Saturday, March 31, 2012

6000 Posts

Yes it's true, there appears to be no end to this drivel.  I have now made 6000 posts on the blog since 2002, and although I have rather slowed down of late, the blog still isn't dead.

A partisan view of a killing.

Fred Clark over at the slacktivist wonders why conservatives have made the killing of Trayvon Martin political.

"I don’t understand the partisan response to the killing of Trayvon Martin.
Yes, many liberals are upset that a child was gunned down with impunity. (It’s been more than a month now.) But they are not upset for partisan reasons or for “liberal” reasons or for Democratic Party reasons.

They are upset because a child was gunned down with impunity. That ought to upset conservatives too. I appreciate that the Republican Party ca. 2012 has a knee-jerk opposition to anything that President Barack Obama says, but just because Obama is saddened by the senseless killing of a child shouldn’t have to mean that Republicans should reflexively take the other side.

This shouldn’t be partisan. Those saddened and angered by the killing of Trayvon Martin are not fighting a partisan battle. This child’s death does not advance some liberal or Democratic agenda. Those of us upset by this are not saying, “A child has been shot and therefore we must restore parity between taxes on labor and taxes on capital gains.” We are saying that it is horrifying and wrong that a child can be gunned down with impunity.

There is no reason that conservatives shouldn’t completely agree with that.
Well, there’s one reason, but there’s no decent, moral, legitimate reason." (Source)

I wonder what Fred is thinking of. I bet he and I are thinking of the same thing.

Finally, have you ever heard those wingnuts complain about the liberals and leftist teaching their kids in America's colleges and universities? It has gotten so bad that they have actually started creating their own personal wingnut institutions of higher learning complete with their own wacky curriculum.

Anyway, I am here to tell you that America's colleges and universities are full of right wingnuts and racist. Just because you are smart enough to get into college, doesn't mean that you can't carry around a certain amount og ignorance with you.

I give you exhibit A, the editorial board of the University of Texas student newspaper.

"The University of Texas‘ student newspaper, The Daily Texan, was accused of being racially insensitive when it printed a bias cartoon on Tuesday that belittled the

The cartoon depicts a Mother reading a book to her child and referring to Martin as a “colored boy,” with an underline and three arrows pointing to it for added emphasis. The title of the book also labels the coverage of the Martin case as “yellow journalism,” which is journalism that is sensational or crudely exaggerated. 

The editorial board of the paper — who first stood behind the cartoon’s artist — has now apologized for printing the controversial cartoon. The artist has also been given the boot, reports the Los Angeles Times.
When word began to spread about the racially insensitive cartoon, tempers began flaring. How could The Daily Texan sanction such blatant racism and make light of an unarmed teen being brutally shot to death by a trigger man who felt threatened by a youth who was minding his own business?
Working on a school paper should offer lasting teachable moments, but a few people made some very poor judgements, and the editorial staff are now being called on the carpet. Seemingly backing up their cartoonist, the paper initially printed the following statement late Tuesday evening:
The views expressed in the cartoon are not those of the editorial board. They are those of the artist. It is the policy of the editorial board to publish the views of our columnists and cartoonists, even if we disagree with them.
Not good enough.

The media soon got wind of the blatantly racist cartoon. Its artist, Stephanie Eisner, who also spelled Trayvon’s name incorrectly, got lambasted as a racist about her tongue-in-cheek depiction of the Martin case. Eisner put forth the following apology on the day after the cartoon was published:
I apologize for what was in hindsight an ambiguous cartoon related to the Trayvon Martin shooting. I intended to contribute thoughtful commentary on the media coverage of the incident, however this goal fell flat. I would like to make it explicitly clear that I am not a racist, and that I am personally appalled by the killing of Trayvon Martin. I regret any pain the wording or message of my cartoon may have caused." [Source]
"Ambiguous cartoon"? OK, we get it. The Trayvon Martin killing has not made A-merry-cans collectively look and see injustice. It has caused folks who view certain people in society as less than human to double down and defend their position and a child's killer. 

Any company that says "Don't be evil" is probably evil

When you come to this site via a Google search, I know what words you typed in.

But what I know pales in comparison to what Google knows. They track everything you do -- even when you aren't using Google. They track your IP address, your search terms, where you go, where you came from, what items you are thinking about buying -- everything.

In all likelihood, Google sends political info to Uncle and his merry team of dataminers. You know how I know that they are spying on you? Because Google also makes it very difficult to sign onto Blogger without divulging a cell phone number. Allegedly, they want that number to help serve people better. The real reason is obvious: If Uncle knows your phone number, your exact physical location can be tracked 24/7, thanks to the miracle of GPS.

When it comes to search engines, you do have options. Three services offer complete privacy. Basically, they route through Google and other search engines, so the results are the same -- perhaps better.

1. DuckDuckGo. They have the cutest interface, and they offer cool goodies. However, they may use tracking cookies to see if you've made a purchase from Amazon. (There's a kickback involved. That's pretty common.)

2. Startpage. This Netherlands-based engine advertises itself as the most private of all.

3. Stealth. The new kid on the block claims to be even more private than Startpage. Obviously, they want to be the go-to search engine for all of the hipster paranoids.

