Blogs

Anybody Else Having Trouble Downloading In Rainbows?

| Wed Oct. 10, 2007 8:42 PM EDT

RadioheadPerhaps it's my own fault. I didn't try and pre-order the album, I just thought I'd head over to inrainbows.com this morning and spend, I dunno, £5 on the thing. That's like 70 bucks at this point, right? However (and I'm assuming it's because of high demand and not a "denial of service" attack) the site was so desperately slow I wasn't ever able to get through. And now, heading over there gets you a request for a username and password, which, when you don't enter them, because what the hell, you get this lovely, personalized message from the band: SSI error: recursion exceeded. Beep! Well, people have been telling me my recursion is looking a little excessive lately. I don't appear to be the only one having this trouble, either. Hmm. Perhaps reports of the music industry's death have been greatly exaggerated?

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Lieberman Says No To Investigating Blackwater

| Wed Oct. 10, 2007 8:26 PM EDT

Sen. Joseph Lieberman, chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee, says that he has no intention of investigating Blackwater USA and other government contractors who have been accused of criminal action.

Lieberman said he gets "angry when I hear about fraud or corruption in the spending of American dollars," but "You've got to set your own priorities, and it was clear to me that other committees were going to pick this up."

Where I come from, the alleged murder of seventeen people is not classified as "fraud" or "corruption," but Lieberman sees it another way. His counterpart in the House of Representatives, Rep. Henry Waxman, is holding hearings on the Blackwater incident.

Neato Viddys on the Intertubes

| Wed Oct. 10, 2007 6:09 PM EDT

Swedes and Aussies and, uh, Chicago-ites, oh my!

Kylie Minogue – "2 Hearts"
In which the Aussie star vamps it up over a swinging beat, and you watch nervously to make sure she doesn't fall off that piano

The Hives – "Tick Tick Boom"
In which the Swedish combo find themselves enlarged and installed in a museum as a high-concept art piece that takes its revenge on the museum for some reason

Lupe Fiasco – "Dumb It Down"
In which the Chicago rapper lets his complex lyrics take center stage, since there's not a whole heck of a lot else going on in this video

Robyn – "Handle Me"
In which the underappreciated Swedish songstress gets, uh, boxed in, wocka wocka

Halo 3: Now You Can Kill Mother%*#$@#*s in Church

| Wed Oct. 10, 2007 6:07 PM EDT

Halo 3, the violent video game that made Microsoft hundreds of millions of dollars in its first week on store shelves, is now being used to attract young men to church, the New York Times reports today. "Teens are our 'fish,'" one youth pastor wrote in a letter to parents. "So we've become creative in baiting our hooks."

The headline of the article is "Thou Shalt Not Kill, Except in a Popular Video Game at Church," which seems to be trying to paint church leaders as hypocritical for using Halo parties to get kids in the door, and then selling them the gospel. Sure, being against violent media and then using that same media to recruit churchgoers is hypocritical. But even though the author mentions evangelical opposition to violent games, he never presents an example of a pastor who condemned violent games and then used them for outreach. Without that, there is no evidence of hypocrisy. There are just some pastors disagreeing with other pastors about what is appropriate.

Simply believing in the 10 Commandments and then playing a violent video game is not hypocritical. Killing virtual aliens is not equivalent to violating the 5th (sometimes 6th) commandment, and it's insane for the Times to imply that it is. Most religious scholars agree that killing animals doesn't violate "Thou shalt not kill." Why would killing imaginary characters be prohibited?

But even if the author didn't want to hunt down actual evidence of hypocrisy, there were still plenty of other interesting questions left unasked. As I wrote in an article two weeks ago, the Halo games have always been an online playground for bigots of all stripes. Homophobia, racism, and antisemitism are rampant in the smack talk that is a staple of the multiplayer game. So it's especially interesting to learn that some of the young men (they're almost all men) who are playing Halo are doing it at church. Are they shocked to hear what other players say? Do their pastors insist that they play with the mute button on? Or, more disturbingly, are some of these young Christian soldiers and the hate-spewers one and the same?

