Archive for March, 2006

Friday Quote & Dog Blogging

This week’s quote is:

Together we can stop graveyard babies!

Spoken by the weird, twitchy sheriff in last Saturday’s Sci-Fi Possibly Original Feature, Mortuary, directed by Tobe Hooper and featuring Denise Crosby, Bug Hall, and Lee Garlington. Quality!!!

And, of course, there’ll be other people’s dogs…


I was kinda going for a two-headed dog effect, but this was the best I could manage.

1 comment March 31st, 2006 at 10:58pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Friday Quote & Cat Blogging

Friday Photoblogging

Still not much in the way of a political muse these days, but I did force myself outside at lunch yesterday to take some pictures. I’d been slacking off since the St. Patrick’s Day parade a few weeks ago, and mostly living off past glories, so I figured I’d force myself to go out and get some new material. Some of it didn’t totally suck.


Mmm… soot.


NYC is a bit more of an architectural goldmine than Pittsburgh, but I’ll get by.


ThruPS. Posted by Picasa

3 comments March 31st, 2006 at 12:02pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Favorites,Photoblogging,Pittsburgh

*snort*

Buried at the end of the NY Daily News’ “Gatecrasher” gossip column:

Confessed terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui testified that he used the code name Shaquille while plotting in Malaysia, because he thought it was an equally common Western and Muslim name. “Like Shaquille O’Neal, the basketball player,” he said. So if Shaq finds himself on a no-fly list, that’s why.

Yep. The very embodiment of a criminal mastermind.

1 comment March 30th, 2006 at 11:46am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Weirdness

Yay!

Jill Carroll released!

Ya know, as the kidnappers kept setting deadlines and then not killing her, I began to suspect that for whatever reason, they really didn’t want to kill her.

I will now look forward to the right-wing pundits complaining that her reporting doesn’t sufficiently emphasize all the time she was in Iraq when she wasn’t kidnapped and repeatedly threatened with death…

1 comment March 30th, 2006 at 07:39am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Media,Politics

Random Weirdness RULEZ!!!


No. Just… No.

In other weirdness, any spam that begins with, “Probably my releasd paper about the schematic design of a practical spacewarp can be considered as one of your favorites” really has to be shared…

Hello Eli,

Probably my releasd paper about the schematic design of a practical spacewarp can be considered as one of your favorites. That’s placed on: http://arxiv.org/abs/gr-qc/0511086 The aim of this email to you is providing the possibility of introducing it to more numbers of people which I believe that’s in favor of improving the science and a service to the mankind. However, your personal opinion on my work is important to me too. I guess you might be able and/or interested to help me at least via making a link of the above address within your page(s) or presenting it to more media. So, please give a clear answer to my request. Best Regards
M. Mansouryar
www.mansouryar.com

P.S.: A simplified description of my work is viewable on:
http://www.centauri-dreams.org/?p=561
http://www.americanantigravity.com/articles/455/1/
Iranian-Einstein%3F
http://extremetechnology.blogspot.com/2006/03/
macroscopic-tranversable-spacewarp.html

I’m not entirely sure whether I’m doing this guy a favor or not. Still, he can’t possibly be as cracked as the wacky Timecube guy…

2 comments March 29th, 2006 at 11:16pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Spamoptikon,Weirdness

A Tortoise-Driven Life


(AP)

No real point to make here, I just thought it was kind of amazing:

…[T]oday we pause to note the death of Adwaitya, an Aldabran tortoise who died last Wednesday at the Calcutta zoo. He is believed to have been about 250, nearly 80 years older than the next-oldest animal, a 176-year-old Galapagos tortoise living in Australia….

(snip)

He had lived in the Calcutta zoo since 1875 and was one of four tortoises captured from Aldabra – which one tortoise historian calls a “low coralline atoll … in a little-visited part of the Indian Ocean about 400 kilometers north of Madagascar” – and presented to Lord Robert Clive, who was the architect, if that is the word, of the British empire in India. If Adwaitya was truly 250, he was born in the same year as Mozart.

Whoa. It’s that last sentence there that really drives it home for me.

3 comments March 28th, 2006 at 10:58pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Coolness

Christianity Triumphs Again!

