Saturday, January 02, 2010

I Second That (New Year's) Emotion

May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books, and kiss someone who thinks you're wonderful, and don't forget to make some art. Write, or draw, or build, or sing, or live, as only you can.

May your coming year be a wonderful thing, in which you dream both dangerously and outrageously. I hope you'll make something that didn't exist before you made it; that you will be loved, and you will be liked; and you will have people to love and to like in return. And most importantly, because I think there should be more kindness and more wisdom in the world right now, I hope that you will, when you need to be, be wise, and that you will always be kind. And I hope that somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.

Neil Gaiman, January 1, 2010

video here.

Has the World Gone Mad?

Russell Crowe as Robin Hood was odd enough, but Brad Pitt as Professor Moriarty?


Don't get me wrong, I loved the recent Sherlock Holmes movie. I'm apparently one of the few people who thinks the 'new" Holmes actually resurrects some of the long neglected facets of the original character as portrayed in the books and stories. The ass-kicking Holmes which some critics called a "re-invention" actually has its antecedents in the source material. It's mentioned in THE SIGN OF THE FOUR, for example, that Holmes had done a bit of boxing in his day, when he speaks with an ex-prizefighter:

"I don't think you can have forgotten me. Don't you remember that amateur who fought three rounds with you at Alison's rooms on the night of your benefit four years back?"

"Not Mr. Sherlock Holmes!" roared the prize-fighter. "God's truth! how could I have mistook you? If instead o' standin' there so quiet you had just stepped up and given me that cross-hit of yours under the jaw, I'd ha' known you without a question. Ah, you're one that has wasted your gifts, you have! You might have aimed high, if you had joined the fancy."

"You see, Watson, if all else fails me, I have still one of the scientific professions open to me," said Holmes, laughing. "Our friend won't keep us out in the cold now, I am sure."

In THE ADVENTURE OF THE EMPTY HOUSE, Holmes describes how he bested Professor Moriarty:

When I reached the end I stood at bay. He drew no weapon, but he rushed at me and threw his long arms around me. He knew that his own game was up, and was only anxious to revenge himself upon me. We tottered together upon the brink of the fall. I have some knowledge, however, of baritsu, or the Japanese system of wrestling, which has more than once been very useful to me. I slipped through his grip, and he with a horrible scream kicked madly for a few seconds, and clawed the air with both his hands. But for all his efforts he could not get his balance, and over he went. With my face over the brink, I saw him fall for a long way. Then he struck a rock, bounded off, and splashed into the water."

And let's not forget that Watson, so often portrayed as a portly, bumbling middle-aged man, was, in the stories, a recent veteran of the Afghan War, wounded in action.

Still I have a hard time seeing Brad Pitt like this:

He is extremely tall and thin, his forehead domes out in a white curve, and his two eyes are deeply sunken in his head. He is clean-shaven, pale, and ascetic-looking, retaining something of the professor in his features. His shoulders are rounded from much study, and his face protrudes forward and is forever slowly oscillating from side to side in a curiously reptilian fashion. He peered at me with great curiosity in his puckered eyes.

But, hey, I could be wrong. Pitt's a good actor. We'll see...

Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy New Year!

Yes, the blog has a new color scheme. I figured, since this is a new year and a new decade, and since I'm going to be trying, at least, to make some major changes in my life and in my way of dealing with it (e-mail if you want to be bored with them), a fresh look would be symbolic. Let me know if it causes any readability problems. I've tried for a more tranquil, easier-to-read effect. Let me know if it works.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Rush Limbaugh hospitalized with chest pains
Conservative U.S. radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh was resting comfortably at a hospital in Hawaii after suffering chest pains, his Web site said.

Local KITV television, citing unnamed sources, said earlier that Limbaugh, 58, was in serious condition at Honolulu's Queen's Medical Center after being treated at a hotel by paramedics.

Limbaugh's Web site,, said, "Rush was admitted to a Honolulu hospital today and is resting comfortably after suffering chest pains."

