Johnny Two-Cents

Johnny Two-Cents: The hard, bitter core of the squishy center.

Ardent conservative and peerless obscurantist.

Kvetching about news, politics, culture, and things that explode, since 1896.

Current Terror Alert Level
Terror Alert Level

Friday, July 11, 2003
[posted by Buckethead]:
North Korea

I wasn't necessarily offering an endorsement of the Korean exile's opinion. Nevertheless, for someone to think that the people in charge of his native land are so entirely bugfuck that they would recommend that we nuke it; well I think that says something about the nature of the regime. In the bit excerpted in below, I think that that is entirely lipservice. What person working for one of the world's last authentically Stalinist (tm) states would say to a foreign journalist, "Psst, we all really love America here, and btw, Kim is a complete nutbag who likes to bang twelve year olds." People, no matter how cut off from the rest of the world, are not stupid. Some Noerth Koreans would remember the days before Communism, and those stories would be remembered. Those few fortunate enough to have TVs or Radios would get South Korean broadcasts much as the East Germans did.

Certainly, there are those who are true believers, and those who go along because they benefit from the status quo (though they are few - most North Koreans are by all accounts severely fucked and near starvation most of the time.)

They may not know much about us, but I feel sure that they know that their system is inhuman, evil and farcical.

[posted by johnny two-cents]:
North Korea

I don't know much about North Korea as a place (after all, how much can one really know about a nation that has sealed itself off from the rest of the world?), but the lead article in this week's Boston Phoenix comes to the opposite conclusion as Buckethead's citation below. According to this piece, North Korea is an Orwellian nightmare in which all ills-- poverty, fear, etc.-- are all attributed to the USA. Result: a nation of fanatical America-hating militarists, as if we needed another one of those. . . . Read on!

Air-raid drills are a fact of life in Pyongyang, along with scheduled blackouts that plunge this city of two million into an eerie darkness through which even the trams ghost along without lights. This may be the most militarized nation on earth, but people here believe the nuclear threat comes from the outside. "The Americans were the first to threaten a pre-emptive nuclear strike," says my guide, O Jin Myong, as he leads me through the cavernous subway passages decorated with enormous glass chandeliers, Romanesque arches, and huge murals extolling the country’s founder, Kim Il Sung. The platforms, carved more than 100 yards underground, will serve as shelters in an attack, Mr. O tells me. "Here the American bombs can’t get us."

At first, the talk of nuclear bombs and first strikes sounds premature, even paranoid. But during my weeklong visit to the world’s most isolated nation last February, I hear this mantra so many times that it takes on a logic of its own. "Tell the world we are not afraid of nuclear weapons," says an elderly female guide, Ri Ok Hi, after finishing up a tour of a monument to the Workers Party. "We will fight to the death for our leader."

As one of the first Western journalists allowed in since North Korea’s latest nuclear crisis with the United States began last fall, I experience firsthand the paranoia that marks everyday life for North Koreans. For seven days, I am watched, followed, and fed propaganda. From doctors to parsons, everyone I am introduced to — and I have no choice about whom I meet — parrots the same line: hatred of the Americans, matched only by their love of the "Great Leader," Kim Jong Il. . . .

At the Grand People’s Study House, North Korea’s national library, two huge reading rooms are dedicated to the works of Kim Jong Il, including treatises on filmmaking, journalism, architecture, agriculture, and, of course, military strategy. Some are so well thumbed that the tattered pages look ready to crumble. The young librarian, Hwang Sun Ryol, insists that her country’s leader wrote 1500 books during his university days. When I doubt that anyone could write a book a day for five years, she does not hesitate: "He is the most outstanding theoretician. No one can match his creativity and enthusiasm." (I thank her and, in the spirit of cultural exchange, donate an anthology of George Orwell’s essays and a video of Monty Python and the Holy Grail.)

Certainly, some of this overwhelming Kim-love can be chalked up to lip service, but how much? In a nation where radios must be left on at all times, where air-raid drills are a daily occurence, and managed starvation-- blamed on America-- is a way of life, one wonders just how Orwellian a place can possibly be.

Also, Buckethead, I would like to point out that the North Korean emigre you cite recommended that we preemptively nuke another nation. Your arguments a few months ago about nuclear fears being overblown notwithstanding, is that man on effing crack?

[posted by johnny two-cents]:

I don't like to pick on my home state, but they make it so damn easy!

