Spocko, He Used Me When

San Francisco-based blogger Spocko’s Brain has been waging a very public fight to inform advertisers on Radio Disney’s KSFO of the violent and racist language used by on-air “personalities” Melanie Morgan, Brian Sussman, and Tom “Officer Vic” Brenner. It got him a cease and desist letter from ABC/Disney’s lawyers (reproduced at Daily Kos by Calling All Wingnuts’s Mike Stark) and his web host shuttered the blog. A lot of movement has been taking place on his case the past week.

I know that any of the dozen or so of you reading this have likely already made up your mind about whether or not you’d take action to support Spocko, but I’d just like to mention that Spocko wrote me back in April last year to let me know he’d used one of my Photoshop creations in a post he did in response to Sy Hersh’s article on plans to nuke Iran.

The attribution’s still there, but his image links are broken (because of the site move, I suspect). Here’s the graphic and my own post containing it:



Logic and Cats

A letter to NPR’s All Things Considered:

In his story on bird predation by cats, John Nielsen talks to Stanley Temple from the University of Wisconsin, who says he got multiple death threats from critics of his plan to declare open season on homeless cats last year. Nielsen follows a recording of one by saying: “Temple says the woman who left that message on his answering machine is now a convicted felon.” I’m surprised, however, by what Nielsen doesn’t say. He only claims that Temple “says” the woman was convicted, he doesn’t claim to have verified the fact. Nor does he say that what woman was convicted of, leaving the implication that her statement of declaring “open season” on Temple was the basis of the felony. Nielsen simply repeats what he’s told by Temple without giving the listener verification that the woman was convicted or that she was convicted of threatening Temple.

Nor does the other obvious logical conclusion get addressed. If there were indeed numerous death threats similar to the one that resulted in a felony conviction, either there should be more felony convictions or the call that Temple played for Nielsen is not representative of the group. Where are the other legal actions (assuming what Temple said about the call he played is true)? If there aren’t any, why was the one call played as representative of the rest?

What the DLC is Proud Of

From a three-and-a-half-year-old news article posted on the Democratic Leadership Council’s web site:

New York Times | Article | July 29, 2003
Centrist Democrats Warn Party Not to Present Itself as ‘Far Left’

By Adam Nagourney

PHILADELPHIA, July 28 — The moderate Democratic group that helped elect Bill Clinton to the White House in 1992 warned today that Democrats were headed for defeat if they presented themselves as an angry “far left” party fighting tax cuts and opposing the war in Iraq.

How’d that work out for those guys back in ’04? And what’s going on these days with that Iraq thing?

[UPDATE] Oh, I almost forgot the word of the day! From the DLC’s Blueprint Magazine just a couple of months back, in an article by Will Marshall:

America needs a new spirit of shared sacrifice.

exit for updateStage

Despite conversations I heard from the old days, Xtra development was never a route to riches and wealth. The market was never that large, and with a few exceptions, Xtra developers and distributors tended to be individual programmers trying to stay on top of poorly-documented Xtra SDKs, multiple development platforms, and bug reports that didn’t always have a lot of context. As Director’s developer community has dried up, I’ve been concerned what that would do to the Xtra community, which requires a certain critical mass to make it worthwhile just to keep Xtras up-to-date with Director and new operating systems.

And so, I heard today through the grapevine that updatestage.com, which picked up the pieces after a certain Xtra distributor imploded, has closed its doors. I would just like to take this opportunity to say that Gretchen Macdowell, who was updatestage, who wrote code, distributed and supported the Xtras of other developers, maintained one of the most complete lists of Director quirks and another of Xtras and associated tools, and helped out in many forums over the years, is one of the nicest, most pleasant people I’ve ever met and corresponded with. I have extremely fond memories of a dinner with her after a day at a UCON long ago, many emails, and a few phone conversations. I, for one, will miss her presence in the Directorsphere.

The Invisible Hand of Saddam Hussein

In their post-execution rantings about how Saddam Hussein should never have been executed on the day of the Sunni Muslim observance of Eid al-Adha or during haj when pilgrims from around the world visit the holy city of Mecca or at all, liberals and the Islamosymp media have attempted to hide their tendencies behind a veneer that “recognizes” the crimes Saddam committed.

Of course, even in this seeming acknowledgment of reality, the Saddamites have a hidden agenda. In addition to the valid claims of widespread murder, torture, and genocide (for which Saddam will now, regrettably, not pay the ultimate price) the why-don’t-you-take-a-Ba’athites managed over the years to sneak in their attempts to undermine capitalism by claiming that Saddam was building palaces for himself with Iraqi oil revenues. The campaign to spread this dangerous philosophy started — as so many dangerous things did — during the Clinton years in the White House (I feel dirty just typing those words in the same sentence). It’s a campaign of deceptive argument that began so long ago even staunch and true neo-conservatives and President George W. Bush used them to attack Saddam’s regime, without understanding the serious blow to the American economic system they were helping to spread.

Outlined in a 1999 State Department report titled “Saddam Hussein’s Iraq,” the basic premise is that money earned by the sales of Iraqi oil (both legal and illegal) was siphoned off into Saddam’s private coffers, those of his family, and the bank accounts of his friends. Instead of spending the money to provide for the care and well-being of the people of Iraq, buying food and medicine and other essentials, he spent the money on palaces with “extensive security facilities” and “elaborate gardens” (the latter of which use enormous amounts of water in desert areas).