We wish Mr. Limbaugh a full recovery and a lengthy period of  well-deserved rest and recuperation away from the microphones and cameras.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Rep Eric Massa (D-NY) finally says what needs to be said:

  • Dick Cheney is a coward who needs to STFU so we can solve the problems he created.
  • Jim DeMint has put Americans at risk for political gain.
  • No one complained when Dubbya took SIX DAYS to come out and make a statement about the "Shoe Bomber"
  • More Dems need to kick back against Republican liars like Cheney, King, DeMint, and Hoekstra who are making this failed attack by the Undiebomber into a political issue.

Link, for those who can't see embedded vids:

More Dems like this, please.

Comment Moderation Is Enabled Again

Due to a particularly noxious infestation of trollus off-topicus anonymous, the management has been forced to re-enable comment moderation. If you don't see your comment immediately, I'll get to it ASAP.

Comments that disagree with me on the topic of the post are welcome, in fact encouraged; comments that merely repeat generic off-topic slurs and tired old discredited wingnuttery regarding President Obama, liberals, "leftists", "socialists," etc. will be deleted, as will whines about my language or the "tone" of my responses or suggestions that I suffer from some sort of mental illness. The last is well-documented and requires no reiteration.

This is not an attempt to stifle dissent or discussion; it is an attempt to stifle tiresome idiots. Like that anonymouse from Rochester NY, for example, who likes to talk shit from behind what he thinks is a wall of anonymity.

All decisions of the management are final. Thank you, and God bless.


Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Watch Pat Buchanan in this bit, and I think you'll understand, if you didn't already, how insane the wingnuts really are. Watch as Buchanan, supposedly some kind of right wing elder statesman, gets more and more hysterical, his voice climbing almost into a range only dogs can hear, as he demands that the Undiebomber be tortured, even though the reports are that he's already cooperating. Then he demands that we kill his entire family.

Then contrast that with the commentary from Washington Independent reporter Spencer Ackerman, who sounds like an adult. I particularly like the bit about "Muslim supermen with Muslim heat vision". A tip of the hat to Ta-Nehisi Coates, who's rapidly becoming one of my favorite bloggers, for cluing me in on this one.

I certainly hope the adults win this conversation. I wish, however, that more Democrats would grow a spine and push back against this hysteria and fearmongering, not to mention calling these assholes out for politicizing this failed attack to raise funds and get votes.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Republican Congressman: For Terrorism Before He was Against It

New York Congressman Peter King has certainly been a busy little fellow since the Christmas Wannabe managed to burn his nuts off while trying and failing to bring down an American airliner. He's demanded that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab be tried before a military tribunal instead of charged criminally:

"I think that the administration has made a mistake by treating this terrorist as a common criminal — by putting him into the criminal justice system. I wish they would have put him into a military tribunal so we could get as much intelligence and information out of him as we could."

He's called for profiling because, and I quote, "100% of the Islamic terrorists are Muslims," which, I suppose, is strictly true.

And it seems that whenever the networks need a soundbite about the failed attack and how President Obama's screwing everything up, you see either King or the egregious Pete Hoekstra, who's actually using the fear he's whipping up over the attack as a fundraising tool for his gubernatorial campaign.

But Mr. King wasn't always such a foe of terrorists:

[H]e told an IRA rally in 1982, "We must pledge ourselves to support those brave men and women who this very moment are carrying forth the struggle against British imperialism in the streets of Belfast and Derry." Two years later Mr King's "legitimate guerrilla army" came close to assassinating Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Subsequently there were bombs in the City and Docklands, plus a mortar assault on 10 Downing Street amongst many, many other outrages.

Wonder why all the reporters and pundits lining up to take down every pearl of wisdom that drips from Rep. King's jowly mug don't ever bring that up?

Liberal media my ass.

Chutzpah, Part II, or They Were For Civilian Trials Before They Were Against Them

Former DHS Secretary Tom Ridge:

"I take a look at this individual who has been charged criminally, does that mean he gets his Miranda warnings? The only information we get is if he volunteers it?" Ridge said. "He's not a citizen of this country. He's a terrorist, and I don't think he deserves the full range of protections of our criminal justice system embodied in the Constitution of the United States

However, as Talking Points Memo points out:

The AbdulMutallab case is virtually identical to the Richard Reid "Shoe Bomber" case from December 2001 -- to an uncanny degree. Same explosive, (PETN), same MO (blowing up an airliner bound for the US), same failed attempt.

