$750 million

...is an awful lot to pay for sex on the side. Damn.

If you're worth that much money and you know you can't keep it in your pants (or even if you just don't want to)...why the hell would you get married in the first place?

because i never get enough comments anymore

I want to see the borders open, but only to gay Mexican Muslims. Legalize all drugs, but ban all guns. No, strike that: you can only own a gun if you can prove you smoke pot every day. Weekly urine tests to verify (we'll also check your blood sugar, fatty.) Tax anyone who makes more money than me at 99%. Abortion should be legal through the 36th trimester. Trig Palin is Bristol's son. (Sarah is actually a cyborg, which is why she can't have babies and you never see her eating.) 9/11 was carried out by the CIA in conjunction with Fox so that 24 would have really high ratings. The gulf oil spill was staged to spike gas prices. Wyoming doesn't even exist...there's just more Montana.


terrorists have hijacked our imagination, part 8365


Now, charging people with crimes in an open court of law is perfectly fine if we’re merely talking about people accused of acting at the behest of a nuclear power with a global intelligence network, a navy and airforce, oil, natural resources with which they play politics with neighbors, and a $1.2 trillion GDP. Sure, they may have some resources behind them, but at least the threat is manageable. On the other hand, if we’re talking about a small network of guerrilla fighters whose leader lives in caves and whose fighters are armed with at best shoulder-mounted rocket launchers, well, you simply cannot charge them in an open court. The risks are far too great.


raining oil / from a lacerated sky

I do not believe that it is raining oil. This isn't my area of science (at all) but I did take a few chemistry classes in my day...

Many petroleum products are highly volatile, and almost certainly will enter/have entered the water cycle as a result of the spill in the gulf. It wouldn't surprise me at all if certain hydrocarbons and other nasty bits do show up (in very low amounts) in precipitation (though it would more likely fall somewhere east of the spill area along the gulf stream.)

Crude oil, on the other hand, is very heavy and viscous. It doesn't evaporate in bulk (at least under the atmospheric conditions found on this planet). I could maybe see it becoming sufficiently emulsified (think whisking oil and vinegar together to make salad dressing) as it becomes dispersed that very, very tiny droplets might hitch a ride up into the atmosphere on water. But I don't think it would have the opportunity to precipitate and fall to earth recognizably as "oil rain".

I will stop short of saying this is impossible--I'm not qualified to say that--but I definitely think this falls into the category of extraordinary claims that require extraordinary evidence.

More likely, this is a greasy parking lot after a dry spell.


I can't remember the last time I sat in a bar for two hours not drinking, but I sure am glad I did it this morning.


jose saramago

Nobel laureate in Literature Jose Saramago has died at age 87.

I haven't read everything of his, and haven't loved everything that I have, but what I have read and loved has been very, very good. In particular, Blindness and the The Gospel According to Jesus Christ. In fact, his sequel to Blindness, Seeing is on the to-read stack on my nightstand.

But the main reason I mention him here is that the quasi-title of this blog was inspired by a passage from one of his books.


the funniest sentence i've read this lunch

"Now that they have their own Fox news, Canadians will soon be demanding that their border be sealed, to protect them from the violent and economically unstable nation to the south."

Priceless. More here. (via)


It isn't unheard of for me to find myself in disagreement with Radley Balko or Dan Savage on any given day, but I never would have expected that I would find myself in disagreement with both of them about the same thing.

I wrote on Radley's blog:

Where the video begins, the woman is being physically confrontational, and at that point the initial reason for the contact is really beside the point: she shouldn’t have done that. Add to that the obviously hostile crowd (very close) and the fact that he was alone, I find it kind of impressive that he didn’t put her on the ground, tase her, call in the cavalry, or pull his gun. In the heat of the moment, I think he showed a lot of restraint.

I’m *NOT* saying he was 100% correct in how he handled it, but I do think he made a good faith effort to diffuse an escalating situation with as little violence as possible. At least based on what we see here.

That said–yeah chasing down a jaywalker is kind of dumb, though my sympathy for her is limited by: 1) the law in Seattle is extremely deferential to pedestrians (if you hit a pedestrian, it is your fault no matter what, basically), so cracking down on dangerous jaywalking does make sense; 2) if she was crossing the main road in the shot, it’s a very busy one WITH A PEDESTRIAN OVERPASS RIGHT THERE, so I think it is fair to say this counts as dangerous jaywalking.

Regular commenter "LibCop" (who has been commenting there a long time and is credibly a police officer) makes some great points to the effect that the officer could have (and should have) backed down, even if it meant letting the jaywalking thing slide.

Here's the video...what say you?