Well, here’s some happy news out of Flourishing Liberal Democracy Afghanistan:

An Afghan man who had faced the death penalty for converting from Islam to Christianity has been released from prison after the case was dropped, the justice minister said Tuesday.

The announcement came after the United Nations said Abdul Rahman has appealed for asylum outside Afghanistan and that the world body was working to find a country willing to take him.

(snip)

Deputy Attorney General Mohammed Eshak Aloko told the AP that prosecutors had issued a letter calling for Rahman’s release because ”he was mentally unfit to stand trial.” He also said he did not know where he was being held.

He said Rahman may be sent overseas for medical treatment.

Well, no wonder he needs asylum! He’s insane!

Hours earlier, hundreds of clerics, students and others chanting ”Death to Christians!” marched through the northern Afghan Mazar-i-Sharif to protest the court’s decision Sunday to dismiss the case.

”Abdul Rahman must be killed. Islam demands it,” said senior Cleric Faiez Mohammed, from the nearby northern city of Kunduz. ”The Christian foreigners occupying Afghanistan are attacking our religion.”

Several Muslim clerics have threatened to incite Afghans to kill Rahman if he is freed, saying that he is clearly guilty of apostasy and deserves to die.

So everything worked out for the best, and all they had to do to avert catastrophe was to equate Christianity with insanity. They’ve come such a long way in such a short time, thanks to the Bush Administration’s deep understanding of foreign cultures, and its wonkish obsession with planning and detail.

3 comments March 28th, 2006 at 12:34am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Afghanistan,Bush,Religion

Downing By The Schoolyard

Oh, look. Yet another British memo documenting that Bush was hell-bent on invading Iraq. I’d like to get excited about the effect this will have, but if there’s anything the first wave of Downing Street Memos taught me, it’s that “if it comes from Great Britain, it doesn’t count.” Don’t ask me why, but if it’s a memo written by someone in a foreign government, it’s somehow… less real (it’s like how whenever there’s a plane crash or a disaster in a foreign country, the news media always has to tell us how many Americans were killed).

However, if you grant the premise that, despite its non-Americanness the memo is indeed still real, it contains some pretty eye-popping stuff. Even if it does cover some ground we’re already been over a few times.

[B]behind closed doors, the president was certain that war was inevitable. During a private two-hour meeting in the Oval Office on Jan. 31, 2003, he made clear to Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain that he was determined to invade Iraq without the second resolution, or even if international arms inspectors failed to find unconventional weapons, said a confidential memo about the meeting written by Mr. Blair’s top foreign policy adviser and reviewed by The New York Times.

“Our diplomatic strategy had to be arranged around the military planning,” David Manning, Mr. Blair’s chief foreign policy adviser at the time, wrote in the memo that summarized the discussion between Mr. Bush, Mr. Blair and six of their top aides.

So… the diplomacy was being fixed around the policy?

“The start date for the military campaign was now penciled in for 10 March,” Mr. Manning wrote, paraphrasing the president. “This was when the bombing would begin.”

(snip)

The memo indicates the two leaders envisioned a quick victory and a transition to a new Iraqi government that would be complicated, but manageable. Mr. Bush predicted that it was “unlikely there would be internecine warfare between the different religious and ethnic groups.” Mr. Blair agreed with that assessment.

I see Bush is every bit the deep thinker and perceptive student of history and foreign cultures that I thought he was…

At their meeting, Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair candidly expressed their doubts that chemical, biological or nuclear weapons would be found in Iraq in the coming weeks, the memo said. The president spoke as if an invasion was unavoidable….

Without much elaboration, the memo also says the president raised three possible ways of provoking a confrontation. Since they were first reported last month, neither the White House nor the British government has discussed them.

“The U.S. was thinking of flying U2 reconnaissance aircraft with fighter cover over Iraq, painted in U.N. colours,” the memo says, attributing the idea to Mr. Bush. “If Saddam fired on them, he would be in breach.”

It also described the president as saying, “The U.S. might be able to bring out a defector who could give a public presentation about Saddam’s W.M.D,” referring to weapons of mass destruction.

A brief clause in the memo refers to a third possibility, mentioned by Mr. Bush, a proposal to assassinate Saddam Hussein. The memo does not indicate how Mr. Blair responded to the idea.

