Using Bees To Effect Vengeance

I get to be as self-indulgent as I want without wasting anyone's time. Guilt-free solipsism -- excellent!

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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Santorum is gone. The dogs have come home to roost.


Friday, August 11, 2006
How radicalized are British Muslims?:

"A recent opinion poll of British Muslims, which Timothy Garton Ash wrote about this morning, makes for sobering reading. Only 31 percent support free speech if it offends religious groups. Seventy-eight percent want those who published the cartoons of Muhammad to be punished. A mere 29 percent believe the Holocaust happened as history teaches it. Forty-five percent are convinced that 9/11 was an American/Israeli conspiracy—and that number rises to 51 percent among Muslims aged 18-24. Thirty percent would rather live under sharia rather than British law and 28 percent would like Britain to become an Islamic state. Eleven percent have firmly decided that British foreign policy justified the July 7th bombings, and 31 percent of young Muslims agree with this idea. Sadly, this is no rogue poll. Other surveys have come up with very similar results."

Britain has a major problem here. It seems like there are a lot of Muslims within its borders that have not bought into the idea of a free society (of course there are a lot of Christians and Jews who haven't either).


Thursday, July 20, 2006
The World Cup convinced ESPN journalist Bill Simmons that he'd missed the boat on English football, and so he decided to do some homework and pick a team to follow for the next year. And by follow he means watch their games on Fox Soccer Channel, fly over to attend a couple of matches..the full Monty.

He's now made a decision, and his article about it has to be the best piece of American writing on English football that I've ever read. Naturally I'm gutted at his ultimate choice -- and his poor reasons for eliminating West Ham from contention (maybe I should have written in?) -- but thrilled at the project as a whole. Respect.

I can't wait for this season -- roll on August 19th!


Tuesday, June 27, 2006
I break my long blogging silence to post... cats that look like Hitler.

Ah turmoil. What would life be without it? More when I resurface....


Sunday, May 07, 2006

Sunday, April 30, 2006
So a fairytale season continues and West Ham are in the FA Cup Final for the first time in 26 years. I've been a supporter since 1982, and have never seen them in a Final, although I used to borrow my uncle's top-loading videotape of that famous 1980 Final and watch it over and over when I was a kid.

When Marlon Harewood -- one of the players who has proved the doubters wrong this year -- stuck it in the back of the net, our lord and savior Alan Pardew was overpowered by funk. The evidence is below:


Wednesday, April 19, 2006

R.I.P John Lyall -- West Ham's manager when I was growing up and by all accounts, a true gentleman. In the last 5 minutes I've read reminiscences of him graciously signing a get well card for a stranger on the street; allowing a 7 year old who'd travelled a long way to a game that was ultimately called off to take penalties at Upton Park instead; inviting a kid and his dad into the locker room to meet the players two hours before a match. That kind of stuff just doesn't happen any more.

For me, he was just West Ham's manager, and therefore a kind of demi-god.


Saturday, April 15, 2006

Hmmm -- I guess West Virginia needed the lebensraum.... Probably tough to find decent smoked salmon in the Dakotas as well. If you want a closer look, the above map is clickable.


Thursday, March 30, 2006

Originally uploaded by mikkee1973.

Heh heh.

Did anyone catch his comment about not wearing a Speedo? Dearie me.

I was trying to eat breakfast at the time.


Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Sunday, January 01, 2006
The obligatory top 10 for 2005.

