April 29, 2004

Oh boy, more free advice from Republicans!

The latest free advice to Democrats from conservative pundits is to dump Kerry as the nominee because he's a dork and a loser, and also because he's constantly defending himself from (RNC-fabricated) wacky accusations. Of course, I take any such advice with a big-ass grain of salt, and the fact is that any Democratic nominee is going to have all kind of crazy crap dug up and flung about. But it was particularly stunning to hear Cal Thomas suggest that we ditch Kerry for these reasons and nominate... Hillary Clinton.

Rrrrrrrrrrrright. Because the GOP and its attack dogs would surely never stoop to making overblown and downright made-up allegations of any sort towards Hillary Clinton.

Posted by Carl at 01:50 PM | Comments (0)

12 Monkeys: Bring tissues

This month's monkey, provided by Blork and M, is confess to crying at the movies.

It may be a stereotypical male thing to say, but I don't cry at movies much. The one that gets me every time, though (and it happens fairly often, because every time it's on TV I have to watch it) is Field of Dreams. "Dad?... Do you want to have a catch?" **sniff** Just something in my eye...

The other night they had The Sixth Sense on TV, and the bit at the end where Cole tells his mom, "Grandma says 'Every day'" made me surprisingly misty, knowing it was coming.

Now, I'm glad no one has ever made a movie version of The Fool's Progress, because I don't think I could stand to watch it. I cried the first time I read it, and was such a mess after reading it the second time (knowing what was coming) that I swore I'd never read it again. And Douglas Copeland's Microserfs was an unexpectedly emotional read.

Posted by Carl at 01:14 PM | Comments (2)

April 27, 2004

Page 23, Sentence 5...

Man, I wouldn't have left this book on my desk if I'd known about this obligation ahead of time... Mine has got to be the lamest sentence out there.

"Doric is in fact a very broad designation covering sub-dialects spoken from the western to the eastern edges of the Greek world; a 'Doric' poet often had a variety of metrically equivalent and equally 'dialectal' forms from which to choose."

Hunter, Richard. Theocritus, A Selection. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.

1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 23.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.

Posted by Rob at 06:13 PM | Comments (2)

Page 23, Sentence 5

Here's a goofy fun thing that's going around:

1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 23.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.

I have two books roughly equidistant, so why not do them both:

"But soon Pippin saw that all was in fact well-ordered: the wains were moving in three lines, one swifter drawn by horses; another slower, great waggons with fair housings of many colours, drawn by oxen; and along the west rim of the road many smaller carts hauled by trudging men." --J.R.R. Tolkien, Return of the King

"'No,' said Francis." --Kevin Allen, Why is the Stanley Cup Still in Mario Lemieux's Swimming Pool? Good one, eh?

Posted by Carl at 03:19 PM | Comments (0)


This past weekend my better half and I went and saw an absolutely fabulous performance troupe, called Sympoh. One of the members is a friend of ours, and fellow graduate student. Like us, he is old enough to remember when breakdancing really went mainstream. Watching the Sympoh performance brought back some memories of Wilson Middle School in the early 80s. Some of the best breakers and rockers there were the Vietnamese students, and it was, and still is, an art which does a remarkably good job of crossing ethnic and language barriers. The Sympoh performance did a phenomenal job of tapping into one of Princeton's many strengths in performance art by incorporating the Indian dance group NAACHO into a couple of the routines. Mixing hip-hop and traditional Indian dance music, the two groups were amazing together. Sympoh also manage to reference one of Princeton's great weaknesses... they worked in a hilarious skit where some of the members put on pastel Izods with upturned collars and shook it up as only preppy frat-boys can do. Perhaps in a gesture to the Run-DMC/Aerosmith video for "Walk This Way", the skit ended up as an admixture of B-Boy and Chi Phi, with the whole group choreographically breaking to the strains of "Sweet Home Alabama". Finally, each section was introduced by some notable Princeton personality, including Peter Singer, Dr. Ruth, Eddie Glaude and Cornel West. If you ever get a chance to see Sympoh, or any of the many free-style and breaking groups out there, do it.

