Friday, August 29, 2008

Governor Palin--You Remember Katrina, Don't You?

New Orleans, three years ago.

Oh, come on, yes you do.

No? Okay, I think I've got some photos...I'm sure they'll jog your memory. I mean, I thought the whole world remembered Katrina:

She was a wirlwind, to say the least.

But then came floodwater...

...and Blackwater.

For a huge venue like the Superdome, the excitement level was unfortunately pretty low:

Honestly, I'm surprised that here we are--three years to the day, in fact!--and all these breathless reporters like Maria Bartiromo keep chattering about your state's rich oil reserves and how wonderfully helpful it will be for John McCain to have someone who knows all the ins and outs (and downs and downs) of the oil-drilling business (you do, don't you?) by his side.

But no-one's mentioned Kyoto, or the carbon thing. I do think Maria said "caribou" once.

Anyway, forgive me for stating the obvious, but ferocious, city-drowning hurricanes will only increase in severity and intensity as the oceans warm up courtesy of fossil-fuel emissions contributing to an already-carbon-choked atmosphere. (We're Number One! by the way.) By forestalling a national commitment to investing in and developing clean alternative energy (and forestalling it is what drilling here or anywhere will accomplish)--and since American LSC is just as carbony as the Saudi variety--the oil companies, their employees in the federal government, and the media organs who love them are guaranteeing that Earth continues on its disastrous path toward melting ice caps, violent weather, and all manner of far-reaching disasters.

So when Ms. Bartiromo said that in a very recent interview, you explained that you were thrilled to bits (so to speak) about drilling in the ANWAR, because hey, it's only an itty-bitty percentage of the overall land mass you were talking about, so the environment wouldn't be harmed, I realized you must have completely forgotten about Katrina and all the warming stuff. But don't feel too badly--I think most of the press have, too.

Anyway, I'm happy to remind you.

Also at Cogitamus.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

McCain and a Red October August Surprise?

Freshly breaking via the Moscow Times. To whom do you suppose Prime Minister Putin is referring *cough* when he says "a U.S. presidential candidate"?

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Thursday accused the United States of orchestrating the military conflict in Georgia in order to boost the chances of a U.S. presidential candidate.

In an interview that was to air on CNN late Thursday, Putin said Washington had encouraged Tbilisi to attack South Ossetia to give one presidential candidate an edge in the hotly contested U.S. election, CNN said on its web site.

Republican John McCain, a weathered foreign policy hawk and a staunch critic of Russia, is in a neck-and-neck race with Democrat Barack Obama for the White House.

Putin did not specify a candidate. Reached by telephone, Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to say which one he was referring to.

McCain is an ally of outgoing U.S. President George W. Bush. Following Russia's invasion of Georgia, McCain lashed out at Russia, calling on the Bush administration to pull out from a joint space exploration project with Russia and repeating a demand that Russia be kicked out of the Group of Eight.

The White House press office had no immediate comment on Putin's statement.

Yeah, I bet the White House had no bloody comment. To paraphrase Dear Husband, Follow the money lobbyist.

For Daddy litbrit*: Jennifer Hudson Sings the National Anthem

Goosebumps in August. *sigh* What a gorgeous voice.

* Who is a serious Dreamgirls fan.

(H/T Petulant)

Dennis Kucinich Says Wake Up, America!

I don't know if the networks aired Dennis Kucinich's rousing and righteous speech--if they did, I must have missed it--but here it is, as shown on C-Span, via the magic of YouTube.

Wake Up, America, indeed!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Please Unplug My Arrogance

And Please Untangle My Arguments.

Via Rumproast:

"He hasn't earned my vote...he never calls...I'm a tiny bit ballot box is closed." I mean, really. How much power do you think these Power Chicks for Hillary would have under a McCain presidency? Here are a couple of clues: about as much as one would get from a wall socket in a foreclosed and abandoned house. About the same amount of power a hungry, homeless child has.

I completely agree that the two-party system sucks, and furthermore, will state that the Democratic party does not come close to representing all the ideals and policies dear to my heart.

To paraphrase Greg Palast, though, while the Dems' behavior may all too often be a slap in the face, the Republicans are coming at you with a sock full of bricks to the back of the head.

Certain bloggers would do well to remember this.

Turning a blind eye toward the practice of vote-withholding or spite-voting--or, Heaven forbid, encouraging one's followers to engage in it--and supporting a general You Can't Tell ME How to Vote attitude while failing to drive home the point that such behavior, particularly in swing states, can and will lead to a McCain inauguration in January, is to my mind the height of irresponsibility, at best.

