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January 31, 2008
Top Al Qaeda Leader Killed (again)
Posted by Teresa at 09:05 PM * 286 comments

Top Al Qaeda Leader Killed, Feb 2002
Top Al Qaeda Leader Killed, Nov 2002
Top Al Qaeda Leader Killed, Oct 2003
Top Al Qaeda Leader Killed, June 2004
Top Al Qaeda Leader Killed, Dec 2005
Top Al Qaeda Leader Killed, July 2005
Top Al Qaeda Leader Killed, Oct 2005
Top Al Qaeda Leader Killed, June 2006
Top Al Qaeda Leader Killed, Sept 2006
Top Al Qaeda Leader Killed, Nov 2006
Top Al Qaeda Leader Killed, Jan 2007
Top Al Qaeda Leader Killed, May 2007
Top Al Qaeda Leader Killed, May 2007
Top Al Qaeda Leader Killed, Sept 2007
Top Al Qaeda Leader Killed today, January 31, 2008.

It’s like being the drummer for Spinal Tap:

Jen Roth offers an explanation:

John: What, are they counting those for wins? Are they counting guys like Padilla? This is all very gooey, like how we’ve killed like, nine of Osama Bin Laden’s #3 guys.

Tyrone: Being #3 in Al-queda is like being a “creative vice president” at a Hollywood studio. There are dozens of them … and they are expendable.

Bilbo Begins
Posted by Avram Grumer at 08:21 PM * 160 comments

I see here that Guillermo del Toro has been signed up to direct the two upcoming prequels to Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films.

It’s obvious what the first will be, but the second, not so much. It’s probably still in the kicking-around-ideas stage. To help matters along, I’m proposing some possible titles:

  • The Hobbit 2: Electric Bilboloo
  • Battle for the Planet of the Elves
  • Gandalf’s Fifteen
  • Toes: The Revenge
  • Staying Invisible
  • From Gondor With Love
  • The Road Warrior Goes Ever On

Update: Lots more in comments. I’m particularly fond of Joel Polowin’s Rocky Bilboa, Bill Higgins’s The Hobfather, and Paul Duncanson’s The Orthanc Redemption and Jonathan Livingston Nazgûl. If some fanfic author hasn’t written up a few pages of that last one before the weekend’s out, I’ll be surprised.

Your Ideas, Shamelessly Solicited
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 04:48 PM * 79 comments

Ursula Le Guin once wrote: When action grows unprofitable, gather information. When information grows unprofitable, sleep.* I am not yet sleepy, but action on one matter has grown unprofitable.

I’m currently designing the covers for my personal set of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. The Hobbit is the same Harper Collins edition I rebound for the Worldcon art show in 2005. LOTR is the one-volume set that Houghton Mifflin put out in 1991 (It’s needed a rebind since about 1992 - the weight of the book block tore it out of its own covers within one reading).

The intention is to do simple bindings, ones that will last for a long time unboxed on my shelves. The leather will be red, of course, with a single onlay for each book. The onlaid designs will be simple variations on a ring shape, with no interior detail. They will be 3 - 5 cm in diameter on the front cover, and may be repeated in smaller form on the spines.

For The Hobbit, I’ve sketched out a design I’m relatively happy with. I was thinking of doing it in chicken foot leather, which has small scales, like miniature dragon skin.

LOTR is more of a problem. I’ve tried a number of motifs for it, but none of them work for me. I can’t think of a single overriding image from the book, apart from the Ring itself. The paired images I can come up with — the Eye and the Hand; the Two Towers — don’t go very well into ring shapes. I tried a couple of three-element designs — leaf, horse and mountain; bow, axe and sword — but they require too much distortion as well.

So tell me, O Ye Well-Read Folk, what symbols would you put on the cover of The Lord of the Rings? What could be distorted into a ring shape and onlaid in leather? What are the most important, or the most interesting, or the most easily drawn elements of the story?

(If the conversation then wanders into cover designs for other bindings, well, that’s fine with me. I am always interested in what other people see in books.)

* Yes, of course you can have it in Latin. Cum actio sterilifit, indicia collige. Cum indicia sterelifiunt, dormi.

January 30, 2008
Republicans In Trouble
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 03:46 PM * 457 comments

How much trouble are they in?

They’re thinking of running Ralph Nader again.

Ralph Nader Flirts with Presidential Bid
With Harsh Words for Current Field, Nader Says Candidacy as Urgent as Ever
Ralph Nader has formed a presidential exploratory committee, and said in an interview Wednesday that he will launch another presidential bid if he’s convinced he can raise enough money to appear on the vast majority of state ballots this fall.

Nader, who ran as an independent candidate in each of the past three presidential elections, told that he will run in 2008 if he is convinced over the next month that he would be able to raise $10 million over the course of the campaign — and attract enough lawyers willing to work free of charge to get his name on state ballots.

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Just Testing
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 07:52 AM * 19 comments

If things work as advertised, this is supposed to show our Technorati authority.

View blog authority

This may not be a good idea.

Previous appearances of Technorati at ML include:

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Making your own fun
Posted by Avram Grumer at 12:32 AM * 62 comments

I saw Cory Doctorow’s post today yesterday about Looney Labs’s polymorphous card game Fluxx (kicked off by Greg Costikyan’s review).

I’m quite familiar with Fluxx — Kevin Maroney got a copy just after (or maybe even before) it was first released; I remember the cards being entirely black-and-white, without even the colored stripes down the sides. It’s a perennial favorite at Columbia University Games Club, where we go in for both the quick and light stuff like Fluxx and the deeper, more strategic stuff like Puerto Rico.

One thing that neither Greg nor Cory mentioned is that Looney Labs encourages you to customize your Fluxx deck. They sell Fluxx Blanxx, blank-faced Fluxx cards you can finish with your own card ideas.

