Wednesday, December 29, 2004

In this post from his blog "The Big Picture," Barry L. Ritholtz examines the music industry's new pricing tactic of offering both "stripped down" and "deluxe" versions of CDs.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Digital Globe has aerial photos of the damage caused in Sri Lanka by the December 26th tsunami, including his view of the tsunami striking land and these before and after views of the Sri Lankan beach.

Monday, December 27, 2004

On December 26th a magnitude 9 earthquake struck off the west coast of northern Sumatra. The earthquake created a tsunami that spread across the Bay of Bengal. This US Geologic Survey page is the preliminary report on the earthquake. This NOAA page shows an animated Quicktime movie of the tsunami that followed the earthquake. This page shows a shorter animated gif movie of the tsunami.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Admiral Bob Inman served as director of the National Security Agency, vice director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, director of Naval Intelligence, and deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency. In this Slate interview, Inman answers questions about the 9/11 intelligence failures, the Echelon Project, Donald Rumsfeld, and William Casey.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

David Foster Wallace discusses the question, “Is it all right to boil a sentient creature alive just for our gustatory pleasure?” in his Gourmet magazine article "Consider the Lobster." You can access the article here as a PDF file.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Dave Eggers discusses the history of Monty Python's Flying Circus in this New Yorker article that previews Eric Idle's new Broadway show Spamalot based on Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Recently I've discovered some interesting blogs about books and reading. So far my favorite literature blog is Conversational Reading. This post from Conversational Reading explains how to know When You Have Too Many Books.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

From The Village People in Can't Stop the Christmas Music—On Ice! to Noam Chomsky: Deconstructing Christmas, National Lampoon came up with some funny ideas for their list of The 10 Least Successful Holiday Specials of All Time. Unfortunately all these made-up shows pale before the real and unbelievably bad Star Wars Holiday Special.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Todd Gitlin explains Why the Democrats Lost in this Columbia Political Review article. Michael Tomasky looks at the future of the Democratic Party in this American Prospect article.

Monday, December 13, 2004

As he did last year, Fimoculous is compiling his "List of Bests of the Year" in categories such as film, books, and music.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Tim Hunkin discusses the history of safes and safecracking in this illustrated lecture.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Virtual Bubblewrap - Pop bubblewrap online.

Monday, December 06, 2004

The announcement that the artifacts from King Tut's tomb will return to the United States next year inspired Steve Martin to write this New York Times column to set the record straight about King Tut and "the silly song" Martin wrote about him:

"It does strike me as ironic that the song has become the standard reference work on the subject of King Tut. Many of the lines in the song are now believed to be fact. In this article I should - as a serious scholar - set the record straight:

King Tut was not "born in Arizona."

He did not live in a "condo made of stone-a."

King Tut did not "do the monkey," nor did he "move to Babylonia."

King Tut was not a honky.

He was not "buried in his jammies."

The song does, however, make a valid assertion that scholars still regard as a breakthrough: King Tut was, as explained in the song, "an Egyptian."

Sunday, December 05, 2004

This New Yorker article discusses the differences in how well doctors treat the same diseases. It shows the difference between average cystic fibrosis treatment and excellent cystic fibrosis treatment. It also discusses why information on differences in the quality of medical care is almost never made public.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Wimblehack is a competition to determine the country's Worst Campaign Journalist. This year's winner is Elisabeth Bumiller of the New York Times. Matt Taibbi explains why Bumiller won in this New York Press article.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Merriam-Webster released their list of the Top 10 Words of the Year. The list is drawn from the most researched words on Merriam-Webster's Web sites.

2004's top word is Blog, which has the following definition:

"Blog noun [short for Weblog] (1999) : a Web site that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks provided by the writer."

Follow this link to see the Top 10 Words of the Year.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

You can find information on every fake rock band that, uh, never existed in The Rocklopedia Fakebandica.

Monday, November 29, 2004

A 15-year-old Wisconsin girl became the first known human to survive rabies without vaccination. According to this Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel article, a team of eight specialists at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin intentionally placed her in a coma and "treated her with a four-drug cocktail - two anti-virals that helped salvage her brain and two anesthetics. She was never given a rabies vaccine because it is considered ineffective once clinical symptoms develop."

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Common Dreams presents Ten Reasons Not to Move to Canada.

Monday, November 22, 2004

According to this Washington Post article,

"A $388 billion government-wide spending bill, passed by Congress on Saturday, was stranded on Capitol Hill yesterday, its trip to the White House on hold as embarrassed Republicans prepared to repeal a provision that could give the Appropriations committees the right to examine the tax returns of Americans.

Top GOP lawmakers disavowed the provision, expressed surprise that it was in the bill, and blamed both the Internal Revenue Service and congressional staffs for incorporating it into the omnibus spending package funding domestic departments in 2005."

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Last August I linked to this Morning News article by Matthew Baldwin that revealed the trade secrets of several professions. Now Baldwin has started a weblog on trade secrets called Tricks of the Trade.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Robert David Sullivan goes beyond red and blue to analyze the 2004 election using his map that divides the country into 10 political regions in this CommonWealth magazine article.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

In this New Yorker article, Roger Angell looks back at the championship season of the Boston Red Sox, and finds that the Sox remind him of another team.

"Watching the unkempt Red Sox brought back to me a different frazzled and talented bunch, the 1982 Milwaukee Brewers, who lost a seven-game World Series to the Cardinals that year. Three veteran swingers in their lineup—Ben Ogilvie, Cecil Cooper, and Gorman Thomas—combined for a hundred and five homers that season, while two others, Paul Molitor and Robin Yount, were heading for the Hall of Fame. Grunge and three-day beards were a specialty with the frowzy Thomas, who wore the same pair of lucky stockings in every game of the year, and Pete Vuckovich, a hulking right-handed starter who later played the heavy in the movie “Major League.” Despite resemblances, the style gap (and the income gap) between the two teams is hard to grasp. These Brewers were working guys, grizzled clubhouse rats who lingered over their card games, and later helped out behind the bar at Cesar’s Inn, a nearby factory-clientele bar owned by manager Harvey Kuenn and his wife, Audrey. It would never have occurred to Harvey’s Wallbangers (as they were known) to goof around like adolescents in the clubhouse or the dugout; they were grown men, and private. Were they better hitters than the 2004 Red Sox? Maybe not."

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

According to this Associated Press article, former Van Halen singer David Lee Roth "has been riding for several weeks with a New York ambulance crew in training to become a paramedic, The New York Post reported Tuesday.

"I have been on over 200 individual rides now," said Roth. "Not once has anyone recognized me, which is perfect for me."

Monday, November 15, 2004

The Bush administration has finally discovered that the problem with American intelligence is that the CIA is a "hotbed of liberals."

According to this Newsday article by Knut Royce, "The White House has ordered the new CIA director, Porter Goss, to purge the agency of officers believed to have been disloyal to President George W. Bush or of leaking damaging information to the media about the conduct of the Iraq war and the hunt for Osama bin Laden, according to knowledgeable sources.

"The agency is being purged on instructions from the White House," said a former senior CIA official who maintains close ties to both the agency and to the White House. "Goss was given instructions ... to get rid of those soft leakers and liberal Democrats. The CIA is looked on by the White House as a hotbed of liberals and people who have been obstructing the president's agenda."

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Montana is one of the most conservative states in the country. George Bush won the state by more than 20 points in this year's election. But, according to this Washington Monthly article, "in November, a Democrat, Brian Schweitzer, won the state's race for governor. Schweitzer not only won, but he also won decisively, beating his opponent Bob Brown, the Republican secretary of state and a two-decade fixture in Montana politics, by a solid four points. His victory was so resounding and provided down-ballot party members such strong coattails that Montana Democrats took the state senate and four of five statewide offices.

How did Schweitzer pull off such a dramatic victory in an election year when Democrats seemed to have lost their capacity to win red states? The answer should give Democrats everywhere some hope and Republicans reason to worry."

Thursday, November 11, 2004

In this New Yorker article, Malcolm Gladwell considers The Ketchup Conundrum. If mustard now comes in dozens of varieties, then why has ketchup stayed the same?

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Will Shetterly looks back at the 2000 election and wonders "What if George W. Bush had been elected president?"

