I think my brain is still in vacation mode, since I haven’t been able to come up with any deep thoughts for the blog. I have a bunch of stuff to review which I’ll try to post tonight. Meanwhile, I haven’t done a political post for a while, so here are a few items.
- Abu Musab al-Zarqawi killed. Better late than never, I suppose. The Bush administration let this guy operate as long as he was politically useful for drumming up support for the Iraq war. From The Atlantic:
During my time in Jordan, I asked a number of officials what they considered to be the most curious aspect of the relationship between the U.S. and al-Zarqawi, other than the fact that the Bush administration had inflated him.
One of them said, “The six times you could have killed Zarqawi, and you didn’t.”
When Powell addressed the United Nations, he discussed the Ansar al-Islam camp near Khurmal, in northern Kurdistan, which he claimed was producing ricin and where al-Zarqawi was then based. On at least three occasions, between mid-2002 and the invasion of Iraq the following March, the Pentagon presented plans to the White House to destroy the Khurmal camp, according to a report published by TheWall Street Journal in October 2004. The White House either declined or simply ignored the request.
- Bush’s visit to Baghdad. Meaningless political theater, like the “Mission Accomplished” flightsuit stunt. This is just about the only thing Bush is good at. I’m not holding my breath for any changes in Iraq policy.
- No frog march for Karl Rove. Disappointing; as Josh Marshall points out, we all know by now that Rove did leak Plame’s identity.
- The California primary. I normally try to pay attention to primaries, but I think I would have slept through this even if I hadn’t been in Mexico at the time.
Anything else I should have mentioned?
A few photos from my Cabo San Lucas trip are up. Uncharacteristically for my photos, there are some people in some of these. (They would be my relatives.) The full photoset is here.
I have returned from Mexico, where I was so lazy as to not even open my computer the entire time, hence the lack of blogging. I went from a hot, clear day in Cabo San Lucas to a fogged-in and chilly Berkeley; often what happens is that I’ll return to much better weather than I had on vacation, but not this time.
I tried to post from the Phoenix airport (which had free wi-fi) but was prevented from doing so by a problem with the network switch in my office in Berkeley. Fortunately I did get the chance to delete the 45 spam comments that had accumulated just before the site went down.
I like to take Murakami with me when I travel internationally; for Japan it was Sputnik Sweetheart and for Italy it was Kafka on the Shore. This time it was Norwegian Wood, which I finished this morning. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle remains my favorite of his novels, but Norwegian Wood is the one that most resonated with me; I saw a lot of myself in the main character and parts of me in many of the other characters, too. Anyway, I always thought people who initiate conversations with strangers on the BART are weird, but today I joined their ranks. A woman sat down next to me and opened a book. I glanced over from my own book (I had moved on to Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town by Cory Doctorow), read one line of dialogue, and recognized it as The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. So I had to take off my earbuds and tell her that it was one of my Favorite Books Ever. (Her favorite Murakami novel, as it turns out, is Norwegian Wood.) Maybe some of that extraversion from the paternal side of my family rubbed off on me this week.
So, since I’ve been completely out of touch for five days: what did I miss?
I’m off to Cabo San Lucas today, so here’s an open thread. I’ll be back Friday, but I expect to have some form of internet access at the hotel so I may check in here. My poolside reading list: Sheri S. Tepper, Grass (80% complete); Jon Burdett, Bangkok 8 (50% complete); Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood; Cory Doctorow, Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town. (I will also note that the bookstore I went to yesterday was very good at not having specific titles recommended in the summer reading thread, despite having other books by the same authors.) Double music review this week due to the absence of one last week.
Snow Patrol: Eyes Open: I was disappointed in this album on first listen—it’s not as good as their previous full-length Final Straw, and doesn’t have any track as good as “Run” or “Chocolate”. But after hearing it a few more times I realized that it’s still pretty good. Most of the songs are clean-sounding, heartfelt anthems, more in the style of “Run” than “Tiny Little Fractures”. Occasionally this gets boring (“You Could Be Happy”) but most of the time it works. “Set The Fire To The Third Bar” is one that worked better than most. Rating: 3.5/5
Art Brut: Bang Bang Rock & Roll: As I noted when I saw them at Coachella, this is a very funny band. Somewhere between the Hold Steady and Monty Python, the band features excellent rock instrumentation beneath lyrics half-sung and half-spoken with goofy sincerity by Eddie Argos. The opening track, “Formed a Band”, declares, “Look at us! We formed a band!” and announces their intention to appear on Top of the Pops; this latter becomes something of a recurring theme. I can identify with the character in “My Little Brother” who has “just discovered rock and roll”, and in “Good Weekend” the singer’s glee at having a new girlfriend is infectious. (“I’ve seen her naked—twice!”) It’s tough to pick a favorite track here, but I might go with “18,000 Lira” which describes a group of inept bank robbers preparing for a heist. I’d heard the album was good when it was only available as an import, but I held off for the U.S. version which included three new tracks: among them, “Really Bad Weekend” is one of the best songs on the record. Rating: 4/5
Search queries that led to this site last month in bold, editorial comments in italics.
- material on topic of its better to lead in hell than to serve in heaven
Looks like Damien is researching his term paper.
- images that give you an erection
This is very strange way to search for porn.
- how much wine can i bring into the state of connecticut
An important consideration when passing through customs at the New York/Connecticut border.
- ninja in literature
The first appearance of ninjas in English literature is credited to Shakespeare. Macbeth: “Is this a shuriken I see before me?”
- caltech students introverted and nerdy
I’m surprised Google didn’t just respond with “Yes.”
- clinton got a blowjob bush is giving one
Maybe this accounts for the 29% of people who still approve of his job performance.
- voting between george bush and grog
Arrr! The true pirate always votes for grog!
I think the last one is my favorite. 460 searches for “gazebo” last month.
I keep forgetting to link this: The Onion A.V. Club list of Worst Band Names, and an accompanying list of band names that are so-bad-they’re-awesome. These are actual bands and not an Onion parody. I recognize at least one local band (The Fucking Ocean), but my favorite name on the second list is “Mariospeedwagon” (who also appear to be a Bay Area band).
I have always thought that El Diablo Robotico (a phrase that appeared in an episode of Angel) would be a great name for a band.
I’d like to make a real post today but given the number of things I need to do (getting ready for a trip to Mexico on Sunday) I may not get around to it. In the meantime, here are the next ten songs to play on my iPod:
- Belle & Sebastian, “A Summer Wasting”
- The Reindeer Section, “Where I Fall”
- Yo La Tengo, “Sugarcube”
- Get Him Eat Him, “Separate States”
- Yo La Tengo, “Double Dare”
- Autechre, “Ipacial Section”
- Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, “And I’m Aching”
- My Bloody Valentine, “Several Girls Galore”
- Sleater-Kinney, “Rollercoaster”
- Belle & Sebastian, “Act Of The Apostle II”
The best song in this set is definitely “Sugarcube”:
Try to be more assured, try to be more right there
Try to be less uptight, try to be more aware
Whatever you want from me, is what I want to do for you
Sweeter than a drop of blood from a sugarcube
Spotted no fewer than six U-Haul trucks on a half-mile stretch of Oxford St. Must be moving day.
I was having problems with my iPod for a while but got it working again. It was eerie to walk into a Jamba Juice, take off my headphones, and discover that the song I was just listening to was also playing on the store’s speakers. (It was Mylo’s “Drop The Pressure”.)