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  xFriday, June 18, 2004

new at dam

My review of the Yoshiaki Kawajiri cyberpunk OAV Cyber City: The Decoy is posted over at Destroy All Monsters.


pickup artist

I'm pleased to observe that St@tic Multimedia has picked up my Destroy All Monsters editorial on Disney and anime, along with reviews of The Mask of Zeguy (which appeared at DAM on Monday), and, earlier, Samurai Jack and the book Anime Poster Art: Japan's Movie House Masterpieces.

  xThursday, June 17, 2004

bad movie physics post of the day

If you love the kind of movies where the hero outruns avalanches, bullets, crossbow bolts and, of course, exploding fireballs, this site has some bad news for you.

(via BoingBoing)


bush administration mendacity watch

To no one's surprise, Cheney keeps lying about Saddam's connection with al Qaeda, even though the notion has now been debunked.
Vice President Dick Cheney, who took the lead in pushing the idea of long-standing links between Saddam Hussein (and al Qaeda, has no intention of backing down despite a finding to the contrary by the Sept. 11 commission, aides said on Wednesday.

Somewhat more surprising is the fact that Bush is now defending Cheney, although the fact that the lack of the al Qaeda-Saddam connection undermines Bush's war rationale even further is no doubt on Bush's mind this election season.

The New York Times scolds the Bush Administration for its dishonesty
Of all the ways Mr. Bush persuaded Americans to back the invasion of Iraq last year, the most plainly dishonest was his effort to link his war of choice with the battle against terrorists worldwide. While it's possible that Mr. Bush and his top advisers really believed that there were chemical, biological and nuclear weapons in Iraq, they should have known all along that there was no link between Iraq and Al Qaeda. No serious intelligence analyst believed the connection existed; Richard Clarke, the former antiterrorism chief, wrote in his book that Mr. Bush had been told just that.

Nevertheless, the Bush administration convinced a substantial majority of Americans before the war that Saddam Hussein was somehow linked to 9/11. And since the invasion, administration officials, especially Vice President Dick Cheney, have continued to declare such a connection. Last September, Mr. Bush had to grudgingly correct Mr. Cheney for going too far in spinning a Hussein-bin Laden conspiracy. But the claim has crept back into view as the president has made the war on terror a centerpiece of his re-election campaign.

On Monday, Mr. Cheney said Mr. Hussein "had long-established ties with Al Qaeda." Mr. Bush later backed up Mr. Cheney, claiming that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a terrorist who may be operating in Baghdad, is "the best evidence" of a Qaeda link. This was particularly astonishing because the director of central intelligence, George Tenet, told the Senate earlier this year that Mr. Zarqawi did not work with the Hussein regime.

..although it fails to point out that Zarqawi remained alive because the Bush Administration scotched plans by the Pentagon to take him out on three separate occasions.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post whines that poor Cheney is just misunderstood, if a little careless with his facts.

Well, I call baloney on that. Matthew Yglesias calls it right: As much as Bush's apologists complain about the
So according to the Post here's the state of play. On the one hand, the administration, in the past, suggested that Iraq was behind 9-11. Currently, they aren't doing that, but they are "overstat[ing]" the extent of Saddam/Qaeda links and keeping stories alive "long after others in the government thought [them] discredited." The result of all this is "to keep alive in the minds of many Americans a link between Iraq and the attacks" which, as the Post acknowledges, was put there by the administration in the first place.

The administration, in other words, is trying to mislead people into ignoring the difference between being responsible for the deaths of thousands of Americans and not being responsible for those deaths. The administration's accusers, by contrast, are trying to mislead people into ignoring the distinction between misleading the public about this (after lying to them), and lying to the public. On what planet is the latter "almost" as irresponsible as the former? One is a question of life and death -- war and peace -- and the other is semantic hair-splitting. [emphasis in the original]

The fact of the matter is that Bush and his minions have missed no opportunity to conflate Saddam and 9/11, dutifully reported by the stenographers in the so-called "liberal media" (Ezra at Pandagon has some apt criticism), and as a result the American people maintained an erroneous perception that Saddam and 9/11 were linked -- a perception that just happened to support Bush's ambition to attack Iraq. Even if some of their statements are factually true, Bush and his minions have misled the American people, and in a calculated and cowardly fashion.


