This is the Archive site for Firedoglake. To go to the main site please click on the following link

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Margaret Cho vs. the Mouth Breathers

I saw today that what the freepers had to say about the death of Peter Berenson, the founder of Amnesty International:
. Another commie out of here. Happy morning to you all.

. All of them, socialist, marxist, lenonistics,,the deader the better

. It's been a good year. Another one goes to hell. This man has so much blood on his hands, maybe he will keep his buddy arafat company.
Who could say anything bad about a man whose sole purpose was to fight for human rights around the world?

Just so we all know what we're dealing with here. A while back, Matt Drudge "revealed" the transcripts of the awards. (I'm guessing their had to be hundreds of people there, the place was loaded with celebrities -- how much of a "secret" could it have been?) Anyway, during her performance that evening the always funny and relevant Margaret Cho said the following:
"Despite all of this stupid bullsh-- that the Republican National Committee, or whatever the f--- they call them, that they were saying that they're all angry about how two of these ads were comparing Bush to Hitler? I mean, out of thousands of submissions, they find two. They're like fu--ing looking for Hitler in a haystack. You now? I mean, George Bush is not Hitler. He would be if he fu--ing applied himself." (big, extended applause) "I mean he just isn't."
That would be considered fair and balanced in the crowd I run with, but even if it's not your cup of tea -- she's a comedienne. Get it? Big with the funny. Entitled to the same artistic license I give Dennis Miller, who is not funny.

So somebody posts her comments on the freepers, and it was like walking into the lions den wearing a steak suit. Some of the emails she received:
From: M346r4
I just wanted to let you know how much I admire you! For someone with your background to achieve the level of success you have is incredible. It seems like only yesterday that Chinese scientists successfully cross-breeded a pot-belly pig and a Chink whore. 9 months later you were born!
Your'e disgustingly fat pig face with the yellow skin and and slant eyes has been with us ever since! And not to mention your horrid attempt at humor. Wow!! What a gift you've been to humanity!

From: Mickey Cobain
It's really pathetic when a disgusting cunt like you
tries to be funny. YOU are NOT funny. Maybe to some
mentally disturbed serial killer you are funny, but
that's about it. I have a great idea, why don't you
move to china and try your comedy there. Maybe they
will appreciate it more. If not, maybe they will cut
your fucking head off. We can only hope.

From: John Zaroian
Hey dig this BUSH WILL WIN....Whatsammatter fat ass, cant take the heat. Eat some dog like your freinds back home. Its what you look like anyway you scumbag Chowface..

From: Tina
I find you to be a disgusting, misguided PIG! You need to seek medical help because you have what the psychiatric profession calls a MENTAL DISORDER! You hate filled moron! You must have had some sweet childhood to act out of so much HATE and INTOLERANCE! How do you sleep at night filled with such ire and hatred? I feel sorry for your ignorance, you poor thing. Do us Americans and favour and check your sad self into a mental hospital! And take homoby with you!
These are the ones I felt okay about reprinting. You can read much worse here.

So, in summation -- Margaret Cho is brilliant, and if you have any doubts, catch her new DVD, Peter and I laughed ourselves sick watching it a couple of weeks ago. And the truth hurts. Obviously some raging wingers who are out there flying with way too little emotional ballast can't handle the confrontation with it. Cheers to Margaret for having the courage to make them reveal the true face of the beast.

And a fond farewell to Peter Berenson, a man who left the world a much better place for his presence in it. No amount of ignorant guttersniping can ever take that away.


DIY in the Digital Age

no, not that kind

It's no secret that I love DIY industry of any sort. I still hoard all of those late 70's punk rock 45s with pressings of 1,000 that sound like they were recorded on masking tape (it's part of their charm). That wacky fat kid from New Jersey lip-synching to some dead awful Eastern European techno song that was all over the internet last week? Loved it. No corporate A&R person to get him coked up & slimmed down so he could pole dance at Brittney's wedding to tie in with an expensive marketing campaign; he went platinum courtesy of the "forward" button.