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

According to this Wall Street Journal article:

"Brad Anderson, chief executive officer of Best Buy Co., is embracing a heretical notion for a retailer. He wants to separate the "angels" among his 1.5 million daily customers from the "devils."

Best Buy's angels are customers who boost profits at the consumer-electronics giant by snapping up high-definition televisions, portable electronics, and newly released DVDs without waiting for markdowns or rebates.

The devils are its worst customers. They buy products, apply for rebates, return the purchases, then buy them back at returned-merchandise discounts. They load up on "loss leaders," severely discounted merchandise designed to boost store traffic, then flip the goods at a profit on eBay. They slap down rock-bottom price quotes from Web sites and demand that Best Buy make good on its lowest-price pledge. "They can wreak enormous economic havoc," says Mr. Anderson."

Monday, November 08, 2004

Neal Stephenson answers questions about money, science fiction, and the singularity in this Slashdot Interview. Stephenson also answers the question "In a fight between you and William Gibson, who would win?" His answer begins:

"You don't have to settle for mere idle speculation. Let me tell you how it came out on the three occasions when we did fight.

The first time was a year or two after SNOW CRASH came out. I was doing a reading/signing at White Dwarf Books in Vancouver. Gibson stopped by to say hello and extended his hand as if to shake. But I remembered something Bruce Sterling had told me. For, at the time, Sterling and I had formed a pact to fight Gibson. Gibson had been regrown in a vat from scraps of DNA after Sterling had crashed an LNG tanker into Gibson's Stealth pleasure barge in the Straits of Juan de Fuca. During the regeneration process, telescoping Carbonite stilettos had been incorporated into Gibson's arms. Remembering this in the nick of time, I grabbed the signing table and flipped it up between us. Of course the Carbonite stilettos pierced it as if it were cork board, but this spoiled his aim long enough for me to whip my wakizashi out from between my shoulder blades and swing at his head. He deflected the blow with a force blast that sprained my wrist. The falling table knocked over a space heater and set fire to the store. Everyone else fled. Gibson and I dueled among blazing stacks of books for a while. Slowly I gained the upper hand, for, on defense, his Praying Mantis style was no match for my Flying Cloud technique. But I lost him behind a cloud of smoke. Then I had to get out of the place. The streets were crowded with his black-suited minions and I had to turn into a swarm of locusts and fly back to Seattle."

To read the read of his answer read question 4 of the Slashdot Interview.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

E. J. Dionne gives his view of the election in this Washington Post column:

"Let's be honest: We are aghast at the success of a campaign based on vicious personal attacks, the exploitation of strong religious feelings and an effort to create the appearance of strong leadership that would do Hollywood proud. We are alarmed that so many of our fellow citizens could look the other way and not hold Bush accountable for utter incompetence in Iraq and for untruths spoken in defense of the war. We are amazed that a majority was not concerned about heaping a huge debt burden on our children just to give large tax breaks to the rich.

And we are disgusted that an effort consciously designed to divide the country did exactly that -- and won. With all his failures, Bush could not count on a whole lot more than 51 percent. Karl Rove and company calculated perfectly, organized painstakingly, greatly increased conservative turnout and produced a country divided just their way."

Monday, November 01, 2004

This TAPPED post wonders, "Are Early Voters Different? Reports from the early voting are trickling in and, at least in two make-or-break battleground states, show a pretty dramatic preference for John Kerry over George W. Bush. In Florida, the latest Gallup poll showed that about a third of the polled voters had already cast ballots and that Kerry led 51 percent to 43 percent among them. In Iowa, according to The Des Moines Register, 27 percent of those polled by Saturday had already voted, and Kerry was similarly favored 52 percent to 41 percent by the early birds. In both states, those who had yet to vote were more pro-Bush than those who'd already cast ballots. So what explains the difference?"

After looking at information on early turnout in Iowa, Florida, and Tennessee, the post concludes, "Turnout has also been extremely high in Georgia and Nevada. All of which suggests to me that the people turning out in record numbers and voting early may actually be representative of voter preferences in their communities and turning out because of heightened interest in the campaigns and the convenience of early voting, rather than because of any specific voter preferences. Which would mean that if Kerry's ahead in certain states among the early voters, he's likely to be ahead in them when all the votes are counted, as well."

Sunday, October 31, 2004

The Republicans are attempting to use a variety of voter suppression tactics in this year's election. In this post, New Donkey explains 3 categories of voter suppression currently being used by Republicans: Dirty Tricks, Official Malfeasance, and Voter Intimidation.

This Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article explains how Republicans are trying to suppress voters in Milwaukee.

"Citing a new list of more than 37,000 questionable addresses, the state Republican Party demanded Saturday that Milwaukee city officials require identification from all of those voters Tuesday.

If the city doesn't, the party says it is prepared to have volunteers challenge each individual - including thousands who might be missing an apartment number on their registration - at the polls.

The move, which dramatically escalates the party's claims of bad addresses and potential fraud, was condemned by Democrats as a last-minute effort to suppress turnout in the city by creating long delays at the polls.

City officials, who already were trying to establish safeguards in response to the party's claim of 5,619 bad addresses, were surprised by the 37,180 number, nearly seven times larger.

"It's not a leap at all to say the potential for voter fraud is high in the city, and the integrity of the entire election, frankly, is at stake," said Rick Graber, state GOP chairman. "The city's records are in horrible shape."

Any inaccurate address, he said, is an opening for someone to cast a fraudulent vote. However, many of the new addresses now cited might be eligible voters who have voted for years without problems.

City Attorney Grant Langley labeled the GOP request "outrageous."

"We have already uncovered hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of addresses on their (original list) that do exist," said Langley, who holds a non-partisan office. "Why should I take their word for the fact this new list is good? I'm out of the politics on this, but this is purely political."

You can read the full article here.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

According to this National Geographic article, "Scientists have found skeletons of a hobbit-like species of human that grew no larger than a three-year-old modern child. The tiny humans, who had skulls about the size of grapefruits, lived with pygmy elephants and Komodo dragons on a remote island in Indonesia 18,000 years ago."

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Nick Confessore explains the Republican strategy for winning the swing states in this post from Tapped:

"First, the GOP, using what appear to qualify as illegal methods, has attempted to mislead thousands of Democratic-leaning voters in Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and elsewhere, into thinking they'd be registered but are not. (And Ed Gillespie, whose own outfit is funding these efforts via Sproul & Associates and God knows what other firms and consultants, is alleging Democratic fraud in precisely those states! Black is white. Up is down.) Consequently, those thousands of people are going to show up at polls and probably run into a lot of confusion and paperwork and problems. At the same time, Republican secretaries of state and election officials in Ohio, Florida, and elsewhere are pushing interpretations of election statutes that further muddy the waters for those who do get to vote.

Having done as much as possible to create the conditions for a confusing election, the GOP is getting ready to cast the inevitable results of that confusion -- people turning up in the wrong precincts, people who've moved from the neighborhood they originally registered and are trying to vote wherever they live now, and so forth -- as symptoms of outright election fraud. On Election Day, the GOP will challenge as many votes as they can at the polls, on whatever pretext is handy. They've already said they will. And then, if they're behind at the end of the day, GOP officials will start alleging massive voter fraud in Ohio, Florida, and elsewhere, whatever the facts on the ground are. That will give them a rhetorical advantage in the short-term -- if, say, John Kerry is far enough ahead that he declares victory, but there are still some votes to be counted or re-counted. And it's important for the long-term, too. If Kerry does win, but only narrowly, the GOP will allege that the Democrats stole the election, which will set the stage for later Republican efforts to shut down Kerry's ability to govern and deny him legitimacy."

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

According to this Washington Post column by E.J. Dionne, "In the torrent of polling information released over the weekend, the most significant finding was this one: John Kerry's supporters are more likely than George W. Bush's to believe that this year's election is the most important of their lifetimes."