Posted by Rob at 11:05 AM | Comments (0)

Call the church police

Does the blogosphere need another opinion on the Great Liberal Religion Debate of 2004? Of course it does. Actually, I'll just link to Tristero's post on the subject, which captures my feelings quite well. I don't care about your religion. If you want to worship Jesus, Allah, Hanuman, whoever, knock yourself out. What you do in your home and your place of worship is your business. However, when you bring your religion into our communal politics, it becomes very much my business. Christians would rightfully scream and holler if a Muslim teacher taught their kids how to pray in the direction of Mecca, yet see no problem with having the Lord's Prayer at public events. It's mind-boggling.

And in case any actual theists stop by here, here's a question for them: If God is all-powerful and all-loving, why does teething hurt babies so much?

Posted by Carl at 09:44 AM | Comments (0)

April 26, 2004

Religion and Politics

I have little to add to the blogosphere battle royale which the comments of Atrios seemed to have sparked. TalkLeft has a bunch of links to some of the better entries, so if you are interested in getting up to speed quickly, go there.

I must admit that my post last Friday may have seemed a little snarky, especially given the brewing broo ha ha... There really isn't much of an excuse, so if it offended, I just have to beg your forgiveness. What can I say, some days I feel like a snark, some days I don't. In general, I tend to agree with the course marked out by Amy Sullivan. I'll flesh that position out in a later post, but first let me point you to some thoughts of a close friend, who probably has done more to open my eyes to the potential of a left-leaning Evangelical Christian culture than anyone I've met. I can guarantee you that FoolBlog is the only site which links to him, so count yourself lucky, and read him. He isn't pro-Kerry, not by a long shot, nor do I agree with all of his positions, but here you can see somebody really wrestling hard with the intersection of faith and politics, and I think this process is very, very important for secularists and people of faith to take note of. Please, go give this a few minutes of your time, and if you think its a useful page, spread the good news around a bit, especially to any Christian friends and family you have. It never hurts to evangelize Evangelicals, it only shows them that you love them!

Posted by Rob at 08:42 AM | Comments (0)

April 25, 2004

Captions please

"Would it KILL you to use a turn signal?"

Posted by Carl at 10:30 PM | Comments (0)

April 23, 2004

Linking Fool Friday

The Big Fool is away, and he left me the keys to the turntable cabinet…

We all know that the chaste virgin, Ms. Shame, never danced with Rove & Co., but nonetheless, they do manage to surprise. That there’s talent. In a never ending search for the bottom of the moral turpitude barrel, they’ve managed to trot out questions about Kerry’s war record. Well at least he actually has a war record as opposed to the rather incomplete mess of paperwork documenting Bush’s Champagne Unit service in the fierce humidity of southeastern Texas. What’s that about how character counts? A little direct comparison can be mighty illuminating.

Of course Rove is a child of God. No doubt. But surely we can speculate on what steps said parent has taken to disown him… And its nice knowing Dubya is in direct communication with the almighty, who told him to invade Iraq. Perhaps because they are trying to kill Christians. I don’t remember that particular issue coming up in Powell’s presentation to the UN… But if Bush thinks Jesus wants it, at least he doesn’t have to pay attention at those annoying meetings. Hey brother, can you spare a mint?

But, really, stuff like this is just evidence that we are succeeding in Iraq. And it really is nice to know that the U.S. Treasury (read the very bottom!) is now an arm of the RNC in their goal of re-electing President Junior Mint.

Posted by Rob at 12:12 PM | Comments (0)

April 21, 2004

lemme holla atcha

Shout-out to Kevin, who has upgraded from rarely-updated Diaryland site to actual blogtastic blog.

I'm going to be AFC (away from computer) tomorrow and Friday, so no posts from me. Hopefully Rob will come by and write something intelligent, showing me up yet again. Or at least he can do Linking Fool Friday.