Let's Hope the Clinic Showed Baywatch Reruns

| Wed Oct. 10, 2007 5:28 PM EDT

The missing mayor of Atlantic City has officially resigned after spending a week in a psych hospital. Robert W. Levy may have been in a little over his head as mayor. Before getting elected, he had served for decades as the city's chief lifeguard...

Che-nniversaries

| Wed Oct. 10, 2007 4:38 PM EDT

Yesterday was the 40th anniversary of the killing of Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara. World Hum has the stories behind the popularity and endurance of the Che image, and Gridskipper has a list of all the places in San Francisco you can go to talk about The Motorcycle Diaries and sip mocha frappa whatevers. As they put it: "Oh socialist politics, you are so delicious when you're co-opted for a capitalist enterprise." Viva La Revolucion!

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Want Health Insurance? Call Us Back When You're Homeless

| Wed Oct. 10, 2007 1:58 PM EDT

Does living in a house worth $250,000 in Baltimore make a family of six rich? That's what conservatives seem to think.

After 12-year-old Graeme Frost helped Democrats lobby Congress to pass a bill expanding the State Childrens Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), conservatives vilified his family, claiming they were too affluent to qualify for the program. The state health insurance program helped pick up the tab when Graham and his sister were injured in a car accident that left them both in comas and hospitalized for five months. Because, among other things, they live in a house assessed at $263,000 (originally bought for $50,000) and make a little under $50,000 a year, critics seem to believe that the Frosts and their four kids were living high on the hog (and were apparently just too cheap to buy private insurance).

"Bad things happen to good people, and they cause financial problems and tough choices," Mark Steyn wrote on the National Review Online. "But, if this is the face of the 'needy' in America, then no-one is not needy."

The implication, of course, is that before getting any help from the government, the Frosts should have sold their home and everything else they own to pay the medical bills first. Aside from being highly irrational—a quarter-million dollars will barely buy a parking space in some parts of D.C., much less cover five months of hospital bills for catastrophic head injuries—what good is government-sponsored health insurance if you first have to become homeless and bankrupt before you're worthy enough to use it? The vicious attacks on the Frosts seem like a harbinger of things to come, unfortunately, should any democratic president actually succeed in getting some sort of health care reform off the ground.

Thomas Friedman Wants You to Be More Radical!

| Wed Oct. 10, 2007 11:00 AM EDT

Friedman, from today's column:

I've been calling them "Generation Q" — the Quiet Americans, in the best sense of that term, quietly pursuing their idealism, at home and abroad. But Generation Q may be too quiet, too online, for its own good, and for the country's own good.

He's right to call for activism and political engagement, but it's pretty ripe that a war supporter as influential as Thomas Friedman is criticizing young people for being the "Quiet Generation." The Iraq war didn't happen because too few students were marching in the streets. It happened, in large part, because trusted liberal public intellectuals like (gasp!) Thomas Friedman supported it. They legitimized the Bush administration's story and worked as cheerleaders for intervention. Just because it happened behind the TimesSelect paywall or on Charlie Rose doesn't mean we don't remember. The saddest part is that Friedman's still such an influential figure that many people in his generation will pick up on this convenient, self-absolving narrative: "It's all the kids' fault. They didn't protest enough." Don't be surprised if you hear your parents spouting this to you two weeks from now. But that's a pretty big glass house to be throwing stones from, sir.

Lynching Losers

Wed Oct. 10, 2007 10:44 AM EDT

I've been saying loud and long that, post-Imus, -Jena 6 - post-everything - we don't need a 21st century civil rights movement centered around protests and marches. That doesn't mean we shouldn't ever take to the streets, however, and engage in some heavy duty symbolizing and grievance redressing. This heinous, however cowardly and childish, event ought to certainly produce some mass Negro indignation.

