The Facts Machine

"And I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide"

Saturday, December 11, 2004


Over at If Six Was Nine, Gary reviews a recent REM concert, Eamon handicaps the Grammys, I dive deep into RollingStone's top 500 songs of all time, and Andy reviews Live 105's Not So Silent Night. Check it out!

Via Americablog, Michael Powell's FCC, responding to "complaints", wants to look at NBC's broadcast of the Olympic Opening Ceremonies for possible indecency.

Not making it up, there's actual text to that effect behind the link.

The FCC hasn't disclosed what aspect of the ceremony spawned these "complaints", but Lisa de Moraes of the Washington Post has a guess as to what might be up:
[O]n the day of the Opening Ceremonies back in August -- about six months after Janet Jackson bared her breast during CBS's broadcast of the Super Bowl -- NBC took some questions from sports reporters who were on the scene. These were guys who apparently don't go to museums much and had watched the dress rehearsal and seen performers representing classical Greek statues and mythological gods and goddesses in the various states of undress that were so fashionable in days gone by. They demanded to know whether NBC intended to subject the flower of American youth, watching back at home, to such a wanton display of Greekness.

(The Opening Ceremonies also included thespians depicting lovers frolicking in the world's largest puddle and a young woman in a shift wading about aimlessly in the same puddle. She appeared to have been impregnated by someone who was radioactive, but we cannot say with certainty whether that was Greek or just weird.)
Personally, I can't find a pic right now, but I'm guessing it had something to do with that lighting ceremony...
Breaking news!

With finals over, reasonably-paced blogging should commence soon.

Thursday, December 09, 2004


Amazonified all the stuff on the right, threw in my Wishlist and an Amazon search box that I sure wouldn't mind if you used. (:

There will be no further notice to this effect, as I must neutralize my descent into whoredom.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004


Lennon historians, note the timestamp.

From Reuters:
Teenagers and young men should keep their laptops off their laps because they could damage fertility, an expert said on Thursday.

Laptops, which reach high internal operating temperatures, can heat up the scrotum which could affect the quality and quantity of men’s sperm.

“The increase in scrotal temperature is significant enough to cause changes in sperm parameters,” said Dr Yefim Sheynkin, an associate professor of urology at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

“It is very difficult to predict how long the computer can be used safely,” he told Reuters. “It may not be at all, if the testicular temperature goes up high within a very short period of time.”

Adolescents and young men who use laptops several times a day over many years face the greatest risk. Sheynkin fears that if laptop use is not curtailed, in 15-20 years when they want to start a family the men could face problems.
But...but... it's a lap-top! If you put it on a desk, it becomes just a really small desktop!

Hmm, a modern-day interpretation of an antiquated phrase that leads to the endangerment of all men... sounds like "arms" to me!

Boys, if you really want to put something on your lap that heats up your scrotums, I suggest you consult that upcoming Mike Nichols movie.

"Well look... who... comes... crawling back!"

Well, hehe, that's not quite what he said.

There's a lot of interesting stuff in his speech, but I'm going to highlight a snippet from near the end, in which the good doctor encounters an evangelical supporter while on the campaign trail:
A little while back, at a fundraiser, a woman came up to me. She identified herself as an evangelical Christian from Texas. I asked her what you are all wondering -- why was she supporting me. She said there were two reasons. The first was that she had a child who had poly-cystic kidney disease, and what that illness made it impossible for their family to get health care.

The second thing she said was, "The other reason we're with you is because evangelical Christians are people of deep conviction, and you're a person of deep conviction. I may not agree with you on everything, but what we want more than anything else from our government is that when something happens to our family or something happens to our country -- it's that the people in office have deep conviction."
I don't think this is a shot at the Kerry campaign (though certainly one that should reverberate among the Reed-From set), but what it is, however, is an importnant comment about perception. I believe that John Kerry is a man of very deep convictions. However, his opponents and their allies launched a comprehensive effort to foster widespread perceptions to the contrary, and for a long time the Kerry campaign did nothing to counter this (they went completely dark in August, at the height of the Swift Boat Liars and their thoroughly-debunked bunk).

Kerry and the Democrats chose not to attack Bush to the extent they could have. The two biggest blunders of Bush's first term, the ones that did the most to hyperpolarize America's take on Dubya, were almost completely off the table in the 2004 campaign: The security failures that led to 9/11, and the lies, exaggerations and stovepiping on WMD intel that led to the Iraq invasion.

At too many points in the campaign, the Democrats let the administration define the terms of public debate. They were able to get Abu Ghraib off the table by using the Enron "bad apple" strategy, and by metamorphosizing criticism of the scandal into criticism of the troops, when their own damn policies bore the roots of the scandal. If the Al Qaqaa story had broken earlier and the Bin Laden tape hadn't come along, they would have launched a similar strategy: Heck, Giuliani's troop-blaming comments were setting up the groundwork for such a strategy just as Osama's tape showed up.

The biggest problem: The Democrats let them do this, and we shouldn't have.

Another broad brush observation that combines Dean's point and the 2004 race: Two of the main issues of the 2004 election -- Iraq and the GWOT -- were "golden straitjacket" issues, to use Tom Friedman's terms. At least for the short run, no President is going to pull a 180 on either of those issues; during Bush's first term, America put the straitjacket on for both of those issues, and all we can argue about, for the time being, are accessories, additional buckles, embroideries, and so on. On Iraq and terror, Kerry ran a campaign of "the devil is in the details", and while he was certainly correct on a lot of his points, I don't know if it was ever gonna fly with the evangelical, deep-conviction crowd.

That's why Bush's invocations of his religious faith are so politically useful to him. Referring to himself as "a lowly sinner", citing Jesus as his favorite political philosopher, filling his speeches with rhetoric about idealistic valleys, it all plays into one idea: "Hey, I may have fucked up a lot of stuff, but I'm a good guy with deep convictions".

Instead of running a campaign with the theme "you fucked up, I'm a strong leader with deep convictions", Kerry ran a campaign with the theme "you fucked up, while I, on the other hand, am really really competent". And we saw what happened.

That's where Dean's point comes in. Earlier in the speech, he says:
There is a Party of fiscal responsibility... economic responsibility.... social responsibility... civic responsibility... personal responsibility... and moral responsibility.

It's the Democratic Party.

We need to be able to say strongly, firmly, and proudly what we believe.

Because we are what we believe.
Dean argues that the best angle we have against the Republicans is on their divorcing themselves from reasonable claims to the responsibilities listed above, and I'm inclined to say that's a good way to start. Read the rest of his speech for more on that. Anyway, back to finals...

PS: For more Democratic-rebarnding fun, there's always Olver Willis' new "Brand Democrat" concept merch.

Sunday, December 05, 2004


I used to blog straight through finals season, man. I must be getting old.

Then again, it could be that Al Qaeda food poisoning acting up again. (would somebody please tell Tommy that the elction was last month?)

Finals end at 3pm on Friday, for me at least.