Friday, November 11, 2005

Got to do it

Josh Marshall:
It just occurred to me that even if Democrats manage to totally blow this coming election cycle and don't make substantial pick-ups in November, we're still virtually guaranteed twelve months of watching Republicans furiously working to find ways to stab each other in the back.

So, really, even the fall-back is pretty decent.

But the intangible joys of watching theGOP in-fighting will be immediately dissipated if we were to experience yet another Democratic fiasco at the polls. Not only that, but if we don't manage to make substantial gains n 2006, the Republicans will pull themselves together tout de suite, because we'll have failed at the expectations game. That's the flip side of all the fun we're having now: with the other side doing a slow-motion implosion, the Democrats must make gains, or they'll be said to be weak, which will help the Republicans rebuild in time for the big prize, in 2008.

That sort of takes the fun out of Josh's "fall-back" to me.

Ed Fitzgerald | 11/11/2005 01:36:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


And so it goes

Kurt Vonnegut is 83 years old today.

We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.
Mother Night (1961)

Tiger got to hunt,
Bird got to fly;
Man got to sit and wonder why, why, why?

Tiger got to sleep,
Bird got to land;
Man got to tell himself he understand
Cat's Cradle (1963)

Listen: we are here on Earth to fart around. Don't let anybody tell you otherwise.
Timequake (1997)

High school is closer to the core of the American experience that anything else I can think of.
Introduction to
Our Time Is Now: Notes From the High School Underground (1970)
John Birmingham, ed.

You know - we've had to imagine the war here, and we have imagined that it was being fought by aging men like ourselves. We had forgotten that wars were fought by babies. When I saw those freshly shaved faces, it was a shock. "My God, my God -" I said to myself, "it's the Children's Crusade."
Slaughterhouse-Five (1969)

I was taught in the sixth grade that we had a standing army of just over a hundred thousand men and that the generals had nothing to say about what was done in Washington. I was taught to be proud of that and to pity Europe for having more than a million men under arms and spending all their money on airplanes and tanks. I simply never unlearned junior civics. I still believe in it. I got a very good grade.
quoted by James Lundquist in
Kurt Vonnegut (1971)

[When] I was a student at the University of Chicago, I had a conversation with my thesis advisor about the arts in general. At that time, I had no idea that I personally would go into any sort of art.

He said, "You know what artists are?"

I didn't.

"Artists," he said, "are people who say, "I can't fix my country or my state or my city, or even my marriage. But by golly, I can make this square of canvas, or this eight-and-a-half-by-eleven piece of paper, or this lump of clay, or these twelve bars of music, exactly what they ought to be!'"
Timequake (1997)

Artists use frauds to make human beings seem more wonderful than they really are. Dancers show us human beings who move much more gracefully than human beings really move. Films and books and plays show us people talking more entertainingly than people really talk, make paltry human enterprises seem important. Singers and musicians show us human beings making sounds far more lovely than human beings really make. Architects give us temples in which something marvelous is obviously going on. Actually, practically nothing is going on.
"When I Was Twenty-One"
"Address to Graduating Class at Bennington College, 1970" in
Wampeters, Foma and Granfaloons (1974)

Nothing is this book is true. "Live by the foma [harmless untruths] that make you brave and kind and healthy and happy."
The Books of Bokonon 1:5
epigram in dedication to Cat's Cradle (1963)

In real life, as in Grand Opera, arias only make hopeless situations worse.
Timequake (1997)

1. Find a subject you care about.
2. Do not ramble, though.
3. Keep it simple.
4. Have the guts to cut.
5. Sound like yourself.
6. Say what you mean to say.
7. Pity the readers.
quoted in Science Fictionisms (1995)
compiled by William Rotsler

We are human only to the extent that our ideas remain humane.
Breakfast of Champions (1973)

I don't care if I'm remembered or not when I'm dead. (A scientist I knew at General Electric, who was married to a woman named Josephine, said to me, "Why should I buy life insurance? If I die, I won't care what's happening to Jo. I won't care about anything. I'll be dead.")
Fates Worse Than Death (1991)

And so on.
Breakfast of Champions (1973)

Many people need desperately to receive this message: "I feel and think much as you do, care about many of the things you care about, although most people don't care about them. You are not alone."
Timequake (1997)

One of the few good things about modern times: If you die horribly on television, you will not have died in vain. You will have entertained us.
"Cold Turkey" in
Waging (5/10/2004)

So it goes.
Slaughterhouse-Five (1969)


Addenda: If you're a Vonnegut fan perhaps you can help me: I've been looking for information behind a particular quote by Vonnegut for some years now, without success. I've posted about it here and here.

