Monthly Archives: September 2007

Michael Medved: “Six Inconvenient Truths About The U.S. And Slavery”

Medved150x124Michael Medved thinks that America’s involvement with slavery is hyped.  Seriously.  And he’s here to set us straight with an offensive little bit of revisionist history.

He lists "six inconvenient truths about the U.S. and slavery" in attempt to convince you, the reader, that — "Hey! Slavery was no biggie!"

In his preface, he opens with this:

Those who want to discredit the United States and to deny our role as history’s most powerful and pre-eminent force for freedom, goodness and human dignity invariably focus on America’s bloody past as a slave-holding nation. Along with the displacement and mistreatment of Native Americans, the enslavement of literally millions of Africans counts as one of our two founding crimes—and an obvious rebuttal to any claims that this Republic truly represents “the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

It is an obvious rebuttal.  We enslaved literally millions of Africans.  You just said so.  That alone makes it a black mark on this country’s history.

But Medved is going to — uh — whitewash — the significance of slavery:

An honest and balanced understanding of the position of slavery in the American experience requires a serious attempt to place the institution in historical context and to clear-away some of the common myths and distortions.

Yes, Michael.  Let’s see your "honest" understanding.

1. SLAVERY WAS AN ANCIENT AND UNIVERSAL INSTITUTION, NOT A DISTINCTIVELY AMERICAN INNOVATION. At the time of the founding of the Republic in 1776, slavery existed literally everywhere on earth and had been an accepted aspect of human history from the very beginning of organized societies…

Actually, this is Medved’s best argument.  And even then, it’s a little pathetic.

Yes, America didn’t invent slavery, although that’s largely beside the point, and does nothing to further Michael’s thesis.  It’s kind of like saying the Holocaust wasn’t so bad because the Nazis weren’t the first to systemically oppress or annihilate the Jews.

2. SLAVERY EXISTED ONLY BRIEFLY, AND IN LIMITED LOCALES, IN THE HISTORY OF THE REPUBLIC – INVOLVING ONLY A TINY PERCENTAGE OF THE ANCESTORS OF TODAY’S AMERICANS. The Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution put a formal end to the institution of slavery 89 years after the birth of the Republic; 142 years have passed since this welcome emancipation….

Well, having argued in Point #1 that slavery was "universal", Medved now argues that it was "limited".  Bit of a bait-and-switch there.

Of course, in this particular point, Medved’s "honest and balanced" understanding of slavery in America completely ignores the fact that slavery existed throughout the New World. 

Furthermore. he arbitrarily sets the start date as 1776, completely ignoring the "inconvenient truths" that the first American colony to legalize slavery was Massachusetts (in 1641), the first slave revolt in English colonial territory was in 1712 in New York, and so on.

But besides all that — well, Sadly No nails this, so I defer to them:

And the ham fisted rhetorical trick of claiming that slavery only existed for 89 years in the United States is beyond horrid. I had a girlfriend once who had lived with a guy who beat her for eight years before she married him. They divorced after two years. If you claimed that “well, she was only married to someone who hit her for two years”, you would be technically correct. You’d also be a pompous, condescending asshole of the first order by minimizing the eight years she spent with him without being married.

Yup.  But believe it or not, it gets worse….

3. THOUGH BRUTAL, SLAVERY WASN’T GENOCIDAL: LIVE SLAVES WERE VALUABLE BUT DEAD CAPTIVES BROUGHT NO PROFIT. Historians agree that hundreds of thousands, and probably millions of slaves perished over the course of 300 years during the rigors of the “Middle Passage” across the Atlantic Ocean.

He’s right.  Slavery wasn’t a genocide technically speaking, because only millions of slaves died, rather than all of them.  Make sense?

You see, in a genocide, the intent is to kill.  And that wasn’t our intent.  And why not?  Michael explains:

[N]o slave traders wanted to see this level of deadly suffering: they benefited only from delivering (and selling) live slaves, not from tossing corpses into the ocean…

See?  Since slave traders didn’t intend to kill slaves on the way over, because that would eat into their profits, how can they be held morally culpable for slavery?

And you can tell that "no slave traders wanted to see this level of suffering" from the wonderful accomodations that the slaves got on their trip to the New World..


See the great care that slave traders took to make sure their product arrived in America intact?

Medved even has praise for the slave owners: "And as with their horses and cows, slave owners took pride and care in breeding as many new slaves as possible". No, really, he actually wrote that. I am not making it up.  What great guys, those slave owners!


Well, let’s assume that is true.  Is it even relevant?  Certainly some people profitted from the abuse of slave labor — otherwise they wouldn’t have done it to begin with.  And of course, others profitted indirectly from slave labor, even if they didn’t live in slave-holding states (cotton goods were cheaper, etc.)

I mean, what is Medved saying here?  Slavery isn’t a blot on America because not everybody in America profitted directly from it?


5. WHILE AMERICA DESERVES NO UNIQUE BLAME FOR THE EXISTENCE OF SLAVERY, THE UNITED STATES MERITS SPECIAL CREDIT FOR ITS RAPID ABOLITION. “In the course of scarcely more than a century following the emergence of the American Republic, men of conscience, principle and unflagging energy succeeded in abolishing slavery not just in the New World but in all nations of the West.”

Well, this is just plain bullshit.  We were among the last of the major nations in the world to abolish slavery.

Year the British ended slavery throughout the Empire: 1833. Number of wars it took to do so: 0.

Year the Spanish Empire ended slavery (except in Cuba, where the ban was not enforced by local governors until 1886): 1811. Number of wars to do so: 0.

Year the U.S. ended slavery throughout the country and its territories: 1865. Number of wars it took to do it: 1, the bloodiest one in American history.

In fact, all European powers abolished slavery before the United States did. (for more info, see here). 

So, no, we as a nation don’t deserve "special credit" for a bloody damn thing. We were below average, even by the standards of the day.

And even after slavery was abolished, we still lagged behind most developed nations in the area of civil rights for minorities for many many decades to come.


Ah, yes.  You just knew this racist chestnut had to come: the not-so-subtle argument that we did those African savages a favor by enslaving them. We brought them civilization, and Christianity!  Without us, they would be running around with bones in their nose and eating each other.  Reparations?  Hell, no.  If anything, they owe us!

Future articles by Michael Medved:

"Six Inconvenient Truths About Rape" [e.g., "Hey, at least women are gettin’ some!"]

"Six Inconvenient Truths About The Salem Witch Trials" [e.g., "Well, we did get rid of witches, didn’t we?  You see any around you?  No?  Case closed."]

"Six Inconvenient Truths About Auschwitz" [e.g., "The Jews got free room and board"]

"Six Incovenient Truths About Indian Massacres" [e.g., "The Indians that survived learned how to wear clothes.  Oh, and the casinos! ‘Nuff said."]

“Phony Soldiers”

Followers of the news know that for the past couple weeks, while war raged in Iraq and U.S. soldiers and Iraqi civilians died, the Senate spent weeks debating a resolution to condemn an a newspaper ad — the MoveOn ad which read "General Patraeus or General Betray Us"? 

And amazingly, the Senate ended up condemning a pun, some concluding that it was an attack on U.S. soldiers.

So yesterday, on his show, there was this exchange between Rush Limbaugh and a caller:

LIMBAUGH: "Save the — keep the troops safe" or whatever. I — it’s not possible, intellectually, to follow these people.

CALLER 2: No, it’s not, and what’s really funny is, they never talk to real soldiers. They like to pull these soldiers that come up out of the blue and talk to the media.

LIMBAUGH: The phony soldiers.

CALLER 2: The phony soldiers. If you talk to a real soldier, they are proud to serve. They want to be over in Iraq. They understand their sacrifice, and they’re willing to sacrifice for their country.

That’s right.  Soliders who oppose the mission, but are actually risking their live fighting it, are "hony soldiers"

I’m sure the Republicans in the Senate will call for a resolution condemning Limbaugh for his attack on the military.



UPDATE:  Dems are coming out quickly though’s Jon Soltz, an Iraq vet, went first: “[I]n what universe is a guy who never served even close to being qualified to judge those who have worn the uniform? Rush Limbaugh has never worn a uniform in his life — not even one at Mickey D’s — and somehow he’s got the moral standing to pass judgment on the men and women who risked their lives for this nation, and his right to blather smears on the airwaves? … Get the point here, Rush? You weren’t just flat out wrong, you offended a majority of those of us who actually had the courage to go to Iraq and serve, while you sat back in your nice studio, coming up with crap like this.”

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), a decorated war hero, soon followed: “This disgusting attack from Rush Limbaugh, cheerleader for the Chicken Hawk wing of the far right, is an insult to American troops…. He is an embarrassment to his Party, and I expect the Republicans who flock to his microphone will now condemn this indefensible statement.”

Within an hour, DCCC Chairman Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) issued a statement: “Rush Limbaugh’s personal attack on our men and women in uniform is reprehensible. It minimizes the sacrifice our troops in Iraq and their families are making and has no place in the public discourse. Rush Limbaugh owes our military and their families an apology for his hurtful comments that minimize their service to our country.”

Then the DNC, followed by Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Pa.), another Iraq vet. Then Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), and Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.), a Vietnam vet.

Expect something from Democrat John Murtha, who lost half his body in a war, and who opposes the Iraq War.  [FUN FACT:  Rush never served due to a “pilonidal cyst” (litereally, a boil on his butt)].

Still no condemnation from the GOP….

UPDATE:  Under some pressure, the White House issues a luke warm rebuke of sorts….