One of Andrew Looney’s earlier games was Icehouse, a more complicated game played with plastic pyramids. (Or wood, or paper, but they were using solid plastic pieces when I first saw the game being played at a Baitcon around 1990.) It took a while for Looney to come up with the commercially-viable hollow plastic pieces he now sells, but once the pieces could be had for a reasonable price, it turned out that there was a lot you could do with them. A small community of boardgame hobbyists grew around Icehouse, coming up with new games, some using just the pyramids, others adding in checkerboards or tarot decks or other Looney games.

This kind of thing—where you invite your customers in on the fun, and they take on some of the qualities of co-authors—seems especially well-suited to the Internet age. (In fact, looking at this page of photos from Arisia 2003 reminded me that I was working on a Carcassonne-like game involving Icehouse pyramids and Aquarius cards. Since then, Carcassonne: The Discovery has come out, which has given me the idea I needed to finish my design.)

Other examples:

Vincent Baker’s Mechaton, a giant robot miniatures wargame where you build your warbot out of Lego.

The Piecepack, a set of public-domain boardgame pieces designed to be useful for a variety of boardgames, the same way standard playing cards lend themselves to a variety of card games., a platform for playing games online, open for developers to design their own games. It’s still in development, but you can already play more than a dozen games on it, including Fluxx and a few other Looney Labs games.

January 29, 2008
Note to self:
Posted by Patrick at 09:19 PM * 19 comments

Never, ever annoy James Wolcott.

[…] Doris Kearns Goodwin, who has become a major irritant with her girlish enthusiasm and goody bag of presidential anecdotes that she dispenses to humanize everybody on the same glorious continuum, as if the crimes and calamities of Vietnam and Iraq were crucibles of character-building for our chief executives, the crowded backdrops to personal tragedy and greatness. (So many faraway nobodies have to die so that History can come alive.)

Florida elections: still a clown show
Posted by Patrick at 04:51 PM * 117 comments

From the Orlando Sentinel:

Sheneka McDonald spent 10 minutes trying to convince poll workers at the same precinct that she should have a Democratic ballot. She questioned poll workers when she was handed a Republican ballot but was told, “this is the only ballot we have.”

“I said, ‘How can this be the only ballot,’” McDonald recalled. “That’s when the guy chimed in from the back and said the Democratic primary was in March.”

The poll captain eventually apologized to McDonald and told her they had forgotten to unpack all the ballots. “It was a little unnerving this morning,” she said. “I don’t see how you forget to unpack ballots. This is what gives Florida its reputation.”

Sharon McDonald said she was given an independent ballot at the Astatula Community Center in Lake County, even though she told the poll workers she was a registered Democrat.

She said she was told that the Democratic primary votes didn’t count, so she did not question the ballot. “Shame on me,” said McDonald, a homemaker.

A call to the Lake County supervisor of elections office was not immediately returned.

Good to know standards are being upheld.

January 28, 2008
Cloverfield (with Spoilers)
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 02:49 PM *

This is an emergency-preparedness post, though in disguise.

The teaching moment here is the movie Cloverfield. This is a movie about six young New Yorkers who have not read Making Light.

Muchos spoilers below the cut.

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January 24, 2008
Open thread C
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 06:10 PM *

Quod omnia vetera nova sunt.

Aliqui illustres loci communes:

  1. Timendum non est me mihi‡. Timor mentem caedet. Timor mortulus qui totam lituram ferat. Obviam timore meo ibo. Me transire et perire sinam. Et cum transiverit oculo interiore viam suam perspiciam. Ubi timor iit, nil erit. Ego solus manebo.

  2. Lux laeva obscuritatis
    et obscuritas dextra lucis.
    Duo unus sunt, vita morsque, iacens
    una quasi amatores kemmerentes
    quasi manus conjuncti
    quasi finis viaque.

  3. Inane…ultimus limes. Hi cursi navis stellis Inceptis Incepti‡. Eius quinquennialum munus: insolitos novos mundos explorare, vitam novam civitatesque novas quaerere, ubi nemo ante ivit intrepide ire.*

  4. Reginula aurea volavit
    Ad marem mare‡ sibulans
    Ut sinas obsteterit
    Et ova servaverit
    Fortiter audivit ea.

  5. Numen Iedaio vim suum dat. Ager vigoris est qui omnia viva creat. Nos circumfundit penetratque. Omnes res conligat.

  6. Via semper usque it
    Unde coepit ianuae.
    Nunc longe Via praeivit,
    Et persequi, si possum,
    Avidis debeo pedibus,
    Dum maioram iungietur
    In munerum coetu.
    Et quoquo tunc? Nescio.

  7. Semper ius fas‡ puerum puerorum† stultorumque est imperatorem sine veste monstrare. Sed stultus manet stulto stultus‡ imperatorque imperatore imperator‡.

  8. Filia sum regis
    Et si curare curem
    Luna indominata
    In crinem coruscet.
    Nemo amare audet
    Quod avere opto
    Numquam egevi
    Et non tenui.

    Filia sum regis
    Et veteresco intra
    Carcerem corporis
    Compedesque cutis.
    Et ego fugam
    Ad ianuasque mendicem
    Ut umbram tuam videam
    Semel nec iterum.

  9. Portus Porta† hostium deorsum.

  10. Amor. Si omnes numeres ‘Versi sciens inamandum navem in aerem fers, ea certe ut mundi convertunt te decutet. Amor eam in aeram cadendam tenet doloremque ante vagens dicit. Domus facit.

Agnoscite, reddite, addite, gaudete. Lex Calvinballis pertinet. Omnias coniecturas ROT-13ite.

* Serge, hic tuo

** Gratias ago tibi, David

† Gratias ago vobis, Nancy et Chris

Subicit Patricius:

  1. Ne Noli‡ armato merdam iace iacere‡.
  2. Ne Noli‡ iuxta armato merdam iacendem sta stare‡.

‡ Gratias ago tibi, dido.