Stealth gives you the option to search images, news stories and videos, as Google does. The image search engine is less useful than Google's: You can't narrow your search by image size (a very helpful option for someone in my line of work), and the links take you directly to the images, not to the web pages using those images.

As an experiment, I tried all three of these alternatives, along with Google. My search term was "Wilfredo Saurin," the name of the con artist whose career we have chronicled in a number of previous posts.

All four engines delivered speedy results, and the results were pretty much the same. Startpage was the slowest. Stealth, surprisingly enough, was as fast as Google.

I'm going to recommend Stealth, which has no ads (for now). Admittedly, I was swayed by Stealth's friendly attitude toward this site. When you type in "Wilfredo Saurin," the fourth link goes to Cannonfire. On Startpage, Cannonfire was the number eight link. On Google, this site came in seventh. Cannonfire did not show up at all on the first page of DuckDuckGo's results.

(But their duck mascot is really cute, so you may want to check them out anyways.)

You definitely will want to read Stealth's reasons for switching from Google. Scary stuff.
Google was the first search engine to use a cookie that expires in 2038. This was at a time when federal websites were prohibited from using persistent cookies altogether. Now it's years later, and immortal cookies are commonplace among search engines; Google set the standard because no one bothered to challenge them. This cookie places a unique ID number on your hard disk. Anytime you land on a Google page, you get a Google cookie if you don't already have one. If you have one, they read and record your unique ID number.
Google records everything they can

For all searches they record the cookie ID, your Internet IP address, the time and date, your search terms, and your browser configuration.
Google retains all data indefinitely

Google has no data retention policies. There is evidence that they are able to easily access all the user information they collect and save.
Google won't say why they need this data

Inquiries to Google about their privacy policies are ignored. When the New York Times (2002-11-28) asked Sergey Brin about whether Google ever gets subpoenaed for this information, he had no comment.
Google's toolbar is spyware

With the advanced features enabled, Google's free toolbar for Explorer phones home with every page you surf, and yes, it reads your cookie too. Their privacy policy confesses this, but that's only because Alexa lost a class-action lawsuit when their toolbar did the same thing, and their privacy policy failed to explain this. Worse yet, Google's toolbar updates to new versions quietly, and without asking. This means that if you have the toolbar installed, Google essentially has complete access to your hard disk every time you connect to Google (which is many times a day). Most software vendors, and even Microsoft, ask if you'd like an updated version. But not Google. Any software that updates automatically presents a massive security risk.
Judging from Ninth Circuit precedent on the application of U.S. copyright laws to the Internet, Google's cache copy appears to be illegal.
Google could get hacked. This happens periodically. More often than you would think. People hack into Google though holes in Internet Explorer all the time.
Most search engines use Supercookies to track everything you do, even when you're logged out

We agree with Congress that supercookies are really deceptive, evil, and malicious. Stealth doesn't use any supercookies at all.
For more on supercookies, see here and here. Here are some tips on how to fight them. Don't rely on just one anti-virus suite: Use free anti-malware aps like Super Anti-Spyware, Malwarebytes, Sophos, Ad-Aware, and Emsisoft every day.

It's always a good idea to save (to an external drive) an image of a pristine C drive (with all your programs installed). Revert to that image every few months. This gives you a brand-new IP address. No more immortal cookies or supercookies or uebercookies. Since most of the major anti-virus vendors allow a one-month free trial, you need never pay for the very best protection -- your new IP address and sparkling clean registry give you a new identity.

About Google. Some of you may be wondering if I am not biting the hand that feeds me, since Google owns Blogger, which makes this website possible. Look: I carry their stupid Google ads, which means I feed them. (Yes, I get paid a tiny amount -- tiny, tiny, tiny -- but the company's share is higher.) Google is going to institute a revamped Blogger interface very soon, and the thing is so badly laid-out that I may have to switch to WordPress.

Maybe the company wants to phase out Blogger. With so many people using AdBlock, those little Google ads are no longer bringing in revenue the way they used to.

Worst of all, Google refuses to address the bug that inserts the dreaded phrase at random spots into the text. This strange hiccup occurs only when Firefox users compose a blog post in Blogger. Many of us suspect that Google intentionally created this bug to force a switch to Chrome. Google refuses to admit that the problem even exists, a see-no-evil attitude which pisses me off no end. (The problem does not exist if you revert to Firefox 3.6., incidentally.)

Browsers. Oy. Now we're getting into a whole 'nother set of privacy problems, best addressed in another post.


stockholm streetstyle

Goodmorning people! I recently came across my picture on the famous stockholm streetstyle and I wanted to share it with you. I have also spotted some pictures of myself in different sites, from Paris, which you can find on the featured in  page. Check them out! xx
(fur from a local shop | topshop beannie | zara skirt | isabel marant sneakers | topshop bag)

 Follow Surf Addict Fashionista


Friday, March 30, 2012

What Did Rick Santorum Almost Say in Janesville? March 27, 2012

Does Santorum call Barack Obama a nigger ? Or am I just hearing things ?

