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Sunday, December 31, 2006 
final post of the year
2006 is almost over, and i'm cool with that. while it had its moments, 2006 wasn't a particularly good year for me, what with my cat dying and getting laid off. here's hoping 2007 turns out better.

as for tonight, we'll be spending new year's eve at home, relaxing with some pink champagne and some multimedia. (tv, internet, superman II the richard donner cut, and the NYE mikki fikki mix. earlier tonight, we stopped at steak n shake for dinner and to try their new fruit 'n' frozen yogurt shakes (which are outstanding, and i'm not usually that into fruit-flavored ice creams).

happy holidays to all.

Saturday, December 30, 2006 
the lord loves a hangin'
so that's it. saddam hussein has been hanged. if anyone deserves the death penalty (and i'm not convinced anyone does), butchers like saddam do. but is this really the best we can do? a show trial, an appeal that literally lasted 15 minutes, and then a rush to execute the man in the dead of night? this wasn't justice; this was vengeance.

and why a hanging? in a way, it's rather fitting, because in this country it symbolizes a style of wild-west justice that meshes nicely with bush's cowboy image. saddam had a beef with bush's daddy, so bush raided his land and had him lynched. it's all so primal.

(and if saddam's crimes are so enormous that he deserved to be killed, what does that say about those from the reagan administration [rumsfeld etc] who propped saddam up in the first place?)

it reminds me of this classic ren & stimpy bit, which was later banned (though now available on dvd):

Thursday, December 28, 2006 
spitzer's final surprise
outgoing new york attorney general eliot spitzer (he's been elected governor) scores one final win against the music industry, as entercom communications corp has settled his payola lawsuit for $4.25 million. the indy star has a short blurb (three one-sentence paragraphs in length) about the settlement because entercom owns three indy radio stations: WZPL, 107.9 "the track", and talk station WXNT (home of abdul in the morning and local home to bill o'reilly, sean hannity, and glen beck).

for details about the settlement, we need to turn elsewhere, like mediaweek:

The settlement includes a $3.5 million payment to be distributed through the Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors to New York State not-for-profit entities to fund music education and appreciation programs, and $750,000 in costs to the state.

Also included are a number of "reforms," according to Spitzer’s office:
- Halting the practice of accepting payments and other inducements from record labels in exchange for airplay;
- Banning all payments from independent promoters employed as a pass-through for funds from record labels;
- Hiring a compliance officer to monitor promotion practices;
- Implementing an internal system to detect any future abuses;
- Informing radio monitoring services when songs are played through the CD Preview and CD Challenge programs so that those services do not count such "spins" toward record popularity rankings.

entercom does not officially admit any guilt in the settlement agreement.

urge to kill rising
there's been a big fuss in certain corners of the local media concerning indy's murder rate, which is the highest it's been in years. it turns out murders are up pretty much across the board nationwide.

After many years of decline, the number of murders climbed this year in New York and many other major U.S. cities, reaching their highest levels in a decade in some places. Among the reasons given: gangs, drugs, the easy availability of illegal guns, a disturbing tendency among young people to pull guns when they do not get the respect they demand, and, in Houston at least, an influx of Hurricane Katrina evacuees.

the article mentions a bunch of cities, but never gets around to mentioning indy. (speculate on your own whether this omission is a much-needed bit of perspective or a glaring error on the AP's part.) new york, chicago, new haven, houston, cincinnati, oakland, and philadelphia are all mentioned as cities that have seen increases—often sharp ones—in the murder rate this year. los angeles and san francisco saw slight declines. new orleans "is the only major U.S. city that saw a sharp decline in the number of homicides" in 2006, but then new orleans only has about half as many people in it as it did a couple years ago.

this, the end, is the most amusing part of the article:

Andrew Karmen, a criminologist at John Jay College in New York, said that while there are various theories for the drop in murders in New York and other cities in the 1990s, no one knows for sure why it happened. And if they are going up again, no one knows the reason for that, either, he said.

He noted that police departments tend to take credit when the murder rate goes down. "When crime goes up it will be interesting to see whether they will accept responsibility," Karmen said.

heh. i think we all know the answer to that, at least locally:

"Read about your mayor and how he lies to the city just so he can build a new dome. He doesn't care about anything else," said one officer. "Is it really safe to come to a game? I'd be wearing a bulletproof vest if I was some of you folks."

The officer's comments were a not-so-veiled reference to a violent year in the city in which homicides increased dramatically.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006 
RIP gerald ford
former president ford has died.

Gerald R. Ford, who picked up the pieces of
Richard Nixon's scandal-shattered White House as the 38th president and the only one never elected to nationwide office, has died, his wife, Betty, said Tuesday. He was 93.

"My family joins me in sharing the difficult news that Gerald Ford, our beloved husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather has passed away at 93 years of age," Mrs. Ford said in a brief statement issued from her husband's office in Rancho Mirage. "His life was filled with love of God, his family and his country."

The statement did not say where or when Ford died or list a cause of death. Ford had battled pneumonia in January 2006 and underwent two heart treatments — including an angioplasty and a pacemaker implant — in August at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

a lot of kids my age and younger don't know much more about ford than that he pardoned nixon and he fell down a lot. by the time i was born, he was already well on his way to losing the election against jimmy carter.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006 
james brown is dead

i see jima beat me to it and already posted this; so be it. (ideally i should have posted this yesterday, but didn't think of it until this afternoon.)


so my new laptop has a 17" screen, giving it an odd (to me) native resolution of 1440x900. i quickly realized that none of the existing AWIA wallpapers looked very good when stretched to that size, and that other than the mr yuk wallpaper, none of them could easily be easily modified to that aspect ratio (8:5).

that meant it was time to create some new wallpapers! i hereby present five new AWIA wallpapers, all available in 800x600, 1024x768, 1280x1024, and 1440x900. (some of them might look familiar if you've been paying attention to the splash page.)