1. M. Ward -- Transistor Radio
2. Paul McCartney -- Chaos and Creation in the Backyard
3. Fiona Apple -- Extraordinary Machine (Jon Brion version)
4. Spoon -- Gimme Fiction (only let down by a few songs near the end)

5-10 in no particular order

Kanye West -- Late Registration
Supergrass -- Road To Rouen
Jenny Lewis -- Rabbit Fur Coat
Richard Hawley -- Cole's Corner
The Tears -- Here Comes The Tears
Page France -- Hello Dear Wind

Other strong 2005 records: New Pornogaphers -- Twin Cinema, Andrew Bird -- Mysterious Production of Eggs, Franz Ferdinand -- You Could have it So Much Better, Employment -- Kaiser Chiefs, Common -- Be, Josh Rouse -- Nashville, Tapes n' Tapes -- The Loon, Nic Armstrong and The Thieves -- The Greatest White Liar

Other discoveries: Donovan, Orchestra Baobab, Senegalese/Nigerian music in general, M.I.A, Glenn Gould's 1955 Goldberg Variations, The Mighty Boosh, Robert Caro, Arctic Monkeys, The Clientele

Not impressed: Sufjan Stevens, the officially released version of Extraordinary Machine, The Magic Numbers

Some good records this year, but not much that I felt was great -- not much that got under my skin and lived with me. The exceptions were M. Ward (who can do no wrong -- best gig of the year too), half of the Paul McCartney album (I can't expect anyone else to share this, but having a clutch of truly great new songs written, played, and sung by Paul McCartney means a lot to me -- in fact if one were so inclined, one could say his music plugs directly into the mixing board of my emotions), and good chunks of the unreleased Fiona Apple album.


Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Bush 2004-2005: "[A] wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed."

Lots of recent quotes from the President that 1) mislead or flat out lie about the extent to which the Administration was required to get permission to wiretap and 2) nevertheless betray an understanding of the clear Constitutional requirement to use FISA or some other mechanism for receiving judicial approval.


Monday, December 19, 2005
The 4th Amendment to the United States Constitution:

Fourth Amendment - Search and Seizure

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

You don't get to ignore the Constitution just because there's a "threat". Congress can't authorize you to do it. You can't do it on your own authority, or because in your opinion the end justifies the means. You can't do it. It's unconstitutional. It's illegal. It's grounds for impeachment.

What distinguishes democracies from un-free states is the idea that no man is above the law. Bush has arrogated to himself the power to ignore the United States Constitution -- the document he swore to uphold. He has placed himself above the law. As a result, I am unable to identify what distinguishes us from these unfree states. Like those countries, many of whom we've deigned to show the way towards freedom, we now have to fight to make ourselves free again. Our elected representatives need to hold the Administration's feet to the fire on this, and we in turn need to hold theirs.

I am dissatisfied with the Democratic response to this issue. The fact that Bush already had a substantively equivalent wiretapping option in FISA, while galling, is neither here nor there -- the point is that he knowingly ignored the Constitution. Period. The fact that they "informed" 8 Congressmen who were not allowed to mention the information to their staffs or lawyers is, similarly, beside the point -- Congress cannot authorize unconstitutional actions either. (It was however a very shrewd move that allowed the Administration to drag Congress into the cesspool with them while still avoiding any actual accountability or oversight -- Rockefeller etc. were implicated by virtue of being informed, and thus omerta came into play).

I feel the same way as I did during Iran-Contra, when the Congress explicitly rejected aid to the Contras, and the Reagan administration proceeded to aid the Contras anyway. It erases the concept of checks and balances between governmental branches, and expresses contempt for the rule of law. If it is allowed to stand, it mocks our entire system of government -- anything less than an immediate, profoundly outraged response implcitly condones the behavior and raises the risks for us all.

The irony of this coup being perpetrated by the standard-bearer for the spread of American-style democracy throughout the unfree world is too bitter for me to digest this evening.

The American Civil Liberties Union
has fought for the preservation of American civil liberties -- speech, religion, privacy -- since 1920, and they continue that fight today.


Sunday, December 18, 2005
Big) Worldwide has a full soundboard recording of Wilco's Montreal show from this summer available for downloading in MP3 format. Sounds great so far.

Check the sidebar on that page for more interesting shows to download....


Thursday, December 15, 2005
Will life in New York ever be the same? Now that there's a badass interactive subway map of New York, all those conversations about the best way to get from A to B on the MTA will be rendered moot. Nicely done.