rumsfeld must go trial, that is. There's no other way to say it: Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has just admitted to a war crime.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld acknowledged on Thursday he ordered the detention of an Iraqi terrorism suspect who was held for more than seven months without notifying the International Committee of the Red Cross, but said the man was "treated humanely."
Rumsfeld, during a Pentagon briefing, said, "I was requested by the director of central intelligence (George Tenet) to take custody of an Iraqi national who was believed to be a high-ranking member of Ansar al-Islam," which the United States has called a terrorist organization.

"And we did so. We were asked to not immediately register the individual (with the ICRC). And we did that," Rumsfeld said.

He did not explain the reasons for the actions, but added that "we are in the process of registering" the man, who he did not identify, with the ICRC.

"He has been treated humanely. There's no implication of any problem. He was not at Abu Ghraib. He is not there now. He has never been there to my knowledge," Rumsfeld added, referring to the prison on the outskirts of Baghdad where U.S. soldiers abused Iraqi prisoners.

He was "treated humanely." I'm sooooo impressed! points out that this shocking incident reflects not only on this Administration's criminal conduct, but also its incompetence:
In addition to being immoral (we knew that), our leaders are not just partially (we knew that) but totally incompetent: having put this guy on ice because he was too important to expose to the Red Cross and so desperately needed to be softened up, the system forgot all about him [emphasis in the original.]

Julia speaks for those of us wondering: Why does Rumsfeld still have his job?

What's absolutely baffling about the emerging prisoner abuse and torture scandal is that more reasonable conservatives aren't just as horrified by the continually emerging details and this Administration's assertion of unchecked executive power (read: tyranny) used to justify it (although Andrew Sullivan is now definitely off the reservation). As Matthew Yglesias put it at TAPPED:
[A]t one level this is a story -- yet again -- about the mistreatment of prisoners and detainees. But as with the torture memo story, the more important aspect here has to do with the rule of law. It's one thing for the administration to decide that we've got some bad laws and try to get them changed. These changes might be for the worse, but legal changes that many people will think are for the worse are par for the course in a competitive democracy. Simply ordering your subordinates to break the law, however, is not par for the course at all, nor is it an acceptable response to any sort of situation.

The executive branch has a duty to obey the law -- and to see that the law is obeyed -- whether or not its officers like what the law says. This is pretty basic stuff, and no one, regardless of ideology, should find this conduct acceptable.

It's truly, truly shocking that more conservative voices aren't raised in protest about this. I realize that both sides of the blogosphere like to link to the lunatic fringe of the other and demand in high dudgeon that the other side disavow the craziness, and that bloggers aren't obligated to post on anything in particular, and all that, but I for onefind the silence ominous indeed. What are they, waiting for the talking points from NRO -- however half-assed -- to tell them it's all okay?

Well, forget it. Kevin at LeanLeft frames it in a way that no self-respecting American can avoid:
This election is very simple. Either you believe in the stories we tell ourselves about justice and freedom and the rule of law or you don't. Bush and his administration, with its hideous legal justification for torture, with its insistence that the President can make laws, with its adoption of the methodology of the Pinochet's of the world, with its insistence that it can lock away citizens forever without charge or trial or access to the outside world, do not. If you do not, then vote for Bush. But if you believe that we are a nation of laws, if you believe in democracy and freedom and the systems that guarantee those freedoms, then you cannot vote for Bush.

Conservatives may love their sophomoric putdowns of Kerry, but the elephant, so to speak, in the room is that voting for Bush is simply no longer a respectable option.


csi update

I just got off the phone with a police officer, who called me in regard to the pedestrian struck by a vehicle I witnessed several days ago. It seems the individual struck has died, and the police are gathering information to determine whether to press charges.

My condolences go out to the man's family and friends, especially since his daughter was evidently driving the car that struck him.


please stand by

test pattern

Busy. Will post later.

  xWednesday, June 16, 2004

happy birthday!