Posted by Carl at 11:56 AM | Comments (0)

This ain't no "Family Circus"

Otis sent an e-mail this morning basically asking "What the hell is up with Doonesbury?" If you haven't been reading it, multi-war veteran B.D. has apparently lost a leg in Iraq. Doonesbury always has a political tone, but normally has humor in the mix; this week's strips aren't funny at all. Oddly enough, the usually lighthearted Get Fuzzy is dealing with a wounded soldier coming home this week as well.

Props to Trudeau and Conley, I say. The Bushies won't let the media show coffins coming home from Iraq (though one snuck through recently), and Bush himself won't even go to the funerals. For too many Americans, the casualties in this war are just an abstraction. If you don't personally know someone involved, it doesn't mean as much. Somebody's got to make people understand the costs of this war; if not B.D., then who?

Posted by Carl at 11:48 AM | Comments (0)

April 20, 2004

Nuance? We don't need no stinking nuance!

I started to write more about the general lack of intellectual acuity demonstrated by President Bunnypants, and his rather inane press conference/speech. But then I stumbled across this.

Yes. Exactly. What they said.

When can we start Fed-Exing freeze-dried crow to various parts of the country? Will it be eaten with Freedom Fries and a nice Chardonnay?

When will there be a moral imperative to no longer be so f*&#@&^@# charitable towards Bush? Has that time come? Was it yesterday?

Posted by Rob at 12:20 PM | Comments (2)

April 16, 2004

I assume it's not Dan Savage's version of "santorum"

Specter and Toomey say "I'm more Republican than you."

Yikes. As a former Pennsylvanian, I really hope Joe Hoeffel can pull this one off.

Posted by Carl at 01:15 PM | Comments (0)


Yesterday was tax day, and apparently I am one of the few who thinks he paid less in taxes overall than last year. That has more to do with a new baby in 2003, and getting the child tax credit in full (we didn't get a check for part of it earlier in the year) than anything else.

As I've said before, we've collectively lost sight of why we pay taxes. Jeff at Notes on the Atrocities/The American Street shares this sentiment, and provides a convenient list of things tax dollars go towards. The free market does a lot of things well, but there are many things that it just can't handle: defense, police protection, road work, and, yes, health care. But Norquist and his bunch get people in such a "stop taking my money" frenzy that you'd think they want true anarchy. I'm not asking for a return to 90% tax brackets; I'm just saying, quit bitching like your tax dollars get sucked into some black hole somewhere and you don't get anything for them.

Apparently, people are waking up to the fact that the wealthy and corporations don't pay their fair share. You'd think it wouldn't be so hard to run a presidential campaign promising tax increases and closure of loopholes for the wealthy and corporations, then. Of course, the Bushies' willingness to just make up crap like "$900B tax increase in the first 100 days" doesn't help.

Posted by Carl at 10:18 AM | Comments (0)

Linking Fool Friday

Here we get a link from Pandagon yesterday (that's a huge surge in traffic, by FoolBlog standards), and I haven't written anything new in almost two weeks. Sad, I tell you.

JMM has a superb post on the empty rhetoric of the war in Iraq. Apparently, many Americans are incapable of understanding anything more nuanced that "We are good, they are evil," and respond to that. And judging from the recent press conference, we collectively do not care if our president is articulate and can think on his feet. I think those are important qualities in a leader, but Kerry will inevitably be portrayed as some sort of brainy snob, as if being intelligent is a negative quality. As a much smarter president once said:

If a guy is a good neighbor, if he puts in a day, if every once in a while he laughs, if every once in a while he thinks about somebody else and, above all else, if he can find his way to compassion and, and tolerance, then he’s my brother, I don’t give a damn if he didn’t get past finger-painting. What I can’t stomach are people who’re out to convince people that the educated are soft and privileged and out to make them feel like they’re less, then, you know, "he may be educated, but I’m plain-spoken, just like you!" Especially when we know that education can be a silver bullet, it can be the silver bullet, Toby! For crime, poverty, unemployment, drugs, hate...

From Mikel, an interesting essay on having The Apprentice intrude on your home.

I forget where I noticed this, but anyway, here's a John Stossel piece on who's really a welfare queen.

I hit 12 for 14 on the LGF quiz.

And finally, although this is a bit dated, here's a convenient list of Fools of the Blogosphere.