Bloggers Defy Myanmar Blackout

Sometimes the best news can be found from the original sources.  If you have been following the terrible events In Myanmar in the mainstream media, you might want to check out these bloggers who are in the midst of it.

Many of these are not in English, but the pictures tell the story.

The junta government has cracked down on the Internet, but many of these intrepid bloggers are still posting, at risk of life and limb, and getting out the story that the Myanmar government is trying to purge.  In fact, the presence of "the western media" in Myanmar is almost non-existent, so it is bloggers and other "citizen journalists" (e.g., people text messaging with cellphones) who are bringing the story to the rest of the world.

Bush-Clinton Fatigue


Forty percent of Americans have never lived when there wasn’t a Bush or a Clinton in the White House. Anyone got a problem with that?

Ummm, I might, yeah.  But mostly, I agree with Professor Gitlin:

The thought is seconded by Todd Gitlin, a professor at Columbia University’s School of Journalism who has written a new book about national politics. He said that while some people are bothered by the dominance of the two families, "right now there is one massive fatigue in America and that is with George Bush. No other fatigue comes close."

9/11 Survivor’s Tale Turns Out To Be B.S.

From CBS News:

The six-year anniversary is, apparently, when the gloves come off.

The New York Times has a brutal take-down of a 9/11 survivor activist whose sob story of lost love and heroic escape in the flames of the crumbling World Trace Center appears to be almost entirely bunk.

Tania Head – possibly not even her real name – sure did have a good story, though. She said she survived the terror attack on the World Trade Center despite having been badly burned when the plane crashed in the upper floors of the south tower. Crawling through the chaos, she said she encountered a dying man who handed her his wedding ring, which she later returned to his widow. Her own life was saved, she said, by a selfless volunteer who put out the flames on her clothes and carried her down the stairs.

She was only able to make it, she said, by imagining the beautiful white dress she would wear at her coming marriage to a man named Dave. But later she discovered that Dave, her fiancé, perished in the north tower, she said.

It turns out that almost none of the story could be corroborated once the Times reporters began picking it apart – nor could most of the biographical details she has put forward.

As a result of the paper’s prying, this week the Survivors Network booted her from her position as president and a director of the nonprofit group. Officials at the Tribute Center said they’d no longer let her volunteer as a tour guide.

Saddest of all, the family of Dave, who refused to disclose their last name, say they’ve never heard of her, and none of their lost loved one’s email correspondence suggests there was a relationship.

Amazon’s Music Service vs iTunes

Mp3storefrontlogo_v29364269__2Walmart, Napster and some other online places sell music, but nothing comes close — market share wise — to Apple’s iTunes.

But the Big Apple might have a serious contender in the already-established, who premiered their online music downloading site this week.

How good is it?

Well, let’s get some comparisons out of the way.

Amazon’s typical song costs 89 cents, compared to iTune’s 99 cents.  An album on Amazon typically costs $8.99, a dollar less than it is on iTunes.

Amazon’s store sells MP3 tracks encoded at a 256 kbps variable bit rate, while most songs on iTunes are encoded as AAC files with a bit rate of 128 kbps (unless you get the more expensive iTunes Plus version).  While AAC is probably a better format than MP3, the bit rate for Amazon is better.  Bottom line: the sound quality is about the same.

Amazon’s MP3s are, well, MP3s.  This means they will play on anything.  Technically, songs downloaded from iTunes will play on anything, too, but you have to convert them.  Without conversion, they are limited to being played on Apple products (iPods and iPhones).

Amazon’s MP3s are DRM-free.  What does that mean?  It means you can copy them, burn them, back them up, whatever, a limitless amount of times.  iTunes just offered DRM-free music through iTunes Plus, but you have to pay something like 30 cents more per song.

iTunes wins out (so far) on selection.  They have something like 6,000,000 songs in its library; Amazon has about 2,000,000, with music provided by just two major labels — EMI and Universal.  But Amazon does seem to have a lot of top hits, and it even has some artists that iTunes doesn’t have. For instance, you can buy each of Radiohead’s albums on Amazon for just $8.99; not one is on iTunes.

I checked out the Broadway musical listings on Amazon, and was, at first, please.  They have a "Broadway" category, whereas iTunes only has a "soundtrack" category (which is mostly populated by movie soundtracks).  Sadly, Amazon’s categorization leaves much to be desired, since they’ve mixed vocalists with Broadway soundtracks.  I mean, "Mary Clooney Sings Jerome Kern" isn’t really a Broadway album.

So my recommendation is this: If you want to download music, start with Amazon.  It’s cheaper and the quality is just as good.  If they don’t have it, THEN go to iTunes.  iTunes is nicely intergrated with the iPod, and it may take an extra step to load your Amazon music into your local iTunes, and then into your iPod.  But it’s not that difficult, and you’ll save some money.

And even if you end up preferring iTunes, you should at least welcome the competition that Amazon offers.  It might force Apple to do better.


Doctor Jay Parkinson just opened up a medical practice in Brooklyn. 

What makes his practice newsworthy? 

He makes housecalls.  In fact, he only makes housecalls.

For the kids: A "housecall" is a long-forgotten custom in which the doctor comes to your house to treat you when you are sick.  See, e.g., Little House On The Prarie, The.

But before you think this is quaint and old-timie, think again. He’s blogging his adventures.

RELATED:  Yes, there are still milkmen!

Dispatch From The Family Impact Summit

At their yearly gathering of Christian fundies in Tampa this year, things went askew when a member of the audience at a symposium entitled “Defending Marriage: What’s At Stake?” stood to ask the panel a question:

After the panelists had their say (after about an hour of this, I might add), the “town hall meeting” was finally opened up to questions from the floor. And the second questioner, a brave young woman wearing a red tee-shirt, was a stunner:

Hi. My names is Cathy James and I would like to challenge all of the individuals here listening today to really take a look at some of the rationale and some of the comments that speakers have given in regard to things such as …why government gets involved with personal relationships, that is, for the procreation of children. I think as most of the attorneys will tell you, that civil marriage was created for one purpose only, and that was property and how to divide property.

And so I am a lesbian, I live in the Riverview area with my partner of thirteen years and our son who is seven. And I go to work Monday through Friday and attend church weekly, I volunteer at the school, I volunteer at the homeowners association. And what I have a hard time understanding is why you are interested in keeping a legal framework from us in being able to handle the same things as heterosexual couples and such things as visitation, and hospital…. And how to divide our property in the same way, and how to parent our child?

The stunned silence was amazing. John Stemberger thanked her for coming and tried to stammer out an answer. He said that some forms of discrimination are perfectly legitimate (“home ownership benefits society in the way renters do not.”) and ended by saying, “marriage uniquely benefits society in the way same sex couples do not.” But Cathy remained calm and firm:

But in what way? What’s the difference in the benefit? How does your marriage benefit society more than my relationship with my same gender partner does not?

Peter Sprigg jumped in to assert that “without question” the best family structure was headed by a man and a woman. But Cathy persisted:

…But now you’re devaluing, what, over fifty percent of the children who live with one parent or that one parent as died or that they’re divorced and now they’re just living with one parent. You’re devaluing them and that’s not fair.

By now the panel was speechless, leaving Peter Sprigg to stumble around trying to get his footing. “Each person’s relationship choices serves as an example to the rest of society… and if that example becomes more widespread, more people will make the same choice, more children will suffer.”

So you’re saying a man and a woman in a marriage are valued higher than single people? They’re valued higher than…

Sprigg cut her off and instead of relying on his own outwitted wits, he decided to read from David Blankenhorn’s book, The Future of Marriage. And as he read, his voice rose, becoming more strident, more angry, more sharp with each word. “I would be rich if I had a nickel for every time someone who knows almost nothing about marriage has told me that historically marriage was all about property. That is nonsense!” But as he continued to spit out the words, it slowly dawned on him that Blankenhorn was talking about dowries and gifts to the bride’s family – which had nothing do with Cathy’s questions.

Clearly Sprigg is a man who doesn’t like having his reputation as an “expert” challenged. And it became obvious that he wasn’t up to this particular challenge. But he kept reading, vainly looking for the rescue that he was sure he’d find in Blankenhorn’s book. But it wasn’t there. He finally gave up and Cathy graciously thanked all of the panelists for their time.

From Box Turtle Bulletin

Speaking of gays, Juan Cole at Informed Comment makes a good connection:

"… Ahmadinejad’s bigotted statement that there are no homosexuals in Iran derived from his rightwing religious commitments. What he said is very serious. He erased gays right out of existence. The ultimate in denying people their rights is to deny they even exist (the nonexistent obviously have no rights.) There could be a debate over whether the gay lifestyle exists in Muslim countries, as a matter of identity politics, of course, but Ahmadinejad is not that sophisticated. He was saying that all Iranians are straight. Of course, gays are punished very severely in Iran, in reality.

It would be nice for the US Right to have us forget that they pull the Ahmadinejad act with regard to gays every day. Denying gays the right to marry is a way of erasing them from civil society. It is a way of denying that they really love one another, as straights do. It is a way of asserting that they do not exist.

The "don’t ask, don’t tell" policy in the US military (so unlike the one followed by many NATO allies) is also a way of erasing gays. They don’t exist unless they themselves press the case that they exist. In order to remain in their jobs, they are forced to erase themselves by their silence. The ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy is a way of pretending that there are no gays in the US military. For if it could be proven that anyone is gay, he is immediately expelled. It is just as silly as what Ahmadinejad said, and just as pernicious. That policy is supported by the entire American Right, which is no better than Ahmadinejad in this regard.

