Nero's Fiddle
A View From The Handbasket

Thursday, June 29, 2006
Liberty dances on the head of a pin
Posted by neros_fiddle at 12:41 PM
The big news today, of course, is the 5-3 Supreme Court decision rejecting Bush's Guantanamo tribunals. In essence, the court ruled that Bush, no matter what commander-in-chief superpowers he ascribes to himself, is still subject to the rule of law (specifically the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the Geneva Conventions).

There are two things about this ruling that are worth pointing out. First, this may set a precedent that emboldens further examination of certain other administration policies. In rejecting the White House's claimed omnipotence deriving from the post-9/11 Authorization for the Use of Military Force, the court calls into question the myriad other violations of law the administration has justified using the same arguments that failed in this case.

The bad news? The 5-3 decision was practically a 5-4 decision, since new Chief Justice Roberts recused himself from this case because he'd already ruled in favor of Bush on a lower court before being appointed. (Cynics will suggest that the two events might have been connected.) Who else came down in favor of unlimited power for the executive branch? No surprise: Scalia, Alito and Thomas.

One more appointment and the court will be ready to bless the imperial presidency. Of all the ways the administration has made America a lesser light in the world, this might be the most damaging in the long run.

0 comments on this post
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Homophobia: pro and con
Posted by neros_fiddle at 3:21 PM
In the continuing effort by the media to seek balance in the most odious places, CNN's web site today features an opinion piece by James Dobson on gay marriage.

In this "special to CNN," Dobson complains that the media is biased against gay marriage because it doesn't espouse the views that he is, er, espousing on the web site of one of the largest news outlets in the world.

OK, then.

James Dobson, if you'll recall, recently advised men on how they can head off incipient gayness in their sons:

Meanwhile, the boy's father has to do his part. He needs to mirror and affirm his son's maleness. He can play rough-and-tumble games with his son, in ways that are decidedly different from the games he would play with a little girl. He can help his son learn to throw and catch a ball. He can teach him to pound a square wooden peg into a square hole in a pegboard. He can even take his son with him into the shower, where the boy cannot help but notice that Dad has a penis, just like his, only bigger.

Let's review:

rough-and-tumble games
decidedly different


3 comments on this post
Thursday, June 22, 2006
Posted by neros_fiddle at 3:05 PM
The only explanation I have for the relative obscurity of stories like this is that the country no longer cares about whether or not their leaders are amoral thugs. Narcotized on a steady diet of empty nationalism, superficial religion, shallow pop culture and brain-dead media, many Americans are somehow able to shrug off behavior like this:

[...] the capture of Abu Zubaydah in Pakistan in March 2002. Described as al-Qaeda's chief of operations even after U.S. and Pakistani forces kicked down his door in Faisalabad, the Saudi-born jihadist was the first al-Qaeda detainee to be shipped to a secret prison abroad...

Abu Zubaydah, his captors discovered, turned out to be mentally ill and nothing like the pivotal figure they supposed him to be. CIA and FBI analysts, poring over a diary he kept for more than a decade, found entries "in the voice of three people: Hani 1, Hani 2, and Hani 3" -- a boy, a young man and a middle-aged alter ego. All three recorded in numbing detail "what people ate, or wore, or trifling things they said." Dan Coleman, then the FBI's top al-Qaeda analyst, told a senior bureau official, "This guy is insane, certifiable, split personality."

Abu Zubaydah also appeared to know nothing about terrorist operations; rather, he was al-Qaeda's go-to guy for minor logistics -- travel for wives and children and the like. That judgment was "echoed at the top of CIA and was, of course, briefed to the President and Vice President," Suskind writes. And yet somehow, in a speech delivered two weeks later, President Bush portrayed Abu Zubaydah as "one of the top operatives plotting and planning death and destruction on the United States." And over the months to come, under White House and Justice Department direction, the CIA would make him its first test subject for harsh interrogation techniques.


