ustoo Dead

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Essential
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Various Weblogs and Pundits
Think Tanks
Data
Vast Right Wing Conspiracy
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Friday, May 27, 2005

That's it. I'm joining the ACLU. 

Wicca is stupid. It ranges from lame hippy crap about the circle of life to weird-ass curses, tree worship, and ritual nudity. I regularly make fun of wiccans. There's a reason why pagan, in Latin, means hick.

Regardless, I'll pick up a gun to make sure the government doesn't tell anyone they can't pray to a tree. I believe in freedom. Not so, Judge Brandford of Indiana, who, apropos of nothing forbid two divorced wiccan parents from raising their kid wiccan, or for matter, as a believer in any "nonmainstream religion," which he left undefined. Both parents are wiccan. They were before they were divorced. They most likely will be in the future. The judge just thinks the kid will be harmed because he also goes to a catholic school, and may be confused about how much he should worship the pope.

How this wanker thinks he can tell people what religion to raise their kids, I'll never know. But the judge should be promptly disbarred, tarred and feathered, and deported to Iran. Despite what the conservative noise machine says, the activist judges that need to be stopped are theocrats, living by an ad hoc legal theory meant to maximize state sanctioned christian crap.

Like Smokey the Bear says "Only you can prevent a return to the dark ages".

-Miguel Sanchez  11:03 EST | |

Vigilante Hackers deface fraud sites 

That pretty much says it. ISP's are begining to notice a phenomenon where hackers are getting into and defacing websites designed to steal passwords and personal information.

Basically what they do is poke around until they find some security vulnerability that allows them into an acount. Then, they put up a new site (something that says "this was a fradulent site") and change the passwords on the account so the original owners can not get in. Pretty neat/scary.

I'm not sure how I feel about this. In part, I applaud these dark knights of the web for helping prevent theft. On the other hand, I deplore other forms of vigilantism such as the minuteman project, and encourage the hackers to leave online fraud to the already over stretched authorities. Are there different levels of vigilantism, or is it categorically wrong? Is it wrong to commit a crime against a criminal to prevent the comission of further crime?

Screw it, I do know how I feel. GO HACKERS!

-Ben  08:57 EST | |

Thursday, May 26, 2005

The Times is all over the hottest trends 

Apparently people write about missed connections on craigslist and counterfeit luxury goods are sold on NYC streets.

-Daddy Brooklyn  00:12 EST | |

Monday, May 23, 2005

NY State Pays for Rapists' Boners 

Revenge of the Geek 

As you may have heard, the new Star Wars came out last week. Here are two stories from my brother, Ernesto, about Star Wars. Note: You can buy a very fancy lightsaber from Best Buy, and some other places. It makes all the sounds, and is quite lifelike. This is important background info for the following stories.

Microsoft knows how to bribe geeks with what they hold most dear. So on Wednesday, they held a special, catered screening of Star Wars at the tech center exclusively for high-level tech professionals during the day. My brother had one of these lightsabers, but concealed it until the lights went down in the theater. As the lights dimmed, he pulled out the lightsaber, switched it on, and held it aloft. The whole theater erupted in wild cheering.

The next day, after seeing it again with friends, he was outside the Boulder Denny's. A friend of his also had a lightsaber, and they commenced to have a lightsaber fight. Having both been in sword fighting classes, I am sure it was quite realistic (if that means anything here). As cars passed on baseline, they were honking their horns, and a few people hung out of their windows and cheered. Soon, a cop arrived. After asking to inspect the lightsabers, he explained someone had reported a "jedi fight" and he was sent to respond. He didn't expect to find a jedi fight, he said, but upon finding no law had been broken, he parted with "may the force be with you".

An aside: I called Ernesto on my break at work that night. Jokingly, I asked "you aren't dressed as Boba Fett right now, are you?" "No!" he replied, indignant, "I'm dressed as Anakin".

-Miguel Sanchez  10:49 EST | |

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Luck and Desert 

Matt Miller, who in a "just" world would replace the intolerably trivial Maureen Dowd, writes about the role of luck in life's successes and failures. If any of you dear readers ever have had the "pleasure"* of hearing me harangue about our almost completely undeserved positions in life, you'll know that I'm even more radical about the limits of desert in moral life than Miller.