Flashback To 2003

Remember why we invaded Iraq in the first place?  Bush and his supporters will tell you its because Saddam didn’t comply with the U.N. resolutions.

They’ll say Saddam wouldn’t disarm.  Of course, Saddam, not having WMDs in the first place, couldn’t disarm.

They’ll say that Saddam wouldn’t allow the UN inspectors to complete their inspections, which — while true for a while in 2002 — was not true at the time that Bush declared war.  Remember, Bush had the UN inspectors pulled from Iraq; Saddam didn’t throw them out.

Of course, many (like me) believe that Bush was going to invade Iraq anyway regardless of any UN resolutions.

And now there’s a smoking gun proving it — transcripts of a Bush discussion with the Spanish prime minister on February 22, 2003:

El Pais, the highest-circulation daily in Spain, today published what it said was the transcript of a private talk between President George W. Bush and Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar on February 22, 2003, concerning the coming U.S. invasion of Iraq. It took place at the ranch in Crawford, Texas.

The conversation took place on the President’s ranch in Crawford, Texas. The source for the leak was said to be someone in the Spanish government.

Bush purportedly said he planned to invade Iraq inf March "if there was a United Nations Security Council resolution or not….We have to get rid of Saddam. We will be in Baghdad at the end of March."

He said the U.S. takeover would happen without widespread destruction.

Aznar pleaded for patience and replied that it was vital to get a U.N. resolution, noting that public opinion in Spain was strongly against the war.

Bad Taste

Giuliani Fundraiser to Charge $9.11 Per Person

WASHINGTON — A supporter of Rudy Giuliani’s is throwing a party that aims to raise $9.11 per person for the Republican’s presidential campaign.

Abraham Sofaer is having a fundraiser at his Palo Alto, Calif., home on Wednesday, when Giuliani backers across the country are participating in the campaign’s national house party night.

But Sofaer said he had nothing to do with the “$9.11 for Rudy” theme.

“There are some young people who came up with it,” Sofaer said when reached by telephone Monday evening. He referred other questions to Giuliani’s campaign.

Little Rock — 50 Years Later

Fascinating article should be read here at Vanity Fair.  It focuses on this famous iconic picture:


The picture was taken on September 4, 1957.

The black girl is Elizabeth Eckard, one of the Little Rock Nine, the group of black students who attempted to go to school in one of the first desegregated high schools in the South. 

Standing behind her, taunting her with insults, was a student at the high school.  Her name is Hazel Bryan.

A painfully shy girl, Elizabeth arrived earlier than the rest of the Nine that day, and was "welcomed" by reporters and a large hostile crowd:

Elizabeth’s knees started to shake. She walked toward Central’s main entrance and tried a third time; again, the soldiers blocked her way, but this time told her to cross the street. Now the crowd fell in behind her, shouting: "Lynch her! Lynch her!" "No nigger bitch is going to get in our school! Get out of here!" "Go back to where you came from!" Looking for a friendly face, she turned to an old woman, who spat on her. Before long, some 250 whites were at her heels. She knew she couldn’t go back the way she’d come. But if she could only get to the bus stop a block ahead, she thought, she would be safe. She wanted to run, but thought she might fall down… "Lynch her!" someone shouted. "Send that nigger back to the jungle!"

290pxlittle_rock_desegregation_1957One of Elizabeth’s tormentors was Hazel Bryan, a junior at the high school:

Hazel, her eyes narrowed, her brow furrowed, her teeth clenched as if about to bite, shrieked: "Go home, nigger! Go back to Africa!" Click.

The pictures show here were taken by an Arkansas Democrat photographer, Will Counts.

Elizabeth made it back to the bus stop and sat on a bench with the angry mob around her.  Reporters on the scene became human beings and protected her by forming a loose cordon around her, and making sure their cameras and microphones were trained on her.

With the help of an elderly (white) woman, Elizabeth got out of that hairy situation. 

But what of Hazel?

As for Hazel, …she was "rather pleased with herself"—so much so that two days later, she was in front of Central again, telling reporters that no way would she attend an integrated Central High School. "Whites should have rights, too!" she barked at a television camera, as [Hazel’s friends] Mary Ann and Sammie Dean looked on with approval. "Nigras aren’t the only ones that have a right!" At first, [Central High Vice Principal, Ellizabeth] Huckaby couldn’t place the screaming white girl in the picture, but she later remembered her from the previous winter: Hazel had played hooky to be with her boyfriend, and had failed some courses. The school notified her parents; her father said he did not want to beat her, but sometimes couldn’t help himself. Hazel subsequently swallowed some poison, and was briefly hospitalized; Mrs. Huckaby sent a teacher to check on her. The story even made the papers.

Now Hazel was in them again, far more prominently, and the irate vice principal hauled her into her office. Hatred destroyed haters, the older woman said. Hazel only shrugged; "breath wasted," Mrs. Huckaby later wrote. And she was right: the following Monday, Hazel was at Central again, telling newsmen that had God really wanted whites and blacks to be together, "he would have made us all the same color." "The boys and girls pictured in the newspapers are hardly typical and certainly not our leading students," Mrs. Huckaby wrote her brother in New York. "The girl (with mouth open) behind the Negro girl is a badly disorganized child, with violence accepted in the home, and with a poor emotional history." Hazel’s parents promptly pulled her out of Central and put her in a rural high school closer to her home. America had seen its last of Hazel Bryan for the next 40 years—except, that is, for the picture, which popped up whenever Little Rock in the 1950s, or the civil-rights movement or race hatred, was recalled.

The years passed for both girls.  And then:

Elizabeth, now 21, was visiting Little Rock in the summer of 1963 when she got a most surprising message. Someone had called whom she’d never heard of before. Her name was Hazel Bryan.

At 16, Hazel had married a schoolmate, Antoine Massery, then dropped out. But Hazel, by now the mother of two and living off a gravel road in South Little Rock, had an intellectually curious, independent streak: she chafed at the regimentation and racial intolerance of her church, for instance, and was eventually kicked out of it. Seeing Martin Luther King and the civil-rights protesters on television made her think of Elizabeth, and what she’d done to her six years earlier. Never mentioning it to her husband, she called the first Eckford in the phone book—Elizabeth’s grandfather—and left several messages for her. Finally, Elizabeth got back to her. "I just told her who I was—I was the girl in that picture that was yelling at her, that I was sorry, that it was a terrible thing to do and that I didn’t want my children to grow up to be like that, and I was crying," Hazel says.

Honestly, Elizabeth wasn’t sure just which girl Hazel was. Far from studying the picture, she avoided it; all those white people in it had merged. But she accepted Hazel’s apology, because she seemed to be sincere, because her grandfather and father urged her to, and because Hazel so clearly craved forgiveness.

Elizabeth had a hard life.  She never completed college, had a broken engagement, couldn’t get a job, and ended up in the Army.  After leaving that, she had two sons by two different man (neither of whom she married), and lived a quiet life of desparation.  Her depression made it impossible for her to keep a job.  This went on for over a decade, until a change in her medication started to turn things around.

In 1996, Oprah Winfrey did a show on the Little Rock Nine.  And Elizabeth was one of the seven who came for the reunion.  Also coming was Hazal Bryan:

Hazel Bryan Massery had three adult children and seven grandchildren. She had grown more prosperous—her husband had gone into antennae and satellite-TV installation—but also more unsettled. She had joined peace groups, done spiritual things, taken up belly dancing and screenwriting and feminism and performing as a clown. Much she did in secret, so that her husband couldn’t disapprove. On racial matters, she tried making amends, working with young black mothers-to-be and counseling minority students….

And there was a reunion:

Then, 40 years and a couple of weeks after their first encounter, Elizabeth and Hazel were together again. This time, they talked—about flowers and children and clothes. Hazel apologized to Elizabeth, thanked her for agreeing to meet…

And Will Counts, the photographer who, forty years earlier, had snapped thosee iconic pictures above was there — to take another picture of the two women in front of Little Rock’s Central High School:


Healthy Children Or War?

President Bush has threatened to veto legislation renewing and expanding the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). The legislation would extend health coverage to as many as 10 million children — four million of whom are currently uninsured.

Bush has claimed the SCHIP bill contains “excessive spending”, even as he’s requested $200 billion more for the war in Iraq..  When compared to what we’re spending in Iraq, insuring an additional four million children is a bargain:


Bill Scher has even more on the bill and its importance, as does Scarecrow.  And even more from Howie:  here, here and here.  This from The Nation.  And a piece from The Hill today as well.

SCHIP is up for a vote today.  And these kids need your help.  Here are some toll free numbers to the switchboard, and also the names and numbers of folks who could use calls today on behalf of children in need.  Please make a call today to your House member — whether they are on a lsit below or not, please call every member of the House – it could make a world of difference for some kids in your community and all over this nation of ours.

Toll-free numbers to the switchboard (via katymine):

1 (800) 828 – 0498
1 (800) 459 – 1887
1 (800) 614 – 2803
1 (866) 340 – 9281
1 (866) 338 – 1015
1 (877) 851 – 6437

Stupid Computer Thief Uploads Pictures Of Himself

From Boing Boing:

Last week a number of computers were stolen from our office in Vancouver, BC. One of those computers was a shared iMac with Flickrbooth, an app that automatically uploads photo booth shots to our flickr account, installed on it. Just this morning a friend called to tell us that there are photos of whoever has the computer now in our flickr stream! Obviously the guy didn’t know he was uploading images of himself and his awesome tattoos.

