Random Linkage

RIAA to make criminals of almost every student in America. We’ll accept asylum applications in the Fall…

One of those poor record labels releases KRS-One's album, despite the fact he hasn't finished it yet.

Glastonbury webcam. I'll be watching it on BBC3.

UK Government accuses the BBC of lying. The BBC tells the Government what it can do with its demands.

Chris Evans is described as "petulant and given to sulking and walking away from situations whenever he considers himself thwarted", by a High Court Judge today, after finding against him in a £8m claim for damages.

The US Supreme Court strikes down Texas's anti-sodomy statute. Justice Scalia gets bonus points for referring to the "homosexual agenda". This man will most likely be Chief Justice when Rehnquist retires, everybody.

Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf turns himself in to American forces in Iraq. A TV series awaits…

UPDATE: The Supreme Court kicks further ass. Nike can be sued for false advertising over a publicity campaign to defend itself against accusations that Asian sweatshops made its footwear.

currently playing: Sebadoh - Flame

No News Today

The next Pixar film: The Invincibles The Incredibles. Out in November 2004 (unless you live outside the US, in which case, I’d suggest you start reserving seats for February 2005).

Yes, I know that making fun of Scientology is like shooting fat fish in a small barrel, but this promotional leaflet from the 1970s is hilarious. My favourite part is when they talk about the Locational Assist Technique (yes! You can give people directions! And guide them when they're drunk!). Genius.

(link found via jwz)

How to know that you've been assimilated into the Cult of Mac: you spend far too much time hitting reload during Steve Jobs's keynote address, wanting to find out just exactly what features will be in the necessary $129 upgrade in the Autumn. I have crossed over to the dark side, my friends. Expect the black turtleneck jumpers soon. Oh, and when I go back to Chapel Hill in October, can people please keep me away from the Apple Store? For my own safety? Thanks.

currently playing: Nick Cave - Bring It On

Exhuming McCarthy

From http://www.access.gpo.gov/congress/senate/senate12cp107.html:

Gen. Telford Taylor, an American prosecutor at Nuremberg, charged McCarthy with conducting “a new and indefensible kind of hearing, which is neither a public hearing nor an executive session.” In Taylor’s view, the closed sessions were a device that enabled the chairman to tell newspapers whatever he saw fit about what happened, without giving witnesses a chance to defend themselves or reporters a chance to check the accuracy of the accusations.

McCarthy and his staff also called hearings on short notice, and often outside of Washington, which prevented the other Republican senators from attending. Senators Everett Dirksen and Charles Potter occasionally sent staff members to represent them (and at times to interrogate witnesses). By operating so often as a "one-man committee,'' Senator McCarthy gave witnesses the impression, as Harvard law school dean Erwin Griswold observed, that they were facing a "judge, jury, prosecutor, castigator, and press agent, all in one".

Theoretically the committee, rather than the chairman, issued subpoenas, Army Counsel John G. Adams noted. "But McCarthy ignored the Senate rule that required a vote of the other members every time he wanted to haul someone in.He signed scores of blank subpoenas which his staff members carried in their inside pockets, and issued as regularly as traffic tickets.'' Witnesses repeatedly complained that subpoenas to appear were served on them just before the hearings, either the night before or the morning of, making it hard for them to obtain legal representation. Even if they obtained a lawyer, the senator would not permit attorneys to raise objections or to talk for the witness. Normally, a quorum of at least one-third of the committee or subcommittee members was needed to take sworn testimony, although a single senator could hold hearings if authorized by the committee. The rules did not bar "one-man hearings,'' because senators often came and went during a committee hearing and committee business could come to a halt if a minimum number of senators were required to hold a hearing.

