Archive for July, 2007

We’re Off To See The Lizard…

Forget the Geico Cavemen, it’s the lizard brain that’s hot now.

Drew Westen in Sunday’s WaPo:

For much of the last 40 years, Democrats have ignored their guts and searched for the best facts and figures. But the most compelling fact is that during those 40 years, only one Democrat has been reelected to the presidency. Bill Clinton was also the only Democrat who intuitively understood that the best appeals seize people with something emotionally compelling, lay out the alternatives posed by the candidates and “close the argument” with inspiration or outrage.

(…)

The philosopher David Hume had it right: Reason is the slave to the passions, not the other way around. Recognizing the primacy of passion in everything we do has profound implications for politics. Reason is the middle manager in decision making, not the CEO. Policies are nothing but the frontmen for values. You listen to the middleman’s “pitch,” but you go straight to the top when it’s time to choose. You go, in other words, to your emotions — particularly your moral emotions — when you pull a lever in the voting booth.

(…)

Why is it almost always unwise to “refuse to dignify” a political attack? Because of the way our brains function. Our brains are nothing but vast networks of interconnected neurons, which join thoughts, images, sounds, memories and emotions. Why did Clinton have to disavow the label of “liberal” in last week’s debate, even though she explained the term’s noble derivation? Because conservatives understand how to make associations stick, and they have so thoroughly contaminated the neural networks in American minds that define what it means to be a liberal that even Jefferson couldn’t win an election today if he called himself one — which he did, liberally.

If the other side is trashing you and you say nothing or back down, you cede to your adversaries the neural networks that constitute public opinion….

And Benedict Carey in today’s NYT Science News:

New studies have found that people tidy up more thoroughly when there’s a faint tang of cleaning liquid in the air; they become more competitive if there’s a briefcase in sight, or more cooperative if they glimpse words like “dependable” and “support” — all without being aware of the change, or what prompted it.Psychologists say that “priming” people in this way is not some form of hypnotism, or even subliminal seduction; rather, it’s a demonstration of how everyday sights, smells and sounds can selectively activate goals or motives that people already have.

More fundamentally, the new studies reveal a subconscious brain that is far more active, purposeful and independent than previously known. Goals, whether to eat, mate or devour an iced latte, are like neural software programs that can only be run one at a time, and the unconscious is perfectly capable of running the program it chooses.

(…)

“When it comes to our behavior from moment to moment, the big question is, ‘What to do next?’ ” said John A. Bargh, a professor of psychology at Yale and a co-author, with Lawrence Williams, of the coffee study, which was presented at a recent psychology conference. “Well, we’re finding that we have these unconscious behavioral guidance systems that are continually furnishing suggestions through the day about what to do next, and the brain is considering and often acting on those, all before conscious awareness.”

(…)

This bottom-up order makes sense from an evolutionary perspective. The subcortical areas of the brain evolved first and would have had to help individuals fight, flee and scavenge well before conscious, distinctly human layers were added later in evolutionary history. In this sense, Dr. Bargh argues, unconscious goals can be seen as open-ended, adaptive agents acting on behalf of the broad, genetically encoded aims – automatic survival systems.

(…)

And researchers do not yet know how or when, exactly, unconscious drives may suddenly become conscious; or under which circumstances people are able to override hidden urges by force of will. Millions have quit smoking, for instance, and uncounted numbers have resisted darker urges to misbehave that they don’t even fully understand.

Yet the new research on priming makes it clear that we are not alone in our own consciousness. We have company, an invisible partner who has strong reactions about the world that don’t always agree with our own, but whose instincts, these studies clearly show, are at least as likely to be helpful, and attentive to others, as they are to be disruptive.

I think these two threads may be converging, as both parties attempt to bypass that pesky cerebral cortex. I’m probably just paranoid, but I fear that the Republicans may have already figured out some basic “priming” techniques to make themselves look tough and resolute instead of craven and corrupt (although it definitely seems to be wearing off…). Perhaps the U.S. is doomed to an endstate where the lizard brain reigns supreme.

