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Saturday, January 03, 2004

Belated News 

Looks like we've made it to the hallowed pages of Daily Kos. Congrats fellow LibCo's!

Friday, January 02, 2004

Freedom of Information 

I know it's been a while since I posted anything of substance but what with exams and traveling and the holidays and the flaven, I've been busy. But I'm back now and ready to tackle a new year of blogging. I wan tto start things of this year by answering an often asked question:

Person: So, wait, you want to be a librarian?

Me: Well, yes.

Person: Why on Earth do you want to be a Librarian?!?

That’s a good question. It isn’t because I like the stress of being in school again after years of being outside of a rigorous academic environment and it certainly isn’t for the fame or fortune. This combination of high stress and low yield led a friend and fellow Student Librarian to remark that the bar was never set so low. I tend to agree.

We Librarians don’t do it for the money; a shocking and wholly alien concept in a capitalist society I know, but just try and imagine actually doing something you enjoy for a living. Which isn’t to say that I enjoy being anal and filing things. As my wife can attest, I’m not the most well organized person and have a tendency to pile my clothes on chairs and leave dirty dishes in the sink.

I suppose it’s partially to undermine the stereotype that Librarians are all middle-aged spinsters with prudish sensibilities and a vast collection of comfortable shoes.

It’s also partially to take a stand against the strident and disturbingly widespread a-literacy that threatens to overtake Western Civilization. This might sound like hyperbole to some but I’m serious. People may be reading more but they are understanding less. Our critical thinking skills are withering, most notably in the press, which, especially in this country where corporate media consolidation has drasticly doubled the number of mouthes but severely decreased the number of things they are saying. It’s not that people can’t think critically anymore but that they simply don’t want to. And technological advances, while helping to make our lives easier in many regards are aiding the spread of this problem. (Neal Stephenson goes into this phenomenon briefly in his novel, The Diamond Age where people are able to get by rather comfortably in life without ever having to really learn to read because everything is illustrated by moving pictures and dancing icons that convey just enough information to get by but not enough to understand why we should want to do anything more than just get by).

read the rest at The Invisible Library.

Thursday, January 01, 2004

Arnold cutting down on knowledge 

It should be interesting to see how Arnold's budget cuts work out:

"Education is also expected to share the burden, despite Schwarzenegger's campaign promise to protect school funding."

That's a shame, because if there is one thing that a population that just elected Arnold is desperately in need of....

Posted at Kick the Leftist.

Al Qaeda Training Videos Found In Baghdad, Right Claims Nonexistent Victory 

Training Videos found in a Baghdad weapons cache have the NRO asking rhetorically, "How could they have gotten there?"

The NRO asks such brilliant questions; my guess is that they "got there" the same way the Paris Hilton sex tape made it from California to Bangor in less than a week. The people with copies of the Paris Hilton sex tape didn't necessarily have sex with Paris Hilton. They simply like sex. For Iraqi insurgents, hate of America is a very similar type of lust- and these videos are cultural emblems of that lust. It was dubbed and passed on- for a similar type of educational and entertainment value, I would suspect. Just like Gangsta rap and pornography, Al Qaeda videos and brochures are a sort of cheap entertainment for angry Iraqis. The idea that Iraqi Insurgents will watch tapes made by people who don't like America isn't huge news, but it does not in and of itself imply a longstanding alliance with them, just as having a copy of the Paris Hilton sex tape does not imply a lifetime interest in Ms. Hilton's career.

Al Qaeda "is a movement defined by adherence to bin Laden's virulent anti-Westernism/anti-Semitism and propensity for violence". If you want to say you found sympathy to anti-westernism and anti-semitism in Iraq, it's not much of a revelation. Nor would I say it isn't a problem. But it is very different from saying you've found Osama-trained fighters in Iraq, and even if you find them now, it doesn't mean they were there prior to the invasion. I wouldn't be shocked if I was told that certain numbers of Al Qaeda fighters are now in Iraq to secure it as a fundamentalist Islamic state. Not to support Saddam, who they despised as a secularist. "But they both hated America" is an overvalued idea launched back in the days of tenuous Osama-Hussein ties by the administration at the same time they told congressmen that Saddam could hit the east coast with missiles. Only Americans believe that the enemy of our enemies are ipso facto our friends, and that's why we had Saddam Hussein, it's why we had the Taliban, it is why we had supported god awful monsters against other god awful monsters and then declared it a victory. This is why our near complete abandonment of Afghanistan at the hands of Afghan warlords and Harmad Karzai was a terrible idea, especially since we dropped it only to go and create instability in Iraq with little to no direct authority to hand the nation to and even less of a plan for post-war success.

