Archive for January, 2004

Castro Visits Saddam Spiderhole With Elvis

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U.S. Army Sgt. Maj. Cesar Castro of the 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment
with the 4th Infantry Division holds a cut-out of Elvis Presley at the
hole from where the US military captured ex-Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein
in Adwar, Iraq Monday, Jan. 26, 2004.

Castro, carrying the life-size cardboard
cutout, was the latest visitor to this muddy farming area that has become
a tourist site of sorts since Saddam Hussein was pulled out of the underground
bunker on Dec. 13 after nearly eight months on the run.

(AP Photo/Cesar
Castro)

from the AP

Black Widow Devours 400-lb Cookie

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Once
again, a petite woman has beaten the field in an open division eating
contest, this time chicken wings. In the current case,
the finalists were Sonya ‘Black Widow’ Thomas, a 98-pounder who began
competitive
eating
when she worked at a Burger King in Alexandria Virginia, and Ed ‘Cookie’
Jarvis, a 406 heavyweight from New York.  Of course, the Black Widow
out-ate the Cookie, 167 wings to 165, in 32 minutes.

This is not the first time we have reported on the Black Widow’s killer
track record.  In November we carried a
story
about how she wolfed
down 7-3/4 pounds of holiday food in 12 minutes to defeat
a pair of 400-pound rivals and win the Thanksgiving Invitational eating
contest.

There
is obviously some Eastern Mystical Mind Control thing going on here,
some neural short-curcuit of the gag reflex, which may come natural
to certain rare individuals but which we are convinced can be taught
and is passed down from generation to generation in secret eating societies
who use their skills to unknown ends.  Some of these eating contest
winners may be renegade members of the eating cults seeking to capitalize
on their occult skills. You decide.

from Ananova

A Note of Caution

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Despite the setbacks to Howard Dean’s first-of-a-kind Internet operation, the current discussion around the Blogosphere seems to be centered on when and where the next major impact point will be, and not whether the Internet will be an important player from this point on in the American political panorama. We take this as a good thing, and a recognition of the inevitability of the impact of technological change on something as information intensive as a national political campaign and election.

The few faint suggestions that the Dean campaign marked a high-water mark for internet influence or that their recent change of tack marked the “defeat” of the internet were laughed off as patently absurd back where we come from. Which is not to say that the good guys have a monopoly of the power of this new technology. The internet can be used by ANYONE, the current administration and its media machine included. At best, the powers of light and liberation have a one-election cycle head start in its application. But to deny the growing importance of cyber-politics is denial on a level with hoping your Enron stock will come back.

However, the growing sense of euphoria and smug self-confidence we perceive in those flush with their first invigorating experience in participating in the political process and interacting with the electorate gives us pause. Personally, we believe it is terminally naive to think that the embedded power structure, fruit of generations of ruthless and deadly Darwinian winnowing, are just going to dry up and wither away.

We wouldn’t bet the farm on it. As the Dowbrigade noted in an earlier posting “The resources and cunning desperation to retain the reins of power of the “old politics” are not to be underestimated.”

It is true, there is a sea change in the air, and some of the bulwarks of conventional control of the information stream are crumbling under the relatively free-form innovations from the digital frontier. But it is here we feel a healthy dose of Paranoia may be in order. The powers-that-be have gotten where they are by co-opting, appropriating, defanging and remarketing the innovative works of others. And they make no bones about leaving a few buried bodies and busted careers in the wake of “progress”, as they define it.

This struggle is far from over. In fact, it is just beginning. The more they feel their media monopoly is threatened, the more the media moguls will turn on the independent journalists and bloggers. Look at what they did to the Dean campaign in two quick weeks!

Frontal attacks, slanted coverage and thinly disguised slander are the least of what they can do. They will corrupt and intimidate, plant false stories, threaten and deliver spurious lawsuits through quasi-front organizations like the (you-know-who but we won’t mention their name since they’ve been pinging us). They will try to co-opt bloggers, offering cushy “Pundit Positions” to the best and brightest among us, as a way of getting us on the golf course and out of their way. Who can resist the combination of the iron glove and the velvet fist?

They will buy out who they can, making Bloggers fashionable by creating lucrative corporate positions in the field. Every big company, network, and organization will have a blog, staffed by smart and snappy Blog-whores who think they are part of “the next big thing”.

Those authentic voices they can’t buy out they will force to the fringe of the Blogosphere to bleat in ineffectual isolation, with the other weirdoes and social misanthropes.

And never forget that in a very real way THEY control OUR infrastructure. They own the grids, both copper and fiber-optic, over which our liberation cyberology is powered and disseminated. They control the licensing organizations, the regulatory agencies, and the court systems that enforce their edicts. They control the police, the FBI, the Office of Homeland Security and the IRS. (Better hold on here, now we are really sounding paranoid). The degree to which they will be willing to utilize these resources will be directly related to the degree to which they feel threatened by the changes in the information infrastructure.