Here’s the guy:


Check out the comments on Flickr.

Well, I’M Convinced

Creationist arguments:

The really cute part is that they keep saying that evolution is "obviously" a "fairy tale" (because if you say it several times, it MUST be true).  Then they debunk evolution by mis-stating its founding principles.  While energy may have played a role in the origins of life, the first life created was microscopic in size.  And THEN, having mistated the role of energy in the origins of life, they ignore it altogether in their peanut butter experiment.

I did a little research on the guy in that video, Chuck Missler.  He’s not a scientist.  He’s (surprise, surprise) a preacher with his own ministry.  He’s also a UFO nut, thinking (from scripture and his research) that aliens have already invaded us.

But here’s my favorite part of one of the bios I read:

Chuck Missler is an extremely intelligent man who loves the Lord and has a heart to serve God and others. The only possible negative thing that can be said about Chuck is that he tends to speak slightly above the comprehension of most people. One woman was overheard commenting, "I have no idea what Chuck is talking about, but he must be right."

I worry about the people who think that Chuck is speaking above them.

Another popular evolution-debunking video stars Kirk Cameron (who doesn’t say much) and this guy (ray Comfort).  Rather than debunk science, they simply say that God must have created everything because the banana is so utilitarian.  They call the banana (no, I’m not making this up) "The Atheist’s Nightmare".

My question is this: If the banana is so perfect in design that only God could have created it, then why aren’t all fruits and vegetables shaped like a banana?  Are they less than perfect?  And if so, why did God design them?

But there’s an even greater flaw with this video — bananas like the one he is holding are domesticated fruits.  In other words, they were designed — agriculturally engineered — by man over the course of many centuries:

The War On Reality In Our Schools

7rFrom the

A community college instructor in Red Oak claims he was fired after he told his students that the biblical story of Adam and Eve should not be literally interpreted.

Steve Bitterman, 60, said officials at Southwestern Community College sided with a handful of students who threatened legal action over his remarks in a western civilization class Tuesday. He said he was fired Thursday.

“I’m just a little bit shocked myself that a college in good standing would back up students who insist that people who have been through college and have a master’s degree, a couple actually, have to teach that there were such things as talking snakes or lose their job,” Bitterman said.

Sarah Smith, director of the school’s Red Oak campus, declined to comment Friday on Bitterman’s employment status. The school’s president, Barbara Crittenden, said Bitterman taught one course at Southwest. She would not comment, however, on his claim that he was fired over the Bible reference, saying it was a personnel issue.

“I can assure you that the college understands our employees’ free-speech rights,” she said. “There was no action taken that violated the First Amendment.”

Well, of course it’s a violation of the First Amendment.  If a teacher is fired from a public institution because he suggested that the Bible is not the literal truth, then that is a textbook 1st Amendment violation.

It gets worse though.  Not only are teachers being ousted for suggesting that the Bible is not the literal scientific truth, but tax dollars are being earmarked to go toward the promotion of religion — to the detriment of science — at public colleges and institutions:

Louisiana Republican Sen. David Vitter earmarked $100,000 for a group, headed by former political associates, that opposes teaching evolution in schools.

The money is set aside for the Louisiana Family Forum in the labor, health and education financing bill for fiscal 2008, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported Sunday. The group is being paid “to develop a plan to promote better science education.”

The forum is slated to use the funds to write a report on ways to improve science education in Louisiana, but critics say support for the group — which once produced a “battle plan” to fight the idea of evolution — is really support for religious teaching in public schools.

Two of the group’s leaders were also paid as consultants to Vitter’s 2005 Senate campaign, the newspaper said, and the group has been one of the senator’s strongest proponents in Louisiana, supporting him even when he admitted recently he was the customer of a call-girl service.

Vitter defended the move, saying it will help teachers offer students a variety of views on “controversial topics” like life science and global warming.

The bill is still pending in the Senate.

And yes, that’s the same pro-life, pro-family Senator Vitter who frequented hookers.

Twenty General Speak Out Against Iraq War

It isn’t mentioned often, but generals speaking out against a war policy is very rare in American history.  So when it happens, as it has a lot recently, that means that something is horribly askew.  After all, why else would these men risk their careers and reputations?

What might be called The Revolt of the Generals has rarely happened in the nation’s history.

In op-ed pieces, interviews and TV ads, more than 20 retired U.S. generals have broken ranks with the culture of salute and keep it in the family. Instead, they are criticizing the commander in chief and other top civilian leaders who led the nation into what the generals believe is a misbegotten and tragic war.

The active-duty generals followed procedure, sending reports up the chain of command. The retired generals beseeched old friends in powerful positions to use their influence to bring about a change.

When their warnings were ignored, some came to believe it was their patriotic duty to speak out, even if it meant terminating their careers.

It was a decision none of the men approached cavalierly. Most were political conservatives who had voted for George W. Bush and initially favored his appointment of Donald Rumsfeld as defense secretary.

But they felt betrayed by Bush and his advisers.

“The ethos is: Give your advice to those in a position to make changes, not the media,” said Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, now retired. “But this administration is immune to good advice.”

Ken Burns’ “The War”

My expectations of the new Ken Burns documentary were rather low.  WWII is an awfully big subject, but Burns handled The Civl War, another monumental subject, just fine.  So I was a little disappointed to read that he wasn’t going to treat WWII comprehensively.  Instead, he was going to focus on the impact of the war on four places in the United States — Waterbury (CT), Sacramento (CA); Luverne (MN), and Mobile (AL).  My initial thought was, "Ken.  This was a world war.  Maybe we could focus on other places in the word?  Like, say, London or Warsaw?"

But — that said — I thought the first installment was pretty darn good for what it was.  I thought the jazzish music was a little weird, but all in all, I thought his "human" approach to the subject was fresh and moving.  From a WWII documentary perspective, I guess it makes a nice companion piece to the classic BBC "World at War" documentart series (a more traditional documentary with maps and troop movements arrows and the like).  Burns is trying to present WWI as "an epic poem", rather than as a textbook lesson.  And that’s fine.

The footage in Burns’ film is graphic and disturbing.  But that’s not what has some people worried.  This is what worries them

Missing from the version of “The War” to be shown by APT and by some other PBS stations will be four expletives.

The FCC hasn’t revealed in advance whether it will punish stations that air “The War” with the expletives intact. That’s why PBS is providing its 350 member stations a choice of two versions of the series: a clean one without the profanity, or the original with the expletives, as Burns wanted.

It was unclear Friday how many PBS stations would air the original, unedited version.

“No one has been keeping tabs on it, and there are many, I think, that haven’t yet decided,” said Jared Seeger, a spokesman for Burns’ Florentine Films production company.

APT spokeswoman Kathie Martin said the nine stations in Alabama, including WEIQ-TV42 in Mobile, would show the profanity-free version because “The War” will air “during family prime time.”

“We want to be sure that because of the educational nature of this, that we are not offending anyone with the language,” she said.

Yup.  Showing pictures of bodies that have been scorched by the H-bomb is perfectly alright as long as nobody drops the F-bomb when talking about it.


Jena Incident Goes On Tour

And it came to High Point:

HIGH POINT — Scholars call it a symbol that reflects a shameful period in our nation’s history. Friday, High Point police removed four nooses hung from different spots around Andrews High School.

The principal of the school, Monique Wallace, sent a letter to parents after the four nooses were discovered.  Via WXII’s web site:

Dear Parents/Guardians:

Unfortunately, this letter is to inform you that today, four nooses were found at Andrews High School. School administrators immediately notified the High Point Police Department; the incident is currently under investigation and additional staff and law enforcement presence will be maintained for a period of time. Guilford County Schools (GCS) is fully cooperating with law enforcement regarding this matter. Those found to be responsible for this criminal act will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

We want to impress upon you that this inappropriate act is not a representation of Andrews’ administration, students or staff. Andrews and GCS will not tolerate behavior that is discriminatory or that disrupts the safe learning environment of our students.

Counseling will be available to students as needed by GCS. Additionally, the City of High Point has worked collaboratively with the school since 2004 through the High Point Human Relations Commission to establish a school-based student commission. These students are trained and ready to assist as needed. Please make sure your children are aware that threatening acts are not acceptable. Should your child observe inappropriate behavior or have any information regarding this incident, please ask him/her to immediately notify a teacher, staff member or our school’s resource officer.

Andrews High School has proven to be a school accepting of all races, cultures, religions and backgrounds. We will continue to take all necessary steps to ensure that all students feel welcomed and safe in our school. If you have questions, please contact me at 819-2800.


Monique Wallace

The Bush Family Pool Boy Speaks

Not a particularly interesting article.  The pool boy, as it turns out, doesn’t have a lot of inside poop.  But this was interesting — a run-in he had with members of Bush’s extended family:

Turns out a leaf-skimmer doesn’t have tremendous access. In fact, the most insider-y stuff came from outside the gates, at a recent war protest aimed at the Bush compound. (For the record, Razsa felt obliged to attend in honor of a friend who was departing for Iraq; in fact he was as scornful of the "hippie protest kids" as he was of the pro-war element that showed up.) Leaving the demonstration, he stopped at a lemonade stand where a young girl and her mother had set up shop. They got to talking, and it turned out they were family of George Herbert Walker III, former ambassador to Hungary and first cousin of the ex-president up the road.

Ever respectful, Razsa kept his politics to himself and enjoyed the lemonade. It was the young girl who turned to him and held forth: "Just because we’re related to them, doesn’t mean we vote for them or believe in what they do."

