30 September 2008


Many times I've been with people out on a cool, dark night and they say that looking at the stars makes them feel small. But when I look out at the night sky, I think to myself how amazing it is that I can see so far.

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson has more on that subject.

29 September 2008

L'shana tovah

Let's make this a good one, eh?

27 September 2008

The Evil League of Evil is watching, so beware!

Ooh, very exciting news from the Evil League of Evil. Now if only I could think of a supervillain name as cool as “Fake Thomas Jefferson.”
The rumblings you've been hearing in the criminal underground since July indeed are true: At long last, we are seeking new applicants to the League.

Aspirants to new heights of Evil should submit a video application ...

Their most recent member being, of course, Dr Horrible, who has a Ph.D. in horribleness.

26 September 2008


Ganked entire from DeLong:

John McCain: Dishonest and Dishonorable

Hoisted from Comments: The best comment on John McCain's campaign suspension that I have seen:

Neal: It's a tough job being a windsock in a tornado.
Secretary Paulson, the leaders of both houses, the chairs and ranking members of the relevant committess--all were on the same page and working toward a financial deal that Paulson and Bernanke, solid Republicans, say is needed now.

John McCain announces he is suspending his campaign, cancels on David Letterman, gets made-up for and does an interview with Katie Couric, goes and talks to the Clinton Global Initiatiive the following day, persuades Bush to call a meeting at the White House, gets to Washington DC in the afternoon, goes and talks to the House Republicans, goes to the meeting, sits in the back of the meeting and is evasive, and when the meeting breaks up, three things are clear:

  • John McCain won't say what financial rescue packages he supports or opposes.
  • George W. Bush won't say that support for Paulson is a test of Republican loyalty.
  • The House Republican caucus doesn't support their leaders.
  • The House Republican caucus doesn't have an alternative plan.
That's quite an accomplishment. It is hard to read it any other way than as John McCain rallying the House Republicans to blow up the bipartisan agreement that was being negotiated. The House Republicans don't want to do anything to hold CEOs accountable, to protect taxpayers, protect homeowners, or provide oversight. The Treasury rejected the not-quite-ideas they put forward at the White House meeting last week.

John McCain and the House Republicans blew up the deal because he doesn't want to debate Barack Obama tonight, and thinks that this is a way he can get out of having to do so.

We'll see if it can be put back together.

Emphasis mine.


Ezra Klein observes that Sarah Palin has become a doubleplus ungood duckspeaker.
These aren't lies she's telling. It's not misdirection, or deception. It's just nonsense. It exists in a realm beyond where truth is a relevant concept, more akin to the utterances of sleeptalkers than to the prevarications of politicians. I always figured that Palin's trouble on the trail would come when she was exposed to the obscure questions of governance: Queries on drug policy and Afghani tribes and Medicare reimbursement. But instead, she's collapsing on the big questions, the issues that she should be able to dispatch with a memorized soundbite. What's going on?
From the appendix to Orwell's 1984, “The Principles of Newspeak:”
The intention was to make speech, and especially speech on any subject not ideologically neutral, as nearly as possible independent of consciousness. For the purposes of everyday life it was no doubt necessary, or sometimes necessary, to reflect before speaking, but a Party member called upon to make a political or ethical judgement should be able to spray forth the correct opinions as automatically as a machine gun spraying forth bullets. His training fitted him to do this, the language gave him an almost foolproof instrument ....

Relative to our own, the Newspeak vocabulary was tiny, and new ways of reducing it were constantly being devised. Newspeak, indeed, differed from most all other languages in that its vocabulary grew smaller instead of larger every year. Each reduction was a gain, since the smaller the area of choice, the smaller the temptation to take thought. Ultimately it was hoped to make articulate speech issue from the larynx without involving the higher brain centres at all. This aim was frankly admitted in the Newspeak word duckspeak, meaning “to quack like a duck”. Like various other words in the B vocabulary, duckspeak was ambivalent in meaning. Provided that the opinions which were quacked out were orthodox ones, it implied nothing but praise, and when the Times referred to one of the orators of the Party as a doubleplusgood duckspeaker it was paying a warm and valued compliment.