As alarming as that sounds, the Dowbrigade believes that this change is inevitable, it is natural, and it is part of a historic progression that goes at least as far back as Gutenberg. As such, we don’t need so much to work to make it happen as work to make it happen in a way which advances the development of human consciousness on our planet. But there is no stopping the advancement of these new communication tools in the political process in an open society like the United States still is, despite the best efforts of some in the current administration.

Next year, Joe Trippi will write a book about the Cyber-Campaign, and it will be a New York Times bestseller, closely studied by all of the camps preparing for the ’08 showdown. All of the veterans of that campaign, however it winds up, will become prophetic sages in hot demand on the campaign circuit (get ready, guys). It’s the wave of the future.

We would be willing to bet money that at this very moment both the Bush and the Clinton family brain trusts (as we look ahead to an increasingly likely Jeb vs. Hillary family feud showdown in 2008) have anointed workgroups to study and report on what the Dean Internet Force is doing.

The people threatened by these changes have real power in our society, which they have struggled their entire lives to acquire and they are not going to let it go without a fight. It’s going to be bloody. There are going to be casualties. Be prepared.

Seeing Stars

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WEST GARDINER, Maine – Sports fans wearing tattered jerseys
or ragged baseball caps to support a team is commonplace. But it’s only
the devout fans who see a team through victory and defeat. Literally.

Jayme Quinn, who has begun wearing contact lenses that say Patriots and
show the team

Boys ARE Stupid – But Belay the Rocks

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While
no one can argue with the wisdom contained on these cute shirts, the
Dowbrigade can clearly see why they should be pulled from store shelves
just as fast as they can be rounded up. Why, this is a lawsuit just waiting
to happen. The first time some lanky young future WNBA star wings
a rock at a cootie-infested geek-in-training on an elementary school
playground, rendering him senseless or worse, the culprit’s mother is
sure to sue David and Goliath (whose very name is testimony to the power
a well-aimed rock can do) for being responsible for inciting the child
to throw the
first
stone. Or better yet, a class action suit, on behalf of all the stupid
boys out there terrified by the implicit threat in these garments….

NEW
YORK – The T-shirts and pajamas are meant to be funny, with cartoon
captions like "Boys Are Stupid – Throw Rocks At Them." But
some protesters, encouraged by a fathers-rights talk show host, are
unamused and have
pressured three retail chains into dropping the merchandise.

The products in question – an array of girls’ clothes and accessories
– are manufactured or licensed by David & Goliath, a T-shirt company
based in Clearwater, Fla.

Its chief designer, Todd Goldman, has created a series of cartoonish
graphics used on the merchandise with what he intended to be humorously
anti-boy
themes. "Boys Are Smelly – Throw Garbage Cans At Them," says
one. "The Stupid Factory – Where Boys Are Made," says another.

from the Miami Herald

Pigeon’s Flight School

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pigeonn

Who Are the Deaniacs?

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An interesting meeting last night of the Thursday night Bloggers crew
at the Berkman.  We noodled around for a while fishing for a
topic, and ended up back at the roots of the group: support for newbies
and discussions of the impact and future of Blogging on “Internet and
Society”, which after all is the Purview of the Berkman Center.

Near the end Jim Moore
stopped by with a fascinating report from inside the Dean
campaign.  The questions floating around the political corner of
the Blogosphere were addressed if not answered: Was the internet
stategy responsible for one of the most spectacular political collapses
in American political history? Will the Interent survive the collapse
as a viable political tool? Will any of the other campaigns pick up the
banner, or will we have to wait another four years for the next stage
in the evolution? After the intense love affair and subsequent bitter
falling out between the Deaniacs and the Media, is there any realistic
hope for a rapproachment?

Good questions, all, but for the Dowbrigade the most interesting moment
in the discussion was trying to put a label on the wellspring of angry
support which the Dean campaign uncovered and which formed the core of
the Dean phenomena.  Are they liberals? Are they “progressives”
(Jim hates that one)?  Are they the “wired electorate”?  It
seems clear that the old labels are inadequate to describe this nascent
political demographic, which is fated and slated to play an increasing
role in each succeeding electoral process, in our humble opinion. Any
ideas?

Papa’s Got the Same Old Bag, Unfortunately

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Summer 1965, was long, hot and incendiary, as a string
of political assassinations and the war in Vietnam set off flash point
riots in black ghettos across America.  Including Rochester, New
York, where the Dowbrigade was a skinny and insufferably precocious
12-year-old who was heavy into soul music. 

