Saturday, December 30, 2006

Sliced chicken

I'm not much of a football fan, so I watch only a couple of games each season, sometimes not even that. I watched a bit today, though, and it leads me to ask: don't the players, coaches and fans find it just a bit demeaning to participate in something called the Chick-Fil-A Bowl (pronounced "chick filet")?

(It was good to be reminded that it's not only political commentators who see what they want to see instead of what's actually happening. I heard one play-by-play guy today say that a player was "bumped" out of bounds at the end of a play, when it was perfectly obvious that he just stepped out with no contact.)

Ed Fitzgerald | 12/30/2006 08:44:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE

Friday, December 29, 2006

(3089/898) Assimilating tactical trajectories

406) Perhaps an explanation for the relative paucity of virtual reality fiction lies in the fact the narrative already functions to construct an enveloping, simulated experience - narrative is a virtual reality.
Scott Bukatman
Terminal Identity: The Virtual Subject in
Post-Modern Science Fiction

407) When Disneyland opened, its designers waited to see where people actually walked before the layout of paths and park areas was finalized. Thus, the parks actually assimilate the tactical trajectories of its visitors, returning them in the form of strategies. Walking across the grass loses its subversive appeal - its easier and more efficient to keep to the walkways. Subversion is rendered pointless [...]
Scott Bukatman
Terminal Identity: The Virtual Subject in
Post-Modern Science Fiction
[Note: I saw this same story told, as personal knowledge, about a new college campus designed by the teller's mother, reported on a CompuServe Forum c.1990]
408) Through roughly 9,000 words of text [...] the majority report [of the joint management-labor Economic Study Committee] leads readers up one blind alley and down another, suggesting that an industry whose companies are valued in the market at prices as high, or higher than, ever before is on the brink of some vague sort of economic trouble.

The industry of baseball is in political chaos, bereft of any governing mechanism by which the clubs can agree to share revenues among themselves in a fashion that will permit all clubs both to compete equally on the field and to have an equal chance to make positive operating revenues. No such concerns arise in most other industries, where increased market share goes to the strongest companies. In baseball, however, more "companies" in more cities make a stronger industry able to bring the pleasures of baseball to more fans. Thus, a governance structure of professional baseball clubs that is incapable of enforcing greater revenue sharing is the problem. Unless that problem is addressed and solved, labor-management peace will never come to baseball.
Henry J. Aaron
Brookings Institute economist
"Supplemental Statement" appended to the
Report of Independent Members of the Economic
Study Committee on Baseball
quoted by John Helyar in
Lords of the Realm (1994)
[Note: As far as I can determine, Henry J. Aaron is not Hank Aaron]

Note: "3089/898" is the designation I've given to the project of posting all my collected quotes, excerpts and ideas (3089 of them) in the remaining days of the Bush administration (of which there were 898 left when I began).

As of today, there are 753 days remaining in the administration of the worst American President ever.

Ed Fitzgerald | 12/29/2006 09:27:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


Edwards chooses

On Tapped, Ezra Klein has part of a John Edwards Town Hall meeting in Des Moines:
Q: No one seems to have talked about the deficit, and I see that as a twofold problem. Not only are we going into debt, but we're mortgaging our future to the Chinese -- last time I noticed, they weren't really allies of ours, weren't really our friends. I wonder what would your approach to the piling up of the deficit be?

Edwards: Well, I have to first off say what everybody here knows...when George Bush came into office we had surpluses as far as the eye could see, and now we have deficits as far as they eye can see. I think the honest answer to this question is that there's a tension between our desire to eliminate the deficit and create a stronger economic foundation and eliminate some of the debt our children will inherit, there's a tension between that deficit and our need to invest and make America stronger for the 21st century.

I think that, if we're honest, you cannot it, it's just common sense in the math, have universal health care, and invest in energy, and make a serious effort to eliminate poverty, to strengthen the middle class, and do some of the work that I think America needs to be leading on around the world, and at the same time, eliminate the deficit. Those things are incompatible. And anybody who claims -- politicians who say 'I'm going to give you a big tax cut, and give you health care, put more money into education, and oh by the way, we're going to balance the budget in the process,' it's just make-believe, it isn't the truth. So I think there's gonna be hard judgments that have to be made -- my commitment is to have universal health care, to do things that have to be done about this energy situation and global warming, because I think they're enormous threats, not only to the people of America but to the future of the world, for America to lead on some of these big moral issues that face the world, and I think America has to do something about poverty, I just do. Those are higher priorities to me than the elimination of the deficit. I don't want to make the deficit worse and I would like to reduce the deficit, but in the short-term, if we don't take a step to deal with these other issues, it in my judgment, undermines the ability of America to remain strong in the 21st century.

Although, as I've said, I'm currently leaning towards Edwards, I don't want to push him too much, but really, when was the last time you heard a politician admit that two goals, both desirable in themselves, are incompatible, and that hard choices have to be made over which to aim for? It's a dangerous thing to say, frankly, because the people aren't generally inclined to want to hear that they have to make those choices, and usually can't resist the pol who tells them that they can eat their cake now and still have it around for later. Still, it's honest, and it's true, and Edwards' choice of which goals to concentrate on (universal health care, strengthening the middle class and poverty reduction over controlling the deficit, for instance) are exactly the ones that I would make.

