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Saturday, 2 April 2005
"need some quote from supporter"
Mood:  d'oh
Now Playing: Mozart's Requiem
In their initial online report on the death of Pope John Paul II, the New York Times made a rather embarrassing mistake. Go to the Power Line at the link above to see a screenshot of the report as it was first seen, but here is the text exactly as it appeared (emphasis added):

Even as his own voice faded away, his views on the sanctity of all human life echoed unambiguously among Catholics and Christian evangelicals in the United States on issues from abortion to the end of life.

need some quote from supporter

John Paul II's admirers were as passionate as his detractors, for whom his long illness served as a symbol for what they said was a decrepit, tradition-bound papacy in need of rejuvenation and a bolder connection with modern life.
Uh, well...uh...At least they didn't pull a Jayson Blair and just make up a "quote from supporter."


Posted by Toby Petzold at 10:48 PM CST | Post Comment | View Comments (3) | Permalink
Friday, 1 April 2005
"The Potato"
A-ha! Finally found it. As you can see, it's not exactly as I remembered it in the previous post, but I've always loved this picture of the future Pope. (Isn't memory a funny thing? Some elements of the photo I had right, but others were only imagined.)

As for the title of this post, it's the punchline to a possibly apocryphal story about the Pope's visit to Denver many years ago and a mistranslation of his title in Spanish featured on some souvenir T-shirts. Have you ever heard that story? Ha, ha.


Posted by Toby Petzold at 11:23 PM CST | Post Comment | Permalink
"Tu es Petrus et super hanc petram aedificabo ecclesiam meum."
I'm thinking of my very favorite picture of Karol Wojtyla. It's a shot I once saw in a special issue of LIFE magazine in which the future Pope John Paul II is sitting out in a field somewhere ---shaving. Just sitting there cross-legged with a bowl and towel and a lathered-up face. And he's shaving with a straight razor.

Oh, I wish I knew where I could find a copy of that!

I am neither a believer nor an acolyte, but I am religiously interested in History. And this man is a giant of the Twentieth Century. And I will reflect on the providence, as it were, of such a man coming along at such a time as other giants to help shape the world in which we live.

Christ keep him.


Posted by Toby Petzold at 5:22 PM CST | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Sunday, 3 April 2005 9:53 PM CST
Thursday, 31 March 2005
My Favorite Song
I have let it be known for many years now that I wish for the masterpiece "Dust in the Wind" by the rock band Kansas to be played at my funeral. I just want the studio cut on a jam box and that'll do it.

This song means more to me than any other piece of music ever made. I can still remember the very place where I first heard it: in the backseat of my mother's car while we were waiting at the intersection at North Valley Mills Drive and Cobbs Drive in Waco, Texas. That would have been around Christmas of 1977.

It is a pure expression of genius. There is no contradicting that.

I close my eyes
Only for a moment and the moment's gone.
All my dreams
Pass before my eyes, a curiosity.

Dust in the wind,
All they are is dust in the wind.

Same old song,
Just a drop of water in an endless sea,
All we do
Crumbles to the ground, though we refuse to see.

Dust in the wind, all we are is dust in the wind.

Oh!

Now
Don't hang on.
Nothing lasts forever but the Earth and sky.
It slips away,
And all your money won't another minute buy.

Dust in the wind, all we are is dust in the wind.
All we are is dust in the wind.
Dust in the wind,
Everything is dust in the wind.
Everything is dust in the wind.


Posted by Toby Petzold at 8:41 PM CST | Post Comment | Permalink
Sergeant First Class Paul Ray Smith, Recipient of the Medal of Honor
Mood:  special
Know this:

Sgt. 1st Class Paul Ray Smith will receive the Medal of Honor posthumously during a White House ceremony April 4, 2005. The official citation will be made available after the White House Presentation.
This is an amazing story of heroism, and you should read the citation in full.

Sgt. 1st Class Smith ordered one of his Soldiers to back the damaged APC back into the courtyard after the wounded men had been evacuated. Knowing the APC ’s .50-Cal. machinegun was the largest weapon between the enemy and the friendly position, Sgt. 1st Class Smith immediately assumed the track commander’s position behind the weapon, and told a soldier who accompanied him to “feed me ammunition whenever you hear the gun get quiet.” Sgt. 1st Class Smith fired on the advancing enemy from the unprotected position atop the APC and expended at least three boxes of ammunition before being mortally wounded by enemy fire. The enemy attack was defeated. Sgt. 1st Class Smith’s actions saved the lives of at least 100 Soldiers, caused the failure of a deliberate enemy attack hours after 1st Brigade seized the Baghdad Airport, and resulted in an estimated 20-50 enemy soldiers killed. His actions inspired his platoon, his Company, the 11th Engineer Battalion and Task Force 2-7 Infantry.
Thank you, Sgt. Smith, for giving the last, full measure of devotion.


