Friday, May 30, 2008

Terrorist Presence With a Checkered Past: It's Scrap Time!

Gone, but not forgotten. OH no.

Symbol-sensitive and right-thinking 'Muricans, led by the intrepid hatemonger conservative blogger Michelle "Stalkin' " Malkin, have been, er, appeased (for the time being, anyway): a boycott-threatening campaign has led to Dunkin' Donuts pulling the now-famous Rachael Ray Jihadi Chic ads.

And never again will donut-scarfers have to cast their gaze on that dreadful terrorist scarf and its obvious, black-and-white implications.

But the fight is long from over. We all know that lefty bloggers like TRex can be counted on to trick us, particularly when they insist on posting adorable photos of their new Siamese kittens. I mean, who can resist oohing and aahing at little Max, right?

Today, cozying up to a keffiyah; tomorrow, who knows?

And what about the many other terrorism symbols Ms. Malkin alternately refers to as Hate Couture and Jihadi Chic? They're everywhere. And if we're logical, we have to boycott them, too, lest we send the wrong message to...someone.

We should probably start with all those Chanel jackets--designed, of course, by Karl Lagerfeld (that lowfat-cheese-eating surrender monkey)--because, well, look:

Notice the gloves? Terrorists wear those
when they want to avoid leaving fingerprints.

Looking through my perfume collection, I came across this, from the House of Dior:

Be gone, ye sweet smells in putrid-patterned vessels!

And then there are Son Three's favorite shoes. Sorry, little guy, those Very Cool Vans of yours have gotta go--people might think you hate 'Murica, and we can't have that:

Jeff Spicoli/Sean Penn take note: wearing this shoe only confirms
rightwingers' worst fears about Hollywood.

As long as we're talking about celebs, what the hell was Gwen Stefani thinking when she designed and then personally modeled the dress shown below? Obviously we must boycott Gwen and e-mail all the radio stations that play her music--as well as the stores that carry her fashions--and let them know how we feel about Hate Couture.

You may have skipped the bindi this time around,
Gwen, but you're not fooling anyone.

And then (clutch your pearls if you've got 'em) there's Kate Hudson, daughter of that eternally blonde, world-religion-appreciating, yoga-practicing librul Goldie Hawn. Unable to stop at draping her own form in head-to-toe Jihadi Chic, Kate went one further and imposed her wrongheaded ideology on her precious (if hippie-like) child:

Suffer the little children to come unto Macy's
and buy them a nice Stars-n-Stripes getup instead.

I know, I know, you're going to be busy for a while--so much outrage, so little time! Still, as a good, right-thinking, hardworking--well, you know--you want to remain ever-vigilant. The threats, they are a lurkin', and our reward, as always, comes from simply knowing we've made a difference.

In closing, I offer this thought from Interfaith Alliance president Rev. Welton Gaddy, who spoke about the Terrorist Chic incident in a recent NPR interview:

"Have we really reached the point where we're associating wearing a scarf of Middle-Eastern origins with terrorist sympathies? If that's the case, I'd like to suggest we stop wearing sweaters with hoods so as not to expose any sympathies for the Unibomber."

Pay attention, Juicy Couture...

Also at TRex and Cogitamus.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

An Engineer's Guide to Cats

As someone who lives with four cats (and no, I haven't replaced the four two-legged beasts, I mean in addition to them), I can relate to every bit of this cute video short.

Out-of-kilter aspect ratios: check. Floral arrangement and regurgitation: check. Cardboard box performance art: check.

Who knew engineers were this funny?

(H/T Waveflux)

Also at Cogitamus

Monday, May 26, 2008

I'm In Telly Heaven*

*With closed captions.


If you've got cable TV, run over to your set right now and switch on BBC-America. They're broadcasting a Monty Python's Flying Circus marathon all day, until dinner time, so fans like me can shun the humidity and blazing May sun hovering outside and bask instead in the wonderful wit and absurdity of my country's Best Comedy Export Ever. (And you have to admit, we've sent you guys some good stuff over the past few decades, haven't we?!)