But as long as we’re heading in that direction, maybe what the Democrats need to do is sneak some cleaning fluid into all the polling places so that voters get the urge to clean up our government. Or maybe they need to hire this guy:

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Now that’s what I call priming!

(h/t to the shadowy and mysterious Codename V. for the Derren Brown clip)

1 comment July 31st, 2007 at 10:37pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Politics,Science

Mark The Date

Richard Cohen writes a column that doesn’t make me want to throw things! As a matter of fact, I agree with him on the whole entire thing, and I think the distinction between the right to keep guns at home vs. the right to carry guns around in public is a very important one. (I’m not real enthusiastic about either, but the former is a lot less likely to result in people killed by stupidity.)

2 comments July 31st, 2007 at 11:45am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Elections,Media,Politics,Republicans

NY Jets Have The Big Mo’ On Their Side

And by “Mo’”, of course I mean “Mozart”:

Instead of blasting hip-hop, rap and hard rock on their sideline speakers at Hofstra, a tradition that began last summer with the arrival of innovative coach Eric Mangini, the Jets have altered their play list, mixing in classical music-namely Mozart-with their old standbys.

It makes for an almost surreal setting: 300-pound men crashing into each other, with gentle melodies in the background. It’s a ballet of behemoths.

The ever-meticulous Mangini, always looking for a psychological or physical edge, isn’t playing classical music to entertain the 3,000 or so fans who show up every day to watch practice. There’s a method to his Mozart.

“From different studies, they assume … Mozart’s music and brain waves are very similar, and it stimulates learning,” he said. “They play it in a lot of schools around the country-kind of underneath, very low-so I thought if that’s the case, why not give it a shot?”

Scientists believe that listening to Mozart can help improve concentration and the ability to make intuitive decisions. They say the music helps both sides of the brain to work together. Fourteen years ago, a study revealed a significant increase in college students’ IQs after they listened to Mozart’s “Sonata for Two Pianos in D Major.”

(…)

The Jets usually play Mozart during the low-intensity drills, when the team splits up into individual units and the coaches are stressing mental work over physical. In team drills, when the speed picks up, they crank up the music, blasting everything from rock to rap. They do it to simulate crowd noise, forcing the players to increase their concentration amid the ear-splitting din.

It’s no secret what music the players prefer.

“Mozart, Beethoven, guys aren’t feeling that,” linebacker Jonathan Vilma said, smiling. Said defensive end Shaun Ellis: “It kind of puts you to sleep a little bit. I’m not complaining about it. They say it helps learning. As long as we get our music at the end of the day, it’s okay.”

(…)

Some experts believe that early childhood exposure to Mozart improves mental development, which explains the growing toy market. Mangini bought Baby Mozart for his two young sons, and it got him thinking about possible benefits on the football field. Not everyone is convinced that it has a benefit.

“It’s a very intriguing question,” said John Murray, a Florida-based sports psychologist. “My hat’s off to the coach for being creative, but I’m hesitant to take a strong stand either way. If it’s not pleasurable for the players, it’s not a good working environment.”

He paused.

“Then again,” Murray added, “if the players are upset with Mozart, maybe they’ll get angry and play better.”

Hey, it can’t hurt, can it? Maybe there’ll be a Superbowl showdown with the Tampa Bay Bachaneers.

July 31st, 2007 at 11:35am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Coolness,Music,Sports

What Gives?

I just checked, and Daily Kos is still there. I thought the Great Civility Warrior Bill O’Reilly was going to destroy it?

Oh well, it’s just a matter of time, I suppose – like that death-touch thing in Kill Bill 2 where the victim walks five steps and then dies. Bill O’Reilly is, like, a kung fu master of the airwaves – but with more sexual harassment and shouting.

3 comments July 31st, 2007 at 11:23am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Blogosphere,Media,Republicans,Wankers

Coney Island Pirateblogging

Ahhhrrr, matey! ‘Tis Pirates Of The, um, Mid-Atlantic.