This is the part that floors me every time. It sounds like a couple of not-very-bright high school kids trying to figure out an loophole that lets them do something illegal, not a serious strategy discussion between two world leaders. On the other hand, the first two ideas also sound like a lot like the kind of tricks Karl Rove would play on the campaign trail…

Mr. Jones, the National Security Council spokesman, declined to discuss the proposals, saying, “We are not going to get into discussing private discussions of the two leaders.”

Well, it’s not an ongoing investigation yet

Mr. Bush agreed that the two countries should attempt to get a second resolution, but he added that time was running out. “The U.S. would put its full weight behind efforts to get another [UN] resolution and would twist arms and even threaten,” Mr. Bush was paraphrased in the memo as saying.

The document added, “But he had to say that if we ultimately failed, military action would follow anyway.”

Regrettably, of course. Because no president wants war, as Bush explained to Helen Thomas. In fairness to the President, he did tell Blair that “he was not itching to go to war,” and that he was aware “there were uncertainties and risks” (i.e., what will happen to our, er, Iraq’s precious oil wells?). His actions make that awfully to believe, however.

So yes, to sum up, President Bush was not itching for war, but was prepared to fabricate a bogus provocation, and completely ignore the UN Security Council in order to start one. I suppose we should all be grateful to have a president so willing to put the good of the country ahead of his own personal feelings…

1 comment March 27th, 2006 at 12:03am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Downing Street Memo,Favorites,Iraq,Politics,Wankers,War

Pork: The Other, Um… Seafood?

Don’t blame me, I researched with Kodos!

A microscopic worm may be the key to heart-friendly bacon.

Geneticists have mixed DNA from the roundworm C. elegans and pigs to produce swine with significant amounts of omega-3 fatty acids — the kind believed to stave off heart disease.

(snip)

”We all can use more omega-3 in our diet,” said Dr. Jing Kang, the Harvard Medical School researcher who modified the omega-3-making worm gene so it turned on in the pigs.

(snip)

While boosting Omega-3s doesn’t decrease the fat content in pigs, the fatty acids are also important to brain development and may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and depression. The American Heart Association recommends at least two weekly servings of fish, particularly fatty fish like trout and salmon, which are naturally high in omega-3s.

This avenue of research raises many troubling questions, such as:

o Would it create some kind of horrific Baconstein monster?

o If it’s healthy in any way, can it truly be considered bacon?

o Will the modified omega-3 pigs live in porquariums instead of pens?

Such questions are above my paygrade; I leave them to the professional bioethicists.

6 comments March 26th, 2006 at 07:03pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Science,Weirdness

Saturday Trainblogging

Still looking for something to talk about, so here are some photos of Parts Of A Train in the meantime…


Caboose…


Dining car (er, there may have been a teensy bit of Photoshop involved here)…


Dining car and club car…


The, um… coupling-thingy.

3 comments March 25th, 2006 at 02:57pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Favorites,Photoblogging,Pittsburgh

Friday Quote & Dog Blogging

This week’s quote is from …And God Created Woman (specifically, Brigitte Bardot OMG):

I met (name) on the bus. She’s a woman now. I know… because the bus was crowded.

Did I mention Brigitte Bardot?

And, of course, there’ll be other people’s St. Patrick’s dogs…


I don’t think he was hiding, but he did look a bit nervous. Posted by Picasa

1 comment March 24th, 2006 at 10:47pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Friday Quote & Cat Blogging

WaPo Does The Right Thing… Eventually… Mostly.

Well, today was a tiny bit less… frazzly, so I have just enough brain to take a stab at the whole Ben Domenech Washington Post fiasco, with several semi-connected random thoughts that any normal person would have spread out across multiple posts throughout the day…

After the liberal blogosphere unearthed a giant throbbing vein of blatant plagiarism by the Washington Post’s prized new right-wing blogger, Ben Domenech, the Post wasted little time getting rid of him. Given his snippy defensiveness following Domenech’s hiring, I had expected Post Executive Editor Jim Brady to resist the inevitable, or at least depict Domenech as the hapless victim of a ruthless left-wing vendetta.

But to his credit, Brady basically said, “He’s gone right now; plagiarism is an unforgivable sin for a journalist; and we are grateful to everyone who brought this to our attention.”

