Tuesday, December 30, 2003

One of the Brightest Solar Flares Ever 

This is my favorite pic from the previous article.

Because I Like Space 

This article (Top 10 Astronomy Images) has links to the best space photos of 2003, supposedly one of the best ever for amateur astronomers.

"Seldom does astronomy enjoy a year with such avid and widespread amateur participation, from first-timers watching compelling sky events and photographing them, to a kid who stumped the experts with one remarkable picture that enthralled the media and the public around the world."

My Letter to the Kerry Campaign 

Preface: For some time Sen. John Kerry has been my response when anyone asked me who I thought would be the best Democrat to beat GW Bush. Lately, I haven't been so sure of that. I wrote them the following letter explaining why and letting them know what could be done to regain my confidence and earn my financial and volunteer support.

To Whom It May Concern:

I have been watching Sen. Kerry's campaign with great interest since before he officially announced. Like many, I believed he would be the best man to go up against the disaster that is the current White House occupant. Today, I am not so sure.

With Gov. Dean's recent surge in the polls, the other Democratic candidates have begun a series of attacks on him that I'm sure Mr. Bush's svengali, Karl Rove, is very pleased with. Sadly, Sen. Kerry has joined this chorus. Make no mistake, I am not a Dean supporter, and I agree that the primaries are the appropriate time to define oneself against one's opponents; however, providing the incumbent with material for future attack ads against whomever the nominee is seems to me unnecessary. For example, the question at the most recent debate which asked all candidates who believed Gov. Dean could unseat Mr. Bush to raise their hands. Not a single one of the other candidates did so. Don't you people realize that that will be the first in a series of attack ads against Gov. Dean should he prevail in the primary?

I still believe that Sen. Kerry is the best person to go up against the unelected White House occupant and make him the first zero-term "President" ever. I'm sure all of you working for Sen. Kerry agree with me - you wouldn't be devoting your time and effort to the campaign otherwise. But the bottom line is this: I have considered donating to the Kerry campaign, but have held off until the primary draws near, mostly to make sure I don't regret any donation I make. Lately I don't like what I'm seeing.

A huge step toward gaining my steadfast financial and volunteer support would be for Sen. Kerry to state, clearly and unequivocally, that he believes two things. 1) That he or any of his primary opponents would be a vast improvement over the "leadership" of George W. Bush, and could in fact beat him, and 2) that he pledges to support the eventual Democratic nominee, whomever that may be. When these two things have occurred, I promise to donate my time and money generously to Sen. Kerry's campaign.

Please consider this request. I don't think it's extraordinary. Stop participating in the circular firing squad against the other candidates and start focusing on the larger goal, finding the best man to get GW out of the peoples' house. I know many Democrats feel as I do, so Sen. Kerry's campaign may depend upon it.

Chris Myles
Orlando, Florida

Thursday, December 18, 2003

"9/11 Could Have and Should Have Been Prevented." 

Who said that? Howard Dean? Nope. Thomas Kean. (hey, that rhymes...)

Via KOS comes this revelation:

"For the first time, the chairman of the independent commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks is saying publicly that 9/11 could have and should have been prevented, reports CBS News Correspondent Randall Pinkston.

"This is a very, very important part of history and we've got to tell it right," said Thomas Kean.

"As you read the report, you're going to have a pretty clear idea what wasn't done and what should have been done," he said. "This was not something that had to happen.""

You think you've seen stonewalling by the Bushies so far? Just wait - they're going to do anything and everything to either prevent the report from coming to light, or make sure this swept under the rug ASAP.

Bill O'Reilly - Liar 

Claim: "We've outsold that guy [Franken] all over the place," O'Reilly claimed Monday on NBC's TODAY show. "We're running against Hillary for most copies of non-fiction books sold this year!" (from Drudge, so it must be true: here)

Fact: From USA Today, the figures show that overall, Sen. Clinton's book is #7 for the year. The #21 selling book this year is Franken's Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them. O'Reilly's latest is #63. Just in nonfiction, Clinton is #3, Franken #5, and O'Reilly #6.

Monday, December 15, 2003

2003: A Year of Distortion for the American People 

That's the title of the Center for American Progress's annual wrap-up (found here).

It's a point-by-point rebuttal to the White House's 2003 summary.

Go read.

Friday, December 12, 2003

A Blog to Check Out 

My friend and colleage, Steve McGarrity, has setup a blog devoted to Massively Multiplayer Online games.

I don't play them myself, but that might change once World of Warcraft is release sometime next year. In any case, he's the guy I go to for all of my MMOG needs.

So check it out - he's played just about all of them and can help you sort the good from the mediocre from the bad before you pony up $20 a month for a subscription to a crappy game: http://mmogwitterings.blogspot.com/.

More fun with Google 

(via Atrios)

It worked for "miserable failure".

Now let's try unelectable.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

I beg to differ 

Via conwebwatch, I see that according to "Christian film reviewer Ted Baehr," the South Park movie is "the most vile content in the history of mainstream moviemaking."

