Thursday, September 28, 2006

♪ Getting to know me... ♪

Drunkawife here! I bet none of you clowns out there in Drunkablog land know that Drunkawife works with young 'uns. Here's a picture of some of the sweet young things at a therapeutic preschool (and yes, I actually have permission to use this picture from all the munchkins' parents) that I used to work at several years back.

Group Hug!

As cute as these guys appear in this picture, what you must understand is that each of them had been kicked out of various preschools (the record was 14) for various offenses related to massive violence. Kicking, hitting and biting, mostly. Drunkahusband will attest to the fact that I used to come home with massive bite-marks up and down my arms. It was fun!

Family fun

A couple of years ago my father-in-law gave me the canoe paddle on the left to use as a spare. Then, a couple of months ago, he took me out in the garage and told me how he'd always felt guilty about giving me such a crappy paddle (the tape is where he squirted some glue to fill up the cracks and hold it together). Then he gave me the paddle on the right.

Just as many cracks, and he didn't even bother to squirt glue in them this time. Thanks, Dad! (We're so close I call him "Dad," though not to his face.)

Anyway, naturally I had to get a canoe to match the fancy-pants paddle:

It's a Mad River Horizon 15, slightly chewed, as if you care.

Despite the chewing-over it's had (a season's worth) this is a marked improvement over my previous model.

Update: Yes, Mad River's logo is a bunny rabbit smoking a peace pipe. I could probably find out why, if I cared.

Racist to Denver: Let me help you celebrate Columbus Day!

In a column about Denver's annual Columbus Day Parade/Ward Churchill Memorial Protest, the Post's Al Knight mentions that David Yeagley, the "Comanche patriot," will be in town to support the Columbus-Day folks against the (indigene-supporting) protesters:
The run-up to the parade will also be different. Dr. David Yeagley of Lawton, Okla., a member of the Comanche tribe and an accomplished pianist, composer and lyricist, has requested an opportunity to speak in support of the local celebration.
Yeagley's one of those Ph.Ds who likes to see "Dr." in front of his name. Unfortunately, and as Knight fails to mention, the talented Yeagley is a bigot of the crudest and most race-baiting kind. Knight continues:
Yeagley, in a telephone interview Monday, said he wants to do his part to counterbalance the notion that all Indians take a dim view of the Columbus Day celebrations and the man himself. He said he believes that Columbus is an important part of the American story.

In written comments to the parade committee, Yeagley said, "I want Indians who protest Columbus to re-evaluate the effect of long-term resentments. I want them to weigh the psychological damage that negative thinking has on young people, how it stifles their natural ambitions, their intuitive aspirations. I want Indians instead to lead in American patriotism and to recover the true role in American society of host,
guide and savior."
Sounds pretty sensible to me. So it's hard to believe (but true) that he's also the kind of person who says things like this (pardon the repetition):
WHITE WOMEN ARE THE MOST BEAUTIFUL, desirable creatures on earth, judging from the way dark men crave them.
And on the humongous to boot. So Knight is either incompetent in not knowing about Yeagley's vomitings or corrupt in not divulging them.

Full disclosure: I mentioned Yeagley's racist diatribes recently to a group of maybe five bloggers and one newspaper person. They stared at me like a coven (no, the word's "school," isn't it?) of mackerel and moved on to another topic.

The story wasn't dropped; it was never picked up.

But talk about your ironies: here are two racists (Churchill being the other, of course), one an actual Indian (Churchill being the other, of course), confronting each other from opposite ends of the spectrum, politics-wise, over alleged white racism.

Update: And I'm going to be on the river October 7, the day of the parade. Last year's parade, while fun, was way too decorous for the anarchist rabble, and Knight doesn't actually say Churchill's not going to be there. I'm betting he will be, and all hell will break loose, and I won't get to take pictures and blog about it.

(via Pirate Ballerina)


Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Filthy murdering scum*

In Bailey, a little mountain town: Teen dies after school hostage standoff:
The man, wearing a dark hooded sweatshirt and carrying a backpack, entered the school at 11:40 a.m., apparently looking for someone specific, according to witnesses, although police would not confirm that.

He entered Sandra Smith's honors English class, fired a shot in the air, then told all the students to stand facing the chalkboard, said Tom Grigg, whose son, Cassidy, was in the classroom.
Then, the gunman approached each boy in the class and told them to get out.

"A guy came up and pointed a gun at (Cassidy) and told him to leave," Grigg said. "He said, 'No, I want to stay with the girls,' and the guy put the gun in his face and said, 'You. Out of here."'

Police would not say whether the suspect sexually assaulted any of the girls. But Grigg said his son told him, "There were some really bad things that happened in that classroom." He did not elaborate.
*Formerly, "Filthy murdering motherfucker."

Not advertised on matchbooks

I've been reading Manhunt: The 12-day Chase for Lincoln's Killer. Fascinating stuff, but author James L. Swanson renders a famous quote in a way I'd never heard before. When Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton was told that Lincoln had died, Swanson says, Stanton uttered the words, "Now he belongs to the angels."

To the angels? In everything I've ever read about the assassination it's always been, "Now he belongs to the ages."

In his notes Swanson gives this somewhat sketchy explanation: " Most accounts of Lincoln's death quote Stanton as saying that Lincoln belongs to the 'ages,' not the 'angels.' In my view, shared by Jay Winik, the most persuasive interpretation supports 'angels' and is also more consistent with Stanton's character and faith."

Yeah, I know, who gives a Flying Wallenda. But it's important. Stanton was a hardcase, and I don't think he'd have used the word "angels" like some candyass fruitcake who took Diane Cooper's Angels Correspondence Course.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


How has the NDT survived for 72 years? I mean, there's no news in it. It's all features and wildly favorable reviews of everything--restaurants, plays, concerts (especially if they're student restaurants, plays or concerts)--in Northwest Denver.

But there are a few interesting items this week, I guess, like:

  • For no particular reason, a picture of the Burnham Hoyt-designed Lake Middle School at Sloan Lake (this is one of mine, though):

  • The paper's new feature, "The New Entrepreneur." This week's new entrepreneur is Bliss Works, which uses a technique called Belief-Shifting to, you know, shift beliefs:
    Belief-Shifting is a powerful new healing technique for correcting errors of the mind stored in the body's energy system. It is an elegantly simple method that replaces life-defeating thinking patterns with life affirming patterns. The process integrates new beliefs in just a matter of minutes!
  • A guest editorial by Sally Spencer-Thomas, "Director of Leadership Development and Behavioral Health at Regis [College]." It's entitled "Learning about suicide helps save lives." I didn't read it. Just how did Sally Spencer-Thomas (SST) become director of both leadership development and behavioral health, anyway? Nepotism, probably.

  • "Crime Beat!" But it sucks. All about not leaving valuables in your car when you park in the neighborhoods around Mile High Stadium. Butt out, coppers.

  • Ooh! Ooh! The "One Sky One World" Peace and Kite-Flying Thingie is coming to Sloan Lake again!

    The event features Kite Village, Sustainable Living Village and Pet Village. Special guest will be John McConnell, Earth Day founder, who at 93 will share his vision of Planet Earth's future . . . .

    [The event] was inspired by Denver kite-maker Jane Parker-Ambrose when she presented a kite to the Soviet Women's Peace Committee in 1985 . . . .

    Sustainable Living Village will feature exhibits and vendors, including information on wind energy credits . . . . Another special guest will be the "Flu Bug" Mascot who will help Colorado Visiting Nurses give flu, pneumonia and diphtheria shots at a cost.

    And I'm gonna be on the river.

  • Tribune Pet of the Week is Ignaz, a "one-eyed pound hound." Ignaz had this to say:
    The last time I was mentioned in the paper, it was in the Police Blotter for snatching away a baseball during a game at Rocky Mountain Park when I escaped from the back seat of the car.
  • Me too!
  • Mrs. Drunka's inaugural post

    Hi, all you clowns in Drunkablog land! Drunkawife here, making her very first appearance as a guest poster. Drunkahusband is still in town, but will be leaving soon, so I am practicing. You will probably just see lots of pictures as I am not much of a writer. Why, here's one now!

    West side of the Palacio de las Bellas Artes in Mexico City. Man with jaguar on his head.

    Here is another one!

    That's Mr. Jaguar Head at the top of the picture. And some cool snakes.

