Saturday, August 02, 2008

Why Am I So Tired?

So the McCain campaign's attack on Sen. Obama for not visiting wounded troops was baseless all along. Unsurprising, which is sad to say. It's hard to maintain your oh-so-friendly relationship with the press if you start calling them a bunch of liars. Even so, McCain's campaign is holding on to this one using anything that might hint of Sen. Obama's politicization of the troops to attack him; which, in itself is a politicization of the troops. How much longer does this silly season last before we get to the real election?

Lies As Truth

Sometimes Warren Ellis comes up with some brilliant ideas. Today, for instance, he posted a list of ideas with one in particular that I actually want to do:

"f) form band that doesn’t exist, release exquisite covers for records that will never be made, beautiful flyers for gigs that were not arranged, mp3 “previews” that are nothing but the voices of young women crooning complete nonsense in Russian"
I need to find the women to sing in nonsensical Russian but doing the fliers and album covers is easy enough. You could take it a step further and make a bunch of CD-Rs to put up along with the fliers. Can you imagine the rumor-monger that would take place among the hipsters? Oh god, I think I'm really going to do this.

Build It and They Will Come

Naturally, McArdle argues in favor of management over unions; or rather, she argues that unions are more to blame for GM's profit losses. Of course, this misses the point of GM's declining sales entirely. If you look at their line of cars there are few that compel you to buy them. And it's management that makes the decisions to produce a certain number of a type of vehicle. So if GM is sitting on a stock of unsold SUVs and trucks due to their low gas mileage then that's really management's fault, not the fault of the unions. Producing a bunch of bland sedans while maintaining their focus on SUVs and light trucks wasn't a decision the unions made. It was management's responsibility to approve car designs that would appeal to consumers, of which they haven't. Which is why European, Japanese and Korean imports are slamming them in competition.
When I bought my first car (a 2004 Audi A4) it was initially based on the stylings. That's what GM has forgotten about. If you make a sedan that turns heads on the street then you'll more than likely sell a number of those cars. It's really basic economics here. Come up with a compelling sedan design and watch the sales roll in. But if all you have are cars that look like cheap Asian knock-offs people are typically going to buy the real thing versus some fakery. It isn't about union versus management. It's about management actually doing a good job in offering cars people want to buy.

Taking the Lead Pipe to the Alpha Male

I do so love it when Yglesias and Ackerman run tag team posts. It's as if Matt takes you out at the knees and then Spencer walks in with the lead pipe and you know nothing good is about to happen. The whole idea of Sen. McCain being the jock who surrounds himself with a nerd crowd desperately seeking attention from the popular guy is a brilliant play by Yglesias. It turns Sen. McCain's aggressiveness into a sort of cult of personality in miniature. And then Ackerman comes by with the lead pipe across the skull by saying, "In Brooklyn, we call these people bitches." It's the alpha male leading a pack of boys who wish they were as 'tough' and 'strong' as Sen. McCain.
Personally, I can't stand alpha male confrontations. I just won't put up with them. It's a whole leveling of the eyes and clearly stating your point unequivocally. Most of the male customers who come in the store with this attitude don't get far with me. And they really don't like it when I tell them this is the way it is and give them the option of walking out. It's actually fun at that point since the alpha male gets all pouty and sulks away. Really though, I can do without it. Hence my dislike for Sen. McCain, even in his so-called maverick days. He comes off as someone who pouts when he doesn't get his way. To me that's a sign of personal weakness an alpha male like Sen. McCain tries to cover up with a gruff attitude. Sorry, I was born in Texas and I know real alpha males when I see them. Sen. McCain ain't one of them.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Blow-Out At 70mph