Wow, where have the last thirty-four years gone? I remember watching the Pythons for the first time when I was in high school in Miami; it was love at first belly-laugh. My friend Vicky gave me The Monty Python' Matching Tie and Handkerchief--a 33rpm vinyl album (remember those?)-- for Christmas that year, and when Monty Python and the Holy Grail premiered in Coral Gables, we waited in line for hours so as to be among the first in South Florida to see the now-legendary (and eminently quotable) movie.

I love all of those comedians, too, so please don't ask me to name a favorite Python. I will say I'm terribly fond of Terry Gilliam, the artist and lone American-born member of the troupe who went on to direct some of my all-time favorite movies, including the stunning Brazil, Time Bandits, 12 Monkeys, and The Fisher King. Interestingly, Gilliam, who for thirty years held both British and American passports, told Der Speigel in 2006 that he had renounced his American citizenship in protest of George W. Bush (if you follow that link, you'll need to be able to read German if you want to make heads or tails of it.)

My favorite sketches? Oh...let's see. Cheese Shop, The Four Yorkshiremen, Albatross, and the famous Dead Parrot sketch--the well-known ones--are all up there, of course. And the swanning-about drill team (posted above) never fails to elicit shrieks of laughter in my house.

I can't choose! Instead, why don't I just bring a smile to Neil's face and leave you with the lyrics of The Philosopher's Song (from whence cameth inspiration for the name of The Other Blog.)

Immanuel Kant was a real piss-ant
Who was very rarely stable;
Heidegger, Heidegger was a boozy beggar
Who could think you under the table.
David Hume could out-consume
Wilhelm Freidrich Hegel Shopenhauer and Hegel,
And Wittgenstein was a beery swine
Who was just as schloshed as Schlegel.

There's nothing Nietzche couldn't teach
About the raising of the wrist--
Socrates, himself, was permanently pissed...

John Stuart Mill, of his own free will
On half a pint of shandy was particularly ill;
Plato, they say, could stick it away:
Half a crate of whiskey every day.
Aristotle, Aristotle was a bugger for the bottle
Hobbes was fond of his dram;
And René Descartes was a drunken fart:
I drink, therefore I am.

Yes, Socrates, himself, is particularly missed;
A lovely little thinker,
But a bugger when he's pissed.

Also at Cogitamus.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Friday Frank: Montana; Stockholm, 1973

In honor of their upcoming primary, I present Maestro Zappa's fantastic Montana. And may I suggest to the residents of that fine and beautiful state that Barack Obama, with his famously sparkling and healthy all-American smile, is clearly in favor of dental floss. Meaning, you've simply gotta show him some love on June 3rd.

(I've said this before, but this particular FZ ensemble--the 1973 one--is among my favorites, due in no small part to Jean-Luc Ponty's contributions.)

Bon Weekend, everyone!


(H/T BognarRegis)

Also at Cogitamus.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A Sunny Thing Happened Today at the Forum

It seemed, to me, like clouds parting and light pouring down instead of rain; like tears evaporating from the warm apples of a child's now-smiling face when despair is supplanted by thoughts of good things to come.

Normally I shy away from big crowds: I'm rather irrationally claustrophobic, and large numbers of people packed into one building, well, just thinking about such a scene makes me feel uneasy--unnerved, even. So much so, in fact, I seriously considered skipping Barack Obama's rally in Tampa today, knowing I'd be one human in a sea of many thousands, wondering if the crowds would be as huge as they were in Portland, Oregon this weekend, when Obama's supporters filled a park, a river, and a bridge (the Tampa event actually drew roughly 20,000, but unlike the Portland crowd, we would be indoors, enclosed in the St. Petersburg Times Forum.)

Then I reminded myself how much I'd looked forward to seeing the Senator speak, having watched him on television countless times and read--and quoted--his books. And having shaken my head that at my medium-oldish age, I could even be brought near a place of such optimism and renewed faith in what America is supposed to be like--much less find myself smack-dab in the middle of it. So I charged my camera battery, threw on my favorite skirt, and drove my neurotic self to downtown Tampa.