Monday, December 25, 2006 
happy holidays
it's christmas day, so for all of you who celebrate the holiday, have a good one. for those who don't, keep on rockin' with your bad self.

it's early, but my family already exchanged gifts... in addition to a few cool dvds from my amazon wish list, i got my first laptop! now that's an awesome gift! (and convenient timing, too, as my desktop computer has been having some trouble playing civilization IV, glitching out and crashing for some reason, but the new laptop plays the game beautifully.

this new machine will allow me to blog from the road, edit (or do other work) from anywhere i choose, and will also surely work its way into my live performances. (my dj performance rig fits nicely into a trunk, but isn't so sturdy as to fit into an airplane cargo hold, for example.)

here's hoping the rest of you have a pleasant holiday season.

RIP james brown
james brown, one of the 20th century's most influential musicians, passed away today, on christmas day, on christmas day in the morning.

James Brown, the singer, songwriter, bandleader and dancer, who indelibly transformed 20th-century music, died today at Emory Crawford Long Hospital in Atlanta, where he been admitted on Saturday for pneumonia, news services said. He was 73 years old and had lived in Beech Island, S.C., near the Georgia border.

His agent, Frank Copsidas, told The Associated Press Mr. Brown died of congestive heart failure.

Sunday, December 24, 2006 
holiday somethings
i sure feel safer knowing that NORAD is tracking santa as he travels the world delivering presents.

For more than 50 years, NORAD and its predecessor, the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) have tracked Santa. The tradition began after a Colorado Springs-based Sears Roebuck & Co. store advertisement for children to call Santa on a special "hotline" included an inadvertently misprinted telephone number. Instead of Santa, the phone number put kids through to the CONAD Commander-in-Chief's operations "hotline." The Director of Operations, Colonel Harry Shoup, received the first "Santa" call on Christmas Eve 1955. Realizing what had happened, Colonel Shoup had his staff check radar data to see if there was any indication of Santa making his way south from the North Pole. Indeed there were signs of Santa and children who called were given an update on Santa's position. Thus, the tradition was born. In 1958, the governments of Canada and the United States created a bi-national air defense command for the North American continent called the North American Air Defense Command, known as NORAD. Canada and the U.S. believed they could better defend North America together as a team instead of separately.

NORAD carried out its first Santa tracking in 1958 after inheriting the tradition from CONAD. Since that time, Canadian and American men and women who work at NORAD have responded to phone calls from children personally. Additionally, media from all over the world call NORAD on Christmas Eve for updates on Santa's location. Last year this Website was visited by millions of people who wanted to know Santa's whereabouts. This year, the information is provided in six languages.
NORAD relies on many volunteers to help make Santa tracking possible. Hundreds of volunteers spend part of their Christmas Eve at the Santa Tracking Operations Center answering phones and emails to provide Santa updates to thousands of inquiring children worldwide.

check out the totally realistic video.

also of note, the things to do page has mp3s of christmas music. it's mostly pretty standard stuff, but then there's a puzzling track called "santa wants a tuba for christmas".

perhaps even stranger is the celebrities section, full of videos of people i've never heard of telling NORAD how much they f'n rock for tracking santa and stuff. seriously, i've heard of maybe a third of these people, and most of them are washed up. (but not edward james olmos; he's still got it.)

when faux is not so
oh, diddy!

The Humane Society of the United States yesterday released the results of a mass spectrometry test conducted on a Sean John hooded snorkel jacket that was originally labeled as having an imitation rabbit-fur collar.

The label inside the jacket claimed that the collar was made from "raccoon fur."

The Humane Society determined that both labels were wrong and that the fur on the jacket actually comes from a canine called a raccoon dog, a small member of the dog family indigenous to East Asia.

The animal gets its name because its coat is similar to a raccoon's. However, the raccoon dog is no more closely related to the raccoon than any other dog.

naturally diddy claims he didn't know, and i imagine he probably didn't. you would think that faux fur would be cheaper than real fur, and thus this kind of thing wouldn't happen, but perhaps synthetic is not always cheaper than cheap chinese dog fur, which i can imagine would be pretty cheap.

"First these jackets were falsely advertised as faux fur, and then it turned out that the fur came from a type of dog," said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society. All too often, fur labeled as faux turns out to come from dogs or cats, added Pacelle, who called it an "industry-wide problem."

"Retailers and designers aren't paying close enough attention to composition of the fur trim they are selling," he said. "It's especially problematic when the fur is sourced from China, where domestic dogs and cats and raccoon dogs are killed in gruesome ways, even skinned alive."

Saturday, December 23, 2006 
back to school
it's a christmas miracle! the two knightstown kids who were expelled for making a horror movie parody in their spare time will be allowed to return to school. judge sarah evans barker steps into the santa role, saving these students from the grinchy administrators who tried to steal the school year:

Judge Sarah Evans Barker granted a preliminary injunction ordering C.A. Beard Memorial Schools to let Cody Overbay and Isaac Imel return to school for the second semester. She heard arguments Friday in federal court in Indianapolis.

Barker also ordered the school to allow the students to make up any work they had missed since their expulsions began in October.