What possessed me to buy tickets to a soon to be out James Brown concert,
I’ll never know. My equally unorthodox classmate hairy Roger Levy (Roger
had a full beard at 12) agreed to accompany me, and as far as we could
tell, we were the only white people in that rockin’ Rochester War Memorial
Auditorium that Saturday night.

Backed by a smokin’ horn section blowing molten gold, Brown strutted
and spat, growled and groaned, and it was beyond anything we had seen
with out own eyes up to that point (although we were familiar with all
the music from records).

He worked through Get Up Offa that Thing, Hot Pants, Its a Man’s Man’s
Man’s World, Sex Machine, Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag and Super Bad.  He
came out again and again for multiple encores, drenched in sweat, stinking
of soul.

Finally he worked himself and the audience into a frenzy
for the grand finale, Cold Sweat. After wringing every drop of cruel
emotion from the twisted rags of his heart and soul he dashed halfway
across the stage, slid on his knees the rest of the way, and just
as he came to a shuddering stop, three nubile Nubian princesses scurried
over with a fantastic multicolored fur cape and draped it over his
hunched, quivering form.

Just as it seemed he would expire
there under the fur cape, he jumped up in the air, with a joyous shout,
and, as the band took back up the
erupting beat, ran madly about the stage in a final paroxysm of gut-wrenching
soul, and collapsed in the middle of the stage.  At this point the
same three chicks rushed out with a brilliant SEQUINNED cape, and lay
it over his insensate form. This went on for quite some time.

The audience erupts ever-increasing displays of raw emotion. Then,
in a chorus of mad cheers the whole crowd surged forward.  Carried
down the aisle on a wave of wild euphoria, the Dowbrigade momentarily
lost his senses and shouted out "Get him!"

To this day, 38 years later, we have no idea what possessed us to scream
such an insane and suicidal thing in a situation like that.  Everyone
in the immediate area stopped rushing the stage and looked at the two
white kids. It’s a good thing the Dowbrigade was quite a bit lighter
on his feet back then, or the story would have had a different ending.

At any rate, it was with deep sadness that we saw the following photo
of our one-time idol.  this shot makes the famous Nick Nolte post-release
snapshot look like a cover shot on GQ…

AIKEN, S.C. — James Brown was released from jail on a domestic violence
charge Thursday and denied accusations he pushed his wife to the floor
and threatened her with a chair.

The 70-year-old Godfather of Soul had been arrested the previous day
at the couple’s Beech Island home, and a widely circulated booking mug
showed him wearing a bathrobe with his normally coifed hair in a mess.

"The main thing is I would never hurt my wife and beat up on her
like that," Brown said after leaving the jail dressed in a red and
black pinstriped suit and a black cowboy hat. "I love her very
much."

According to a sheriff’s report, Brown pushed 33-year-old Tomi Rae Brown
to the floor during an argument in a bedroom and threatened to kill her
while holding a chair over her.

from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Sperm Whale Explodes in Blood and Blubber

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A
decomposing sperm whale has exploded while being transported through
a Taiwan city, splattering cars and shops with blood and blubber.

The 50-ton carcass was being taken through Tainan City, on its way to a
research centre, when it blew up.

Certified by authorities as the largest beached whale on record in Taiwan,
the remains were being carried on a flat-bed trailer at the time, reports
the eTaiwannews website.

from Ananova

Trippi Out, Internet Off, Dean Done

ø

Howard
Dean without Joe
Trippi
and the Internet Strategy is just another angry
little man too close to the edge, and is yesterday’s news as a political
phenomena.

The Dean campaign was always more interesting than the
candidate himself, and the shame of it is they had barely scratched
the surface of the interface between cyberspace and politics before
getting shut down.

As it stands, we will have to wait for ’08 to see the
Internet Strategy taken to the next level on the national stage.  In
the meantime, watch local races, where a few hundred strategically
mobilized voters can swing an election, and targeted protest campaigns
as the probing ground for digital democracy.

Good night, Howard.  Last one out, turn out the
lights….

from the
AP

U.K. Legalizes, er, Decriminalizes, er, Does Something to Pot

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Police fear ‘cannabis confusion’

The downgrading of cannabis on Thursday will lead to a rise in the number of
drug addicts and criminals, police officers’ leaders have warned.

The Police Federation of England and Wales said many people were confused and
believed the drug was now legal.

Cannabis has been downgraded from Class B to C, which means police will no longer
automatically arrest those caught in possession of it.

The maximum penalty for possession is cut from five to two years in prison.

The government said the re-classification will bring credibility to its drugs
strategy and give police more time to tackle hard drugs.

from the BBC

Quote of the Day

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“One of the penalties for being too smart to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.”

Plato