Thursday, September 30, 2004

kerry vanquishes bush in first debate

you know, i suspected that kerry would perform better than bush. but oh my god i didn't think it would be so brutal. john kerry killed in this debate, no doubt about it.

bush was on the defensive all night, looking uneasy, trapped, and confused. he stumbled through his talking points (did anyone count how many times he said "mixed signals"? or "my opponent" for that matter?). it was bad. i'm quite glad i watched on c-span 1 and got to see the reaction shots: bush would practically wince in pain whenever kerry made a good point (which was constantly). kerry calmly took notes while bush spoke. the split-screen was set up so that the candidates' heads were horizontally aligned, so their podiums looked way off, like kerry had a short pedestal with a long mic stand and bush had a tall podium with a pathetically stubby mic stand. but of course their podiums are the same height, and kerry is some 6+ inches taller than bush, something the bush team has tried hard to keep people from seeing.

bush did get in a couple good punches, but when one hit he would try to hit the same spot, with the same exact words, over and over again, with numbing repetition. hence "mixed messages" being repeated times, or "my opponent said 'wrong war wrong time", or the classic "my opponent changes his mind". he really didn't have much to say, but he would still run long, or beg for a response but then not know what to say.

kerry was calm, cool, collected, and full of facts. he clearly conquered bush "on points" as scarborough confessed, and it seems pretty clear he won on attitude as well. bush's game was way off tonight, and kerry was on fire. kerry exuded that adjective they call "presidential" while bush just oozed insecurity.

kerry's best zinger of the night, hands down: bush "outsourced" the job of catching osama. classic!

at first glance, it looks like kerry has also won the post-debate debate. but how couldn't he? this was an unspinnable victory for kerry, a trouncing, and that was very clear if you were watching the split-screen. fox was running the camera pool, so i'm not sure what you saw if you watched the "fullscreen" version.

debate update

the best channel to watch the debates is c-span 1. most channels will only show one candidate at a time. c-span 1 promises to do a "split screen" with both candidates onscreen at all times. should be a nice glimpse of what other people aren't seeing.

fuckin-hot 9/11

forget fahrenheit 9/11, orwell rolls in his grave, and all the other political documentaries: here is the king of all political movies:

courtesy of wonkette, who found it on the new york post: it's porn for kerry!

according to the site, "100% of all profits will be donated to fortify Kerry Campaign efforts in the crucial battleground states!" i haven't watched the preview clips yet, but look at some of these scenes:

Scene 1: After a particularly heated TV debate, blonde bombshell conservative Ann Cunter and quirky comedian Al Frankenbeans blow off some steam in the dressing room.

Scene 2: On a secretive mission to Abu Garrabe Prison, Secretary of Defense Donnie Cumsfeld meets soldier Lyndie Dickland to learn the truth behind the abuse. But Donnie is in over his head when the leash is put on him!

Scene 3: Jorge Bush thought his hot tub business meeting with King Fahk of Sexy Alabia would be, well, all business. But his highness always knows how to entertain guests with his personal squad of sex minions.

Scene 4: First daughter Jenteal Bush has got bigger problems than alcoholism when a group of sexy homeland security agents raid her sorority house!

i am so tempted to buy this... even if the pr0n is awful (and let's face it, it probably is), the basic concept is such a piece of pop culture kitsch that it's hard to resist... especially since it's on sale today for $19.99 (goes up to $29.99 tomorrow).

and think of the possible samples! i am...

falling for debate

tonight is the first presidential pseudo-debate of 2004. there will be no actual debating, so this might be better called a "binary press conference". the rules are extensive, the coverage micro-managed to the extreme, and once again everything is deliberately crafted to prevent third parties from getting into the debate. npr has a nice "top 10" list of "secrets they don't want you to know about the debates" that is a good place to start researching what's wrong with prez debates these days, but there is much more info out there for those who search it out...

still, i'm going to watch the fuck out of it. i missed the indiana gubernatorial debate the other day (i forgot it was happening and watched return of the jedi instead, although bobby vomit did a live remix of the indiana debate and might hook me up with an mp3 soon) but i won't miss this one, & i'll be trying to watch the rest as well. i'll probably even tape them all to vhs for possible sampling... and i'll damn well be sure to watch the debate coverage on the daily show tonight.

