Tuesday, June 29, 2004
a firsthand account on media coverage in iraq from a marine reservist who was stationed there.
look for bits and pieces of this to turn up in "letters" home to mom and pop. it's just pathetic how far our men in uniform will go to slander hardworking journalists.
austin bloggers meta-blog
so you can see what you're missing by reading this P.O.S.
skip the book. check out this point/counterpoint on clinton's legacy instead. two fairly accomplished political analysts go toe to toe over clinton.
incidentally, when did michiko kakutani become such a hatchet man?
"The book, which weighs in at more than 950 pages, is sloppy, self-indulgent and often eye-crossingly dull — the sound of one man prattling away, not for the reader, but for himself and some distant recording angel of history."
Monday, June 28, 2004
they sure do sound free
"I send all the Iraqi people my blessings," said Ali, a caller from Baghdad. "But I warn these terrorists, all the Iraqis will rise up and strike them with steel."
i hope there's more of this.
good article on french imperialism
Sunday, June 27, 2004
i'm not sure what to make of louis black's (austin chronicle editor) latest page two editorial. he seems to be granting just about all of the con/neo-con arguments for the iraq invasion (nukes, ties to terrorists, etc.), but then ends with this "but is it really worth it?" note. many of his questions at the end are good ones, though.
Was Saddam a direct threat? No
Would he have given weapons to terrorists? Likely
Will this lead to a stable, democratic Iraq? A lot of ifs
all in all, i'm surprised to say, this is one of the most thoughtful left-leaning articles i've read on iraq in a long while. of course, he has to end with the leftist creed. "we are ruining the world with our arrogance and greed." but, i almost look at that like the signature on an email nowadays. ctrl + shift + s = insert random al gore quote.
the trouble with these beheadings. i find myself coming back to them again and again, often several times in a day. they get used to prove it's our fault (abu ghraib). they get used to show how we're not any better off. they get buried in favor of other stories (cheney dropped the f bomb). the families get used to be anti-bush or pro-bush. the videos are shown on certain sites for certain reasons (we must confront this horror) and not shown on other sites for other reasons (we mustn't give them the satisfaction). people say this wouldn't have happened pre-iraq invasion (it did). the terrorists (sorry, insurgents) use the entire event to terrify both us and the countries they are attempting to de-stabilize. all in all, however, i have to come back to the sheer inhumanity of it. it is evil. and i do think it's critical that we decide. either this is what we're fighting or it isn't. we can argue about the means by which we've pursued this conflict all day long, but is al-qaeda in particular and muslim fundamentalist terrorism in general the enemy or is it not? there are strains of kerry that i could see making the rightful case. he has in some places (usually veteran's halls). but he always has to come back to the al gore/michael moore side of the party and say, "i didn't mean it like that. not really."
Saturday, June 26, 2004
an excellent article on economic illiteracy. it's been a long time since macroeconomics for me so it helps to hear things stated clearly. you always hear the same statistics on the deficit ($400 billion) or bush's budget ($2.3 trillion) or the cost of the iraq war ($200 billion?), but you never see the other side of the formula. like how lowered unemployment, increases in manufacturing output, increased investment and importing of jobs, emerging markets (oil in iraq would count if they ever stop blowing each other and us up) and yes, gdp ($10 trillion? i think we nearly account for the entire european union) do have their impact. i mean, adjusted for inflation, even a $2.00/gallon gas price would be far less than what you would have paid in 1981. and what percentage of the gdp does that war in iraq cost? far less than what we spend on human resources (education, health/human services, etc.) at a federal level (which doesn't include the local taxes that probably account for at least 50% of school funding). it amounts to roughly 3% of our gdp. but would you ever hear that in a debate or see that in usa today? i'm not trying to argue whether $200 billion is money well spent on iraq (i think it is...others probably don't), but when that number gets thrown around, as it often does, as a sort of ludicrous and wasteful amount, it does help to compare it to other expenditures and the overall economy.