Monday, October 25, 2004

The Jon Stewart backlash has begun. In this New York magazine article, Ken Tucker takes a critical look at John Stewart and The Daily Show. According to Tucker:

"Stewart’s persona implies a more ferocious attack than he actually launches. No matter that his Manhattan-liberal studio audience laughs harder at his ridicule of Bush; to these eyes, Stewart has bought into network news’ most pious belief—the debilitating notion of “evenhandedness.” As with most hip satirists, Stewart’s underlying message is that both sides are square (Bush = bumbling warmonger; Kerry = garrulous equivocator). Thus, The Daily Show may actually undermine the sober message Stewart seems intent on beaming out between the lines of scripted jokes and in interviews: that this time, it’s really important to get off our asses and vote."

Tucker concludes by writing:

"All these months, Stewart has been coming from a good yet naïve place; he seems to truly believe that if his show so rigorously parodied and pilloried these ethically corrupt news and analysis shows, the Crossfires and the Hardballs would have a revelation—they’d do what Stewart was begging them to do: conduct true conversations, without the squawk and the hyped-up false alarums. But now he seems rattled by his own power, and unsure how to react. When he stepped over the line, he demonstrated that the line still exists.

So this is the dilemma Jon Stewart now finds himself facing: Is he the Emmy-winning “monkey,” idol to millions of young couch-skeptics, or the thoughtful partisan satirist who’d like to be a player in the national discourse? It would take a genius comic to pull off both roles. But for the moment—his moment; his make-or-break moment up until the election—I’m sad to say, my money’s on the monkey to win out."

Sunday, October 24, 2004

According to Brad DeLong, "In the July/August Atlantic, James Fallows wrote an illuminating piece on the then-upcoming debates between George W. Bush and John Kerry. For his article, rather than talking to campaign spinners for each side and reporting what they said, he dove into the archival record of each man's debates, and made an astonishing discovery: 10 years ago, George W. Bush was an articulate, forceful debater. Tough to belive, but when Fallows reviewed the tapes of Bush's 1994 debate with Anne Richards, he found that not only did Bush win the debate, but he spoke well."

Follow this link to watch a video that "shows what James Fallows reported as a striking deterioration in George W. Bush's speaking skills in last 10 years."

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

According to this Los Angeles Times article by Robert Scheer, " The Bush administration is suppressing a CIA report on 9/11 until after the election, and this one names names. Although the report by the inspector general's office of the CIA was completed in June, it has not been made available to the congressional intelligence committees that mandated the study almost two years ago."

You can read the whole article here.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Both Jon Stewart and two of Crossfire's hosts have commented on Friday's Crossfire broadcast in which Stewart criticized the show. (See yesterday's post.) This Washington Post article quotes Crossfire host Robert Novak as saying, "Let me say something about Jon Stewart. I don't think he's funny. And I know he's uninformed."

Although Novak did not appear on Friday's edition of Crossfire, Stewart's opinion of him has been clear for a long time. As the article points out, "Back in September, Stewart awarded Novak the "Congressional Medal of Douche Bag" for having first published the name of a CIA operative."

On Monday's The Daily Show, Stewart talked about his Crossfire experience and explained that, "They said I wasn't being funny. And I said to them, 'I know that, but tomorrow I will go back to being funny, and your show will still blow.'"

Follow this link to watch video of Stewart discussing his Crossfire appearance.

Monday, October 18, 2004

The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart appeared on Crossfire last Wednesday. The hosts expected him to make jokes to promote his new book "America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction." Instead, Stewart told them that their show was “hurting America,” because it was “helping the politicians and the corporations.” Stewart called Crossfire’s hosts “partisan, what do you call it, hacks.”

Paul Begala seemed to understand what was going on, but Tucker Carlson saw this as an opportunity to attack Stewart. Oops.

“STEWART: You know, the interesting thing I have is, you have a responsibility to the public discourse, and you fail miserably.

CARLSON: You need to get a job at a journalism school, I think.

STEWART: You need to go to one.

The thing that I want to say is, when you have people on for just knee-jerk, reactionary talk...

CARLSON: Wait. I thought you were going to be funny. Come on. Be funny.

STEWART: No. No. I'm not going to be your monkey.”

The show ended with this exchange:

“CARLSON: I do think you're more fun on your show. Just my opinion. . . .

STEWART: You know what's interesting, though? You're as big a dick on your show as you are on any show.”

Follow these links to read the show’s transcript, or better yet watch this video of the show.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Here are two more reviews of last night's presidential debate. First, William Saletan explains why he thinks John Kerry hit a home run in last night's debate. Second, Chris Suellentrop explains why a mistake by President Bush both gives Kerry the advantage in the post-debate spin war and shows an important difference in the foreign policy philosophies of the two candidates.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

I thought tonight's final presidential debate was another Kerry victory. Here are some reviews of the debate from Talking Points Memo, My DD, and Political Animal.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

According to this Salon article:

"Speculation continues to run wild about President Bush's mystery bulge. Since Friday, when Salon first raised questions about the rectangular bulge that was visible under Bush's suit coat during the presidential debates, many observers in the press and on the Internet have wondered aloud whether the verbally and factually challenged president might be receiving coaching via a hidden electronic device.

Now a technical expert who designs and makes such devices for the U.S. military and private industry tells Salon that he believes the bulge is indeed a transceiver designed to receive electronic signals and transmit them to a hidden earpiece lodged in Bush's ear canal."

Thursday, October 07, 2004

In this Washington Post column, Tina Brown explains what she saw in the first two debates.

"Sometimes they show you depths you hadn't noticed, sometimes they take you back to where you started. The first debate was a thriller because it threw the perception game into a new round. Stripped out of the controlled arenas and leadership cameos crafted for him since 9/11, Bush free-fell back into the old pit of seeming a simple man up past his bedtime. Tuesday night Cheney reclaimed the backstage-president role the administration has taken such pains to bury.

John Kerry, meanwhile, free from the barrage of flip-flop pentimento, suddenly got himself a whiff of Mount Rushmore. He will not just rebuild our alliances, restore respect, blah blah wheeze wheeze -- he WILL hunt down and KILL the terrorists. The former stick-in-the-wind was planted so firmly he seemed to grow out of the podium like an oak tree."

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Was George W. Bush secretly coached during his debate with John Kerry through a hidden earpiece? Evidence that Bush wears an earpiece is collected at Is Bush Wired? This site is "a clearinghouse for discussion of whether President Bush uses an earpiece through which he's fed lines and cues by offstage advisers. His speech rhythms suggest this, as do some of his word choices and interjections, and his constantly shifting eye movements while speaking. And there's another form of evidence: Television viewers have sometimes heard another voice speaking Bush's words before he says them."

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Here are reviews of tonight's Vice Presidential debate from the weblogs Talking Points Memo, Political Animal, and MyDD. The reviews say that John Edwards did very well, while Dick Cheney did a lot of lying. Here's one of the Vice President's lies. Cheney said he had never met Edwards before, but as this picture on Eschaton shows, they have met.

Monday, October 04, 2004

In this post from his blog Hullabaloo, Digby explains how President Bush's performance at last Thursday's debate showed us the real George W. Bush instead of the false manufactured image:

"George W. Bush is a man with two faces--- a public image of manly strength and a private reality of childish weakness. His verbal miscues and malapropisms are the natural consequence of a man struggling with internal contradictions and a lack of self-knowledge. He can’t keep track of what he is supposed to think and say in public.

There is no doubt that whether it's a cowboy hat or a crotch hugging flight suit, George W. Bush enjoys wearing the mantle of American archetypal warriors. But when he goes behind the curtain and sheds the costume, a flinty, thin-skinned, immature man who has never taken responsibility for his mistakes emerges. The strong compassionate leader is revealed as a flimsy paper tiger.

On Thursday night, the president forgot himself. After years of being protected from anyone who doesn't flatter and cajole, he let his mask slip when confronted with someone who didn't fear his childish retribution or need anything from him. Many members of the public got a good sharp look at him for the first time in two years and they were stunned."

Sunday, October 03, 2004

This U.S. Geological Survey page compares before and after photographs of barrier islands off the coast of Alabama and Florida to show the "extreme coastal change" caused by Hurricane Ivan. The most extreme change is shown in the two photos second from the bottom that show a Pine Beach, Alabama barrier island cut in half by Ivan.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

I watched the presidential debate tonight and I thought John Kerry won. The reviews on Talking Points Memo, Daily Kos, and Electablog also favor Kerry. My DD shows the results of several polls that have Kerry winning. Daily Kos has links to several conservative bloggers who thought Kerry won.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

The MacArthur Fellowship, sometimes called the "genius" grant, is a five-year grant to individuals who show exceptional merit and promise for continued and enhanced creative work. The program selects individuals of all ages and from all fields and offers recipients flexibility to pursue their work without reporting requirements. Individuals cannot apply for this award; they must be nominated.

