This is all over the web, but it’s still funny

Anyone with a brain knows that most musicians don’t make it big. They play all sorts of gigs they don’t like, or that pay poorly, because they love to play. They frequently work in cover bands to fund the time spent on their own music. It is therefore not surprising that any musician whose name you know probably did this, too. It is furthermore unsurprising that, once a given musician reaches a certain level of fame, evidence of these previous musical endeavors becomes much more interesting. And the Internet, of course, makes it much, much easier to distribute these examples of juvenilia.

So, via Mefi, we point you to video of Trent Reznor’s 80s cover band doing “Eyes Without a Face”. Given the quality and song choices (not to mention Trent’s baby face), we figure this dates from his late teens or early 20s at the latest. (There’s also a Joe Jackson cover. We shit you not.)

(As “Rebel Yell” was released in 1983, which Wikipedia says was Reznor’s senior year, it looks like the time frame works.)

Dept. of Legal Jackassery

We’re no fans of RIM and their braindead PDA that so many marketdroids love, but the fact of the matter is that the whole case is bullshit. Techdirt has a great rundown. Here’s two key points:

  • The firm (NTP) who brought suit actually make no product; they’re a patent holding company. This means they just sit around and wait for someone to bring something to market, and then they try to figure out how to connect the product to one of their patents. If they can do so, they extort money. If that doesn’t work, they sue. RIM, on the other hand, actually makes a product that people like. Make of this what you will.
  • The patent NTP is betting on here is almost certainly invalid; that’s what all the delays are about. NTP wants the suit ruled on (or an injunction issued) before the patent gets invalidated. RIM wants to drag out the legal action long enough to get a ruling on the patent.

Dept. of Paranoia

It’s sort of silly just now, given what we know about tag prices and uses, but the idea of a DIY RFID zapper amuses us. Given that we actually have RFID equipment in Heathen Central, if we can find the time it might be fun to build this and then test the results with our readers…

What’s wrong with the “War on Terror”

Go read this.

However, the most important question is not the threat, per se, but whether we are at war. If we are indeed at war, the state has a qualitatively different set of options, regardless of the actual severity of the threat. The Bush administration is trying to justify extraordinary expansion of executive power not only because terrorists might hurt us (like hurricanes, or bird flu), but because we are literally at war. War powers aren’t justified simply as a function of the threat posed by the enemy. Congress doesn’t need to prove a threat in order to declare war. A war fought for convenience, greed, or strategic gain is just as much a candidate for war powers as a war fought to defend against a grave threat to the American way of life. One rationale for war powers is partly that when the country decides to fight, for whatever reason, it needs special resources in order to do so. The fact is that we’re not at war on terrorism, let alone against terror. Terrorism is a strategy. Actually, it’s a normative assessment of a family of tactics. In the current climate “terrorism” refers to any political violence the speaker doesn’t like. We aren’t at war with terrorism and we never have been. We were at war with Iraq, and now we’re fighting the Iraqi insurgency. We are engaged in a global struggle against terrorism by Islamic extremists. But we can’t even declare war on Al Qaeda, though the use of force against them has been authorized. We can’t declare war against Al Qaeda for the same reason that we can’t declare war against Columbia drug cartel or the mafia. These groups, however nefarious, aren’t states. If we were to destroy these organizations, new groups with the same mission would take their place. War is a metaphor for any all-out struggle against a serious problem: poverty, cancer, drugs, terrorism… Sometimes we use military hardware and tactics to further that struggle. Sometimes we even fight real wars as part of our strategy. The idea that the so-called war on terror justifies dramatic expansion of presidential power is extremely dangerous. Terrorism is never going to go away. If we accept that we are literally at war with terror, we are signing on to perpetual war for perpetual peace.

We really wish it was happening HERE, so we could watch Pat Robertson explode

The BBC is marking Easter with a somewhat nontraditional celebration. Said party will include …

…an hour-long live procession through the streets of Manchester featuring pop stars from The Stone Roses and Happy Mondays and featuring songs by The Smiths and New Order. In the programme, called Manchester Passion, a character representing Jesus will sing the legendary Joy Division anthem Love Will Tear Us Apart before dueting his arch-betrayer Judas on the New Order hit Blue Monday, according to senior church sources involved in the production. Mary Magdelene, the penitent whore of the New Testament, is also getting in on the act: she is being lined up to sing the Buzzcocks hit Ever Fallen in Love (with Someone You Shouldn’t have) accompanied by a string band. Former Happy Monday and Celebrity Big Brother winner Bez will play a disciple. The climax of the event sees Jesus sing the Smiths classic song Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now as he is being flayed by Roman soldiers.