I'd be seriously remiss in not wishing my brother Jeffrey a very happy birthday today!


right-wing torture apology watch

Like a high-school debater impressed by his own cleverness, Jonah Goldberg thinks he's found a loophole that excuses the Bush Administration's scantion of torture: al Qaeda isn't a signatory to the Geneva Conventions!
The Geneva Convention does not require countries who haven't signed it to do anything at all.

And guess what? Osama bin Laden has as much use for the Geneva Convention as he does for the new Lady Remington electric shaver.

Right-wing scribes predictably grabbed at this straw applauded Goldberg's so-called brilliant reasoning.

Unfortunately, Goldberg gets it wrong on several counts.

For starters, he's absolutely incorrect at implying that, since al Qaeda doesn't subscribe to the Conventions, there's no self-interest in abiding by them. (He does allow that there's costs in prestige and confidence for indulging in such disgraceful acts, but he errs badly in dismissing those concerns.) I'm sure it's no skin off of Goldberg's nose, as he sits comfortably behind a keyboard while others do the fighting, but if the United States is perceived as throwing aside the Conventions on a technicality, American soldiers may indeed pay a price in future conflicts with foes more civilized than al Qaeda.

Who cares if al Qaeda is a signatory to the Geneva Conventions or not. I would have thought that we as Americans abide by those rules because we're the good guys, not because the letter of the law forces us to. How dare Goldberg and his ilk badmouth America by suggesting we ought not to uphold a better standard than thuggish dictators.

Of course, Goldberg's problems dont' stop there. I am not a lawyer, but if memory serves me right, the Convention Against Torture -- to which the United States is also a signatory and is also US law -- allows no exceptions. It codifies behavior the signatories pledge to abide by, period.

Moreover, let's remember that the prisoners at Abu Ghraib were, in many cases, members of an insurgency against occupation -- in which case, I believe, the Conventions apply -- or completely innocent of wrongdoing. I am not aware of any proven al Qaeda members being among the inmates there.

He also sets up all kinds of straw men about "administration critics piously demand[ing] that these thugs should be given all the benefits that come with being a signatory to it." Once again, it has nothign to do with "these thugs." It's all about Americans acting according to our ideals, and shame on Goldberg for suggestign that we shouldn't do so.

Then, of course, there's the mere fact that Goldberg -- and his right-wing cohorts -- are trying to justify the Bush Administration's use of torture. That's simply inexcusable.

Honestly, one of the worst things about the torture scandal -- almost as bad as seeing my beloved country sanction the use of torture, and having the President's minions crown him King in the process -- is seeing so many of the Bush Administration's lickspittles excuse its inexcusable actions, or pretend not to notice there's anything amiss. (Again, Andrew Sullivan remains an honorable, but all too rare, exception.) If they won't draw the line here, where will they draw it?

Face it -- the Bush Administration has already conceded that its torture was illegal. Why else work so hard on memos to find legal loopholes to excuse it?


i predict...


...that you'll get a kick out of this page devoted to Criswell, the phony TV psychic (and pal of filmmaker Ed Wood).


monkey-fu post of the day

Once again, the headline says it all: Baboons on rampage in South African town

The screenplay practically writes itself!

(via FARK)


bush administration mendacity watch

Vice President Dick Cheney, June 15:
He [Saddam Hussein] had long established ties with al Qaida."

President George W. Bush, June 15:
"Zarqawi's the best evidence of a connection to al Qaeda affiliates and al Qaeda," Bush told reporters at the White House. "He's the person who's still killing."

9/11 commission, today:
The panel investigating the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks found "no credible evidence that Iraq and al Qaeda cooperated on attacks against the United States," according to a staff report issued on Wednesday.

...and let's not forget that the terrorist Bush points to, Zarqawi, is the same one about whom Bush nixed Pentagon proposals to attack on three separate occasions. I'll say it again: The Pentagon knew it had a bad guy in its sights, and Bush took a pass, knowing that his presence made it easier to make disingenuous claims about Saddam's ties to terrorism.

As I said yesterday, it's obvious that Bush is still getting mileage, however dishonestly, out of his failure to attack an actual, real terrorist. And unfortunately, so is Zarqawi. He's "still killing" because Bush let him go.