The stipend for the MacArthur Fellowship is currently set at $500,000, paid in quarterly installments over five years. There are no restrictions on how the money can be spent.

Click here to see this year's winners of the MacArthur Fellowship.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

The Lone Star Iconoclast, the local newspaper in Crawford, Texas, endorses John Kerry for president.

"Few Americans would have voted for George W. Bush four years ago if he had promised that, as President, he would:

• Empty the Social Security trust fund by $507 billion to help offset fiscal irresponsibility and at the same time slash Social Security benefits.
• Cut Medicare by 17 percent and reduce veterans’ benefits and military pay.
• Eliminate overtime pay for millions of Americans and raise oil prices by 50 percent.
• Give tax cuts to businesses that sent American jobs overseas, and, in fact, by policy encourage their departure.
• Give away billions of tax dollars in government contracts without competitive bids.
• Involve this country in a deadly and highly questionable war, and
• Take a budget surplus and turn it into the worst deficit in the history of the United States, creating a debt in just four years that will take generations to repay.

These were elements of a hidden agenda that surfaced only after he took office. The publishers of The Iconoclast endorsed Bush four years ago, based on the things he promised, not on this smoke-screened agenda. Today, we are endorsing his opponent, John Kerry, based not only on the things that Bush has delivered, but also on the vision of a return to normality that Kerry says our country needs."

Monday, September 27, 2004

In this New Yorker article, George Packer explains the relationship between the war in Iraq and the presidential campaign:

"No one can now doubt the effectiveness of the President’s political operation. Here’s one measure: between May and September, the number of Iraq stories that made page 1 of the Times and the Washington Post dropped by more than a third. During the same period, the percentage of Americans who support the President’s handling of the war increased. It’s the mark of a truly brilliant reëlection campaign that these trends at home are occurring against a background of ever-increasing violence and despair in Iraq. The latest reports from mainstream think tanks, such as the Center for Strategic and International Studies, show every indicator of progress moving in the wrong direction. In July, the National Intelligence Council issued a classified and quite gloomy analysis of Iraq which had no effect on the President’s rhetoric or on his policy. After a year and a half of improvising and muddling through, there seems to be no clear way forward and no good way out. But because the President—as his chief of staff, Andrew Card, recently said—regards Americans as ten-year-old children, don’t expect to hear an honest discussion about any of this from the White House."

Sunday, September 26, 2004

How will voter registration drives effect the presidential campaign? According to this New York Times article:

"A sweeping voter registration campaign in heavily Democratic areas has added tens of thousands of new voters to the rolls in the swing states of Ohio and Florida, a surge that has far exceeded the efforts of Republicans in both states, a review of registration data shows.

The analysis by The New York Times of county-by-county data shows that in Democratic areas of Ohio - primarily low-income and minority neighborhoods - new registrations since January have risen 250 percent over the same period in 2000. In comparison, new registrations have increased just 25 percent in Republican areas. A similar pattern is apparent in Florida: in the strongest Democratic areas, the pace of new registration is 60 percent higher than in 2000, while it has risen just 12 percent in the heaviest Republican areas."

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Juan Cole explains what America would look like if it were in Iraq's current situation in this post from his weblog Informed Comment.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

In this column, Gene Lyons compares the CBS News failure in the phony memo controversy with "three of the most egregious press failures in American history: the Whitewater hoax; the Washington Press clique's "war on Gore" during the 2000 election, and its disgraceful parroting of Bush's Iraqi "weapons of mass destruction" propaganda."

"All three benefited the Republican right. All were perpetrated not by Rush Limbaugh and The Washington Times, although they did their best, but by The New York Times, The Washington Post and the major broadcast networks. Each involved ethical and professional lapses far worse than CBS’ recent screw-up; to my knowledge, none of the perpetrators has paid any price whatsoever. It just doesn’t happen."

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

In this Boston Globe article, linguistics professor George Lakoff answers the question, "How do Republicans continually frustrate Democrats, keeping them on the defensive?" According to Lakoff, "It's not just their media control (Fox News, Clear Channel, etc.), it's not just the $2 billion they've put into think tanks over the past 30 years, and it's not just lies and dirty tricks. It's their skill at 'framing.'"

Monday, September 20, 2004

The weblog The American Street presents States Writes, a directory of progressive mass media and weblogs in all 50 states. Blogenheimer makes the cut. (Hey, I'm a Progressive!) Be sure to try some of the other progressive blogs on the list.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

In this post from his weblog, David Corn explains why he thinks we are losing the war in Iraq, and then discusses a conversation he had with a Kerry aide about the tough time the Kerry campaign is having communicating its message on Iraq.

"The Bush campaign has succeeded in convincing the mainstream media that the key question is, what is Kerry's plan for Iraq? Not, say, what is Bush's plan for Iraq? If Kerry is so fortunate to win on November 2, he won't take office until January 20, and the situation in Iraq could be dramatically different. Any specific plan he tossed out now could be--and probably would be--totally irrelevant at that point. Yet Republicans and echo-chamber reporters keep asking Kerry to state precisely how he would undo Bush's mess."

"I have two young daughters at home," I said to this Kerry aide. "If one takes a glass jar and throws it on the ground of their bedroom and smashes it into thousands of pieces, I don't point my finger at the other one and say, 'Okay, what's your plan for cleaning this up.'"

Thursday, September 16, 2004

The weblog Seeking the Polls posts this critical analysis of the current efforts in the Global War on Terror.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

In this New York Review of Books review of the 9/11 Commission Report, Elizabeth Drew explains that, "In its effort to achieve a unanimous, bipartisan report, the commission decided not to assign "individual blame" and avoided overt criticism of the President himself. Still, the report is a powerful indictment of the Bush administration for its behavior before and after the attacks of September 11."

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

In this post from the weblog Political Animal, Kevin Drum points out an interesting similarity between recent events in Russia and a scene from the first Star Wars movie.

Monday, September 13, 2004

John Shirley "wanted to know about the quality of life in the future." So he asked science fiction writers Cory Doctorow, Pat Murphy, Kim Stanley Robinson, Norman Spinrad, Bruce Sterling and Ken Wharton a series of questions about the future. You can read the questions and answers in this Locus article.

Here are some examples:

1) In the past you've written science-fictionally about the social future. What's changed in your estimate of the social future since then? Do you have a sharper picture of where we're going, socially?

Norman Spinrad: “The biggest change, one which I didn't get at the time, was the rise to dominance of the American Christian fundamentalist far right. Where are we going? If Kerry should be elected, back to the Clintonian middle. But if Bush is re-elected, straight into the worst fascist shitter this country has ever experienced. We're on a cusp like that of the Roman Republic about to degenerate into the Empire. Though in many ways it has already.”

6 ) Will there always be war?

A consensus emerges that war is staying but changing shape. Bruce Sterling: “Well, if you gather in armies and raise a flag, the USA will blow you to shreds, so the trend is to strap a bomb around your waist or pile artillery shells into a car and then blow yourself up. The idea that a 'war on terror' is going to resolve this kind of terror by using lots of warfare is just absurd.”

Sunday, September 12, 2004

In this article, University of Michigan professor Juan Cole examines the goals of Al-Qaeda and the United States and finds that, "The U.S. is not winning the war on terror. Al-Qaeda also has by no means won. But across a whole range of objectives, al-Qaeda has accomplished more of its goals than the U.S. has of its."

Friday, September 10, 2004

Thanks to Atrios and Mad Magazine, here's "The Bush Campaign's TV Commercial If He Was Running Against Jesus."

Thursday, September 09, 2004

White House chief-of-staff Andrew Card said, "It struck me as I was speaking to people in Bangor, Maine, that this president sees America as we think about a 10-year-old child. I know as a parent I would sacrifice all for my children."