You just can’t make this stuff up.

Kerry Grows Balls, but Reid Loses His

It may well be too little, too late, but Alito is so hostile to Privacy that this may be the only answer. Party discipline alone will sustain a filibuster; the GOP majority is only 55, but that would require (almost certainly) the support of Harry Reid — who has said he won’t back a filibuster. What the fuck, Harry? What about Alito don’t you understand? We’ve got enough milquetoasts in the damn party; don’t join Joe Lieberman’s ass-kissing posse, man. Sheesh.

Loving the Montrose

Today, we went to a neighborhood thai place for lunch that happens to be next door to a store subtly named “Erotic Cabaret Boutique,” which sells more or less what you’d expect, though it’s primarily confined to wearable items and does most of its trade, I’m told, to the dancer demographic.

Anyway, it being nearly Valentine’s Day, their window mannequins were dressed (or undressed) for the season. There was a naughty nurse, natch, and a sort of sexy fairy godmother getup, and then, on the end and in front of my parking place, a fairly simple hearts-and-lace bra and panty set.

With a blindfold. Ok, that’s cool.

And a paddle. Even better!

And a sock monkey.

Nice Guy Eddie, dead at 43

Chris Penn was found dead in his home today.

Cintra Wilson had our favorite piece on this particular Penn, from 2004 in Salon:

But then came the jewel in the crown of Christopher Penn’s acting career, and this was Abel Ferrara’s “The Funeral” (1996), where Chris plays a mentally ill suicidal gangster. Either Chris Penn has the best imagination ever captured on film, or the Penn boys’ emotional color wheels are naturally so supremely black that they make Sylvia Plath’s look like sample chips for baby’s bedroom. Chris was able to inhabit a Jungian shadow-self that any sane angel would fear to tread, in such a hardcore and chilling performance it makes it impossible not to presume that he has actually endured some bone-splinteringly dark nights of the soul. This is the apotheosis of Chris Penn. He is an Italian gangster hovering over the open casket of his little brother (Vincent Gallo, an ideal corpse). His face paints an entire road map of emotions. He grabs Gallo’s suit. “My baby brother,” he whimpers, his mouth grimacing in despair. He dissolves into tears. Then, he remembers himself: He’s a mobster. The tears turn ugly. He starts hacking out involuntary grief noises that get louder and louder until they escalate into a screaming, spitting, casket-pounding fury. Christopher Walken and other black-clad, sallow-eyed Italo-actorini try to restrain him. Chris Penn’s bloodshot eyes go momentarily wide and satanic — a murderous plot appears in his brain like a fever blister. Then — he knows it won’t help — he dissolves into blubbering grief again. Then, with a swallow, he snaps his head, pulls himself together, wipes his face, wetly kisses Walken on the face. He is drained, he’s wrecked, but he is OK to go to the buffet table.

A glimmer of hope?

Conservative newsmag Insight is reporting that the Administration fears impeachment may result from the domestic spying inquiry; a (presumably bipartisan) coalition is said to be forming in support of the move. In a GOP-controlled Congress.

The entitled “hope” isn’t that Bush be impeached, mind you. It’s a hope that the Rule of Law is still what governs us, and that our government as an extension of ourselves can be trusted to behave accordingly, at least in its Legislative arm. What Bush has done far exceeds any impeachable sins committed by Clinton, but it’s still a disaster to be in a position for this remedy is appropriate.

This is rich and shocking, but won’t get much coverage

Via Atrios, we learn the following:

  1. In 2002, Sen. DeWine (R-OH) proposed a bill that would have lowered the standard required for obtaining a FISA warrant;
  2. It is these easy-to-get warrants that Bush has refused to get in re: his illegal domestic spying initiative;
  3. The proposed law was opposed by the Bush DoJ on Constitutional grounds.

More Secret Laws

Prof. Felton points out that some new legislation being proposed in Congress to close the so-called “analog hole” for Hollywood and the RIAA includes provisions that are secret, and which can only be reviewed if you pay $10K and agree not to disclose what you find. In other words, the MPAA/RIAA are proposing secret laws. Um, NO. Prof. Felton:

The details of this technology are important for evaluating this bill. How much would the proposed law increase the cost of televisions? How much would it limit the future development of TV technology? How likely is the technology to mistakenly block authorized copying? How adaptable is the technology to the future? All of these questions are important in debating the bill. And none of them can be answered if the technology part of the bill is secret. Which brings us to the most interesting question of all: Are the members of Congress themselves, and their staffers, allowed to see the spec and talk about it openly? Are they allowed to consult experts for advice? Or are the full contents of this bill secret even from the lawmakers who are considering it?