22 September 2008


Via Content Love Knowles
From: Minister of the Treasury Paulson

Dear American:

I need to ask you to support an urgent secret business relationship with a transfer of funds of great magnitude.

I am Ministry of the Treasury of the Republic of America. My country has had crisis that has caused the need for large transfer of funds of 800 billion dollars US. If you would assist me in this transfer, it would be most profitable to you.

I am working with Mr. Phil Gram, lobbyist for UBS, who will be my replacement as Ministry of the Treasury in January. As a Senator, you may know him as the leader of the American banking deregulation movement in the 1990s. This transactin is 100% safe.

This is a matter of great urgency. We need a blank check. We need the funds as quickly as possible. We cannot directly transfer these funds in the names of our close friends because we are constantly under surveillance. My family lawyer advised me that I should look for a reliable and trustworthy person who will act as a next of kin so the funds can be transferred.

Please reply with all of your bank account, IRA and college fund account numbers and those of your children and grandchildren to wallstreetbailout@treasury.gov so that we may transfer your commission for this transaction. After I receive that information, I will respond with detailed information about safeguards that will be used to protect the funds.

Yours Faithfully
Minister of Treasury Paulson

19 September 2008

14 September 2008


David Foster Wallace

It seems that he hanged himself.

He wrote with brio and heart, and if his stylistic pyrotechnics were occasionally a bit much2 he never indulged in them at the expense of actual content and meaning. Laura Miller at Salon offers a touching remembrance.

He wrote about the maddening impossibility of scrutinizing yourself without also scrutinizing yourself scrutinizing yourself and so on, ad infinitum, a vertiginous spiral of narcissism — because not even the most merciless self-examination can ignore the probability that you are simultaneously congratulating yourself for your soul-searching, that you are posing. He tried so hard to be sincere and to attend to the world around him because he was excruciatingly aware of how often we are merely “sincere” and “attentive” and all too willing to leave it at that.

I, for one, will miss his work.

  1. Though he is perhaps more properly remembered as a novelist and occasional writer of short stories, my own love for his work was instead for his essaysa, which obviously consumed so much of his attention that I wonder if the fiction was not, in fact, to some extent an attempt to bolster the literary respectability of his non-fiction writing.
  2. Most famously in his vigorous and whimsical overuse of footnotes.
  1. The first work of his I read, a very long essay in Vanity Fair about the politics within the world of professional tennis which almost frightened me by being so fascinating in spite of being so very far outside my usual sphere of interest.

11 September 2008


Each year I try to find something that reminds me how I felt at the time.

For your reflection, I offer archives from The Onion: their masterful first issue after 9/11, which managed to make the Onion voice relevant to the times. Funny, incisive, and even moving.

My personal favourite article: God Angrily Clarifies ‘Don't Kill’ Rule.

“I tried to put it in the simplest possible terms for you people, so you'd get it straight, because I thought it was pretty important,” said God, called Yahweh and Allah respectively in the Judaic and Muslim traditions. “I guess I figured I'd left no real room for confusion after putting it in a four-word sentence with one-syllable words, on the tablets I gave to Moses. How much more clear can I get?”

“But somehow, it all gets twisted around and, next thing you know, somebody's spouting off some nonsense about, ‘God says I have to kill this guy, God wants me to kill that guy, it's God's will,’ ” God continued. “It's not God's will, all right? News flash: ‘God's will’ equals ‘Don't murder people.’ ”

07 September 2008


My new apartment being quite small, I'm purging some stuff. Two things I'd rather give to friends than Craigslist strangers:
  • A big old solid wood desk. Rather battered, but still handsome, and the drawers move smoothly. Comes with a wood swivel chair which is surprisingly comfortable, and even more surprisingly heavy.
  • A full set of trade paperbacks for Garth Ennis & Steve Dillon's comic book series Preacher. It's about love, sex, violence, scatological humor, the great state of Texas, and the search for God — but if you want it, you probably know all about that.

06 September 2008

Status report

Burning Man was grand. My stuff is now in my new apartment. I am in total disarray as I settle in, but I do have internet and toilet paper. More when I can find the box containing my socks.