Kevin Drum raises the important point that although anyone who's been paying attention and not intent on carrying water for this Administraton knows that the "Saddama bin Laden" angle is totally bogus, these headlines could be the watershed that enable the American people to shed the misperceptions instilled by repeated Administration propaganda, parroted dutifully by the stenographers journalists in our so-called "liberal media."

But at this point, one fact must be beyond dispute: For the 9/11 commission to conclude that there is "no credible evidence that Iraq and al Qaeda cooperated on attacks against the United States," the "bulletproof evidence" this Administration repeatedly claimed it had regarding Iraq-al Qaeda links must have been a tissue of lies. There's simply no other option -- they could not have had the proof they claimed they did.


zombie post of the day

In the classic film Dawn of the Dead, one of the character provides exposition to explain the power supply at the mall where the survivors seek shelter by speculating that it's "probably nuclear." Now at last, The Straight Dope puzzles out just how long power would last in a zombie holocaust. c00L! (Despite the fact that, since, if memory serves me right, Indianapolis' power is largely coal-powered, ours would be among hte first to go...drat!)

(via BoingBoing)

Update: Pandagon wonders whether the zombie infection would contaminate the water supply. Good question; here's how several zombie movies dealt with it:

  • Nobody survived long enough in the 1968 Night of the Living Dead for the water supply to be a factor. (In the 1990 remake, the heroine is shown drinking out of a cooler, which may contain purified water.)

  • In Dawn of the Dead, the Civil Defense shelter in the mall where the heroes hole up is shown to have stocks of purified water (and booze!).

  • In 28 Days Later, the heroes drink canned soda, and the Major says something about the safe water supply at the military base, so offhand I'd say that contaminated water is a threat.

  • In Resident Evil, the zombie agent is also a virus, but if memory serves me right, the main characters wind up getting wet several times in the underground bunker (and anyway, the computer floods several areas in order to kill the personnel trapped within), so I'd hope, anyway, that the virus is not water-borne.

  • In the superb low-budget homage The Dead Hate the Living, the zombie plague seems to be more from a supernatural/alternate dimension cause. Being killed by a zombie doesn't automatically mean you come back; you seem to need the intervention of the mad zombie doctor.

  • In Return of the Living Dead, the zombie chemical is definitely spread by water -- including rain -- so watch out!

  • The Doctor in Lucio Fulci's Zombie seems to drink nothing but whisky, so who knows?


major bummer

the ramones

I'm shocked and saddened indeed to learn from Musashi that punk rock great Johnny Ramone is dying of cancer.

I think this evening I'll put on Joey Ramone's brilliant farewell album Don't Worry About Me.


happy (belated) birthday, dino!


Jen of Very Big Blog informs me that June 7 was Dean Martin's birthday! Taking a cue from her, to celebrate -- for a limited time only! -- here's a seriously swanky tune by Martin.

dean martin - sway.mp3

(image courtesy this site)


john scalzi is all wet

...after a torrential rainstorm, and he has pictures to prove it.

It's been raining here, too, but nothing on that scale.


shipwreck post of the day

A Texas A&M University expedition has discovered the site off the coast of Nagasaki where 24 Japanese WWII submarines -- including the I-58, which sank the USS Indianapolis -- had been scuttled. The site is the largest of its kind ever found, and includes examples of some remarkable technology.
“For me, the reason I am so excited about this discovery is the fact that people have largely dismissed Japan’s technological innovations during World War II,” Herring said. “I find a way of telling the story of those technological innovations.”

While the entire fleet, which includes an array of subs dating from the 1920s through the World War II era, were located by sonar, the team only documented one sub, the I-58, up close due to time and weather restrictions.

...Besides the discovery of the I-58, the scientists are also excited about the Sen Toku (special sub) I-402, one of the largest subs ever built.

The 6,550-ton I-402 was capable of transporting three bombers, whose wings folded up like a butterfly, and is considered by Herring to be a precursor to modern-day cruise missiles.

The subs were destroyed out of fear the Soviet Union might incorporate some of the subs' technology into its own fleet. The wrecks were documented for a program to appear on the Discovery Channel later this year or early next. I definitely plan to check my local listings!