The spectacle will bring out Saddam Hussein from a hole and call it a success, but the spectacle will do this so you do not ask questions over who, exactly, has replaced him. You will also not ask about warlords remaining in power in Afghanistan- some of whom are murdering aid workers for distributing food- but you don't hear about them described as the "demon" that Hussein was. It is possibly because "rape room" is a better spectacle and a more "supernaturally pure", ie, sellable, form of evil than the mundane, dull and common evil of politically motivated starvation. A process Americans allow to happen in other places all the time, even when there is food available, such as in Zimbabwe. But when these warlords work with "democracy" in Afghanistan, it is a "success" of the United States in stabilizing the region, and not the gross neglect and abandonment of the actual hotbed of international terror where Osama Bin Laden rests with the support of huge throngs of its citizens. When the UN says, "The United Nations may have to abandon its effort to stabilize Afghanistan because of the rising violence", the Bush administration will tell you that Iraq did not divert attention or focus from that task.

Sure- and that's not Paris Hilton on that tape.

So, to answer the NRO's rhetorical question, that is how the Al Qaeda tapes got into Baghdad. They got there because Al Qaeda is clearly still a problem- so I ask in return, why were we in Iraq in the first place, when we have clearly failed to do enough about Al Qaeda or the Taliban to justify a second-priority invasion of a country that had nothing to do with September 11th, 2001?

-from And Then...

WaPo Confirms the Blindingly Obvious 

The Washington Post reports today that the 'cutting edge' program of Bush's environmental strategy has a budget of $1 million, a staff of three, doesn't require polluting industries to do anything, and will allow greenhouse gas emissions to continue to climb significantly above 1990 levels. And any reductions in greenhouse gases during Bush's term would have happened anyway.

That benchmark of '1990 levels' is important, because that was the target benchmark of the Kyoto treaty. President Clinton planned to reduce emissions to that level no later than 2012, followed by further reductions. Of course, Clinton was also going to fund his plan to the tune of $5 billion, and provided a detailed and convincing analysis of how it would work.

Relevant bits excerpted at
edwardpig.

Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Pushmi-Pullyou 

It's been decades since I read the Doctor Doolittle books by Hugh Lofting; certainly before Rex Harrison and Anthony Newley did the first movie version in the 1960's, and long before Eddie Murphy got hold of them. I don't remember how many of the series I read, but I distinctly remember one of the strange creatures that the good doctor ran into in his adventures was the Pushmi-Pullyou, an animal that resembled a llama, but instead of a rear end, it had another head at the other end, like conjoined twins. It walked about on four legs, so no matter which direction it went, it was always looking backward and forward.

That's how I feel at the end of this calendar year - looking back over 2003 and forward to 2004. I'm writing this post from the same place I wrote a similar e-mail to a friend last year, wrapping up 2002 and looking into the new year. At that time I was excited about my new job in Miami, I was sure the country was heading into the war in Iraq, and I was wondering if John Kerry would sweep the primaries. I certainly knew of Howard Dean, and I admired him, but a year ago I thought his chances were slim. On a personal level, I was making plans to find a new place to live in Miami and possibly buy a house (didn't happen), beginning the negotiations to buy my Mustang (that did happen), and sniffing out possibilities of getting my newest play done even as a staged reading (didn't happen, but might this winter as long as I keep bugging the guy who promised he'd do it). Blogs were things I read, but there were only two I paid attention to; now I'm part of a great bunch of like-minded (that is, each slightly goofy and wonderfully erudite in their own way) bloggers, and looking forward with hope, passion, and zeal to do what we can from our keyboards to make this country great again, strong again, and free again.

Read the rest at Bark Bark Woof Woof

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Recused 

UPDATE: Given the amount of heat that I have received for posting this little niblet on Pat Fitzgerarld, I feel like I should recuse myself from blogging. I just found his Repub background an interesting thing. Sorry to all that think I have "jumped the gun" on him.:END OF UPDATE

Patrick J. Fitzgerald has been assigned as leader of the investigation to get to the bottom of the whole Valerie Plame mess. Do you want to know more about Pat Fitzgerald? Do you want to know who he's going to be working for? Look at what I found and you'll be able to find the answers:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 13, 2001

Sen. Fitzgerald to recommend Northern Illinois
U.S. Attorney candidate to Bush

CHICAGO, IL...U.S. Senator Peter G. Fitzgerald (R-Illinois) announced today that he will recommend that President Bush nominate Patrick J. Fitzgerald to be U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. Mr. Fitzgerald (no relation to the senator) currently serves as Co-Chief of the Organized Crime and Terrorism Unit in the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

So much for this guy being impartial.

Story can be found with links to sources at The Gotham City 13.

The Anti-Feminist Army 

Some spam sent to the Coalition e-mail address just now:

Received: from oem ([81.100.220.20]) by mta02-svc.ntlworld.com
(InterMail vM.4.01.03.37 201-229-121-137-20020806) with SMTP
id <20031230170141.FVLB29762.mta02-svc.ntlworld.com@oem>
for ; Tue, 30 Dec 2003 17:01:41 +0000
From: "Ian Pilgrim"
Subject: Hello

Hello, prepare to witness the future!!

http://theafa.tk

Liberalism is stupid and shit. It's caused huge amounts of damage to
society.

Liberals like you are full of shit. Fascism is the answer!!!

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

Ah, wingers raising the level of discourse.

