How bad is this? Pretty bad.
Bush administration lawyers argued in three closely contested states last week that only the Justice Department, and not voters themselves, may sue to enforce the voting rights set out in the Help America Vote Act, which was passed in the aftermath of the disputed 2000 election.
Because, yeah, I really trust John Ashcroft to protect my voting rights. I'm trying to decide what else to quote, but really, it's all appalling.
A Bush-supporting Florida teenager threatened to stab his girlfriend -- well, she was breaking up with him, actually -- because she was planning on voting for Kerry. No word on whether her voicing of support for Kerry was sincere or was meant to be a "spite vote".
My officemates and I just discovered that Merriam-Webster and Random House disagree with us (and everyone who has ever read or watched any science fiction) about the meaning of "teleport". Here's the definition of "teleportation" from MW's 11th Collegiate: "The act or process of moving an object or person by psychokinesis". Psychokinesis is defined as "movement of physical objects by the mind without use of physical means". Which is, basically, telekinesis. But as every geek knows, teleportation is when you're transported from one place to another instantaneously, without physically passing through the intervening space. So...what up, my lexicographer homies? Why are you not down with what I'm pretty sure is currently the most common usage of the word "teleport"?
Mysterious. And the Random House Second Unabridged has the same problem. Does anyone have a dictionary that does include the sci-fi definition?
Get Your War On takes on the looted explosives in Iraq.
(Via Incoming Signals.)
I can feel the obsession coming on. The constant looking in on Slate to see if any new polls have come in, the incessant need to revisit Talking Points Memo -- please, please, please let there be a massive voter turnout leading to a surprise Kerry blowout, so I don't have to stay this way for another month following the post-election lawsuits.
One thing that gives me hope is the fact that I keep seeing a steady flow of former Bush supporters coming out in favor of Kerry. For instance, Kerry has gotten more editorial endorsements from newspapers than Bush has. The GOP is trying to spin this as, oh, you know, the liberal media, blah blah blah, but in fact, newspaper endorsements tend to skew Republican.
Since 1940 when the industry trade magazine Editor & Publisher began tracking newspapers during presidential elections, only two Democratic candidates -- Lyndon Johnson in 1964 and Bill Clinton in 1992 -- have ever won more endorsements than their Republican opponent. That's because newspaper publishers, who usually sign off on endorsements, tend to vote Republican (like lots of senior, corporate executives), which means GOP candidates pick up more endorsements. A lot more. In 1984, president Ronald Reagan landed roughly twice as many endorsements as Democrat Walter Mondale in the president's easy re-election win. And in 1996, despite his weak showing at the polls, 179 daily newspapers endorsed Republican Bob Dole, which easily outpaced the Democrats' tally by nearly a 2-to-1 margin.
In 2000, the overwhelming trend towards Republicans continued. According to estimates, candidate Bush enjoyed a huge newspaper advantage, picking up nearly 100 more daily endorsements than Gore.
So, you know, that might not mean Kerry's a lock, but it's probably a better indicator than chicken entrails, although you do still need to wash your hands after handling a newspaper.
Reuters reports that a bunch of explosives have gone missing from a former atomic site in Iraq. We knew they were there -- the article points out that "Iraq was permitted to keep some of its explosives for mining purposes after the IAEA completed its dismantling of Saddam's covert nuclear weapons program after the 1991 Gulf war." So if we knew they were there, why weren't we guarding them?
The New York Times report cited White House and Pentagon officials - as well as at least one Iraqi minister - as acknowledging that the explosives vanished from the site shortly after the U.S.-led invasion amid widespread looting.
The minister of science and technology, Rashad M. Omar, confirmed the explosives were missing in an interview with The Times and CBS Television in Baghdad.
A Western diplomat close to the IAEA, who declined to be named, said it was difficult to understand why the U.S. military had failed to secure the facility despite knowing how sensitive the site was.
"This was a very well known site. If you could have picked a few sites that you would have to secure then ... Al Qaqaa would certainly be one of the main ones," the diplomat said
George W. Bush did not then call a press conference to say, "We now know the Iraqis are in possession of 380 tons of explosives. We do not know where those weapons of mass destruction are, but we will find them. I hope this silences all the critics who have said our rationale for invading Iraq was trumped-up. Thank you."