I'm also looking for a source for a quote widely attributed to Vonnegut, but always without any indication of its provenance:

Life happens too fast for you ever to think about it. If you could just persuade people of this, but they insist on amassing information.

Vonnegut shares some characteristics of Mark Twain, perhaps the least of which is that people have a tendency to misattribute pithy sayings and aphorisms to them. Others who are frequent victims of misattribution: Albert Einstein and H.L. Mencken.

Ed Fitzgerald | 11/11/2005 01:06:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Pat the yap

Look who's been yapping his mouth again:
The Reverend Pat Robertson says Pennsylvanians who voted members of the Dover Area school board out of office for supporting "intelligent design" rejected God as well.

Eight school board members who wanted high school biology students to be told that intelligent design is an alternative to evolution lost their re-election bids Tuesday.

On Thursday's broadcast of "The 700 Club," Robertson told Dover residents, "If there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God." The founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network explained, "You just voted God out of your city." [CBS]

Just a few weeks ago, Robertson was blathering on about the burricanes being a sign of the end times, and before that, suggesting that Hugo Chavez ought to be assassinated. And what was it he said about 9/11?

"We have sinned against Almighty God, at the highest level of our government, we've stuck our finger in your eye," said Robertson. "The Supreme Court has insulted you over and over again, Lord. They've taken your Bible away from the schools. They've forbidden little children to pray. They've taken the knowledge of God as best they can, and organizations have come into court to take the knowledge of God out of the public square of America."

Clearly, we see here a man in desparate need of having his mouth corked.

Folks in Dover, there's no reason to be upset about Pat: he says basically the same thing to everybody.

[via Speaking Freely]

Ed Fitzgerald | 11/10/2005 11:31:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


Election shenanigans in my home town

I don't really keep up on the goings on in my home town of Irvington, New York, so it was a real surprise to me, when I just happened to look it up on Wikipedia, to read about this:
The controversial 2005 Irvington mayoral election was held on March 15, 2005, but was not decided until October 27, 2005. The race between Republican incumbent Dennis P. Flood and Democratic challenger Erin Malloy ended up being decided "by lots", as required by New York state law when a village election is tied (847 votes for each candidate).

The count that took place on election night gave Flood a one-vote lead. On March 18, the Westchester County Board of Elections recounted the votes, giving Malloy a one-vote lead. Turning to two unopened absentee ballots, the board found that one was for Flood, resulting in a tie. The other absentee ballot was not opened as the name on the envelope did not match any names on the voter-registration list. Susan B. Morton, who had registered to vote as Susan Brenner Morton, stepped forward three days later and demanded that her vote for Malloy be counted. For several months afterward, various suits, motions, and appeals were filed in state courts. On October 20, the Court of Appeals, New York State's highest court, denied requests by Malloy and Morton, leaving the election in a tie. To comply with state law, the village had to use random lots to decide the winner.

State law does not specify the method of drawing lots, so the village opted to draw quarters from a bag. Eight quarters were used. Four had a bald eagle on the back and represented Malloy. Flood was represented by four quarters with the Statue of Liberty on the back. Village Trustee/Deputy Mayor Richard Livingston, a Republican, drew a quarter from the bag. It was handed to Village Clerk Lawrence Schopfer, who declared Flood to be the winner. Flood was then sworn in for his sixth two-year term as mayor of Irvington.

It didn't seem fair that Susan B. Morton should have her perfectly legitimate vote discounted, and I looked a little more into what happened. I came across a entry by Bob Geiger on his blog Yellow Dog Blog:

The case quickly went to the courtroom of State Supreme Court Justice Joan Lefkowitz on March 25. Lefkowitz fully rejected Flood's argument, ruling that Brenner-Morton had clearly established both her identity and her intent and sternly intoned "open the ballot" to end the case.

