Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Court victory against those creationist fuckers

Amid all of the frustrating news, including knowledge that Bush requested warrantless NSA searches in probable violation of the fourth amendment, there's some good news today about the Pennsylvania intelligent design controversy.

It reaffirmed what a lot of us already know. ID is: Not science, an establishment clause violation, and the old creationist vinegar in a new bottle.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Philadelphia Inquirer - White House hypocrisy on torture

Philadelphia Inquirer - Bush and Graham planning end run around anti-torture provision

It's like there are so many things wrong with this administration that it's overwhelming. They have proven either a complete lack of competence or a malicious desire to undermine public welfare on so many issues, climate science, torture, the fabrication of justifications for a war that they had already set their hearts on, secret meetings with members of the energy industry, the travesty of the Terri Schiavo debacle, attacks on civil liberties, a President who doesn't read the news, or see or talk to people who disagree with him and only gets information through advisors who spin it, officials who leak the names of CIA agents, a UN diplomat who is undermining reforms and throwing the body into chaos, massive tax cuts in the middle of huge increases in pork spending, etc. etc. etc, that I wouldn't even know where to start if I compiled a list of everything that they've done wrong.

How people of any ideology support the Bush team is beyond me. I don't understand. He hasn't cut the size of the government. He hasn't restored integrity and honesty in the White House. Even if you're a hawk concerned with the maintenence of America's global preponderance of power, Bush has done everything possible to damage that status by alienating our allies and creating an environment in which we can't effectively convince other nations to enter into multilateral agreements to limit things like proliferation and regional hostility.

My head hurts.

Bush Secretly Lifted Some Limits on Spying in U.S.

Bush Secretly Lifted Some Limits on Spying in U.S. After 9/11, Officials Say - New York Times

No words.

aksldjfljkadsfoasdf

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Ford stands up to the AFA

Ford repudiates the AFA's call to restrict support of gay events and advertising in GLBT publications.

Ford has come a really long way. From being founded by one of the most influential anti-Semites in history to resisting the requests of a hate group.

Nice.

Monday, December 12, 2005

No clemency (huge surprise)

Schwarzenegger Denies Clemency for Williams

What purpose does killing this man serve us? Seriously.

What a fucking waste.

It's too bad Schwartzegger's approval ratings are in the gutter. All of the reasons why Williams deserved clemency don't amount to much when you're under intense fire from your own party and don't have the political credibility to spend on actually doing something that might save some lives.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

My Top 35 of 2005

Yes, I like a lot of crappy pop music.

It should also be noted that there's a lot of minimalist electronic music and Hip Hop from 2005 that I haven't heard yet (like the new Cunninlinguists album). Oh well. This is what I was listening to.

edit: I don't know how I forgot the Kallikak Family. Oh well, it's getting inserted as a tie.

1. The New Pornographers - Twin Cinema
2. Antony and the Johnsons - I Am a Bird Now
3. Sufjan Stevens - Illinois
4. The Books - Lost and Safe
5. Edan - Beauty and the Beat
6. Vitalic - OK Cowboy
7. The Fiery Furnaces - EP
8. The Knife - Deep Cuts
9. Porcupine Tree - Deadwing
10. New Order - Waiting for the Siren's Call
11. The Lovemakers - Times of Romance
12. Ladytron - Witching Hour
13. Sigur Ros - Takk
13. The Kallikak Family - May 23rd 2007
14. Current 93 - How I Devoured Apocalypse Balloon
15. DJ Muggs vs GZA - Grandmasters
16. Wolf Parade - Apologies to the Queen Mary
17. Black Mountain - Black Mountain
18. Kanye West - Late Registration
19. Hauschka - The Prepared Piano
20. Depeche Mode - Playing the Angel
21. Doves - Some Cities
22. Architecture in Helsinki - In Case We Die
23. Junior Senior - Hey Hey My My Yo Yo
24. Alva Noto and Ryuichi Sakamoto - Insen
25. Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings - Naturally
26. Figurine - Heartfelt
27. RZA and Keb Darge - The Kings of Funk
28. Various Artists - Think Differently Music Presents: Wu-Tang Meets the Indie Culture
29. Nice Nice - Yesss!
30. Pelican - The Fire In Our Throats Wil Beckon The Thaw
31. Out Hud - Let Us Never Speak of It Again
32. Common - Be
33. Boards of Canada - The Campfire Headphase
34. Billy Corgan - TheFutureEmbrace
35. Nine Inch Nails - With Teeth

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Σ'

I'm trying to push strange Germanic and Greek letters around a tattered sheet of white paper covered with eraser and pencil smudges between imaginary domains of objects and sentences in an artificial language, trying to prove that human systems of logical and mathematical thought are complete and sound while Kurt Gödel holds a gun to my temple. The little switch blade of lead at the end of my gray mechanical pencil keeps snapping and all I can think about is how dopey his thick black glasses are.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Imperium nihil est.

I shall return no more
The sea covers me
To pick gold from the skies
I shall wait beneath the spaces

I shall return no more
Imperium et nihil
The silence has folded
Inside and out

And Mary waits in silence
Imperium nihil est
In the gap between
His thought and his word

Something is finished
And something is born
In the place where words cease
In the moment when

Actions no longer matter
Oh the sky may darken
The curtain tear
She shall wait

Silver dust falls from her hair
Waits a span or a time
Sketches of her life swirl
Around her silence silent

The sounds of her silence
The forms that they take
They cover me still
My fingers twist in pain

Words are finished
And I come swiftly
And with a vengeance
And Mary waits in silence

-the noddy apocalypse

Saturday, October 22, 2005

The Dirac Sea.

I feel like I'm this anti-matter monster that annihilates everything it touches in a string of violent explosions. The bursts keep disintegrating my body while everything around me spirals into chaos.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Akedah I (Rough)

I. Quiet

I saw it written in a mishna
printed on truck stop napkins
that Abraham descended from the Mountain
without a son.

Weary eyes stare at a rabbit eared
television set as Saturday Night Live
and Sesame Street drown out awkward
evening silence
with moving pictures of men
in frog suits and
daisies that drip with
grease.

In the blue house,
through windows layered with
years of yellow dust
there's a three year old
who runs between his kitchen
and living room.
He rotates his feet
as if to simulate the steady
pump of bicycle pedals.
Loops about the house
and weaves down a hall
where he sees water colors
of orange and blue butterflies
and fish
beneath apparitions of
mice that whisper when the
sun goes down.

Sits down on five foot
chairs and stares at a plastic
blue shovel and chews at
upside down slices of pizza
and notices faces that
stretch out their lips in slow calisthenics
but don't make a sound
and can't look at each other.
The skin drips down cheek bones
into mayonnaise blobs and
tufts of arm pit hair.
The pizza creates a slow burn
on the tongue and the only thing
audible is a low level hum
almost a groan
that stretches day and night
from the dark bedrooms
where the lights haven't worked for
the past decade
and the occasional whisper,
cockroach feet on
wet leaves.

There used to be a volleyball
and little black and white dog
in the basement by large
white tampon of a water heater,
but stubby fingers that drip of
green finger paint left the door
open and now there's only a
tall yellow crib
stashed on the cement above
the holes that perforate the
stainless steel laundry drain.

At the age of five, the
faces flee the blue house
and its silent ocean
of still objects and
the mumble of mice.
In the front seat a
woman with short curly
brown hair enunciates
loud syllables about
the housing market and
the curious sensation
of dry rubber.
In the back seat,
you're secured beneath
a bar that locks
into a white buckle with a red heart
on it.

The soft brown cushion grows warm as it
retains heat from the sun that
filters in through lightly
tinted windows.
Hands fold and turn red
as blood comes up to the skin
in search of the soft warm
brush of fake velvet.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

...

Seems like all I can handle lately is listening to Selected Ambient Works II in the dark, half-heartedly playing N, reading David Foster Wallace, and staring at the wall.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

...

Airplane falling out of the sky.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Cobalt bomb.

Sometimes I wonder if it wouldn't have all been easier if the Cuban missile crisis had just blown up into a fullscale conflict. It would have gotten all that bullshit over with and I wouldn't have to wake up every night thinking about precarious Russian command and control systems. Just vaporize me and be done with it.

listening to Michael Gira and drinking bourbon

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Cans of beer, eye vessels pop, fuck Microsoft word

Finished a bunch of 2AC frontlines with 1AR overviews and extensions just in time to get two hours of sleep before I have to go help our squad run a parli tournament. :P ajsdlfkjasoidfj

Friday, September 09, 2005

So much for habeas corpus

Detention of Enemy Combatant Upheld - Los Angeles Times

This only furthers my belief that constitutional protections, no matter how concretely specified, are always in danger of being ignored during times of perceived crisis. Adams, Lincoln, Wilson, and Roosevelt all eviscerated constitutional protections for illusory increases in national security. In retrospect, we view all of those actions poorly and then assume that now we're enlightened and would never do such a thing.

Right.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Global Warming and Hurricanes

Good post over at RealClimate about the connection between climate change and hurricanes.

They say that although it's impossible to say whether Katrina was caused by warming or not, it's still reasonable to include that it increases the statistical likelihood of such events.

This answers some important claims by global warming apologists that
a) The magnitude of tropical storms is down right now
b) Climate change contributes to weather stability
The lie is put to these arguments because, even though the absolute frequency of storms isn't much worse than it used to be, the actual magnitude of the worst storms has increased and those statistics can be explained by the effect of rising sea surface temperatures and the increased sheer of atmospheric winds.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Granita

Toothpick drops of vinaigrette
send pangs of citrus blossoms
through saliva glands.