"I said he was important," Bush reportedly told Tenet at one of their daily meetings. "You're not going to let me lose face on this, are you?" "No sir, Mr. President," Tenet replied. Bush "was fixated on how to get Zubaydah to tell us the truth," Suskind writes, and he asked one briefer, "Do some of these harsh methods really work?" Interrogators did their best to find out, Suskind reports. They strapped Abu Zubaydah to a water-board, which reproduces the agony of drowning. They threatened him with certain death. They withheld medication. They bombarded him with deafening noise and harsh lights, depriving him of sleep. Under that duress, he began to speak of plots of every variety -- against shopping malls, banks, supermarkets, water systems, nuclear plants, apartment buildings, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty. With each new tale, "thousands of uniformed men and women raced in a panic to each . . . target." And so, Suskind writes, "the United States would torture a mentally disturbed man and then leap, screaming, at every word he uttered."

Ron Suskind's new book, The One-Percent Doctrine, is apparently full of such nauseating tales. In another, Bush patronizingly tells a CIA briefer urging the President to pay attention to the infamous "Bin Ladin Determined To Strike In US" memo from the summer of 2001, "All right. You've covered your ass, now."

There's also the reassuring news that credit-card processor First Data has been offering up its records to the FBI post-9/11, without much tangible effect beyond the roundup of innocent people.

If the book lives up to its advance billing, it may be the clearest picture yet of how the administration is selling us a bumbling police regime in a box marked "security."

Yet, the debate rages on about gay marriage, flag burning and evolution, and Americans breathlessly follow the saga of Brangelina's successful spawning. Pass the freedom fries.

8 comments on this post
Harder than it looks
Posted by neros_fiddle at 11:42 AM
"My mind is a raging torrent, flooded with rivulets of thought cascading into a waterfall of creative alternatives."

But I still don't have a good post whipped up at the moment. So go have fun with this little brain teaser. I managed 10 out of 14.

And bonus points for the above quote. No Googling.

4 comments on this post
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Still selling the lie
Posted by neros_fiddle at 3:11 PM
Here's the War President earlier today in Vienna:

Q: And to the President, Mr. President, you said this is "absurd," but you might be aware that in Europe the image of America is still falling, and dramatically in some areas. Let me give you some numbers. In Austria, in this country only 14 percent of the people believe that the United States, what they are doing is good for peace; 64 percent think that it is bad. In the United Kingdom, your ally, there are more citizens who believe that the United States policy under your leadership is helping to destabilize the world than Iran. So my question to you is, why do you think that you've failed so badly to convince Europeans, to win their heads and hearts and minds? Thank you.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, yes, I thought it was absurd for people to think that we're more dangerous than Iran. It's a -- we're a transparent democracy. People know exactly what's on our mind. We debate things in the open. We've got a legislative process that's active. Look, people didn't agree with my decision on Iraq, and I understand that. For Europe, September the 11th was a moment; for us, it was a change of thinking. I vowed to the American people I would do everything to defend our people, and will. I fully understood that the longer we got away from September the 11th, more people would forget the lessons of September the 11th. But I'm not going to forget them. And, therefore, I will be steadfast and diligent and strong in defending our country.

This is perhaps the most useful answer the President has ever given in a press conference, for is it indisputably correct and enlightening.

The United States invaded Iraq under the pretext that it had something to do with 9/11, which is completely untrue. True, this pretext was never explicitly stated, but always strongly implied, as in the above (and many other examples, most notably Bush's September 2002 comment that "you can't distinguish between al Qaeda and Saddam when you talk about the war on terror"). Since large numbers of Americans -- and, sadly, many troops in Iraq -- think we are in Iraq in response to Saddam's nonexistent involvement in 9/11, and those with this misperception overwhelmingly tended to vote for Bush in 2004, I think it's safe to assume that confusing Saddam's role in 9/11 is something that the administration is altogether comfortable with.

Of course, we were also apparently concerned about weapons that turned out to not exist. Though many countries were not convinced by this case for war (unlike the invasion of Afghanistan or the Gulf War, which were widely supported), we went ahead anyway and triggered a bloodbath that continues to this day.