Friday, June 25, 2004
for all my single friends: austin ranked third best city for singles in the country behind denver-boulder and washington-baltimore. and it's not even hyphenated. i bet if we were austin-buda, we'd be second fer sure.
introducing james woods. starry-eyed dreamer. wrecklessly committed. literary critic. another decent mind stands up.
Tuesday, June 22, 2004
i'm not sure what this says about my musical tastes, but when i opened up musicmatch today at work, i had the following artist suggestions:
wu tang clan
in a sense, musicmatch has it more right than i care to admit. will this be our future? little programs holding up a mirror to our blind spots and cautiously reminding us of our weaknesses? will this make us any better or simply more sneaky?
you ate 3 lbs. of sausage in the past week mr. josh. angiogram?
Monday, June 21, 2004
hitchens unleashed. you have to love a guy who can skewer mother teresa and michael moore in the same stroke.
oh wait. we didn't mean *NO* credible evidence
Sunday, June 20, 2004
father's day gifts in no particular order:
1 pencil holder decorated by william
4 perry como vinyl albums and 1 .45 (note to self: buy record player)
taking boys to "around the world..." movie yesterday and having william say "i love jackie chan." (first time either boy has seen jackie chan in action and they were both in awe...thomas applauded after one fight scene)
1 bookmark from william which has his picture and reads "i can hold your place daddy"
2 t-shirts and 1 button down from urban outfitters (not pre-worn!)
taking boys to pool yesterday and having william say "swank shorts dad"
playing chess with thomas (he's still a fairly defensive player, but has managed at least once to fork my queen with the grace of a spaniard...make "fork my queen" jokes at your peril)
hopefully going bowling at dart bowl, which has the best greasy frito pie this side of a heart attack
grandma coming down from salado and seeing the boys light up at the mention of it
i'm curious to see if this changes anything. not for the reasons you might suspect. i do think moore's photo should be beside the word 'fatuous' in the dictionary, but i'm actually curious if bradbury would have any standing in court. can you steal a book's title, tweak it, and use it without the author's permission? i have no idea. maybe our resident legal expert, dave, can shed some light.
Thursday, June 17, 2004
my goshness, even the catholics are outsourcing to india
incidentally, today (or technically yesterday) was bloomsday. in honor of this, i will embark, for the 3rd time, on a great journey to actually complete the 732 page modern marvel of a masterpiece. perhaps, much like bloom (and therefore ulysses) i can attempt to read it twelve times, pee in my own garden and then retire to my lovely wife who will whisper her ode.
i said yes i said yes I will Yes.
of the 112 senate votes this year, kerry has voted 14 times
it's pretty bad when bob dole is giving you advice.
Wednesday, June 16, 2004
staff statements from the 9/11 commission. the money quote, which has been receiving quite a bit of press on ap, reuters, cnn, etc., is in statement 15, 5th page. "'no credible evidence' of a link between Iraq and al-Qaida in attacks against the United States."
ok, first, why is this news? bush said the same thing month's ago when he was effectively telling cheney to chill. of course, we can't believe a word that guy says because well, he said it. and why doesn't the government ever read it's own indictments?
"In addition, al Qaeda reached an understanding with the Government of Iraq that al Qaeda would not work against that government and that on particular projects, specifically including weapons development, al Qaeda would work cooperatively with the Government of Iraq," the indictment said.
oh yeah, this was under clinton. the truth is there could've been several connections and understandings and meetings which did or didn't amount to anything (see the stephen hayes links i posted awhile back). the pro-liberation (i'll choose my labels, thank you) folks (me) will pick out the bits of these reports and others that point to "connections" (of which there are many) and the anti-war folks (joey) will pick out the parts that deny evidence of "cooperation" (of which there is little). we're really arguing apples and oranges. i think there's credible evidence of connections and a certain willingness on saddam's part to have the enemy of his enemy as his friend. this doesn't ipso facto mean saddam was responsible for 9/11 and i don't think that was a reason given for invading iraq. in fact, i think that's a paper tiger. if you can convince everyone that this is how bush sold the war and then trash the idea, then, of course, the war was wrong and bush lied. but it's incumbent when making that argument, to give proof that this is, in fact, what bush said. and i don't think the proof is there. i'm happy to stand corrected, but the quotes can't be of the "connections" variety since even the commission agrees with those.
finally, all this strikes me as if we're picking nits. there's a bully on the block who's beat up several kids and threatening to beat you up, but, by god, he didn't help joe beat up billy!
