The Facts Machine

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

Saturday, May 28, 2005


Blogger Brendan Loy -- you know, the blogosphere's other Brendan -- has the audio of the "Brendan, I am your father" Star Wars / Burger King ad.

Friday, May 27, 2005


In 2 hours and 20 minutes I will be the Featured Performer at Java Jones coffee house in Isla Vista, for their final music night of the quarter. Come check me out!

Thursday, May 26, 2005


Pretoria, governmental capital of South Africa, gets a name change. Some people weren't happy about it. Guess who:
A recommendation that the name of South Africa's capital be changed from Pretoria to Tshwane has been unanimously approved.

The Geographic Names Council took four hours to back the change. Tshwane is the name of a pre-colonial local chief and means "we are the same".

Supporters of the change say the switch will underscore South Africa's break with apartheid in 1994.

The city was named after Boer settler and Afrikaner hero Andries Pretorius.

At the weekend, hundreds of predominantly white South Africans staged a demonstration against the name change.
The article includes the following picture, with a caption:
Opponents of the change say they feel marginalised
Hmm. So they felt marginalized. What was their suggested name, "Ironia"?

As we at The Facts Machine enjoy a good potshot from time to time, we must wonder whether Vice President Cheney was protesting with them.

My recent recordings now have a new home where you can check them out! I finally set up a MySpace music site, so it's streaming audio, which isn't great but does the job. Bust out your bookmarks/favorites for:
The songs currently available there are "The Other Side of Silence", "Sky Is Falling", "Chances" and "The One That Got Away".

Freedom Fries Boy jumps ship on the war:
It was a culinary rebuke that echoed around the world, heightening the sense of tension between Washington and Paris in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. But now the US politician who led the campaign to change the name of french fries to "freedom fries" has turned against the war.

Walter Jones, the Republican congressman for North Carolina who was also the brains behind french toast becoming freedom toast in Capitol Hill restaurants, told a local newspaper the US went to war "with no justification".


Asked by a reporter for the North Carolina News and Observer about the name-change campaign - an idea Mr Jones said at the time came to him by a combination of God's hand and a constituent's request - he replied: "I wish it had never happened."

Although he voted for the war, he has since become one of its most vociferous opponents on Capitol Hill, where the hallway outside his office is lined with photographs of the "faces of the fallen".

"If we were given misinformation intentionally by people in this administration, to commit the authority to send boys, and in some instances girls, to go into Iraq, that is wrong," he told the newspaper. "Congress must be told the truth."
That's quite a turnaround, I must say.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005


Anyone else find it odd that the first action by the federal government against a Torrent site was instigated mainly by a movie that made more money than God last weekend, and will probably become one of the top 5-10 box office hits of all time?

And while we're on the subject of Revenge of the Sith, I have a little theory to share. I think that the awful exchange between Padme and Anakin in their penthouse apartment was based, loosely, on the central ballad from Rogers & Hammerstein's Cinderella. Consider:
Do I love you because you're beautiful?
Or are you beautiful because I love you?
So for George Lucas, it wasn't mere clunkiness. It was an ode to one of the most stale unimaginative prolific theatrical songwriting teams in American history! Albeit a clunky one.
Fish in a barrel no doubt, but still a nice exercise: Digby gives Dobson a spanking and a history lesson to boot.

You have one of these guys on your campus.

(Greg Takayama / Daily Nexus)

Repent Sinners, Students
Jed Smock espouses his personal brand of "confrontational evangelism" to a group of about 20 people outside the Arbor on Tuesday afternoon. Smock drew jeers from members of the crowd as he vocally denounced career women, queers and evolution.
TFM is somewhat saddened that our on-campus evangelist nutjob doesn't resemble Richard Attenborough as much as that guy on Upper Sproul did.

This posts also constitutes an attempt to see the lengths the Nexus will go to enforce its rather draconian copyright policy.

[duff-man]Whatever happened to fair use? Oh yeah![/duff-man]

From a reflexive standpoint, I'm not immediately opposed to the idea of a Warren Beatty gubernatorial candidacy. Ezra Klein seems psyched about the idea, to the extent that he's looking to buy

Of the candidates I've heard anything about so far, I like what I've heard from Phil Angelides, currently the State Treasurer. However, my warning about his candidacy is that we tried a competency vs flash campaign last year on a national scale, and we came up short, in spite of a mountain on reasons not to re-elect Dubya. Let's fight fire with fire, perhaps?

For a taste of Warren, check out the speech he delivered at the commencement ceremony for UC Berkeley's Goldman School of Public Policy. (there's a video link included)

And not that it matters, but... Annette Benning is a lot more attractive than frail Maria.

Newsweek may have screwed up on its sourcing, but the thrust of their story was right: Gitmo guards did flush a Koran down a toilet:
An FBI agent wrote in a 2002 document made public on Wednesday that a detainee held at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, had accused American jailers there of flushing the Koran down a toilet.

The Pentagon said the allegation was not credible.