Coney Island Pirate 1

This guy is just kinda sad-looking, really.

Coney Island Pirate 2

If you ever wondered what Howdy Doody would look like as a pirate…

Coney Island Pirate 3

You cannot tell me this guy did not get beat up constantly by the other pirates.

July 31st, 2007 at 07:32am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Coney Island,NJ/NYC,Photoblogging

The Power Of Willpower

I think Atrios is on to something here:

I’ve been thinking about about certain Bushies – Bush himself, obviously, and Condi Rice – who seem to honestly believe that “will” and “resolve” are the way one gets things done instead of, you know, actually getting stuff done. I’ve finally decided that they’re basically people have always gotten where they were by manipulating others into doing things for them, and so for them getting things done is all about wanting it to happen bad enough.

While one can certainly go through life quite well getting others to take care of your bullshit for you, this type of thing does not really scale upwards to the level of global diplomacy very well. One can’t will success in Iraq, Maliki’s “resolve” can’t actually cause people to stop killing each other there, etc.

Atrios titled the post “Toddlers,” which seems very apt indeed, especially for Bush, who is accustomed to bullying and wheedling people into going along with whatever he wants. But this only works on people who give a shit who his daddy is, or who writes his checks, or that he’s thepreznitoftheyoonitedstatesgoddammit.

The “Do you know who I am?” and “I’ll stomp my feet and hold my breath until I turn blue!” gambits just don’t work on al-Sadr or Ahmadinejad. I think they’re kinda mystified by them, to be honest.

July 30th, 2007 at 08:45pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Iraq,Republicans,Wankers,War

RIP, Ingmar Bergman

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3803584387889303730
Brilliant 1968 parody of Bergman films, with Madeleine Kahn in a small role.

(h/t to the shadowy and mysterious Codename V)

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MST3K version. (h/t Atttarios)

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SCTV version. Bergman makes an ill-fated appearance on Count Floyd’s Monster Chiller Horror Theatre. “I cannot laugh. The dwarfs make me feel old.”

2 comments July 30th, 2007 at 08:33pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Monday Media Blogging,Movies

Choose The Form Of The Destructor…

oreilly.jpg

Well, it was nice while it lasted, but today is the day that Bill O’Reilly will destroy DailyKos. It’s a damn shame – I have no idea who we’ll all take orders from now.

Atrios has been posting some Great Moments In Bill O’Reilly today, courtesy of The Smoking Gun. His favorites so far are Item 37 (p. 8), 54 (p. 11), 55 (p. 12), 66 (p. 14), 78 (p. 16), and 81 (p. 17). Or you can just page through and look for the red arrows where TSG has helpfully highlighted the good parts…

1 comment July 30th, 2007 at 07:47pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Blogosphere,Media,Republicans,TV,Wankers

No, Seriously, What The Hell???

How the hell did Jerry McNerney go from grassroots hero to Blue Dog asshole?

Back in 2006, when Jerry McNerney was running for Congress in CA-11, he would appear at forums, meetings and fundraisers where he would often be called upon to speak. One of the lines he used often, usually to thundering applause, was “I am a Barbara Boxer Democrat!” Never once did he say, “I am a Dennis Cardoza Democrat!” I suspect his audiences might have reacted a little more coolly if he had.

And yet his stance on the issues to date has more closely mirrored that of Rep. Dennis Cardoza (CA-18), who is well known for his conservative Blue Dog associations. Why is McNerney making this rightward shift?

(…)

After voting last Thursday against the Hinchey amendment to H.R. 3093, an amendment that would have prevented federal prosecution for medical marijuana usage in the twelve states which have legalized it, he offered this explanation in today’s Sacramento Bee:

McNerney insists he is not a Pelosi clone. Last week, for example, he broke ranks with most California Democrats by voting against an amendment to ban use of federal money to prosecute growers of medicinal marijuana.”I’m a moderate,” he said.