What’s wrong with Digg, in a screenshot
Posted by Patrick at 08:12 AM *

“Warning: The Content in this Article May be Inaccurate.” Gee, an Onion article? Really? You think?

Coming soon: Digg readers report that What’s Opera, Doc may not be an entirely faithful performance of Der Ring des Nibelungen.

January 22, 2008
Clear your clutter
Posted by Teresa at 11:46 AM *

My officemate Bill Brazell swears that the audiotape version of Karen Kingston’s Clear Your Clutter With Feng Shui (read by the author) is both compassionate to clutterers, and miraculously efficacious: clutter gets cleared. “You find yourself getting rid of stuff that’s been sitting there for years,” he says, “and you feel good about getting rid of it.”

If someone here gets to it before I do, let me know how it works.

(Amazon reviews for the book version, #stars/#reviews: 5/141; 4/31; 3/12; 2/10; 1/9. I was amused by the polarized opinions in the one-star reviews, which either said “This book is full of woo-woo Feng Shui nonsense,” or “This book doesn’t say nearly enough about Feng Shui.”)

Previously on this and related topics at Making Light: Collecting Bug, Jan. 2003; Decluttering, Dec. 2003; and Squalor and Hope, Nov. 2002. See elsewhere that classic of the genre, My Mother Is Insane.

January 20, 2008
Why, this is the whale, nor are we out of it
Posted by Patrick at 09:59 AM * 202 comments

There’s plenty of reason to doubt the idea that globalized capitalism will deliver us into a wonderland of infinite diversity in infinite combinations. For Moloch whose mind is pure machinery we’re not an end but a means to an end; “borrowed masks, and lenses for a peering Eye.” The optimates who imagine they’re quick on the uptake are actually out of their depth; if there’s an invisible hand, it’s not to human scale. Usura doesn’t actually care if the line is thick or thin, or whether or not we like our work.

And yet, the knowledge that YouTube contains not just one but two TV commercials featuring Koreans breakdancing to Pachelbel’s Canon in D—performed on traditional Korean instruments, beatboxes, and turntables—fills me with joy.

January 19, 2008
Explaining great music
Posted by Patrick at 11:01 AM *

A Tiny Revolution co-blogger Bernard Chazelle on the proposition that “the Allegretto from Beethoven’s 7th is the greatest piece of music in the Western canon.” Complete with lively YouTube video of the Berliner Philharmoniker playing it. Great breezy once-over of how and why it works, and of course there’s never a bad time to listen to the Allegretto from Beethoven’s 7th.

January 18, 2008
In bed with a living God or a dead Constitution
Posted by Avram Grumer at 11:16 PM * 545 comments

I see here that Huckabee wants to change the Constitution:

But I believe it’s a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living god. And that’s what we need to do — to amend the Constitution so it’s in God’s standards rather than try to change God’s standards so it lines up with some contemporary view.

Wait, “the living god”? Wouldn’t that be some kinda wishy-washy progressive modernist God? I figured Huck for a strict constructionist God, an eye-for-an-eye guy who meant every word of Leviticus when he spake it. “Living God” implies some kind of dynamic, changing God, probably soft on crime, the kind of warm, fuzzy God from whom Words emanate with penumbrae.

And as Constitutions go, does Huck favor a sola scriptura approach, or is he more a sola verbum patrum advocate?

January 16, 2008
Hard Gay: cooking with children
Posted by Teresa at 02:52 PM *

Hard Gay is the wildly energetic emcee, or star, or something, of a Japanese cooking show for children. He gets them to eat food they previously thought was yucky. The kids are fine with this. Beyond that, words sort of fail me.

Sean (nee Bosker) Sakamoto, who sent it to us, has the same problem. He lives in Japan and is a fairly unflappable guy, and yet:

I can’t describe this to you in a way that will get past the spam filter. All I can say is that it’s the Best/Worst thing I’ve ever seen. It is totally safe for work. It’s a cooking show from Japan with children, and yet, entirely inappropriate.

I need a new word for culture shock.


January 14, 2008
Michigan Democrats for Romney
Posted by Patrick at 11:25 AM * 105 comments

Best of all, he’s rich, desperate, and lashing out like a drunken fratboy.” Time for America’s Mitten to take off the glove.

January 12, 2008
Well-seasoned perspective
Posted by Avram Grumer at 11:50 PM * 20 comments

Enrico Casarosa, founder of World Wide SketchCrawl, is a storyboard artist at Pixar. He worked up Ratatouille, and is working on Pixar’s planned 2009 release, Up. (I don’t know if he was involved with WALL•E, their release for this year.)

In an interview with Studio Ghibli fan site GhibliWorld, Casarosa talks about the differences between Japanese and American studios. In Japan, an animation director typically does all the storyboarding for a movie, which explains why Miyazaki’s movies have such a consistent visual feel to them, while Ratatouille and The Iron Giant (both directed by Brad Bird, but presumably storyboarded by different groups of artists) feel so different.

(And holy crap it’s been forever since I went on a SketchCrawl.)

Mitt Romney—Republican frontrunner
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 09:11 PM * 113 comments

Check out the delegate totals so far:


Iowa’s delegates won’t be decided until June 14th. (If they had been awarded proportionally on the night, Huckabee would have picked up another 14, Romney another 10, McCain and Thompson 5 each, Paul would have gotten 4, and Rudy with 1, (and one guy lost in the rounding errors to be assigned where you want) leaving Romney still ahead at 22-15.)

There’s a push on right now in certain circles to convince Democratic voters to pick up Republican ballots in the Michigan primary and vote for Romney. November could well see Clinton v. Romney (a Clinton victory by 6.3%) or Obama v. Romney (an Obama victory by 16%).

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Chris Matthews, head case
Posted by Patrick at 04:56 PM * 119 comments

If, like every sentient being who’s ever watched MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, you suspect the guy is the product of some bizarre neurological experiment gone haywire, you’ll probably enjoy this comprehensive takedown by Jamison Foser of Media Matters.