Miller's column is nicely timed with the NYT's coverage of class in America that Miguel referred to the other day. This summer I am getting an object lesson in the role of class and luck in distributing goods. The firm I work for is good at what it does. Highly-educated, hard-working and clever lawyers make lots of money providing legal services to rich clients, mostly corporations since they're who can afford the fees.

And to recruit new lawyers, the firm pays law students ungodly sums and treats us really well, i.e. paying for fancy lunches and drinks, in hopes that the perks of the life will entice us to do work that isn't spiritually or morally very satisfying. Not that it's immoral what they do, but it's hard to be motivated by helping other people (corporations) make more money. So I am having a very pleasant summer being treated as rich (but not wealthy, see Chris Rock for the distinction) while some of my friends are teaching poor kids in Newark or defending indigent defendants in San Francisco and Seattle for little remuneration (although I hope the psychic rewards and the ability feel superior to folks like me, seriously, does compensate a bit). These different choices are where individual preferences and choices are most clearly not the result of luck, but are more or less as freely chosen as choices get.**

The real bullshit is how I and the aforementioned friends have the freedom to choose how to live well while so many people's opportunities are radically restricted by economic deprivation. Sure, many of my friends grew up lower/working class and made it through a combination of native intelligence, hard work, luck, supportive families, etc... But the scandal is how deeply contingent our successes have been. If friend A hadn't gotten a scholarship that was the only way to go to college or if friend B's mom hadn't been so unusually dedicated to her child's education, their current success would've have happened.

A trivial point: if things had been different, things would be different. Yes, of course. But the role of luck (lack of desert) in determining class position is so much larger than it should be. We don't have to be dependent on luck to provide decent lives; we as a society could secure a modicum of well-being for all, regardless of native ability. But that'd mean redistribution and god forbid we redistribute the power and privileges that we, ummm... don't deserve!

Class and privilege today is justified by the false ideology of desert--that those who succeed deserved to and vice versa. And this false ideology is propagated because it's in the interests of those who can take the Lincoln Towncars back to their fancy-pants apartment at 2am on the firm's dime to think that's they way it ought to be. It'd be damn hard to take the privileges given to the lucky if you knew you didn't deserve them AND you knew how poorly so many people live.

And yet I do...


*read: "misfortune"
**I'm not going to claim that I "had" to do the firm because of debts or whatever, I could've gotten by either way.

-Ziggy Stardust  15:17 EST | |

Ugly Americans 

Noah Feldman has a good review of the recent books on torture practiced by the American government in the New Republic.

Sputtering rage at the callous immorality of our leaders isn't especially productive, but the greatest political disappointment of my life has been the public's utter lack of concern for America's use of torture. When Bush claimed vindication of his policies after the "accountability moment," I'd never been sicker. Not because he was lying, but because he was getting at the heart of the matter: the people--by a thin margin--support him.

-Ziggy Stardust  13:58 EST | |

Cheney's Oath to the Constitution 

Paul Horowtiz at PrawfsBlawg has an interesting post about Cheney's responsibilities as President of the Senate and what a ruling on the constitutionalityof the fillibuster would mean, especially since it is almost certainly not going to be reviewed by the courts.

Can Cheney make a ruling that judicial (but not other) fillibusters are unconstitutional without giving reasons? Will he even be challenged on it (preferrably before) by journalists or Democrats? Does partisan opportunity really trump any constitutional obligations?

If you don't know the answer to the last question, you haven't been paying attention.

Via Discourse.net.

-Ziggy Stardust  13:53 EST | |

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Ustoo Denver Area Book Club: For Friends, Well-Wishers, and Hangers-on 

I recently floated the idea of a book club at a dinner party attended my people exclusively meeting the above definition. I would like to move this forward, and use the comments here for people to express interest. I would like the book club to be bound only by the imperative to read interesting books. As added incentives, I hope to formulate a Latin motto, and you can expect steaming piles of the hilarious wit that has made me a party staple for over 5 years.

I was thinking a fun first choice would be The Men Who Stare at Goats, a look at official U.S. military research into the paranormal. This is only a suggestion, and others are encouraged and welcomed.