    Thanks for visiting! See you again real soon!


    Update: Re: "Man with jaguar on his head," I suppose that should really read, "jaguar with man's head in its mouth."

    Monday, September 25, 2006

    River trip looming

    Posting may be light, perhaps even annoyingly fey.

    Editorial: "Our editorials are terrible; we quit"

    The Daily Illini, the University of Illinois' venerable (founded 1871) student newspaper, has quit running editorials because too many of them "have been based on faulty facts, providing nothing but misinformation and misrepresentation. . . . "

    The latest botch was an editorial Thursday about some college-type event that got pretty much everything wrong, and for which the editorial board had already apologized. Unfortunately, having to apologize for a rogue editorial
    is a position that we have put ourselves in numerous times throughout the last couple of semesters. For this reason, The Daily Illini Editorial Board has decided to stop publishing editorials until further notice.
    Has this ever happened before in the entire gaudy history of newspaperly incompetence and venality? I don't mean the "misinformation and misrepresentation," of course, but admitting it, and having a healthy enough sense of shame to cut it the hell out?

    Jack Mabley, one of our most distinguished alumni, once reflected on his time here. He said, "I was proudest that in my 365 days as editor we never had to run a correction or skinback or apology, nor were we asked to."

    It is in this spirit, both of the long legacy of this paper and the importance of the editorial as an institution, that we do our duty to our readers, admit our mistakes and restore the credibility of this paper.

    However, we cannot hope to restore our reader's [sic] faith in us without hearing from them. Write to us, tell us what you think about The Daily Illini, don't pull any punches. We cannot fix this without you.

    (via Romenesko)

    Update: "Distinguished alumni" Jack Mabley, who died last year at age 90, had a blog.

    Update II: "Skinback?"

    Update III: Really, read Jack Mabley's blog, including the comments. Even reading the whole thing won't take long. He's pretty good, for 90. Sample (from his last post):
    My watchword and guide in my old age is "patience." It works wonders most of the time, and especially in traffic. I will go through these good senior years smelling the roses and trying to minimize the scratches from the thorns.

    I also avoid eye contact with or the finger to wild drivers. They may be drunk, or hung over, or just plain ugly. They may be mentally unbalanced and have an automatic rifle on the seat. Only about one in 10 is this way, but that means I am going to pass or be passed by 10 or 15 of them driving to and from the office.
    Ol' Jack still drove, but would you have ridden with ol' Jack? My grandmother drove until she was 95 or so--in fact, both my grandmothers drove until they were 95 or so--but neither should ever, ever have been allowed to.

    Sunday, September 24, 2006

    Sat Eve Post 11-2-68

    I've posted this cover before, but nothing else from the issue.


    Creepier: "None of the above" hadn't been invented yet.

    The September 21, 1968 Sat Eve Post's "Speaking Out" column was by then-student radical Mark Rudd. Called "We Want Revolution." It drew a letter from a Paul M. Peroff of Oxford, Connecticut:
    To quote student Mark Rudd: "We intend to unite with all people who believe that men and women should be free to live as they choose . . . in a society where the government is responsive to the needs of the people and not the needs of the few wose enormous wealth gives them the political power. We intend to make a revolution."

    Wonderful! But--sounds familiar. . . Where did I hear it before? Oh, yes . . . back in 1917 when I listened to Mr. Nikolai Lenin speaking to the crowd from the balcony of Krzesinska's Palace in Petrograd.
    Of course, Rudd has a website now, Mark Rudd's Website. It bears the subtitle, "Yes, this is the Mark Rudd from the sixties." Like his friend and fellow Weather Underground member Bill Ayers, Rudd has held on to his radical views and revolutionary arrogance; unlike Ayers, he has apparently renounced violence.

    In fact (small world alert), Rudd links to a 2001 piece by George Lakey that criticizes Ward Churchill and his book Pacifism as Pathology.

    This week's "Speaking Out" column, by the way, is "I Hate Horses" by naturalist Bil Gilbert, who "has three horses and dislikes them all."

    Sorry, I just dig the Duofold underwear ads.

    Nothing against the man, but: Buck Owens?

    Xenophobia sells: The Rambler was discontinued in 1969.

    To go with the "pop scene" theme, a piece on "the new sculpture," which includes this picture of an artist in the act of creation:

    Read the caption.

    Friday, September 22, 2006

    Colorado capers

    Just a few items of local import but universal appeal:

  • Cops lose Karr evidence:
    Sonoma County authorities say they’ve lost the computer that belonged to one-time JonBenet Ramsey murder suspect John Mark Karr and allegedly held the child pornography images that he’s charged with possessing.

    But the missing computer, seized from Karr’s home in 2001, was not expected to jeopardize the case against him because authorities had copied the entire hard drive contents and printed out the five illicit images, Sheriff’s Department Lt. Dave Edmonds told The Press-Democrat of Santa Rosa on Tuesday.

    The revelation came the same day prosecutors offered Karr a plea deal that would waive three of the five child pornography possession charges against Karr if he pleaded guilty to the two remaining ones. Karr would get credit for time served, would be placed on probation for three years and would be required to register as a sex offender.

    "I wonder if that was the impetus of the offer today," Karr’s attorney, Robert Amparan, said Tuesday. "It seems like a pretty embarrassing mistake for the Sheriff’s Department to admit."
    The JonBenet case is cursed.

  • Clever gold thieves:

    Three former employees of the Victor Gold Mining Company have been arrested in connection with the theft of more than $1 million in unprocessed gold from the mine over a six-year period.

    The suspects, two former supervisors and a process technician, apparently succeeded in periodically diverting a line carrying gold-saturated fluid during periods when process-plant staffing was limited, and directing the fluid through their own home-made recovery filter similar to the mine's conventional gold-recovery technology.

    The unprocessed metal was secretly removed from the mine's recovery building and shipped to a California metals refinery, where the gold was refined and sold on the open market.

    There's a (TV) movie in there squealing to get out. The Victor mine, as the article notes, is the only remaining commercial-grade gold mine in Colorado, smelterating 330,000 ounces of the stuff last year with 0 days of slave labor.

  • Denver DJs' lives not worth nickel: Two decades ago Denver talk-radio "personality" Alan Berg was gunned down by white supremacists. Now it's "Steven B.," another 80s DJ: Arrest made in murder of Steven B. It's quite a strange story, beyond the fact that (as every account notes) Mr. B. was "found floating six miles off Catalina Island."

  • Bet you didn't know that the original "reality show," Real World, filmed its new season (its 18th) in Denver's Lodo. Worse, the Post has a blog about it, complete (during filming, anyway) with a 24-hour webcam across the street from the Denver Real World house. Breaking news: "The Denver season is expected to follow the format of the past seventeen seasons."

  • Finally, a photo from the Rocky with a caption from the pro-pot group SAFER (didn't somebody just mention them?):

    "[E]xtraterrestrial-looking DEA agent
    Jeff Sweetin busting out a fat sack of dank."
  • Thursday, September 21, 2006

    Reefer madness

    A DEA agent has launched the campaign against Colorado's pot-legalization amendment: "Pot plan would strain authorities, foes say.

    Drug runners will begin trafficking large amounts of marijuana to sell if Colorado voters approve [Amendment 44], Drug Enforcement Agency special agent Jeffrey Sweetin said.

    Large amounts, he added, become a serious federal problem.

    "It will clearly impact what we do," he said.

    "Right now, a smaller amount of focus is on pot, but if this passes, we will be able to focus less and less on other drugs, and pot will become a major focus."

    Calvina Fay, executive director of Florida-based Save Our Society from Drugs, said "the stakes are very high" because she believes that this is just the first step toward the pro-Amendment 44 forces' eventual goal of legalizing all drugs throughout the nation.

    Couple of interesting facts and figures: the Rocky did a poll with Channel 4 on the measure, but don't provide a link. It found the measure failing 53 to 42 percent, which seems like a reasonable guess. They also have a video Q and A.

    One odd line:

    Fay said that the amendment would make it legal for an adult to give an ounce of marijuana to a 15-year-old, but proponents said that is misleading.
    Proponents? Apparently nobody told Rocky reporter David Moreno that his own paper called the claim a deliberate lie.

    Then a few quotes from the head of SAFER, the pro-amendment 44 group--but somehow, no mention of the group's name, let alone a link:

    Mason Tvert, campaign manager for a group that supports the amendment, said that there are already laws on the books that make it a felony to provide marijuana to a minor.