(Update: The same story in cartoon form.)
Last week we had real Jack Chick comics, so I guess it's time for some remixed Jack Chick comics. There are tons of them out there, but these are the two that actually made me laugh:
Update: Moblog crashed! Aaaarrrrgh. But we still have the skulls. We will re-document them at some point.
Rose and I went to see "People Are Wrong", a peripherally They Might Be Giants-related rock musical, at the Vineyard Theatre this evening. The show is cowritten by Robin Goldwasser (John Flansburgh's wife and sometime Giant vocalist -- TMBG connection #1) and Julia Greenberg. Flansy also cowrote two of the songs in the show and, in the biggest tie-in, performs in the show. (For the final TMBG link, Giant lead guitarist Dan Miller plays in the onstage band.)
I had seen the show before in a concert performance at Joe's Pub and been a bit underwhelmed...but I was willing to give it another shot, especially since we had gotten discount tickets through a TMBG promotion ($20 instead of $55). Turned out to be totally worth it -- the show was much improved. A few new, catchy songs had been added; the numbers I remembered particularly liking were still highlights; the story was presented more clearly; and the staging added a lot, turning songs that had made no impression on me at the concert into memorable moments.
But there were a couple odd weaknesses. Like, the ending still has a weird pacing. There are two songs that sound like finales (the title song and "Everlasting Vibe") -- rousing, fist-in-the-air numbers that will earworm you for days -- and neither of them is actually the finale. The actual final number doesn't do a great job of wrapping things up or leaving you humming. Kind of a problem.
Even weirder, John Flansburgh seemed...I don't know, kind of timid. He played a city guy moving to the country with his fiancee, and when the two of them sang together, you could barely hear him. I just kept thinking, "Dude, you're a rock star! Hold your mike a little closer or something, already!" His voice was fine when singing solo, but he seemed a bit uncomfortable the rest of the time. My best theory is that, you know, a rock singer's voice is very different from a musical theatre singer's voice, and performing duets with someone who has a musical theatre singer's voice threw him off. Or it could be that being in a play is just more different than performing a concert than he expected.
I am, of course, blowing the negative aspects of the show a bit out of proportion, because it's always more interesting to complain about things. The show is certainly worth seeing -- especially for $20. You can still get the discount on performances through November 3 if you go to Theatermania and type the word "giants" in the special code section at the bottom of the page.
Scientists have created an entity that believes the world consists of the inside of a computer-generated cockpit. Whether or not it contemplates the meaning of life is an open question.
A University of Florida scientist has grown a living “brain” that can fly a simulated plane, giving scientists a novel way to observe how brain cells function as a network.
The “brain” -- a collection of 25,000 living neurons, or nerve cells, taken from a rat’s brain and cultured inside a glass dish -- gives scientists a unique real-time window into the brain at the cellular level.
“Initially when we hook up this brain to a flight simulator, it doesn’t know how to control the aircraft,” DeMarse said. “So you hook it up and the aircraft simply drifts randomly. And as the data comes in, it slowly modifies the (neural) network so over time, the network gradually learns to fly the aircraft.”
My question is, how does the artificial rat brain have any sense of what the concept "flying a plane" even means? That is to say, how is it aware of when it is successful at flight simulation and when it is not?
(Via Boing Boing.)
Today Emily and I have been having a heated discussion about what part of speech the word "snicker-snack" is in the line "The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!" (from "Jabberwocky", of course). She says it's an adverb modifying "went". I say it's the direct object of "went", and hence is a noun.
I argued that "snicker-snack" can't very well be an adverb, because there aren't any other verbs that it could modify. (Or other sense of "go" even -- "I went to the store snicker-snack"?) However, it is possible to sidestep this, because among the evidence for adverbialness, the OED includes this as part of their definition of "go": "10. In senses 8 and 9, with imitative interjections or verb-stems used adverbially, e.g. to go bang, clatter, cluck, crack, crash, patter, smash, snap, tang, whirr, etc." All props to the OED, but I find this pretty dissatisfying. These words can be adverbs, but only with the verb "go"? Why do we have to create a special rule just for this situation?
