new year wallpaper, dance floor, the most outrageous civil liberties violations of 2006

new year

Something obvious for the new year.

dance floor

Kind of a public service: if you’re hugging the dance floor because you’re afraid you might fall off the earth you may have had too much. If your tongue is stuck between the cracks you probably have alcohol poisoning.

Another list for the new year, The Bill of Wrongs The 10 most outrageous civil liberties violations of 2006

8. Slagging the Media
Whether the Bush administration is reclassifying previously declassified documents, sidestepping the FOIA, threatening journalists for leaks on dubious legal grounds, or, most recently, using its subpoena power to try to wring secret documents from the ACLU, the administration has continued its “secrets at any price” campaign. Is this a constitutional crisis? Probably not. Annoying as hell? Definitely.

7. Slagging the Courts
It starts with the president’s complaints about “activist judges,” and evolves to Congressional threats to appoint an inspector general to oversee federal judges. As public distrust of the bench is fueled, the stripping of courts’ authority to hear whole classes of cases—most recently any habeas corpus claims from Guantanamo detainees—almost seems reasonable. Each tiny incursion into the independence of the judiciary seems justified. Until you realize that the courts are often the only places that will defend our shrinking civil liberties. This leads to …

6. The State-Secrets Doctrine
The Bush administration’s insane argument in court is that judges should dismiss entire lawsuits over many of the outrages detailed on this very list. Why? Because the outrageously illegal things are themselves matters of top-secret national security. The administration has raised this claim in relation to its adventures in secret wiretapping and its fun with extraordinary rendition. A government privilege once used to sidestep civil claims has mushroomed into sweeping immunity for the administration’s sometimes criminal behavior.

In forums on the “Internets” it is inevitable that someone will come along and say that progressive minded Jeffersonian liberals are exaggerating, hey after all you can still drive to work and spend your paycheck at Wal-Mart, have a beer, and watch the game. How sad that they measure the state of democracy in such petty terms. Freedom doesn’t disappear over night, it erodes in small steps until you wake up one morning and wonder why more people didn’t step up and say something.


used parts, the year in culture the year end lists begin

used parts 

The Year in Culture 

Stanley Crouch, author, The Artificial White Man and Considering Genius: Writings on Jazz
As we are all aware, the technology of films has never been more convincing, but the human content seems to diminish with every advance in duping techniques. That is why I was absolutely startled by Little Children. It focuses on humanity as the most marvelous of all narrative enhancements and has in Kate Winslet an actress of classical cinematic greatness.

They start off with some guy who was dissappointed in the demotion of Pluto from being a real planet which in itself was almost enough to keep me from reading the rest. Pluto’s feelings were not hurt, it will keep orbiting our sun I promise.

Among the more serious and note worthy,

Azar Nafisi, author, Reading Lolita in Tehran
I can name a few amazing, as well as a number of disappointing, cultural events for 2006, but none can match my sense of outrage at the so-called Holocaust conference convened by the Iranian government. I felt outraged as a human being, because, like all the great human catastrophes, the Holocaust transcends its own time and place, concerning not just the Jews and those who tried to eliminate them but the rest of mankind, and when we deny it or remain silent about it, when we manipulate it for political purposes, we become complicit in the assault not only against the actual victims but against all that goes by the name humane.

While I think that Iran’s leaders as opposed to its general population talk a lot of smack just to piss off the west, even as far as propaganda goes Holocaust denial went to the deepest and darkest of places and it will come back to haunt them.

While you’re over at Slate reading the rest and making your own mental list of the cultural highs and lows of the past year this is also worth a read , Why Pardoning Nixon Was Wrong Ignore the cost-free magnanimity of Ford’s rehabilitators. You had it right the first time. 

No new information has emerged during the past 32 years that makes Ford’s pardon to Nixon look any more justifiable; indeed, what facts have dribbled forth make it seem less so. (More on these later.) Nor can the pardon plausibly be considered an example of the bipartisan spirit for which Ford is justly, if too extravagantly, praised by Washington insiders. The pardon may have had the long-term effect of tamping down partisan warfare between Democrats and Republicans over a possible criminal trial (obstruction of justice would have been the likeliest charge), but when a Republican short-circuits prosecution of a fellow Republican, you can’t call that bipartisanship. 

division of labor, gendered division of labor gave modern humans advantage over neanderthals

Division of labor wallpaper 

Gendered Division Of Labor Gave Modern Humans Advantage Over Neanderthals

“The competitive advantage enjoyed by modern humans came not just from new weapons and devices but from the ways in which their economic lives were organized around the advantages of cooperation and complementary subsistence roles for men, women, and children,” write Steven L. Kuhn and Mary C. Stiner (University of Arizona).

Kuhn and Stiner note that the rich archaeological record for Neanderthal diets provides little direct evidence for a reliance on subsistence foods, such as milling stones to grind nuts and seeds. Instead, Neanderthals depended on large game, a high-stakes resource, to fuel their massive body mass and high caloric intake. This lack of food diversity and the presence of healed fractures on Neanderthal skeletons–attesting to a rough-and-tumble lifestyle–suggest that female and juvenile Neanderthals participated actively in the hunt by serving as game drivers, beating bushes or cutting off escape routes.

