Thursday, August 31, 2006

news bits

here are some stories in convenient bullet-point format, because i don't have more than a paragraph's worth to say about any of them:
  • you might have heard that warren jeffs, "prophet" and leader of the fundamentalist church of jesus christ of latter day saints—a breakaway sect of mormon polygamists—was recently arrested during a traffic stop. (conveniently for hbo, which debuted a series about polygamists earlier this year.) but were you aware of the epidemic of a rare genetic disorder called fumarase deficiency within the FLDS, brought on by the sect's inbreeding? (hat tip boingboing)
  • ken tomlinson is back in the news: known to many as the former commissioner of CPB who tried to turn PBS into a republican mouthpiece, and who was forced to resign from CPB after his numerous improprieties came to light, has once again been caught abusing his appointed power at his new job, chairman of the broadcasting board of governors. (think voice of america.) fortunately, it appears that the senate foreign relations committee refuses to confirm his reappointment... though bush could always make another of his recess appointments. (hat tip tpm muckraker)
  • last summer, indiana DNR director kyle hupfer announced he was doing away with canned hunts in indiana—the barbaric practice of placing wild animals in a small, enclosed areas so that hunter/poseurs can kill them at close range and have a trophy buck to hang on the wall. via tdw, we see that hupfer is being pressured into accepting a lame compromise that "allows the controversial activity to continue for at least a decade".
  • and i have to mention the latest yes men prank.

flat daddies and little jackie paper

when i read this dkos post about the maine national guard's flat daddies program, i couldn't help but be reminded of puff the magic dragon (the '70s cartoon, not the original song by peter, paul, and mary):

Welcome to the "Flat Daddy" and "Flat Mommy" phenomenon, in which life-size cutouts of deployed service members are given by the Maine National Guard to spouses, children, and relatives back home.

The Flat Daddies ride in cars, sit at the dinner table, visit the dentist, and even are brought to confession, according to their significant others on the home front.

"I prop him up in a chair, or sometimes put him on the couch and cover him up with a blanket," said Kay Judkins of Caribou, whose husband, Jim, is a minesweeper mechanic in Afghanistan. "The cat will curl up on the blanket, and it looks kind of weird. I've tricked several people by that. They think he's home again."

it's an odd sentiment: we've sent your loved one off to war, but here's a cardboard cutout you can talk to.

the puff the magic dragon cartoon (watch it on youtube: part 1, part 2, part 3) begins with a troubled young boy named jackie draper, who has shut himself off from reality. exactly what's wrong with jackie is never made clear—is he autistic? severely traumatized? by what? as a child, it never occurred to me to ask.

anyway, jackie is sitting around being catatonic one day, when puff the magic dragon shows up, wanting to take jackie to puff's magical home kingdom, honnah lee. but jackie can't take his physical body with him, so puff creates a fascimile of the boy, who he calls "jackie paper", and proceeds to remove "the living thing" (i.e. jackie's consciousness, soul, or ghost, which is apparently found inside the left ear) from jackie draper's body and plants it into jackie paper. this imbues jackie paper with life—he can now speak and move around and stuff, which he couldn't (or wouldn't) in his natural body. the now-soulless husk of jackie draper presumably just sits there motionless as it always did, and apparently nobody notices the difference.

on its surface, the puff cartoon is a simple allegory about a child overcoming his fears, with some of the usual stuff about imagination thrown in, but it could just as easily be read as something darker. puff's arrival, for example, could be read as a full psychotic break, more akin to the fantasy sequences in brazil than the neverending story. this would explain the cartoon's abject paranoia: jackie's terror at facing the pirate chef, the surprisingly creepy ocean scene when a dying star falls from the sky and puff declares there is no chance of saving it, and the utter despondency puff displays when he learns that his homeland has been overrun by living sneezes.

anyway, that's what i thought of when i read that military families were being given cardboard replicas of service members who've gone off to war... i thought of little jackie paper, and how creepy it would be to have a lifeless lookalike of your loved one lying around in your home, constantly reminding you that the real person is out there on a dangerous mission somewhere. because in the real world, jackie paper is the one who stays at home while jackie draper is out there risking his life.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

when there's a ninja challenge, we must accept it

round three, originally uploaded by stallio.

photoshop kungfu is a flickr "battle" group, where users face off in image-editing showdowns, editing & re-editing photos into drastic new versions. the battles often get silly, or gory, or even naughty. (for a tamer, non-competitive batte group, try photoshop tennis.)

group founder this_is_not_a_name had been itching for a glitch art battle for some time, but had no takers... until i joined the group, that is.

the battle thread is here. this photo is my third-round entry. most battles last three rounds. after TINAN posts his reply, group members will vote on the winner. i think my chances of winning are pretty good, but these things are subjective.

update: i'm currently ahead by one vote. it's still anyone's race.

it appears you must be a member of the group to see the battle thread, so for those who aren't ready, willing, or able to join: here's the original photo. i went first, so here's my round 1 entry. here's TINAN's response. here's my round 2. here's TINAN's round 2. and here's TINAN's round 3.

Monday, August 28, 2006

they get comments

local blogger torpor indy has received a big bump in traffic after being linked by michelle malkin. if you've somehow been fortunate enough never to have heard of michelle malkin, she resides on the distant shores of far-right-blogistan, so far out there that she can see armageddon from her house (or at least she thinks she can). malkin is perhaps best known for being an avid proponent of the japanese internment during WWII, which some people find particularly bizarre because malkin is second-generation asian-american. but there is lots of bizarre stuff about malkin.

the issue at hand: back in february, torpor wrote a post about ann coulter. the subject line of the post suggested that ann coulter is a "horseface".

then last week, peter hartlaub, writing in the san francisco chronicle's culture blog, wrote about a horse at the SF zoo named coulter "who bears a not-so-subtle resemblance" to ann. hartlaub linked to torpor's post as evidence that hartlaub wasn't the first person to think coulter's features were a bit equine.

enter malkin, infuriated as always. without irony, she accused hartlaub of authoring an "an astonishingly ugly, ad hominem attack" and "then sit[ting] back and wait[ing] for ... blog commenters to pile on". she also linked to torpor and a couple other blogs hartlaub had mentioned. then, she sat back and waited... nay, demanded that her blog commenters "pile on", urging her readers to write to the chronicle and voice their anger.

of course, like many right-wing blogs, malkin does not allow comments herself, so those who would comment at her blog are forced to go elsewhere. they eagerly swarmed to torporindy, where they promptly called torpor a "fag". lovely.

and while i'm meta-blogging about comments, i'd be remiss if i didn't point out the silliness going on in the comments over at advance indiana. i've given gary a lot of flak lately, so i'll spare him here (though i don't think he's offered a smidgen of evidence for any of his claims in his latest screed about matt tully).

if you're not from around these parts, none of this might mean anything to you, but gary wrote a post blasting the commentators on the tv show indiana week in review. the crux of gary's argument seems to be that the commentators should be fired because the show isn't discussing gary's pet issue, but i said i'd go easy on gary so let's ignore that for now.

the fun really started with this mildly crazy comment, immediately followed by full-blown craziness four minutes later. it's hard to know where to begin pointing all the insanity here, so many outrageously absurd claims are made in quick succession. even if all of it were somehow true, only the most intimate insider could possibly know all these things, and the author voice makes it clear that the poster is not and never was on friendly terms with the people being libeled.

since i'm anything but a democratic party insider (i'm not even on tdw's blogroll), i can't even begin to refute these claims using actual evidence; i can only refute them by noting their insanity. and maybe that's the point: the accusations are so completely nutty that they're impossible to refute. for example, how can one disprove allegations of ballot switching from 10 years ago?