(via Destroy All Monsters)


template tweak

I've made a couple of minor tweaks to the blog template. One is to include the RSS feed for Media Matters. Having added several of these recently, I'm considering moving them to a new column on the right.

I've also changed the background-changing links to provide a graphical preview, rather than the name of the file. I think it'll be a lot more useful and fun this way.

And Mike Finley's blog is now called "Thinking Aloud," and blog formerly known as The Right Christians is now The Village Gate. The blogroll has been updated accordingly.


literary/screenwriting links of the day

Jaquandor is reading Joe Esterhaz' autobiography, and, like Cyrano de Bergerac, needs only three letters to write him down.

Unlike Jaquandor, I have seen Showgirls, and it's so horrid that not even nearly non-stop nudity could make it entertaining. And yes, I blame Esterhaz for concocting a script so putrid that is prevents enjoyment even on that level. Frankly, it's so bad that it's hard even to summon the interest to be offended at the film, although there's plenty of Esterhaz' legendary misogyny on display.

The sole saving graces of that picture are the performances of the luminous Gina Gershon and Alan Rachins, who seem to know they're in a bad movie and decided to have some fun while they were at it.

And on another subject, Kevin Drum comments:
America is at a serious crossroads when Hollywood scriptwriters can no longer sling scientific gobbledegook even as well as a bad 50s movie. Clearly, something needs to be done.


  xTuesday, June 15, 2004

shipwreck link of the day

This evening on NPR, there was a story commemorating the 100th anniversary June 15 of what was until 9/11 the worst disaster in New York history: The fire aboard the steamship General Slocum. Although I'm fascinated by shipwrecks, I'd never heard of this disaster, despite the fact that more than 1,000 people died. It was a terrible tragedy.

Update: Here's more on the General Slocum, via MeFi.


i get letters

I just received the following form email from my Senator in reply to an email I'd sent about the abuses at Abu Ghraib:
Thank you for contacting me about the mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib. I appreciate your thoughts and share your concerns on this important issue.

The mistreatment of detainees at Abu Ghraib is a major setback in our
effort to convince Iraqis and the broader Arab world that our cause is just.

As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I believe that it
is important that we continue to gather all the facts and conduct investigations into the unfortunate activities that took place at the Abu Ghraib prison. The individuals who were involved in this behavior need to be held accountable. If we are going to win the war against terrorism and win the battle in Iraq, it's not going to be by the power of our arms alone, but by the power and the persuasiveness of our ideas.

Timely and accurate intelligence information is essential to our
protecting the troops, civilians, and winning the war against this insurrection, and the larger war against terrorism. As important is preserving our honor and our moral integrity in the longer term to winning this struggle, because at the end of the day that is what differentiates us from those with whom we are in conflict.

We need to draw the line bright and clear, between permissible
interrogation techniques and abuse. We stand for freedom, honor, and
democracy. We don't torture people. We don't kill women and children. I believe very strongly that our cause is morally superior to our adversaries', both the terrorists we fight and those who now seek to undo efforts to stabilize Iraq.

Again, thank you for contacting me. I hope that the information I have
provided is helpful. My website,, can provide additional details about legislation and state projects, and you can also sign up to receive my monthly e-newsletter, The Bayh Bulletin, by clicking on the link at the top of my homepage. I value your input and hope you will continue to keep me informed of the issues important to you.

Best wishes,

Evan Bayh
United States Senator

A nice reply; of course, it did not address the substance of my comments, which were in support of whistleblower Spec. Joseph Darby. I quite agree, of course, that the responsible individuals need to be held accountable. It's becoming increasingly clear that many of them are in the White House and the Pentagon.


anime gallery of the day


In honor of completing a batch of reviews of Rumiko Takahashi anime and manga over at Destroy All Monsters, including several reviews of the popular anime Urusei Yatsura, here's a gallery devoted to the sexy but dangerous alien princess Lum, courtesy this anime fan site.

ranma 1/2 cast

Here's an image of the Ranma 1/2 cast from the same site.


flash game of the day

Here's a neat little parallel parking simulator.


happy (belated) birthday

happy birthday army

Phil Carter informs us that yesterday was the 229th birthday of the United States Army. Many happy returns of the day!


quote of the day

Slacktivist ponders the rumors of the death of "wonkery."
[U]ltimately the relevance or irrelevance of policy -- of means -- has to do with the ends of that policy. What is wonkery for?