-Miguel Sanchez  14:10 EST | |

A raw, angry edge 

Class. The word that must go unspoken in America.

CU was my first mean-spirited head-first dunk in the toilet of American class difference. While my Mom was tearfully hugging a friend from Bible Study over the gift of $50 to buy groceries when work was slow, the parents of many of the other students on my floor at Will Vill were pondering the relative merits of BMW over Mercedes. If I wanted spending money, it meant working Friday and Saturday nights at a pizza place. I would walk or take the bus at 6:30 on Friday, the others on my floor would get into their Audis and spend hundreds of dollars at bars or on drugs. It was a tiny fraction of the disposable money they were given. I learned how to hunt, not how to play golf. But in my life I was very fortunate; I got to see a species that is quite endangered. My Dad became upwardly mobile. We went from upper-lower class to upper-middle class over the course of 10 years.

The days of being yelled at for outgrowing my shoes too fast were gone, replaced by musicals downtown and family vacations. But even with these blessings, CU still offered me many occasions to feel poor. A friend with no job who graduated in December recently remarked that he went shirt-shopping at Nordstom's. He didn't understand why I thought that was so weird. When I worked at Starbucks, I had to eat shit from little princesses who's handbags were worth more than a month of my wages. It left me angry. Behind my eyes, everyday, it was a cold, Russian October in 1917. The czarists must die.

The explosive anger I feel about class in the United States in some ways is out of place. My family stayed together. Everything is fine. I have a safety net of sorts. But still, sometimes... You buy your fucking t-shirts at Nordstrom's?... it creeps out. The undeservedness and the dishonesty of hereditary wealth make my fists clench, feel heavy. You shouldn't have a $2000 handbag, and someone should take it from you by force. Angry for the way I felt different, angry for the indignities my family had to suffer, and more angry still for the fact that a lot of people have it a lot worse. I am going to grad school, afterword, I should make a pretty good living. My dad saved my family from the fate he grew up with. But most people won't escape.

I become red-eyed over the central, stupid lie of the children of the upper class: "It's earned". I plan to be rich. It may not happen. But I am livid that many others won't even have the chance to try.

It is with this in mind that I have greatly enjoyed the excellent and courageous look the New York Times is giving class in the U.S. I hope this will begin to open debate, and honesty.

-Miguel Sanchez  13:27 EST | |

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

I saw Barack Obama Jogging 

And I thought: "That's pretty cool; never see celebrities in NY, but I see pseudo-celebrities in DC." Then, as I'm waiting for the elevator, guess who joins me? Yep, Senator Obama seems to live in my building (or just comes here after his jogs). Kinda cool, no?

-Ziggy Stardust  20:22 EST | |

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Pulling in to my apartement complex... 

...just now, I saw an old man wearing nothing but boxer shorts and a middle-aged woman in a nightie - no shoes on either of them - walking to the dumpster together to take out one bag of trash.

?

-Ben  22:04 EST | |

A meditation on the value of being offended 

This week, things went typically crazy in the Muslim world due to a now retracted story from Newsweek regarding treatment of the Koran. The problem is, these people don't get offended enough.

While it may surprise those of you currently in "blue" states, American Christians, even the most radical ones, are remarkably well-behaved as a religious majority relative to what they could be. Remember the famous "Piss Christ". This sparked what was termed "outrage". The form this anger took was a political action to reduce public funding for art! Hah! No one killed over that. Maybe a protest, never a riot. I believe that being regularly offended may be good for you, the reason for the difference between "Piss Christ" and the Newsweek story, and one of the intrinsic gains of a religiously pluralistic society.

If someone goes out of their way to do something I consider offensive to my religious beliefs, I simply yawn and say "This is Kevin Smith's worse movie". Kevin Smith fears no fatwa. Not so, Salman Rushdie*. Christians have been lucky enough to be roundly offended in many ways in the last 100 or so years. And it has mellowed us out.

This is certainly not to imply admitted defeat. Think of the people in your life who have been regularly offended. They are far less likely to fly off the handle over little slights than someone who has been insulated from such things. Look at Buddha! He saw a corpse and quit eating for 10 years. Going uninsulted leaves you mentally and emotionally inflexible. "Piss Christ" wouldn't have played out as well in 1600's Spain.

