Thursday, March 25, 2004

Let's just say I were to learn that my brother had been convicted of drug possession.

I wouldn't be surprised by that.

Let's say I learned that he'd only been convicted once for anything.

That would be a little surprising.

Now let's say I were to learn that at least one state lists him as having two aliases.

I would be intrigued.

What if the aliases were to be female names?

That. Would. Be. Interesting.

If (mind you, IF) I were to find that last bit out, what do you think I should do (if I were in a position to do anything about such a far-fetched possibility, of course)?

THIS is totally cool.

You must click.

Click now.

[found via Counterpunch, which is also totally cool]

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

I grabbed a few other stupid healines a few weeks ago and intended to post them at some point. Now is as good a time as ever.

*Childhood Obesity Accelerating, Study Finds* from The Globe and Mail
(Can obesity accelerate?)
*Canadian Lefty Rises Up in World* from The Toronto Star
(Can one rise down?)
*US is expected to remove travel restrictions on Libya* from The Minneapolis Star Tribulne
(Was Libya not allowed to travel? Where would it have gone?)
*I had no choice, says Gun* from The Guardian online
(People, of course, kill people.)

I almost forgot to mention that the Shootings Are [the] Latest in [a] Series of Attacks Against Westerns in Iraq

I have never been a fan of Westerns, myself (except for a few of Clint Eastwood's and "Once Upon a Time in the West" and "Little Big Man" and "A Man Called Horse") but I can't for the life of me figure out why anyone would attack Finns because of them. The only film I can think of blaming a Finn for would be a part of "Night on Earth", but that was Jim Jarmusch's fault (and I liked it).

Silly Iraqis.

I wish the Washington Post wrote like this more often: "Two Finnish men who had just arrived in Iraq for a weeklong business trip were fatally shot dead on a highway underpass Monday morning in a brazen daylight attack in the Iraqi capital."

That is to say, more than one but less than two non-female humans from Finland (a country east of Sweden, west of Russia, the citizens of which are often called Finns or "Finnish") who had been in Iraq (a country southeast of Turkey, west of Iran, east of Syria and Jordan, north of Saudi Arabia) for but a short time and planned to be there for an entire span of 7 days (roughly 168 hours) for the purpose of conducting business (the process by which goods or services are negotiated for, usually in conjunction with money or the promise of money, which is an abstract concept connoting worth) were fatally shot (i.e. penetrated with at least one projectile fired at high speed from a cylinder of some sort) during the day on a piece of road (a smooth, sturdy path for vehicles) passing under a highway. This penetration (which resulted in the end of the lives of the Finns mentioned above) took place in the city in Iraq where one might go should one wish to find the controlling legal authority of the state and was either bold or, perhaps, grilled.


Hey! Did you hear? I went diving yesterday and the day before! I was subaquatically swimming under water, you might say.

Monday, March 22, 2004

Here's a picture of me in my scuba gear.

I dove this weekend.

I've been 30 feet down, so far, and stayed down for a full hour on each of three separate dives. It rocked.

I am a Man of Honor.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Spanish Elections Cause Karl Rove to Rethink Bush Campaign Strategy

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Here's more on Spain. Almudena Grandes: 'Making politics with horror and blood'

By the way, I've noticed huffing and puffing from the right and now some news outlets to the effect that the Spaniards may have voted out of fear and therefore chosen unwisely.

I have an anecdote from my Spanish friend which suggests that the results are not quite so simple (duh!).

