|Proudly afflicting the comfortable [and collecting shiny things] since March 2003|
Send Magpie an email!
Click button to subscribe.
Need a password?
Click the button!
Cost of the Iraq War [US$]
BLOGS WE LIKE
Alas, a Blog
Back to Iraq
blac (k) ademic
Blogs by Women
Burnt Orange Report
Echidne of the Snakes
Follow Me Here
The Housing Bubble New!
I Blame the Patriarchy
Juan Cole/Informed Comment
The King's Blog
The Krile Files
Muslim Wake Up! Blog
My Left Wing
The Panda's Thumb
Pinko Feminist Hellcat
The Rittenhouse Review
Road to Surfdom
The Silence of Our Friends New!
Talking Points Memo
This Modern World
The Unapologetic Mexican New!
War and Piece
wood s lot
MISSING IN ACTION
Body and Soul
General Glut's Globlog
Respectful of Otters
WHO'S IN CHARGE HERE?
Magpie is a former journalist, attempted historian [No, you can't ask how her thesis is going], and full-time corvid of the lesbian persuasion. She keeps herself in birdseed by writing those bad computer manuals that you toss out without bothering to read them. She also blogs too much when she's not on deadline, both here and at Pacific Views.
Magpie roosts in Portland, Oregon, where she annoys her housemates (as well as her cats Medea, Whiskers, and Jane Doe) by attempting to play Irish music on the fiddle and concertina.
If you like, you can send Magpie an email!
WHO LINKS TO MAGPIE?
Or ask WhoLinksToMe.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Saturday, October 28, 2006
Author Jim Crace was pleased to find that his new book Useless America is selling well on Amazon.
There's just one problem, though: the book doesn't exist.
Via comment is free.
| | Posted by Magpie at 3:04 PM | Get permalink
Things are just fine in Iraq.
Sure, there's some violence going on, but Dubya's administration has plans to deal with it. After all, didn't the prez assure us in his press conference earlier this week that 'there are people [in Iraq] living relatively normal lives who I believe -- strongly believe that they want to continue that normalcy' and that 'death squad members are being brought to justice' by the al-Maliki government?
Another 'normal' day in Iraq, as armed Mahdi Army militants parade through Baghdad's Sadr City district.
Of course, there are other ways to look at the situation:
A muscular, 45-year-old Shia, Abu Karar is the intelligence officer in the Martyr al-Sadr office, the organisation led by Moqtada al-Sadr, in a Shia district in the south of Baghdad.
That's just part of journalist Ghaith Abdul-Ahad's must-read report on the Iraqi civil war that Dubya's administration keeps telling us isn't happening. Make sure to go read it all.
Via UK Guardian.
| | Posted by Magpie at 12:52 PM | Get permalink
Seymour Hersh vs. a stupid reporter.
Sometimes an interview is worth reading even though the person conducting the interview is a jerk. As a case in point, take this Montreal Mirror interview of journalist Seymour Hersh, conducted by alleged journalist Matthew Hays. Despite Hersh's obvious exasperation with the Hays' poorly thought out and leading questions, he nonetheless manages to say quite a lot.
M: Why does so much of the American public often seem wilfully ignorant? Much of the populace seems intent on not knowing what is going on in terms of political and foreign affairs.
Do make sure to read the whole thing; it's more fun than a barrel of Republicans.
| | Posted by Magpie at 12:01 AM | Get permalink
Friday, October 27, 2006
Is net neutrality a lot of mumbo jumbo?
Or is the new anti-net neutrality ad from the National Cable and Telecommunication Association just the same old bullsh*t?
Take a look at the ad and decide for yourself.
While the ad claims that the big Silicon Valley companies are just looking to freeload on everyone else's dime, the reality is quite different. What's really going on is cable and telecommunications companies want to kill net neutrality so that they can charge content providers for preferred access to their customers.
As Craigslist founder Craig Newmark once described it (via Cory Doctorow's memory of the comment):
Imagine if you tried to order a pizza and the phone company said, "AT&T's preferred pizza vendor is Domino's. Press one to connect to Domino's now. If you would still like to order from your neighborhood pizzeria, please hold for three minutes while Domino's guaranteed orders are placed."
Personally, I'd like to pick my own pizza vendor. And search engine.
Via Boing Boing.
| | Posted by Magpie at 5:13 PM | Get permalink
Putting the brakes on the international arms trade.
By a 139 to 1 vote, the UN General Assembly has decided to start work on a treaty to put limits on international weapons trafficking.
Guess which country was the lone vote against the effort?
[Hint: It's the same one that has the planet's 53rd-freest press.]
More: Why did the US vote against the treaty? Take your pick:
"The only way for a global arms trade treaty to work is to have every country agree on a standard," said Richard Grenell, a spokesman for the US mission to the UN told the Associated Press. The official US line is that so much compromise would be required to pass a UN treaty that it would be watered down to the point of not having any substance. "For us, that standard would be so far below what we are already required to do under US law that we had to vote against it in order to maintain our higher standards."
| | Posted by Magpie at 3:42 PM | Get permalink
The GOP is losing another part of its base.
Which part? Rural voters.