Kip Tew was the Democratic Party's Chairman when they illegally elected Carl Drummer to office in the 1996 special election.

It was the same election where Wilson Allen and Tony Duncan switched the ballots and ballot boxes to insure Drummer's victory against Jocelyn-Tandy Adande.

She sued the Democratic Party in Circuit Court January 2, 1996 over the election.

in response, wilson allen, who's been hitting the rounds on hoosier blogs lately as wilson46201, observed that this commenter was probably jocelyn-tandy herself. and then jocelyn-tandy came out of hiding, stopped posting anonymously (for a few minutes), and posted twice under her handle, queen916. the silliness continues in the comments to gary's anti-tully post.

but who is jocelyn-tandy adande? if that name threw up red flags in your mind—enormous, galaxy-sized flags that eclipsed your entire field of vision and possibly induced seizure—then good for you: you're tapped in to hoosier politics.

jocelyn-tandy adande has run for election a bunch of times, but as far as i know she's never been able to win a primary. in 1999, she ran for mayor and was utterly crushed by bart peterson in the primary. her stint as bob kern's campaign manager didn't end much better, though at least kern won the primary:

If Bill Clinton Gets to Stay in the White House, Why Can't a Convicted Felon and Occasional Female Impersonator With an Assumed Name Run As the Democratic Nominee for Congress?

Bob Kern was allowed to stay on the ballot as the Democratic candidate in the 6th Congressional District of Indiana, despite the fact that state party chair Joe Andrew sued to force election authorities to toss Kern off the ballot. Democrats said Kern deceived voters in the primary by not using his given name - Bobby Scott Hidalgo.

As the panel voted to allow Kern to remain on the ballot, he was reported to have "teared up, hugged his campaign manager Jocelyn-Tandy Adande and proclaimed: 'Praise the Lord.'"

Kern received 31,472 votes (17 percent) in the general election against incumbent Cong. Dan Burton (R).

(did you catch the part about kern/hidalgo being a convicted felon? good.)

i know her name primarily from her time blogging at INtouch, which is easily the worst of the indy star's blogs. (even fresh thoughts, which is written entirely by high schoolers and college kids, is better than INtouch. don't get me wrong; there are several reasonable people who blog at INtouch, and several others who have left [more on that in a minute], but the bad apples spoil the whole blog.)

for some reason, jocelyn-tandy no longer writes at INtouch. if you go to INtouch now, you won't see her name in the list of contributors. i'm not sure why; i'd like to think it's because she is utterly insane and the ed board just couldn't take it anymore... but that doesn't explain why john sorg is still there.

like all the star's blogs, INtouch is a bit hard to navigate. there's no archive listing, and posts aren't individually linked, so the only way to browse the archives is to go one post at a time. it's tedious, but if you take the time to go looking for jocelyn-tandy's old posts, you'll discover that she didn't just leave INtouch. she's been excised. her posts still seem to be there (if you can find them), but her name and picture no longer appear. instead, she gets a ghost byline: posted by [blank]. furthermore, her posts don't appear in the next/previous links, either. the only way to find her posts is to go through, post by post, looking at the post numbers. for instance, the official blog skips from 1854 to 1856 to 1881. but three or four of the "missing" posts are still there, if you type in the urls manually. they're just by people who've left the blog.

what's up with that? presumably this is just a bug in the blogging software; removing a contributor's posting rights shouldn't remove that contributor's byline from old posts. and it's not personal: jocelyn-tandy isn't the only person who's been "deleted" from the blog. for just one example, this deleted post about bagels is by chris douglas.

this old INtouch post is one of the few results you get when you google JT's name, and only because she got a lot of attention for that post (if you google her name, most of the hits you get are from bloggers tearing it apart). the post is classic jocelyn-tandy: she blasts the city-county council for passing the human rights ordinance that barred discrimination based on sexual identity, ending her post with, "Passage of the ordinance was a mistake. To compare the plight of homosexuals to that of African Americans is an insult to my race."

here are some other deleted hits from JT's time at INtouch:
  • more bitching about the HRO. lots more JT in the comments, like:
    • "Fornication, adultry, incest, pedophilia, homosexuality are all sex sins. These are not the only sins, but they are relevant to this debate."
    • " To settle your debate on these issues, please support your beliefs and lifestyle with scripture from The Holy Bible. If you are a non-believer that Jesus Christ is the Son of God Almighty, and the only Savior who can redeem all of us for the remission of our sins, then my views have fallen on deaf ears."
  • here JT advocates reparations for slavery, which doesn't go over well with the commenters who usually love her for her gay-bashing
  • here's a deleted chris douglas post where the first comment is from JT: " Exactly what is normal sexual orientation? Pedophilia, bestiality, homosexuality, or heterosexuality?"
  • here's a post titled Taking Christ out of Xmas. you can imagine the rhetoric here:
    • she begins with "Christians, beware! The anti-Christ movement has emerged in every facet of society."
    • in the comments, she shares "Personally, I pity those individuals who have chosen not to believe in God Almighty and Jesus the Christ."
  • curiously, this innocuous post still has a byline and photo (though it's still not in the official archives), but this post with the same title and a similar message has been ghosted

that's just a sampling. i'm sure there's lots more JT nuttiness in the archives to marvel at, but finding the posts is so time-consuming that i'm going to stop looking. if you have any JT links to share, please do!

i'm also curious what other former INtouch contributors think about their old blog entries being pseudo-deleted, in such a way that they're still online, but hard to find and stripped of attribution. i know if i left a group blog, i would either want my posts kept up as-is or taken down entirely.

they get letters

do_not_bend12, originally uploaded by stallio.

original photo by jima
like jima's mail carrier, i couldn't resist the temptation to bend this envelope.

view the whole set.

Friday, August 25, 2006

a dinosaur's p***s is erect because he is a dinosaur

as seen on boingboing, an amusing letter to the editor from fallbrook, CA (near san diego):

On Tuesday, August 8, I took my family out to Daniel's for groceries. I have a 6-year-old daughter who learned how to read from the Barney and Friends book series. As we stepped out of the family van, she was very excited to see a Barney movie being advertised on the Daniel's Market lit sign. She said, "Look, Daddy, a Barney movie!" I couldn’t see it, so she guided my eyes to the vulgar obscenity arranged there on the sign. "Look! Up there! Barney's p***s!" I was shocked when I saw the words arranged on the sign. I quickly averted her eyes and escorted her into the store.

Since then, she has not stopped mentioning Barney's p***s. This has shaken the bedrock of our family. I made an emergency call to our church's pastor about this bombshell in my daughter's life and he is unsure how it will affect her future.