So, perhaps, the rest of the world thinks we're a threat to peace because we've actually invaded a country in defiance of international law for reasons that turned out to be unsupported by facts. I have no particular love for the miserable regimes in Iran or North Korea, and recognize that they need to be dealt with by the international community, but you have to admit that they haven't invaded anyone lately.

The absurdity of Bush referring to his compulsively secretive administration as "transparent" is left as an exercise for the reader.

2 comments on this post
A small challenge
Posted by neros_fiddle at 8:20 AM
No fabulous prizes aside from smug self-satisfaction (which truly should be prize enough for anyone)...

Find me someone advancing an argument against Net Neutrality who *isn't* being funded by the telecom/cable/ISP industry.I'm not looking for random posts on a forum or Slashdot or something -- I want a real op-ed piece or column or other substantive expression of opinion.

I'm curious about this because all I've heard so far is telecom/cable/ISP stooges trying to sell Net Neutrality as "socialism for the Internet" (some telecom/cable/ISP stooge used that phrase on NPR this morning) that will turn the Web into a dull gray place because all the innovators will go away. Is there a rational argument out there, apart from a massive cash grab for Verizon and AT&T?

One of these telecom/cable/ISP-funded campaigns asks, "Do you want a smart Internet or a dumb pipe?" I'll take the dumb pipe, thanks, because that's exactly what I want the Internet to be. I don't want my ISP to decide which sites are fast and which sites are slow. I don't want them to decide that I'll get a small fraction of the bandwidth I'm paying for for actual Net access, and devote the rest to the VOD or VOIP service they have a marketing agreement with. (Or, more to the point, give me insufficient bandwidth to run my choice of VOIP or VOD, but plenty of space for their "strategic partners.")

Click on the obnoxious orange link over there under the burning fiddle to learn more.

UPDATE/EDIT: We may have a winner. I'm not sure I agree with it, but at least it looks like a relatively independent viewpoint.

My basic opinion still stands, though -- the anti-NN argument (as seen in the linked article) seems to be that the the ISP should decide what is most important to deliver over your Net connection. I'd rather just have a connection, and utilize it as I see fit.

0 comments on this post
Friday, June 16, 2006
Posted by neros_fiddle at 12:08 PM
Behold Senator Rick Santorum, the man who equated homosexuality with bestiality:

3 comments on this post
Alito enables baby steps for police state
Posted by neros_fiddle at 10:41 AM

These things happen in small steps, and the Supreme Court provided yet another shuffle forward yesterday, as they allowed some illegally gathered evidence to be presented in court, specifically concerning violations of the "knock and announce" rule. The vote was 5-4, with Alito considered to have provided the crucial swing.

The majority opinion, authored by Scalia, cited "increasing evidence that police forces across the United States take the constitutional rights of citizens seriously," and thus we shouldn't be too hard on them in those instances when they break the rules. Besides, Scalia noted, citizens are free to sue the police if they feel they've been treated wrongly.

On the plus side, citizens no longer have to fear the storied "knock on the door in the middle of the night." They don't have to knock anymore.

(By the way, for those itching to comment that "knock and announce" coddles criminals who can't wait to flush their weed down the toilet, there are already well-established exceptions to this rule in cases of "1) apprehension of peril 2) useless gesture and 3) the destruction of evidence.")

3 comments on this post
Christmas at the White House
Posted by neros_fiddle at 9:39 AM
Pick your cliche -- what goes up must come down, to everything there is a season, what goes around comes around (or is that the other way around?), etc. and so on. The last couple of weeks have been a mini-reversal of fortunes for the hapless administration, with a few pieces of news that must have been received like gifts on Christmas morning.

Probably the most important of these, from an "actual impact on the world" point of view, is the formation of an Iraqi government. No one can honestly deny that this is an important step forward in restoring stability to the chaos we've created. (Which, if I could go off on a tangent for a moment, is something the GOP remains obtusely unwilling to concede. In current debate over the bill before the House that basically says, "No timetable for withdrawal, there are terrorists to fight," the Republicans are lining up to regurgitate the line about Iraq being the "central front in the war on terror," and talk about how al Qaeda is in Iraq which is why we can't leave. Which is at the very least a funhouse mirror version of reality -- the real world saw the US invade an Iraq which contained relatively little al Qaeda activity (compared to the other nations in the region) and through a botched occupation create an environment where al Qaeda could flourish. And this, apparently, is why we can't leave. Good thing for the GOP no one pays attention to what Congress is saying anymore.)