    His group wants to make it legal only for those over 21 to possess pot, he said.

    Tvert said the opposition forces "bend the truth" about marijuana and are using scare tactics to defeat the measure - including the charge that they're part of a national movement to legalize all drugs and are funded by wealthy individuals and political action groups.

    "I have no interest in other drugs, and we don't intend to run a statewide campaign anywhere else in the country," Tvert said.

    "They're also trying to say we took money from (billionaire Democratic donor) George Soros. We've never received a cent from George Soros, and believe me, if he offered me $1 or $1,000, I'd take it."

    SAFER has a lot more on the anti-44 campaign launch on their blog, which, despite its lack of permalinks, puts up surprisingly good, link-heavy posts.

    George Soros?

    Update: Sorry about the title.

    Wednesday, September 20, 2006

    Saudi students "unsafe" in U.S.

    Little Green Foosballs links to an article in the Arab News on the case of Hussein Al-Turki, the Aurora man recently sentenced to 28 (or 27 as the AN says) years in prison for enslaving his family's Indonesian housekeeper and repeatedly sexually assaulting her: "Al-Turki Episode Makes Saudis Think Twice Before Sending Children to US":

    JEDDAH, 20 September 2006 — Due to the intimidation and harassment Saudi students have been recently experiencing in the United States, especially after what happened to Homaidan Al-Turki and his family, Saudis are thinking twice before sending their children to study in America.

    “I am not going to sacrifice my sons by sending them to the US as long as they keep mistreating our children and abusing them for no reasons. My two sons will be graduating this year from high school and I will never ever think of sending them to America,” [some guy named] Al-Najjar said.

    "I know of many parents that have changed their plans and are sending their children to other destinations such as Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. The US is not the right place for our children and I hope all parents do not think about sending their children to any part of the US,” he added.

    According to the latest statistics, there has been a noticed decrease of GCC students in the US, the biggest drop being in Saudi numbers.

    This is because of the new political climate after Sept. 11, 2001, and the fact that Muslims in the US are facing many difficulties for mistakes that could be dealt in a less aggressive way,” said 29-year-old Ahmed Al-Falih, who is currently studying at a university in the US Midwest.

    Speaking to Arab News by telephone, he described the situation of Saudi students as unsafe. “Many students feel scared. They expect the unexpected just like Al-Turki who has been accused of rape and other things that he did not do.”

    Meanwhile, a Saudi tourist returning from the United States recently expressed anger and frustration at mistreatment suffered at the hands of US authorities when he was detained for a couple of hours at the J.F. Kennedy Airport.

    “I thought things would have calmed down after all these years but the situation is still tense and Arabs are discriminated against and mistreated,” said Mamdouh Al-Saeed, 24.Al-Saeed added that he would not feel comfortable going to the US for further education in the current climate . . . .

    People across Saudi Arabia have little faith in the US government and constantly accuse the authorities there of double standards by harshly punishing Al-Turki, while simultaneously letting off the perpetrators behind the Abu Ghraib fiasco in Iraq with a slap on the wrist.

    Abu Ghraib? Abu Ghraib? The piece isn't even worth fisking. And, as LGF points out, the whole thing is a shuck anyway, because the Saudi government just announced plans for a large increase in the number of students it sends to the U.S.

    Earlier post on Al-Turki and his "it is the way of my people" defense here.


    Pictures from Spain in 2000. Unbelievably, I can't remember where the first two were taken, except that it was the same place, an old (duh) monastery built on a sheer cliff and converted into a hotel. It was beeyouteefull. The D-a-W will know where it was, and be properly contemptuous of my accelerating mental decline. (I not only make a point of eating food cooked in aluminum pans, I scrape the pans with a spoon to get out the yummy burnt stuff. Mmmm-mm.)

    What were we talking about? Oh yeah, Spain.

    The river (whatever it is) makes a little bow curving around the cirque. This is looking downstream, I think, at dawn. The cultivated things are olive trees.

    This is looking upstream, taken a couple of minutes
    before. The sun had just hit the fog.

    I know where this one was taken, anyway. The Sagrada Familia Church in Barcelona.

    Gaudí the crazy architect whose dream this church was got run over by a tram in 1926. The church is nowhere near completion. Here's Gaudí's wiki, and here's a bunch of pics of the church not taken by me. It's pretty wild.

    Tuesday, September 19, 2006

    PeaceJam post-mortem

    In her account of the Gathering of the Nobelians at DU this past weekend, Post columnist Cindy Rodriguez sounds remarkably like high school PeaceJammer Rose Green:
    I walked out of Magness Arena on Saturday afternoon with these phrases ringing in my ear [she has only one ear]:

    "Don't abdicate authority. Seize your power."

    "The government works for you. Make them do the right thing."

    "What are you doing to bring about change?"

    Those words, spoken by Nobel peace prize winner Jody Williams, left me wondering: Am I doing enough?
    As it turns out, Rodriguez is, but you're not. In fact, you suck at peace. Helpfully, Cindy offers some suggestions to increase your pacificatory powers:
    There are endless ways people can help bring about peace: starting a book club that focuses on works of peacemakers, mentoring disadvantaged youth, raising money to build schools in developing countries, joining an environmental justice organization. And if you don't have time but have money, donate some to an organization like PeaceJam.
    Then she tells us what kind of people pacifists really are:

    For those who define pacifists as left-leaning college students and aging hippies who are not patriotic because they protest war, shake that thought out of your head. You've been manipulated by those who profit from war to associate pacifism with "fringe elements." In reality, pacifists are typically ordinary people who believe in the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. . . . .

    Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.? I have heard of these people! Please tell me more about peace!

    Peace is about justice triumphing over injustice. Creating peace requires more than simply acknowledging that it is morally wrong to allow a person to suffer from hunger, disease or political persecution. It is about taking steps to end that suffering.

    It's about parity and nurturing our old, mentoring our young, aiding our least fortunate and reaching out to those marginalized by society . . . .
    You've told me enough about peace! Aside from starting a book club, what can I do to encourage peace?
    [M]ake noise [I can do that!--ed.]. Educate people around you about the consequences of war. The U.S. has spent $300 billion so far on Operation Iraqi Freedom. With Iraqi Shiite police decapitating Sunnis, and Sunnis retaliating with suicide bombs, you have to wonder: Where is this freedom 3 1/2 years after the invasion?

    Flawless logic. And as usual it's the moral duty of people like Cindy to pound the truth into us. As (high-school senior) Rose Green said, "for those of us who do know [how war-like war is], it is our reponsibility to continue the education until every last person cannot sleep at night until they do something."

    Oh, boy.

    The News' Jim Sheeler actually got to hang with a couple of laureates. His account, while slightly less moist than Rodriguez's, is equally worshipful:

    The two old men sat across the table, grumbling about their health, teasing each other, and discussing the inevitable hurdles of trying to save the world.

    "How are you? Are you well?" asked the 74-year-old.

    "Not really sure," said the 71-year-old.

    "I was worried about you. I heard you had a lung problem."

    "I had a cough. Quite serious. Now better," said the 71-year-old, his face framed by thick glasses, his balding gray head closely shorn. "And you?" . . . .

    The pair say they are not any different from any other two old men sitting at any coffee shop anywhere. One of them calls himself "an ordinary man," the other, "a simple monk." . . .

    Can you guess who the two old men are? Yes! It's Tutu and the Dalai Lama, and they're fightin' crime and lovin' the ladies! (Premieres Wednesday, September 20 on NBC!)

    Sheeler's piece is fairly long, so you don't have to read the whole thing if you don't want to. PBUM (Peace be upon me).

    Monday, September 18, 2006

    Trip announced

    While I'm blathering I should note that we're doing our semi-annual manly-men-only trip down the Green River at the beginning of October. When we first started running the Green we'd go in July, when it was about a million degrees, the river was low and slow, and the mosquitoes were supernaturally exsanguinary. It took us a couple of trips to figure out not to do that.

    This time we studied a little on live blogging from the river--which in this stretch runs through narrow canyons with cliffs a couple of thousand feet high--via laptop and satellite phone. It's possible. Unfortunately it's also quite expensive, and while the nice lady I talked to about renting the satellite phone kept saying "it should work, it should work," she also kept saying, "the more open the area, the better it'll work." How about the bottom of a three-hundred-yard wide canyon from which you can see, at most, a 55 or 60-degree arc of sky? Is that open enough? "It should work, it should work." But even a GPS won't get a signal down there sometimes. "It should work, it should work."