Let me see if I've gotten this straight: Sen. Obama offers a tip I hear on "Car Talk with Click and Clack" all the time to make sure your tires are properly inflated. And every day I see cars with tires that look a touch flat thinking, "Run down to the gas station, pop a few quarters in the air pump machine and save money overall on gas and tire wear." It's the simplest thing you can do to lessen the hurt gas prices are putting on us. Hell, there are specialty shops that offer to swap out the normal air in your tires with nitrogen gas. Apparently using nitrogen gas versus normal air offers significant benefits to tire wear and less maintenance as the nitrogen slips out of the tires at a far slower rate compared to normal air. And the Republican radio talk hosts are bitching about this? When mountains of data and a consensus running from the most expert auto maker to the guy who runs a little auto repair shop says keeping tire pressure at its normal level is good then I think I'll take their advice. But oh no, that's not good enough for the likes of Rush Limbaugh if the advice comes out of the mouth of Sen. Obama. It's all a liberal trick then, keeping your tires inflated properly.
How about this then? If you consider yourself a Republican let some air out of your tires. Actually, let a lot of air out. I mean, if the idea of maintaining proper tire pressure is nothing but liberal propaganda then you obviously shouldn't do it. Keep those tires low and squishy my Republican brethren. Fight back against that liberal propaganda!

The Annointed One

I really don't know what to say about this. Sheer maniacal laughter doesn't translate well over blog. Absolute ridiculousness on a grand scale that pokes as much fun at evangelical pastors as it does Sen. Obama. The McCain campaign thinks this ad will play well? It isn't technically a negative ad, but it certainly will piss off a lot of social conservatives. Does Sen. McCain not pay attention to his base at all? This ad is a joke. Someone's playing a prank. That's the only thing I can think of, other than Sen. McCain and his staff have just lost it.

Really, this ad has to come from some wacky people. The way Sen. McCain's ads have come out, it either looks like a repeat of the Democratic primary or amateur hour with a big-ass budget. These guys need to try harder. Are the ad men left to their own devices? Is there any oversight by Sen. McCain's staff that say, "You fucking morons. This is the best you can do?" Sen. McCain continues to look like he never ran a campaign before. Maybe his age is finally getting to him?

Don't Worry, We've Got It Covered

Stanford and UC Berkeley are refusing federal funds due to the limitations on research and the publication of research that are tied to the acceptance of federal monies. This is a proud day for these schools. Taking a stand against over-reaching government oversight on research is a pretty bold move and not one all universities and colleges can take unfortunately. Even so, if more of the top school move in this direction it might (emphasis on might) induce the government to lighten up on it's restrictive attitude toward research and academic freedom. It also mean that Stanford and UC Berkeley don't have to allow military recruiters on campus. I'm not really seeing a downside here. Bravo to the professors and deans of the schools for placing academic freedom over federal money.

The Quickest Route to Rebellion

I read about the DHS policy of indefinitely detaining one's laptop while going through airport security yesterday on another site I can't remember now. Plus, I was under the impression that the policy focused only on laptops but apparently it covers all sorts of data retention devices such as iPods, cell phones, PDAs, books, files and generally just about anything that one can write on or has written on. First, a little bit of snark as this policy does nothing to make me feel any safer. They should detain your brain if it's really that much of a concern and that's a whole other set of problems right there. Second, when is the DHS and TSA going to wise up to the fact that their policies do not actually help alieviate the problem of terrorists potentially entering the country. It only inconveniences regular people and causes said people to distrust the government even more. And I don't think the public can take much more distrust before they start reacting en masse.

The Decline of Men's Fashion

I'm going to have to agree with Adrianne on this one. Shorts simply don't belong in the workplace (unless you're my dad and are missing a leg). Try actually dressing like you know what you are doing for once. But this college throwback gives me the stabby-stabby thoughts. You know, the kind that makes the image of putting a fork in the neck of a frat boy delightful. Must resist urge to stab.

The Nightly News

I just finished reading The Nightly News by Jonathan Hickman and am still processing the book. I caught the second and third issue last summer but fell out of comics before the series finished. Still, when I found a trade paperback, it became an immediate buy. The story is a fascinating look at modern media and how it is used more as a tool of propaganda than a source of truthful information. Plus it has a bit of the old ultra-violence thrown in for good measure. The most overt meaning I gathered from the book was the need to act when you see a serious problem. One of the best lines from the first issue is "When killing activists, never aim for the head, always aim for the heart." The book is a serious call to action when action is needed, not the sham protests of activists who have righteous hearts but little spirit to truly act. I've talked about the self-masturbatory ways of modern protesters before, but Hickman takes the argument to a new level of cynicism and derision. I highly recommend The Nightly News to anyone interested in seeing a brief glimpse behind the scenes of journalism.