the blogosphere is ramping up because many have correctly observed that the post-debate debate is more important than the debate itself. to wit, which candidate actually performs better doesn't matter as much as which candidate has more pundits claiming that he "won". many people thought gore won some or all of the debates in 2000, but the talking heads insisted bush won and over time that became the conventional wisdown. considering how the mainstream media still treats bush with kids' gloves, even if kerry wins tonight, the democrats will have to work hard to get the media to acknowlege that (unless bush completely fucks up, which is possible).

part of the package is the "expectations game". each candidate tries to inflate his opponent's debate skills: bush has "never lost a debate" (false) and kerry's "entire life has led to this moment". this might seem counterintuitive, but it works by lowering the bar: if everyone thinks going in that kerry can't win the debate, then it's that much easier for him to impress people, and vice versa. bush is winning that game, but then he has the right-wing pundits in his corner.

naturally an assortment of debate drinking games have arisen (wonkette's wins the prize for being the first i've seen, though the one printed in the chicago tribune is likely to get more participants). i don't think i'll be playing, because unlike bush's state of the union, there's at least a chance that something of substance will happen and i'd rather be sober enough to catch it.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

lick my SCOTUS

the latest issue of vanity fair has a long investigative piece about the 2000 elections... this thing is comprehensive: from what was going on in the florida districts to mass voter disenfranchisement to suspicious touchscreen voting to new insight on what was happening inside the supreme court (SCOTUS, what a dirty sounding word) while they deliberated the bush v gore. even a substantial number of law clerks from scotus gave interviews for the vanity fair piece. and it doesn't reflect well on the either the supreme court or the bush campaign (or his brother jeb).

vanity fair has no website (get with the program people) but has PDFs of the whole thing. with permission even!

Monday, September 27, 2004

Dirty Shame, A

drbmd and i are going to see A Dirty Shame tonight! this promises to be john waters's filthiest movie in years so i'm excited.

i've been in a big movie mode recently, buying dvds aplenty. yesterdat at costco i got the new director's cut of thx 1138 and the star wars trilogy dvd set. before that i'd bought at least a half dozen other dvds in the past month or so. and tomorrow eternal sunshine of the spotless mind comes out on dvd, though i might just wait a week and get it when fahrenheit 9/11 comes out on oct 5.

one odd thing about buying dvds at costco: longboxes. if you were buying cds in the early '90s you'll remember longboxes: they are "long" cardboard boxes (around 12"), inside which is the normal dvd or jewel case for your disc. for those who're packrats or collage artists like me, they can be kind of cool, because some of them are very pretty and feature expanded cover artwork. i saved the front of the longbox for van halen's "carnal knowledge" cd for a long time (though it's long since hit the trash by now). and the thx 1138 longbox has a larger version of the dvd cover, which i think is beautiful. basically, well-done longboxes can be kind of cool because they give back some of the art space that was lost after we shifted away from LPs and laserdiscs.

of course they're also a tremendous waste of resources: all that cardboard, thrown away for no good reason. originally longboxes were created because record stores all had shelves designed to fit 12" records in, and standard jewel cases (only about 4.6" tall) were just too short. using longboxes, a store could simply divide a 12" shelf in half and make two rows of cds. of course, record stores have long since replaced their shelves or switched to reusable plastic anti-theft brackets, and public outcry convinced the industry to phase them out many years ago.

so why does costco still use longboxes? (i believe sams club does too, though i haven't been there in some time.) the obvious answer is theft prevention, since a 12" long box is trickier to slip into your pocket. but it seems like they could just affix yet another RFID or anti-theft tag (or use the brackets like at record stores) if that were their only concern.

what's worse is that you know the manufacturers and/or distributors have to go out of their way to provide longboxes just for costco/sams/etc. most dvds are in ugly generic boxes (with holes to display the real dvd cover) but all the dvds i bought there yesterday have custom boxes. i plan to use both the thx and star wars boxes in future collage work, but 99% of customers most likely throw that shit away... why costco why?