Vignettes of frozen wine crystals
annihilate with the
soft bed of a patch
of tongue

and disperse about sensitive
wet buds and
canker sore ridges.

Child laid up with the
mumps pleads for novacaine.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Texas has gone off the deep end.

No way guys. There is absolutely no way that fetal protection laws will be misused. Don't exaggerate so much.

For any exaggeration anyone may have done, I'll bet no one went so far as to guess that this would happen.

Ready?

Prosecutors planning to use Fetal Protection law to put doctors on death row:
Texas doctors who perform abortions without parental approval or after the third trimester could face capital murder charges because of a new law that takes effect this week, a prosecutors group says.

The Texas District and County Attorneys Association has outlined that scenario in its new book updating the Texas penal code and in public presentations around the state. The group says such charges could occur under the new law because of the 2003 fetal protection law.

Key legislators said Monday that wasn't their intent.

Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Lewisville, who pushed the parental consent measure, said in a prepared statement that her legislation was strictly limited to giving parents the right to consent when a minor is considering an abortion and to preventing late-term abortions.

"There were no discussions about the death penalty during our legislative discussions of this issue," Nelson said.

A capital murder conviction can result in the death penalty.

Idiots.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

White Nights.

Macaroni boils in
two inches of water
for so long that the whitish
bubbles of pasta glue fall below
broken shells.

Half the package is burned to the
bottom of a stainless steel pot
and starch deposits run white
lines up and down the sides
like layers of stratus clouds
that mark up a late summer sky,
tired after a season of
lysol and aspartame injections.

Pour the shit down the drain
and claw at hardened pasta.
The fork rips tiny shreds in
the layers of stale semolina flour
as glops of pasta matter drip
into the sink.

Spray it with hot water and
feel the green mix of steam and
newly borne mold strains rise
into your sinuses and flecks
of decayed wheat spores spiral
about the sink
downward.

But then the water stops and
the rapid orbit of particles falls
into a lazy suspension
dispersed about miscellaneous
chunks of hamburger and
onion and cheddar cheese

until the fork grinds into the drain
and churns the clot
in haphazard circles
that release more shells up
into the atmosphere
and down the pipe.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Spacewalking.

From "Astronaut's Risky Missions" in the August 5, 2005 issue of The San Francisco Chronicle:
Although the term "spacewalking" sounds casual enough, " 'spacewalking' is really a misnomer. You're 'space floating,' if you will, and controlling yourself with your hands," said experienced spacewalker and one-time Palo Alto resident Dr. Scott E. Parazynski of NASA. He has participated in three spacewalks since joining NASA in the early 1990s.

A spacewalk is "the ultimate astronaut experience, without a doubt. It really defies description or characterization because it's so overwhelmingly beautiful," Parazynski told The Chronicle on Tuesday. "I don't know that there's a human being alive who is eloquent enough to do it justice."

In space, you're protected only by your oxygen-filled high-pressure suit, and moving around in it requires considerable effort because it's like walking inside an inflated balloon, Parazynski said. Yet you quickly become accustomed to moving in three dimensions -- you can spin on your head as casually as ordinary Earthlubbers walk backward -- and it rapidly becomes second nature.

And the view! Like a mountain climber perched atop the needle nose of the ultimate mountaintop, you feel wonderfully alone, "enveloped by the enormity of the universe. You're traveling around Earth more than 17,000 mph. You see continents (pass by you) at a single glance through a very thin layer of glass, your (helmet) visor."

One time, Parazynski was on a spacewalk when he and the shuttle flew "through the Northern Lights," or aurora borealis. This famous upper-atmospheric sight was glistening on and off in the orbital space around him due to interactions between high-speed cosmic particles and the extremely thin wisps of residual atmosphere roughly 180 miles above Earth. "They're wispy, beautifully colored lights. ... It was a wonderful experience."

The Milky Way.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Wow.

I know it's a huge, stupid cliche, but looking at shots of outer space reinforces how silly all of this is. We worry about every little thing when we're half of a blink and no greater force gives a shit about us. We're a speck on a spiral galaxy arm orbiting an enormous black hole. And that galaxy is one of so many of them that we can't even conceptualize the number. The universe goes on and on and on. And in the end, long after our own Sun has burnt out, it'll spread so far apart that everything freezes and life becomes impossible.

I keep dreaming about all of the horrible things that happen to little planets like ours. Comet strikes, gamma ray bursts, black holes, and on and on. The dinosaurs didn't see it coming. We might not either when the burst from a Supernova somewhere else in the galaxy happens upon our unfortunate planet, igniting the atmosphere and broiling us all to death. It's all random and out of our control.

So what we have is this. Not some elusive dream you have about thirty years from now. Not some illusory state of perfection you think you had ten years back. Not a happy world that you're supposed to suffer through your life waiting for. All I have is a book, a bottle of cheap vodka, mountains of research to be done, a hard drive waiting for me to put whatever I write or sequence on it, and whatever I want to do with myself right now.

I'll take a vodka.


edit: Here's a pretty good explanation of our galaxy. Jesus.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Bloodshot

Doing all of my research electronically is nice in that it's really efficient and makes copying and pasting cards between different files and into frontlines really easy, but it's wrecking havoc on my eyes and body. I probably stared at this screen for thirteen hours today. Gaahhhh

Bike riding tomorrow. I'll have to make time between working on the aff and electronicizing space exploration.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Risotto.

Whenever I'm feeling really stressed out, I force myself to set aside the time to make a risotto. It forces me to concentrate on something that takes patience over a period of time much longer than what it takes to cook most dishes. The bulk of it is spent gradually adding a broth/wine mixture to rice while constantly stirring it. Focusing on it is almost meditative, giving me a chance to reconnect with concrete things that are going on around me and to calm down.

Then, after it's finished, I get to eat it and (more often than not) it's amazing. The subtlety of a good risotto borders on the sublime.

Ugggh.

Four days in the rain and everything's finally starting to blur together and I think I'm crashing into a glass window. Thank goodness I have an important orange bottle back and the Sigur Ros and Ladytron leaks. Time for a twelve hour soma vacation.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Can we all finally agree that global warming is happening?

http://tinyurl.com/c7dku

Goodbye to all of the overblown hype about differences between satellite, radiosonde, weather balloon, and ground temperature readings. For some time, that differential was somewhat of a mystery that climatologists were still working on and the typical proponents of faith-based science rushed to assume that it vindicated their preformed liberterian and/or conservative ideological sentiments. What a surprise: it turns out that the actual scientists were correct.

Can we finally start to fucking do something about this? What amount of evidence will be sufficient to warrant action? What level of impact will justify some sort of effective cuts in GHG emissions?

Surely, not the possibility of rapid thawing of the West Siberian tundra creating a positive feedback loop that results in runaway warming?

Friday, July 29, 2005

Jesus Christ.

In twilight they eat, still naked, salami sandwiches she makes, and drink whisky. Their house stays dark, though the others around them, that mirror it, turn on their lights. These neighboring lights, and the cars that pass along Vista Crescent, throw sliding soft witnesses into their room: the open shelves lunge like parallel swords, the driftwood lamp throws a rhinoceros-shadow, the school portrait of Nelson, in its cardboard frame on the mantel, from beneath the embalming tints of its color wash, smiles. To help them see when darkness comes, Janice turns on the television set without sound, and by the blush flicker of module models pantomiming flight, of riot troops standing before smashed supermarkets, of a rowboat landing in Florida having crossed the Atlantic, of situation comedies and western melodramas, of great gray momentary faces unstable as quicksilver, they make love again, her body a stretch of powdery sand, her mouth a loose black hole, her eyes holes with sparks in them, his own body a barren landscape lit by bombardment, silently exploding images no gentler than Janice's playful ghostly touches, that pass through him and do no harm. She inverts herself and pours out upon him the months of her new knowledge; her appetite frightens him, knowing he cannot fill it, any more than Earth's appetite for death can be satisfied. Her guilt became love; her love becomes rage. The first time was too quick but the second was sweet, with work and sweat in it, and the third time strainingly sweet, a work of the spirit almost purely, and the fourth time, because there was no fourth time, sad; straddling his thighs, her cunt revealed by the flickering touch of the television to be lopsidedly agape, she bows her head, her hair tickling his belly, and drops cold tears, starpricks, upon the slack flesh that has failed her.

"Jesus," he says, "I forgot. We were supposed to go over to Mom's tonight!"
Yeah.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Some hope.

I've been away, helping out with a high school debate institute, but that's now over. We put out respectable Human Rights and Foucault criticisms and put together the bare bones of a Bioregionalism position. I worked on a Civil Asset Forfeiture affirmative too, but there's no way in hell that it's topical. Now I'm catching up on reading for leisure and some classes I'm taking in the Fall (Updike, Dawkins, Heidegger, and probability theory) before the debate lock-in starts next week.

In the mean time, there's some good news coming out of a
US District Court. While delivering a sentence in a terrorism case, a Reagan appointed judge called out Bush, pointing out that we can use due process and the US court system to deal with violent extremists, rather than the human rights joke going on down at Gitmo.

I can't wait for the substace-free attack on his character. I can smell it coming.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Idolatry.

Joshua, however, was admitted with his leader to the very presence of the Lord, while Aaron and Hur remained below to look after the people (Ex. xxiv. 9-14). It was during the prolonged absence of Moses that Aaron yielded to the clamors of the people, and made a golden calf as a visible image of the divinity who had delivered them from Egypt (Ex. xxxii. 1-6). At the intercession of Moses, Aaron was saved from the plague which smote the people (Deut. ix. 20; Ex. xxxii. 35), although it was to Aaron's tribe of Levi that the work of punitive vengeance was committed (Ex. xxxii. 26 et seq.).
Aaron

Whew.