Posted by Toby Petzold at 12:24 PM CST | Post Comment | Permalink
Wednesday, 30 March 2005
Rebuke
Mood:  sharp
The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued its denial of appeal this afternoon to the parents of Terri Schindler Schiavo.

It's probably just my ignorance of the law, but I am always amazed at all the personality in the language of court decisions and briefs, in general. And the concurring opinion has a whole lot of personality. Here's what Judge Stanley F. Birch, Jr. had to say:

"In resolving the Schiavo controversy, it is my judgment that, despite sincere and altruistic motivation, the legislative and executive branches of our government have acted in a manner demonstrably at odds with our Founding Fathers' blueprint for the governance of a free people -- our Constitution."
And this Birch guy is a Republican.

My conservative friends need to recognize that this case has been an absolute disaster for the Republican Party. At first, I tried to rationalize it by analogy to the marketing concept of the "loss leader": something that's sold below its actual value in order to draw even more people in to purchase other items at higher prices, thus making a profit. But, nope. This was an utter fucking lapse in judgement. The Bush Brothers, DeLay, and Frist may have proved their bona fides to the Fundamentalist Christian Right, but they've done it at the cost of alienating people like me ---people who don't want the goddamned Government convening itself in the middle of the night for the purpose of passing a law for the alleged benefit of a single, private individual.

That's what gets me the most.

Get back to your job as Commander-in-Chief, Mr. President. This other role you tried to play is a supreme embarrassment to more people than you realize.


Posted by Toby Petzold at 11:15 PM CST | Post Comment | Permalink
Thievery
I understand why movie and music producers are so upset about copyright infringement and the spread of the peer-to-peer (P2P) networks that "share" their materials online. It would be frustrating to know that the artworks you spent so much money and talent on were being traded freely by Internet users all over the world ---and with no compensation to you.

This issue has now gone before the Supreme Court, and I would predict an unfavorable outcome for the whole P2P phenomenon. One reason is the weak argument that Hollywood once shunned the VCR, but now loves it. As USA Today observes:

In the past two decades, Hollywood has come to love the VCR. This little box, and its modern cousin, the DVD player, account for about half of the revenues of an average film.

But it is a romance born in conflict. Between 1976 and 1984, Hollywood warred with consumer electronics giant Sony Corp., arguing that it and other makers of VCRs should be held liable when people tape movies and television shows. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court, which ruled in Sony's favor by a single vote after Justice Sandra Day O'Connor switched sides. TV viewers have taped at will ever since.
But P2Ps are not like the VCR for the simple reason that the Internet is vastly more efficient at propagating pirated copies of music and movies. There's never been anything like this scale of making perfect copies of copyrighted entertainment (and digital copies at that, not progressively degraded analog ones) and doing so by the thousands. With very little effort and, so long as it's online, basically cost free.

The argument can be made that file-swapping is a catalyst to increased interest in otherwise obscure media. That may be artistically satisfying to the artist, but not financially. But I would guess that the great majority of Internet piracy involves what's hot and popular. And the way to rationalize thieving from who's hot and popular is to shrug and say "To hell with 'em. So we're taking food out of the mouths of their accountants' butlers' families. They've already got it made, so who cares?"

That may be. It's not like downloading a song from M.C. Hammer would be stealing anything that he himself didn't steal.


Posted by Toby Petzold at 11:41 AM CST | Post Comment | Permalink
Hoorah for Wentworth!
This is truly fantastic:

Texas' college football teams would be banned from playing in post-season championship games that are not part of a national playoff system under a bill filed today in the Texas Senate.

[...]

The largely symbolic measure highlights growing frustration with the BCS system, in which sportswriter polls and computer rankings help determine which teams will play in the major bowl games. The University of Texas received its first BCS bid this past season when it was invited to the Rose Bowl.

Senate Bill 1790, filed by Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, would prohibit Texas' NCAA teams from playing in "an intercollegiate post-regular-session competition that is part of a series that includes a national championship game unless that competition is part of a national playoff system."

Under the bill, that system would have to consist of "at least 16 teams competing in successive elimination games resulting in a final game for the national championship of that entire division or level of intercollegiate competition."

If at least four other states enact a similar law before Dec. 1, the law would stay in effect for Texas schools, according to the bill.

The other states are Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina and Washington.
Subvert the dominant paradigm, baby!