If witnesses refused to cooperate, the chairman threatened them with indictment and incarceration. At the end of his first year as chairman, he advised one witness: " During the course of these hearings, I think up to this time we have some--this is just a rough guess--twenty cases we submitted to the grand jury, either for perjury or for contempt before this committee. Do not just assume that your name was pulled out of a hat. Before you were brought here, we make a fairly thorough and complete investigation. So I would like to strongly advise you to either tell the truth or, if you think the truth will incriminate you, then you are entitled to refuse to answer. I cannot urge that upon you too strongly. I have given that advice to other people here before the committee. They thought they were smarter than our investigators. They will end up in jail. This is not a threat; this is just friendly advice I am giving you. Do you understand that?'' In the end, however, no witness who appeared before the subcommittee during his chairmanship was imprisoned for perjury, contempt, espionage, or subversion. Several witnesses were tried for contempt, and some were convicted, but each case was overturned on appeal

In 1950, Senator McCarthy denounced "those Communists and queers who have sold 400 million Asiatic people into atheistic slavery and have American people in a hypnotic trance, headed blindly toward the same precipice.''

If witnesses disagreed on the facts, someone had to be lying. The Fort Monmouth investigation, for instance, had been spurred by reports of information from the Army Signal Corps laboratories turning up in Eastern Europe. Since Julius Rosenberg had worked at Fort Monmouth, McCarthy and Cohn were convinced that other Communist sympathizers were still supplying secrets to the enemy. But the Soviet Union had been an ally during the Second World War, and during that time had openly designated representatives at the laboratories, making espionage there superfluous. Nevertheless, McCarthy's pursuit of a spy ring caused officials at Fort Monmouth to suspend forty-two civilian employees. After the investigations, all but two were reinstated in their former jobs.

In July 1954, Vermont Republican Senator Ralph Flanders introduced a resolution calling for the censure of Senator Joseph R. McCarthy for conduct unbecoming a senator. The resolution was referred to a select committee chaired by Utah Republican Senator Arthur Watkins. In September, after the Senate had recessed, the Watkins committee issued a report recommending the senator's censure. Following the November congressional elections, when Democrats won narrow majorities in both the Senate and House, the Senate returned in a lame duck session to debate the Watkins report and vote on censure. Friends from both parties appealed to Senator McCarthy to avoid censure by apologizing for his conduct, but he would hear none of it. On December 2, 1954, the Senate voted 67 to 22 to condemn McCarthy's conduct for having been "contrary to senatorial tradition.''

Yes, Ann. The man was a hero. As ever, you miss the point. Yes, there were Communists in the USA during the 1950s. Yes, there were spies. The reason why McCarthy is justly vilified is not because he tried to find spies, but due to the methods he used; the browbeating of witnesses, testimonies taken contrary to Congressional rules, shoddy investigations, and blatant scaremongering to try and drum up public support for his witch hunt. Your President recently railed against the idea of 'revisionist history', so perhaps you might want to turn your focus onto subjects more worthy of your attention, like, say, Tom DeLay's dubious attempts to redistrict Texas, the embarrassing lack of WMDs, or the increasingly Vietnam-like conditions around Baghdad and Basra? Just a thought.

currently playing: Wilco - I am trying to break your heart

Roll On New Hampshire

Let me say that again: Somebody who has worked long hours his whole life to save for his son’s college has to pay taxes at more than twice the rate as his boss. Where I come from, that man’s hard work means at least as much to the future of this country – not half as much – as what his boss does. After the biggest lapse in corporate responsibility in our lifetimes, we shouldn’t be letting a CEO who pays himself hundreds of times more than his workers pay lower taxes than the workers themselves.

Mr. President, I challenge you. Explain why you think a multimillionaire should pay 15% on his next million, while a fireman has to pay over 30% for each extra dollar of overtime. Mr. President, explain how you square that with America’s values.

John Edwards comes out fighting.

The Senate Commerce Committee starts to reverse the recent FCC ownership adjustments.

A guarded Hurrah! all round, I think.

currently playing: Billy Bragg - St. Swithin’s Day

Brought To You By The Letters, D, H, and S

Terror Alert Level

The ITC has reported back on the complaints it received during the recent war in Iraq. Fox News has been cleared of all charges of bias. I'm in two minds about this; while I don't believe that Fox should be taken off air, the channel does have a definite bias, which is something that news channels in this country are not supposed to have. The ITC say that

Our own monitoring of Fox News suggests that a range of opinions are heard on the station.
Which is true, I suppose, but differing viewpoints do tend to be shouted down if they disagree with the Fox line. And I would be appalled if any news organization treated a guest in the way that Bill O'Reilly did a few months ago. So I'm a little baffled with parts of the ITC decision.