Well, I hate to break it to the Congressman, but that was not a “moderate” vote. The amendment was co-sponsored by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (CA-46) — yes, you heard me. Jerry McNerney is to the right of Crazy Dana Rohrabacher. If McNerney had bothered to look at the� Field poll done back in 2004, he would realize that Californians statewide support the legalization of medical marijuana by close to a three-quarters majority. Even two-thirds of Republicans support it. Here’s a newsflash to Jerry McNerney. When only 24% of the residents of your state support your position, it’s not moderate. It’s extreme… extreme right-wing.

But almost as bad as his Hinchey vote is the news coming from Germany today. Rep. McNerney led a bi-partisan delegation of Congressional freshmen to Iraq over the weekend. On his way home from Iraq, McNerney participated in a conference call with reporters during a layover.

(…)

And from the Contra Costa Times:

Leading the delegation was Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Calif., who said he saw signs of progress in Ramadi in Anbar province and was impressed by Gen. David Petraeus, President Bush’s top military commander in Iraq, who argued in favor of giving Bush’s troop surge strategy time to work.McNerney said he still favors a timeline to get troops out of Iraq — something House leaders may bring to the floor again this week as part of a defense spending bill — but is open to being flexible “in terms of when it might end.”

I have a hard time figuring out how Jerry McNerney’s latest words and deeds have anything to do with being a “Barbara Boxer Democrat.” I know, I know, it’s better than Richard Pombo. But is this what we all really put our sweat and blood into? How has the reality of Congressman Jerry McNerney differed from what we might have expected from his primary opponent, the DLC-anointed Steve Filson? How do we, as a progressive movement, demand accountability from the candidates that we support? When they turn their backs on us and our issues, do we just shrug our shoulders and settle for scraps? I’m genuinely at a loss. What do you think?

It’s like Karl Rove or Joe Lieberman snuck up behind him with a needle full of Republican Kool-Aid.

I don’t really have a good answer to babaloo’s question, unfortunately. Sure, you can try to shame them, but if they cared what we thought they wouldn’t have betrayed us in the first place. I think wankers like McNerney and Carney are running a very straightforward con on us. They know that they can’t get corporate backing against their Republican opponent, so they use the netroots/grassroots to bootstrap themselves into a position where they can get corporate backing, and no longer have to depend on the people who got them elected.

Sure, we can (and will) sit on our hands when they run for re-election, but they really won’t need our support; besides, if they lose we’re stuck with Republicans again. The only truly satisfying and just remedy is to primary their sorry asses, but that’s easier said than done.

July 30th, 2007 at 07:19pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Politics,Wankers

Still More Coney Island Rideblogging

Just some more random rides from Coney:

Coney Island Ride 22

The interior of a wee pirate ship, complete with non-functional redundant steering wheels. At least you can’t see the siren lights on the front…

Coney Island Ride 26

I found this kinda disturbing, but the kids seem to enjoy it.

Coney Island Ride 28

No-one wants to ride The Scrambler, which makes me wonder just how literal the name is.

2 comments July 30th, 2007 at 11:25am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Coney Island,NJ/NYC,Photoblogging

Eli’s Obsession With The Yahoo

#3 search result for WEAKNESSES OF DEATHLOK THE DEMOLISHER.

Didn’t see that one coming…

July 30th, 2007 at 10:09am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Eli's Obsession With The Google

Monday Media Blogging

Sesame Street + Disco = QUALITY!!!

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Me lost me cookie at the disco
Me lost me cookie in the boogie music…

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It’s Saturday Night Grover!

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Big Bird and Snuffy visit the Imaginary Disco In Their Minds. Snuffy wears a giant sequiny disco ballcap, and Big Bird periodically yells “Disco!” for no apparent reason. Neither of them lose anything in the boogie music.

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This is a bit of a reach, but it stands as one of the greatest achievements in 20th century musical history.