This was probably the minimum required to maintain any semblance of dignity, but still not exactly Snoopy Dance-inspiring:

1) Ricoh Suave was forced/allowed to resign, rather than summarily fired. A technicality, I know.

2) Brady says they were not aware of the plagiarism when they hired him, and that they are now investigating it. Umm… Shouldn’t they have done some kind of checking before they hired him?

2a) There is no apology or mia culpa, either personal or institutional, for what was clearly an incredibly bad hiring decision (see #2).

3) Brady’s last sentence, “We also remain committed to representing a broad spectrum of ideas and ideologies in our Opinions area,” reads to me as, “We are still committed to hiring a blogger to represent the right-wing lunatic point of view, and will do so just as soon as we can find one capable of composing an original thought.”

So, good but not great. But at least they didn’t go all in like Ricoh’s buddies at RedState. Here’s Erick, via Atrios:

And now those opposed to Ben have googled prior writings that on the surface appear suspicious, but only because permissions obtained and judgments made offline were not reflected online by an out dated and out of business campus newspaper. But that’s all the opponents want – just enough to sabotage a career, though in the process they will sabotage themselves. Facts have no meaning. Only impressions have any bearing on this. The charges of plagarism are false, meant to bring down a good and honest man. The presented facts to prove plagarism are specious — products of shoddy work. One could easily think the producers of 60 Minutes II were behind them.

This is just complete baldfaced lying and obfuscation, as Erick desperately tries to brazen his way out of the facts. Just go to Eschaton and look at Atrios’s posts from yesterday – the plagiarism is incredibly blatant and obvious, and impossible to excuse or explain away. It also extended to Domenech’s career at the National Review, so it can’t just be blamed on the William & Mary student paper. The comparison to “Rathergate” is just asinine – there is absolutely no question of provenance or authenticity here.

Okay, so maybe the argument that there was no plagiarism isn’t a winner. Not to worry – trevino comes to Erick’s rescue in the comments of the same post:

Assume, for a moment, that the plagiarism charge is true. For the sake of argument, assume that.

Now, having accepted this, what are we left with?

  1. It is the sole critique of Domenech by the left with any objective merit.
  2. It does not have much merit, as the profferred examples are:

Old, dating wholly from Domenech’s teen years.
– Confined wholly to movie reviews.

To plagiarize myself in the Eschaton comments (somewhere), trevino’s first point sounds an awful lot like, ” ‘He killed people and ate them’ is the sole critique of Jeffrey Dahmer by the prosecutor with any objective merit.” I mean, isn’t the plagiarism enough?

Others have already covered the second point quite well, so I’ll just observe that “old” and “dating wholly from [his] teen years” don’t reinforce each other so well when you’re talking about a 24-year-old.

One final, highly subjective point:

The guy just looks like a smug, arrogant prick; the Platonic ideal of a spoiled rich fratboy who expects the world to be handed to him on a silver platter. The sad thing is, it probably still will be.

4 comments March 24th, 2006 at 06:53pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Favorites,Media,Politics,Wankers

Spam With A Plan

Admittedly not great literature, but thought-provoking nonetheless. From Rita Laird, provocatively titled “GAIN UP”:

How Would You Like a Much Bigger Pfg Efl Nfd Iem S?
GAIN UPTO 2-3 Ier Njg Ced Hok Eed Sog !!
GO HERE

Lord knows, my Eed Sog could stand to be a little bigger.

March 24th, 2006 at 12:18pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Spamoptikon

Random Brain-Dead Black & White Photoblogging

Still brain-dead – today was actually even more hectic and draining than yesterday.

So, some more photos I kinda like. These are actually oldies from the Nikon D70 (I kinda have a backlog)…


Station Square archway thingy, reflected in a puddle.


The ceiling of a roadside rest stop somewhere in Ohio, on the way back from a work-related field trip to Cleveland.


Trees love sculpture!


Gazebo/marquee thingy outside the arena.

2 comments March 23rd, 2006 at 07:51pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Favorites,Photoblogging,Pittsburgh

Random Brain-Dead Blogging


(John Beale, Post-Gazette)

You guys find everything okay?

