Wednesday, November 30, 2005


The History of World Cinema as Performed by an Animated Rabbit, Who's Working for Motorola

Everything from zoetropes to Lost In Translation makes an appearance in this Motorola ad (Lost In Translation being apparently the zenith of the cinematic arts). Most of it is readily identifiable (and they love them some Saul Bass) but I'm embarrased to say that although I know I've seen it, I can't remember what the technicolor dancers between Citizen Kane and Vertigo are from. Also, do the shutters in that yellow wall that the rabbit opens have any significance? I can't remember seeing them before. And the pot's from Fatal Attraction, but is the chef supposed to be from The Little Mermaid or is there something I'm missing there?


Wednesday, November 23, 2005


Viva Las Vegas!

Bruce Schneier has a very good essay up about the FBI's use of National Security Letters to gather an incredible amount of data on everyone who spent the 2003 holiday season in Las Vegas. Where did the data go and what was done with it? Who knows? It used to be FBI policy to destroy data after it was used, but Ashcroft rescinded that policy in 2003. It's still sitting in a database somewhere, although it was meant to help investigate a terrorist attack in Las Vegas in 2003 that never happened. Schneier offers the following four principles to govern police power in these matters, and I think he's right on:
The first is oversight: In order to obtain personal information, the police should be required to show probable cause, and convince a judge to issue a warrant for the specific information needed. Second, minimization: The police should only get the specific information they need, and not any more. Nor should they be allowed to collect large blocks of information in order to go on "fishing expeditions," looking for suspicious behavior. The third is transparency: The public should know, if not immediately then eventually, what information the police are getting and how it is being used. And fourth, destruction. Any data the police obtains should be destroyed immediately after its court-authorized purpose is achieved. The police should not be able to hold on to it, just in case it might become useful at some future date.
For the most part, conversations about Bush's supreme court nominations focus on the typical wedge issues (and by "typical wedge issues," I mean All-Roe-All-The-Time). It's worth noting at this point that both Roberts and Alito seem to pretty consistently support further increasing the power of the executive branch. I think it's powerful enough already.


Legal Shenanigans

More than three years after he was imprisoned, American citizen Jose Padilla has finally been charged with a crime. Apparently there is one very special set of circumstances under which the criminal justice system is adequate for handling terrorists: when the executive branch thinks it might be politically embarassing for a case to continue to the Supreme Court.

You see, now that Padilla has been charged with a crime, the Supreme Court is under less pressure to grant certiorari to his appeal--he is now being treated like a criminal defendant. This leaves the 4th circuit's last decision in his case as binding precedent, at least within the 4th circuit. And that decision allows the executive branch to detain American citizens indefinitely without charging them of a crime or giving them access to counsel. Jack Balkin has a good write-up of what's going on here. Money quote:
Since 9/11 the Bush Administration has sharply criticized others for daring to suggest that citizens accused of terrorism should be dealt with through the criminal justice system. It has insisted that 9/11 changed everything and that terrorism must be dealt with through novel methods that dispense with the ordinary protections that the Constitution affords the accused. Now it has backtracked in one of the most prominent cases and done precisely what it said it could not do-- treat Padilla as a criminal defendant.
The Padilla case is a sobering lesson in how much leeway the President has to imprison and detain people for long periods of time in violation of the Constitution. The fact that the government's story about why Padilla was a threat has changed so frequently should give us pause the next time the government asserts that we should trust it when it rounds up U.S. citizens and claims the right to hold them indefinitely for our protection. Padilla may well be a very bad fellow, but we have a method of dealing with such bad fellows. It is called the rule of law, and we should not surrender it so readily merely because the President desires it.
There's a good write up of the 4th circuit's tenuous logic here.

H/T The Volokh Conspiracy.


Monday, November 21, 2005


University of California Feeds Christian Schoolchildren To Lions!