Tuesday, December 13, 2005
The last week has been trying at Chez Bees. You may have read a little something about it elsewhere on the Intarweb.

The heretofore undocumented capper was on Sunday afternoon, when my wife and I heard an unnatural sound -- like a thunderclap -- outside our window. I ran out onto the street and saw a Ford Escape tipped on its side in front of the house opposite ours. It had hit a tree in our neighbors' yard and flipped. I told my wife to call 911 and looked in the windshield to see how many people were in there. I saw a white-haired man on his side against the drivers-side window; I yelled at him that I was going to try to get him out, and then started pulling on the back hatch. It wouldn't turn, and nor would the back window open up. I couldn't reach the passenger door to unlock it, as the Escape is such an enormous vehicle that that door-handle was a good 7ft in the air. The drivers-side door was crushed against the ground, the driver-side window smashed, and glass strewn on the ground.

I yelled again that help was coming, and resumed trying to find a way to get him out -- focusing again on the back hatch, which seemed the safest option. By that point, he'd somehow managed to crawl to the dashboard and press the hatch-unlock button, as I then had no trouble popping the door open. I then said to him "It's open, come on", and he turned himself around and I helped him out. By the time he stood up and brushed himself off, a cop car had pulled into the street, quickly followed by another.

The driver, a 59 year old lawyer, been looking at the For Sale sign in front of the house next door, and wasn't paying attention -- resulting in his SUV smashing into a 300+-year old oak and immediately flipping onto its side. He was almost entirely unscathed -- a small cut on his hand was the only evidence he'd been in an accident. The tree was similarly unruffled. It wasn't long before the neighbors had ventured out to see what was going on, the cops had taken their notes and left, and the wrecker was hooking the chains up to remove the car. The neighbor whose tree it was said she'd been vacuuming and didn't hear a thing. We then went off on our previously-scheduled errand to pick up some medical records, shaking our heads and wondering what else could possibly be in store for this week.

One thing that made the week more bearable was Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant's new podcast. The first 20 minutes of Episode 1 in particular left me paralytic with laughter. I highly recommend it -- they're posting a new half-hour MP3 each week. You will also be introduced to the genius that is Karl Pilkington. If the bit about the monkey being shot into space doesn't leave you doubled-over, then...then....feh, I give up.


Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Some things I've been digging on lately:

Taylor Branch -- Parting The Waters. Martin Luther King was a pretty admirable individual. Who knew?

My Squeezebox, of course.

The Mighty Boosh

-- a deeply silly British sitcom. It's on BBC America occasionally.

The Squid and The Whale.

Watching West Ham battle their way to a Top 10 place in the Premiership, against all odds and with absolutely no right to do so.

Satsumas (thanks, Mum!)

Stephen Colbert.

Beethoven (woke up to one of his bagatelles on the radio early yesterday morning...its beauty left me immobilized. And prostrate. And snoring. For about 15 minutes. )

My wife.

Adam's hijinks

Jenny Lewis's solo album.

Unexpected bursts of productivity at work that ameliorate that horrible sense of perma-anguish over all the undone tasks (still working on being a better GTD acolyte).

What's floating your respective boats at the moment?


Tuesday, November 15, 2005
A great piece on Slate about the comedy of my girlfriend Sarah Silverman [via Tim O].

This is the best summation of her approach I've heard yet: she's not just a critic of PC culture: She's a connoisseur. She handles the complex algorithms of taboo—who's allowed to joke about what, to whom, using what terminology—with instant precision: "Everybody blames the Jews for killing Christ, and then the Jews try to pass it off on the Romans. I'm one of the few people that believe it was the blacks." (The joke exposes not the ancient perfidy of any particular race but the absurdity of blaming entire races for anything.) Her best jokes are thought experiments in the internal logic of political correctness: "I want to get an abortion, but my boyfriend and I are having trouble conceiving."

It also uses the term "meta-bigot", which is uncomfortably close to my own coinage (ahem) "meta-racist." The author lumps South Park, Ali G, and Chappelle in with Silverman as meta-bigots, which seems fair. In some ways, meta-racism is strong evidence that the culture has substantially internalized a belief in racial equality.