I much prefer Merriam-Webster's stance. They offer this definition as one of the transitive senses of "go": "to cause (a characteristic sound) to occur", and then gives the phrase "the gun went bang" as an example. If the verb is transitive, "bang" is a direct object, and a direct object is a noun (in this case, a noun meaning "the sound a gun makes -- you know, the one that sounds like 'bang' "). Easy. The gun went bang, the vorpal blade went snicker-snack. Noun.
And yet I cannot convince Emily of my position. What do you think, dear readers? Noun, adverb, or what?
I get spam all the time offering to make my genitalia larger. But not often do I receive spam that features a brand-new colloquialism for the male sex organ. Which would be why I needed to actually open the e-mail to figure out just what was meant by the subject line "Have a better life dowel". Porn writers, I pass this on to you. "Life dowel". Use it in good health.
I often see kids playing cricket at the playground that lies between my apartment and the F train. And although I have largely assimilated the rules of cricket (from reading Douglas Adams, mostly), it's nice to have someone put those rules in terms that anyone can understand, assuming they like pie.
The future is now, again! Here's a game in which you attempt to roll a ball across your opponent's goal line -- using only your mind. It works via a device that measures your brainwaves, which in turn controls a magnet underneath the table. Here is the cruel part: To win, you must relax your mind more than your opponent. Finally, a competitive game for the noncompetitive! I look forward to the day when there are televised tournaments, if only so I can hear sportscasters saying things like, "He really came out here to win...or not. It just doesn't matter to him all that much."
(Via Boing Boing.)
Yes. Yes, I did. I still do, as it happens -- it's just been delayed by a few weeks. My editor just received a proof from the printer (and the typo I noticed about a month ago when I was giving a performance of several of the poems has, happily, now been fixed), and he tells me that once the printer gets the proof back, tangible copies of the book should be in existence in about two weeks. Then there's shipping time, and then review copies get sent out, and then, if I understand the whole process correctly, people can buy the darn thing.
For people who are hearing about all this for the first time, you can get a preview of what'll be in the book here.
I don't have much to say about this except that it's a pedestrian bridge that rolls into a ball! (Well, more of an octagon.) Very cool.
William "I coined 'nattering nabobs', did you know?" Safire does his part to make sure the manufactured controversy about John Kerry mentioning that Cheney's daughter is a lesbian stays in the news.
Until [Edwards mentioned Cheney's gay daughter], only political junkies knew that a member of the Cheney family serving on the campaign staff was homosexual. The vice president, to show it was no secret or anything his family was ashamed of, had referred to it briefly twice this year, but the press -- respecting family privacy -- had properly not made it a big deal.
Uh...hang on a second. Cheney announced to the press (emphasis obvious) that his daughter was a lesbian, and we are to think his family privacy needs to be protected? Basically, Safire is saying it's okay for Cheney to mention his gay daughter so he can look like a compassionate guy, but it's not okay for anyone else to mention it by way of showing what big-ass hypocrites Bush and Cheney are.
And, I mean, god forbid that voters are more concerned with whether Kerry said the word "lesbian" than with the freaking Supreme Court.
(Update: If you enjoyed the above post, but would like to read a longer, better-written version, here you go.)
Halloween is coming up, and you know what that means -- it's time for Jack Chick to freak the fuck out.
Rose is heading to Rhinebeck for the Sheep and Wool Festival tomorrow, and I'll be manning the counter at Yarnivore in her absence, so if you'd like to come by between noon and 6:00 PM to buy some yarn, or just engage me in a discussion about loofahs vs. falafel while I listen to the soundtrack to "The Long Goodbye", then come on down. (Relevant information about Yarnivore summarized: 325 Gold Street in Brooklyn; close to the intersection of Flatbush and Myrtle; near Jay Street/Boro Hall A/C/F stop, Lawrence Street M/R stop, and Hoyt Street 2/3 stop. See Mapquest for more help than that.)
A couple sites have pointed to this page about Bill O'Reilly's supposed falafel fetish. The idea of O'Reilly being aroused by falafel is silly, of course, since a close reading of the transcript shows that what Bill really has a problem with is pronouncing the word "loofah".
"I would take that little loofah thing and kinda soap up your back...it's one of those mitts, those loofah mitts, you know, so I got my hands in it..."
[many other details of what Bill O'Reilly would like to do ensue]
"...and then I would take the other hand with the falafel thing and put it on your pussy..."