Music: Trip Hop to match the rain and thunder storm outside.

Working at a debate camp is like a two week bender. I don't know when to stop, stay up for days on end, eat horrible food, quit the meds, and become an irrational asshole to everyone around me.

Now I'm in the hangover stage and need to get my life back in order. Clean, do laundry, start cooking again, do the dishes, return sixty library books, restart my leisure reading, and get some sleep.

Monday, July 18, 2005

22

Twenty-two fucking years. That's creepy. You live your whole life waiting to get to certain ages and now I'm on the other side.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Weekend of slaughter.

Weekend of slaughter propels Iraq towards civil war.

Duyodhana wiped the blood from his eyes and said, "I will tell you the story of Death, and how no god has control over her."

Friday, July 15, 2005

God damn the sun...

When I've been up for 24+ hours, I can't stomach a lot of music.

But as I was driving back from an absurdly long research session I realized that I was listening to the same thing that I always listen do when I've been up that long: Swans.

It's probably because of how humorless it sounds. And it just exudes the feeling of being tired, but awake because fire is scalding the insides of your veins and your brain is slowly boiling inside your skull.

Ick.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

A bunch of slimeballs.

Anyone who hasn't figured out what the RNC's strategy towards any perceived threat to their power should see it by now.

Smear! Smear! Smear!

It kind of reminds me of the Scientology tactic for hostile interviews. "Don't defend, attack!"

What a bunch of transparent fuckwads.

The best part is this one:
Joe Wilson endorse, advised, and donated to John Kerry's campaign for President.
I, for one, am shocked and chagrined that Wilson didn't endorse the administration that outed his wife's status in the CIA as political retaliation for something that damaged their shoddy case for the Iraq war.

If you haven't seen yesterday's questioning of McLellan, you should. It was painful.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Void.

The world makes great blood, but gin and tonic are wonderful. Fuck theology. Fuck humanism. Fuck the anthropic principle.

::void::

Fuck everything.

What a shitty morning.

First, I had a dream that I was caught in a terrorist attack in Britain and was about to be shot by someone (probably because my alarm radio went off and was giving me ideas).

Then, I wake up only to find out that something like that really happened.

I have nothing to add to this, but I need to listen to some French pop music.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Pat Robertson actually working to help the world?

No, this isn't a joke.

Check it out.
"I just don't think we can close our eyes to human nature," he continued, adding that with regard to teaching proper condom use, "you have to do that, given the magnitude." I could have hugged him.

Experimental chana masala.

Indian food is the shit.

I was going through some withdrawal, having moved from a city with lots of great Indian restaurants (Pittsburgh) to Laramie. There's supposed to be a pretty good one in Fort Collins, but I rarely have much money in that city after going by the place I buy Hip Hop records, so I've been up the creek.

So now I'm trying to learn how to cook my own Indian dishes. Tonight I made a Chana Masala that was passable. It needs to be hotter and to have a more complicated flavor, but it's definitely the best tasting attempt at Indian cuisine that I've ever made. Maybe I should make my own Garam Masala or something. The other problem is that I don't know where to get Mango powder around here, so I only had a slight approximation of how it's supposed to be done.

Here's a pretty good website with some tasty recipes.

This will be sweet, though. I'd like to be able to make naan and samosas for my family. Maybe that would convince them to be less skeptical. The first time that I ate Indian food was at a lunch buffet in Berkeley. My upbringing in the midwest didn't prepare me for it, so I thought it would taste like American Chinese food. As a result, I hated it because it wasn't sweet and sour.

Within a week, though, I started craving it. Everyone who had eaten there with me thought I was insane, but I was hooked.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Return to Oz

Just finished watching Return to Oz and it's a really bizarre movie. Very different from the first movie in that it's a lot darker and deals with themes related to this world. It's definitely one of the stranger movies created by Disney or available in the family section. You could put it up there with other odd family films like Babe: Pig in the City and The Straight Story. Starring roles include Fairuza Bank (American History X) and Piper Laurie (Twin Peaks).

In an early scene, Dorothy finds that no one believes her about her visit to Oz and ends up being sent off to a psychiatric hospital where she's supposed to undergo experimental electroconvulsive therapy and can hear other people screaming in the building:
There are patients who have been damaged... locked in the cellar.
Returning to Oz, she finds that the place hasn't turned into the Utopia that we would have imagined would occur following her return to Kansas. It functions as a pretty good examination of the failure of such phantasmic visions. New forms of antagonism have emerged to show cracks in the pretty picture of harmonious munchkin liberation. The Yellow Brick Road has been destroyed, Emerald City has been decimated and its inhabitants turned to stone, and strange apparitions appear in the rocks that surround them. Return to Oz exposes the dark flipside of quests for ontological completion. Things were left out of the original harmonious picture and returned in more horrific forms. When Dorothy failed to return due to the unexpected possibility that her radically new perspective would have no way of being assimilated in a meaningful way into the symbolic order of her family in Kansas (the only way they can rationalize her stories is by assuming that she's gone mad), things get even worse than they were during the reign of the Witch of the West.

In much the same manner as the Stalinist terror revealed the superego component of desire for totalitarianism that underlied the October revolution's quest to resolve class antagonisms, the decay of Oz is a glimpse at the horrifying real that underlies attempts to repress the violence of primordial desire. Whereas this component was sublimated at the end of the first film, it breaks through in a horrifying manner in the second, showing the impossibility of totally fulfilling one's desire, due to its chaotic and shifting nature. To fetishize a single gesture as constituting political liberation, in and of itself, creates the threat of recreating the same evils that we fought to destroy. Rather than assuming that the defeat of the Witch of the West will liberate Oz, we need to be eternally vigilant about new forms of oppression.

Now that I think about it, the original Wizard of Oz also had some creepy parts in it. That stuff just gets covered up by the film's ossified status in the canon of family movie cliches. We choose to remember "There's no place like home" and to not think about how strange the lady riding away with the dog, the flying house, the monkeys, or the desert that turns people to sand are because we're so used to them. Oz was always fucked up, and to assume that there was some point in which it experienced completion is a bullshit before the fall fantasy.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

On the artistic merits of the comic book

Music: Miko Mission - How Old Are You?

I don't get the intellectual stigma regarding comic books. Visual art and literature are both fine, but when you put them together, it grows more difficult to view the combination as being capable of any artistic merit. I've never been a big comics person, having only read Archie comics as a kid, but I'm starting to wonder why it's so difficult to view comic books as a legitimate means of artistic expression.

Part of it is because of the bad reputation given to comics by the traditional super hero comics targeted at teenagers. The notion of being someone who avidly follows comics raises to mind images of pimpled teenagers living out their fantasies though the latest issue of Batman or of the comic snob character from The Simpsons. But dismissing the entirety of the comic book world due to the popular titles that make the biggest sales is as silly as dismissing the entirety of Hip Hop music because of the latest Ying Yang Twins track or fictional novels because of the number of horrible pulp fiction titles on the New York Times bestseller list. Like any other art form, comics are capable of brilliant insights, as well as the same old recycled cliches for which the genre is best known.

Another problem faced by comic books is the assumption that they are only capable of somewhat superficial plot lines and character development. This is largely because of the difference in how much narration can be conveyed through speech bubbles, as opposed to in an actual novel. But this limitation is absurd. The cinema has similar limitations and that has not stopped it from becoming a serious art form. If you read a film script, you'll find far less of the explication that you'd expect from a book. That's because much of the art of a film comes from how it is shot and the visual imagery that is able to convey. An Antonioni film isn't brilliant just because of the dialogue, but because of how it interacts with the mise-en-scène created by his shots, timing, etc. Comics are similar in that a lot of the expression relies on how scenes are drawn and how the story is expressed though the juxtaposition of those images. At the very least, no one who views film as a sophisticated art form can deny the same potential to comic books.

Academia's recent series of assaults on the distinction between high and low culture has done a lot to change the derogatory light in which comics are viewed. Now you can take classes that study them at Universities and liberal arts colleges. There are even longer graphic novels that take themselves a little more seriously than past productions (which is not to say that comics must take themselves seriously to be of worth... in fact, that's probably the biggest problem with stupidly pretentious high culture). However, there's still a lot of literary segregation going on. There's still a lingering perception that comics are incapable of becoming great literature and audiences remain rather limited. Such courses are often viewed as novelties of the absurdity of academic culture by people who stand on the outside of academia or by literary traditionalists. The avid followers of Lyotard and Barthes probably aren't the ones who need to be convinced of the worth of comic books; but rather, our larger intellectual and popular culture, who still view them as media intrinsically designed for youths.

I'm not an expert on comics, but any remaining suspicion that they're intrinsically incapable of higher levels of artistic expression is pretty indefensible.

This nomination is critical.

Today's Washington Post explains how pivotal the battle over Sanda Day O'Connor's replacement will be.

This is why the compromise over the nuclear option was such a good idea. The Dems still have the filibuster if Bush attempts to ram through a heavily ideological candidate.

Now, any attempt to do so will risk a knock down, drag out political fight, which will put him in the position of either damaging his mainstream popularity or alienating his base, either of which will put his agenda at risk. At the very least, it'll sap the political capital that's supposed to be dedicated to things like maintaining his mysterious Iraq schedule and pushing through social security reform. Hopefully, these pressures will force him to nominate someone moderate so as to salvage both his agenda and the highly important midterm elections that are coming up.

Here's an excellent blog covering the nomination process. Required reading if you care about the judiciary.

And the Plame leaker was...

