Monday, 25 February 2008

Sunday, 17 February 2008

Short shameful confession

While hunting for material for May Contain Nuts, I often come across stories that are not funny at all, such as:

Bronx Dad Incinerates Teen Daughter’s Body After Strangling

and I'm nevertheless tempted to use it, because I thought of a funny line, a gag, a wisecrack with which to make comedy out of someone else's horrific tragedy.

Luckily, better judgement usually intervenes. But it could go either way.

Friday, 15 February 2008

How torture affects you, or your brother, or your son

Yes, torture does migrate, and there are some good examples of it both in American and French history. The basic idea here is that soldiers who get ahead torturing come back and take jobs as policemen, and private security, and they get ahead doing the same things they did in the army. And so torture comes home. Everyone knows waterboarding, but no one remembers that it was American soldiers coming back from the Philippines that introduced it to police in the early twentieth century. During the Philippine Insurgency in 1902, soldiers learned the old Spanish technique of using water tortures, and soon these same techniques appeared in police stations, especially throughout the South, as well as in military lockups during World War I. Likewise, the electrical techniques used in Vietnam appeared in the 1960s appeared in torturing African Americans on the south side of Chicago in the 1970s and 1980s, and, as I argue in the book, that wasn’t just an accident.

So torture always comes home. And the techniques of this war are likely to show up in a neighborhood near you. Likewise, the techniques that appeared in the War on Terror were already documented in INS lockups in Miami in the 1990s. There is no bright line between domestic and foreign torture; the stuff circulates.

Six Questions for Darius Rejali, Author of ‘Torture and Democracy’(Harper's Magazine)

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Blithe barbarism

I'm an innumerate, but the figures on this -- the saddest story of our Iraq debacle -- are so large that even I can do the necessary computations. The population of the United States is now just over 300,000,000. The population of Iraq at the time of the U.S. invasion was perhaps in the 26-27 million range. Between March 2003 and today, a number of reputable sources place the total of Iraqis who have fled their homes -- those who have been displaced internally and those who have gone abroad -- at between 4.5 million and 5 million individuals. If you take that still staggering lower figure, approximately one in six Iraqis is either a refugee in another country or an internally displaced person.

Now, consider the equivalent in terms of the U.S. population. If Iraq had invaded the United States in March 2003 with similar results, in less than five years approximately 50 million Americans would have fled their homes, assumedly flooding across the Mexican and Canadian borders, desperately burdening weaker neighboring economies. It would be an unparalleled, even unimaginable, catastrophe. Consider, then, what we would think if, back in Baghdad, politicians and the media were hailing, or at least discussing positively, the "success" of the prime minister's recent "surge strategy" in the U.S., even though it had probably been instrumental in creating at least one out of every ten of those refugees, 5 million displaced Americans in all. Imagine what our reaction would be to such blithe barbarism.


Not a nerd says I'm a History / Lit Geek.  What are you?  Click here!

BUT -- also 50% science.
AND -- 42% awkward and dorky.


(Nerd quiz found at Fab Jinxed)

Nice article on Jane Goodall, chimp-lady

The world changed in 1960 when British 26-year-old Jane Goodall spent five months living a dream. She was conducting ethnographic research with chimpanzees in the Tanzanian-African jungle and her observations rocked the core of scientific belief of the time, namely the idea that humans are unique because they make tools; she showed that chimps do too. Her findings led to grave reconsiderations about what it means to be human. Now a household name around the world, Goodall spoke yesterday evening at Eötvös Loránd Tudományegyetem in Budapest to two overflowing auditoriums of more than 1,000 people. She urged audience members to use their brains, not give up on dreams, and preserve the environment for future generations.

Crossposted to May Contain Nuts because it's about chimps, duh

A Bedouin ode to George Galloway

A friend phoned from London and gave the glad news -
Thank you, brave hero, and son of the brave! -
That man of Respect about whom you enthuse:
Victory is his, people's hearts he's enslaved!
George the intrepid, that symbol of pluck,
A falcon who circled above flocks of game;
With a flap of his wings he rose up and up,
Inscribed in the annals of honour his name!
Unshakeable attitudes, freely proclaimed,
He boldly set out and explained in his proof;
When we heard you had won, there was joy uncontained,
You're the torch that distinguishes flasehood from truth!
In spite of your critics, you shone in the dark,
And ploughed on regardless, o George of good heart;
Your cause was a noble one, path clearly marked,
While their paths were murky, with stumbles, false starts.
Jackals who lurk in a cave, in a gorge,
Is the true appellation of George Bush and Blair;
If Britain still has such a one as you, George,
Of glory and pride it can still claim a share!
The market their consciences soon overcame,
Selling their honour for oil and hard cash;
With skill and aplomb, George, you put them to shame,
That hornetsy nest, Congress, faced down with panache!
Like cunning sly foxes, they hid in their hole,

And slipped out, their smears and distortions to spread;
But you stood before them steadfast, in control,
An eagle before which, like sparrows, they fled.
Their crimes were highlighted, their low dirty deeds,
Which even wild animals aren't prone to do;
Just look at Iraq: she's destroyed, how she bleeds!
Her innocents slaughtered, her destitute too.
Bad men lit the fire of this war just like that;
It won't be put out, though, by these useless duds;
While Blair lives in style in his luxury flat,
The bills are all paid in his people's red blood.

The poem will be in a unique collection of Bedouin street verses assembled by Clive Holes, professor for the study of the contemporary Arab world at Oxford, and Said Salman Abu Athera, who is himself a poet. The work of Hajaya, and other Bedouin poetry dating back to the Suez Crisis in 1956, will be published in a weighty tome next autumn. A selection including Ode to George, and Hajaya's Hey Condoleezza Rice - put in the mouth of "His Splendidness Mr George W Bush!" - will also be released on CD.