Seriously, the fact that a creepy, obsessional dingbat like Matthews has a national TV-news perch and the respect of his colleagues tells you everything you need to know about our national press corps. These are people you’d edge away from if you ran into them at a party.

UPDATE: Jim Henley compares and contrasts them with ACOAs.

Ars Technica on recounting New Hampshire
Posted by Patrick at 10:06 AM *

Ars Technica’s Jon Stokes on why it’s important to recount New Hampshire’s votes, even if you don’t think the Clinton or McCain campaigns finagled the results:

It is a huge mistake to assume (like this DKos poster) that the optical scan machines used in NH are somehow more secure than the much-maligned touchscreen machines, which didn’t seem to be that widely used in the primary. Optical scanners can actually be less secure than touchscreens, because they’re just as easy to tamper with (sometimes more so) as the touchscreens, but there’s typically only one per precinct—an attacker therefore has a single point of failure to manipulate. The fact that optical scanners leave a paper record is totally irrelevant if a random audit of the results is not mandatory by law after every election. And in New Hampshire, there are no mandatory audits. As I’ve said before, mandating a paper trail without also requiring post-election audits is like buying a security system for your house and then not turning it on.

Ron Paul and his supporters may be a bit loopy, but they are 100 percent correct in insisting on some type of audit of the NH results—not because Hillary hacked the vote (I currently think there are better explanations for the results than vote hacking), but because such audits should always occur as a matter of course. Again, when you use an electronic voting system, you must audit the results if you want to have confidence in them.

Second, I want to congratulate lefty blog stalwart Josh Marshall on his apparent clairvoyance. Clearly, he has access to information about the integrity of the NH elections that has been denied to the public. In a post entitled “Enough,” Marshall decried “the notion that public opinion surveys and even exit poll data is so reliable that any substantial discrepancy between those numbers and the official result is prima facie evidence of tampering. That is simply absurd.”

He went on insist that “the possibility or danger of tampering is not a license to assume it or imagine it—in the absence of any evidence—any time the vote doesn’t go how we’d like.”

I single Marshall out not just because I’m a daily reader of his blog, but because the attitude exemplified in this post is typical of well-intentioned journalists who don’t really grasp what’s at stake in the e-voting debate. So let me clarify, for the benefit of Marshall and the others:

In a truly democratic election, the burden of proof is on the state to provide evidence of the election’s integrity. This sentiment is behind the idea that ballots should be counted under the watchful eyes of the public’s representatives. So elections are held to a much different standard than criminal proceedings, where the burden of proof is on the one who brings a charge of wrongdoing.

Right now, in the absence of an audit of the New Hampshire results, the state has not met the requirement that it prove to the public that the election was fair. This is what the fuss is about. New Hampshire does not have the manual audit requirement that is necessary to prove that an election was fair, so that state’s ballots were effectively counted in secret by closed-source machine code. When ballots are counted in secret and it’s up to the voters to prove that the election was rigged when they’re surprised by the results, that’s not the kind of democracy that the Founders had in mind for us.

Stokes goes on to point out that, if anything, Clinton and her supporters ought to be getting out in front on these issues, since it’s entirely easy to imagine a situation where Clinton wins the Democratic nomination and then wins the general election by a hair. Under such circumstances, do you think the modern right wing is going to miss any opportunity whatsoever to call the election results in question? As Stokes says, we could wind up with a standoff that makes us look back with nostalgia on 2000.

“New Hampshire does not have the manual audit requirement that is necessary to prove that an election was fair, so that state’s ballots were effectively counted in secret by closed-source machine code.” Please, political bloggers, get this point straight. The central problem isn’t touchscreens or Diebold, and moreover it doesn’t matter if the machine-counts generate paper printouts if we don’t know what’s going on inside the machines when they “count”. The central problem is closed-source, secret, unaccountable code—machine procedures that can’t be audited by independent outsiders. Voting-machine merchants typically defend the closed-source code inside their devices on patent and competetive grounds. We shouldn’t give a dime for this argument. We need our elections to be fair and to be perceived as fair far more than we need a voting-machine industry.

January 11, 2008
Recounting New Hampshire
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 11:59 PM * 50 comments

What’s up with that?

The primary is over. Hillary won. So why is Dennis Kucinich demanding a recount? He polled less than two percent. Does he think that he’s going to find another 112,000 votes somewhere and be declared the winner?

Kucinich is many things, but delusional isn’t one of them.

Instead, hardly had the last balloon dropped in the Hillary headquarters when the usual wingnuts and Hillary-haters started saying that she must have cheated and stolen the election. The allegations against her range from using Diebold sleight-of-software to busing in fake voters from out of state.

Here’s a fairly typical example.

This all ignores that New Hampshire uses paper ballots, not touch screens. There’s a complete, verifiable, paper trail. The primary results matched the exit polls. But, since the pollsters didn’t take into account the fact that the turnout would be around 33% above the previous record turnout, their list of “likely voters” that the samples were based on didn’t match actual voters on the day.

Here’s what I think is happening: In order to prove that Hillary won fair and square, there has to be a full hand recount (totally possible since we do have the original pieces of paper). But how to get one? Hillary can hardly request a recount—she won. Neither Edwards nor Obama can ask for a recount without looking like sore losers, and perhaps hurting themselves in later primaries. This race isn’t over yet, and neither of them is willing to fall on his sword just yet.

So who is it who has the standing to request a recount, and who is it who has nothing to lose by doing so? Enter Kucinich.

The Ohio congressman cited “serious and credible reports, allegations and rumors” about the integrity of Tuesday results.

He can quash this right-wing talking point right now, before it gets started. He’s still got money in his campaign account, and he can use it for the good of the Democratic Party. Go, Dennis!

This is going to be the first state-wide recount since 1980.

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January 10, 2008
Open Thread 99
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 09:30 PM *

Ninety-nine open threads in the blog
Ninety-nine open threads.
Thanks to our host who lets people post
Ninety-nine open threads in the blog….

