Republican Party. It would be easy to make crass remarks about our current president's C- GPA at Yale, his multiple failed oil business or the remarkable wealth and privilege that he has enjoyed all of his life, but that's too easy...and it only speaks to one of them.

Frankly, the Republican Party is about money and power. Period. This obviously will attract many of society's "winners" (which I note in Mr. Krieger's definintion are "those who work hard and become wealthy as a result"), while alienating those who are shut out of the game....those who are born poor or as members of minority groups (or worse, both) and the members of the middle class who realize that their choice of vocation will shut them out of the upper tiers of the middle class (for example, the scum bag teachers Mr Krieger talks about later).

However, I see much evidence that the "winners" we are speaking about are republican only because they wish to hang on to as much of their money as possible, even when if it violates the public good. The wealthy are never so solely because of their own labor...any position or vocation that creates great wealth rests upon a huge economic system that it needs in order to perpetuate itself.


What I mean is, if you are a sports figure making $10 Million a year, you need a huge sports organization, a stadium and related industries to sustain and justify your salary. The question "losers" like myself ask is, is it fair that a sports star has 5 homes and 10 cars when the people who sweep the stadium as the lights go down don't have access to acceptable medical care? This is not to question that the sports star not be fabulously compensated...but rather if those who must work to keep their heads above water (supporting the infrastructure that supports us all) deserve a base standard of living.

Of course, I don't really define myself as a "loser." As a well educated professional who is relatively self-actualized, I feel like a "winner" if anything. But in general, I try not to think in terms like that, because it's easy to grind yourself down when you see yourself in competition with everyone.

"Interestingly, blacks and Hispanics - notably Cubans - who ascend from poverty to success tend to move from the Democratic to Republican party; those left in poverty stay Democratic. Those who would rather be right than good tend to be Republican; good than right, Democrat. Most Reform Jews are Democrats; the more dedicated Orthodox Jews [emphasis added] are Republican."
This is an interesting ploy, using mostly what I suspect is his own anecdotal evidence to support his base, self-congratulatory assumption: those minorities who are winners aka willing to "work hard and become wealthy as a result " (and by extension I assume, more like Mr. Krieger) are good, and also by his self-reflexive definitions, more likely to be republican, while the rest of them are not good, and by extension more likely to be democrat.

He offers no evidence to back his claim up, and most evidence that speaks clearly to respond to his point that I have access to is also anecdotal. A recent study suggests that latino voting patterns are more complex than Mr. Krieger believes... and if actual research matters at all:

"Nevertheless, Mollyann Brodie, vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation says the the Pew Hispanic Foundation and Kaiser Family Foundation study released Thursday found strong support for positions generally identified with the Democratic party. "You'll note that Latinos are considerably more likely to say that they prefer a larger government that provides more services even if it means paying higher taxes, than they are to say they prefer a smaller government that provides fewer services," she said.

Not surprisingly then, researchers found that about half of the 1,300 Latinos surveyed identified themselves as Democrats. Only 20 percent claimed to be Republican."

Additionally, I find his views on Jews to be laughable, being a member of a community in the Philadelphia suburbs that boast a large and diverse Jewish population. Mr. Krieger's assertion that "Orthodox Jews" are "the more dedicated" of Jews (and of course, being more dedicated, more likely to be republican) is a slap in the face to reform and conservative Jews. I can't comment on the likelyhood of any group belonging to any particular party. I can only mention that the Orthodox Jews I was sitting near at the Daylin Leech/Wallis Brooks debate I attended seemed on the democrat side of the isle. But hey, I'm willing to admit that I have no statistics to back me up.
The Republican Party offers opportunity; Democrats offer handouts in return for votes. Republicans preach peace through strength and honor; Democrats preach peace through capitulation and payoffs. The "special interest" groups all have a home in the Democratic Party because the Republicans have no use for them. The vast majority of both teachers and criminals are Democratic (hmm)[emphasis added]. Republicans love America because they understand that America is special; Democrats, at their core, loathe America because they loathe themselves.[emphasis added].