And at worst, it's blatant ratfuckery. As progressives who care about things like not having our children sent to fight and die in Iran (or Georgia, or infinity and beyond), not having our reproductive choices curtailed even more than they already have been, and not having our nation fall further behind the rest of the world on matters like health care, alternative fuel development, and education, we must fight this petulant, juvenile mentality at every turn.

As Senator Clinton said in her wonderful speech last night: No way, no how, no McCain.

It's time to Put the Unseemly Manipulativeness Away.

(H/T TRex)

Also at Cogitamus.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Richer, Younger, and Did I Mention SeriouslyF*ckingRich?

How to deal with our economic woes? Mr. Stranahan says Americans should follow John McCain's lead and get hitched to the owners of countless--seriously, no-one seems to be able to count them--er, tastelessly decorated palaces and...hey, Lee, teensy problem: they don't believe in beer over there.

Also at Cogitamus.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

I Beg Your Pardon

Afghan citizens love their children too.

It's hardly an exotic, abstruse concept. Nor is it a new one. And yet:

US-led coalition forces killed 76 Afghan civilians in western Afghanistan yesterday, most of them children, the country's Interior Ministry said.

The coalition denied killing civilians. Civilian deaths in military operations have become an emotive issue among Afghans, many of whom feel international forces take too little care when launching air strikes, undermining support for their presence.

"Seventy-six civilians, most of them women and children, were martyred today in a coalition forces operation in Herat province," the Interior Ministry said in a statement.

Coalition forces bombarded the Azizabad area of Shindand district in Herat province on Friday afternoon, the ministry said. Nineteen of the victims were women, seven of them men and the rest children under the age of 15, it said.

US-led coalition forces denied killing any civilians. They said 30 militants had been killed in an air strike in Shindand district in the early hours of Friday and no further air strikes had been launched in the area later in the day.

Air strikes took place after Afghan and coalition soldiers were ambushed by insurgents while on a patrol targeting a known Taliban commander in Herat, the US military said in a statement.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Explanation of Women for Neil, Part Quatre

Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things
are corrupt without being charming.
This is a fault.
Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things
are the cultivated. For these there is hope.
~ Oscar Wilde

Native American Ballerina Maria Tallchief

British Ballerina Margot Fonteyn

As I read through the comments following Lisa's most recent Explanation of Women For Neil, I noticed a disturbingly common theme: Shoes are silly, therefore any discussion, analysis, appreciation, or outright coveting thereof must also be regarded by sane members of society as frivolous, if not downright harmful, physically as well as fiscally.

This is nonsense, of course. All art is expensive, relatively speaking; all art can be termed "quite useless", as indeed Mr. Wilde himself did. But that is because art exists for its own sake--just as truth, its parent, and beauty, its child, do. It is; therefore we feel.

Shoes, then. Any decent series of attempts to Explain Women ought to touch on our motivations, especially the ones that lead us to make seemingly incomprehensible choices in footwear and more. And that necessitates an understanding, or at least some foreknowledge, of the archetypes and motifs that guide our imaginations.

I'll share a few of mine: Doll, princess, firebird, swan; dancers, all, ever dying and reborn. The ballerinas, three of my idols, at the beginning and end of this post.

Accordingly, those delicate, high-heeled, feather-light shoes I love (and I know I'm not alone in my obsession) remind me of the sculptures and paintings and gowns I will make--not to mention the dance classes I will once again take--when my currently-family-centered real life resembles my dream one. You see, I stand on my toes, which you have to do in my favorite shoes, and in the shoes of Lisa's post, and although I may be readying myself for something drearily quotidian, it all comes back: I imagine I'm airborne and free and quite small.

Beauty. It trumps reality most of the time. Watch:

Italian Ballerina Alessandra Ferri performs to Bach, played by Sting

Also at Cogitamus

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Fickle McCain-icane Fay

So, TRex and I were talking on the phone this afternoon.

Me: Did you see the track this hurricane has been following? It goes one way, then quickly changes its mind and goes in the other direction. It's a McHurry-cain.

T: A McCain-icane!

Me: Exactly. A McCain-icane. It flip-flops...

T: It's making sure it covers every single part of the state of Florida...

Me: ...while leaving a mess for others to clean up.

T: Yeah.

Me: It's full of hot air and developed from depression into was bad news for schools everywhere and pissed off teachers and parents came with a huge cone of uncertainty...for a while, it looked as though it was going to pick up speed, but then it fizzled out.

T: I think the McCain-icane is over.

Also at Cogitamus.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Shorter Roy Den Hollander, Esq.*

"When my Russian mail-order bride divorced me in 2001, it had absolutely nothing to do with my shriveled, undersized...brain."