However, because such honesty can be dangerous, I would recommend that Edwards not dwell on it too much, that he talk more about what his progressive populist programs will accomplish and rather soft-pedal the cost issue, since it tends to feed into the "tax-and-spend" mythos that the right loves to trot out to use against liberals. Fortunately (or unfortunately), I think things have gotten to be bad enough economically and socially that people really are inclined to allow the government to tackle these problems.

[via Washington Monthly]

Ed Fitzgerald | 12/29/2006 03:53:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


Friday Photography: Madison Square Park in the Snow

click to enlarge

Daryl Samuel

Location: Madison Square Park, Manhattan, New York City

Previous: Hands With Softball / On Alcatraz / Cameras / Lighthouse / Photographer At Work / Patio Chairs / Greek Church / Santa Fe Mailboxes / Rocking Horse / Sunset Sandpiper / Hands / Bird of Paradise / Feeding the Pelican / Sunset Silhouette / Staircase / Mallards / Masts / Greek Column / Paddlewheel / Olive Trees

Ed Fitzgerald | 12/29/2006 12:37:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE

Thursday, December 28, 2006

The treason of the hawks

It is inevitable that the Right-wing will continue as they always have, and attempt to frame the massive failure of George Bush's Iraq Invasion as a case of being stabbed in the back (or Dolchstosslegende) -- by liberals, by the media, and (ultimately) by a public lacking the necessary willpower to see things through to the bitter end -- but in reality, the real betrayal, of both our American ideals and of our continued security, comes not from those opposed to a senseless, unnecessary, ill-conceived and badly prosecuted war, but from those inside and outside the government who bear the responsibility for getting us into it in the first place.
Many wars in this century have been started with only the most nebulous expectations regarding the outcome, on the strength of plans that paid little, if any, attention to the ending.
Fred Charles Ikle
Every War Must End (1991)

There are valid reasons why treason should invoke [...] violent condemnation and be subject to the highest penalties. The horror of "this most odious crime" helps to keep a nation, once committed to a war, from breaking up in internal disagreements. Also, a nation at war is acutely vulnerable to disloyal acts by military men or leading civilians who choose to "give aid and comfort" to the enemy. Throughout the ages, states have sought to protect themselves against this threat by strong moral and legal sanctions. Defenses are much weaker, however, against internal threats to the survival of a nation that stem from obstinancy in fighting on for unattainable aims or from starting a war through wanton acts. A dangerous asymmetry exists here in the protection of a state against two types of harmful acts by its own citizens.

The English language is without a word of equally strong opprobium to designate acts that can lead to the destruction of one's government and one's country, not by giving aid and comfort to the enemy, but by making enemies; not by fighting too little, but by fighting too much or too long. "Adventurism" -- much too weak a word -- is perhaps the best term to describe this "treason of the hawks." [...]

Treason can help our enemies destroy our country by making them stronger; adventurism can destroy our country by making our enemies more numerous. Treason can bring us defeat by retreating in the face of the enemy; adventurism can bring us defeat by advancing until our forces are overwhelmed on distant battlefields. Treason can force us into capitulation by treating secretly with the enemy; adventurism can force us into capitulation by failing to treat soon enough with the enemy. Treason can enable our enemy to break our alliances apart; adventurism can enable our allies to pull us down into disaster. It is hard to say whether treason or adventurism has brought more nations to the graveyard of history. The record is muddied, because when adventurists have destroyed a nation, they usually blamed "traitors" for the calamity. [Emphasis added -- Ed]
Fred Charles Ikle
Every War Must End (1991)
By any rational calculus, we are certainly less safe now, after George Bush's Iraq Catastrophe, than we were before it.

Ed Fitzgerald | 12/28/2006 10:37:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


This is much better news!

Eliot Gelwan of Follow Me Here seems to be back and blogging again after an absence of two months.


Ed Fitzgerald | 12/28/2006 09:38:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


The jig is up!

Damn! Now the right-wing knows everything!

Thanks to the traitor P.Z. Myers, all the secrets of the left-wing liberal progressive socialist communist atheist secular humanist rationalist conspiracy have been revealed.

We must start at this very moment, comrades, to begin to find new strategies for undermining the decadent freedom-loving American society that we have all dedicated our very lives to destroy.

[via Bouphonia]

Ed Fitzgerald | 12/28/2006 09:12:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


On the up side

Billmon may be packing it in (although I still have my fingers crossed), but there's still life in the old blogosphere yet -- Daily Kos is looking for blogs which are less well known and deserving of additional readership. Skimming through the comments I see a bunch of fairly well-known names, but also some sites I'm unfamiliar with, so I'll be checking them out to see what new goodies there might be.

Ed Fitzgerald | 12/28/2006 08:44:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


Is this the end of Rico?

I have a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that this, posted at 3:11 this morning, may mean that Billmon is hanging up his blogging shoes. I surely hope that's not the case.

