"What is hateful to you, do not do unto others. That is the whole of the law. All else is commentary. Now go and study it."
---Hillel the Elder (c70? BCE - 10?)
Posted by Toby Petzold
at 12:33 AM CDT
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Updated: Sunday, 10 April 2005 12:34 AM CDT
Saturday, 9 April 2005
Congratulations, Mr. and Mrs. Windsor
I am quite pleased to see that Prince Charles has finally wed the true love of his life. He and Camilla have loved each other a very long time and today was a true testament to the vastly greater power of the commitment between two people than what is expected of mere conventions and legalities. It's an embarrassment that so many of the British people are such vicious 5 year-olds about this true love affair and about Camilla, in particular, but maybe time will heal the wounds that the so-called Queen of Hearts' death left behind.
The British royal family are almost certainly the aloof and elitist snobs that circumstances have crafted them into being. They may, on the whole, very well be terrible company and uninteresting people, save for their wealth and history. But I have never been such a childish mythologizer that I would doubt that they are human beings entitled to a certain measure of dignity ---something that the press in their country is willfully oblivious to.
I thought that Charles and Camilla looked superb today and I am, in the way that all unrepentant Anglophiles are, happy for them as people and as representatives of their culture. They are blessed people ---and alive.
Give the dead their due, but save some good will for the rest, too.
Good Eatin' Mood:
I'm watching Paula Zahn talk to Hanoi Jane on CNN right now and it's impossible to not find them to be a whole lot of deliciosity. What is Fonda? Like 67? She's always been in my Top 20 hottest babes ever, even though her politics are crap. And Paula Zahn? Forty-two, maybe? Fantastic. Not to be the lecherous Larry King about her, but what a lovely lady.
Posted by Toby Petzold
at 1:41 AM CDT
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Updated: Wednesday, 13 April 2005 7:14 PM CDT
Dripping the [Irony] Now Playing: "Behind Blue Eyes" by the Who
The French government has destroyed 162,000 copies of the EU constitution because the phrase "incoherent text" was printed on a page by mistake.
The copies had been intended for use in town halls and libraries across France.
But they were recalled after the mistake was spotted. It is not known who was responsible for inserting the offending comment.
Up for the Funeral
I took a good and very long nap Thursday night and have been up for about an hour now to see the funeral of Pope John Paul II.
Somewhere in my stashes of memorabilia is a photograph of the Pope from where I took it on the floor of St. Peter's Square of him standing at the window of his apartment. That was June of 1987. If I find it, I will scan it in and post it here.
Revisions and Extensions Now Playing: "Jet" by Paul McCartney and Wings
Yesterday, US Senator John Cornyn of Texas sought to "clarify" his remarks from Monday:
"I want to make one thing clear," Cornyn said. "I'm not aware of any evidence whatsoever linking recent acts of courthouse violence to the various controversial rulings that have captured the nation's attention in recent years."
Yet that didn't keep him from making that exact same argument the day before in a very unfortunate rhetorical fit of thinking aloud. Monday, on the floor of the United States Senate, Cornyn said:
I don't know if there is a cause-and-effect connection, but we have seen some recent episodes of courthouse violence in this country -- certainly nothing new; we seem to have run through a spate of courthouse violence recently that has been on the news. I wonder whether there may be some connection between the perception in some quarters on some occasions where judges are making political decisions yet are unaccountable to the public, that it builds up and builds up to the point where some people engage in violence, certainly without any justification, but that is a concern I have that I wanted to share.
As I have written elsewhere, I know and like John Cornyn personally. He is a good and decent man ---and those who are criticizing him as some sort of inciter of violence are full of shit.
The worst that can be said of Cornyn's original remarks is that they were literally ignorant. The guy who murdered Judge Lefkow's mom and husband in Chicago (and who later committed suicide) had a personal beef with the judge. And the guy who killed the judge and the others in Atlanta was simply trying to escape his fate. Neither of these acts of violence was ideological. Therefore, they are not indicative of any "building" discontent with this country's judiciary ---just as John Cornyn's lapse of logic in suggesting they are is indicative of who he is as a man and a judge himself.
Compare this to Tom DeLay's very obvious threats of impeachment or removal of judges with whom he disagrees. Was DeLay thinking of Stanley F. Birch, Jr. of the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals ---a conservative who was appointed to the bench by Bush the Elder? Was DeLay thinking of Pinellas County Circuit Court Judge George Greer ---a Republican and practicing Christian? Birch and Greer did right by the law and right by the wishes of Terri Schindler Schiavo. And the sick fucks who would dare suggest that these judges be impeached or otherwise "removed" because of the resolution of the Schiavo matter need to be ostracized from civil society.
Although I am a conservative on many issues, I hold no brief for Tom DeLay. I think he has well earned his reputation as an asshole. And my advice to the Republican Party is to show this asshole the door. He's the biggest liability they've got. No question.
Posted by Toby Petzold
at 11:25 PM CDT
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Updated: Wednesday, 6 April 2005 11:32 PM CDT
Reading on the Toilet
This is something I just don't get. Moreover, I refuse to get it. Why would someone hang around on the toilet for longer or for any other purpose than what is necessary?
Oh, I know! I'll spend 10 or 15 minutes reading a book or a magazine while suspended over a bowl of my own filth! What could be more conducive to cleanliness or comprehension than that?
And reading the goddamned newspaper on a public toilet? What the hell? Do your duty to God and country, man, and get on with it!
Sandy Berger Is a Thief and a Liar Now Playing: "Who Can It Be Now?" by Men at Work
President Clinton's National Security Adviser Sandy Berger has finally admitted that he's a fucking thief and a liar. From last Friday's Washington Post:
Samuel R. "Sandy" Berger, a former White House national security adviser, plans to plead guilty to a misdemeanor, and will acknowledge intentionally removing and destroying copies of a classified document about the Clinton administration's record on terrorism.
Berger's plea agreement, which was described yesterday by his advisers and was confirmed by Justice Department officials, will have one of former president Bill Clinton's most influential advisers and one of the Democratic Party's leading foreign policy advisers in a federal court this afternoon.
The deal's terms make clear that Berger spoke falsely last summer in public claims that in 2003 he twice inadvertently walked off with copies of a classified document during visits to the National Archives, then later lost them.
He described the episode last summer as "an honest mistake." Yesterday, a Berger associate who declined to be identified by name but was speaking with Berger's permission said: "He recognizes what he did was wrong. . . . It was not inadvertent."
As Bill Sammon was saying on the TV earlier tonight, Berger went into the Archives on a "seek-and-destroy mission." And he's getting away with it with little more than a rolled-up newspaper across the snout.
But be sure to read this take on things, as well as this one.
Don't forget that Berger, who is a thief and liar, was a chief foreign policy adviser to Hanoi John. Don't forget that he abused his clearance as a former NSA to go into the National Archives and steal and destroy documents that would make him and Bill Clinton look like the derelict fucks they are when it was their time to deal with the al-Qaedist threat. The documents Berger stole and destroyed are irretrievable. But just how bad must they have been to make this lying thief jeopardize his reputation and risk jail by destroying them? It doesn't take a lot of imagination to figure out these documents must have been very damning to him and his old boss.
"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."
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.
"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
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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.
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.
Sergeant First Class Paul Ray Smith, Recipient of the Medal of Honor Mood:
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.
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.
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.
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.