Clearly "falafel thing" refers back to the aforementioned "loofah thing"; one can only presume Mr. O'Reilly's excitement caused him to lose a certain amount of control over his powers of enunciation.
(Here's the full harassment complaint.)
Went to see a screening of "Team America: World Police" last night, which I'm pretty sure was being shown in its NC-17 version, because that was some pret-ty extreme puppet sex going on there. If that was the R-rated cut, I really wonder what the more explicit version was like.
Anyway, the movie was a hoot, either despite or because of its absolutely ham-handed approach to satire. Speaking as a liberal, it's hard to feel seriously criticized by the implication that liberal actors think they can fix the world by killing people who are trying to attack Kim Jong Il -- especially since it ain't us liberals who are ignoring North Korea. (If I wanted to be generous, I might theorize that the depiction of Hollywood liberals is meant to satirize the right wing's characterization of dissent as something that aids terrorists...but I just don't get the impression that the thought process behind the film was that nuanced.) So what I'm trying to say is, if you're expecting insightful political commentary, oh my lord are you at the wrong movie. This is really just a send-up of action movies, and one that takes the current world situation as one big opportunity for offending as many people as possible. With songs. Definitely worth seeing if you like that whole South Park aesthetic.
(Incidentally, there is a little Easter egg at the end of the credits for people who are not impatient. It's worth sticking around for.)
The Lone Star Iconoclast, local paper of Bush's Texas home town, Crawford -- which endorsed him in 2000, and editorialized in favor of invading Iraq -- has officially endorsed Kerry.
Educating kids about sex is hard enough for people who don't believe that non-procreative sex is sinful, so you can imagine how awkward the whole thing is for fundamentalist Christians. Actually, you don't have to imagine it -- you can just read about it.
If you're interested in seeing a post from Daniel about a Ken Jennings micro-controversy turning into a long disquisition on my part about homonyms, homophones, and homographs, then you should probably join the National Puzzlers' League, if you're not already a member. Anyway, you can read it here.
This photo essay has a simple message for the world: Always bring your camera when shopping at a strange supermarket. (A lesson I wish I had learned before going to Brooklyn's Chinatown. Well, I'll go back soon enough.)
So you've got the new recording of Brian Wilson's "Smile" album, right? (You don't? Criminy. Well, go buy it already.)
Anyway, now you're probably interested in hearing what the original recordings sounded like, if you haven't heard them already. As it happens, there are a hell of a lot of them available for downloading here, so you can compile away, and decide if you like your own version of "Smile" better than Brian's. I know some people feel the album isn't complete if they can't hear Mike Love gritting his teeth over the lyrics at the end of "Cabinessence".
This is pretty evil: A private voter registration company largely funded by the Republican National Committee has been registering voters in Nevada and throwing away forms submitted by Democrats.
Two former workers say they personally witnessed company supervisors rip up and trash registration forms signed by Democrats.
"We caught her taking Democrats out of my pile, handed them to her assistant and he ripped them up right in front of us. I grabbed some of them out of the garbage and she tells her assistant to get those from me," said Eric Russell, former Voters Outreach employee.
Eric Russell managed to retrieve a pile of shredded paperwork including signed voter registration forms, all from Democrats. We took them to the Clark County Election Department and confirmed that they had not, in fact, been filed with the county as required by law.
The company has skipped town and moved to Oregon. I tell you, I try and try to keep my inner conspiracy theorist in check, and then things like this keep happening.
Did you know that it's John Kerry's fault that the Vietnam War didn't end sooner? No? Well, that's because you're underpropagandized. Fortunately, the Sinclair Broadcast Group has a plan to fix that.
The conservative-leaning Sinclair Broadcast Group, whose television outlets reach nearly a quarter of the nation's homes with TV, is ordering its stations to preempt regular programming just days before the Nov. 2 election to air a film that attacks Sen. John F. Kerry's activism against the Vietnam War, network and station executives familiar with the plan said Friday.
"Stolen Honor" was made by Carlton Sherwood, a Vietnam veteran and former reporter for the conservative Washington Times who is also the author of a book about the Rev. Sun Myung Moon. On the website for the film, he tells viewers, "Intended or not, Lt. Kerry painted a depraved portrait of Vietnam veterans, literally creating the images of those who served in combat as deranged drug-addicted psychopaths, baby killers" that endured for 30 years in the popular culture.
