Thursday, May 29, 2008

The ACLU blog has a nice image up today of what a redacted CIA document on torture looks like.

It's here on the left.

As you can see, a redacted CIA document shares many qualities with a black hole. In addition to being almost entirely black, it is also a vaccuum. In this case, it's a vacuum of your human and civil rights. (And possibly of the souls of the redactors)

Fun, isn't it?

You can read more about this document and CIA's lack of candor about their torture techniques at the ACLU blog here.

Via BoingBoing.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Free! is giving away FREE bumper stickers that look like this:

One per person, unless you want to make a donation.

More evidence of an imminent attack on Iran?

From today's Democracy Now! headlines:

The Asia Times is reporting a former assistant secretary of state is claiming the Bush administration is planning an air strike against Iran within the next two months. The anonymous official said the US attack would target the headquarters of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s elite Quds force. Last week, the Bush administration denied an Israeli news report that President Bush plans to attack Iran before the end of his term.
Here's a link to the Asia Times piece.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Do they have a flag?

You may have missed it, but earlier this week the UNASUR, The Union of South American Nations, signed their Constitutive Treaty, officially establishing the organization. This is good news for Latin America. It means greater cooperation in terms of trade, the movement of citizens between nations, and infrastructure. And it's about time.

But the best news of all of this is that they've got a totally sweet flag.

Pill poppin' good time

A Mitchel Fraas passes along a killer link to images of old pharmaceutical ads.

Here are few highlights: Bayer Heroin, Eli Lilly Cannabis Extract, Compazine: for better management of mentally defective children, Deaner: for increased daytime energy and attentiveness at lectures, and Ritalin's best slogan, "get things moving with Ritalin."

Pictured here is Mitch's favorite.

It makes me wonder how much the pharmaceutical industry has really changed.

And here's a non-medical add for "light, bright, cheery" detention windows. I guess somebody's got to market prison pars.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Fish gets it right?

Once again, Stanely Fish is on his soap box. His beef: after naming an Republican fund-raiser with no academic experience its president earlier this year, the University of Colorado has announced plans to redress its politically lopsided culture by appointing an endowed chair of Chair in Conservative Thought and Policy.

And for once, Fish gets it right: "Wrong on all counts." He argues that the political commitments of faculty do not and should not translate into political biased scholarship. Here's his take:

Even in courses where the materials are politically and ideologically charged, the questions that arise are academic, not political. A classroom discussion of Herbert Marcuse and Leo Strauss, for example, does not (or at least should not) have the goal of determining whether the socialist or the conservative philosopher is right about how the body politic should be organized. Rather, the (academic) goal would be to describe the positions of the two theorists, compare them, note their place in the history of political thought, trace the influences that produced them and chart their own influence on subsequent thinkers in the tradition. And a discussion of this kind could be led and guided by an instructor of any political persuasion whatsoever, and it would make no difference given that the point of the exercise was not to decide a political question but to analyze it.
. . .

If the reason for funding a chair in conservative thought and policy is to correct a political imbalance, it is not a reason any university should take seriously until there is more than anecdotal evidence that ballot-box performance tracks classroom performance. And even if it were to turn out that ballot-box performance did in fact track classroom performance, the proper remedy would be not to even out the partisan numbers, but to remind faculty members of whatever political stripe of the distinction (on which the whole rationale for higher educations rests) between political questions and academic questions.
Fish no doubt could be--and is--accused of being an idealist on this issue. Do professor attempt to indoctrinate their students? Maybe. But maybe not. In my experience, professors that have attempted to enforce their political prerogatives are not well received by students. When politics have overtly entered my classes (I speak as a teacher and a student here), it has rarely been in order to crush the positions of a certain segment of the political spectrum. Good academic rigor entails debate and openness to contrary perspectives, not conformism. And it's not just a matter of how it should work; I believe that this is actually how politics operate in the class room. My feeling is that the right's hand wringing over the left-leaning politics of the academy is founded on a underestimation of the intellectual acumen of college students. The right worries that students will be "indoctrinated," almost as if students are being brainwashed, but this is not the case. College students are by in large set in the political commitments and able to adjudicate the claims of contrary perspectives. If you took the right at its word, you'd get the impression that college is an ideological machine that produces certain kinds of political agents. It's just not true.

My advice to those who would push their political perspectives on students: teach preschool. That is where life-long values are formed and where minds are most receptive to such revolutionary practices as communalism and diversity.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

How many times do we have to say it before it becomes true?

Accroding to the Associated Press, a former Guantanamo detainee testified before the House yesterday, where he alleged wide scale abuses constituting torture. While incarcerated in Afghanistan in 2002,

"U.S. interrogators subjected him to beatings, electrical shocks and, on one occasion, a technique he said was referred to as 'water treatment.' He said his head was held under water in a bucket while he was punched in the stomach, forcing him to inhale. On another occasion, he was hung by his arms for five days, he said."
In addition to this, Kurnaz claims that while at Guantanamo, he was "subject to repeated beatings at Guantanamo, as well as forced medication and sexual and religious abuse."

According to, "State Department spokesman Sean McCormack repeated official U.S. denials of torture by American interrogators."