    Upshot is, we chickened out. We'll try it on the Missouri, which is broader and has much lower cliffs, next year.

    Anyway, I think this stench-oozing excuse for a blog may well lie fallow while I'm gone. It's possible the D-a-W may rouse herself to post oncet or twicet, but, as she quite reasonably points out, aside from the occasional filthy comment blogging's not really her "bag."

    Entertainment suggestion

    You know what I'd buy if they made it? A DVD with nothing but the last couple of minutes of those book-store readings and literary confabs C-Span 2 shows all weekend, every weekend. Wouldn't that be interesting? Over and over, people clapping, standing up, gawping and stretching, looking around, bending over for their purses and coats, edging up to the front of the room for a small word with the author. I could watch for hours.

    They could even make a series of "best of" discs, maybe include some bloopers--author(s) railing at the audience before passing out drunk, crazy guys attacking the college kid holding the microphone--heck, didn't they find some old crock dead in his folding chair once after a talk by Gore Vidal?

    Sunday, September 17, 2006

    Back to PeaceJam!

    The Post has quotes from some of the Nobelians in a handy-dandy quotables of the laureates magical shrinking sidebar. I guess they're from this weekend. In any case, some of them are quite interesting.

    Oscar Arias, president of Costa Rica: "As scary as terrorism is, there are far scarier threats to human security that receive only a fraction of the attention."

    Rigoberta Menchu (thar she blows!):
    Our society is not only the human life, but also the flowers. These flowers have life. The rivers, the mountains, our mother Earth, all of that is also life. This world, is a very materialistic world.
    So we can assume then that notwithstanding the no-doubt-large income she derives from her untrue but best-selling book, and the fact that she flies all over the world to tell people how materialistic they are, Rigoberta is still living the simple life? Wonder how big her carbon footprint is.

    Shirin Ebadi (whom the Post describes here as an "Iranian activist for peace, democracy, and women's rights") pulls off the neat trick of threatening world annihilation at a gathering of pacifists:
    When people are oppressed all their lives and they are deprived of their most basic human rights, they may lose control and set fire to a world where they themselves and others may die. When 80 percent of the wealth of the world belongs to one percent of the world, how can we expect peace?
    These people make me tired.

    Update: East High student Rose Green blogs on what she learned at PeaceJam:
    The most important thing to do to change the world is education. America is incredibly guarded from reality. We do not hear about many of the worst things and most important issues occurring around the world. For those of us who do know, it is our reponsibility to continue the education until every last person cannot sleep at night until they do something.
    Time, as the song says, to get out of Denver.

    Update II: The Post has taken down the handy-dandy quotations and posted a tongue-bath of the Dalai Lama.

    Update III: Sorry about the several typos in this post. Fixed (more or less) now.

    Little blue book o' lies

    Been so wrapped up in PeaceJam I forgot to post about the latest governmental malfeasance and skulduggery around Amendment 44, the Colorado constitutional initiative that would make possession of up to an ounce of pot legal statewide.

    A couple of weeks ago it was a federal DEA agent's e-mail to PR types, asking if they'd be interested in managing a campaign against Amendment 44--a campaign for which, he said, he'd already collected $10,000. (What happened to that effort, anyway? And to the $10,000? Heck, since we're asking questions, where did that $10,000 (smallish, but a fine, round number) come from in the first place? Nobody seems to have asked.).

    This month it's the Colorado Legislative Council quite consciously misleading every voter in the state about the amendment. In an editorial with far too many sentences ending in question marks (and unaccompanied, as far as I could tell, by a news story), the News asked Friday:

    How would you react to a ballot measure allowing an adult to give "up to one ounce of marijuana to another individual 15 years of age or older as long as there is no compensation, although possession for those under 21 years of age would remain illegal"?

    You'd consider the measure for two seconds or less, declare it insane, and decide on the spot to vote against it. Right?

    Legalize the act of plying kids with drugs?

    Who authored such madness?

    No one, as it happens. But you wouldn't know it if you only read the state's Blue Book, which is the pamphlet that goes out to all registered voters and explains this year's ballot initiatives.

    That misleading line about transferring marijuana to juveniles happens to be included in the final draft of the pamphlet's discussion of Amendment 44 . . . .

    [T]hanks to this Blue Book blunder, the task for Amendment 44 backers may be infinitely more difficult.

    Did we say blunder? Strike that: The line was deliberately placed in the Blue Book and is defended to this day by the Legislative Council as a legitimate interpretation.

    House Speaker Andrew Romanoff told us "every single word" of the controversial line "is true" because "it is accurate in terms of the laws on possession of marijuana."

    Which is absolute bull, of course:
    Romanoff says this because state law makes it a felony to give anyone under 15 marijuana, and that law would remain in place if Amendment 44 passes. And since there is no explicit prohibition against transferring pot to anyone older, the council felt justified in maintaining that an adult could give "up to one ounce of marijuana to another individual 15 years of age or older" under the amendment.
    They're so freaked out (man), they're willing to tell a flat-out lie.

    [T]he clear implication of that statement - that the amendment decriminalizes such transfers, at least insofar as the state is concerned - is simply false. It is a crime in Colorado to help any juvenile break any federal or state law, and under both federal and state law it will continue to be illegal for minors to possess marijuana even if Amendment 44 is approved. So someone giving a minor marijuana would be breaking the law as well.

    And guess what!

    Sponsors of Amendment 44 tried to have the offending language struck this week in court, but a Denver judge said he had no authority to do so. We understand the judge's reluctance to meddle in a legislative prerogative, but the result is that voters will be misled. And that's simply not right, whatever your opinion of the merits of Amendment 44.

    So okay, they're willing to stoop pretty low to defeat 44. But like a novice actor I have to ask, What's their motivation? Romanoff (a Democrat) seems to purely hate the amendment. Does he have a moral reason, or is it just too "far out?" Does he fear that Colorado will have to change it's nickname from "Hate State" to "Pothead State?" Will we lose federal money? Will the young be corrupted? More than they already are? What the devil is going on around here?


    Update: Jeralyn Merritt doesn't add anything new, but does so in a lawyerly manner on 5280's blog.

    Update II: The Rocky did have a story on the court ruling; it just got lost in their rotten search functionations.

    Update III: The SAFER blog (where I found the Rocky story) is covering the Blue Book fiasco like, like--like a hippie with the munchies on a can of tofu cocktail weenies.


    PeaceJam Saturday: Tutu tut-tuts too

    Uncharacteristcally reluctant to do so earlier, South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu joined his fellow Nobel Peace Prize laureates in criticizing the U.S. Saturday during a speech at PeaceJam:

    "You are some of the most incredibly generous people," [he] told an audience of 7,000 at the University of Denver's Magness Arena. "Your philanthropy is fantastic. How about exporting your generosity instead of your bombs?"

    The man who helped abolish apartheid in his native country echoed advice offered earlier in the evening by fellow laureate Betty Williams, who sought to end the violence in Northern Ireland: "Take your country back!"

    As part of this weekend's PeaceJam youth conference, the Nobel winners unveiled a United Nations-style "global call" to fight what they identified as the core evils of the world - poverty, racism, a lack of clean water, the degradation of the environment and the obsession with nuclear weapons.

    The failure to address those evils, they said, are the root causes of suicide bombers and hijackers of airplanes.

    Betty Williams had the worst case of BDS:
    Williams, the Northern Ireland peace activist, paused during her talk to single out a PeaceJam participant sitting near the arena's rafters: a Peruvian girl working to eradicate hunger at an orphanage.

    "A child of 11 has more intelligence than the president of the United States," she said, drawing cheers.
    Iranian judge (and first Muslim to win the Nobel Peace Prize) Shirin Ebadi said she was "'very sorry about the sad events of Sept. 11' but wished that the United States had built a school in Afghanistan for each victim instead of going to war."