This sort of sick joke is typical of unlawful teenagers across the country, but I just didn't think the little town of Fallbrook was home to such hoodlums. I am frightened for my daughter's future; she won't stop bringing up this horrible movie title! I would like Daniel's Market to apologize for traumatizing my daughter, and I would like the pranksters to know just how vile their criminal act was.

the thing is, it doesn't sound like his daughter was traumatized. rather, she sounds really excited about the idea of seeing barney's p***s.

fun with flickr badges

maybe you've seen 'em on other sites. or maybe you've only just noticed the new one on my blog, and it's the first you've ever seen. it's a little box, usually a sidebar element, often titled something like "my latest photos". inside it are automatically generated thumbnails of the latest photos from that blogger's flickr photostream. in flickr terminology this is called a badge.

for users who don't know a lick of html, flickr has a tool that will generate code for you to paste into your website or blog template. but if you know html, css, and ideally javascript, you can customize them quite a bit.

there are two types of flickr badges: static html badges, like the one that i currently have in my sidebar, and flash badges, which are animated and fancier. eliot swan documented the html badge API here. using eliot's documentation, i had no trouble setting up the badge in my sidebar, stripping out all of flickr's css and writing my own so that my thumbnails are two across rather than purely horizontal or vertical. (i've also set the number of thumbnails to 6, which is not an option in the flickr badge creator.)

update!!!! the following does not appear to be a viable solution, as some of the values (like magisterLudi) change daily. this might be fun to play around with, but it's not a good way to implement a flickr badge.

but dj empirical emailed me about getting a flickr badge for his myspace page. unfortunately, the default flickr badges don't work on myspace. this is because the badge code depends on javascript, and apparently myspace now blocks javascript. fortunately, there is a solution, as discovered by user gothcandy.

gothcandy looked at the code for the flash badge and located the url for the iframe, which will have a format like this (with no spaces): zg_bg_color=000000&zg_person_id=12978266%40N00

zq_person_id will be your flickr user id number. your "friendly name" will not work here. if you enter this url into the address bar, hit enter, and the view your source—and if you can read javascript syntax—you can piece together your own custom code to embed a flickr flash badge onto your myspace (or other page) without using javascript. and even better, you can customize it quite a bit more than you can using the flickr badge creator.

note: the original javascript includes a section that checks the user's operating system and browser version, and if the browser is too old to support flash, the flash code will not be sent to the browser. obviously, if we don't use the script, this browser-checking won't happen. this could result in people who are using super-old browsers getting a bunch of ugly code or other weirdness when they view your myspace page. if you're a "serious" web designer, you probably care about such things, but for the sake of this post, screw those people with old browsers. they should upgrade.

after you pick apart the pieces of the script, the format for the url for the SWF file goes something like this (of course, it should all be on one line, with no spaces or breaks):
&bg_color=ffffff [this is a hex value. don't use a #. this is not the color of the line in between thumbnails; this is the background color outside of that. if you do your math right, you won't even see this color... unless you want to. this can be safely left out.]
&cols=3 [this is the number of columns.]
&rows=4 [this is the number of rows.]
&wh=37 [this is both the width and height settings for the thumbnails, in pixels. thumbnails are square. i don't know if these can be set independently.]
&swapInterv=3 [swap interval. this sets how frequently thumbnails are replaced. default is 3. a setting like 0 or 1 is very fast.]
&loadInterv=120 [load interval. i haven't figured out what this does.]
&transition=bigThenSmall [default is bigThenSmall, so you would thinkg smallThenBig would also work, but it doesn't seem to do anything. beyond that, who knows if there are any other values?]
&nsid=stallio [if you want the thumbnails pulled from your photos (rather than from a group, or from everyone), put your user id here. your "friendly name" will work here, if you have one. ]
&scope=0 [not sure what this does.]
&favorites=0 [not sure what this does.]
&tags=databending [if you want your badge to only display photos using a certain tag, that goes here. i'm using my databending tag here. if you don't want to use this feature, you can safely leave this part out.]
&tag_mode=any [if you use the previous feature, this will be any. if not, it will be all. but if you're not using it, you can actually leave it out.]
&group_id=52241691728@N01 [if you want your badge to show photos from one of your groups, the group id goes here. if not, you can leave this out. the group's "friendly name" will not work here. the group id here is for the glitch art pool.]
&text= [i don't know what this is for. it is blank by default, and can be safely left out. but if you put something here, maybe something would happen.]
&set_id= [if you want your badge to only show thumbnails from one of your sets, the set id goes here.]
&context=in/pool-glitches/ [you'll need to use this setting if you're pulling photos from a group. replace the in/pool- name as necessary. again, this value is for the glitch art pool.]
&v=1.13 [no idea. this can be safely left out, but since i'm not sure what it does, you should probably leave it in.]
&magisterLudi=xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx [this is a 32-bit hex value. i don't know what it means, but its value seems to expire every 24 hours. i've x'ed out the value here. i've you're savvy enough to use this information, you can retrieve this value yourself... but you'll have to fix this value often to get much use out of this.]
&auth_token= [for some reason, this has no value. but don't take it out or the code will break. it's important.]
&auth_hash=xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx [another 32-bit hex value. this can be safely left out.]
&flickr_secret=xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx [a 16-bit hex value. this too can be safely left out.]

knowing all this, let's have some fun. i haven't had time to play around with the intervals or transitions. but we do know how to change the layout: columns, rows, and the width/height of the thumbnails. there is a 1px margin in between photos, so the width of the box will be [(wh+1)*cols]-1 and height will be [(wh+1)*rows]-1.

here's a 5x5 badge of 100px thumbnails from the glitch art pool. overall width/height is 504px.

kind of blurry at that size, but you get the idea.

here is a 10x4 badge (50px each) of my photos tagged databending. swap interval has been set to 1, and load interval to 20:

and just to get really silly, here is a 20x6 block of 20px thumbnails of all public photos tagged with the tag dada (swap interval 5, load interval 180):

if you decipher any of the properties here that i haven't explained, please leave a comment for the edification of any future readers.

final note: of course, once you have a properly formed url for the swf file, you still need to embed that swf into something. but if you're savvy enough to understand the above, you can probably do this on your own. on myspace i used use <param> and <embed> tags, but here on my blog i used iframes, because those params mess up my blog design.

update: the bottom two badges don't seem to work in IE. i'm not sure why... it could be something related to all those hex values. i don't know at this point. all i know is at the time of this writing (5am!), all three work in firefox, but only the top one works in IE. i'm going to bed. maybe i'll figure it out tomorrow. these now work in IE. the problem was that i had a # in the bg_color field.

update: these had seemingly stopped working by 11pm. i've entered a new value for magisterLudi, which fixed them. it could be a coincidence, just bad timing. or it could be a sign that these magisterLudi keys expire quickly. so i don't know how quickly they expire, but if they expire daily (or even weekly/monthly), then this isn't a very viable solution.

update: yet again, these were dead by 10pm. it seems magisterLudi values expire within 24 hours or so, which means that the knowledge here isn't particularly useful in itself (unless you feel like fixing your code everyday). shucks. though perhaps someone with more knowledge than me could find a workaround.

Thursday, August 24, 2006


jumbled-4, originally uploaded by stallio.

once more for paul. after this one, i'll probably use someone else's photos for my next bending project (my own, or someone else's on flickr... someone with a CC license), but i i absolutely loved the texture of this photo by paul goyette of a pile of scrap metal. it has a real tetsuo: the iron man feel to it, and i knew it would look fabulous if i resaved it as a PSD file and edited it in sound forge.

i tried for hours in vain to get the file to bend, but it broke with every edit. soon i discovered the problem: when i interpreted the file as a 16-bit wav, any edits i made broke the file, but interpreting it as 8-bit worked just fine.

view the whole set here (4 photos). these are probably best viewed large.

the revolution must not be televised

a new york man has been arrested for broadcasting "hizbollah tv":

U.S. authorities have arrested a New York man for broadcasting Hizbollah television station al-Manar, which has been designated a terrorist entity by the U.S. Treasury Department, prosecutors said on Thursday.

Javed Iqbal, 42, was arrested on Wednesday because his Brooklyn-based company HDTV Ltd. was providing New York-area customers with the Hizbollah-operated channel, federal prosecutors said in a statement.

It did not say how long Iqbal's company had been providing satellite broadcasts of al-Manar, which the U.S. Treasury Department in March had designated as Specially Designated Global Terrorist entity, making it a crime to conduct business with al-Manar.