The declassified document's release came the week after the Bush administration denounced as wrong a May 9 Newsweek article that stated U.S. interrogators at Guantanamo had flushed a Koran down a toilet to try to make detainees talk. The magazine retracted the article, which had triggered protests in
Afghanistan in which 16 people died.

The newly released document, dated Aug. 1, 2002, contained a summary of statements made days earlier by a detainee, whose name was redacted, in two interviews with an FBI special agent, whose name also was withheld, at the Guantanamo prison for foreign terrorism suspects.
While Reuters drank the Kool Aid a little bit there ("triggered protests"), their recap includes some more info about our victory in the "war of ideas":
The documents indicated that detainees were making allegations that they had been abused and that the Muslim holy book had been mishandled as early as April 2002, about three months after the first detainees arrived at Guantanamo.

In other documents, FBI agents stated that Guantanamo detainees also accused U.S. personnel of kicking the Koran and throwing it to the floor, and described beatings by guards. But one document cited a detainee who accused a guard of dropping a Koran, prompting an "uprising" by prisoners, when it was the prisoner himself who dropped it.

"Unfortunately, one thing we've learned over the last couple of years is that detainee statements about their treatment at Guantanamo and other detention centers sometimes have turned out to be more credible than U.S. government statements," said ACLU lawyer Jameel Jaffer.

Former detainees and a lawyer for current prisoners previously have stated that U.S. personnel at Guantanamo had placed the Koran in a toilet, but the Pentagon has said it also does not view those allegations as credible.

In document written in April 2003, an FBI agent related a detainee's account of an incident involving a female U.S. interrogator.

"While the guards held him, she removed her blouse, embraced the detainee from behind and put her hand on his genitals. The interrogator was on her menstrual period and she wiped blood from her body on his face and head," the memo stated.
Ahh, how about those hearts and minds. To anyone who would think of justifying this stuff: Anything and everything we do in the "war on terror" should be done with the foreknowledge that someday it could come out, and were it to come out, it could be damaging to our effort to convince a billion people in many parts of the world that we're right. The blame is never on Newsweek, Seymour Hersh or any other journalist for attempting to break and cover these stories. The fact that people report them should be an impetus for our government to get right.

This should make tomorrow's gaggle interesting.

Also, I meant to link to this when he wrote it, but somehow I got backed up: A couple days ago, John Cole put Hugh Hewitt in his place on the issue of whether the media should or shouldn't cover stuff like this. Cole is a Vet, also. And that's John, not Juan.

I see via Paul that The Darkness have parted ways with their bassist.

The obvious replacement:

Surely he can be enticed to quit his gig at the Huffington Post!

Tuesday, May 24, 2005


In the form of...
Ali Hameed quit his job as a taxi driver because he no longer felt safe on Baghdad's streets. Increasingly desperate for money to help him get married, he hit on a once-in-a-lifetime business opportunity - selling one of his kidneys.

Last week, in a shabby ward in the city's Al Karama hospital, he lay bandaged on a bed, one kidney lighter and $1,400 richer after a three-hour operation.

In a nearby room, his body similarly bandaged, lay the man who had paid for it - the other player in a grim new black market trade in organs that is one of Iraq's few growth industries.

"I abandoned my taxi driving job because of the security situation," Mr Hameed, 22, told The Sunday Telegraph. "I thought about joining the police or the army, but that is even more dangerous. There were no more options, so I decided to sell my kidney. I am still a young man, so I want to marry and begin a business."

Mr Hameed received a good price for his kidney. Would-be buyers with an eye for a bargain can now pick up a new kidney for as little as $700, given the desperation of fit and healthy Iraqis for money.

Young men like Mr Hameed can be seen loitering around many big hospitals in Baghdad these days, open to bids passed on via networks of shadowy middlemen who lurk in nearby cafes.

With unemployment in Iraq at about 60 per cent, the chance to earn money by touting body parts is a more calculated risk than, say, becoming a $150-a-month rookie policeman at the mercy of suicide attackers.

In the main their customers are other Iraqis, for whom kidney problems are common thanks to decades of poor diet, water and medical care.

As news of the black market trade has spread, however, wealthier transplant "tourists" from around the Arab world have started flocking to Baghdad, attracted by the rock-bottom prices.
Hmm, I think I just figured out a way for Jonah Goldberg to contribute to the effort in Iraq...

On top of that, perhaps given his kidney disease, this might be a way for our forces to get some leads on Osama. Were he in, uh, Iraq.

(thanks to highschool classmate Megan K for the link)

Up late finishing my 2nd to last paper here ever.

Craig Ferguson is interviewing Ann Coulter, and she just came out as . . . a Deadhead.

That should take me a few weeks to process.

You'd think that with all that pot floating around, she would've found the time to eat something.

Craig finished the interview by pronouncing her name "Aieen Kilter". Anyway...

Monday, May 23, 2005

A moderate Republican senator (Lindsay Graham of S. Carolina) says one of the clotured three judges (Owen, Brown and Pryor) will be defeated in a floor vote anyway. Hmm.

