Author Archives: astronautgo

26.2 Just ahead of me


I thought of the pun in the title ages ago (as you might guess, since it refers to a song by Tool), and I’m not going to let something like not having blogged in six years keep me from getting to use it.

I never thought I would use it, but after a few years of trying to see how far I can make my body run without it collapsing (with so far pleasantly surprising results), today I’m going to run the Philadelphia Marathon. And blogging, I guess? We’ll see how it goes.

UPDATE: I wasn’t able to post this from the starting corral; I assume the cell networks around there were groaning with the strain of all the people in that area. I ran that marathon! Unofficial time was 4:47:59, with which I am entirely satisfied.


These cogs are rusty

…and I’m not sure if this will be the way to unrust them, but it’s a way, so that’s fine.

Roger Ebert will snatch you out your car and beat you down in front of your girl

For reasons known only to himself, Ben Stein, former Nixon speechwriter, made a movie called eXpelled, which argues in favor of Intelligent Design. (And may we hope it will improve the IDers’ opinion of we atheists to note the Christ-like generosity I’ve displayed in using the word “argue” in that last sentence?) The proponents of Intelligent Design claim that it’s science all the way down to believe there’s no way life could arise in the universe without some anthropomorphic sentience behind it, and that ID totally has nothing to do with any religion like for instance lets just say Christianity. That unimpeachable lack of religiosity notwithstanding, eXpelled was distributed in a scripturally-resonant manner, in that it came and went from theaters like a thief in the night. If you asked me why Roger Ebert never reviewed eXpelled, that would be my guess as to the reason. Ben Stein is a professional conservative with a movie to promote, though, so if you ask him why Roger Ebert never reviewed it, he might say it’s because Ebert’s in the tank for Big Evolution. In fact, tonight via Pandagon I saw that he apparently did say something like that.

Stein must have confused Roger Ebert for a Democratic Senator or something, rather than a movie reviewer – a man whose job it is, among other things, to publicly declare awful movies to be awful, and explain why he thinks so. And of course, not only does Ebert do this job, not only has he done it for decades, but he is very, very successful at it. Maybe the most successful of anyone, ever. Why Ben Stein didn’t know better than to pick this fight, I couldn’t say, but god bless him that he did, so I could get to read Ebert pwning him so hard his trilobite ancestors probably felt it.

Poor impulse control

Holy Jesus balls, why would I ever open a thread on Warren Ellis’ forum called “I Did Not Need To See That?”

Actually, I know why.  Anyway, no link for you, because if you have to find it yourself, you have only yourself to blame.


Go, vote!  I don’t care what state you live in, whether your vote counts or not, go cast it.

I went this morning, before work, in Quincy, Massachusetts.  The line was negligible, and I was in and out pretty quickly.

My brain still hasn’t fully absorbed that I may just have voted for the first black President of the United States.  I think it might take a while for something that big to sink in.

Lawrence Fucking Lessig

I think I’ve made it clear by this point that there’s a poster on the wall of the dorm room of my soul that replaces that iconic Che Guevara face with Larry Lessig’s.This presentation is about trust in government, particularly Congress, and how that trust is eroded when everyone knows that legislators are getting tons of money from the interests they’re legislating about. It’s an hour long, so get a comfortable chair and maybe grab two beers out of the fridge before you sit down.


Fire bad

This would explain why I smelled smoke when I came up from the train at South Station today:

60K pounds of lobster lost in Boston fire

BOSTON, Massachusetts (AP) — A fire destroyed a landmark seafood business on the waterfront early Friday, snarling rush hour traffic and raising fears the building would collapse into the harbor. There were no reports of injuries.

Firefighters struggled to contain the blaze at James Hook & Co. for several hours after it broke out about 3:30 a.m. Flames burned through rooms full of corrugated cardboard boxes used for shipping seafood, fire department spokesman Steve MacDonald said.

I’m glad we’ll never make THAT mistake again

I don’t think I’ve ever linked to Jim Henley’s finest post:

So many publications have expressed such overwhelming interest in the perspectives of those of us who opposed the Iraq War when it had a chance of doing good that I have had to permit mutliple publication of this article in most of the nation’s elite media venues – collecting, I am almost embarrassed to admit, a separate fee from each. Everyone recognizes that the opinions of those of us who were right about Iraq then are crucial to formulating sane, just policy now. It’s a lot of pressure, so please forgive anything glib or short you read herein: between articles, interviews, think-tank panels and presentations before government agencies and policy organs I’m not permitted to mention, I’m a little frazzled.

