the gumbo pages

looka, <'lu-k&> dialect, v.
1. The imperative form of the verb "to look", in the spoken vernacular of New Orleans; usually employed when the speaker wishes to call one's attention to something.  

2. --n. Chuck Taggart's weblog, hand-made and updated (almost) daily, focusing on food and drink, music (especially of the roots variety), New Orleans and Louisiana culture, news, movies, books, sf, public radio, media and culture, travel, Macs, liberal and progressive politics, humor and amusements, reviews, rants, the author's life and opinions, witty and/or smart-arsed comments and whatever else tickles the author's fancy.

Please feel free to contribute a link if you think I'll find it interesting.   If you don't want to read my opinions, feel free to go elsewhere.

Page last tweaked @ 3:09pm PDT, 5/28/2004


If you like, you are welcome to send e-mail to the author. Your comments on each post are also welcome; however, right-wing trolls are about as welcome as a boil on my arse.
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Looka! Archive
(99 and 44/100% link rot)

April 2004
March 2004
February 2004
January 2004

2003:   Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.

2002:   Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.

2001:   Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.

2000:   Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.

1999:   Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.

Regime change for America, 2004.

Kick 'em out!

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Buy stuff!

You can get Gumbo Pages designs on T-shirts, mugs and mousepads at The Gumbo Pages Swag Shop!

Friends with pages:

mary katherine
pat and paul
tracy and david

Talking furniture:

KCSN (Los Angeles)
   Broadcast schedule
   "Down Home" playlist
   Live MP3 audio stream

   Subscribe to the
   "Down Home" weekly
   playlist email service

WWOZ (New Orleans)
   Broadcast schedule
   Live audio stream
   (Comprehensive listings)

Air America Radio
   (Talk radio for the
   rest of us)
Joe Frank
Grateful Dead Radio
   (Streaming complete
KPIG, 107 Oink 5
   (Freedom, CA)
KRVS Radio Acadie
   (Lafayette, LA)
Mike Hodel's "Hour 25"
   (Science fiction radio)
Radio Free New Orleans
Raidió na Gaeltachta
   (Irish language)
RootsWorld's Rootsradio
RTÉ Radio Ceolnet
   (Irish trad. music)
WXDU (Durham, NC)

Cocktail hour:

The Sazerac Cocktail
   (The sine qua non
   of cocktails.)

   (A work in progress, by
   Martin Doudoroff &
   Ted Haigh)

Chuck & Wes' Cocktail Menu
   (A few things we like to
   drink at home, plus a couple    we don't, just for fun.)

The Alchemist
   (Paul Harrington)

Alcohol (and how to mix it)
   (David Wondrich)

Ardent Spirits
   (Gary & Mardee Regan)

DrinkBoy and the
   Community for the
   Cultured Cocktail
   (Robert Hess, et al.)

DrinkBoy's Cocktail Weblog

Happy Hours
   (Beverage industry
   news & insider info)
King Cocktail
   (Dale DeGroff)

La Fée Verte
   (All about absinthe
   from Kallisti et al.)

Fine Spirits & Cocktails
   (eGullet's forum)

Mr. Lucky's Cocktails
   (Sando, LaDove,
   Swanky et al.)

Nat Decants
   (Natalie MacLean)
   (Beverage Tasting
   Institute journal)

Vintage Cocktails
   (Daniel Reichert)

Let's eat!

New Orleans Menu Daily

Food-related weblogs:
Hacking Food
Honest Cuisine
KIPlog's FOODblog
Mise en Place
Sauté Wednesday
Simmer Stock
Tasting Menu

More food!
à la carte
Chef Talk Café
Food Network
The Global Gourmet
A Muse for Cooks
The Online Chef
Pasta, Risotto & You
Slow Food Int'l. Movement
So. Calif. Farmer's Markets
Zagat Guide

Click here for a new daily recipe from Chef Emeril!
In vino veritas.

The Oxford Companion to Wine

Wally's Wine and Spirits

The Wine House

The Wine Spectator

Wine Today

Reading this month:

One Voice: My Life in Song, by Christy Moore.

The Ultimate Egoist: The Complete Stories of Theodore Sturgeon, Vol. I", by Theodore Sturgeon.

Humans, by Robert J. Sawyer.

Listen to music!

Chuck's current album recommendations

Luka Bloom
La Bottine Souriante
Billy Bragg
Cordelia's Dad
Jay Farrar
Sonny Landreth
Los Lobos
Christy Moore
Nickel Creek
The Old 97s
Anders Osborne
The Proclaimers
Red Meat
The Red Stick Ramblers
The Reivers
Zachary Richard
Paul Sanchez
Marc Savoy
Son Volt
Richard Thompson
Uncle Tupelo

Miles of Music

No Depression


New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

San Francisco Celtic Music & Arts Festival

Appalachian String Band Music Festival - Clifftop, WV

Long Beach Bayou Festival

Strawberry Music Festival - Yosemite, CA


A Gallery for Fine Photography, New Orleans (Joshua Mann Pailet)
American Museum of Photography
California Museum of Photography, Riverside
International Center of Photography

Ansel Adams
Jonathan Fish
Noah Grey
Greg Guirard
Paul F. R. Hamilton
Clarence John Laughlin
Herman Leonard
Howard Roffman
J. T. Seaton
Jerry Uelsmann
Gareth Watkins
Brett Weston

The Mirror Project


The Amazing Adventures of Bill,
by Bill Roundy

Bloom County / Outland / Opus,
by Berkeley Breathed

Bob the Angry Flower,
by Stephen Notley

The Boondocks,
by Aaron McGruder

Calvin and Hobbes,
by Bill Watterson

by Garry B. Trudeau

Electric Sheep Comix
by Patrick Farley

Get Your War On
by David Rees

L. A. Cucaracha
by Lalo Alcaraz

by Peter Blegvad

Lil' Abner,
by Al Capp

The Mostly Unfabulous Social Life of Ethan Green,
by Eric Orner

Ted Rall,
by Ted Rall

This Modern World,
by Tom Tomorrow

Xquzyphyr & Overboard,
by August J. Pollak

Films seen this year:
(with ratings):

Cold Mountain (****)
The Last Samurai (****)

Lookin' at da TV:

"The Sopranos"
"Six Feet Under"
"Malcolm In The Middle"
"Star Trek: Enterprise"
"One Tree Hill"
"Queer Eye for the Straight Guy"
"The Simpsons"
"Iron Chef"
The Food Network

Weblogs I read:

American Leftist
The BradLands
The Carpetbagger Report
Considered Harmful
The Daily Kos
Anil Dash
Ethel the Blog
Follow Me Here
Ghost in the Machine
Hit or Miss
The Hoopla 500
The Leaky Cauldron
Letting Loose With the Leptard
Little. Yellow. Different.
Making Light
More Like This
Mr. Barrett
Neil Gaiman's Journal
News of the Dead
August J. Pollak
Q Daily News
Real Live Preacher
Roger "Not That One" Ailes
Ted Rall
This Modern World
Under the Gunn
Whiskey Bar
What's In Rebecca's Pocket?

Matthew's GLB blog portal

L.A. Blogs

My Darlin' New Orleans:

Gambit Weekly


New Orleans ...
proud to blog it home.

Must-reads: (progressive politics & news)
Borowitz Report (political satire)
The Complete Bushisms (quotationable!)
The Daily Mislead (BushCo's lies)
The Fray (your stories)
Izzle Pfaff! (my favorite webjournal)
Landover Baptist (better Christians than YOU!)
Maledicta (The International Journal of Verbal Aggression)
The Morning Fix from SF Gate (news, opinions, extreme irreverence)
The New York Review of Science Fiction
The Onion (news 'n laffs)
Talking Points Memo (Josh Marshall) (not the actual White House, but it should be)

The Final Frontier:

Astronomy Pic of the Day
ISS Alpha News
NASA Human Spaceflight
Spaceflight Now


Locus Magazine Online
SF Site

Made with Macintosh

Hosted by pair Networks

Déanta:  This page is coded by hand, with BBEdit 4.0.1 on an Apple iBook 2001 running MacOS X 10.2 if I'm at home; occasionally with telnet and Pico on a FreeBSD Unix host running tcsh if I'm updating from work. (I never could get used to all those weblogging tools.)

Bia agus deoch, ceol agus craic.

  "To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to
  stand by the president right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is
  morally treasonable to the American public."

  -- Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States (1901-1909), speaking in 1918

  Friday, May 28, 2004
Helping to make a skinnier Cajun.   The Louisiana Office of Public Health has come to a realization:

Cajun food is one of the most beloved aspects of Louisiana culture. We love it here on the Bayou, and others enjoy it across the country and around the world. Putting that great taste aside, we realize that some of the traditional Cajun ingredients are not conducive to maintaining a healthy body weight or a healthy heart.
No! I'm shocked, I tell you. Shocked!

All kidding aside, the OPH has done a pretty bang-up job with its new website, Healthier Cajun Cooking. Our goal is to provide a basic understanding of nutrition and to provide suggestions for improving the nutritional quality of Cajun style food. In doing so, we have provided a complete nutritional analysis for each recipe quantifying Total Fat, Saturated Fat, Cholesterol, Sodium, Dietary Fiber, Carbohydrates, and Protein." Healthier versions of classic recipes -- just what the Weight Watching Louisianian needs. (Thanks, Paul!)

New Wilco album online.   Y'know, I've known this for weeks but forgot to post it ... sorry! If you don't already know, Wilco's new album A ghost is born is available for QuickTime preview and pre-order (it's due out on June 22). Let's all send out some beams for Jeff's speedy recovery, too.

Dear Abby.   From May 20, 2004 (via Patrick):

DEAR READERS: I'm still receiving letters in support of the 13-year-old girl who was ridiculed by her class for revealing that she'd one day like to be president of the United States. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: I read the letter from "I Have a Dream" and would like to offer her encouragement:

DEAR "I HAVE A DREAM": I was touched by your letter, and I want you to know that you can become the president of the United States because of who you are, not in spite of it. I have no doubt a woman will be president one day, and America would be lucky to have you leading us.

When young people express a desire to make a difference, you should be applauded. Your teacher and your classmates were wrong to laugh at your dream.

What you already know, but they seem to have forgotten, is that we live in a country where every child, girl or boy, has an equal chance to grow up and become president, or a teacher, or a doctor, or a CEO, or the shopkeeper down the street. That is what makes our country unlike any place on earth. Anything is possible.

But to do the things we believe in, we all have to work hard, do our best, and fight those who do not always believe in us. It is people like you - people who dream big and are filled with hope - who make a difference in this world.