Stupid Ilkley People

I had gone to Golden Butts Recycling centre, my car filled with half a dozen bin bags of cans and plastic bottles and as I was unloading my car a black 4WD pulls up and a lady gets out with a carrier bag.  The lady stopped to read the instructions on the side of the plastics container, which clearly states "No yoghurt pots" and then proceeded to  post dozens of yoghurt pots into the skip. Stupid.

Just as stupid is the lady I once saw there pulling up in her Toyota Landcruiser Planetdestroyer, who then got a single empty bottle of Ty Nant from the boot to recycle.  1 trip to recycling centre in giant petrol guzzling 4WD to recycle a single bottle = stupid.

While I am having a general rant about the people who live in my town, how about Mums driving their children to school.  I often hear people say that the roads are far busier than they used to be and that consequently it isn't as safe as it used to be for children to walk to school.  Well, if you stand at the Dalesway traffic lights in a morning as all the Ilkley kids are being driven to school you will be able to see for yourself why the roads are so dangerous - it's Ilkley Mums talking on their hand held mobile phones while driving through town with a car load of kids.  Seriously folks, who can afford a Lexus RX450 but cannot afford a hands free kit to go with it ?

Hot Rock Folk Chicks - Katriona Gilmore

For your delectation this morning, the lovely and incredibly talented musician and singer Katriona Gilmore.  One half of Gilmore-Roberts, part of The Albion Band, seems to be able to play about 20 different instruments, hands out chocolate cake at gigs.

OK Smartie, Go To An Earthquake Party!

These kids are just crazy enough to make this Young MC reference legit. Those fine folks who brought us Young Mammals, Sippy Cup Everything, also pushed this Boston collective my way. Earthquake Party's brand of garage silliness has snagged them opening slots for Times New Viking, Surfer Blood, and Handsome Furs thus far, but just got a van and will be touring Stateside in 2012. Their first ever release is called vs. Pizza. Earthquake Party vs Pizza, geddit? OOOOOOOOO yeah!

This little blurb sums them up pretty nicely (plus I have a hangover from the Undead Apes show last night...)

“Since forming over an affinity for the Vaselines’ quick sonic attack, the Allston trio has evolved into pure donotgiveafuck-ness, armed with noisy indie-pop songs that clock in around two minutes, coating explosive pop hookage with fuzzed-out post-grunge sonic riffage and releasing unbridled punk energy on stage.”

Earthquake Party - Pretty Little Hand

OMG! Get THIS to Keith: "You're fired"

Current TV -- a little-known network which mostly airs documentaries but which has been trying to get into the political teevee business -- has stormily fired Keith Olbermann, barely a year after Keith had a stormy exit from MSNBC. Obviously, Olbermann has...issues. Even his fans will have a hard time swallowing his continual contentions that someone else is at fault.

Olbermann alienated me pretty thoroughly in 2008, when he became part of the lie machine against Hillary Clinton. He and the Kossacks had a thing going on: The Kossacks would invent or circulate a smear-of-the-day ("Hillary once ate the heart of a baby -- a black baby!") and someone downthread would raise the oft-heard cry: "OMG! Get this to Keith!" And sure enough, Keith would bellow that very smear the next day. He and Moulitsas became symbiotic organisms, like a tapeworm in a jackal.

At least Olbermann finally apologized for the worst moment of his career, when he made a public call for Hillary's murder. I was grateful for that show of contrition, but at the same time we must recognize that some offenses need penance beyond "I'm sorry." His parting shot at Current is unprofessional and childish, while the owners of Current -- Al Gore and Joel Hyatt -- have made a far more polished statement. Olbrmann will have a difficult time convincing liberals that Al Gore is the bad guy.

I caught Olbermann's act a number of times on Current. Too often, there was no electricity, no juice. (Apparently, the lack of electricity was quite literal for a brief time.) And too often, he simply was not there. The man was being paid $10 million a year to put on a surprisingly dull show that fetched a viewership of 177,000 and falling.

On the other hand, it is indeed true that Olbermann gave coverage to the Occupy movement at a time when no-one else on TV was willing to acknowledge its existence. That fact alone carries much redemption.

I don't think that Olbermann is the worst person in the world, and he may one day prove that he still has something important to contribute. I would suggest that he work on a book -- a book offering fresh investigative journalism on an important topic, not a me-me-me book. Right now, though, his day seems done on television. Even the Kossacks can't work up much outrage to mark his departure from Current. Liberalism needs a new face.

The "Nig" in chief.

I wish Ricky (I should be in a) Sanitarium could control himself sometimes. I know all republicans think it, but at least they can control themselves. Ricky, on the other hand, not so much.

Poor Rick. Him of the now infamous "blah people" gaffe. This time around he caught himself before dropping the N word. Oh my! The 24 hour cable news folks would have had fun with that one.

"In this speech, he had been blasting Barack Obama for all things real and imagined. Then where this clip begins Santorum continues "We know the candidate Barack Obama...what he was like. The anti-war, government nig... (insert stumble here)."

FOX NEWS: "Well, I am sure he didn't mean Nigger as in black people are Niggers, Bill. What he wanted to say is that Obama is Niggardly when it comes to the government and the war." "Of course, I mean we all know that the man is not a racist. How could he be and be so devoted to his church....."

