John Gilmore Fights for You

In 2002, Sun millionaire John Gilmore refused to show ID to board a flight. He hasn’t flown domestically since, as he’s fighting the government on the issue; the Feds, for their part, won’t even let him see the law that supposedly mandates that he show ID to fly.

Think about that. Are you comfortable with the notion of being governed by secret laws? No? Then donate to the EFF. Today.

Warren Weighs In

From his blog:

Up The Creek People keep asking if I’m going to say something about the death of Hunter S Thompson. Hell, a couple of newspapers have asked. This is because I wrote a graphic novel series called TRANSMETROPOLITAN, the creation of whose protagonist was somewhat influenced by Thompson’s writing, persona and life. I got the news from a friend at CBS at four in the morning, two minutes after it hit the ticker. I was, and am, numb. I’ve tried to write about it a couple of times. When John Peel died, I was wrecked. This time, I’m just numb. I read an article a few years ago, that I haven’t seen cited in the obituaries yet, wherein it’s stated that Thompson’s body was pretty much packing up on him. His stomach was having problems with toxic substances like, um, food, and his diet was mostly liquid, mashed avocado and yoghurt. He’d spent time in a wheelchair in recent years. His drug use had always been exaggerated for comedic effect, but, at 67, he’d been hammering his body in a committed way for some 50 years. And, at 67, you don’t grow back the bits you killed. There’s a fair chance he was looking at years of dependency, chronic illness, and listening to his own body die by inches. Anyone would find that frightening. He always wore his influences on his sleeve. JP Donleavy, Faulkner, Mencken, Fitzgerald, Kerouac, Hemingway. He used and re-used the last line from A FAREWELL TO ARMS, over and over: “I walked back to the hotel in the rain.” Legend has it that he retyped a Hemingway novel to understand how the writer got his effects. Hemingway, of course, shot himself in the head. Old and sick and unable to live up to his own ideas on manhood. I always thought it peculiarly apt that the man who wrote that line, whose work was all about keeping the expression of human feeling underneath the surface, sat somewhere quiet and alone and put a shotgun in his mouth. Hunter Thompson waited until his young wife left the house, and then shot himself in the head with a pistol. He must have been quite aware that either she, or his son, there in the house with his grandson, would find his corpse. Dead bodies don’t lay neatly. They splay, spastic and awful. There is often shit. I never met Thompson. Had the opportunity a couple of times — magazines wanting to send me out to Woody Creek, that kind of thing — but turned them down. I’ve been lucky so far, in meeting my great influences. But they don’t always go well. Friends of mine have had horrific experiences with their personal heroes, and it often leaves them unable to enjoy the work afterwards. And I wanted to keep the work. So I don’t know what kind of man he was. And the numbness, in part, comes from now finding that he was the kind of man that’d let his family find him like that. I have a personal loathing for suicide. It’s stupid and selfish and ugly and cowardly and reeks of weakness. Someone said to me yesterday about Thompson, “What a ripoff.” And I kind of know what he meant. It’s become convenient to write Thompson off as parody in recent years, and there’s a case to be made that he peaked around the age of 36, with FEAR AND LOATHING ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL ’72. But he could still make me laugh, even in the most recent collection, HEY RUBE. ” ‘We have many cigarettes here,’ I said suavely” still makes me smile. Writing had clearly become difficult, and a job, but every now and then you’d get a clear burst of the old anger, as in his support for Lisl Auman (google it). He was done with the big fireworks, but the devil was still in him. Probably his great work of the last twenty years was in Being Hunter Thompson. In performance. But how you leave the stage is at least as important as how you enter it. And he left it alone in a kitchen with a .45, dying in — and wouldn’t it be nice if it were the last time these words were typed together? — — dying in fear, and loathing. Warren Ellis
down by the sea
February 2005

Dept. of Table-Turning

This story reminds me of something I’m pretty sure Mike did in college. See, his dorm room phone number was one digit off the line used to reserve raquetball courts at the new Rec Center. When the semester started and the Rec Center opened, Mike started getting LOTS of wrong numbers, often earlier in the day than Mike wanted his phone to ring. Mike asked the campus phone people to change either his number or the raquetball number, but nothing doing — they’re set in stone for some reason.

So he stopped telling people they’d called a wrong number, and started taking reservations instead. As I recall, eventually they changed the number.