The vote was for Erin Malloy and Irvington voters were told they had a new mayor. But Flood and his lawyer, John Ciampoli, immediately filed an appeal to toss Brenner-Morton's vote and asked for a new election.

It's important to note that Ciampoli is a noted election law expert, a member of the Republican National Lawyers Association and widely considered the big hitter among New York conservatives when it comes to defeating Democrats in close elections. Indeed, it was Ciampoli who served Nick Spano in getting enough Democratic votes tossed to defeat Andrea Stewart-Cousins.

While Flood was represented by the GOP's big election gun, Malloy was forced to pay for the defense of her legitimate win via local fundraisers and the generosity of local Democratic supporters.

In mid April, Lefkowitz again rebuked Flood and declared Malloy the winner – only to have Flood appeal to the Appellate Division in Brooklyn. The next six months are a blur of Republican legal shenanigans in which they did everything in their power to keep Brenner-Morton's vote from counting.

The Appellate Division ultimately tossed Brenner-Morton's vote on a legally-questionable technicality offered by Flood, and decided that the election was once again a tie – a decision that many lawyers have since said was seriously flawed. Based on a bizarre state law, the deadlocked election was now to be decided based on a random game of chance.

Accordng to this local newspaper article, the reason Morton's ballot was ultimately rejected was that the suit to get it counted was not "timely." (The official village government timeline is here.)

According to Geiger, Morton is angry about not having her voted counted, and Malloy is determined to run again:

The back story to all of this is what Brenner-Morton endured since casting her ballot in March. In addition to having her honesty questioned throughout this entire affair, Brenner-Morton had been told she needed to fully document her whereabouts during the election and for an eight-day period surrounding the March 15 election day. The latter tactic was an effort to question why she needed to vote via absentee ballot, despite there being no strict prevailing standard for what justification is required to vote absentee and ignoring the fact that she was indeed attending a business conference on election day.

If you're starting to feel like you're in a Kafka book, it gets worse. Since this all began, Brenner-Morton has had to retain her own lawyer to get her vote counted and has endured being hounded by a private investigator, hired by Team Flood, in an effort to intimidate her out of the process.

The P.I. retained by Flood called Brenner-Morton at home and Ciampoli had a summons tacked to the front door of her house. After trying unsuccessfully to have her served at work in front of her colleagues, Brenner-Morton was contacted by her employer's legal department because they too had been subpoenaed by the Republican camp.

All of this occurred because, through dumb luck of the draw, her vote happened to be the one to push Democrat Malloy over the top.

Republican officials in attendance Thursday seemed to agree that the Irvington voter thrown, against her will, into this maelstrom, had been wronged.

"I wish to publicly apologize to Mrs. Susan Morton for what she's been through in trying to get her vote counted," said Republican Livingston, moments before the game-of-chance was played out.

"I say to Susan Morton, you have my sincerest apologies for what took place and, you know, hopefully this will never happen in Irvington again," said Flood, despite having been the person singularly responsible for the outcome.

An amazed Brenner-Morton responded when told that Flood had "apologized" to her in front of the television cameras. "Not to me, sweetie. To you he apologized. I've never heard an apology to me – ever."

Perhaps the sickest twist on an already-bizarre evening, was the resolution read by the village clerk to formally declare Flood the winner. The clerk said to the packed room that Flood was the winner in a procedure in which the town "...carried out the determination by lot, which has resulted in a vote cast for Dennis Flood."

To many in the room, this was a fitting and symbolic end to another successful Republican election theft, that saw a quarter counted as a "vote" while the legitimately-cast ballot of a longtime Irvington resident was not.

And for Democrats, the song – and the lesson -- remain the same: Whether it is for the presidency, a senate race or a part-time job paying $4,800 per year to be the mayor of Irvington, the Republican apple seldom falls far from the tree. And, if push comes to shove, the GOP will always – always – reach for their trump card of tossing legitimate votes if it serves their agenda.

Meanwhile, Erin Malloy says that the Republican tactics of this race are entirely consistent with the way they operate at any level.

"OK it's not Gore/Bush, Florida 2000, or Kerry/Bush, Ohio 2004, but the tactics are the same," said Malloy. "Attack on the ground at the polling place, disenfranchise voters; finish the job in the courts."