Wait -- this means that John Kerry is also responsible for Oliver Stone!
Just everybody keep your hands off Krispy Kreme already, okay world??? I mean, first the Atkins diet, now the SEC? If this screws up my ability to inhale sweet pillows of starchy nectar when the craving strikes, I shall be most vexed.
A deliveryman from Fresh Direct was recently busted for making obscene, threatening phone calls to customers.
A Fresh Direct grocery truck driver confessed to making filthy phone calls to female customers -- including a pregnant woman he threatened to rape, authorities said yesterday.
"I was just doing it for fun," ex-con Erik Reynolds, 33, allegedly told cops after he was busted. "When I make deliveries to women, I like to flirt and then I call them to play around."
Perhaps "flirting" needs to be covered a bit more extensively in sex ed classes.
(Via The Morning News.)
Here is more than you ever, ever wanted to know about the making, remaking, restoration, and god-knows-what-all-else of the Rankin/Bass Christmas special "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer". And yet, somehow, the question of what made the misfit girl doll a misfit gets short shrift. If only she had come along , when doll culture became more welcoming.
Rose's and my first wedding anniversary was last week, and so, naturally, I bought her a pair of bongos. (Not merely because the first anniversary is the bongo anniversary, but also because she'd been wanting a pair for ages.) And now it turns out that, once again, I am barely one week ahead of the zeitgeist.
Achewood sums up the vice-presidential debate.
Web Crow works in two phases. In the first, it analyses the crossword clue and turns it into a simple query. Then it plugs the query into the internet search engine Google and uses a certainty score to rank the possible solutions in a candidate list. "One time in ten, the correct word is at the top of the candidate list," says Gori.
In the second phase, the program uses an algorithm to figure out which candidate words provide the best fit for the grid as a whole.
So that's all fine, but it seems like a somewhat pointless thing for a computer program to do. I guess it's an exercise in artificial intelligence, but not one that has wide applications beyond solving crosswords. It's not like the program is learning how to parse English grammar or anything. Here's the best part of the article, though.
[Gori] adds, "the idea is not to spoil the enjoyment of players."
Well, that's a relief. I was worried that computers were going to break into my house and start solving my crosswords.
So you've all probably heard about the thing where Fox News posted an article in which they claimed John Kerry, while discussing the presidential debate in which we beat that burger-eating sea monkey George W. Bush's sorry ass, bragged about his love of manicures. I thought that might be a hoax, but no, apparently they really did that. (For loads more commentary on the Kerry story, visit Talking Points Memo.)
Anyway, so, yes, there was that. Now it turns out that Arizona's local Fox News affiliate also went overboard with its idiosyncratic interpretation of the phrase "fair and balanced", attempting to keep Arizona college students from registering to vote. Of course, Arizona may not need the college kids' help to go from red to blue (requires sitting through an ad to read, or go here for an ad-free version).
(Partly via Incoming Signals.)
Hey there. So as you may have noticed, the blog exists again, although there are still some glitches. While the archives are accessible, the address of each archive page is not the same as it used to be, so old links to those pages don't work. This will be corrected Real Soon Now (if it is at all possible to do, which is unclear). And images still aren't working. But we at Heaneyland are working day and night -- not constantly, but we have worked both during the day and during the night -- to make things better. Thank you for your support during this trying time.
Yesterday at Cargo, we had occasion to discuss a fellow known as "Mordechai the Jeweler". The question was: Should that J really be capitalized? I had previously asked the article's editor, "So...is 'jeweler' just a description of what he does for a living, or is 'Mordechai the Jeweler' his actual preferred cognomen?" I was assured that the latter was the case. But someone else asked the same question, so it seemed prudent to ask Research if they had checked on it.
A Lexis/Nexis search turned up inconclusive results, so Research called Mordechai directly, learning that not only did he capitalize the J, but he also capitalized the T, H, and E in "the". That's right, Mordechai THE Jeweler.
So we capped the J. But we left "the" in lowercase. We have limits, after all.
Oh, we've all heard about predicting the outcome of the election by sales of Halloween masks (aka costumancy). But what about belligeroprimatomonophagomancy (predicting the outcome of the election by observing the behavior of fighting monkeys who only like to eat one thing)? That is also covered.
(Web toy found via Little Fluffy.)