On the bright side, and I can confirm that my experience has been similar to those of my fellow prophets, being the object of so much attention, being repeatedly quizzed by eager interlocutors on the same basic points, encourages one to distill one’s thinking to its essence. As Kenneth Pollack asked me the other day, “What the fuck was so special about you, anyway?”

“For one thing,” I said, “I am not sprawled on a sidewalk next the McPherson Square Metro Station, hoping to cadge enough quarters to enjoy the rare treat of laundering the vomit out of the only shirt I own, praying all the while that decent people do not recognize me beneath the matted beard and tangled hair.”

“But my thigh hurts!” He said.

“Shut up,” I consoled him, “or I’ll kick it again.”

When all you have is a hammer…

Jesus Christ.

(via Unqualified Offerings)

UPDATE:  Robert Farley at LGM has a slightly longer and more thoughtful response than I:

Long story short, it’s quite likely that an invasion would cause a lot more people to die than are likely to die sans intervention.

The idea of a threat of an invasion in order to force SLORC compliance with international aid efforts is a little bit better on its face, but collapses when subjected to scrutiny. The primary interest of the regime is survival; it cares more about survival than the lives of the Burmese people. Allowing itself to be forced at gunpoint to accept international assistance strikes me as considerably more dangerous to regime survival than to simply allow the disaster to run its course. The regime, undoubtedly, also has a strong sense of the difficulties that any invasion would face, especially one with a humanitarian objective. In other words, SLORC has a) reason to believe that the international community is bluffing, and b) strong incentive for calling that bluff. Again, the threat of military intervention in the short term is likely to lead to more, not fewer, dead Burmese.

As I hate war, it is with a heavy heart that I shall start a bunch of them.

I’ve heard a disturbing number of people, all of whom I know to be otherwise sane, tell me that they think John McCain would make a good President, or even tell me that they might vote for him. This is nuts. He would be an awful President. Of course, you wouldn’t know that by watching the news or reading the paper, because the narrative of John McCain among the political press is that of the Saga of Commander Maverick of the Straight Talk Brigade. Never mind that the guy has no coherent domestic policy, nor does he seem particularly interested in one. Never mind that his foreign policy, which is supposed to be a his strength, seems to be nothing more than Bush’s “Obey, or be destroyed,” applied even more widely.

I’ve been trying to figure out how I wanted to approach building my own little counternarrative for you, my audience, because I love all eight of you, and want you to be thoughtful, skeptical consumers of political media. If along the way I can convince you that the contemporary Republican Party is a cancer on the American body politic, so much the better.

Anyway, my quandary is solved: Ezra Klein reminded me that it’s McCain week at the American Prospect. The first article, by Matt Yglesias, is called “The Militarist.” Ezra comments, in part, thus:

He was humble. Bipartisan. A nice guy, liked by partisans on both sides of the aisle. An instinctual moderate who’d constrain America’s foreign policy ambitions and ably manage our finances. He was George W. Bush, and despite what the press said, he was none of those things. Rather, the truest understanding of Bush’s candidacy came from those who had read his policy plans. The shockingly regressive tax cuts, the dismissive attitude towards international treaties, the inattention to our unraveling health care system, the denial of our energy problems — it was all there. The press assured us that those plans were just election-year pandering. Turned out they were his governing agenda.

Similarly, John McCain, we’re told, is a moderate. A nice guy. Respected on both sides of the aisle. Conscious of the limits of American power and the constraints of our fiscal situation. His plans? That hugely regressive tax cut, radical dismantling of the health care system, appetite for endless war? Oh, you know how elections go.


Ezra’s own article is about McCain’s godawful health care plan.

Quote of the day

The only thing more annoying than Joe Lieberman himself is his conceit, which many people indulge out of habit, that he is some kind of “centrist.”  Perhaps if we think of the political spectrum as a series of rings surrounding a cavernous abyss (or perhaps a pit like the Sarlaac), then Lieberman and McCain can fairly be called “centrists.”

 –Daniel Larison in The American Conservative

Entire selection bitten from Matt Yglesias.