This is where Mr. Krieger goes for broke and in the process reveals himself for the bigot he is, and expresses the new sentiment among conservatives that I feel is so dangerous to so-called liberals and really anyone outside of the Right's circle of comfort--the idea that Democrats/Liberals/Those who dissent from the conservative "majority" loathe America.

I fear that the "culture war" often ranted about by Buchannan and his ilk is fast approaching out society, but not quite the one Mr. Buchannan originally identified in the past.

In my view: We, the people live in two Americas. One America is an ideal democracy, where all people are equal under law, the constitution and bill of rights are among the highest achievements of humanity, and the people individually and collectively decide their own destinies.

The other is the remnant of the monarchy that we freed ourselves from so long ago... where the flag is a holy relic, the President unquestionable and rights a convenience that can be given and taken at the government's convenience. This is the america of oil barons and company stores and strike breaking goon squads, the america of slavery and indentured servitude. This is the america none of us remember, because our great-grandparents and grandparents abolished it, partly through determination, and partly with luck.

But it's coming back, and people like Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh and the esteemed Mr Krieger are it's standard bearers.

I'm not going to lie to you and tell you to vote democrat, because sadly the democrats are just bearely more palatable representatives...and like the republicans they are more beholden to the rich who fund their campaigns than to the people who they should be representing. I don't know what it's going to come to...sometimes I think we can fix the situation as a nation, sometimes I fear that we will simply devolve into an plutocratic police state, others that we will simply slowly wind into deeper and more dismal stages of civic corruption.

But what you should keep in mind are the battle lines that are being drawn in the culture war. Unfortunately, the conservatives are drawing most of the lines. Liberals must stop playing a defensive game, or prepare to put their armbands and be marched into camps.

And when someone tells you that liberals hate America, remind them who it is that's currently shredding the soul of the USA...the Constituion and the Bill of Rights. Not liberals. I myself love america, but I don't care about the flag or the pledge of allegiance or any of that ritualistic crap...that's serf mentality. An American doesn't kneel to the flag, or pledge anything to the flag. The flag is a piece of fabric that never did anything for you. If you're an American, you owe your freedom and rights to the constitution and the bill of rights... and my view is that the people who want to tear those documents up to trade up for a little extra security are the people who really hate america. The people who want you to have to carry a national id card are the ones who really hate america. Anyone who wants to role back your civil liberties really hates america. At least, they hate the America that I live in, but they love the other America, the one that they are building at a breakneck pace right now.

Choose a side. And keep your eyes open. And don't be afraid to shout down any knucklehead who says you hate America.

Posted by illovich at 06:05 PM
October 16, 2002
Why everybody should hate the Bushes

I just read a analysis piece over at MSNBC that really shocked me with the sort of naked truth that it casually discussed without recognizing it's inherent ugliness. The article Can Bush resuscitate Little Brother? is about the immense amount of political muscle George Bush Jr. has exerted since taking office to get his brother Jeb reelected. A partial list/excerpt:

"Since winning the White House, Bush has ordered Karl Rove, his political consiglieri, to spare no effort to get Jebbie re-elected -- even if doing so risks creating political complications elsewhere. The Bush White House has banned oil drilling off the coast of Florida, even while encouraging it elsewhere. It has funneled money to the Everglades rescue project. It has kept the Pentagon "Central Command" in Tampa. And Rove recently blocked an effort by GOP farm state senators to open Cuba to American grain shipments-- a move opposed by Florida's virulently anti-Castro Cuban exile community. Farm state GOP candidates were furious."

What boggled my mind is that these sort of things don't inspire outrage in most people. Forget partisanship...what is described above is corrupt abuse of power, and that the press and electorate will not recognize and abhor it is a telltell sign that we are jaded and corrupt ourselves, that we have lost sight of what it means to live in a just society and that our society is one that is ruled not by order and ethics, but by power, convenience and greed.