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January 08, 2008
Early-evening observation
Posted by Patrick at 08:56 PM * 291 comments

You know, if Hillary Clinton does better than expected tonight, or even (it’s possible, based on the early results) wins, I’ll bet lunch it’ll because a bunch of last-minute deciders were terminally pissed off by the ridiculous media frenzy over her “emotional display.” And while she’s not my favorite candidate, it would be a fine poke in the eye to the national political reporters who have, as a class, always hated her and relished the prospect of her defeat.

There are a thousand things wrong with American public life, but I’m pretty sure our citizens are, on average, ten times as grown-up as our political reporters.

Fox-hunting in New Hampshire
Posted by Teresa at 11:13 AM * 44 comments

I mentioned this video last night in one of the comment threads, but it’s such a cheery little election-year bonbon that everyone should see it.

From Cliff Schechter’s Brave New Films, via Daily Kos:

A smallish but energetic mob of furious New Hampshire conservatives chant “Fox News sucks!” while they chase Sean Hannity down a dark street.

Related link: John Scalzi’s recipe for Schadenfreude Pie.

Who’s Running in New Hampshire?
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 10:57 AM * 123 comments

“You did it… no matter what anybody says about you now, you did it. And you didn’t have to even once take off your boots!”

You think Duncan Hunter had it bad? This may be the first (and only) time that some of these folks are ever mentioned in a major political blog (or any blog at all).

Candidate of the Democratic Party for PRESIDENT of the United States

I hereby declare my preference for candidate for the office of president of the United States to be as follows:

(Vote for not more than one)

“Joe” Biden
Wilmington, Delaware
Richard Edward Caligiuri
Williamsburg, Pennsylvania
Kenneth A. Capalbo
South Kingston, Rhode Island
Hillary Clinton
Chappaqua, New York
“Randy” Crow
Kelly, North Carolina
“Chris” Dodd
East Haddam, Connecticutt
John Edwards
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Mike Gravel
Arlington, Virginia
Henry Hewes
New York, New York
William Hughes
Clayton, Missouri
D. R. Hunter
Amarillo, Texas
William “Bill” Keefe
Hyannis, Massachusetts
Caroline P. Killeen
Castleton, New York
“Tom” Koos
Woodside, California
Dennis J. Kucinich
Cleveland, Ohio
Dal LaMagna
Poulsbo, Washington
“Tom” Laughlin
Santa Rosa Valley, California
Barack Obama
Chicago, Illinois
“Bill” Richardson
Santa Fe, New Mexico
O. Savior
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Michael Skok
Cheektowaga, New York
Candidate of the Democratic Party for VICE PRESIDENT of the United States

I hereby declare my preference for candidate for the office of vice president of the United States to be as follows:

(Vote for not more than one)

William Bryk
Brooklyn, New York
Raymond Stebbins
Weymouth, Massachusetts
Candidate of the Republican Party for PRESIDENT of the United States

I hereby declare my preference for candidate for the office of president of the United States to be as follows:

(Vote for not more than one)

Hugh Cort
Birmingham, Alabama
John Cox
Chicago, Illinois
H. Neal Fendig, Jr.
St. Simons Island, Georgia
Daniel Gilbert
Arden, North Carolina
Rudolph W. Giuliani
New York, New York
Albert Howard
Ann Arbor, Michigan
“Mike” Huckabee
North Little Rock, Arkansas
Duncan Hunter
Alpine, California
Alan Keyes
Darnestown, Maryland
Mark Klein
Oakland, California
Stephen W. Marchuk
Hancock, New Hampshire
John McCain
Phoenix, Arizona
James Creighton Mitchell, Jr.
Lindenhurst, Illinois
Cornelius Edward O’Connor
Palm Beach, Florida
“Ron” Paul
Lake Jackson, Texas
Mitt Romney
Belmont, Massachusetts
Jack Shepard
St. Paul, Minnesota
Vermin Supreme
Rockport, Massachusetts
Thomas G. Tancredo
Littleton, Colorado
Fred Thompson
McLean, Virginia
“Vern” Wuensche
Houston, Texas
Candidate of the Republican Party for VICE PRESIDENT of the United States

I hereby declare my preference for candidate for the office of vice president of the United States to be as follows:

(Vote for not more than one)

John S. “Jack” Barnes, Jr.
Raymond, New Hampshire

Who knew that the Republicans were running someone named Vermin Supreme? Who knew that Billy Jack was still alive? (One of my proudest moments, in a campaign years ago, was when I got a chance to ask him what he, as President, would do about the Thor Power Tools Decision, and watched him look totally blank.)

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Get It on Ebay
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 02:51 AM *

Congressman: Browse a huge selection now. Find exactly what you want today.  www.ebay.comI knew they were for sale, but this is ridiculous….

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Live From The Balsams
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 12:02 AM * 21 comments

The balloting is done in the first town reporting in the historic First in the Nation primary.

Here are the results:


Mike Huckabee
Mitt Romney 2
Fred D. Thompson
John McCain 4
Ron Paul
Rudolph W. Giuliani 1
Duncan Hunter
Tom Tancredo


Barack Obama 7
John Edwards 2
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Bill Richardson 1
Joseph R. Biden Jr.
Christopher J. Dodd
Mike Gravel
Dennis J. Kucinich

Reporting live from The Balsams in Dixville Notch, New Hampshire, this is Jim Macdonald for Making Light.
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January 07, 2008
Why We Love Bruce Sterling
Posted by Patrick at 11:38 PM *

To me, “sustainability” means a situation in which your descendants are able to confront their own problems, rather than the ones you exported to them. If people a hundred years from now are soberly engaged with phenomena we have no nouns and verbs for, I think that’s a victory condition.

On the other hand, if they’re thumbing through 1960s Small World paperbacks and saying “thank goodness we’ve finally managed to pare our lives back exclusively to soybeans and bamboo,” well, that’s not the end of the world, but it’s about as appealing as a future global takeover by the Amish.


