Friday, April 18, 2003
I require knowledge.
How do you get those little notes to pop up when you put your cursor over a link or a picture or whatever? You know what I'm talking about, those little witticism tags.... The only thing as unnecessary as those li'l fellas is my job, so I think I should try doing both and see which makes me feel more pathetic.
If I were responsible for that, I'd kill myself. In a hurry.
posted by kriston at 5:33 PM........
The Good Friday Top 5 at 4:00
Can't let Good Friday go by without giving Jesus a little rib-pokin', can we? (I paved my path to Hell a long time ago.) Here's the 5 Best Jesus Spoofs That I Can Think Of, Or Look Up Real Quick:
5. The Simpsons - I think Jesus has said more on The Simpsons than he did in the Bible, but I can only remember the Springfield Church marquis on an Easter episode: Today's Topic - Christ Dyed Eggs For Your Sins
4. The State: Kill Tim - Scroll down to episode 304 and you can watch it. Jesus: You better watch your back.
3. The Onion: Jesus 'Really Dreading' This Next Birthday - "They keep telling me I don't look a day over 33, but you know how they are—especially Peter," Christ said meekly. "He'll be calling me an old fogy three times before the cock crows tomorrow morning. I just know it."
2. SNL - Any time Phil Hartman played Jesus.
And the number one pick is...
1. Monty Python: Life of Brian - Hilarious.
Anyone who knows me realizes I am terrible with quotes, and know next to nothing about film history - so if my picks are off, please don't crucify me.
UPDATE: I forgot Bill Hicks' Easter bit from "Rants in E-Minor," which is as funny as Easter gets:
"You know what I always found funny? Easter... yup. Now, this is a holiday that's supposed to be about the death and ressurection of Jesus Christ. And how do we celebrate it? By telling our children that a giant bunny rabbit left chocolate eggs in the night. It's no wonder we're fucked up as a race! I mean, why not "A goldfish left Lincoln Logs in your sock drawer!" I mean, at least a fish, jumping out of its bowl, and crawling across your bedroom floor with Lincoln Logs on its back has a supernatural connotation!
'Look mummy, there's a Lincoln Log in me sock drawer!
'That's the story of Jesus!'"
posted by kriston at 4:45 PM........
Kevin Drum did a round-up of the major news coverage following the UN Human Rights Commission's softball approach to countries like Cuba and Zimbabwe. I have no expert opinion on US/Cuba relations, but my perception of the embargo has changed drastically over time. Growing up in Tampa, attending a high school with a majority Cuban/Puerto Rican population, Castro was always at least as signifcant a public figure as whoever was president. The Puerto Ricans hated him, but mostly because (at least at my high school) Puerto Ricans hated Cubans. To this day I don't know if there's any pre-existing reason for this rivalry, as there is between, say, Chinese and Japanese, or if it's simply a matter of fact that your race puts you in clubs at that age. The Cubans and really everyone else besides the Ricans that I knew were largely ambivalent about Castro--maybe unwilling to acknowledge his failures and cruelties, a popular position--but the embargo was always spat upon. (Sorry, I know, I should at least have something to say before I throw out something like US/Cuban relations--and I'm not agnostic on the subject--I'm pleading It's Friday.)
Speaking of softball, Matt Welch is appalled by US collusion with Saudi Arabia, an enormous pink elephant that is currently courting the States' wealthiest law firms for their defense against the bazillion-dollar lawsuit being brought forward by the 9/11 victims' families. If only I knew someone who had the insider's story on the al Qaeda/Saudi defense...
posted by kriston at 1:24 PM........
Thursday, April 17, 2003
It's clear that Rumsfield, the Bush administration, and the military could not care less about Mesopotamian art history; you don't need this Salon article to tell you that. Still, Rumsfield's inability to live up to his obligations as a state figure, as a representative of Americans, is totally shocking:
After the first reports of looting at Iraq's museums -- and the first questions were raised about the failure of U.S. forces to intervene -- Rumsfeld's initial comments signaled that the U.S. didn't think that protection of antiquities and art was a priority. At a news conference last Friday, he blamed press coverage for inflating the problem. "The images you are seeing on television you are seeing over and over and over," he said, "and it's the same picture of some person walking out of some building with a vase, and you see it 20 times, and you think, 'My goodness, were there that many vases? Is it possible that there were that many vases in the whole country?'"