I parked in one of the various dirt lots on Channelside Drive, directly across from the city's glass-walled ice-hockey stadium, and within seconds, was smack-dab in the middle of it.

Walking across Channelside, I noticed a small group of Hillary-shirt-wearers, one of whom said something I couldn't hear over the traffic and crowd noise. Then he gestured toward the hand-lettered sign he was holding: It's a Primary, Not a Coronation.

"Sorry, guy, I'm British. I like a nice coronation--they're good fun!" I said.

There were dozens upon dozens of security guards--on one side of the building alone--and even more metal detectors than that. I walked through one while guards searched my purse, cheerfully opening a pack of gum and dismantling my camera. Then I joined the thousands of attendees snaking through the doors and up the stairs like reversed lava flow. Since I was alone, I was able to find a seat fairly close to the stage; to my left sat a teenaged Cuban girl, her mother, and her grandmother; to my right, an African-American couple, both of whom, the young man confided, had cut classes at USF to be there.

The Forum is, in a word, enormous. And so was the crowd within. I saw college kids springing to their feet to help elderly people navigate the risers and locate empty seats; I watched a parade of fathers with babies tucked into Snuglis as well as a few doctors from Tampa General waving at patients who recognized them and a half-dozen sixty-something women dancing to Stevie Wonder and career men and women in office-proper pinstripes. I saw gray French twists and multicolored dreadlocks and long blonde ponytails and the brown, blowdried helmet-hair of the professionally camera-ready. I spoke to my neighbors in English and Spanish; I picked out bits of Italian (hey, I'm working on it!) and Caribbean French, too.

It was America--the good America. The real one that's been here all along: her best ideas, her best emotions, her best dreams, and they were in front of my eyes--all twenty joyous thousand of them, all under one roof--and I never felt freer or happier or less afraid than I did at noon today.

And it wasn't just me. The local pols, including Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio, were so excited when they took the stage, they practically levitated.

And then Senator Obama came out, speaking to us as though we were old friends, telling us to sit down, get comfortable, and yeah, he loved us back. The scene was such that if someone were to describe it to me, I'd immediately accuse him of being another Obamabot--Silly person, get a grip--and I've long been a supporter of the elegant and eloquent Senator. But still, I'd have said, Get a grip.

And yet.

You've undoubtedly seen at least parts of Obama's speeches televised. If you have the opportunity to attend a live rally, though, I'd highly recommend going--in person, the man is nothing short of amazing to watch. Today, for some sixty minutes and without a notecard or teleprompter, Obama spoke to a massive crowd about the specifics of what he'll do, as President, to put things right, and not just in national terms, either. He talked about concerns especially important to Floridians, like disaster relief, mass-transit initiatives, and improving education (our state's public school system has consistently ranked among the lowest in the nation.)

You really had to be there. I include a few photos that I took; forgive their slight fuzziness, which is partly due to Senator Obama being lit by a strong spotlight and partly due to his energy level--he reminds me of Son Three, a perpetual motion machine with lean arms gesturing nonstop while lanky legs take him to and fro, to and fro.

Onward to the White House, then!

Also at TRex & Cogitamus.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

For Senator Ted Kennedy

To Some I Have Talked With by the Fire

While I wrought out these fitful Danaan rhymes,
My heart would brim with dreams about the times
When we bent down above the fading coals
And talked of the dark folk who live in souls
Of passionate men, like bats in the dead trees;
And of the wayward twilight companies
Who sigh with mingled sorrow and content,
Because their blossoming dreams have never bent
Under the fruit of evil and of good:
And of the embattled flaming multitude
Who rise, wing above wing, flame above flame,
And, like a storm, cry the Ineffable Name,
And with the clashing of their sword-blades make
A rapturous music, till the morning break
And the white hush end all but the loud beat
Of their long wings, the flash of their white feet.

-- W.B. Yeats, 1893
Legendary eight-term Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy, 76, was diagnosed with glioblastoma (a type of malignant brain tumor) today. Please join me in saying a prayer--or thinking positive thoughts--for him and his family.