In their haste to get more coverage for this development, the administration pulled out the biggest headline magnet at their disposal -- flying Bush in to bless the new regime. Inadvertently, though, this massive photo-op pointed up some lingering loose ends in the tidy package they wanted us to see. For one, we were treated to the odd sight of administration officials bundled up in helmets and body armor as they were ferried by helicopter from the airport to the heavily fortified embassy. (Presumably the President was equally armored, though we didn't get to see any photos of that.) Not exactly the image of stability they were hoping for.

Even more jarring, we were told that the new Prime Minister of Iraq didn't even know that Bush was coming until a matter of minutes before the President appeared before him and hurried him off to a conference room. If the administration wished to share their excitement that Iraq now had a sovereign government, this was a very odd way to show it. They clearly didn't trust this government, even the new Prime Minister, enough to inform them that Bush was coming. Imagine for a moment Vladimir Putin flying in secret into Washington, walking into the Oval Office, grabbing Bush and hauling him into a press conference full of Russian reporters. The training wheels are clearly still on.

Also under the tree was a box containing the corpse of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Though the public response from the White House was notably muted (no "Mission Accomplished" banners were unfurled), they clearly didn't mind the testosterone-fueled press coverage and prominent display of Zarqawi's lifeless face. The actual impact of Zarqawi's death is still unknown, as his perceived importance is due at least in part to the administration's relentless hyping of him as the link between Iraq and al Qaeda. We'll have to wait and see if this is an instance of the box being more fun than the actual present.

Karl Rove's stocking was filled with a welcome token from Patrick Fitzgerald -- no plans to indict. What we don't know yet is if any strings were attached to this gift. Was this a cooperation deal? No one's saying.

Of course, every day's like Christmas as 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The Smoking Gun has published a fascinating disclosure document listing a variety of fabulous booty bestowed on various administration officials by their counterparts in foreign governments in 2004. A few highlights:

  • A $10,000 sniper rifle for Bush from King Abdullah of Jordan.
  • Also for Bush, DVD copies of "Singin' In The Rain" and "To Kill A Mockingbird" from the Sultan of Brunei, part of a cornucopia of goodies from the Sultan in June of 2004 that also included a box set of jazz CDs, a scented candle, a Christmas tree ornament, a picture frame, a pair of champagne flutes, and other seemingly random items that suggested the Sultan popped by Bed Bath and Beyond on his way to the White House to grab a few things, having forgotten to bring something from home.
  • Bush received a braided leather whip from the Prime Minister of Hungary. More investigation is clearly needed here.
  • The President of Ireland cheekily gave Bush a copy of the "Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook."
  • The big winner in the report is Colin Powell, who got a $24,500 woman's necklace from Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia.
  • Cheney made do with, among other things, a rare copy of "The Art Of War" valued at $3600 from the Vice President of China.
  • The Defense Minister of South Korea gave Rumsfeld a framed picture titled "Weeds and Insects," and he got a 3 foot sword from the Defense Minister of Denmark.
  • Finally, you can picture Rummy enjoying some aromatherapy courtesy of the generous King of Jordan.

All this loot (about $140,000 worth by my count), of course, was turned over to various archives and agencies.

An interesting postscript: all this stuff was accepted because "non-acceptance would have caused embarrassment to donor and U.S. government." Normal human beings, of course, would be far more embarrassed to give and receive such indulgent crap, knowing that it would just molder away in some warehouse forevermore.

0 comments on this post
Thursday, June 08, 2006
Senate very worried about harmless happy people
Posted by neros_fiddle at 9:08 AM
Because of Blogger acting up, I'm proud to be bringing you yesterday's news today. All in all, that's probably a good thing, since there's not much one can say about the apparent death of Zarqawi aside from "good riddance" and "wait and see." (I suspect the filled cabinet posts might be the more important story from Baghdad this morning.)