"What did she say?" the mother asked.

Shocked, Razsa repeated the girl’s declaration.

The mother nodded in approval.

Renew America Columnist Calls Me “Very Nice”, Goes Screwy

So…. I read this column by Cynthia Janak last week.  It was a column asking "questions" about the attacks on the Pentagon and the WTC.  It seems that Ms. Janak has come under the spell of the 9/11 deniers — people who insist that there was something screwy about the attacks that day (with the implication that our government — and not Al Queda — was behind the attacks).

For reasons passing even my own comprehension, I sent her a polite email attempting to answer some of her questions.  We had a pleasant exchange. Here, for example, is one of the emails I received from Ms. Janak:

Thank you for the information.  I did a brief scan of the website and I will so an in-depth read of it later.  I did check out some pictures of the plane with its landing gear down.  I put both photos next to each other and the exaggeration of the landing gear looks like a stretch but I could be wrong.  Give me your opinion.
The comparison photos are in the attachment.
The windows being blast proof makes a lot of sense.  I am not an engineer and I do not know about blast-proof glass.  That is why I asked the question.
Question:  Please help me understand how a solid mass can go from being solid to almost liquid?  From what I remember from science class this is not possible.  Help me understand.
Once again thank you for your email.  I appreciate the insight that you have given me.
Cynthia Janak

And this is how she recounted our exchange in a subsequent column:

One person was very nice and explained or tried to explain the differences. The one that made the most sense to me was the Pentagon windows. He stated that they were made to withstand an explosion. The only thing that I thought was rather humorous about our email exchange was that the more he tried to explain my pictures the more questions he raised for me.

That’s true, and it was humorous — but only because it became clear after a few email exchanges with her that she had — well, how to put it nicely? — a screw slightly loose.  She keep on emailing with "questions" and eventually she struck me as unneccessarily paranoid.  Sincere, kind, but just a little paranoid when it came to this 9/11 thing.

So it’s not a huge surprise to read, again in her latest column, that she’s gone around the bend.  You see, right after writing her column about 9/11, Ms. Janak started having computer problems:

Periodically, my computer acted as if someone else was working my mouse or my mouse would function abnormally. My tech friends had a hard time figuring out what the problem was. The only way to make it go back to normal was to shut down my computer and start over.

And that’s not all:

My phone clicks and makes strange noises.

Her conclusion?

Some entity of power is trying to disrupt my reporting of the truth. Why, it depends on who the entity or entities are.

All I can say is that I hit a nerve with my 9/11 article and I must be getting too close to the truth.

Yeah, that’s it, Ms. Janak.  They’re after you.

How To Deal With Autistic And Retarded Kids? Tase Them

I wish I was this was a joke:

Every time [Rob] woke from this dream, it took him a few moments to remember that he was in his own bed, that there weren’t electrodes locked to his skin, that he wasn’t about to be shocked. It was no mystery where this recurring nightmare came from—not A Clockwork Orange or 1984, but the years he spent confined in America’s most controversial "behavior modification" facility.

In 1999, when Rob was 13, his parents sent him to the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center, located in Canton, Massachusetts, 20 miles outside Boston. The facility, which calls itself a "special needs school," takes in all kinds of troubled kids—severely autistic, mentally retarded, schizophrenic, bipolar, emotionally disturbed—and attempts to change their behavior with a complex system of rewards and punishments, including painful electric shocks to the torso and limbs. Of the 234 current residents, about half are wired to receive shocks, including some as young as nine or ten.

Read the full expose at Mother Jones.

0% = Success

This editorial made me laugh.  It’s entitled "Groundbreaking study affirms "gays" can change".  It’s written by Matt Barber, who serves as the Policy Director for the social conservative group Concerned Women For America.

[You would be right to ask, "What is Matt Barber — a guy — doing as policy director for Concerned Women For America?"  We don’t know the answer.  We just the love the irony that he’s writing an article about succesful sexual re-orientation].

Anyway, Matt’s all excited because a new "comprehensive study" shows that "men and women suffering from unwanted same-sex attractions can re-‘orient’ themselves through Christian counseling and/or reparative therapy to their natural and God-given heterosexual state."

The Christian counseling and reparative therapy is the kind offered by Exodus International, a group which not-so-ironically commissioned the "comprehensive study".

Let’s look at the details of this "comprehensive study".

Jones and Yarhouse emphasize the imperfections of their research, carefully noting points at which their method could be criticized. For example, they had hoped for 300 or more participants, but found many Exodus ministries mysteriously uncooperative. In the end, they settled for 98 people in their initial sample. (To boost the sample size, Jones and Yarhouse added a less-than-ideal cohort who had already been involved in the program for one to three years.) They also chose not to use physiological measures of sexual attraction, primarily because Exodus ministries would have found the use of pornography in research ethically abhorrent. Though humble in their presentation, Jones and Yarhouse conclude that their research is the most rigorous ever conducted on this subject.

Okay, so the study initially had 98 subjects.  They were interviewed several times over the course of a three-to-four year period.

Except, 25 of them dropped out of the study and the "un-gaying" program.  So now we’re down to a sample size of 73.  This is looking less and less "comprehensive".

Now, on to the results.  Of the remaining 73 study participants:

"15 percent reported their conversion was successful and that they had had ‘substantial reduction’ in homosexual attraction and ‘substantial conversion’ to heterosexual attraction. They were categorized as ‘success: conversion.’

"23 percent said their conversion was successful and that homosexual attraction was either missing or ‘present only incidentally or in a way that does not seem to bring about distress.’ They were labeled ‘success: chastity.’

"29 percent had experienced ‘modest decreases’ in homosexual attraction and were not satisfied with their change, but pledged to continue trying. This category was labeled ‘continuing.’

"15 percent had not changed and were conflicted about what to do next.

"4 percent had not changed and had quit the change process, but had not embraced the gay identity;’" and,

"8 percent had not changed, had quit the process and had embraced the ‘gay identity.’"

What of the remaining 6%?  Their results weren’t tabulated because of "microphone problems".

Now, what I find interesting is that 38% of the 78 participants were labeled a "success".  But what was defined as "success"?  Apparently, "success" was a very low bar, as Christianity Today admits:

Most of the individuals who reported that they were heterosexual at Time 3 [the last interview] did not report themselves to be without experience of homosexual arousal, and did not report heterosexual orientation to be unequivocal and uncomplicated.

In other words, an individual who reported homosexual arousal (to a lesser degree and/or as part of a bisexuality) . . . could be defined as a "successful" re-orientation.

So let’s cut to the chase then.  Basically, the results of the study (which doesn’t include the individuals who dropped out of the program) show this:

15 percent believe they are now bisexual, which is to say that they are no longer homosexual.

23 percent believe they might be slightly less gay, and/or possibly bisexual, and/or possibly asexual; it’s hard for them to tell because they’re not getting any.

29 percent believe the program hasn’t worked for them, but — gosh darnit — they still hope it will.

27 percent believe the program didn’t work at all and they remain totally gay.

And what percentage of patricipants are actually "cured" of the gaydom that supposedly plagued them?  What percent has completed the transition from gay to straight?  Zero, nada, nyet.

But somehow, this causes Mr. Barber to write "Groundbreaking study affirms "gays" can change".   No, Matt.  If anything, it disaffirms that premise.

Iraq Fact File

New York Times:

Military officials said Thursday that contracts worth $6 billion to provide essential supplies to American troops in Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan — including food, water and shelter — were under review by criminal investigators, double the amount the Pentagon had previously disclosed.

In addition, $88 billion in contracts and programs, including those for body armor for American soldiers and matériel for Iraqi and Afghan security forces, are being audited for financial irregularities, the officials said.

$6 billion in contract is under criminal review?  Tell me this war isn’t illegal!

A typical example: A company hired to build the U.S. embassy in Iraq, First Kuwaiti General Trading & Contracting, paid $200,000 in kickbacks for two Army contracts. The allegation comes out of testimony given by a former KBR contracting official, Anthony Martin, convicted of bribery earlier this year.

Martin said in court documents that he agreed to receive kickbacks before awarding a $4.6 million contract to First Kuwaiti to supply 50 semi-tractors and 50 refrigeration trailers for six months. A month later, Martin awarded First Kuwaiti an additional $8.8 million subcontract to supply 150 semi-tractors for six months.

For his effort, Martin said, the company agreed to pay him $200,000. After he received an initial $10,000, he took a trip back to the United States. When he returned, he says he told the company he would not take any additional money.

The court filing says Martin’s "criminal benefactor appears to have completely escaped responsibility for his misconduct and instead continues to profit from a cozy relationship with the government."

Gems Of The New York Times

As some of you may know, the New York Times has dropped its TimesSelect subscription program, making large parts of its online archive available for freemaking large parts of its online archive available for free.  This means that you no longer have to pay to read some of its editorials (many of which I have linked to in the past, despite the subscription firewall).

But it also means you have free access to little historical gems:

A report on the sinking of the Titanic.  Another small mention of the sinking was published in the paper the previous day.

First mention of Harry Potter. Before it became a phenomenon, it was just another children’s book on the fiction best-seller list.

A report during the First World War of the Germans using mustard gas.

The first mention of television (as a concept) in the Times, from February 1907. "The new ‘telephotograph’ invention of Dr. Arthur Korn, Professor of Physics in Munich University, is a distinct step nearer the realization of all this, and he assures us that ‘television,’ or seeing by telegraph, is merely a question of a year or two with certain improvements in apparatus."

