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halloween 2003 roundup (coming soon)
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the future of online gaming
star wars cereal review
japanese culture link of the day (12/6/2002)
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  xSaturday, September 07, 2002

yow!


I didn't expect this to happen today...more than 2,000 visitors (and I only passed 1,000 August 16)! Thanks, y'all! Keep coming back!

Wow...more than 145 so far today. According to my referral log, they don't seem to be driven by my little contretemps over my Cut on the Bias comments, which is just fine with me. Although I wish people would just quit it with the Rebekah Revels topless pix searches...jeez!




  x

speaking of britney


Nickelodeon has been showing a retro-themed Pepsi ad featuring Britney Spears...which proves one thing: she can't sing in black and white, either.




  x

oops i did it again


Sorry to hit y'all with the Britney Spears reference, but it seems another comment post I made on Cut on the Bias has the warbloggers in a state of high dudgeon. Susanna cited an Indepundit posting titled "Saddama Bin Laden" that attempts to link Saddam with bin Laden. She evidently regards it as an answer to "people with questions about the reasonableness of attacking Iraq," and that certainly includes me, so let's take a look.

I certainly agree that evidence that Saddam supported the 9/11 attacks would be ample causus belli and that such evidence, if presented and proved to be credible, would go far in uniting many who have expressed skepticism. Unfortunately, the evidence cited linking Saddam to bin Laden doesn't seem to hold water.

Here's my response from the comments thread (be sure to read the original article!):
"Possible" connections, indeed. I think "nails" Saddam [note: Susanna's term, not Indepundit's] is stretching it a bit...I'm sure a prosecutor would have a difficult time meeting a reasonable doubt standard on such flimsy evidence:

"None of the defectors were able to identify the “Islamic militants” specifically as members of Usama bin Laden’s al Qaeda organization"

"Atta also visited Syria several times between 1994 and 1999. It would not have been difficult for him to make contact with Iraqi agents during that period." (No evidence, of course, that anything of the kind actually occurred...)

"...a senior Bush administration official said that available evidence of the long-disputed meeting "holds up." The official added, "We're going to talk more about this case." "

I've noted in my own blog [Note: here, for example] that the administration always seems eager to talk about evidence...some time in the future. Why not now? If there's evidence, why not produce it? Now? After Pearl Harbor, even the most isolationist Americans were insistent on war--the evidence was unmistakable.

Of course, the fact that Bush I played a little fast and loose with the facts (as in the staged testmony by a Kuawiti ambassador's daughter that Iraqi soldiers had pulled babies from incubators), coupled with this administration's obvious obsession with getting rid of Saddam, is good reason to look at any "evidence" with a *very* skeptical eye. If there are such gaping holes in an article you claim "nails" Saddam, I shudder to think what flimsy pretext the administration is contemplating going to war on.

Oh, and this doesn't even *begin* to cover my questions on the "reasonableness" on going to war with Iraq, but it'll do for now.


Indepundit's response:

What Gregory has done is to pull out all the "circumstantial" portions of my argument, while completely ignoring the substantial body of direct eyewitness accounts of terrorist training in Iraq.


What I have done is point out that the article has not one scintilla of proof that Iraq has ties with al Qaeda, a point the Independent seems to concede in the next paragraph:

I hardly think it matters whether Saddam is in league with Bin Laden, to be brutally honest. Gregory didn't even bother to contest the well corroborated fact that Saddam is training Islamic terrorists to hijack aircraft, and that training involving chemical exposure suits and gas masks is occuring at these terror camps as well.



Unfortunately, it matters a great deal. The resultion Congress passes authorizes the President to undertake military action against the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks and their supporters. Supporting Islamic terrorists is not the same thing as supporting al Qaeda. If there's no link between al Q and Iraq, it seems to me the resolution would not authorize the use of force. Moreover, as I've said, I join with most of the American people in welcoming--even insisting upon--retaliation against Iraq. But I also join with a number of Americans in expressing skepticism at what seems to be Bush the Lesser and a number of neocon holdovers from the previous administration using the attacks as a cynical pretext to settle an old score.

I'll also note that the purpose of the training facility Indepundit is making such a bige deal about is described as "to train operatives to “[carry] out attacks against neighboring countries and possibly Europe and the United States." There we go with that word possibly again. Which of course that these alleged "well corroborated reports" couldn't say that their purpose was definitely anti-American. To paraphea

Indepundit then goes on to make a totally irrelvant analogy:

Imagine policeman on a stakeout outside a bank, hoping to catch a particular gang of bank robbers. They see a robbery in progress, and swoop in to arrest the robbers -- only to discover that they weren't from the same gang. By Gregory's logic, the police should just let them go, because they weren't the bank robbers they were looking for.


Except that this case isn't similar to that at all. The notion that Iraq is sponsoring terrorists is hardly new. As the Indepundit points out, it's a perennial member of the State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism. (other members: Iran, Syria, Libya, Cuba, North Korea, and Sudan). I realize that Bush has personally declared war not just on the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks but "terrorism," but it's a perfectly reasonable queston to ask, why Iraq, and why now? Ominous assertions of a "threat" simply don't make it.