Between the Insane Project From Hell Which Is Eating My Brain, and the harrowing Pellet Gun Terrorist Episode which gripped Dahntahn Pittsburgh in a grippy grip of fear, I don’t have enough CPU cycles left upstairs to say much of anything coherent. Perhaps I will post some photos later, I dunno.

But for now, all I can offer is some random tidbits that have been bouncing around what’s left of my brain:

o Is it churlish and mean-spirited of me that one of my pet peeves is people who respond to “Hello” with “Good, how are you?” Responding to “How are you” with “Hello” doesn’t seem so bad to me, but the reverse is just weird.

o New record! My PC has been up and running continuously for over 150 straight days now! Woohoo! Did I mention I built it myself?

o Remember the Chris Bliss Juggling video? (sorry for the crappy Youtube video quality; the original is difficult to link to directly) Apparently certain elements of the juggling community have taken offense to its popularity, and one of them has offered a video rebuttal, with five balls, smoother moves, and uneven editing. (Thanks to Bill for the tip)

o And if that’s not enough juggling madness for y’all (and who can ever really have enough juggling madness?), there’s old-time juggler Kris Kremo, who starts out juggling balls to a cheesy lounge version of the Hawaii Five-O theme, then escalates to top hats and blocks, which have to be seen to be believed. It’s not just what I have to assume is virtuoso juggling; it also produces some truly astonishing visual effects.

o Codename V. is Teh awesome. That is all.

3 comments March 22nd, 2006 at 06:37pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Coolness,Favorites

Quote Of The Day

From an NYT blogticle about the brother of one of Google’s founders raising money through a “reverse merger” with a barely-existent shell company, an incomprehensible-to-me practice that has oftimes been a hallmark of dodginess:

Jeff Oscodar, Handheld?s chief executive officer, conceded during an interview last week that, “Historically, there has been a taint” surrounding reverse mergers. “But,” he added, “the taint curve is coming down.”

I never knew taint was graded on a curve.

(I wonder if I’m behind the taint curve)

March 21st, 2006 at 03:28pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Quotes

AWESOME!!!!

My blog is the #1 Google search hit for asshole projection!

Sweet!

March 21st, 2006 at 12:41pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Eli's Obsession With The Google

More Great Moments In Spam Literature

Every once in a while, I get spam which appears to have text from some kind of bad pulp novel in it in Outlook’s auto-preview, but is (unfortunately) not there when I view the actual e-mail. I can only assume that this is part of some attempt to look like actual real mail instead of spam, but the effect is… intriguing.

I would love to see a compilation of all of these little spam snippets, and I wonder if they all come from one larger spam ur-narrative. But until such a repository is created, I will continue to do my small part, and post them as I find them.

Today’s entry in the literary spamstakes is from “Tisha Melvin,” and is entitled “information.” Enjoy.

“So they’ll go up the road and they won’t find him, where were? in 1936 Neat. Misery was what she liked; Misery was who she liked, not some foul-talking little spic car-thief from Spanish Harlem. She showed him these with an uneasy defiant sort o…

Seriously, can we get some kind of Spam Google or Spam Yahoo (Spoogle? Spoohoo? No, those are probably bad ideas) or something? It’s a shame to let all this creativity to go to waste.

14 comments March 21st, 2006 at 12:17pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Spamoptikon

Sunni And Sharia

What with all the great news coming out of Iraq, the equally brilliant success story that is Afghanistan has been largely overlooked. Let’s take a quick peek in and see how that’s going, shall we?

An Afghan man is being tried in a court in the capital, Kabul, for converting from Islam to Christianity.

Abdul Rahman is charged with rejecting Islam and could face the death sentence under Sharia law unless he recants.

(snip)

Afghanistan’s post-Taleban constitution is based on Sharia law, and prosecutors in the case says this means Abdul Rahman, whose trial began last Thursday, should be put to death.

When he was arrested last month he was found to be carrying a bible and charged with rejecting Islam which is punishable by death in Afghanistan.

(snip)

Mr Karzai’s office says the president will not intervene in the case.

This has to be uncomfortable for Bush’s religious base (all five of them who are aware of it): They have to either admit that Afghanistan is not quite the enlightened democratic triumph that was advertised, or embrace a government that is willing to execute someone simply for converting to Christianity (kinda puts a damper on proselytization, don’t it?).