As you accumulate more history you get more interested in history, but the great benefit of youth is that you don’t have to forget that stuff is impossible.

The past is gone, and our attempts to interpret it are retrodiction. The 1960s of the 1970s is not the same as the 1960s of 2008, and it won’t be the same as the 1960s of the 2040s.


People who talk about the failings of Boomers always talk about hippie leftie druggie Boomers, but Bush is a Boomer, so is Gingrich, so is Rove. Most of the NeoCons are Boomers, except a few of their gray emininences. When it comes to seizing power and enforcing radical change on society, Neoconservativism has pretty much gotta be the Boomer philosophy par excellence. Except maybe for Al Qaeda, because Bin Laden’s a Boomer, too.


Science fiction writers are not as bad as apocalyptic conspiracy theorists (except for the ones who ARE apocalyptic conspiracy theorists), but they’re not the kinds of personalities you actually want in positions of power and authority. Science fiction writers like amazing and wonderful and freaky and dreadful stuff. They get bored with the dull stuff, like making sure your kids have shoes and plumbing and your population has civil rights.


It’s stupefying to be always conscientious. That is not how alternative technologies and new ways of life are successfully generated. It’s certainly not how good design happens. Mindful design bears the relationship to actual design that a socialist allocation depot bears to a laboratory.

If you’re serious about design, you can’t quote Ruskin and try to build Gothic cathedrals in your tiny arts and crafts atelier. You’ve gotta prototype stuff, fail early, fail often, and build scalability into it so that, if you have a hit, you can actually have a big hit. A success as large as the problem.


The EU is a multinational regulatory trade bureaucracy. It’s pretty damn far from an “ad hocracy” because its glacial reactions and lack of spontaneity are legendary. Its politics are weak, its statecraft is weaker and its popular legitimacy is close to nonexistent, but as a bureau, man that thing is second to none. It’s the only empire in the history of the world that people clamor to join.

More here.

The ironic law of institutions
Posted by Avram Grumer at 11:25 PM *

MSNBC has a story about the national Democratic Party’s “super-delegates”, various party bigwigs who comprise 40% of the delegates who will pick the party’s candidate for president. The party set this system up after the 1972 election, to keep Democratic voters from picking losers like George McGovern, guaranteeing instead that we’ll wind with up with broadly popular candidates like Walter Mondale.

(Special note for Patrick: This post was written under the influence of Tyrrell’s Beef & Horseradish potato chips.)

The little things
Posted by Patrick at 04:44 PM * 135 comments

[Posted from my office, where the connectivity flows like a cool mountain stream. We’ll find out this evening how it’s flowing at home.]

Hillary Clinton showed actual emotion on the campaign trail today…and, predictably enough, the knives are out. As Stephen Suh remarked, satirically, on Cogitamus:

Portsmouth, NH - Heartless, unfeeling automaton Hillary Clinton broke down in hysterical tears today while cackling uncontrollably at Portsmouth’s Cafe Espresso. Even Clinton’s supporters were surprised and not a little disturbed at the way she managed to display no emotion whatsoever while ambitiously emasculating every single male in a 150-mile radius. During the entire campaign appearance her constant tears caused mascara to run down her cheeks, like it always does when chicks get weepy.
I’ve never been a fan of Hillary Clinton’s Presidential campaign. I’d vote for her over any of the vampires and clowns that make up the Republican field, but without a lot of enthusiasm. Still, I’m with Kevin Drum when he writes:
Am I feeling bitter? You bet. Not because Hillary Clinton seems more likely than not to lose—I can live with that pretty easily—but because of how she’s likely to lose. Because the press doesn’t like her. Because any time a woman raises her voice half a decibel she instantly becomes shrill.
Still, Drum continues:
Here’s the good news: when the better candidates got taken out in 2004, we ended up with John Kerry, a decent man but a lousy candidate. This year, if Hillary does indeed go on to lose, we’ll end up Barack Obama, a decent man and a terrific candidate. So at least we’re making progress.
Evidence for the latter proposition can be found here. Evidently Obama’s reaction to being asked to comment on Clinton’s horrifying display was to be, well, a normal decent human being about it:
“I didn’t see what happened. I know this process is a grind. So that’s not something I care to comment on.”
Whereas Edwards’ first impulse, evidently, was play the tough-guy card:
“I think what we need in a commander-in-chief is strength and resolve, and presidential campaigns are tough business, but being president of the United States is also tough business.”
Huh. I’ve been more or less pro-Edwards for just about the entire first year of this two-year marathon campaign, and suddenly, I’m finding it extraordinarily easy to let go.

[Yes, I know that too much gets read into these little moments of gaffe and crisis. Ed Muskie probably would have been a perfectly okay President. I also know: issue issue issue corporate-contributors policy-differences substantive this fundamental that. Still.]

January 06, 2008
Nor are we out of it
Posted by Patrick at 10:06 PM * 47 comments

If you were expecting email from us, reponse to your IMs, engagement with your online scheme, or anything else that depends on net connectivity, sorry about that. We are in connectivity hell, thank you Time Warner Cable, and for all I know we’ll be here for weeks to come.

Posted by Jim Macdonald at 09:28 PM * 66 comments

Musharraf: Bhutto to blame for her assassination

RAWALPINDI, Pakistan (CNN) — Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s assassination was her own fault, the country’s president, Pervez Musharraf, said in an interview that aired Sunday on U.S. television.

“For standing up outside the car, I think it was she to blame alone — nobody else. Responsibility is hers,” the former general told CBS’ “60 Minutes.”

