Blogs

CDs Out Today and a Word From Critics

| Tue Oct. 23, 2007 4:58 PM EDT

CoheedCoheed and Cambria
No World For Tomorrow
(Sony)
Rolling Stone: "Impressive" (3.5/5 stars)
Blender: "Blazing" (3.5/5 stars)



DaveDave Gahan
Hourglass
(Mute)
The Guardian: "Magnificence" (4/5 stars)
Rolling Stone: "Depeche-sounding" (3/5 stars)



mojo-cover-carrie.jpgCarrie Underwood
Carnival Ride
(Arista)
Slant: "Cliché-addled" (2/5 stars)
NY Times: "Clever" (no grade)



mojo-cover-serj.jpgSerj Tankian
Elect the Dead
(Reprise)
Billboard: "Arty" (no grade)
AllMusic Guide: "Ambitious" (4/5 stars)

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Mitt Romney is Fictionally Handsome

| Tue Oct. 23, 2007 2:55 PM EDT

Re-reading Sridhar Pappu's 2005 article on Mitt Romney ("The Holy Cow Candidate"), I'm reminded of some similarities...

romney_and_superheroes.jpg

Thankfully, that only took me two and a half hours to create.

Weird Weather Watch: Southern California Fires

| Tue Oct. 23, 2007 2:44 PM EDT

By now, you've probably heard that there's a really big wildfire in the San Diego area, and it's being fueled by the Santa Ana winds. It's the worst fire in four years—which is saying something in Southern California. Fire season is especially bad this year due to the erratic weather that's the hallmark of climate change: First, record rainfall produces lots of brush; then, a record drought turned it into so much kindling. Add the Santa Ana winds, and you've got a conflagration. 170,000 acres, to be exact.

Almost 300,000 people have been asked to evacuate, and about 10,000 of them spent the night in Qualcomm stadium (formerly San Diego Stadium). Seems that as climate change progresses, more and more of us are going to be camping out in behemoth football stadiums. Their corporate sponsors are probably stoked.

Superdome Redux, San Diego Style

| Tue Oct. 23, 2007 1:16 PM EDT

qualcomm.jpg

As you've likely heard, wildfires are shellacking San Diego. More than 150,000 acres have burned, 1,200 homes have been destroyed, and 300,000 people have been evacuated. And while the devastation is tremendous, the loss of life thus far has thankfully been only one, and those without homes, are, well, doing alright.

Last night more than 10,000 of the home-less bedded down in Qualcomm stadium, home of the San Diego Chargers (football).

Yep, professional sports stadiums are worth those taxpayer dollars in an emergency pinch, but unlike those who braved the Superdome during and after Katrina, the atmosphere at Qualcomm is, dare I say it, festive. As Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger put it in his news conference earlier today: "The people are happy. They have everything here."

It is southern California after all—those forced to flee include Mel Gibson, Kelsey Grammer, and Victoria Principal—so should we be surprised to learn that last night bands played, gourmet food was served, and massage therapists were on-hand to assist the tanned and tattered refugees?

Now, I've been an evacuee myself, during the Oakland Hills fire in 1991 that flew through Oakland and Berkeley destroying nearly 3,000 homes and killing 25. It's scary, and downright devastating for those who lose everything. I mean not to minimize their suffering, it's just interesting to see the contrast of rock and roll playing and bellies full, with the squalor endured in a less well-heeled community when the going was just as rough.

The Blackwater Suit You've Never Read About

| Tue Oct. 23, 2007 1:13 PM EDT

Private military contractor Blackwater USA is currently facing multiple law suits, including one filed recently on behalf of the victims of the Nisour Square shooting, but there's one you haven't heard about. Filed last Friday in U.S. district court on five handwritten pages—one of them bearing a picture of what appears to be the plaintiff in a towel—the suit accuses Blackwater, among other military contractors, of a litany of abuses, ranging from murder and treason to arson and identify theft. The plaintiff is an extraordinarily litigious inmate named Jonathan Lee Riches, who's serving a 10-year sentence at a South Carolina correctional facility on a wire fraud (and identify theft) rap.

By my count, Riches has filed no fewer than 41 suits this month alone—drafting as many as six handwritten complaints per day—and at least 106 since February 2006. In the past, he's accused Martha Stewart of an elaborate plot to "silence" him; sought "$63,000,000,000 billion" in damages from embattled NFL star Michael Vick; and targeted Senator John McCain for "campaign finance fraud," requesting a restraining order to prevent the presidential candidate and his children "from coming to FCI Williamsburg"—where Riches is incarcerated—"to kill me because I exposed them."

Indeed, Riches' court filings make for some interesting reading. A sampling from his Blackwater complaint:

Plaintiff moves for a temporary restraining order against the contract killing of my life and compels the Defendants' to shut down overseas operations A.S.A.P., under Declaratory Injunctive relief. Plaintiff seeks peace in the world without American companies meddling in the Affairs of other Nations. Plaintiff also seeks to add me on to the 2008 Presidential Ticket, as Plaintiff plans to run as a Independent crime/corruption stopper.

Riches, who occasionally refers to himself as "Teflon Jon," also seeks "the return of Jonathan Lee Riches' copyrighted weapons, grenades, bow and arrows, GPS tracking, mugs and t-shirts." in addition, he requested that the IRS look into Blackwater's tax records—an odd coincidence considering that Henry Waxman's Committee on Oversight and Government Reform unearthed an IRS ruling yesterday that the California congressman pointed to as evidence of "significant tax evasion" on behalf of Blackwater.

