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Saturday, January 13, 2007

Hellyeah

Hell YEAH!

Vinnie Paul is back at work in a new band, with some of the guys from Mudvayne and Nothingface. I've heard the two songs on their Myspace page and now I'm looking forward to the record coming out in April.

Hell yeah!

Random Friday-Saturday Cusp Ten

Always tardy, but never disappointing. Check it out.

1) DMX - Slippin (To live is to suffer...to surive is to find meaning in that suffering)
2) Chemical Brothers - Hey Girl, Hey Boy (Superstar DJs. Here we go!)
3) Willie Nelson - Stardust
4) 311 - My Stoney Baby (The fish who keeps on swimming is the first to chill upstream)
5) Fu Manchu - Pick-up Summer
6) Coal Chamber - Loco
7) Prince - 1999
8) Anthrax - King Size
9) Killswitch Engage - Hope is...
10) Metallica - No Remorse

And as a special bonus, a little snippet of Mos Def's Ghetto Rock. Turn the bass up on this one.

Friday, January 12, 2007

His Name is Earl

So I'm annoyed with the Nuggets. Not because they've been struggling since the suspensions and the aquisition of Iverson. It's a skid, but it's not the end of the world.

No, the reason for my annoyance is that they traded little Earl Boykins to the Bucks. They dealt Julius Hodge, too, but all that guy's been doing lately is getting shot.

Boykins has been averaging 15.2 points per game. The guy we got for him, Steve Blake, averages 3.6 points per game.

I understand the salary cap pressures and all that, but that move stinks.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Occam's Razor

You would have thought that the right-wing blogosphere would have moved on from Jamilgate, but then again that's perhaps giving them too much credit than they deserve. In case you've just been reading Huffington Post all day, Curt from Flopping Aces has more.

Jamil Hussein does not exist...again. The AP are unethical liars and we should be skeptical of their reporting because they may be (Curt and Michelle Malkin are still checking) aligned with Al Qaida, or at best, unwitting dupes. (So far, there has been no mention of Al Bundy, who has been known to terrorize his wife and children.)

Right...

Before I delve too far into deconstructing that, let me mention an old friend of mine, Guillelmus de Ockham, the originator of Occam's Razor. The wiki gets clinical with this explanation:
Occam's razor states that the explanation of any phenomenon should make as few assumptions as possible, eliminating, or "shaving off", those that make no difference in the observable predictions of the explanatory hypothesis or theory. In short, when given two equally valid explanations for a phenomenon, one should embrace the less complicated formulation.
Simply put, Occam's Razor says "All things being equal, the simplest solution tends to be the best one."

So here, we have two competing versions of events. One, we'll call the A version (A for AP) in which a witness who identified himself as Jamil Hussein reported some atrocities in Hurriya, including some mosque burnings that resulted in some people being burned alive.

Then we have the B version (as in B-movie), the one perpetuated by Malkin and Flopping Aces, wherein Jamil Hussein is a terrorist (or terrorist sympathizer) who has been feeding the AP false stories, including the mosque burnings and the immolation, and rather than cop to it and retract the story, the AP instead protected and hid their source. I'm being generous here, because I do believe there have been accusations that the AP is little more than a terrorist propaganda machine...but hey, we have to make these stories "equally valid" to use the Occam's Razor formula and, well, that shit is just retarded.

The AP, despite the coordinated effort to undermine their credibility, is has a massive mountain of credibility compared to Malkin. How massive? Their wire service serves newspapers in all 50 states, and who knows how many countries. It also feeds network and cable news channels, their website companions, and untold numbers of other news outlets around the globe. They are a large organization and they're usually pretty good at what they do. Oh, sure there might be a few examples of malfeasance here and there, but considering the hundreds of stories printed in the thousands of publications across the world on a daily basis, I'd say their track record is pretty solid.

So let's weigh our A & B stories, shall we?