    And told a lie:
    "Fundamentalism does not only belong to Islam, it exists in all religions," she said through an [sic] Farsi interpreter. "When someone claims that he has a mission from God to bring war to Iraq and kill the people of Iraq, this is a kind of terrorism and a kind of fundamentalism."
    Even the revered exiled religious leader of Tibet--of whom commenter Caz said yesterday, "The Dalai Lama, bless his little cotton socks, never talks about anything. It's a real skill"--volunteered a little (bad) advice:
    In a discussion taped for the BBC, the Dalai Lama said the United States and Israel "should not rule out" talks with Hamas and al-Qaeda . . . . He stopped short of criticizing the president, whom he called a close friend, about the war in Iraq.

    "That's his business," the Dalai Lama said with a smile, drawing laughs.

    The Rocky adds:

    One after the other Saturday night, the laureates thanked the crowd that rose to its feet before and after each speech . . .
    Poor kids. One lost weekend and their little lives are blighted forever.

    Update: Where's my favorite laureate, fake-but-accurate Guatemalan memoirist Rigoberta Menchu?

    Update II: High school blogger Rose Green:

    I’m exhausted, so I’m going to have to save all the details until tomorrow night. It was incredible, Demond [sic] Tutu is hilarious, the Dalai Lama and I shared a moment, and Betty Williams helped us hug the world . . . .

    Update III: Broncos fans! Check out South African Archbishop and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu ("hilarious"--Rose Green) modeling a Broncos Super Bowl hat!

    Update IV: Christopher Hitchens gave the Dalai Lama a touch of the Mother Teresa treatment back in 1998.

    Update V (Monday): I really wanted to title this post, "Tutu tut-tuts, says goodbye." But Tutu didn't leave until yesterday and thus hadn't yet said "goodbye." The D-blog is scrupulous that way.

    Saturday, September 16, 2006

    PeaceJam (hearts) the BBC; and other odds and ends

    What is it with the arrangement between PeaceJam and the BBC? As Westword pointed out in its July 6 article,
    The BBC will send a crew here next month to start preparing for the events at DU September 15-17. The BBC is dedicating all of September to "Peacemakers," kicking off the month with one-minute spots that PeaceJam has already produced out of its office in Arvada, using video of the Nobels that Suvanjieff and Engle have collected at PeaceJam events around the world. Those spots have already been sent to the BBC, and "they say they're 'fab,'" Engle reports. During the PeaceJam anniversary weekend, BBC World will show a PeaceJam documentary -- even as it films seven different programs featuring the Nobels: two episodes of World Debate and five of Hard Talk, its top-rated show. That's on top of regular coverage on BBC World News (which airs in Denver on Channel 12), on the BBC radio network (the largest in the world) and on the BBC website. And that's just the start: BBC World has also commissioned a thirteen-part series based on PeaceJam that will debut next September, with plans in the works for a companion book, a DVD and international sales. Says Suvanjieff, "This really launches it to an entire global platform."
    A global platform--financed, no doubt, by the (around) $220 yearly license fee the Beeb collects from every television-owning household in Britain. I can't wait to tattle about this at Biased BBC. The commenters there love "Al-Beeb" almost as much as they love peace at any price. They're sure to be totally supportive of the BBC's many projects with PeaceJam.

    Interesting facts and figures

  • The Rocky yesterday: "However, hot political issues such as the war in Iraq and the ongoing massacres in Darfur, Sudan, will be avoided as peace goals, the laureates have already indicated to the Peace Jam founders."

  • Human Rights Watch has its own international film festival. Looks like a barrel of laughs.

  • The Drunkablog has often considered doing a weekly or even daily post on "Why Mahatma Gandhi was bad for the world." And no, he wouldn't mention Gandhi's penchant for giving enemas to, and receiving enemas from, teenage girls.

  • Notwithstanding the enema fetish, it's sad to see Gandhi forced to gaze benevolently on Cindy Sheehan's Gold Star Families for Peace website.
  • Best (i.e., lamest) quote from the back cover of the PeaceJam book: "'Young, cool, and edgy--you go, PeaceJam!'--Andrei Codrescu, National Public Radio."

  • Update: Here's the Rocky's PeaceJam slideshow, day 1.

    Update II: East High student and Peacejammer Rose Green blogs about the first afternoon:

    The afternoon workshop I participated in was tree-planting. We went to Sun Valley (around 10th and Federal) [That's very close to our neighborhood. I feel sprinkled with stardust--ed.] and planted 100 trees. It was so fun! Sometimes when you do grassroots activism, you don’t notice your impact growing and stretching beyond your original effort. But when you plant trees, the roots and leaves are right in front of you. I helped plant three trees. We named them Lucy, Morris, and Chi-Chi.

    Back from Sun Valley and after a quick dinner from the local pizza joint, the concert began. It started with a thoughtful, empowering performance by Beth Nielsen Chapman (happy 50th!). Desmond Tutu surprised us with a dance and an exclamation of “You are cooooool cats! Aand you’re going to change the world!” Next Freak Street Project hyped it up with great beats and lots of energy.

    Then several other bands played. Rose has pictures. Be sure to scan Saturday's schedule, too.

    Nobel laureates: U.S. root of all evil

    That didn't take long. The News:

    The largest gathering of Nobel Peace Prize winners ever assembled launched a call for peace Friday from Denver that morphed into a lengthy diatribe of America as a rich country that was muscling out poor nations and misusing its military
    might. . . .

    "Did all these weapons keep us safe from attack on Sept. 11? No. Or (will they) from the next attack? No. There's no justifying spending on the war in Iraq and Afghanistan when people live on less than $2 a day," said Jody Williams, who received the 1997 Nobel Prize for working to ban land mines . . . .

    A few of the speakers, including the Dalai Lama and Tutu, stayed clear of politics, while the majority used their forum to blast the U.S. and its policies.

    Speaking with a Spanish translator, Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, who won the 1980 prize for starting a human rights movement in Latin America, got gasps and some laughter from the crowd when he excoriated President Bush, saying, "Bush says he prays. But I think God covers up his ears when George Bush prays."

    Esquivel said the U.S. didn't appreciate that although nearly 3,000 people died during the 9/11 terrorist attacks, on that same day 35,000 children died of hunger around the world.

    "I call that economic terrorism," he said.

    Mairead Corrigan Maguire, who won the prize in 1976 for founding a peace organization in Northern Ireland, criticized "the alleged civilized world leader," the U.S., for its anti-terrorism tactics. She said the United Nations offered a better model of peace.

    "Uphold the United Nations!" she said. "Its [sic] the best we have as a human family."

    Shirin Abadi, who won the 2003 Nobel Prize for human rights work in the Middle East, said the real roots of terrorism - prejudice, ignorance and illiteracy - haven't yet been addressed. Translated from Farsi, the former Iranian judge said, "When 80 percent of the world's wealth belongs to 1 percent of the people, how can we expect peace?"

    The Post, unsurprisingly, buries the anti-Americanism, beginning its piece:
    Nine winners of the Nobel Peace Prize targeted what they called the root causes of evil - racism, poverty and environmental destruction - as they laid out a plan for world peace Friday in Denver.
    In fact, the specifically anti-U.S. slant of many of the laureates' comments isn't mentioned until the very end of the article, and even then the Post's Jennifer Brown weasels around:

    During a news conference and a taping of a BBC World debate, the laureates frequently were sharply political.

    The U.S. campaign against terrorism is based on fear, and it was nearly treasonous to question why the terrorists who attacked on Sept. 11, 2001, hate Americans, Williams said.

    "We were not supposed to ask why this happened; we were supposed to be patriotic," said Williams, who lives in Virginia.

    Esquivel said later: "I think God covers up his ears when George Bush prays."

    Update: Given the story, both papers' headlines--the News' "Noble view" and the Post's "A Nobel cause"--are pathetic.


    Ten Nobel Peace Prize laureates. Three thousand unbearably sanctimonious teenagers. They've come from all over the world to the University of Denver this weekend for, as the AP story frontpaged by the Post hard-hittingly puts it, "an extraordinary gathering . . . a three-day event dedicated to helping thousands of young people promote peace around the world."

    The reporter, a gink going under the name "Chase Squires," practically wets his pants:
    Archbishop Desmond Tutu waved to the crowd as he arrived and Mairead Maguire, the 1976 laureate for her work against violence in Northern Ireland, shook hands. The Dalai Lama, honored in 1989 for his work on behalf of Tibet, was greeted by 50 costumed dancers from the Tibetan Association of Colorado and other supporters.