In this American Prospect column, Charles Pierce writes that, "What Card said perfectly encapsulates this administration’s approach to governance -- its fundamental contempt for democratic restraints and its hubristic insolence toward any limits on its political appetites. Our president is our Daddy. He will make his wars to keep us safe, and all we have to do is love him back, and do what he tells us to do. Go shopping. Go on happy vacations. Leave the decisions to Daddy and to Daddy’s friends. They run things so we don’t have to."

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

According to this Guardian Unlimited article, "Police in Paris have discovered a fully equipped cinema-cum-restaurant in a large and previously uncharted cavern underneath the capital's chic 16th arrondissement."

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Before he underwent quadruple bypass surgery, Bill Clinton discussed campaign strategy with John Kerry in a 90-minute telephone conversation. Clinton advised Kerry to focus on change. As this Slate article explains, Kerry has begun to use that advice. Kerry's new message is:

"Go vote for Bush if you want four more years of falling wages, of Social Security surpluses being transferred to wealthy Americans in the form of tax cuts, of underfunded schools and lost jobs. But if you want a new direction, he said, vote for Kerry and Edwards."

Monday, September 06, 2004

"Every year researchers at Project Censored pick through volumes of print and broadcast news to see which of the past year's most important stories aren't receiving the kind of attention they deserve. Peter Phillips, head of Project Censored, and his team acknowledge that many of these stories weren't "censored" in the traditional sense of the word: No government agency blocked their publication. And some even appeared – briefly and without follow-up – in mainstream journals.

But every one of this year's picks merited prominent placement on the evening news and the dailies' front pages. Instead they went virtually ignored."

Here is Project Censored's list of the 10 big stories the national news media ignored.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Jeffrey H. Smith discusses why the President of the United States should be able to learn from the mistakes of Viet Nam and Iraq in this Washington Post column.

"A true test of any future president should be whether he can recognize a failing policy and has the moral courage to change course and lead our nation out. Bush has not demonstrated that he understands the magnitude of the errors he made in getting us into Iraq. Even some leading Republicans, including Rep. Doug Bereuter of Nebraska, have now said the war was a mistake. Does Bush recognize that?

The debates of 1971 have echoes in our current one. We have gotten deeply involved in a region that we do not understand, and we have unleashed forces we cannot control. We must have a president who can recognize our strengths and our shortcomings, who will ask hard questions and who will challenge advice, even intelligence information that is presented to him. Did Bush ask those hard questions before making the decision to send our forces to war?

In 1971 Kerry recognized that we needed to change our policy. In 2004 he recognizes the need to change our policy. That is the issue. Who is better equipped to lead us: Bush, who rigidly insists that he is right, or Kerry, who has charted a new direction?"

Read the whole column here.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

According to Fred Kaplan, "Half-truths and embellishments are one thing; they're common at political conventions, vital flourishes for a theatrical air. Lies are another thing, and last night's Republican convention was soaked in them."

Kaplan tries to set the record straight in this Slate article.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

After hearing Dennis Hastert's recent comments on George Soros, Slate's Jack Shafer has decided that the Speaker of the House is "an absolute nut job."

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Here are links to two articles that examine George W. Bush's character. First, William Saletan asks "What does 9/11 tell us about Bush?" in this Slate article. Second, Sebastian Mallaby writes that flaws in Bush's character can be seen in "his disdain for policy detail" in this Washington Post column.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Garrison Keillor wonders, "How did the Party of Lincoln and Liberty transmogrify into the party of Newt Gingrich’s evil spawn and their Etch-A-Sketch president, a dull and rigid man, whose philosophy is a jumble of badly sutured body parts trying to walk?" in this article from In These Times.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

The F.B.I. is investigating a Pentagon official for allegedly giving classified information to the Israelis. This Washington Post article and this Knight Ridder article explain most of what is known about the investigation. This Washington Monthly article explores the background of the investigation by explaining that:

"The focus of the investigation, according to U.S. government officials, is Larry Franklin, a veteran Defense Intelligence Agency Iran analyst now working in the office of the Pentagon's number three civilian official, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith.

The investigation of Franklin is now shining a bright light on a shadowy struggle within the Bush administration over the direction of U.S. policy toward Iran. In particular, the FBI is looking with renewed interest at an unauthorized back-channel between Iranian dissidents and advisers in Feith's office, which more-senior administration officials first tried in vain to shut down and then later attempted to cover up."

Thursday, August 26, 2004

This article from The Campaign Desk explains why the press allowed the presidential campaign to be hijacked by a small group of veterans with a thirty-year old grudge.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

In this Morning News article, Matthew Baldwin reveals the trade secrets of several professions:


If you have to change a light bulb where the glass is broken, you can press a potato into the metal base to unscrew the remains of the bulb from the fixture.


Patients will occasionally pretend to be unconscious. A surefire way to find them out is to pick up their hand, hold it above their face, and let go. If they smack themselves, they’re most likely unconscious; if not, they’re faking."

Read all the trade secrets here.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

John Kerry was Jon Stewart's guest tonight on The Daily Show. Here's a transcript of Kerry's appearance.

Monday, August 23, 2004

In this American Prospect article, Michael Tomasky explains what the controversy over John Kerry's service in Viet Nam "actually proves is that a bunch of liars who have in the past contradicted their own current statements can, if their lies are outrageous enough and if they have enough money, control the media agenda and get even the most respected media outlets in the country to focus on picayune "truths" while missing the larger story."

According to Tomasky, the "Swift Boat Veterans" have taken control of the media agenda because, "our media can sort through the facts in front of their nose and determine, at least some of the time, who's lying and who's not. But they are completely incapable of taking a step back and describing the larger reality. Doing that would require making judgments that are supposedly subjective rather than objective; but the larger reality here is clearer than clear. Just imagine if the situation were reversed: The same people now questioning Kerry's "character" would have worked to establish Bush as a war hero long ago. They would have labeled Kerry a coward. If by chance a liberal-backed group came forward to question Bush's wartime actions, they would have been called traitors and worse. And the mainstream media would be following the agenda they set every step of the way."

Sunday, August 22, 2004

In this editorial, the Boston Globe explains how the Bush campaign is using the "big lie" against John Kerry.

"Imagine if supporters of Bill Clinton had tried in 1996 to besmirch the military record of his opponent, Bob Dole. After all, Dole was given a Purple Heart for a leg scratch probably caused, according to one biographer, when a hand grenade thrown by one of his own men bounced off a tree. And while the serious injuries Dole sustained later surely came from German fire, did the episode demonstrate heroism on Dole's part or a reckless move that ended up killing his radioman and endangering the sergeant who dragged Dole off the field?

The truth, according to many accounts, is that Dole fought with exceptional bravery and deserves the nation's gratitude. No one in 1996 questioned that record. Any such attack on behalf of Clinton, an admitted Vietnam draft dodger, would have been preposterous.

Yet amazingly, something quite similar is happening today as supporters of President Bush attack the Vietnam record of Senator John Kerry."

Read the whole editorial here.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

In this column, Gene Lyons looks at the presidential campaigns and finds that while, "the Kerry-Edwards duo are drawing large, volatile crowds," George W. Bush is "conducting one of the oddest campaigns in American history," by preaching "to the converted at invitation-only events limited to campaign volunteers, congregations from conservative churches, and people willing to sign party loyalty oaths."

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

I'm adding a permalink to Political Animal, the weblog of Washington Monthly. Political Animal is a weblog on politics and current affairs written by Kevin Drum, the blogger formerly known as Calpundit.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Matthew Yglesias explains why his "three years of watching Bush makes the point: intelligence matters more than “character,” in this American Prospect article.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

I'm adding a permalink to the weblog of my friend Girl Detective. The weblog "is not about girl detectives. It is, however, an homage to the inquisitive nature, untiring spirit and passion for justice that marked these great literary heroines." Recently, Girl Detective has been investigating buying a house.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Rodney Alexander is a first term Democratic Congressman from Louisiana. Alexander filed for reelection as a Democrat. But last Friday afternoon, 20 minutes before filings closed, he refiled for election as a Republican.