A teacher character in the movie, which was filmed off school grounds, has the same last name as a teacher at another district school.

The boys sued on First Amendment grounds, and their attorneys argued the expulsions violated Indiana law, which allows such action for an activity unconnected to school only if it's unlawful and interferes with school operation.

obviously, nothing about the film was unlawful or interfered with school operation, so now the students get to return to school, though they'll have to struggle to make up for the months of missed schoolwork.

as is often the case, the talkback comments accompanying the indy star article are... let's say intense.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006 
anyone wanna buy an amphitheatre?
deer creek (aka verizon wireless music center) is up for sale. when it was first built in '89, it was out in BFE in noblesville. now suburban sprawl has overtaken the surrounding area, and the land is suddenly a lot more valuable.

Live Nation, which owns the Verizon amphitheater, has no plans to relocate the 24,000-seat amphitheater if it's sold. And no preference will be given to buyers that want to keep the site as a music venue, said Nick Arterburn, a first vice president and broker in Indianapolis for CB Richard Ellis, the commercial real estate company that's handling the sale.

"We're not against selling it to another entertainment group . . . as long as they are the entity that pays us the most money," he said.

in other words, it's theoretically possible that live entertainment could continue there after this summer, but it won't happen.

it's telling that much of the online reaction to this news has been indifferent. the space itself was nice enough, but it was a major pain to get in and out on 238. some people are clamoring for a new outdoor venue closer to downtown. it's a nice thought, but i'm not sure where it could go.

personally, while i went there last summer for the nin/bauhaus show (where i had a reasonably good time), that was probably the first time i'd been in 8 years. the kinds of musicians i like generally don't play in venues that big. of course, i listen to weird stuff, but it seems i'm hardly in the minority when it comes to indifference toward that place. still, i hate to see yet another venue get shut down.

if in doubt, blame the jews
according to harpercollins, regan books publisher judith regan wasn't fired because of the fiasco surrounding the oj book, but because judith went on an anti-semitic tirade:

[HarperCollins spokesman Andrew] Butcher said that Regan and [HarperCollins attorney Mark] Jackson were discussing an upcoming Regan book, Peter Golenbock's "7: The Mickey Mantle Novel," in which the author, imagining he is Mantle, confesses in detail to a life of sexual exploits, including a tryst with Marilyn Monroe.

With Mantle's family and fans of the late Yankee enraged, Regan and Jackson of HarperCollins were discussing the timing and content of the planned March release, according to Butcher. Regan became frustrated by what she believed was HarperCollins' lack of support, and lashed out.

She complained that Jackson, HarperCollins CEO Jane Friedman, HarperCollins Executive Editor David Hirshey and longtime literary agent Esther Newberg were a "Jewish cabal," Butcher said.

Butcher said she pleaded with Jackson: "Of all people, Jews should know about ganging up, finding common enemies and telling the big lie."

pretty stupid move, if true. especially when you're already on thin ice because your last big project was a public relations disaster. these allegations will surely make it harder to regan to find a new job.

and anyway, does this mantle book sound good to anyone? i don't have a problem with authors writing novels about real-world people; i don't care about baseball or about mantle's enraged fans. but it just sounds like a sports equivalent of fan fiction to me. no thank you.

Saturday, December 16, 2006 
bullets of the year
  • after forming a committee a couple weeks back to explore the possibility of running for president, senator evan bayh apparently decided he can't compete, and thus announced that he won't run, saying "I have always prided myself on putting my public responsibilities ahead of my own ambitions."
  • judith regan, publisher of harpercollins' regan books, has been fired. someone had to be punished after all the bad press generated by the now-cancelled murder memoir by oj simpson. regan made her boss rupert murdoch look bad, so she had to go. the imprint that carries her name will continue without her.
  • as someone who produces my own audio, video, and photos on the web, part of me is touched that time magazine has declared that you (yes, you, and me, but especially you) as this year's person of the year. but another part of me thinks it's a total copout.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006 
visualizing raw data

chkrres1, originally uploaded by stallio.

a couple years ago, i briefly tinkered with rendering images from raw data files, but i never got the hang of it and thus never did much with it.

but the other day i was browsing through the archives of the databenders list, stumbled across just the right tip, and now i think i'm catching on. 9 times out of 10, you'll get something that looks like snow, but sometimes, if you're patient, you'll find some crazy patterns.

view the set here

Tuesday, December 12, 2006 
more drinkin' and doodlin'
i'll admit it: i'm shocked. i went through the entire mallard fillmore archives, and i was unable to find any chappaquiddick jokes anytime in 1999–2000 or 2002–2003. note, however, there are several gaps in the archives, where either the whole archive page is missing or where one strip in the page is missing (and there are also weird overlaps and redundancies), so it's conceivable (though unlikely) that scads more chappaquiddick jokes are simply missing (or deleted).

of course, tinsley was still recycling the same old tired jokes during all that time; just not chappaquiddick jokes. maybe he was just too busy repeating jokes about bill clinton, the post office, and income taxes to get around to ted kennedy during those years. kennedy doesn't appear much at all during those time frames (though there was the 2001 storyline where bill clinton wanted to go on spring break, but opted not to take kennedy because he didn't want teddy to tell hillary about his planned indiscretions. see, instead of chappaquiddick jokes, we got more jokes about clinton's philandering. now that's original material!)