Fucking. Perfect.

From the Washington Post:

Name-Calling in Its Purest Form
By Richard Leiby
Thursday, February 24, 2005; Page C03 You’re an Ashcroft! No, you’re the Ashcroft! Imagine hearing that exchange in a movie — you’d think that Hollywood had come up with a crazy new insult. Well, it turns out that some airline passengers watching the Oscar-nominated film “Sideways” on foreign flights are, in fact, hearing “Ashcroft” as a substitute for a certain seven-letter epithet commonly used to denote a human orifice. The Post’s Monte Reel, based in Buenos Aires, tells us he heard the former attorney general’s name substituted at least twice in “Sideways” dialogue when he watched the film earlier this week on an Aerolineas Argentinas flight to Lima, Peru. The movie was shown in English and the dubbing was done “in the actual voices of the actors,” Reel reports. Star Thomas Haden Church utters the A-word. Profanity is typically cut from in-flight movies to make them suitable for general audiences, but how did the studio come up with “Ashcroft”? Hoping for enlightenment yesterday, we queried Fox Searchlight Pictures, the studio behind “Sideways.” A spokeswoman initally e-mailed us to say she had “all the info” about dubbing, then failed to respond to our followup questions. Ashcroft did not return our phone message, but we’re certain he was busy and not just being an . . . WaPo

More memorials

The Onion has a no-story headline memorializing Thompson:

Contemporaries Remember Hunter S. Thompson As Ravenous, Mutant 40-Eyed Lizard-Demon

You’re goddamn right. You’re goddamn right.

Photographs of the Doomed

Remember the 9/11 Guy photoshopped onto the WTC’s observation deck with an airliner looming in the background? Well, it turns out there’s a real world version from the tsunami. John and Jackie Knill were on the beach when the waves started getting weird. They started taking pictures of the waves, which get pretty hairy before, presumably, they quit and tried to find shelter. They didn’t make it, but the memory card from their camera did.

This Just In: Government Comprised Mostly Of Idiots

The Feds have decided that there’s no reason to encrypt the information stored in the RFID chips to be embedded in new passports. Here’s a hint: If Bruce Schneier says you’re screwing up on security, maybe you oughta reconsider your path. Wired quotes Schneier:

Bruce Schneier, a security expert and author who founded Counterpane Internet Security, questions how much shielding helps, since travelers often have to show identification to exchange currency or check into a hotel. “Shielding is a good idea, but the problem is if you travel in Europe you are asked to show your passport a lot,” Schneier said. “So all that shielding means is that someone who wants to sniff my passport just has to pick his location.” Schneier, who just renewed his passport to make sure he will not have an unencrypted passport for another 10 years, says he has yet to hear a good argument as to why the government is requiring remotely readable chips instead of a contact chip — which could hold the same information but would not be skimmable. “A contact chip would be so much safer,” Schneier said. “The only reason I can think of is the government wants surreptitious access. I’m running out of other explanations. I’d love to hear one.”

Fafblog on Love

Read this one, too.

the one about the love “Giblets is the enemy of love!” says Giblets with his anti-love arsenal. “He will hunt it and kill it and mount its head upon his wall!” “I dunno Giblets,” says me. “I’m thinkin maybe this doesn’t have as much to do with love as it’s got to do with you gettin dumped again by Noodles.” “She will come crawling back to Giblets!” says Giblets. “She will come crawling back to Giblets NOOOOW!” “There’s plenty a women in the sea,” says me. “Like mermaids an naiads an squidladies.” “Keep your half-octopus females to yourself!” says Giblets. “All they wanna do is digest Giblets and turn him into ink.” “A good woman is like a fine cheese,” says me. “Or a large hat. Or an aggrieved sasquatch. Or an elephant made outta trees an ropes an lotsa smaller elephants.” “Giblets never wants to see another elephant again!” says Giblets. “He is done with them and their cheating hearts! He is burning all pianos!” “But you love the elephants,” says me. “You can’t live with em an you can’t live without em.” “Cause they tear out your liver an brains an replace em with the fungal herbs of the undead,” says Giblets. “Women like zombies on accounta their drive,” says me. “Zombies keep their eyes on the prize an the prize is eatin brains.” “Yes very goal-oriented,” says Giblets. “But what of the robots! With their laser-mounted death beams an their single-track extermination programming they sweep the ladies off their feet!” “In the battle a robots an zombies everybody loses,” says me. “That’s why all sides have to work together to end the robot-zombie arms race.” “You talk madness, we need the robots to keep the zombies at bay!” says Giblets. “There’s no goin back once the robot-zombie genie’s outta the bottle!” “That kinda thinkin won’t protect us from zombies or robots,” says me. “It’ll only lead to mutually assured zombification.” “That’s just a price we’ll have to pay to win the war,” says Giblets. “The war of love,” says me.