Always remember that the great thing about America is that you can become president, and you should never let anyone tell you different.

Sen. John Kerry, Washington, D.C.

DEAR SEN. KERRY: To say that you are a busy man these days is an understatement. That you would still reach out to help a child says volumes about you as a person.


Our exit strategy.   "The delusional Bush, his quagmire and November." Marc Cooper writes in this week's edition of his column "Dissonance" in the LA Weekly:

We finally got some good news from George W. Bush. We haven't had very much since he stood on an aircraft carrier a year ago and declared the war in Iraq was over. Now, we learn, the occupation, which turned out to be bloodier than the war, is also shutting down. So much for the cynics who've been predicting a quagmire.

"The occupation will end," Bush said. And it will end five weeks from now, on June 30, the president assured us Monday night as he addressed the nation. And talk about Resolve! Nothing will deter this president once his mind is made up.

This bloody occupation will end even though a bare month out from the hand-over of what Bush now claims is "full sovereignty," no one can say exactly who the recipients of all that state power actually will be. A mere detail. The important thing is that someone, anyone, we assume, will be there to accept sovereignty. The occupation will end, but Bush says we will keep at least 135,000 troops in Iraq for the foreseeable future. And if his commanders ask for more, Bush says: "I will send them." It might stretch our reserves paper thin, and maybe we'll need a draft to muster enough troops. But at least they won't be occupation troops. And we already know they won't be at war.

The occupation will end -- even before we know if the Iraqi people will recognize the authority of the 28-person sovereign government to be named this week by the U.N. envoy. It will end, though Bush made no mention of what, if any, status-of-forces agreement will be worked out with the new phantom regime in Baghdad. Maybe the American troops will take orders from the new Iraqi government. Or maybe it will be the other way around. So what? So long as the occupation itself is ending.

The task of defending the new Iraqi government will now be the burden of a newly minted Iraqi national police and security force. Military experts say it would take a minimum of three years to properly train even a modest corps. But the occupation will nevertheless end in five short weeks.

The U.N., once declared "irrelevant" by this administration's wise men, will now be asked to send in a multinational force. But the U.N. has no troops, and Bush said nothing about convoking an emergency summit of the European Allies. But no need for panic, as the occupation is ending.

Now that the occupation is about over, elections are coming too. That's great news. Almost as great as learning that the war and the occupation are over. We're not quite sure yet who will guarantee security for such an exercise of civil responsibility. On the other hand, we didn't need any 20 years ago in El Salvador when that country's first U.S.-backed vote went ahead under a rain of bullets and mortars. It worked for the Salvadorans, why not for the Iraqis? In the meantime, three people this past weekend were killed trying to get in and out of Baghdad's highly secure Green Zone. If only they could have waited a month -- because that's when the occupation will be over.


Eat, drink, listen to music, dance, see movies, be merry and be safe.   That's it until next Tuesday, at least. Have a great Memorial Day holiday weekend, all you lot in the States. If you're on the road, watch out -- there are a lot of eejits out there.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Thursday, May 27, 2004
The Cocktailian.   In Gary Regan's fortnightly column today, The Professor argues with a customer about taking the rum out of the Mojito, as its new variations travel to Kentucky and Mexico.

Nat Decants: Finding a reason to go to Arizona.   Well, other than the Grand Canyon, that is. I must confess that I really hadn't given Arizona much thought as a vacation destination (I hate dry wedda!)

Natalie Maclean took her family to the Phoenecian Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona not for "the 22,000 square foot spa, the 27-hole golf course, the 12 tennis courts or the 9 swimming pools, complete with water slide ... No, the place I really longed to be was in the resort's dark, damp basement -- keeping company with its $4 million cellar of some 50,000 bottles.

Hmm, now we're talking. Their master sommelier, Greg Tresner, is one of the few in North America, and in six years has transformed a 550-bottle wine cellar into one with a 110-page list that's one of the best in the country. "It even has tasting flights of rare aged cognacs such as Remy Martin Louis XIII, Hennessey Timeless and L'Or de Martel." Ooh. Bet I can't afford that.

Tresner looks Casablanca-debonair in his tuxedo, his silver hair contrasts with merry dark eyes. He shows us his treasures: verticals of port from 1934, a bottle of 1921 Château d'Yquem, a 1947 magnum of Château Cheval Blanc (worth $30,000) and the crown jewel: a 1795 madeira, covered with a respectable amount of dust.
Bet I really can't afford that.

The restaurant doesn't seem to shabby, either:

Aside from a spectacular wine list, the restaurant has also garnered fame for its fine French cuisine: it's just one of eighteen restaurants in North America to receive the coveted five-star rating from the Mobil Travel Guide. The man behind this success is Brad Thompson, who spent five years as chef at Daniel Boulud's celebrated New York City restaurant, Daniel.

We opt for the seven-course tasting menu. It glides by in a delectable blur: white asparagus with black truffle sabayon, roasted sea scallops with rabbit leg and sautéed turbot with an innovative combination of cauliflower, grapefruit, puffed basmati rice. Our favourite dish was the rabbit and black truffle potpie, which had gorgeous earthy flavours. But a close second was the peppered venison loin, or maybe it was the braised pork belly with polenta and black truffles.

Tresner matched Thompson's exquisite flavours in the glass: 1995 Moët et Chandon "Dom Perignon" Champagne, France; 1999 Domaine Ponsot "Clos des Monts Luisants" Morey-Saint-Denis, Burgundy, France; 1999 Bouchard "Les Grèves, Vignes de L'Enfant Jésus, Beaune, Burgundy; a 1982 Château Haut-Brion, Pessac-Léognan; and to finish, a 50-year-old Broadbent "Old Reserve" Terrantez Madeira, Portugal.

Oh my. Sounds perfect. But what would I do the rest of the day, when I'm not eating and drinking?

Super size this.   Oh dear ... there'll be no offending the sugar, fat and weight-gain conglomerates, will there?

MTV apparently wants to keep the peace between its pimple-popping viewers and the fast-food advertisers who want to sell 'em on their greasy goodness.

The music network has reportedly refused to run an ad for the documentary "Super Size Me" over Memorial Day weekend for fear of offending its would-you-like-fries-with-that advertisers.


'Cause it's all about the money, of course.

We saw "Super Size Me" last weekend. It was very entertaining and made its point, and I don't think McDonald's food has ever looked so unappetizing (particularly as a Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese, Super-Size Fries and 48-ounce Coke were being barfed out the car window as Morgan's stomach rebelled at the assault).

Not fit to print.   James C. Moore analyzes the utter failure of the New York Times with regards to its role in spreading government disinformation on Iraq. (Salon link, so just watch the commercial.)

It's thoroughly damning, and the most astonishing quote of all comes from the one Paul Waldman describes as "Ahmed Chalabi's personal stenographer", reporter Judith Miller, who wrote the majority of the "flawed" stories:

"You know what," she offered angrily. "I was proved fucking right. That's what happened. People who disagreed with me were saying, 'There she goes again.' But I was proved fucking right."
Except that she was proved fucking wrong.

If the double-agent spy business had a trophy to hold up and show neophyte spooks what happens when their craft is perfectly executed, it would be a story by Judith Miller and Michael Gordon that appeared on the front page of the New York Times on a Sunday morning in September 2002. The front-page frightener was titled "Threats and Responses: The Iraqis; US Says Hussein Intensifies Quest for A-Bomb Parts." Miller and Gordon wrote that an intercepted shipment of aluminum tubes, to be used as centrifuges, was evidence Hussein was building a uranium gas separator to develop nuclear material. The story quoted national security advisor Condoleezza Rice invoking the image of "mushroom clouds over America."

The story had an enormous impact, one amplified when Rice, Secretary of State Colin Powell and Vice President Dick Cheney all did appearances on the Sunday morning talk shows, citing the first-rate journalism of the liberal New York Times. No single story did more to advance the political cause of the neoconservatives driving the Bush administration to invade Iraq.

But Miller's story was wrong.

The failures of Miller and the Times' reporting on Iraq are far greater sins than those of the paper's disgraced Jayson Blair. While the newspaper's management cast Blair into outer darkness after his deceptions, Miller and other reporters who contributed to sending America into a war have been shielded from full scrutiny. The Times plays an unequaled role in the national discourse, and when it publishes a front-page piece about aluminum tubes and mushroom clouds, that story very quickly runs away from home to live on its own. The day after Miller's tubes narrative showed up, Andrea Mitchell of NBC News went on national TV to proclaim, "They were the kind of tubes that could only be used in a centrifuge to make nuclear fuel." Norah O'Donnell had already told the network's viewers the day before of the "alarming disclosure," and the New York Times wire service distributed Miller's report to dozens of papers across the landscape. Invariably, they gave it prominence. Sadly, the sons and daughters of America were sent marching off to war wearing the boots of a well-told and widely disseminated lie.

The introspection and analysis of America's rush to war with Iraq have turned into a race among the ruins. Few people doubt any longer that the agencies of the U.S. government did not properly perform. No institution, however, either public or private, has violated the trust of its vast constituency as profoundly as the New York Times.

Half-hearted "apologies" have been issued, and of possible consequences for the editors and reporters ... who knows? Does it really matter now, though? The damage has already been done.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Wednesday, May 26, 2004
Peristyle sold!   Arguably the finest restaurant in New Orleans, Peristyle now no longer belongs to Chef Anne Kearney Sand and her husband. Tom Wolfe, chef/owner of Wolfe's of New Orleans, is the new owner, and he's already in the kitchen. The restaurant's layout, decor and staff should remain the same, but, of course, the fabulous menu will change.

Both Sand and Kearney Sand said the reasons behind their decision to sell are complicated and personal. A primary factor has to do with the 36-year-old chef's need for rest following a brain hemorrhage she suffered nearly two years ago.

"I had my last surgery in September, and I'm still going through the recovery phases," she said. "I'm a homeopath, and the whole brain exploding thing didn't go along well with that. I'm looking forward to getting back to a homeopathic lifestyle. And I'm looking forward to spending time with my family and my husband and starting my own family."

"She came back (to work) 10 days after having brain surgery, and that's not healthy," said Sand, who first met his future wife when they were both growing up in Ohio. "She wants to step away and see some family while she still can. This place means everything to her, and she doesn't want to compromise this place by not being here."

The former owners said the decision to sell was made easier by Wolfe's interest. Wolfe and Kearney Sand's friendship dates back to the early 1990s, when both worked as young chefs at Mr. B's Bistro. They later went on to work together at Emeril's.

Wolfe said that he and Kearney Sand share a sensibility that extends from the stove to the front of the house.