A break from the ridiculous tinfoil of this morning for a real plot:

Guess who leaked Plame's status as a CIA agent?

No! Not Rove!

Never would have guessed it.

What a sack of shit. We've had a pretty good feeling about how scummy this guy has been since the debacle over McCain's fictitious black baby. Now it's out in the open and no amount of snaky manipulation can make it go away. From the McLaughlin Group:
Lawrence O'Donell: What we're going to go to now in the next stage, when Matt Cooper's emails-within Time Magazine, uh, are handed over to the grand jury is the ultimate revelation, probably within the week of who his source is. And I know I'm going to get pulled into the grand jury for saying this but the source of-for Matt Cooper was Karl Rove, and that will be revealed in this document dump that Time Magazine's going to do with the grand jury.
Seriously. Fuck this guy.

edit: Actually, it looks like they probably can manipulate themselves out of this. A combination of the public and media's apathy towards this and Rove's ability to say that he didn't know that he was disclosing classified information, creating a certain amount of plausible deniability, will probably make this go away. I get way too optimistic when I drink whisky at night.

Friday, July 01, 2005

The Conspiracy of Silence

I'm reading about the Conspiracy of Silence and it's, to put it lightly, a little strange.

It's an allegedly covered up story about a child sex ring put on by high ranking officials in Washington. Supposedly, child prostitutes (who may have been abducted) were provided to orgies involving congresspeople, foreign dignitaries, and other public officers and most attempts to publicize it in the media were subsequently quashed. Some accusations even connect the ring to Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and other high ranking people in the federal government.

Sen. Decamp (R-NE Nebraska state Senate) has a book about the thing titled The Franklin Coverup.

Oddly enough, a lot of the research about this story comes from two source at which you'd normally roll your eyes: Free Republic and the Washington Times. It's only interesting because these scandals implicate people who would normally be seen as the ideological allies of these publications. But then again, it's not unheard of for freepers to be so paranoid of the government that they even distrust conservative politicians.

Part of this seems a little too well documented to be entirely false. But part of it also reeks of really bad conspiracy theories, like the Vince Foster nonsense propagated by Moral Majority and NWO wackos with little to no real world substantiation. If you read a little bit into the Franklin Coverup literature, you're bound to find some really absurd conspiranoia crap, such as connections to Jeff Gannon and accusations of a connection to Satanic Ritual Abuse, which have a really bad reputation for being pure bullshit.

Edit: It looks like there's a Hunter connection too. Some people are claiming that Thompson was working on an expose of child sex rings in D.C. before he died. Some even think he got "suicided." It's too bad there isn't a better examination of this by credible media, because this is a little hard to swallow. I really hope people aren't misrepresenting about Hunter Thompson for this because that would be really fucked up.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Apostasy and envy.

I think I've finally completed the process of apostasy.

I grew up in a pretty religious household. One parent was Methodist, the other Lutheran , and I shifted between them. Back then I didn't know a single thing about doctrinal differences and couldn't tell you why one was a Methodist and the other was Lutheran, other than the fact that the Lutheran church followed a more traditional liturgy, used real wine in communion, and had fewer old people. The only thing that I knew was that Jesus was always with me and that the universe was a place that was fundamentally just and would deliver all who suffered or were wronged.

There was a strange duality to the flavor of my religion. I was taught a rather liberal theology that made room for tolerance of others, the scientific method, and the notion that the Bible, rather than being literally divine, was divinely inspired and written by fallible mortals. This was how I was able to believe in things like evolution and rationalize Biblical passages about sexuality and dietary constraints that made no sense to me.

However, there was a darker side to my religion. Although I was always taught that god's message was one of love, there was always the subtle violence between the lines about satan and hell. I probably didn't learn this so much from church as I learned it from pop culture: cartoons, movies, and Halloween costumes. My mom had a Catholic friend who described hell as having your face pressed to a range top on high for eternity, but most of the official messages weren't' so horrible.

Even so, I was always terrified that I was going to end up in the hell that I saw in the Sunday comics. Maybe it was tied into the same reasons that I always felt like I was going to get in trouble at school or with my parents, but this fear is one of the first genuine emotions I can remember feeling and, to be honest, it's never really gone away. Even when my confirmation pastor convincingly argued that our contemporary notions of hell are based on a garbage dump outside Jerusalem called Gehenna, rather than a metaphysically existent place, and that hell was a state of disconnection from god, rather than a state of torment, the fear never faded. Even when I eventually stopped believing in satan or hell, period, and practiced the loosest version of Christianity under the sun, the fear wouldn't go away. The slight doubt in the back of my mind that something as silly as what I believed would guarantee me an eternity of torture was still there.

But eventually my faith disappeared. I went from strict Christian, to liberal Christian, to pseudo-Unitarian, to believing that all religions were part of the same truth, to believing in an unknowable infinity that I couldn't comprehend, to being an agnostic. Eventually, I couldn't believe that ancient myths about something of which I had no evidence were a meaningful picture of the universe. I didn't want to go down that road. I fought it as hard as I could because I was scared, but I couldn't help it. The real turning point was when I realized that no loving deity could possible punish people for something as silly as belief. Different people have different situations that are often determined by somewhat random forces that are beyond our control. How is it fair to punish someone who ended up in a situation in which they couldn't believe in something because they had no rational basis for doing so?

Now I'm finally at the point where I suspect that there really isn't any deity running the world. Everything around us is a freak accident in an enormous abyss that we can't possibly comprehend. To think that we're somehow a meaningful entity in that staggering space is ridiculous. We're a mere blink in a vast expanse of space-time that, in itself, is probably just a single brane that was spawned by an improbable reversal in entropy in an even more unthinkably large multiverse. Forgive me if I have a feeling that no creative entity behind this mess gives a shit about whether we lead difficult lives, struggle with why we exist, or praise one ancient idol over another. This is kind of depressing in that it means that there's no salvation for the meek or the oppressed. But it's also kind of nice to know that innocent people aren't going to have their faces burned off forever because they happened to be born on the wrong continent. I'm not sure if I could even utter the words "I am an atheist" because I'm so used to feeling knee-jerk revulsion towards that concept, but it's probably the truth.

I'm struggling with this. Every night I still have dreams about dying and the last thing I think before it's supposed to happen, I wonder if my consciousness is going to get snuffed out or whether I'm going to discover a new world of pain. I know that the rational answer is that my neurons stop firing and I probably experience the same thing that I did before I was born (nothing), but the old fears are still there and I can't extinguish them.

I also miss a lot of the things that religion brought me. Not only an belief in justice, but also the kinds of discipline and optimism that religion used to bring me. The meditative ritual and the knowledge that a transcendental entity really cared about me used to be a wonderful feeling. No matter how bad things were, there was always something else to strive for (yeah, I realize what Nietzsche would say about this). Now, I don't have that. I watched some Muslims on television tonight describing their faith and I felt a pang to experience that feeling again. Religious people certainly believe a lot of really fucked up shit, but they had a belief that I envy. Even if I don't believe in it, I wish I could feel that just for the personal effect that it has, the feeling of certainty and belongingness in the world. Things may have really sucked when I was in junior high, but, despite what you would expect, it was the happiest time in my life.

But I don't think I'll ever feel that again. It would be fake because I know, deep down, that there's nothing there. Just the random flux of quantum states while our arrogant minds continue to assume that there's some deeper meaning to all of it.

I'm sure that this is all bullshit and that in the morning I'm going to realize how happy I am to not be religious anymore. I'm going to realize the huge range of possibilities in front of me and will continue to believe that I have some sort of free will, regardless of whether I do or not, and will latch onto some rationalization for living in a materialistic world, like eternal recurrence, to hold the placehold for religion like I always have. But tonight you could say that I'm kind of jealous.

edit: Now that I think about it, the real problem is that I'm probably afraid to belief in myself. Like a codependent, I need someone or something else to rationalize my life since I'm scared of doing it for myself. This way, I can shovel all of my problems off onto a stupid religious problem, when the real issue is that I just need to take matters into my own hands and live the way I want to. I don't need religion to have discipline and to get the things done that I want to. I just need to suck it up, get over the bullshit self-pity, and do it. No unlikely entity is going to write a book, develop healthy interpersonal relationships, get a JD, or be in good shape for me. Even if free will isn't real, it's probably a more useful fiction than a god or an afterlife.

Glad I snapped out of that.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Chemtrails

Reading about chemtrails.

You really have to hand it to some of these people. At least this stuff is kind of creative, even if it's a bit out of wack.

My favorite part is where the author uses the increased incidence of worldwide drought over the last few years as evidence that chemtrails are being used for nefarious purposes:
Generally, spraying increases as clouds build. Chemtrails may be the reason that over half the world and over half the U.S. have been experiencing drought for the past 2 years. Witnesses have reported watching chemtrails fall through cumulus clouds, leaving the real clouds "skinny" and within a few minutes totally gone. Typically, storm clouds build and mix with the chem ingredients, resulting in a grey, uniform "mucky" sky which doesn t rain. The real clouds disappear, leaving behind the chem formations which were on top of the storm system.
But if you look at the previous paragraph, you may find an off hand reference to a somewhat more likely and evidenced explanation:
Edward Teller's (inventor of the hydrogen bomb) proposal to reduce global warming to the U.S. involves spraying minute aluminum particles to deflect the sun s harmful ultraviolet rays but still allow the Earth s heat to rise through them. This seems to be supported by rainwater tests after heavy spraying in Espanola, Canada which contained 7 times the allowable limit of aluminum. In this instance, the areas with the least ultraviolet protection, as in the Southwest, would be the heaviest sprayed. Most often, this does not seem to be the case.
Anthropogenic climate change? Don't be silly. It's much more likely that there's a planetary conspiracy encompassing hundreds of thousands of scientists, politicians, and aviators.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Disco's bad rap

I don't know why disco has such a terrible reputation. Sure, a lot of it is pretty superficial and has associations with the excesses of late 70's American culture; but disco music was never supposed to be deep and introspective. It's about forgetting about your problems for a little while and having fun. That may come off as an attempt to drug the public into accepting the status quo, but no one can be angry and revolutionary all the time. Sometimes you have to play video games while nodding your head to the infectious "bass kick - high hat - clap - high hat" pea soup pulse of the digital cable disco station to clear out your head.