(note: this is my first blog entry using blogThis. i know i'm behind the curve on this extension, but so be it...)

Wednesday, September 22, 2004


i wrote this hours ago, but srn was suffering from yet another bout of chronic unscheduled downtime, so i've been unable to actually post...

so yeah, i've been reading more blogs the past few days, because just browsing headlines at sites like google news or buzzflash isn't really using the power of blogging to its full advantage, right?

so the other day i came across a link (probably on dailykos) to an analysis on mydd comparing the top right-wing and left-wing politiblogs. there are some interesting conclusions there about why/how the right-wing blogs have been more effective at pushing stories into the mainstream media (see "memogate", for example). there's also some interesting stuff about "stickiness":

The lower the stickiness of a blog, the higher the relative traffic value of a link from that blog to the blog being linked. In other words, a blog where there isn't much to do besides visit (no comments, few or no special pages, short articles), will cause a higher percentage of its traffic base to visit a blog that it links than will a blog with high stickiness (diaries, long articles,
polls, comments, arguments, many special pages, etc).

i like comments, and stickiness. it's very nice to see people commenting on my posts, even if the posters tend to be from a small subsection of my circle of friends (there are exceptions, like when the great white hype replied to my post about him or the guy who seemingly posted a comment to my "rev moon coronation" post simply to pimp his book on the subject).

another nice thing about the mydd analysis is that it lists/links to the top 7 politiblogs (on both the right and the left, in terms of traffic), so i've taken the opportunity to browse through all seven progressive blogs, a couple of which i hadn't been very familiar with.

that's a lot of stuff to read, since some of them (especially dailykos) have quite a lot of content. one of the most interesting phenomena at sites like dkos are the "open threads". these are threads where the actual poster doesn't post any content at all (!), leaving it up to the commenters to take control of the discussion and see where it leads. these aren't small threads either: some have 200-300 comments or more! that's a lot of stuff to wade through: some of it's very high-quality, but wow, so much material...

on one of those blogs (i thought it was atrios but i can't find the post) linked to this site, which lists a bunch of progressive blogs organized by state. naturally, indiana is colored in pink to indicate the strong hold that the GOP has over all the rednecks and corn farmers here.

i went through some of the indiana blogs and stumbled across a blog by one of my co-workers (at least she works for the same parent company, in the same building) where there was a nice post about the awful "auto-flushing" toilets here in the building, which constantly

speaking of malfunctioning, i noticed on steph's blog that she was a member of a few webrings: indianapolis blogs and indiana blogs. the links didn't work in any logical fashion (sometimes clicking next or prev would take you to the same site, and the random link wasn't very random) but i browsed through some of the indiana blogs for awhile... i found a few progressive blogs, a few more conservative blogs (highlight: andrew sullivan is a "traitor" for daring to back down from his once-fawning deification of bush), and countless "day in the life of a college student" blogs.

that's a lot of blogreading, & i haven't even gotten my friends' personal blogs (tfy, quahogs, your girlfriend, &c.)

more on the horrible threat posed by cat stevens

hoo boy

According to government officials, Islam, 56, was red-flagged by a computer system that analyzes passenger data before international flights enter U.S airspace. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection's National Targeting Center matched Islam's name on the passenger list for the D.C-bound United jet, then relayed the information regarding a possible terrorist match to the Transportation Security Administration. The TSA, in turn, requested that the plane land at Bangor International.

The Washington Post reported that Islam is identified as "Usef Islam" on several government watch lists, including the no-fly list. According to some print and broadcast reports, Islam's name is on the lists because he allegedly contributed funds to groups supporting terrorism.

However, he was allowed to visit New York as recently as May for a charity event without incident. No immediate comment from the feds on why he was permitted to fly then and not now.

danger danger! don't let that man on a plane or else he might whip out his checkbook! let's hear what reuters has to say (as reprinted in wired):

Homeland Security spokesman Brian Doyle said Islam would be put on the first available flight back to Britain after his Washington D.C.-bound plane was diverted on Tuesday to Maine for security reasons.

"Why is he on the watch lists? Because of his activities that could be potentially linked to terrorism. The intelligence community has come into possession of additional information that further raises our concern (about Islam)," Doyle said.