In the A story, we have Jamil Hussein. Perhaps that's his real name, perhaps it's a psuedonym. Perhaps it's just a nickname. I mean, when it comes to Arab names, who knows what the fuck is going on? Aren't some of them named for where they are from? Or is it their tribe? Or their fathers? And I bet there's some that have six or seven different names. Maybe Jamil is one of those. Frankly all I care about is that Jamil Hussein is a cop, a local authority that the AP found so convincing that they had been getting stories from him for months.

One day, some fighting broke out in Hurriya and some crazy shit happened. Shiites went nuts and dragged people out of some mosques and burned them alive on the street. Then they burned the mosques. Jamil Hussein told the AP, who were also gathering information from other folks in the area. They had these anonymous reports, then they heard that Imad al-Hashimi reported the same thing on Al-Arabiya TV. (Al-Arabiya as in not the AP)

Having a reliable source from an authority figure, multiple anonymous sources from locals, and the account from al-Hashimi, the AP ran the story. It hit the wire, and bam...it was out there in the world.

That's story A.

Let's try on story B.

There's this dude...we'll call him Jamil Hussein because that's his assumed identity. He's a rat. He hates America, hates democracy, loves Allah, and prays to Mecca five times a day. He'd really like to wear a suicide vest, but he's a good liar, too good. So good his bosses think he's better working as a stringer for the AP. "The better to fool the Americans," they say. They all get together one day and have a meeting about which story to make up for the wire service.

"We really need something big," they say, "something really sick that sends a clear message. Those Americans, they've seen it all. When they saw the Abu Ghraib pictures, they didn't even blink. So let's give them something that will really take their breath away."

"A beheading!" someone says.

"No, that's been done."

"We could say we ambushed some contractors and strung their dead bodies on a bridge," someone else offers.

"That happened in Fallujah already and look how that turned out," the boss reminds them.

"I got one," a little terrorist in the back says. "How about this? We say Shiite death squads raid a mosque. They take some people outside and burn them alive. Then they burn the mosque."

The boss rubs his beard and nods as he considers the idea. "That's different. I like that," is his only comment.

"How many people?" someone else says.

"Forty seven," another man says, a grunt that comes from a gruff looking terrorist with a bit of egg on his beard.

"No, that's too high. No one will believe that."

"A dozen?"

"Six," the boss says. "We'll tell them six people were burned alive."

Another terrorist flunky, the eager type with the demonic glow in their eyes, raises his hand. "Can I ask a question?" Everyone looks at him, Jamil most intently.

"Why are we talking about faking stories for those news people instead of just raiding the fucking mosque and burning everyone we can? Let's do that, or at least go set off some car bombs. We terrorist's for Allah's sake."

"No," the boss says. "We're going to do it this way. We must terrorize the American people with these lies!"

They spend another hour working out all the details. Jamil leaves, driving off to meet the AP reporters.

It's decided that Sayid, Muhamed, and Ahmad will be the "anonymous" sources who back up the story. The boss rings up the local Imam, who of course is in his pocket, and says, "Yo, Imadi, here's the deal..."

Imadi goes on Al-Arabiya television and tells the story. It's like a joke that gets passed around. Sayid, Muhamed, and Ahmad talk to the AP reporters, but they mess up because instead of saying one mosque was burned, they say four mosques were burned. Jamil, too, tells his version of events, using the authoritarian tone that comes from being an "Iraqi policeman."

The AP, willing to take any dreck that terrorist stooges will flung their way, go back to their cushy hotels in the Green Zone, comfy in their air conditioning and white sheets, where they file a report before filing away a few drinks downstairs in the bar. Bam, the story, a lie concocted by dull-witted terrorists, goes out on the wire and across the world.

Michelle Malkin and other hawk-eyed war experts pick up on a few of the inconsistencies. "Hmmm," they say, "something's rotten in Baghdad." So they start to bug the AP, and being lazy alcoholics, all of them, the AP stalls. They deny deny deny. They take weeks to reply.

Little does the right wing puditocracy know, but the AP reporter is out drinking with "Jamil Hussein" even as Jamil and his terrorist buddies plot the next bullshit story about the atrocity they're not going to commit.