Kevin McGeehee serves up what he must have thought was a withering blast at my impertinent request for proof:

If Saddam were ever to be tried in an American court of law, the standards of proof required therein might be relevant. American standards and procedures were developed to protect the innocent against the overwhelming power and resources of the state; Saddam, being a head of state himself, has no need of such protection -- and is guilty in any event.


Except that I assert that under our Constitutional system, is isn't Saddam who deserves the proof: it's we, the people:

...the people have a right to know that the President is going to war with good reasons. Settling a personal score, diverting attention from the War on Terrorism's dismal progress and diverting attention from brewing corporate scandals do not apply, but since those motivations loom large, we the people deserve a higher standard of prooof than flimsy circumstantial evidence. And frankly, no one but the current administration takes seriously the notion that just claiming that a country is "a threat" is reason enough to go to war--even Hitler staged a fake attack from Poland as an excuse to invade; he didn't just say the Poles were "a threat" because they had cavalry or something.


However, Kevin's point is well taken that this is not a court of law, and all these analogies to bank robbers--while emotionally appealing--hardly apply here. No one has caught Saddam red-handed at anything--or at least if they have, they've failed to be forthcoming with the proof. (The Administration likes to say it'll discuss that sort of thing in the future.)

Let's also not forget that the administration of Bush the Elder played a little fast and lose with its evidence against Iraq before.

The discussion also goes off on a tangent on whether the Contra rebels, which the United States government funded and trained (illegally, by the way), are terrorists, which I don't propose to rehash here.

There's this, from Dean Esmay, who also has more to say on his blog:

The problem with the opposition to invading Iraq is that they have no alternative plan they seem willing to come forward and propose. The preference seems to be to concentrate on why Bush Sucks. If I've missed somewhere where the critics have a cogent and easily explained alternative plan they would prefer to see us follow, I'd love to read it.


That's actually an interesting argument, but the burden of proof is on the people who want to make war, no one else. My response:

The hawkish arguments are just a parroting of the Rumsfeld/Cheney line that Iraq poses some sort of threat, but that doesn't constitute evidence. The problem is the false dualism that the options are war or doing nothing. For starters, I do not accept at all the notion that any alternative *needs* to be presented. In the status quo, Iraq has been weakened, contained and deterred--so effectively that this sudden realization that Iraq is a threat rings false. But there are many things we could do short of war. Retooled and more effective sanctions. Insisting on a robust inspection regime (and if the inspections weren't effective, why did Saddam boot them out instead of letting them finish and declare that Iraq was WMD-free?). Diplomatic isolation--unfortunately, it seems the administration has little chance of pulling that one off.


Although I'm also usually happy to talk about why Bush sucks, too.

There's more, but this post is getting too long as it is, and I've only been able to work on it in increments between going to the pool, taking care of the kids, and leeching some more anime/video game music, so I'll wrap things up with a few more thoughts:

I noticed something interesting going on in the comments appended to the Indepundit article: The article attempts to refute arguments citing the differences between OBL and Saddam (that one is militantly Islamic while the other is secular, for example) by listing motiviations they have in common, not the least of which is enmity with the United States. The comment thread takes this idea further by making much of the temporary (temporary, mind you) wartime alliance between ideologically opposed Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. All this is fine as far as it goes, but bear in mind that none of that contitutes the barest shred of evidence that an OBL-Saddam alliance actually exists.

Frankly, I'm skeptical. If Saddam did have an alliance with the US, one of the worst things he could do (as far as Bush war plans are concerned) would be to offer to turn over any al Qaeda members that he may be harboring, along with evidence of their activity, financial resources, and so on. (al Qaeda members taking refuge in Iraq's northern and southern regions where Saddam has little authority don't count, of course.) With the example of Afghanistan, there can be no doubt that temporizing on that score or labeling these hypothetical terorrists "guests" would cut any ice with US resolve. And Pakistan, which was one of the Taliban's few supporters, (and a supporter of terrorism in Kashmir to boot) has definitely established the precent of getting the US to look the other way cut it some slack.

One final thought. I am sick to death of being characterized as "anti-war." I am not anti-war. I supported the action in Afghanistan (though I do wish it seemed that the Bush administration were interested in finishing the job there, especially in light of the recent bombing and assassination attempt double-header). Let me make it perfectly plain: I support the War on Terroism to the extent that it's effective and not overly intrusive on the civil liberties of law-abiding Americans, but I have yet to be convinced that the Administration has a case that taking on Iraq is a legitimate part of the war--and indeed, it may do more harm by diverting attention from actual al Qaeda activities--and I don't find broad assertions by Cheney, Rumsfeld and Company exactly credible.