Dept. of Going-Out-With-A-Bang

This CNN piece places HST’s suicide in some context:

DENVER, Colorado (AP) — Journalist Hunter S. Thompson did not take his life “in a moment of haste or anger or despondency” and probably planned his suicide well in advance because of his declining health, the family’s spokesman said Wednesday. Douglas Brinkley, a historian and author who has edited some of Thompson’s work, said the founder of “gonzo” journalism shot himself Sunday night after weeks of pain from a host of physical problems that included a broken leg and a hip replacement. “I think he made a conscious decision that he had an incredible run of 67 years, lived the way he wanted to, and wasn’t going to suffer the indignities of old age,” Brinkley said in a telephone interview from Aspen. “He was not going to let anybody dictate how he was going to die.” Thompson, famous for “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” and other works of New Journalism, spent an intimate weekend with his son, Juan, daughter-in-law, Jennifer, and young grandson, William, the spokesman said. “He was trying to really bond and be close to the family” before his suicide, Brinkley said. “This was not just an act of irrationality. It was a very pre-planned act.” The family is looking into whether Thompson’s cremated remains can be blasted out of a cannon, a wish the gun-loving writer often expressed, Brinkley said. “The optimal, best-case scenario is the ashes will be shot out of a cannon,” he said. Other arrangements were pending.

Why the fuck not? Everyone else is linking to it.

vicious animal. And now, a dramatic reading from Paris Hilton’s Sidekick:

Aguilera, Christina 1-310-917-9191 Durst, Fred 1-310-948-0808 Eminem 1-917-776-7643 Lavigne, Avril 1-613-532-4092 Lil John 1-678-362-6742 Lohan, Lindsay +1-347-596-9990 Olsen, Ashley 1-310-760-1996 Pearlman, Ronald 1-212-572-5060 [ ed: WTF? ] Pharrel 1-646-824-1999 Phillips, Bijou 1-323-316-5528 Simmons, Russel 1-212-840-9399 Simpson, Ashlee 1-310-254-7114

Is it too early to open the Wild Turkey?

History is hard to know, because of all the hired bullshit, but even without being sure of “history,” it seems entirely reasonable to think that every now and then the energy of a whole generation comes to a head in a long fine flash, for reasons nobody really understands at the time — and which never explain, in retrospect, what’s actually happened. My central memory of that time seems to hang on one or five or maybe forty nights — or very early mornings — when I left the Fillmore half-crazy and, instead of going home, aimed the big 650 Lightning across the Bay Bridge at a hundred miles an hour wearing L.L. Bean shorts and a Butte sheepherder’s jacket . . . booming through the Treasure Island tunnel at the lights of Oakland and Berkeley and Richmond, not quite sure which turn-off to take when I got to the other end (always stalling at the toll gate, too twisted to find neutral while I fumbled for change) . . . but being absolutely certain that no matter which way I went I would come to a place where people were just as high and wild as I was. No doubt at all about that . . . There was madness in any direction, at any hour. If not across the Bay, then up the Golden Gate or down 101 to Los Altos or La Honda . . . You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning. And that, I think, was the handle — that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting — on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave . . . So now, less than five years later, you can go up a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eye you can almost see the high-water mark — that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back. Hunter S. Thompson
Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas:
A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream


Pop Culture Quiz

Q: What do the following people have in common?

  • Kobe Bryant
  • Elizabeth Taylor
  • Jay Leno
  • Nick Carter
  • Stevie Wonder
  • Barry Gibb
  • Diana Ross
  • Chris Tucker
  • Larry King
  • Maury Povich
  • Deepak Chopra

A: They are all on Michael Jackson’s defense witness list; it’s like a Love Boat/Fantasy Island episode gone horribly, horribly awry.