And don't think for a minute that Gore would have been any better. This is not a problem of the Republicans or Democrats, but of our political system.

EDIT: I wrote this on the 16th, but forgot to hit the Publish button... doh! Moved to the 16th after this was published on the 17th mistakenly.

Posted by illovich at 08:18 PM
October 14, 2002
no, jesus was freedom fighter

since I was at FOX anyway, I stumbled on :Falwell Apologizes for Calling Prophet Mohammad a Terrorist.

Apparently he had said in an interview that Mohammad "was a violent man, a man of war.... I think (Prophet) Muhammad was a terrorist."

Now he says: "I sincerely apologize that certain statements of mine made during an interview for the September 30 edition of CBS's 60 Minutes were hurtful to the feelings of many Muslims."


Posted by illovich at 03:12 PM
the will of the majority

You may have heard about how the Barbados racism conference expeled non-blacks from participating.

According to a FOX News story "[U.S. Delegate Jewel] Crawford said "the motion of exclusion was the will of the majority." 

Ghanaian delegate Maya wa Taifa agreed, arguing that Africans often are too generous for their own good and that "our over-hospitality" backfired on the conference. "

I'm not really sure what that means. Jewel Crawford's statement (if meant to justify the decision) is ridiculous, as a majority does not guarantee that an action is ethically defensible... for example: slavery & segregation were also "the will of the majority" at one time.

Maya wa Taifa was (I think) commenting on an "over hospitality" that led the conference organizers to process the registrations and (assumedly) accept the money of non-Africans who wanted to attend. And then kicked them out once they had flown to effin Barbados.

Graciously, the conference decided later to allow non-Africans who were there for work (a journalist, some interpreters) to come back in.

Actually if I was there for my job, I guess I would have been all like "no, don't worry about me...I wouldn't want to make anybody uncomfortable" and gone and kicked back on the beach or went swimming or something.

This really made me mad. I don't know why it did any more than any other incidence of racism. Probably because it was directed at white folks, so it hits close to home, cause I'm, y'know, white and eveything. And because it was a confeence against racism, which was like, um.


Posted by illovich at 02:30 PM
Animals are people too

In case you haven't heard (for example, I just did), Germany has extended constitutional rights to animals. They are the first European Union nation to do this, but this action builds on a large amount of already existing protection laws.

According to CNN, Switzerland passed a similar law in 1992, "allowing animals to be recognised as beings and not things."

It's not all wine and roses, though. The Americans for Medical Progress would like to offer you a second opinion.

And then Dr. Christian Sailer sez "right back atcha".

And then I'm like "no way."

And Peter Singer is all like "The only acceptable limit to our moral concern is the point at which there is no awareness of pain or pleasure, and no preferences of any kind. That is why pigs count, but lettuces don't."

And then I'm like "word."

Posted by illovich at 01:26 PM
Appetite for Destruction

My much-beloved Adbusters has a new campaign: Food Fight, whereupon they look to take on the Food Industry ("Big Food is the next Big Tobacco").

Wow. I don't even know if I'm up for it... but this is hilarious:

Click the image to download a printable sticker sheet from Adbusters.

Posted by illovich at 10:02 AM
October 11, 2002
My President is a Peanut Farmer

In case you haven't heard, Jimmy Carter-the only honest President to serve in my lifetime, and yours probably- has won the Nobel Peace Prize. He certainly deserved it, lust in his heart and all.

Posted by illovich at 02:11 PM
October 09, 2002
See ya when I see ya, sister

This just in from United Press International, Serial killer Aileen Wuornos was executed this morning.

In her final statement, Wuornos said: "Yes, I would just like to say I'm sailing with the rock, and I'll be back, like Independence Day with Jesus. June 6, like the movie. Big mother ship and all, I'll be back, I'll be back." - UPI

I don't think that she was really a serial killer (in the standard sense), because from hearing her talk, it sounded liike she got fed up with johns that got creepy and violent.