Link roundup:
Original post at CotB
Indepundit article
Comment thread at CotB
Comments by Dean Esmey






  xFriday, September 06, 2002

new stuff


w00t! The last of my birthday presents came in the mail Friday. I spent some dough my excellent grandparents sent me on some merchandise from a couple of my favorite Web sites. I got an email about it shipping more than a week ago, so I was starting to get a bit concerned, but just as I was getting set to email Cafe Press, I learned that the package had arrived.

Since I've been doing a lot of writing for Destroy All Monsters, I needed a coffee mug...
destroy all monsters mug
...and I got this excellent Angela Mao T-shirt as well.
destroy all monsters shirt
I also got this cool Teleport City T-shirt.
teleport city shirt
And I ordered a couple of things from the MegaTokyo store--apparently just in time, as it appears to no longer be powered by Cafe Press. But I got a pair of T-shirts...
megatokyo l33t me shirt frontmegatokyoul33t me shirt back
megatokyo ov3rclocked shirt frontmegatokyo ov3rclocked me shirt back
...and a coffee mug.
megatokyo mug frontmegatokyo mug back
So Monday morning I'll be drinking my java in style!




  x

awesome


Fred Rogers on talking to your kids about Sept. 11.

Although my wife and I were pretty much glued to the TV set on that black day--my employer at the time had sent everyone home--we didn't let our then-two-year-old watch, but I know she was affected. As Mr Rogers puts it, "young children are particularly sensitive to the reactions of their parents and other important adults in their lives, and seeing their parents upset is especially scary for them."

I don't plan to watch any of the "anniversary" coverage this year, but I will be watching to see what Cecilia, now 3, is aware of.

(via FARK)

Update: I caught the latter half of one of Mr. Rogers' PSAs on PBS last night, and it was as warm and gentle as I'd expected. Well done, sir.




  x

what we're losing in the "war on terror"


A sobering AP report on the rollback of civil liberties--supposedly guaranteed by the Bill of Rights--in the aftermath of the "war on terror."

I've said before, this "war" is becoming to resemble less WWII than the L4m3 "war on drugs," in which rollbacks of civil liberties have already been the tools employed to make up for the incompetence shortcomings of law enforcement.




  x

moose on the loose


The Bull Moose (no permalinks) has long been making his dissatisfaction with the Republican Party clear. Now he's made it official: he's left the fold.
Although the Moose has been sympathetic to the religious right, where were their moral voices of outrage when the corporate crime wave hit? The relative silence of the Falwells and Robertsons compared to their outrage toward the Clinton shenanigans was stunning.

...The truth is, though, that there really isn't any genuine free market fundamentalism any more. Right Wingers on Capitol Hill are ardent defenders of big government when it serves their interest.

...While the right aggressively advocates independence for the poor, they seem never to get around to taking the corporations off welfare. The President's energy proposal is loaded with freebies for their corporate cronies. Isn't crony capitalism great!

...In the aftermath of 9/11, President Bush missed an opportunity to transform American politics. Instead, he continued to advocate for his program of comforting the comfortable with the death tax elimination and repeal of the corporate alternate minimum tax. When Enron imploded, he continued his passive stance toward his corporate cronies.

It is truly odd that neither party can accommodate the market niche of voters who are hawks on foreign policy, moderate traditionalists on cultural issues and progressive on economics. At one time, that described the heart of the Democratic Party. As for the Moose, he has had enough of the "smelly little orthodoxies" that are promoted by the bases of the two parties.


(via Eschaton)




  x

more war skepticism


Body and Soul links to a pair of articles in the Christian Science Monitor pointing out some likes exaggerations regarding Iraqi atrocities and the threat it posed to its neighbors from Gulf War Mk I. Among these was a Pentagon estimate of 1,500 tanks on the Saudi border that independent satellite images showed no evidence of.

The photos the Defense Department--headed at the time by then-Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney--claims showed the military buildup remain classified.

"It was a pretty serious fib," said the journalist who broke the story.

Remember that when Bush the Lesser presents his "evidence" of Iraq's WMD posture.




  x

neko kawaii!


Cute kitty alert! You've seen rate-me sites like Hot or Not?, a concept that has even been applied to blogs. But nothing could have prepared you for the über-kawaii (ultra-cute) Rate My Kitten!

(via The Poor Man)




  x

also at dam


Destroy All Monsters just posted an interview I did with writer and Web logger Min Jung Kim, and a trio of news items by yours truly.




  x

buckaroo bonsai


crash bonsai
Crash Bonsai sells those miniature Japanese bonsai trees with a macabre twist--by adding model cars, they turn the trees into a miniature crash-scene diorama.

(via Destroy All Monsters via BoingBoing)




  x

megatokyo stuff


Part 2 of online comix 'zine The Pulse's interview with Megatokyo co-creator Fred "Piro" Gallagher is up.

Also, Chapter 3 of Megatokyo begins today.

and arrrgh...the MT online store comes out with a way-cool line of black T-shirts...just after I bought a couple of white ones...




  x

two more unconvinced


Counterspin Central links to this Steve Chapman column expressing skepticism over the Administration's eagerness to attack Iraq:
Mr. Cheney went before the national convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars to announce that Mr. Hussein is a bad man who has chemical and biological agents and hopes to develop nuclear weapons as well. Nobody really denies that, but most of the world views the prospect without undue hysteria.