Friday, June 11, 2004
damn, man. not ray charles. shit.
now they tell us. somehow i don't think this will get much play in the (mainstream) press, so you can all feel safe keeping your bumper stickers affixed to the ass cheek of your minivans.
bush lied! people died!
Wednesday, June 09, 2004
i'm not sure what made me remember this, but one of the strangest movies i've seen has got to be the fearless vampire killers. i stayed up late one night years ago and watched it on AMC. reading through the reviews now, they all make it out to be a comedy, which it is, but not in the sense that we've grown used to. the violence is startling for a film from 1967. and despite its B-movie heart, the set pieces and backdrop are incredible. i didn't really find myself laughing, so much as staring in wonder. what in the hell is this? this was before we had digital cable, so i had to wait for the credits to figure out the lead (and director) was a young-looking roman polanski and the main actress was sharon tate. you never really get an idea of how pretty she was from all the manson docu-dramas. so go down to your local i love video and wait the mandatory three weeks it takes for someone to return obscure films from the 60s and 70s. i'm starting to think the drafthouse hordes 'em all so you have to go there on shaft and a colt 45 night.
a great article and fairly deep history on the paradox of saudi arabia. i think kyle will like the power politic bits. i appreciated the notion that the problem of dealing with saudi arabia is that, at any given time, when someone speaks of saudi arabia, they are really talking about one half of a divided country. not divided like 50% approval ratings either. divided like the sunnis hate the shi'ites more than the united states. money quote from al-qaeda credo: "We believe that the Shi`ite heretics are a sect of idolatry and apostasy, and that they are the most evil creatures under the heavens." good thing they control over 50% of the world's oil supply.
Monday, June 07, 2004
kid manipulation 101
yesterday we were at target and thomas asked me if he could have a toy.
"ask your mom if it's ok," i said.
"is mom the boss?" he asked.
"it seems like whenever i ask you if i can have some candy or a toy, you say 'ask mom.' so mom is the tough guy?"
"the tough guy?"
"yeah, she's the tough guy of our house."
fukuyama dissects huntington's latest book and comes away with some interesting notions, not the least of which is that mexican immigrants tend to out-protestant anglos.
the big mac index.
Sunday, June 06, 2004
a good site for updates on darfur. i don't know why this doesn't get reported on more in our (mainstream) press. couldn't be b/c we're too busy showing the latest prison nude scenes from abu ghraib or talking for the fifteenth hundred time about bush's approval ratings or making tenet out to be some fall guy when everyone knows bush (ineptly) propped him up for a fucking year past when he should've been head-butted out the door. maybe next week it'll be tenet's book deal alongside his endorsement of kerry for president.
"There [in Darfur], the government of Sudan and its proxy, the Janjaweed Arab militia, are attempting to crush a rebellion by Muslim Africans with the same vicious tactics they have used for years against Christian and animist opponents in southern Sudan. While negotiating a peace agreement with southern rebel forces, the government and its militia have killed, raped, kidnapped, bombed, enslaved, displaced, starved and burned countless innocent civilians in Darfur. U.N. officials have called this ethnic cleansing the 'world's greatest humanitarian catastrophe.'"
a fitting tribute to reagan and his big ideas.
Saturday, June 05, 2004
my ut writing course prof, scott blackwood, was recently selected as one of two 2004-2005 dobie paisano fellows. he gets to live out at the dobie ranch for six months with a monthly allowance of $2,000. nicely done.