Iqbal has been charged with conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, the statement said. Federal authorities searched HDTV's Brooklyn office and Iqbal's Staten Island home, where Iqbal was suspected of maintaining satellite dishes, the statement said.

The U.S. Treasury Department froze U.S. assets of al-Manar in March, saying it supported fund-raising and recruitment activities of Hizbollah, a Shiite Muslim group backed by Syria and Iran that has been at war with Israel in southern Lebanon.

this strikes me as a tricky first amendment issue. after reading on wikipedia about the kinds of material al manar broadcasts, i can't say i approve of the content. it's one thing to be pro-palestinian; it's another to publicly fantasize about killing ariel sharon.

some people will probably laud this action as a justified attempt to shut down terrorist propaganda; others will decry it as censorship of the pro-lebanese, pro-palestinian point of view. both groups will probably be right to some extent. but where do free speech rights end?

while it could be argued that al manar has no first amendment rights because it is broadcast out of lebanon (and thus US law doesn't apply), what about javen iqbar's rights as a tv service provider? the IEEPA prevents people and companies in the US from doing business with organizations that have been branded "terrorist organizations". but re-broadcasting a tv signal is not necessary "doing business" (at least not if no money is exchanged and no contract signed; if iqbal signed a contract with hizbollah, it's no longer a free speech issue).

in the struggle to preserve first amendment freedoms, potentially offensive material is the most important to defend. the first amendment gives us the right to piss people off or upset them with our speech, and that right must be vigorously defended. but there is some content that "crosses the line"—child pornography is one example, because its very production harms the children it features. is the content on al manar really so awful that the government's interest in shutting it down outweighs the first amendment issues involved with banning with an entire network? maybe it is, but americans will not be able to make that choice for themselves, because they are not allowed to view the broadcasts.

pluto gets voted out of the solar system

so long, planet pluto. we hardly knew ya:

Astronomers agreed today to rewrite science books across the world by dropping Pluto from a list of planets in the solar system 76 years after it was discovered.

Pluto, the furthest of nine planets from the sun, was reduced to the status of "dwarf" from a fully-fledged planet by the International Astronomical Union in Prague.

Ceres, the largest asteroid in a belt of thousands that lies between Mars and Jupiter, and 2003 UB313, an object about the size of Pluto discovered in January 2005, were also added to the new dwarf class. More dwarf planets "are expected to by announced in the coming months and years," the union said.

poor pluto, stripped of its title, is now in a sense illegitimate... a bastard planet.

just last week, astronomers were debating a proposal that not only would have let pluto keep its title as a major planet, but would have promoted ceres, ub313 (aka xena the warrior pluton), and pluto's "moon" charon to full planethood as well. instead, all four get the shaft, but it must be hardest on pluto.

bending without bending

2dwelcome-gimp3, originally uploaded by stallio.

i noticed last summer that the gimp rendered bent images differently than photoshop does. but after my hard drive crashed, i'd never bothered to reinstall the gimp... until now.

i was really curious how my most recent bends of paul's photo of this cardboard woman. so i re-downloaded and -installed the gimp, loaded the file, and sure enough the results were strikingly different. i like these new bends more than the previous versions.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

derivative works

2dwelcome-6, originally uploaded by stallio.

my first flickr-based bending! and my first databent stuff since i stopped doing friday cat bending after leland passed away in january.

the original photo is by my old friend paul goyette.

i've been "bending" photoshop PSD files for some time now, and i'd always meant to do some more experimenting with layers, but never got around to it until now.

i took paul's original photograph and opened it in photoshop. using the magnetic lasso, i cut out the cardboard lady and pasted it onto a separate layer (actually, four copies on four separate layers, so that i could make multiple changes in the same editing session).

then i opened up copies of the PSD file in my audio software and introduced errors, trying not to edit the background layer, and only edit the layers with the cardboard woman on them.

the results are pretty much as i'd hoped they'd be.

view the whole set.

gary welsh lets me down again

i was starting to think that advance indiana's gary welsh was taking his meds again and had regained his sanity. after his inane shenanigans earlier this month, when he said a win for ned lamont would be a win for the terrorists and chastised connecticut voters for being "extremist", even going so far as to accuse steph mineart of being an extremist (and then asking her not to "take it personally"), i lost a bit of respect for gary, who i'd never imagined would engage in that sort of "you're with us or you're with the terrorists" mumbo-jumbo.

but it soon became apparent that the "extremist liberals" were right. gary had criticized liberal bloggers for suspecting political motives behind the timing of the recent UK arrests, and it turned out that the US had pressured the UK to act, even though the terrorists didn't even have passports. gary never had anything to say about this or other revelations that showed that the thwarted attacks were nowhere close to imminent, but i somewhat hoped that he had realized his error and was simply shutting up about the subject rather than have to admit his mistake or apologize to those he'd tried to defame. anyway, he had moved on to other subjects, and while still being clearly partisan (he seems a bit too concerned about scandals involving the name "julie carson" but completely indifferent to scandals surrounding her opponent, eric dickerson), his posts had regained some sense of sanity, so i had my fingers crossed that he'd put the whole "extremist" thing behind him.

gary let me down again today. today he has a new post titled london terror threat for real, where he beats the holy hell out of a strawman:

While many bloggers opposed to President Bush's policies for fighting the war on terror scoffed at initial reports that Islamic terrorists were planning to bring down U.S. airplanes headed from London to the U.S. this month, the ongoing investigation in Great Britain demonstrates just how real the threat really was.

take that, strawman! gary links to a washington post article full of juicy details like how much hydrogen peroxide the alleged terrorists had collected. (did they plan to bleach their hair? or maybe the peroxide was to disinfect any wounds they incurred during the upcoming holy war?)

but the problem with gary's post is that liberals never doubted that this was a real threat. steph sure didn't, and neither did any of the other "extremists" gary linked to. these bloggers all assumed that the alleged terrorists did in fact hope to attack someday. what these bloggers didn't do was buy into the hysteria. they pointed out facts, like that the arrestees had been under surveillance for many months, or that actually assembling liquid explosives on a plane would be damn near impossible, which suggested that the threat, while real, was not imminent.

liberal bloggers were concerned that the threat was being over-hyped, that the restrictions against bringing liquids onto planes were absurd and unhelpful, and that the fear-mongering would cause more incidents like this story from last week, when british airline passengers "staged an unprecedented mutiny - refusing to allow their flight to take off" until two men "were forcibly removed" from the flight. the men's crime? looking "asian" and daring to speak a language other than english (which the crazed passengers thought sounded like "arabic", but could have been any eastern language).

but liberal bloggers never doubted that the threat was real. and so gary's post is nothing but flailing against the wind, fighting back against liberal extremists who don't actually exist. it's kind of sad, really. let's hope that gary abandons all this malarkey and sticks to what he's good at: digging up insider info about local politics. there are plenty other republican bloggers who can toss around ad hominem attacks and fight the good fight against strawmen without gary's help.


fireworks31, originally uploaded by stallio.

testing out my custom template so i can post photos directly from flickr.

when the going gets weird, the weird go pro

i knew it was inevitable. it was only a question of when. and now it's happened: i've upgraded my flickr account to "pro".

i spent much of the night in front of the computer copy editing—because i didn't have time to do it in the afternoon, as i'd planned—but during work breaks, i've been uploading photos. so far, most of the stuff i've uploaded has been databent stuff that was already available here on, but i have created a photoset of fireworks pics from this fourth of july, which includes 20 new photos i never posted here.
check it out.

and now, i present my first flickr photo to be posted to the blog:

the first of many?