I wish Chef Wolfe the very best of luck with his new endeavour, and I'm looking forward to trying his dishes (I still haven't managed to make it to Wolfe's, but I've heard good things about it). That said, I'm really disappointed that I'll no longer have the chance to sample Anne's fabulous, fabulous cooking. It really didn't get any better than Peristyle.

I'll just sigh, and think again about our last meal at Peristyle, which I'll recap here:


(Chuck) Crispy Sweetbreads, wrapped with Prosciutto di Parma and drizzled with a port wine syrup, served over toasted Yukon Gold potatoes and port-braised shallots.

What a flavor. This combination was a first for me, and the flavor of the prosciutto was perfect with the deep, rich veal sweetbreads. They had been sautéed until crispy outside, then wrapped in the prosciutto and baked just long enough to bring out a little more flavor from the ham, but not too long. The sweetness of the shallots balanced the richness perfectly.

(Wes) Louisiana Oysters au Gratin, in a rich Pernod velouté sauce with wilted spinach and applewood-smoked bacon, topped with herbed bread crumbs and baked untl golden.

Another masterpiece. The erstas were like butter, melting in your mouth, and the Pernod flavor was a brilliant but subtle accent to the velouté. We shared these two dishes, and it would have been tempting to order two each, so we could both have a full serving.


We both got the soup special -- Roasted tomato soup with crawfish tails, garnished with a big dollop of pesto, extra virgin olive oil and pickled garlic. The soup alone was delicious, but that little accent in the middle, swirled around with every bite, made it perfect. What a beautiful marriage of the flavors of the Mediterranean and Louisiana.


(Chuck) Armagnac-Glazed Pork -- a boneless pork tenderloin grilled to medium and served with an Armagnac-prune reduction sauce, with baked goat cheese polenta and a relish of brandy-braised shallots, roasted red peppers and grilled apples.

Just bonkers. Every flavor complemented the other beautifully, with the heady sauce, the rich polenta, the sweet shallots and perfectly tender pork with a touch of crispiness around the edges. I wanted to get up and shout.

To drink I chose a 1998 Gewürtztraminer "Reserve" from Pierre Sparr. Crisp apple and pear flavors predominated, with a light finish and just enough sweetness to balance the big sauce. Lovely, lovely wine.

(Wes) Lemon-Fennel Tuna -- grilled fennel-marinated tuna steak atop a crispy potato cake, with wilted spinach, pickled fennel relish and a preserved lemon-chive fumet.

The flavor of this was so bright it was almost jarring in comparison to the dense flavors of the pork. I love fennel (and so does Wes), and he was really overjoyed with this dish (the waitress said it was her favorite sauce on the menu). Anne Kearney does wonders with preserved lemons, and works the flavors into several of her dishes.


(Wes) Gâteau Basque -- tonight's special, a sweet brioche-like cake filled with pastry cream and served in an anise-vanilla mousseline sauce, topped with whipped cream. The flavors were grand, but this would have put me under tonight. It wasn't what you'd call light, but was very delicious.

(Chuck) Milk Chocolate Gelato, swirled with tart cherries and brandy caramel, served with homemade cookies (chocolate chip, shortbread and lemon-anise). This was intensely chocolatey but not too rich or heavy (like gelato should be), and just what I needed to finish this meal.

The capper was a wonderful Hungarian dessert wine, a 1993 Royal Tokaji Aszu "Red Label", 5 puttonyos. Very heady and intense honey-apple flavor, with a crisp apple finish. Beautiful color as well, the color of amber and wildflower honey. Boy, do I love Tokaji wine. I wish I had had more of it when I was in Hungary.

Thanks for everything, Anne.

The joys of summer.   Among many others, said joys would include the increased bounty of our farmers' markets. Russ Parsons of the Los Angeles Times Food Section gives us a few tips on what to do with all that fabulous produce, including:

Lately, in addition to sugar snaps, I've been hunting out English peas. When I find some that are really fresh -- sweet and not starchy -- I cook them in a way I learned from a friend, cookbook writer Sylvia Thompson.

Put whole peas, in their pod, in a skillet with about an inch of water. Add a little butter and cook until the pods just soften, only 2 to 3 minutes. Sprinkle generously with coarse salt and serve. Eat these by sticking the whole pod in your mouth and pulling it between your teeth, stripping off some of the green covering and popping free all of the peas. It's addictive.

I'm also digging the new potatoes that are coming in. I like them thumb-sized, so they steam quickly. Stir these around in a bowl with some minced shallots, chopped herbs and softened -- not melted -- butter. The butter forms a kind of sauce that naps the potatoes. Season with coarse salt, so it has some crunch, and I can't imagine anything more delicious.

It's just about time for the best avocados too. Smash them roughly and then spread the coarse purée on warm toast. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper. Wow.

For dessert? Bing cherries. Pick the ones that are the darkest red and still very firm. Good Bings crunch when you bite them. If you get tired of eating them out of hand, try warming them briefly in a red wine syrup that's been scented with a bit of vanilla bean.

I love going to the farmers' market. I'm hoping our bi-weekly delivery from Organic Express doesn't make us lazy.

I love you like stink on a durian.   Um, okay ... that's not liable to become a widespread term of endearment. I do love durian, though ... just not its stink.

Apparently now the big, spiky, watermelon-sized fruit is cheaper than ever, and more readily available. It's got a pale, custardy flesh that tastes wonderful, but it really does smell like a cocktail made of puke, three-week-old unwashed socks, rotten cheese and ammonia.

Once at a gathering of friends we obtained some fresh durian for our dessert. As soon as we opened the container, everyone groaned and fled the apartment, with six of us crowded on a small balcony, to escape the smell. Boy, it was good, though.

Today's doublespeak headlines.   From the administration direct to you, via the "Irony?-What-irony?" department:

Los Angeles Times:
U.S. Emphasizes Intent to Transfer Full Power to Iraqis -- With Limits

USA Today:
'Occupation will end' soon; troops to remain indefinitely

Overly credulous, my ass.   Too little, too goddamn late -- the New York Times "reassesses" its pre-war coverage of Iraq (and all the bullshit Judith Miller spread via their pages) that helped whoop up the cry for war, now that it's all been shown to be false. Perhaps Miller (as well as several other reporters and editors) needs to follow Howell Raines and Jayson Blair. Perhaps we also need a new "newspaper of record."

Here's analysis from Jack Shafer of Slate. (Thanks to Wes for the links and header.)

What the f...?   A former military police officer serving at Guantanamo Bay was ordered to wear an orange jumpsuit and portray an uncooperative prisoner in a training exercise in January 2003. Apparently the other soldiers thought he was an actual uncooperative prisoner, and almost beat him to death.

Just a few bad apples, though.

President Gore.   (Via Atrios) Wow indeed. Why the feck couldn't he sound this presidential in 2000?

George W. Bush promised us a foreign policy with humility. Instead, he has brought us humiliation in the eyes of the world.

He promised to "restore honor and integrity to the White House." Instead, he has brought deep dishonor to our country and built a durable reputation as the most dishonest President since Richard Nixon.

Honor? He decided not to honor the Geneva Convention. Just as he would not honor the United Nations, international treaties, the opinions of our allies, the role of Congress and the courts, or what Jefferson described as "a decent respect for the opinion of mankind." He did not honor the advice, experience and judgment of our military leaders in designing his invasion of Iraq. And now he will not honor our fallen dead by attending any funerals or even by permitting photos of their flag-draped coffins.

How did we get from September 12th , 2001, when a leading French newspaper ran a giant headline with the words "We Are All Americans Now" and when we had the good will and empathy of all the world -- to the horror that we all felt in witnessing the pictures of torture in Abu Ghraib.

To begin with, from its earliest days in power, this administration sought to radically destroy the foreign policy consensus that had guided America since the end of World War II. The long successful strategy of containment was abandoned in favor of the new strategy of "preemption." And what they meant by preemption was not the inherent right of any nation to act preemptively against an imminent threat to its national security, but rather an exotic new approach that asserted a unique and unilateral U.S. right to ignore international law wherever it wished to do so and take military action against any nation, even in circumstances where there was no imminent threat. All that is required, in the view of Bush's team is the mere assertion of a possible, future threat - and the assertion need be made by only one person, the President.

More disturbing still was their frequent use of the word "dominance" to describe their strategic goal, because an American policy of dominance is as repugnant to the rest of the world as the ugly dominance of the helpless, naked Iraqi prisoners has been to the American people. Dominance is as dominance does.


UPDATE -- You can watch video of the entire speech via C-SPAN. Damn, Al's on fire.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Tuesday, May 25, 2004
To the land of saints and scholars.   George W. Bush is going to Ireland, one month from today. He'll be meeting with the Taoiseach in the latter's capacity as current President of the European Union. Doubtless Bertie will welcome him, but let's just hope he doesn't have his head up Bush's arse to the shoulders the way his colleague across the Irish Sea does.

Informal polls show that about 2/3 of the Irish citizenry oppose this visit (I'll try to dig up something more scientific), and the Dáil (Irish parliament) don't seem to happy about it either. This reminds me of another contentious visit by an American president almost exactly twenty years ago. In his book One Voice: My Life in Song and in a spoken piece on The Box Set, 1964-2004 Christy Moore described it thusly (links mine) ...

There was a terrible frenzy when that man came here. There was a terrible frenzy when Ronnie Reagan came. Himself and his wife and his entourage epitomised everything that is unpalatable about America. They came here and pushed everyone aside -- walked upon our ways and trampled upon our culture, purely for photo opportunities. All the gobshites and charlatans had a field day on this occasion of gross crassness and bad taste.

Doubtless there are large amounts of the same surrounding the visits of John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton, but somehow their visits also had aspects of genuine empathy and love for this tiny island.

At the time of Reagan's visit I would not have been a big fan of the Irish Special Branch, but I nevertheless was pissed off by the manner in which the U.S. police came in and literally shoved our poor men aside. I recall seeing large helicopters flying in Munster one day, and there was an eerie discomfort at the huge invasive presence around the country.

Babies were kissed, lounges got a coat of paint, toilets got paper and Garret giggled and fawned. The island of saints and scholars, and gombeens and fuckin' arselickers ...

Clinton was welcomed when he visited Ireland, and Kennedy ... well, potential crassness and bad taste aside, the man was worshipped in comparison to the Reagan visit. It was a running joke (with a basis in fact) that you could go into any number of Irish households and you'd see three portraits on the wall -- the Sacred Heart o' Jaysis, the Pope and JFK. I doubt that this month's visit will have even a microfraction of that feeling; in fact, I daresay that the current American president will likely be even less welcome by many of the citizenry there than the one who came twenty years ago was.