Posted by Carl at 10:02 AM | Comments (0)

April 15, 2004

If a Dissertation Proposal was like Bush's Articulation of our Foreign Policy...

A Dissertation Prospectus for work to be undertaken
satisfying a degree in the department of
Religious Political Science, Crawford University.

Proposed Dissertation Title:

The Democratizationism of a post-Saddam Irack.
With an Appendix detailing a way forward towards the stabilizationality of the Middle East.

Degree Candidate:
George W. Bush.
B.A. Yale College, M.B.A. Harvard University
Degree Sought:

Text of Dissertation Prospectus:

This is an important dissertation I will write. It will be long. It will use words. My wife knows books, and knows words. She is an asset. This will be an important dissertation. It has far-reaching consequentialisms. It will be difficult, but the department must continue to give me fellowship support. I cannot predict how long it will take me to write this. I will use a computer. First I will write notes. I may read a few books. I will take breaks to bale hay (at least when the press is around), and to go jogging, since a Mens sans corporatam fiduciam ... I can't remember how the whole Latin American version of that healthy body healthy mind thing goes. Its unimportant. What is important is my dissertation. I am determined to write it. I will remain determined to write it. Those who doubt my resolve only give aid to my doubters. This is too important a dissertation for there to be doubts. Let there be no doubt. I will write this dissertation. This will be an important dissertation. God bless my undertaking.

Posted by Rob at 12:12 PM | Comments (3)

April 05, 2004

It's OK to eat fish cuz they don't have any feelings

Ten years ago today, I was in Las Vegas with Rob and Dave. We were driving down the Strip and had on a local radio station. They had just played a Nirvana song, and then the DJ was on talking to some caller who was going on and on about "I just can't take it, man." Later, we were at the (now defunct, sadly) Holy Cow Casino and Brewery. The TV was on behind the bar, without sound, to CNN; they kept cutting between some talking heads, and a Nirvana video. Seemed a strange combination. "Dude, is Cobain dead?" I asked my friends.

Yes, he was. We didn't get definitive word until we got back to Albuquerque.

The Post article mentions those who can remember where they were the first time they heard "Smells Like Teen Spirit," and I'm one of those. I was the music director at our college radio station; the main part of my job was to listen to incoming music and decide what to put out for airplay. We were having a little listening party in the station's recording studio on a weekend afternoon, me and two friends, and having heard of this band Nirvana, I popped in the four-song EP we had just received, with "Teen Spirit" and the next three tracks from the album. We were completely blown away. I looked at them and said "This is going to be bigger than you can imagine."

I was right. "Teen Spirit" was everywhere, even on Top 40 radio. Every grunge band in Seattle got signed. Geffen Records sent me a Nirvana t-shirt and I wore it every chance I got. I saw Nirvana at Dobbs in Philly, and met Kris Novoselic after the show (actually, he mostly ignored me, but he did record a falsetto station ID into my micro-cassette recorder). I was thrilled, because music was going to be good again, not just in our little college-radio alternative enclave, but everywhere. Of course, it didn't last; thousands of copies of Mudhoney's Piece of Cake ended up in bargain bins at record stores across the country. Then Kurt shot himself.

A while back I saw an episode of VH1's "Behind the Music" on 1992, and I was taken aback at how much it affected me. That stuff meant something to me. I long for a time when I could not worry about the obscene housing market, the looming threat of evangelical Christianity as official religion, and the ever-widening chasm between the rich and poor. I wish music was the most important thing to me these days. Too much to ask.

Thanks, Kurt. And sorry.

Posted by Carl at 05:05 PM | Comments (2)

April 02, 2004

Who really wrote Against All Enemies?

by Bob Connor -

Even some of my closest friends may be unaware of my confidential service in the Reagan, Bush (two of them) and Clinton administrations. Over the past thirty years I served each of these presidents loyally, staying outside the glare of self seeking publicity, in various sensitive positions, including NCBSAC (National Coordinator for Biblioterrorism Security and Counterterrorism in the NSC (National Security Council). When President Clinton ended his term in office, the Bush administration made me one of the very few holdovers from an administration they distrusted. Perhaps it helped that I was a registered Republican, and known to be a “hard charger” on security issues. Some people say I was “obsessed” about the danger a book can pose to our nation. I won’t deny it. I was and still am.