anyway, we resume with the one remaining chappaquiddick strip from 2001, and a couple bonus alcohol-related strips from 2000:

note also: wonkette has a couple posts up about tinsley's latest brush with the law (as tdw already noted, this was not his first alcohol-related arrest). the second post includes today's remarkably ironic strip, which assaults "fake" (aka store-bought) eggnog. given that the strip is written two weeks in advance, i wonder whether any more unintentionally hilarious (or i should say hilarious for the wrong reason) strips will turn up before christmas.

and one more thing: syntax, over at scrutiny hooligans, has removed the dialogue from a mallard strip so that aspiring young culture-jammers can insert their own funny. syntax also links to a sparse post over at sadly no (the comments on that thread are good for a larf.)

don't drink and doodle
bruce tinsley, conservative cartoonist who draws the riotously unfunny strip mallard fillmore, has been arrested for a DUI. tdw broke the story yesterday. the indy star picked it up soon thereafter (complete with mugshot; note the resemblance between tinsley and mallard), and then atrios picked it up.

normally, it wouldn't be news that some jerk got busted for drinking & driving. even the fact that tinsley is an overly moralistic right-winger who eagerly bashes liberals for every perceived slight while himself engaging in activities of questionable morality is no longer news these days, after all the republican scandals of the past few years.

but then, factor in the fact that tinsley has never been able to resist making chappaquiddick jokes, and now you're getting somewhere funny!

well, someone had to do it. some brave soul had to browse through the mallard fillmore archives looking for strips with chappaquiddick jokes and other drunk-driving material. for good measure, i'm also including any "drunked democrat" jokes. so here goes. you can thank me in the comments.

disclaimer: the following comic strips are extremely not funny! read them at your own risk!

update: images resized to fit design. click for full-size version.


had enough? i sure have... and i've only gotten through 2004! the archives go all the way back to '99! so i'm stopping for now... maybe later i'll be able to muster up enough fortitude to go back in and start looking for older examples.

*i'm not sure whether this really qualifies as a chappaquiddick joke, so i'm including it for good measure.

Sunday, December 10, 2006 
mike sodrel: truck drivin' man
shakespeare's sister links to an AP story about what various deposed congressmen will do with their lives now that they've been voted out. it begins with indiana's mike sodrel, who lost to baron hill in the 9th:

Some already have settled on new careers. Or old ones, as the case may be.

"I'll probably go home and drive a truck for a couple of weeks to get centered again," Rep. Mike Sodrel, R-Ind., a 60-year-old freshman who was defeated, said in an interview.

that sounds really folksy, until you remember that sodrel is "a millionaire who owns three trucking and bus companies". so i don't know how many of those trucks sodrel drives himself, but i'm betting it's not a lot.

but he spun a different version for the star's mary beth schneider:

Sodrel's immediate post-Congress plans include a trip to Israel and Jordan with his wife before figuring out what to do next.

"I doubt that I'll completely disappear from public life. I think the stakes are too high," Sodrel said. "A lot of important things (are) going on in the country. A lot of important things (are) going on in the world, issues of war and peace. And the American culture is under attack as well."

oh noes! the american culture is under attack! save us, millionaire mike!

Sodrel won his seat in 2004 in his second attempt at defeating Democratic Rep. Baron Hill. Hill took the seat back this year, and Sodrel left open the possibility of a fourth match between the two.

"I haven't ruled out anything at this point," he said.

When he was running for Congress, Sodrel turned over the daily running of the family trucking and transportation company to his son and says it would be unfair to take it back now. But Sodrel pointed out that his commercial driver's license is good through 2009.

"I might even go home and drive a truck for a couple weeks to just kind of get the cobwebs out," he joked. "I kept my day job."

he busts out the same cheesy line about drivin' that truck, but schneider pegs it as a joke, where the AP took it as a serious statement. i'm inclined to agree with schneider that there is no chance sodrel will honestly drive any trucks full of cargo anytime soon. he might've driven a truck during the 2004 campaign, but like mitch daniels going around in an RV in 2004 and eric dickerson doing the same this year, it was just a stunt to make a republican seem more down-to-earth.

schneider also gives us the lowdown on what's going on with john hostettler, which is that... nobody knows what's going on with john hostettler:

Rep. John Hostettler was never a fan of the news media during his 12 years in Congress and apparently saw no reason to become friendlier after his November defeat.

Hostettler has declined media requests to talk about his congressional experience and plans for the future.

"The people have spoken," said Hostettler spokesman Matthew Faraci, "and that's kind of the end of the story."

okay then. once a dick, always a dick, i guess. at least hostettler's staff apparently play well with others.

to find out what's next for chris "the count" chocola, we need to turn to last wednesday's chicago tribune:

Rep. Chris Chocola (R-Ind.) stood behind a chair in the speaker's lobby of the House of Representatives, speaking quietly and seriously, even philosophically, while holding a cigar in his left hand.

"I'm going back home to Indiana," he said when asked his plans, without realizing his line sounded like a show-tune sentiment. "I think anybody would have mixed emotions when you leave."

Defeated in his bid for re-election after two terms in office, Chocola, a fiscal conservative, said he has no intention of getting back into politics, but he still respects the political system and wishes he could have accomplished more.

no word on what the count actually plans to do when he's back home again. perhaps he'll just retire and collect that fat congressional pension.