My money’s on the latter; they’d rather tell themselves that Rahman’s not a “real” Christian than admit that Afghanistan is not a real democracy, and Bush is not a real president.

Thanks to Bill for the tip!

March 20th, 2006 at 01:56pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Afghanistan,Bush,Politics,Puns,Religion,Wankers

Big Brass Balz

Uh-oh. Dan Balz and Jonathan Weisman are gonna totally get written up for this narrative violation:

Republican efforts to craft a policy and political agenda to carry the party into the midterm elections have stumbled repeatedly as GOP leaders face widespread disaffection and disagreement within the ranks.

Anxiety over President Bush’s Iraq policy, internal clashes over such divisive issues as immigration, and rising complaints that the party has abandoned conservative principles on spending restraint have all hobbled the effort to devise an election-year message, said several lawmakers involved in the effort.

While it is a Republican refrain that Democrats criticize Bush but have no positive vision, for now the governing party also has no national platform around which lawmakers are prepared to rally.

Every effort so far to produce such a platform has stumbled.

No! No! Thoughtcrime! Doubleplusungood wrongthink! Only the Democrats can be guilty of messageless disarray! Citizens Balz and Weisman will report to Room 101 for re-education immediately!

I wouldn’t worry too much about the Republicans, though. I’m sure they’ll find a way to rally the troops against the imminent scary threat of gay terrorist immigrants burning flags at their weddings. They’ll probably plotting to release doves infected with bird flu, too…

1 comment March 20th, 2006 at 12:39pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Media,Politics,Puns,Republicans

Paradenfreude

Much as I dislike parades, they can be reliably counted on to provide a healthy does of creepy weirdness, and last Saturday’s St. Patrick’s Day parade did not disappoint. I have provided some of the more photogenic examples for your viewing enjoyment.


Somehow, they’re just not quite as funny getting into a car…


Um, y’all might want to move your kids somewhere a little… safer.


I’m sure someone thought this seemed like a good idea at the time, but they probably should have at least tucked the doll’s skirt inside the bar. Oy. Posted by Picasa

6 comments March 19th, 2006 at 12:04pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: People,Photoblogging,Pittsburgh,Puns,Weirdness

No Blood, No Foul

Today’s NYT has a long article about yet another American military unit that not only specialized in torture, but positively delighted in it. The signature innovation of this elite and secretive group, Special Ops Task Force 6-26, was the use of detainees as paintball targets. They even had “No Blood No Foul: High Five Paintball Club” placards.

Lovely.

One other strange note: The angry memo from Undersecretary Of Defense For Intelligence Stephen Cambone to Lt. General William Boykin demanding an investigation of Task Force 6-26 was dated… 6/26/04. I don’t know if that was pure coincidence, or some kind of elaborate wink-wink, but Boykin claimed he found no evidence of misconduct. Maybe he just adheres to the “organ failure” standard of misconduct…

Hey, how’s that “winning hearts and minds” thing working out for us?

4 comments March 18th, 2006 at 03:28pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Politics,Wankers

St. Patrick’s Day Addendum For Spork Incident


Lamest. Leprechaun. Ever. Posted by Picasa

March 17th, 2006 at 08:48pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: People,Photoblogging,Pittsburgh

St. Patrick’s Day Photoblogging

What better day to post pictures from the St. Patrick’s Day parade? These are some of the… St. Patrickiest.


I’m not entirely sure what his role in the accordion band is… Speakerweight, maybe?


The traditional parade Throwing Of The Sweets.


The Flags Of Ireland!


Yeah, the heels really “make” the whole inflatable-mascot ensemble…

2 comments March 17th, 2006 at 07:23pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: People,Photoblogging,Pittsburgh

Dial Ect For Pittsburgh


Welcome to Pittsburgh…

Today’s NYT had an article on regional dialects, which might help give you some idea of what it’s like to live in Pittsburgh…

[A]n hour south, the woman behind the information desk at the Pennsylvania Welcome Center on Interstate 79 pronounced cot/caught and don/dawn (dahn/dahn) as if they were the same, exactly as Professor Labov’s maps predicted would happen once a traveler left the Inland North.