According to a new poll by the nonpartisan Center for Rural Strategies, rural voters in the US have shifted dramatically toward the Democrats over the past month.
The poll of rural voters in 41 contested congressional districts found that likely voters preferred Democratic candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives by a margin of 13 points, 52 percent to 39 percent. In mid-September, the same population of voters was evenly split between the two parties at 45 percent each.
I'm trying really hard not to get too optimistic about how the November election will turn out, but the news continues to be so bad for the GOP that it's hard to see any way for the Democrats to lose other than due to massive election fraud. And given the GOP's track record, fraud on that level is certainly a possibility.
| | Posted by Magpie at 11:00 AM | Get permalink
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Is this another sign that Dubya's US is on the slide?
BBC News reports that the largest producers of counterfeit US currency are North Korea and Colombia. That's nothing new, really. But what did strike me as new and probably important was a paragraph in the middle of the story:
In Bulgaria, previously one of the biggest producers of fake dollars, fraudsters have turned to copying the euro, said the study.
I'd have to say that one warning sign that your country's currency has really lost its value is when counterfeiters stop faking your money and switch to someone else's.
And it really makes me wonder about something else that the BBC reports in the story: South Korean intelligence agencies say that North Korea has stopped making counterfeit US currency. Is the reason they've stopped is so that they can join Bulgaria in the more lucrative trade of making fake euros?
| | Posted by Magpie at 7:06 PM | Get permalink
That job I interviewed for the other day.
I got it!
It pays decent money, so I don't have to worry about my cruel landlord tossing me out on the street. And I can afford to pay to do the dental work on that tooth I broke the other week. I can take public transportation to work, so I can leave my car parked most of the time. Even better, the new job is working for company that I liked a lot when I did a contract for them a few years ago.
So things are looking up. Mostly.
Before I can actually start work, though, I have to spend part of today sitting in a waiting room so I can have the privilege of peeing in a cup for a pre-employment drug test. Good thing, too we have to prevent irresponsible magpies from spending their days writing computer manuals under the influence of controlled substances.
| | Posted by Magpie at 12:16 PM | Get permalink
Dubya's benchmarks for a successful Iraq occupation.
Ted Rall has an inside line.
[Cartoon: © 2006 Ted Rall]
You can view the rest of the cartoon over here. And if you want to see more of Rall's stuff, check out his website.
Via Association of American Editorial Cartoonists.
| | Posted by Magpie at 12:05 AM | Get permalink
Is your car's engine running a bit rough?
Better take it to a car geek to get its onboard computer hacked.
Via NY Times.
| | Posted by Magpie at 12:01 AM | Get permalink
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Lesbians and gay men win one in New Jersey.
More or less.
I was going to post on the NJ Supremes' ruling that the state constitution requires that gay and lesbian couples be granted the same legal rights as heterosexual couples, but Blogger went down for a big chunk of the afternoon and early evening, leaving me all dressed up with nowhere to blog.
But never fear! One of my comrades at Pacific Views did a great post on the subject while I was stuck offline, gnashing my teeth. So go read what Natasha has to say.
| | Posted by Magpie at 11:17 PM | Get permalink
Why isn't this financial scandal big news?
It's not like it's small potatoes: It involves billions of dollars of tax-exempt bonds issued by local governments; US $100 million in lost tax revenues annually; and schools and low-cost housing that never gets built. And, not incidentally, the scandal also involves a lot of money going into the pockets of US banks, insurance companies, and financial advisors who arranged the 'black box' bond deals.
This should be front-page news, but not only is it not on the front pages, the scandal hasn't made any page of any US newspaper that we can find. (A related story in the St Paul Pioneer Press is the only exception.) If not for three reporters at a financial publication, Bloomberg Markets, nobody would know about the scandal at all.
And given that I'm not a Bloomberg subscriber who can look behind the magazine's pay firewall, I wouldn't know anything at all about the story if CJR Daily hadn't posted about the Bloomberg story. Here's part of that post:
The headline is "Broken Promises," the special report "Duping Main Street." Words clad in mulberry explain: "Wall Street created $7 billion in bonds for housing and schools. The tax-exempt deals were a ruse; banks and advisers collected millions in fees and investment gains. The public got nothing." [...]
The Bloomberg story, incidentally, is further proof that the most important economic news is often buried in the business pages and in specialized business publications, where it goes unseen and unread by most of the public. Hell, it even goes unseen by most journalists something I well remember from my time as a reporter.
This magpie sends big congrats to Bloomberg for publishing this important story. But the congrats would be even bigger if they'd take the story out from behind the pay firewall so that it would get the attention it deserves.
Thanks to Suburban Guerrilla for a post that got me to look a second time at CJR Daily.
| | Posted by Magpie at 8:51 AM | Get permalink
Land of the
There used to be a time when a news story like this would never have existed:
Several governments around the world have tried to rebut criticism of how they handle detainees by claiming they are only following the U.S. example in the war on terror, the U.N. anti-torture chief said Monday.
I have to wonder how many years or decades it's going to take to dig the US out from under this one of Dubya's legacies to the nation.
| | Posted by Magpie at 8:28 AM | Get permalink
Short and to the point.