A front page report on the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, including a seismograph of the quake which the Times labeled "EARTHQUAKE’S AUTOGRAPH AS IT WROTE IT 3,000 MILES AWAY".

An article about the confirmation of Einstein’s theory of gravity by a 1919 expedition led by Arthur Eddington to measure the bending of starlight by the sun during an eclipse.

Early report of Lincoln’s assassination…"The President Still Alive at Last Accounts".

A report on Custer’s Last Stand a couple of weeks after the occurance

Happy browsing!

The first mention of the World Wide Web in the Times in February 1993

They’re Not Dead; They’re Resting

So says Fox Sports:

Repeat after me, Red Sox Nation:

It’s not 1978.

In 1978 — hello — there was no wild card.

After the Red Sox blew their 14-game lead to Bucky Bleepin’ Dent and Co., they had no chance to win the World Series.

Now, the Sox are taking steps to enhance their chances of winning the Series, even if it costs them the American League East title.

To succeed in the postseason, the Sox need to rest their pitchers and mend their position players. Finishing ahead of the Yankees is — and should be — a lower priority.


The bottom line is that the Sox are taking the sensible approach by resting certain players and testing others. Any other analysis is sheer Yankee-phobia, nothing more.

No question, the Sox would rather win their first division title since 1995, hold down the Yankees and enter the postseason on a roll.

But consider the alternative.

If the Sox had kept Matsuzaka and Schilling on their normal schedules and then faltered in the Division Series, they would have been rightly accused of losing sight of the forest for the trees.

In their position, even losses can be instructive.

On Tuesday night, manager Terry Francona all but conceded a game by allowing struggling reliever Eric Gagne to blow a 2-1 lead to the Blue Jays in the eighth inning.

If the game had true significance, Francona would have summoned closer Jonathan Papelbon to help Gagne escape the jam. But the manager needed to find about Gagne — and, unfortunately, got his answer.

In any case, the Nation needs to relax.

The Sox aren’t collapsing. They’re exploiting the advantage they gained in the first five months of the season.

O.K., then.

“I Don’t Subscribe To The Slogan ‘Free The Jena 6′”

I don’t subscribe to that slogan either.  From all appearances, the 6 black kids commited a crime, but as this commenter points out (at Michelle Malkin’s site, after Malkin tries to pooh-pooh the story), that is not the issue:

Ms. Malkin, I don’t think that this should be classified as a “race hustler” story. Although many will argue that this is a race issue, there are facts about the case that need to be heard.

I read an excellent commentary on CNN about the march:

Much of the reporting and commentary on this has been shallow, choosing to see it as a black-white issue, as opposed to the various views of how do you define equal justice in America.

Let’s try this exercise for a moment. We can remove all racial tags and ask ourselves some critical questions.

If you heard that six teens had beaten up another teen leaving him unconscious, would you think that those accused deserved to be tried as adults and face upwards of 80 years in jail?

If a group of teens hung a noose on a tree, and the principal recommended to expel them, and then the school board overruled them, what would you say about that?

Prior to Justin Barker being beaten, another teen (who was black) was beaten, and no charges were filed against the (white) students in that case, would you question the district attorney’s action in Barker’s case?

Lady Justice in America is supposed to be blind. We all want to have confidence in our legal system so that when someone is prosecuted, it is fair and just. But so many people know that is not the case.

Look at O.J. Simpson. Thirteen years later, people are still mad that he got off.

Fine. So if you’re mad about O.J., are you equally offended about Jena?”

Ms. Malkin, are you not outraged that the hanging of nooses is not classified as a hate crime?

From the New York Times:
(quoting marcher Latese Brown)

If you can figure out how to make a schoolyard fight into an attempted murder charge, I’m sure you can figure out how to make stringing nooses a hate crime.

I, for one, do not subscribe to the slogan “Free the Jena 6″ because I think that they should be punished for beating another student up. They aren’t angels. Your point is valid.

But I think that there are people who think that justice is not always allocated fairly. Surely you can see that because you attack sanctuary cities and illegal aliens all the time.

This country has some serious conversations that it has to be having right now. “Race Hustlers”, “Race Card”, “racial demagoguery” and other buzzword catchphrases distract from the fact that for once, people are willing to get out and march and protest for what they feel is an injustice. Just like you encourage people march for the GOE and other causes, people are calling attention to what they perceive to be a serious, serious problem.

If justice is applied fairly to all parties involved regardless of race, as a result of this march… I say more power to them.

O000000H, Marcia, Marcia, Marcia

MaureenEven in my randiest pubescent years, I couldn’t have imagined thissexual "hijinks" on the set of The Brady Bunch . . . between Maureen McCormick and Eve Plumb:

Wholesome former THE BRADY BUNCH star MAUREEN MCCORMICK is set to reveal the beloved 70s TV series’ most shocking secret in a new book – she and her on-screen sister had a lesbian fling. MCCormick’s tell-all, Here’s The Story, won’t hit bookstores until 2008, but publishers are already buzzing about the big reveal. As well as talking candidly about her well-documented eating disorder and drug problems in the book, TV’s Marcia Brady will come clean about a romance she had with co-star Eve Plumb, who played her sister Jan on the hit show. A source tells America’s National Enquirer, "The most explosive comments will be how the then-blonde, blue-eyed cutie developed a crush on Eve Plumb, which led to some sexual play. "This book will certainly come as a shocker. While Maureen is not a lesbian, she reveals there were some sexual hijinks going on behind the scenes. "It’s bizarre because she played such a virginal character on the show."

Eveplumb_2It kind of makes you want to revisit Jan’s favorite phrase: "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia".  Maybe she meant it in a longing kind of a way, rather than a whiny "I’m jealous" kind of way.

The mind reels.

A Republican For Gay Marriage

Andrew Sullivan:

The Republican mayor of San Diego just reversed himself on marriage equality and agreed to sign a a City Council resolution supporting a challenge to California’s gay marriage ban (also opposed by the state legislature). Moving video moment here. He’d previously vowed to veto it. He has a lesbian daughter, it turns out, and like many other parents of gay children, simply didn’t believe it was a positive step to keep her segregated from her own family and community and stigmatized as inferior.

Click through to the video.  It really is moving.

I think it is easy to oppose something like gay marriage in the political abstract, and I suspect that most opposers simply do oppose it in the political abstract.  But as the San Diego mayor found it, when it affects your family and friends, there simply is no justification to keep a certain segment of society "separate but equal".

Let The Jokes Begin


A Croatian motorbiker’s penis was zapped by lightning as he stopped beside the road to take a leak.

Ante Djindjic, 29, from Zagreb, said: "I don’t remember what happened. One minute I was taking a leak and the next thing I knew I was in hospital.


Djindjic, who suffered light burns to his chest and arms, added: "Thankfully, the doctors said that there would be no lasting effects, and my penis will function normally eventually."

I left out the most interesting part:

"Doctors said the lightning went through my body and because I was wearing rubber boots it earthed itself through my penis."

That’s right — lightning literally shot out from his, uh, unit.  He gets 100,000 boasting points for that. 

A (female) co-worker of mine (who shall remain nameless) quips: "Could have been worse.  Instead of taking a leak, someone could have been giving him [oral graitication] at the time."

Yes, that’s true.  Worse for who, though?

Terrorizing Your Kids

If the objective is terrorism is to spread terror, then this guy is doing the terrorists’ work.

Here’s how he prefaces his "chlidren’s book" (which is really a Flash animation) about terrorism:

Dear Concerned American
On September 11, 2001, a most vicious and dangerous enemy attacked our nation and gave a wake up call to every American.  Now nearly eight years after that tragic day, a day that we pledged to never forget, there is a generation coming to a tender age that have never witnessed the evil achievements of the terrorists with their own eyes.
I feel it is my duty as an American, a Parent and as a man of faith to prepare this tender generation as well as the generations yet to come for the dark future that could lie ahead of them.  In today’s haze of liberal propaganda, it is hard to know whom to trust and these vicious left wing tactics of trying to dispel the obvious terrorist threats around us are only confusing our children.
And so in order to "dispel" myths and inform our children about the "true"ness of terrorism, we get a little animated book with true-to-life images like this….


That’s right, kids.  Terrorists are in your bathroom.  Four of them to be precise, if you count the one sticking his bazooka through the bathroom window. 

And don’t be fooled by that rubber ducky you play with.  It’s actually glued on to the helmet of a terrorist!  You might think you’re safe from him, because explosive belts probably don’t work in the bathtub water.  But you’ld be wrong — there’s that other terrorist lurking around the wall ready to blow you up.  And if that’s not enough, there’s the machine gunner terrorist crouching behind the toilet who will riddle your pre-exploded body with bullets.  And for good measure, of course, the terrorist outside has a bazooka to totally waste your pre-exploded bullet-ridden prepubsecent body.

And you thought the bullies at school were bad!!!

What to do?  Pray to God?


Yeah, good luck with that, kid.  The terrorists are listening in….

Of course, there is a happy ending.  That last image shows George W. Bush holding an assault rifle as he stands surrounded by adoring toddlers.  Phew!  Our hero!

Click here to enjoy the truth-filled animation.  Or, as the site’s proprietor says, "So turn off the television, gather the family around the easy chair and enjoy these fun and educational stories that you can cherish in your family forever."

Grade Inflation 101

Bush today at a press conference:

QUESTION: Do you think there’s a risk of a recession? How do you rate that?

BUSH: You know, you need to talk to economists. I think I got a B in Econ 101. I got an A, however, in keeping taxes low and being fiscally responsible with the people’s money.