However, Alexander's switch may have violated Louisiana election law. As the blogs MyDD and the Stakeholder explain:

”A voter in Louisiana is filing a legal challenge to defective Congressman Rodney Alexander's ballot qualification, and seeks an injunction preventing the Secretary of State from issuing ballots printed with his name. The petition, filed by a voter and based on both Louisiana statute and prior precedent, rightly argues that Alexander's SECOND filing 20 minutes before the deadline is in effect a withdrawal of his candidacy under Louisiana law since candidates are prohibited from amending their ballot qualification in any way once it has been made. Others in Louisiana have been tossed for just this kind of behavior in the past.”

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

This New York Times article profiles the Pixies, discusses their reunion tour, and suggests they may record a new album.

Monday, August 09, 2004

Gary Wills discusses the Tragedy of Bill Clinton in this review of Clinton's book My Life from the New York Review of Books.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Ted Koppel and Jon Stewart discuss Stewart's role on the Daily Show in this transcript of a Nightline interview that was shown during Nightline's coverage of the Democratic Convention.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

"Knight Ridder Washington reporters Warren Strobel and Jonathan Landay received the Raymond Clapper Memorial award from the Senate Press Gallery for their coverage of the sketchy intelligence used to justify war with Iraq." As this American Journalism Review article explains, Strobel and Landay were almost the only reporters to question the administration's reasons for going to war. "I think the failure of the media in general in covering this story," Landay says, "is as egregious as the intelligence failure."

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

The Electoral Vote Predictor 2004 tracks the electoral vote for the presidential election. The electoral vote totals are based on the most recent poll results for each state.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

American Radio Works presents: President Lyndon Johnson orders pants from Joe Haggar. (Includes audio.)

Monday, August 02, 2004

Will Ferrell and ACT bring you a behind-the-scenes look at a "Bush" campaign commercial from White House West.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Tonight John Kerry accepted the Democratic Party's nomination for President.  Here are a few highlights from his speech:

"And as president, I will bring back this nation's time-honored tradition: The United States of America never goes to war because we want to, we only go to war because we have to," Kerry said.

"I want an America that relies on its own ingenuity and innovation -- not the Saudi royal family."

And here's a long profile of Kerry from the New Yorker.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Barry Ritholtz explains why commercial radio is dying in this post from his weblog The Big Picture.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Tom Oliphant has known John Kerry for over 30 years.  Oliphant profiles "The Kerry I Know" in this American Prospect article

According to Oliphant:

"John Kerry is a good, tough man. He is curious, grounded after a public and personal life that has not always been pleasant, a fan of ideas whose practical side has usually kept him from policy wonkery, a natural progressive with the added fixation on what works that made FDR and JFK so interesting. I know it is chic to be disdainful, but the modern Democratic neurosis gets in the way of a solid case for affection. Without embarrassment, and after a very long journey, I really like this guy. As one of his top campaign officials, himself a convert since the primaries ended, told me recently, this is pure Merle Haggard. It’s not love, but it’s not bad."

Monday, July 26, 2004

Mrs. Blogenheimer and I spent last week on vacation in Chicago and Wisconsin.  We both enjoyed the Art Institute of Chicago, particularly the Seurat exhibit.  Mrs. Blogenheimer visited the Newberry Library where she read from books printed by one of her ancestors.  We also attended my high school reunion. 

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Teresa Nielsen Hayden explains the color conspiracy in this post from her blog Making Light. 

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

The Anti-Bush Video Game is a "fun and fact-filled adventure about the most appalling presidency in the history of the United States." Defeat Voltron and President Bush while playing as Hulk Hogan, Mr. T, or He-Man.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

This Guardian/Vanity Fair article and this Austin Chronicle article tell the story of three Mississippi boys who spent 7 years filming a shot-for-shot remake of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Steven Spielberg called the film, "a loving and detailed tribute to our Raiders of the Lost Ark." The film isn't available on the internet, but you can watch this trailer for Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

According to this Newsweek article, the Senate Select Intelligence Committee report on the Iraq intelligence failure shows that:

"Virtually every major claim President George W. Bush used to justify the invasion of Iraq—from Saddam's growing nuclear program to his close ties with Al Qaeda—was either wrong or exaggerated."

Thursday, July 08, 2004

A few months ago I mentioned Fundrace, a website that lets you find out who has contributed money to the current presidential campaign. Newsmeat takes this idea several steps further by letting you search by name for anyone who has made a political contribution of $200 or more since 1977.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

If you enjoyed Spider-Man 2, you might also enjoy Spider-Man: The Peril of Doc Ock, a stop-action animated movie made with Legos.

Monday, July 05, 2004

James Surowiecki explains why radio spot buys are much worse than payola in this New Yorker article.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

According to this article by William Greider, "The most intriguing story in Washington these days is a subterranean conflict that reporters cannot cover because some of them are involved. A potent guerrilla insurgency has formed in and around the Bush presidency - a revolt of old pros in government who strike from the shadows with devastating effect. They tell the truth. They explode big lies. They provide documentary evidence that undermines popular confidence in the Commander in Chief. They prod the media and the political community to ask penetrating questions of the Bush regime. Doubtless, these anonymous sources act from a mixture of motives-some noble, some self-interested-but in present circumstances one might think of them as "embedded patriots."

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

The Tour de France begins this Saturday. In this New Criterion article, Robert Messenger discusses the history of the Tour and looks ahead to this year's race.

This year Lance Armstrong will attempt to win his sixth Tour. Messenger seems to like Armstrong's chances: "The very fine British racer David Miller tells the story of ringing Armstrong on his cell phone on Christmas Day a few years back. Miller was tipsy in a bar with his mates. His call finds Armstrong riding his bike up a steep mountain. Miller’s friends wonder why he is swearing a blue streak into his phone at a close friend. Miller’s response: “I’ve just lost the Tour de France.”

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Secret Fun Spot provides links to several retro-culture galleries. These galleries of "forgotten American culture" include everything from Star Wars Knockoffs to Memories of the 1970s.

Be sure to look at the Marvin Glass gallery. Glass designed toys and games like Operation, Rock'em Sock'em Robots, the Evel Knievel Stunt Cycle, Lite Brite, and Gnip Gnop.

Monday, June 28, 2004

According to this Washington Post column by Paul Roberts, the Gulf War and the War in Iraq were just the beginning. Roberts' writes, "We are on the cusp of a new kind of war -- between those who have enough energy and those who do not but are increasingly willing to go out and get it. While nations have always competed for oil, it seems more and more likely that the race for a piece of the last big reserves of oil and natural gas will be the dominant geopolitical theme of the 21st century.

Already we can see the outlines. China and Japan are scrapping over Siberia. In the Caspian Sea region, European, Russian, Chinese and American governments and oil companies are battling for a stake in the big oil fields of Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan. In Africa, the United States is building a network of military bases and diplomatic missions whose main goal is to protect American access to oilfields in volatile places such as Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and tiny Sao Tome -- and, as important, to deny that access to China and other thirsty superpowers."

Sunday, June 27, 2004

In this Washington Post column, E. J. Dionne introduces Barack Obama, candidate for the U.S. Senate from Illinois and a future star of the Democratic Party.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

According to this Associated Press article, "Somewhere in Germany is a baby Superman, born in Berlin with bulging arm and leg muscles. Not yet 5, he can hold seven-pound weights with arms extended, something many adults cannot do. He has muscles twice the size of other kids his age and half their body fat.

DNA testing showed why: The boy has a genetic mutation that boosts muscle growth."

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

According to this Salon article, "On March 23, the Dirksen Senate Office Building was the scene of a coronation ceremony for Rev. Sun Myung Moon, owner of the conservative Washington Times newspaper and UPI wire service, who was given a bejeweled crown by Rep. Danny K. Davis, D-Ill. Afterward, Moon told his bipartisan audience of Washington power players he would save everyone on Earth as he had saved the souls of Hitler and Stalin -- the murderous dictators had been born again through him, he said."

The Washington Post reports the coronation story here.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

In this New Yorker article, Seymour Hersh discusses how the destabilization of Iraq has changed the regional politics of the Middle East. According to Hersh, "Israeli intelligence and military operatives are now quietly at work in Kurdistan, providing training for Kurdish commando units and, most important in Israel’s view, running covert operations inside Kurdish areas of Iran and Syria." These Israeli operations with the Kurds have "provoked bitter statements from Turkish politicians and, in a major regional shift, a new alliance among Iran, Syria, and Turkey, all of which have significant Kurdish minorities."