The point, vague and controversial though it may be, is that if Muslim society is going to progress, it must be roundly insulted. The little offences fade into the background. If I heard that the US government was desecrating Bibles for military interrogation, I would think "vote against this guy", and change the channel. This is much more economically productive than rioting.

*didn't think you'd see these two artist as equivalents when you woke up, did you?

-Miguel Sanchez  11:29 EST | |

Well, now I'll know nothing 

CNN headline news is reporting this morning that nytimes.com will start charging for all their content, $50/year, begining in September.

Oh well. I still have a subscription to the Economist.

-Miguel Sanchez  10:05 EST | |

Monday, May 16, 2005

Time to buy a lottery ticket 

The Powerball multi-state lottery has a positive expected value, currently. Odds of "winning or splitting the jackpot" are 1 in 120,526,770 (according to the Colorado Lottery) and the jackpot is presently $129 million.

I really hate my job, so with regard to a $1 chance of dispensing the greatest "take this job and shove it" of my life, I am risk neutral.

Update: The expected value of a powerball ticket right now is $1.24, without regard to tax penalty. I may have nothing to do, but not enough nothing to compute the true expected value.

-Miguel Sanchez  12:44 EST | |

NY Times poorly thought-out banner ad 

Today while perusing Slate, I noticed an unusual banner ad; the first frame says "The Moon Landing was Faked. There was once life on mars. The Raelians cloned a baby. "

The Second Frame in large letters says "Who can you trust?" The third: "New York Times: 50% off!"

I understand that this is probably supposed to be "hip". But for a newspaper under almost constant attack for its perceived liberal bias, why would they choose an add that makes it sound as if, like the "Weekly World News" once was, the paper is designed to appeal to deluded nuts?

-Miguel Sanchez  11:27 EST | |

Internet Quiz! Why Am I Still Using This Pseudonym? 

(A) Forgot login for real name
(B) Ashamed of Democratic party
(C) too busy fighting the Soggies with Cap'n Crunch
(D) ...An anyway they were all like 'put your pants on and get the hell out of J.C. Penny's'....
(E) Other [explain]

-Miguel Sanchez  11:18 EST | |

Who would have thought... 

You scored as Postmodernist. Postmodernism is the belief in complete open interpretation. You see the universe as a collection of information with varying ways of putting it together. There is no absolute truth for you; even the most hardened facts are open to interpretation. Meaning relies on context and even the language you use to describe things should be subject to analysis.

Cultural Creative

75%

Postmodernist

75%

Materialist

56%

Existentialist

31%

Modernist

31%

Romanticist

25%

Idealist

25%

Fundamentalist

19%

What is Your World View?
created with QuizFarm.com

-Ziggy Stardust  00:02 EST | |

Friday, May 13, 2005

The citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah 

Will stand on judgment day and condemn this man, Bush FDA appointee and pharisaic hypocrite Dr. W. David Hagen. Supposedly some kind of leading Christian expert on women's health, he piles "Christian" crap high and thick in books about women's health, and like the rest of the theocratic ilk, imagines himself a put-upon martyr. But he's happy doing things for the Lord.

Things he's done for the Lord include blocking the over-the-counter sale of the morning after pill, and repeatedly sodomizing his wife while she was passed-out due to narcolepsy. You don't need a morning after pill if you're just doing some good, old fashioned forcible buttfucking. Or paying your wife $2000 for a blow job, because she hates to do it, and you don't give her any money.

What does the future hold for this Christian doctor/luminary? Let's ask Jesus!

Jesus: Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'

-Miguel Sanchez  11:09 EST | |

Thursday, May 12, 2005

I Like Ike! 

"Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are [a] few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid."
- President Dwight D. Eisenhower, 11/8/54


Via Lawyers, Guns and Money.

-Ziggy Stardust  15:29 EST | |

35 pound cats 

People are buying these animals that are half African wild cat and half house cat.