Le Sigh gigantesque.

Looks like the NYT has seen fit to publish yet another dispatch from the Department of Frustrated Old White Guys:

Roy Den Hollander is a Manhattan lawyer and a self-described antifeminist. Over the past year, he has sued Manhattan nightclubs for favoring women by offering ladies’ night discounts and has sued the federal government over a law that protects women from violence.

And now Columbia University has come within his sights. On Monday, he filed a lawsuit in United States District Court in Manhattan against Columbia for offering women’s studies courses, which Mr. Den Hollander sees as discriminatory toward men. His class-action suit accuses Columbia of using government aid to preach a “religionist belief system called feminism.” [...]

“Federal financial aid, state funds and other assistance help proselytize feminism at Columbia,” in violation of equal protection safeguards of the Fifth and 14th Amendments, claimed Mr. Den Hollander, who said, “Columbia has thrown its influence and prestige into violating the rights of men by offering a women’s studies program but no men’s studies program.”

Mr. Den Hollander devotes much of his private practice to representing men in civil cases — “antifeminist cases or guys’-rights cases,” as he puts it - and said his bitter 2001 divorce from a woman he married in Russia helped tweak his anger toward feminists and laws he sees as favoring women.

In July 2007, Mr. Den Hollander filed a class-action suit against prominent Manhattan nightclubs like Copacabana, China Club, Lotus and Sol, claiming they discriminated against men with their ladies’ nights offering free or reduced admission, which violate the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection under the law, the suit said.

In February 2008, he filed a suit against the federal government calling parts of the Violence Against Women Act unconstitutional.

Yeah, that's right: Bring teh bitchez over here to the States, and pretty soon they're all, "Roy Den, I want half." **


Since I doubt that any of his organs, withered from disuse as they obviously are, could handle the stimulus, I won't bother pointing out to this sad excuse for a human being the hard facts and statistics showing, over and over and over, how men abuse, batter, rape, and murder women and get away with it. To wildly disproportionate degrees. And yes, right now, in the twenty-first century. Wealthy men, "educated" men, famous men, too.

* A deep and respectful curtsy to the gentlemen of Sadly, No!, who are pioneers in the emerging science of Shorterificationizing.

** According to my laptop calculator, that would be 1.25 inches.

(H/T Sir Charles)

Also at Cogitamus.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Monsanto to Dump rBGH

Chalk one up for us intrepid consumers: biotech giant Monsanto is selling off its Posilac (rBGH) division. In other words, though the battle against scary, unproven, and oftentimes carcinogenic food additives is hardly won, at least there's one less to worry about in America. Finally. It took more than a decade of consumer backlash, grassroots organizing, and raising awareness (and oh yeah, fighting lawsuits and lobbyists). But with time, the word got out--rBGH was banned in Europe in 1994; further, its producers were issued a formal notice of non-compliance and disapproval for all future sales in Canada in 1999, and it was ruled unsafe by the United Nations Food Safety Agency that same year.

Since then, of course, Monsanto continued to pump the stuff into the American food supply (and thus our bodies), all the while insisting it was completely safe. Screw those puny foreign countries and their quaint health concerns and cancer fears! To hell with what concerned American consumers want! Man the torpedoes and send the lawyers over to Ben & Jerry's, those hippies. How dare they state that their product doesn't contain our product--what right do consumers have to know what they're buying and not eating?

So anyway, success.
Monsanto's divestment of rBGH is a direct result of 14 years of determined opposition by organic consumer, public interest, and family farmer groups. Since its founding, the Organic Consumers Association has campaigned against this cruel and dangerous drug, pointing out to organic and health-minded consumers that rBGH-tainted dairy products pose unacceptable dangers to humans from increased antibiotic residues and elevated levels of a potent cancer tumor promoter called IGF-1. OCA's "Millions Against Monsanto" campaign has generated over a quarter million emails and petition signatures on the topic of rBGH, helping make rBGH one of the most controversial food products in the world.
And as the Organic Consumers' Association says, let's keep the ball rolling:
Now let's break Monsanto's stranglehold over seeds and take away their mandate to force-feed genetically engineered food to an unwilling public. Help us push through federal legislation to require mandatory labeling and safety-testing of GMOs (genetically modified organisms.)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Hear Me Roar

This complaint letter to Proctor and Gamble was selected for one of PC Magazine’s Editors’ Choice awards last year, and it's one of my favorites, too. Ah, how well I can relate. An excerpt:

Last month, while in the throes of cramping so painful I wanted to reach inside my body and yank out my uterus, I opened an Always maxi-pad, and there, printed on the adhesive backing, were these words: ‘Have a Happy Period.’