He wrote:

"The socialist victory has been a big and good surprise. Aznar's party, has been lieing (to lie) about the attack. Until saturday night (around 1 am), they claimed that it was ETA. The foreign affairs ministry, Anna Palacio, sent an note on thursday, to all the spanish embassy around the world, telling them that the attack had been performed by ETA,
and that they had to say this when they had the chance to speak on public. That's very very sad...
Yesterday, I voted for Zapatero. It's the first time I vote for the socialists, but I didn't want those liars and loosers to win again.
You can be shure that the way the government has acted, not telling the truth about the attackers, hiding information all the time, and trying to convice people that ETA was the one who did it, has make a lot of people to re-think their point of view. You could feel it on the streets, and you could breath this ambience.
In Barcelona, saturday night, around 7.000 people where in front of the Partido Popular (Aznar's party) site, claiming to know the truth before voting.
Those people got together spreading messages by internet and by the cellular phones (SMS). It was amazing. People were driving cars and making noise with the horns, yielling, and hitting pans and cook stuff on the balconies. That happened in almost every big city of Spain.
People wanted to know the truth, and Aznar was trying to hide it until monday, so he (his party) would probably win the election.
Everybody knew that if Al-Qaida was the attacker, it was because of the Aznar's "help" to Bush's administration of going to the war to Iraq. If Aznar would addmit it, then he would loose the elections. If ETA was the attacker, then he could win the elections.
You have to know that (before the war) millions of people rallied against the Iraq war, and this asshole (Aznar) did what he wanted.
20 spanish well known movie directors, did each of them, a 3 minutes movie, about how the absloute majority of Aznar, has gone those 4 years. They gave the film for free, so everybody could see it
before the elections. No TV planned to show it. Everybody knows that it was because of the govt. pressure. In some cinemas, and culturar places, and independent TVs they played it. You can visit their website if you want ( It was a stunnig criticism about Aznar.
I think that the main reason of the results are because of the attack, and because of that, a lot of people have been thinking about the combination of the war, and how Aznar has managed big problems that we have had during those 4 years, but a lot of people voted because the bunch of liars that they are."

There you go. One man's perspective. Notice that this was the first time he had voted for the socialists and that he did it mostly because he was sick of being lied to by Aznar and that there were several issues at stake for him.

I hear "From Out of Nowhere" by Faith No More, as it happens.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

I just got an email from Sharon in which she reminded me of an interesting tidbit.

Back in the day, she and I played around on IRC using the University of Southern Mississippi's computer system (and sometimes USM's computers themselves). Several times we noticed a person in the chatrooms with a handle like "assmaster" or something to do with asses who was looking for a bit of cyber sex. That person was using the email address of a USM professor. He/she would always disappear right after we popped up (with our USM email addresses).

The current USM scandal involves, officially, "misuse" of university computers among other things. Funny.

Monday, March 15, 2004

In other news . . . Police to get new alcohol powers.

Mmmmmmm . . . alcohol powers . . . hlaraghahlghahalgh

I'm taking a break from grading (and grading is causing me to take a break from sleeping) and noticed the Spanish elections.

The results are HUGE. One obvious issue is that the voters seemed to have been motivated not just by last week's attacks in Madrid but also by a desire to get revenge on the conservatives for joining in the "coalition of the willing". Aznar (the former PM) was not exactly well loved anyway, so there are lots of reasons behind his party's defeat, but the net result is that (at least indirectly) the anti-war types have toppled a government. That is interesting, to say the least.

And on a not-unrelated front: this may mean that Spain will rejoin "old Europe" (especially France and Germany) on EU issues in general and the relationship between the EU and the US in particular. Again, HUGE.

I see this discussion already floating around, so I'll join in: if the attacks were done by Al Quaeda (or some related folks), surely they were not hoping for this result. I'm no terrrorist, but if I were one of those dudes I would have been hoping that the attacks would provoke a "kill 'em all" response from the Spanish public and a ringing endorsement of the incumbents. Isn't escalation what they want? If it is, they probably aren't going to get it. If it isn't, what might be going on?

Anyway, I'm feeling very Spanish right now. I wonder how Tony Bliar and John Howard are feeling. I wonder if anybody's even told Dubyah what's going on.

Friday, March 12, 2004

The episode of Boston Public that is the University of Southern Mississippi continues thusly: “This is not a personal attack,” Thames said. “It simply tells you something about the individual.”