Monday, August 21, 2006

diamonds in the sky

i've been ridiculously busy over the past several days. in addition to receiving my first freelance editing work (technically my second assignmment; i got my first assignment a month ago, though due to various problems, including a death in the author's family, i have yet to receive any turnover for that book), virago is moving to a new apartment, and there's a lot of furniture moving going on at my parents' house as well. but last night, virago & i took some time to go to the state fair (our second visit this year) to see kanye west.

historically, the big concerts at the state fair have all been hillbilly: big n rich, travis tritt, garth brooks... all country acts with the occasional washed-up rock band. this year, the state fair wanted to improve its image a bit by booking more diverse shows. for one thing, they booked the american idol tour (a sure hit, yet not at all country), and then to really show they were serious, they booked grammy-winning hip-hopper kanye west. from what i understand, nobody expected the kanye west show to be a huge seller (and it wasn't); booking the show was as much a symbolic statement that the fair, which hadn't had a hip-hop show since big daddy kane played in 1990, was trying to be more hip.

none of the promotional materials for the show said anything about an opening act, so we weren't sure there would be one, but luckily there was: rhymefest, who lives in indy but is originally from chicago, started off the night with a short set. i'd been hoping rhymefest would appear—he and kanye go way back, and rhymefest won a grammy for co-writing "jesus walks". i suspect that a significant portion of the crowd didn't realize who he was at first, but when he began to play the song "stick", which has gotten some airplay on 96.3, the crowd picked up in intensity. another highlight of the set was when rhymefest offered a freestyle, jumping into the crowd for inspiration, before ending up back onstage and concluding with the line "i'll give 'em my right foot". he emphasized this line with a dramatic kick, and humorously, his shoe flew off into the audience. but fest took it in stride, removing his other shoe, signing it, and tossing it as well into the crowd.

kanye west's live entourage featured two backup singers (one male, one female), a 7-piece string section, and the obligatory dj. the dj, dj reflex, as dave lindquist notes, was not kanye's usual dj and made several noticeable mistakes. david searle has a less-than-flattering description of the dj difficulties in his review on imn:

[dj reflex was...] a DJ whose job seemed to consist of hitting the play button on his iTunes.

Apparently, hitting play was a little too much responsibility for the DJ. Kanye cut off several miscued songs prematurely and even went as far as to ask the audience if there was a DJ in the house.

in fairness to dj reflex, i'm believe he was using a setup like final scratch, where the music is played off a computer, but the dj is able to remix it live and add scratching via turntables that are attached to the computer. there were definitely turntables on stage (next to the mac laptop), and i'm pretty sure i saw him scratching at one point during the show.

technical difficulties aside, kanye put on a strong show. he exuded confidence and stage presence, and his between-song banter was witty and charming. the crowd wasn't as large as promoters had hoped, but the people who were there were rocked hard.

one unusual aspect of the show was that kanye seemed reluctant to perform entire songs. most songs would be cut off by the end of the second verse if not the first 16–32 bars. these endings felt natural enough, but it was obvious even to us casual fans that the songs were not being performed to their original conclusion. perhaps this was so kanye didn't need to bring many guest rappers with him, or maybe it was so he could squeeze in as many tracks as possible. indeed, one portion of the show was little more than kanye showing off some of the tracks he'd produced for other artists: "i bet you didn't know i produced this!" he'd say, and then perform 16 bars from the hook of something like "stand up" by ludacris. whatever the reason, this approach seemed to work.

i didn't remember to bring my camera, but the indy star has an embarrassingly unprofessional photo gallery attached to its review of the show. danese kenon's photographs themselves are pretty good: the composition, color, and all that stuff is well done. but whoever processed these photos and posted them online did a horrible job, overcompressing them by a huge margin so that the photos are marred by compression artifacts. seriously: photo #1 isn't too bad, but look at the rest. this one (#4/10) is particularly bad. ugly ugly ugly.

overall, it was a little weird, and tickets were probably overpriced—cheaper tickets could have resulted in better attendance. but it was a good show and the crowd really enjoyed it. i only hope it was successful enough for the state fair to continue being adventurous when booking concerts for next year.

Thursday, August 17, 2006


a judge has ruled that the president must obey the law. get out your umbrellas and ponchos, because once bush's rabid apologists find out, it's going to be raining spittle.

A federal judge on Thursday ruled that the U.S. government's warrantless wiretapping program is unconstitutional and ordered it ended immediately.

In a 44-page memorandum and order, U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor, -- who is based in Detroit, Michigan --struck down the National Security Agency's program, which she said violates the rights to free speech and privacy.

Taylor's ruling stems from a case filed by the American Civil Liberties Union. According to The Associated Press, Taylor is the first judge to rule the eavesdropping program unconstitutional. (Read the complete ruling -- PDF)

The defendants "are permanently enjoined from directly or indirectly utilizing the Terrorist Surveillance Program (TSP) in any way, including, but not limited to, conducting warrantless wiretaps of telephone and Internet communications, in contravention of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and Title III," she wrote.

She further declared that the program "violates the separation of powers doctrine, the Administrative Procedures Act, the First and Fourth amendments to the United States Constitution, the FISA and Title III."

She went on to say that "The president of the United States ... has undisputedly violated the Fourth in failing to procure judicial orders."

glenn greenwald has the in-depth analysis.

(You're the only person who has used "databending" as a tag.)

spurred in part by paul's recent post, i've finally gotten around to signing up with flickr. i have tentative plans to start doing more visual databending in the near future, and when i do, i plan to post the bent photos to flickr rather than host them here (and go through all the hand-coding necessary to create those nice bent galleries).

moreover, i hope to take advantage of the creative commons content on flickr for this new wave of bending, taking CC-licensed photos from flickr, creating derivative works (bends) of them, and posting those back on flickr. think of it as a way of rewarding people for posting their photos with a CC license. perhaps some of the people whose photos i bend won't like what i've done, but i'm hoping some will get a kick out of it. after all, the point of a CC license is allowing others to use your work, so what better reward than to have others use your work? i get free content, with no concerns of being sued, and they get the joy of having people remix their stuff in cool ways.

i won't get around to this project right away. i have paying work to do. (the current plan is to do my first new batch of bending in september.) so for the time being, i had to upload something, and i thought it was fitting for my first uploads to be from the final edition of friday cat bending: cat bending #8: in memoriam. (see the flickr set.)

after uploading, i went about adding tags, ensuring they all had CC licenses, etc. as i was playing with the tags, i clicked one of my "databending" tags and was treated to this disappointing message: (You're the only person who has used "databending" as a tag.) i got the same result for databent.

it's not that there isn't databent stuff on flickr. there is. lots of it. sometimes flickr itself creates the bends. hell, there are whole photo pools devoted to glitch art. (in other words, i should've started uploading my shiz there months ago.) but the term databending has never been used there before.

i really like the term. i didn't coin it (i assume whoever started the databenders list coined it, but i have no idea), but i've been using it for years, and everyone in my circle uses it. so i was surprised that nobody on flickr had ever used the tag before. had nobody else from the databenders list joined flickr? is the term passé, replaced by "glitch art" in the same way that "alternative rock" became "indie rock"?

(technically—allow me to geek out here for a moment—databending is more broad than glitch art. glitch art is a type of visual art. databending can be done in any medium; the term is most often used to refer to audio work. or more precisely, we could say that databending is a process that can be used to create glitch art, glitch music, and other forms of glitchy/bent media. [not all glitch art is databent, either.] maybe someday i'll write up definitions of databending and glitch art for wikipedia, but not tonight.)

now that i'm on flickr, i hope to spread the word there (literally, i hope to spread the word "databending", though i'd like to spread its ideals as well). maybe i can even get some other benders to sign up (syntax? anyone?) and post their own works.

but maybe i'm the one who needs to get with the times, ditch the D-word, and start proclaiming the wonders of "glitch art".