A law enforcement official who asked not to be identified said the United States had information Islam had donated money to the militant Islamic group Hamas.

Islam was denied entry to Israel in 2000 after the authorities there accused him of supporting Hamas. The former pop star strongly denied the charges and said his charitable donations were for humanitarian causes.

so homesec has no answer except the vaguest of allegations. okay then. it's not like he has friends in the higher echelons of western democracy, right?

In Britain, Muslim groups also decried the deportation of Islam, who heads a trust that oversees Muslim schools in the country. He has met with Prime Minister Tony Blair, Home Secretary David Blunkett and heir to the British throne Prince Charles.

"This incident comes only to confirm the farcical and ultimately draconian standards and practices exercised by U.S. immigration authorities," said Anas Altikriti, a spokesman for the Muslim Association of Britain.

tony blair? prince charles? are they in the habit of hanging out with islamic terrorists?

there's a thread on dailykos suggesting that kerry should adopt a cat stevens song for his campaign. there's even a poll to vote for which song would be the best (i haven't voted).

like i posted on imn, this is a PR disaster any way you look at it:

option 1: he is innocent. the TSA and the govt look like chumps for preventing an innocent, world-famous celebrity and peace activist from entering the country.

option 2: he supports terrorists or is one himself. his name is on the watch list but this wasn't discovered until he was on the plane and the plane was already in the air. if he had somehow snuck a bomb on with him, he could've blown the whole plane to the promised land and the govt would look like chumps for failing to enforce their security watch lists.

although i suspect the truth is option 3: he's innocent, & the govt looks like chumps both for denying him entry and for not noticing he was on the watch list until it was too late.

the most astonishing thing is that i checked the "quickvote" poll on this cnn story and right now 56% have voted yes that "the singer formerly known as Cat Stevens be denied entry to the U.S. on national security grounds?"

where the fuck do these people come from? i know his music is annoying, but...

he should've taken the peace train instead

the only thing i really remember about cat stevens is that i hated his music the last time i had to listen to it. i thought it was the most annoying kind of hippy music. but i would still let him into the country!

i thought i was a music snob, but apparently the us govt is a harsher critic. today, cat (under his current name, yusuf islam) was on a plane to dulles when someone noticed that his name is on a government terror watch list. his plane was then diverted to bangor, and the peace activist/muslim teacher was refused entry into the united states.

the jokes come easily on this story but the whole thing is so ridiculous that no joke you could make would be as absurd as the story itself. of course, it's not the first time the us has refused entry to an allegedly pacifist muslim scholar, but it's the first time that scholar has had top 40 hits to his name.

(thanks to prnewswire, dailykos, and others for spotting this one... i've been reading a lot of blogs in the past couple days: maybe more on that to come)

Monday, September 20, 2004

six feet photosculpture

if you've been watching six feet under as i have, you might've been intrigued by the art pieces featured in the final two episodes of this season: photo collage work where macro photos are taken of a subject's face, then torn up; the pieces are then pasted back together to create a collaged face mask, which the original subject wears while portraits are taken. that description might not be very clear, but these are some badass photos.

in the plot of the show, of course, this is claire's art (no more spoilers here). but who is the real artist responsible for this work? i even went to hbo's six feet under site hoping to find some of the images for download, but couldn't find them anywhere. mercifully, salon has a feature about artist david meanix, creator of the photos, along with a link to his website, with nice jpegs of his six feet under "photosculpture" along with a lot more of his work. thanks salon!

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

all in the family

the new unauthorized biography the family: the real story of the bush dynasty is out and if the excerpts online are any indication, it's juicier than wrigley's gum.

the mainstream media has gone into attack mode against the book instead of bothering to actually research any of its claims like you'd think journalists would want to do (logic would dictate that if many of the allegations in the book are false, at least some of them would be fairly easy to prove wrong). matt lauer on the today show turned out to be an aggressive interviewer for once, though he himself ended up caught in a lie (or at least a bit of prevarication):

Kelley: “Matt, you play golf with the former President Bush?”

Lauer: “I have never played golf with him.”