Yeah, it's stupid, but it's supposed to be. It's a nice check on the uber-pretentious and depressing seriousness of what we have to deal with on a daily basis. You may need to turn in an assignment or do some important work tomorrow, but tonight you can jam out to Junior's 1982 classic, "Mama Used to Say."

I'm not saying that music can be separated from its political context, but rather, that an appropriation needs to be judged based on its specific merits. Dismissing all dance music as being in the service of the cult of consumerism, absent how its applied in a particular context, rubs me the wrong way when that energy can be used for productive ends. It's like when Zizek warns about the knee jerk tendency to label a given activity as being perverse, absent how it's actually inscribed into the subject's symbolic universe. The same activity can be perverse or neurotic depending on how enjoyment actually occurs. Similarly, enjoying something as apparently stupid as house or disco music can occur in a number of different ways and dismissing it on face as being reactionary strikes me as useless. Our politics needs to be one of joy, not despair, if we are to do anything that's really meaningful to humn relationships and social organization.

I'll spare you the Emma Goldman quote.

Friday, June 24, 2005

How much more can we take?

I wonder how much more these people will get away with.

Italy judge orders arrest of 13 CIA agents who kidnapped people with the intent of shipping them off to Egypt where they could be tortured.

US acknowledges that tortue occurred at Gitmo, Iraq, and Afghanistan

This is sick and no one cares. As long as we're a little better than Nazis, it's okay. And people who make such hyperbolic claims are also doing a disservice by allowing pundits to play their bullshit equivalency game. Why can't we agree that the people funded by our taxes should be above this kind of atrocity. Yeah, it's certainly not as bad as anything Stalin did, but, for some strange reason, I expect us to be better than one of the most evil dictators of the twentieth century. My bad.

Faith-based Climate Science

There is a really good post up at RealClimate responding to a pretty shoddy Wall Street Journal editorial. WSJ is a pretty good newspaper, but sometimes their opinion pieces are absurd. It's another good example of pre-conceptual science in which the conclusion is arrived at first based on one's political or religious ideology, and then evidence is sought to confirm that position. Any contrary evidence is dismissed out of hand. RealClimate does a really good job of debunking the Creationist... er, I mean climate skeptics' claims.

But it is amazing how similar people who don't believe in evolution are to people who don't believe in global warming. The same tired myths get propagated again and again and people continue to believe them because we're not doing a very good job of having a national discussion about these issues at the popular level. Whether it's UFOs, images of Mary in jars of mustard, or these kinds of hot topics, lots of people enjoy believing in positions that are extremely reactionary, short-sighted, and removed from reality.

Attacking Mann, as if his personality embodied the totality of empirical research corroborating global warming hypotheses, is a page straight out of the creationists' playbook (e.g., laughable claims about Darwin being wrong or the Piltdown man scam). How someone can scoff at creationists while denying global warming is the height of hypocrisy.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Strange highs and strange lows.

I'm reading a report by the Nuclear War Effects Project Advisory panel, headed up by David S. Saxon, titled "The Effects of Nuclear War" from May 1979 and, in the middle of descriptions of the health ramifications of radiation sickness, burns, asphyxiation, cancer, and shock waves killing people by throwing them out of windows or into flying buildings, I find the following:
Not all changes, however, would be for the worse. Some new patterns of living would promote public health. There would be fewer auto, aircraft, and boating accidents. More people would walk or bicycle, increasing exercise.
I may be vaporized because I live within the lethal radius of a bunch of important US missile silos, but at least there will be fewer boat crashes and more granola eating hippies who listen to horrible jam bands like Phish and dedicate their lives to weaving hemp jewelry. I don't think you even realize how reassuring that is.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

I hate to say "I told you so" but...

What a surprise. Terri Schiavo's autopsy revealed that not only had she not been abused, but that there was zero hope of her recovering, that she had no cognitively meaningful brain function, and that she was blind, something that reveals how fraudulent that tape of her tracking a balloon really was. The very fact that Congress attempted an egregious breach of the separation of powers based on evidence that has repeatedly been shown to be bullshit is a travesty. At least the right side won this time.

Yet somehow, I doubt that Frist and the rest of his perverse culture of life will be ready to join the rest of us in the Reality Based Community. I'm sure they'll dismiss this as being more secular, liberal humanist "science." In much the same manner as Creationists or global warming skeptics, they'll ignore existing evidence in the pursuit of their self-righteous delusions. I'm sure they actually believe that there's a grand conspiracy to cover up Schiavo's murder, encompassing all qualified medical personel and courts in the state of Florida. Why everyone would work so hard to kill someone as insignificant as Terri Schiavo is still kind of a mystery, but it's not often that the ridiculous nature of a stupid conspiracy theory does much to convince its believers of how asanine it is. All of the idiots on talk radio will continue to believe that she was murdered, no matter how much evidence contradicts that position because they're not interested in what really happened. We all know that.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Hotel Rwanda.

Just finished watching Hotel Rwanda.

What a grueling and horrifying thing to watch. I fucking hate humanity. I don't understand how people can want to bring children into a world that produces shit like genocide and war. Between that and my readings about what happens in the periphery of nuclear detonations, I feel hopeless. I don't know what I, as a person, can do to change shit like this.

Good job, colonial Europe. Way to set different peoples against each other, draw artificial borders, and then turn your head the other way when it results in instability and mass slaughter.

And guess what's going on the world right now? More fucked up genocide. But does anyone in power care? It took us a long time to even refer to it as genocide and we sure as shit don't care about doing anything to stop it. We're too concerned with getting back at what Hussein did twenty years ago to do anything about atrocities that are happening right now.

We looked the other way when Hussein actually gassed the Kurds. We opposed doing anything about the Rwandan genocide. Most of the people with power and money in America just don't give a fuck. So long as we can get the newest X-Box game, stare at American Idol, and stress out about Michael Jackson, we're comfortable and we can pretend that bullshit like this doesn't happen. And I fucking do that too, which really bothers me.

I need a drink.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Acceptable collateral damage.

I'm not sure what's more depressing when researching the ramifications of nuclear conflict: passages like the following from Robert Batcher's "The Consequences of an Indo-Pakistani Nuclear War" in a 2004 issue of International Studies Review:
Casualties from 50 KT weapon attacks on individual Indian and Pakistani cities range from hundreds of thousands to well over two million. The combined attack on all cities results in 18 million casualties (37 percent of which are fatalities) against Indian cities and 13 million casualties (42 percent of which are fatalities) against Pakistani cities. Casualties for 1 MTweapons are significantly higher, reaching 12.6 million in Kolkatta (Calcutta). The combined attack on all cities with 1 MTweapons results in 64 million casualties (57 percent of which are fatalities) against Indian cities and 34 million casualties (67 percent of which are fatalities) against Pakistani cities.
or the knowledge that these numbers aren't good enough for what I need. No matter how horrific a limited nuclear conflict would be, it doesn't have a magnitude of global extinction, so it doesn't matter. Racist malthusian asshats will still say that the loss of millions of lives on the Indian subcontinent are acceptable so as to maintain their comfortable lifestyle.

I need to read about string theory and goto sleep. This is putting me in a bad mood.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Outrage fatigue.

I need to take a break from posting about politics. From the administration's shocking attempt to dismiss accusations of torture, to recent news about Bolton's malicious ousting of chemical weapons inspector, to the new Abu Ghraib photos, to a Utah official who wants to prohibit the teaching of evolution because he's never seen a "dat", this crap probably isn't good for my health. I'm going to have a heart attack if I keep doing this.

Maybe I'll spend more time thinking and writing about literature or something that I'm entirely unqualified to speak of, like physics.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Going after Deep Throat

Surprise, surprise. The usual assholes are trying to smear Deep Throat, now that he's been revealed.

G. Gordon Liddy and the actual Watergate burglars accusing Felt of having "no honor" just destroyed my irony meter. I'm still shocked that someone like Liddy gets to routinely appear on mainstream cable news.

Brit Hume has been on for half an hour and still can't stop mentioning how Felt was an employee of J. Edgar Hoover. How are these ad homs relevant at all, if not to distract us from the real issue of how Nixon fucked up to a criminal degree and got caught? It's been decades and the Nixon administration has repeatedly been shown to be one of the sketchiest ones in recent memory and these assholes still can't come to grips with that. Yes, Felt is a human being who is imperfect; however, you can't use the complexities of his personality to condemn his actions, in totality. This is like if we were talking about the civil rights movement and news anchors kept adding, "By the way, it should be noted that Martin Luther King Jr. also cheated on his wife and had communist sympathies." Irrelevant bullshit designed to cover up official corruption.

It's no wonder that they're going after him, given the current GOP majority's consistent record of secrecy and shady deals. Watergate helped investigative journalism to blossom. That kind of reporting, that actually forces policymakers to justify themselves and answer to someone is antithetical to the Bush administration. Bush and his advisors have done everything possible to limit the power of the press, whether it's in carefully controlling who gets to ask what questions, determining in what circumstances Bush will answer questions, manipulative spinning of information (most notably with the Iraq weapons of mass destruction debacle), planting fake journalists, getting administration press releases put out verbatim as if they were news copy, and on and on ad nauseum.