So I'm digging this article by this British guy, Kevin Kelly, who tells you how you can get Amazon to sell your self-published book, CD or DVD. He breaks it down into 8 easy steps, which he covers in more detail at his web site:

1 Get an ISBN (for a book), or a UPC (for a CD or DVD). For one book it costs $125, for one CD, $55, for one DVD, $89.
2 Get a bar code based on the ISBN or UPC. Costs $10, or may be included in UPC.
3 Sign up with Amazon, $30 per year.
4 Duplicate your stuff; include the bar code on the outside.
5 Ship two copies to Amazon
6 Send cover scan
7 Track sales
8 Register it (optional)

The deal is that you get 45% of your listed price, and you of course pay for the printing/pressing of materials, and to get your stuff to Amazon. Most self-published stuff will only sell a few copies per month, but the Kelly himself has done better, selling several thousand copies of his book over a couple of years. As he notes, "This is not a way to make money; this is a way to distribute your message."

So to all you budding Chomsky's out there -- have at it! And then send me a copy. I've got plenty of space on my bookshelves next to all those unruly 45s.

(Photo courtesy stock.xchng)


Friday, February 25, 2005

Massive Outbreak of Common Sense in Canada

hey George, we got somethin' for ya

Canada has decided that it will no longer participate in the monumental waste of taxpayer money and boondoggle for the benefit of the military industrial complex that is the missile defense system.

Maybe it has something to do with the fact that damned thing doesn't work -- the "Star Wars" system recently failed its fifth test (each test costing $86 million). As one blogger noted, "I guess "missile" is catchier than 'huge pointy paper weight,' though the latter is currently a more accurate description."

So the US, of course, respecting Canada's sovierengty...nah, scratch that. The US respected nothing, and resorted to the BuchCo. bully trump card -- they threatened 'em.

"We simply cannot understand why Canada would, in effect, give up its sovereignty - its seat at the table - to decide what to do about a missile that might be coming toward Canada," came the blunt warning from Paul Cellucci, Ambassador to Canada.

Excuise me? Did he actually say that? Uh, well, yes, he did. Translation -- fuck you, Canada, we'll do what we damn well please, not that we really planned on doing anything else anyway, but how dare you refuse to pick up your share of the tab for our gross miscalculation and arrogance.

Canada announced that instead, the would be spending its defense budget on protecting their coasts and borders, a strategy that might actually protect them from somebody who obviously means them harm -- King George II.

(Photo courtesy stock.xchng)


I Heart Stock.xchng

Can I just say right now that I love this web site called Stock.xchng ? I try to make this blog as visually interesting as possible, but finding good photos is always a struggle, and then there's the copyright issue.

So this website called stock.xchng, based in Hungary, has a really well-organized library of over 100,000 photos taken by a community of photographers who want to offer them to the public free of charge. All they ask is that you give stock.xchng a credit and send a courtesy email to the photographers and let them know you are using their work.

The site has a sort of self-regulating function like Kos, where registered users can vote on a scale from 1-10 for each photo, so you can see how different works are evaluated. I've been using them for a couple of weeks and have gotten a lot of wonderful feedback from photographers from all over the world who were happy to have the exposure.

There are other free sites, but most of the ones I've found seem to be run by Mormons for industrial brochure manufacturers or something, they're a bit dry and institutional, and don't have the lively photo collection that stock.xchng does, nor are they nearly so well-organized or community based.

So bloggers, go nuts! No more excuses for long, boring blocks of unbroken text that scare the pants off readers. Disregard if you are a Freeper, in which case said text will be frightening no matter what, and the visual intimidation is a public service.

(Photo, as usual, courtesy stock.xchng)


Thursday, February 24, 2005

The Unkindest Cut of All

The reader reviews on for author Stephen Elliott's novel Happy Baby, the unrelenting novel about a boy who grew up in the child welfare system that explores the psychology of abuse, were uniformly good. Except for one:
The book has scenes like the one where he kisses the hand of the man who abused him. Most normal people will find this nauseating. The book is for wanna-be masochists who enjoy perversion, and people with strong stomachs. Perhaps that's who the author sees as his audience? The book has little plot, and seems like one vaguely descriptive scene after another. The reader is left with a bad taste in his or her mouth. I hear the author's father is preparing a website to show that his background is totally fabricated. That will be an interesting blog.
The only thing it lacked was a signature -- "Love, Dad." On his web site, Elliott says: "My father, who was an awful and abusive father, is leaving bad reviews of my books on The most recent one being for Happy Baby, posted under the name Blum732, blum being his last name before he changed it and 732 being the last three digits of his email address."