Posted by Toby Petzold at 10:34 AM CST | Post Comment | Permalink
Tuesday, 29 March 2005
Slicker Than Owl Shit
I heard that Johnnie Cochran died today. And although his family and friends deserve our condolences, I cannot help but to say that he was a terrible race-baiter and a demagogue.

Cochran was the lead attorney in the defense of the double-murderer O.J. Simpson. And in that particular Trial of the Century, Cochran used race like a battering ram to bully a weakling on the bench and to sweet-talk a dozen or more of the stupidest assholes to ever sit on a jury. He slandered some good cops and lied about everything else he could think of to get his client off. "Twins of deception" and "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit" and a lot of other dishonest bullshit.

Years from now, people who weren't alive to see that circus of insanity will wonder how we ever got so worked up about what Simpson and Cochran did. But trust me, kids: it was a low point in the history of American jurisprudence and of race relations in this country. Sure, it was a major media event and one of the weirdest falls of an all-time sports legend and a sometimes celebrity, but it was a moment of great impact on our culture. A lot of degenerate nonsense that characterizes this society all came together in that single trial ---and it was infuriating to all reason and fairness.

That is Johnnie Cochran's legacy as I see it. Nothing more and certainly nothing less.


Posted by Toby Petzold at 11:26 PM CST | Post Comment | Permalink
Monday, 28 March 2005
A'Fussin' an' a'Feudin'
And be sure to check out Forkum's remarks accompanying this great cartoon.


Posted by Toby Petzold at 9:23 PM CST | Post Comment | Permalink
Sunday, 27 March 2005
Some Remarks I Made Elsewhere
If Americans would only recognize that marriage is not, in itself, a sacred institution, the Schindlers would have a vastly more legitimate claim to be their own daughter's next of kin.

But, as it is, the legal construct of the Schiavos' marriage ---which has become a meaningless bond in all practical senses--- is the very thing that is keeping Michael Schiavo in legal control of his "wife's" life.

The only thing that is sacred in any given marriage is the commitment between the two people in it ---regardless of gender. Absent that, what is there to it?

Michael Schiavo has a wife. A fully conscious one by whom he is a father to her two children. The legal guardianship of the severely brain-damaged Terri Schindler Schiavo should have reverted to her parents years ago.


Posted by Toby Petzold at 11:25 AM CST | Post Comment | View Comments (2) | Permalink
Saturday, 26 March 2005
De Novo ex post Facto
Mood:  a-ok
Now Playing: "Rock the Casbah" by the Clash
This weekend, I somehow found myself in a very interesting exchange over at one of my very favorite concept-blogs (The Politburo Diktat) with a blogger who went (and goes again?) by the name of Allah. This would be the famous Allahpundit of the old blog Allah Is in the House. I don't know what his status is, but he used to produce some of the best stuff in the blogosphere. Really ingenious PhotoShop stuff ---as well as some excellent writing.

If I believed in jinxes, I wouldn't want to cause one, so I'll just leave it at that. Maybe his garden will grow again.

Anyway, we were discussing the Schiavo Relief Act on the comments thread at the link posted above; in particular, the Act's detrimental effects on the Republican Party, as well as its Constitutionality. I bluffed my way through the legal aspects of it as well as I can, but feel free to set me straight once you've seen what transpired.

Bottom line? The Republicans should never have opened up this can of worms.


Posted by Toby Petzold at 11:30 PM CST | Post Comment | Permalink
Friday, 25 March 2005
"Then comes my fit again."
Mood:  don't ask
Now Playing: Macbeth, III, iv
CNN's Anderson Cooper is reporting that the FBI has just nabbed somebody who was offering over the Internet to pay a quarter-million dollars for the murder of Michael Schiavo.

And fifty grand for the murder of Pinellas County Circuit Judge George Greer.

Yeah. This is going to go poorly.


Posted by Toby Petzold at 6:34 PM CST | Post Comment | Permalink
Serviceable Villains
Now Playing: "I Am the Walrus" by the Beatles
I'm liking this (on the front page of today's Washington Post):

UNITED NATIONS, March 24 -- Syrian President Bashar Assad threatened former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri with "physical harm" last summer if Hariri challenged Assad's dominance over Lebanese political life, contributing to a climate of violence that led to the Feb. 14 slayings of Hariri and 19 others, according to testimony in a report released Thursday by a U.N. fact-finding team.