My question is: What exactly is the problem with that? Sure, there were United Nations resolutions and sanctions restricting the use of monies earned from oil sales, but nobody pays any attention to UN resolutions; our own latest ambassador to that “august” body called it irrelevant and said that the Secretariat would function no differently if it lost the top ten floors. Nobody would expect anyone to actually comply with those kinds of restrictions, would they?

The very idea that Iraq’s oil money should have been used to directly purchase humanitarian supplies for the people of that country is antithetical to the concept of Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” mechanism. To wit:

By preferring the support of domestic to that of foreign industry, he intends only his own security; and by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, he intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention. Nor is it always the worse for the society that it was no part of it. By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it. I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good.

This is a basic tenet of conservative and libertarian free market economic theory, under attack by godless Islamoliberals. By acceding to the charges that Saddam perpetrated horrible acts of bodily harm against his citizens, the enemies of the free market have managed to sneak into the tent of rational thought a camel’s nose of enormous proportions, namely that governments, the people who make up those governments, and those who operate businesses within the countries they govern, better serve their people by providing them with food and health services than by spending profits on their own creature comforts — golden plumbing, marble bathrooms, crystal chandeliers, swimming pools, deer parks, aquariums, waterfalls — and allowing the wealth to trickle down to masses.

It was perhaps due to the level of disgust for Saddam’s actions during the Reagan and George H.W. Bush presidencies that this stab in capitalism’s back went unnoticed for so many years. Only after Saddam’s execution when the cable networks were running repeated viewings of shows produced back in 2002 and 2003 which they pulled off the shelf for the occasion (more interviews with Judy Miller than I’d seen for a while, I wonder why?) did I myself — a noted free-marketeer — realize what was happening.

Now that the Democrats are in power in Congress, it’s only a matter of time before this insidious Clinton-baked plan to deny the wealthiest Americans of the blood and treasure their families have built up over the decades is launched.

Situated on over 60 acres of rolling farmland … remarkable waterfront compound … Golf Course … designed by renowned golf-course architect … The Gardens, 14 in all, include a traditional English cottage garden, a crabapple allee, a lily walk, a potager (French for vegetable gardens) as well as hydrangea, butterfly and world class rose gardens. Green carpeted grounds are punctuated by three pristine ponds stocked with bass, perch and pickerel. The 75 ft. flush edge pool with its own pavilion and the grass tennis court are the definition of leisurely living. … the highest caliber of materials … Outbuildings include a beautiful guest cottage on 4 acres, pool house, storage silo, barns, pro shop and a unique fish house and Orangerie.

A Saddam palace? No, it’s just a little 20,000 sq. ft. $75 million home in The Hamptons, one of many such homes. It’s the kind of home that is sure to go the way of the dodo, once the liberal loonies start squawking about fifteen percent of the people in the United States without any insurance, and lots of the rest of the people scared to go to the doctor for little things in case they can’t get insured somewhere else for something major, or all the families of servicepeople in Iraq who have had to go on food stamps, or the New Orleans refugees who have worn out their welcome with relatives and friends in other cities after sixteen months and would just like to go home but don’t have anywhere to go home to. Because once the UN starts thinking it can tell anyone in a country — even Saddam — how to spend their money, it’s only a matter of time before they use the same precedents and set their sights on the fortunes of America’s elite in their misguided wealth redistribution schemes.

Fear And Honor Are Not The Same Thing


Quicktime, 3.7MB

Jet Li’s Fearless (aka Huo Yuan Jia) came out on DVD just before Christmas, and I picked up a copy at the rental store the other day because I’d seen some good reviews. It’s a well-worn tale of an ambitious man — a practicioner of wushu martial arts, in this case — brought low by hubris, who falls into despair after losing everything he cherishes, given the opportunity to redeem himself through selflessness and the kind actions of a blind person, set at the end of the nineteenth and very early twentieth centuries, a period when Japan, American, and European powers occupied and controlled portions of China.

If you’re expecting a beautifully-shot martial arts film with lush, colorful scenery, you get that, but Fearless is also quite nationalistic. The protagonist of the story, Huo Yuanjia, is a folk hero in China for reportedly challenging and defeating a series of foreign fighters, bringing honor to the occupied Chinese. His life and stories about his life are the inspiration for the movie.

One scene from Huo Yuanjia’s early story caught my eye, particularly. It’s almost as if the screenwriters had a certain someone not from China in mind when they wrote this movie a few years back. I think a lot of people in this country should see this scene over and over again. Huo Yuanjia doesn’t take his mother’s words to heart — which is why he fails and must redeem himself — but then, he just manages to get his own family killed.

Here’s a transcript for those of you who don’t want to download the clip:

YUANJIA’S MOTHER: My son, why are you angry?

HUO YUANJIA: Why won’t Father let me learn wushu?

MOTHER: You know your father loves you. You have bad athsma. You’re weak. Wushu is too strenuous.

YUANJIA: It makes you stronger, wushu training.

MOTHER: Your love for wushu is just to make you strong?

YUANJIA: No, I really want to make the Zhao Clan see that their wushu’s not as good as the Huo Clan.

MOTHER: My son, wushu is not just winning. The most important part is self-restraint and having discipline. Whatever happens, never forget to be the kind person you are. Wushu is to help you be strong so you can help others. It’s not for getting even or getting you into trouble. The way to have a good relationship with all people is to understand that, and give kindness to others and treat all with respect and honor.

YUANJIA: I’ll get honor if I’m great at Wushu.

MOTHER: People fearing you and giving you honor are not the same thing. Here, do your calligraphy. Otherwise your father will punish you again.