It’s nice to see that Bush admits to not being an A student in economics.  Unfortunately, he’s still lying.  If you look at his economics grade at Yale, he got a 71 and a 72.

That’s a C-.

UPDATE:  Like Carpetbagger, I don’t quite understand why Bush thinks his anti-intellectualism is cause for merriment.

Today, Aurora (Illinois) Is Ground Zero Of Abortion Wars

Interesting little controversy.

Planned Parenthood wanted to open a women’s health clinic in Aurora, Illinois.  I’m not using "women’s health clinic" as a euphemism for "abortion clinic" — it really is a women’s health clinic.  Among the services they were to provide: gynceological exams, cancer screening, HIV testing, pap smears, etc.  And oh yes, surgical and medicinal abortions.

Now PP knows from experience what happens whenever such a clinic is introduced in to a community.  Picketing of the construction site, harrassment and threats to the owners of the construction company, and so on.

So this time, PP did something different.  When seeking permits and city approval, they hid behind the name of a subsidiary company, Gemini Office Development, and were vague when asked along the way about the identity of prospective tenants for the $7.5 million facility.  They didn’t lie or commit fraud — the land is zoned for (among other things) medical clinics.  The only thing they did was just not make it widely known — to Aurora city officials — that they were intending to build a perfectly legal women’s health clinic that would (among other things) perform abortions.

The subterfuge almost worked, but the local paper revealed the plans.  And Aurora city officials, having already signed off on the plans for the 22,000 square-foot clinic, felt the pressure from anti-choice advocates.  They ordered an independent review, ostensibly to examine the legality of the tactics Planned Parenthood employed to fly under the radar. 

Truth be told, there wasn’t much to review — only a handful of documents.  But the "review" dragged on and on, for reasons unknown.  It became quite obvious that Aurora officials used the excuse of this ongoing investigation to prevent the clinic from opening on schedule.   Eventually, Planned Parenthood had to go to court seeking an order allowing them open the clinic.  That motion is being argued today, and being liveblogged here.

While the focus is supposedly on Planned Parenthood’s alleged "fraud", what is clearly at issue is abortion.  As one lawyer argued this morning, "We wouldn’t be here if this was a foot care clinic."  So true.

While it is clear that PP attempted to hide their identity, it is also clear the deceptions were an effort by Planned Parenthood to be sure the law is followed, and not thwarted.  They wanted to be sure their plans and proposals were considered as though they came from an organization engaged in lawful activity. Which, in fact, they were.

From what I’ve seen and read, it’s hard to find actual "fraud" here (it is common for business to work under the name of subsidiaries, and this is not in fact "fraud").  But there may be facts that I am not aware of.

The irony here is that Planned Parenthood offers such as contraceptive counseling, pregnancy testing, adoption referrals and disease screening.  Collectively, these services does more to lower the overall number of abortions (by providing the birth control that blocks unwanted pregnancies) and to save lives than all of the protests, prayer vigils and campaigns of harassment by its enemies put together.

UPDATE:  According to the liveblogger, the judge is denying PP’s motion, "saying that there is a dearth of evidence showing discrimination and that there was not enough time for a reasonable investigation."  Not a total loss for PP, just a loss for today….

What I Miss On Daytime Television

Not much, apparently. 

I hear/read a lot about "The View".  Seems those women are always fighting about something.  But this video made me spit up my Pepsi.

One of the co-hosts of The View, Sherri Shepherd (center), said she didn’t believe in evolution.  So co-host Whoopi Goldberg asked her if she believed the world was flat or round. She wasn’t able to answer, using the excuse that she was too busy being a good little housewife to think about complicated things like matters that science settled hundreds of years ago. Amazing.

Partial transcript:

WHOOPI GOLDBERG: Is the world flat?

SHERRI SHEPHERD: Is the world flat? (laughter)


SHEPHERD: …I Don’t know.

GOLDBERG: What do you think?

SHEPHERD: I… I never thought about it, Whoopi. Is the world flat? I never thought about it.

BARBARA WALTERS: You’ve never thought about whether the world was round or flat?

SHEPHERD: I tell you what I’ve thought about. How I’m going to feed my child–

WALTERS: Well you can do both.

SHEPERD: …how I’m going to take care of my family. The world, is the world flat has never entered into, like that has not been an important thing to me.

ELIZABETH HASSELBECK: You’ll teach your son, Jeffery, right?

SHEPHERD: If my son, Jeffery, asks me ‘is the world flat,’ I guess I would go…

JOY BEHAR: You know, didn’t some person already work this question out? I mean, why are we doing this again? (laughter, applause)

I love that excuse, bu the way:  after the exhausting work of feeding her son and presumably doing other feminine duties, Shepherd has had no time to consider whether or not the earth is flat or round.

That’s all very well and good, but it bears the question: then why is this women giving opinions on a national television show?

He Just Wants To Pump (Clap) Them Up

Hans_franzLast week Arnold told California Republicans that the GOP was "dying at the box office." On Wednesday he explained what he really meant:

If I see you gaining weight and gaining weight and gaining weight, I would eventually — if I cared at all about you — I would say: "You know something? If you continue this way, you may get into serious trouble. You may get a heart attack or have problems with diabetes and stuff like that and can’t move around as quickly and get tired.

"But here is what I would do if I were you: I would go and exercise every day, stop eating at night, eat only two meals, be disciplined and blah, blah, blah, all of those kind of things. I will give you a plan and you can follow it or not.

"So it’s not I’m criticizing you. It just really means I care about you, and I want you to live and feel as good as I do and do as well as I do." And that’s what I basically did with the Republican Party.

That’s world class political analysis.

Biden Does Political Seriousness

Sen. Joe Biden, on the GOP’s successful filibuster of legislation restoring habeas corpus for enemy combatants:

“As I’ve said before, the terrorists win when we abandon our civil liberties. The way we win is to show them that we can fight this war without changing our character as a nation. I hope the Senate reconsiders this issue once again.” . . .

“The position urged by the Administration, that we must choose between Constitutional rights and fighting terrorism effectively, is simply wrong. Our strength as a nation, and our status as a world leader, is based in part on the fact that Americans do not choose between national security and liberty; we demand both.”

Right on.

The Jena 6

Bacgkround of the situation so far in this an excellent summary from the L.A. Times:

In December, six black boys jumped a white boy at the high school here and beat him while he lay unconscious.

The victim was taken to the hospital, but he was not gravely hurt. He attended a class ring ceremony later that evening.

The black boys were charged with attempted murder, which threatened to put them in prison for most of their lives. The district attorney alleged they’d used a deadly weapon: their sneakers.

The case of the so-called Jena Six has elicited outrage around the world — not only because of the stiff charges brought against the black teenagers, but because of the stark contrast between the way black boys and white boys in the same town were treated.

The assault was the culmination of months of racial unrest in Jena (pronounced JEE-nuh), a former sawmill town of about 3,000 people in the backwoods of central Louisiana. It started at the beginning of the last school year, when a black freshman at Jena High School asked the vice principal during a school assembly whether he could sit under the “white tree,” a gnarled oak on campus where white students gathered to escape the stifling Southern heat. He was told to sit wherever he wanted.

The following day last September, three hangman’s nooses were dangling from the oak’s branches. Two months later, the school was set on fire.

The three white boys who hung the nooses were identified but not expelled or charged with a hate crime; they were suspended for three days. No one has been charged in the arson.

The charges of attempted murder were later reduced, and the first of the black kids to go to trial was found guilty of aggrivated second-degree battery by an all-white jury (one of whom was a friend of the victim’s father).  That crime would have carried a sentence of up to 22 years.  However, that conviction was recently overturned, in part because the kid was wrongly tried as an adult.

Today there is a massive rally for the Jena 6; the Southern Porverty Law Center warns about expected white supremacist activity there.

One particular web posting, on the white supremacist message board, came from former Baton Rouge neo-Nazi leader Robert Moore. In the posting, Moore wrote about police security arrangements in Jena and whether weapons would be allowed in certain areas. "Remember, Louisiana is an open-carry state, and your vehicle is an extention [sic] of your home," he wrote. "We also have the right to defend ourselves if attacked.". 

David Bowie has contributed $10,000 for their defense.

And it’s getting political:

* Jesse Jackson criticized Barack Obama for not speaking out more forcefully on the Jena 6:

"If I were a candidate, I’d be all over Jena," Jackson was quoted as saying. "Jena is a defining moment, just like Selma was a defining moment." By not seizing on the issue more, Obama was "acting like he’s white," the paper quoted Jackson as saying. Jackson, who endorsed Obama in March, today denied making that last comment, while The State stood by its reporting. Obama’s campaign, meanwhile, noted that he had made a strong statement on the matter last week, when he called for the district attorney to drop the charges and said, "When nooses are being hung in high schools in the 21st century, it’s a tragedy. It shows that we still have a lot of work to do as a nation to heal our racial tensions."

* Hillary is calling the Jena 6 controversy "a teachable moment"

* Jesse Jackson is attacking Obama for not being vocal enough on the Jena 6, saying that Obama is "acting like he’s white".  Personally, I don’t think that’s a good tack, Jesse.  Maybe that’s why he "backpeddled".

* Edwards calls for "racial justice" for the Jena 6:

"As someone who grew up in the segregated South, I feel a special responsibility to speak out on racial intolerance.  To measure our progress in the fight against racism, today our nation looks to Jena, Louisiana.  Americans of all races are traveling to Jena because they believe that how we respond to the racial tensions in Jena says everything about who we are as a nation."