-Daddy Brooklyn  07:20 EST | |

Monday, May 09, 2005

Just plain weird 

A Christian rock concert in Morocco is allowed so that the Moroccan government can curry favor with the Evangelical Christian movement in the US (Evangelicals have criticized Morocco in the past for invading the Western Sahara). Did it work? Apparently:
In fact, one of the evangelical leaders who was behind the Christian rock festival, the Rev. Rob Schenck, who leads the conservative Christian lobbying group Faith and Action in Washington, said that after what he had seen in his meetings with Moroccan officials he would now seek to get evangelicals to reassess their position on Western Sahara and the Sahwaris' political leadership, the Polisario Front. "Evangelical Christians have to be extremely cautious about supporting any group that would sympathize with a socialist or Communist philosophy or world view, which is completely in conflict with an evangelical or Christian worldview," Mr. Schenck said in an interview. He said Moroccan officials had told the evangelical leaders that the Polisario had received Cuban training and aid.
So all those "feed-the-poor" socialists are completely in conflict with Jesus's teachings?

-Daddy Brooklyn  20:17 EST | |

A Social Security ad from MoveOn 

From The Swift Report 

This is funny:

By Russell D'Arby

WASHINGTON, DC—The First Lady may have stolen the show with her surprise comedy routine at the 91st White House Correspondents' Association Dinner, but not everyone appreciated her jokes and one-liners poking fun at President Bush. At least one organization of conservative Christians quickly lashed out at Mrs. Bush's performance, warning that her remarks at the President's expense were a public refutation of the Biblical command that wives should respect their husbands.

According to an official statement released over the weekend by the Coalition for Traditional Values, an organization that seeks a more flexible relationship between church and state, Mrs. Bush's jokes at her husband's expense amounted to a public emasculation of the President. Pastor Roy DeLong, the statement's author and chair of the group, warns that the First Lady's performance comes at a time when the Mr. Bush's "manliness is already under attack."

Laura: Meet Ephesians
"As a believer, President Bush is no doubt familiar with the passage from Ephesians that says 'Wives, submit yourselves unto your husbands, as unto the Lord,'" says Mr. DeLong. "That means that just as Christ is the head of the church, the husband is the head of the wife. That is not the

Mrs. Bush interrupted a speech being given by her husband at the annual dinner, remarking that "I have a few things I want to say for a change." She then proceeded to mock his performance, both public ("if you really want to end tyranny in the world, you're going to have to stay up later") and private, noting that by nine o'clock, Mr. Bush, whom she referred to as "Mr. Excitement," is typically sound asleep.

"One of the Proverbs says that 'a virtuous woman is a crown to her husband, but she that maketh him ashamed is as rottenness in his bones," notes Mr. DeLong. "I bet President Bush is feeling pretty rotten today."

Manliness in question
The rebuke to the First Lady's stand-up act comes on the heels of mounting concern about the President's image. Last week, Mr. Bush was seen holding hands with Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. Then the President raised eyebrows anew when he asked a crowd of supporters in Galveston, TX, if they celebrated Splash Day, an annual gay pride event in that state, best known for attracting tens of thousands of buff men, wearing little more than suntan oil.

Even some members of Mr. Bush's famously loyal party looked askance at his recommendation during a speech on the nation's energy needs last week, when he encouraged Americans to consider driving hybrid vehicles, widely believed to be 'gay' cars.

-Daddy Brooklyn  00:22 EST | |

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Sometime in May 

Ben and Ziggy were in the room in San Francisco the day I called Chez Panisse at 6:30 PM one night and asked if they had any cancellations. That didn't work out, but next week I get my second chance to eat there and this time I have a reservation. There is one prix fixe menu per night, and this is what I'll be eating:
An aperitif
Roasted black sea bass with parsley sauce and artichokes
Wild mushroom consomme with herb and ricotta gnocchi
Grilled Magruder grass-fed beef tenderloin and rib-eye with marrow and cabernet sauce, roasted new potatoes, and garden lettuces
Strawberry tartlet with muscat cream

-Daddy Brooklyn  18:44 EST | |

I don't understand 

I don't understand why the Times can't get conservatives who make sense some of the time to write for them. (Dan Drezner? Or maybe Andrew Sullivan?) I also don't understand this paragraph, pulled from Tierney's column today:
In theory, there is a trust fund to cover this shortfall. When Congress sharply raised Social Security taxes in the 1980's, the idea was to generate surpluses during the baby boomers' working years that would finance our retirement. Instead, Congress spent our money, leaving the Social Security trust fund with a file cabinet full of i.o.u.'s in the form of Treasury bills.
(They're not bills, they're bonds, but that's neither here nor there.) Would he rather Congress stuff $20 bills in a filing cabinet? Okay, I assume he wishes that instead of collecting Treasury "bills", Congress would have put the money into stocks or property or private debt or something, but he doesn't say so or say why it's a good idea or even address whether or not it's legal.