One Day Fox News Will Burn By Lies

My father wanted to goad me into an argument over the campaign by claiming Sen. McCain was coming up in the polls and trouncing Sen. Obama in several toss-up states. Naturally I went immediately to and started rattling off trendlines both nationally and state by state. But this post by Nate Silver shows just how much Sen. Obama is gaining over Sen. McCain, even in states once deep red. Sen. McCain's own home state of Arizona has become a battleground state.
This is becoming a problem for Sen. McCain as each state he could previously count on shifts even a little towards Sen. Obama means another state Sen. McCain has to defend. Meanwhile, most of the states expected to fall behind Sen. Obama have with little movement towards Sen. McCain. At this point, according to Pollster's electorial vote map, even if Sen. McCain were to win the assured votes along with the toss ups he would still lose to Sen. Obama. This is why my father needs to stop watching Fox News.

Linus without his Blanket

I only gave Marty Lederman's piece over at Balkinization a summary glance but from what I gather Judge Bate's ruling on the Miers/Bolton case goes much further than the simple rejection of absolute immunity for anyone who closely worked with the President. Aside from that, Judge Bate's ruling rejected the administration's claim that the House held no oversight power on the executive process and that any claim of executive privilage will necessarily have to include direct communications with the president. In other words, unless Miers or Bolton were acting on order from or communicating directly with President Bush their claims of executive immunity to any questions are likely to fail. The ruling on executive privilage itself is rather astonishing as well as Judge Bates ruled unequivocally that executive prilivage is not an absolute and is not a blanket for everyone in the administration. Personally, I have the feeling that this issue will continue even after President Bush leaves office.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

We Need Flex Mentallo to Square the Pentagon

Suspect in "biggest military hack" loses extradition case - David Chartier @ Ars Technica

I first caught the news of this last night while watching BBC America's news hour and naturally had the same questions several computer analysts and McKinnon's own lawyer were asking: how was a single man with a home computer and dial-up modem able to hack his way into the U.S. military's computers? Seriously, it's hard to imagine that the Pentagon and associated agencies left their computer networks open to suck an easy hack. But McKinnon did it and I think we should applaud him for his efforts versus locking him up. If Captain Anal Probe, looking for evidence of UFOs on military networks, was able to break into those networks then the DoD needs this public slap in the face. They left their networks so vulnerable that a loon could walk on in. McKinnon deserves a slap on the wrists at most.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Savage Land is Savage to Everyone

Judge: posting shock jock clip to the web is "fair use" - Jacqui Chen @ Ars Technica

After radio host Michael Savage took a beating on his comments about autistic children it looks like he's taken another blow, this time in court, over the use of clips of his show. The Council on American-Islamic Relations used a four-minute clip of Savage's show which features him ranting about Muslims in America. They used the clip as part of a rebuttal to Savage's claims that Muslims in America are on welfare, that the Council is tied to terrorist activity and that the U.S. should deport all Muslims. That Savage has lost ad revenue due to his rants, either on the autistic or Muslims and the CAIR in particular, is only fitting. Savage has long been a voice of unreason and disinformation, constantly waging FUD campaigns on those he doesn't like. I can only hope that due to his radical stance on most issues he eventually becomes unprofitable to his corporation. Attitudes are changing in the U.S. and it seems a lot of people have no use for empty, fear-mongering rhetoric like Savage's. I count this as a positive sign for the health of the public discourse in America. Here's to hoping.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Rightist Insurgency

US church 'killer' wrote of hate - BBC News

Lovely, a man takes a shotgun into a church and starts blasting away because he didn't have a job and wanted someone to blame. So let's play the 'blame the liberals' game once again, only with bullets and buckshot this time. Oh, and put kids in the line of fire as well. I do so hope all the rightist commentators, talk show hosts and tv pundits argue in this man's favor. He was only doing the work of Republican God. I have this deep hatred for people who can't take personal responsibility for their own faults. It lessens the chance of my being kind and helpful to them.