This is not me not feeling the need to comment on that. It simply tells you something about my belief that there is nothing I need to say.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Teachers quite rightly love "teachable moments" from everyday life. These can vividly demonstrate the validity of the topic or theme one is trying to teach to students who might not otherwise care. Since one of my favorite historical themes is nationalism, however, my teachable moments are bittersweet, since people are often killed in such moments.

The latest, perhaps, is the terrorist attack in Madrid which just killed roughly 200 people and wounded many others. I say "perhaps" for reasons which are explained in the link.

It may be (one hopes it is) true that the Spanish authorities know more than they are telling about the perpetrators of this attack, but if they don't it is profoundly interesting that they jump to the conclusion that it was ETA. This despite the fact that ETA has never done anything close to this magnitude (or even tried to). The sad irony is that it may in fact have been "Al Quaeda" (ironic since the US blames every bump in the night on AQ and now they may not get the blame for something they may have actually done).


I'm grading papers, but I'm also listening to music.

The Police's "Synchronicity II", from the "Synchronicty" album, is SO GOOD. Ow. It is appropriate that this was their last album, as it is, from top to bottom, more or less the perfection of their collaboration. By the time they recorded this they knew exactly what they wanted to sound like. The lyrics are excellent (except, perhaps, for "Miss Gradenko"), the production is top notch, the music sounds great (or at least appropriate to the theme of the song: "Mother" ain't pretty, but it shouldn't be). Everything was working for the band, in other words, except their egos.

Listen to "Synchronicity II" closely and it is almost as if the three of them were each playing their own song which somehow came together (as if by magic). Sting is totally being AngrySting, Andy Summers is totally being Andy (his guitar is on another planet at the beginning and during the "solo"), and Stewart Copeland is just jumping up and down on his kit (you can almost hear the electrical tape, spelling out "fuck off you cunt", bouncing off the drumheads).

I've got a hardon.

Sigh. Now I will eat and drive to my scuba lesson, where I will join my fellow Guadalajarans "packed like lemmings into shiny metal boxes: contestants in a suicidal race."

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Wow! The Log Cabin Republicans are coming out (again). This time it is against the anti-civil rights amendment and (therefore) against Dubyah.

Memo to Dubyah: when people like the LCRs (who are among the world leaders when it comes to doublethink) are turning against you, you are fucking up.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Since Dubyah seems intent on playing the "I'm just Georgie from the block" card, I humbly suggest that someone with money and talent and an interest in creating an ad campaign against him do something along these lines.

1946: Dubyah was born in New Haven, CT to wealthy parents, one of whom would go on to be a congressman, CIA director, UN ambassador, vice president, and president.
Somewhere during this time he went to Andover and some other froo frooh schools.
1968: He graduated from Yale University and joined the Texas Air National Guard to avoid being drafted.
1975: He completed his MBA at Harvard University.
1978: He began the first of several failed oil ventures with borrowed money.
1984: He was a tiny minority owner in (but public face of) the Texas Rangers baseball team.
1994: He was elected governor of Texas (his first public office). He was reelected in 1998.
2000: He became president after having lost the popular vote by several million votes (including the Naderites and others) but won the electoral vote.

Ominous voice: "President Bush would have you believe he's a regular fella just like you. Do you believe him?" (paid for by Regular Fellas for America)

On first thought, Bush chides Kerry as Washington insider makes me think of pots and kettles. Upon reading it, however, Dubyah makes a couple of valid points regarding JfK's lack of philosophical anchor. The thing is, Dubyah,

he agrees with YOU right now!

This means that the choice is not as stark as he would have his audience believe.

Of course, Dubyah has been a Washington insider since he was a gleam in his Poppy's eye. So, pot and kettle after all.

ALSO, the USM firing fiasco is apparently upsetting the bucolia. There was (get ready) a protest! That don't happen much. See Scott run with the story.