Can we meta- ourselves all the way back to plain old racism?


The Non-Definitive Guide to the B-side

More great stuff from Stylus Magazine -- if only they'd publish an RSS feed so I could make them a daily pitstop. Probably the best review site on the web, and their features are always terrific as well. A rousing Using Bees endorsement.

Something else that gets a rousing Using Bees endorsement is this little honey:

It's a Squeezebox from Slim Devices, it plays all my MP3s through my stereo speakers via my wireless network, and it's my birthday present. It also plays online radio stations through my stereo even when my computer's off, automatically imports iTunes playlists, streams my music collection across the web to other computers, scrolls RSS headlines through the display while on screensaver mode, and has all kinds of user-created plugins for additional homebrew coolness.

Yes, the day of "play my entire music collection on shuffle" approacheth. Kneel before my music geekitude, bitches. Tremble, ye digital music early adopters -- AW just leapfrogged your ass.

And I'm out.

(Oh and honey, I'm really sorry I totally ignored you last night while I explored every nook and cranny of the Squeezebox. I'll make it up to you. It's cute, right? You will grow to love it. It won't come between us. I won't let it.)

OK I'm out for reals now.


Saturday, November 12, 2005
The Decembrist: Twilight for Bush and Blair:

Some mind-expanding analysis of the struggles of Bush and Blair, pivoting on the insight that Bush has moved American government towards the parliamentarian, while Blair has been moving British government towards the presidential. Leaving the conclusion aside, it is a brilliant observation.


Friday, November 11, 2005
.:: beedogs ::.: " is the premier online repository for pictures of dogs in bee costumes."

Wow, I guess they can smell fear particularly well then....


Thursday, October 27, 2005
Young pitch invader 'not banned'

This kid is my hero -- runs on to the pitch and attempts to slide tackle a Middlesbrough fullback. Check out the badass photo too.


Friday, October 14, 2005
I just had a superb lunch of Marmite on toast. HEB 7-grain bread proved the perfect bedding for the rich, yeasty Marmite and the delightful smidges of salted butter. More soon....


Friday, September 16, 2005
I had to excerpt a large chunk of Mark Schmitt's recent post because it's such a clear-eyed analysis of how the Republicans work their magic -- and by extension, what those who oppose their agenda need to do to counter them. There is no one better at explaining how politics works (the Robert Caro of the bloggers? -- and yes, I invoke the Holy One's name, blessed be He).

The Decembrist: Accountabilty Moment:

I think their attitude, and tactically it's a brilliant insight, is that only a few things count: winning presidential elections, keeping absolute control of Congress -- which means not just a Republican majority but a malleable one -- and winning on the few things that matter to their cash constituents -- tax cuts, tort reform, tax cuts, energy bill subsidies, tax cuts, bankruptcy changes, and eliminating Social Security. The war was also important, for a lot of reasons, but not least because it established the president's authority to act without any check, domestic or external and gave Bush the advantages of a "wartime president." Everything else is means to those ends. The president's popularity dipped into the low 40s, and they passed the energy bill anyway -- what more proof do you need that the president's poll numbers hardly matter, if you control the instutions? Before Katrina, they were on the verge of permanent repeal of the estate tax plus another tax cut in reconciliation, even with Bush's numbers in the toilet!

That's why I didn't fully accept Garance's argument last week that they aren't really PR geniuses because of the poll numbers -- they don't need the poll numbers until they need the poll numbers, and when they need them, they figure they can find a way to push them up a bit and/or push the relevant Democrats down. (Or, another way to put it, is that they may not be PR geniuses, but they actually know that the exercise of power does not depend entirely on PR.)