Are you fucking kidding me? What I mean is, does any part of your tiny middle-manager brain really think happiness - actual smiling, laughing happiness - is possible during a menstrual period? Did anything mentioned above sound the least bit pleasurable? Well, did it, James?

FYI, unless you’re some kind of sick S&M freak girl, there will never be anything ‘happy’ about a day in which you have to jack yourself up on Motrin and Kahlua and lock yourself in your house just so you don’t march down to the local Walgreen’s armed with a hunting rifle and a sketchy plan to end your life in a blaze of glory.

For the love of God, pull your head out, man! If you just have to slap a moronic message on a maxi pad, wouldn’t it make more sense to say something that’s actually pertinent, like ‘Put down the Hammer’ or ‘Vehicular Manslaughter is Wrong’, or are you just picking on us?

Hmmm...I'm inspired.

(H/T Karen)


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Sunday Evening Smooth

How awesome is Christopher Walken? This awesome:

I first saw this Fatboy Slim video last year and loved watching one of my favorite actors showing off his moves. I completely related to the urge to dance down the empty halls of a big hotel and hop onto the brass luggage cart so as to spin it around and ride it like a skateboard--surely you've felt that way? Hell, I still feel like doing that whenever I travel, and in supermarkets, if there is no-one else in the aisle, I run with the shopping cart to pick up speed, jump on, and pretend I'm surfing as I zoom past the shelves of paper towels and cleaning stuff (usually that's the least-populated section).

I never forgot how to pirouette, and I miss going dancing so much, it's not even funny (at some point, we will once again live within shouting distance of civilization, I keep hoping). Cheers to you for never growing up, Chris--I hear it's overrated, anyway.


Vintage Fashion, Everlasting Style

The elegant American actress--and soon-to-be princess--Grace Kelly,
wearing ice-blue satin*

Oooh, the Huffington Post has definitely got my attention now--check out their inaugural Women of Style post, which features NYC resident Katherine Johnstone, a fellow vintage maven and thrift-store habitué:

The women selected for this feature must have no formal affiliation with the fashion industry; nor can they have a personal stylist. The clothes and accessories are part of each subject's personal wardrobe, and cannot be provided by a designer or sittings editor.

Our inaugural subject is Ms. Katherine Johnstone, a New York-born Francophile with a flair for dramatic nostalgia. She is a press attaché for the French Government's Tourist Office. Her primary job responsibility: "Making sure Franco-American love affair stays alive."

Ms. Johnstone's approach to fashion demonstrates that money doesn't make the girl. A true vintage goddess, Ms. Johnstone, 29, has amassed the stunning wardrobe of a 1950s film star - almost entirely from thrift stores and flea markets around the globe.

The money quote:

Q: Why should the modern, educated woman care about style?

A: If you put all that time and work into your education, your resume, and your job, why would you not want to put a similar effort into your appearance?!?

More like this, please.

(*The legendary costume designer Edith Head created this dress, which reportedly cost many thousands of dollars--in the 1950's!--for Grace. So its price tag is not exactly comparable to that of your typical Goodwill find. If you do happen across its like in a thrift store, though, perhaps you could be a love and e-mail me as to the whereabouts of that thrift store...).


Saturday, August 09, 2008

Teflon Dick Must Go

Really, Speaker Pelosi--stop whatever you're doing and pick up your Blackberry: you need to call Congress back from their various beach houses and holiday ranches and order them to get to work on this Iraq/letter fraud matter immediately. As Keith says, at least begin impeachment hearings for the Vice President. At least him.

And then, you must initiate a full-scale Congressional investigation to find out which unholy alliances private business/government-funded bioweapons lab(s) were the actual perpetrators of the anthrax terror crimes of Fall 2001. Start here, in Princeton NJ--if that sounds familiar, it's the same town from which the stuff was mailed six-plus years and two falsely-accused microbiologists ago. Imagine that.

After all, most of us can't afford to take a vacation this year, but we still have to pay you guys. Is it too much to ask that you do your bloody jobs?


Friday, August 01, 2008

Friday Frank: Chunga's Revenge; The Mudd Club, NYC; 1980

This is a dark, fuzzy video of Frank Zappa and his crew playing at the Mudd Club in New York. At the end, there's a bit of fanboy melee going on in the dressing room.

Frank's guitar work alone makes the clip worth watching, however, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Ah...summer is almost over, meaning parents everywhere are looking at the calendar, dreaming of tidy houses and actually being able to get some work done. Dreaming, I said! Dreaming.

Bon Weekend, everyone. And to Florida readers: stay dry, and be thankful for these heat-quelling clouds.