More from SDCC

I like all the attention Batman has received over the past months (not just due to the movie mind you) and since I've been getting closer to catching up on Grant Morrison's Batman work it's good to hear that he and Paul Dini, writer of Detective Comics, would like to stay on the book indefinitely. But that's not why I'm linking to this particular i09 article. The article itself is a good run down of how the Joker fares as a Batman villain, but Morrison hits on something that the politico-blogosphere would rather ignore. At the end of the article Morrison explains why Batman remains relevant in contemporary society:

"That's why Batman is so cool. He doesn't use guns and he still kicks your ass. That's the whole point. That's his psychology. If Batman kills everyone, he's just another soldier. We don't need another soldier, we have millions of soldiers. We need Batman."
All the commentary about The Dark Knight has focused on the film's tacit affirmation of President Bush's tactics in the war on terror--certainly on the idea of a surveillance society and the use of torture in interrogations. But right here we have one of the best Batman writers describing a Batman that runs completely counter to the pundits opinion. Perhaps I'm being overly critical of the pundits or ignoring their magnificent powers of reasoning, but I'd take the opinion of the guy who writes the regular Batman comic over theirs. I'm just funny that way. And Morrison is too, as his characterization of Batman in both his run on JLA at the end of the 90s and his current run on Batman is of Batman as almost god-like in his mental prowess. Batman still kicks and punches his way to victory, but he knows which people to kick and punch versus the random shots in the dark the Bush administration takes. Even when DC took Batman in the direction of becoming a control freak with his construction of the ├╝ber-surveillance satellite Brother Eye, it was done as a way of breaking down Batman to his core drive: the desire to prevent things like what happened to him and his parents from happening to anyone else.
Much as the end of The Dark Knight has Batman taking responsibility for the actions of others, so too does the Batman of the DCU take on the responsibility of bringing the same fear he faced to criminals so others don't have to suffer. But he wants the criminals to suffer and they can't suffer if they are dead. A Batman with a gun is no Batman at all (no points awarded for pointing to the earliest issues, thank you very much). Morrison gets this, as has most other Batman writers since Frank Miller. Batman's no punk with a gun but the pinnacle of what a man of justice is.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Whatever Happened To The Caped Crusader?

SDDC '08: More on Batman-Gaiman with Dan Didio - Newsarama

Neil Gaiman is teaming up with Andy Kubert again for a two-part Batman story. As indicated by both chief editor Dan Didio and editor of the Batman line Mike Marts, the story will act as a sort of capstone for the last few decades of Batman stories. The title of the two-parter is a dead givaway to what DC has in mind for the Dark Knight: Whatever Happened to the Cape Crusader. It's a direct play on the seminal story Alan Moore did in 1986 after Crisis on Infinite Earths and before John Byrne started his Man of Steel reimagining of Superman for the modern era of comics. Moore titled his two-part closure of the Silver Age Superman Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow. It is one of the most poigant comic stories you will ever read, even if you have little to no knowledge of the Silver Age Superman.
With Grant Morrison's Batman: R.I.P. concluding around October and DC's Final Crisis event story--written by Morrison as well--finishing at the end of the year, the Gaiman story is slated for January of 2009. It also means that whatever the conclusion of Final Crisis is will affect what happens after Gaiman's story. Morrison, as far as I know, will continue to write Batman afterwards but has left open the question of who Batman is under the mask. Everyone involved is staying mum about Final Crisis, Batman, and Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader with Morrison saying that he's still writing and Gaiman posting on his website that he's not talking until it's done. Still, exciting times for Batman fans. I just wonder when DC will let Morrison loose on The Flash and talk Gaiman into writing a Superman/Batman story arc.