Silly me! And here I thought that at the very least the guy who pulled the trigger had something to do with it….
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January 05, 2008
Heavy weather?
Posted by Patrick at 07:26 AM * 80 comments

As of this morning, from our home cable internet connection, we can’t seem to get to a bunch of major web sites, for instance Amazon, eMusic, and Slate. Pages fail to load and traceroutes expire in a hail of asterisks. Facebook loads, glacially, but without its style sheet, which makes it unreadable. Some Google services work, but Google Reader doesn’t seem to be updating with new content, and Gmail doesn’t load at all. (Although Gmail appears to be reachable by POP, and the Gmail client on my phone works fine.) Traceroutes to akamai fail as well.

I know from experience that phoning Time Warner Cable will lead to a conversation with someone in India whose script requires they insist I launch Internet Explorer. So instead I’ll ask the Making Light commentariat: anyone have any idea what’s going on? Are there in fact widespread blockages in the intertubes this morning? Could it have something to do with the storms in the Bay Area? Or are we just lucky? (Yes, I’ve done all the obvious stuff, like clearing caches, restarting computers, and power-cycling the routers.)

UPDATE: The problem has gone away, but since folks with technical expertise are in the thread already, I’ve taken the liberty of asking advice on another, similar matter.

January 04, 2008
Left-coast storm
Posted by Teresa at 08:37 PM *

A huge storm has been hitting the Pacific coast and inland areas as far as the Cascades and the Sierra Nevada. Since this is the Flickr-enabled modern world, there are pictures:

Mythlady, Big storm coming.
Jamie Schneider, the day before.
Camerainhand, San Joaquin Valley, There’s a storm coming in.
Doglington, San Francisco, The storm rolls in and The big storm hits us with a wallop.
Docpop, Storm damage in the Mission photoset.
RCoshow, Portola District, Big Rainstorm January 4, 2008 photoset.
Rhett Redelings, San Anselmo and Sausalito, serious flooding photoset.
Crystal Secretin, 1st storm of 2008 photoset.
MonkeyDudeSF, Jan 08 Storm photoset.
Jbr0wn6, significant flooding: Storm 1/04/08 photoset.
Marcelo Tourne, San Francisco, had a tree fall on his house and car.
Clickfarmer, sandbagging and a rising creek.
Autumn Nguyen, Sacramento area, Downed trees in the neighborhood.
Diesel Dub, Laguna/Monterey, rain and high wind.
Mistr Webmastr, 1/4/08 storms photoset.
Anthonybrown, San Francisco: Many trees down and Storm batters the Lowry Park Zoo.
Ex.libris, it’s cool for cats.
Tedore, Snow in Squaw Valley.
Wildebryde, snow starts falling in the Sierra Nevada photoset.
Michael448, Pacifica, rough surf in Utata.
Foftychel, Bay Area, storm and aftermath.
Exuberance, heavy runoff in the Potrero District, and a video.
Cinnamon.Bun, tree.
Torrez, Noe Valley, Tree fall down.
Mindy Moritz, tree, sod, and shrubbery.
Darth Lefty, Folsom, tipped trees.
You Blockhead, That crazy storm from Karate Kid II came to San Francisco.
Philip Misiowiec, Northern CA, Casualties.
Justalexis, storm damage and standing water.
Talley 1144, A rainy commute on Route 1.
Sothisisparenthood, South Bay, When it rains, it pours here.
Marc Davis, Colma CA, raining sideways.
Blp1979, braving the storm in the Alameda ferry.
19541954, Insane surfer at Half Moon Bay.

Who’s Afraid of the Significant and Sustained Decline in Economic Activity?
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 05:51 PM *

Pretty much everyone in the West knows the story of the Three Little Pigs, yes?

In classic fairy tale tradition, the three brothers set out from home to seek their fortune and start their houses. One, seeing a farmer with a load of straw, decides that it will be fast and easy to build with. The second notes the sticks lying on the ground in the forest and reckons that a stick house will be cheap, since all the materials are free. The third chooses to build his house of strong, solid bricks. Then, of course, there’s the huffing and the puffing, the running and the screaming and the chinny chin chin business. But that’s just consequences; the heart of the tale lies in the choices.

The story has deep roots in Western Europe. It goes back to the days when canis lupus still posed a threat to people and livestock. It was old the 1800’s, when the Brothers Grimm were studying consonant shifts in Germany. By then, wild wolves were no longer a part of living memory, but the fear lingered for generations.

But these days, over half the human population lives in cities. The Big Bad Wolf is a vacant threat to people who have never seen a wolf outside of the zoo. So it’s debatable whether the brother of the bricks should still be cast as the hero. Maybe it’s time for a rewrite.

Next bedtime, why not spin a story of climate change? The shifting Gulf Stream made for an early winter that year, so the snows came when the stick house lacked a roof and the brick house walls above the third course. Hypothermia set in all too soon, slowing busy trotters as frostbite nipped at little curly tails. The wise pig was the one who built quickly.

Or tell the gathered kiddies about how the collapse in the sub-prime mortgage market affected the local economy. Two of the pigs, having spent all their money on construction materials, watched their asset value plummet. As the job opportunities for porcine workers dried up, only the brother with significant savings had the resources to keep his house of sticks.

There’s even a value in telling all three, rather than swapping the old version out completely. No one is too young to learn about the tensions and tradeoffs of real life projects, where if you’re lucky you get to pick one of “build it fast, build it cheap, or build it strong.” (The idea that you get to pick two is a myth and a dream, invented by IT project managers to make the non-techies approve their design proposals.)

And if you think these new villains are a little too painfully real in the century of Katrina and the credit crunch, well, that too is traditional. In the original version, the Wolf eats the first two pigs. It’s only our later, gentler retellings that allow them to outrun the predator and take shelter with their brother. But feel free to let all three survive; we need to teach our children co-operation too.

Because if they don’t learn these lessons, if they don’t work together to tackle global warming, if they don’t learn that poverty pinches so they care to fight it, how long will it be before Big Bad himself, all fur and teeth, is at the door again?