Yes, Jerry Springer is running for the US Senate in 2004. Oh, good. Finally someone to bring some dignity and restraint to Washington! I wish that wasn't so true! I need another Martini!

Jerry: word of advice, son. This time, when you get a hooker, please be sure not to pay her with a personal check. Senators carry cash for that.

The CNN article linked notes that Springer, who was born in Engaland, is therefore not eligible to run for President. Pity.

[posted by johnny two-cents]:
On the bass

Buckethead-- totally agreed. There are, however, certain exceptions. Prince, one of the great musical geniuses of the last twenty-five years, rarely uses a traditional bassline. "When Doves Cry" has no bass of any kind, and few of his songs have a funk bass line like one might expect from the direct heir to Sly Stone and Rick James.

[moreover] His recent work notwithstanding, Prince is a genius. Anyone disagreeing with me is not only foolish, but cruising for a world-class ass-whipping. I'm a pretty big Prince fan, as is Goodwife Two-Cents.

[posted by johnny two-cents]:
A caveat

I've been drinking vodka this evening. Please excuse me, for it gives me Russian moods.

[posted by johnny two-cents]:
On pestilence

My favorite old-timey disease name of all time: dropsy.

My favorite made-up disease: the staggers. As in, Q: "Buckethead, you look a little rough. What happened to you?" A: "Oh, I'm ok. Just a fifth of Beam and a case of the staggers." Of course, I made this one up shortly before our cat died to describe her inability to walk straight, so it's not really that funny when you look at it that way. *snif* I really miss little Iron Chef Chen Kenichi.

I think, Buckethead, you shouldn't ask for too much in the way of excellent disease names. Just look at the last few years. Sure, "I got the SARS" doesn't sound half as good as "Poor Jim's got a case of the hoof-and-mouth," or "I had to put down grandpa like a cow with the aftosa," but "ebola" is a great name for a disease that eats your flesh and makes you die, and likewise, Monkeypox is a perfect name for a disease that comes from pet prairie dogs. MONKEY POX! And it's FATAL! HAW!

I knew a prairie dog once. His name was Stinky. Guess what he did?

I leave you with this: Ten cases of the bubonic plague in Algeria, two of them the almost certainly fatal septicimic variety. Some say the world will end in fire, some say in ice. I say it will end coughing blood, weeping, and cursing God for his twisted sense of humor. But me, I'm an optimist.

[posted by Buckethead]:

I have noticed that whenever a band comes along that has interesting bass lines, I really like it. And most music that I don't like, lacks good bass. Substantial overlap. Big exception is a lot of the blues and (very) early country that I listen to - a lot of that is voice/guitar, voice/banjo, or something equally sparse.

[posted by johnny two-cents]:
Apologia and Nu-Metal

Having spent the morning today exploring the outer limits of my caffeine tolerance (verdict: 12 oz. premium drip coffee not enough, 24 oz. of same far, far too much), I have been in no condition to read, much less string words together in a clear, engaging, and trenchant fashion such as my dear readers have come to demand. I think I may be dying.

But whatever. I'm a wuss.

Be assured I am working on a giant, blockbuster post about the role of the bass player in modern rock music. The Boston Globe had an article this weekend about the decline of the electric bass in pop music that simply cried out for me to respond, so I'm-a-gonna. I shall attack Nu-Metal as a tool of satan, and compare bassless pop music (the White Stripes, the Black Keys, most things these days) to the porn industry. Also be assured I shall proceed with the utmost taste and discretion in my dissertation on same, yeah right.

For now, I will just offer this screed.

Nu-metal is terrible and nu-metal musicians are monumentally stupid [nothing like an easy target, eh? -ed. [stop that, a-hole! -kaus]] I might be old, and I might not be "hip" or "jiggy," but these are immutable facts. In fact, nu-metalers are so stupid, they even get their own lineage wrong. Ask them and they will cite Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, etc. as heavy bands to copy. They claim these bands as their fathers. Well, that's wrong. Know how you can tell? Listen to the bass. Metallica (ver. 1.1, featuring Cliff Burton), not to mention Megadeth, Anthrax, Slayer, Motorhead, Iron Maiden, Sabbath, Deep Purple, Alice In Chains, etc. etc. featured competent-to-excellent bass players who frequently played lines distinct from the guitar parts (no!!). Moreover, the bass contributed swing and what I like to call "thwack" to the sound.