But the gritty Malloy, though exhausted and discouraged, vows that this isn't the end of the story.

"It's not so much the result but the process. It's been very disappointing," she said. "I am absolutely going to run again, and I hope he does too. And I will win."

When I was a young teen, the father of one of my best friends was the mayor of Irvington, and when he ran for Congress, I campaigned for him. (He won.) He was a Republican, but he was a decent man, and he had a crisis of conscience over the Watergate scandal and changed parties. He lost his office in the next election. (Westchester County at the time was still heavily Republican.)

Back then, it was still possible to be a Republican and be a moderate and a decent human being. Unfortunately, it's hard to say the same thing now. I still don't understand at all how people like Chafee and Snowe and Collins can remain in the Republican party and look at themselves in the mirror every morning without being disgusted. I want to think that they're decent people, but how can I when they choose to remain Republicans when the party's been taken over by radical wingnuts?

Your party's going down, folks, and you've still got three years of Bush to get through. Now might be the time to make the move -- before it's too late.

[Cross-posted to a dKos diary]

Ed Fitzgerald | 11/10/2005 08:45:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


Bad moon on the rise

Tony Judt:
There are lots of individual sovereign states. But only one of them, the United States of America, has both the will and the means to back international armed intervention and help deliver it. This has been obvious for some time, of course. But far from being grounds for international anxiety it was for many a source of reassurance. Not only did the US appear to share the humanitarian and democratic purposes of the various agencies and alliances it had helped set in place in 1945, but it was governed by a political class that saw the advan-tage of exercising a degree of self-restraint, believing with Harry Truman that
we all have to recognize—no matter how great our strength—that we must deny ourselves the license to do always as we please.
Great powers, of course, are not philanthropists. The US never ceased to pursue the national interest as successive administrations understood it. But for ten years following the end of the cold war the US and the "international community" appeared, however fortuitously, to share a common set of interests and objectives; indeed, American military preponderance fueled all manner of liberal dreams for global improvement. Hence the enthusiasms and hopes of the Nineties—and hence, too, the angry disillusion today. For the US of President George W. Bush most decidedly does not share the interests and objectives of the international community.


Historians and pundits who leap aboard the bandwagon of American Empire have forgotten a little too quickly that for an empire to be born, a republic has first to die. In the longer run no country can expect to behave imperially—brutally, contemptuously, illegally—abroad while preserving republican values at home. For it is a mistake to suppose that institutions alone will save a republic from the abuses of power to which empire inevitably leads. It is not institutions that make or break republics, it is men. And in the United States today, the men (and women) of the country's political class have failed. Congress appears helpless to impede the concentration of power in the executive branch; indeed, with few exceptions it has contributed actively and even enthusiastically to the process.


The American people have a touching faith in the invulnerability of their republic. It would not occur to most of them even to contemplate the possibility that their country might fall into the hands of a meretricious oligarchy; that, as Andrew Bacevich puts it, their political "system is fundamentally corrupt and functions in ways inconsistent with the spirit of genuine democracy." But the twentieth century has taught most other peoples in the world to be less cocksure. And when foreigners look across the oceans at the US today, what they see is far from reassuring.

For there is a precedent in modern Western history for a country whose leader exploits national humiliation and fear to restrict public freedoms; for a government that makes permanent war as a tool of state policy and arranges for the torture of its political enemies; for a ruling class that pursues divisive social goals under the guise of national "values"; for a culture that asserts its unique destiny and superiority and that worships military prowess; for a political system in which the dominant party manipulates procedural rules and threatens to change the law in order to get its own way; where journalists are intimidated into confessing their errors and made to do public penance. Europeans in particular have experienced such a regime in the recent past and they have a word for it. That word is not "democracy."


One implication of the shadow falling across the American republic is that the brief era of consensual international intervention is already closing. This has nothing to do with the contradictions or paradoxes of humanitarian undertakings. It is the consequence of the discrediting of the United States. Hard as it may be for Americans to grasp, much of the world no longer sees the US as a force for good. It does the wrong things and has the wrong friends. During the cold war, to be sure, the US also supported many unsavory regimes. But back then there was a certain logic to its choices: Washington propped up anti-Communist dictators in pursuit of an anti-Communist cold war: raison d'état. Today we align ourselves with the world's most brutal, terrorizing tyrants in a war ostensibly against brutal terror and tyranny. We are peddling a simulacrum of democracy from an armored truck at fifty miles per hour and calling it freedom. This is a step too far. The world is losing faith in America.