Sunday, December 28, 2003

The View from the End of the Year 

Regardless of your religion or lack thereof, regardless of your nationality, race or color; this is supposed to be a time of the year where we get to focus on family, on peace, on love. Current world events don't leave much time for those kinds of luxuries; earthquakes, bombings, riots, mudslides. They all work their way into our minds regardless of how hard we work to keep them out.

So while we entertain friends or visit with family, while we give and receive gifts, while we eat our favorite meals and desserts; the news is always out there. Like a presence in the room. Like a weight on our shoulders.

Sometimes it's hard to say "Merry Christmas" or "Happy New Years" while wondering what young soldier will lose their life tonight far away from the ones they love; the ones they'd like to wishing "Happy Holidays." It's hard to really believe that we can have a "Happy New Year" when we know that too many things will be just like the last year - and it wasn't always so happy.

But we all carry on because we have to, because we can. The human mind and spirit is amazingly resilient. That resilience is what lets us carry on with our lives in a relatively normal manner when there is so much madness and mayhem in the world around us. And I suppose if it were any different we wouldn't be able to live our lives - burdened as we'd be by it all.

I'm among the lucky - probably like everyone who has the means to read this. I have a wonderful family, a great home; I'm comfortable in a way that our grandparents could never have imagined. And from the middle of a well deserved vacation at the end of the year, it would be easy to say that the year was wonderful. It would be so easy to fall into the trap of seduction, of the mechanistic consumption demanded by our current leaders. The thing is, the year - in many ways was wonderful. And if I close my eyes to everything that's going on in the wider world I can believe that. It's so seductive, so calming, so numbing.

I guess what I wanted to say is that while we are enjoying our well deserved rest at the end of the year, while we are contemplating and reflecting on all that was good and bad in the year, that we not forget how lucky we are - those of us living in safe homes in safe neighborhoods in safe countries. Sometimes our problems can seem to be so important. And in the most parochial sense they are. Just don't loose sight of the wider view.

That wider view often provides the real truth not only about what is going on in the world but about ourselves as well.

To all who come visit here during this time of hope for the new year: I hope that you have a safe and healthy 2004.

If You're Suffering 'Daily Howler' Withdrawal . . . 

In today's online Washington Post, there's a piece by Dan Balz with the internet tagline 'Questions Swirl Around Dean', in which Balz makes the following assertion:

"But [Dean] has closed the year with some statements and assertions that have come under criticism or turned out not to be true. They range from suggesting that his late brother was a member of the military to apparent criticism of the politics of the Clinton years, to a reference to party centrists as Republicans, to remarks about Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden that brought rebukes from his rivals."


Dean made statements that 'turned out not to be true'! In other words, he lied! Wow! Surely no journalist would ever write that a Democratic candidate for president had lied without some pretty strong supporting evidence, would they? (See Somerby and search on 'Al Gore' if you don't fully appreciate the sarcasm here.)

Well, Balz did. Almost all of this article is about the race for the Democratic nomination, not Dean. And nowhere does Balz quote Dean, much less cite an instance where Dean lied. The closest he comes is in the above paragraph, where Balz claims that Dean suggested 'that his late brother was a member of the military'. If Dean had said this, it would have been a lie, and a big story, but Balz never gives us a quote or any other evidence that he did. So we must conclude that this lie is so well known that no supporting evidence is necessary. In other words, a Google search for 'Howard Dean brother' or 'Dean suggest brother military' should turn up dozens of stories exposing this lie.

Well guess what. Based on those two Google searches, Dean never said anything about his brother being in the military. But the story of Charles Dean is an interesting one, and not without some controversy.


Home Improvement 

I've made a couple of additions and changes at Bark Bark Woof Woof. I have added links to some sites that I have been reading a long time and have become regulars, but I didn't link them here for some reason I can't remember now. Anyway, check them out under Websites, Magazines & Great Reading. They include some of the best writing on and off-line, including The New Yorker, which I have been reading since I could first read. Well, actually, I looked at the cartoons, mostly; it wasn't until I was in high school that I started to read the articles and the movie and theatre reviews and stories. It is far and away some of the best writing in this or any language...and a Booth cartoon with dogs and cats will crack me up no matter what. Also added are Media Whores Online, Salon.com, Slate, and Tom Paine.com, plus three of the best humor sites on-line: BartCop, The Daily Howler, and The Onion.

In the Blogs roll, I've linked Eschaton/Atrios... or is it Atrios/Eschaton? Either way, he's a great blogger, inspirational to many, and it's where I first met a lot of my TLC co-conspirators, including NTodd, queen crab, Tena, and the gang from Corrente, just to name a few. Also included is Pandagon, hosted by Jesse and Ezra, and Roger Ailes, who is quick to point out he is not the Evil Roger Ailes of Fox News (aka Der Volkischer Beobachter).

I've also added a self-serving link so you can easily add Bark Bark Woof Woof to your own site or to your Favorites list. I trust that my musings and thoughts will continue to be worthy of your attention, and I would welcome additional suggestions for new links and sites. As always, feel free to drop me a note. Bribery works, too - dark chocolate or American Airlines frequent-flier miles really get my attention.