CNN is reporting that a deal has been reached in the nuclear option showdown.

Did FristChrist cave? Will Dobson be pissed? Details will follow soon, I'm sure.

UPDATE (6:30pm pacific): The details...
A bipartisan group of senators reached an agreement after days of talks to avert a showdown Tuesday over President Bush's judicial nominees, Sen. John McCain announced Monday evening.

Standing with a group of 13 other senators, the Arizona Republican told reporters the seven Republicans and seven Democrats had brokered a compromise.

"We have reached an agreement to try to avert a crisis in the United States Senate and pull the institution back from a precipice that would have had, in the view of all 14 of us, lasting impact, damaging impact on the institution," McCain said.

Under the deal, judicial nominees would only be filibustered "under extraordinary circumstances," McCain said.

McCain said the group of 14 pledged to vote for cloture -- an end to debate -- for three judicial nominees: Janice Rogers Brown, William Pryor and Priscilla Owen.

He said the group made no commitment to vote for or against cloture on two nominees, William Myers and Henry Saad.

"We will try to do everything in our power to prevent filibusters in the future," McCain said.

"This agreement is meant in the finest traditions of the Senate it was entered into: trust, respect, and mutual desire to see the institution of the Senate function in ways that protect the rights of the minority," he said.
Hehehe. So, of all the Republicans in the Senate, which one came out the cleanest and in the best light in this matter, AND got to publicly grandstand yet again? John McCain! That oughtta make the theocon wing of the party happy.

So the short version is that Bush gets three nominees confirmed (Owen, Brown and Pryor), with no guarantees about floor votes for the others. A potential Bush nominee for the Supreme Court is still completely subject to cloture rules.

In the long term, I think Frist and the Republican majority dodged a bullet, since they wouldn't be in power forever and they'd have to eat their own rule changes someday. In the short therm, though, I don't have any of the deals Harry Reid offered Fristy two weeks ago, but this resolution seems to be a worse deal for the GOP from a power standpoint than what was thrown around at that point.

Perhaps this is President Frist's "lurch to the center".

My Isla Vista farewell tour closes on Friday night at 8pm, when I'll be the Featured Performer for Java Jones' final music night of the quarter. I'll be playing a longer-than-usual set, with a few surprises in store. If you are in the area, please come check it out!

Corner of Pardall and Embarcadero Del Mar (any chance to link to Google Maps is a good chance!)

From Pandagon:
Wagner: "But when the questions turn to safety, some Tri-state recruiters make Iraq sound more like a trip to Tahiti than a journey to war."

Recruiter: "You have more chance of dying here in the United States at, what is it, 36-percent die, kill rate here in the United States, people here just dying left and right, you have more chance of dying over here than you do over there."

Wagner: "The U.S. does not have a 36-percent kill rate. If that were true, more than 100 million people, one-third of the U.S. population, would be killed each year."
Based on this report, military recruiters are having a wild time lying habitually to potential recruits about conditions in Iraq. The Army is, of course, in a much publicized recent move, temporarily halting recruiting efforts to investigate the process, and this is to their credit. However, one must wonder that if the top levels of the military chain of command -- notably the Pentagon and the Commander in Chief -- create a culture of deception and lies about the war effort (going back to "everything they said between summer '02 and the start of the war), then perhaps this culture trickles down.

Sunday, May 22, 2005


Dear Department of Defense,

I'm going to be really nice and give you the benefit of the doubt that you simply didn't notice certain things about this photo which made it on to your official website. I'll even assume that the photo's caption was written by some sort of monkey . . . albeit a Christian, crusade-friendly monkey. Just make sure you get that shit fixed up by Monday morning. Thanks!

From the Associated Press:
Representatives of the nation's top psychiatric group approved a statement Sunday urging legal recognition of gay marriage. If approved by the association's directors in July, the measure would make the American Psychiatric Association the first major medical group to take such a stance.

The statement supports same-sex marriage "in the interest of maintaining and promoting mental health."


The psychiatric association's statement, approved by voice vote on the first day of its weeklong annual meeting in Atlanta, cites the "positive influence of a stable, adult partnership on the health of all family members."

The resolution recognizes "that gay men and lesbians are full human beings who should be afforded the same human and civil rights," said Margery Sved, a Raleigh, N.C., psychiatrist and member of the assembly's committee on gay and lesbian issues.
This isn't likely to change the minds of the hard-ass evangelicals, who already view the psychiatric establishment as an anti-Christian scourge anyway.

Frankly, if anyone gives some deep thought to the statement, it should be a broad slap in the face of the anti-gay right. Consider that with one hand, the administration tells gay couples that they are patriotic Americans and that they have the right to be who they are, and with the other hand they say to them that their relationships are not valid. Think about how the right is happy enough to say "we're happy to let you be with whoever you want, as long as we're able to continue employing a mechanism by which to subjugate all of you." What a mindfuck! That would depress me too!

Digby makes a point, using pictures, about Bush's position on stem cell research.

Culture of life, indeed.