And the biggest flaw of his series of columns is that he's comparing social security to a private retirement savings system, when social security does so much more. He never mentions this.

I don't understand why this man get such a large forum for his opinions. Could it be a clever strategy by the Times to make conservatives look bad?

-Daddy Brooklyn  09:56 EST | |

Friday, May 06, 2005

Banking in the Twilight Zone 

I have made $75 in the last 2 weeks by largely doing nothing.

I got a letter from First Bank offering me a $25 Visa gift card to open a checking account, so I did. Today, I went to Chase to close my account and the bank manager convinced me to instead close my old account and open a new one, and he would deposit $50 into it.

I can't imagine that free, bare-bones checking accounts like mine (daily balances averaging less than $500) are profitable as it is. With incentives like this, I am sure they are losing money. This is awesome. I feel like somehow, I am sticking it to the man. Ah, competition.

I'll probably close the account next week, after the incentive clears.

-Miguel Sanchez  17:11 EST | |

Bush irritating me 

Read this excerpt:
But later Mr. Bush told the Lithuanian state television network that he had reminded Mr. Putin when they last met in February that the leaders of the Baltic countries "don't view the end of World War II as a great moment of celebration," because of their annexation by the Soviet Union, and that "hopefully" the Russian president would cooperate with them, because it was "in Russia's interests to have free countries and democracies on her border."
Does it irritate anyone else when Bush uses "her" rather than "its" when referring to a country? He does this all the time and I hate it.

-Daddy Brooklyn  16:37 EST | |

Thursday, May 05, 2005

What's good for GM is good for the country 

GM and Ford are now credit rated at the junk bond level. Just another sign of our robust economy.

-Miguel Sanchez  15:40 EST | |

George Will: still America's sexiest bowtie wearer 

George Will can piss me off from time to time, but he is thoughtful and frequently makes some good points. In today's column, he says something that I have been trying to argue to my parents for months: Christians ARE NOT persecuted in this country.

"[Christians'] persecution complex is unbecoming because it is unrealistic".

Some honesty about this would be nice. I think that if modern Christians were to simply study what life was like under Emperor Nero, they would realize how good they have it. No Lions. No Crucifictions. No being covered in pitch, put on a stake, and set on fire to light a garden party. Living in a state that will only sanction and pay for some religious activities is not the same thing. This whore of babylon is drunk on different blood.

-Miguel Sanchez  09:44 EST | |

Things are a little different in Texas... 

TP (and CNN this morning, for that matter) flags an article about a proposed Texas bill that would outlaw "overtly sexually suggestive" cheerleading routines. The bill's, sponsored by Houston rep. Al Edwards, would originally have cut state funding to schools failing to comply. The article does not mention who would determine what is "overtly sexually suggestive." Among Edwards' past proposals are a measure to cut off the fingers of drug dealers.

And this guy's a democrat.

-Ben  08:39 EST | |

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Amusing Assassination Lyrics 

From Sondheim's Assassins:

OSWALD
I didn't come here to shoot the president.

BOOTH
He didn't come here to get shot...All your life you've been a victim, Lee. A victim of indifference and neglect. Of your mother's scorn, you're wife's contempt, of Soviet stupidity, American injustice. You've finally had enough, so how're you planning to get even? By becoming your own victim.

OSWALD
I am not a murderer.

BOOTH
Who said you were?

OSWALD
You just said I should kill the President.

BOOTH
Lee, when you kill a president, it isn't murder. Murder is a tawdry little crime; it's born of greed, or lust, or liquor. Adulterers and shopkeepers get murdered. But when a president gets killed, when Julius Caesar got killed -- he was assassinated. And the man who did it...

OSWALD
Brutus.

BOOTH
Ah! You know his name. Brutus assassinated Caesar -- what? -- two thousand years ago, and here's a high school drop-out with a dollar twenty-five an hour job in Dallas, Texas, who knows who he was. And they say fame is fleeting...