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Real McCain

Okay, so I've been rather dependent on YouTube lately--forgive me! Just this one last one, then, via my darling TRex.

Because it's that good, and because the MSM is really falling down on the job in terms of reporting Senator McSame's flat-out lies, twisty misstatements, and ultraflippy Olympic-caliber flip-flopping. Don't be afraid to pass it on!

These Feminists Don't Speak For This Feminist

From the ever-brilliant Jezebel:

Many of you suggested that the Democratic Party would, once the disappointment ebbed, come together and support Obama against John McCain and his choice-hating, abstinence-educating, unequal-pay-giving minions because even a guy that calls you "sweetie" is preferable to one who calls you a "cunt."

Well, meet the ladies who would love nothing more than to prove you wrong: Cynthia Ruccia and Kimberly Myers. They got on O'Reilly last night to say that they're so mad at the Democratic Party over sexism directed at Hillary that they're going to vote Republican in the fall "if it comes to that." Guess they really aren't mythological creatures.

(H/T TRex)

Also at Cogitamus.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Screw This Up Again, Pal--We'll Send You Over to Fox News

Now with footage of Bill O'Reilly's producer. Ahem. Oh, but this is beautiful--Bill O'Reilly must be praying for the earth to crack open and swallow him whole at this point. Or perhaps not, shameless hack that he is.

Robert and I caught this video at the end of Countdown, when the fabulous Rachel Maddow, who was guest-hosting tonight, introduced it; we literally shrieked and doubled over with laughter.

Not safe for work or children, which, come to think of it, are one and the same, no?


By BarelyPolitical

Also at Cogitamus.

Friday Frank: Cosmik Debris; Japan NYC 1982 (With Japanese Subtitles)

I've posted Cosmik Debris before, but as with most Frank Zappa performances, each version is different. And this one, unearthed this morning, features a brilliant guitar solo by Maestro himself--just what the doctor ordered to mark the transition from hellish week to hellacious weekend (one hopes, one always hopes...)

So, on that note--and with these blistering notes--allow me to wish everyone a sunny and spectacular
Bon Weekend!


(H/T HungryFreakDaddy)

Also at Cogitamus.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

When Bush Decries "The False Comfort of Appeasement"



To cause to be more favorably inclined; to gain the good will of; to satisfy or relieve; to pacify or attempt to pacify by granting concessions, often at the expense of principle.

Do you suppose he means it in this sense:

George Bush's grandfather, the late US senator Prescott Bush, was a director and shareholder of companies that profited from their involvement with the financial backers of Nazi Germany.

The Guardian has obtained confirmation from newly discovered files in the US National Archives that a firm of which Prescott Bush was a director was involved with the financial architects of Nazism.

His business dealings, which continued until his company's assets were seized in 1942 under the Trading with the Enemy Act, has led more than 60 years later to a civil action for damages being brought in Germany against the Bush family by two former slave labourers at Auschwitz and to a hum of pre-election controversy.

The evidence has also prompted one former US Nazi war crimes prosecutor to argue that the late senator's action should have been grounds for prosecution for giving aid and comfort to the enemy.

Or this one:

Your thoughts, Dear Readers?

UPDATE: You may view a high-quality (and rather more legible!) Flash version of the above video here.

Keith Olbermann's Special Comment: On Bush's War and Bush's "Sacrifice"

Your one, tone-deaf, arrogant, pathetic, embarrassing gesture, and you didn't even think of it yourself? The great Bushian sacrifice -- an Army private loses a leg, a Marine loses half his skull, 4,000 of their brothers and sisters lose their lives -- and you lose golf, and they have to pull you off the golf course to get you to just do that?

If it's even true.

Apart from your medical files, which dutifully record your torn calf muscle and the knee pain which forced you to give up running at the same time -- coincidence, no doubt -- the bombing in Baghdad which killed Sergio Vieira de Mello of the U.N. and interrupted your round of golf was on Aug. 19, 2003.

Yet CBS News has records of you playing golf as late as Oct. 13 of that year, nearly two months later.