July 30th, 2007 at 07:50am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Monday Media Blogging

Brit Hume Is Sort Of Right

Brit Hume, via Crooks & Liars:

Make no mistake about. This is what a lot of Democrats and those who support them think. They think the war on terror is some kind of a political scam which the administration is using to undermine civil liberties and expand the power of the executive branch of the government. They do not treat it particularly seriously.

Well, yeah. The war on terror as pursued by the Bush administration is exactly that. The Democrats Hume is describing take terrorism very seriously; much more seriously than the Republicans, in fact. They realize that Bush’s war is against the Constitution and their party, not terrorism, and therefore not worth supporting.

I just wish there were more Democrats who understood that.

2 comments July 29th, 2007 at 06:41pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Constitution,Corruption/Cronyism,Democrats,Media,Politics,Republicans,Terrorism,Wankers

Coney Island Creepyblogging

I’m pretty sure these rides aren’t supposed to be scary…

Coney Island Elephant 1

Coney Island Elephant 4

Coney Island Carousel

Gah!!!

July 29th, 2007 at 02:03pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Coney Island,NJ/NYC,Photoblogging

This One’s For Dad

code_talkers.png

From xkcd again.

July 28th, 2007 at 08:38pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Comics

Random Coney Island Photoblogging

Just some miscellaneous Coney Island photos that don’t really fit into any category:

Coney Cone

As I walked away, I actually heard someone behind me indignantly demanding, “Why was he taking a picture of that???” Fourlegs just gave them a helpless “What can you do?” shrug.

Coney Island Lights

Astroland as viewed from the Boardwalk.

Coney Island Freak Bar 2

The Freak Bar again.

1 comment July 28th, 2007 at 05:14pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Coney Island,NJ/NYC,People,Photoblogging

Behind The Scenes

in_ur_reality.png

From xkcd. (h/t Captain Goto)

July 28th, 2007 at 04:33pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Comics

A.G. Vs. A.L.

Anonymous Liberal demolishes the argument that Gonzo was not technically lying about disagreements about the “Terrorist Surveillance Program” (“warrantless domestic wiretapping” to you and me) because it used to be a completely different program.

Also, it’s rather sobering to consider that the core of their defense against perjury is that they were doing much worse, much more illegal stuff that we don’t know about and probably never will. Hurrah for Republican government.

July 28th, 2007 at 03:14pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Corruption/Cronyism

Friday Quote & I’m-Not-Entirely-Sure Blogging

This week’s quote is from The Wife, which I remember only vaguely. It has Wallace Shawn, tho.

Could you calm down before your head pops and you’re flopping around on the floor like a fish?

And, of course, there’ll be other people’s… umm… whatever these are.

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You can thank ::matthew.

1 comment July 27th, 2007 at 11:16pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Friday Quote & Cat Blogging

More Trouble For Vick

In today’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

As if Michael Vick didn’t have enough troubles, he may have to fork over $63 billion – that’s billion, with a B – if one Jonathan Lee Riches prevails in court.

The aptly named Riches’ lawsuit against Vick, filed this week in U.S. District Court in Richmond, was handwritten. That’s because Riches is currently a guest of the Graybar Hotel in South Carolina (it’s not clear which town; his handwriting’s a little hard to read). The lawsuit does not explain what landed Riches in the clink, but does spell out a number of dastardly allegations: that Vick supposedly stole Riches’ dogs for dogfighting purposes, opened credit cards in Riches’ name and stole his copyrighted property. (“Mr. Vick uses my name to sell T-shirts,” the suit alleges at one point).

But wait. It gets worse.

Riches claims that Vick sold the pilfered pooches on eBay and used the proceeds to purchase missles from the Iranian government, that he has “plead (sic) allegiance to Al-quaeda” and has subjected Riches to “microwave testing.”

Riches is demanding $63 billion “backed by gold and silver.” Should he prevail against Atlanta’s erstwhile sports hero, at least another hometown team will benefit: he wants the loot delivered by Atlanta-based UPS.

Any lawyers out there? Does this guy have a case? He sounds pretty credible to me.