"I can't put it any more plainly than the president of the United States has put it, and he says the United States does not torture," McCormack said.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Apparently I missed this very intriguing item in the Harper's Weekly:

Curators at the Museum of Modern Art pulled the incubator plug on a tiny coat made of living mouse stem cells after it grew too fast ...
Excuse me. Come again. A tiny what, made of what?

That's right: a tiny coat made of mouse stem cells. What's so odd about that. Perfectly normal. The only thing abnormal was that the thing was growing, a curator panicked, and now this living coat is no more. The NYT reports:

One of the strangest exhibits at the opening of “Design and the Elastic Mind,” the very strange show at the Museum of Modern Art in New York that explores the territory where design meets science, was a teeny coat made out of living mouse stem cells. The “victimless leather” was kept alive in an incubator with nutrients, unsettlingly alive. Until recently, that is.

Paola Antonelli, a senior curator at the museum, had to kill the coat. “It was growing too much,” she said in an interview from a conference in Belgrade. The cells were multiplying so fast that the incubator was beginning to clog. Also, a sleeve was falling off. So after checking with the coat’s creators, a group known as SymbioticA, at the School of Anatomy & Human Biology at the University of Western Australia in Perth, she had the nutrients to the cells stopped.
It's just weird. Via Kendra, who loves all things teeny.

It aint kosher

Disheartening news from Democracy Now!:

Hundreds Protest Iowa Immigration Raid

In Waterloo, Iowa, hundreds of people marched on Sunday to protest last week’s immigration raid at the Agriprocessers kosher meatpacking plant. Immigration agents detained nearly 400 immigrant workers in what has been described as the largest single immigration raid in US history. The raid resulted in more than ten percent of the town of Postville, Iowa being locked up. On the day after the raid, half of the school system’s 600 students were absent, including 90 percent of Latino children, because their parents were arrested or in hiding. Many of the workers have been held at a fairgrounds usually used for exhibiting cattle. No charges have been filed against the owners of the meatpacking plant, Agriprocessors.

More on the raid here, which points out that under the Bush administration, legal action has rarely been taken against corporations that employ illegal immigrants, though, obviously, the undocumented must be held to account.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Rainbow man

The LA Times reports on the dark side of rainbow man, the notorious sports fan who donned a rainbow wig and "Jesus" shirt through the 1970s and 1980s--now serving a life bid and hopelessly imprisoned by a his delusions of Apocalypse:

the fanatic who was always there, Stewart says, really was no fan at all.

"I despised sports," he says.

Stewart is 63 now, no longer wears an Afro or any other type of hairpiece to mask his baldness and last attended a sporting event about 20 years ago.

Serving three life sentences for hostage-taking, he has been imprisoned since 1992. The punishment was the result of a bizarre incident in which an armed Stewart locked himself in a hotel room near Los Angeles International Airport and kicked off an 8 1/2 -hour standoff with police, demanding a three-hour, televised news conference to air his views. Earlier, he had driven two day laborers to the hotel, both of whom escaped, and encountered a frightened housekeeper who locked herself in a bathroom.
. . .
Stewart says his "final presentation" in 1992 was mistimed -- the end of the world was nigh, he believed -- but otherwise does not regret his actions.

"It was a crime to prevent a greater harm," he says, explaining that it was his duty to warn the world of the coming Apocalypse. "If somebody's standing in the way of me going into a burning building, I'm going to knock them on their butt."

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Your Ma

We all know that Republicans are anti-women (and anti-working class, and anti-peace, and anti- just about everything else that is good), but I didn't know that they are also anti-mother. It's true: the Republicans have opened a new front in the war by declaring their opposition to mothers and their special day.

Republicans Vote Against Moms; No Word Yet on Puppies, Kittens

It was already shaping up to be a difficult year for congressional Republicans. Now, on the cusp of Mother's Day, comes this: A majority of the House GOP has voted against motherhood.

On Wednesday afternoon, the House had just voted, 412 to 0, to pass H. Res. 1113, "Celebrating the role of mothers in the United States and supporting the goals and ideals of Mother's Day," when Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.), rose in protest.

"Mr. Speaker, I move to reconsider the vote," he announced.

Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.), who has two young daughters, moved to table Tiahrt's request, setting up a revote. This time, 178 Republicans cast their votes against mothers.

What a bunch of jerks. If you ask me, it bespeaks a deep and decidedly pathological Oedipal complex. Via Late Reviews.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Highlights from The Harper's Weekly:

  • At a town hall meeting in Iowa, a Baptist minister asked John McCain if he had called his wife, Cindy, "a cunt" in 1992. McCain did not answer. (and the video)
  • After Hillary Clinton proposed that she and Barack Obama compete in a Lincoln-Douglas-style debate, Fox News broadcast an image of Abraham Lincoln facing off against ex-slave Frederick Douglass instead of 1860 Democratic presidential nominee Stephen A. Douglas. Idiots.
  • Albert Hofmann, the man credited with making life a little groovier by inventing LSD, has died.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

More things to look at instead of writing papers

Jay Reatard punches some dude in the head. Apparently the crowd wasn't too happy about it.

Gabo Brown and Orchestre Poly-Rhythmo get down. With puppets!

You're welcome.

Tough guy

Kurt Cobain getting punched.

Scrawny rock 'n rollers should not pick on bouncers. That's the first rule of rock n' roll. But I think the first rule of bouncing is not to punch the talent.