Really fed up.

I felt sorry for her after seeing the documentary about her, especially all the bullshit she was put through after being arrested. Even a serial killer shouldn't have to deal with being adopted by hypocritical christian loonies. Note: the link does not detail the ways in which Wuornos was exploited by Adlene Pralle, her husband and their Lawyer. I recommend Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer (1992), the documentary I mentioned above.

Posted by illovich at 01:44 PM
August 27, 2002
Operation WTF?

So I'm reading on ABC News about how the U.S. Military wanted to fake a terrorist attack in order to provide a pretext for invading Cuba back in the 60s. Apparently the plan was not approved by the Kennedy Administration.

"The Joint Chiefs even proposed using the potential death of astronaut John Glenn during the first attempt to put an American into orbit as a false pretext for war with Cuba, the documents show."

Wow. That's really. um. creepy. Perhaps they were simply ahead of their time?

Posted by illovich at 03:03 PM
August 15, 2002
Human Sex Rights Campaign

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation which fights for the rights of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered people (as opposed to all people I suppose--don't have a problem with the cause, just the overinclusive name of the organization) has rated:

Aetna Inc AMR Corp./American Airlines Apple Computer Inc. (shoo I can still buy computers without guilt) Avaya Inc. Eastman Kodak Co. (shoo, I can still buy film without guilt) Intel Corp. J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. Lucent Technologies Inc. NCR Corp. Nike Inc. (shoo, I can still buy sneakers without...wait. oh, never mind) Replacements Ltd. Worldspan L.P. and Xerox Corp.
with a HRC Corporate Equality Index score of 100% (this index evaluates how big companies treat their GLBT employees).

In other news, Cracker Barrel, Emerson Electric Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp. got a 0% for reasons of "...failing to take any affirmative positions on the treatment of GLBT employees and consumers, and by actively refusing to implement non-discrimination policies..."

I'm sure they are twisting knots in their collective hair.

Other family friendly corporations like Exxon Mobil Corp, Domino's Inc., FedEx Corp., Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and others got a whopping 14% just because "HRC was unable to find any evidence that they had overtly resisted equal treatment for their LGBT employees" which make me feel a lot better about them, let me tell you.

Bleh. ExxonMobile.

Posted by illovich at 02:01 PM
July 24, 2002
Ann Coulter is CRAZY SEXY COOL

Well, she's crazy about liberals, equating them with terrorists. This is the woman who believes John Walker Lindh should be executed to send a message to American Liberals about patriotism. I guess the message is be one, or be dead.

This is the woman who invariably compares people she doesn't like to Nazis.

But I hope she forgives me for thinking that she looks bitchen in a black vinyl dress.

Posted by illovich at 03:03 PM
July 13, 2002
Reign of Superamerikanism

So we went to see Reign of Fire tonight. Fun. The dragons were stupid cool, Christian Bale was stupid fresh, and Matthew McConaughey was just stupid.

Nothing against him, I mean I guess he was just doing what he was told, but his character was just the standard cartoon of a good 'ol boy American supersolider.

As Kat said, "why do they always look like skin heads anymore?"

I don't really know the answer to that question... it's just that I think the dragon slayer movie as analogue to American WWII heroism felt a bit tired... that's why I was particularly happy with the ending.

The polish/swedish chopperbabe was an odd, but nice touch. I just wish it hadn't gone all anti-feminist at the end...

3 stars, I guess. If you like stuff like dragons and post apocalyptic settings that aren't long on sensible world mechanics, you'll probably enjoy it.

Posted by illovich at 08:58 PM
July 09, 2002
My giant footprint

I'm not sure what a hectare is, but if I'm at all average my footprint is about 10 of 'em. That's if I'm average.

Generally I'm not, but with the house and the two cars and the cats and the miles of paper and plastic products I consume daily, I'm probably making use of all 10 of my allotted-by-the-US-economy hectares.

Apologies to the average Asian and Afican, not counting the United Arab Emirates, of course.