Monday, March 08, 2004

You may have heard of one of my old schools. Brett Favre made it famous for some. Clarence Weatherspoon also had a bit of time in the sun there. Bear Bryant used to call it "MISSippi Southern". A fella named Clyde Kennard was packed off to jail (where he died) for trying to integrate it. If you are a Faulknerd you've likely read the work of one of the professors (Noel Polk). If you are into polymer chemistry you may have chanced upon the school as well. Some decent historians work there, too. But if you follow academic hiring and firing practices, or are always on the hunt for free speech issues, then you will probably be reading lots about it soon.

It is the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg and, as Scott notes, it is the scene of controversy. Two tenured profs have been more or less fired for, it seems, having said too much (or the wrong sort of thing) about members of the administration.

I'm no lawyer, but I figure this story is just beginning.

Carlton is a lawyer and he is also in a position to know a bit about this story. We shall see if he blogs on it. Scott promises to stay on top of things, as will I.

EDITED TO ADD: My thesis director (and Bancroft Award-winning historian) Neil McMillen was quoted in one of the news reports, and one of my old landlords (Michael Adelman) is lawyering for the professors. It isn't a big town.

Sunday, March 07, 2004

I was just laying around watching t.v. and the best thing I could find (sad but true) was "Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels" (the old cartoon). After a bit of that, it cut to a show I don't remember, "Mystery Island". Turns out it wasn't a show, but *part* of a show. It was part of "the Skatebirds" in fact! I remember that. Anyway, you can find out all you need to know at this link: 70s Live Action Kid Vid.

It is the coolest website ever.

Saturday, March 06, 2004

By the way: I took my first scuba class Friday night. Soon I will be a man of honor.

Top 11 Television Spinoffs for The Lord of the Rings

John Kerry Denies, Admits Flip flopping on the Issues

George Bush's stance on gay marriage

Friday, March 05, 2004

Pandagon has proposed a shadow cabinet for JfK. I like the idea. If done well, it would help keep the Dems on the front page during the long silly season. I don’t much care for most of Pandagon’s picks, however (surprise!).

My own picks are below. They are based mostly on my tastes, and so I didn’t spend a great deal of time thinking about how feasible they might be (or confirmable). I did try to avoid picking sitting senators/congresspersons since the Dems need to keep the few seats they have left. This is sort of a wish list, and includes comments on the offices. Anyway, see mine, see Pandagons, and perhaps make your own list.

President: JfK
Vice Pres: Jennifer Granholm (governor of Michigan)
Sec of State: Bill Richardson
Sec of Defense: John McCain
Sec of Health/Human Services: Marian Wright-Edelman
Sec of Interior: Jim Hightower
Attorney General: Nadine Strossen (of the ACLU)
Sec of Homeland Security: Gary Hart (abolish this, or at least rename it)
Sec of Labor: Robert Reich (again! This time give him some support.)
Sec of Commerce: Ben Cohen (of Ben and Jerry’s)
Sec of Education: Johnathan Kozol (author and activist and teacher)
Sec of Transportation: Parris Glendening
Sec of Veterans Affairs: Max Cleland
Economic Advisor: Paul Krugman
Bureau of Indian Affairs: Russel Means (abolish this, turning power over to tribes)
Nat. Endowment for the Arts: Quincy Jones

And here are a few important positions I can’t fill at the moment:
Sec of Treasury
Sec of Housing/Urban Devel
Sec of Energy
National Security Advisor
Chief of Staff
EPA Administrator (make it cabinet level)
Nat. End. for the Humanities

Thursday, March 04, 2004

In honor of the end of the "serious" bits of the primaries, I'd like to post this for the record, if there is one:

"Greg has been bitching about Kerry,"
--Yes. Although I prefer to think of it as being critical.
"and how he isn't progressive enough to be considered human,"
--No. He isn't particularly progressive on most issues, but he is human (as near as I can tell). All the pretty strawmen . . .
"much less an acceptable candidate,"
--Yes or No. It depends on the level of acceptance. I accept that Kerry is *a* candidate, and that he's the sort of candidate who has a shot at winning, and that he's preferable (if only marginally) to Dubyah but I'm getting ahead of myself.
"and that you might as well vote for Bush if Dennis Kucinich isn't in the race."
--Um. No. Of the Dem candidates, Kucinich is closest to my own politics but how the one thing connects to the other is unclear to me. You may as well vote for Bush if you agree with Bush's policies, however. That's where the criticism of Kerry is useful, since it (potentially) shows how the two men differ.
"All I have to say to that is that Dennis got more than his fair share of attention this go-round."
--I can't speak to the "fair share" line, as I'm not sure what is fair. I don't believe, however, that the Kuch could possibly have gotten the *same* share of attention as did Dean and Kerry and (lately) Edwards. But then, we're talking about what is fair.
"My personal opinion is that he did poorly enough to have hurt his own cause."
--I don't fully understand how that works, unless we're talking about the celebrity effect. Perhaps pacifist progressives will not want to be hitched to a guy who doesn't manage to translate his fair share of attention into convention delegates, but a "cause" suffering? Perhaps this means he did a poor job of campaigning and thereby shot his own campaign in its (bare) foot. That makes sense, even though I know next to nothing about his campaign.
Actually, I think the thing that the Kuch did wrongest was to be flaky. He strikes me as a flake, anyway. Folks don't tend to go wild for flakes, regardless of their noble ideas.

The good news is that I will be able to vote in the Alabama primary with a relatively clear conscience. The bad news is that this is because the presidential primary, at least, is essentially over and will be WAY over by the time Alabama votes (in June! Way to go Bama! We dare defend our rights, but primaries are for losers!).

November, however, is going to hurt more as it gets closer, I fear.

By the way, I'm watching "Factor Miedo" (aka Fear Factor) on the television. Shut up.

The current task? The idiots are taking turns being DRUG AROUND IN A CIRCLE THROUGH A HUGE MUDPUDDLE BY A GODDAMNED HORSE! Oh, and they are trying to do it as quickly as possible, so the horse is actually doing that not-quite-a-run thing horses do (is that gallop? It is faster than a trot, but not quite zoom zoom).

That ain't fear that's being factored: that's common sense and the ole self-preservation instinct.

Timothy Garton Ash has written two of my favorite books on recent German history ("In Europe's Name" and "The File") and is, generally, one of my go-to guys for commentary. Those two books and numerous articles have consistently shown him to be clever and possessed of keen perception and critical thinking skill. With that in mind, I was troubled by his "well . . . " commentary on the Iraq war back during the "should we?" phase, a year or so ago, and his We were duped would be funny if it weren't so sad.

How could HE have been duped? I find it profoundly freaky to watch so many of my intellectual betters just now come to grips with things which, from my perspective, were blindingly fucking obvious from the start.

OF COURSE Dubyah (and Blair, and Howard, and Aznar) lied! That's what they do! Why on earth would they have told the truth just this once? There were SO MANY reasons to doubt them, too.

Makes me wanna holler.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Here's something I just did and you can do: Sign the Petition at

There's no good reason not to sign. Honestly, I can't believe we're even having an argument about this.

Monday, March 01, 2004

Lord of the Rings, blah blah blah.

Charlize Theron, how do you feel about the death penalty? Hey, Alec Baldwin! How's every little thing? Oooh! Susan Sarandon! I'll bet you've got something on your mind! Why, Mr Robbins, what a lovely peace sign you're wearing! What? You're giving it to me? But don't you want to wear it on stage? Sting? Elvis Costello? Anything? Sir Ian? Gay marriage?


Sean Penn DID make a half-assed attempt, and Errol Morris made a 3/4-assed attempt, but basically the band played on tonight.

Yes, the Hollywood liberals are out to eat your babies, America.

And don't give me that "they were asked to refrain" shit. If the people I just named don't speak when they've got a microphone in front of them, then who can be expected to? It ain't like they've got any concerns about their career.

And that, lady and gentleman, is why I dropped out of Julliard.

The Chicago Cubs are going to beat everyone badly this year, or not. Anyway, it will be fun. So far they've beaten themselves handily in spring training.