Dept. of Frequent Governmental Lies

Throughout American history, the government has said we’re in an unprecedented crisis and that we must live without civil liberties until the crisis is over. It’s a hoax” (Yale Kamisar at the University of Michigan Law School).

It’s never, ever been true, but it’s frequently used to justify all manner of executive power grabs and egregious tactics, like Japanese internment, no-knock SWAT-equipped drug warrents, and the PATRIOT act. Don’t believe them.


Via Atrios; he says it better than we do:

The Terrible Twos
Ivo Daalder writes:
America’s power and influence in the previous century was built not just on its military and economic prowess, but especially on the belief of many that it would use its power to the benefit of all rather than of the United States alone. But that view of the United States as a benevolent power is now gone. America’s image in the world has been tarnished by launching an unnecessary war of choice, flouting international law, and its appalling abuse of detainees. Polls indicate that large majorities in Europe have an unfavorable opinion of America and, shockingly, that a majority of Europeans now believes the United States poses the greatest threat to international security. When trust is broken, a commitment to diplomacy can only do so much. When an American secretary of state has to spend an entire week in Europe to argue that the United States does not torture people — and leave without having convinced anyone that she’s speaking the truth — you know something profound has changed in America’s relations with the world. In such circumstances, a willingness to talk, to negotiate, even to compromise is not enough. It will take a new administration, fully committed to restoring trust in an America rededicated to the rule of law, to begin to reverse the damage that has been done.
I’ve made this basic point a few times. America’s post-war power in the world has depended in large part on a perceived benevolence and general idealism. As a nation we had a kind of admirable idealism even if we certainly failed to live up to it at times. One can take a cynical view of those failures, or one can at least believe that the existence of those ideals is important. Sure it requires a bit of ignorance and naivete to say “We’re America! We don’t DO that kind of thing!” but there’s nonetheless something nice about the fact that our own self-perception, if a bit of a whitewash of the facts, embodied that idealism. But the Bush administration has done away with all of that. Instead of ignoring our imperfections we’ve proudly made them all official policy. We justify these things by pointing out that there are even worse people in the world than us! Instead of trying to lead the world we’ve thrown temper tantrums at it. Time to grow up…

Gore responds

It’s sort of telling that former Vice President Al Gore’s Monday speech has drawn so much protest from the Administration; both Bush and AG Gonzales have seen fit to denounce it and, natch, lie about Gore’s record. Gore responds:

WASHINGTON, Jan. 17 /U.S. Newswire/ — Following is a statement by former Vice President Al Gore: “The Administration’s response to my speech illustrates perfectly the need for a special counsel to review the legality of the NSA wiretapping program. The Attorney General is making a political defense of the President without even addressing the substantive legal questions that have so troubled millions of Americans in both political parties. “There are two problems with the Attorney General’s effort to focus attention on the past instead of the present Administration’s behavior. First, as others have thoroughly documented, his charges are factually wrong. Both before and after the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was amended in 1995, the Clinton/Gore Administration complied fully and completely with the terms of the law. “Second, the Attorney General’s attempt to cite a previous administration’s activity as precedent for theirs — even though factually wrong — ironically demonstrates another reason why we must be so vigilant about their brazen disregard for the law. If unchecked, their behavior would serve as a precedent to encourage future presidents to claim these same powers, which many legal experts in both parties believe are clearly illegal. “The issue, simply put, is that for more than four years, the executive branch has been wiretapping many thousands of American citizens without warrants in direct contradiction of American law. It is clearly wrong and disrespectful to the American people to allow a close political associate of the president to be in charge of reviewing serious charges against him. “The country needs a full and independent investigation into the facts and legality of the present Administration’s program.”

From here, via Kos.

More on Bush’s Illegal Domestic Spying

First, we note that the NYT has characterized said program as both huge and hugely ineffective:

WASHINGTON, Jan. 16 – In the anxious months after the Sept. 11 attacks, the National Security Agency began sending a steady stream of telephone numbers, e-mail addresses and names to the F.B.I. in search of terrorists. The stream soon became a flood, requiring hundreds of agents to check out thousands of tips a month. But virtually all of them, current and former officials say, led to dead ends or innocent Americans. NYT via Daily Kos

Today brings notice of the group of hardcore conservatives now on record as opposing this program, including folks like Bob Barr and Grover Norquist. Salon has more on the diverse groups bringing suit over this illegal behavior. If this keeps up, Bush may well turn out to be a uniter after all, but perhaps not in the way he would prefer.

Salon also has an editorial up on the overall efficacy of such a program, and the legitimacy of the Executive Presidency theory that allows it. If it’s behind a paywall, somebody holler and we’ll PDF it.