While some us still have rich fantasy lives where we bring down a giant mastodon and bask in the glory of the tribe around a giant pit fire under a twilight sky most us lead lives of quiet desperation and domestication. There is a lot to be said for domesticity – vegging out on the sofa, wind surfing,  pizza delivery, and enough energy at the end of the day for the occasional bedroom gymnastics. While I’m big on spontaneity myself, in order to enjoy all the bless of modern living arrangements you have to have a plan, Division of labor

As soon as you move in together, or even start thinking about it, you need to have an honest conversation about how you plan to manage the day-to-day maintenance of your household. You might not realize it, but you have implanted, preconceived ideas in your head about how a man and a woman should share the domestic duties.

If your mother was an old-fashioned housewife type, some part of you could assume that the woman will take on more of the cooking and cleaning than the man (with his role largely restricted to fixing, mowing and grilling.) But if your mom worked outside of the home every bit as hard as your dad did, you’ll probably expect an all-for-one attitude. And if your parents divorced when you were young, you might not know how these things are “supposed” to work.

After you’ve confessed your ideas about who should do what in the home, lose them and create a new, gender-neutral division of labor.

A little more detail at the link which includes my favorite part, “It’s OK to let him or her know how you feel, but as long as mold isn’t taking over your shower, is it really a big deal?”.

foggy morning tuscany, rodin drawings go on display in cambodia, iraq and one of the world’s worse jobs

foggy morning tuscany 

Rodin Show Visits Home of Artist’s Muses 

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia, Dec. 26 — In July 1906 Auguste Rodin went to the palace of the president of France for a garden party featuring the dancers of the Royal Ballet of Cambodia.

Paris was abuzz. King Sisowath of Cambodia was making his first state visit to France and had taken with him his troupe of royal dancers, girls with strange short hair and agile feet who had been performing to rave reviews at the Colonial Exposition in Marseille.

Rodin, 66 at the time and already famous as a sculptor, showed up with a ticket but no tie. He was turned away, furious. He managed to see the dancers perform in the Bois de Boulogne a few days later. What he saw was so pure and startling that it sparked in him a kind of fever he could only describe as love.

“I contemplated them in ecstasy,” he said at the time, according to the exhibition catalog.

Rodin followed the dancers back to Marseille so precipitately that he left his art supplies behind and had to buy butcher paper from a grocer to draw on. “I would have followed them all the way to Cairo,” he said.

From this brief encounter — Rodin spent less than a week in Marseille — came 150 of his most famous drawings. Forty are now on display for the first time in Cambodia at the National Museum here.

Besides the fact that NYT does as badly as I do at titling some of their articles, if you click the link for about the next thirty days you’ll see some nice reproductions of Rodin’s stretches. After that the article will go into archives and you’ll have to pay to read it.

Coffin Maker in Iraq Writes Article About His Sadly Busy Job 

A 36-year-old Iraqi man name Muhammad Abdel Kader wrote or dictated a first-person story published on Tuesday on the Web site of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. He explains how he has been making coffins for a living for about a dozen years, and was not particularly busy until the current war — but now has to make about 20 or more coffins a day.

His saddest moment? He had to make the coffin that would carry his brother, a bombing victim, to his grave.

I guess conservatives would say look on the bright side, think of all the economic opportunity that mass deaths can bring.

the last leaf, teddy bears students back to school, a parable for our times

the last leaf

Judge: Let ‘Teddy Bear’ Students Return

KNIGHTSTOWN, IND. — Making a movie in which evil teddy bears attack a teacher got two budding filmmakers expelled from their high school, but a federal judge says it was the school that was wrong.

However, the judge said the boys should apologize.

Cody Overbay and Isaac Imel, both sophomores, must be allowed to return to Knightstown High School for the second semester, U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker said Friday in Indianapolis in granting a preliminary injunction. She also ordered the school to allow the students to make up any work they had missed since their expulsions in October.

The boys worked on the movie “The Teddy Bear Master” from fall 2005 through summer 2006. It depicts a “teddy bear master” ordering stuffed animals to kill a teacher who had embarrassed him, but students battle the toy beasts, according to documents filed in court.

Not having every little detail its hard to say, but it seems that where they went wrong was using the real name of a teacher they didn’t like. You don’t get to do that kind of satiric blistering until you graduate. The judge made the correct decision, but I can see where the teacher might have found the whole scenario a little threatening.

Since it is the holidays for some people it is ironic that our beloved King or excuse me president who saw the draft in his youth and ran like hell to escape it, yet has made an issue out of remembering the hardships and sacrifices of others. Bush and his conservative echo chamber have so many faces it is difficult to keep track of them all, A Parable For Our Times

Of course it’s hard to grasp what really motivated this movement. Many of the new conservative elites profess devotion to the needs of ordinary people, in contrast with some of their counterparts a hundred years ago who were often Social Darwinists, and couldn’t have been more convinced that a vast chasm between the rich and poor is the natural state of things. But after 30 years of conservative revival and a dramatic return of the discredited “voodoo economics” of the 1980s under George W. Bush, it’s reasonable to follow the old biblical proverb that says by their fruits you shall know them. By that realistic standard, I think the Nobel Laureate economist Robert Solow’s analysis sums it up well: What it’s all about, he simply said, is “the redistribution of wealth in favor of the wealthy and of power in favor of the powerful.”