...several countries have nuclear weapons, and none has found them very useful in making others do their bidding. Israel hasn't been able to force its neighbors to accept its treatment of the Palestinians. India hasn't coerced Pakistan to give up its claims to Kashmir. China hasn't succeeded in reclaiming Taiwan.

...what stops a nuclear power from carrying out a nuclear attack, or attempting nuclear blackmail, is not inborn self-restraint. It's the prospect of nuclear retaliation.

What evidence do we have that the Iraqi tyrant is influenced by such piddly considerations? Only his own behavior. We don't have to wonder if he can be deterred from using weapons of mass destruction. He already has been. During the Persian Gulf war, he had chemical and biological weapons that he could have used against Saudi Arabia, against Israel or against U.S. forces. But he knew the United States and Israel had nuclear missiles that could reach Baghdad, and himself.

So why does Mr. Hussein want weapons of mass destruction? For their only real function - deterring other countries from attacking him. If he had nuclear weapons, the United States would have to drop the idea of invading Iraq to overthrow its government. But if the only value of an Iraqi bomb is Mr. Hussein's self-preservation, it's hardly worth going to war over.

(Unless you happen to be both President and personally obsessed with getting rid of the man...)
For months, we've been wondering why the administration has been so reluctant to make the case for invading Iraq. Now we have the answer: Because there isn't one.

I have one other question: Why are the administration's promises to present its case against Iraq expressed in the future tense? If there's a case to be made, proof to be presented, why doesn't the Administration just go ahead and do it?




  x

Meanwhile, the just-discovered Alas, A Blog serves up this column from the Cato Institute's Julian Sanchez:
As a rule, the worst despots have funny moustaches, but it seems worth asking what further reason we have to think Saddam poses a serious threat. It's not quite cricket to question the satanicness of the satan du jour, but does anyone else find it odd that the same little thug who's been dictator-ing away free from U.N. oversight for four years now is suddenly a grave danger? He's clearly had chemical and biological weapons before (he may have them yet), and for quite a while we were willing to rely on the logic of deterrence. I know, all enemies of the U.S. are supposed to be, ipso facto, insane and therefore not subject to deterrence. But I defy anyone to seriously claim that Hussein is less mad (or less aware of MAD) than the fingers once on the nuclear buttons in China or the U.S.S.R.

...Also, let's recall that Hussein isn't cut from the crazed martyr cloth. He's more your old fashioned power-and-survival style thug, and as an Arab nationalist, has been called a "bad Muslim" and otherwise sharply criticized by bin Laden and company.

...As we refrain from intervention domestically in the interest of encouraging productive trade, we should be guided by a defeasible presumption of non-intervention on the international stage in the interest of preventing this undesirable variety.


Lest I forget, Mr. Sanchez has another priceless quote: he blogs "because pathological self-absorption is too cool to let Spalding Gray have all the fun."




  x

peanuts r0x0rz


Alas, A Blog has an excellent rant on why Peanuts is superior in every way to Garfield...a thesis with which I thoroughly agree.

(Via Counterspin Central)




  x

manga link of the day


Yesterday's Washington Post featured an article on the growning popularity of manga--Japanese comic books--in America.
"The American market is ready to accept our manga," says Nobuhiko Horie, president of Coamix. Shueisha publishing house and the San Francisco-based Viz Communications will begin publishing an English version of Japan's top comic magazine, Shonen Jump, as a monthly in November. Coamix is planning to publish a weekly magazine called Raijin Comics, also in November.

Yukako Takemura, 39, lives with her parents in central Toyama prefecture and willingly endures marathon three-day, 16-hour-a-day sessions at the home of another professional to draw manga background characters -- the "mob." She makes $250 for those three days.

The first time Japan tried to bring manga to the United States, in the 1970s, it failed. But the comics quietly spread to Asia and Europe. Horie said for American readers, he will have to tone down some sexual and violent expressions. He also wants to cultivate American manga artists. For now, South Korean, Taiwanese and Chinese cartoonists are rising, but they haven't reached the level of the Japanese yet, experts say.





  x

insults for everybody


Need the perfect put-down? Here's a small collection of insulting links:






  x

swank link of the day


The House of Swank is devoted to online college radio and ska, rockabilly, and punk bands. There's even a movie review or two of stuff like Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!




  xThursday, September 05, 2002

web panhandling


Wired has an interesting article about Web sites that raise funds for individuals via PayPal and the like, for such worthy projects as paying off a credit card bill or making an independent film "in the tradition of Jackass" (gee, let me get out my wallet).




  x

he got gamed


This is a scream: A former high school basketball player hauled into court on a marijuana posession charge told the judge he needed the weed because it helped his hoops. The 43-year old judge sentenced the 20-year-old to take drug education classes for the misdemeanor charge, then challenged the youth to a game. The judge (a former player for Notre Dame) then proceeded to score a trash-talking 10-3 victory in the first-to-ten game.