Wired recently asked a bunch of its favorite writers to submit extremely short stories. Like, we're talking six words, none of which can be repeated. They got a ton of gems from the authors who responded, but this one is my favorite:
Bush told the truth. Hell froze.
Although this one is a close second:
Longed for him. Got him. Shit.
There's a ton more here, including a bunch that couldn't fit into the print magazine.
Via Boing Boing.
| | Posted by Magpie at 8:11 AM | Get permalink
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
We never really needed freedom of the press, anyway.
And a good thing, too. Otherwise, those of us in the US might find it worrisome that Reporters Without Borders' latest Press Freedom Index puts the US at #53 worldwide. If you're counting, that's just below the Dominican Republic and a bit ahead of Hong Kong.
For comparison purposes, the 2002 index put the US at #17, and even last year's index had the US at #44.
How low can the US go? [Data: Reporters Without Borders]
Why has the US dropped so fast since 2002? One word: Dubya.
The United States (53rd) has fallen nine places since last year, after being in 17th position in the first year of the Index, in 2002. Relations between the media and the Bush administration sharply deteriorated after the president used the pretext of "national security" to regard as suspicious any journalist who questioned his "war on terrorism." The zeal of federal courts which, unlike those in 33 US states, refuse to recognise the media's right not to reveal its sources, even threatens journalists whose investigations have no connection at all with terrorism.
Reporters Without Borders has more information on this year's Press Freedom Index here. There's a description of how the index was complied here, and the list of questions used this year is here.
An interesting sideline: If you look at 2002's Press Freedom Index, you'll see that Hong Kong was right below the US that year (at #18), just as it is on the 2006 index. Hong Kong's huge drop since then is due to limitations on press freedom imposed by China's communist government and by Beijing's sock puppets in Hong Kong. It's sad that the US, a country that's supposedly a bastion of freedom, has a press only marginally freer than that of Hong Kong, which is part of a country that has some of the most draconian restrictions on free expression on the planet. But with Dubya in charge of the US for the last six years, who needs communists to take away our freedoms, eh?
| | Posted by Magpie at 6:16 PM | Get permalink
Slow posting again today.
Sorry, but I'm busy in job interviews today. Even magpies need to eat.
In the meantime, you know where the blogroll is.
| | Posted by Magpie at 12:36 PM | Get permalink
Monday, October 23, 2006
This should be interesting.
From a news advisory I just got:
For the first time since the U.S. invasion of Iraq, active- duty members of the military are asking Members of Congress to end the U.S. occupation of Iraq and bring American soldiers home.
Given the retaliation that all of these servicemembers will likely suffer despite the protection of the whistleblower law I'd guess that this isn't a mere publicity stunt by what I'm sure right-wingers are already calling a bunch of unpatriotic crybabies.
Via US Newswire.
| | Posted by Magpie at 3:08 PM | Get permalink
Civil war? What civil war?
Oh yeah ... the one that US occupation troops are stuck in the middle of in Baghdad.
Before the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, it was one of the nightmare scenarios: a slugfest in Iraq's capital, a sprawl of narrow streets, markets and blind alleys that is home to 6 million people.
Via USA Today.
| | Posted by Magpie at 11:42 AM | Get permalink
Sunday, October 22, 2006
Quick! What's that in the picture?
An alien space station, maybe? A secret weapon? A newly discovered underground organism?
(No peeking at the ALT tag, either!)
What is that thing, anyway?
You'll find the answer here. And a much larger version of the photo here.
| | Posted by Magpie at 3:28 PM | Get permalink
Kinda busy this morning.
But you can expect new posts this afternoon (West Coast US time).
In the meantime, I've noticed that Suburban Guerrilla and On Topic both have lots of tasty new posts up. You might want to go give them each a visit and then check back in here later on.
| | Posted by Magpie at 9:45 AM | Get permalink
Mail & Guardian [S. Africa]
Agence France Presse
Inter Press Service
International Herald Tribune
NY Times (US)
Washington Post (US)
McClatchy Washington Bureau (US)
Boston Globe (US)
LA Times (US)
Globe & Mail (Canada)
Toronto Star (Canada)
Sydney Morning Herald (Australia)
Mail & Guardian (South Africa)
Daily Star (Lebanon)
Hindustan Times (India)
Japan Times (Japan)
Asia Times (Hong Kong)
New Scientist News
COMMENT & ANALYSIS
Working for Change
Editor & Publisher
Economic Policy Institute
Center for American Progress
The Memory Hole
Céilí House (RTE Radio)
The Irish Fiddle
A Guide to the Irish Flute
Chiff & Fipple
Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann
BBC Virtual Session
JC's ABC Tune Finder
Propaganda Remix Project
Ask a Ninja
Cat and Girl
Dykes to Watch Out For
Library of Congress
American Heritage Dictionary
Dictonary of Newfoundland English
American's Guide to Canada
Digital History of the San Fernando Valley
Blithe House Quarterly
Astronomy Pic of the Day
Earth Science Picture of the Day
Gaelic Curse Engine
Old Dinosaur Books