It's really about as close to identical cases and you get. And, of course, Reid was tried in civilian courts and is now serving a life sentence. Seemed to work fine in his case. And unless I'm misremembering, I don't remember anybody criticizing this approach at the time.

More chutzpah from the failed Bush Administration.


Chutzpah: Leo Rosten in The Joys of Yiddish defines chutzpah as "gall, brazen nerve, effrontery, incredible 'guts,' presumption plus arrogance such as no other word and no other language can do justice to." In this sense, chutzpah expresses both strong disapproval and a grudging admiration. In the same work Rosten also defined the term as "that quality enshrined in a man who, having killed his mother and father, throws himself on the mercy of the court because he is an orphan."

An alleged attempt to blow up a transatlantic flight from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas would be all-consuming for the administrator of the Transportation Security Administration -- if there were one.

Instead, the post remains vacant because Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) has held up President Obama's nominee in an effort to prevent TSA workers from joining a labor union.

DeMint, in a statement, said Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's alleged attempted attack in Detroit "is a perfect example of why the Obama administration should not unionize the TSA."

Get that? If the TSA unionizes, it won't be able to stop terrorist attacks. We're so dedicated to this principle, we're going to render the TSA leaderless. The fact that there was an attempted terrorist attack during this interregnum just proves our point, even though the TSA was not, at the time of the attempt, unionized.

Sheer chutzpah.

Monday, December 28, 2009


John Rogers, at Kung Fu Monkey, re-runs an older, yet timely column that addresses the question: "Wait, Arent You Scared?"
His answer?

Errr, no. And if you are, you frankly should be a little goddamn embarrassed.

In the days after the latest failed attack, while the usual fear-mongers are telling us this is all Obama's fault, and idiots on CNN were demanding to know why he didn't go on TV that very night to hold our hands, hand us our blankies, and tuck us in, it's refreshing to find someone else whose attitude is "Hey, man the hell up, already!" My favorite passage:
Maybe it's just, I cast my eyes back on the last century ...

FDR: Oh, I'm sorry, was wiping out our entire Pacific fleet supposed to intimidate us? We have nothing to fear but fear itself, and right now we're coming to kick your ass with brand new destroyers riveted by waitresses. How's that going to feel?

CHURCHILL: Yeah, you keep bombing us. We'll be in the pub, flipping you off. I'm slapping Rolls-Royce engines into untested flying coffins to knock you out of the skies, and then I'm sending angry Welshmen to burn your country from the Rhine to the Polish border.

US. NOW: BE AFRAID!! Oh God, the Brown Bad people could strike any moment! They could strike ... NOW!! AHHHH. Okay, how about .. NOW!! AAGAGAHAHAHHAG! Quick, do whatever we tell you, and believe whatever we tell you, or YOU WILL BE KILLED BY BROWN PEOPLE!! PUT DOWN THAT SIPPY CUP!!

... and I'm just a little tired of being on the wrong side of that historical arc.

Damn straight.

Which leads us to our inspirational book recommendation. I just finished one of my Christmas presents, a book by Ben Thompson entitled BADASS. Subtitled "A Relentless Onslaught of the Toughest Warlords, Vikings, Samurai, Pirates, Gunfighters, and Military Commanders Who Ever Lived." Written in a rollicking, hilarious style, BADASS details the careers of some of history's greatest ass-kickers, both well-known (like Genghis Khan), and some more obscure (like "Mad Jack" Churchill, the British Commando who went into battle against the Nazis with a longbow, a quiver full of arrows, and an honest-to-God broadsword strapped across his back).