Wow. That's an excellent Special Comment among excellent Special Comments. Transcript here.

Also at Cogitamus.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

BREAKING: John Edwards Endorses Barack Obama

"We are here tonight because the Democratic voters have made their choice, and so have I."

-- John Edwards, standing alongside and endorsing Democratic frontrunner Barack Obama before an enormous crowd in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Senator Obama said he was happy to be visiting Michigan, particularly as he had not been able to campaign there previously (referring to his honoring the pledge to not campaign and to also remove his name from the ballot earlier in the year.)

Shocking: U.S. Agency Forcibly Injects Nonviolent, Mentally Healthy Deportees With Powerful Antipsychotic Drugs

It mattered not if a deportee was man or woman or big or small; it mattered not if his illegal presence in the United States was due to overstaying a visa, entering without papers, or being denied political asylum due to his native country not being Cuba (since we know that all the other countries in the world don't imprison, torture, or kill political dissidents, right?) No, if a person was to be deported from the United States recently, there was a good chance that not only would he be shot up with a cocktail of Haldol and Ativan prior to boarding the flight to home (or prison, or death), he'd also quite likely receive numerous "booster shots" en route:

The U.S. government has injected hundreds of foreigners it has deported with dangerous psychotropic drugs against their will to keep them sedated during the trip back to their home country, according to medical records, internal documents and interviews with people who have been drugged.

The government's forced use of antipsychotic drugs, in people who have no history of mental illness, includes dozens of cases in which the "pre-flight cocktail," as a document calls it, had such a potent effect that federal guards needed a wheelchair to move the slumped deportee onto an airplane. [...]

Such episodes are among more than 250 cases The Washington Post has identified in which the government has, without medical reason, given drugs meant to treat serious psychiatric disorders to people it has shipped out of the United States since 2003 -- the year the Bush administration handed the job of deportation to the Department of Homeland Security's new Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, known as ICE.

Involuntary chemical restraint of detainees, unless there is a medical justification, is a violation of some international human rights codes. The practice is banned by several countries where, confidential documents make clear, U.S. escorts have been unable to inject deportees with extra doses of drugs during layovers en route to faraway places.

Federal officials have seldom acknowledged publicly that they sedate people for deportation. The few times officials have spoken of the practice, they have understated it, portraying sedation as rare and "an act of last resort." Neither is true, records and interviews indicate.

I know we're all absolutely sick and tired of hearing about the countless un-Constitutional acts and myriad violations of international law carried out by the Bush administration and its various agencies and private hired guns. I know we're all badly afflicted with a serious case of outrage fatigue--to the point, in fact, where we simply don't want to hear one more thing they've done, or are doing, or plan to do. We just want them gone. We want the nightmare to be over.

But we cannot turn our heads, ladies and gentlemen, not in this case. We are talking about human beings, here, people like you and me. Journalists like Michel Shango:

The first time immigration agents tried to deport Michel Shango, he slammed his head, hard, against the outside of the van that had come to pick him up at Atlanta's city jail. Instead of being driven to the airport, then flown to the Democratic Republic of Congo, he was brought back to the jail so his wound could be tended to.

"I asked him why he feared being returned back to his country," an immigration officer wrote of the incident. Shango, now 42, replied that he had been a journalist and had written articles critical of the Congolese government. "Detainee stated . . . that he might as well die trying to avoid deportation," a second officer wrote, "because they will kill him as soon as he gets to the D.R. of the Congo."

Until early 1996, Shango worked in Congo, ghostwriting articles and supplying information to foreign correspondents about the repressive administration of President Mobutu Sese Seko, he said in telephone interviews from locations in Congo, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, where friends are now helping him hide. Eventually Shango was arrested, he and two of his lawyers said, but he escaped to Canada, then settled in North Carolina, where he started a limousine business with a cousin in Charlotte. He married an American, who at first offered to help him become a citizen. The marriage dissolved. He applied for political asylum. He was turned down.

He was remarried to a Congolese woman by the time immigration officers came to his house at 4:30 one morning in May 2006. As his wife and their three American-born children cried at the frightening scene, the officers led him away at gunpoint.