The report, which calls for an international investigation into Hariri's death, describes an August meeting in Damascus at which Assad ordered the Lebanese billionaire to support amending Lebanon's constitution, according to testimony from "various" sources who discussed the meeting with Hariri. The amendment, approved Sept. 3, allowed Emile Lahoud, the Syrian-backed Lebanese president, to remain in office for three more years.
This is important because, of course, it's the Holy United Nations that's getting behind the anti-Syrian movement. Which means that it's a Left-proof lead pipe cinch that, when it comes to evicting the Ba'athist element from Lebanon ---and maybe even the Islamofascist terrorist element there--- it will be a much smoother process than two years ago in Iraq.

Hell, if Kofi and Jacques are in on the deal, what could any of these democracy-hating hippies object to?!


Posted by Toby Petzold at 5:04 PM CST | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Friday, 25 March 2005 5:08 PM CST
Was "Outing" Valerie Plame a Crime?
Thanks to Tom Maguire, here's the Washington Post's report on a brief filed yesterday.

A federal court should first determine whether a crime has been committed in the disclosure of an undercover CIA operative's name before prosecutors are allowed to continue seeking testimony from journalists about their confidential sources, the nation's largest news organizations and journalism groups asserted in a court filing yesterday.

The 40-page brief, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, argues that there is "ample evidence . . . to doubt that a crime has been committed" in the case, which centers on the question of whether Bush administration officials knowingly revealed the identity of undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame in the summer of 2003. Plame's name was published first by syndicated columnist Robert D. Novak and later by other publications.
The Left have been salivating over this thing for nearly two years now because they want someone in George W. Bush's White House to pay. But let's not forget: Joe Wilson was the one who outed his own wife. How's that? Because the decision to send someone of his qualifications to check on the story of Nigerien yellowcake was a curious one. It would have been natural, in the wake of his infamous New York Times editorial, to ask how some unqualified ambassador from the Clinton Administration managed to get such an assignment. After all, Wilson's motivations are not above question, are they?

As Wilson wrote in that editorial of 6 July 2003:

After consulting with the State Department's African Affairs Bureau (and through it with Barbr[a] Owens-Kirkpatrick, the United States ambassador to Niger), I agreed to make the trip.
Maybe so, but that "consultation" wasn't just the result of some random drawing. Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, is the one who got him the job. She is the one who arranged that "consultation."

And, considering the rather high-profile approach he took to contradicting the President, that fact would have been uncovered by any investigative journalist worth his or her salt.

As it is, the well-connected Robert Novak was told the name.

You took your shot, Joe. Better luck next time.


Posted by Toby Petzold at 3:29 PM CST | Post Comment | Permalink
Enough
Now Playing: "Dust in the Wind" by Kansas
The comments about Terri Schindler Schiavo and her family that I have come across here and there are very often extreme and, frankly, hurtful. I wish the people making them had the decency to stop and consider what an awful thing this is for that family.

Terri Schindler Schiavo herself is beyond blame. Something terrible happened to her a very long time ago ---and her body has kept whatever is left of her as a human being trapped in an unknowable and unknowing hell. It is very sad.

I wish for her to finally be at peace.

I wish for her family to know the truth about her and to let her pass away. But I do not blame them as parents or siblings. They see their loved one in a way that none of us can know, except in our own experiences with our own loved ones.

But this is not a blameless situation. The Republican leadership of this country and a great many of the evangelical Christian community in America are to blame. The conservative punditocracy of this country ---such as John Gibson on FOX News and most of the staff of the National Review and bloggers such as Michelle Malkin and Hugh Hewitt and others are to blame. They have, in the past week, made me genuinely ashamed of my association with them.

I think they have gone mad. I mean that sincerely. They are like the inhabitants of a medieval village who have all eaten moldy grain and slipped the bonds of reason.

It is very likely that Terri Schindler Schiavo will die in the next few days. You can be sure that there will be displays of fundamentalist hysteria the likes of which we have not seen in this country in a very long time. And when these things do happen and when a lot of outrageous and irresponsible nonsense is spouted, I will be standing with people with whom I very rarely stand to condemn those who've got it coming to them.

That's you, President Bush. That's you, Governor Bush. That's you, Tom DeLay. That's you, Dave Weldon. You people have committed a very terrible error in judgement and it is you who will be responsible for the backlash to come.

I have no idea what's gone wrong inside your heads, but you will be smacked down. Passing that law in the dead of night and against all parliamentary decorum? Intimating that there are "options" at your disposal that circumvent the rule of law? Intervening in the private life of an individual who cannot defend or define her own wishes?

It is an obscenity.

This isn't goddamned Michael Jackson or Scott Peterson or any of that degenerate filth that the cable news networks force upon us every day of our lives instead of addressing the real issues in this society. This is an event imposed upon us by the United States Congress and the President of the United States. They have taken the private grief and torment of a family and used it for political purposes.