Whistleblowers like Felt are this group's worst nightmare, so it's not so surprising that they're smearing him like this. They need to fight like hell to silence people who would reveal corruption in the way that he did. The press corps' recent tendency to act like lapdogs is exactly what Bush et al want. Being held accountable is the last thing that they want to face. They don't want an independent press... they want a free PR firm.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Officially sanctioned misogyny

Today, in the "How much more fucked up can they get department," we have the Republican majority in the House blocking two amendments that would have provided the morning after pill and made an exception to the ban on federal funding for abortions for womn in the military who have been sexually assaulted.

I guess I can understand why someone would oppose the second amendment if they thought that all abortion was wrong (even though it seems fucked up to force that upon someone who has been raped, especially when the fetus in question is usually nothing more than a tiny, non-sentient bundle of cells), but why in god's name would they oppose the morning after pill? Contrary to popular assumption, the morning after pill doesn't abort a fetus. It's merely a high dose of birth control prevents the sperm from being implanted in the egg.

That prevents conception, meaning that these jackasses can't claim to be protecting life. If anything, effective administration of the morning after pill eliminates the need for abortions, which, according to the anti-choice argument, should be saving lives by preventing them from being created in the first place. The only way that you could think of the morning after pill as being "murder" is if you are under the bizarre impression that all eggs and sperm are living individuals, in which case masturbation, wet dreams, condoms, regular methods of birth control, and even unprotected sex (in which tons of sperm fail to fertilize an egg) are veritable killing fields.

Somehow, I don't think that religious conservatives are all ready to go that far. For some reason, their advocacy stops short of infringing on their own rights, preferring to limit it restrictions upon womn who have been abused. Some of these conservatives are the kinds of people that are threatened by womn even having jobs or being in the military in the first place. So it shouldn't be very surprising that their misogyny allows them to look the other way as growing numbers of service womn are sexually abused on a yearly basis.

In other news, Bush's position on contraception is so obvious that his press secretary won't tell us what it is, even a WND reporter.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Fuck blogs

Anyone who

A. Uses "blogs" as their primary news source

or

B. Uses the term "blogosphere" in a non-ironic manner

deserves to have their eyes removed with a pneumatic drill.

Thinking that blogs are going to wrest power from the entrenched media elites due to the half assed fact checking of a bunch of freepers who live with their parents is the equivalent of thinking that rave culture is going to produce peace, love, and understanding, that Jet will revive rock and roll as an art form, or that your cousin's stupid zine about the intersections of Thatcherite neoliberalism and seventeenth century trends in interior design is the hottest shit since Proust wrote Remembrance of Things Past.

Posting on "teh intarnet" is just another medium, one that's just as prone to sheer brilliance as it is to sensationalist trash. For every www.kraftwerk.com, you have a Powerline. When radio was in its infancy, people made the same hyperbolic claims about how it would empower every individual, creating a decentralized check on the power of big media. It went through a period of chaos in which it was difficult to find worthwhile pieces of wisdom in a sea of shit before collapsing into the same old trends of centralization and mindlessness. Someone may say that the decentralized nature of the internet makes that impossible, but I think that decentralization becomes irrelevant when almost every site contains the same rehashed talking points that were drafted behind closed doors by party leaders. Not very liberatory. Not much different than the problems with the much villainized "old media."

Don't get me wrong. The internet is a really useful way to find a lot of information, but to assume that it'll overcome problems endemic to western news distribution because it has a flashier marketing campaign and can be used by every AOL subscriber with frontpage (or blogger... heh) software is a joke. The substance is what matters, not its vapid pretentions of futurism.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Uzbekistan madness

As long as the U.S. continues to give aid to a nation like Uzbekistan that commits gruesome torture as has been consistently described by a number sources, Bush's remarks about spreading human rights and democracy are a farce. HR violations are cool with the administration, provided they support our crackdown on global terror, promote stable access to resources, and make it seem like the administration is doing something about radical Islamists.

The tortured man in question had his teeth smashed out, his finger nails pulled out, and had marks consistent with having his body thrown into boiling water. The Uzbek government is claiming that his death was caused by having tea poured on him by other inmates. Are they fucking serious?

When his mother sent his horrific autopsy photos out via the British embassy, she was sentenced to hard labor for attempting to overthrow the central government.

But it gets worse, not only do we give Uzbekistan money for its shocking anti-terror campaign, but we also export our own terror suspects there so they can be, you guessed it, tortured.

This, in combination with the stomach churning reports from Afghanistan a few days ago, torture of US citizens by Pakistani officials, and the mysterious disappearance in the system of Jose Padilla, an American national who's criminal charges border on the absurd make me a little goddamn cynical about Bush's claims to be trying to liberate the Earth from tyranny.

Remember all of the song and dance that we had about liberating the womn of Afghanistan? After years and years of not giving a shit about it, conservative ideologues suddenly became concerned with their liberation for a brief moment of time. Now that everyone has moved onto Iraq and conveniently forgotten about the Afghani womn, things can return back to the way they were. Who the hell knows how we'll have forgotten about Iraqi citizens in the next few years? Just wait for them to become politically expendable and all of this hand-wringing about rape rooms and Saddam putting people though plastic shredders will be conveniently forgotten about in time for the next faux democracy conquest. Maybe we'll be in some place like Uzbekistan, acting as if we've always been concerned about their humn rights violations, acting as if we'd never supported their evil shit in the first place. This is the new sound...

Monday, May 23, 2005

Not too bad of a compromise.

At first I was irritated by the nuclear option compromise. It seemed as if the GOP were given three of their worst nominees and the only thing the Dems got in return was the right to filibuster in the future, something they had already had. It reminded me of a situation in which someone threatens to steal my bike if I don't give them my plate of caviar and we strike a compromise in which the person eats some of my caviar in return for not stealing my bike.

But some people have put it in context, so now it seems like a victory:

1. Most of the GOP base is pissed. Head over to free republic or any other conservative sites and you'll find people complaining about how the GOP leadership has sold them down the river like a pack of cigarettes (This one is nothing short of priceless). Dobson even went out of his way to call out the Republicans and call it a betrayal. At best, it means that the base will be alienated a bit, hopefully decreasing their leverage over mainstream politics.

At worst, it means that Frist will be marginalized after failing to live up to his promise to win the nuclear option battle, preventing his ability to get the nod for the 2008 presidential election. He's already admitted that this has been somewhat of a defeat, especially since he's been trying to phrase the nuclear option as the only constitutional solution to this mess, but he's also trying to play up the three nominees as a partial success. Maybe McCain can use this as a jumping off point to another run... wouldn't be too bad of a direction for the GOP to move in, even though he's kind of old and that would probably never happen.

2. The Dems probably didn't have the votes to stave off the nuclear option. That means that if there had been no compromise, we would have lost and all of Bush's nominees would get rubber stamped. Sure, we're probably going to see three of them on the bench, but that at least creates the possibility that they won't all be there. At the very least, it's good for the long term health of the Senate and the ability of minority parties to place checks on majorities that the nuclear option wasn't invoked.

3. The Dems are saving up for a much more important battle: Rehnquist's replacement. The filibuster should be available for that much more consequential battle, as well as the decision over who's going to be chief justice. Odds are that it would happen closer to the election, which would make invoking the nuclear option more difficult. I would much prefer that we get a good compromise on that justice rather than a situation where Bush can appoint whoever he wants, which is frankly terrifying.

So, not too bad. "Extraordinary circumstances" is kind of questionable since I neither know what that is nor in what circumstances it can be invoked without the Republicans claiming that the Democrats aren't living up to the compromise in good faith, but it turned out a lot better than it could have.

Edit: After reading the text of the compromise and seeing that "extraordinary circumstances" is up to individual discretion and that the nuclear option has been voluntarily ceded this session, I'm feeling pretty good.
A. Future Nominations. Signatories will exercise their responsibilities under the Advice and Consent Clause of the United States Constitution in good faith. Nominees should only be filibustered under extraordinary circumstances, and each signatory must use his or her own discretion and judgment in determining whether such circumstances exist.

B. Rules Changes. In light of the spirit and continuing commitments made in this agreement, we commit to oppose the rules changes in the 109th Congress, which we understand to be any amendment to or interpretation of the Rules of the Senate that would force a vote on a judicial nomination by means other than unanimous consent or Rule XXII.

We believe that, under Article II, Section 2, of the United States Constitution, the word “Advice” speaks to consultation between the Senate and the President with regard to the use of the President’s power to make nominations. We encourage the Executive branch of government to consult with members of the Senate, both Democratic and Republican, prior to submitting a judicial nomination to the Senate for consideration.

Against Depression.

There's an interesting review of Peter Kramer's new book, Against Depression, in today's Salon.

I know that in the past I've fallen into the easy and stupid mistake of romanticizing depression, ignoring the horrible impact that it has on people and trivializing what can be a very debilitating disease.

I think the problem is that people confuse art that is generated by actual emotions, many of which are unpleasant, with a neurological imbalance. Depression isn't feeling bad over losing someone and then writing a poem about it. Depression is no longer taking joy in anything you do. It's losing interest in friends, music, art, books, or whatever else fascinates you. It's wanting to lay in bed all day, forever, and never wanting to do anything. It's nights of insomnia, obsessing over the pointlessness of why you're alive.
If you unpack the glibness of the van Gogh question, the implications are obvious. The painter suffered greatly from (probably) both depression and epilepsy, and his art strikes us as intimately concerned with those two, intertwined afflictions. Would the paintings be less revelatory if van Gogh himself were not so miserable? Would they even exist at all? Depression, in many people's minds, is integral to the creative temperament. We might lose some of the triumphs of art and culture if it were wiped away.