Kelley: “You know that he's is a gregarious man. He's gracious. That's a very, very nice thing. That's in the book. The reason this looks so negative to people is that for years and years and years, we've had a very crafted public image. It looks like ‘The Donna Reed Show.’ Now we've got a little bit of ‘The Sopranos.’ Every family has got negatives and positives.”

(uber-right site newsmax actually tries to count this as a blow against kelley, but if they had done 15 seconds of research on google they would have turned up not just a story, but pictures and video of lauer and poppy bush in a "putting contest"... perhaps not a full-on 18 holes, but surely "playing golf" by some definitions [akin to saying "we never played basketball; we played HORSE"]... not that i really expect anyone on a site like newsmax [or even much of the mainstream media] to actually do 15 seconds of real research about this book, lest they turn up something true.)

so far the most explosive allegation (or the only one many are bothering to repeat) is that georgie and one of his bros (neil?) snorted some rails of coke at camp david, during poppy's presidency.

One of Kelley's sources -- and the only one on the record -- was Sharon Bush, the deeply aggrieved ex-wife of W's younger brother Neil. She is now in strong denial mode, even though her own publicist, who was present at a lunch where she told Kelley the story, confirms the accuracy of Kelley's account. Nonetheless, Lauer produced the Bush divorcee after his interview with Kelley to repeat her denials.

(i believe the publicist's actual quote was "i can't deny this account", but he's her f'n publicist so if there were any way he could deny it, he would. the fact that he won't proves, if not that bush was damaging his nasal passages as late as 88-92, that sharon bush did at least say so to kelley.)

but that's not even the only damaging drug-related claim in the except online at! that excerpt also claims that laura bush used to sell pot (not that i'd hold that against her), and... well, just read the excerpt, at least.

this isn't just some rambling screed or the unibomber manifesto. kelley's book is thoroughly researched, annotated, and was vetted by four different lawyers at doubleday. the us media is neglecting its duty by attacking her without at least poking their noses around into some of her allegations. like kelley said to salon:

It's interesting, from talking with the media today, the European media is much less intimidated than the American press. The Americans are all saying, "Well, why should we listen to you. Look at the books you've written." Well, excuse me, those books have stood up, I stand behind everything in those books, they've stood the test of time. And this book will too. So I see how this media spin is working, and I'm not surprised. You'd think the media would look at my book and follow up on it -- all right, she says here they instituted drug testing in the National Guard at such and such time, let's call up and find out if that's true. But don't beat me up just because I've come to you with almost a thousand sources. You know, I've gone through four sets of lawyers, because I'm dealing with a sitting president.

like kelley said to lauer about sharon bush now denying the coke david story, "Matt, I have three independent witnesses to what was said between me and Sharon Bush. That's good enough for a court of law. It should be good enough for you and me." this book is no joke, and the us media is doing you and me a disservice--and perhaps worse, doing the story a disservice--by not treating it more seriously and following up. of course, some of the allegations might turn out to be false. but no rational person could really believe that all of it is false. if even half of it turned out to be true, it would be quite damning. which is probably exactly why they aren't following up too much.

i'm pretty tempted to run out and buy this book... the "director's cut" of thx-1138 just came out on dvd so i've considered running off to borders to buy them both. but i wouldn't get to start reading it tonight anyway (it's comic day after all), and i still haven't come even close to finishing cryptonomicon or the other books in my "to-read" pile, so maybe i'll exercise some restraint over my capitalistic urges for once. or more likely i won't.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

finding memo

i could post dozens of links about the "memo" non-scandal, just page after page of people (many of whom have no clue what they're talking about, but some who know quite a lot) arguing about kerning and curly quotes... these were fascinating to me in a sense, as someone who has to deal with such issues in my job (but by no means a document expert or knowledgeable about 70s typewriters). but this salon link is the last one i will post:

Upset by renewed attention to President Bush's disputed service in the Texas Air National Guard, White House communications director Dan Bartlett insists the new revelations about how strings were pulled to get Bush into the Guard, as well as to get him out, are part of "a coordinated attack by John Kerry and his surrogates on the president." There is no evidence to support that claim. But there is clear evidence confirming that the same conservative operatives who have been busily promoting the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth smears of Kerry are now engaged in pushing the story that CBS's "60 Minutes Weeknight Edition" aired forged documents in its Wednesday night report on Bush and the National Guard.