I'm sure this is exaggeration, but come on. Ever seen Pink Flamingoes? Selling babies ring a bell?

I'm sure I could come up with a dozen more with time, and none of them would even approach the humor that was the South Park movie.

Check out Terry's excellent post - it's about the proverbial shit-fit the conservative web is having over the fact that Comedy Central decided to show the movie uncut during Thanksgiving. (they showed it at 1AM EST, and anybody up that late needs to deal with it)

Monday, December 08, 2003

Wait No Longer! 

(from whitehouse.org) The winners of the first Civilian Warmonger Medals of Armchair Valor have been announced.

Winners are as follows.

Ann Coulter: "For spewing hate with gusto, and ignoring the irony that if it weren't for the feminists you so vocally despise, the only thing you'd be writing is grocery lists."
Sean Hannity: "...for being a younger, much cuter clone of Rush, sans the anal cysts!"

Dennis Miller, Bruce Willis, Joe Lieberman and Hillary Clinton received awards as well.

Friday, December 05, 2003

Here at Last 

Not that a link from here will make much of a difference to their daily traffic, but the superlative pandagon.net has just released the long-awaited "20 Most Annoying Conservatives of 2003": find it here

A couple of surprises, but all of the people you'd expect are ably skewered. I really like the graphics this year, e.g.: O'Reilly as Wile E. Coyote (assholius professionarius).

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Media Laziness 

There's no doubt that the press as a whole is lazy. There are a lot of reasons for this, and I'll list a few here.

Part of this is IMO due to the fact that the public as a whole doesn't expect much from them anymore, so we've gotten into a viscious cycle: the press performs poorly, people lower expectations, repeat.

Part of this (when it comes to political coverage, at least) is because most of the public doesn't really follow politics closely, so they can get away with covering every race as a horserace of dueling personalities rather than a contest of issues. A prime example of this was campaign 2000. The script said "Gore is smart guy, but he's a liar" and "Bush isn't too bright, but he's trustworthy". I'd bet 90% of the coverage of the campaign was to reinforce this script, rather than a less-sensational analysis of each man's actual positions.

Part of this is just human nature. It's much easier to repeat the conventional wisdom on an issue than it is to get in the weeds and track down knowledgeable people who might have a different take, or
actually contact the people involved and try to straighten everything out. An example of this was again the coverage of campaign 2000. During the first debate, Bush accused Gore of using "fuzzy math" when
Gore described Bush's tax plan as a giveaway to the rich. Rather than actually getting out a calculator and running the numbers, or better yet, giving the numbers to an economist or three and reporting their
findings, the coverage of this issue was essentially "Gore lies about Bush's tax plan". (it should also be noted that Gore's criticism was correct on the merits - the vast majority of the original Bush tax cuts went to people at the top end of the economic spectrum)

A huge part of this is the shift in the attitude of the news companies and their parent entities. In the past, it was pretty much a given that the news division of a media company would be a money sink. Nowadays, there is pressure for the news boys to pull their own weight, so therefore the focus becomes not so much what should be covered as what will get the most people to watch. Case in point: last month, the Michael Jackson perp walk bumped coverage of Bush's speech in England from Nightline, a supposedly "hard news" program.

I'm sure there are more, but this is just a quick rundown.

A consistently good analysis of press laziness and ineptitude when it comes to political coverage can be found at http://www.dailyhowler.com.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Virtual Currency Trading 

These people (http://www.gamingopenmarket.com/) have set up a currency trading market where you can trade money you've "earned" playing massively multiplayer online roleplaying games.

They have exchange rates for the various worlds (so far, just the Sims and Ultima Online, as well as There and SecondLife), and you can even get real-world $ for your online wealth (probably through PayPal). More games are coming (Dark Age of Camelot, EverQuest, Star Wars Galaxies), and they're also promising to expand into item and character auctions (sell yourself!). They aren't the even first site to do this, but you can get the idea from the above link.

At last - now you can spend all of your time online playing games, and when the [wife/girlfriend/parents/??] complain that you're wasting your time, you can point out you're actually making real money!

Monday, December 01, 2003

Open the floodgates! 

Atrios linked to me, thanks to the previous post. (Here's the link for the scrapbook :))

Thanks, big guy. This probably means tomorrow will be the highest traffic date in the history of this little blog. It also probably means it will be the highest traffic date in the future of this little blog as well, but a guy can dream, can't he?

Not that my contribution matters too much, but I've been sending people his way for almost a year now. Check it out if you have a minute or two - http://atrios.blogspot.com (assuming you don't read it regularly already, which is a bold assumption, since if you're a liberal and read blogs it's already on your daily must-read list).

Update: I've installed a counter to figure out just how much traffic this site actually gets.

Update 2: Thanks to blah3 for the link.

Looking out for #1 

The blogger-initiated experiment is going well.

As of right now, the #2 hit for a Google search of "miserable failure" is the official White House GWB bio.

Here's another for the spider to find: miserable failure.

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