I first saw Christy Moore perform at a mindspinningly wonderful gig at the Robert Frost Auditorium in Culver City, California, on the eighth of April, 1987 (jeezus, has it been 17 years already?). Just himself and a guitar, too; Christy is one of those rare performers (as is his brother Barry Moore/Luka Bloom) who can command and captivate an audience with nothing more than one voice, one guitar and a warehouse full of great songs. That night he played one particular song that was never released on an album until recently on The Box Set, though it was a successful single in Ireland in 1984. That night it was also an instant singalong with the whole audience participiating enthusiastically. Although I had forgotten a few lyrics from the verses until I reread them in Christy's first book of songs, for the most part I remembered that song in its entirety, and sang it a few times myself over the years. (You were probably fortunate enough not to have heard that.)

Shrub's visit will also be purely for photo opportunities -- as the Irish-based Stop Bush Campaign website says, "Bush hopes to use his Irish visit as a backdrop for his re-election campaign. He wants pictures of smiling Irish politicians greeting him as a 'statesman.'" (Statesman, my arse.)

In the absence of a particular song to mark this visit to that tiny, beautiful island, I think it's time to sing the old one again. Here's a snippet of the chorus and verse, so you'll get the melody. Everybody sing along ...

Hey! Ronnie Reagan
by John Maguire

Hey! Ronnie Reagan I'm black and I'm pagan
I'm gay and I'm left and I'm free.
I'm a non-fundamentalist environmentalist
Please don't bother me.

You're so cool playing poker with death as the joker
You've nerve but you don't assure us.
With your paranoid vistas of mad Sandinistas
And the way you're defending Honduras.

We'll dig shelter holes when we've bargained our souls
As for Pershing and Cruise we shovel.
While the myth of our dreams turns to nightmares it seems
From the White House right back to the hovel.


Now the Irish dimension has caught your attention
I'm askin' myself, what's your game?
Do your eyes shed a tear for the last twenty years
Or is that just a vote-catcher's gleam?

Your dollars may beckon but I think we should reckon
The cost of accepting your gold.
If you get your way what a price we will pay;
What's left when our freedom is sold?

You were wearin' the green down in Ballyporeen
The Town of the Little Potato.
With your arm around Garret you dangled your carrot
But you'll never get me to join NATO.

I've watched you for years amid laughter and tears
Acting out your games of deception
Despite what you see there's no welcome from me
And I firmly oppose your reception.

(Chorus x2)

I wonder if Christy (or someone) will write a new song for next month's visit.

When Bush Comes to Shove.   If you're in Ireland or going to be anywhere near there on June 19, you might want to pick up some tickets for a major event at The Point Depot in Dublin, organised by the Irish Anti-War Movement:

or ring 087 61 87 680
(011) 353 87 61 87 680 from abroad


Featuring Christy Moore, Damien Rice, Mary Black, Kíla, The Revs,
Katell Keineg plus comedy with Barry Murphy (Après Match).

Saturday 19th June -- The Point Depot, Dublin. (Doors Open 5.30pm)

[read more]

There'll also be a demonstration at Parnell Square in Dublin (just a few blocks from our lovely apartment where we lived last February) at 7pm, Friday 25th June. I wish I could be there to see both events.

It makes me think ... this is but a fraction of how negatively we're seen in the rest of the world. The United States' relationship with Ireland has for the most part been warm, and wasn't this bad even during the Reagan era, and that of Bush I (at the time I found myself having to defend myself in pub "discussions" by saying, quite firmly, "I didn't vote for the bastard!"). I'm glad, at least, that the posters and rallies and campaigns say "Stop Bush", not "Stop America". It's not our war, it's his war; the things he and his ilk are doing are not in my name, and I'm glad they get that.

Go mbeidh síocháin linn.

Before the deluge.   The Irish Examiner reports that advance preparations for the Shrub visit by An Garda Síochána are entering the territory of the "Draconian" (free registration required):

It emerged yesterday that gardaí are conducting a massive sweep of residents around Shannon town.

Officers are expected to call to each of the 2,800 households in and around Shannon, taking the names of everyone living in them and recording the registration of every car.

Gardaí are also asking householders of the names of any visitors expected at the time of President Bush's visit.

Local independent councillor Patricia McCarthy said: "What we are concerned about locally is the invasiveness of it.

"We've never seen a situation before where gardaí are calling to every household not alone in the town but the surrounding area, and getting details of all the persons in the household, their car details, where they work and whether they are going to have visitors around the time of the visit."

Richard Boyd Barrett of the Irish Anti-War Movement (IAWM) said: "This is an early indication that we're going to see a very draconian police operation, designed to try and intimidate people from protesting."

Trying to intimidate people from protesting? Well, that'd be par for the course for ShrubCo.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Monday, May 24, 2004
Planxty's Live 2004 CD and DVD now pre-ordering!   It'll be released on Friday. You can pre-order both the CD and the region-free DVD from Christy's site, or otherwise from your favourite music outlets in Ireland. I'll have to ring Mike at Mulligan's in Galway to see if he'll have the DVD, but at this point I'll do whatever it takes to get that stuff to me as quickly as humanly possible. This is the release of 2004, as far as I'm concerned!

Hmm ...   So how does a dinosaur weblog author who stubbornly refuses to go through the trouble of shifting to a cumbersome, off-site hosted and/or expensive weblogging software system add an RSS/XML feed to a weblog he codes by hand?

"Are you trying to freak me out?!"   That's what my sister said when I picked up the phone the other day. It seems she had been going through their mail, and started flipping through my brother-in-law's newly-arrived copy of Esquire, the issue with Carmen Electra on the cover (who the hell is Carmen Electra?), June 2004. She started reading a letter to the editor, laughed and thought, "Jeez, this sounds just like Chuck." Then she got to the signature ... and it was Chuck.

Moops. It seems that they published my little letter. Several weeks ago our friend Steve sent out an email to a bunch of mutual friends regarding some article Esquire had published about "cities that rock", a list of cities ranked by how good their night life and music scenes are. New Orleans came in eighth. Topping the list was ... Fresno.

(*jaw drops*)

So, in a fit of semi-mock outrage, I dispatched this missive via their website's email form, which was printed thusly:

Rock This Town
In recognizing a few oft-overlooked music towns, we found that music fans can be a tough bunch to please. [Ed.]

It has come to my attention that Esquire recently compiled a list of "Cities That Rock" (Things A Man Should Know About Music supplement, April) and that the city of New Orleans was placed at position number eight, after many other cities, including ... Fresno, California.

Fresno? Fresno?!

Are you mad? Fresno does not rock more than New Orleans. Fresno does not "rock" in any way, shape or form. Everyone I've ever known who's lived in Fresno has had only one ambition, and that is to get of Fresno.

Has your libations editor been giving you wood alcohol to drink? Tell him to knock it off!

Fresno. Jesus.

Los Angeles, Calif.

Okay, I'm waiting for the hate mail to stream in from outraged Fresnovians.

Calm down, you lot -- it was only mock outrage (mostly). I'm sure that Fresno is perfectly lovely. I'll have to go back there and see what the place is like these days. One day. Before I die. If I run out of other places to go. (Maybe.)

Oh, and if Dave Wondrich happens to notice this one ... Dave, you know that I would never for a million years think that you would actually serve a cocktail of poisonous methanol to one or more of your colleagues. (Unless they really deserved it.)

Quote of the day.   Today's Los Angeles Times features a story entitled "Iraq Setbacks Change Mood in Washington", which begins, "President Bush is hearing increasingly bleak warnings that the U.S. occupation of Iraq is heading for failure -- from Republican and Democratic members of Congress, current and former officials and even some military officers still on active duty. But so far, at least, the White House says it hasn't heard anything that makes it want to change course."

Wes sent in what's become both our favorite quote from the article:

We need to restrain what are growing U.S. messianic instincts, a sort of global social engineering where the United States feels it is both entitled and obligated to promote democracy, by force if necessary.

-- Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kansas), the conservative chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a speech.

I'm finding myself agreeing with a conservative Republican? Surely the world is coming to an end!

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Friday, May 21, 2004
A lying liar no longer.   No, I'm not talking about a member of BushCo (that'd be way too far of a stretch). I'm talking about meself, actually.

As of today, the weight listed on my driver's license is no longer the egregious lie it's been for the last 18 years. We're at goal weight minus 8 pounds. Just for grins and giggles, I might just go for 10.

I (heart) Eric Idle.   Well, of course, I (heart) John and Graham and Michael and Terry and Terry, too. But today my affection goes out to Eric.

Why? Because, of course, he's given us a new song ... "The FCC Song" (3.1 MB MP3 download). Everybody sing!

(P.S. -- As Eric mentions, if you play this on the radio it'll cost you a quarter of a million dollars. At least.)

Quote of the day.   (Thanks, GreggO!)

You know, back in 2000 a Republican friend of mine warned me that if I voted for Al Gore and he won, the stock market would tank, we'd lose millions of jobs, and our military would be totally overstretched. You know what? I did vote for Al Gore, he did win, and I'll be damned if all those things didn't come true."

-- James Carville

A new low every day.   How low will we go? I shudder to think, as every day the news is worse. (Of course, this was just another fraternity prank like all the right-wing nutjobs are saying, right?)

A military intelligence analyst who recently completed duty at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq (news - web sites) said Wednesday that the 16-year-old son of a detainee there was abused by U.S. soldiers to break his father's resistance to interrogators.

The analyst said the teenager was stripped naked, thrown in the back of an open truck, driven around in the cold night air, splattered with mud and then presented to his father at Abu Ghraib, the prison at the center of the scandal over abuse of Iraqi detainees.

Upon seeing his frail and frightened son, the prisoner broke down and cried and told interrogators he would tell them whatever they wanted, the analyst said.

Story via Atrios, and I will echo Lyn's echo of his reminder to the nutball trolls: "I am not responsible for things not done in my name. I am responsible for things that are. Please try to understand the difference."

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Thursday, May 20, 2004
Pledge drive time!   I know, it's a bit of a stretch, posting this in my weblog. But hey, if it results in even one pledge, one donation, I'm battin' a thousand.

KCSN is in the middle of our semi-annual pledge drive, and tonight it's time for me to pitch to raise money for the station and for my program "Down Home". If you're familiar with it, you know that I play roots and traditional music, including lots of Louisiana music, Irish music, plus bluegrass, blues, old-time and Appalachian, classic and, folk, Tex-Mex and Québecois, roots rock and gospel and klezmer and lots of other roots genres from around the world. It's the kind of stuff you'd never heard on commercial radio in a million years. You also may or may not know that it's commercial-free, and that we have to sing for our supper.

