not the youtube of hitler railing against the ipad

In the tradition of (but, actually, nothing even remotely like) Michael David Murphy's intriguing Unphotographable, this post neither embeds, nor includes a link to, the YouTube video of the well-known Hitler-getting-the-bad-news scene from the German film, Der Untergang (The Downfall), re-subtitled to make it appear that Hitler is expressing his extreme displeasure with what he sees as the failings of the Apple iPad.

(And yes, this is indeed the blogging equivalent of one of those hipper-than-thou indy music fans that abandons their favorite band as soon as more than 12 other people acknowledge its existence.)

(No, wait. Is it actually just a way to link to someone else's site without it simply being a cheap post-with-a-link post?)

(No, wait again. Are three multi-word-with-hyphens phrases in one post a record?)

(OMG, that last question made it four).

(No! Must stop now or there is the possibility of triggering an infinite regression-fueled loop that could result in the collapse of the (known) universe into itself.)

(But, if th§¶åü©˚....

what we've become

Today, the ever-insightful Glenn Greenwald points out something that those of us on the left who value civil liberties and the rule of law (which should, of course, include all of us, left or right) have recognized for some time. But he does it in terms that should make even those on the right (at least those not cowering under their beds in fear that the terrorists are heading to their house with atomic box cutters) take pause.

Noting that (emphasis mine):
In the wake of extreme political pressure, mostly from Democrats, the White House just forced Eric Holder to retreat on his decision to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in New York City, and numerous Democrats now appear prepared to join with the GOP to cut-off funding for civilian trials altogether, forcing the administration to try all Terrorists in military commissions or just hold them indefinitely. The administration has created a warped multi-tiered justice system where only a select few even get civilian trials -- those whom they know in advance they can convict -- yet there are growing signs that the President will abandon even that symbolic, piecemeal nod to due process.
Greenwald goes on to compare the current President's terrorism policy with that of Ronald Reagan, the patron saint of the American Right, celebrated as the last "real" conservative president. As documented in this post by Larry Johnson (well worth reading in its own right), back in the mid-1980s the issue of terrorism by Islamic radicals was as hot or hotter than it is today, with more terrorist attacks worldwide in 1984 than in 2008. And more yet in 1985. In that context, this was the Reagan administration policy, as articulated by L. Paul Bremer, the top Reagan State Department official in charge of terrorism policies, in a speech entitled "Counter-Terrorism: Strategies and Tactics" (emphasis Greenwald's):
Another important measure we have developed in our overall strategy is applying the rule of law to terrorists. Terrorists are criminals. They commit criminal actions like murder, kidnapping, and arson, and countries have laws to punish criminals. So a major element of our strategy has been to delegitimize terrorists, to get society to see them for what they are -- criminals -- and to use democracy’s most potent tool, the rule of law against them.
And, as Greenwald reminds us, it was Ronald Reagan who:
... signed the Convention Against Torture in 1988 -- after many years of countless, horrific Terrorist attacks -- which not only declared that there are "no exceptional circumstances whatsoever" justifying torture, but also required all signatory countries to "ensure that all acts of torture are offenses under its criminal law" and -- and Reagan put it -- "either to prosecute torturers who are found in its territory or to extradite them to other countries for prosecution." And, of course, even George W. Bush -- at the height of 9/11-induced Terrorism hysteria -- charged attempted shoe bomber Richard Reid with actual crimes and processed him through our civilian courts.
So, that's where we are. In a country where the policies of what is arguably the most right-wing administration in American history are now considered the crazed rantings of the terrorist-supporting fringe of the far Left.

So much for change we can believe in.

Bonus Crap

As a coda to his post, Greenwald points out that in claiming that terrorists are not entitled to trials within our civilian legal system, and may be detained indefinitely without being convicted of a crime (or even charged with one), we are aligning ourselves not with other countries like Britain, Spain, India, and Indonesia that have recently suffered terrible attacks and tried and convicted the terrorists in their civilian legal system, but with countries like Libya, which the U.S. has criticized as "one of the most tyrannical and uncivilized regimes on the planet."

You shall know us by the company we keep.


this week's quiz

Once again, someone in this photo is quite famous. Which one, and who is he?

we have a winner!

Actually, we had one a few days ago, but I'm only getting around to acknowledging it now (sorry 'bout that). First-time commenter BWolf correctly identified the future celebrity in this post as (highlight to read):

Marlon Brando, making his Broadway debut in the 1946 production of I Remember Mama.

(Photo via If Charlie Parker Was a Gunslinger...)

New quiz coming up momentarily in the next post.




jerk it

Time for another "too lazy to write anything so I'll post a video" post.