I think of Rove as looking at past presidencies and seeing them as weakened because they worried too much about consequences that didn't really matter, such as the judgment of history or short-term popularity. Bush 41 thought that he had to do something about the deficit, or there would be consequences. So he got drawn into the Andrews Air Force Base budget summit, which earned him a fight within his own party. But Rove recognizes that there's a lot you can get away with if you just act like you can get away with it, especially if you raise the stakes, and as a result he moves with much greater freedom. It seems to me that part of their genius is they've gotten rid of much of the "you just can't do that" mentality of politics, and stripped everything down to the bare essence of what they can get away with.

One of my biggest worries is that that's a genie that will be very hard to put back in the bottle. Politics, like much of civilization, depends on the existence of some unquestioned, "it just isn't done" customs. An example that I've mentioned a couple times is the explicity theory, proven once again in the CAFTA vote, that you want to pass a bill with as narrow a margin as possible, because every vote over 218 in the House is wasted and might represent a compromise. That's not something that legislative strategists ever thought before -- they wanted to go into votes with the most comfortable margin, and to win with enough to have a clear endorsement against future challenges. And I'm convinced that Bush/Rove brought that same mindset to the presidential campaign. Most incumbents would want to have a nice Reagan-in-1984-type landslide in order to feel a clear mandate. But Rove/Bush thought that of every vote above 51% as a wasted concession; they knew that all Bush had to do was win, and he could declare the mandate.

So "accountability" means understanding one of the two or three things that they do care about, and beating them on those things. We must start beating tax cuts, ideally with Republican votes. Win back the House or Senate this fall, if only so that Democrats have subpoena power somewhere, something they can't tolerate. But if it's not one of the things that they care about -- if it's just one of their means, not their ends -- then while it may give us some satisfaction, it doesn't fundamentally break down their racket. (Bad poll #s, indictment on Plame, exposure of Medicare scam, etc.)


Saturday, September 10, 2005
"SUPER MARYO WORLD" - Javascript Virtual Machine

Someone in Japan has created a Javascript version of Super Mario Brothers that you can play on the web. This is a beautiful thing. [via Waxy]


Friday, August 26, 2005
My blog juices are flowing thanks to Ranh-Ranh, so I thought I would come clean on my newest celebrity crush. Say hello to Robert Caro:

Robert Caro is the author of a truly enormous three-volume biography of Lyndon Baines Johnson (The Path To Power, Means of Ascent, Master Of The Senate), and I have spent the last few months making my way through this torrent of words. I am currently bedded down about 400 pages into Vol. 3 and LBJ has just been elected to the Senate (Vol.4 has yet to be completed, but will pick up with his election to the Vice-Presidency...surely there will need to be a Vol. 5 as well?). It is easily the most remarkable biography I have ever read.

LBJ is a fascinating subject, to be sure, but the biography also encompasses a history of modern political campaigning, a history of Central Texas (as a resident of Central Texas, not a day goes by that I'm not confronted by an example of his handiwork, even it's just walking down Congress Avenue and spotting the building from which he conducted his Austin affairs), a study of the United States Senate, a profile of how power is gathered in 20th century America, a history of the New Deal and, I am assured, a history of the civil rights movement. I find myself applying lessons and insights from this book in my work, in the way I think about current events...shoot, in my whole durn weltaunschaung.

The level of research involved is simply breathtaking -- Caro knows what color shirts people wore, the placement on the page of key post-it notes, telling details of conversations that surely no-one could have heard...and best of all (SWOON! goes my amateur historian heart) it's all footnoted. He's a virtuoso, and I am humbled by his achievement.

Long may you live, Robert Caro! You are in my prayers each night, as I will not be able to deal if you die before completing this project. You keep publishing 'em, we'll keep awarding them Pulitzer Prizes.


Wednesday, August 24, 2005
So I'm contributing to Ranh Ranh, a new collaborative MP3 blog. My collaborator is none other than my esteemed friend and copilot, el Jefe. He's the fire to my ice, the David St. Hubbins to my Nigel Tufnel. So bookmark it, suckas, and let peace rein down o'er the shimmering meadows of rock.


Friday, August 19, 2005

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Sunday, August 14, 2005