Clever, no?

-Ziggy Stardust  19:28 EST | |

Reefer Madness 

These idiots from Colorado Springs are in Washington helping the White House spread the idea that smoking pot will make you committ suicide or go schizophrenic.

The White House will be rolling out a national ad campaign to let parents know that weed will make your child go crazy. They point to hackneyed statistics that shows a weak correlation between marijuana consuption as a youth and schizophrenia. They just don't point out that marijuana makes the voices shut up (i've been told [by a couple of real schizophrenics]).

Of course it was marijuana that made your son hang himself! He started smoking weed the summer he hung himself! It's right there. Cause and effect. You can't put a liberal spin on that. You wear a cowboy hat, so clearly you're squared away. Its the liberals, with their liberal hypnosis plant that are to blame, not lousy parenting. Perish the thought.

-Miguel Sanchez  11:03 EST | |

One of life's hard truths 

It's always cheaper to buy books online than in a book store. I just bought $105 of books on Bn.com. At full, suggested retail price these would have cost me $168. With my "employee discount", I could have aquired these same books for $125.

This has had 2 unexpected effects on me:

(a) I now resent Barnes and Noble.

(b) I envy those who live in Manhattan, becaue BN.com offers free same-day delivery there.

-Miguel Sanchez  10:23 EST | |

I got Tiger, bitches 

Good News for Democrats in Election 2006!!! 

New Michael Moore movie, with a provocative title: Fahrenheit 9/11 and 1/2!


I think that what we need is much, much (he he) Moore! Who knows what foolish lies he uses to mask the truth masked by the lies of the Bush administration! Iran: freedom loving! Democrats: Republicans! Bush: probably gay!

Who wants to take bets?

-Miguel Sanchez  00:20 EST | |

Why is marijuana illegal again? 

From the Post:
The focus of the drug war in the United States has shifted significantly over the past decade from hard drugs to marijuana, which now accounts for nearly half of all drug arrests nationwide, according to an analysis of federal crime statistics released yesterday.
Some Bush official says:
"This is not Cheech and Chong marijuana," said David Murray, a policy analyst for the anti-drug office. "It's a qualitatively different drug, and that's reflected in the numbers."
If it were legal, you could regulate just what kind of marijuana is available and the members of "violent drug gangs" would have to give up their criminal ways and go to college.

I have no idea how much money the government would collect by taxing marijuana sales and the profits of the marijuana selling corporations, but you could add it to the "$4 billion" saved by not arresting and imprisoning pot smokers. (Never mind how unfair it seems to put someone in jail for getting high.)

-Daddy Brooklyn  00:17 EST | |

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Reading blogs to avoid writing my exam; otherwise known as how I haven't changed since college 

Harry at Crooked Timber writes an informative review of Leveling the Playing Field, a book on educational opportunity and class. Perhaps Jess can let us know how the battle for higher educational opportunities and against child poverty are going in Newark.

-Ziggy Stardust  18:22 EST | |

Duck and cover for a new milleniumm 

Todays Papers flags a WP article questioning US preparedness for the ever possible terrorist nuclear attack. Fine, we aren't prepared and I doubt we ever could be, so I question the utility of throwing $billions at it. What I find fascinating is the homeland security website "ready.gov" with lots of handy information. For example, the ever helpful: if you are near a nuclear blast, "consider if you can get out of the area."



Jesus.

-Ben  09:03 EST | |

Monday, May 02, 2005

Still the best website.... 

I'm Concerned in General

Spanish dude: Yeah, she left me a message and it was like, "Oh, I see you ain't answering your phone and shit 'cause you doin' what you do...but that's ai'ight, I'm a do me." So I called her, I was like, "What you doin' you? Matta fact, did you do you already? You gon' go out and fuck somebody else because I couldn't pick up my phone?". And she was like, "Nah, nooo, I didn't mean it, I was just mad. And then you got that other bitch." I said, "I'm not concerned about that bitch, I'm concerned about this bitch."
--A train



An Inside Joke for New Yorkers

Tourist dad: Well, I guess this is Chinatown.
Tourist mom: I thought it would be bigger.
Tourist dad: Me too.
--32nd & 5th

-Daddy Brooklyn  23:01 EST | |

This is mad cool 

Williamsburg/Greenpoint has been just for trust fund hippies for far too long. And where else but New York would require that 25% of apartments in a new developement on the waterfront overlooking Manhattan be set aside for low to moderate income housing? And where else but New York would a family of four making over $50,000 per year be defined as low income? (The max for moderate income families is $78,000 per year.)