You can ring us tonight at (818) 677-3636 during my program, 7:00 - 9:00pm California time, or better still ... pledge online. Amongst the CD premia we'll send you to thank you for your gift are:

Mozaik: Live from the Powerhouse
Creole Bred: A Tribute to Creole and Zydeco
Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys: Bon Rêve
Scott Miller & the Commonwealth: Upside Downside
The Red Stick Ramblers: Bring It On Down
Contributions are, of course, tax-deductible.

Call tonight! Go online! Pledge!

Oh, and the good news is ... we started construction on our new transmitter one week ago today. We should be in test mode very, very soon. Look out Westside, look out Hollywood ... here we come!

Ardent Spirits' Cocktail of the Day.   Gary and Mardee Regan's newsletter is out, and contains a luscious-looking cocktail recipe. The only reason we didn't try it last night is because we didn't have one key ingredient (and I'll rectify that soon). It's gettin' hot, and we need to break out the summery drinks. Gary describes it as "heaven ... [t]he flavors marry in complete harmony. This drink is perfect for summertime quaffing." Awrite!

Created by Mardee Regan

1 ounce Herradura Silver tequila.
1 ounce Charbay Key Lime vodka.
3 ounces fresh orange juice.
1 orange wheel, for garnish.

Fill a cocktail shaker two-thirds full of ice and add the tequila, lime vodka and orange juice. Shake for approximately 15 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass or an ice-filled old-fashioned glass. Add the garnish.

Stonewalling on Bin Laden/Saudi flights after 9/11   The Daily Mislead reports that "with questions swirling about who authorized allowing relatives of Osama bin Laden to fly out of the country immediately after 9/11, The Hill newspaper is reporting that President Bush is 'refusing to answer repeated requests by the September 11 commission" about the matter.'

Last year, Secretary of State Colin Powell acknowledged that, even as all foreign and domestic flights were grounded after 9/11, the bin Ladens and other wealthy Saudis were allowed to fly out of the United States. He said that "the flights were well-known and it was coordinated within the government".

Yet now, even as White House officials claim that "the [P]resident has fully cooperated with this commission in an unprecedented way", the panel vice chairman Lee Hamilton disclosed that the Administration is refusing to answer any questions on the subject -- even in closed-door meetings with Senators. The President is also still refusing to release 28 pages of the bipartisan 9/11 congressional report about the Saudi Government. That report is known to "depict a Saudi government that not only provided significant money and aid to the suicide hijackers but also allowed potentially hundreds of millions of dollars to flow to Al Qaeda". Some of that money may have even flowed through Riggs Bank, where the President's uncle (and major fundraiser) is a top executive. Nonetheless, the President continues to refer to the Saudi government as "our friend".

How long is it going to take for Congressional Republicans to admit that this, plus everything else that's come out, will require official investigation?

Gazing into the abyss.   It's been a fairly big day today, unfortunately.

A Corrupted Culture
Senior U.S. commanders in Iraq insist that they never approved harsh interrogation techniques for Iraqi prisoners. Yet those same commanders now acknowledge that abusive practices were employed against detainees all over Iraq -- not just at Abu Ghraib prison -- and in Afghanistan. The International Red Cross has reported scores of incidents, and Gen. John P. Abizaid, the head of U.S. Central Command, said in a Senate hearing yesterday that 75 abuse cases have been investigated, as well as a number of deaths. Some of the methods that the commanders say were never sanctioned in Iraq -- and that, most experts believe, violate the Geneva Conventions -- were nevertheless listed on a sign posted at Abu Ghraib under the heading "Interrogation Rules of Engagement."

Sergeant Says Intelligence Directed Abuse
Military intelligence officers at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq directed military police to take clothes from prisoners, leave detainees naked in their cells and make them wear women's underwear, part of a series of alleged abuses that were openly discussed at the facility, according to a military intelligence soldier who worked at the prison last fall.

Sgt. Samuel Provance said intelligence interrogators told military police to strip down prisoners and embarrass them as a way to help "break" them. The same interrogators and intelligence analysts would talk about the abuse with Provance and flippantly dismiss it because the Iraqis were considered "the enemy," he said.

The first military intelligence soldier to speak openly about alleged abuse at Abu Ghraib, Provance said in a telephone interview from Germany yesterday that the highest-ranking military intelligence officers at the prison were involved and that the Army appears to be trying to deflect attention away from military intelligence's role.

General Blames Poor Guidance for Prison Abuse
The top U.S. military commander in Iraq told Congress on Wednesday that a lack of clear rules from the highest levels of his command may have created the climate for abuses at Abu Ghraib prison.

It was the U.S. military's most explicit acknowledgment to date that command failures may have contributed to conditions giving rise to the abuse of Iraqi detainees.

Since the scandal broke last month, the Bush administration has blamed the abuse on a small number of rogue prison guards. But at a tense hearing, Army Gen. John Abizaid and some of his top commanders in Iraq went further, detailing an array of flaws in the prison system that went undetected by commanders for months while incidents of physical and sexual abuse and humiliation of prisoners apparently flourished.

Abizaid said reports by the International Committee of the Red Cross in July and November that warned about abuses at the prison were not seen by senior U.S. commanders until months later.

White House's Medicare Videos Are Ruled Illegal
The General Accounting Office, an investigative arm of Congress, said on Wednesday that the Bush administration had violated federal law by producing and disseminating television news segments that portray the new Medicare law as a boon to the elderly.

The agency said the videos were a form of "covert propaganda" because the government was not identified as the source of the materials, broadcast by at least 40 television stations in 33 markets. The agency also expressed some concern about the content of the videos, but based its ruling on the lack of disclosure.

The consequences of the ruling were not immediately clear. The accounting office does not have law enforcement powers, but its decisions on federal spending are usually considered authoritative and are taken seriously by officials in the executive branch of the government.

The decision fuels a raging political debate over the new Medicare law. President Bush and many Republicans in Congress say the law will provide immense assistance to millions of elderly and disabled people. But Democrats say the law will do little for the elderly and is so seriously flawed that the government had to resort to an illegal public relations campaign to sell it to voters.

The General Accounting Office said that a specific part of the videos, a made-for-television "story package," violated the prohibition on using taxpayer money for propaganda.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Wednesday, May 19, 2004
More Planxty news!!   Right on the heels of yesterday's post comes this, in this morning's email from the news section of Christy's site:

Planxty's Live 2004 will be available on pre-order from Friday, May 21st.

Live 2004 will be released on May 28th -- it will be available as an audio CD
and a region free DVD.

1. The Starting Gate (4.38)
2. The Good Ship Kangaroo (4.31)
3. The Clare Jig (3.14)
4. Arthur McBride (3.59)
5. Little Musgrave (9.20)
6. Vicar Street Reels 2004 (4.21)
7. The Blacksmith / Black Smithereens (5.03)
8. The Dark Slender Boy (4.37)
9. As Christy Roved Out (4.01)
10. As Andy Roved Out (5.17)
11. The Kildareman's Fancy (4.15)
12. The Raggle Taggle Gypsy (5.46)
13. The West Coast Of Clare (6.05)

Woohooooooooo! This is fantastic news. No wonder Dónal didn't tour with Mozaik -- he must have been rather busy mixing this. I wasn't expecting it until the fall at least. And the clincher ... "as a region free DVD." Bless ya, lads.

They knew they were war criminals.   It gets more and more mind-boggling every day.

The White House's top lawyer warned more than two years ago that U.S. officials could be prosecuted for "war crimes" as a result of new and unorthodox measures used by the Bush administration in the war on terrorism, according to an internal White House memo and interviews with participants in the debate over the issue.

The concern about possible future prosecution for war crimes -- and that it might even apply to Bush adminstration officials themselves -- is contained in a crucial portion of an internal January 25, 2002 memo by White House counsel Alberto Gonzales obtained by NEWSWEEK. It urges President George Bush declare the war in Afghanistan, including the detention of Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters, exempt from the provisions of the Geneva Convention.

In the memo, the White House lawyer focused on a little known 1996 law passed by Congress, known as the War Crimes Act, that banned any Americans from committing war crimes defined in part as "grave breaches" of the Geneva Conventions. Noting that the law applies to "U.S. officials" and that punishments for violators "include the death penalty," Gonzales told Bush that "it was difficult to predict with confidence" how Justice Department prosecutors might apply the law in the future. This was especially the case given that some of the language in the Geneva Conventions such as that outlawing "outrages upon personal dignity" and "inhuman treatment" of prisoners was "undefined."

One key advantage of declaring that Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters did not have Geneva Convention protections is that it "substantially reduces the threat of domestic criminal prosecution under the War Crimes Act," Gonzales wrote.

So, those provisions weren't there to make us safer. Those provisions were placed in action to make sure that Shrub saved his own worthless ass from prosecution as a war criminal.

I really, really hope it doesn't work.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Tuesday, May 18, 2004
The Christy Moore Box Set is out.   Himself has been working on this for about three or four years -- not counting the spoken intro tracks and counting the hidden tracks, there are 103 songs on the box, and more than half of them are previously unreleased. Whoo.

The first thing I did with it was to digitize it, edit the long tracks containing silence and hidden songs into separate songs, identify and label those tracks, correct what needed to be corrected (sloppy mastering on the part of the record company, as at least four songs were at the wrong pitch and speed) and load it into my iPod. Then I listened to the whole feckin' thing, all the way through, beginning to end. Six hours and about eighteen minutes.

The recording quality of some of the live tracks is lamentable, which Christy readily admits ("Some sham taped it down the hall with a ghetto blaster under his arm and a microphone stuck up his arse ..."), but some of those performances are hair-raising and unforgettable ("... I'm very glad he took the trouble.") and a perfectly captured moment that helps define Christy's 40-year career. This is an amazing collection; with its 60+ page booklet and all this music and narration, its essential companion is Christy's book One Voice: My Life in Music.

There are tracks he did that became hugely popular in concert but were never released, songs he composed almost at the spur of the moment to address injustice (some of which got him in trouble), a song from the Cork concert in 1972 where Planxty first took off (as a support act for Donovan, who had to take the stage after a near-riot broke out from an audience who'd just been driven mad with joy by Planxty, the poor bastard), early and wobbly cassette recordings of some of his first club gigs as a ballad singer in the early 1960s, plus some newly recorded material as well.