In any case, surrounded by mayhem in Iraq, continuing misery in Louisiana, spiraling deficits, a looming energy crisis, health care woes, and countless other real issues, the Senate earlier this week turned its attention to the grave and gathering threat to America posed by these people:

(More stomach-churning visages of evil here.)

Yes, it was Bash The Homos Week. If you think I'm being excessively sarcastic about the threat the Senate perceives from your gay friends and family, let's listen to Louisiana Senator David Vitter:

"I don't believe there's any issue that's more important than this one," said Sen. David Vitter, a Louisiana Republican. "I think this debate is very healthy, and it's winning a lot of hearts and minds. I think we're going to show real progress."

Wow -- no issue more important. For Vitter, preventing scenes of joy like those above is more important than addressing actual, real devastation in his home state. Katrina victims? Forget that, we've got the gay-hating vote to pander to!

Meanwhile, not to be outdone in the "most important" sweepstakes, Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe hauled a big blown-up photo of his enormous family up to the Senate podium and boasted:

As you see here, and I think this is maybe the most important prop we’ll have during the entire debate, my wife and I have been married 47 years. We have 20 kids and grandkids. I’m really proud to say that in the recorded history of our family, we’ve never had a divorce or any kind of homosexual relationship.

This raises a lot of questions (Does he really keep a "recorded history" of his family's sexual activity? Is this a written record, or are there video tapes? And what went through Dick Cheney's mind when he heard Inhofe's preening?), but beyond that, I'm eager to witness the "I'm more righteous than you" one-upmanship that seems imminent in the House.

If we're very lucky, we might see a Representative on the floor of the House renewing his vows with his high school sweetheart while kicking a gay man in the ribs. I'm sure that's what all of us have in mind when we think of our government addressing the problems of the country.

1 comments on this post
Monday, June 05, 2006
Return of the son of cultural envy
Posted by neros_fiddle at 11:59 AM

Many, many years ago, a rock band in England was struggling to get attention amid all the other nascent "beat" groups of the day. One night, playing a gig in a local dive with a low ceiling, the guitarist made a flashy move onstage and snapped the neck of his guitar on the rafters. The crowd went ape. With an uneasy combination of adrenaline and distaste, the guitarist continued to demolish the hapless instrument, leaving the crowd baying its approval.

Word of mouth spread, and suddenly people would turn up at the band's shows to see guitars get broken. The guitarist resisted at first, not having the money to keep replacing his axes, but his manager encouraged him. Soon enough, it became an established part of the stage act, and in later years no one was really sure if Pete Townshend (1) was merely going through the motions, (2) was mocking the audience or (3) was mocking himself.

Much later, one of Townshend's songs was named by John J. Miller, a writer at National Review, as the #1 conservative rock song of all time. The article, which listed 49 other, equally tenuous, examples of "conservative rock songs," was quickly dissected across the blogosphere and mainstream media, and was the subject of much amusement.

One is tempted to wonder if Miller's emotions on looking at the huge attention the article received weren't similar in some way to that of Townshend. What to do when confronted with a lark out of control? Take the high road and move on, or embrace the madness and see how far it will take you?

Like Townshend, Miller's back on stage breaking stuff again, with a new list of 50 more songs to add to the bizarre category of "stuff that doesn't totally contradict conservative dogma, and thus is conservative."

I won't subject either of us to a complete rundown this time. But this new list repeats all the same moves as the first one. We get songs that mention religion ("After Forever" by Black Sabbath, "Jesus Is Just Alright" by the Doobie Brothers, "Gotta Serve Somebody" by Bob Dylan, "Turn! Turn! Turn!") because only conservatives can be religious. We get songs like "Red Army Blues" by the Waterboys, "Red Skies" by the Fixx, "Mother Russia" by Iron Maiden and "Miss Gradenko" by the Police because only conservatives could disapprove of Stalinism. We get goofball jingoist anthems like "VOA" by Sammy Hagar and "In America" by the Charlie Daniels Band. We get songs that say bad things about abortion from Extreme and Slayer (as if being pro-choice is same thing as being pro-abortion). There's the inevitable suggestion, via "Back In The USA" by Chuck Berry, that only conservatives can be patriots. We get a heavy dose of grumpy nostalgia from the Kinks (three songs) and earnest objectivism from Rush (four songs), of course.