The possible answers pretty much boil down to two. It is either for the attainment of raw power, or else it is for the common good.

The common good is the end -- the purpose -- of wonkery. That's why President Bush has little patience for it.


bush administration mendacity watch

Vice President Dick Cheney is still lying about the so-called "connection" between Saddam and al Qaeda.
Vice President Dick Cheney said Monday that Saddam Hussein had "long-established ties" with al Qaida, an assertion that has been repeatedly challenged by some policy experts and lawmakers.

The vice president offered no details backing up his claim of a link between Saddam and al Qaida.

"He was a patron of terrorism," Cheney said of Hussein during a speech before The James Madison Institute, a conservative think-tank based in Florida. "He had long established ties with al Qaida."

As I've pointed out before, if there were truly a connection, the Bush Administration would not have needed the Congressional resolution authorizing military action against Iraq -- it already had one authorizing attacks on al Qaeda's allies. The fact that Bush asked for the resolution was even then a tacit admission that it never had the "bulletproof evidence" it claimes (and yes, when you claim you have evidence that you don't, that's a lie). And, of course, the Administration has admitted that there's no connection. Yet Cheney persists in the story, and the so-called "liberal media" keeps reporting his assertions. At least this time they pointed out that Cheney's assertions have been "questioned" (read: the claims have long been discredited, and there's no new evidence at all to back them up). Yet the story doesn't mention that Cheney's assertions have been disavowed by the Administration itself -- merely "challenged by some policy experts and lawmakers," casting the story once again into "he-said, she-said" mode and worse, playing into Cheney's agenda by giving him the headline he no doubt craved. Truly pitiful.

(via Daily Kos)

Update: Josh Marshall provides a clue from today's press gaggle:
MR. McCLELLAN: We certainly talked about the ties with terrorism between the -- between the regime that was removed from power, and we talked about those ties prior to the decision to remove that regime from power. So that was well-documented. Secretary Powell went before the United Nations and talked about some of those ties to terrorism, as well. And Zarqawi is certainly a senior al Qaeda associate who was in Iraq prior to the decision to go in and remove the regime from power.

Aha! McClellan is referring to Abu Musab Zarqawi, the terrorist leader that Bush nixed three separate opportunities to attack prior to the war, on the grounds that Zarqawi's presence in Iraq -- albeit in an area that Saddam did not control -- made it easier to argue that Iraq had ties to al Qaeda. It seems the Bush Administration is still getting mileage out of those decisions to not attack an actual, real-live, dangerous terrorist. And, of course, so is Zarqawi.

Alert readers will note that McClellan did not answer the question, "Does the President believe that Saddam Hussein had long-established ties with al Qaeda?"


parody of the day

Ted Barlow unleashes a wickedly satirical piece that helpfully provides the intellectual honesty-deprived members of the right-wing blogosphere with the next bogus Kerry scandal.


big deal

I didn't mention yesterday the announcement by Attorney General John Ashcroft that a terrorism suspect had been arrested on suspicion of planning a major plot, because I thought, "I've seen this movie before, and it didn't turn out very well (double link)."

Paul Krugman's (typically shrill, of course) column this morning expands on this theme.
For an example of changing the subject, consider the origins of the Jose Padilla case. There was no publicity when Mr. Padilla was arrested in May 2002. But on June 6, 2002, Coleen Rowley gave devastating Congressional testimony about failures at the F.B.I. (which reports to Mr. Ashcroft) before 9/11. Four days later, Mr. Ashcroft held a dramatic press conference and announced that Mr. Padilla was involved in a terrifying plot. Instead of featuring Ms. Rowley, news magazine covers ended up featuring the "dirty bomber" who Mr. Ashcroft said was plotting to kill thousands with deadly radiation.