Jesus, what a prick. Still even more shocking is the extraordinary lengths that the policy-related branches of the arts community went to to insure that this ransacking wouldn't take place--well before the war started. In every case it seems that their efforts were ignored, shrugged off, or given the merest lip service. And, most disgusting of all, there's evidence to suggest that the Iraqi National Museum raid was well meditated by opportunists who clearly understood the value of the artifacts that were plundered.
My stomach is turning. Led by these bulls we'll be lucky if the whole china shop doesn't fall in on us.
posted by kriston at 2:23 PM........
A day late and a dollar short, but here's a funny tax cartoon. From Kieran Healy.
posted by kriston at 1:45 PM........
The real quagmire is in the Senate. The Democratic super-minority bloc will filibuster to prevent the judicial nomination of Priscilla Owen, another ideologue offered by the Bush administration. Though I believe that this outbreak of judicial activist nominations is strategically centered around abortion views - after all, there are nonactivist candidates that still favor a supply-side economy or whatever it is Bush has in mind - it seems that Owen is the right girl on all accounts. Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Sen. Patrick Leahy said it best in his majority statement rejecting her first nomination in September, 2002:
- In re Jane Doe 1, where the majority included an extremely unusual section explaining its view of the proper role of judges, admonishing the dissent joined by Justice Owen for going beyond its duty to interpret the law in an attempt to fashion policy.
Perhaps worst of all - so obvious that even Patrick Leahy from Vermont could smell it - it sounds like she's an Aggie:
The majority offered a strong opinion, detailing its legal reasoning and explaining the dangers of offering too much legislative power to private entities. By contrast, in her dissent, Justice Owen argued that, “[w]hile the Constitution certainly permits the Legislature to enact laws that preserve and conserve the State’s natural resources, there is nothing in the Constitution that requires the Legislature to exercise that power in any particular manner,” ignoring entirely the possibility of an unconstitutional delegation of power. Id. at 889. Her view strongly favored large business interests to the clear detriment of the public interest, and against the persuasive legal arguments of a majority of the Court.
I rest my case.
posted by kriston at 10:07 AM........
Wednesday, April 16, 2003
Michael Tomasky succinctly undercuts the right in their efforts to silence the left. His two point here, I believe, are that 1 in liberal-ish projects like reconstruction, the right has stumbled into "our" territory; and 2 that because the right makes mountains out of molehills (Susan Sarandon, Michael Moore) doesn't mean that anyone (Tom Daschle, Paul Krugman) is actually paying attention. With this line I think Tomasky is right on track:
If members of the Wolfowitz Brigade succeed in Iraq, it will be because they have the model of these liberal internationalists to follow -- because, in other words, they are behaving as functional liberals, engaging in just the sort of behavior they mocked during the 2000 campaign. And it will be in part because today's liberal critics will work to make sure they keep their word to both the American and the Iraqi people. We don't need to make dire predictions about the future to know that their word hasn't always been so trustworthy.
Not In Our Name was maybe a defendable stance last week. But enough. It's time to take stock and return to the proper obligations of the loyal opposition--those obligations are very many right now, after all.
posted by kriston at 3:21 PM........
I admit to be highly skeptical about democratic promise in Iraq, if for no other reason that I think that rooting out Pan-Arabism in this way has left more immediate room for Islamism (in the fundamental sense, as practiced by bin Laden and Iran) than for liberal democracy. Ultra-sensitive, yes, maybe even alarmist, and more so with news abounding that zealots are filling the power vacuum (free day pass version).
I have agreed with others that it is a positive good that Bush has refrained from describing Gulf War II and the War on Terror as wars in any directed at Islam. But only because Bush lacks the finesse and insight to paint the picture in its broader terms. There is, or there should be, a battle taking place against a psychotic fundamentalism at work throughout the Muslim Arab world. The Islamist/Pan-Arabist threat is as valid a spectrum of psychosis as the Nazi-fascist/Stalinist-communist threat to Europe through the 20th century. Its costliness has long since ranged within the European order of magnitude: the Iran-Iraq War costed upwards of a million lives; in the case of the Iranian suicide batallions, most of their deaths were at their own hands.
The solution won't be trickle-down, not given all the regime changes the neocons could ask for. I believe it will come from a liberal approach, involving structural overhaul of our international agencies, national stamina at home, and enormous amounts of time and money. It will involve stamping out Islamism and the prevalent culture of assassination. Had these investments been featured in the restructuring of post-WWI Europe, we might have avoided the glut of murders that followed--hindsight should provide clarity.
posted by kriston at 12:58 PM........