Friday, June 04, 2004
job growth fastest in 4 years. 1.1 million jobs in a three month period to be approximate. kerry recently promised to create 10 million new jobs in his term as president. i'm no math major, but that's roughly 210,000 jobs (and i'm being liberal with the numbers) per month or (drum roll) 630,000 jobs per quarter. so we've got 1.1 million jobs per quarter now and kerry's promising 630,000 jobs per quarter. anyone care to bet whether he'll amend that pledge? i'll handicap my bet if you google and find how many jobs bush pledged to create.
dirty pretty things. a stephen frears flick with audry tautou. rob hated it. mike d. loved it. i was drawn in. it got a freshness rating of 93%.
devil in the white city. another outstanding work by erik larson. details the lives of two men during the 1893 chicago world's fair. one was the architect responsible for overseeing its construction. the other was a serial killer supposedly responsible for over 119 women's deaths.
cat power: the covers record. great collection of covers. makes the cowboy junkies seem like pretenders to the throne. bonus points for covering smog's red apples.
my flesh and blood. a documentary about a woman named susan tom and her 11 adopted children, each one with a more debilitating disease than the other. you won't walk away from this film easily. unsentimental sentimentality.
the question isn't whether or not tenet is the fall guy. he is and he isn't. the question is: why wasn't he booted earlier? keep in mind this is an article from over a year ago.
Thursday, June 03, 2004
how to spot air marshals. this reminds me of a friend of kyle's who was psy-ops with the army over in afghanistan. apparently they grew beards and carried around kalashnikovs so they could blend in from a distance. an embedded journalist snapped a picture of a few of them and pretty soon, the army brass back home was sending orders for them to shave their beards since, well, y'know, an army man has to look his best. "it was like asking us to commit suicide," he said.
Wednesday, June 02, 2004
in between lathering myself in cortizone 10 from all the chigger bites and avoiding the godforsaken heat, i heard from two old friends today. yes, yes, that's two more than you probably thought i had. one was dave wolfe. we went to kansai gaidai together in the fall of 1991. it's hard to believe that was 13 years ago. needless to say we had some crazy times together. maybe dave remembers some of them, stomping around namba and wrestling like maniacs. i can safely say i've spent the past 13 years trying to alternately forget and then desperately remember them. as with everything, i wrote a poem about it once. not sure if that hits it or not. dave's a real estate attorney now and moving from dallas to baltimore. life's full of such small improvements, eh?
the other old friend is scott gillaspy. we grew up together on the south side of houston in what probably always was, but has now naturally become a shithouse slum near old galveston road. i wrote a story recently about those times and like most of the lies i tell, i made up about 50% of it and fudged the other 50% into something more meaningful than it probably was. i apologize in advance to scott for using his name in that story. i altered the spelling, but couldn't shake the name of its syllabic charm. i promise to change it if it ever gets published. for the record, scott and i never snuck out, stared at cher's naked body, or watched hee-haw. ok, maybe we watched hee-haw. we ran away once, but didn't get in a fight about it. his dad did hit him in front of me with a belt, which was the kernal of the story, along with a fight we had over a soccer ball. i also did push his sister down once. scott got in big trouble for it and i still feel more guilt about that than any number of horrible things i've done. scott just got out of the army and he's living in houston and caring for his mom. she has ovarian cancer just like mine and living near a strip club in dickinson. scott says his dad is still in the old house on north crooked creek and just as mean and crabby as i remember.
so now, i'm flush with these memories and swollen like a giant red sore and babbling on in an un-bloglike fashion, useless to anyone as i am to myself. good to hear from you, old friends. nice to see you, regret.
Tuesday, June 01, 2004
another stark-mad, raving, conservative, right-wing nut (this time played by alan dershowitz) comes out for changing the rules of the geneva convention toward terrorists. when will these turncoat liberals learn that it's all bush's fault?
more carefully researched evidence of ties between iraq and al-qaeda. stephen hayes has a book out which details even more of this relationship.