Nu-metal on the other hand, devalues the bass player. There are several reasons for this. First is the bassiness of modern production. Rather than elevate the role of the bass to prominence, modern production combined with detuning allows guitars to take up the frequency range formerly inhabited by bass players. This same detuning hedges bass players in. If the guitars are chunking along in C#, a mere major sixth above the bottom of the bass' range, this leaves no room to break out, and requires the bassist to double the guitars. Additionally, even with a low-B string, any deviation from the guitar line would result in sonic sludge at such low frequencies. Second, modern basses with their newfangled low-B strings don't sound as good as older 4-string models. As a matter of physics, low-B strings are flappier and less tight-sounding than the EADG strings. Pickups designed to compensate for these shortcomings seem to detract from the overall sound of the bass. Third, "heavy" music places a premium on unison playing to increase the "heaviosity" of the riff, and also tends to value unison stops. Hence, the bass follows the guitar.

These sonic and musical considerations are only half of the story, though. The other half is this. When you listen to nu-metal, the bass tends to play very simple figures over and over. It may as well not be there, but for the need for increased heaviosity. This was NOT the case when Bruce Dickinson fronted Iron Maiden, my friend!! But this WAS the case when Kip Winger fronted, er, Winger. All that has changed is the musical vocabulary. Whereas hair/glam metal bands would have had the bassist play a pedal tone eight hundred times underneath the intro riff to song (for example Judas Priest's "You Got Another Thing Coming," or Van Halen's "Running With The Devil," or almost every Poison song ever) while the band sings about guitars, women, parties, or touring, nu-metal bassists play E-F-E-Bb over and over while the band sings about fury, rage, anger, or angst. New wine, old bottles. Bo-ring. Nu-Metal bands are nothing but Poison in a post-grunge world. Except without the hair or entertainment value. Or quality.

I don't know why I care so much; and I can't think of why you should. I actually LIKE hair metal, a lot. A lot a lot. But hair metal bands labored under no illusions that they were making art, much less a statement. It was fun! Nu-metal, on the other hand, tries hard not to be fun. And, as Lisa Simpson once said, "making teenagers feel angst is like shooting fish in a barrel."

Up next: the death of the bass in indie rock: the porn connection.

[posted by Buckethead]:
News from N. Korea

A defector from N. Korea, Park Gap Dong, is suggesting that the US mount preemptive strikes on that nation's nuclear facilities, to forestall Kim Jong-il's regime from arming its missiles with miniaturized nuclear warheads.

The article has some interesting quotes:

"U.S. strikes against North Korean targets would force Kim Jong-il to seek asylum in China. Kim is a coward. If attacked, he will flee. The North Korean army would not fight after the regime collapsed."

"Many North Koreans believe that the United States is their savior and the only nation that can liberate North Korea," he said. The flood of hate-America propaganda from North Korea represents only the relatively small number of people around Kim Jong-Il."

Park also warned that the North, given the opportunity to develop nuclear weapons, would use them against the south, Japan and even the United States.

Park heads the National Salvation Front, a group of high-ranking North Korean exiles that includes five former generals of the North Korean army, the former vice minister of home affairs, the former vice minister of culture and the former superintendent of the North Korea Military Academy.

[posted by Buckethead]:
Some old disease names

BILIOUSNESS - Jaundice or other symptoms associated with liver disease; may also have been any upset leading to vomiting bile or just vomiting
BLACK JAUNDICE - Wiel's Disease; Black Water fever (deadly form of malaria)
BLACK POX - Black Smallpox
BLOODY FLUX Bloody stools
BREAKBONE Dengue fever, Infectious fever endemic to East Africa
EEL THING Erysipelas
KRUCHHUSTEN Whooping cough
LOCKJAW Tetanus or infectious disease affecting the muscles of the neck and jaw. Untreated, it is fatal in 8 days
MORMAL Gangrene
RICKETS Disease of skeletal system
SCRUMPOX Skin disease, impetigo

[posted by Buckethead]:
Disease Names

I have noticed a disturbing trend lately. Names of diseases no longer sound like disease names. Long gone are the days of scurvy, gout, consumption, scarlet fever, yellow fever and plague. Now we have antiseptic acronymic disease names like AIDS, SARS, HIV, CFS. We have even ruined good disease names like herpes by adding -simplex I and the like.

The only decent new disease name is hemorrhagic fever. We need to come up with better names for our diseases. Names with bite, names that sound like you are slowly dying in agony.