Music video for the Canadian duo, Thunderheist (Grahm Zilla and MC Isis) directed by that go (Noel Paul & Stefan Moore). Winner of the Music Video Jury Prize, SXSW 2009.


pledge allegiance

Get yours today. Only $27.50 (plus shipping) from Adbusters.

pop quiz

This photo documents the stage debut of someone quite famous. Who?


castle rock

So, we finally got our electricity back. It was challenging there for a while as the veneer of civilization began to crumble under the weight of the primitive and deprivation-rife conditions. But we persevered and all was well in the end. (Although Piggy's death was rather unfortunate).



No, not the great Tim Minchin recitation, an actual storm has left us without electricity (and, consequently, without heat and water) since the middle of last night. No current estimate of when it'll be restored. So, if no posts for a while (this one is from work), that's why.

But in the meantime, from today's Glenn Greenwald post on the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision:
I'm also quite skeptical of the apocalyptic claims about how this decision will radically transform and subvert our democracy by empowering corporate control over the political process. My skepticism is due to one principal fact: I really don't see how things can get much worse in that regard. The reality is that our political institutions are already completely beholden to and controlled by large corporate interests (Dick Durbin: "banks own" the Congress). Corporations find endless ways to circumvent current restrictions -- their armies of PACs, lobbyists, media control, and revolving-door rewards flood Washington and currently ensure their stranglehold -- and while this decision will make things marginally worse, I can't imagine how it could worsen fundamentally. All of the hand-wringing sounds to me like someone expressing serious worry that a new law in North Korea will make the country more tyrannical. There's not much room for our corporatist political system to get more corporatist. Does anyone believe that the ability of corporations to influence our political process was meaningfully limited before yesterday's issuance of this ruling?
As always, read the whole thing.

'Till whenever...


a good day for flowcharts

Yes, it is.

the tube thingie

Since the picture is really central to the answer, I haven't bothered with the whole spoiler text thing this time. So, with no further ado:

Hello baby!
(For those just joining us, this is the answer to this.)


the magic kingdom

I'm home. And here's the phone cam pic of the trip.

heading home

First time I've ever tried posting from my phone, so I have no idea what it's going to look like. We'll see.



It's time for my yearly pilgrimage to the land of the mouse. Back next week.


we! are! blogger!

It seems like it was only a few months ago that I was posting about my surprise at actually reaching 200 posts here.* And now, proving that time flies whether you're having fun or not, it appears I've reached 300. While there is always the ever-present possibility that any post might be my last, I'm thinking that I'm probably going to forgo noting the hundreds beyond this point and save these expressions of incredulity for weightier milestones.

But in the meantime, any excuse to repost the traditional Barney Cokeliss photo is always welcome.
* Probably because it was, in fact, only a few months ago.



Back on 12/31, I made a rather half-hearted attempt to do a New Year's Eve-themed posting over on 404. Included among the images was the picture below by the American illustrator Amos Sewell (on the admittedly marginal premise that New Year's Eve is traditionally about parties and it looks like these folks are off to a party).

(Via ondiraiduveau's prodigious flickr collection of (mostly) 20th Century popular illustration.)

At first glance, this looks like the sort of amusing family tableau that one might have expected to see on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post* mid-last century (note the B&W TV). Attractive couple, dressed to the nines, leaving for a party, as their young son, about to be left with a babysitter or older sister, his hands covered in food, rushes to give his mother a goodbye hug.

Cute, huh?

Maybe. But the more I look at this picture, the more I find myself imagining less benign scenarios.

What do we see?
  • The young boy with an absolutely panic-stricken demeanor, desperately reaching for his mother as if he knows that if he lets her escape, he will certainly never see her again.
  • The mother, rather that appearing amused or gratified at her son's obvious love and attachment (or just concerned for her dress), seems instead to project a profound sadness, as if the necessity to hold him at a distance is intensely painful. Yet hold him at a distance (i.e., reject him) she does. Via a viscerally disturbing method that ensures a maximum amount of frustrating flailing on his part. It's almost as if she doesn't really want to do this, but knows, regrettably, she must.
  • The babysitter/sister, while obviously having made no effort to prevent this situation, looks on with an expression of sad concern, as if she is aware of the darker currents that swirl ominously beneath the family's stylish exterior.**
  • And then there's the father (making no attempt to help his wife). While you might expect him to look on with a certain bemused affection, what I see instead is annoyance and impatience. Not an ounce of empathy for either his wife or his son. He's got a party to get to. Important people waiting. He paid a fortune for that dress and if that snot-nosed little brat gets food on it, there'll be hell to pay. He never wanted a fucking kid in the first place, but it's the 1950s and if you don't have a family, you're looked upon with social and career-destroying suspicion. And his wife knows it. Her job is to show up and be pretty. All he wants to do is turn that doorknob, open that door, and get the fuck out of there.
I don't know about you, but to me this looks less like a charming family vignette and more like an illustration for some not-yet-at-the-time-written (but deeply depressing) Edward Albee play.
* After having written this, but before posting, I went looking for a link to more info about Amos Sewell. And what do you know? This illustration did, in fact, appear on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post of September 27, 1957 (the year before Edward Albee wrote his first play). How subversive of them.