There's a live version of "Smoke and Strong Whiskey" that's astonishing in its power, even though Christy describes his guitar interplay with his accompanist as "awkward" ("I've often seen pain on the faces of my collaborators"). An outtake from the first Planxty album with the four of them (even Liam) singing "Down in the Valley", a.k.a. "Down in the River to Pray", which you may know from Āthe soundtrack of "O Brother Where Art Thou?" 25 years later. Two versions, a recent solo recording and 1980s-era live one, of the brilliant song "Hey! Ronnie Reagan", written in protest of Reagan's disruptive visit to Ireland in June of 1984. I could go on for ... well, over six hours.

Unfortunately, it hasn't been released in the States, but ring or email my pal Mike Larkin at Mulligan Music in Galway, and tell him I sent ya. If you're into Irish music at all, this is an essential collection. I might not leave every single track on my iPod, but I'll leave most of 'em. Good on ya, Christy.

More good news from Christy.   This from the Chat area of his web site:

Donal Lunny is mixing the Planxty recordings from Vicar Street and is confident that we have an album of material. The shows were also filmed and there will be a documentary and DVD later in the year. We are also considering a small number of gigs at the same time next year. The 10 shows barely scraped the surface of the demand and we feel it would be mad to let it disappear again. I'll keep you posted here if there is anything further to report.
If they did just a half-dozen gigs in the States, and one of them was west of the Mississippi, I'd be there in a heartbeat. Even if one of them wasn't west of the Mississippi.

Well bejaysis, here we are on Tuesday and civilization didn't collapse.   I don't often find myself agreeing with James Lileks except when it comes to regrettable food, but here he is talking some sense:

Does gay marriage threaten heterosexual marriage? Of course! Who knows how many women woke last week to find notes on the kitchen table: "Dearest Wife, now that homosexual sodomy is legal in Texas, I have to go try it. Took the cell phone. Farewell."

No, if heterosexual marriage is threatened by anything, it's by heterosexuals...

Say what you will about gay marriage, it's nice to see someone taking the institution seriously... If you're opposed to gay marriage, don't have one. If you want to defend traditional marriage, stay married.

Sounds like good advice. That, and don't ever cook anything out of a 1950s cookbook.

Matt Gunn points out something I was just thinking myself as I listened to NPR's half-hour-long coverage of the marriages yesterday, and the predictably odious reaction from the shrubbery:

Not even our regressive President could spoil the day. He put out a terse statement that began with, "the sacred institution of marriage should not be redefined by a few activist judges." Of course, at nearly the same time as the statement was released, he contradicted himself by praising the activist Supreme Court Justices who unanimously decided Brown v. Board of Education 50 years ago. If that court had included the ideological predecessors of Rehnquist (who carried segregationist views well into his adulthood), Scalia, Thomas, and Bush, Brown wouldn't have made it.
They're talking about putting the marriage issue to the voters in Massachusetts. I say no. If they had put desegregation to the voters, it would have been crushed in a landslide. Would that have been the right thing to do?

"Activist judges" is horseshit. This is why we have a judiciary, folks.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Monday, May 17, 2004
Mazel tov!   Yeah, I know ... I'm not Jewish. I'm an Irish escaped ex-Catholic. I just think it's really fun to yell "Mazel tov!" when someone gets married.

To every couple who are getting married in Massachusetts today, I wish you all the happiness in the world, all the happiness that you deserve.

Writer John Scalzi offers some advice:

Remember to breathe.

It's all right if you stumble over words during the vows, but don't screw up the name of your spouse.

If you feel yourself crying, go with it, but remember to sniffle strategically -- tears are endearing in a wedding ceremony, a runny nose less so.

Don't lock your knees.

Some people don't think you should invite your exes to the wedding. But I think it's not such a bad thing to have one person in the crowd slightly depressed that they let you get away. They'll get over it at the reception. Trust me.

Smashing wedding cake into each other's face is strictly amateur hour.

Remind the DJ or band that they work for you, and they'll damn well play anything you want. For some reason I think this may be less of a problem at gay weddings. Thank God.

There will be drama of some sort at the reception. If the wedding party lets any of it reach the newlyweds, they haven't done their job.

Don't fill up on bread. You'll have to dance later.

I have no advice to give you for the people who have decided that your marriage threatens their own. Only remember that some of us out here would wish to give you the strength to endure them.

Amen. (Thanks to Patrick for posting that.)

Yeah, the tax cuts worked.   The Canton, Ohio bearings manufacturing plant used by Bush last year as a backdrop to show how well his economic policies were working has been shut down, throwing 1,300 people out of work and causing a "devastating" ripple effect in Canton.

Timken is slashing a quarter of its employees in Canton, and as workers facing layoffs consider their future, the ripple effect is already beginning.

"How can I afford to get married, afford a house payment, maybe kids, if I don't have a job?" said Timken employee Shawn Higgins.

Timken is Canton's biggest employer, and it is reported that 1,300 jobs are to be cut. Former Mayor Richard Watkins, who led the city for 12 years, knows how enormous the impact of such a downsizing can be.

"It isn't just about Timken," said Watkins. "Other jobs are affected. If (people) can't spend money, the smaller entrepreneur won't be able to stay in business."

Ironically, it was a little more than a year ago when President George W. Bush visited Timken's world headquarters heralding his tax cut and job creation plan. Now this very company's job cuts will be a major blow to the economy in Canton."

Ohio needs to thank the occupier of the White House for his largesse by delivering its electoral votes to John Kerry in November.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Friday, May 14, 2004
Feckin' favicon.ico ...   I know, it's a Windows thing. But I see 'em everywhere, and Safari now recognizes them, and they're neat, and I want one, dammit.

So I made one. Or at least I tried. I thought I was following the rules, but it took at least a half-dozen tries, and I'm still not sure if it's working properly. So, I'll need y'all's help.

Question 1: Do you see the favicon (i.e., the little custom icon in the address bar, immediately to the left of the URL of this site)? If so, which one is it? Is it the "L!" one, or the "GP" one?

Question 2: Please go to the root page of this site. Do you see the favicon? If so, is it the "GP" one?

If not, do you have any idea what I'm doing wrong? (Argh.)

Hugo Nominees, 2004.   I'm pleased to note that I've already read two of the five nominated novels. (Good luck, Rob Sawyer!)

Here are all the nominees, with links to where a number of them can be read online (woo!).

The Cocktailian.   This fornight's column tells us of a case of jet lag being soothed by an Irish stranger's talk of whiskey. They talk Powers, Redbreast, Bushmills 10 and John Jameson's, then concoct a creamy delight that despite my reticence at quaffing creamy drinks, this one looks intriguing. (The Irishman's concoction, "The Creamery", clocks in at a hefty 9 points for us WeightWatchers types -- I might just want to stick with me 3-point Manhattans and Sazeracs for the time being ...)

Recipe of the day.   We got some beautiful red chard in our Organic Express delivery box last week, and in a fit of intellectual and culinary laziness I dashed off to Epicurious to look for something interesting to do with it. I came across one recipe that looked promising, substituted ingredients that I had on hand instead of what the recipe called for, tweaked it and zhuzhed it a little ... and boy was it good. I'd definitely make this again.

(Note: You can get dried blueberries at Trader Joe's, if you're lucky enough to have one near you. If you can't find it, use dried red currants, as the original recipe called for. Actually this was originally a bruschetta topping, but I just serve it as a side dish.)

Red and Blue Chard

1 bunch organic red Swiss chard
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup dried blueberries
2 tablespoons chopped hazelnuts, toasted
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

Trim the stems and ribs from the chard leaves, then chop into small dice and reserve. Coarsely chop the leaves, making sure to rinse and dry well.

Briefly toast the hazelnuts in a hot skillet until they become fragrant; set aside. Place the blueberries in a bowl and cover with very hot water; let them soak for about 15-20 minutes. Strain the soaking liquid and reserve.

Heat the oil in a non-stick skillet. Add the red chard ribs and sauté for about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to sauté until barely golden and fragrant, about another minute. Add the chard, then turn the heat up to high and add the blueberry soaking liquid. Stir quickly and constantly until the liquid is almost completely reduced, then lower heat to medium and continue to sauté until the chard is wilted and tender, perhaps a total of 5-6 minutes. Mix in the soaked blueberries and toasted hazelnuts. Add salt, freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of red pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

YIELD: 2 servings.

Damn. Just typing that up makes me want to make another batch right now. Blast from the past.   Mary emailed me this morning with a note that said "You wrote this", after having dug up this little Looka! tidbit from about 2-1/2 years ago:

  Tuesday, October 23, 2001
How low will we go? Times of London: "FBI Considers Torture."   The Times of London reports that "American investigators are considering resorting to harsher interrogation techniques, including torture, after facing a wall of silence from jailed suspected members of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network, according to a report yesterday."

And if they resort to torture, this makes us better, nobler and more righteous than terrorists, despots, and totalitarian or fascist regimes ... exactly how?

The question is now, of course, more valid than ever.

Cartoon of the day.   "A Few Bad Apples", by Ted Rall.

"Do as we say, not as we do."   Nicked from August:

"The arrogance, inconsistency, and unreliability of the administration's diplomacy have undermined American alliances, alienated friends, and emboldened our adversaries."

"Gerrymandered congressional districts are an affront to democracy and an insult to the voters. We oppose that and any other attempt to rig the electoral process."

"The current administration has casually sent American armed forces on dozens of missions without clear goals, realizable objectives, favorable rules of engagement, or defined exit strategies. Over the past seven years, a shrunken American military has been run ragged by a deployment tempo that has eroded its military readiness. Many units have seen their operational requirements increased four-fold, wearing out both people and equipment."

"The rule of law, the very foundation for a free society, has been under assault, not only by criminals from the ground up, but also from the top down. An administration that lives by evasion, coverup, stonewalling, and duplicity has given us a totally discredited Department of Justice."

"Sending our military on vague, aimless, and endless missions rapidly saps morale. Even the highest morale is eventually undermined by back-to-back deployments, poor pay, shortages of spare parts and equipment, inadequate training, and rapidly declining readiness."

Anti-war left-wing rants? Nope. How about the 2000 Republican Party platform?


Conversation ender.   From Matt Gunn: "The single best argument against Rumsfeld's resignation? His likely successor may be Paul Wolfowitz."


[ Link to today's entries ]

  Wednesday, May 12, 2004
Poem of the day.   (Thanks to Lambert at Corrente).

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all convictions, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

WB Yeats, The Second Coming

What Josh said.   From Talking Points Memo:

As I said earlier today, I don't think I can remember a more shameful spectacle in the United States Congress, in my living memory, than the comments today of James Inhofe, the junior senator from Oklahoma. Clearly, it is part of the RNC talking points now to shift the brunt of the media storm from the abuses themselves to the political storm they've created. But no one that I saw at least rose more naturally to the effort than this man. No one else's heart seemed so matched to the deed, with his snarls at "humanitarian do-gooders" (i.e., the Red Cross) trying to monitor compliance with the Geneva Conventions.

