My Archives: August 2003

Thursday, August 28, 2003

I will talk to y'all after TorCon!
Best mac

Posted by mac @ 10:11 AM EST [Link]

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

And I thought it was just a joke! In an earlier blog, I included a Mark Fiore cartoon on a George Bush action figure a la GI Joe. Now the San Francisco Chronicle reports, "we have a new doll, this neat little prefab landfill thing, the George W. Bush 'Elite Force Aviator' action figure, to stand proudly alongside your 'We Will Rock You' Animated Soldier and your civilian-maulin' Forward Command Post' toy set from JCPenney! That's right! Collect the whole set!" I feel sorry for comedians. How can you make fun of an administration that is itself a standing joke and its own satire? [more]

Posted by mac @ 10:03 PM EST [Link]

Monday, August 25, 2003

What is the war in Iraq costing the American public? In the Christian Science Monitor, David R. Francis offers a tally. He starts with the White House's estimate of a $475 billion fiscal deficit for 2004, then comments "that included no money for Iraq." What are the additional costs of the war? "Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has told the Senate the 'burn rate' runs about $3.9 billion a month. Afghanistan, together with Noble Eagle, the protective overflights of military jets in the US, costs another $1.1 billion a month." In other words, $5 billion a month. (This assumes that the role in Afghanistan does *not* expand as the New York Times indicates it will in an article entitled U.S. Said to Plan Bigger Afghan Role, Stepping Up Aid." But that$ 5 billion estimate includes no money for reconstruction in Iraq -- such as restoring "electricity (a $13 billion cost, by one estimate) and water ($16 billion)....Last year, William Nordhaus, a Yale University economist, calculated that under certain conditions, a 'protracted and unfavorable' war and its aftermath could cost as much as $1.9 trillion." The Bush administration had hoped to offset costs by pumping a glut of oil but the sabotage of pipelines (among other factors) has made this...well, a pipe-dream. Which raises another cost of war -- one of the many unintended consequences borne by the average working Joe and Jane -- the rise in the price of gas, which is, on a nationwide average, 4 cents a gallon more expensive than two weeks ago. Even the foregoing estimates do not include the more subtle costs such as the dislocation of National Reserve Guards whose jobs must be held open by businesses. In some cases, when the Guard in question is a small business owner, the business itself goes under. I read one such account of a detective who no longer has an agency because he could not sustain the operation from a distance...but, alas, I did not bookmark the URL. [more]

Posted by mac @ 10:54 AM EST [Link]

Friday, August 22, 2003

Tony Auth's latest cartoon "The Sacrifices Will Go On" is worth checking out. Ditto an older Clay Bennett cartoon entitled "Home Security." (And while you are at Bennett's site, view his archives. Mark Fiore -- who has been a bit disappointing of late -- offers an good animation this week -- "Action Pack." [more]

Posted by mac @ 06:50 PM EST [Link]

Thursday, August 21, 2003

From the "I couldn't make this up if I tried" department....California is combating its recent syphilis epidemic in typical fashion: consulting with focus groups, and then launching an Ad Campaign. San Francisco's Dept. of Public Health's Ad campaign is based around a cartoon spokes-icon: The "Healthy Penis,' a giant talking cartoon penis. Not surprisingly, S.F. has declared their "Healthy Penis" program to be an, er, *ernormous* success. Los Angeles County, however, finds a Giant Talking Cartoon Penis to be "Too Racy," and "In poor taste." (L.A., of all places!) Moreover, the plan is not politically correct: It "Unfairly stigmatizes Gay Men," and "Objectifies Gay Men as Penises." Also, L.A., being "more conservative" than San Francisco, was "afraid to take chances" with the nearly $400,000 budgeted for the Ad Campaign. L.A. has therefore instead introduced "Phil the Syphilis Sore," a bumpy red creature with silver shoes and an earring, as their cartoon spokes-icon ---and will distribute 40,000 squeezable three-inch Phil toys, and two life-sized (!) "Phil the Sore" suits, which will be worn by mascots making appearances throughout Los Angeles County. [more]

Posted by mac @ 04:09 PM EST [Link]

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

This just in from the Chortler: "New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg Explains The Great Blackout Of 2003."