A noose was discovered this week on the office door of an African-American professor at Columbia University, school officials and the New York Police Department said. The noose was found in a building at Columbia's Teachers College, said Joe Levine, executive director for external affairs at Teachers College. The noose apparently was placed on the 44-year-old professor's office door sometime before 9 a.m. ET Tuesday, Levine said.

This only happened yesterday, so we don't know much, like why this individual was targeted or who the likely culprits (you know there was more than one cowardly lowlife involved; it takes a gaggle of them to equal one real man. And yes, I'll bet they were male) are since they made sure to avoid surveillance cameras. Still, doesn't matter. Nothing, anyone did justifies hanging a noose on his door; it's a terror tactic no matter who the subject is though it's worse for blacks given our history.

The question is the proper response. There are those, black and not, who will say ignore it and rob it of its power. I tried that on for awhile, but, nah. A noose mean something whether you ignore it or not and they affect those around you even if you've got it in you to simply toss it in the trash. Yesterday's hastily organized demonstration is a great start. Here's hoping it grows and grows, with stalwart university support. Unlike Jena, this is a protest I'd inconvenience myself to attend, knowing the little I know right now. Also, I'm thinking: nooses made of something with in-your-face-*&^hole symbolism hanging from every campus door and a sizeable reward for information leading to the capture of these morons.

There's no doubt that nooses are more a reflection of some whites' sense of waning superiority in the racial hierarchy than of actual threat (without knowing more) but then so can rape and sexual harassment be. The bastards have to be locked back in their cages.

Republicans Go Green on CNBC

| Wed Oct. 10, 2007 10:30 AM EDT

republican_debate250x200.jpg

There was a surprise winner at yesterday's Republican presidential debate in Dearborn, Michigan: the environment. The candidates — joined for the first time by Law and Order star Fred Thompson — came out nearly universally in favor of increased research on renewables and a decreased dependence of foreign oil. But their motivations weren't of a Save-the-Whales strain.

"This is a matter of national security," said Rudy Giuliani. "You've got to support all the alternatives. Hydroelectric power, solar power, wind power, conservation — we have to support all of these things. We've got to support them in a positive way. And this is an area in which the federal government, the president has to treat this like putting a man on the moon." And just in case you forgot, he added, "It is a matter of national security."

And while Sam Brownback made it clear he would drill for oil in Alaska and off the coast of basically every American state if it meant the United States imported less oil from the Middle East, he also challenged the automakers who had welcomed the candidates to the Detroit area. "We've got to get more electricity involved in our car fleet," he said. "They've got hybrid cars; they've got flex fuel cars. I think that's a big part of the answer. I'd like to see us move forward with getting those first 20 to 30 miles off of electricity that you plug into at night."

When asked if oil companies should use their record profits to fund renewables research, John McCain sounded just a little like Al Gore. "I would not require them to, but I think that public pressure and a lot of other things [might cause them to do so voluntarily]. Including a national security requirement that we reduce and eliminate our dependence on foreign oil and [that] we stop the contamination of our atmosphere." Climate change, he said, "is real and is taking place."

But no matter how green-friendly the field got, they couldn't separate their rhetoric from the overly-simplistic black-and-white nature of their foreign policy vision. Governor Mike Huckabee, for example, expressed frustration with the slow pace of renewables development ("We keep talking about 15-, 20-, 30-year plans; that's nonsense. If we don't start saying we'll do this within a decade, we're never, ever going to get there.") but then drowned it out with the sound of rattling sabers. "We're in a race for our lives against people who want to kill us," he said. "And a lot of the reasons that we are entangled in the Middle East is because our money buys their oil, that money ends up coming back to us in the way of Islamo-fascism terrorists."

But liberals and environmentalists may just abide the tough talk of Huckabee and his Republican brethren, because the end result is one they can embrace. Said Huckabee, when he closed his thoughts on the subject, "Everything is on the table: nuclear, biofuels, ethanol, wind, solar — any and everything this country can produce."

(Transcript of the debate available through the Wall Street Journal.)