Anywhoo, all is well that ends well. Unfortunately for Ricky he was not going to be the candidate that faces his Oness come November. He was dying a slow death by a thousand dollar bills.

It's actually a shame, because I wanted him to hang in there a little longer. Now it looks like the candidate who can keep his thoughts to himself and keep his mouth in check will be the party standard- bearer.

I bet he won't call O a "Nig". At least not publicly.

Finally, while we are all outraged about Trayvon Martin, let's not forget that this kind of thing is par for the course for black men in A-merry-ca. I bring you a story from the ironically named town of White  Plains, New York. (h/t Tia for this story)

"As the Trayvon Martin case draws national attention, we look at another fatal shooting of an African-American male that has received far less scrutiny. Kenneth Chamberlain, Sr., a 68-year-old African-American Marine veteran, was fatally shot in November by White Plains, NY, police who responded to a false alarm from his medical alert pendant. The officers broke down Chamberlain’s door, tasered him, and then shot him dead. Audio of the entire incident was recorded by the medical alert device in Chamberlain’s apartment. We’re joined by family attorneys and Chamberlain’s son, Kenneth Chamberlain, Jr., who struggles through tears to recount his father’s final moments, including the way police officers mocked his father’s past as a marine. "For them to look at my father that way, (with) no regard for his life, every morning I think about it," he says."
[Full story here]

Oh, and before I forget; if any of you field hands happen to win the Megamillons Jackpot tonight please holla at your boy.

An alternative

Four more years of Barack Obama. Contemplate that. Four years of Mitt Romney. Contemplate that.

I once swore eternal enmity toward Barack Obama. But...good Lord, Mitt Freakin' Romney?

Obama. Romney. Obama. Romney. One or the other. No other choice...

Or is there?

There are two situations available on Pitcairn Island. With a little bluffing and improvising, I could probably do either job. Imagine it. I could be one of the few people there not named either Christian or Adams. Heck, I could be one of the few people there period.

One of the jobs is a teaching position -- or rather, the teaching position. Whoever takes that gig has to be careful. If you try to impose a little discipline, God only knows what those kids might do to you.

Pitcairn Island is a tiny speck of green surrounded by 4000 miles of ocean. Andrew Christian, Fletcher's direct descendant, is the island's more-or-less official photographer, and I have to admit that his excellent work does beckon one to come thither. The image here shows Bounty Bay -- the exact spot where the ship went down.

They do have internet connections. I'd probably have the coolest 'puter on the island. Gauguin with a Wacom tablet. It could work.

So whaddya think? Obama or Romney or...Pitcairn Island?

I'm tempted...!

Prefab Messiahs Of Then Or Now?

I have focused on bands with iconic sounds (Lee Ranaldo, OFF!) or who ape them (Zulu). Im not sure what these guys The Prefab Messiahs fall into. They were a Massachusetts band that were kicking about in the early 1980s, hopped up on crazy juice and infusing post-punk, left-field garage/psych/pop, and general art damage with heady bumps of WTF. They have released an archival record of sorts this month called Peace, Love & Alienation (out on Gary War's Fixed Identity label - Kris from PM has been one of War's live band members), which coincides with an interview the band did on WFMU's Beware Of The Blog - check it out here.

How to describe Peace, Love & Alienation? Well it isn't too far from the twisted and frenetic mind of John Dwyer (Thee Oh Sees) actually. Tinny atmospherics add credence to the psychobohemia present in tracks such as 'Beyond All That' and 'The 16th Song', whilst their is some slacker humour in 'Cousin Artie' and 'Don't Go To The Party'. It's pretty much what we are hearing now then, yet 30 years in the past.

Grab Peace Love & Alienation here.

Prefab Messiahs - Desperately Happy
Prefab Messiahs - The 16th Song

"Mystery and disinformation"

Did Robert Bales act alone when he killed 17 Afghan civilians in two villages, located two miles apart -- returning to base between killing sprees? Or is he the selected fall guy for a massacre committed by a group of soldiers in retaliation for an earlier attack on American forces?

We've looked at some of the pro-conspiracy evidence in a previous post. New facts have just arrived. This story just now showed up in the online edition of the UK Daily Mail:
The U.S. soldier accused of killing 17 Afghan civilians did not act alone, according to survivors of the massacre earlier this month.
One mother-of-six, whose husband was killed during the incident, believes there were as many as 20 people involved.

She told SBS Dateline journalist Yalda Hakim: 'When they shot dead my husband, I tried to drag him into the house, they'd shot him in the head so his brain was all over my hands. I had to use a bowl for his blood.

'I saw more than 20 people when I looked out the house. The Americans pointed their guns at me and threatened me, telling me not to leave the house or they'd kill me.'
Another witness, an eight-year-old girl called Noorbinak, said a gunman shot her family's dog before shooting her father in the foot and dragging her mother by the hair.

When her father screamed, he was shot dead, before the gunman shot Noorbinak in the leg.

She said: 'One man entered the room and the others were standing in the yard, holding lights.'