That ... is not good news. For there is a fundamental truth at the core of the neocon case: the well-being of the United States of America is of inestimable importance to the health of the whole world. If the US hollows out, and becomes a vast military shell without democratic soul or substance, no good can come of it. Only the US can do the world's heavy humanitarian lifting (often quite literally). We have already seen what happens when Washington merely drags its feet, as it did in Rwanda and is doing over Darfur today. If the US ceases to be credible as a force for good, the world will not come to a stop. Others will still protest and undertake good works in the hope of American support. But the world will become that much safer for tyrants and crooks—at home and abroad.

For the US isn't credible today: its reputation and standing are at their lowest point in history and will not soon recover. And there is no substitute on the horizon: the Europeans will not rise to the challenge. The bleak outcome of the recent referendums in France and the Netherlands seems likely to have eliminated the European Union as an effective international political actor for some years to come. The cold war is indeed behind us, but so too is the post–cold war moment of hope. The international anarchy so painstakingly averted by two generations of enlightened American statesmen may soon engulf us again. President Bush sees "freedom" on the march. I wish I shared his optimism. I see a bad moon rising.

Andrew Bacevich's book, one of those reviewed in this article, is The New American Militarsm: How Americans Are Seduced By War.

Update: Brian Urquhart:

The need, even the necessity, for United States leadership in international affairs has, at least since 1945, been taken for granted by most of the world's governments. Great international projects, including the United Nations itself, were carried out as the result of American initiatives. In the immediate postwar years when recovery and rehabilitation were an overwhelming priority, even the Soviet Union tacitly acknowledged US leadership and accepted it in practice in the work of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, which was sponsored by the US. During the cold war, countries outside the Soviet bloc accepted the United States at its own valuation as "leader of the free world." Again, in the euphoria of the immediate post–cold war period, especially in parts of the world stricken by man-made or natural disasters, the United States was seen as, in Madeleine Albright's words, "the indispensable nation."

Only in the twenty-first century has this unique and previously unassailable position been subjected to question and doubt. This is happening at a time when the traditional threat to peace, wars between great powers, has, for the moment at least, receded. It has been supplanted by a series of global threats to human society— nuclear proliferation, global warming, terrorism, poverty, global epidemics, and more. These challenges can only be addressed by collective action, led by determined and imaginative men and women. In the first years of the new century it would seem that leadership of that kind would still most effectively come from the United States. This would be acceptable to the rest of the world, however, only if there is an agreed set of consistent and sound policies evolved through consultation and consensus. Current United States policy does not meet that requirement. In view of the seriousness of the new threats, however, there is not a moment to lose.

Ed Fitzgerald | 11/10/2005 02:04:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Dover ID school board swept out of office

I knew about this last night, but for some reason neglected to blog about it. Thanks to my friend Patti for bringing it to my attention again. This is from the York Daily Record, the local newspaper which has done such a good job covering the Dover, Pennsylvania "intelligent design" trial:
Dover boots board

Board members who made changes to science class received the fewest votes.

Daily Record/Sunday News
Wednesday, November 9, 2005

Dover CARES candidates swept the race for school board Tuesday, defeating board members who supported the curriculum change that was challenged in federal court.

After months of fierce campaigning that included some mudslinging from both sides, new members of the board are Bernadette Reinking, Rob McIlvaine, Bryan Rehm, Terry Emig, Patricia Dapp, Judy McIlvaine, Larry Gurreri and Phil Herman.

The challengers defeated James Cashman, Alan Bonsell, Sherrie Leber, Ed Rowand, Eric Riddle, Ron Short, Sheila Harkins and Dave Napierskie. Results are not official until certified by the county.

"We're still in shock because we were expecting to have some wins," said Dapp, who won a two-year term. "We weren't expecting to have all eight."

Dapp said "we recognized very quickly that we were a very cohesive, well-working team. I think that is one of our many strengths of what we will bring to the board."