Presumably, each will testify that Michael never rogered ’em up the back door, not once, despite ample opportunity. (Except for Gibb, who will rant about growing up on the streets of Sydney, naturally (extra points if you get the ref (HDANCN?)).)

We may, of course, be certain of at least one question that will not be asked:

“Mr Wonder, did you see anything out of the ordinary at Mr Jackson’s ranch?”

I’m here all week, folks. Try the veal.

In case you needed reminding what irredeemable goatfuckers these people are

From the LA Times today:

WASHINGTON — The latest chapter in the legal history of torture is being written by American pilots who were beaten and abused by Iraqis during the 1991 Persian Gulf War. And it has taken a strange twist. The Bush administration is fighting the former prisoners of war in court, trying to prevent them from collecting nearly $1 billion from Iraq that a federal judge awarded them as compensation for their torture at the hands of Saddam Hussein’s regime. […] The case abounds with ironies. It pits the U.S. government squarely against its own war heroes and the Geneva Convention. Many of the pilots were tortured in the same Iraqi prison, Abu Ghraib, where American soldiers abused Iraqis 15 months ago. Those Iraqi victims, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has said, deserve compensation from the United States. But the American victims of Iraqi torturers are not entitled to similar payments from Iraq, the U.S. government says.

Dept. of No Surprise

Richard Clarke’s January, 2001 memo to Condoleeza Rice on the threat posed by al Qaeda is now public. In it, he issued clear warnings about the group, and suggested strategies for dealing with them — and he asks for a meeting to review the threat and courses of action. Said meeting was delayed until September 4, 2001.

Dept. of Persistent Hysteria

In this amusing account of a screening of Inside Deep Throat, we find thta Catherine McKinnon is still just as nuts as she ever was:

This time, the hapless lot of directing a post-screening panel fell to Elvis Mitchell, former movie critic at the NY Times. The panel was made up of HarperCollins publisher Judith Regan, journallist Peter Boyer, criminal defense attorney Alan Dershowitz (who defended Harry Reems in the famous obscenity trial), and feminist professor Catherine McKinnon. Mitchell looked on helplessly as McKinnon did her thing, claiming that the film we had just watched was promoting the acceptance of rape. At one point, however, her righteous zeal became unhinged when she claimed that it was not possible to do deep throat safely, that it was a dangerous act that could only be done under hypnosis. “What’s so funny?” she snapped as the audience rippled with mirth. Todd Graff’s hand shot up — “I can do it,” he said, and the room echoed with a chorus of gay men going “me too!” (Gigi Grazer — wife of [high-powered Hollywood producer] Brian — later told Graff to stop bragging and that she could do it better than him and had the rocks on her fingers to prove it. Touche). But La McKinnon was not to be discouraged; she claimed that emergency rooms were filled with women victims of throat rape, not to mention the ones who hadnt even made it that far and had died in the act. […] And after that, everyone wound up at the after-after party at The Cock. Except Catherine McKinnon.

It’s like Thomas Crown, but without Rene Russo in that superhot dress

In 1990, thieves disguised as policemen staged a daring robbery of Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

Gardner’s will states that the museum must remain just as she left it, which is part of its charm — she mixed periods and styles as she saw fit, creating a unique presentation of art and antiquities. The museum cannot therefore rearrange the art, nor can they buy new works — let alone replace those stolen by parties unknown 15 years ago. Instead, there are blank spaces on the walls, filled only with white cards stating what had been there, and that the work in question had been stolen on March 18, 1990. Mrs-Heathen-To-Be and I visited the museum in November, and learned the story then.

Now it appears that the FBI is investigating former Vivendi head Jean-Marie Messier in connection with the robbery.

(via Metafilter)

If you’re SCO, this means you’re fucked

While Judge Kimball did not grant IBM’s motion for summary judgement, he did have this to say:

“Despite the vast disparity between SCO’s public accusations and its actual evidence–or complete lack thereof–and the resulting temptation to grant IBM’s motion, the court has determined that it would be premature to grant summary judgment,” Kimball wrote Wednesday. “Viewed against the backdrop of SCO’s plethora of public statements concerning IBM’s and others’ infringement of SCO’s purported copyrights to the Unix software, it is astonishing that SCO has not offered any competent evidence to create a disputed fact regarding whether IBM has infringed SCO’s alleged copyrights through IBM’s Linux activities.” CNET

Spin this, Darl.