Saturday, December 09, 2006 
the hit squad
i like to think of the late '80s and early '90s as a golden age of hip-hop. by '86 or '87, the artform of rapping had evolved enough that vocals were no longer had the sing-songy cadence of the earliest hip-hop (think: fat boys). likewise, production styles (and perhaps more importantly, digital samplers and drum machines) had evolved beyond the disco beats of the late '70s and the cheap-sounding drum loops of the early '80s. by the late '90s, commercial hip-hop got a bit too obsessed with bling and gangsta lyrics, becoming a caricature of itself. (these days, the best new hip-hop generally doesn't get played on the radio, although the neptunes and timbaland do a lot to make hip-hop radio listenable.) also, things were never the same after the sampling lawsuits of the '90s made it commercially unfeasible to keep releasing records like the beastie boys' paul's boutique or PE's fear of a black planet.

this "golden age" brought us legengary hip-hop ensembles like eric b & rakim, public enemy, and nwa, all of which are still hugely influential today. (rapper "the game" wants to be nwa so badly that he has a huge nwa tattoo on his titty.) almost as popular at the time (though not remembered quite as much today) was the seminal duo EPMD. sadly, after a few years, EPMD broke up, with erick "e-double" sermon and parrish "PMD" smith going their separate ways: erick continuing on with a productive career as a producer and occasional rapper, and PMD seemingly disappearing, only to pop up every few years to drop a record before returning to the shadows. in '97 they got back together and cut another album, but it didn't take.

it seems like every successful hip-hop act develops an entourage of aspiring younger rappers, and EPMD was no exception: their crew was called the hit squad. the hit squad consisted of k-solo (who had a hit with "your mom's in my business" and a few more singles before vanishing into obscurity, though apparently he has beef with DMX), das efx (perhaps the most lyrically interesting of the hit squad; "they want efx" is like a magnificently absurd sound poem), and redman (possibly the least interesting in the squad, though he would grow to be the most successful of all: yes, redman eventually hooked up with wu-tang's method man and eventually the two of them went on to make a movie, a sitcom, and multiple commercials for deodorant).

anyway, enough chatter... let's get on with the videos! as always, some videos feature lyrics that might not be safe for work.


erick sermon



das efx


Friday, December 08, 2006 
the foley finale?
today was the last day of the 109th congress, and while the still-GOP-led house generally decided not to do anything over these past few weeks, instead punting various important work to the 110th, they did at least manage to get one thing finished: the official report of the ethics investigation into the mark foley scandal.

the report concludes that right down the line, at pretty much every level, republican leadership was negligent and even "willfully ignorant" in its attempts to brush aside and cover up the scandal. furthermore, according to the report, "The failure to exhaust all reasonable efforts to call attention to potential misconduct involving a Member and House page is not merely the exercise of poor judgment; it is a present danger to House pages and to the integrity of the institution of the House."

but despite all that, the report concludes (surprise, surprise), that no house rules were broken. (CREW disagrees.) thus there will be no punishment for any representatives or staff.

the biggest bombshell in the report is that the GOP knew about foley's predilection for teenage boys back in october 2001!

In approximately October 2001, while he was a freshman in college, the former Kolbe page told Rep. Foley in an IM conversation that his girlfriend was coming to visit him. While the former page cannot recall the precise wording of the IM he received in response, he recalls that Rep. Foley made reference to the size of his penis. According to the former Kolbe page, after consulting with his parents, he forwarded Foley's IM as an attachment to an email directly to Rep. Kolbe through Rep. Kolbe's personal email account. In his email to Rep. Kolbe, the former Kolbe page explained that Rep. Foley had said something inappropriate to him and asked Rep. Kolbe to "take care of it."

after the story broke, the former page got back in touch with kolbe about what he should do if contacted by investigators. in response, kolbe allegedly told the page that no good could come from telling anyone about the IM because foley had resigned, thus "it is best that you don't even bring this up with anybody."

also, the report concludes that as-of-now-ex-speaker hastert knew about foley at least as early as this spring (i.e., he lied):

The Investigative Subcommittee finds that the weight of the evidence supports the conclusion that Speaker Hastert was told, at least in passing, about the e-mails by both Majority Leader Boehner and Rep. Reynolds in spring 2006.

this report is a disgrace. despite overwhelming, undeniable evidence of systematic negligence on behalf of house leadership, nobody will be punished. even foley will not be disciplined by the ethics committee... though it's possible he'll be prosecuted, and in that case could end up in jail.

on the bright side (for foley, not for justice), foley will still get his large congressional pension, even if he's convicted of a felony. duke cunningham still gets his pension, too, despite his multiple felony convictions. foley can just sit back, collect his pension, and live comfortably for the rest of his life without ever having to work again. (not as comfortably as he was used to as a congressman, but more comfortably than anyone i know is living, anyway.)

(in contrast, if you're convicted of a drug felony in the US, you are then forever ineligible for welfare. you can be a convicted murderer, rapist, molester... you name it, and still get your food stamps. but if you're caught with an ounce of weed or any amount of a drug like cocaine, you're screwed. but if you're a congressman, you can get multiple felony convictions [as long as they aren't for treason or espionage], and still get an enormous pension. damn, that's a sweet deal.)

Thursday, December 07, 2006 
what happens in carmel stays in carmel
it seems like carmel, indy's ritzy suburb to the north, is the new hotspot for prostitution, if the star's coverage is to be believed. and hamilton county police have been cracking down.

it seems that hamilton county police have started reading the nuvo, flipping to the "adult entertainment" ads in the back, and sending undercover officers to try to solicit some sex. not exactly brilliant police work, but i guess it gets the job done.

this is not a fluke. yesterday, the star posted an item about a carmel housewife who was arrested for allegedly hooking from her home. (the star ran a subtly different version of the story today, which presumably also ran in the print edition.)

but then later today, the star posted a new story:

Prosecutors today charged three women at three massage parlors in the Carmel area with prostitution after a joint investigation by Hamilton County deputies and Indianapolis police.

that's four arrests in the past day, at four different locations! sounds like someone suddenly got serious about busting prostitutes in carmel.