Candidates weigh in

Board members Bonsell and Harkins, who had voted in favor of adding intelligent design into the ninth-grade science curriculum, received the fewest votes, with 2,469 and 2,466, respectively. Bonsell and Harkins did not return phone calls about the results Tuesday.

Reinking, who was running for a four-year term, received the most overall votes with 2,754.

"It's a nice thing," she said. "I'm very flattered and very humble about the whole thing."

During the campaign, the eight Dover CARES candidates had questioned the incumbents' truthfulness and fiscal responsibility, while the eight incumbents touted their achievements in keeping taxes in line and the ability to provide quality education.

Cashman, who was running for a four-year term, had said during the day Tuesday that "I expect to win, but it's not a big celebratory thing."

About the loss, Cashman said, "We put our effort into this, and we tried to manage the school district as conservatively as we could. I have nothing to be ashamed about."

Rehm said he believed the voters responded because of the challengers' combined efforts. It wasn't one thing. They went door to door, held public meetings and didn't exclude anyone, said Rehm, who won a four-year seat.

A major topic in this year's race was the 2004 curriculum change that added a statement about intelligent design to the ninth-grade science curriculum.

The elected board members oppose mentioning intelligent design in science class. Rehm was one of 11 parents who sued the board in U.S. Middle District Court. The trial concluded Friday, and Judge John E. Jones III hopes to have a decision before the year's end.

Effects on intelligent design case

Regardless of the election results, those six weeks of the trial have not been lost, according to attorneys on both sides.

"The suit goes on," said plaintiffs' attorney Steve Harvey of Pepper Hamilton. "The mere election of a new board does not change anything."

Harvey and defense attorney Richard Thompson of Thomas More Law Center said Jones has a set of facts to use to determine his ruling.

Harvey said he did not want to speculate on the fallout of what the new board might do. Thompson gave several scenarios.

The new board could change the policy and determine how it will handle legal appeals. It could keep Thomas More or choose another firm if it wishes to continue the case to keep intelligent design in the curriculum.

If the judge rules against the board, Thompson said, the new board could decide not to fight and could therefore be stuck with the plaintiffs' legal fees, as requested in the suit.

"What is done is done," Reinking said about the court proceeding, "but to take it to the Supreme Court? To me that won't be an issue."

ACLU attorney Witold Walczak said if the board abandons the intelligent-design statement, the plaintiffs want a court order stating the new board won't reinstitute it.

"It actually is a way to conclude the litigation," Walczak said. "The parties sign essentially a contract that says they will stop the unconstitutional conduct."

It's so nice to see the voters weighing in on the side of rationality and reasonableness, and doing so with such definitiveness.

Update: How will this effect the outcome of the Dover trial? Ed Brayton has the answer.

Ed Fitzgerald | 11/09/2005 06:02:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

ID defined

Thinking about it, when you combine together the testimony of the defense's expert witnesses in the Dover "intelligent design" trial, what you get is a pretty weak statement, one that runs something like this:
Intelligent design is science, but only if you change the definition of science from the one that scientists actually recognize to one that admits of the possibility of the supernatural. The accepted definition of science needs to be expanded, to allow radical new theories like intelligent design a chance to become accepted, but when you do expand the definition you also allow discarded old theories, like astrology, to be considered to be science. As a science, intelligent design does not explain the mechanism by which design happened, nor does it identify who the designer is or tell you anything about the designer, nor does it get involved with proving that design actually took place. Instead, intelligent design is a scientific theory because it recognizes that design has happened wherever there are instances where design is perceived in a mechanism having an apparent purpose. Once that purpose has been seen, and design has been recognized, intelligent design has nothing more to say about it, except that it is obvious that the mechanism has been designed. But above all, intelligent design is a science because Darwinian evolutionary theory has gaps in it and cannot explain absolutely everything about evolution and speciation. Those gaps are the ultimate proof that intelligent design is a science.

That's about the sum total of it.

[Cross-posted to a Daily Kos diary; also an earlier version of this was posted to comments on Pharyngula]

Ed Fitzgerald | 11/08/2005 02:45:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE

Monday, November 07, 2005


For some reason, MyDD fell off of my "some links" blogroll. I'm not sure when it happened, but I just discovered it and restored the link. (Removing it certainly wasn't deliberate.)