(h/t Jenny From The Blog)

July 27th, 2007 at 10:08pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Sports,Weirdness

Lost In Space

I wonder if these two stories are related…

From a Gavel post on NASA’s poor control over its physical assets:

This [$4200 laptop], although assigned to me, was being used on board the International Space Station. I was informed that it was tossed overboard to be burned up in the atmosphere when it failed.

From today’s NYT:

NASA administrators promised fast action today in response to an internal investigation that said astronauts had flown after drinking heavily on at least two occasions.

The investigation, which relied on anonymous interviews, found “heavy use of alcohol” by the two astronauts within 12 hours of flying. The astronauts involved in the incidents were cleared for flying even after flight surgeons and fellow astronauts raised concerns with NASA officials that safety might be jeopardized, according to findings of the investigation, which were released today.

The investigation also found that flight surgeons felt their warnings about medical or behavioral problems among astronauts were routinely ignored.

I’m sure flying a space shuttle is much easier than driving a car. They’ve got all those computers, and there’s not as much traffic, and Mission Control is like the world’s biggest, smartest OnStar system.

4 comments July 27th, 2007 at 09:29pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Uncategorized

Coney Island Volleyballblogging

Proving once again that I can take pictures of people in a pinch:

Coney Island Volleyball 1

You got served!

Coney Island Volleyball 2

She appears distinctly unimpressed.

Coney Island Volleyball 3

I love the random toddler who wandered into the frame. I don’t think I even saw him when I took the shot.

July 27th, 2007 at 07:46am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Coney Island,NJ/NYC,People,Photoblogging

Eli’s Obsession With The Yahoo

This is more cool than weird, really. #1 Yahoo search result for bushs fuckups.

I assume I must have a lot of competition…

July 27th, 2007 at 07:15am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Eli's Obsession With The Google

Stoopit Gays

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Why they always gotta be ruining everybody’s lives?

(h/t Cliff Schecter)

2 comments July 26th, 2007 at 06:53pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Monday Media Blogging,Teh Gay

Headline Of The Day

In today’s NYT:

Dancing Elmo Smackdown

Be sure to click through for the photo of Chicken Dance Elmo. Alas, no photos of Chicken Dance Elmo actually being set on fire…

2 comments July 26th, 2007 at 11:37am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Great Headlines

Coney Island Concessionblogging

More kitsch from Coney:

Coney Island Concessions 1

Coney Island Concessions 3

Coney Island Concessions 4

I don’t really have anything to add…

July 26th, 2007 at 07:40am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Coney Island,NJ/NYC,Photoblogging

This Just In

The Onion announces a startling new discovery:

A field study released Monday by the University of North Carolina School of Public Health suggests that Iraqi citizens experience sadness and a sense of loss when relatives, spouses, and even friends perish, emotions that have until recently been identified almost exclusively with Westerners.

“We were struck by how an Iraqi reacts to the sight of the bloody or decapitated corpse of a family member in a not unlike an American, or at the very least a Canadian, would,” said Dr. Jonathan Pryztal, chief author of the study. “In addition to the rage, bloodlust, and hatred we already know to dominate the Iraqi emotional spectrum, it appears that they may have some capacity, however limited, for sadness.”

(…)

“Contrary to conventional wisdom, it seems that Iraqis do indeed experience at least minor feelings of grief when a best friend or a grandparent is ripped apart by a car bomb or shot execution style and later unearthed in a shallow mass grave,” Prytzal said….

Iraqis have often been observed weeping and wailing in apparent anguish, but the study offers evidence indicating this may not be exclusively an outward expression of anger or a desire for revenge. It also provocatively suggests that this grief can possess an American-like personal quality, and is not simply a tribal lamentation ritual.

(…)

According to Pryztal, the intensity of the grief does not diminish if the mourner experiences multiple bereavements over time. “If a woman has already lost one child, the subsequent killings of other children will evoke similar responses,” he said. “In the majority of cases we studied, it appeared as though those who lost multiple kids never actually got used to it.”