Hamilton County Sheriff's Detective Michael Howell said the three massage parlors are among several to surface in the county in recent years, likely due to ordinances and fines in Marion County which now discourage business there.

"They're saying, man we can't keep taking these hits, so they're going to Hamilton County and the doughnut counties," said Howell. "These things are popping up everywhere."

Howell said there are about 10 studios in Hamilton County, and at least seven had advertised in Nuvo magazine, where detectives often get their leads.

yes, detective howell pretty much admitted that they get their leads from the ads in the nuvo.

so attention local prostitutes! if you've been advertising in the nuvo, you might want to be really careful in the next few weeks.

incidentally, while i was searching for "prostitution", i got this interesting-but-unrelated result: pahrump, nevada passed an "english-only" ordinance.

In approving the ordinance this month, a town best known for its proximity to legal brothels thrust itself into the nation's immigration debate.

The fast-growing community 60 miles down a two-lane road from Las Vegas made English its official language and barred residents from flying a foreign flag by itself.


Supporters of Pahrump's ordinance say its intent is to encourage assimilation, though they acknowledge it is mostly symbolic. The ordinance provides exceptions for any official communication that the federal government requires to be translated, meaning few, if any, changes.

As for the flag rules, "you can't enforce it," said Sheriff Tony DeMeo. "The flag has been considered a statement of freedom of expression. If someone wants to fly one, there's not too much you can do to tell them to take it down."

and don't miss this part:

The ordinance was approved by the Town Board 3-2 at a Nov. 14 meeting attended by only a few Hispanics.

The three politicians who voted for the ordinance were not elected; they were appointed by a Republican governor to replace board members who had retired or, in one case, stepped down after being convicted of shoplifting at the Wal-Mart. Newly elected members who take office next month said they plan to rewrite the ordinance.

how interesting that all three of the councilmembers who voted for the law were appointed by the governor. (also, i found the wikipedia entries for pahrump and nye county to be interesting reads as well.)

speaking of IN touch...
i first noticed this back in august, but it was seemingly ignored (or at least, nobody commented on it, no other blogs picked it up, and the star has made no attempt to fix the problem). perhaps it just got overshadowed by the main focus of the post, which was to catalog some of jocelyn-tandy's greatest hits.

so let's try again: why is it that some INtouch bloggers who have since left the blog were seemingly deleted (in a half-assed fashion), while others who haven't posted in months (or even worse, only posted once, months ago) remain?

as i noted back in august, jocelyn-tandy has been banished from the official IN touch archives, but with some googling, you can find that the actual posts are still there... though, bizarrely, her byline and photo have been removed. still, these nameless, faceless ghost posts are still on the server, ready to be found by anyone who wants to look for them.

now, if i'd ever had the bad judgment to include jocelyn on one of my blogs, i would probably be tempted to pull down her posts in shame as well. but it doesn't seem like the star is simply removing all the bloggers it's embarrassed of. after all, john sorg's old material is still up, but posts by chris douglas have been pseudo-deleted. (chris is an intelligent, well-spoken gay man who has since moved on to greener pastures, blogging at bilerico and his own blog, the first republicans forum.) if you look at the half-deleted chris douglas page on INtouch, you'll see his byline and photo still intact, but click on any of his individual posts and he becomes an unperson. the same goes for mel pfeiffer.

and surely there are more that i'm just not remembering. for example, K.P. singh, rick bentley, and rafael a sanchez have been removed from the official archives, but didn't suffer the indignity of having their bylines and photos expunged. and surely there are more: these are just the ones i've stumbled across so far.

so what's the deal? why are some bloggers still in the official archives despite months (or even a year or more) of inactivity, while others are removed from the archives (though their posts still appear on the server, so they still turn up in google search results), and others are not just removed from the archives, but have their photos and bylines stricken from their posts (which also remain on the server)? is there bad blood between the star and jocelyn, chris, and mel?

it's the star's website, so if the star wants to remove old bloggers from the site, that's their prerogative. but deleting them in a half-assed fashion so that the posts are still up but can only be found via search engine doesn't seem like a good solution. and in particular, if i were jocelyn, chris douglas, or mel pfeiffer, and my old posts were still on the server, but with my name no longer on them, i would be pretty offended.

shorter IN touch
IN touch is the indystar's "other" group blog. expresso is the group blog for the ed board (so unsurprisingly, the discourse there is the best of the star group blogs), and fresh thoughts is the group blog for high schoolers and college kids. that leaves IN touch, which is the blog for... well, i'm not really sure who. the standards to be included on the blog must not be very high, considering the past participation of people like john sorg and jocelyn-tandy adande.

sure, several of the IN touch bloggers are eminently reasonable people. unfortunately, they often get drowned out by the silliness of their co-bloggers. here is what passes for discourse on IN touch:

shorter becky reynolds: john bolton is santa claus and democrats are the grinch.

shorter annette magjuka: it makes me uncomfortable when i'm getting takeout and there's a "tip" line on my receipt. restaurants should change their cash registers to accomodate me.

shorter mark shere: america rules. syria, russia, france, venezuela, the sudan, and the congo can all suck it.

shorter dr tim story: women talk too much.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006 
you will

man, i've been making "the company that'll bring it to you" jokes for 13 years now, and i always wonder whether anyone will get it. now you will!

boingboing links to andrew sullivan, who comments on these old at&t ads. one of sully's readers (presumably the person who uploaded the video) notes the irony that, while almost all of these technologies have since come to life, at&t didn't bring us any of them. boingboing's cory has a different take: "What they missed was that for all the normalcy that the Internet could enable, it would be much, much better at enabling deviance -- all the behaviors that were suppressed by society, or impossible to engage in given social constraints."