Bush would like to thank those that are dying for a lie while he is doing less then nothing to make America safer. As Iraq hogs up the headlines Bush and Company puts the economy in a u-turn back to the good old days of social darwinism, a time where you knew your place. It has always amazed me that so many working class southern whites would jump on this keep Paris Hilton safe from the ravishes of a good day’s work bandwagon, while at the same time so many would volunteer to fight windmills.

gate 10 graphic art, ABC misinformer of the year, uk poll religion causes more harm then good

gate 10 graphic art

Despite all the smiling faces and the daily pretense of good intentions ABC has not been a good little network this year, Misinformer of the Year: ABC

This year saw ABC air The Path to 9/11, a two-part miniseries that placed the blame for the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the Clinton administration and whitewashed some of the Bush administration’s failures leading up to the attacks. Additionally, the network’s news coverage frequently reported Republican spin as fact, passed on falsehoods propagated by conservatives, and missed numerous opportunities to challenge or question the administration’s actions during solo interviews with Bush and key members of his administration.

[ ]… * Vargas reported that “Congress voted to raise the national debt limit to nearly $9 trillion” but omitted the fact that all Senate Democrats voted against the increase, along with three Republicans. [3/16/06]

More at the link. Some of it lies by ABC, but most frequently distortions and spin.

Religion does more harm than good – poll

More people in Britain think religion causes harm than believe it does good, according to a Guardian/ICM poll published today. It shows that an overwhelming majority see religion as a cause of division and tension – greatly outnumbering the smaller majority who also believe that it can be a force for good.

The Right Rev Bishop Dunn makes the observation that frequently religion is used in a derisive way, as a front for agendas. That probably has a lot to do with this trend. In America I think we’re seeing just the beginning of a backlash against not God per se, but religious extremists that have used Jesus as a kind of rhetorical weapon to beat people with both figuratively and literally. The Falwells, Dobsons, and Robertson of the world may have lived long enough to see their hateful intolerant dogma come back to haunt them.

sacramento river wallpaper, iran helped america in afghanistan, bloggers and advocacy

fly fishing sacramento river

A redacted version of the article I mentioned here has been published by NYT, Redacted Version of Original Op-Ed

Those who argue that Iran did not cause Iraq’s problems and therefore can be of only limited help in dealing with Iraq’s current instability must also acknowledge that Iran did not “cause” Afghanistan’s deterioration into a terrorist-harboring failed state. But, when America and Iran worked together, Afghanistan was much more stable than it is today, Al Qaeda was on the run, the Islamic Republic’s Hezbollah protégé was comparatively restrained, and Tehran was not spinning centrifuges. Still, the Bush administration conveyed no interest in building on these positive trends.

Not a trait of a good leader to tell the nation on one hand that an entire country is “evil” while at the same time taking that country’s help in fighting Bin Laden and the Taliban. Iran is a complicated nation and while they’re not all sitting around baking cookies it does look like the current powers that be are painting the problems with Iran the same way they painted Iraq as pure good versus pure evil. That kind of behavior reminds me more of a Stalin-like figure rather then an Abraham Lincoln.

Obviously I like blogging at least most of the time, but I’m not pro-blog without qualifications. Unlike a major magazine their are no editors and no filtering or fact checking as for two qualities lacking in vast majority of blogs. On the other hand they can create a global kind of old fashioned town meeting. Like those town meetings there are be the blog equivalent of shouting, frayed tempers, and accusations founded and unfounded, but that is a dialogue. Like all conversations you have to start somewhere and unlike the movies it is not always going to be a smooth and sophisticated. Advocacy is an especially sloppy business where to accomplish anything can take tremendous time and patience. I wonder at the people that get on the net with well over 50 million blogs and growing and think they’ll change the world in a week or two. A blog isn’t so much a voice on the net as a word that occasionally makes into the conservation that millions of people are having. Still it can be rewarding to just play the game, enjoy the effort and make one’s contribution no matter how small. A long winded intro to this story, Bloggers Shrink the Planet

Gharbia is the creator of the Tunisian Prison Map — an idea inspired by a New York Times interactive map charting murder locations in New York City. Gharbia turned the concept on its head: Instead of showing government figures on crime, he’d display where his former government was behaving criminally, imprisoning political dissidents for daring to speak out.

When you click on a place-mark on Gharbia’s Google Maps mashup, a pop-up reveals details, stories and videos of prisoners and their families. The map is compelling and provocative, and it’s one more reason Gharbia, who now lives in the Hague, says he can’t go home.

The site is “the best advocacy tool I’ve ever seen anywhere,” gushes Rawlins, managing editor of Global Voices Online, an international citizens’ media group that held its second annual summit in India’s bustling capital last weekend.