[posted by Buckethead]:
Re: Summer Reading

Despite the derivative nature of your post, there is a reason why many people do it. Its fun. (Except for ripping off Kaus, which is annoying. -ed) I have had little time to read lately, which is painful as I have read three books a week for most of the last twenty years. The addiction is strong for me.

Nevertheless, I have managed to read a couple books this summer.

  • The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay Johno has been bugging me to read this since the dawn of time. I should not have waited so long. (btw, this book got the record for most comments from other people who see me reading a book, at five. The previous record was for Huntington's Clash of Civilizations. I do live in DC.)

  • The Long Goodbye, Raymond Chandler. I read this book about once a year. I still don't know what the plot is, but what is plot when the writing is this beautiful?

  • A Princess of Mars, Edgar Rice Burroughs. I love, love, love this book. Thoats, Zitidars, and Calots, oh my.

  • Heaven on Earth, by Joshua Muravchik. Still reading this one. A history of socialism by a red diaper baby who lost his faith. He still has sympathy for the figures involved, and it seems a balanced account. It is amazing how everything in modern communism was prefigured in Babeuf back in the French Revolution. Good book.

    Johno is right, I do like the hard sf. One reason I stopped reading fantasy was the depressing sameness of it all. The engineering/scientific outlook on life does lend a certain flavor to hard sf. But it certainly doesn't suppress the imagination. Working under the constraints of hard sf forces some writers to greater flights of imagination than more open formats might.

    [btw]My favorite part of killing star was the central park analogy. Read the book, it is one of the more chilling things you'll read. Because it could be true.

  • Thursday, July 10, 2003
    [posted by johnny two-cents]:
    On Liberty

    Randy Barnett of the Volokh Conspiracy has an excellent, penetrating, and informative piece up at the National Review about the SCOTUS decision in Lawrence v. Texas. Here's the opening paragraph and two of the conclusion.

    The more one ponders the Supreme Court's decision in Lawrence v. Texas, the more revolutionary it seems. Not because it recognizes the rights of gays and lesbians to sexual activity free of the stigmatization of the criminal law — though this is of utmost importance. No, the case is revolutionary because Justice Kennedy (and at least four justices who signed on to his opinion without separate concurrences) have finally broken free of the post-New Deal constitutional tension between a "presumption of constitutionality" on the one hand and "fundamental rights" on the other. Contrary to what has been reported repeatedly in the press, the Court in Lawrence did not protect a "right of privacy." Rather, it protected "liberty" — and without showing that the particular liberty in question is somehow "fundamental." Appreciation of the significance of this major development in constitutional law requires some historical background. . . .

    In the end, Lawrence is a very simple ruling. Justice Kennedy examined the conduct at issue to see if it was properly an aspect of liberty (as opposed to license), and then asked the government to justify its restriction, which it failed adequately to do. The decision would have been far more transparent if Justice Kennedy had acknowledged what was really happening (though perhaps this would have lost some votes by other justices). Without this acknowledgement, the revolutionary aspect of his opinion is concealed, and it is rendered vulnerable to the ridicule of the dissent. Far better would have been to more closely track the superb amicus brief of the Cato Institute which he twice cites approvingly.

    If the Court is serious, the effect on other cases of this shift from "privacy" to "liberty," and away from the New Deal-induced tension between "the presumption of constitutionality" and "fundamental rights," could be profound. For example, the medical-marijuana cases now wending their way through the Ninth Circuit would be greatly affected if those seeking to use or distribute medical marijuana pursuant to California law did not have to show that their liberty to do so was somehow "fundamental" — and if the government was forced to justify its restriction on that liberty. While wrongful behavior (license) could be prohibited, rightful behavior (liberty) could be regulated provided that the regulation was shown to be necessary and proper.

    The debate over privacy has long been misguided. The question germane to our Constitutional rights is not "does [state action x] violate our right to privacy?" Although the ninth amendment could be construed to contain such a provision, it's not clear that it does and I'm sure real actual legal scholars, of which I am not one, would be able to tell you why.

    The germane question in any case-- be it bedroom behavior of any kind, medical marijuana, or the right not to be videotaped in your home-- is rather, "does [state action x] violate our right to liberty?" Barnett does an excellent job splitting the difference between liberty and license, for which reason alone you should read the article. But the more important point he makes, from where I sit, is that the Constitution includes clear instructions on how to cope with questions of thou shalt/not when it comes to consensual, individual action, and those who would fight for liberties they find important would do well to stand on that firm ground.