I will take a moment right now to thank the universe for a family who, even during my most mind-bogglingly stupid moments, were always supportive.

Okay. Now that that's done, back to the finale of Project Runway, because Peter got me hooked on Sunday and I am just not a big enough person to tear myself away and work on my Moonie Times redux. So until tomorrow....

(Photo by Nik, courtesy stock.xchng)


Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Because You Can Never Get Enough of Gannon's Cannon

the GOP weeps for his pain

Well, the dittoheads are all up in arms this morning about the hypocrisy of the left for "exposing" Jeff Gannon. How you can expose someone who's offering their sexual services online themselves is beyond me, but we won't go there. Tom McGuire writes a pretty incoherent wrap-up of the dittohead position re Gannon, but he gets the imprimature of Glen Reynolds over at Instapundit so it must represent some sort of right-wing blogosphere canon. For the good guys in the white hats, SZ at World O'Crap does a witty and comprehensive job of deconstructing such arguments as McGuire makes. But I thought one of her readers summed up the whole knee-jerk Bush apologist position pretty succinctly in the comments section:
Just so we're all clear on this: Outing a fake White House reporter as a gay prostitute: Gross Miscarriage of Justice. Outing a covert CIA operative for petty political revenge: Bitch Had it Coming. -- Sour Kraut
I can add nothing to that.

(Photo courtesy stock.xchng )


Teenage Wasteland

The current US education paradigm, fueled by the lust for statistics that is No Child Left Behind, defines knowledge as the inculcation of facts and sees its expression in the ability to parrot them back in the form of multiple-choice tests. But what does this really prepare kids for? Is such a limited definition of knowledge actually readying them for professions that will be in demand in the coming years?

A new article in Wired Magazine argues that education of the sort which has heretofore guaranteed an individual a place in the professional class -- math, science, business school, high tech, even law and medicine -- primarily develop left brain, linear, analytic types of thinking. But as the article argues, many of these skills are now being performed by computers, or even more perilously, by workers overseas:
According to Forrester Research, 1 in 9 jobs in the US information technology industry will move overseas by 2010. And it's not just tech work. Visit India's office parks and you'll see chartered accountants preparing American tax returns, lawyers researching American lawsuits, and radiologists reading CAT scans for US hospitals.

The reality behind the alarm is this: Outsourcing to Asia is overhyped in the short term, but underhyped in the long term. We're not all going to lose our jobs tomorrow. (The total number of jobs lost to offshoring so far represents less than 1 percent of the US labor force.) But as the cost of communicating with the other side of the globe falls essentially to zero, as India becomes (by 2010) the country with the most English speakers in the world, and as developing nations continue to mint millions of extremely capable knowledge workers, the professional lives of people in the West will change dramatically. If number crunching, chart reading, and code writing can be done for a lot less overseas and delivered to clients instantly via fiber-optic cable, that's where the work will go.
So where does that leave US workers? As jobs that can be reduced to a set of rules, routines and instructions migrate to more financially advantageous climes, the opportunities that remain at home will be for people doing less routine work. Accountants who serve as life planners, bankers who are dealmakers rather than spreadsheet wizards. Those who have a sensitivity to human concerns, and those who can feed the needs dictated by less rational sensibilities -- beauty, spirituality and emotion. In other words, right brain tasks:
Want to get ahead today? Forget what your parents told you. Instead, do something foreigners can't do cheaper. Something computers can't do faster. And something that fills one of the nonmaterial, transcendent desires of an abundant age. In other words, go right, young man and woman, go right.
And it appears that some teens are way ahead of our fearless leader on this. Texas teen Kimberly Marciniak is a straight-A student who is refusing to take the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) when it is administered later this year. ""I don't want to be a statistic and I don't want to be a human guinea pig for the district," she said.