Creative Response Concepts, the Arlington, Va., Republican public relations firm run by former Pat Buchanan communications director Greg Mueller, with help from former Pat Robertson communications director Mike Russell, sent out a media advisory Thursday to hawk a right-wing news dispatch: "60 Minutes' Documents on Bush Might Be Fake." Creative Response Concepts has played a crucial role in hyping the inaccurate, secondhand Swift Boat allegations, with Russell serving as the group's official spokesman. A company spokesman could not be reached for comment.

Throughout the Swift Boat smear campaign, the veterans involved asserted they had no political agenda and were unaffiliated with any political party. But Creative Response Concepts, which was obviously paid some undisclosed amount for its Swift Boat work, has many links to the Republican Party and the conservative movement. Among its clients are the Republican National Committee, National Republican Congressional Committee and National Republican Senatorial Committee. Its client list also includes the Christian Coalition, National Taxpayers Union, Media Research Council and Regnery Publishing. Regnery is the firm that published "Unfit for Command," the SBVT screed against Kerry's military record.

more evidence that something shady is going on with the "fake memos" allegations.

but by even discussing this as i have, i have also fallen for their frame of this story. it's not about whether those four documents are "real". the story is whether the content of the cbs story is true. did bush somehow use his connections to land a cushy spot in the reserves instead of active duty? multiple sources have come forward saying he did. did he fulfill all his obligations to the reserves? it looks like he didn't.

us news & world report did an analysis of bush's public military record and it didn't turn out good:

A review of the regulations governing Bush's Guard service during the Vietnam War shows that the White House used an inappropriate--and less stringent--Air Force standard in determining that he had fulfilled his duty. Because Bush signed a six-year "military service obligation," he was required to attend at least 44 inactive-duty training drills each fiscal year beginning July 1. But Bush's own records show that he fell short of that requirement, attending only 36 drills in the 1972-73 period, and only 12 in the 1973-74 period. The White House has said that Bush's service should be calculated using 12-month periods beginning on his induction date in May 1968. Using this time frame, however, Bush still fails the Air Force obligation standard.

Moreover, White House officials say, Bush should be judged on whether he attended enough drills to count toward retirement. They say he accumulated sufficient points under this grading system. Yet, even using their method, which some military experts say is incorrect, U.S. News 's analysis shows that Bush once again fell short. His military records reveal that he failed to attend enough active-duty training and weekend drills to gain the 50 points necessary to count his final year toward retirement.

similarly, but seemingly less noticed, salon points out how a bush document leaked to the drudge report to back up republican spin actually demonstrates that he didn't live up to all his commitments. look at point h:

Satisfactory participation during my membership in the Air National Guard of the United States will be attendance and satisfactory performance of assigned duties at 48 scheduled inactive duty training periods and 15 days' field training (active duty for training) annually, unless excused therefrom by proper authority. It also includes successful completion of on-the-job upgrade training.

as already demonstrated above by us news, couldn't even live up to the standard of 44 days, let alone 48.

what liberal media?

i haven't done much political or news blogging recently... there's just so much to keep up with. but this is a story about blogs, so...

a month or so ago, the "swift boat veterans for truth" came out with a campaign ad accusing john kerry of lying about his service in 'nam. "i know, because i served with him," they say in the ad. of course, this was all fairly easily debunked by bloggers, more "legitimate" news outlets, and even the daily show (which pointed out that when the veterans say "i served with kerry" they simply mean "i was in the military at the same time). but despite this, the story "had legs" as they say & we had to hear about the swift boat buddies day after day for at least a month, with only the occasional story acknowledging that the swift boaters had yet to make a single allegation stick against kerry. the allegations were fed into the "great right-wing echo chamber" because, true or not, they were damaging to kerry, & that's all that really matters to them.

last week, 60 minutes aired a story featuring former texas politico ben barnes, who confesses that he personally pulled strings to get bush into the natl guard (this in itself is not a new allegation, but not one that's been covered much because barnes had been reluctant to talk to the media). the story also referenced four memos cbs says it acquired from an impeccable source:

The first memo is a direct order to take "an annual physical examination" – a requirement for all pilots.

