February 27, 2007


Bush funds Sunni cadres of the 9/11 attack to fight Shias. He makes no mention, however, of his righteous indignation over Middle Eastern countries' monetary interference in Syrian violence. Because of the Patriot Act, Bush is now able-to-and-active-in firing well-regarded US attorneys based--apparently--on his desire to seed those who are friendly to his pet projects. Some would call his appointees activists. John Gibson of Fox News criticizes as snobs those news organizations that choose to cover the Iraq war instead of Anna Nicole Smith. The White House is disappearing from its web site all speeches where Dick Cheney made idiotic remarks about Iraq. Surprisingly, no, it's not all of his speeches. As soon as the recent "proof" of Iranian weapons were presented--accusations from this administration going back to 2005 at least--the evidence was dismissed as circumstantial. Yet the accusations still drive arguments from the White House. Drudge shockingly reveals the increased energy consumption of the Gore family household and yet conveniently forgets to balance the rest of the equation. Cheney lectures a post-satellite-destroying-China on the proper and moral use of power. Really.

What am I missing here?

posted by sstrader at 11:34 PM in Politics | permalink

February 23, 2007

New David Lynch tonight

Inland Empire at Lefont tonight at 6. The original Mothra tomorrow nite at 10.

posted by sstrader at 9:40 AM in Cinema | permalink

February 21, 2007

Hate < Love

So I went to watch some video of some comic that people love/hate. Dane Cook? I had never heard of him and so read through the YouTube comments beforehand to get a sense of what I'd be watching and what to expect. In YouTube comments?!? I know, I know. As I scrolled through the fans saying how great he is and the non-fans saying how badly he sucks, the last comment caught my attention with something-along-the-lines of "if you hate him so much, don't watch."

What's with the odd rule that you can praise freely but you can't criticize freely? I think this is the same flawed impluse that forces people to demand relativism in Art analysis. Certainly, Entertainment--and however it may be different from Art--puts a spin on the issue. Still, after the relativism bomb gets dropped, only positive remarks become allowable. And that's kinda stupid.

posted by sstrader at 11:54 PM in Culture & Society | permalink

February 20, 2007

February 15, 2007

Here's a thought

If the bitches at Earthlink would stop resetting my IP, maybe I could get some work done without having to reset my office VPN connection every 5 minutes.

posted by sstrader at 3:05 PM in Personal | permalink

February 13, 2007

Tell me of your homeworld, Usul.


(original found in comments here)

posted by sstrader at 11:38 PM in Culture & Society | permalink

Web browsers and language

I'm continually amazed at how forgiving web browsers are in allowing access to malformed information. HTML can contain unclosed elements or a mix of valid and invalid elements and attributes yet browsers will still display the page for the most part correct. This puts web browsers further from programming language interpreters and closer to natural language interpreters. For programming languages, as soon as any syntactic error is encountered, the program and remaining commands are abandoned. An interpreter can't degrade gracefully from division-by-zero or adding two numbers using the smiley-face character. In contrast, natural languages and its users are adept at eliding semantic and syntactic gaffes without completely abandoning the message. I can "don't want no ketchup" or ask "how many bottle should I buy?" and still be understood. For the most part.

posted by sstrader at 6:17 PM in Language & Literature | permalink

Satie and Louis XIV

So one time back in college I checked out an authoritative collection of Satie piano pieces from the library in order to work on my sight reading. His works can be simple with repetition yet still cover the keyboard and include odd phasing and voicing. It throws some curves at you.

Anyway, I was reading through in a practice room and my best-friend-at-the-time, Ed Schoen (how old are you when you stop having best friends?) knocked and came in to chat. I was showing him the wacky comments that Satie added at various points in the score, and we quickly realized that a dramatic reading of the material was required. I don't remember exactly, but the text had something to do with a French aristocrat who was excessively proud of his legs. Over the static harmonies, Ed would deliver these over-serious proclamations of a dandy honoring his legs. It had such a Pythonian ridiculousness about it that I could barely play from laughing.

This morning, on NPR, Susan Stamberg pointed out parenthetically that Louis XIV was very proud of his legs. It reminded me--and how could it not--about the Satie piece and how backstories may take decades to be revealed.

posted by sstrader at 1:01 PM in Music | permalink

Now I get it

If a work of art comments on recent erosions of privacy by the government--such as with Orwell's 1984 and Bush's wiretapping et al.--then it's considered prescient. If a work of art echoes the recent loosening of ethics by the government--such as with Fox's 24 and extraordinary rendition etc.--then it's just fiction and not to be taken too seriously.

posted by sstrader at 8:17 AM in Politics | permalink

February 8, 2007

"Republic or Empire" at Harpers

Republic or Empire by Chalmers Johnson.

In explaining the economic dysfunction of the military-industrial complex, Johnson quotes Senator Robert La Follette Sr. (1855-1925). Many of his quotes comment on 50s McCarthyism and the 2000s 9/11 alarmism. It has me vacillating between the dread of impending doom and the rationalism of a history of cycles. Take, for instance, this La Follette quote:

The purpose of this ridiculous campaign is to throw the country into a state of sheer terror, to change public opinion, to stifle criticism, and suppress discussion. People are being unlawfully arrested, thrown into jail, held incommunicado for days, only to be eventually discharged without ever having been taken into court, because they have committed no crime. But more than this, if every preparation for war can be made the excuse for destroying free speech and a free press and the right of the people to assemble together for peaceful discussion, then we may well despair of ever again finding ourselves for a long period in a state of peace. The destruction of rights now occurring will be pointed to then as precedents for a still further invasion of the rights of the citizen.