Tuesday, December 05, 2006 
what terrorists? part II
it's been a big week for domestic terrorists. after i finished my previous post about the disparity between how the justice system (and the media) treats muslims and christians who are suspected of terrorism (including how the media never even uses the word "terrorist" to refer to christians), more examples keep coming out of the woodwork.

consider the case of jose padilla, an american citizen and convert to islam. when he was arrested in 2002, the president and his surrogates were all over the tv, condemning him as a "dirty bomber" ("dirty" referring to the bomb, not to the swarthy padilla, though some probably meant it both ways). padilla was then held in isolation without charges for more than three years. he would still be there now, except for the supreme court:

Mr. Padilla’s status was abruptly changed to criminal defendant from enemy combatant last fall. At the time, the Supreme Court was weighing whether to take up the legality of his military detention — and thus the issue of the president’s authority to seize an American citizen on American soil and hold him indefinitely without charges — when the Bush administration pre-empted its decision by filing criminal charges against Mr. Padilla.

Mr. Padilla was added as a defendant in a terrorism conspiracy case already under way in Miami. The strong public accusations made during his military detention — about the dirty bomb, Al Qaeda connections and supposed plans to set off natural gas explosions in apartment buildings — appear nowhere in the indictment against him. The indictment does not allege any specific violent plot against America.

despite the apparent lack of hard evidence against padilla, he is still being held under conditions so severe that he was placed in shackles, manacles, blacked-out goggles, and noise-blocking headphones simply to be escorted to the dentist. his lawyers say that his conditions of his detention have been so bad that they've effectively driven him crazy. he's been trapped in a kafkaesque nightmare for so long that he's developed post-traumatic stress disorder.

padilla's treatment is worse than in the country's hardest supermax prisons, and he hasn't even been tried. there is no rational reason to treat him like this (though rabid supporters will try to come up with one).

in contrast, consider the case of chad castagana, the freeper suspected of sending fake anthrax letters to left-leaning politicians and media figures. the la times buried its story on castagana, with few other outlets picking it up. castagana was charged within three weeks of his arrest and was given bond. (his bail is high—$350,000—but his fellow freepers could raise that in a week if they weren't so busy pretending he wasn't one of them.)

to recap: a muslim does something suspicious and is held for years without trial in unbelievably harsh conditions, before eventually being charged with being part of some vague conspiracy. but when a christian does something suspicious (something which the fbi has hard evidence of), he is charged quickly, treated like a normal prisoner, and, most tellingly, nobody even calls it terrorism.

Sunday, December 03, 2006 
what terrorists?
things have gotten so bad in the US lately that muslims can't even pray without being harrassed and accused of terrorism (not to mention the subsequent smear campaign to make them sound like terrorists). so considering that every time of those swarthy muslims sneezes, it makes national if not front-page news, it's surprising just how little attention white christians get even when they are caught participating in textbook terrorist activities.

for example, consider this case from a few months back, as unearthed by dkos diarist winstnsmth:

A Michigan man described as a bookworm by relatives has wandered the Midwest since August, looking for a medical clinic to attack with his 2004 Saturn compact car, authorities said.

It was dawn Monday when David Robert McMenemy approached Edgerton Women's Health Center in Davenport, which he mistakenly believed provided abortions.

the fact that this happened on a monday might seem innocuous, unless you note the story's dateline of wednesday, september 13. yes, this happened on the five-year anniversary of september 11th.

He entered the center's driveway off East Rusholme Street and then took a few moments to turn and configure the car to face straight into the lobby, Davenport Fire Marshal Mike Hayman said.

The 45-year-old crashed the Saturn into the central lobby, coming to rest at the counter. When the car did not immediately burst into flames as he may have expected, police said he took gasoline that he had poured into a Gatorade bottle and spread it over the interior. "I lit it," McMenemy told investigators, and he exited the structure to surrender himself to startled Davenport firefighters.

i never heard about this story until today. but you better believe that if any brown people had done anything even a tenth as bad as this (especially on september 11), it would've been all over the media for weeks, and the man's name would be front-page news. but no, since he's just a run-of-the-mill white anti-abortion wingnut, the media hardly even notices.

the delicious irony of this story is that mcmenemy only suspected this clinic was performing abortions:

The Edgerton facility started in 1972 as Maternal Health Center in Bettendorf and moved to the Davenport location in 2002. It does not perform abortions and also does not provide abortion referrals, according to Tom Fedje, facility president. It does advise low-income and underprivileged pregnant women on various options available to them.

from the roundabout description, this actually sounds like one of those faith-based "crisis pregnancy centers" that are designed solely to convince pregnant young women not to get abortions. mcmenemy was so eager to get out there and commit some acts of terrorism that he inadvertantly attacked one of his own (so to speak).

or how about this tennessee man, as noted by dave neiwert?

Demetrius "Van" Crocker of McKenzie, convicted in April of attempting to obtain a chemical weapon and possession of stolen explosives, was sentenced to 30 years in prison Tuesday by U.S. District Judge James Todd in Jackson.