Another memo refers to a phone call from the lieutenant in which he and his commander "discussed options of how Bush can get out of coming to drill from now through November." And that due to other commitments "he may not have time."

On August 1, 1972, Col. Killian grounded Lt. Bush for failure to perform to U.S. Air Force/Texas Air National Guard standards and for failure to take his annual physical as ordered.

A year after Lt. Bush's suspension from flying, Killian was asked to write another assessment.

Killian's memo, titled 'CYA' reads he is being pressured by higher-ups to give the young pilot a favorable yearly evaluation; to, in effect, sugarcoat his review. He refuses, saying, "I'm having trouble running interference and doing my job."

damaging stuff, to be sure. but this time around, the right-wing echo chamber, from freepers and bloggers at the bottom straight up to limbaugh, drudge and the like at the top, were not trying to hear that. so within hours, the allegations start popping up that these memos are fake. their argument: the memos could not have been written on typewriters of the time, and were most likely composed in MS word and then repeatedly photocopied to give the appearance of age.

according to IBM, the idea that the memos couldn't have been made with typewriters of the era is "just totally false"... but that didn't stop many, many people from running with it, and within hours the focus in the media had shifted from the content of the story to whether those four memos had been forged (despite the fact that everyone pretty much knows the story is true, regardless of the memos' authenticity).

bob novak, who so proudly stands by his "journalistic integrity" by refusing to say who leaked cia operative valerie plame's identity to him (setting off a major scandal and govt investigations), was quite happy to insist that cbs should name its confidential sources because... well... it's damaging to kerry, and that's all that really matters. he was not alone in this, but he was the only one to be quite so hypocritical about it.

quickly, other stories in the media focused on the power of bloggers in affecting the news so quickly:

"The mainstream press is having to follow them," said Jeffrey Seglin, a professor at Emerson College in Boston. "The fear I have is: How do you know who's doing the Web logs?

"And what happens when this stuff gets into the mainstream, and it eventually turns out that the '60 Minutes' documents were perfectly legitimate, but because there's been so much reporting about what's being reported, it has already taken on a life of its own?"

even has a prominent link to a story that uncritically compiles all the stories alleging that the memos are fake... because, hey, this is good PR for blogging services, right?

to be fair, though, blogger also links to the daily kos, which has been diligently debunking the so-called debunkers. hunter at the kos points out most of the stuff people claim was impossible was extremely possible using IBM typewriters of the time, as well as points out the virtual impossibility of proving anything definitively using such cheap copies of the memos (you will note that most experts cited will claim that they can't really authenticate using such copies, but that doesn't seem to stop the other "experts" who say they "know" the memos are fake).

is it possible that the memos are fake? sure. is it also possible that they're legitimate? yes, of course. some are saying this story proves the power of blogs... but it seems to me that it only proves the power of right-wing blogs, because the blogging community had also thoroughly (arguably more thoroughly) debunked the swift boat veterans, but that story was still played out ad nauseam for weeks, but nobody seemed to notice...

Monday, September 13, 2004

boom boom booze booze

so the day before the terrorfakt show, i saw a post advertising an evening of HOUSE and TECHNO (emphasis not mine) at club fusion on 9/11. having just had two other shows cancelled or postponed recently, my immediate reaction was that the club had double-booked & that our show was going to get fucked over. i was a bit upset about that idea (three cancellations in two weeks?) but then i heard back from the promoters that our show was to be in the second room, the techno was to be in the main room, & all was fine.

turns out i had no reason to be concerned, because the techno night was a total flop: the main room was virtually empty all night, while the much smaller second room had a decent crowd the whole time. take that, techno! we should've been in the main room, but oh well...

i somehow got lost on the way to the venue, despite having been there at least twice before. but no matter: when i arrived there was still no dj equipment hooked up. i hung out, chatting with n8 & unszene as well as some other people in attendance. eventually the dj coffin was up & i started spinning. i was already fairly drunk by now and didn't really keep track of what i spun, but i spun a bunch of good power noise and breakcore: celluloid mata, shizuo, donna summer (jason forrest), drop the lime, venetian snares, scorn, to name a few. it was great to be able to hear the stuff over a loud PA.