Finally, Jamil is exposed as a liar, the AP as unwitting dupes, not to mention alcoholic terrorist sympathizers. Michelle Malkin is given the Medal of Freedom and the history books written years from now will credit her with winning the war.

Okay, so I went a little far with that one. I doubt it happened like that, but then again I'm a big proponent of Story A.

The problem with Story B is that it just doesn't make sense. It relies on too many unknowns, too much speculation. Too much damn assumption. And you know what? After WMD and all that greeted as liberators talk, I'm through with assumptions and rash speculation.

As Mitch Hedberg might say, I don't trust that thought process no more.

Instead I must rely on the Razor.

All things being equal, the simplest solution tends to be the best one.

A fairly routine report about routine violence in Iraq reported on the AP wire and Al-Arabiya TV?

Or a conspiracy by terrorists and the AP to manipulate the western media into spreading false reports of atrocities?

Which one of those is simpler?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Bush's Speech

You watched the president on TV tonight, didn't you? I did, and I know I'm going to ruin my chances to be on country music radio by saying this, but I'm actually embarrassed that this man is president.

First of all, is there an amendment to the Constitution that requires presidential addresses to be delivered in meaningless formalisms sprinkled with generous bits of hyperbole.

Take this gem:
The new strategy I outline tonight will change America's course in Iraq and help us succeed in the fight against terror.
This seems like a nod to the people who scoffed at all the "stay the course" talk. He's not coming right out and saying it, but he's acknowledging that "change the course" was not only right back in 2005 (or 2004, even) but it's absolutely imperative now. As for the "succeed" part, woop, there we go, a little too much hyperbole sauce. "The Fight Against Terror." I'm sorry, but that doesn't make any sense.

There's more:
When I addressed you just over a year ago, nearly 12 million Iraqis had cast their ballots for a unified and democratic nation. The elections of 2005 were a stunning achievement.
What's he doing here, giving a speech or writing copy for a movie poster?

I love his synopsis of the last year, too.
We thought that these elections would bring the Iraqis together and, that as we trained Iraqi security forces, we could accomplish our mission with fewer American troops.

But in 2006, the opposite happened. The violence in Iraq, particularly in Baghdad, overwhelmed the political gains the Iraqis had made. Al Qaida terrorists and Sunni insurgents recognized the mortal danger that Iraq's elections posed for their cause. And they responded with outrageous acts of murder aimed at innocent Iraqis.

They blew up one of the holiest shrines in Shia Islam -- the Golden Mosque of Samarra -- in a calculated effort to provoke Iraq's Shia population to retaliate.

Their strategy worked. Radical Shia elements, some supported by Iran, formed death squads. And the result was a vicious cycle of sectarian violence that continues today.
Oh, if it were all so simple. The problem I have with this assessment is that Bush apparently thinks the elections were the catalyst for the violence, as "Al Qaida terrorists and Sunni insurgents recognized the mortal danger that Iraq's elections posed for their cause," and launched into their attacks.

Perhaps they also recognized that the chaos of the occupation created a fertile ground for tribal power struggles that had been brewing for decades under Saddam Hussein.

I don't think that occurred to Bush at all, and if it did he's not letting anyone else know.

The part of Bush's speech, the part that will get the headlines, is his lame version of "The buck stops here."
The situation in Iraq is unacceptable to the American people, and it is unacceptable to me. Our troops in Iraq have fought bravely. They have done everything we have asked them to do. Where mistakes have been made, the responsibility rests with me.
Damn right it does, motherfucker.

The mistakes were mostly made in the political arena. First one, invading Iraq in response to 9-11. Dumb. Keith Olbermann has a long list of other mistakes here, which I'm going to quote from liberally:
He told us about WMDs. Mobile labs. Secret sources. Aluminum tubing. Yellow-cake.

He has told us the war is necessary…Because Saddam was a threat; Because of 9/11; Osama bin Laden; al Qaeda; Because of terrorism in general; To liberate Iraq; To spread freedom; To spread democracy; To keep the oil out of the hands of terrorist-controlled states; Because this was a guy who tried to kill his dad.