I find this all slightly ironic, considering that this took place 50 years ago next Tuesday:


That’s the National Guard escorting nine black kids into Little Rock Central High School (September 25, 1957)

I Don’t Know Why…

…but I suddenly feel empowered by this.

UPDATE:  Okay… maybe I should clarify.  This is what did it for me:

One day, they say, male patients may be able to turn to their own testicles as a source of stem cells to repair an ailing heart or kidney or to fix the brain damage caused by Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease.

Ten Games Left

…and only 2.5 games in front of the Yankees.  I guess I shouldn’t mind — a wild card spot is a virtual guarantee. 

And I suppose it is more important to have a healthy, well-rested team for the playoffs than it is to force players to play hurt or pushing pitchers (starters, closer) too hard in an all-out attempt to win the AL East.

Nevertheless, it’s frustrating to see our 10 game advantage (from a few weeks ago) dwindle away so slowly.

That said, I’ll settle for 5 out of the last 10.  Just so I know we haven’t lost our edge entirely.

[NOTE: Added a MLB widget to the lefthand column]

Self-Imposed Torture

For your viewing pleasure — 238 Miles, a short film about one man’s journey from Iowa City to Chicago.

As an experiment, Steve Delahoyde decided to listen to a single song, on repeat, during the whole trip. The rules: he had to continue listening to the song at all times, he was only allowed to stop for gas or restroom facilities, and he had to document the experience.

What song did he pick? “Dancing Queen” by ABBA.

Oh, dude.

Starting the drive, things seemed fine. Steve nodded his head along with the tune for an hour and a half, then things started going bad. By three hours into the drive, Steve had already broken a rule: he stopped to get lunch, and turned off the song. But sure enough, he started it back up and kept driving. About four hours into his drive*, Steve says: “I find myself really longing for this section when the song ends and when it starts again — there’s about, like, a ten-second gap where there’s no sound, and then there’s that piano part that comes in and ruins everything again. [Song starts.] Right there.”

* The film isn’t that long — it’s only a few minutes.

Two Important Bills

I’ve sort of noticed that I’m not as political on this blog lately, and I think that is for three reasons.

First of all, there’s the burnout factor.  I mean, when you’ve seen all the outrages by this Adminsitration over the past several years — from Iraq to Katrina — then the smaller outrages (which would have been big ten years ago) just don’t seem worth commenting on.

The second reason is that I’m saving my political juices for the campaign season.

And finally, now that Democrats have some power — at least in Congress — there are steps being taken do un-do some of the political damage done to this country of late.  (Well, maybe not)

Here, for example are two important bills working their way through Congress:

Restoration of Habeas Corpus – Americans support this by a large majority.  Here is contact information to reach your Senators. The current vote whip count is here – we are 9 votes short of a GOP filibuster.

UPDATE:  Well, it was rejected.

Webb Amendment to Support/Protect American Troops – This bill is quite simple — it mandates a requirement that U.S. troops get to spend just as much time at home as they do on the front lines.   None of the extended-and-then-reextended tours of duty stuff.  The anti-troops GOP contingent in the Senate is expected to filibuster this as well.  Here is a Senator contact list. Mark Kleiman lays out a strategy for Democrats that is worth reading given the expected change in the behavior of one of the egregious Senators in Congress, who is thankfully retiring – John Warner (R-VA).

By the way, since I am talking about troop deployment….


"In endorsing Gen. David Petraeus’s recommendations on Iraq, President George W. Bush said Thursday night that at least 21,500 U.S. combat forces, plus support troops, could leave Iraq and come home by next July. Curiously, the first military unit designated by Petraeus to return is the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit based at Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, Calif., north of San Diego.

But the 13th MEU, a support unit that has been in Iraq on its current tour for about three months, was already scheduled to return home from Iraq on Nov. 17. Their new date of arrival under the drawdown plan? Still Nov. 17. Other Marine units have been in Iraq as much as three times longer than the 13th MEU, and some active-duty Army soldiers are serving 15-month tours, the longest of the war. Relatives of the 2,000-member 13th MEU, most of whom have known for more than a month that the unit was coming home, are collectively a bit confused by the inclusion of the 13th MEU in the announcement of troop cuts, and some are even angry.

“I think General Petraeus is using normal circumstances and turning them into some kind of big deal,” says Melissa Hurt, 24, wife of a 13th MEU Sgt. Andy Hurt, 24. Originally from Minnesota, the couple has been married for four years and they have a 9-month-old son. “I don’t understand how this can be called a troop reduction since Andy was already scheduled to come home in November and was not scheduled to return to Iraq. There are guys who’ve been in Iraq for more than a year. They should bring them home first. I know my husband agrees with me.” (…)

Retired Army Col. Douglas Macgregor, a defense analyst in Ashburn, Va., who supported the invasion of Iraq and the removal of Saddam Hussein but is critical of the current strategy, shares the skepticism about the troop reduction and why the general chose this particular Marine unit. “It’s deceitful and ultimately destructive to the credibility of the military and the Bush administration,” he says. “To pretend that this plan is a product of some real decision-making by General Petraeus is appalling, and I’m sure the Marines in this unit and their families are not happy about being used.”"

An Open Letter To Paul Anka

Dear Paul:

Stop it.  For God’s sake, please stop it.

I remember well the summer of 1974 when America endured your musical glee over the fact that some chick was doing homage to you by getting knocked up.  Yes, she wanted you to know that she was "thinking of you", which is why she decided to endure several months of morning sickness, followed by the joys of sleepless nights, potty training, incessant whining, and so on — while you were wiggling your geriatric ass in front of the blue-hairs on the Vegas strip.

But "Having My Baby" was over thirty years ago, and I was just about ready to forgive you your musical trespasses.  When you came out with your album Rock Swings, I actually bought it, rather than vomit.  I thought you were being tongue-in-cheek and having fun with yourself.  I mean, a Las Vegas-y rendition of Smells Like Teen Spirit?

That’s funny, cat.  I mean, I liked it …as a novelty song.  Kinda like when Pat Boone was doing cover songs of Smoke On The Water and songs by Metallica and Judas Priest. 

But you see, when Pat did it, we all knew he was having fun and just screwing around.  We were part of the joke.

But you, Paul — you seem to think this is serious art.  Really, I don’t want to hear your covers of Duran Duran.  I don’t want you to sing Foreigner, and do duets with Bon Jovi.  Okay, we’ll let you sing Both Sides Now, but how can you take one of the great ballads of the 1980’s — Time After Time — and jazz it up for your god-forsaken lounge act at the Sands?

Is this appealing even to your fans?  Look, they just want you to sing Diana and Puppy Love and close with Put Your Head On My Shoulder.  Maybe reminisce about the old days.  Trust me on this, buballa — you’re not going to get "in" with the kids by singing Daniel Powter stuff.

I know what you’re going to say: you don’t want to tread water like Barry Manilow and Rod Stewart, who seem content on doing the old American classics.  Tell you what Paul — how about we let them do the contemporary covers, and you do the Gershwin stuff?  Deal?



Avast, Me Hearties

Yup, it’s National Talk Like A Pirate Day…. again.

UPDATE:  There is, of course, an online translator — just in case your pirate talk is not up to snuff.

I took a snippet from Heather’s blog about being at "Legally Blonde: The Musical" for the MTV taping and ran it through the Pirate Speak translator:

Arrr, the cast ga’e an amazin’ performance full o’ electric gobbets o’fine gold. They war ob’iously feedin’ off o’ us as the audience cried Bra’o and clapped for minutes at a time after almost e’ery number. It was so thrillin’ t’ be a part o’ an audience that was so intune with the show they war watchin’. I was disappointed that Leslie Kritzer had already left the role o’ Sarna and thar was a new girl playin’ Pilar as well. A pence for an old man o’de sea?

And here’s Miss Emily Maaaarrrrrrk, mateys, o’bloggin’ ’bout Sweeney Todd rehaaaaarrrsals:

Ahoy, i”e de-stressed quite a bit after ha’in’ a talk with Chris, our director. She happened t’ mention t’ me after her class that this part o’ the rehearsal process is always the most frustratin’ t’ her. I let loose on how frustrated Me am about tryin’ t’ memorize this show & how doubtful Me am that it will come together and be anythin’ good. She told me that, o’er the next two weeks, we’d be workin’ the show in chunks. E’ery eve, we’d work about twenty or thirty pages until we got all the way through. Aye, me parrot concurs.

Happy Birthday!!!

Whose birthday is it?

This guy’s….


He turns 25 years old tomorrow:

It was a serious contribution to the electronic lexicon. 🙂 Twenty-five years ago, Carnegie Mellon University professor Scott E. Fahlman says, he was the first to use three keystrokes — a colon followed by a hyphen and a parenthesis — as a horizontal "smiley face" in a computer message.

To mark the anniversary Wednesday, Fahlman and his colleagues are starting an annual student contest for innovation in technology-assisted, person-to-person communication. The Smiley Award, sponsored by Yahoo Inc., carries a $500 cash prize.

Language experts say the smiley face and other emotional icons, known as emoticons, have given people a concise way in e-mail and other electronic messages of expressing sentiments that otherwise would be difficult to detect.

Fahlman posted the emoticon in a message to an online electronic bulletin board at 11:44 a.m. on Sept. 19, 1982, during a discussion about the limits of online humor and how to denote comments meant to be taken lightly.

UPDATE:  The original bulletin board* thread in which the "smiley" is proposed is here.

* For the kids: Back in the old days of computing, people conversed online on what was then called "bulletin boards"