then terrorfakt vs manufactura played. apparently the two headliners consolidated their set into one, for whatever reason. they rocked it hard, & had an interesting video display with lots of 9/11 & similar related content, although the screen was in a strange position so not everyone could see it.

at this point my memory begins to fail me. i had been drinking rum & cokes (dangerous for me, especially on an empty stomach, but fusion does not have cider so if i wanted to drink, it had to be mixed drinks). i remember terrorfakt vs manufactura playing, but i do not remember them actually finishing their set. nor do i remember vomiting at the club, though i'm told it happened. even worse, sealed in silence then performed and i don't remember that either. maybe i was in the toilet up-chucking during their whole set. or maybe i was standing right there watching them. either way, i was too drunk to remember their performance. don't be like me, kids: know your limits.

dr butcher m.d. mercifully insisted on giving me a ride home. i remember that. but i don't remember getting a glass of juice and vomiting into it, nor getting some of that vomit onto my computer keyboard.

i spent most of yesterday hung over: nothing too terrible, but the familiar sensation of poison coursing through my veins, periodic headaches, and that awful mixture of nausea and hunger. i'm pretty much over it now.

but other than that, it was a good show! plus we kicked techno's ass, which is always good. i even ended up with a new dvd that i don't remember acquiring. i assume someone gave it to me. i'll probably watch it tonight: looks like political industrial videos.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

no such thing as a free sample

from the US department of utter unenforceability:

today a federal appeals court ruled that musicians must pay for all samples they use no matter how fragmentary or transformative. never mind that the fair use doctrine, which has been part of copyright law pretty much since the beginning, says exactly the opposite...

by my estimation, according to this ruling, virtually every single piece of music i have created since 2000 is totally 100% illegal! (2000 marking the release of _the fezzuck_, only about half of which was illegal.) i'm an outlaw, buddy! gimme some of that illegal shit!

the heart of the case was NWA's "100 miles and runnin", which includes a pitched-down three-note guitar sample from george clinton (who else?). naturally, clinton hasn't owned his own copyrights for awhile, so he is not involved in the case. but master p & his "no limit films" division got pulled into this mess by including the song (which was many years old by that point) in the soundtrack to the film i got the hook up.

While the lower court said that the riff in Clinton's song was entitled to copyright protection, it said that, based on analyses, the sampling "did not rise to the level of legally cognizable appropriation."

"After listening to the copied segment, the sample, and both songs, the district court found that no reasonable juror, even one familiar with the works of George Clinton, would recognize the source of the sample without having been told of its source," the appeals court said in its opinion.

On Oct. 11, 2002, the lower court ruled in favor of No Limit Films on the issue of copyright ownership.

The appeals court disagreed, saying there was merit to Westbound's arguments that no copyright violation analyses should be used when "the defendant had not disputed that it digitally sampled a copyrighted sound recording."

wait, wait... if "no reasonable juror" could possibly recognize the sample without being explicitly told where it came from, then how on earth could this be enforced? how do you combat an undetectable crime? if a tree falls in the forest and nobody is there to hear it, how can you cite the tree for improper logging procedures?

the sheer ridiculousness of this, and the fact that the case was basically decided on a technicality, did not stop the appeals court from passing sweeping overbroad judgments:

"If you cannot pirate the whole sound recording, can you 'lift' or 'sample' something less than the whole? Our answer to that question is in the negative," the court said.

"Get a license or do not sample. We do not see this as stifling creativity in any significant way."

obviously this is a big blow against all appropriative artists working (or distributing) in the states. but it looks like an even bigger blow against the champions of citation. because it would seem that NWA's biggest mistake here was not in the actual sampling, but in admitting (or not denying) that they had sampled. if NWA had simply denied using the sample, the case would have gone very differently, apparently.

so the lesson here is that if you want to use unlicensed samples, never cite your sources (and it helps to make them unrecognizable). not a very good lesson, but stupid laws call for stupid countermeasures.