America's greatest moments in the last century came when she tempered power with right and toughened, or sharpened, the edges of right with power -- World War II, then the post-war settlement that framed the Cold War are the clearest, though certainly not the only, examples.

But here you have Jim Inhofe lumbering out of his cave and on to the stage, arguing that we can do whatever we want because we're America. Inhofe's America is one that is glutted on pretension, cut free from all its moral ballast, and hungry to sit atop a world run only by violence. Lady Liberty gets left with fifty bucks, a sneer, a black eye, and the room to herself for the couple hours left before check out.


[ Link to today's entries ]

  Tuesday, May 11, 2004
I'll show you some outrage, pal.   I nearly lost my composure this morning while listening to the vile rant from Republican senator James Inhofe during the Congressional hearings into the torture of Iraqi prisoners, which nearly caused me to throw my breakfast plate and my radio through the window. I'd call him a swine, but that would be insulting to the noble, beloved animal that provides my bacon.

First of all, I regret I wasn't here on Friday. I was unable to be here. But maybe it's better that I wasn't because as I watch this outrage that everyone seems to have about the treatment of these prisoners I have to say and I'm probably not the only one up at this table that is more outraged by the outrage than we are by the treatment.

The idea that these prisoners, they're not there for traffic violations. If they're in cell block 1A or 1B, these prisoners, they're murderers, they're terrorists, they're insurgents, and many of them probably have American blood probably on their hands and here we're so concerned about the treatment of those individuals.

Well, how about the little factual tidbits courtesy of the International Red Cross, such as the fact that "certain CF military intelligence officers told the ICRC that in their estimate between 70% and 90% of the persons deprived of their liberty in Iraq had been arrested by mistake."

I understand that Sen. John McCain walked out during Inhofe's remarks. Good on him. I disagree with McCain on a number of issues, but he has my respect.

Inhofe's "outraged at the outrage" and his other remarks make Sen. Palpatine's Lieberman's ugly remarks of the other day look benign in comparison. He's also full of shit with regards to his claims that American soldiers never carry AK-47s as well.

Listen, Inhofe, you stupid bastard. We're supposed to be the good guys. By adopting the tactics of the bad guys (even to a lesser degree), it makes us like them. We shouldn't even be there to begin with, but now we're torturing prisoners in the same prison where Saddam tortured prisoners. It defies my ability to reason to understand why these idiots just don't get it.

New citizens take an oath to protect our Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic. People like him fit into the latter category, I think.

UPDATE -- Well, it looks like somebody was more outraged by the torture than by the outrage. (Oh, but they were only blowing off some steam, right Limbaugh?) The response was horrifying, truly sickening, and has made the situation much, much worse. As Kos said, "Violence begets violence. This is nowhere close to being over. And assholes like Inhofe merely add fuel to the fire."

"Nothing made from soy flour tastes good."   For those of you on the Atkins diet, best of luck to you. I've mentioned that it wasn't my own particular weight loss choice (nor my doctor's), but everyone must do what's good for them. If you are doing Atkins, however, I hope you're doing it with real, fresh food and not with all that packaged "low-carb" crapola that's now flooding the market in an attempt to cash in on the latest diet fad.

Some intrepid food tasters, I daresay braver than I, took up Salon's challenge to actually try several of these processed foods, from boxed "mashed potato" mix to spaghetti sauce to snack chips and cookies. In order to get rid of the wheat flour, source of many evil, dastardly carbohydrates, almost all of the products seem to use soy flour and soy isolate protein as a substitute. How these products actually taste is rather predictable, given the title of this post ... but the individual comments on the items are great. (It's Salon Premium, so you might have to sit through a commercial to read it. It's worth it.)

It's sort of like what you would imagine plaster would taste like. Salted plaster ... with a vitamin-like aftertaste.

That is nasty!

They taste brown. Like cardboard... Yes, like sawdust glued together.

I defy you to eat 20 of them. For 50 bucks!

This is awful. (*pours milk on "cereal"*) Oh my God ...

Eat. Real. Food. No matter what diet you're on.

Headline of the day.   From this week's list of news links on DVD File (which is only in the link name, not in the article, and will probably be gone by next week) ...

Weekend Box Office
"Van Helsing" drives stake thru the Olsen twins
If only.

Did y'all know (I didn't) that those two have made nearly forty direct-to-video movies? And while those movies may seem to be marketed to teenage girls, they seem to actually be marketed toward the weird guys at the used DVD stores, who get all twitchy at the mention of their names ... oy. Now they've got their very own movie in the theatres, which by most accounts is awfully awful (surprise). I guess the otherwise brilliant Eugene Levy must be building an addition on to the back of his house, or something ... Oh yeah! Re-release of the year.   From what I've been reading for the last few months, "Donnie Darko", pretty much my favorite film of 2002, is being re-released in a new and hugely expanded director's cut. They've actually given director Richard Kelly a pile of money, an actual budget so that he can now afford to do things he couldn't afford to do when the film was being made, even including getting the licensing for music he initially wanted for the first version. It'll be out in theatres this summer, and I just got ahold of a teaser poster (thanks, Wes!):

Donnie Darko: The Director's Cut 
-- teaser poster

Summer's lookin' good!

Well, well, well.   Looks like BushCo were just spending money out the wazoo for all kinds of military construction and defense projects, but forgot one little legal requirement -- they apparently neglected to get Congressional approval first.

President Bush has acknowledged that months before Congress voted an Iraq war resolution in October 2002, he approved about 30 projects in Kuwait that helped set the stage for war, with "no real knowledge or involvement" of Congress, according to Plan of Attack, a new book by Bob Woodward, an assistant managing editor at The Washington Post.

A Pentagon briefing paper supplied to Congress after publication of the Woodward book states that by July 2002, "in the course of preparing for a contingency in Iraq, U.S. Central Command [Centcom] developed rough estimates of $750 million in preparatory tasks."

"To the best of our knowledge, the administration failed to follow the law when it came to keeping the people's representatives fully informed on how they were spending these dollars," [spokesman for ranking Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committe Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.V.) Thomas] Gavin said.

They knew they were going to attack Iraq long before they made all the public excuses and lies for doing so.


This is the meaning of high crimes and misdemeanors, kids. I know there are no blowjobs involved and I know that Hitlery had nothing to do with it, but this is the real deal. When a president spends money explicitly authorized by the congress for something else on a war that the congress and the people of the US have yet to even debate much less authorize, it's a violation of the constitution. When the money is spent on no-bid contracts between the US government and the president's political contributors in secret, it is a crime.

I wonder if the Republicans in congress are ever going to get sick of being Bush's bitches?

It seems that far too many of them are far too willing participants.

The arrogance of moral certainty.   Excellent essay in TIME magazine by Joe Klein:

Faith without doubt leads to moral arrogance, the eternal pratfall of the religiously convinced. We are humble before the Lord, Bush insists. We cannot possibly know His will. And yet, we "know" He's on the side of justice -- and we define what justice is. Indeed, we can toss around words like justice and evil with impunity, send off mighty armies to "serve the cause of justice" in other lands and be so sure of our righteousness that the merest act of penitence -- an apology for an atrocity -- becomes a presidential crisis. "This is not the America I know," Bush said of the torturers, as if U.S. soldiers were exempt from the temptations of absolute power that have plagued occupying armies from the beginning of time.

... [D]emocracy doesn't easily lend itself to evangelism; it requires more than faith. It requires a solid, educated middle class and a sophisticated understanding of law, transparency and minority rights. It certainly can't be imposed by outsiders, not in a fractious region where outsiders are considered infidels. This is not rocket science. It is conventional wisdom among democracy and human-rights activists-and yet the Administration allowed itself to be blinded by righteousness. Why? Because moral pomposity is almost always a camouflage for baser fears and desires. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and the neoconservatives share a primal belief in the use of military power to intimidate enemies. If the U.S. didn't strike back "big time," it would be perceived as weak. (Crushing the peripheral Taliban and staying focused on rooting out al-Qaeda cells wasn't "big" enough.) The President may have had some personal motives-doing to Saddam Hussein what his father didn't; filling out Karl Rove's prescription of a strong leader; making the world safe for his friends in the energy industry. The neoconservatives had ulterior motives too: almost all were fervent believers in the state of Israel and, as a prominent Turkish official told me last week, "they didn't want Saddam's rockets falling on Tel Aviv."

Abu Ghraib made a mockery of American idealism. It made all the baser motives -- oil, dad, Israel -- more believable. And it represents all the mora complexities this President has chosen to ignore -- all the perverse consequences of an occupation.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Monday, May 10, 2004
Stop the madness!   The low-carb madness, that is ... certain national treasures must not be endangered!

Could the Krispy Kreme doughnut be the latest victim of the low-carb diet craze?

The Winston-Salem-based doughnut maker said Friday that it is cutting its profit projection for this year by 10 percent because of lower demand for its high-calorie treats -- which the company attributes in part to the low-carb diet phenomenon.

The announcement drove its stock price down 23 percent in early trading.

For ye fellow WeightWatchers, a Krispy Kreme chocolate iced glazed doughnut is a mere 6 points.

Ugh.   No, I'm not commenting on the Bush administration (although such a comment would be perfectly appropriate). I'm talkin' food and language. Speaking of doughnuts ...Bob Lefsetz, author of a regular music-industry-related email rant-letter, recently commented about our favorite fried doughy delight:

Homer Simpson lives for them. They're a staple of the underclass.

But the educated upper middle class will have NOTHING to do with donuts.

Mmm... When did "doughnuts" become "donuts"?

I think we have the Dunkin' company to thank for that. Still, it's not hard to argue that the target customer can't spell the true appellation. Actually, it's rare that you even SEE the true name anymore.

True enough. I think the lazy, abbreviated misspelling "donuts" is yet another symptom of our linguistic malaise, the kind of thing that has Conroy's Flowers (a local florist chain) advertising "BOKAYS FOR SALE" on their marquees. (I experience a physical twitch, a mini-seizure, every time I see them do that.) It's even worse than apostrophe abuse.

While some may approve (Eddie Izzard: "But you spell 'through' T-H-R-U, and I'm with you on that! We spell it 'thruff!'"), I do not.

D-O-U-G-H-N-U-T-S. Dammit.

I'm educated upper middle-class, and I love 'em. (Unfortuately, I'm not really allowed to have them, but that's entirely beside the point.)

