Wednesday, July 30, 2008

It's Not News, It's CNN

From the front page of CNN today: Jesus Face Seen In Cat's Fur. I'm not even joking.

Also, while I was running errands, the coffee shop I went to had CNN on. The headline? "DOG SIZED CAT."

What the hell is going on? We currently have troops deployed in two combat zones. Yesterday a sitting senator was indicted by the justice department. On Monday, a major report was released detailing the criminal conduct in hiring for career positions in the Department of Justice. CNN: Look this cat weighs 44lbs!


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Sen. Stevens Muckraked Up

If you spend enough time trawling the bottom, eventually you'll catch some bottom feeders. Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) has been indicted by the Department of Justice. Talking Points Memo has been following Stevens and his trail of questionable dealing for more than a year, and notes that the indictment comes just less than a year after a raid on his house.

The charges themselves all relate to lying/misrepresentation. Bill Allen CEO of VECO performed extensive renovations to Sen. Stevens' house for free. Sen. Stevens failed to disclose this on his Senate disclosure forms. As the indictment alleges, knowingly and willingly falsifying Financial Disclosure Forms is a civil and criminal offense.

Stevens is not being charged with bribery, corruption, or any quid-pro-quo with VECO. This is likely because the evidence against him emerged during an investigation of the Alaska state legislature, following a paper trial including Mr. Stevens' son. Bribery charges are very difficult to prove if you don't have a wire or undercover operation directly showing an exchange. Circumstantial evidence shows that Mr. Stevens accepted favors from companies that had an interest in federal contracts, and that he did "look on them favorably" but without a to do list that includes "pick up bribe money" it's not likely to lead to charges.

Monday, July 28, 2008

You Are Mentally Ill

Proof here.

Mmmm, That's Great Eel!

More Japan blogging. Apparently Eel is on the menu in Japan this summer, more specifically, in your glass. Japan Tobacco Inc. has produced "Unagi Nobori," or "Surging Eel," as a bottled drink for the Japanese market.

All the delicious taste of eel in a convenient easy to drink bottle. YUM!

(ok to be fair, Unagi is pretty much my favorite piece of sushi. Hmm, maybe I'll get some for myself...)

Japan Celebrates The Navy! Er, Naval?

This weekend was the annual Belly Button Festival in Shibukawa Japan.

So you missed it, but put it on your calendar for next year.

Photo from the "Discover Japan" website, used without permission, sorry.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Government Transparency At Work

Good news! The ACLU won it's lawsuit to discover government documents! The government has turned over the infamous "Yoo-Bybee II," the document that instructed CIA torturers, er interrogators on exactly which techniques they could use and how. Yoo-Bybee II is so named becuase it was signed by Jay Bybee, then head of the Office of Legal Counsel, while the contents were heavily influenced by John Yoo, warcriminal and current professor of law at Berkley, and II because it's the second one of these to come to light (see link).

So, what interrogation techniques did OLC lawyers greenlight? And what was their legal reasoning that permitted these techniques? Well take a look for yourself citizen:

Huh, well sorry about that. I guess that your government's legal reasoning about torture techniques is top secret, because, um, if we let terrorists find out the secrets of our legal reasoning then they could blow up our legal system. Or something.

But don't worry, I'm sure that the government would only use it's power to protect you.

Bush Or Batman

Can You Tell? (keep in mind this is the 1960's version of Batman)

Speaking of which, I strongly recommend the new Dark Knight movie. As in, "turn off your computer and go see it now!"

Thursday, July 24, 2008


McCain Campaign Yesterday:

Obama Campaign Today:

One of these campaigns is not like the other.

Ich Bin Ein Obama

Obama has a retirement plan: Chancellor of Germany. Two Hundred Thousand people turned up in Berlin to hear him speak. That's more than twice his record crowd in the US of 75,000 in Portland.

I should note that neither he nor Kennedy told the crowd he was a jelly donut (scroll down to urban legend part).

UPDATE: You can see the speech here. This is what the digital revolution is about. If you want you can read about the speech in the paper, or listen to a recap on the nightly news. But if you have the interest and motivation, you can just turn on your computer and listen to the dang thing yourself.

A Matter Of Perspective

I agree with Matt Yglesias that Novak seems to have gotten off with an absurdly light slap on the wrist for hitting some guy with his car.