Update: See discussion on Moon of Alabama and firedoglake. There's some wan speculation that he might just be saying goodbye to 2006, but the consensus seems to be that he's retiring. Swopa calls Billmon "the most purely talented writer on any blog," and it's hard to argue with that.

Update (12/29 9:45am): An attempt to navigate to Whiskey Bar now brings up a "404 Not Found" error: The webpage cannot be found. That's a real shame, but I look forward to Billmon resurfacing somewhere else down the line -- a talent such as his cannot long continue to be unexpressed (I hope). (12:10pm): Now I get "Site Temporarily Unavailable."

Ed Fitzgerald | 12/28/2006 05:12:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE



I'm reading Paul Fussell's The Great War and Modern Memory, but it's slow going -- not because of the writing or the subject matter, but because it's so hard to read passages like this, about the Battle of the Somme in 1916, and not immediately take a break for reflection:
Of the 110,000 [British soldiers] who attacked, 60,000 were killed or wounded on the one day, the record so far. Over 20,000 lay dead between the lines, and it was days before the wounded in No Man's Land stopped crying out.


Elsewhere, Fussell writes:
Every war is ironic because every war is worse than expected.

I get the feeling that our modern masters of war think that their new technologies and strategies have undone the old verities about warfare but, like about so many other fundamental things, they are wrong. The deathrates are much lower now, but the ironies continue: a war that was to bring stability to the Middle East through the removal of a dictator and the implantation of democracy turns out to be, as many predicted, yet another cause of instability.

The problem of Iraq will be with us for decades to come, thanks to George Bush and Dick Cheney and their ilk. It will be what they are remembered, and reviled, for.

Correction: I decided that "inculcation" in the penultimate paragraph was not quite the right word, so I replaced it with "implantation".

Ed Fitzgerald | 12/28/2006 12:28:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


(3089/898) Kicks for free

400) I should go so far as to say that embedded in the surrealistic frame of a television news show is a theory of anticommunication featuring a type of discourse that abandons logic, reason, sequence and rules of contradiction. In aesthetics, I believe the name given to this theory is Dadaism; in philosophy, nihilism; in psychiatry, schizophrenia. In the parlance of the theatre, it is known as vaudeville.
Neil Postman
Amusing Ourselves to Death (1985)

401) Many people who use the word "science" do so in the hope that its prestige will attach to their work. Americans are particularly afflicted with science-adoration, which is why we must endure such abominations as the oxymorons Christian Science, Creation Science, Scientology, Policy Science, Decision Science, and Administrative Science, as well as Behavioral and Social Science.
Neil Postman
Conscientious Objections (1988)
[Note: Also Military Science, Library Science and Political Science.]
402) Shrink-wrap agreements [on software] have no legally binding force whatsoever, because they're unilateral attempts to change the terms of a contract retroactively.
Alan Wachtel
letter to the editor
PC Magazine (5/31/94)

403) I don't know of anything you can get for nothin'.
John Lowthers
quoted by David Greenberger in
Duplex Planet: Everybody's Asking Who I Was (1993)
David Greenberger, ed.

history goes
to the highest bidder
Kristian Roebling
"Homecoming" (poem, 1990)

405) The girls who can't dance says the band can't keep time.
Sholom Aleichem
quoted by Leo Rosten in
Hooray for Yiddish! (1982)

Note: "3089/898" is the designation I've given to the project of posting all my collected quotes, excerpts and ideas (3089 of them) in the remaining days of the Bush administration (of which there were 898 left when I began).

As of today, there are 754 days remaining in the administration of the worst American President ever.

Ed Fitzgerald | 12/28/2006 11:18:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


Working both ends

I note that, having done their best to make the Medicare Part D legislation as consumer-unfriendly as possible, insurance companies are now advertising to attract costumers on the basis of how helpful they can be in navigating it.

Ed Fitzgerald | 12/28/2006 11:05:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


The unfutz year in review

The week between Christmas and the New Year is a time for the news media to sum up the past year, so I thought I'd jump in with my own synopsis of 2006.
  • Thanks to George Bush, Dick Cheney, and the Republican Congress, 2006 started off with everything really screwed up.

  • As the year went on, thanks to George Bush, Dick Cheney and the Republican Congress, things got worse.

  • In November, we got a small sign of hope, with the election of a Democratic Congress. Thanks to George Bush, Dick Cheney and the legacy of years of Republican Congresses, things will almost certainly continue to get worse, but, if we're lucky, they may get worse at a slower rate.

  • The year ends, thanks to George Bush, Dick Cheney, and the corrupt, incompetent and ideologically bizarre Republican Congress, with everything still screwed up.

That's the unfutz Year in Review.

Ed Fitzgerald | 12/28/2006 09:16:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

No, not really

I really hate this kind of thoughtless, empty, pro forma headline:
America Mourns the Death of Former President Gerald Ford
With all due respect, there is practically no one in this country outside of his family and friends who is "mourning" Gerald Ford today. The man was a non-entity from start to finish. And he didn't try to "heal the country's Watergate wounds" (or similar claims I've seen in a number of stories), he exascerbated them by pre-pardoning Nixon instead of letting justice take its course.

An honest headline would be something like:
Accidental President dies, America shrugs

but we'll never see it.