Outside Lou’s Little Corner Bar in Pittsburgh’s Little Italy, which is known as Bloomfield, it was snowing hard. Inside, a loud argument about the president and weapons of mass destruction was taking place. Did he know? Did he not know? The bartender, Donna Bruno, whose fiancÚ is in Iraq, did not have an opinion. But on the existence of Pittsburghese, she was clear.

“Of course we talk funny,” she said. “We string words together. East Liberty becomes S’liberty. Down the street becomes dahnthestreet. And it’s always what yinz doin? Why we talk this way, I don’t know, but it might be because each neighborhood was settled by different ethnicities during the steel years.” Professor Labov basically concurs with this theory.

Dawn Spring, a waitress working the breakfast shift at Tom’s Diner on East Carson Street, had learned from experience that Pittsburghers speak a language of their own. She’d lived in Texas briefly. “I’d say, ‘I’m gonna redd up my car,’ which means clean up, and no one down there knew what I was talking about. We say yinz, they say y’all. We say gum band for rubber band. We in Pittsburgh may not speak proper English, but we know what we’re saying. And that’s what matters, right?”

They missed “up ‘ere”; the fact that “yinz” is often constructed “yinz guys” (which is kinda nonsensical); and the truncation of the passive voice – i.e., “Those gum bands up ‘ere need to be redded up” becomes “Those gum bands up ‘ere need redded up.”

This has been a public service message from The Linguistics Association of My Apartment (LAMA).

2 comments March 17th, 2006 at 06:10pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Uncategorized

Friday Quote & Giant Yak Dog Blogging

Today’s quote is from the 1941 General Custer biopic, They Died With Their Boots On, starring Errol Flynn and Olivia DeHavilland:

Well, here’s to bloody war and quick promotion.

Definitely words to live by in this day and age.

And, of course, there’ll be other people’s giant yak dogs.


EEEEEK!!! Run away!!! Posted by Picasa

March 17th, 2006 at 12:12pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Friday Quote & Cat Blogging

Maybe The Dems Are Right About Censure After All…

As I understand it, the Democrats have been reluctant to embrace Russ Feingold’s motion to censure the President because they’re worried that they might alienate the Vast Undecided Swing-Voter Middle. Personally, I thought this was weak and stupid, but Mr. Atta J. Turk posted a link to a very intriguing American Research Group poll, and now I have seen the light! Hallelujah!

Do you favor or oppose the United States Senate passing a resolution censuring President George W. Bush for authorizing wiretaps of Americans within the United States without obtaining court orders?
3/15/06 Favor Oppose Undecided
All Adults 46% 44% 10%
Voters 48% 43% 9%
Republicans (33%) 29% 57% 14%
Democrats (37%) 70% 26% 4%
Independents (30%) 42% 47% 11%
Do you favor or oppose the United States House of Representatives voting to impeach President George W. Bush?
3/15/06 Favor Oppose Undecided
All Adults 42% 49% 9%
Voters 43% 50% 7%
Republicans (33%) 18% 80% 2%
Democrats (37%) 61% 30% 9%
Independents (30%) 47% 40% 13%

So, if we assume that the Independents are a reasonable proxy for undecided swing voters, we can plainly see that a clear plurality oppose censuring the President for illegal wireless wiretapping, and would instead prefer to see him impeached.

Okay, Dems, your lord and master, The Almighty Middle has spoken. Hop to it.

UPDATE: I’ve been wracking my brain trying to figure out why there’s more support for censure than impeachment among Democrats, but the reverse for Independents, and here’s what I’ve come up with:

The Democrats (myself included, to be honest) are wary of impeachment because of the potential for blowback, as happened with Clinton. My theory is that the Independents don’t care about that because it’s not their party. They want to see Bush nailed to the wall, not just reprimanded.

4 comments March 16th, 2006 at 06:40pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Democrats,Impeachment,Politics,Polls,Wankers

Partisan Politics Made Simple

In the interests of making politics more accessible, understandable, and, well, palatable for those who are not obsessive wonks like myself, I will now attempt to illustrate the current Republican-Democratic dynamic using adorable kittens:


Any questions?