January 03, 2008
A poor showing in the Iowa caucuses
Posted by Teresa at 10:53 PM *

I’ve been watching CNN’s coverage of the Iowa caucuses. They’ve called the races for Obama and Huckabee, so many viewers will have switched off their sets. That must be why they’re now talking about Ron Paul.

While it was still a race and more viewers were watching, Ron Paul was the invisible man. The pie charts were the most blatant manifestation. The one CNN showed for the Democrats listed Obama, Edwards, Clinton—and Richardson, who got 2% of the vote.

Their pie chart for the Republicans listed Romney, Huckabee, Thompson, and McCain. The remaining wedge was filled with a black-and-white filling pattern. Clearly, whatever fell into that wedge wasn’t worth reporting. It was Ron Paul.* Earlier this evening, when CNN was excitedly blathering about what a hot race the Republicans had going for third place, with Thompson at 14% and McCain at 13%, total precincts reporting in showed Ron Paul at 11%.

There’s no good reason for it. If CNN were objectively reporting the news, that disparity wouldn’t exist.

The next round of this game will be played by Fox News. Will they continue to exclude Ron Paul from this weekend’s debates in New Hampshire, over the protests of New Hampshire’s own Republican Party? Fox has Giuliani scheduled for the debates, and he scored a measly 4% in Iowa.

An important point: I am not one of the internet’s horde of Ron Paul supporters. Far from it. Very far from it. But it’s not the place of CNN, or Fox News, or any other news organization, to pass judgement on Ron Paul’s legitimacy as a candidate.

Addendum: Nina Katarina observes:

This really ought to have been the story of the night in Iowa:

356,000 total turnout

Percentage of total vote

24.5% Obama
20.5% Edwards
19.8% Clinton
11.4% Huckabee (R)

January 02, 2008
Bad News for Mike Gravel
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 11:12 AM *

I just got another telephone poll call. It was one of the “Two question” polls (there’ve been a lot of them lately). They go like this: “Would you like to participate in a quick two question poll? Are you planning to vote in the [name of party] primary? Who are you planning to vote for?”

Today’s call: “Are you planning to vote in the Democratic primary?”
“Sure am.”
“Who are you planning to vote for?”
“Mike Gravel.”
“Oh, you mean you’re going to vote in the Republican primary.”
“No, Mike Gravel is a Democrat. Two-term Democratic senator from Alaska.”
“Are you sure?

At least it was a live human being. The caller never did say who paid for the call (which is required under New Hampshire law). Caller ID was “Unavailable.”

Heck of a thing when even the pollsters don’t know what ticket you’re running on.

Today’s mail: two Obama fliers and one Hillary flyer.

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Intimations of mortality
Posted by Patrick at 12:00 AM * 147 comments

Today, for almost certainly the last time, I am the square of a prime.

January 01, 2008
Supporting Our Troops
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 10:18 PM * 12 comments

Veterans Need to Enroll in VA Healthcare Before January 17

As another brilliant example of the Bush Administration supporting our troops, hidden in one of the many bills passed during the Republican-controlled Congress was a little-noticed provision to cut off VA Health Care for millions of veterans from all our wars of aggression.

Under this provision, any veteran who is 0% service-connected (not disabled by being wounded or otherwise injured during their service) will be unable to enroll in VA Health Care after January 17, 2008. This ends a promise made to vets that has stood since WWII, that their health care needs would be taken care of in perpetuity.

(From Mockingbird’s Medley)

UPDATE: Looks like this one is an Urban Legend. Sorry about that. On Jan. 17, 2003, the VA cut off enrollment to Priority Group 8 veterans. These are vets with no service-connected conditions and whose income is above a certain threshold. That enrollment ban is still in effect.

As Teresa posted four years ago:

This is an announcement: I never, ever want to hear again about how mainstream/centrist and liberal Americans “aren’t supporting our troops,” when what the speaker really means is that we aren’t bending over for Bush, Ashcroft, Rumsfeld, and the rest of that crew.

See also, at Making Light, Forgotten Soldiers:

George Bush has yet to attend a single military funeral.

His visits to the wounded soldiers being treated in VA hospitals have been minimal—just enough to keep me from being able to type, “George Bush has yet to visit the soldiers wounded in his wars.”

And go over to Mockingbird’s Medley and read the rest of the piece. There’s more news for veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan….

IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN WAR VETS: This applies to you as well - only the news is actually worse. In the last military appropriation bill, your “free” health care was extended from two years to five. Yes, you heard right - you are currently only entitled to two years of free health care - even if you have seen combat. After Bush vetoed the military spending bill, which contained another three years, you are back to TWO WHOLE YEARS!

Hey, support our troops.

Veterans: Apply for health benefits on-line with form 1010EZ.

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The clocks were striking thirteen
Posted by Avram Grumer at 06:59 PM * 87 comments

George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four, Part 1, Chapter 5:

He did not know how long she had been looking at him, but perhaps for as much as five minutes, and it was possible that his features had not been perfectly under control. It was terribly dangerous to let your thoughts wander when you were in any public place or within range of a telescreen. The smallest thing could give you away. A nervous tic, an unconscious look of anxiety, a habit of muttering to yourself — anything that carried with it the suggestion of abnormality, of having something to hide. In any case, to wear an improper expression on your face (to look incredulous when a victory was announced, for example) was itself a punishable offence. There was even a word for it in Newspeak: facecrime, it was called.

Us, now:

TSA officials will not reveal specific behaviors identified by the program — called SPOT (Screening Passengers by Observation Technique) — that are considered indicators of possible terrorist intent.

But a central task is to recognize microfacial expressions — a flash of feelings that in a fraction of a second reflects emotions such as fear, anger, surprise or contempt, said Carl Maccario, who helped start the program for TSA.

“In the SPOT program, we have a conversation with (passengers) and we ask them about their trip,” said Maccario from his office in Boston. “When someone lies or tries to be deceptive, … there are behavior cues that show it. … A brief flash of fear.”

(Seattle PI link via Ken MacLeod)

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