To follow up on an earlier blog... John H. Dean has an excellent article on the White House's illegal outing of Valerie Plame Wilson - the wife of former ambassador Joseph Wilson and the mother of three-year-old twins - as a covert CIA agent. That's how the White House punishes those who speak out, as Wilson did on the Niger-uranium debacle. Why the major media is not all over this story is probably a story in and of itself. [more]

Posted by mac @ 01:26 AM EST [Link]

Saturday, August 16, 2003

I am pleased to announce that I recently joined the group blog Liberty and Power, which is hosted by the History News Network. I thank David Beito for the invitation. The material appearing there will be political commentary excerpted from this blog. For example, today I will cross-post the commentary on RFID technology.

For those who can't get enough of that wild and wacky Arnold Schwarzenegger, here's a list of Arnold for Governor jokes you might have missed. And, then, as an antidote to the election fervor, you might want to check out an interesting piece by Colin Ward entitled "The Case Against Voting." The article is posted on a site that is so rich with substantive material, I have just scratched its surface: Takver's Initiatives. [more]

Posted by mac @ 07:44 AM EST [Link]

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

This Reuters story from AlertNet: "A group of about 600 U.S. military families, upset about the living conditions of soldiers in Iraq, are launching a campaign asking their relatives to urge members of Congress and President George W. Bush to bring the troops home." (Conditions are described in an earlier blog entry.) "Susan Schuman, whose son Justin is in the Massachusetts National Guard deployed to Samarra, Iraq, said he shares a small room in a former Iraqi police barracks with five other men. 'They are rationed to 2 liters of water a day and it's 125 degrees (52 degrees C), they haven't had anything but MREs (Meals Ready to Eat),' she told Reuters, adding that uncertainty about when the troops would come home was 'most disheartening.'" I recommend the site Military Families Speak Out which is in the forefront of demanding "Bring Them Home!" [more]

Posted by mac @ 04:53 AM EST [Link]

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

It is with a sense of deep national pride that I announce The Toque -- Canada's source for humour and satire. Actually...it ain't The Onion.

If you love the Harry Potter books and films as much I do, then you'll be delighted to hear that a 4th film is in the works. For more info... [more]

Posted by mac @ 03:07 AM EST [Link]

Monday, August 11, 2003

As though in the belief that syllables define reality, the Bush Administration and its attendant agencies are playing word games...and playing dirty. [more]

Posted by mac @ 11:02 AM EST [Link]

Sunday, August 10, 2003

The cartoon is a bit heavy handed but it has a cute premise: likening Rumsfeld and the Iraq war to the Seinfeld show. As fans will recall, Seinfeld was widely touted as "a show about nothing"; Iraq is called "a war about nothing"...and standard Seinfeld routines are adapted to slam the point home. This second cartoon, which likens Bush to Pinocchio is similar -- cute but heavy handed. [more]

Posted by mac @ 09:38 AM EST [Link]

Saturday, August 9, 2003

Napalm by another name.... So much for the Pentagon's claim that napalm is *not* being used in Iraq. It seems that "napalm" is a brand name, like Kleenex, and the US military is not using that particular brand of fuel-gel mixture in its bombs, just another fuel-gel mixture that does pretty much the identical thing.

[more]

Posted by mac @ 12:16 PM EST [Link]

Friday, August 8, 2003

The term "Iraq-Nam" is starting to crop up in news stories, especially in connection with guerrilla attacks on US troops. At a rate of two deaths a day, at least 1,000 more American troops will be killed in Iraq before the Presidential election in November, 2004. The death toll in Vietnam was remarkably higher, of course, but it was the pivotal factor in turning America against the war and in Johnson's decision not to seek a second term. An interesting difference between Vietname and Iraq: the media is giving far more exposure to each death in Iraq than it ever did (or could have) to each death in Vietnam; the news is putting a name and a face to every dead soldier, making it personal and more wrenching. As Justin Raimondo comments in his article *US Troops in Iraq are Sitting Ducks: Why we need to get out now*, "It was big news that, for two days, there were no reports of U.S. combat casualties..." The statement "no deaths" today led major news broadcasts from channel to channel. I have no doubt that Bush, unlike Johnson, will seek a second term whatever happens...but the continuing death rate seems to be the reason he is willing to consider reducing the American presence in Iraq. Could Wolfowitz's recent and startling admission that Iraq was not involved in 9-11 terrorist attacks and has no ties to Al-Qaeda be part of opening the door for an American withdrawal from the nation? [more]