(via FARK)




  x

green thoughts


Some folks love to portray environmentalists as loony, people-hating Luddites. But many of us simply aren't comfortable with wasting resources and leave a messy planet for our kids. Over at annatopia, anna thougfully suggests some simple ways people can sensibly reduce waste. I'll sum up a few of them:

  • Use cloth napkins

  • Turn off lights

  • Recycle grocery bags

  • Short showers

  • Wash your clothes in cold water


The irony is, a lot of these things save money. In other words, conservation is, in many cases, in people's economic self-interest.




  x

the making of a dictator


Shadow of the Hegemon has a lot of juicy stuff, as always, but in particular this lovely piece about how various forces have combined to paint Saddam Hussein--who, Demosthenes contends, is hardly a prize but also not much worse than a lot of dictators the US and others deal with, and with few evident qualms.
I think anybody who sits down and studies his past behaviour would quickly notice that on comparison with any number of dictators, past and present, he's not actually that different. Although the right takes great pains to try to portray him differently, those who call him "just another tinpot dictator" are essentially right- there's little that seperates him from many other dictator.

...there's been an excellent public relations job done on behalf of the United States government to demonize Saddam more so than any other dictator around the planet, it's been going on for a long time, and I personally believe it's one of the real reasons why invasion may be inevitable.

...Generals famously always fight the last war, and the last war was Vietnam, a war that many believe was lost in the minds of the American public long before it was lost in the jungles of Vietnam. They had to make sure that people didn't sympathize with Iraq. So, they took Saddam Hussein, the dictator, and turned him into Saddam Hussein, the monster.(emphasis in the original)

...The problem with this whole line of argument is that there's any number of dictators out there who could theoretically get ahold of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons and who hate the United States. So why Saddam? Those of us who either didn't believe or didn't listen to the propaganda (for that is what it was) continue to ask that question, and with good justification.

...Unfortunately, outside of the United States this portrait of "Saddam as monster" never really took. Most see him as yet another dictator, but didn't really support him and hoped to see him gone. As I said, international pariah... at least up until the U.S. administration, emboldened by public support for the (somewhat unrelated) War on Terror/Islam/whatever and success (of a sort) in Afghanistan finally started talking invasion. When that happened, those who realized that really meant the end of national sovereignty as we know it started backing an unloved dictator whose ouster nonetheless represented something much bigger.



Demosthenes also states the obvious, but as always, states it well: 9/11 simply gave the neocons the excuse they've been looking for to attack Iraq.




  x

ASCII stuff


Now this takes me back to my mornings in the high school computer lab, back in the mid-'80s: a gallery or two of ASCII pr0n (images created by combinations of text characters, like this safe-for-work pin-up). This Salon article predicts it could be the next big thing for PDAs and cell phones.

(via BoingBoing)




  x

Greece bans computer games


The government of Greece has banned allelectronic and computer games--from Solitaire to Quake 2--in an effort to combat online gambling.

(via BoingBoing)




  x

Senate committee rejects nominee


One word: Good.




  x

no new evidence of iraqi nukes


Intelligence sources believe Iraq is not as close to making a nuclear weapon as Administration officials have hinted he is.

Listen carefully for this rhetorical trick: There's little doubt that Iraq has a stockpile of chemical weapons, which are a "weapon of mass destruction" but of relatively little threat to American citizens (though they do pose a risk to US soldiers deployed in that invasion Bush hasn't made up his mind about yet). Be sure to recognize the distinction between the Administration citing Iraq's posession of WMDs--true--with the implication that Iraq has, or is about to obtain, a nuke--questionable.

And of course, even Iraq's posession of a nuke isn't necessarily causus belli--I recall both Indian and Pakistan conducting nuclear tests with no threat of invasion.

Of course, Administration official still urge that we invade now, before Saddam gets a nuke. Could it be that they insist the time is now not because a nuclear-armed Iraq would pose a threat of attack, but rather defense--that is, "regime change" would be harder to bring about if Saddam had a nuclear ace in the hole, one that he could deploy "defensively"?

In other develpments, military officials have denied that recent shipments of weapons are intended for military action against Iraq.




  x

afghan prez survives assassination attempt


A reservation about attacking Iraq I didn't express the other day is my concerns over the situation in Afghanisatan. But those concerns are renewed today with the apparent narrow escape of Afghan President Hamid Karzai from an assassination attempt.

American Special Forces seem to have been involved in the exchange of fire with the uniformed would-be assassin, who was killed. American soldiers are guarding Karzai because his own military seems to not be up to the task. Meanwhile, a number of warlords are openly defying the Kabul government.

The hawks' hopes plans for regime change are thunderously silent on the question of, "what next?" The Afghanistan precedent doesn't inspire a lot of confidence that anyone's even thought that fatr ahead.




  x

w00t!