Check both out, and let them remind us all that, in Rogers' words:

God gave me a brain, and a modicum of spine. Taking something seriously, and panicking over it are two different things.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

2010: The Year In PREview

Latest Newspaper Column:

Once again, here are our fearless predictions for the year ahead:

JANUARY: All eyes are on South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson during President Obama's State of the Union address, wondering if Wilson will stage a repeat of his ­infamous "You lie!" outburst. Unfortunately, all of the attention focused on Wilson allows rapper Kanye West to leap onto the podium, seize the mike and begin a long diatribe about BeyoncĂ©'s last album, before being wrestled to the floor by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

FEBRUARY: Orly Taitz, leader of the so-called "birther" movement, files yet another lawsuit in Federal Court challenging Obama's eligibility for office. This time, her evidence that Obama was not born in the U.S. consists of a birth certificate allegedly saying that he was actually born in 1968 on the planet Vulcan. Taitz is immediately granted interviews round the clock on every Fox News show. The other networks simply report that "questions and doubts remain" about Obama's Terran birth.

MARCH: White House party crashers Tareq and Michaele Salahi appear in an "exclusive interview" with TV host Larry King. This is unusual because the couple were not actually scheduled to be on that night. "What can I say?" King shrugs. "I was expecting Brad Pitt, but they just walked in and sat down like they owned the place. So I interviewed them."

APRIL: Tiger Woods announces that, after extensive counseling, he and wife Elin Nordegren have reconciled and that they are now "more in love than ever." Two weeks later, Nordegren buys Stockholm.

MAY: Birther Orly Taitz's suit is ­dismissed in Federal Court when it is revealed that the alleged "Vulcan birth certificate" is actually scrawled in lipstick on the back of a cocktail napkin, and furthermore that the lipstick is, in fact, Taitz's own favorite shade. Taitz holds a press conference in which she denounces the ruling as "more evidence that the entire federal judiciary is in league with the criminal and corrupt Vulcan conspiracy." Glenn Beck immediately offers Taitz a permanent co-host spot on his show.

JUNE: The House begins work on a banking regulation reform bill. No one has actually read the bill because there is as yet no bill to read, but that doesn't stop conservatives from immediately denouncing it as "a huge socialist power grab that will destroy American capitalism as we know it." Liberal bloggers, for their part, immediately denounce the bill as "a massive corporate giveaway that will turn all power over to the corporate fat cats."

JULY: Sarah Palin posts on her Facebook page that the proposed banking reform bill "will result in the strangling of thousands of puppies. And my baby son Trig, also." The next day, the White House releases a four-word statement on the claim: "That's simply not true." Fox News commentator Sean Hannity immediately brands the statement a "Gestapo-like tactic" to "stifle dissent."

AUGUST: Fox News does a seven-part series on what it dubs "Strangle-gate," with "fair and balanced" commentary by Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, Sean Hannity and John McCain. When media watchers note that there are no liberals on the panel, Fox news execs indignantly assert that to them, John McCain is a liberal.

SEPTEMBER: Glenn Beck releases his latest book "AAAAAH! Obama's Going to Kill Us All! AAAAAAAH!"

OCTOBER: Following up the success of its wildly popular "Guitar Hero" series, video game maker Activision releases a flood of follow-ups including "Ukulele Hero," "Accordion Hero" and "Yodel Hero." Thousands of copies of "Accordion Hero" have to be recalled when Kanye West suddenly and inexplicably appears on the screen during the "expert" level of "Beer Barrel Polka" and begins raving about the new Mary J. Blige album.

NOVEMBER: After President Obama pardons the Thanksgiving turkey, he is immediately blasted by liberal bloggers who charge that this just shows that Obama has been "bought and paid for" by the poultry industry, while conservatives criticize the move because "Well, Obama did it, so it must be bad."

DECEMBER: The world is stunned when Osama bin Laden is finally captured by a commando team made up of Kanye West and White House party crashers Tareq and Michaele Salahi. "Bin Laden was recording one of his video messages," a Pentagon spokesman reports, "when the Salahis walked right past the guards and Kanye grabbed the mike from his hand."

The thing is, whatever actually does happen -- it's probably going to be even weirder.

Happy New Year, all! (And thanks to Stephan and Bryce Lapping for letting me steal the "Accordion Hero" joke.)