(Photo courtesy of Rate My Kitten – please don’t sue me)

4 comments March 16th, 2006 at 11:32am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Cuteness,Democrats,Favorites,Politics,Republicans

Sliding Down The Polls

Well, this is encouraging:

How does the current generic ballot edge for Democrats compare to the mood at this time in the 1994 election — when Republicans retook control of the House for the first time in four decades?

Here’s a look at poll numbers from the NBC/Wall Street Journal from the first quarter of 1994 and the first quarter of 2006.

Right Direction Wrong Track Difference
1994 33% 47 -14
2006 31 57 -26

Prez/Approve Prez/Disapprove Difference
1994 55 36 +19
2006 39 54 -15

Congress/Approve Congress/Disapprove Difference
1994 31 58 -27
2006 29 56 -27

Generic/GOP Generic/Dem Difference
1994 29 34 D+5
2006 38 47 D+9

In 1994 Democrats at this point in the cycle held a five-point edge in the generic ballot test and were benefitting from President Bill Clinton’s then strong approval ratings. Voters were unhappy with Congress, but a majority were not yet convinced that the country was on the wrong track.

Charlie Cook, a political analyst and founder of the Cook Political Report, explained that in 1994 “the bottom didn’t start sagging for Democrats until early summer,” adding: “At this point there wasn’t even a whisper that there was a tidal wave out there.”

On the other hand, I don’t want to get too carried away. In addition to the “Politicians are all bums… except my guy, who takes care of me” mentality, There are some significant differences between today and 1994, most of them not so encouraging:

1) The art of redistricting has been perfected. There are fewer up-for-grabs seats this year than there were 12 years ago.

2) The Republicans ran a tough and aggressive campaign in 1994. The Democrats have displayed nothing but caution and timidity since at least 2000.

3) Despite conservative protestations to the contrary, the media is heavily biased towards the right, and pushes as hard as it can to boost Republicans and trash Democrats without losing its credibility among casual readers and viewers. The TV and radio punditocracy doesn’t even pretend to be anything other than unabashedly conservative, and there are precious few (if any) high-profile liberal counterparts to Limbaugh/Hannity/Coulter/Carlson/Scarborough.

4) Elections are now partially dependent on dodgy electronic voting machines that don’t generate a verifiable paper trail, and are vulnerable to hacking and manipulation. Republicans also have sympathetic and unethical secretaries of state in control of their voting apparatus in key states like Ohio, Florida, and now California.

5) War! Terror! There was no fear card for the Democrats to play in 1994 to cling to power. While completely unearned, the Republicans will milk this one dry, as they always do. If the Democrats call the Republicans on how little they’ve actually done to protect us from terrorists, this could turn into a Democratic advantage. Unfortunately, I don’t think they dare, but they will at least point out that the war is not going so well.

The only positive differences I can see are:

6) The rise of the liberal blogs as a fundraising, activist, and propaganda-debunking force, but I’m not convinced that their influence amounts to much more than a nudge at this point. There are a lot of smart, articulate, resourceful, passionate people in the liberal blogosphere, but an overwhelming majority of Americans have no idea what blogs are, much less read them.

7) The sheer number of Republican scandals, investigations, and criminal proceedings is absolutely staggering. Maybe my memory is hazy or selective, but I don’t think there was anywhere near this kind of evidence of rampant criminality and incompetence in 1994. And, as the Fix column points out, the president’s approval rating is a lot lower than it was in 1994.

As the saying goes, I will hope for the best, but expect the worst.

March 15th, 2006 at 12:01pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Elections,Favorites,Media,Politics,Polls,Republicans,Wankers

Go, Russ, Go!

I’m amazed and delighted to see a Democrat actually have the balls to say this:

Sen. Feingold said the following to Fox News’ Trish Turner:

I’m amazed at Democrats, cowering with this president’s numbers so low. The administration just has to raise the specter of the war and the Democrats run and hide. … Too many Democrats are going to do the same thing they did in 2000 and 2004. In the face of this, they’ll say we’d better just focus on domestic issues. … [Democrats shouldn't] cower to the argument, that whatever you do, if you question the administration, you’re helping the terrorists.

Sad that we even need someone to say this.

(Thanks to ErinPDX)

4 comments March 14th, 2006 at 07:06pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Politics,Polls

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