As soon as George W. Bush became president I tried to convey to him the urgency of taking immediate action on the book front. I repeatedly warned him that there were, implausible as it might seem, people within his administration who were capable of producing a book. I named names and urged him to focus on the big danger, not Paul O’Neill, but from other networks including even some sleeper cells right within the NSC. The President’s response was “Books -- they’re Laura’s thing; tell her; maybe her book club would be interested.” I began to feel I wasn’t getting through; maybe biblioterrorism was not an urgent priority in this administration. When I delivered the same warning to Dick Cheney he showed me his lower incisors and growled that anyone in the administration who put pen to paper would get ”all chewed up”. “We’ll show him”, he said. “You can’t write a book like that without using classified documents. There are laws about that and John Ashcroft knows how to use them. Bring ‘em on.”

When I briefed Condoleeza Rice in her office her facial expression gave me the impression that she had never heard the term “book”, so I added “Most people think publishing a book is the same as one of Osama bin Laden’s fatwahs, but it’s much more than that. It’s a network of TV appearances, magazine and newspaper articles, websites and bookshops in fifty states.” Rice looked skeptical and told me that my office staff was large by NSC standards (12 people). They just sit around and read books all day, she told me. I’m not sure we want to keep all of this in the NSC.

Finally I cornered Karl Rove and explained to him the political implications of a book like this. ”It’s explosive,” I said. “It could blow up in your face and inflict grave structural damage to the administration. Can’t you get the President to change his mind and take this seriously?” “Look,” said Rove, “ the President’s greatest strength is consistency and steadfastness. He’s not some flip flopping senator from Massachusetts. The American public know they can trust him not to change his mind no matter how much new evidence comes in.”

Then came September 11th and everything changed. The following evening I saw the President wandering alone in the Situation Room. He looked like he wanted something to do. He grabbed a few of us and closed the door to the conference room. “Look” he told us, “I know you have a lot to do and all …but I want you, as soon as you can, to go back over everything, everything. See if Saddam Hussein is writing a book. See if he’s linked in any way.” I was once again taken aback, incredulous, and it showed. “But Mr. President, Richard Clarke is the one writing a book. ” “ I know, I know, but see if Saddam is involved. Just look, I want to know any shred –“.

“Absolutely, Mr. President, we’ll look – again. “ We did and we’re still looking, checking every shred of this book, the binding glue, the printer’s ink, the blurbs on the dust jacket, and the timing, above all the timing. It’s not an accident it came out just now, a few months after we pulled Saddam Hussein from his spider hole, and gave him pen and paper in one of our facilities. Everything, you see, points to Saddam. He wrote that book, probably with help from Osama, and just possibly from Bill Clinton. Proving this will be just like finding weapons of mass destruction, it’s just a matter of time.

Posted by Rob at 04:45 PM | Comments (0)

April 01, 2004


Terrible pictures and story on the front page of the Post today. There's the initial revulsion and disbelief that someone could do that to fellow human beings, no matter what the situation. Then there's the speculation as to what our response should be. I expected there would be some immediately shouting "Bomb the crap out of them!", and indeed, Billmon gives this sentiment the once-over. We all know how well the "Hit them harder" strategy has worked for the Israelis and Palestinians.

Conversely, turning tail isn't much of an option either. Thanks to the Bush administration for getting into this freakin' mess.

And before anyone shouts "Would you prefer Hussein still be in power?", maybe you should ask the families of yesterday's victims if they think it was worth it. At some point, the cost of removing Hussein from power, including crap like this, exceeds the benefits of removing him (while taking into account the implications of trying to remove him by means other than war). It has to. "Hussein out of power" is not some magical, infinite-benefit situation. How many more deaths do we need before that line is crossed? To some, it was crossed long ago; ask yourself where that line is for you.

Posted by Carl at 05:26 PM | Comments (0)