In pushing for and prosecuting this war, he passed on chances to get Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Muqtada al-Sadr, Osama bin Laden.

He sent in fewer troops than recommended. He disbanded the Iraqi Army, and "de-Baathified" the government. He short-changed Iraqi training.

He did not plan for widespread looting, nor the explosion of sectarian violence.

He sent in troops without life-saving equipment.

Gave jobs to foreign contractors, not the Iraqis.

Staffed U-S positions there, based on partisanship, not professionalism.

We learned that "America had prevailed", "Mission Accomplished", the resistance was in its "last throes".

He has said more troops were not necessary, and more troops are necessary, and that it's up to the generals, and removed some of the generals who said more troops would be necessary.

He told us of turning points: The fall of Baghdad, the death of Uday and Qusay, the capture of Saddam, a provisional government,the trial of Saddam, a charter, a constitution, an Iraqi government, ¤elections, purple fingers, a new government, the death of Saddam.

We would be greeted as liberators, with flowers.

As they stood up–we would stand down, we would stay the course, we were never 'stay the course',

The enemy was al Qaeda, was foreigners, terrorists, Baathists.

The war would pay for itself, it would cost 1-point-7 billion dollars, 100 billion, 400 billion, half a trillion dollars.
That's a pretty long list of fuck-ups. Why should we believe him now?

Bush himself anticipates this kind of talk and says this:
Many listening tonight will ask why this effort will succeed when previous operations to secure Baghdad did not.
Uh yeah.

The last thing I want to comment on is this silly statement:
Our enemies in Iraq will make every effort to ensure that our television screens are filled with images of death and suffering.
As if that's their intention. They're not trying to grab power for their tribes or peck at American forces. They're low-budget horror movie producers.

What's he implying here? Michelle Malkin can tell you, I'm sure.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Sunday Night Blogging

Three bands I don't care to listen to anymore:

1) Disturbed - C'mon, man. Make the monkey sounds. Don't try and, you know, sing.
2) Godsmack - When I hear Godsmack, I think of Navy commercials. It's not a good thing.
3) Linkin Park - Can't rock, can't rap, can't make dance music? That's alright, do it all at once and sell millions of records. Why not? These guys did.

You're not really living unless you're reading Gustavo Arellano's Ask a Mexican column. The only place you can get nuggets like this:
Raids are an accepted part of Mexican life in the States: I remember playing a version of hide-and-seek as a child that involved someone shouting "¡La migra!" and everyone else scattering.
Also in Westword and worth a look, a literary tour of Denver. Mark Twain, Walt Whitman, Willa Cather, Hunter S. Thompson, Jack Kerouac, and hometown boy Neal Cassady. Good stuff that happens to coincide with a display of Kerouac's scroll manuscript for On the Road, which will be at the Denver Public Library for a few months. I'm definitely going to check that out.

I saw two movies this weekend, Apocalypto and Children of Men. Both are kind of violent, dark movies with political subtexts, and the combination of themes in my mind is an interesting experience.

Apocalypto is about fear, and senseless bloodletting. But mostly about fear. Jaguar Paw's father cautions him never to give in to fear. The Mayans, you see, are gripped by fear of the impending apocalypse. So they raid the villages in the forest and sacrifice the victims to the gods. It doesn't seem to be helping, but the blood must flow.

Children of Men is also about fear, but a more intellectualized fear, the fear of the end. It takes places in a world without hope, a world that is literally dying. Everyone is infertile and the world is at war. A totalitarian state maintains a fragile grip, but the buses still need reinforced windows and no one can predict when the next random bomb will go off.

Amidst all of this, a group of insurgents are trying to get a pregnant girl, the first one in eighteen years, to the Human Project, a benevolent organization desperately trying to solve the infertility crisis.