Teleport City is back from hiatus, with a review of a 1970s Bigfoot-inspired horror flick.




  x

jpop gallery of the day


vivian hsu
Images of Jpop/canto-pop star Vivian Hsu (safe for work)

Note: Vivian Hsu has alternated between careers in singing and modeling, and as a result there are not a few n00d pictures of her on the Web. This gallery, and this blog, doesn't have any of them.




  x

today at dam...


...a couple of news items by yours truly. Also, the scoop (via Aint-It-Cool-News) on plans to release the film Shaolin Soccer Stateside! Apparently, studio Miramax is agonizing about whether to release a subtitled version--as they did with Iron Monkey--or just go with dubbing.

For me, this is a no-brainer. Given the choice, I will always take a subbed version of an anime or Asian movie over a dubbed-only. For crying out loud, the original soundtrack is already there; you might as well provide it, given the DVD's enormous storage capacity. I realize a lot of folks don't like subtitles (when I saw the magnificent Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, I was warned both by a sign at the box office and by the ticker clerk that the film was subbed), and I wouldn't blame Miramax for releasing the dubbed version in theaters, or on videocassette if they plan to use that format, as they seem to have concerns about audience appeal. But there are plenty of Asiaphiles with DVD players, and it'd be easy enough to toss us a bone, even if the studio makes the English language track the default.




  x

noticed in referral logs


I'd like to shout hello to rowdigirl, who has me permalinked.

Among all the fruitless flood of searches for photos of Rebekah Revels (there isn't a single one here, topless or otherwise! Get a life!), there was also a search for "kristine sa wallpaper," which I'm happy to say I do link to.

Someone also found me searching for MP3s of the Khan Super Session soundtrack to the Namco game Soul Blade, but--while I have posted about a CD I burned--I don't post MP3z here; sorry.




  x

lessons in civilization


Blogger Brad DeLong uses the computer game Civilization to explain some of the basics of democracy to his sons. c00l!

(via Body and Soul)




  x

homeland security watch


Over the Labor Day weekend, reporters investigating airport security were able to smuggle knives and pepper spray through security checkpoints at 11 airports. Meanwhile, a CBS News crew sent lead-lined bags (containing no contraband) unchallenged past 70 percent of screeners.

(Via InstaPundit, who has a recent column assessing the state of homeland security. His take: "maximizing inconvenience while minimizing actual security.")




  x

in defense of a different hawk


The Dodd, a former Navy man himself, tees off on an odious propaganda piece in the UK-based Times Online that used an unusual but unrelated incident as an opportunity to represent the US aircraft carrier (and a non-nuclear one, as the article erroneously claims) USS Kitty Hawk as practically a slave galley. ("Boarding one is like entering a time warp back to the former Deep South.") "Rarely have I seen a more shockingly inaccurate, biased, and utterly reprehensible example of so-called journalism," Dodd begins, going on to call the piece "rife with errors, distortions and blatant lies," a charge even the most cursory read verifies.

Better still, he's dispatched an eloquent email (scroll down in the comment thread) to the offending editors.

Update: This British blogger is irate as well.




  x

Interesting reading


The Chicago Tribune has an in-depth series on the downfall of Chicago-based accounting firm Arthur Andersen.

(via MeFi, where the comment thread also points to a comprehensive Enroundup in Enron's hometown paper The Houston Chronicle.)

It's true the steady beat of war drums has once again driven the corporate scandals off the front bages, but make no mistake: this is exactly what you get with deregulation, and it's exactly the sort of "business acumen" practiced by the Fundraiser-in-Chief, Cheney, et al.




  xWednesday, September 04, 2002

homeland security showdown


I don't pretend to have the answers on homeland security, but (y'all heard it here first) I don't think the proposed massive new bureaucracy is the answer.

Among the big sticking points is the President's insistence on broad powers to spend money without Congressional oversight and his insistence--under threat of his very first veto--that workers in the department lost civil service and union protections they currently enjoy. The President's backers say he needs "flexibility." Let's look at this Tuesday WaPo column by Sen. Joseph Lieberman, one of the Senate bill's authors:
Under our legislation, the president and the secretary of homeland security would, in fact, have more flexibility to run an efficient, effective and performance-driven department than the law now provides. Our legislation includes bipartisan reforms to the civil service law that give the secretary new management tools to attract, retain and reward excellence. With the powers in existing law and new ones added in our bill, the administration would be able to promptly hire new talent, swiftly move employees around, discipline and fire poor performers and even remove employees from collective bargaining units when national security is at stake. In that last case, we have simply required the administration to state clear reasons for taking such extraordinary action, and made sure there is due process to have the loss of those rights reviewed by the Federal Labor Relations Authority. (emphasis mine)

Gee, due process and checks and balances...no wonder Bush is against it.
If granted, the president's pleas for additional "flexibility" would give his administration unprecedented power to undercut the civil service system, rewrite laws by fiat and spend taxpayers' money without congressional checks and balances.