Update: We have Ford to thank for Cheney and Rumsfeld. You can stop the eulogizing now, progressive bloggers.

Update: poputonian gives us Herblock on Ford. I concur. [Thanks to Polly]

Ed Fitzgerald | 12/27/2006 09:12:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


(3089/898) The Names

396) Marriage is something made from available materials. In this sense it's improvised, it's almost offhand. Maybe that is why we know so little about it. It's too inspired and quicksilver a thing to be clearly understood.
Don DeLillo
The Names (1982)

397) To be a tourist is to escape accountability. Errors and failings don't cling to you the way they do back home. You're able to drift across continents and languages, suspending the operation of sound thought. Tourism is the march of stupidity. You're expected to be stupid. The entire mechanism of the host country is geared to travelers acting stupidly. You walk around dazed, squinting into fold-out maps. You don't know how to talk to people, how to get anywhere, what the money means, what time it is, what to eat or how to eat it. Being stupid is the pattern, the level and the norm. You can exist on this level for weeks and months without reprimand or dire consequence. Together with thousands you are granted immunities and broad freedoms.
Don DeLillo
The Names (1982)

398) We were doubters [...] Skeptics of the slightly superior type. The Christian dispersion. It was one of the many things [we] agreed on, rockbound doubt, not that we'd ever discussed it. It was just there, or not there, something we knew about each other. The quasi-stellar object, the quantum event, these were the sources of our speculation and wonder. Our bones were made of material that came swimming across the galaxy from exploded stars. This knowledge was our shared prayer, our chant.
Don DeLillo
The Names (1982)

399) America is the world's living myth. There's no sense of wrong when you kill an American or blame America for some local disaster. This is our function, our character types, to embody recurring themes that people can use to comfort themselves, justify themselves and so on. We're here to accommodate. Whatever people need we provide. A myth is a useful thing. People expect us to absorb the impact of their grievances.
Don DeLillo
The Names (1982)

Note: "3089/898" is the designation I've given to the project of posting all my collected quotes, excerpts and ideas (3089 of them) in the remaining days of the Bush administration (of which there were 898 left when I began).

As of today, there are 755 days remaining in the administration of the worst American President ever.

Ed Fitzgerald | 12/27/2006 12:29:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

(3089/898) Six phases

392) The Six Phases Of A Project:
       I. Enthusiasm
      II. Disillusionment
     III. Panic
     IV. Search for the Guilty
      V. Punishment of the Innocent
     VI. Praise & Honor for the Nonparticipants

Sign seen at an office of
the Superconducting Super Collider Lab (1/94),
three months after the project was cancelled,
reported by Bruce Sterling in
"Science: The Dead Collider" in
The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (7/94)

393) A language is a dialect that has an army and a navy.
Professor Max Weinreich
quoted by Leo Rosten in
The Joys of Yiddish (1968)
[Note: cf. #1037 Wolfe, #1038 Feibleman]
394) There is one undeniable assumption in Scripture. Even the most progressive, woman-ordaining, Paul-was-gay, Jesus-was-illegitimate, Mary-was-a-single-mother, "Kumbaya"-singing Christian must admit that the Bible states that humanity is a unique creation.
Jack Hitt
"Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial?"
New York Times Magazine (5/29/94)

395) I am an evangelical (or, to use the pejorative term, a "fundamentalist" - who takes biblical revelation seriously and literally (with recognition of obvious symbolism)[...]
Robert L. Cleath
letter to the editor
New York Times Book Review (5/29/94)

Note: "3089/898" is the designation I've given to the project of posting all my collected quotes, excerpts and ideas (3089 of them) in the remaining days of the Bush administration (of which there were 898 left when I began).

As of today, there are 756 days remaining in the administration of the worst American President ever.

Ed Fitzgerald | 12/26/2006 10:17:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE

Monday, December 25, 2006

(3089/898) Answers a burden

385) Absexual (ab sek' shoo el) n. 1. Individuals, especially in the public eye, who exhibit an obsessive negative focus on sexual images or other people's sexual behavior 2. a word coined by sex educator and writer Carol Queen. 3. Andrea Dworkin, Pat Buchanan, Phyllis Schafly, Dan Quayle [...]
Future Sex magazine (5/94)

386) The current enthusiasm for psychoanalysis in the West can be seen as a desire for some kind of mysticism, for we shall find arresting similarities between the two disciplines.
Karen Armstrong
A History of God (1993)

What seems wrong to you is right for him
What is poison to one is honey to someone else.
Purity and impurity, sloth and diligence in worship
These mean nothing to Me.
        I am apart from all that.
Ways of worshiping are not to be ranked as better
or worse than on another.
        Hindus do Hindu things
The Dravidian Muslims in India do what they do.
It's all praise, and it's all right.
Jalal ad-Din Rumi
God speaking to Moses in
The Masnawi (The Sufi Bible)
quoted in This Longing: Teaching Stories and
Selected Letters of Rumi
trans. and ed. by Coleman Banks and John Moyne,
cited by Karen Armstrong in
A History of God (1993)