The brother of another victim claimed that his nephews and nieces saw numerous soldiers involved in the assault, all wearing headlamps and with lights strapped to the ends of their guns.

He said: 'They don’t know whether there were 15 or 20, however many there were.'
The UK story draws from this MSNBC report, and from the Australian report embedded above.

Also see the story here:
Gordon Duff, senior editor of Veterans Today, finds the villagers’ version of events quite plausible for the following reasons: The villages, where the murders occurred, were two miles apart, making it highly unlikely that a lone, fully armed solder could haul a multi-gallon jerry can of gasoline from his base to the first sleeping village, break down the doors of one or more homes, commit the murders, douse and burn his victims and then proceed on foot two miles further on to the second village, shoot, kill and burn the next set of unarmed villagers and then walk back to his base and surrender.

It makes far more sense that a heavily armed group of Special Forces troops, engaged in village ‘pacification’ operations, left their base in military vehicles, passed through the gate in the wee hours of the morning, on a routine official operation, authorized by the bases military command and something went wrong.
A conspiracy-oriented Pakistani blog called PakConnects argues that Afghan massacre is evidence that American troops have escaped the control of their officers.
American soldiers are increasingly convinced their commanders have failed to protect them during the Quran riots. Some of the soldiers have concluded they have to take things into their own hands.

The incident on Sunday, March 11, near Kandahar is being seen as a case of American soldiers going out to avenge the killings of their colleagues at the hands of Afghan soldiers and police during the recent riots.

American soldiers are understandably panicked. The riots witnessed amazing incidents that were unthinkable only weeks ago. For the first time, Afghans from all sectarian and linguistic backgrounds are united in anti-US riots. There have been incidents like Afghan chefs poisoning the food of NATO soldiers. Other coalition soldiers, like the French, are angry to see their troops killed because of blunders by American soldiers, like peeing on dead Afghan bodies and then recording it on video.

But the single scariest development for US soldiers is that they no longer know where to expect the next bullet that would kill them. Now US-trained Afghan soldiers and policemen are killing American soldiers whenever and wherever they get a chance. It is no longer Afghan Taliban and other resistance groups that are the enemy.
Many will dismiss these words as paranoia. I suspect that these paragraphs contain an important truth.

We saw a similar truth -- an ugly truth -- at work during the Vietnam conflict. Many American soldiers reached a point when they no longer cared to distinguish between friendly and unfriendly Vietnamese. The entire country was alien territory. Psychologically brutalized by the inescapable logic of protracted warfare, many Americans came to hate the very people they were allegedly supposed to protect.

All warriors are taught to hate the enemy. It isn't always easy to hate someone on the basis of abstract political concepts. It is very easy to hate someone on the grounds of race, religion, ethnicity or tribal affiliation. I hate him because he is different: He doesn't look like me, he speaks another language, and he doesn't revere the same holy book. He is the Other. He is not human. He exists to be killed.

The primal parts of our brains understand that message very well.

Afghanistan is even more dangerous, in this regard, than was Vietnam. Many of the soldiers serving in Afghanistan grew up immersed in conservative media, which demonizes all things Islamic. American anti-Muslim bigotry is far, far more feverish today than it was on September 12, 2001.

As Oscar Hammerstein once put it: You have to be carefully taught.

This just in from Wackyland: Accuracy in Media is peddling a bizarre story that Bales was a sort of Manchurian Candidate -- and that his programmers were the Taliban.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Zulus Will Break Your Face - That Is Their Way

The playing field for discordant, disaffected post-punk raconteurs has certainly got crowded of late. We have been advocates of Copenhagen teens Iceage in the past, and others such as Total Control and Rank/Xerox have brought out stellar albums recently. Now add Londoners Zulu to the mix, whose fifteen minute annihilation of a cassette Way Of The Zulu raced out the Stroll On Records doors. That's what you get for tapping the vein of a zeitgeist and only making 100 tapes, I guess. It isn't as immediate or revolutionary as its contemporaries' offerings, yet hopefully there is enough going round to get some re-release thing up and running, because there are some killer tunes amongst these 9 songs. The Clash references thrown in their direction are not just because of the quintet's looks either, especially on 'We're Watching You'. it has been lambasted by some as losing some impetus due to its lack of variety - but this is fucking punk, people! Plus at under twenty minutes, its a heady non-stop session of eating glass. When your opening track is called 'Annoying Song' and begins with a lament that the band members themselves are "a bunch of pricks", and it sounds like he actually means it, you know that this is true DIY punk. Circa 79 too - this is more nostalgic than the other cream of the crop, and it works in Zulu's favour.

You can stream Way Of The Zulu below - we'll wait with bated breath to see if Stroll On push more of these onto the salivating public, or someone else picks up the slack. Either way, this is an exciting introduction.

Zulu - Sistine Chapel
Zulu - Annoying Song
Zulu - Bloody & Rare

Purple is orange

Just now, I read three stories which merged into one.