** It's hard to imagine that I'd ever actually write a phrase like "darker currents that swirl ominously beneath the family's stylish exterior." But there you go. (Luckily, I don't believe in an afterlife, so the fear of an eternity in hell is not a concern.)



Prepping for a business trip next week, so not a lot of time (or energy) for blogging, but there does seem to be just enough for a pop quiz.

So, in the spirit of this blast from the past, what is the product pictured below used for? (No fair answering if you read Japanese.)
Answer in a few days.

Update: OK, just to be completely clear, the "blast from the past" link was not intended to imply that the function of this product is in any way related to the function of the linked one (as much as its superficial appearance might imply otherwise).


gustatus similis pullus

Last week, via Modcult, I discovered this delightfully modified (supposed) B-2 Bomber test flight patch by Trevor Paglen. (You can buy one for yourself here if so inclined.)
In addition to being amusing, it has extra personal meaning for Rocket Girl and me. Not only does it reference one of our favorite Twilight Zone episodes of all time, but one that was actually directed by Rocket Girl's father, Richard Bare. Needless to say, there is now one of these patches on its way to him. (Don't worry. Since he doesn't read this (or any) blog, it'll still be a surprise.)

And yes, for the Latin-challenged among us, gustatus similis pullus does indeed translate to "tastes like chicken."


happy birthday rocket girl!

No blogging today (well, except this, of course).


don't forget the naughts

No energy for a proper post today, but via digby, here's an excerpt of a post by Devilstower over at Daily Kos that is truly worth the few minutes it takes to read.
Don't forget the naughts, because this decade, no matter what anyone on the right might say, was conservatism on trial. You want less taxes? You got less taxes. You want less regulation? You got less regulation. Open markets? Wide open. An illusuion of security in place of rights? Hey, presto. Think we should privatize war by handing unlimited power given to military contractors so they can kick butt and take names? Kiddo, we passed out boots and pencils by the thousands. Everything, everything, that ever showed up on a drooled-over right wing wish list got implemented -- with a side order of Freedom Fries.

They will try to disown it, and God knows if I was responsible for this mess I'd be disowning it, too. But the truth is that the conservatives got everything they wanted in the decade just past, everything that they've claimed for forty years would make America "great again". They didn't fart around with any "red dog Republicans." They rolled over their moderates and implemented a conservative dream.

What did we get for it? We got an economy in ruins, a government in massive debt, unending war, and the repudiation of the world. There's no doubt that Republicans want you to forget the last decade, because if you remember... if you remember when you went down to the water hole and were jumped by every lunacy that ever emerged from the wet dreams of Grover Norquist and Dick Cheney, well, it's not likely that you'd give them a chance to do it again.

And they will. Given half a chance -- less than half -- they'll do it again, only worse. Because that's the way conservatism works. Remember when the only answer to every economic problem was "cut taxes?" We have a surplus. Good, let's cut taxes. We have a deficit. Hey, cut taxes even more! That little motto was unchanging even when was clear that the tax cuts were increasing the burden on everyone but a wealthy few. That's just a subset of the great conservative battle whine which is now and forever "we didn't go far enough." If deregulation led to a crash, it's because we didn't deregulate enough. If the wars aren't won, it's because we haven't started enough wars. If there are people still clinging to their rights, it's because we haven't done enough to make them afraid.

Forget the naughts, and you'll forget that conservatives had another chance to prove all their ideas, and that their ideas utterly and completely failed. Again.
You know that old saw about what happens to those who forget the lessons of history? It's true. Don't do it.



In honor of the date, a classic video from "Weird" Al Yankovic. (Unfortunately, "Weird" Al has disabled embedding, so you'll have to click on the picture to watch in on YouTube.)


world order

For some reason, this fills me with irrational delight.

(By Genki Sudo, former mixed martial artist and all-around talented person.)

Even if you hate J-pop, I dare you to watch this and not feel just a little bit happier.

Let's try it as an omen for the new decade. Can't hurt.