    The Dalai Lama, in a maroon robe and gold sash, stopped to cradle the face of Dawa Dorjee in his hands as she wept with joy.
    The Rocky's Jean Torkelson also approves:
    The co-founders of PeaceJam, which opens today for its tenth anniversary in Denver, have sketched out an ambitious ten-year program involving thousands of young people, a book, ongoing BBC programs and United Nations-style peace initiatives but with "a lot less bureaucracy."

    In other words, "A lean, mean, peace-making machine," said Ivan Suvanjieff, who co-founded PeaceJam with his wife, Dawn Engle, in a north Denver loft in 1996.
    Survanjieff (né Mark J. Norton) is a rocker from Detroit (the Ramrods); he and his wife met at the heavily Buddhist Naropa Institute in Boulder, and either he (PeaceJam's own FAQ page) or both of them (most newspaper accounts) came up with the idea for PeaceJam in that North Denver loft in 1993 (not 1996), during Denver's hugely over-hyped "Summer of [gang] Violence."

    Really lousy writing

    The Post's Lisa Kennedy, writing in the "Style" section of all places, got the anniversary celebration off to a soppy start Tuesday:

    "GIVE PEACE A CHANCE," the bumper sticker read. Was that a bleat? Or a whimper? Chances are it was anything but a demand.

    Give peace a chance? All we are saying is it feels like peace squandered its opportunity in the 1970s. In the wake of the civil rights movement and after the Vietnam War ended, peace lost its cachet. . . .

    "Peace, man. Let's hug a tree," [Survanjieff] adds with hipster intonations. "And clichés lose the power of the message they were created for. It has no weight." . . .

    As throughout, Kennedy adds her two cents:

    [T]he constant striving, even praying for peace, seldom makes news. Giving peace a chance already had fallen out of fashion when John Lennon, the man who penned the lyrics to that song, was killed. That's not ironic. That's tragic. . . .

    But Kennedy (remember, she's the reporter) finds hope, sort of:

    Today, many activists do the work of transforming people's lives from ones brutalized by violence (organized, chaotic, both) to ones where respect is the rule of law. But they could use the help of visionary language making its way into the mainstream once again.

    Read the whole thing, for it is very bad. The real problem, though, is that every journalist writing about PeaceJam sounds almost as bad: respectful to the point of obsequiousness, uncritically supportive, nearly awestruck at this amazing event. The Post, the News, even hip 'n' cynical Westword, all shitcan any pretence to skepticsm or distance.

    The amount of coverage is also way over the top. The Rocky story linked above, for example, has links to several others, including the must-reads "Laureates begin arriving" and "PeaceJammers break ice over lunch."

    More complaining

    Here's another thing: even with all the garbage stories I've read, I can't figure out what the hell PeaceJam (and the Nobelians) actually teach the kids, or what they actually do. The "initiatives" mentioned are vague, dumb and menacing, all at once. The Rocky:
    The global initiative involves recruiting kids as young as kindergarten age — called PeaceJam Juniors — to carry out individual peace initiatives . . . .

    The laureates want to launch a 10-year "global action plan" for peace, including one billion individual acts of peace which would be conceived and carried out by young people around the world.
    "PeaceJam is about youth learning to do a better job than we did -- you have the opportunity to show us up and get it right," says Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize winner, who married Suvanjieff and Engle six years ago.

    "One of the things I most admire about PeaceJam is that it does not seek to teach young people about peace, so much as it encourages them to become actors for peace themselves. PeaceJam takes the struggle for peace out of the virtually inaccessible realm of international politics and law and places it back in the hands and minds of people," says Oscar Arias, the 1987 Nobel Peace Prize winner, who invited Engle and Suvanjieff to his inauguration as president of Costa Rica a few months ago.
    The Post again:
    "PeaceJam is about action," Suvanjieff said. "I want the youth to be armed with knowledge, wisdom ... Peace means something to me. I want to share it. I want to spread it. Peace is what we need, and it's hard work."
    Yes, but, what do you do, Ivan? Actually, the Rocky's Torkelson does mention one concrete peace-type (well, health-type, anyway) PeaceJam proposal, which she divulges to readers absolutely uncritically:

    [T]he laureates hope to tackle global disease, especially crucial in a worldwide economy where viruses can sweep the world in a matter of days.

    On that score, Suvanjieff said one practical improvement would be to cut down on the use of plastic bags in Africa where pools of stagnant water collect and breed disease-laden mosquitos. A simple change to absorbent canvas bags would prevent millions of cases of malaria.

    Absorbent canvas bags will prevent millions of cases of malaria? And all the idiots were talkin' about using DDT again.

    Update: The Post has the most ludicrous poll of the year on its front page right now:
    Can the efforts of Nobel laureates and teens in Denver make a difference?

    Yes - Never underestimate the power of teens, guided by great leaders.

    No - War zones aren't tuned in to what's happening in Denver this week.

    Don't know - PeaceJam's mission is crucial to our future, and could deliver results now.
    Current score: Yes: 131. No: 145. Don't know: 21.

    Update II: The Post is also frontpaging East High School student and repeat Peacejammer Rose Green's blog. It's pretty much what you'd expect.

    Thursday, September 14, 2006

    Yo, homes

    If I were a deconstructionist (my license expired) I'd write a book about the changing conception of the "Home of the Future" over the last century--with special emphasis, of course, on malignant consumerist-corporate control of the mass idea of "the home" "the future," and blah blah oink.

    But I'm not. The only reason I mention it is that the Rocky touts a Home of the Future today, bulleting, among other wondrous features:

    • Digital photos can be downloaded to a media server, then immediately viewed on touch screen panels in each room or computers throughout the house.

    • The touch screens throughout the house display four TV channels at once, and viewers can touch one if they want it to fill the screen.
    Whoa. Pretty boring. Again, I'm no deconstructionist, but for some reason earlier Homes of the Future had more oomph (the "Xanadu" more or less deconstructed itself), so I'll just post a few pics 'n' links of them and leave it at that.

    Designed by eggheads: Behold Futuro! (1968)

    A Disney HotF:

    Cheesy: Famous mouse had hand in
    now-ubiquitous "cheesewheel" design.

    Actually, Monsanto built the place (see "consumerist-corporate influences," above), so it's probably a toxic-waste dump now. I know I am. Disney made a film about the house. Haven't seen it, but I bet it's better than The Barefoot Executive.

    Okay, here's one HotF that really did catch on:

    House of the Future (1933) with now-standard personal aeroplane).

    Styrofoam? No way!

    Despite my earlier-expressed disdain for the Xanadu, I've got to admit: a styrofoam house is a styrofoam house. Here's a better picture of the Kissimmee Xanadu:

    It's you: inside the Kissimmee Xanadu. Think the place squeaked when you walked around in it like styrofoam does when you pull it out of a box? That would get annoying.

    This is my absolute fave: the cardboard house:

    The D-blog has come close to living in a cardboard "house" before.
    Nothing anywhere near this fancy, though.

    And just because I like the paper cutout people standing around drinking and ignoring each other, here's the "Treehouse of the Future."

    (It's a model.)

    "Super Columbine Massacre"

    The Post has an AP story on the Montreal college rampage with a nasty Colorado angle:

    A man with a black trench coat whose shooting rampage in a Montreal college killed one person and wounded 19 others before he was slain by police said on a blog in his name that he liked to play a role-playing Internet game about the Columbine
    shootings . . . .

    In postings on a Web site called, blogs in [shooter Kimveer] Gill's name show more than 50 photos depicting the young man in various poses holding a rifle and donning a long black trench coat and combat boots.

    One photo has a tombstone with his name printed on it - below it the phrase: "Lived fast died young. Left a mangled corpse." . . .

    He said on the site that he liked to play "Super Columbine Massacre," an Internet-based computer game that simulated the April 20, 1999, shootings at the Colorado high school by two of its students that left 13 people dead.

    According to the Rocky,
    The game's creator, who refused to identify himself to the Rocky Mountain News, did agree to an online interview. He said he wanted to create something profoundly unique and confrontational that would "promote a real dialogue on the subject of school shootings."

    Several Columbine families, after being told about the game, had plenty to say.

    "It's wrong," said Joe Kechter, whose son, Matt, was murdered in the Columbine library.

    "We live in a culture of death," said Brian Rohrbough, whose son, Dan, was gunned down on a sidewalk outside the school, "so it doesn't surprise me that this stuff has become so commonplace. It disgusts me. You trivialize the actions of two murderers and the lives of the innocent."