Monday, August 14, 2006

dubious county

doug caught this glorious typo in letter that the governor sent today to USDOT (emphasis doug's):

Daviess, Dubious [sic], Knox, Martin, and Pike Counties in Southwest Indiana belong in the Eastern Standard [sic] time zone.

this is my favorite kind of typo: one where the misspelling becomes a different word, with unintended humorous connotations. my professional intuition tells me that this error was most likely caused by an overzealous spell-check: msword suggested "Dubious" instead of the correct "Dubois" and some flack mistakenly clicked "replace". but that doesn't make it any less entertaining.

"dubious county" would be a fantastic slur against dubois county, though i'm not sure what would be dubious about it. i'm sure dubois haters could come up with something. (maybe one of those anti-french slurs the right illogically clings to.)

personally, i have a passing familiarity with dubois county, as my mother got her master's degree at st meinrad in nearby spencer county, so i've been to jasper a few times, and dubois struck me as a perfectly nice rural county. so i'm not hating on dubois, though if i were, i would have some awesome new ammunition.

doug pointed out this typo in the middle of a longer post about the governor's letter, supporting six counties in their bids to switch to eastern time after having been put on central earlier this year. doug's post has some excellent analysis of the letter, examining the governor's disingenuous arguments and false claims. if you're not bored to tears with time zone talk, you should read his post: i won't do it the injustice of rehashing all his points here.

but doug merely highlights the typo with a subtle [sic]. he says nothing more about it, and definitely doesn't point out its poetic beauty. nor do any of his commenters so far. i couldn't let that pass; i couldn't allow such a wonderful error to go unappreciated.

dr octagon at the vogue

i've been a huge fan of kool keith ever since i first saw the video for dr octagon's "blue flowers" on mtv's amp back in the day, so when i learned that "dr octagon" was scheduled to play the vogue as part of this year's MMS, i knew i had to attend.

virago & i started the evening off at bazbeaux in broad ripple, where we had some pizza with an incan-sounding name that i can neither pronounce or remember. it wasn't bad, but i've had tastier pizzas at bazbeaux.

after dinner, we walked to the vogue and arrived shortly before the twilight sentinels went onstage. we had cheked out their myspace page beforehand and been underwhelmed by the mp3s there, but we were already at the vogue, and were parked a couple blocks away, so we just bought some $4 woodchucks and settled in, finding a place to sit.

the twilight sentinels put on a serviceable performance, playing some stuff that sounded harder and more uptempo than what i'd heard on myspace, but their set was marred by something that affected the whole night: muddy sound. perhaps this was merely an artifact of where we were sitting, and the sound would have been crisper if we'd been front and center, but from our seats at least, it was sometimes difficult to make out what the mcs were saying, and the backing music sounded somewhat washed out. the sound wasn't terrible—i've definitely heard worse—but the effect was like listening to the radio from across a large room; there was some mean reverb in there.

next up came the seminal indy hip-hop group the mudkids. now here was a group i had definitely wanted to see, and they put on a strong show. russ sported a t-shirt bearing the image of beloved local photojournalist mpozi tolbert, who died suddenly earlier this summer, exhorting us to make some noise in mpozi's honor. (the crowd happily obliged, though i'm sure a sizable chunk of the crowd was not tuned-in enough to the local hip-hop scene or the indiana blogosphere and had no idea what he was talking about.)

dr octagon was scheduled to take the stage at 9:15pm, so around 9:20 or 9:25, kutmasta kurt took the stage. i'd been wondering who would accompany keith during this show, as i doubted it would be the european production team one watt sun (website still down!), who produced the latest dr octagon album. kutmasta kurt was a good choice: though he wasn't heavily involved with either of the "dr octagon" records (he produced two tracks for octagonecologyst), he is a talented dj and producer who produced several of kool keith's best records, including sex style, dr dooom's first come, first served, and the recent diesel truckers release. unfortunately, with the muddy sound in the vogue, i didn't actually catch on to the fact that this dj was kutmasta kurt until sometime later.

kool keith wasn't ready to take the stage yet, so kurt warmed up the crowd by doing scratch routines for 15–20 minutes. the scratching was excellent, but again it didn't sound as good as it should've due to the muddy-sounding PA. i was growing a little impatient waiting for keith to come onstage, but then he did, in a striped shirt and blue kangol hat.

keith and company began the set with some songs that i didn't recognize, but i imagine they were from keith's days in the ultramagnetic mc's. very little of the material performed that night was actual "dr octagon" material, but the crowd seemed happy to overlook this technicality, as, to the best of my knowledge, this was kool keith's first appearance in indianapolis. (the last time he was supposed to be here was at lollapalloza '97, when keith famously disappeared before he could begin the tour; according to legend, he blew most of his advance on pornography.)

a few songs into the set, keith asked to be cast in blue light only. the crowd got excited, and then keith & his crew performed "blue flowers", easily dr octagon's biggest hit and possibly kool keith's biggest hit as well. they immediately followed this up with kutmasta kurt's remix of "blue flowers", so keith recited all the same lyrics again over a different beat. but it was cool.

after this, the white light returned, and keith invited about a dozen ladies from the crowd to join him onstage and dance around as he serenaded them with "girl let me touch you". he then began encouraging them, in increasingly less subtle ways, to take off their clothes and get jiggy. he performed the song "take off your clothes". then he asked if any of the girls onstage were "freaks" before segueing into the song "freaks get naked". when this didn't work, he asked if any of them had ever fantasized about becoming a stipper. at least one raised her hand, and keith told her, "this is your chance!" but none of the ladies flashed so much as an inch of areola. at one point, the one black woman onstage (it was predominantly white crowd) did bend over in front of keith and shake her booty in a fashion not unlike that described in the lyrics to li'l jon's "get low", but her clothes stayed on, and that was as freaky as any of the women onstage ever got. i guess it wasn't that kind of crowd.

this left me wondering: how often does this work for kool keith? i've never been able to get the ladies to strip during my performances, but then i'm usually not playing to a crowd of hundreds of excited hip-hop fans. i have attended shows where the girls have eagerly gotten onstage and gone wild—yes, even here in indianapolis—but it wasn't meant to be saturday night at the vogue. assuming keith regularly invites the ladies of the crowd onstage and encourages them to remove their clothes, what percentage of the time do they acquiesce? i might be way off-base here, but i have a hard time believing that keith usually has this much difficulty getting the women at his shows to show some skin. there's no real way to test this, other than to follow him around on his next tour, though i plan to browse the live kool keith vids on youtube. but assuming i'm right, what was different about this crowd? my theory is that the relatively early showtime was a factor: the vogue has a popular saturday night dance night, and wasn't willing to give that up even for kool keith. if dr octagon had gone onstage closer to midnight, the crowd might've been drunker and more willing to get naughty. there was an after-party at the jazz kitchen, which we didn't attend, and for all i know, the honeys got totally wild there.

anyway, the ladies remained onstage, fully clothed and dancing in the background, for the rest of the show. keith and crew performed several other songs from keith's large discography, engaging the crowd in call-and-response and generally rocking the house. but the dance night crowd was building up outside, and it was time for the show to end. i don't remember what song they played for the finale. afterward, kutmasta kurt sold cds from the stage for the discount price of $10. i had $10 left in my wallet, so i went up front to get a peek at what he was selling, knowing that i probably owned most of it. i ended up with a copy of overproof by substance abuse, which only has a brief appearance by kool keith on one track, but is exec produced by kutmasta kurt and also has appearances by mf doom, motion man, and others.

overall, it was a good show, but it suffered from unsatisfactory sound quality. i don't know what went wrong there, as i've been to the vogue several times and don't remember having issues with the sound quality before. also, it would be nice to see kool keith play at a venue where he's allowed to play for longer than an hour, and where the crowd isn't being shuffled off to an after-party at another venue. i understand that tease is a lucrative dance night for the vogue, but the effect of trying to squeeze two events into the same night only hurts both events: the concert ends up feeling rushed, whereas the dance night patrons are stuck waiting outside long after the doors would have normally opened. pick one event and commit to it!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

the truth seeps out

remember that "conspiracy theory" that the bush administration had politicized this week's terror arrests in london? well, it turns out there are some extremist liberal lamont supporters in the british government:

NBC News has learned that U.S. and British authorities had a significant disagreement over when to move in on the suspects in the alleged plot to bring down trans-Atlantic airliners bound for the United States.

