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January 31, 2008

barack obama?

Not by way of endorsement, I want to share this Eat The Press link.  It's a description of Obama's victory speech in South Carolina last Saturday, which I, the spouse and the pets watched live on the teevee.  It made one of us weep, but I'm not telling who.

The main point of the post is that it was a fucking awesome speech, and the reason that I want to share it is that I too think it was a fucking awesome speech:

It is an astonishing speech, and far more significant than the much-heralded one he gave in Iowa, because this is the speech he gave after being beaten, challenged, and having to come back and fight. There's more than a touch of the warrior in this speech, just as there's more than a touch of a president.

For me, it was not only an astonishing/significant speech -- it was so good that I don't have any contemporaneous speeches to compare it to.  Bill Clinton was good.  John Edwards is good, I think.  But Obama's speech had a faint whiff of history about it, like you weren't watching it live, but watching whatever will pass for newsreels twenty years ago.

Sklar's post has both a transcript and a video link, so read/watch and tell me I'm smoking crack.

Again, not by way of endorsement, though this feels an awful lot like an endorsement as I type it.  It would be a brave experiment to have a genuinely inspiring president once in a lifetime.

Posted by mrbrent at 4:15 PM

petrol companies light cigars with billion dollar bills

Aw, cheer up.  It's not bad news everywhere.

I've been working for years to get my per diem up to $75 million.  I must be doing something wrong.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:59 AM

January 30, 2008

and then you wake up as a member of murder, inc.

I'm not equipped to dispute the science -- I'm sure the science will be disputed by the good guys and the bad guys both -- but say this study has a statistical tolerance of fifty percent, then somewhere between five to fifteen hundred thousand Iraqis have died, unnaturally, since the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq.

I don't like to bring this up often, but it is the pink elephant in the middle of the room that no one speaks of.  Even if you are one that thinks the unilateral military action was warranted, you cannot be willing to admit that it was worth plus or minus a million Iraqi lives.  That is not throwing the baby out with the bathwater, that is boiling the baby in the bathwater, eating the baby and then drinking the bathwater.

I may be a liberal hand-wringer, but I don't think that the Saddam regime could manage to kill so many Iraqis so quickly, and I am fully aware of how good the Saddam regime was at killing Iraqis.

The question is not how well the Surge is working (no matter how tirelessly the question is framed as that) -- the question is why the United States would commit such a genocide, and (better yet) why the yammering class would turn a blind eye to it, in the hope of out-manly-ing the rest of the yammering class.

Sorry, no big funny in this one.  And I don't have quite the soapbox to drag this atrocity into the light of day, but I dream that someone does.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:10 PM

writing about giuliani: tee-ball

Looks to be a long news day today.  But in the meantime everyone's doing a great job remarking on the smoking crater that used to be Rudolph Giuliani's political career.  He will not be president, and he will not be vice president, unless a candidate loses a bet and has to choose between offering Giuliani the veep spot or treading water for an hour while holding a car battery.  Some doubted it would be so, but the electorate finally realized that, while they wouldn't mind having an asshole for president, that 9/11 mayor guy is really an asshole.

I only wish I could have been a fly on the wall last night, as Giuliani tried to come up with a plausible excuse to drop out of the race: "Prostate cancer?  No, already did that one.  Spend time with the family?  Or, spend time with those few family members that I haven't divorced or driven away?"

And the real beauty of it is that, on this, a day that Giuliani could reasonably expect to dominate the news cycle, he will not.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:51 AM

January 29, 2008

security vs. privacy

Further to discussion of The New Yorker's feature on Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell from a few weeks back, Bruce Schneier has posted a much smarter examination of the false dichotomy of privacy vs. security than what I can manage.  Schneier pushes through to what's really at stake:

The debate isn't security versus privacy.  It's liberty versus control.

You can see it in comments by government officials: "Privacy no longer can mean anonymity," says Donald Kerr, principal deputy director of national intelligence.  "Instead, it should mean that government and businesses properly safeguard people's private communications and financial information."  Did you catch that?  You're expected to give up control of your privacy to others, who -- presumably -- get to decide how much of it you deserve.   That's what loss of liberty looks like.

And I don't believe it's a case of sleight of hand on the part of the Total Information Awareness types -- I think that they are convinced that privacy, if not autonomy, should crumble in the face of an uncertain world.  But I also believe that this belief makes them cowards.

Yeah, this is all semiotics, as far as privacy/liberty/blueberry pie, and therefore slippery, but any chance to go out on Ben Franklin (as Schneier does) should not be missed: "Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."

Posted by mrbrent at 5:01 PM

and now heath ledger has touched all our lives

Not for nothing, but is anyone else creeped out seeing the online ad campaign for the next Batman movie?  I know it's in the GoogleAds pipeline, and I know that it features a blurry image of the Joker with his bright red smile highlighted, behind the tagline "Why so serious?"

I also know that the Joker is played by Heath Ledger, who is only recently no longer with us.  Is it maybe too soon to be promoting clips of Heath Ledger talking about killing people?  Maybe I'm just too squeamish.

The tackiness of all this is somewhat mitigated by the New York Post's dogged insistence that it was Mary-Kate Olsen, in the library, with the lead pipe.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:35 AM

January 28, 2008

scientology under siege

I haven't had a chance to catch up on the latest releases from Anonymous concerning its actions against the Church of Scientology (most of them linked here).  But I'm happy to pass along news that Anonymous wasn't just whistling dixie, with Googlebomb/DoS attacks on the Church's web interests.

Which has brought Anonymous to the possible notice of the Justice Department, elevating the campaign from blog-fodder to organized action, with the attendant various positive/negative outcomes.  I've long been too pantywaist for such direct tactics, but that won't stop me from making some popcorn and admiring them.

I did get a little bit of a "so what" response to the original post of the Anonymous video release -- thanks for that.  And the "so what" response is valid, but I also think that it should be wielded wisely.  There are not many news items that can defend against a "so what" response (arguably, none of them can).  But I'd rather waste my words on acts of high novelty than I would on where "Sex In The City" is shooting this evening.

Posted by mrbrent at 5:34 PM

welcome to the glyph era

Tomorrow is a new day after all.  Geologists, exhausted with trying to keep up with ch-ch-changes over the past decades, have decided that we've entered a new geologic era.  Most alarming is that our current (past?) age has a name which I've absolutely never heard of -- the Holocene.  How can we have been walking around all our lives without knowledge of the name of our geologic era?  Does anybody really know what time it is?  Way ta go, geologists.

In the meantime, Wired magazine is suggesting a contest to name the new era, complete with a poll with which to let your voice be heard.  Some of the choices are pretty clever.  So there should be no harm done if I suggest a few of my own suggestions.

The Idintdoitocene
The Nextcene
The Good Night Ireneocene
Not Brand Echhs
Mr Splashypants

Yeah, you could throw in an "Artist Formerly Known As The Holocene".  Grandma and Grampa would find that one hi-larious.  But you should prepare to habitate the Mr Splashypants Era for the next ten or twenty thousand years.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:20 AM