You may have seen this story about a Christian group that is suing the University of California system for not recognizing several of their courses for credit. The courses in question include a biology course that covers intelligent design. Here's how the Wall Street Journal characterized the textbook, in an editorial excoriating the UC system for persecuting Christians:
As for the biology textbook, it is certainly true that it includes a presentation of creationism and intelligent design, but it presents evolution as well, straightforwardly.
Unfortunately, the textbook includes more than a presentation of Creationism. Here's a look at the inside of the textbook, including a screen capture of one of the "Facets of Biology" pages. Which facet of biology? "How God Communicates to Man." The section begins thusly:
God walked and talked with Adam in the Garden of Eden. The Bible records that God spoke to some people directly and to others in dreams. Sometimes He sent angels.
And if that isn't academically rigorous enough for the University of California, I don't know what would be. Boy, do I look forward to hearing this textbook defended in open court.


Thursday, November 10, 2005


Forgetful Dick

Here's Cheney doing what Cheney does best, lying on national television. You could say that he just doesn't remember. But by now, with everything that's happening, shouldn't he have been briefed on what his story was in the past? Gloria Borger's expression as Cheney starts lying is priceless. Here's the thing. He does know what he said in the past. Look how vehemently he denies it ("absolutely not")--this isn't a guy who's not sure if he's being misquoted. He's just sure that he can get away with saying whatever he wants. Pass the popcorn.

H/T Crooks and Liars.


Tuesday, November 08, 2005


Double Voting

I apologize for earlier suggesting that the Georgia photo ID requirement bill didn't address a real problem. It seems that some people do try to double-vote, in person, at their polling place. But they're not Democrats...
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger showed up to his Brentwood neighborhood polling station today to cast his ballot in the special election — and was told he had already voted.
The poll worker told the governor's staff he would have to use a "provisional" ballot that allows elections workers to verify if two votes were made by the same person.
The governor, however, was allowed to use a regular ballot.
When will the Republicans stop this perfidious election tampering?


Monday, November 07, 2005


The Science of Jello Shots

Via vodkapundit, natch, here's some news you can use: how much vodka can you actually get in a Jello shot?

The answer appears to be up to 24 ounces of vodka for one standard 4 serving package of Jello. (I always used a little peach schnapps in my Jello shots, but that was for flavor.)

I wonder if a higher alcohol content will be higher if pure grain alcohol is used. If you're going to be in Lynchburg around New Year's and interested in doing an experiment (purely for the sake of science) drop me a line.


Brown v Board, we hardly knew thee

Didn't we (meaning the country) go to the Supreme Court to stop this sort of thing?

Chicago plans high school for black males

I thought we collectively decided "separate was inherently unequal." Or did I miss where Brown v Board of Education was overturned?


Friday, November 04, 2005


First Demon

People got all pissed off when Condaleeza Rice's eyes were doctored on USA Today's site. But Laura Bush looks possessed without retouching. The horrible evidence:

H/T Wonkette.


Yacht Rock

Ok, so you should all go to this site (Channel 101, an ongoing short film competition here in Los Angeles) and watch all five episodes of "Yacht Rock," a show put together by J. D. Ryznar, Hunter Stair, and Lane Farnham. It's spectacular. Start with episode one. And beware: Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald are the main characters.

If you're stoned, you might also enjoy "The Most Extraordinary Space Investigations," which features Sarah Silverman, but is pretty incoherent.


Thursday, November 03, 2005


I go trolling

Since I've been busy (so busy that I haven't yet played Civ 4 which I got last week), I've been neglecting the blog, but I have been dropping the occasional short comment on others' blogs.

Like this one. It's a serious post on Sony introducing its own spyware, but I have a stock response to the title of the post that I couldn't resist adding as a comment.


Wednesday, November 02, 2005


Glut Your Soul On My Accursed Ugliness!

Ouch. McSweeney's just published a list of Ways In Which The Disinterred Corpse of Silent-Film Actor Lon Chaney Would Be A Better Vice-President Than Dick Cheney. And it's all true!


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