A senior British official knowledgeable about the case said British police were planning to continue to run surveillance for at least another week to try to obtain more evidence, while American officials pressured them to arrest the suspects sooner. The official spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the case.

In contrast to previous reports, the official suggested an attack was not imminent, saying the suspects had not yet purchased any airline tickets. In fact, some did not even have passports.

The source did say, however, that police believe one U.K.-based suspect was ready to conduct a "dry run." British authorities had wanted to let him go forward with part of the plan, but the Americans balked.

why was bush so eager to act if the attack was not yet imminent?

At the White House, a top aide to President Bush denied the account.

Another U.S. official, however, acknowledges there was disagreement over timing. Analysts say that in recent years, American security officials have become edgier than the British in such cases because of missed opportunities leading up to 9/11.

Aside from the timing issue, there was excellent cooperation between the British and the Americans, officials told NBC.

The British official said the Americans also argued over the timing of the arrest of suspected ringleader Rashid Rauf in Pakistan, warning that if he was not taken into custody immediately, the U.S. would "render" him or pressure the Pakistani government to arrest him.

British security was concerned that Rauf be taken into custody "in circumstances where there was due process," according to the official, so that he could be tried in British courts. Ultimately, this official says, Rauf was arrested over the objections of the British.

it sounds like the brits had this investigation under control, but the bush administration just wasn't willing to wait. why was bush in such a hurry?

Friday, August 11, 2006

we're all theists now

tdw links to an indy star article about indiana's new "in god we trust" license plates. a lot of christians seem excited by the new plates, but some people argue (and i'm inclined to agree) that the plates violate the separation of church and state. what's more offensive is that, unlike the dozens of other kinds of specialty license plates indiana offers, the "in god we trust" plates will be offered free of charge.

woody burton isn't convinced there's a problem (emphasis mine):

"With all due respect, I think this is a much better license plate than the ones we've had for so long," said state Rep. Woody Burton, R-Greenwood, who authored the legislation passed in the last session that created the plate.

The plate stirred questions about the separation of church and state, but Burton discounted those concerns.

"This is just a symbol to give people their free right to express their opinion," he said. "There are always going to be people who don't like it.

"In some way or another, we all worship one God, but we may use different names," Burton added. "This was not for one particular religious group."

"we all worship one god"? i guess that's true for theists: christians, jews, muslims, and followers of the great spaghetti monster all only worship one god. but what about buddhists? atheists? hindus? wiccans? freethinkers? subgenii? discordians?

it is glaringly obvious that these plates are intended for one particular religious group: theists. theists happen to be a large majority in indiana, but there are lots of non-theists in the state as well... tens if not hundreds of thousands of them. i'm not a theist, and i know lots of other non-theist hoosiers.

woody burton is full of it. and while i agree that the plate itself doesn't look too shabby (especially compared to previous indiana plates), i don't like it. however, if the state decides to also start offering plates that say "there is no god", i'll stop complaining. (i don't know if i'd get one, though; it'd probably get me assaulted if i drove in the wrong areas.)

stAllio! - angina music video

growing a bit tired of all the posts about ned lamont, gary welsh, liberal extremism, and all that mess? to be honest, i am a bit, too... this is an indiana blog, after all, so why are we still talking about the connecticut senate race?

it's been a couple weeks since i uploaded any videos to youtube, so for a change of pace, here's the video for my track "angina" from dissonance is bliss:

this was the second music video i made when i finally got a video camera in 1999. (the first video i made was "requcnice".) like my other early videos, it was edited primitively using only a video camera, a vcr, and their respective pause buttons. but unlike "requcnice", where i basically ran around the house filming eyeball benders, this time i tried to get more sophisticated.

the video begins with a study of an oscillating fan, but the footage is randomly edited so that the fan's motions are impossibly spastic. then it moves on to some fireworks, some footage of a little white doll, and even a sequence of faux–stop-motion animation involving a stool and various found items. it's not my best work, and the audio is a bit off in parts, but considering the tools used and the budget ($0), i think it stands up pretty well.

this was also one of the few videos i've made where i had actual assistance from someone else (the only other one being "telemetry", which was co-directed by murkbox). my then-roommate steven aided with some of the filming, and the doll featured in the video is his, as well as the hand that can be seen holding it in a couple shots. but the guy in the ponytail wearing the dead kennedys t-shirt who can be seen early in the video is yours truly. i can also be seen for a brief moment later in the video, wearing a ween t-shirt.

we now return you to your regularly scheduled liberal extremism.

this just in: steph mineart is an extremist liberal

advance indiana's gary welsh, perhaps still stinging from the scoldings he received from me and others this week, has struck back against the extremist liberals that he believes lost the war on terrorism by voting for ned lamont instead of joe lieberman.

in his latest post, gary quotes from americablog, dailykos, josh marshall, talk left, and—to add some local flavor—steph mineart (who is a reader of both this blog and AI, and who gary surely knows will read his post), and concludes:

Now do people have a little bit better idea of why I concluded that Ned Lamont and his supporters were extremists on the issue of fighting the war on terrorism?

this is an indirect reference to doug masson, who challenged gary in a comment to back up gary's allegation that lamont was an "extremist liberal" and who never got a satisfactory response. gary was then and is still unable to explain how lamont is "extreme" using lamont's actual beliefs—because lamont's views on the issues are totally mainstream—so he resorts to guilt by association. lamont associates with alleged anti-semites, therefore lamont is anti-semitic. some of lamont's supporters hold far-left views, therefore lamont is an extremist. it makes no logical sense, but then again neither did his previous posts on the subject.

the new post revolves around the recent uk terror arrests. jaded by a string of "massive terror busts" that turned out to be over-hyped, some liberal bloggers were understandably skeptical about the significance of this morning's arrests, as well as the new heightened security measures that bar passengers from bringing any sort of liquid onto an airplane. for example, bloggers at boingboing were alarmed by photographs of TSA officers pouring out bottles on liquid into trash cans. if we're really concerned about liquid explosives, why would we want to do the terrorists' job for them by mixing their explosives in a crowded, public place like the garbage bin right next to the massive crowd waiting to get through the security checkpoint?

so when liberal bloggers discovered that president bush has known about the impending arrests since at least sunday, they were suspicious. why was the terror alert level not raised until after the bust? isn't the terror alert supposed to warn us of pending danger rather than congratulate us on recent arrests? same goes for the liquid restrictions: why wait to restrict liquids on planes until after the people planning to use liquid explosives had already been arrested?

some bloggers had another thought: republicans and the white house have been telling us all week that a vote for ned lamont was a vote for the terrorists. tony snow and dick cheney said as much yesterday. if bush knew about the upcoming uk arrests on sunday, it seems likely he would have shared this information with cheney, which suggests that cheney knew full well when he criticized lamont voters for being weak on terror that the following day, the news would be flooded with reports of the uk arrests.