Since then Mr. Padilla has been held as an "enemy combatant" with no legal rights. But Newsweek reports that "administration officials now concede that the principal claim they have been making about Padilla ever since his detention — that he was dispatched to the United States for the specific purpose of setting off a radiological `dirty bomb' — has turned out to be wrong and most likely can never be used in court."

Krugman sees a pattern in the timing of the Ohio bomb plot announcement with Ashcroft's stonewalling the Senate Judiciary Committee on the smoking torture memo. I wish this Administration's record didn't make it so hard to reject such speculation out of hand.


cheapo dvd alert

yongary, monster from the deep she-gods of shark reef

Oh, happy day! A batch of cheapo DVDs I ordered online a couple of weeks ago arrived yesterday.

That's a whole lotta movies for less than $30, including shipping.

Of course, as part for the course for cheapo DVDs, they're basically straight VHS rips (my lovely wife and I watched Cyrano last night, and the source print had some noticable flaws -- but what a great movie!) and the discs themselves are fairly no-frills (although the Yongarry disc has a cool gallery of posters and publicity photos). Still, they're cheap, convenient and long-lasting, and it's definitelty worth five bucks to add such a fine -- and not-so-fine but still entertaining -- batch of movies to my burgeoning collection.

  xMonday, June 14, 2004

gallery of the day

agnes lum

A small gallery of Chinese pop idol Agnes Lum. SFW, although the site's other galleries are not.

Agnes Lum has been cited as one of the inspirations for Lum, the sexy alien herione of the manga and anime series Urusei Yatsura.


the downside of net dating

CNN reports that for some, the bloom is off the Internet dating rose.


cool flash toy of the day

Check out this awesome Bruce Lee remix Flash toy (warning: large download).

(via #!-usr-bin-girl)


baseball hero of the day

St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Reggie Sanders was so outraged at seeing TV footage of a fan nearly trampling a 4-year-old boy -- at his first Major League game, yet! -- to recover a foul ball that he reached for a bat and did the right thing.
In the third inning, Gary Matthews Jr. of the Rangers fouled a ball into the seats and a burly man leaped over a row, knocking over a 4-year-old boy with his legs, and grabbed the baseball.

The incident was caught on television cameras and the fans began to chant for the man to give the boy the ball, but he refused. Sanders saw what had occurred on a television in the clubhouse. In between innings, Sanders came out and summoned the boy and his mother to near the Cardinals' dugout and gave him a bat and ball as the crowd cheered.

"It was definitely an unfortunate situation," Sanders said.

Sanders said the bat was one he had used in a game.

"I won't talk about the guy," Sanders said. "He's not worth talking about."

Cards reliever Steve Kline also witnessed the incident on television and sent the man over a gift, a Cardinals shirt, which he signed, "tough guy and ball stealer."

The shirt, however, was never delivered. The unidentified man left the premises soon after Sanders' good-will gesture and could not be found.

What a class act, and what a contrast to the jerk who bowled over the child on the way in his lust for the ball.

(via FARK, which also linked to a TV story on the incident in which you can hear the entire ballpark booing the guy. Good.)

Update: This AP story has more on major league baseball teams doing right by the lad, and identifies the jerk who bowled him over as a former youth minister, for cryin' out loud!


new at dam

My DVD review of the obscure anime OAV The Mask of Zeguy is now up at Destroy All Monsters. And I was uncharacteristically remiss in not noting Friday's posting of my review of the Urusei Yatsura movie Beautiful Dreamer and my short profile of manga artist Rumiko Takahashi.


scotus punts pledge question

The Supreme Court has rejected the challenge to the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance on a technicality in a ruling that preserves the status quo but does not give it the Court's imprimatur.

Morat wonders why the Court wasted everyone's time:
But now everyone in California (heck, everyone in the 9th's jurisdiction) knows how they'll vote. It's only a matter of time before someone else files.

I agree that sooner or later the SCOTUS will be forced to decide the issue, and indications seem to tilt toward returning the Pledge to the wording before God was inserted in the '50s. I think it's odd, though, that the Court would choose to show such restraint at this time -- after all, such a decision would fire up the Republican base and probably give a much-needed (from the GOP perspective) boost to Bush's flagging re-election effort.