(Disclosure: I live in Seattle and jaywalk daily.)

the view from here

Beer:thirty, Seattle, USA


william kristol's persian fantasy

The fact that anyone takes William Kristol seriously anymore is as terrifying as it is depressing.

And one routinely hears how very, very dangerous any use of military force against Iran would be.

Would it be so dangerous? That is a debate the country needs to have, publicly and frankly, before it’s too late.

Critics of military action against Iran argue that it would open up a third front for American forces in the Middle East. Our troops would be at risk from Iranian missiles. Iran would block the Strait of Hormuz (causing oil prices to skyrocket) and use its terrorist proxies Hamas and Hezbollah to carry out attacks well beyond the Middle East, including perhaps on the U.S. homeland.

Yet if we carried out a targeted campaign against Iran’s nuclear facilities, against sites used to train and equip militants killing American soldiers, and against certain targeted terror-supporting and nuclear-enabling regime elements, the effects are just as likely to be limited.

It’s unclear, for example, that Iran would want to risk broadening the conflict and creating the prospect of regime decapitation. Iran’s rulers have shown that their preeminent concern is maintaining their grip on power. If U.S. military action is narrowly targeted, and declared to be such, why would Iran’s leaders, already under pressure at home, want to escalate the conflict, as even one missile attack on a U.S. facility or ally or a blockade of the Strait would obviously do?

Why, indeed? After all, acquiescence to American power has a been a cornerstone of the Islamic Republic's foreign policy since it's founding.

If the Iranian regime's first priority is maintaining its grip on power--to the extent that they will not retaliate against targeted strikes against nuclear facilities by the US--doesn't that also suggest that they can be contained even if they did possess nuclear weapons?

Either the Iranian leadership are rational, or they aren't. Either they are willing to risk immolation in some sort of apocalyptic showdown with the Great Satan, or they aren't. But you cannot argue that they are both too irrationally belligerent to be contained AND rational enough not to fight back when directly attacked.

Note that I'm not saying there is no plausible scenario in which military action against Iran should ever happen. However, Kristol's formulation that we really have nothing to lose by erring on the side of preemption is as crazy as it is familiar.

One is tempted to wonder how dangerous it really would be to have the entire editorial board of the Weekly Standard shot. After all, it is unlikely that particular flock of chickenhawks are especially well-armed themselves, and even if they were, surely the instinct for self-preservation would lead them to attempt to talk their way out of it, rather than engaging in a firefight that would almost certainly end in their destruction. Surely that would make the world a safer place, too, to have the leading voice for war in the most powerful country on earth neutralized. And I'd like to think that given the Marxist roots of neoconservatism they could at least appreciate the irony.


the best part about having a blog...

Is that it makes it so much easier to say I told you so:

Citing an FBI informational document, ABC News reports a so called "battle of suspicious bags" is being encouraged on a jihadist website.

Bomb expert Kevin Barry with 20 years experience in the NYPD says the bags could be filled not with bombs, but with innocuous items like water bottles or socks.

Your humble blogger was all over this ages ago:

What the city of Boston...has shown the terrorists is that all you have to do to sow fear and chaos is leave some strange objects scattered around high-profile areas. That's it. You don't have to smuggle uranium or anthrax. You don't have to take the risk of manufacturing explosives. You could fill 20 Jansport backpacks with old phone books, have people drop them at 20 subway stations simultaneously, and probably keep every emergency responder in the city tied up for at least an hour or two.

And then you could do some real damage.

(H/T for link and graphic above to Thoreau)


overheard on the bus

Old black man: (something about Obama and race relations)

Older black woman: Well, I like everybody!

Younger black woman: Me too, hun.

Old black man: Eh! When you're the underdog, you got to like everyone...


the illiberal left in washington state (and everywhere else)

Washington's ballot initiative I-1068, which would abolish state criminal and civil penalties for marijuana (for adults 18 and over), hit a snag this week, when the Service Employees International Union and "other players in progressive causes" declined to financially support the drive to get the necessary signatures to put I-1068 on the ballot. Phillip Dowdy of the group Sensible Washington writes:

Over the last month, the SEIU and others in state politics have talked with Sensible Washington about steps they could take to ensure that the initiative turned in enough signatures to qualify for this November’s ballot because marijuana legalization being on the ballot would drive extra voter turnout in ways that would benefit progressive causes and candidates in November in what’s shaping up to be a tough year for Democrats and progressive issues. Now after stringing the I-1068 campaign along for four weeks, they’ve walked.

This, despite the fact that a slim but significant majority of Washington voters support the legalization of marijuana, according to a recent poll.