1. John Kerry claims -- correctly -- that Barack Obama is being swiftboated exactly as Kerry was in 2004, and often by the same people. (Jerome Corsi being but the most obvious example). One does not have to admire Obama -- as I do not -- to concede this obvious point.
Kerry points to a $3 million dollar donation to a pro-Romney super PAC by Houston construction magnate Bob Perry as the next round in an outside effort against Obama.

"One man. Three million dollars. And that's just the start," Kerry writes.
Kerry rarely ticks me off, but he comes close to doing so here:
"I know all too clearly that these guys will do or say anything to win. They'll stop at nothing. But forewarned is forearmed. Their multi-million dollar smear tactics were new in 2004; in 2012 we know their playbook, and shame on us if we don't tear it into shreds.
New? The Clinton years should have provided clues aplenty. Kerry knew what he faced in 2004. He predicted what would happen during his convention speech. Forewarned was hapless.

2. A white supremacist has hacked into Trayvon Martin's email account and found material which the right is now using to smear a dead teenager.
The messages were posted on four slides, strategically arranged to back up the insane racist argument that Trayvon was a Scary Black Teenager and so somehow deserved to be killed by neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman that night.
It's impossible to verify the hacked messages' authenticity—like other anti-Trayvon Martin propaganda, they're probably a mix of real and fake content...
3. On Obamacare, Greg Sargent of the Washington Post describes how the Obama administration went into the fight genuinely believing that the Supreme Court would play fair and argue rationally.
...former Reagan Solicitor General Charles Fried was scaldingly critical of the willingness of the conservative bloc of Supreme Court justices to traffic in some of the most well-worn Tea Party tropes about Obamacare.

“I was appalled to see that at least a couple of them were repeating the most tendentious of the Tea Party type arguments,” Fried said. “I even heard about broccoli. The whole broccoli argument is beneath contempt. To hear it come from the bench was depressing.”
The right-wing response to this (and it is odd to see Fried no longer classified as being part of the right) appeared in the New York Post:
They’re so convinced of their own correctness — and so determined to believe conservatives are either a) corrupt, b) stupid or c) deluded — that they find themselves repeatedly astonished to discover conservatives are in fact capable of a) advancing and defending their own powerful arguments, b) effectively countering weak liberal arguments and c) exposing the soft underbelly of liberal self-satisfaction as they do so.
I think we can safely dismiss much of this, but the important point is the phrase "advancing and defending their own powerful arguments." As we know, those arguments came from tea partiers and Koch-funded libertarian institutes.

Now let's put it all together. Again and again, we see normal people befuddled by the alternative media universe created by the right and far right.

(Side note: What's the difference, these days, between the right and the far right? Near as I can tell, the only important distinction is that the far right openly embraces racism. On all other issues, the "extremists" are indistinguishable from conservatives of other stripes.)

There is no easy way to combat a well-funded lie machine -- especially when the people who program that machine believe their own lies.

This is the great lesson of Umberto Eco's The Prague Cemetery.

(Great novel. I should do a full review of it. While reading it, I could almost hear Professor Eco say: "Hey, Joseph -- hope you enjoy your book. I wrote it for you. There aren't many other people out there who still care about guys like Gougenot des Mousseaux.")

In Eco's book -- a work of fiction which really isn't so very fictional -- a band of schemers while away the 19th century creating an alternate reality. Their primary tactic is the creation of false documents, which gain widespread acceptance and have serious political consequences.

Eco repeatedly emphasizes one point: The people who create these fakes believe in their own falsehoods. Time and again, they pull the wool over their own eyes. Everything they do is monstrous, yet, in a sense, their work is not disingenuous.

Eco wrote his book, I think, because the intellectual (or anti-intellectual) heirs of his merry band of villains are very busy today. They have money -- immeasurable amounts of money. The audacity of their lies must not blind us to one key fact: They believe what they are saying. They meet in secret and agree on a course of action: "So, gentlemen, let us mount a campaign designed to convince the public that purple is orange" -- and then they really, really believe that purple is orange.

Don't Worry, The Future Is In Safe Hands

Lee Ranaldo has copped it a bit. A lot of people either spit questions about Sonic Youth bandmates and indie icons Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon and their heart-wrenching breakup, or slag off his latest, Between The Times And The Tides (out on Matador), dismissing it as a faux pas that wallows in past glories rather than shirking his band's blueprint for something more of the individual. Seriously, Ranaldo is probably the most prolific of all the SY clan, having put out or collaborated on almost one hundred releases in his studied career (which includes Glenn Branca, of which there would BE no Sonic Youth). Yes, Demolished Thoughts for Moore was a true departure, but in my opinion it isn't as brilliant as people tend to espouse. Personally I think Between The Times And The Tides is the perfect antidote for those mourning the imminent demise of one of the world's greatest ever bands, showing that in Ranaldo they have a true evergreen. 'Off The Wall' and 'Angles' may offer some quirky yet centred MOR rock that seems a little over-mellow, but in tracks like 'Waiting For A Dream' and 'Xtina As I Knew Her', Ranaldo showcases his roots, his influences and his future, all in one fell swoop. Plus, I guarantee this has more legs than most people can admit. Give it a shot - it's better than all right - it makes everything all right.

The ship hasn't sunk - it's merely evolved.