As my penance, I must suggest that everyone go over there right now and read everything (which is usually a worthwhile thing to do anyway).

Ed Fitzgerald | 11/07/2005 06:03:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


I am so damned clueless

I had no idea that I was part of an "online lynch mob spouting liberty but spewing lies, libel and invective."

No one even told me where the meetings where!

[via Follow Me Here]

Ed Fitzgerald | 11/07/2005 02:39:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


The marathon gender gap

They ran the NYC marathon today, and when an error in a news report made it appear than the winner of the women's race had a finishing time that was less than a minute behind that of the winner of the men's race, I got interested in what the differential really was, and how much smaller it has gotten over the years. Then, just for fun, I looked at the Boston Marathon as well.

What I found was that the gap between men and women has dropped from the 30-60 minute range down to the 7-15 minute range, an improvement of about 400% in almost 30+ years. Unfortunately, it looks like the bulk of the improvement occured in the early 70's, and the numbers have been fairly flat since about the mid-80's, although there is still a bit of a downward trend.

(This is apropos of nothing in particular, it just caught my interest and provided an hour of fun fooling around with data and graphs this afternoon.)

Ed Fitzgerald | 11/07/2005 01:05:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Good news...

The Rittenhouse Review is back, after an absence of several months.

Ed Fitzgerald | 11/06/2005 01:15:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


The perfect films

I just ran across this in a comment by Wetherby Pond on Pharyngula during a discussion about His Girl Friday, and I thought it was interesting:
[W]hen someone with a lot of time on his hands got hold of fifteen leading movie guides and totted up all of their scores, averaging them out to create a single master rating, just one film managed a perfect 10 - i.e. the highest rating in every single one.


His Girl Friday (10)
Singin' in the Rain (9.90)
Casablanca (9.89)
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (9.89)
Citizen Kane (9.84)
Battleship Potemkin (9.83)
Sullivan's Travels (9.83)
Double Indemnity (9.81)
High Noon (9.80)
La Grande Illusion (9.79)

Ed Fitzgerald | 11/06/2005 12:45:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


Ed Fitzgerald

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& progressive religiosity
more links
election prediction
Democrats 230 (+27) - Republicans 205

Democrats 233 (+30) - Republicans 201 - TBD 1 [FL-13]

Democrats 50 (+5) - Republicans 50

Democrats 51 (+6) - Republicans 49

netroots candidates
awards and nominations
Never a bridesmaid...

...and never a bride, either!!

what I've been reading
Martin van Creveld - The Transformation of War

Jay Feldman - When the Mississippi Ran Backwards

Martin van Creveld - The Rise and Decline of the State

Alfred W. Crosby - America's Forgotten Pandemic (1989)
bush & company are...
class warriors
con artists
hostile to science
lacking in empathy
lacking in public spirit
not candid
not "reality-based"
not trustworthy
out of control
without integrity

Thanks to: Breeze, Chuck, Ivan Raikov, Kaiju, Kathy, Roger, Shirley, S.M. Dixon
recently seen
Island in the Sky (1952)

Robot Chicken

The Family Guy

House M.D. (2004-7)
i've got a little list...
Elliott Abrams
Steven Abrams (Kansas BofE)
David Addington
Howard Fieldstead Ahmanson
Roger Ailes (FNC)
John Ashcroft
Bob Bennett
William Bennett
Joe Biden
John Bolton
Alan Bonsell (Dover BofE)
Pat Buchanan
Bill Buckingham (Dover BofE)
George W. Bush
Saxby Chambliss
Bruce Chapman (DI)
Dick Cheney
Lynne Cheney
Richard Cohen
The Coors Family
Ann Coulter
Michael Crichton
Lanny Davis
Tom DeLay
William A. Dembski
James Dobson
Leonard Downie (WaPo)
Dinesh D’Souza
Gregg Easterbrook
Jerry Falwell
Douglas Feith
Arthur Finkelstein
Bill Frist
George Gilder
Newt Gingrich
John Gibson (FNC)
Alberto Gonzalez
Rudolph Giuliani
Sean Hannity
Katherine Harris
Fred Hiatt (WaPo)
Christopher Hitchens
David Horowitz
Don Imus
James F. Inhofe
Jesse Jackson
Philip E. Johnson
Daryn Kagan
Joe Klein
Phil Kline
Ron Klink
William Kristol
Ken Lay
Joe Lieberman
Rush Limbaugh
Trent Lott
Frank Luntz