In other, possibly related, news, rumours are flying that Al Gore is looking to start up a new US news channel. The intriguing part is the suggestion that the new channel would rely on amateur footage and reporting; using mobile phones, digital cameras, and blogging tools to create a format so far yet unseen on a news channel. If there's any truth to any of this, we could be in for some interesting times in the near future...

currently playing: Oasis - Round Are Way


More here.

currently playing: Iggy Pop - The Passenger

First In An Occasional Series

A glimpse at some of the songs currently rotating through my playlist:

The New Pornographers - Your Daddy Don't Know

Completely cheesy, over-the-top piece of power pop, featuring the sublime vocals of Neko Case. Almost guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

Yoz - Ripping Kids of Death

A bootleg mix of Saint Etienne's Cool Kids of Death and Michael Greene's speech from the 2002 Grammy Awards. It works surprisingly well; it's one of my favourite bootleg mixes.

Saturday Looks Good To Me - Meet Me By The Water

One of the standard theories of pop music is that after you turn 21, you no longer fall in love with bands with the same zeal that you did in your teenage years. This is, of course, complete gibberish. Hurrah! Welcome to my latest obsession. It's like Wes Anderson decided to make music. With hilarious consequences. This track is one of the highlights on their latest album, All Your Summer Songs. Swoon as the circuitry of the song disappears, the lyrics melt, and the acoustic guitar coda reaches infinity.

currently playing: The Polyphonic Spree - Hanging Around

A Recipe In Two Parts, Part Two

Chorizo Enchiladas
500g minced pork
500g minced beef
(Vegetarian option? Erm, pass…)
1 tablespoon olive
1 onion (again, optional)
1 tablespoon chili powder
1⁄2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
A pinch of salt
50ml vinegar
250ml beef stock
Sauce from Part One
Oil for frying
8-10 corn or wheat tortillas
Lots of grated cheese
Crushed chilies

Put the beef and pork in a frying pan and cook until browned and crumbly, breaking up the meat with a spoon. Add the olive oil and onion, and cook until soft. Stir in the chili powder, cumin, oregano and salt, then add the vinegar and stock. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, then drain off the excess liquid. Remove from the heat and cool.

Spread a little of the chili sauce across the base of a large baking dish. Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the tortillas quickly on both sides, trying not to crisp them up. Remove them and drain on kitchen towel.

Dip the tortillas into the chili sauce, and put about two tablespoons of the meat in the centre of each tortilla. Fold and arrange in the baking dish.

Pour the remaining chili sauce and meat over the top, and scatter with grated cheese. Sprinkle the crushed chilies over the dish. Bake in a preheated oven at 180˚C/350˚F for 20-30 minutes until bubbling and golden brown.

currently playing: Aimee Mann - Pavlov’s Bell

A Recipe In Two Parts, Part One

Salsa Roja
5 small dried red chilies
425g canned chopped tomatoes
4 tablespoons oil
1 onion (optional)
4 tablespoons boiling water
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
11⁄2 tablespoons wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar

Place the chilies and boiling water in a blender or food processor. Drain the tomatoes, keeping the juice, and add them to the blender. Blend until smooth. Heat the oil in a frying pan and sauté the onion until soft. Stir in the in the blended tomato mixture, the juice, the paste, cumin, coriander, vinegar, and sugar. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

currently playing: Neko Case - Set Out Running

Pop Will Eat Itself

The special edition of Hail To The Thief is a wonderful thing. The design is based on the style of McSweeneys, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and of course, the venerable and setter of trends that is The Weekly. And it has a fine gatefold poster, plus a Book of Lyrics that Gentlemen (or Ladies, if they so choose) may wise to peruse whilst listening to the audio recording.

Amusingly, however, the CD is not a proper CD. Instead, it is a Copy Controlled disc, that is intended to prevent people from ripping it to MP3 (a rather pointless move, considering that the album has been available on the Internet since March, but anyway). I discovered this after cdparanoia had happily ripped every single track. Back to the drawing board, lads…

Okay, who's with me?

currently playing: The Smiths - How Soon Is Now?