Lee Ranaldo - Off The Wall
Lee Ranaldo - Xtina As I Knew Her

The Devil in the Details: The Novelty of Daily Life

Starting to settle into a new city sometimes makes me forget I am, well, still new to the city. Which means I still have so much to discover, but can get easily caught up in routine activities and let opportunities to make new discoveries pass me by. Travelling has taught me a very important lesson: You should always treat any place you are in like tourists do. And this doesn't mean walking around with a map and fanny pack, and queue up at the most popular attractions. It means you should always stay curious about everything and try to look for opportunities to do something new. When you're a tourist, the novelty of everything keeps your interest level high and allows you to see things locals don't see anymore. 

And so, this weekend I am taking some time to walk around Siam Square, my neighborhood, and see new places.

What about you?

Photos by Dee & Duke. 

A video and eyewitness is not enough.

Just listened to an eyewitness to the Trayvon Martin murder on CNN. Anderson Cooper has an exclusive with the person. Looked in my e-mail inbox and there was an e-mail from CNN's PR person. One good thing about running a popular blog is that you get e-mails from folks in the know and cable news people all the time.

selected sound bite from the interview below -
Anderson Cooper: What did you observe after the shot?
Eyewitness: "As I said it was dark, but after the shot, obviously someone, one man got up and it was kind of like that period of him – I can’t say I actually watched him get up – but maybe it was only in a couple seconds or so that he was walking towards where I was watching. And I could see him a little bit clearer, and see that he was a Hispanic man and he was, you know, he didn’t appear hurt or anything else, he just kind of seemed very, worried or whatever, walked on the sidewalk at that point, with his hand up to his forehead and then another man came out with a flashlight..."
Shimrit Sheetrit
CNN Public Relations
1888 Century Park East - CC12079
Los Angeles, CA 90067

I don't know, maybe if folks hear the problem with the Trayvon Martin killing from a white perspective they will understand. Meanwhile, the racist continue to dig in and double down that somehow Trayvon Martin brought his death on himself.

But back to that article:

"President Obama transformed the Florida shooting that has become a national protest movement with a single sentence: "If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon." Once again, the president transcended race while addressing it.

Obama spoke as a father - any father. And yet there was no one who read or heard his words who didn't understand that he was also speaking as a black father who could have had a black son resembling Trayvon Martin, the teenager whose shooting death has inflamed black America while reminding white America that the legacy of racial injustice is long, complicated, and always painful.
I am a white father who has a story about his black son - that is, a boy who grew up with my son, as close as two friends can be.

They met in first grade at Meredith School, a public elementary school at Fifth and Fitzwater Streets, in a South Philadelphia neighborhood that people were still getting used to calling "Queen Village." It was the early '70s, and young white families who were buying rowhouses in such neighborhoods, as my family did, were referred to in real estate sections as "urban pioneers" rather than gentrifiers.

We were innocents of a sort in the Philadelphia public school system. Still in our twenties, we initially expected our kids to get the same education we had in the suburbs. Meredith at the time was 80 percent black, with many of its students coming from the high-rise public housing projects five blocks away, where parents fudged their addresses so their children could go to Meredith. We sent our children to Meredith because we liked and believed in it, and we continued to believe in it through grade school. Today, Meredith is one of the success stories of neighborhood public schools in Philadelphia, but back in the day, it wasn't so easy.

Best friends
My son Danny was bullied by a kid from the neighborhood, a mean white kid whom I remember as half my son's size, and yet who terrorized him to the extent that Danny retreated inside at any hint of his presence.

And then came Robert. Robert was Danny's classmate, a black kid who lived in the projects down the street. How they became best friends, I do not know. Robert just showed up one day and never left.
The bullying stopped whenever Robert was around. Danny grew more confident by degrees. By fifth grade, he was unafraid. By seventh grade, he was adventurous.

By eighth grade, he was - well, as he once put it to me, black. He was joking, of course, because he would always be white in the eyes of America. And of the Philadelphia police.

'Next time'
One spring morning in 1985, while Robert was walking to school from his mother's apartment in the Southwark Plaza housing project, at Fourth and Washington, he was stopped by the police and put in the back of a wagon. He was 13 years old.

The officers drove him to Sixth and South Streets, where a woman's purse had been snatched. The woman was waiting there when the police wagon pulled up. When its back doors opened, a bewildered boy in tears emerged.

The woman was furious. "I told you it was a man who did this, 6 feet tall. You've brought me a boy. Don't you know the difference?"

The police officers shrugged, put Robert back in the wagon, and drove him back to Meredith School, where he had told them he was a student. They pulled up outside the front doors on Fifth Street about half an hour after classes had begun. Robert was still sobbing when they opened the doors and left him on the sidewalk alone.

The policemen didn't call his mother, didn't offer to walk him inside to explain why he was late, and didn't apologize for the mistake. They simply let him out and drove away after a four-word warning: "Next time, don't cry."
Those are words that no white father in Philadelphia would ever expect a policeman to say to his son. "Next time ... " - because surely there will be a next time, and boys like Robert should learn how to take it like men. And if I had actually been the father of a boy who looked like Trayvon Martin, I would have known that.