    [posted by johnny two-cents]:
    Summer Reading

    It's well known that we do things our own way around here.

    (Actually sir, that's not so well known. Nobody reads this blog. And you're about to do something that everybody's doing. Not to mention you're ripping off Kaus. -ed.)

    Well, whatever. Since I've been reading at the steady clip of about three books a weeks for the last few months, I thought I'd share some recommendations.

  • Jarhead, Anthony Swofford. Is to the Gulf War what The Things They Carried was to Vietnam, in every way possible, including being much easier to read.
  • Founding Brothers, Joseph Ellis. Joe Ellis might be a liar and a cheat, but his history is good. For all of my degree-having and claimed expertise, it was this book that really made me begin to understand the men who shaped the United States' destiny.
  • The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Haruki Murakame. The only points of comparison I have are Thomas Pynchon, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and perhaps Milan Kundera. Wierd, masterful, and breathtaking.
  • The Long Goodbye, Raymond Chandler. I read this book about once a year. I still don't know what the plot is, but what is plot when the writing is this beautiful?
  • Everything on Buckethead's Science Fiction List. I'm almost through it, and have not been disappointed yet.

    And finally, beautiful irony. I think Buckethead likes more than I do science fiction written by scientists and science-advocates, e.g. Gregory Benford, Jerry Pournelle, Charles Pellegrino. Their writing tends to share a certain cant, much as police procedurals, outbreak novels, and spy novels do. It doesn't appeal to me too greatly, but I read it for passages like this one, from a point in the Pellegrino/Zebrowski novel "Killing Star" after the aliens have found Earth and tried to wipe it out but before anyone knows why:

    "Got it!" he announced triumphantly. "The Intruders seem to be rebroadcasting what remains to this day the loudest, most highly synchronized electromagnetic shout ever sent out from Earth. On April 5, 1985, as part of a publicity effort to bring aid to the starving children of Africa, every radio and television station on every continent began brodcasting the same message at the same moment-- a composition called "We Are The World," by one Michael Jackson. I'm not trying to sound ironic, but I think the Intruders are trying to tell us what first drew their attention to our species."

    "So this Michael Jackson became the first definitive sign of intelligent life on Earth," Sargenti said acidly. "And the Intruders are throwing it back at us. Whatever for?"

    "To mock us?" General Stoff asked. "But of course that can't be true."

    "So what did they do all these years?" Sargenti said. "Just wait around replaying this tune to themselves until they could build starships and come finish us off? They must be insane!"

    "Or very determined music critics," Isak said.

    I appreciate cruel symmetry wherever it exists.

    [posted by johnny two-cents]:
    Awe-Inspiring Kung Fu

    Via the New Republic's weblog, witness the unstoppable majesty of Ari Fleischer, speaking at a news conference yesterday:

    I think the American people continue to express their support for ridding the world of Saddam Hussein based on just cause, knowing that Saddam Hussein had biological and chemical weapons that were unaccounted for that we're still confident we'll find. I think the burden is on those people who think he didn't have weapons of mass destruction to tell the world where they are. [emphasis added]
    We are but grasshoppers.

    [posted by Windy City Mike]:
    Things that have annoyed me lately

    The fact that no person or news agency other than PBS' Frontline has been honest about the very simple reasons for going to war with Iraq, and that removing a dictator with things that go boom wasn't one of them. There are reasons, and then there are excuses.

    Being told that it's a-okay to have me teaching part-time, but that I might be overqualified to work as a full-time instructor during the course of the interview for said full-time position. The fact that I won't get the full-time position because they'll probably give it to a jug-head who has no business being in a class-room as a student, much less a prof.

    Realizing that other, similar colleges might consider me overqualified while knowing that the next step up will most likely consider me underqualified.

    Referring to Hispanics (a term that the U.S. government invented) as though they were a single ethnic group. If that's the case, then the whole of the European continent, Britain, Ireland, the near east, and north Africa are all peopled by members of the same ethnic group.

    Speaking of Africa as though it were a country and not a continent.

    The scratch in my eye that keeps reopening to leave me in blinding pain every morning, including the one I had the aforementioned interview.

    Not to sound like a populist demagogue, but banks have my goat at the moment.

    The sad lack of free alcoholic beverages distributed by the government to people who work part-time and have difficulty acquiring full-time employment, or unemployed people with no employment, in a poor economy with a national unemployment rate over 6%.

