Monday, December 20, 2010

Ask. Tell. It's cool.

No, really. It's cool.

Nicely done.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Life in These United States

Remember Bradley Manning?

No? He's the enlisted serviceman who was at the front of that other Wikileaks scandal, way back in May. Did you know that he's been incarcerated ever since? In fact, he's what the Army calls a "Maximum Custody Detainee," and he's been kept in "intensive solitary confinement" ever since.

This Glenn Greenwald article does a pretty good job of explaining (since, evidently, it needs to be explained) why it might not be a good idea to keep a person alone in a room 23 hours a day without allowing him so much as a pillow or the right to exercise. Especially a person who hasn't been convicted of anything. And is 22 years old.

Now, much of the world considers that level of solitary confinement a form of torture. Greenwald links to an Atul Gawande article you might have read last year that makes that case. (I remember reading it - scared the hell out of me then, and turns my blood cold now.)

To recap what's going on, if you'd like a summary: an enlisted soldier in the U.S. Army is alleged (but not convicted, it bears repeating) to have borne witness to a vast swath of classified documents revealing what appears to be a long long list of illegal and often horrific misdeeds on the part of the country he was serving. He then, according to the allegation, shared that documented evidence with the press in the form of the dreaded Wikileaks. Once the leak was traced back to him, he did not get a public hearing or trial (or even a private military hearing, as far as I know, though presumably one is pending) but rather was put into a brig in Kuwait for two months under the aforementioned brutal conditions (if you're not convinced of their brutality, please do read the Gawande article) before being transferred to a brig in Virginia. Where he remains. Under the same conditions.

Those conditions are perhaps not as extreme as those in the prison in Guantanamo Bay, or unacknowledged sites worldwide (well, unacknowledged except in memos like the ones leaked by Private Manning), although those prisons contain people accused of conspiring to commit acts of terrorism against the United States. That is to say, that's who we think those facilities contain - many of those prisoners haven't even been charged with anything, much less convicted.

Meanwhile, the President has been doing his darndest to extend a tax cut to the richest percent of American wage earners to the tune of 700 billion+ over the next couple years and calling it a victory because unemployment benefits might be extended. And standing idly by while the TSA sexes up security procedures in airports (yup, I kind of agree with the righties on this one - though I won't pretend it makes sense to me how the naked scanner is such a huge violation of civil rights while extraordinary rendition and warrantless, probable-cause-free stop-and-frisk city police procedures [for instance] are a-ok). And the job situation, well, that's not really a lot better. And, oh yeah, the war. And all those things that the leaks revealed presumably go on, business-as-usual.

Well, Mr. President, I'm just gonna come right out and say it: I'm not ok with this.

I know you have to work with Congress, that you don't have power simply to dictate policy (and I wouldn't want you to). I know you are brilliant, way smarter than I am; and charismatic, and persuasive, and an expert on Constitutional Law, and knowledgeable about how things work in domestic and international policy. But... I don't know what you're doing. I keep thinking you must have something up your sleeve, some ingenious plan that will be revealed over time. I keep waiting for you to pull that rabbit out of the hat.

But I can't wait forever.

And I guess I may as well remind you (and my Senators and Congressmen, and especially that ridiculous Governor) that I don't owe you my undying loyalty. Or even my vote. No one does.

Friday, December 10, 2010

30 Years On

It's two days too late for this to be a timely post, but I stumbled on this and wanted to share it with you.

“Remember this is just a football game, no matter who wins or loses. An unspeakable tragedy, confirmed to us by ABC News in New York City. John Lennon, outside of his apartment building on the west side of New York City, the most famous perhaps of all of the Beatles, shot twice in the back and rushed to Roosevelt Hospital. Dead on arrival. Hard to go back to the game after that news flash...”

—Howard Cosell announces the death of John Lennon during Monday Night Football, December 8, 1980.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Glancing Back

Well, this one's behind the times...

Full spread included: pumpkin lentil soup (Joe); those collards drying up above (Cory & I); cranberry bread (Eric & Shirin); brussels sprouts (Deborah); quinoa (non) stuffing (Cory & I); bakery-fresh chardonnay bread (Eric & Shirin); cranberry sauce (Sherin); sweet potato rounds (Deborah); potato & onion casserole (Eric & Shirin); soy-sauce-and-honey-glazed turkey & gravy (Cory & I); cookies (Joe) and pumpkin mousse (Sherin) for dessert. And a bunch of stuff I'm sure I'm forgetting. Oh - and beer, wine and cider brought by all and sundry!

Oh, and here are Eric and Shirin, sitting pretty. There will be a player-to-be-named-later playing for that team come the new year! Mazel Tov, guys!

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Arts (Non) Profiteers

I guess that this viddy has been sweeping the internets in a wildfire-like rage. Have a view:

So you think you can non-profit? Be ready for lots of conversations like this. Lots.

You don't help sick African Children? That sounds like bad business practice. You should contact Gatorade.

This video comes via the good people at xtranormal. I think they're good. Or anyway, I haven't seen any evidence to the contrary yet. And I haven't used their service, but my understanding of it is that you go to their site once you've set up an account, pick character icons and a background, and input dialogue that you've composed (no fair putting in the "Are you talking to me?" monologue) and it will generate an animated scene. Pretty nifty.

There are some really good ones out there, including this one that struck a particular nerve for me in it's spot-on account of the ever-so-useful You should be on Broadway "advice."

Wednesday, December 01, 2010


Have you been following the most recent WikiScandal? I don't see how you can have completely avoided it.

Hand wringing, back-pedaling, and finger pointing all join up in the great new dance of the body parts.

Thanks (once again) to Mike Daisey for drawing my attention to this Slate article by Jack Shafer. Worth a peek.

"...the history of scandal in America is the history of institutions and individuals routinely surpassing our darkest assumptions of their perfidy."

It's a messy world. Worth holding the mirror up to it once in a while, wouldn't you say?