Yet as Kramer points out, in a book full of similarly provocative thought experiments, no one would hesitate to treat van Gogh's epilepsy. The idea of allowing those torments to continue with the hope that they might somehow lead to more or better pictures strikes us as coldblooded, inhuman. So why does the idea of treating the painter's depression make many people at least slightly uncomfortable, for exactly the opposite reason? Why do we still harbor a residual fear that eliminating someone's -- and especially a great artist's -- depression might be a betrayal of our humanity?
We don't think twice about treating illness when it's physical, so why are we so hung up about treatment of mental illness? Maybe it's because it's something that we can't directly and intuitively observe. Sure, we can see the horrible symptoms that may tear someone's life apart, but the biochemical processes are locked in the mysterious realm of the brain and we often assume that the illness is part of a person's personality. That's why we tend to blame and stigmatize people for mental illness, while we'd never think of doing the same for glaucoma. It's somehow their fault, in spite of all of the experimental evidence about mental illness's roots in things like genes, chemical imbalances in the brain, environmental factors, and so on. We can tell when someone is sneezing because they have a cold, but have a harder time feeling the same way about a mental illness because it seems so tied up in factors that people are supposed to be able to control, such as how they speak and behave.

And of course, that also has the exact opposite effect when people assume that anti-depressants will cure those everyday emotions. If you're having personal problems or are in a bad mood, maybe a happy pill will make it all better:
Although he once would have regarded the psychoanalyst's strategy as a valid way to prompt a patient to go deeper, now Kramer found himself "seething." "Listening to Prozac," contrary to popular conception, was not about depression at all, but about the implications of the then-new trend of prescribing antidepressants to people who weren't suffering from mental illness: personality tweaking, if you will. Nevertheless, the book's success drew depressed patients to Kramer's practice, and his growing understanding of mood disorders, both as a psychotherapist and as a follower of clinical research on the subject, has convinced him of just how dangerous the disease can be, and how incompletely we realize the threat.
So we're simultaneously underestimating and overestimating depression by assuming that it's just another personality problem, ignoring its source in actual chemical problems in the brain. The wrong people get drugs and the one's who need them get told to just suck it up when they're no more able to do that than someone who has cancer.
According to Kramer, research in the past decade (since "Listening to Prozac" was published) suggests that serotonin and similar neurochemicals may instead serve a protective function. They help shield the brain from the negative effects of the stress hormones that prompt the body to respond to threats. Certain brains are rendered particularly vulnerable to stress hormones by genetics and sometimes, in addition, early childhood trauma. This kind of brain loses the ability to protect and heal itself from the effects of those hormones, and also loses the ability to turn off the production of the hormones. The stress response system can get stuck in the "on" position, eventually weakening and diminishing nerve cells and further eroding the brain's capacity to cope with the hormones. This vicious circle results in clinical depression.

The manifestations of the disease include "low mood, apathy, diminished energy, poor sleep and appetite, suicidality, loss of the capacity to experience pleasure, feelings of worthlessness," and so on. Some depressed people can't sleep; others sleep way too much. Some feel misery; most feel something closer to emptiness. But the cause, Kramer maintains, is measurable organic damage to the brain, damage that prevents the brain from repairing itself and leaves it ever more susceptible to further damage. This is why often very slight stressors can incapacitate a depressed person or trigger an episode of depression, and why a third or fourth episode is harder to treat than the first.
Mental illnesses aren't personality traits or negative emotions. They're illnesses. Maybe we should treat them that way and give up this stupid, patronizing cliche that they're somehow wonderful and responsible for the greatest artistic achievements in human history. Try telling someone who actually has to suffer with paranoid schizophrenia or bipolar disorder how edgy and hip you think it is. I certainly don't presume to be able to speak on behalf of such people, but we should definitely be wary of thinking that we can appropriate their suffering as an aesthetic lifestyle feature in the same manner as the latest Hilary Duff CD when we can't even come close to knowing what they may be going through.

Newsweek Dress

Princess Di is Wearing a New Dress

"We regret that we got any part of our story wrong, and extend our sympathies to victims of the violence and to the U.S. soldiers caught in its midst." --- Mark Whitaker, Newsweek magazine editor, in a written apology for the magazine having inaccurately reported that U.S. military interrogators at Guantanamo Bay had flushed a prisoner’s copy of the Koran down a toilet, the reporting of which led to outbursts of violence all over the Islamic world from the Gaza Strip to the Java Sea.

Call them the "Newsweek riots" since there’s no way around the fact that Newsweek incited them. That’s not to absolve the rioters themselves of responsibility, but why antagonize a rabid dog? It was all so unnecessary, but for some inexplicable reason the big media outlets these days seem locked in an irreversible death march off the cliff of responsible journalism.

****

The prisoner, a slight, 22-year-old taxi driver known only as Dilawar, was hauled from his cell at the detention center in Bagram, Afghanistan, at around 2 a.m. to answer questions about a rocket attack on an American base. When he arrived in the interrogation room, an interpreter who was present said, his legs were bouncing uncontrollably in the plastic chair and his hands were numb. He had been chained by the wrists to the top of his cell for much of the previous four days.

Mr. Dilawar asked for a drink of water, and one of the two interrogators, Specialist Joshua R. Claus, 21, picked up a large plastic bottle. But first he punched a hole in the bottom, the interpreter said, so as the prisoner fumbled weakly with the cap, the water poured out over his orange prison scrubs. The soldier then grabbed the bottle back and began squirting the water forcefully into Mr. Dilawar's face.

"Come on, drink!" the interpreter said Specialist Claus had shouted, as the prisoner gagged on the spray. "Drink!"

****

The "captors" of Janet Arvizo's kids, whom Arvizo called "the killers" on the stand, not only bought them books, but paid to replace their lost schoolbooks as well.

And they did this during what turned out to be the Arvizo family's last week at Michael Jackson's Neverland Valley Ranch in March 2003.

****

At the interrogators' behest, a guard tried to force the young man to his knees. But his legs, which had been pummeled by guards for several days, could no longer bend. An interrogator told Mr. Dilawar that he could see a doctor after they finished with him. When he was finally sent back to his cell, though, the guards were instructed only to chain the prisoner back to the ceiling.

"Leave him up," one of the guards quoted Specialist Claus as saying.

Several hours passed before an emergency room doctor finally saw Mr. Dilawar. By then he was dead, his body beginning to stiffen. It would be many months before Army investigators learned a final horrific detail: Most of the interrogators had believed Mr. Dilawar was an innocent man who simply drove his taxi past the American base at the wrong time.

****

"24" (search) plans to end its fourth heart-stopping season with a bang Monday night — a two-hour finale filled with suspense and surprises.

"It's my favorite season-ender — it's just been the most fun and, I think, the most surprising end. I'm not gonna tell you who dies, or if someone dies. But I will say it's a surprise," Howard Gordon, executive producer of "24," told FOX News.

****

Yet the Bagram file includes ample testimony that harsh treatment by some interrogators was routine and that guards could strike shackled detainees with virtual impunity. Prisoners considered important or troublesome were also handcuffed and chained to the ceilings and doors of their cells, sometimes for long periods, an action Army prosecutors recently classified as criminal assault.

Some of the mistreatment was quite obvious, the file suggests. Senior officers frequently toured the detention center, and several of them acknowledged seeing prisoners chained up for punishment or to deprive them of sleep. Shortly before the two deaths, observers from the International Committee of the Red Cross specifically complained to the military authorities at Bagram about the shackling of prisoners in "fixed positions," documents show.

Even though military investigators learned soon after Mr. Dilawar's death that he had been abused by at least two interrogators, the Army's criminal inquiry moved slowly. Meanwhile, many of the Bagram interrogators, led by the same operations officer, Capt. Carolyn A. Wood, were redeployed to Iraq and in July 2003 took charge of interrogations at the Abu Ghraib prison. According to a high-level Army inquiry last year, Captain Wood applied techniques there that were "remarkably similar" to those used at Bagram.

****

Moviegoers turned out in full force for the final chapter of the "Star Wars" saga, which took in $158.5 million since its opening to shatter three-day and four-day box office records.

"Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith" grossed $124.7 million from Thursday to Saturday, according to studio estimates Sunday. That's higher than the three-day record set by the first "Spider-Man," which took in $114.8 million in May 2002 — though "Star Wars" had a lower Friday-Sunday take than the Tobey Maguire (search) film.

****

Military spokesmen maintained that both men had died of natural causes, even after military coroners had ruled the deaths homicides. Two months after those autopsies, the American commander in Afghanistan, then-Lt. Gen. Daniel K. McNeill, said he had no indication that abuse by soldiers had contributed to the two deaths. The methods used at Bagram, he said, were "in accordance with what is generally accepted as interrogation techniques."

****

A TV movie set to air Tuesday night about billionaire real-estate mogul Donald Trump (search) had better be accurate — or The Donald is going to sue ABC.

"I hope the overall tenor of the movie is accurate, or I'll sue their a--es off," vowed Trump, who had nothing to do with "Trump Unauthorized" (search) and doesn't plan on watching it until it airs at 9 p.m. EDT on Tuesday.

"It sounds like a real beauty," he said. "It sounds like 'Desperate Housewives' all over again."