The Poorman has the listings for what I assume is the Southern Baptists' Middle East TV. I'd say he's only half-way there. Fat chance of this station being launched without a single program featuring Jerry Van Dyke (Coach; Win, Lose, or Draw). Don't forget about Ready, Set... Cook! either.
posted by kriston at 11:32 AM........
Critiquing Maureen Dowd is shooting fish in a barrel, I know, but this quote isn't even really out of context:
What if Saddam never intended to defend Baghdad? What if he plotted a "Body Heat" ending, where a look-alike would be blown up while he escaped to a secluded tropical beach?
In a more salient sliver of her editorial, she brings up the looting of the history museum. I don't know how people can be surprised by this news, for two reasons: One, this is a battlefield situation, and there may have been tactical difficulties in protecting the museum. If assigning a guard to the museum opened up the potential for US liabilities, well, there you have it. Two - the more likely reason, in my mind - the Bush team has rarely or never considered Iraqi culture in their strategy. Bush, after all, flew through the Hermitage Museum in 15 minutes. (The Hermitage! One would think that Bush would at least consider himself a representative of the United States and take a look around when he's walking through one of the finest collections on the planet....)
This omission is bigger than it may sound: in military terms a museum, a state library, or a park mean next to nothing. But one of our long-term strategic goals was to avoid the semblance of imperialism: this was a military goal as well as diplomatic. The military managed to resist the urge to drape Iraq in American flags; why did no leader suggest that protecting the Iraqis from themselves might be later seen as a generous and insightful gesture? I don't know how arts-oriented Iraqis feel about the Mesopotamian work, but I would demand a riot-geared flotilla at the doors of the MoMA.
For the larger picture: yet have we seen any strategic understanding directed toward Iraq. Even before the beuracracy to whom we have given charge has left the States, we are considering the march to Iraq's neighbor. Surprising, or not surprising at all?
posted by kriston at 9:59 AM........
I have just defeated "Dog Eggs" for the #1,490 spot on the one blog poll on which I appear. Moments like these are what you reflect on with pride after a long career spent wasting some company's time.
posted by kriston at 9:15 AM........
Tuesday, April 15, 2003
You wouldn't believe it, but I'm managing to have a terrible day at work--quite a feat, considering that most of the day I'm online reading, or looking for safe-for-work porn. My day's a mess so that means I'm bringing the funny until I call it quits.
Woody Harrelson-related Hilarity from The Poor Man.
posted by kriston at 4:20 PM........
Joan of Arc - Clearly, French
I'm going to go ahead and fess up to owning a few of their albums--I might go so far as to say I even enjoy their brand of music, if that's the word for it--but this Pitchfork Media review of one of Joan of Arc's newer albums, So Much Staying Alive and Lovelessness, is the funniest thing I've ever read:
The "poetry" spoken at the end of the album is some of the wimpiest, wimpiest, wimpiest, unstomachably windy, emo-phillips, carbon-dated, gossip-nostril, tantrum-panties, messiah-nipple, seventh-grade, goober-whittling, scruple-dink sweater-vest hobo-trigger, nut-kneading, mouth-breathing, pope-diving, womb-sniffing crap I've ever heard.
This line's the winner:
I guarantee that there will never be a point at which you will say, "Oh shit! I've got to play [I Refuse to Type That Album Title Again]!"
Joan of Arc surrenders.
posted by kriston at 3:31 PM........
From the Washington Post's social column:
The long-awaited, 800-page White House memoirs of former Bill Clinton aide Sidney Blumenthal will hit bookstores May 20 -- a thwack accompanied by a drumroll of publicity and serialization.
It's tough, but I think people have been fair about this subject. A writer wouldn't be worth his salt if everyone could put aside his writing the moment he died. The blogs I read all said, "Good guy - hated his columns." In the end I think that Blumenthal's treatment is more indicative than even an excellent eulogy. (Like Maureen Dowd's, posted in these pages a while back.) Of course, if Blumenthal talks about spitting on Kelly's grave, well, that may not be the commendation that I'm thinking of.
posted by kriston at 11:01 AM........
Sam Heldman offers several informative posts concerning Bill Pryor, and why you're likely to see the Democratic fillibuster strategy again. Pryor and Sutton are earning Bush the responses that my friends gave me re my exes: Where do you find these people?
Finder's fee goes to Yglesias.
posted by kriston at 9:57 AM........
Teletubbies: Out of Iraq!