Either Mike Huckabee is Really Bad at Math, or He Has His Facts Wrong

| Tue Oct. 23, 2007 11:59 AM EDT

On Sunday, Mike Huckabee said the signers of the Declaration of Independence were "brave people, most of whom, by the way, were clergymen." CQ's Politifact.com says "not so fast":

Only one of the 56 was an active clergyman, and that was John Witherspoon. Witherspoon was a Presbyterian minister and president of the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University). . .We'd like to give Huckabee every benefit of the doubt, but even if you consider former clergymen among the signers the best you could come up with is four. Out of 56. That's not "most," that's Pants-on-Fire wrong.

Or he could just be bad at math. See, maybe he was trying to make a point: we need better math education in schools so that presidential candidates will know that you need 29 out of 56 signers to have "most." At least that's what I choose to believe.

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Garrison Keillor Stops Woman From Sending Him Dead Beetles

| Tue Oct. 23, 2007 11:41 AM EDT

keillor.jpg This is just completely bizarre:

Order Blocks Harassment of Keillor
Oct 23rd, 2007 | ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Garrison Keillor has gotten a restraining order against a Georgia woman he claims has made telephone calls and sent him explicit e-mails and disturbing gifts, including a petrified alligator foot and dead beetles...
Keillor's filing said the e-mails and letters were often "disturbing, unintelligible and rambling," and in one, [the accused, Andrea] Campbell "graphically described making love to me."
He also alleged Campbell showed up at his home in St. Paul in July. His wife was startled awake early one morning by the sound of someone rustling around outside the family's house. She filed a police report.
Campbell denied the allegations in a telephone interview with the St. Paul Pioneer Press. She said she only wanted to show her gratitude for Keillor's work.
"I am unclear as to what the problem is," she said.
Campbell said Keillor had misunderstood the letters, e-mails, packages and phone calls. She said she was never closer to his house than the sidewalk.
"I believe that he's paranoid, or some woman, his wife, is upset and told him he has to do something about it," she said...
"It's transcendental love, that's all" she said. "Between a writer and reader."

Nawt from Dawt

| Tue Oct. 23, 2007 11:37 AM EDT

gbg.jpg

Slate's Patrick Radden Keefe links to a post reminding us that, no matter how good Ben Affleck's new movie Gone Baby Gone may be, the man is simply Nawt from Dawt. Keefe's review is worth a read, too, especially for this anecdote:

Even for our finest actors, the Boston accent is Everest: an irresistible, but insurmountable, challenge. . .This may seem like a minor matter to you. But for those of us who grew up possessing, or shedding, a Boston accent, it's a deal breaker. Consider, if you will, the embarrassing hilarity that tends to ensue when my dear father, unapologetic owner of a medium-thick Boston brogue, returns an off bottle of wine at a restaurant because "I know the taste of cork. And this tastes like cork."

Cork, indeed. Go Sawks!

Kurdish Guerrillas Are Out of Control, and We're Making it Worse

| Tue Oct. 23, 2007 11:01 AM EDT

Here's a top-line summary of all the current news regarding the Kurds. Increasingly aggressive Kurdish guerrillas (i.e. the P.K.K., labeled a terrorist organization by the U.S.) are executing strikes across the Iraqi border into both Turkey and Iran. Because we like Turkey, we are urging the Kurds to stop. But because we hate Iran, we are giving the Kurds advice and possibly direction.

The alternative to tangling ourselves up in microregional conflicts and aligning ourselves with terrorist organizations is to use (gasp!) diplomacy. If we were allowing the P.K.K.'s strikes in Iran to continue because we were using them as a bargaining chip (for example, saying to the Iranians, "In exchange for a concession on your nuclear development program, we will call off the dogs on the Iraqi border.") that would be one thing. But we aren't negotiating in any serious way! Aiding the P.K.K. on its Iranian raids, as the article linked to above strongly suggests we are doing, is apparently intended to destabilize the Iranian regime. The far, far, far more likely result is that it will increase the chance of regional war, keep the Iranians from ever working with us on stabilizing Iraq, and give the Iranians some rhetorical cover when they send Iranian agents into Iraq to attack Americans.

Update: I just want to remind everyone that war with Iran isn't just war with Iran. It means war with Hezbollah, Hamas, and countless hidden terrorist cells across the Middle East, all of which would be unleashed by the Iranian mullahs. Richard Cohen makes this point in a Washington Post op-ed in which he asks Rudy Giuliani to pretty-please consider maybe being possibly less bellicose on the Iranian question.

Alexis Debat Update

| Tue Oct. 23, 2007 10:40 AM EDT

Former ABC consultant Alexis Debat called to ask that I post this, the write up of the results of an ABC investigation into his work, and proposals to change its hiring practices regarding ABC news consultants. I told him that ABC Senior Vice President Jeffrey Schneider had reacted to his sending that around with the emailed comment, "Lol. Does he think he is vindicated? He shouldn't. He is still a big liar." Debat says in response, "I don't think I'm vindicated. But it's a big statement." I used the opportunity of the conversation to ask Debat about parts of his earlier claims that did not check out - how he said it was an administrative misunderstanding on his part that he did not know he didn't have a PhD from the Sorbonne. He said that he changed thesis advisors and departments to the political science department but couldn't further discuss it. I asked him about the mysterious Rob Sherman, who supposedly conducted the interview for him with Senator Barack Obama. Debat said he had met him in a cocktail party in 2003, he was fifty-ish with gray hair, but he wouldn't tell me what cocktail party or why he would have agreed to such an arrangement. About the fake interviews with Obama, Hillary Clinton, and others published under his name in the French journal Politique Internationale, Debat says he was stupid to sign his name to those interviews but it's not fair to say he claimed to conduct those interviews. Asked further questions, he said he had only called to tell me to post the above and he had nothing else to say. More from the NYT.