388) Have you ever caught yourself reading? You know, you're sitting in a chair engrossed in a good book, enjoying the story and the author's prose-style, and then suddenly, it's as if you have an out-of-the-body experience and you catch sight of yourself as you really are: not trading wisecracks with Philip Marlowe, or struggling with Moriarty atop the Reichenbach Falls, but as someone sitting alone in a room, with a book open on your lap. It can be quite shocking. [...] It is this rare ability to step in and out of the picture which distinguishes reading. Professor Keats perceived as much when he wrote to his sister describing the pleasure he should take in being able to sit beside a window on Lake Geneva and spend all day reading, like the picture of someone reading. Like a picture of someone reading [...] that's a lovely revealing sentence [...] It conjures up such a powerful image of someone not only living but lost in the pages of a book, oblivious to the exterior physical world, to the hand which turns the page, even to the eye and visual field which conducts the printed information to the brain. Without a book I am chained to the earth. Reading I am Prometheus Unbound.
Philip Kerr
A Philosophical Investigation (1992)

389) Questions are a burden for others. Answers are a prison for oneself.
Propaganda slogan
The Prisoner (TV series, 1967)
series created by George Markstein
and developed by Patrick McGoohan

390) The real national disease in the United States is not RSI [Repetitive Strain Injuries] but the ongoing quest to blame your problems on other people and to use the body of law to make them pay through their noses for your misery, misfortune, or stupidity.
Bill Machrone
"Pigs, Ducks, and RSI"
PC Magazine (5/17/94)

391) As we argue about evolution, the widespread applications of antibiotics and pesticides are producing new strains of insects and bacteria that are resistant to virtually everything we can throw at them. The even more rapidly mutating AIDS virus is sweeping away whole segments of societies. A booming genetic-engineering industry is on the threshold of creating wonders (and perhaps horrors) undreamed of before, while the world's natural life forms are going extinct at a rate that matches the worst cataclysms recorded from prehistoric times. Whether we like it or not, whether we believe it or not, evolution, as ever, matters a great deal.

Part of the problem is that evolution is still widely perceived as no more than a theory. Scientists, the creationists say, are proceeding on faith just like everyone else,; its their religion versus ours. Although there is abundant hard proof of natural selection and the origin of species in the form of fossils embedded in the rock of ages, the evidence is far more subtle among living creatures. [...] When creationists see [disagreements between experts], they sense a flaw in the basic idea. But good science, unlike dogma, thrives on constant testing and debate. The fact that the field of evolutionary biology itself keeps evolving is a sign of health.
Douglas H. Chadwick
"Evolution, Right Before Our Eyes" in
New York Times Book Review (5/22/94)

Note: "3089/898" is the designation I've given to the project of posting all my collected quotes, excerpts and ideas (3089 of them) in the remaining days of the Bush administration (of which there were 898 left when I began).

As of today, there are 757 days remaining in the administration of the worst American President ever.

Ed Fitzgerald | 12/25/2006 12:33:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


What I did in the War on Christmas

As part of my assignment in the liberal War on Christmas [TM pending], I'd like to quote the section of the Wikipedia article about the Economics of Christmas
Christmas is typically the largest annual economic stimulus for many nations. Sales increase dramatically in almost all retail areas and shops introduce new products as people purchase gifts, decorations, and supplies. In the U.S., the "Christmas shopping season" generally begins on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, though many American stores begin selling Christmas items in October and early November [...] Most economists agree, however, that Christmas produces a deadweight loss under orthodox microeconomic theory, due to the surge in gift-giving. This loss is calculated as the difference between what the gift giver spent on the item and what the gift receiver would have paid for the item. It is estimated that in 2001 Christmas resulted in a $4 billion deadweight loss in the U.S. alone.

(I note that the article is receiving heavy editing, so if you follow the link you may find something radically different when you get there -- I just thought it was interesting. It reminds me of the downside of having a lot of your GNP being accounted for by medical care.)

Now, as part two of my task, I'd like to remind everyone about how many of the customs that seem so much a part of the holiday actually grew out of pagan and non-Christian mid-winter festivities. (They didn't have psychiatrists back then so they had to concoct their own homegrown cures for Seasonal Affective Disorder, like Saturnalia.) I'm grateful for these customs, because they allow a non-religious person like myself who nevertheless has a Christian background, and grew up with Christmas, to continue to celebrate the day without any great deal of hypocrisy. (As John Lennon said: "Whatever gets you through the night.")

I do think it's a shame that we didn't manage to hold on to the part about public nudity -- although, being born and bred in the northeast of the United States, I fully understand why it didn't catch on up here. Still, the thought is intriguing.

Ed Fitzgerald | 12/25/2006 04:33:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


The Christmas Truce of 1914

Of the British and German soldiers who faced each other across the muddy fields of Flanders on Christmas Eve in 1914, even those who no longer believed the optimistic predictions of a short war would have been shocked to learn that it would drag on for another four years — and that it would ultimately see the staggering totals of 8½ million dead and 21 million wounded. Nonetheless, by December 1914 the European War — being fought by men who were weary, frustrated, and dispirited, bogged down in the glue-like muck, waterlogged trenches, and barbed-wire entanglements of Belgium, with little sense of national purpose other than to defeat the enemy — had already claimed hundreds of thousands of casualties since the beginning of hostilities in early August.