That was all 27 years ago. We moved to West Philadelphia soon afterward. Danny and Robert went to different high schools and drifted apart, though they remained friends.

Robert eventually got caught up in drugs and dropped out of high school. But he came from a strong family, and at 19, he joined the Army, got his GED, and learned a trade. When he died of leukemia at the age of 25, he had started a family and was working for a top chef at a Center City hotel. At his funeral, I heard my son cry like I had never heard him cry before."

I am still waiting on that all important autopsy report. Not that it will make any difference to folks who think that the "thuggish" black youth got what he deserved, but it should make things so much clearer.

Eyewitnesses are sometimes wrong, that is not the same for videos and forensic evidence.


OFF! certainly killed when they came to Aussie shores December last year, even if their entire setlist had to be played twice so that they could play a decent running time. Their songs are pretty killer though - coming from the ashes of Black Flag, Circle Jerks, Redd Kross, Hot Snakes, Rocket From The Crypt and Burning Brides, it's not really a surprise. Their self-titled album comes out in May on Vice Records, and the song below is the first taste. So far, so awesome. Also, it is meant to be 16 songs in 16 minutes. Breakneck then. Looks like they'll still need a few covers to break that half hour playing time then...

Pre-order the album (and get it in white) here. (NOTE: since publishing this the vinyl has sold out - 1500 out the door like that! More will be on call soon, in black though, but stay tuned).

OFF! - King Kong Brigade

Managing To Dredge Up Old Ghosts At Night

Night Manager are great. No denying that fact. But it pains me to think I missed this boat! Big Love Records put out this juicy 7" before the turn of the year, so it's "OLD", but as always these guys smash it out of the park. No need to reinvent the wheel when your wheel is better than everyone else's. Now, where is this LP, hmmm?

Buy Ghost here and fall in scuzzy love. God knows we need it this seedy Thursday eve...

European Cup 2011 2012 Marseille Bayern

28 March 2012
Stade Vélodrome,

Referee: Carlos Velasco Carballo
Attendance: 31683 

  Marseille est tombé sur plus fort. Pas si séduisant mais globalement supérieur techniquement, le Bayern a fait parler son réalisme et s'est imposé sans beaucoup trembler sur la pelouse du Vélodrome. Hormis peut-être à deux reprises par l'intermédiaire de Rémy, finalement titulaire à la pointe de l'attaque. Deux grosses occasions, c'est cependant bien peu à ce niveau. A la retombée d'une parade de Neuer sur une tête de Fanni, l'attaquant phocéen trouvait d'abord le moyen de ne pas cadrer, bien placé dans la surface (8e), avant de perdre un duel avec le portier allemand en début de seconde période (60e). 

 Parfois bien seul à la pointe d'une équipe plus occupée à défendre qu'à attaquer, le numéro 11 de l'OM a manqué de soutien. La faute à l'organisation défensive de l'OM qui gênait les Allemands, avec notamment des ailes bien occupées par le repli efficace d'Amalfitano et Ayew. Autour d'un N'Koulou impérial, l'OM faisait donc bonne garde dans un premier temps face à un Bayern à peine dangereux sur deux incursions de Müller (15e, 23e). Mais si l'absence de Diawara était bien compensée par Fanni, on n'en dira pas autant de celle de Mandanda. Son remplaçant, Andrade, ne se montrait pas vraiment irréprochable en n'ayant pas la main assez ferme sur une frappe de Gomez, des 20 mètres, au terme d'un contre rapide des Bavarois (0-1, 44e). Un contre, oui. Un comble pour cet OM qui ne voulait pas laisser d'espaces à son adversaire. 

 De quoi déconcerter une formation phocéenne obligée de se découvrir en seconde période. Pas forcément à son aise, elle faisait face à un Bayern plus maître de son sujet. Tout près de doubler la mise sur une tentative de Gomez bien repoussée cette fois-ci par Andrade (59e), la bande à Heynckes finissait par plier l'affaire suite à un une-deux d'école entre Robben et Müller qui permettait au Néerlandais de tromper Andrade (0-2, 69e). Marseille pouvait se résigner, la qualification tend désormais les bras au Bayern. La marche était sans doute trop haute…  Serial buteur, Mario Gomez a encore frappé. Auteur de son 11e but en 8 matches de Ligue des Champions, l'attaquant allemand a encore été précieux par son jeu en pivot qui a permis de faire remonter le bloc munichois sur les phases de contre. Parfois agaçant, Arjen Robben a, quant à lui, assommé l'OM grâce à une action d'école. Quand il est collectif, cela va tout de suite mieux. Si la défense olympienne a fait bonne garde, on ne peut pas passer sous silence la performance d'Elinton Andrade, qui a montré ses limites au plus haut niveau. Morgan Amalfitano a également encore déçu et connait une sérieuse baisse de régime depuis un mois. Côté bavarois, on signalera le match anonyme de Franck Ribéry. Copieusement sifflé par son ancien public, le Français a déjoué sur son côté. Comme un air déjà-vu avec ses prestations ternes en Equipe de France… 

Codec H264, 
Bitrate 1000

128 kbps
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