One key indicator of the kind of "flexibility" Bush wants is his opposition to making the Director of Homeland Security subject to the advice and consent of the Senate; he's indicated that that provision of the Senate bill might constitute a veto risk all by itself.

It seems clear to me that the powers Bush seeks are a naked power grab in accordance with an aversion to the democratic process that's becoming increasingly evident as his administration continues.

After all, his "expertise" is in business, and business isn't a democracy.




  x

tanks a lot


The US military is evidently engaging commercial cargo ships to carry heavy equipment (tanks) to the Persian Gulf, suggesting that its own capability for doing so is already maxed out.

Mind you, President Bush claims he hasn't made a decision on Iraq yet.

A source in the Reuters article said he wouldn't "read too much" into this--this--shipment; another suggested the buildup might be connected with upcoming military maneuvers with Jordan. And all that is possible. But the pattern I perceive suggests otherwise.

One of the things that makes me highly skeptical of the an unprovoked--make no mistake about it--attack on Iraq--is that the President's advisers--and Bush himself, today--claim the only alternative is "doing nothing." Baloney. It seems to me that if the US really had the goods on Saddam's nuclear program, then an airstrike would deal a nifty setback--something Israel demonstrated earlier. If inspections really didn't work, it seems to me Saddam, rather than kicking them out, would have had them finish the job, all the while chortling about how he pulled the woll over their eyes. But the problem was they were working...I imagine a lot of what we know about Iraq's WMD program comes from them. And there's always supporting an uprising, although considering how badly we blew that in the aftermath of the Gulf War, I doubt anyone in Iraq would trust us (the no-fly zones are there, after all, to protect two groups that did heed the call to rise up agaisnt Saddam, but that the US decided not to support).

There are options. Give me convincing arguments they won't work, and I'll be more comfortable...heck, at least I'd know the administration has pondered this. But what we get is more of Bush's it's-my-way-or-the-highway"bipartisanship." And I think there's evidence that the American people aren't buying it.




  x

ethics and office supplies


CNN has an interesting article on the effectiveness of ethic programs to curtail office theft. Along the way, though, the article comes to some rather disingenuous conclusions about the phenomenon.

[rant to come]




  x

napster: gone, daddy, gone


I missed posting this yesterday, but MeFi remeinded me that Napster officially folded yesterday after a judge blocked its sale.




  x

jpop gallery of the day


takako uehara
Checking my referral log, I noticed that someone found me searching for "idols+japan". (And I'm glad I can be found that way.) Looking thru the other hits, I found this gallery of jpop star Takako Uehara of the group Speed.




  x

no comment


enetation's comment server appears to be down again...indeed, it seems to have been down since yesterday. I welcome comments; in the meantime, email me. (Heck, email me just to say hello--I'd be glad to hear from you.)

Update: Comments seem to be back up (and yet the page loads pretty quickly; props!), so if you've had something to say, please do add a comment. I'll be checking back.




  x

piro interview at the pulse


Online comix 'zine The Pulse has an interview with MegaTokyo creator Fred "Piro" Gallagher.

Meanwhile, today's one-shot comic is a spoof on the ridiculous measures even supermodels have to be primped, padded adnd digitally foobulated to appear in print, complete with a juicy rant by Seraphim.




  x

cardboard cops take to streets in vilnius


cardboard cop
Vilnius, the capital of the former Soviet republic of Lithuania, has a double-edged problem: too many speeders and not enough traffic cops. So cith officials have devised a novel--and cheap--colution: life-size cardboard cut-outs of traffic cops, intended to make motorists slow down when they catch a glimpse of the distinctive green uniform. Deployed at the beginning of the school year, the fake cops have already proved effective according to anecdotal evidence cited by city officials.

Lithuania has one of the highest traffic fatality rates in Europe, with more than 700 people dying each year, or about 20 deaths per 100,000 residents. The average annual rate in European Union countries is less than 10 per 100,000.




  x

haven't you people ever heard of coasters?


A 42-year-old American has claimed an unofficial endurance record for roller coaster riding. Richard Rodriguez (photo) rode a roller coaster at a German amusement partk for 102 straight days, at least 10 hours a day, more than 220,000 times, breaking his own record of 100 straight days.

Although Rodriguez took too many breaks--five minutes per hour--to qualify for the famed Guinness book, his feat was monitored by a team of doctors, who checked his heart rate to gauge the effect of mechanichal stress on his body. Park workers kept Rodriguez supplied with coffee and schnitzel, and his record attempt eventually became an attraction in itself.




  xTuesday, September 03, 2002

china blocks google


The People's Republic of China has blocked access to the popular Google search engine, apparently in preparation for a major upcoming Party congress.




  x

i find their choice of sizes highly illogical


This Wired article explains one possible reason, among others, why the FBI is having such difficulties with technical evidence: white-hat hackers who want to join can't pass the physical fitness requirements for an FBI agent position.




  x

its kung fu is strong


In the review I recently wrote of the kung fu movie Iron Monkey, I noted that the American version apparently has many of the technique names edited out. It's a convention that many fans of old-skool chop socky flicks and anime are familiar with--just before laying a m4d beatdown on someone, a character will shout the name of the exact technique he or she is about to employ (indeed, the tendency is parodies in the anime Project A-Ko).