-Daddy Brooklyn  22:17 EST | |

Time Traveler's Convention!!! 

I'm enough of a nerd to be quite taken with the idea someone at MIT had to host a time traveler's convention. You'd only need one to cover all time travlers ever (barring dimentional/spacial problems) so, May 7th, Boston might be overtaken by thousands of time travelers.

It's success, I believe, will be contingent on what food is served. Whoever's idea this was, he/she believes that the secret to making this a success is publicizing this as much as possible in the hopes word will get to future time travelers. They'll know about it that way, but who will want to go unless they can count on free, delicious food?

-Miguel Sanchez  16:03 EST | |

Louis Althusser smoked crack 

From his "Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses":

"As Marx said, every child knows that a social formation which did not reproduce the conditions of production at the same time as it produced would not last a year. The ultimate condition of production is therefore the reproduction of the conditions of production."
The legal philosophy exam isn't going that well...

-Ziggy Stardust  15:01 EST | |

Comic Books: Awesome 

May weeks ago, I commented that I would return like an avenging angel to the blog, kicking ass, taking names, and defending the honor of comic books. It seems that some still think of comics as inherently lesser than books or novels. This is wrong. Some of the finest, most moving, and most complete accounts of human experience are found in comics. I hope that after this post, some of you will abandon your myopic disdain/disregard/non-consumption of comics and learn to enjoy this very fine art form.

Form of art? Yes. A good place to begin your reprogramming is Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud. In this dissection of the form, McCloud makes a convincing case that comics, "Sequential Visual Art", is as old as human communication. He examines the various forms comics takes, and the deep importance of the frame-breaks (gutters).

You've read McCloud, and you want a general introduction to the state of comics art? McSweeney's Quarterly, usually a journal of literature of the traditional variety, this year has published a massive anthology of the best of modern comics. Highlights include an account of the interrogation of a Palestinian girl by Israeli forces, and an account of pornography addiction.

A good place to move after these generally introductory works is with Art Speigelman's Maus I & II. The first Pulitzer prize-winning comic, this moving story of a Jewish family in Nazi Germany is required reading in many literature classes.

Speigelman meditates on 9/11 and its aftermath in his excellent new In the Shadow of No Towers. The dissonance and struggle for identity and reconciliation, the grief, and ownership of the tragedy are dissected and examined in a way no purely textual account could.

For those of you interested in the Middle East, Persepolis I & II is an account of a girl and her family leaving Iran during the revolution, and her return as an adult. A friend of a friend who left Iran at the same time thought this comic so perfectly described all the facets of the experience, she bought 50 copies to give to all her family members. They also loved it (I am told).

Read comics. Don't be the kind of person who "doesn't see movies" or "doesn't read fiction". Learn to appreciate this fine and serious form of art.

-Miguel Sanchez  10:26 EST | |

About us:

This weblog is an ongoing, if periodic, effort by several friends to stay in touch, in reading material, and in ideas.

Lucky Luciano is a former Italian Stallion real estate hustler and Benedict Arnold CEO turned shady lawyer-to-be. He lives in Denver.

Ben is a Paramedic and would-be philantropist who lives in Denver. He knows everything about nothing.

Fuzzy Dunlop lives in Manhattan. He is more than capable of standing up to the stresses of a high crime urban environment.

Jess is a teacher. But have YOU given her an apple? No, you haven't. You should be ashamed of yourself. This crazy feminist currently rests her copy of Awakening in Jersey City.

Matt is a pariah, iconoclast, and professor of gambling living in Oakland.

Miguel Sanchez is not Lionel Hutz.

Daddy Brooklyn lives in Brooklyn. He hates Republicans, though he wouldn't mind being ensconced in the landed elite of New York City.

Paul just smoked my eyelids and punched my cigarette.

Ziggy Stardust has no past.

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