could it be that the whole "terrorists love lamont" meme that republicans pushed all week was orchestrated by the white house because it knew that terrorism would be back in the news later this week? is it possible that gary had simply fallen for the white house spin? that's a possibility gary can't accept, so he went on the offensive against those crazy liberals who think the bush administration might want to spin thwarted terror attacks for political gain.

gary doesn't do much to actually refute what the bloggers he quotes are saying. he expects you to find them self-evidently nutty. he does link to this time article, which he cites as evidence "that the U.S. picked up the suspects' chatter and shared it with British authorities" to counter hunter at dailykos's "conclusion that the British alone thwarted the plot". unfortunately, hunter never actually says that the brits did it alone, though hunter does poke fun at "[t]he rather less serious and competent U.S. response," which "seems to be to reduced to making sure that from now on, nobody can take bottled water onto airplanes."

to be fair, gary's point here would still be valid if it turned out that the US played an integral role in busting these terrorists. so let's look at that time article. here's what it has to say about this "sharing of intelligence information" we're supposed to be so happy about:

Britain's MI-5 intelligence service and Scotland Yard had been tracking the plot for several months, but only in the past two weeks had the plotters' planning begun to crystallize, senior U.S. officials tell TIME. In the two or three days before the arrests, the cell was going operational, and authorities were pressed into action. MI5 and Scotland Yard agents tracked the plotters from the ground, while a knowledgeable American official says U.S. intelligence provided London authorities with intercepts of the group's communications.

so MI5 (is is MI-5 or MI5? time spells it both ways in the same paragraph) had been tracking these guys for "several months". in the past two or three days, the US intercepted some of their communications and shared them with scotland yard. now, i think it's great that MI5 was able to go to homeland security and say "hey, these guys are about to you have any sigint on them?" but let's face it: that was the extent of US involvement in these arrests. uk officials found these guys, tracked them, and arrested them. the british did almost all the work, and only came to the US for intercepts once "the cell was going operational". maybe the arrests wouldn't have been as successful if not for those intercepts, but it's likely they would have anyway—MI5 had been tracking them for months and was tracking them on the ground. and we only know about these intercepts because of "a knowledgable american official"—an anonymous administration source who could be cheney himself for all we know. this isn't confirmed information; this is just one comment from one anonymous source.

other than the time article, gary doesn't give much evidence for why the bloggers he quotes are such extremists. steph mineart is apparently so crazy that he doesn't need to respond to anything she says. the mere act of quoting her is itself a refutation of her extreme views, i guess. when steph writes, "I think they're making a mountain out of a molehill, and that we're not really in any danger", gary does not deign to give us any evidence as to why this latest threat hasn't been exaggerated. when steph suggests that bush is grandstanding on the issue because of lieberman's loss, gary does not tell us why this is not so. he doesn't think he has to. he doesn't think he needs to; to him, the very idea that president bush would exaggerate and politicize terror arrests is so laughable that it doesn't just discredit steph, it discredits the entire ned lamont movement.

what i think, though, is that if gary welsh is looking for "extremists on the issue of fighting the war on terrorism", he should take a look in the proverbial mirror.

update: steph objects to gary's characterization, both in a comment and on her own blog. (on her blog she also links to a funny comic strip.) in response, gary issues a non-apology: "Steph--Please don't take it personally. You were the only local blogger at the time I did the post who had written on the subject. I wanted to add a little local flavor to it." so gary doesn't actually back down from his claim that steph and others like her are liberal "extremists on the issue of fighting the war on terrorism", but he doesn't want her to take it personally. he would've been happy to quote some other hoosier extremist instead, but he just couldn't find one... and he had to insult somebody! we are at war, after all.

indiana invades the daily show

on tonight's (er, last night's?) episode of the daily show, dan bakkedahl did a segment on the large number of terrorist targets in indiana. (bloggers were all over this story a month ago, literally, but i guess it takes time to film & edit these video segments.) in the segment, bakkedahl interviews NY senator charles schumer, who is quoted dismissively saying, "i doubt that the director of emergency services of indiana has much of an idea what a terrorist target is." (perhaps it was new york that screwed up by reporting too few potential targets?) then, bakkedahl journeys "into the heart of darkness itself, rural indiana", stopping by the gas city petting zoo, the shelbyville travel stop, and the fort wayne roller dome, where's he's treated to some good old-fashioned hoosier hospitality. the segment ends—natch—to the tune of "pink houses".

then, if that wasn't enough for you, later in the show, jon stewart interviews dale earnhardt, jr (who was in indy just last weekend for brickyard, where he came in 6th). is this a coincidence, or a blatant ploy for hoosier viewers? okay, it's a coincidence, but that's a lot of indiana-related content in one show.

the colbert graphic was created by the on notice generator, which is way cooler than the threatdown generator that started making the rounds a couple weeks back. bad taste for life.

update: the bakkedahl sketch is now on youtube.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

it's official... now we wait

the media is projecting that lieberman lost:

Three-term Sen. Joe Lieberman fell to anti-war challenger Ned Lamont in Connecticut's Democratic primary Tuesday, a race seen as a harbinger of sentiment over a conflict that has claimed the lives of more than 2,500 U.S. troops.

now that lieberman has lost, i'm taking bets on when exactly the terrorists will win, as gary welsh predicted. my money is on december 21, 2012.

(in his latest post, gary tells us that ned lamont is an "extremist liberal" and that by choosing him, "Connecticut voters were embracing extremism". gary is so repulsed by lamont's extremism that he links, with seeming approval, to the wall street journal's latest "scary, evil bloggers" column. it seems strange to me that a blogger would link approvingly to columns about how much bloggers suck, but doing so lets gary insinuate that lamont is down with anti-semitism, so gary's not throwing his fellow bloggers to the wolves for nothing. [atrios has a fascinating insight into the WSJ piece.])

Unbowed, Lieberman immediately announced he would enter the fall campaign as an independent. Only six years ago, Lieberman was the Democrats' choice for vice president.

joe wants to have it both ways. he wants a do-over. he had his shot, and he had the power of incumbency in his favor, but he flubbed it and he's demanding a mulligan. running as an independent is a slap in the face to the voters of connecticut, who turned out en masse.

most of all, it's bad form, and bad party politics. proper electoral etiquette is to always support the winner of the primary. after all the democratic party has done for joe lieberman (including giving him an undeserved VP nomination in 2000), joe wants to take his ball and go home. but that's not how the game is played. joe had some prominent democratic endorsements going into the primary, but those will all dry up now:

That decision was met with squeamishness among many within the party establishment who had signaled that they would not support an independent bid by Lieberman. Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh -- who, like Lieberman, has close ties to moderates within the party but is considering a 2008 presidential bid -- quickly announced he would support Lamont.

"Senator Bayh supported Senator Lieberman in the primary because of his respect for Senator Lieberman's service and their long friendship," said Bayh spokesman Dan Pfeiffer. "The Democratic voters of Connecticut have spoken, and Senator Bayh respects their choice and will support their nominee."

Expect many more announcements like Bayh's over the next day or two. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Chuck Schumer (N.Y.) will speak about the race tomorrow.

bayh wasted no time turning his back on lieberman, and joe's other friends in the party will stop returning his calls soon enough.

lieberman could continue to receive prominent endorsements, and even funding, from republicans, however. after all, the republican candidate for that seat, alan schlesinger, has a history of serious gambling problems, so republicans might feel better taking their chances with the socially conservative lieberman rather than endorse a gambling addict.

it promises to be an interesting race to watch.