    And Judy Brown, who has been immersed in the Columbine controversy along with her husband, Randy, called it a "sad and sick thing to make a video game out of a tragedy where 13 innocent people were murdered."
    Here's the Q and A with the anonymous creator of Super Columbine Massacre, conducted by the paper's video gaming writer Brian D. Crecente.

    Update: The Rocky story quoted above seems to have been disappeared and replaced by this one from AP. Strange.

    Wednesday, September 13, 2006

    Blogs and libel

    Instead of searching Volokh Conspiracy or Instapundit or any of the ten million other law professor blogs that are probably covering it, I thought I'd find out for myself where the law stands as far as libel suits against blogs. Then I could, you know, employ my unique talents to render it intelligible to the regular gink from Anytown, USA--that is, to you, dear Drunkablog readers.

    The best-known suit is probably Apple's against the "numerous unknown entities" who, Apple claims, divulged some of its trade secrets over the internet. The case is a mess and probably doesn't apply to your everyday blogger, so I won't get into it.

    The Media Law Research Center (MLRC) has a handy-dandy page which includes the Apple case, but also describes a lot of other suits for libel and such against bloggers and websites. It's fascinating reading. (Sorry, no permalinks, but just scroll down to the state and you'll find the case). A few of the suits listed (many of which, somewhat unsurprisingly, concern alleged sexual defugalties):

    Mississippi: A minister sued a former parishioner for claiming on her blog that they'd had an affair; Florida (Tucker Max again): "Plaintiff, formerly Miss Vermont and Miss Vermont U.S.A., sued over postings on the blog in which the author recounted his alleged sexual exploits with her"; and Maine: The Gentle Wind Project v. Garvey, in which "The Gentle Wind Project, which describes itself as 'not-for-profit world healing organization with a remarkable healing technology,' sued critics who called the organization a cult."

    Then there's Banks v. Millum (Georgia), "the first case against a blogger of which MLRC is aware that has gone to trial and resulted in a liability verdict." Interesting facts and figures:

    Attorney Rafe Banks III sued political activist David Milum for statements made on his website on local politics in Forsyth County, Georgia, Several postings on the site alleged that Banks had delivered bribes from drug dealers to a now-deceased judge. After a four-day trial and six hours of deliberation, the jury awarded Banks $50,000 in compensatory damages, but no punitive damages.

    Banks had sought between $400,000 and $2 million in damages. After the verdict, Milum said that someone else was taking over the web site. He also said that he may appeal.

    If they don't hold bloggers themselves to a higher standard than anyone else (which Banks doesn't seem to do), I'll be happy.

    (h/t: Dougie Houser)

    Update: Now that I look, Glenn Reynolds has a paper on libel laws and blogs he posted last April (pdf). It's short and interesting (he draws particular attention to the fact that there are as yet very few suits against bloggers), but pretty general.

    Stabby is as stabby does

    In the proud tradition of Tonya Harding and the Texas cheerleader murder-for-hire lady:

    A disguised University of Northern Colorado reserve punter on the football team stabbed the team's first string punter in the thigh of his punting leg, officials say.

    Mitch Cozad, a sophomore punter, has been suspended from UNC and arrested for investigation of second degree assault in the stabbing of Rafael Mendoza, said Evans Police Lt. Gary Kessler . . . .

    Cozad allegedly ran up behind Mendoza in the parking lot of the Crescent Cove Apartments in Evans at 9:30 p.m. on Monday and stabbed Mendoza in the right thigh, Kessler said.

    Witnesses saw the suspect, wearing a black hooded sweat shirt, jump into a black Dodge Charger and speed away, he said.

    Also in the tradition of Harding and the Cheerleader Murder Lady, Cozad is dumber than Cheez Whiz™:

    Shortly after the stabbing, a black Charger pulled into the parking lot of a liquor store in Evans.

    The clerk watched as the driver wearing a black hooded jacket, get out of the car and pull tape off of his license plates, Kessler said.

    "That's what struck the clerk as quite odd," he said.

    The clerk called police and gave them the license plate number of the suspicious vehicle, which turned out to be Cozad's.

    Insert "D'oh!" here. Lt. Kessler gets the last line: "I think [stabbing your rival in the leg] would strike anybody as a weird way to get ahead."

    (from the Post)

    Update: Mennndozzaaa!

    Update II: Cozad must really be a lousy punter, because "Mendoza has averaged 37.6 yards-per-punt on nine punts in the two games so far this season," according to the News. If I were Cozad's lawyer I'd stress that in mitigation: He really sucks, your Honor.

    Tuesday, September 12, 2006

    Mixed review

    Turner Classic Movies is showing Rules of the Game, which I've never seen before. Naturally I went to Rotten Tomatoes to check out the reviews, and thence to the New York Times' original review, by Howard Thompson.

    Boy, is it screwed up. They appear, in fact, to have stuck somebody else's review on Thompson's (or vice versa). The effect is very strange. Here are the first two paragraphs:
    Exactly what Jean Renoir had in mind when he wrote, performed in, and directed The Rules of the Game, Saturday's French import at the Fifth Avenue Playhouse, is anybody's guess. This is the same M. Renoir, if you please, who gave us those notable imports, Grand Illusion and The Human Beast, not to mention The Southerner, from Hollywood. The new arrival, however, is really one for the buzzards.

    Here we have a baffling mixture of stale sophistication, coy symbolism, and galloping slapstick that almost defies analysis. The distributors claim that the picture, made shortly before the war, was banned by the Occupation on grounds of immorality. Rest assured it wasn't immortality. And there's nothing particularly sizzling in this account of some addle-headed lounge lizards tangling up their amours on a weekend house party in the country.
    We can agree, can't we, that "really one for the buzzards" is not a compliment? At least in Western culture?

    But check out the fifth and sixth paragraphs:

    Twenty-two years after The Rules of the Game was made, and eleven years after a mutilated print was exhibited here, the full version of Jean Renoir's study of the manners and mores of prewar France opened yesterday at the Eighth Street Playhouse and completely justifies its European reputation.

    This remarkable film was photographed in the Sologne valley, where a year later French armies were fighting their last battles against the Nazis. While the film was in production, Hitler's troops invaded Czechoslovakia. The film opened in Paris while the city was celebrating the 150th anniversary of the French Revolution.

    How do you make a mistake like that? And whose review is stuck on Thompson's (or vice versa)? Ah, sweet mystery of life &etc.

    Double- (even triple-) weird

    I deleted the post below (on the John Mark Karr cartoon), but it's still there. [Now it's not. Read update IV.] That is, it's gone from my dashboard, but still up on the published blog. Shee-it. I wanted to remove it because the link doesn't work and never will. For some reason Barking Moonbat etc. forbade me permalinkaging privileges--I must have done something, invaded their "space" somehow, but I have no idea how.


    Problem is, the cartoon also isn't among Dana Summers' last 14 at the Orlando Sentinel. So where the hell is it? Frustrating.

    But I'll just pretend I'm New York mayor Fiorella LaGuardia--who supposedly read the comics over the radio (3rd graf) during a newspaper strike in the 30s--and explain the cartoon to you. It shows two cops outside John Mark Karr's cell. One, gesturing at Karr, says to the other, "He just confessed to killing the 'Crocodile Hunter.'"

    Guess ya hadda been there.

    Update: Apparently LaGuardia read the funny papers over the radio in 1945 (scroll down to that year).

    Update II: Didn't Heliotrope's account of the arty poetry evening make you wish you'd been there? I mean:
    Wearing the traditional Statue of Liberty green and very prominent crown, Barbara Elovic began the evening by reading Emma Lazarus's famous "The New Colossus" (1883), the first poem in Heliotrope's Fall 2002 issue. The poem, we
    know, is carved into the pedestal of Liberty herself.
    Creepy. But who would have wanted to miss "Claudia Carlson's dramatic monologue, 'The Dwarf's Lament' ('We miss our Snow . . .')" . . ? Not you, pal!

    Update III: Third oddity: Wikipedia doesn't have an entry for ol' Fiorello.

    Update IV: Oh man, now the post this one was all about is gone, and Blogger won't let me take this one down. I'm gonna strangle myself, and then I'm gonna strangle a whole lot of other people. The John Mark Karr cartoon is on the Barking Moonbat site, September 10, and this post is staying up. I like the poetry discussion. Death to Blogspot.