(…)

“Almost all the Iraqis we interviewed said the war had ruined their lives because of the incalculable loss of friends and family,” Pryztal said. “But to be totally honest, these types of studies can be skewed rather easily by participant exaggeration.”

Psychologists and anthropologists have thus far largely discounted the study, claiming it has the same bias as a 1971 Stanford University study that concluded that many Vietnamese showed signs of psychological trauma from nearly a quarter century of continuous war in southeast Asia.

“We are, in truth, still a long way from determining if Iraqis are exhibiting actual, U.S.-grade sadness,” Mayo Clinic neuropsychologist Norman Blum said. “At present, we see no reason for the popular press to report on Iraqi emotions as if they are real.”

Pryztal said that his research group would next examine whether children in Sudan prefer playing with toys or serving as guerrilla fighters and killing innocent civilians.

I assume the GOP’s professional deniers will start coming out of the woodwork any day now to dismiss the study as junk science.

1 comment July 25th, 2007 at 10:28pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Iraq,War

Wanker Of The Day

AP’s Ron Fournier:

Bill Clinton will be there. So will 300 officeholders from more than 45 states. But one thing will be missing when Democrats gather in Tennessee this weekend to discuss how to appeal to moderate, independent-minded voters in 2008: the Democratic presidential field.

Not a single one of the eight presidential candidates plans to attend the Democratic Leadership Council’s summer meeting, a snub that says less about the centrist DLC than it does about a nomination process that rewards candidates who pander to their parties’ hardened cores while ignoring everybody else.

”They have tunnel vision,” DLC founder Al From said of his fellow Democrats.

From said he has nothing against Clinton’s wife, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, or the other seven Democratic presidential candidates. He even understands why they won’t attend the DLC meeting.

But that doesn’t make him worry any less about the future of his party.

”Presidents are elected in the middle and they are elected by being bigger than their party. Neither parties’ activists alone can elect somebody president,” From said in a telephone interview from his Washington office. ”Democrats have a long history of nominating people, including people who have lost badly. The challenge for Democrats is to nominate somebody who can win the election.”

(Not entirely sure what “Democrats have a long history of nominating people” is supposed to mean…)

These governors hail from different parts of the Democratic ideology spectrum, but they have one thing in common: They are in office because they appealed to voters who hold no firm allegiance to either party.

During the 2004 presidential campaign, political operatives convinced themselves that there were a dwindling few of these so-called swing voters, and that the only way to win elections was playing to ”the base” — the most dedicated Republicans and Democrats. They were wrong. The political middle is as significant as ever, with voters in a mood to swing due to their frustration with both major parties.

I suppose this is sort of true. They’re frustrated with Republicans for leading us into a disastrous, pointless war and generally doing everything they can to loot and destroy the United States, and they’re frustrated with the Democrats for not stopping them. So I guess that makes them “centrists.”

That raises a challenge for Republican and Democratic presidential candidates: How do they win their parties’ nomination without appearing hostage to the kind of base politics that turns off swing voters?

Oh yeah, those swing voters hate all that leftist crazy talk about rule of law and getting out of Iraq.

The DLC would like to help the Democratic candidates, but none are listening. While no Democratic presidential hopeful wants to be associated with the centrist group, most of the candidates will be in Chicago on Aug. 4 to attend a convention of liberal bloggers.

”They are looking only at the liberal activists in Iowa,” From said of the candidates.

Boo hoo. Poor lonely DLC, no-one loves them but the corporations and the media. Methinks they do protest too much.

”There’s more to it than trying to take advantage of the fact that Bush is down,” From said. ”The challenge is not just to talk to interest groups but to get beyond them and have a message that connects with the general electorate.”

(…)

”Candidates have their own interests. I don’t blame them in a sense” for blowing off the DLC meeting, From said. ”They have to get the nomination, and we’re not one of the interest groups parading out there in Iowa and New Hampshire.”

Sure sounds like “interest groups” is code for “dirty fucking hippies,” doesn’t it.