Despite the constant machine gun fire and artillery bombardments of the western front, and even though in some places front-line troops were a mere 60 yards away from the enemy's lines, soldiers on both sides received gift boxes containing food and tobacco prepared by their governments that Christmas. The Germans, who had a direct land link to their home country (British soldiers in Belgium were separated from London by sixty miles and the English Channel), also managed to send small Christmas trees and candles to troops at the front. And, notwithstanding the fact that a Christmas cease-fire proposed by Pope Benedict XV had already been rejected by both sides as "impossible," on Christmas Eve the "law of unanticipated consequences went to work," as Stanley Weintraub, author of Silent Night: The Story of the World War I Christmas Truce, described it:
. . . the Germans set trees on trench parapets and lit the candles. Then, they began singing carols, and though their language was unfamiliar to their enemies, the tunes were not. After a few trees were shot at, the British became more curious than belligerent and crawled forward to watch and listen. And after a while, they began to sing.

By Christmas morning, the "no man's land" between the trenches was filled with fraternizing soldiers, sharing rations and gifts, singing and (more solemnly) burying their dead between the lines. Soon they were even playing soccer, mostly with improvised balls.

According to the official war diary of the 133rd Saxon Regiment, "Tommy and Fritz" kicked about a real football supplied by a Scot. "This developed into a regulation football match with caps casually laid out as goals. The frozen ground was no great matter . . . The game ended 3-2 for Fritz."
The spontaneous truce (which included French and Belgian troops in some sectors) was largely over by New Year's Day, however. Commanders on both sides ordered their troops to restart hostilities under penalty of court martial, and German and British soldiers reluctantly parted, in the words of Pvt. Percy Jones of the Westminster Brigade, "with much hand-shaking and mutual goodwill." The Great War stretched on through another three Christmases and beyond, but all subsequent attempts to organize similiar truces failed, and millions more died before the armistice of 11 November 1918 finally ended the shooting for good.

As Stanley Weintraub noted at the close of his book on the 1914 Christmas truce:
However much the momentary peace of 1914 evidenced the desire of the combatants to live in amity with one another, it was doomed from the start by the realities beyond the trenches. As the English rock band The Farm, decades later, summed up the results after the enemies "joined together and decided not to fight," but failed, there was "nothing learned and nothing gained."

A celebration of the human spirit, the Christmas Truce remains a moving manifestation of the absurdities of war. A very minor Scottish poet of Great War vintage, Frederick Niven, may have got it right in his "A Carol from Flanders," which closed,
O ye who read this truthful rime
From Flanders, kneel and say:
God speed the time when every day
Shall be as Christmas Day.
Although the Christmas Truce of 1914 may seem like a distant myth to those now at arms in parts of the world where vast cultural differences between combatants make such an occurrence impossible, it remains a symbol of hope to those who believe that a recognition of our common humanity may someday reverse the maxim that "Peace is harder to make than war."

More from Wikipedia.

Ed Fitzgerald | 12/25/2006 04:07:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


Best brands

In the spirit of the overcommercialization of Christmas, take a look at Interbrands' listing of the Top 10 Global Brands for 2006:
  1. Coca-Cola (US)
  2. Microsoft (US)
  3. IBM (US)
  4. GE (US)
  5. Intel (US)
  6. Nokia (Finland)
  7. Toyota (Japan) - up from #9 in 2005
  8. Disney (US) - down from #7
  9. McDonald's (US) - down from #8
  10. Mercedes-Benz (Germany) - up from #11

Bubbling under: Citi (US), Marlboro (US), Hewlett-Packard (US), American Express (US), BMW (Germany), Gillette (US), Luis Vuitton (France), Cisco (US), Honda (Japan) and Samsung (S. Korea).

The report also says that the brand that gained the most was Google, at #24, which gained 46% in Interbrands' metric. Also Starbucks (#91) gained 20%, and eBay (#47) 18%, to clock in at the second and third top gainer.

Big losers were Gap (#52, down 22%), Ford (#30, down 16) and Kodak (#70, down 12%).

The biggest surprises for me were the UK's HSBC at #28 -- I didn't think it was so well known -- and Germany's SAP (#36), which I'm not sure I've ever heard of.

Obviously, American brands dominate the chart -- 51 of the top 100 brands were US-based. Only 12 of the remaining non-American brands were also non-European: eight from Japan (Toyota, Honda, Sony, Canon, Nintendo, Panasonic, Nissan, Lexus), three from South Korean (Samsung, Hyundai and LG) and one based in Bermuda (Accenture):

  • United States - 51
  • Germany - 9
  • France, Japan - 8
  • Britain - 6
  • Switzerland - 5
  • Italy - 4
  • Soth Korea - 3
  • Netherlands - 2
  • Bermuda, Finland, Spain, Sweden - 1


Ed Fitzgerald | 12/25/2006 01:15:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


Ed Fitzgerald

Clowns to the left of me,
Jokers to the right,
Here I am...
site feed
2008 rules of thumb
Progressive populism!
Economic insecurity is key
Restore the balance
Cast the candidate
Persona is important
Iraq, not "national security"
Prefer governors over senators
recent posts
bush countdown
oblique strategies
recent comments
some links
storm watch
(click for larger image,
refresh page to update)

a progressive slogan
Fairness, progress and prosperity, because we're all in this together.