Well, if you missed that in Iron Monkey, or you just want to create your own set of cool martial arts moves, the Verbal Kung-Fu Generator will create a list of 500 random technique names like:
magnificent eagle somersault
double monkey tackle
excellent death wheel
insane scholar palm
ancient moon defense
shaolin rooster feint
three cricket defense
sacred lotus hammer
uncomfortable scorpion bite
sound of the paradise style
ten panda defense
deceptive monkey hammer
10,000 monk fury
stunning lotus technique
heavenly scholar forehead
shaolin turtle attack
flying taoist power
celestial eagle maneuver
resplendent virgin style
shaolin terror fan
valorous dragon claw
supernatural hummingbird fist
mongolian killer slash

(via BoingBoing)




  x

blogdroning


I still need to talk to 3 people but i will hopefully accomplish that tomorrow evening or saturday afternoon. Apparently i need to talk to usagimeister so i can attract the sween glow of love hopefully find some pewn of my own. Which means i really need to talk about one mrs? :> I have the luxury of working from home this week which means i get to secretly catch up with this project :-( Which means i get to do it all again?

The ones who told me that i could do it all if i could just put one foot in front of the other. If i could just lose that stomach somewhere in a day or two id be happy :-( I could just go study and ignore everyone. It feels like one is developing but it could just be that these headphones are too tight. I feel really gross i havent showered in like 3 days but it feels like years yech yech yech. Im downloading this song from somebody who has really gross music in their collection. Vacationing on the prairies eh ill think of you when im getting soaked in vancouver over x-mas vac.

Don't worry, I'm not lacking caffeine...the just-cited text was generated by Blog Drone, which uses a key word or phrase you supply (In my case, "tuesday afternoon") to generate a random blog entry by assembling phrases from a database of other blogs and live journals.

(via BoingBoing)




  x

first to notice, i hope


The Centre Daily newspaper has fired columnist Ann Coulter. An eloquent letter from the paper's executive editor on the op-ed page said that while the paper welcomes columnists with diverse points of view, all La Coulter has to offer is hate.
Our great nation gives you the freedom to hate all you want and even to make a buck off it if you can. But, even better, it gives us the right not to have to listen.

So, Ann, you're fired. I expect some of our readers are going to be mad at us over this, but we hope they'll understand that while we joyfully publish a wide spectrum of political and social viewpoints, we condemn hate where we find it.


(via Body and Soul, who adds: "In the end -- and I think it will be soon -- she won't go away because she crossed the line, or because her lies have been revealed, but because she's boring.")

Update: Bill's Content thinks Coulter deserves the boot but a piece ripping the Kennedys was the wrong pretext. "There are so many good reasons for a newspaper to dump Ann's column. Too bad the Centre Daily Times waited until Ann attacked a sacred cow -- the Kennedys -- before taking this wise step."




  x

ultimate time capsule


Shades of The Forever War...a group of scientists are planning to place messages into a time capsule. So par pretty standard stuff, except this model will be launched on a satellite that'll orbit for 50,000 years before returning to Earth.




  x

more on dam


There are a couple of news items up on Destroy All Monsters written by yours truly!

Update: Editor-in-chief Musashi also has a news item regarding the site's success, its future, and its new Assistant Editor.




  x

carny talk


Today, NPR's Morning Edition aired some tapes made by a Library of Congress archivist of a 1941 traveling carnival. Interesting stuff.




  x

...and a happy labor day to you


When the 73-year-old transportation company Consolidated Freightways was forced to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, it laid off some 15,000 workers, some of whom found out about the loss of their jobs when they showed up for work after the Labor Day holiday to find the doors locked. Other employees received a telephone call instructing them to call a number for a prerecorded message from the company's CEO, according to a CF press release, which said employees will also receive a letter detailing the need for the work stoppage. According to the press release, 80% of the layoffs were effective immediately, with some supervisory and management personnel to remain temporarily.

ABC News quoted the CEO's message as follows:
Thank you for dialing in on this holiday weekend. I hope you and your family are enjoying the time together. ... I have some extremely urgent and sad news to share with you today. ... Your employment ends immediately.

A class act, all the way.




  x

we're done


new paint
My apologies for the silence over the holiday weekend. We didn't finish the last coat of paint on the girls' room until Monday morning (you can see the results--we're quite proud of the job we did), and most of the rest of the time was spent either in other activities or simply resting. Monday afternoon we took the girls swimming at the Y, since the outdoor pool will close soon now that summer is officially over. We had friends over for dinner Sunday night and Onye dropped by last night for a cup of coffee after the girls went to bed.

I also picked up a copy of Final Fantasy Tactics Sunday afternoon. It looks pretty cool, but with Halloween coming up, I plan to be playing a lot of Resident Evil 2 and Silent Hill for the next couple of months.