The wingnutosphere, accordingly, is losing its collective shit, enraged at her parents for allowing their child to think for herself and act her own conscience. Also flummoxed are the schools themselves, faced with an ever-growing number of Kimberly’s dissatisfied with their product, who are refusing to take the tests on which school funding now hinges.

It just fills my little black heart with glee when kids see the new world a-comin,' and it ain't the one laid out for 'em by GWB.

(Photo courtesy of stock.xchg)


Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Help for the Hemispherically Challenged

or, why the lights are on but nobody's home

I always get confused when I consider the thought processes (or lack thereof) that wingnuts employ to reach such rigid conclusions. Doesn't terminology like "axis of evil" and "smoke 'em out of their holes" sound more like Marvel Comics than an appropriate tone for international diplomacy? You can chalk it up to cultural differences or lack of education if you want, but I've always felt that wingers were just wired differently than me.

It turns out maybe I'm not wrong.

Recent developments in neurological science are showing that the left hemisphere of the brain is the repository for current beliefs about the world, while the right hemisphere acts as sort of "devil's advocate," scanning left hemisphere beliefs for anomalies and inconsistencies, and forcing an updating of those beliefs as a result. In order for that "updating factor" to kick in there has to be strong interaction and swapping of information between the hemispheres.

According to a recent study, strong right-handedness is an indicator of decreased interaction between the two sides of the brain; as a result, there is a lesser degree of "belief updating." The study found that people who were strongly right-handed, as opposed to mixed or inconsistent-handed, had a much greater tendency to believe in creationist theory as opposed to an acceptance of science and evolution. The researchers believe that low hemispheric interaction allowed individuals to maintain beliefs dictated by religion and hold them uncritically despite exposure to any evidence to the contrary.

So maybe it's not willful disbelief, or cognitive dissonance that keeps wingers in the dark so much as it is that the two sides of their brain simply aren't talking to one another. I've heard similar reasoning advanced to encourage scientists, who primarily utilize left brain, linear thinking in their work, to study art and other forms of creative, non-linear disciplines that develop right-brain thinking in order to facilitate communication between the two hemispheres.

I'm thinking maybe a bill called No Redneck Left Behind that calls for compulsory art education throughout the South?

Okay, it's a reach. But we could do worse.

(via Eric Alterman)

Photo: Andrea Jaccarino


Monday, February 21, 2005

Oh My God

Hunter S. Thompson is dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The earth just slipped on its axis.

He was the greatest journalist who ever lived. Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail set the bar so high for political journalism that nobody will ever touch it. His collected writings were like canon; no writer ever had more influence on me or on my life and the paths I've chosen than the good Doctor.

I'm numb.

Let us go, for the long road calls us. -- Dante


Hunter S. Thompson Quotes

Today is a day of mourning here at the halcyon fire dog lake. I will be adding more quotes to the post as I find them and updating, so if you want more keep checking back. But today we pay tribute to the good Doctor in his own words:

Updated 21:30 PST:

Events of the past two years have virtually decreed that I shall wrestle with the literary muse for the rest of my days. And so, having tasted the poverty of one end of the scale, I have no choice but to direct my energies toward the acquisiton of fame and fortune. Frankly, I have no taste for either poverty or honest labor, so writing is the only recourse left for me."   To Mr. Arch Gerhart, January 29, 1958)


Get out of control, but appear under control. It's not bad to alarm other people, though - it's good for them.  Advice on 'Adventure,' in Men's Journal


Gonzo journalism is a style of reporting based on William Faulkner's idea that the best fiction is far more true than any kind of journalism - and the best journalists have always known this. Which is not to say that fiction is necessarily 'more true' than journalism - or vice versa - but that both 'fiction' and 'journalism' are artificial categories; and that both forms, at their best, are only two different means to the same end. 


Groveling is wrong for the soul, like grappling with whores in a drugstore.  