Posted by mac @ 08:15 AM EST [Link]

Thursday, August 7, 2003

So much for the Bush administration's much-touted concern for "America's sons and daughters" who are serving in the military. (Of course, some of us figured Bush was just showing his true colors when he invited those who were targeting US troops in Iraq to "Bring 'em on!") Well, he may encourage militants to fire on US "peacekeepers" but he definitely wants to discourage the troops under fire from complaining about it. [more]

Posted by mac @ 07:55 AM EST [Link]

Wednesday, August 6, 2003

Remember to boycott RIAA during August!

Today's crop of cartoons: Chuck Asay's "Democrats and Republicans."; Russmo's "Human Rights"; and, Jack Ohman's "SuperPatriotActMan." Enjoy! [more]

Posted by mac @ 06:17 AM EST [Link]

Tuesday, August 5, 2003

One reason I'm happy to be Canadian: The recent Rolling Stones SARS concert attracted about 450,000 attendees and ended up with only 21 arrests during the 11-hour event: "Nine of the offences were so minor, the alleged perpetrators were released immediately. Half of the remainder were charged with intoxication and were let go after they had slept off the booze. Four people were charged with assault, one was charged with theft, and the last person was charged with theft of a golf cart and driving the golf cart while impaired." Police turned a blind eye to marijuana. Where else but in Canada? I still remember one day when the power went out in a large section of downtown Toronto, a metro of about 3 million people. No looting. No rise in crime. Brad and I were caught in the chaotic traffic caused by the outage of street lights -- that is, until a pedestrian spontaneously volunteered to stand in a key intersection to act as traffic cop. As we neared the intersection in our car, we saw a policeman stride swiftly up to the good Samaritan and we wondered if he would be admonished or even fined. Instead, the cop hurriedly shoved an orange vest at him to wear for visibility...then walked on, obviously due elsewhere.

On the other hand, Canada is one of the pioneers in the quiet progression of privacy violations being engineered through new technology: a kinder, gentler totalitarian society? For example, "Even if the only evidence forensic analysts can pull from a crime scene is a fingerprint smudged beyond recognition, a new technique developed by Canadian scientists soon could harvest enough DNA from the print to produce a genetic identity. The novel system can extract DNA in only 15 minutes, even if a print has been stored for a year. Scientists expect the invention to help crime-fighters solve mysteries, and already are in talks with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. In addition, researchers predict the technology could be at least twice as cheap as existing DNA collection methods. 'If you wanted to use blood as a source of DNA, you have fear of contamination, people who don't want to give it, storage issues, and you have to sign a lot of paperwork to get it,' research scientist Maria Viaznikova of the Ottawa University Heart Institute in Canada told United Press International. 'We can now have DNA reliably and simply with our method'." O Brave New World that has such wonders in it. [more]

Posted by mac @ 11:52 AM EST [Link]

Monday, August 4, 2003

The last few days have been difficult and draining -- thus, no blog for a few days. But a happy ending is at hand... More on this later in the blog.

Right now, some levity is called for because, God knows, *I* need it. One of our long-time favorite comedy groups is the Capital Steps, a musical satire group from D.C. that specializes in political commentary on Beltway issues. They offer free downloads of songs that sample their CDs -- downloads that are legal, I might add, because they are offered by the artists! These are among the cream: Help Rwanda; My Way [by faux Hillary Clinton]; and, Get Me To The New York Times [Jayson Blair scandal]. [more]

Posted by mac @ 10:59 PM EST [Link]

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