And a few real head scratchers. Miller includes "Holiday In Cambodia" by the Dead Kennedys for its anti-Pol Pot content, apparently unaware that the whole point of the song is the skewering of a smug, materialistic college student with rich parents by pointing out the horrors of the world beyond our comfortable borders. For some reason, 1981's "Dirty Laundry" (Don Henley) is "conservative" because Dan Rather peddled some forged memos in 2004. Perhaps strangest of all, he claims P.O.D. is "super-hip."

And on and on. If anything, it's even more ludicrous than the first one. It's hard to say whether (1) he really believes this stuff, (2) is mocking us or (3) is mocking himself.

6 comments on this post
Sunday, June 04, 2006
I like Linux but it doesn't like me
Posted by neros_fiddle at 5:32 PM

The idea of Linux appeals greatly to me. Instead of the "all things to all people" compromises of Windows, Linux offers the promise of an capable OS with a strong focus on customizability, reliability and security. Certainly, many, many users are productive and happy on Linux. (It's also an especially good server OS.) My last experience with it was five years ago, when I put Red Hat on a Thinkpad. After an epic struggle, I was never able to get the sound to work, and it was painfully slow (the Thinkpad was about three years old at the time). Regretfully, Windows 98 went back on.

So when I found myself with a four-year-old Sony Vaio looking for a purpose in life, it seemed time for another round. I did some research, and it seemed like SUSE 10.1 was the latest standard-bearer in the often confusing universe of Linux distributions. I downloaded and burned a DVD ISO, wiped the Sony's HD, and dove in.

After an attractive (graphical) splash screen, I was greeted with a text mode error message complaining that X11 couldn't start, probably due to a lack of RAM (which seems unlikely, since the Vaio has 512MB). The installation program continued in text mode, which was rather confusing since the text was flown from the graphical version and often talked about "clicking" options that didn't exist with a MIA mouse pointer. After some trial and error, I figured out how to navigate in "drop back and punt" mode, and continued with the installation.

After copying over a bunch of packages, Linux was booted from the HD to continue the install. Again, I got an error message that the utterly ordinary integrated Intel graphics processor was causing problems, so I remained in text mode. The graphics setup eventually came around, correctly identifying my card but unable to figure out the correct resolution for the built-in LCD (1024x768). It started with 800x600, then when I tried to set it, the install insisted on trying to make it 1024x600 for some reason. It worked correctly on the second attempt.

To add to the fun, though my Linksys PCMCIA wireless card lit up on bootup, the system couldn't see it. The Ethernet connection was fine, however, so I tethered myself to the switch. (Except for the occasional instance when it would apparently retrieve a DHCP IP address from Mars that had nothing to do with my network. A reboot -- or two -- would fix it.)

With the graphics sorted, the first "real" boot was no problem. Unfortunately, I quickly ran into a minor but debilitating issue -- the "tapping" behavior of the Vaio's trackpad had returned (where "tapping" the trackpad causes the equivalent of a right mouse click) from whatever purgatory I'd banished it to under XP. I am fundamentally incompatible with this "feature." I constantly issue phantom mouse clicks and inevitably find myself deep into something like "NDIS Transport Configuration and Binding" without a clue on how I got there.

I hunted around and fairly quickly found the mouse configuration (between trips to random programs I managed to accidentally invoke), but it seemed completely unaware of the infernal tapping setting. No problem, I'm flexible -- I plugged in a spare Microsoft mouse. Nothing. Reboot. The mouse sprang to life, but the pointer moved in an uncontrollable, spastic fashion. Grrrrr.

So, off to Google. A few searches later, I found this page. A kindred soul, and a solution! Huzzah! I downloaded the program and installed it via the RPM package system (which was very slick). Still tapping. Reboot. Still tapping. Grrrrr, again. A couple hours and much bewilderment later (Why wasn't the program writing to /var/log/boot.msg? What was the difference between /etc/init.d and /etc/rc.d? Oh, crap, I just launched the CRON Manager again.), I gave up.