I would emphasize one or two phrases here, yet they're all telling. I'm reminded that modern America did not invent fascist tendencies, but also that cycles don't necessarily return to an equivalent state. Knowing that free-speech zones exist and are enforced is difficult to get out from under no matter how many people invoke a defense in the form of pendulums and counterweights. How also to explain that All forty-two previous U.S. presidents combined have signed statements exempting themselves from the provisions of 568 new laws, whereas Bush has, to date, exempted himself from more than 1,000?

To cut to the climax, here's Johnson's final assessment:

The more likely check on presidential power, and on U.S. military ambition, will be the economic failure that is the inevitable consequence of military Keynesianism. Traditional Keynesianism is a stable two-part system composed of deficit spending in bad times and debt payment in good times. Military Keynesianism is an unstable one-part system. With no political check, debt accrues until it reaches a crisis point.

He looks at Roman descent from empire to a destructive military fascism and British transformation from empire to the sustainable democracy of a more modest kingdom, and sees neither available to America before our military economy humbles us.

posted by sstrader at 5:39 PM in Politics | permalink

boolshit (definition)

adj. -tier, -tiest

  1. code that performs a conditional test for true or false in order to set a Boolean value: if (isActive == true) {doProcessing = true} else if (isActive == false) {doProcessing = false}, cf. doProcessing = isActive
  2. a programmer who writes such code
  3. what you say under your breath when you encounter boolshit code in anticipation of the subsequent gaffes you will have to deal with and debug
posted by sstrader at 9:35 AM in Language & Literature , Programming | permalink

February 7, 2007

February 6, 2007

Science blogs, non-science, and a book

The ScienceBlogs web site is an aggregation of 57 blogs that focus primarily on science. Their rss feed is a little busy but always a good source of new info. I subscribed sometime in the past year, and it has become a primary blog distraction.

One recent post from Evolving Thoughts--regarding a definition of science--is a good example of the casually thoughtful content that's available (though occationally the science does get a little too hot and heavy for the person on the street).

Also referenced from that article is the book The Best Writing on Science Blogs 2006. This is an area where self-publishing is ideal. There have been some phenomenal posts on the ScienceBlogs that deserve to be in dead-tree format.

posted by sstrader at 1:02 PM in Science & Technology | permalink

February 5, 2007

An option for YouTube

Amidst the tens-of-thousands of take-down notices that YouTube seems to be getting every other week, I realized that one possible future for them would be to steal shows from the networks. The first, obvious choice, is Jon Stewart. How cool would it be for him to drop TV entirely and be the flagship show on a YouTube network? Separate from cable yet competing. Something like that might legitimize internet audiences like Howard Stern didn't for XM radio.

posted by sstrader at 8:12 PM in Culture & Society | permalink

February 3, 2007

Links for the week

  • Journalist Sy Hersh has harsh words for Bush - A scary/real prediction of more insanity to come:

    "He's a total radical, probably the most radical president we've ever had in terms of his definition of the power of the presidency," he said. "There's nothing more dangerous than a radical who doesn't have information, doesn't learn from information and doesn't learn from the past."

    Seymour Hersh is, unfortunately, rarely off-base.

  • The Passion of Mary Cheney - Dan Savage shames Mary Cheney as the careless idiot she is:

    Yes, itís a baby, not a prop. My kid isnít a prop either, but that never stopped right-wingers from attacking me and my boyfriend over our decision to become parents. The fitness of same-sex couples to parent is very much part of the political debate thanks to the GOP and the Christian bigots that make up its lunatic ďbase.Ē Youíre a Republican, Mary, you worked on both of your fatherís campaigns, and you kept your mouth clamped shut while Karl Rove and George Bush ran around the country attacking gay people, gay parents, and our children in 2000, 2002, 2004, and 2006. Itís a little late to declare the private choices of gays and lesbians unfit for public debate, Mary.

  • Scientists offered cash to dispute climate study - The best part of this story is a quote I heard on NPR from a representative of the AEI. He defended the money by attacking those who think the money is a bribe. He said that anyone who would think that reputable scientist could be bribed doesn't have much faith in the scientific community. A second, more sane, interviewee pointed out that the money will only help create astroturf that will be heavily lobbied to lawmakers who don't understand the value of peer-review.

  • Hillary Clinton Drops Madrassa Bomb on Barack Obama - First, Fox News says that Obama attended a fundamentalist Muslim school and that Hillary Clinton leaked the story (Dem v. Dem!). Quickly, and with unusual accuracy, CNN investigated and found out that neither assertions were true. The story, of course, continued to be reported on in its original form by Fox. Obama then kicked Fox News in the nuts.

posted by sstrader at 10:10 AM in Politics | permalink

February 2, 2007

Persichetti: Werewolf Slayer

Wacky vandalism I just had to clean up in Wikipedia's entry for Vincent Persichetti:

It is also worth noting that at age 42, Persichetti battled a werewolf and was victorious. He often told this story during his life, saying "If I you ever have a choice between pursuing a career in music or fighting a werefwolf, flip a coin."

Funny, but I'm watching you

posted by sstrader at 10:28 AM in Music | permalink

February 1, 2007


New t-shirt: ATHF is the bomb, with an image Ignignokt fipping us off [ via BoingBoing ]

That about sums up the stupidity of the initial over-reaction, and then the (Govenor's?) speech after they knew it was just marketing was someone falling for an obvious prank and then getting angry at the prankster to cover their own stupidity.

In the words of Jerry Seinfeld upbraiding Kramer and Newman: idiots.

posted by sstrader at 8:17 AM in Culture & Society | permalink