"American Fundamentalists"
by Joel Pelletier
(click on image for more info)

Chris Matthews
Mitch McConnell
Stephen C. Meyer (DI)
Judith Miller (ex-NYT)
Zell Miller
Tom Monaghan
Sun Myung Moon
Roy Moore
Dick Morris
Rupert Murdoch
Ralph Nader
John Negroponte
Grover Norquist
Robert Novak
Ted Olson
Elspeth Reeve (TNR)
Bill O'Reilly
Martin Peretz (TNR)
Richard Perle
Ramesh Ponnuru
Ralph Reed
Pat Robertson
Karl Rove
Tim Russert
Rick Santorum
Richard Mellon Scaife
Antonin Scalia
Joe Scarborough
Susan Schmidt (WaPo)
Bill Schneider
Al Sharpton
Ron Silver
John Solomon (WaPo)
Margaret Spellings
Kenneth Starr
Randall Terry
Clarence Thomas
Richard Thompson (TMLC)
Donald Trump
Richard Viguere
Donald Wildmon
Paul Wolfowitz
Bob Woodward (WaPo)
John Yoo
All the fine sites I've
guest-blogged for:

Be sure to visit them all!!
recent listening
Smash Mouth - Summer Girl

Poulenc - Piano Music

Pop Ambient 2007
John Adams
Laurie Anderson
Aphex Twin
Isaac Asimov
Fred Astaire
J.G. Ballard
The Beatles
Busby Berkeley
John Cage
Raymond Chandler
Arthur C. Clarke
Elvis Costello
Richard Dawkins
Daniel C. Dennett
Philip K. Dick
Kevin Drum
Brian Eno
Firesign Theatre
Eliot Gelwan
William Gibson
Philip Glass
David Gordon
Stephen Jay Gould
Dashiell Hammett
"The Harder They Come"
Robert Heinlein
Joseph Heller
Frank Herbert
Douglas Hofstadter
Bill James
Gene Kelly
Stanley Kubrick
Jefferson Airplane
Ursula K. LeGuin
The Marx Brothers
John McPhee
Harry Partch
Michael C. Penta
Monty Python
Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger
"The Prisoner"
"The Red Shoes"
Steve Reich
Terry Riley
Oliver Sacks
Erik Satie
"Singin' in the Rain"
Stephen Sondheim
The Specials
Morton Subotnick
Talking Heads/David Byrne
Tangerine Dream
Hunter S. Thompson
J.R.R. Tolkien
"2001: A Space Odyssey"
Kurt Vonnegut
08/31/2003 - 09/07/2003
09/07/2003 - 09/14/2003
09/14/2003 - 09/21/2003
09/21/2003 - 09/28/2003
09/28/2003 - 10/05/2003
10/05/2003 - 10/12/2003
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10/19/2003 - 10/26/2003
11/02/2003 - 11/09/2003
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11/23/2003 - 11/30/2003
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02/22/2004 - 02/29/2004
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03/16/2008 - 03/23/2008
03/23/2008 - 03/30/2008
03/30/2008 - 04/06/2008
06/01/2008 - 06/08/2008
09/21/2008 - 09/28/2008

search websearch unfutz

Bullshit, trolling, unthinking knee-jerk dogmatism and the drivel of idiots will be ruthlessly deleted and the posters banned.

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the story so far
unfutz: toiling in almost complete obscurity for almost 1500 days
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the proud unfutz guarantee
If you read unfutz at least once a week, without fail, your teeth will be whiter and your love life more satisfying.

If you read it daily, I will come to your house, kiss you on the forehead, bathe your feet, and cook pancakes for you, with yummy syrup and everything.

(You might want to keep a watch on me, though, just to avoid the syrup ending up on your feet and the pancakes on your forehead.)

Finally, on a more mundane level, since I don't believe that anyone actually reads this stuff, I make this offer: I'll give five bucks to the first person who contacts me and asks for it -- and, believe me, right now five bucks might as well be five hundred, so this is no trivial offer.

original content
© 2003-2008
Ed Fitzgerald


take all you want
but credit all you take.

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