They asked for Democracy, Whiskey, and Sexy, and it sounds like someone's been listening - because the Southern Baptist Convention is on its way! Hooray! Nothing makes the American experiment great like entrepreneurs such as Dr. Charles Stanley, head of In Touch ministries, and he's planning on showing Iraq a thing or two about the red, white, and blue. How about the expansion of Middle East TV:
On its Web site, In Touch refers to the Middle East as the "10/40 Window ... a 10-by-40 degree area north of the equator [which] houses the majority of the world's people who have not heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ in their language. These people ... are in desperate need of the Truth." Stanley's weekly sermons are beamed across the "10/40 Window" via satellite TV and shortwave radio by Middle East TV (METV), an American-owned Evangelical broadcast network. According to METV's Web site, its mission is "bringing the Gospel message of hope and peace to the troubled Middle East."
Wow. Ain't that America? These colors don't run! Now, it's been said that Iraq has a sizable Christian population, dating back to the days of, oh, Christ--but the white man's burden extends to helping foreign Christians, too. They can't help that they weren't born in the Promised Land! And the hate for Bush? Israel? Sounds like Mohammadon's not been a very good Christian role model.
The Southern Baptist Convention knows a few things about Islam: Franklin Graham called it a "violent and wicked religion;" Jerry Falwell said that Muhammond was "a terrorist." The Islamic world is already preparing to welcome this message of peace, too: Just check out http://www.khilafah.com/ for a new brotherly prayer pamphlet, Destroy the Fourth Crusader War--extended in the best Baptist traditions of love, compassion, and understanding.
posted by kriston at 9:45 AM........
Monday, April 14, 2003
Regarding the No-Smoking Ordinance in Austin: we really should have been involved with that city council meeting, because Lovejoy's provided free beer. I'm not sure if that meant at Lovejoy's or somehow at the city council meeting, but I do understand that free beer means not paying for beer, which has my support. What would be really sweet is if the Camel guy came by as well....
posted by kriston at 3:58 PM........
I wonder: can the US begin a war with Syria based, again, on unreleasable reports of chemical weapons?
White House press secretary Ari Fleischer, at his morning briefing, said repeatedly that "Syria needs to cooperate." He read from a CIA report to Congress last year that Syria had stockpiles of the nerve agent sarin, that it was "trying to develop more toxic and persistent nerve elements," and that it was "highly probable" that Syria was pursuing biological weapons. Fleischer described the document as "authoritative" and said the charge is "well corroborated."
My thinking is that we must be sharing some of these documents with other intelligences. I can only infer from the conditional "I think we believe there are chemical weapons" that we are debating the validity of the information, not market-testing it for its popularity with the American people. That logic, at least, is preventing me from wetting my pants all day long.
posted by kriston at 3:48 PM........
The fact that it is well known that Saddam Hussein's duputy prime minister Tariq Azziz is a Christian bothers me to no end. That Osama bin Laden would work very closely with any group whose highest ranking members supported Western culture, ideology, and religion, was not a real possibility before Sept. 11th, and not at all likely before the war in Iraq began. Osama bin Laden suggested that he would support his enemy's enemy, but except for the various assertions to the contrary made by the Bush administration, there's no reason to believe that Iraq and al Qaeda cooperated.
Unless we're clearly misreading the ideological and religious testaments of bin Laden--and this must be the case if the Bush team has evidence portraying a notable relationship between bin Laden and Hussein--then the other alternative is probably the truth: the government of the United States has tried to pull the wool over our eyes. I'm extremely distrustful of conspiracy theories (even the ones I'd like to believe!) but I'm now placing the burden of proof on the Bush team. There had better be a good reason that the President would willfully play upon the fear and ignorance of the American people, as well as appropriating a national wound.
And, yes, this does pale compared to the issue of WMDs not yet being uncovered. Bush made the case for war based on criteria that included evidence of imminently dangerous WMDs. I still believe reason will prevail--as much as it can--but now that we're essentially cleaning up, I think it's time Bush showed the "cards" that took us there.
posted by kriston at 3:14 PM........
Back up in this, folks. It took me forever to find out what the problem was because I am troglodytic when it comes to computers. You can get better tech support at Wendy's, but I guess that the service matches the price. As it turned out--and none of you care--it was because IE for Mac changes some line of code on the blog, and I was expected to know that. Remember how on your T-82 you'd always forget to close some brackets and it would go apeshit? This html stuff is so much like that algebra order-of-operations bs that I think I deserve to pick up 3 hours of idiot math credit.
Whatever. As before the plan is to put the blog game in a chokehold.
posted by kriston at 2:39 PM........
Sunday, April 13, 2003