    Just the unemployment rate by itself, and that people are having difficulty paying rent and buying food, much less a luxury like booze.

    Dealing directly and extensively with people I dislike, especially pain in the ass co-workers.

    Women who turn their noses up at men who make less than $100,000 a year. That's roughly 98% of them in this town. The other 2% are already married to guys who make less than $100,000 a year, leaving me pretty much out in the cold.

    That the odds of being shot, stabbed, or bounced repeatedly off the front windshield of a speeding taxi attempting to swerve through traffic with its passenger side wheels on the sidewalk are better than experiencing even moderately good fortune.

    That by next year, the only good show on HBO will be Six Feet Under. An excellent series, but my life has so little. How 'bout just one more season of The Sopranos after this next one, Gandolfini? What do you say?

    Finally, the very last thing that's annoyed me lately, television commercials where one character pretends to accept the meaning of a word or phrase spoken by another character except the second character deals in reality and the first character has his own language and lives in his own little world. Like the one where that rich asshole who made his money the old-fashioned way he inherited it and never worked a goddam day in his privileged life in the pickup with his gold-digging wife and whiny children with a sense of entitlement, hauling a fucking boat, the total monetary value of both vehicles being more than most people will see in their entire lives represents himself as a trucker to an actual trucker and the rich jag-off thinks he's a trucker because he has a fucking pick-up!

    I almost feel better. Except something else will piss me off tomorrow, and I'll be back where I started.

    Wednesday, July 09, 2003
    [posted by Buckethead]:
    Things not so bad in Afghanistan

    While we have come to expect media doommongering as the default view of any world situation, things are not always so bad as they seem. While conditions are not up to western standards in Afghanistan (nor have they been any time recently), according to actual Afghanis, things are getting better since the removal of the Taliban.

    Tuesday, July 08, 2003
    [posted by johnny two-cents]:
    Budget Cuts and Alien Menaces

    Buckethead, budget cuts are only half the picture, and the cuts could always have been vetoed by Jeb if he so desired. Furthermore, Pres. Rice in her one term, for all her talk of interstellar security, seemed more than willing to extend the already thin Fleet beyond its capabilities with police actions on every podunk world this side of the Coal Sack. If they weren't already committed in so many systems, it might have been easier NOT to get involved in rearguard actions against local enemies. I think THAT is the very nexus of the problem.

    Need I remind you that since Pres. Clinton (shudder) took office, more than twenty new ships of the line have been sent toward the Coal Sack? Need I remind you that it would not now be too late, that those ships would not be all but lost, if it had not been for Bush/Rice's neo-interventionist, Imperial, very hands-on domestic policy (sending our own troops against New Scotland!! Seriously, now!!) sapping the once-mighty strength of the Murcheson Fleet.

    There might be hundreds of people I would rather have in charge than our current President, but not even Washington, Jackson, or Grant could do anything more than delay the day our skies blacken with the shapes of the filthy, three-armed menace that will so soon erase us from the face of the Universe.

    [moreover] "A Mote In God's Eye" might be pretty good, but Dan Simmon's "Hyperion" and its sequels beats it all to hell on all fronts.

    [posted by Buckethead]:
    Budget cuts?Despite the pleas of the Bush/Rice administration, the budgets for the Murcheson fleet were reduced by the house budget commitee (chaired by Clinton?Daschle lacky Rep. McAuliffe) to fund hive rat studies on Makassar. Just like them to underfund the fleet they are so willing to send on peacekeeping missions all over local space, instead of protecting us from the deadliest threat we know of.

    It's bad enough being outnumbered by aliens who are stupid. But when you're massively outnumbered by aliens much smarter than you, it's a bad day.

    [moreover]I mentioned this novel in my top five science fiction books list back in May. You should have read it by now! Lazy slackers.

    [posted by johnny two-cents]:

    Buckethead, the Moties never would have made it more than a thousand kilometers from their initial Murcheson Point if the boneheaded, pollyanna interstellar policy of the Bush III administration had not cut the budget of the Murcheson Fleet to the quick. What, Alderson Drives just build themselves? Clinton/Daschle, as awful as they may be, are merely trying to hold back the tide with a teaspoon. A Bush-III-mandated teaspoon.

    Kiss your human butt goodbye, two-arms.

    [moreover] For those of you who think we're insane, I give you this classic science fiction novel.

    [posted by Buckethead]:
    On a more serious note...