Updated 18:22 PST:

We have become a Nazi monster in the eyes of the whole world--a nation of bullies and bastards who would rather kill than live peacefully. We are not just Whores for power and oil, but killer whores with hate and fear in our hearts. We are human scum, and that is how history will judge us...No redeeming social value. Just whores. Get out of our way, or we'll kill you. Who does vote for these dishonest shitheads? Who among us can be happy and proud of having this innocent blood on our hands? Who are these swine? These flag-sucking half-wits who get fleeced and fooled by stupid rich kids like George Bush?

They are the same ones who wanted to have Muhammad Ali locked up for refusing to kill gooks. They speak for all that is cruel and stupid and vicious in the American character. They are the racists and hate mongers among us--they are the Ku Klux Klan. I piss down the throats of these Nazis.

And I am too old to worry about whether they like it or not. Fuck them


"It is hard to ignore the prima facie dumbness that got us bogged down in this nasty war in the first place. This is not going to be like Daddy's War, old sport. He actually won, and he still got run out of the White House nine months later.. . The whole thing sucks. It was wrong from the start, and it is getting wronger by the hour. Love in a Time of War, March 31, 2003


Jesus! Where will it end? How low do you have to stoop in this country to be President? -- Fear and Loathing On the Campaign Trail, 1973

Updated 12:12 PST:

We are turning into a nation of whimpering slaves to Fear -- fear of war, fear of poverty, fear of random terrorism, fear of getting down-sized or fired because of the plunging economy, fear of getting evicted for bad debts, or suddenly getting locked up in a military detention camp on vague charges of being a Terrorist sympathizer. -- Extreme Behavior in Aspen, Feb. 3, 2003


Why are we seeing George Bush on TV every two hours for nine or ten days at a time, like some kind of mutated Mr. Rogers clone? Something is dangerously wrong in any country where a monumentally-Failed backwoods politician can scare our national TV networks so totally that they will give him anything he wants. -- The Bush League, Sept. 9, 2003


I have never had much faith in our embattled child President's decision-making powers ... I know that is not what you want to hear/read at this time, especially if you happen to be serving in the doomsday mess that is currently the U.S. Army.

I take no pleasure in being Right in my dark predictions about the fate of our military intervention in the heart of the Muslim world. It is immensely depressing to me. Nobody likes to be betting against the Home team." -- Fast and Furious, Oct. 14, 2003


In a closed society where everybody's guilty, the only crime is getting caught. In a world of thieves, the only final sin is stupidity.


Being shot out of a cannon is always better than being squeezed through a tube.


Objective journalism is one of the main reasons American politics has been allowed to be so corrupt for so long.


We'd be fools not to ride this strange torpedo to the end.


In a nation ruled by swine, all pigs are upward mobile.


If there is, in fact, a Heaven and a Hell, all we know for sure is that Hell will be a viciously overcrowded version of Phoenix...


We are living in dangerously weird times now. Smart people just shrug and admit they're dazed and confused. The only ones left with any confidence at all are the New Dumb. It is the beginning of the end of our world as we knew it. Doom is the operative ethic.


America... just a nation of two hundred million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns and no qualms about killing anybody else in the world who tries to make us uncomfortable


The Edge... there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.


The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side.


When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.


For every moment of triumph, for every instance of beauty, many souls must be trampeled.


Call on God, but row away from the rocks.


History is hard to know, because of all the hired bullshit, but even without being sure of ''history'' it seems entirely reasonable to think that every now and then the energy of a whole generation comes to a head in a long fine flash, for reasons that nobody really understands at the time -- and which never explain, in retrospect, what actually happened.


A word to the wise is infuriating.


Myths and legends die hard in America. We love them for the extra dimension they provide, the illusion of near-infinite possibility to erase the narrow confines of most men's reality. Weird heroes and mould-breaking champions exist as living proof to those who need it that the tyranny of ''the rat race'' is not yet final.


Every now and then when your life gets complicated and the weasels start closing in, the only cure is to load up on heinous chemicals and then drive like a bastard from Hollywood to Las Vegas ... with the music at top volume and at least a pint of ether.


Rest in peace, Doc.