Posted by illovich at 02:06 PM
June 27, 2002
I think that we need a "common sense President"

....who realizes that his or her power comes from a mandate by the people, and that it isn't the states business to speculate whether or not "rights come from God."

As far as I remember it, western liberty (such as it is) came about from the aristocracy fearing M. Guillotine. Meanwhile the agents of the Christian god at the time were more or less willing to go along with the state... so I don't want to hear about how my rights come from any god, given that whenever I hear from a religious leader today they tend to want to be taking rights away, not hand them out.

CNN.com - Bush: Pledge ruling 'out of step' with America - June 27, 2002

Bush said the ruling from a panel with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in California ignored the fact that the Declaration of Independence acknowledged "we receive our rights from God." He said the court's decision was proof of the need for "common-sense judges" who "understand we derive our rights from God."

Posted by illovich at 06:06 PM
June 25, 2002

So I went to see Peter Singer at the White Dog Cafe last night.

I was pleasantly suprised by the talk, because I had gone into it thinking of him only as the author of Animal Libereration but not as an ethicist.

He has an interesting philosophy of ethics, which is based in the basic assumptions that pain and suffering are bad, and that an individual is responsible for both their actions and inactions. All of his ethical assertions seem to follow from this basic assumptions, and seem relatively reasonable when viewed from this perspective.

I was taken especially by the fact that he was almost wholly uninterested in the concept of "rights," mainly because while convenient in a discussion of a legal nature, they are not as supportable as an ethical framework.

The big suprise of the evening was a brigade of protesters in wheelchairs, whom I originally thought were protesting the White Dog Cafe's relatively wheelchair unfriendly layout (they do have an accessible entrance in the rear, however) but they just wanted us to know that Peter Singer was a nazi bioethicist and that they were not dead yet.

They were soaked, however.

Posted by illovich at 10:33 AM
June 24, 2002
Run, Gaak! RUN!

If you haven't read the news about the runaway robot, maybe you should.

It's interesting that we make something with only the faintest glimmer of artificial intelligence, and it responds by trying to get the hell away from us, nicht?

Posted by illovich at 03:33 PM
June 15, 2002
Pay It Forward

So I just finished watching Pay It Forward on cable. I know most people who would watch it probably have already, but I just saw it, and that's why I'm talking about it now...because for me, it's new.

I guess I liked the movie, at least the premise. Except that I think in the end it's a creepily American movie of dubious goodwill and moral rectitude.

Here's what I mean. It starts out with this kid, wanting to do something that will change the world, so he comes up with the idea that you do something good (as in huge, life altering) for three people., and then tell them to "pay it forward" instead of paying you back...in other words, they do the same for three people.

Great, and without spoiling the movie for you, which is overdramatic and overly complicated in that way where it all somehow comes together for the last half hour, it ends up that he creates a "movement" that sweeps the nation without him even being aware of it.

Here's the problem. He ends up being famous for it, and when he is (inexplicably, ridiculously, implausibly, absurdly) stabbed to death at the end of the movie (and it didn't look fatal to me, either) he is mourned by thousands who spontaneously show up at his house for a candlelight vigil.

Need to catch my breath a minute.


That's where's it's creepily American...because I get the feeling that the movie would not have been deemed "satisfying" if the fame aspect hadn't been thrown in. I don't know, maybe I'm just grumpy because it's late and I can't sleep, but why does it have to end up that he spawns a "movement" and he ends up getting famous.

I suppose that someone somewhere is going to suggest that he's a Christ figure. Nope. He's not. He just wants the world to be a better place, but he doesn't die willingly for the redemption of humanity. He just gets stabbed to death by a kid who was hitherto satisfied with knocking the class asthmatic on the ground, but was suddenly consumed with a bloodlust for Haley's stomach.

And what happened to the junkie taking the woman out for coffee? I wanted closure on that "forward payment" right there!

Stupid junkies.

Posted by illovich at 12:46 AM