****

Nor were the rules of engagement very clear. The platoon had the standard interrogations guide, Army Field Manual 34-52, and an order from the secretary of defense, Donald H. Rumsfeld, to treat prisoners "humanely," and when possible, in accordance with the Geneva Conventions. But with President Bush's final determination in February 2002 that the Conventions did not apply to the conflict with Al Qaeda and that Taliban fighters would not be accorded the rights of prisoners of war, the interrogators believed they "could deviate slightly from the rules," said one of the Utah reservists, Sgt. James A. Leahy.

"There was the Geneva Conventions for enemy prisoners of war, but nothing for terrorists," Sergeant Leahy told Army investigators. And the detainees, senior intelligence officers said, were to be considered terrorists until proved otherwise.

The deviations included the use of "safety positions" or "stress positions" that would make the detainees uncomfortable but not necessarily hurt them - kneeling on the ground, for instance, or sitting in a "chair" position against the wall. The new platoon was also trained in sleep deprivation, which the previous unit had generally limited to 24 hours or less, insisting that the interrogator remain awake with the prisoner to avoid pushing the limits of humane treatment.

****

Viewers are still talking about Sunday night's "Desperate Housewives" finale, which answered some questions (the mystery of Deirdre and Dana) and created others (will George be punished for Rex's death?).

****

Sergeant Loring, then 27, tried with limited success to wean those interrogators off that approach, which typically involved yelling and throwing chairs. Mr. Leahy said the sergeant "put the brakes on when certain approaches got out of hand." But he could also be dismissive of tactics he considered too soft, several soldiers told investigators, and gave some of the most aggressive interrogators wide latitude. (Efforts to locate Mr. Loring, who has left the military, were unsuccessful.)

"We sometimes developed a rapport with detainees, and Sergeant Loring would sit us down and remind us that these were evil people and talk about 9/11 and they weren't our friends and could not be trusted," Mr. Leahy said.

Specialist Damien M. Corsetti, a tall, bearded interrogator sometimes called "Monster" -he had the nickname tattooed in Italian across his stomach, other soldiers said - was often chosen to intimidate new detainees. Specialist Corsetti, they said, would glower and yell at the arrivals as they stood chained to an overhead pole or lay face down on the floor of a holding room. (A military police K-9 unit often brought growling dogs to walk among the new prisoners for similar effect, documents show.)

"The other interrogators would use his reputation," said one interrogator, Specialist Eric H. Barclais. "They would tell the detainee, 'If you don't cooperate, we'll have to get Monster, and he won't be as nice.' " Another soldier told investigators that Sergeant Loring lightheartedly referred to Specialist Corsetti, then 23, as "the King of Torture."

****

Some of the same M.P.'s took a particular interest in an emotionally disturbed Afghan detainee who was known to eat his feces and mutilate himself with concertina wire. The soldiers kneed the man repeatedly in the legs and, at one point, chained him with his arms straight up in the air, Specialist Callaway told investigators. They also nicknamed him "Timmy," after a disabled child in the animated television series "South Park." One of the guards who beat the prisoner also taught him to screech like the cartoon character, Specialist Callaway said.

Eventually, the man was sent home.

****

With Newsweek still reeling from its forced retraction of the Quran-in-the-toilet story, the magazine is now under fire for publishing what some see as staunchly anti-American covers in foreign editions.

For instance, while a Japanese edition of Newsweek dated Feb. 2 published a cover story featuring an American flag in a trash can under the headline, "The day America died," and the international edition featured a photo of President Bush with the headline, "America Leads ... But Is Anyone Following?," the U.S. edition cover story was an "Oscar Confidential" featuring Hilary Swank, Jamie Foxx and Leonardo DiCaprio.

****

When the detainees were beaten or kicked for "noncompliance," one of the interpreters, Ali M. Baryalai said, it was often "because they have no idea what the M.P. is saying."

By the morning of Dec. 2, witnesses told the investigators, Mr. Habibullah was coughing and complaining of chest pains. He limped into the interrogation room in shackles, his right leg stiff and his right foot swollen. The lead interrogator, Sergeant Leahy, let him sit on the floor because he could not bend his knees and sit in a chair.

The interpreter who was on hand, Ebrahim Baerde, said the interrogators had kept their distance that day "because he was spitting up a lot of phlegm."

"They were laughing and making fun of him, saying it was 'gross' or 'nasty,' " Mr. Baerde said.

Though battered, Mr. Habibullah was unbowed.

"Once they asked him if he wanted to spend the rest of his life in handcuffs," Mr. Baerde said. "His response was, 'Yes, don't they look good on me?' "

By Dec. 3, Mr. Habibullah's reputation for defiance seemed to make him an open target. One M.P. said he had given him five peroneal strikes for being "noncompliant and combative." Another gave him three or four more for being "combative and noncompliant." Some guards later asserted that he had been hurt trying to escape.

When Sgt. James P. Boland saw Mr. Habibullah on Dec. 3, he was in one of the isolation cells, tethered to the ceiling by two sets of handcuffs and a chain around his waist. His body was slumped forward, held up by the chains.

****

Is Newsweek magazine anti-American?
No, its coverage tends to be pro-U.S.
No, it plays no favorites
No, though it's possible a handful of reporters and editors are anti-American
No
Yes, but no moreso than the rest of the so-called mainstream media
Yes, but much moreso in its foreign editions than the U.S. version
Yes, though it claims to play no favorites
Yes, Newsweek is among the worst of the anti-American media

****

"It looked like he had been dead for a while, and it looked like nobody cared," the medic, Staff Sgt. Rodney D. Glass, recalled.

Not all of the guards were indifferent, their statements show. But if Mr. Habibullah's death shocked some of them, it did not lead to major changes in the detention center's operation.

Military police guards were assigned to be present during interrogations to help prevent mistreatment. The provost marshal, Major Atwell, told investigators he had already instructed the commander of the M.P. company, Captain Beiring, to stop chaining prisoners to the ceiling. Others said they never received such an order.

****

In fact, Mr. Habibullah's autopsy, completed on Dec. 8, showed bruises or abrasions on his chest, arms and head. There were deep contusions on his calves, knees and thighs. His left calf was marked by what appeared to have been the sole of a boot.

His death was attributed to a blood clot, probably caused by the severe injuries to his legs, which traveled to his heart and blocked the blood flow to his lungs.

****

When one of the First Platoon M.P.'s, Specialist Corey E. Jones, was sent to Mr. Dilawar's cell to give him some water, he said the prisoner spit in his face and started kicking him. Specialist Jones responded, he said, with a couple of knee strikes to the leg of the shackled man.

"He screamed out, 'Allah! Allah! Allah!' and my first reaction was that he was crying out to his god," Specialist Jones said to investigators. "Everybody heard him cry out and thought it was funny."

Other Third Platoon M.P.'s later came by the detention center and stopped at the isolation cells to see for themselves, Specialist Jones said.

It became a kind of running joke, and people kept showing up to give this detainee a common peroneal strike just to hear him scream out 'Allah,' " he said. "It went on over a 24-hour period, and I would think that it was over 100 strikes."

****

Sunday, May 22, 2005 4:08 p.m. EDT

Clinton Criticized for Charging Charity

Volunteer groups in Ireland are criticizing ex-President Bill Clinton for charging a suicide prevention charity $125,000 for a 40-minute speech Monday night.

"Any initiative that contributes to the prevention of suicide is very welcome," said Pat Buckley, spokesman for a group of Irish suicide support groups, in an interview with the Irish Examiner.

"But the money it will cost for Bill Clinton to make this keynote speech would fund a lot of counseling for the bereaved and those at risk of suicide in places like Cork, Limerick or Kerry."

****

When Mr. Dilawar was unable to sit in the chair position against the wall because of his battered legs, the two interrogators grabbed him by the shirt and repeatedly shoved him back against the wall.

"This went on for 10 or 15 minutes," the interpreter said. "He was so tired he couldn't get up."

"They stood him up, and at one point Selena stepped on his bare foot with her boot and grabbed him by his beard and pulled him towards her," he went on. "Once Selena kicked Dilawar in the groin, private areas, with her right foot. She was standing some distance from him, and she stepped back and kicked him.

"About the first 10 minutes, I think, they were actually questioning him, after that it was pushing, shoving, kicking and shouting at him," Mr. Ahmadzai said. "There was no interrogation going on."

The session ended, he said, with Sergeant Salcedo instructing the M.P.'s to keep Mr. Dilawar chained to the ceiling until the next shift came on.

The next morning, Mr. Dilawar began yelling again. At around noon, the M.P.'s called over another of the interpreters, Mr. Baerde, to try to quiet Mr. Dilawar down.

"I told him, 'Look, please, if you want to be able to sit down and be released from shackles, you just need to be quiet for one more hour."

"He told me that if he was in shackles another hour, he would die," Mr. Baerde said.

Half an hour later, Mr. Baerde returned to the cell. Mr. Dilawar's hands hung limply from the cuffs, and his head, covered by the black hood, slumped forward.

"He wanted me to get a doctor, and said that he needed 'a shot,' " Mr. Baerde recalled. "He said that he didn't feel good. He said that his legs were hurting."

Mr. Baerde translated Mr. Dilawar's plea to one of the guards. The soldier took the prisoner's hand and pressed down on his fingernails to check his circulation.

"He's O.K.," Mr. Baerde quoted the M.P. as saying. "He's just trying to get out of his restraints."

By the time Mr. Dilawar was brought in for his final interrogation in the first hours of the next day, Dec. 10, he appeared exhausted and was babbling that his wife had died. He also told the interrogators that he had been beaten by the guards.

"But we didn't pursue that," said Mr. Baryalai, the interpreter.