Funny thing: It looks like all of the quotes in this so-called story are from From, which leads me to believe that he just dictated the whole thing to Fournier. Which leads me to a bit of an ethical dilemma: Is it unfair to give a Wanker Of The Day award to a sock puppet?

July 25th, 2007 at 06:34pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Elections,Media,Politics

Taxi Of The Beast

I am totally not making this up:

It was a good day for the Devil in San Francisco on Tuesday, as the Taxicab Commission voted to keep the Dark Lord’s favorite number — 666 — affixed to an allegedly cursed cab.The vote, which came after an amused period of public comment and annoyed looks from the commissioners, extended the satanic reign of Taxi No. 666, which is driven by one Michael Byrne (pronounced burn).

Mr. Byrne, who did not appear at the hearing on Tuesday night and was not reachable for comment, had lobbied — out of superstition — to have his medallion number changed, and had found an ally in Jordanna Thigpen, deputy director of the Taxicab Commission.

In a memo distributed last week, Ms. Thigpen wrote that Mr. Byrne believed the number to be responsible for a series of calamities he had endured in a streak of bad luck that had led him to have his taxi blessed at a local church, to no apparent avail.

“This medallion holder would prefer not to speak about the specific problems,” Ms. Thigpen wrote, “but they are of great severity.”

Adding to the cab’s sinister mystique was the fact that Taxi No. 666 caught on fire on a Good Friday some years ago in a blaze that, as local legend has it, wrecked the car but left the offending medallion untouched.

(…)

[Some] saw the debate as a waste of time and money, two things the Great Deceiver would no doubt have approved.

“If we don’t have 666, what’s next?” said Tom Stanghellini, 59, a longtime cabbie. “What about medallion 13? Or 1313?”

Commissioner Patricia Breslin echoed that.

“Where does it end?” Ms. Breslin said. “I lived at a residence numbered 666, and I did not go over to the dark side.”

Ms. Thigpen said she did not want to set a precedent, but said the number in question had become increasingly difficult for her office to assign. “No other number causes an administrative burden like this number,” she said on Wednesday. “And I’m sure with all this attention it’s going to get worse.”

Personally, and speaking as someone who is really not superstitious at all, I have to ask, how big a deal is it to just give the poor guy a new medallion number, or let him swap with someone who doesn’t mind driving the Evil Satan Cab? As special dispensations go, this seems like a pretty minor and easily-granted request.

Now, if this had been a case where a cabbie had Cab #666 and some group of overzealous Christians was trying to force him to change it, I would have the opposite position, but I think my stance is consistent: Let the cabbie have a medallion number that he’s comfortable with. Why make him miserable over something that’s so simple to fix?

July 25th, 2007 at 06:13pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Religion,Weirdness

Shortsighted Republicans

Once again, the Bush administration puts its own well-being above the greater good:

The House Judiciary Committee voted contempt of Congress citations Wednesday against White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and President Bush’s former legal counselor, Harriet Miers.

The 22-17 vote — which would sanction for pair for failure to comply with subpoenas on the firings of several federal prosecutors — advanced the citation to the full House.

(…)

White House counsel Fred Fielding had said previously that Miers and Bolten were both absolutely immune from congressional subpoenas — a position that infuriated lawmakers.

”If we countenance a process where our subpoenas can be readily ignored, where a witness under a duly authorized subpoena doesn’t even have to bother to show up, where privilege can be asserted on the thinnest basis and in the broadest possible manner, then we have already lost,” Conyers, D-Mich., said before the vote. ”We won’t be able to get anybody in front of this committee or any other.”

This stance is just incredibly selfish and destructive. If the White House guts congressional subpoena power exercised in pursuit of serious executive malfeasance, then that will utterly destroy congressional Republicans’ ability to conduct frivolous witch hunts against future Democratic presidents.

This kind of inability to look ahead and see the big picture is precisely why the GOP cannot be trusted with control of the government.

1 comment July 25th, 2007 at 05:37pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Corruption/Cronyism,Politics,Republicans,Wankers

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