Rants & Ramblings

random commentary about culture, media, politics, technology and whatnot.

current events

mar
17
2003

legal basis for war

BBC News has a statement from the British attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, which spells out the legal basis for a war in Iraq. (“Attorney General’s Iraq response” - 03/17/03) I’m posting the statement here, and have added links to the …

mar
12
2003

cia recruits more spies?

Maybe that whole TIPS idea hasn’t completely died. Slate’s Today’s Papers cites recent stories in the Washington Post: According to yesterday’s Lloyd Grove column in the Post, the CIA has been dropping friendly postcards in neighbors’ mailboxes: “Please report anything …

mar
11
2003

getting back at the french

CNN reports that two Republican congressmen have successfully campaigned to change the name of “French fries” and “French toast” offered at the House of Representatives’ cafeterias to “freedom fries” and “freedom toast.” (“House cafeterias change names for ‘french fries’ and …

mar
07
2003

military propaganda

U.S. Central Command has posted copies of the leaflets they’re dropping on Iraq, south of Baghdad, as well as transcripts of the messages they’ve been broadcasting over the radio (English translations). The messages seem to be targeted at Iraqi soldiers, …

feb
28
2003

yellow alert

Americans can now be just a little less freaked out. The Department of Homeland Security lowered the terror alert level to yellow, after three weeks at orange. (Washington Post: “Terror Index Is Lowered to Yellow” - 02/28/03) Comedy still seems …

feb
27
2003

sad news

Fred Rogers, better known as children’s television personality “Mister Rogers,” died today of stomach cancer at the age of 74. (“Fred Rogers, Host of TV’s ‘Mister Rogers’ Dies at 74” - 02/26/03) News accounts of his death no doubt will …

feb
24
2003

the language of war

A goodly number of news media reports these days refer to an “impending war” against Iraq. An interesting article in the Chicago Tribune points out that the rampant use of this phrase could undermine the media’s supposed objectivity, as well …

black humor

There are some brilliant sites parodying Ready.gov, the citizen education site from the Department of Homeland Security. This one has some great send-ups of the infographics in Ready.gov’s “Be Informed” section. My favorite: If a chemical weapon follows you home, …

oh, beautiful irony

Slate’s “Today’s Papers” mentions this fantastic bit of irony: Last October, the ever-wise Onion (motto: “You are dumb”) headlined, “BUSH ON ECONOMY: SADDAM MUST BE OVERTHROWN.” A piece inside today’s NYT announces, “KEY TO DOMESTIC AGENDA COULD BE VICTORY IN …

feb
21
2003

who will replace saddam?

According to a story in today’s Washington Post, an American civilian will take charge of Iraq after U.S. forces dismantle Saddam Hussein and his army, according to government post-war plans. (“Full U.S. Control Planned for Iraq” - 02/21/03) So how …

feb
20
2003

probably not a nobel peace prize contender

Turkey recently asked the U.S. to up its compensation offer in exchange for Turkey’s help in a war with Iraq. The New York Times reports that the administration is privately furious with the move, and is characteristically fuming about it …

feb
17
2003

back to yellow alert?

Homeland Security director Tom Ridge suggested yesterday that the government might lower the terror alert level within the next couple days. (WP: “Terror Alert May Soon Be Lowered” - 02/17/03) Also of interest: Ridge also indicated the government is moving …

feb
16
2003

tit-for-tat

Maybe Fox News is a little too widely recognized for its conservative, pro-administration bent… Today’s Washington Post reports that the Bush administration ordered the expulsion of the U.N. correspondent for the Iraqi state news agency, on the grounds that the …

feb
14
2003

not exactly a confidence-booster

ABCNews.com has a report that suggests that the recent terror level hike to orange was based in part on fabricated information given by an al-Qaida prisoner. (“Alert Partly Based on Lies” - 02/13/03) The informant described a detailed plan that …

feb
12
2003

online scoops the mainstream press

E-Media Tidbits links to another interesting story this morning. In a column in The New York Times, Tom Kuntz makes the case that the online world broke the news of the space shuttle Columbia disaster perhaps 11 minutes before AP …

feb
11
2003

don't freak out. really.

The Washington Post and USA Today both front warnings from Homeland Security officials that citizens should stock up on emergency supplies and be prepared for a terrorist attack. (WP: “Terror Attack Steps Urged” - 02/11/03) Top federal officials yesterday issued …

feb
10
2003

life imitates art?

From Wired: You’re Busted, Dude Maybe getting busted for possession will wipe that smirk off the Dell Guy’s face. Benjamin Curtis, the 22-year-old actor who plays Dell Computer’s insufferable, idiotic pitchman, was arrested in lower Manhattan late Sunday after the …

jan
29
2003

what's your social?

The United States supposedly doesn’t have a national ID system. However, the social security number has become the defacto standard to identify and track individual citizens for everything from tax information to telephone bills — and more. The omnipresent reliance …

jan
28
2003

state of the union

President Bush’s State of the Union address airs tonight, beginning at 9 p.m. ET. The speech will air on the major networks / cable news channels. It can also be seen over the web via the White House site and …

jan
27
2003

super bowl ad-meter

USAToday.com is running an online survey of people’s favorite Super Bowl ads, complete with video clips of each ad. Check it out here. (USA Today’s 15th Annual Ad Meter - 01/27/03) Edited 1/28/03 … Slate’s Rob Walker has a chatty …

jan
26
2003

super bowl sunday

The Super Bowl just started … Don’t care much about football, but I’m hoping the commercials will be at least somewhat memorable this year. Nothing especially memorable so far… Edited: 6:48 p.m. … Pepsi Twist commercial featuring the Osbournes / …

jan
22
2003

'hardball' at georgetown

Chris Matthews’s MSNBC show ‘Hardball’ is broadcasting tonight from Georgetown University. The theme of tonight’s program is “The Road to War,” and guest panelists include Peter Arnett (formerly of CNN), Bill Arkin (military analyst), and Gens. Barry McCaffrey and Wayne …