I still wanted to see about that wireless card, though, so I monkeyed around with that for a while. At first I thought the problem might be the WPA2 encyption my wireless network uses, but I quickly figured out that many (if not most) wireless cards simply don't work under Linux. I found a couple of possible solutions, one free (and involving such terrifying suggestions as "there are some kernel patches you may wish to apply") and one that cost $20. By that point, though, it wasn't much fun anymore.

In all fairness, most of these issues are due to the notebook factor. I'll bet that if I threw that install DVD (be nice) at a desktop machine, things would go much more smoothly. But a notebook is what I had (and what more people buy these days). I had genuinely thought that the days of Linux being only for those who like to endlessly tinker with esoteric settings were over, but it seems that generalizaton still applies. I'm sure all the smart and passionate people working on Linux will produce a superior product eventually. Until then, I'll go with the other major alternative to Windows, OS X.

4 comments on this post
Saturday, June 03, 2006
Dudley Do-Right saves the day
Posted by neros_fiddle at 11:56 AM

I love this picture from the CNN home page, because you know someone at CNN must really think that all police in Canada look like this.

0 comments on this post
Posted by neros_fiddle at 11:41 AM
Rosabelle is unimpressed with the outcome of American Idol.

0 comments on this post
Friday, June 02, 2006
They're all Democrats anyway
Posted by neros_fiddle at 11:58 AM
Here's a factoid to assist you in your summer vacation planning: don't bother going to New York City, because they have no monuments or icons to speak of.

This finding by the Department of Homeland Security (which triggered a 40% cut in anti-terror funding to NYC) is a big relief to those wanting to see the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Times Square, the UN, or any of the Big Apple's myriad... well... monuments and icons. According to the DHS, they don't exist, so you can save your money and go see a giant ball of twine in Nebraska or something.

0 comments on this post
Thursday, June 01, 2006
Cultural envy redux
Posted by neros_fiddle at 3:12 PM

Moving on from the much-derided "50 Rock Songs That Are Conservative Because We Say They Are" list (dissected below), noted conservative babbler Ann Althouse takes the right-wing cultural land-grab to its bizarre zenith:

To be a great artist is inherently right wing. A great artist like Dylan or Picasso may have some superficial, naive, lefty things to say, but underneath, where it counts, there is a strong individual, taking responsibility for his place in the world and focusing on that.

(It's fitting somehow that a quote of such monumental solipsism exists as a comment by Ann Althouse on Ann Althouse's blog.)

You know, this whole notion of "taking responsibility" being an exclusively "conservative" practice is a bait-and-switch that I'm quickly growing weary of. "Conservatives" of the sort that are making these statements interpret "personal responsibility" in what can be charitably called an eccentric way.

For them, "responsibility" only exists within a single person. You have no obligation toward anyone else, and the greater good doesn't exist. It's no accident that songs like "I Can't Drive 55" showed up on that stupid list, because they epitomize "taking responsibility" the conservative way: doing whatever the hell you want. (Or, as Althouse says, "taking responsibility for his place in the world and focusing on that.") It is from this philosophical candy store that such tasty political treats as hostility toward energy conservation, unchecked development and lack of public transit, disinterest in environmental policy, unilateral military action, dismantling of social safety nets, and DIY health care can be purchased in bulk.

Interestingly, if other people choose to exercise their "responsibility for [their] place in the world" in a way the conservative finds unacceptable (such as not saying "Merry Christmas" or wanting to marry a same-sex partner), then that person is immediately branded selfish and disrespectful of society. Neo-conservatism, of course, is all about being free... to do what neo-conservatives allow you to do.

It's not that taking responsibility for your own actions and individual liberties are bad things (far from it), but to celebrate that exclusively is to mistake Ayn Rand books for real life. A more... mature citizen of the world understands that real ethical conduct (to say nothing of pragmatic policy) requires a more sophisticated understanding of what "responsibility" actually means.

1 comments on this post