Both movies are incredible technical achievements. There are a few pulse-pounding scenes in Children of Men that were all done in one take:
In another scene, featuring an army of actors, also shot in one extended take, hundreds of bullet shots, tank mounted 'big gun' impacts and other pyrotechnic effects surround the principal actors as they move hundreds of feet along a street, into a building, and up a flight of stairs (though the continuous-shot nature of the scene comes into question as a splattering of blood on the camera lens disappears without reason when the character Theo enters the building). The use of handheld camerawork creates an almost "documentary feel" to the cinematography.
It's pretty incredible actually.

I read somewhere that they digitally removed the blood because it was too distracting, though, so I'm sure it was all done in one take.

Apocalypto too had its merits. Along with lush jungle scenery, you got hellish visions of life in a Mayan city circa 1500. There's not much in Apocalypto that's not hellish, except for the idyllic scenes of village life. The sacrifice scene was very artistically done, and there's no way to make it less visceral so the goriness is justified. Hell, it's just a movie.

The actors did a great job, too. I smiled when I saw Raoul Trujillo as the Mayan leader Zero Wolf. I recognized him from The New World, the behind-the-scenes stuff specifically, and thought he did a good job as the tough but caring father who was also evil as fuck. There was another Mayan bad guy who I liked too, but I don't know his name. I think it's Gerardo Taracena. That guy was evil, too, but he was funny about it.

The Latest on Jamilgate

I want to laugh now that Jamil Hussein has been found and identified. He's also facing arrest for talking to the press, which may explain why he's been so hard to locate. I mean, throughout this whole imbroglio, I've always thought there was more plausible reasons for why ole Jamil was so hard to find than the Malkinite view that the AP was making stuff up.

You would think this would put this issue to bed, but nooooooooo. There's still more questions.

At least Michelle Malkin provides us a handy round-up of nutter responses. Just to quote a few:

From Dwillickers: "So they produced him. Now produce the people set on fire and destroyed buildings claimed in the story. Otherwise its nonsense."

Actually, if anything must be produced, let's start with a reason why we should still be skeptical of this story.

From Ed Morrisey: "Whether Jamil Hussein actually exists is really a secondary issue. The fact that the AP used a single source for dozens of inflammatory stories about atrocities in Iraq that still have yet to find any confirmation is almost as disturbing as making the source up."

Right, that's why everyone made a big deal out of whether he Jamil existed...because it was the "secondary issue." As far as using a single source, blah. I can't get mad at the AP for using a single source when that's pure unadulterated bullshit not supported by the facts.
Hussein was not the original source of the disputed report of the attack; the account was first told on Al-Arabiya satellite television by a Sunni elder, Imad al-Hashimi, who retracted it after members of the Defense Ministry paid him a visit. Several neighborhood residents subsequently gave the AP independent accounts of the Shiite militia attack on a mosque in which six people were set on fire and killed.
Makes you wonder if Ed Morrisey is intentionally pushing a false angle to this story or if he's just ignorant. He's either misinformed or he's intentionally trying to misinform you, so Ed Morrisey...I'm writing this down...goes on the Pundits to Avoid list.

I mean, if you want to see how intellectually bankrupt the pro-war right wing blogosphere really is, you need look no further than the Jamil Hussein story. If something doesn't fit the narrative, discount it, demean it, deny it. It's much easier than changing the narrative.

This dude has more on the Malkinite treatment of Jamilgate, and it's not pretty. The short version: Holocaust deniers and Jamil-based Malkinites have more in common than you'd think.

Updated: Leave it to Wonkette, who like The Daily Show and the Onion, speak more truth (in satire) than perhaps any other media format, especially the news.
Now that the evil fake liberal MSM moonbat turns out to be an actual Iraqi policeman telling his stories out of either disgust, fear, rage or hunger, there is still a chance that Michelle Malkin can find him in Iraq and strangle him with her own hands — but only if you send her five bucks on PayPal or something. The Blogo-World is so very awesome! Let freedom reign!


Update 2: Why was it so hard to find Jamil Hussein? Was it because he was an AP fabrication in an attempt to undermine domestic support for the US war against Iraq? Or was it because Iraq is so fucked up that Jamil Hussein didn't want to be found?

How many right wing bloggers have been killed covering the war? When it comes to AP reporters, they just lost number 4...