    Tomorrow will be a big day in Iran - the fourth anniversary of the student protest movement. It will be interesting if this gets any traction on the major media, or comment from the administration. The latter is more likely, even though the protests could involve hundreds of thousands of people around Iran. This despite the fact that last week the government arrested over 4000 protest leaders, including 800 students, and has closed the University of Tehran and most other schools as well.

    I pray that the protestors can bring down the mullahs, and that we support them in their efforts.

    [posted by Buckethead]:

    Just reading through all the blogging goodness that I missed while being exploited by my capitalist, uh, exploiters; and working hard to become a dirty capitalist landlord; I noticed Johno's opst on whiteness studies.

    That is the most asshatted, fuckwitted, nozzleheaded bugfuckery I have run across in a goodly long while. Although - just think if some sneaky bastard used the banner of whiteness studies to hide a return to the study of the classics? Just thinkin, is all...

    [posted by johnny two-cents]:
    Buckethead is back

    ...and he's been playing with toys. I would say that fatherhood has changed him, but that would be wrong. Bucket: Blogger looks different because while you've been away, they upgraded us to blogger-super-plus. Also, there is now a cure for cancer delivered in smokeable form, soccer is our new national pastime, dolphins and octopi have been discovered to be excellent at market analysis and are now the bulk of the staff at most large brokerages, and Vice President Daschle is standing by President Clinton's decision to use force against the Motie forces currently massing beyond Saturn.

    [posted by johnny two-cents]:
    More on uranium

    Calpundit points to a story that suggests Bush knew the Nigerian Uranium story was bogus from the start yet chose to use it as evidence anyway. Like Calpundit, "I'm not sure how seriously to take this," but if, if this is so, it's awfully damning.

    It's one thing to overplay your hand on thin evidence, or ignore the caution of the experts, which is what I think the President probably did. It would be another thing for the President's people to have made up evidence against Iraq as it suits them. I'll be watching this-- I want to know which thing really happened. Bad news either way, but much, much worse if this new development turns out to be credible.

    [posted by Buckethead]:
    Fun webtools dept.

    The sign builder is a good way to waste some time. When we move this blog to a more salubrious clime, you will be able to see the results of buckethead cut loose on one of the time wasting webtools.

    [posted by Buckethead]:

    The control panel for the blog looks different when you use Netscape 7. How's that for an engaging post after a weeks long absence.

    [posted by johnny two-cents]:
    Crow, served hot

    I'm baaack! (finally...)

    So, the President has now admitted that the ironclad evidence that Iraq had purchased fissionable uranium from African nations was, in a word, vaporous. Reminds me of the time when the President made up that bit about Iraq buying up aluminum tubes that were only for use in reactors. One event implies nothing. From two like events you can posit the existence of a third.

    The NYT has their story, and "Philippe de Croy" of the Volokhs writes,

    Whether his credibility is becoming a problem domestically I do not know. There are plenty of people in this country who will continue to defend the Bush administration almost no matter what happens either because they find Bush personally appealing or because the importance of keeping the Democrats out is so great that they would rather excuse Bush and go on trusting him, more or less, content to call for the heads of whatever underlings were, ahem, “responsible” for any misinformation that was distributed. They feel that it beats the alternative. I understand why

    I am sure some countries will continue to provide us with ample respect and cooperation in any case because they regard it as so strongly in their interest to do so. But at the margin the cost in credibility will have to be high. I should think that most countries -- their people and their leaders -- will look back at the war on Iraq and remember the incredulous indignation we heaped upon those who would not go along with us. Then they will look at what came out afterwards and conclude that we are clowns or worse. They will not focus on what we claimed that was true. They will focus on what we claimed that was false.

    This situation was always one of my biggest underlying reservations about the libervasion of Iraq. Don't get me wrong-- I am delighted, repeat delighted that Saddam Hussein is no longer the man in power in Iraq. But I always felt the risks of libervasion were very high when it comes to the international stage. That's not to say that we must bow and scrape before the UN when we wish to change our trade relationship with Cameroon, but the poisonous war of words that raged earlier this year could turn out poorly for the US. Our incredulous indignation, which is exactly what it was, though seemingly justified in February, could bite us in the ass if in the future we must fend off a truly immediate, credible threat from abroad and the rest of the world 'chooses' to believe we are crying "wolf."

    [moreover] The administration's credibility on domestic matters has never been that high from my point of view. I think he's heading for a perhaps hollow, bitter, Nixonian second term at home, and a Wilsonian one abroad.