On Feb. 28, 2007, three months after the first deportation attempt was aborted because of the head-banging incident, seven guards arrived at the Atlanta jail to make a second attempt. Shango glanced at his watch and noted that it was 1:45 p.m. "They pushed me against the wall," he recalled. "They pulled my pants down." His medical log shows that he was given seven shots in his right buttock and right shoulder before he boarded the airplane.

The log says his only psychological problem was "anxiety disorder."

By the time Shango reached Congo, records show, he had been injected with 32.5 milligrams of Haldol and 7.5 milligrams of Ativan. As he was thrown into a prison after he got off the plane, and even as friends helped him escape, he was so disoriented, he said, that he did not fully know where he was. For two weeks, Shango said, "It was like I was dreaming. . . . I started crying, crying, crying all day long. . . . I was like crazy, because [of] the drugs, knocking me down."

One can understand officials needing to restrain, or even sedate, a violent or mentally ill deportee for the protection of those accompanying and transporting him. But in the hundreds of cases studied by Washington Post reporters Amy Goldstein and Dana Priest, it's clear that once again, another of Bush's legacies--the newly-formed Homeland Security agency known as the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE)--has gone too far. Much too far.

(H/T attaturk)

Also at Cogitamus.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Hillary's Pre-Election Giveaway

The latest bit of comédie vérité from the wonderful Lee Stranahan. Have you read his columns at the Huffington Post? Well, here.

Happy Monday, everyone.

Also at Cogitamus.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Obama Wins Guam By (Very) Narrow Margin

Senator Barack Obama has won Saturday's Guam caucuses by an incredible seven (7) votes. Obama held a strong lead throughout, but Senator Hillary Clinton gained considerable ground when the last district was counted--not enough to defeat Obama, but certainly enough to come really close:

HAGATNA, Guam - Barack Obama has defeated Hillary Rodham Clinton in Saturday's Democratic caucuses on Guam by just seven votes in a race that has assumed greater importance because of the candidates' scrapping for every delegate.

More than 4,500 island Democrats voted.

Neither candidate campaigned on the island in person.

Results of the all-night count completed Sunday morning Guam time show delegates pledged to Obama with 2,264 votes to 2,257 for Clinton's slate.

The territory sends the equivalent of four pledged delegates and five superdelegates to the National Convention in August in Denver although U.S. citizens on the island have no vote in the November election.

Voters also picked two superdelegates by electing a new party chairman who is uncommitted and a vice chairman who supports Obama.

One other existing superdelegate has favored Clinton and the remaining two are uncommitted.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Friday Frank: The Lost VHS Interview (?), ca. 1990*

You have to understand, I've always been interested
in fireworks and chemistry...

This is a fascinating piece, believed to be taped in the early 90's*; Mr. Zappa was probably quite ill when it was recorded. The quality is pretty raw--the video flickers ceaselessly--but still...I'd rather listen to the steady wisdom and wit of even a flickering Frank than just about anyone these days.

He discusses his early life and musical influences, his family, the screwed-up priorities of newspapers who put Ike playing golf on the cover while relegating scientists' creation of living cell material to the back pages...oh, all sorts of things. It's truly a gem for Zappaphiles, though sadly it ends mid-sentence and leaves one wanting more. Apparently, more exists, though, and it will be posted soon. (Hooray!)

Via YouTube member nwrhino, who notes:

It was buried in the old VHS vault. The total interview runs about an hour and covers music politics and popular culture from 1950s through 1990. I love the fact that Frank is smoking throughout the interview.

I am recuperating from a lower back injury right now, hence the scarcity of new posts. (True story. Don't ask.) Also, my gastroenterologist has given me strict orders to avoid reading or writing about politics until my poor stomach lining heals. (Kidding. But only somewhat.) In the meantime, though,

Happy May and Bon Weekend, everyone!

*Upon my fourth listen, I noticed that the interviewer starts with a mention of FZ's age, from "1940 to 1990...fifty...fifty-one", so I'm going to go with late 1990.