    Monday, September 11, 2006

    Life, 12-20-68

    One of the relatively few issues of Life I rescued from the Denver Public Library dumpsters:

    I looked for it at Project Gutenberg, which has
    a fair amount of Twain, but no Indians.

    With only eight-and-a-half chapters it's impossible to tell how good the book might have been. It sort of reminds me of The Searchers; it's got that captivity narrative thing goin' on.

    Here's Tom Sawyer setting Jim straight about Indians:
    If a white man tells you a thing, do you know it's true? No, you don't; because generally it's a lie. But if an Injun tells you a thing, you can bet on it every time for the petrified fact; bcause you can't get an Injun to lie, he would cut his tongue out first. If you trust to a white man's honor, you better look out; but trust to an Injun's honor, and nothing in the world can make him betray you--he would die first, and be glad to.
    Of course, later in the story when some Indians have acted far less than honorably, Huck asks Tom:

    "Where did you learn about Injuns--how noble they was, and all that?". . . He turned away his head, and after about a minute he said "Cooper's novels," and didn't say anything more, and I didn't say anything more, and so that changed the subject.

    Yes, I know that for most of his life Twain didn't didn't much care for Indians, to say the least (from the quite pc Mark Twain Webquest).

    Moving along

    Richard Schickel reviewed films for Life before he took his present job (!) at Time in 1972. Here he looks at some

    Schick (as his friends call him, I claim--prove I'm wrong) gets it right on The Producers, one of his "unsung heroes of screen '68":
    I think you must either love or hate this film in its entirety. I happen to love it, mostly for its daring. It is a comedy about bad taste and everything in it is deliberately, and perfectly, awful.

    Moving alonger

    Now here's a lousy use of the exclamation point in a title.

    Admiring reporter: "Among Palestinians [Al Fatah] has restored pride, dignity and a sense of identity to a homeless people."

    And here's Arafat at Shea Stadium. I keed! It's really Joe. Willie. Namath. And if you think the MSM sucks now--well, it does. But it sucked back then too. I mean, they had a bloody hair watch going on Joe Willie.

    Life's John R. McDermott comes with a hell of a first sentence, though:
    "Aint he neat?" snarled one of Joe Namath's teammates, as if what he really wanted to do was rip off that mandarin hairlip with his bare hands.
    Finally, the travails of the well-to-do:

    "Life interviewed six families from various parts of the country whose incomes all hover around $20,000, a salary that only 2% of Americans can claim."

    Almost forgot the ad:

    Only seven months before the actual moon landing and Revell's lunar module model is just a tad off. It's probably worth a fortune now.

    Update: Revell is still in business. Right now they seem rather taken with House Bill 4806, which would prevent military contractors from charging license fees for use of the likenesses or names of military hardware by the "military toy replica" industry. You probably never would have known this if you didn't read the Drunkablog--assuming, of course, that you read the Drunkablog.

    Sunday, September 10, 2006

    Snaps on 9/11

    Really. Constant commenter Snapple writes about her experience on September 11, 2001 (I've edited some, but not as much as regular readers might think):

    They are talking about the anniversary of 9-11. It is very hard for me to think about.

    The plane that hit the Pentagon flew by my window at school. I teach in northern Virginia.

    We were already watching the buildings burn in NYC, and I heard this plane go by. It didn't sound right, so I went to the window. I couldn 't see it because of trees but I could hear. It sounded like a truck--loud and labored. Usually planes don't sound like that from my room.

    The kids said, "Are they going to bomb us, too?" I said no, but we all heard that plane.

    Moments later, the TV said that there was a fire at the Pentagon parking lot. Then they said that the Washington Monument had been bombed and that the State Department had been bombed. Everything just went crazy with wrong information.

    Then we heard the sirens. People were just running over the bridges in total panic.

    On TV, the police were telling people standing outside the Pentagon to run for their lives beause another plane was coming. Then we heard the fighters go up to shoot down that plane that crashed in Pennsylvania.

    The kids said, "Are they going to shoot down that plane?" I said I think they are.

    My son was in NYC and we couldn't find him for hours. He was 22. His girlfriend was stuck in the train and her building in the World Financial Center was badly damaged. Her roommate was literally walking into the WTC when the first plane hit.

    She saw all the bodies coming out of the building. And people jumping . . . .

    It was a horrible year. [Here Snaps mentions the 2001 anthrax scare and DC snipers John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo.] I was so scared when I stayed late working that I had to bring in Beanie Babies to sit on my computer and keep me company.

    That's it. One person's slice o' history.

    Update: Just for the record, my slice o' history that day was: I got drunk. That's what I did every day back then. Yep. His-toe-ree.

    Saturday, September 09, 2006

    John Mark Karr: Let me plead guilty

    I quit listening to radio's JonBenet freaks Caplis and Silverman as soon as the case against John Mark Karr disintegrated. I shouldn't have, but they so quickly become a weariness to my ears. As a result I missed it when the amazingly annoying duo actually broke a story yesterday. This from the Rocky's Charlie Brennan:

    John Mark Karr told a Boulder investigator when he was still in Thailand that he would agree to plead guilty to second-degree murder in the JonBenet Ramsey case.

    "If you don't let me plead guilty, how will you feel? How will you live with yourself when I kill a little girl?" Karr allegedly said.

    That is among numerous details revealed Friday by KHOW- AM (630) radio show hosts Dan Caplis and Craig Silverman, from a document they obtained from Boulder District Attorney Mary Lacy's office in response to two open-records requests . . . .

    Leavin' on a jet plane

    The document provided to KHOW by Lacy's office Friday - an affidavit for the search warrant that secured Karr's DNA sample - fell far short of all that Caplis requested. But it did reveal that:

    • Karr claimed to have been in Hamilton, Ala., with his wife on Christmas 1996, the day JonBenet was killed. But he stated, "I could have flown on a Learjet to Colorado."

    • Karr claimed he arrived at the unusual sum in the Ramsey ransom note, $118,000, by combining $100,000 with what he incorrectly believed to be the age of consent, 18.

    • Karr drew a diagram of the exterior and interior of the Ramsey home that was largely accurate, but he put the driveway in the wrong place.

    Silverman also has a "Speakout" column in Thursday's Rocky in which the former tepid Lacy supporter (like many, he simply couldn't believe she didn't have some sort of physical evidence) asks the hapless Boulder DA some pointed questions.

    Update: Because he used the word "pointed," the D-blog is honor-bound to link to this. It is the way of my people.

    Update II: Only $18 for a John Denver boxed set? Damn. Sure wish they hadn't taken away all my credit cards.

    Friday, September 08, 2006

    Stuff (and nonsense)

    The Rocky has a piece on the (remarried) widow and family of 9/11 casualty Christopher Faughnan, a bond trader for Cantor Fitzgerald and therefore, according to Ward Churchill, a you-know-what:

    When it became public that CU ethnic studies Professor Ward Churchill had called the 9/11 victims "Little Eichmanns," [Faughnan's brother] Michael wrote an open letter to the professor.

    In it he said Christopher was "a compassionate, respectful and generous man."

    "Mr. Churchill, my family is not ensconced in an ivory tower. We do not have the luxury that you have of pontificating at arm's length on the causes behind the events of 9/11," he wrote. "The reality of that day has been cemented in my family's life forever."

    Good old Ward.

    Here's the Post's obituary for Steve Irwin. Only slightly admonitory, and nothing like Germaine Greer's corpse abuse in the Grauniad Tuesday (reaction to which at Tim Blair's proved once and for all that "c*nt" is not a term of endearment.)

    A search of the News turns up nothing on Irwin, not even an obituary, but then, the News' search function is often useless.

    Not one but two letters to the Post protesting Macy's Department Store's (just opened in Denver) red-star logo:

    As a child of 8, I was incarcerated for almost two years in Communist camps patrolled by guards wearing the dreaded red star. My teenage friends, their parents and many at our camp who had attempted to flee communist oppression were shot and killed by armed men wearing the red star. The red star is associated with the deaths of many more human beings than even the Nazis ever had a chance to exterminate. And Macy's uses it as its logo?
    Well, yeah. But you still gotta love Miracle on 34th Street, even if it is a little derivative of October.

    Update: Macy's star logo stems from a tattoo the original Macy (b. 1822) got as a lad, Wikipedia claims.