Grapes 2.0 says: Don't all rush at once.

Is Barack Obama the Messiah?

"... a light will shine through that window, a beam of light will come down upon you, you will experience an epiphany ... and you will suddenly realize that you must go to the polls and vote for Obama" - Barack Obama Lebanon, New Hampshire.
January 7, 2008.

Is Barack Obama the Messiah?

Monday, 11 February 2008

Award time again

Is it my imagination, or did Barack Obama win a Grammy?

Why yes. Yes, he did:

He also won in 2006, also for a book. What did Hillary ever win? Well, she won one in 1997, also for a book. Bill has one. So does Jimmy Carter. They're all at it. All except George W. Bush, needless to say.

So I guess the moral is: Amy, don't make too much of it, hon. It's good, but it's not all that good.

Jaws star Roy Scheider dies at 75


Six-Word Memoirs

Legend has it that Hemingway was once challenged to write a story in only six words. His response? “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” Last year, SMITH Magazine re-ignited the recountre by asking our readers for their own six-word memoirs. They sent in short life stories in droves, from the bittersweet (“Cursed with cancer, blessed with friends”) and poignant (“I still make coffee for two”) to the inspirational (“Business school? Bah! Pop music? Hurrah”) and hilarious (“I like big butts, can’t lie”).

Six-Word Memoirs

Try making up your own. It's harder than it looks.

Bite-sized Britannica

Britannica Concise is a complete, 28,000 article, single-volume encyclopedia from the editors of Encyclopædia Britannica.

Britannica Concise

The Life Cycle of a Blog Post

"From Servers to Spiders to Suits -- to You"


Bizarro world

Here's what the world would look like if the land were water, and the water land.


click to biggify


Recording artists who have sold more than 100 million records


Roberto Carlos

Modern Talking

Mireille Mathieu

Michiya Mihashi

Johnny Hallyday

Gheorghe Zamfir


Adriano Celentano

Wei Wei

Tino Rossi

Alla Pugacheva

A. R. Rahman


Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Smugopedia - | Pretend you know better.


February 4, 2008


The extreme degree to which Voltaire was hated by the great men of his era is surprising--hated even by the likes of Mozart, who wrote to his father after Voltaire's death, "the arch-scoundrel Voltaire has finally kicked the bucket."

Awesome | Thumbs up | Thumbs down

Smugopedia - | Pretend you know better.

Smugopedia is a collection of slightly controversial opinions about a variety of subjects. We offer you the chance to buy a fleeting sense of self-satisfaction at the small cost of alienating your friends and loved ones.

Tuesday, 5 February 2008


Zero Boss?
Startling Stories?

Peeps just up and go.

Monday, 4 February 2008

JK Rowling needs to shut up now

Some readers, and a fair few rival children's authors, might have been glad to see the back of the boy wizard, but a teary-eyed JK Rowling yesterday confessed to terrible anguish at parting company with Harry Potter. Collecting an award for outstanding achievement, she told the audience of her awful distress at bidding farewell to her world-beating fictional offspring.

Rowling grieves for lost wizard | Special Reports | Guardian Unlimited Books

You cannot be serious

Microsoft is committed to openness, innovation, and the protection of privacy on the Internet. We believe that the combination of Microsoft and Yahoo! will advance these goals.

Statement from Brad Smith, General Counsel, Microsoft

Veterinary blog, not for the faint-hearted

Saturday, January 05, 2008

  • three rats - assembly line style. one had an enormous tumor, one just looked very sick, and one had a small tumor that would grow quickly into something unmanagable.
  • a 12 year old cat. i don't know why. no history was given, nothing apparently wrong. i questioned myself and the situation heavily.

posted by whatikilledtoday at 10:15 PM


This year's Mindset list

Our effort is to identify a worldview of 18 year-olds in the fall of 2007. We take a risk in some cases of making generalizations, particularly given that our students at Beloit College for instance come from every state and scores of nations.

The "Class of 2011" refers to students entering college this year. They are generally 18 which suggests they were born in 1989.

The list identifies the experiences and event horizons of students as they commence higher education and is not meant to reflect on their preparatory education.

  • Wolf Blitzer has always been serving up the news on CNN.
  • Katie Couric has always had screen cred.
  • Al Gore has always been running for president or thinking about it.
  • They never found a prize in a Coca-Cola “MagiCan.”
  • They were too young to understand Judas Priest’s subliminal messages.
  • When all else fails, the Prozac defense has always been a possibility.
  • Multigrain chips have always provided healthful junk food.
  • They grew up in Wayne’s World.
  • U2 has always been more than a spy plane.
  • They were introduced to Jack Nicholson as “The Joker.”

Beloit College Public Affairs

Friday, 1 February 2008

Timetable of Doom

Here's how the future turned out:

In October 2040, the human population of Earth was ravaged by a genetically-modified or super-virulent disease.
In September 2048, irresponsible human behaviour finally caused a catastrophic change in the global climate.
In December 2062, Mutual Assured Destruction fulfilled its promise, and nuclear war took place.
In May 2075, society broke down due to pollution and the wastage of natural resources.
Finally, in August 2110, Earth was taken over by creatures from another world, attracted here by the broadcast of the powerful message "Jai guru deva om" which nobody on Earth had understood.

Man's salvation came not a moment too soon.

The above version of events is based on the computations of the multiple Doomsday clocks at Impending Doom. We have no reason to believe they are not entirely accurate.

Time for change

Or not.

Makes me think of this guy:

Must be the short arms.