Anyone who is truly serious about reforming drug laws should have given up on the mainstream left as a reliable ally a long time ago. If you can't get a former litigator for the ACLU to vote the right way in Gonzales v. Raich, you're pretty much screwed.

Bruce Ramsey really nailed it on the Seattle Times blog yesterday:

I keep telling people that a lot of the lefties in this state, and particularly in this city, are not liberal. They aren't interested in individual rights [em. added]--at least, not rights to do very many things outside a bedroom. Progressive activists are believers in government. They want to save the Earth by controlling people more, including by banning the use of tobacco outdoors in the public parks. I think the broad group of people who vote leftward are far more tolerant than the activists, and would vote for I-1068 if they could. Maybe now they won't get the chance.

our country, in our name, on our dime

If this is even 30% true, then there are American officials who need to be brought up on war crimes charges at The Hague. If for no other reason than the Obama administration has made it abundantly clear that they aren't going to do a damn thing about it.

And so the torture was intensified, with individuals tortured by combinations of sleep deprivation, repeated near-drowning, slamming against plywood walls by the neck, forced to stand in a stress position by shackles, etc. Was this sadism? No. It was bureaucracy. You have to monitor what is being done to prisoners, especially to avoid future prosecutions for doing what every legal authority had previously understood to be war crimes. Michael Chertoff told John Yoo in 2002 that

... the more investigation into the physical and mental consequences of the techniques they did, the more likely it would be that an interrogator could successfully assert that he acted in good faith and did not intend to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering.

Thoreau, always at his best at his most intemperate, sums up my feelings rather nicely:

Screw it, I’ll just go ahead and Godwin this right now: If the allegations in this report by Physicians for Human Rights are accurate, then we’re talking Mengele stuff here.


enough to go around

By all means, blame BP. It's their well. And it is kind of inconceivable that a $250 billion company didn't have a workable contingency plan for something like this.

By all means, blame the government, if not for sufficient oversight (I think the jury's out on that one, but with any luck, time will tell) then blame them for the fact that damages for the spill will likely be capped before the well is.

Note the date, because I actually think Sarah Palin has a point about pressure from environmentalists displacing drilling into such deep water...but only to the extent that if not for that they might not be drilling there right now...you don't seriously think that BP et al were going to let that stuff just sit at the bottom of the Gulf do you? They'd be drilling there eventually, regardless.

And before we get all uppity, let's hold hands and remember that our entire economy runs on oil. Unless you live completely off the grid (and if you are reading this, you don't) you benefit from the low cost energy that it provides. Even if you don't drive and grow your own food, I'm going to go out on a limb and say you probably buy things that weren't made from raw materials gathered within walking distance of home.

And if we all did, we'd be living in an agrarian society, something I for one refuse to romanticize.


beautiful lies

Memorial Day is one of several holidays for which I find a growing antipathy as the years go by (though it should be said I am always happy to have a reason to take a day off.) It isn't that I don't think we ought to take a moment to reflect on sacrifices made by the men and women of the armed services (more on this in a moment), but rather that it seems to me the preferred mode of observance is to complain about how everyone else isn't observing it properly.

(See also: Martin Luther King Day, and in certain circles, Christmas.)

Perhaps I would be more inclined to spend time memorializing our fallen soldiers if I didn't think that so many of them died doing nothing whatsoever for the cause of "my freedom." The soldiers of the American Revolution did that, certainly. The Civil War, arguably. It is difficult to imagine the world in which America did not enter WWII as one in which any of us would want to live, though it is equally difficult to exclude the possibility that WWII might have never happened were it not for the outcome of its utterly pointless predecessor a few decades earlier.

I'll even grant the necessity of a military response following 9/11. At least to the extent that the public narrative of that attack is true*, I think the ultimatum made to the Taliban and its consequences for not having been met were entirely justified.

But I'm damned if I know what we're supposed to be doing there, now.

No one wants to say to the spouses, parents, children, siblings, and friends of the dead that they died for nothing. Or worse still, that they died for a cynical, political purpose, or in the service of a stubborn and foolish ideal about the world that flies in the face of all available evidence.

And yet...

Are the dead really honored by beautiful lies? When we seek comfort in telling ourselves that there is a greater purpose served by the pointless and avoidable carnage to which we routinely subject the youth of this country, are we really doing them any favors? Or are we just making it possible for the same mistakes to be repeated, generation after generation?

I don't know. Really, I don't.

*No, I'm not a "truther", I'm just referring specifically to involvement of terrorists working from a base in Afghanistan with the support of the Taliban government...and I only feel the need to qualify this because of all the other things we were told in that decade that turned out to be, generously, "mistaken".