Monday, June 21, 2004

The publication of Bill Clinton's new memoir, "My Life," has given the New York Times the opportunity to take another shot at the former President with this front page negative review. The Times' negative coverage of Clinton is nothing new. As Eric Boehlert explains in this Salon article, for the last 10 years the Times "has harbored a hostility toward the Clintons unmatched by any other mainstream media outlet."

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Ben Yagoda discusses the American media's recent adoption of British idioms in this article from the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Belter is an updated version of the old arcade game Asteroids.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

This Denver Post article discusses an attempt to change the current winner-take-all electoral vote distribution in Colorado. The referendum seeks "to award Colorado's Electoral College votes proportionally as a percentage of the statewide popular vote.

For example, a candidate who wins 60 percent at the polls could snag five of the state's nine electoral votes, leaving the remaining four to a candidate who wins 40 percent on Election Day."

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Merriam-Webster Online collected thousands of submissions to select the Top 10 Favorite Words of 2004.

Monday, June 14, 2004

In this Salon article, intelligence expert Thomas Powers "charges that the Bush administration is responsible for what is perhaps the greatest disaster in the history of U.S. intelligence. From failing to anticipate 9/11 to pressuring the CIA to produce bogus justifications for war, from abusing Iraqi prisoners to misrepresenting the nature of Iraqi insurgents, the Bush White House, the Pentagon and the intelligence agencies they corrupted, coerced or ignored have made extraordinarily grave errors which could threaten our national security for years."

Powers is not alone. According to this AP article, "Angered by Bush administration policies they contend endanger national security, 26 retired U.S. diplomats and military officers are urging Americans to vote President Bush out of office in November."

Sunday, June 13, 2004

According to The Two Things, "For every subject, there are really only two things you really need to know. Everything else is the application of those two things, or just not important.”

Here are some examples,

The Two Things about Boxing:
1. Hit.
2. Don't get hit.

The Two Things about World Conquest:
1. Divide and Conquer.
2. Never invade Russia in the winter.

For many more Two Things, click here.

Friday, June 11, 2004

My friends Cassie, Braden, and Brianna were interested in the origins of coffee and aspirin. With the help of their Grandpa, they did some research on the internet and found this information on the origins of coffee and aspirin.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Follow this link to watch a very funny clip of the Daily Show story on John Ashcroft's recent testimony before a Senate Committee.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Here is The Wave Magazine's list of the 10 Best Internet Fads.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

In this Washington Post column James Jordan and James R. Powell discuss the ideas of geologist M. King Hubbert, who argued that "at a certain point oil production peaks, and thereafter it steadily declines regardless of demand." According to Jordan and Powell, "It now appears that world oil production, about 80 million barrels a day, will soon peak. In fact, conventional oil production has already peaked and is declining."

Monday, June 07, 2004

Michael Quinion discusses the etymology of phrases like "head over heels," "dressed to the nines," and "the bees knees" in this Daily Telegraph article.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Here are two unusual sightings. First, Russian playwright Anton Chekhov (1860-1904) appears at a Barnes and Noble "Meet the Writers" forum and then signs copies of his classic play, "The Cherry Orchard." (Thanks, Mark!)

Second, a strange creature appears in a North Carolina backyard. Scientists are unable to identify the animal.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

This map of names for soft drinks shows the most popular generic name for a soft drink (pop, soda, coke, or other) for the United States by county. Click on each state to see the raw data.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

E. J. Dionne explains why President Bush's approval ratings are falling so quickly in this Washington Post article.

"By failing to embrace his opportunity to be a president of national unity, Bush has endangered the great project of his presidency: remaking Iraq. And he has offered Kerry the chance to be as tough as Howard Dean was -- but in the name of uniting Americans at a moment when solidarity is desperately needed."

Monday, May 31, 2004

Ahmad Chalabi is a member of the Iraqi Governing Council. Last week Iraqi police and U.S. troops raided Chalabi’s home in Baghdad. This New Yorker article discusses Chalabi's history and role in Iraq.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

This New York Magazine article tells the story of Ely Sakhai who ran "one of the most audacious forgery scams ever—a multi-million-dollar operation that has left art experts alternately amazed by his legerdemain and stunned by his shamelessness."

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

President Bush's approval rating has fallen to a new low of only 41%. Even conservative author Tom Clancy is criticizing Bush in Battle Ready, a new book he co-wrote with retired Marine General Anthony Zinni. Here's an interview with Clancy and Zinni, and a New Republic article on the book.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Have you ever wondered why an actor suddenly begins appearing in several different TV ads at about the same time? Seth Stevenson explains this phenomenon in this Slate article.

Monday, May 24, 2004

Sunday, May 23, 2004

McSweeney's presents its Daily Reason to Dispatch Bush. As of tonight, they are on Reason #39.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

According to E. J. Dionne, "In his first two years as president, George W. Bush set a trap. He pushed through tax cuts so big that they would inevitably force Democrats into a series of no-win arguments during this election year. Democrats could dedicate themselves to undoing the budget damage Bush had caused by favoring tax increases and spending restraint. Or they could ignore the issue of fiscal balance and propose popular programs.

Either way, Democrats risked getting trashed and tearing each other apart. The first option offers voters little to cheer (tax increases and fewer programs) while the second opens the party to charges that it's engaging in its own form of fiscal irresponsibility."

Dionne discusses whether the Democrats can escape this trap in this Washington Post column.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

The Daily Show's Jon Stewart gave this year's commencement address at his alma mater, the College of William and Mary. You can read the full transcript here.

Here are a few excerpts:

"So I know that the decisions that I made after college worked out. But at the time I didn’t know that they would. See college is not necessarily predictive of your future success. And it’s the kind of thing where the path that I chose obviously wouldn’t work for you. For one, you’re not very funny."

"I was not exceptional here, and am not now. I was mediocre here. And I’m not saying aim low. Not everybody can wander around in an alcoholic haze and then at 40 just, you know, decide to be president. You’ve got to really work hard to try to…I was actually referring to my father."

Monday, May 17, 2004

In this Slate article Fred Kaplan summarizes recent developments in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, explains why the White House can't do much to stop it, and speculates on what will happen next.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

The United Nations has released this list of "Ten Stories the World Should Hear More About."

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Chuck Todd explains why he thinks the next election could be a Kerry landslide in this article from Washington Monthly.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

According to this BBC News article, the Hubble Space Telescope may have taken the first image of a planet circling another star.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

A Republican administration must be in trouble when even George Will questions their competence. In this Washington Post column, Will writes:

"When there is no penalty for failure, failures proliferate. Leave aside the question of who or what failed before Sept. 11, 2001. But who lost his or her job because the president's 2003 State of the Union address gave currency to a fraud -- the story of Iraq's attempting to buy uranium in Niger? Or because the primary and only sufficient reason for waging preemptive war -- weapons of mass destruction -- was largely spurious? Or because postwar planning, from failure to anticipate the initial looting to today's insufficient force levels, has been botched? Failures are multiplying because of choices for which no one seems accountable."

Monday, May 10, 2004

Sunday, May 09, 2004

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Forthright's Phrontistery is a website devoted to unusual words. It includes a 14,000-word dictionary of obscure and rare words, the Compendium of Lost Words, and topical word lists on subjects like manias and obsessions, names for names, and divination and fortune telling.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

The Origins of American Animation is a collection of the Library of Congress that documents the development of American animation between 1900 and 1921. The collection includes 21 animated films and 2 fragments that you can download here.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

This Salon article looks at the state of the Kerry campaign with 6 months to go until the presidential election.

Monday, May 03, 2004

"Media Matters for America is a Web-based, not-for-profit progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media. Conservative misinformation is defined as news or commentary presented in the media that is not accurate, reliable, or credible and that forwards the conservative agenda."

Sunday, May 02, 2004

In this New York Observer article Ron Rosenbaum asks, "Did Vladimir Nabokov lift the controversial plot, indeed the very name of Lolita, from a 1916 German short story called 'Lolita'?"