Mmmmmmm, doughnuts ...

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Sunday, May 9, 2004
We are all wearing the blue dress now.   (Via Atrios): The latest from The Daily Brew, which is today's must-read.

Whether Republicans like it or not, if George Bush is elected in the fall, the entire world will view the election as American approval of the torture and sexual humiliation of prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison. It might not be fair, it might not be reasonable, but it is nevertheless reality. Apologies, prosecutions, firings and courts martial will not be enough to expunge the stain this scandal has placed on the honor of the United States. The pictures are simply too graphic. The abuses are simply too horrible. If George Bush is elected President, the entire world will view the election, at a minimum, as tacit approval of these events.

This election will thus no longer merely determine the Presidency. This election is now much larger than the office. The United States' place in the family of nations is now on the ballot. This election will determine whether the United States will ever again have any standing or moral authority in the rest of the world. The United States cannot simultaneously stand against depraved sexual torture and the wanton abuse of human rights, while electing the commander in chief upon whose watch these events occurred. The seven hundred thousand or so viewers of Fox News may be able to rationalize such cognitive dissonance; the six billion people who make up the remainder of the world will not.

Dissent among the ranks.   This was inevitable.

Deep divisions are emerging at the top of the U.S. military over the course of the occupation of Iraq, with some senior officers beginning to say that the United States faces the prospect of casualties for years without achieving its goal of establishing a free and democratic Iraq.

Their major worry is that the United States is prevailing militarily but failing to win the support of the Iraqi people. That view is far from universal, but it is spreading and being voiced publicly for the first time. Army Col. Paul Hughes, who last year was the first director of strategic planning for the U.S. occupation authority in Baghdad, said he agrees with that view and noted that a pattern of winning battles while losing a war characterized the U.S. failure in Vietnam. "Unless we ensure that we have coherency in our policy, we will lose strategically," he said in an interview Friday.

"I lost my brother in Vietnam," added Hughes, a veteran Army strategist who is involved in formulating Iraq policy. "I promised myself, when I came on active duty, that I would do everything in my power to prevent that [sort of strategic loss] from happening again. Here I am, 30 years later, thinking we will win every fight and lose the war, because we don't understand the war we're in."

Some officers say the place to begin restructuring U.S. policy is by ousting Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, whom they see as responsible for a series of strategic and tactical blunders over the past year. Several of those interviewed said a profound anger is building within the Army at Rumsfeld and those around him.

A senior general at the Pentagon said he believes the United States is already on the road to defeat. "It is doubtful we can go on much longer like this," he said. "The American people may not stand for it -- and they should not."

Do not stand for it.

Pete Knight is dead.   Friday night, of leukemia, aged 74.

He may have done good things in his political career in the past, but the entirety of that was marked (tainted, really) by his obsessive efforts at anti-gay legislation, and his seeming determination to make millions of Californians (and by extensions, millions more Americans, including his own son) into second-class citizens. There are a lot of people whose lives he attacked who today have one fewer enemy.

I'm sorry he had to suffer from a terrible disease, but to borrow something a very wise friend once told me, "it's okay to be glad he's dead."

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Saturday, May 8, 2004
Brilliant.  From McSweeney's, here's a screamingly funny piece called "Unused audio commentary by Dinesh d'Souza and Ann Coulter, recorded Spring, 2003 for Aliens Special Red-State Edition DVD, Part One", which was "discovered" by Jeff Alexander and Tom Bissell.

(On the other hand, part of me thinks it's not funny at all, because it's just too damned realistic.)

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Friday, May 7, 2004
Quote of the day.   Abe knew. He was really a great man, wasn't he?

"I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country... corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed."

-- Abraham Lincoln, 1864

(Thanks, Dave!)

UPDATE -- Grrrr ... it's a forgery.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Thursday, May 6, 2004
Still not dead.   Although my poor wee iBook seems to be on the verge of it. Posting has been scarce of late, what with computer problems and all. None of it was fatal, but I had an old, wheezing iBook with a tiny hard drive and barely enough memory to squeak by, plus the display started crapping out (probably bad wiring somewhere), and I figured it was time for a new toy.

Here's the new toy that's been keeping me busy for the last two or three days. It's bee-yoo-tee-ful. It also screams -- 1.5 GhZ G4 processor with Velocity Engine, ATI Mobility Radeon 9700 graphics accelerator with 128MB of video memory, 80GB drive, 1GB memory.

It'll also nicely facilitate my on-air digital music efforts. I should now be able to do radio almost entirely from iTunes, building my playlist both in advance and on the fly (the latter of which was extremely difficult to do with my iPod), outputting digital audio via USB into a Griffin Technology PowerWave and analog output from that directly into the patch bay above the master control board at KCSN. The setup gets its maiden voyage tonight. Tune in and hear me hope not to screw up!

We have met the enemy and he is us.   I was also pretty much too depressed over what our country is doing in Iraq to even post about it over the last several days. For the first time in my life, I'm ashamed of us. If I were travelling abroad right now, I'd affect the most convincing Irish accent I could muster (which is good enough to make Dublin taxi drivers think I'm a native who's lived in the states and picked up an American accent).

Scolded?   The headline of the Los Angeles Times today said that Donald Rumsfeld had been "scolded" by the president for allowing him to be blindsided by reports of the torture and murder of Iraqi prisoners. Scolded.

My question is, why wasn't he fired? Why is no one being held accountable for their misdeeds in this adminstration? Rumsfeld should have been fired a long time ago, and would have if we had a president who thinks, but the latest developments should be the final straw.

Get rid of him. Today.

Iraqi scientist held in solitary for a year for telling the truth.   Via Atrios: Amer al-Saadi, a 66-year-old British-educated scientist, has been kept prisoner in solitary confinement for the last year. Why? Not because he fought against us, not because he is a danger to us, but because he told the truth about there being no WMDs in Iraq, that they were all destroyed years ago.

Yet, astonishingly, Dr Saadi does not know of their change of mind or of the political fallout their views have caused in western countries. He is like a lottery winner who is the last person to be told he has hit the jackpot. Held in solitary confinement in an American prison at Baghdad's international airport, Dr Saadi is denied the right to read newspapers, listen to the radio, or watch television.

"In the monthly one-page letters I am allowed to send him through the Red Cross I cannot mention any of this news. I can only talk about family issues," says his wife, Helma, as she sits in the couple's home less than half a mile from US headquarters in Baghdad.

Barely three days after the statue of Saddam Hussein was pulled down by US troops in central Baghdad Dr Saadi approached the Americans and became the first senior Iraqi to hand himself in. It was the last time his wife saw him.

He was sure he would soon be released, Mrs Saadi says. He was a scientist who had never been part of Saddam's terror apparatus, or even a member of the Ba'ath party.

Even the CIA are appealing for his release. But no ... as Cosmic Igauana put it, he "rots in a prison because he is an embarassing reminder of the lies of George Bush."

Expen$ive.   Here's what Mr. I'm-on-a-mission-from-God's little escapade in Iraq is going to end up costing us, the taxpayers of America (not to mention what it'll cost us in security and our lovely new low standing around the world):

With an additional $25 billion [that Bush has requested], the war's cost exceeds the inflation-adjusted expenditures of the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, the Spanish-American War and the Persian Gulf War combined, according to a study by Yale University economist William D. Nordhaus.

At $174 billion, the Iraq conflict would be approaching the inflation-adjusted, $199 billion cost of World War I, a level it will almost certainly pass next year.

Remember this in November.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Saturday, May 1, 2004
Happy Enlargement Day!   The European Union expands by ten member nations today, the largest expansion in its history. Cyprus, The Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia add 75 million new citizens to the EU, European Union Flag putting the final nail in the coffin of the Cold War. Congratulations, Europe!

There are a huge array of cultural celebrations taking place all over Europe today, "from the west coast of Ireland to the eastern border of Poland, and from Valletta in the south to the northernmost tip of Finland." There are a whole list on the EU site, but I found a really nifty-looking listing in Irish Music magazine about what's going on all over Ireland today (who in fact currently hold the EU Presidency, with Dublin holding some huge Enlargement Day ceremonies). "Day of Welcomes" festivities are being organized by ten Irish cities and towns for today's celebration -- "the local communities, arts officers and organizations and Chambers of Commerce have been working closely with the embassies of the Accession States to produce a day of celebration that will be a highlight of Ireland's EU presidency." Some of these sound like they could be a lot of fun. (Donegal fiddlers and Polish bagpipers, maybe?) Today would be a good day to have a teleportation device.

Bray / Cyprus "From Our Shore to Your Shore"
A celebration of marine and maritime heritage.

Cork / Slovakia "Cooking up Culture"
The day will include street parties, music from Slovakian folk groups and food-themed shows in Cork City's renowned English Market.

Drogheda / Latvia "Fair Days on Fair Street"
The rich history of sacred and secular vocal music in both Drogheda and Latvia will see choirs from both places stepping into the spotlight in this lively north-east town.

Galway / Estonia "A Time to Sing"
The theme of music and young people will play in important part in the Galway programme as local school children learn to sing Estonian folk songs and choirs from Estonia and Ireland join together to thrill the people of Galway.

Kilkenny / Lithuania "Crafting the Future"
The medieval town of Kilkenny with its vibrant arts and craft heritage meets the ancient history of Lithuania to create a day of celebration through street theatre and art.

Killarney / Czech Republic "Europe in Colour"
A town well versed in welcoming its visitors, Killarney's programme of thrilling activities includes a grand pageant that will celebrate the delights and imagination of the Czech Republic.

Letterkenny / Poland "European Melodies"
Cultural friendships are being forged between Letterkenny and Poland as the town's diverse programme of events sees Donegal fiddlers playing alongside Polish musicians and theatre companies and visual artists from both places working closely together.

Limerick / Slovenia "Visualising Europe"
An immense programme of celebration is being planned in the Shannon-side city with local artists such as street--theatre company the Umbrella Project and the Boherbuoy Brass and Reed Band just some of the many who'll have a role in welcoming Slovenia. Ireland's premier international art exhibition, EV+ A, curated by Zdenka Badanovinac from Slovenia, will also include a number of Slovenian artists.

Sligo / Hungary "Living Literature"
The strong literary cultures of both Sligo and Hungary offer wonderful starting points for this city's "Day of Welcomes" activities.

Waterford / Malta "Waterford Goes Malta" Waterford Spraoi is one of Ireland's leading street theatre companies who, along with other events throughout the year, hosts the country's largest street theatre festival.

(Waterford could have used a more creative title for its festivities, actually ...) Keep the pints flowing, and have fun!

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