But what really is the issue here is that the police and/or the DA have seen fit to charge him with virtually nothing. To be clear, the penalty for "lawlessly running down pedestrians" in DC is not a $50 fine. Based on the facts as I know them (and keep in mind I am basing this on media interviews with witnesses who may have an interest in their depiction of events), it seems Novak could have been charged with fleeing the scene of an accident ($500 fine and/or 6 months in jail for first offense), and reckless driving ($250 fine and/or 3 months in jail). It's just that he wasn't charged that way. (For a nice list of DC traffic infractions go here).

The fact that he was fined $50 is not the result of some gross inequity between fines for bike riders and fines for motorists. It's an inequity between powerful white journalist and non-powerful white journalists.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

XKCD Inspires Real Politician

Very very cool.

Robert Novack In Death Race Remake

Well, it turns out that the pedestrian lived but still.

Breaking And Popping

Just too amazing for words. This basically proves that the internet is the greatest thing ever.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Criminal Masterminds Somehow Caught

Strangely, the assistance of batman was not needed to nab these two.

Who Is That Bearded Man?

Radovan Karadzic was caught and it looks like he'll be sent to the Hague. Apparently he's been keeping busy practicing alternative medicine and generally being a hippy with a heart of genocide.

This really has more to do with the fact that the Serbian government has recently changed hands, and enough time has passed that Serbian nationalism has waned politically. It's been pretty common knowledge that he was in Serbia somewhere and being protected by political sympathizers.

Sesame Street Still Cool

Feist helps the kids count to four.

Update: For those unfamiliar with the original you can see it here.

Chart Of The Week

Transportation spending versus Highway spending, via Matt Yglesias.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Big And Smart

Via Marginal Revolution comes this graphic:

This shows the average results by position of the "Wonderlic Test," sort of a modified IQ test. As you can see, the smartest guys on the field are also the largest (here you can see the average weight of the OL on the 2003 Detroit Lions was over 300 lbs). All three line positions come in just over the QB.

See more details here.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Tony Snow Dies

Former White House Press Secretary Tony Snow died of cancer at 53 yesterday. I'm not sure I would agree with the President that he was "one of our nation's finest writers and commentators" but he was actually a pretty decent press secretary (given the rather severe limitations such a post entails).

Thoughts go out to his family.

We're #1!

Americans have achieved a great milestone. Our American youth may not perform particularly well in international measures of science and math, but they have surpassed their peers in one important measure. Americans are most likely to have used marijuana.


This probably also means we're winning the war against drugs via the same logic that allows us to conclude that deadly car bombings are signs we're winning the war on terror.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Yes It Really Is The Oldest Profession

Scientists at Yale have been busy degrading the morals of capuchin monkeys, teaching them to use filthy lucre. After they learned that they could "buy" food and other treats with the "money" they promptly discovered prostitution.

And some people say we're not related to apes...

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Great Scott!

Kobe Bryant is the new pitch man for Hyperdunk Nikes, the shoes which were featured in "Back to the Future II." So if Back to the Future was a documentary, where's my Mr. Fusion and hoverboard?

Teh Gay Is A Threat To Marriage

Well, it's a threat to THIS guy's marriage.

Troy King, the anti-gay anti-sex toy attorney general of Alabama, was apparently caught by his wife in bed with his not-so anti-gay assistant. It's not very surprising that some of the most virulently homophobic people are, in reality, using their public statements to chastise their secret desires (see Larry Craig, Ted Haggard, etc) but it's always nice to see them get their comeuppance.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

RIP Democracy

The Senate passed the amendment to FISA retroactively saying that illegal spying is fine if the government tells you so. So now Nixon's famous quote from the Frost/Nixon interviews has been written into law by a Democratic Congress:
FROST: So what in a sense, you're saying is that there are certain situations, and the Huston Plan or that part of it was one of them, where the president can decide that it's in the best interests of the nation or something, and do something illegal.

NIXON: Well, when the president does it that means that it is not illegal.

FROST: By definition.

NIXON: Exactly. Exactly. If the president, for example, approves something because of the national security, or in this case because of a threat to internal peace and order of significant magnitude, then the president's decision in that instance is one that enables those who carry it out, to carry it out without violating a law. Otherwise they're in an impossible position.

There was a time in this country where this quote was held up as the antithesis of the American democratic system of a nation of laws. It was not just wrong, it was abhorrent and unpatriotic.

Now, it's the official government policy. So depressing.