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Is it okay to grab someone's shirt and clean your eyeglasses with it? President Bush thinks it is. During a commercial break on the Late Show with David Letterman, Bush used producer Maria Pope's sweater to clean his glasses. You can watch the video here.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

The story about George W. Bush and his service in the Texas Air National Guard seems to be over as journalists have moved on to cover other stories. But James C. Moore thinks there is more to this story. Moore explains in this Salon article that:

"The president of the United States is lying to hide his behavior while he was a young pilot during the Vietnam War, and he has almost taken away reporters' ability to get the whole story. Unfortunately, the national media have other distractions, and they apparently don't think the Guard story is important enough to warrant additional effort. I think they are wrong."

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Who will John Kerry pick to be his running mate? The Washington Post helps you figure it out with their Veep-O-Matic 2004.

Monday, April 26, 2004

The Gallery of the Forbidden presents a history of music censorship.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

In late 1882, astronomer David Peck Todd photographed the transit of Venus across the sun. One hundred twenty years later Bill Sheehan and Anthony Misch realized they could turn Todd's 147 glass negatives into a movie. This Sky & Telescope article lets you download a movie of "an astronomical event that occurred when Queen Victoria sat on the throne of Great Britain and Chester Arthur was president of the United States."

Thursday, April 22, 2004

In this Onion A.V. Club interview with Ricky Gervais, the co-creator and star of The Office discusses comedy, his influences, and fame.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

The illicit drug habits of America's high school students have been tracked by a group of researchers at the University of Michigan since 1975. The Michigan drug researchers have "never seen such a dramatic drop in the use of an established illicit drug as they're seeing now with LSD." According to this Slate article, there are two reasons for the decline in LSD use. First, in November 2000 the DEA arrested two Kansas men who were responsible for 95% of the country's supply of LSD. Second, Jerry Garcia died, the Grateful Dead stopped touring, and LSD's distribution system disappeared.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

In this Salon interview, Neal Stephenson, author of "The Confusion," discusses science, alchemy, Puritanism, science fiction, writing with a pen, and the feud between Newton and Leibniz.

Monday, April 19, 2004

Barry Ritholtz of the blog, The Big Picture, believes we are undergoing a dramatic shift in how the war is covered by the media. He writes in this weblog post that, "Lately, I have noticed several changes in the media's coverage of both the White House and the Iraq War . . . What we are seeing -- in real time -- is an unraveling of the administration's media management strategy."

This Seattle Times article is another example of the shift in media coverage of the war.

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Bob Woodward discussed his new book "Plan of Attack" on 60 Minutes tonight. This CBS News article summarizes the interview. Woodward calls the book,” the first detailed, behind-the-scenes account of how and why the president decided to wage war in Iraq. Some of the book's more surprising revelations include:

Congress did not know about or approve of the money used to fund war preparations. Instead, President Bush approved using "money from a supplemental appropriation for the Afghan War."

The Saudi Arabian Ambassador, Prince Bandar, promised President Bush that Saudi Arabia will lower oil prices in the months before the election -- to ensure the U.S. economy is strong on election day.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Neal Stephenson's new novel The Confusion was released on Tuesday. In this Wired interview, Stephenson discusses his new book, confusion, and money.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

I didn't blog last night because I was at the first Pixies concert in 12 years. The show included almost anything a Pixies fan could have wanted. All four original members were there. They sounded great, and almost all the songs were from their first three albums. You can read the Minneapolis Star Tribune's review of the show here. This GQ article (in PDF format) helps explain why Frank Black decided to reunite the band. Drummer David Lovering put his career as a "Scientific Phenomenalist" on hold to rejoin the band.

Monday, April 12, 2004

How are recent events in Iraq effecting President Bush's supporters? According to this CBS News article, conservatives like Indiana Senator Richard Lugar and columnist George Will, have begun criticizing the president's conduct of the war. The weblog Political Animal has more examples of Republicans Against Bush.

Sunday, April 11, 2004

Comedy Central's The Daily Show is the funniest show on television. If you miss the show or don't have cable, you can watch clips on the Daily Show's website here. Many more Daily Show clips are posted in the Daily Show Clip Comedy Archive from the weblog On Lisa Rein's Radar. For example, here's the Daily Show on The Republican Response to Richard Clarke's Testimony.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Condoleezza Rice testified before the 9/11 commission today. You can read a transcript of her testimony here.

Historian Eric Rauchway wrote:

"Here's the bottom line: Rice said something in passing that rather sums up the situation: "There are plans and plans and plans. And the problem is, unless those plans are engaged by the civilian leadership... those plans simply sit." So: Why didn't the civilian leadership, AKA the White House, engage?"

Richard Clarke said:

"I think that Dr. Rice's testimony today, and she did a very good job, basically corroborates what I said. She said that the president received 40 warnings face to face from the director of central intelligence that a major al Qaeda attack was going to take place and she admitted that the president did not have a meeting on the subject, did not convene the Cabinet."

Neal Pollack sums up Rice's testimony this way:

"Lie, lie, distortion, half-truth, pander, manipulation, pseudo-intellectual bombast. Dodge, dodge, feint, lie, dodge, avoid, subject change, lie, slander, pretentious generalization, character assassination, bald-faced lie."

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Harold Meyerson examines recent events in Iraq in his Washington Post column and concludes, "The only unequivocally good policy option before the American people is to dump the president who got us into this mess, who had no trouble sending our young people to Iraq but who cannot steel himself to face the Sept. 11 commission alone."

Monday, April 05, 2004

In this New York Times column, Frank Rich wonders why, "the White House, so often masterly in its TV management, particularly where 9/11 is concerned, has been wildly off its game." If you can't access the New York Times, the column is also available here from the International Herald Tribune. (Advance the page with the next page button at the bottom right.)

Sunday, April 04, 2004

The war in Iraq and the Medicare bill were supposed to be two of the achievements that assured George W. Bush's reelection. But neither of them worked out quite as planned. According to Eric Boehlert in this Salon article, "Bush's Medicare program and the Iraq war both fit a striking pattern: The real motives were clouded in secrecy and false claims; the true costs distorted; administration officials pressured not to reveal true information; and the White House has relied on taxpayer-funded propaganda operations to try to prop up both."

Thursday, April 01, 2004

This Seattle Times article explains why some people are night owls and others are early risers. It also explains how a night owl can reset his body clock to wake up early and how an early riser can reset her body clock to stay up late.

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Both the Bush administration and Richard Clarke believed that terrorists threatened the United States, but they disagreed on the source of the threat. The administration thought the threat came from countries like Iraq and North Korea, while Clarke believed the most serious threat came from groups of terrorists not supported by a country. Fareed Zakaria explains the difference in this Newsweek column.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

This New Yorker article discusses anthropometric historians, who study the history of human height. They have found that height is determined more by nutrition and wealth than by genetics. They are trying to figure out why Europeans have grown taller over the past 50 years while Americans have not. The average Dutch man is now six feet one, while the average American man is five feet nine and a half.

Monday, March 29, 2004

More Fun with Zip Codes

Marketing companies divide the country into market segments by life style and zip code. The marketing company Claritas uses a system of 66 distinct lifestyle types. They cross-referenced their lifestyle types and zip codes on their "You are Where You Live" website. Go here and type in your zip code to "get your neighborhood's top five segments, along with some descriptive detail about each segment's lifestyle traits."

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Fundrace is a website that allows you to find out who has made presidential campaign contributions. You can search by zip code or name.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Cartoonist Joe Sacco takes a look at this year's presidential campaign in his comic strip "Meanwhile in America."

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Today Richard Clarke testified before the 9/11 commission. He began his testimony by saying:

"I welcome these hearings because of the opportunity that they provide to the American people to better understand why the tragedy of 9/11 happened and what we must do to prevent a reoccurrence. I also welcome the hearings because it is finally a forum where I can apologize to the loved ones of the victims of 9/11. To them who are here in the room, to those who are watching on television, your government failed you, those entrusted with protecting you failed you and I failed you. We tried hard, but that doesn't matter because we failed.

And for that failure, I would ask -- once all the facts are out -- for your understanding and for your forgiveness.

With that, Mr. Chairman, I'll be glad to take your questions."

Fred Kaplan provides a good summary of the testimony in this Slate article. You can read a transcript of Clarke's testimony here. (It begins near the bottom of the page.)