'not all the american bishops are with me'

Joshua Marshall and Kevin Drum comment on Bush's recent attempt to recruit the Vatican into his re-election campaign.
Marshall notes how times have changed:
I guess on one level we can say we've come a long way since 1960 when John F. Kennedy had to foreswear that he'd follow the instructions of the Pope in his decisions of governance. Today we have a Protestant born-again who tries to enlist the Pope to intervene in an American election.

Drum concludes with an important reminder:
So, "is it proper for the president to enlist the Vatican as an arm of his political campaign"? And was his request just something that popped into Bush's head during one of his conversations? No and no. But the Catholic vote has been a longtime obsession of the Bush campaign and a Catholic opponent has made them desperate.

Remember this whenever you see a news story about a Catholic bishop speaking out against Kerry or a Republican operative questioning his fitness to receive communion. These aren't just spontaneous shows of support, they're part of an ongoing and highly professional media campaign to win votes in swing states like Pennsylvania and Michigan. And judging by how the press credulously reports this stuff at face value, it's working.

Update: Marshall has more.

Look, this lobbying of Catholic authorities by the Bush Administration and its minions just sux0rz. The fact is, both Democrats (generally pro-choice, pro-gay rights, pro-stem cell research, etc.) and Republicans (generally pro-death penalty, pro-war, and at odds with the Church's views on social justice, etc.) veer from strict Catholic doctrine. Neither party can claim the approval of the Catholic Church, a fact the President's advisers are keenly aware of ("Once you open this door, what's going to come rolling through it?"). Then there's the fact that pro-choice Republicans seem to get a free pass. (And need I mention that Bush is at odds with the leaders of the Methodist church over his stance on the war?) Roll it all up, and you have less an assertion of faith than a smear campaign aimed at a particular politician. Religious authorities should be very leery of allowing themselves to be used by politicians in this way.


more torture memo

Jack Balkin (whose blog I've finally permalinked) notes that the "few bad apples" theory is looking more and more threadbare. Indeed, there's little doubt that the Bush Administration actively sought to circumvent the law of the land prohibiting torture.

Michael Froomkin also provides extensive analysis over at

Balkin had earlier considered Bush's recent comments to the press at the G8 summit:
Please note what the President did not say: He did not say (1) that we Americans do not engage in torture, (2) that torture is immoral, (3) that international and U.S. law does not permit it, or (4) that even if the law permitted it, which it does not, we would not engage in it.

Clearly, the President is setting a moral example for the members of his Administration and for the country as a whole. The problem is that it is a disgraceful example. He has used every trick in the book to avoid confronting his Administration's complicity, and he does not even have the moral courage to denounce the most blatant abuses of human rights. Instead, he merely asserts that his subordinates should follow the law, that is, whatever legal arguments they can come up with to defend whatever they want to do.

It's quite simple, of course. Bush didn't say that his Administration doesn't engage in torture because he knows he can't make that claim. It's an astonishing position for a President to be in.

I wish someone would explain to me why so many on the right seem content to give Bush a free pass on -- or worse, actively condone -- this positively shameful embrace of torture. (To his credit, Andrew Sullivan has been a notable exception.) Make no mistake about it: Bush's embrace of torture and clear contempt for the notion of the rule of law endangers national security in general and the memebers of our armed forces in particular. Undermining our moral authority by embracing torture is a funny way indeed of supporting the troops.

I forget where I read it, but I'm sure John McCain will be comforted to know that he only endured abuse, not torture, at the hands of the Vietnamese while a prisoner of war.

  xSunday, June 13, 2004

bush administration incompetence watch

At least someone in the Bush Misadministration -- of course, it's Colin Powell -- recognizes what a black eye the terrorism report fiasco gave the United States.
A State Department report that incorrectly showed a decline last year in terrorism worldwide was a "big mistake," Secretary of State Colin Powell said. "Very embarrassing. I am not a happy camper over this. We were wrong," the secretary told NBC's "Meet the Press."

I've never been swayed by the belief that Powell is anything but a loyal Republican, but even so, he needs to take a long, hard look at the Administration whose water he's carrying.

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