"I had my own blog for a while, but I decided to go back to just pointless, incessant barking."
(Alex Gregory - The New Yorker)
new york city
another progressive slogan
The greatest good for the greatest number, with dignity for all.
reference & fact check
write me
evolution v. creationism
humanism, skepticism
& 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
10/12/2003 - 10/19/2003
10/19/2003 - 10/26/2003
11/02/2003 - 11/09/2003
11/09/2003 - 11/16/2003
11/16/2003 - 11/23/2003
11/23/2003 - 11/30/2003
12/07/2003 - 12/14/2003
12/14/2003 - 12/21/2003
12/21/2003 - 12/28/2003
01/11/2004 - 01/18/2004
01/18/2004 - 01/25/2004
01/25/2004 - 02/01/2004
02/01/2004 - 02/08/2004
02/08/2004 - 02/15/2004
02/15/2004 - 02/22/2004
02/22/2004 - 02/29/2004
02/29/2004 - 03/07/2004
03/07/2004 - 03/14/2004
03/14/2004 - 03/21/2004
03/21/2004 - 03/28/2004
03/28/2004 - 04/04/2004
04/04/2004 - 04/11/2004
04/11/2004 - 04/18/2004
04/18/2004 - 04/25/2004
04/25/2004 - 05/02/2004
05/02/2004 - 05/09/2004
05/09/2004 - 05/16/2004
05/16/2004 - 05/23/2004
05/23/2004 - 05/30/2004
05/30/2004 - 06/06/2004
06/06/2004 - 06/13/2004
06/13/2004 - 06/20/2004
06/20/2004 - 06/27/2004
06/27/2004 - 07/04/2004
07/04/2004 - 07/11/2004
07/18/2004 - 07/25/2004
07/25/2004 - 08/01/2004
08/01/2004 - 08/08/2004
08/08/2004 - 08/15/2004
08/15/2004 - 08/22/2004
08/22/2004 - 08/29/2004
08/29/2004 - 09/05/2004
09/05/2004 - 09/12/2004
09/12/2004 - 09/19/2004
09/19/2004 - 09/26/2004
09/26/2004 - 10/03/2004
10/03/2004 - 10/10/2004
10/10/2004 - 10/17/2004
10/17/2004 - 10/24/2004
10/24/2004 - 10/31/2004
10/31/2004 - 11/07/2004
11/07/2004 - 11/14/2004
11/14/2004 - 11/21/2004
11/21/2004 - 11/28/2004
11/28/2004 - 12/05/2004
12/05/2004 - 12/12/2004
12/12/2004 - 12/19/2004
12/19/2004 - 12/26/2004
12/26/2004 - 01/02/2005
01/02/2005 - 01/09/2005
01/09/2005 - 01/16/2005
01/16/2005 - 01/23/2005
01/23/2005 - 01/30/2005
01/30/2005 - 02/06/2005
02/06/2005 - 02/13/2005
02/13/2005 - 02/20/2005
02/20/2005 - 02/27/2005
02/27/2005 - 03/06/2005
03/06/2005 - 03/13/2005
03/13/2005 - 03/20/2005
03/20/2005 - 03/27/2005
03/27/2005 - 04/03/2005
04/03/2005 - 04/10/2005
04/10/2005 - 04/17/2005
04/17/2005 - 04/24/2005
04/24/2005 - 05/01/2005
05/01/2005 - 05/08/2005
05/08/2005 - 05/15/2005
05/15/2005 - 05/22/2005
05/22/2005 - 05/29/2005
05/29/2005 - 06/05/2005
06/05/2005 - 06/12/2005
06/12/2005 - 06/19/2005
06/19/2005 - 06/26/2005
06/26/2005 - 07/03/2005
07/10/2005 - 07/17/2005
07/17/2005 - 07/24/2005
07/24/2005 - 07/31/2005
07/31/2005 - 08/07/2005
08/07/2005 - 08/14/2005
08/14/2005 - 08/21/2005
08/21/2005 - 08/28/2005
08/28/2005 - 09/04/2005
09/04/2005 - 09/11/2005
09/11/2005 - 09/18/2005
09/18/2005 - 09/25/2005
09/25/2005 - 10/02/2005
10/02/2005 - 10/09/2005
10/09/2005 - 10/16/2005
10/16/2005 - 10/23/2005
10/23/2005 - 10/30/2005
10/30/2005 - 11/06/2005
11/06/2005 - 11/13/2005
11/13/2005 - 11/20/2005
11/20/2005 - 11/27/2005
11/27/2005 - 12/04/2005
12/04/2005 - 12/11/2005
12/11/2005 - 12/18/2005
12/18/2005 - 12/25/2005
12/25/2005 - 01/01/2006
01/01/2006 - 01/08/2006
01/08/2006 - 01/15/2006
01/15/2006 - 01/22/2006
01/22/2006 - 01/29/2006
01/29/2006 - 02/05/2006
02/05/2006 - 02/12/2006
02/12/2006 - 02/19/2006
02/19/2006 - 02/26/2006
02/26/2006 - 03/05/2006
03/05/2006 - 03/12/2006
03/26/2006 - 04/02/2006
04/02/2006 - 04/09/2006
04/09/2006 - 04/16/2006
04/16/2006 - 04/23/2006
04/23/2006 - 04/30/2006
04/30/2006 - 05/07/2006