I hope all of you are made to pay for this with your jobs and your credibility. I hope this culture finally awakens to the disgusting spectacle of the fundamentalist threat staring us down.

That's part of my shame, see. How often do I find myself defending you people and your right to display the Ten Commandments and to pray in public schools and at sports events? How often do I justify your ways to my secular correspondents and opponents? And this is what it comes to? This craziness that exposes me, too?

Let the storm come. Maybe it will fix you this time.


Posted by Toby Petzold at 2:04 PM CST | Post Comment | View Comments (6) | Permalink
Updated: Friday, 25 March 2005 3:57 PM CST
Wednesday, 23 March 2005
Remember Texas City
April of 1947.


Posted by Toby Petzold at 10:09 PM CST | Post Comment | Permalink
"You are so awesome!"
Now Playing: "Turn to Stone" by the Electric Light Orchestra
My favorite TV ad these days is the Geico thing with the young couple in a reality show where they have to live in a miniature house for a year. The execution of the spoofery is dead-on. Absolutely masterful. But what sells it to me is the inanity of the guy telling his bride that she is "so awesome." That is fucking funny, jackson. Because it perfectly captures the vocabulary of the whole "Dude!" set of 20 and 30-something guys who can't be bothered learning too many words to communicate their [innermost thoughts].

What a bunch of troglodytes we are.


Posted by Toby Petzold at 10:01 PM CST | Post Comment | Permalink
Tuesday, 22 March 2005
Chance Phelps
Now Playing: "Moonshadow" by Cat Stevens
I was quite moved earlier today by a story on the CBS Evening News about an ongoing project to honor those brave men and women whom we've lost in the War for Iraq. On display at Arlington National Cemetery is a giant array of painted portraits of these heroes entitled "Faces of the Fallen".

And one of those faces is that of a young Marine named Chance Phelps, whom I learned about last year through Blackfive.net (a very fine milblog that y'all should be reading).

Chance died defending democracy and his country last year in Iraq.

"Chance was an artillery cannoneer and his unit was acting as provisional military police outside of Baghdad. Chance had volunteered to man a .50 caliber machine gun in the turret of the leading vehicle in a convoy. The convoy came under intense fire but Chance stayed true to his post and returned fire with the big gun, covering the rest of the convoy, until he was fatally wounded."
The artist who painted this handsome portrait of Chance is his daddy, John Phelps.

Christ keep you all.


Posted by Toby Petzold at 8:48 PM CST | Post Comment | Permalink
Monday, 21 March 2005
Burn All the Hippies
You're going to get mad reading the following post at SoundPolitics.com, but it's good to know where you stand as an American, see.

These are excerpts of a letter written to the Seattle School Board and Superintendent by Major Terry Thomas, USMCR:

This past Friday afternoon, March 11, 2005 I served as one of a panel of guest speakers at the West Seattle High School Theater after having been invited to West Seattle High School by a student, Mr. Ben Doty, via referral from Ms. Nadine Gulit of Operation Support Our Troops. I served as one of a panel of approximately seven guest speakers at the West Seattle High School Theater. The topic on which I was invited to speak was my experience as a combat veteran of the war in Iraq. I was informed that I would have an opportunity to speak to students, along with other veterans as part of an objective forum with both anti-war and pro-troops sentiments.
But what do you know? Here comes the filthy hippy contingent, baying like the ignorant dogs they are (emphases mine):

Upon entering the theater at 12:30 PM, approximately 15 minutes prior to the event, I was taken aback by what I witnessed. As I stood there in my Marine Corps Dress Blue uniform, there before me stood numerous kids running around in sloppily dressed and ill-fitted helmets and military fatigues with utter disrespect for the symbols and uniforms of the U.S. military. The walls were covered in camouflaged netting and the stage was covered with approximately twenty white, life-sized cut-out patterns in the shape of dead women and children, all of which were splattered in red-paint to depict human blood. Onstage, children were kneeling and weeping while dressed in ill-fitted Arabic headdress with white-faced masks similarly covered in red paint to depict human blood. At a podium, children were reading a monologue of how U.S. troops were killing civilians and shooting at women and children. Moreover, several grown adults were standing on stage in bright orange jump-suits, with black bags on and off their heads, some bound and tied, and some banging symbols and gongs in a crude depiction of what I believe were their efforts to depict victims of the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse episode.
Read the whole damned thing. It's disgusting.

(And thanks to the very delicious Michelle Malkin for the link.)


Posted by Toby Petzold at 8:40 PM CST | Post Comment | Permalink

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