Crocker, who told undercover FBI agents of his desire to explode a briefcase bomb while Congress was in session, was found guilty by a jury in about 90 minutes in April.

The 40-year-old farmhand and father of two was convicted of accepting what he thought were ingredients to make Sarin nerve gas and a block of C-4 explosive from undercover agents in October 2004.

this guy wasn't even an anti-abortion wingnut. he was just some racist white dude who wanted to blow up congress. had you ever heard about this story? i sure hadn't. as neiwert says, "this story is not even on the front page of the Jackson paper". but if crocker had been a muslim, you can be sure it would be on the front page of the new york times.

Saturday, December 02, 2006 
lord, save us from these bong hits and teddy bears
i don't know what's more pathetic: the fact that the supreme court will hear a case about a banner that read "bong hits 4 jesus" or the fact that, with the current makeup of the court, i'm afraid that the prudes might actually win.

it was 2002. the olympic torch was about to come through juneau, alaska. a high-school student eager to get his face on television made a banner with the absurdist slogan "bong hits 4 jesus" and unfurled it on a public sidewalk near his school—but not on school property. (the torch was to pass by the school.)

when his principal saw the banner, she crossed the street and snatched it out of his hands:

Student Joseph Frederick says the banner's language was designed to be meaningless and funny in an effort to get on television as the Winter Olympic torch relay passed by the school in Juneau, Alaska, in January 2002.

But school officials say the phrase "bong hits" refers to smoking marijuana. Principal Deborah Morse suspended Frederick for 10 days because she said the banner advocates or promotes illegal drug use in violation of school policy.

okay, let's concede that "bong hits" refers to smoking marijuana. what, pray tell, is "bong hits 4 jesus" supposed to mean? smoking weed on jesus's behalf? is it some kind of prayer ritual, replacing the traditional incense with ganja? why would jesus want us to take these bong hits, and how would jesus benefit?

or maybe it's a pledge drive to collect marijuana so that jesus can take some bong hits? being crucified is a real bummer, and the j-man could probably use a few tokes to help him relax after that ordeal.

any way you slice it, it's just a goofy banner. frederick was not on school property; it's not like he wore a "legalize it!" t-shirt to school or was actually passing out bong hits during study hall. still, the principal apparently feels she has the right to punish students for exercising their free speech rights, no matter where they are. and she believes it so strongly that she has hired anti-blowjob crusader ken starr to take her appeal to the supreme court.

one thing is certain: if the principal wanted to keep the student and his silly banner off tv, she failed, because this story is now getting far more attention than it ever would if she had just let it be.

still, at least the student only got suspended. it could've been worse: he could've been expelled like the knightstown students who made a horror movie parody called the teddy bear master.

A homemade horror-movie parody about evil teddy bears led to the expulsions of four Knightstown High School students who produced it, two of whom are suing to get back into school.

Their lawsuits claim school officials violated the students' First Amendment rights because the movie was made outside school and caused no disruptions.

But Knightstown Principal Jim Diagostino and Superintendent David McGuire saw menace in the movie. In particular, a teacher in the movie who is threatened by the teddy bears shares the same last name as a teacher at the district's middle school.

so the students made an allegorical home movie featuring characters inspired by their teachers? the horror! the horror!

seriously, who didn't occasionally fantasize about that hardass teacher or annoying classmate getting beaten up or attacked by evil teddy bears when they were in high school?

At issue in the students' lawsuits is whether the district overstepped its bounds. Indiana law allows expulsion for activity unconnected with school if it's unlawful and interferes with school operations.

emphasis mine. i can understand the policy... but what about this video is unlawful? and how did it interfere with school operations? they made a movie (which, last time i checked, is free speech), on their own time. and hell, the teacher in the movie doesn't even die!

More than an hour long, the movie draws inspiration from the animated, satirical Comedy Central series "South Park." It is titled "The Teddy Bear Master," and Linda Imel said the boys intended it to parody the horror movie "The Puppet Master."

In the movie, according to the lawsuits, students harass a teacher named Mr. Clevenger during class. Later, the teddy bear master orders stuffed animal minions to kill the teacher, citing earlier embarrassment caused by Mr. Clevenger.

But in the classroom, the students fight off the teddy bears.

according to the superintendent, the real mr clevenger "felt threatened" by the video. but threatened how? is he afraid that the teddy bear master is actually going to sic a bunch of killer toys on him?

the article doesn't mention the elephant in the room: columbine-style school shootings. teachers and school administrators are so freaked out about the possibility of someone walking into the school with an assault rifle and going on a killing spree that they've gotten trigger-happy themselves. rather than protect and stand up for their students' rights, they'll just kick out any student who looks like a troublemaker. this doesn't help anyone: it sure doesn't help the kids who got expelled for their extracurricular activities (i thought extracurriculars like this were a good thing?), nor does it make the school any safer. come on: if these kids really wanted to kill mr clevenger, rather than just poke some harmless fun, they would have been spending that time trying to acquire weapons and plotting to do so, rather than spending "a number of months" making a f'n film parody.

it's tough being a high school student these days. much tougher than it was even 12 years ago, when i graduated. i have to wonder what would've happened to me if my school environment had been this paranoid. i was a bit of a troublemaker myself: i even founded my own underground newspaper (and this was before the web got big; i had to pay out of my pocket to get the things printed up at office depot). certain powerful school administrators made it no secret that they didn't like me, yet i never got more than a stern talking to. in today's environment, though, i'm not sure i would've gotten off so easy.

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