05/07/2006 - 05/14/2006
05/14/2006 - 05/21/2006
05/21/2006 - 05/28/2006
05/28/2006 - 06/04/2006
06/04/2006 - 06/11/2006
06/11/2006 - 06/18/2006
06/18/2006 - 06/25/2006
06/25/2006 - 07/02/2006
07/02/2006 - 07/09/2006
07/09/2006 - 07/16/2006
07/16/2006 - 07/23/2006
07/23/2006 - 07/30/2006
08/06/2006 - 08/13/2006
08/13/2006 - 08/20/2006
08/20/2006 - 08/27/2006
08/27/2006 - 09/03/2006
09/03/2006 - 09/10/2006
09/10/2006 - 09/17/2006
09/17/2006 - 09/24/2006
09/24/2006 - 10/01/2006
10/01/2006 - 10/08/2006
10/08/2006 - 10/15/2006
10/15/2006 - 10/22/2006
10/22/2006 - 10/29/2006
10/29/2006 - 11/05/2006
11/05/2006 - 11/12/2006
11/12/2006 - 11/19/2006
11/19/2006 - 11/26/2006
11/26/2006 - 12/03/2006
12/03/2006 - 12/10/2006
12/10/2006 - 12/17/2006
12/17/2006 - 12/24/2006
12/24/2006 - 12/31/2006
12/31/2006 - 01/07/2007
01/07/2007 - 01/14/2007
01/14/2007 - 01/21/2007
01/21/2007 - 01/28/2007
01/28/2007 - 02/04/2007
02/04/2007 - 02/11/2007
02/11/2007 - 02/18/2007
02/18/2007 - 02/25/2007
02/25/2007 - 03/04/2007
03/04/2007 - 03/11/2007
03/11/2007 - 03/18/2007
03/18/2007 - 03/25/2007
03/25/2007 - 04/01/2007
04/01/2007 - 04/08/2007
04/08/2007 - 04/15/2007
04/15/2007 - 04/22/2007
04/22/2007 - 04/29/2007
04/29/2007 - 05/06/2007
05/13/2007 - 05/20/2007
05/20/2007 - 05/27/2007
05/27/2007 - 06/03/2007
06/03/2007 - 06/10/2007
06/10/2007 - 06/17/2007
06/17/2007 - 06/24/2007
06/24/2007 - 07/01/2007
07/01/2007 - 07/08/2007
07/08/2007 - 07/15/2007
07/29/2007 - 08/05/2007
08/05/2007 - 08/12/2007
08/12/2007 - 08/19/2007
08/19/2007 - 08/26/2007
08/26/2007 - 09/02/2007
09/02/2007 - 09/09/2007
09/09/2007 - 09/16/2007
09/16/2007 - 09/23/2007
09/23/2007 - 09/30/2007
09/30/2007 - 10/07/2007
10/07/2007 - 10/14/2007
10/14/2007 - 10/21/2007
10/21/2007 - 10/28/2007
10/28/2007 - 11/04/2007
11/04/2007 - 11/11/2007
11/11/2007 - 11/18/2007
11/18/2007 - 11/25/2007
11/25/2007 - 12/02/2007
12/02/2007 - 12/09/2007
12/09/2007 - 12/16/2007
12/16/2007 - 12/23/2007
12/23/2007 - 12/30/2007
12/30/2007 - 01/06/2008
01/06/2008 - 01/13/2008
01/13/2008 - 01/20/2008
01/20/2008 - 01/27/2008
01/27/2008 - 02/03/2008
02/03/2008 - 02/10/2008
02/10/2008 - 02/17/2008
02/17/2008 - 02/24/2008
02/24/2008 - 03/02/2008
03/09/2008 - 03/16/2008
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.

Entertaining, interesting, intelligent, informed and informative comments will always be welcome, even when I disagree with them.

I am the sole judge of which of these qualities pertains.

All e-mail received is subject to being published on unfutz without identifying names or addresses.

I correct typos and other simple errors of grammar, syntax, style and presentation in my posts after the fact without necessarily posting notification of the change.

Substantive textual changes, especially reversals or major corrections, will be noted in an "Update" or a footnote.

Also, illustrations may be added to entries after their initial publication.
the story so far
unfutz: toiling in almost complete obscurity for almost 1500 days
2005 koufax awards


Carpetbagger Report
*Crooks and Liars*
Progressive Blog Digest


Daou Report
Media Matters
Political Animal
*Talking Points Memo*
Think Progress
James Wolcott

2004 koufax winners
2003 koufax award
"best blog" nominees
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.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Buzzflash Bushisms Democratic Underground Impeach Bush Coalition