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Washington Post claims McCain's flipflops don't matter because he was a POW thirty years ago

TPM Election Central | Talking Points Memo | WaPo's Richard Cohen: McCain's Flip-Flops Matter Less Than Obama's Because McCain Was POW

So how far will the pundits go to protect McCain's reputation as a "maverick" -- and how far will they go to explain away his many reversals and flip-flops? The answer could help decide the presidential race.

Judging by Richard Cohen's column in today's Washington Post, the early returns are not encouraging. Cohen offers what has to be the most creative justification for doing this that we've ever seen -- he argues that McCain's flip-flops matter less than Obama's ... because McCain was a POW!

. . .

McCain is a known commodity. It's not just that he's been around a long time and staked out positions antithetical to those of his Republican base. It's also -- and more important -- that we know his bottom line. As his North Vietnamese captors found out, there is only so far he will go, and then his pride or his sense of honor takes over. This -- not just his candor and nonstop verbosity on the Straight Talk Express -- is what commends him to so many journalists.

Obama might have a similar bottom line, core principles for which, in some sense, he is willing to die. If so, we don't know what they are. Nothing so far in his life approaches McCain's decision to refuse repatriation as a POW so as to deny his jailors a propaganda coup. In fact, there is scant evidence the Illinois senator takes positions that challenge his base or otherwise threaten him politically. That's why his reversal on campaign financing and his transparently false justification of it matter more than similar acts by McCain.

The art of escalator spinning

The Lost Art of Escalator Spinning | About Colon Blank :: The Daily Updated Procrastinators Wet Dream!

On the death of the semicolon

Has modern life killed the semicolon? - By Paul Collins - Slate Magazine

The semicolon has spent the last century as a fussbudget mark. Somerset Maugham and George Orwell disdained it; Kurt Vonnegut once informed a Tufts University crowd that "All [semicolons] do is show that you've been to college." New York mayor Fiorello LaGuardia's favorite put-down for egghead bureaucrats who got in his way was "semicolon boy." And though semicolons have occasionally made news—tariff bills have imploded over their misplacement, and a 1927 execution hinged on the interpretation of a semicolon—the last writers to receive much notice for semicolon use have been a New York City Transit employee and the Son of Sam. In 1977 the NYPD speculated that "the killer could be a freelance journalist" because of his "use of a semicolon" in his taunting letters. (Decades later, columnist Jimmy Breslin still marveled that "Berkowitz is the only murderer I ever heard of who knew how to use a semicolon.")

Semicolons do have some genuine shortcomings; Slate's founding editor, Michael Kinsley, once noted to the Financial Times that "[t]he most common abuse of the semicolon, at least in journalism, is to imply a relationship between two statements without having to make clear what that relationship is." All journalists can cop to this: The semicolon allows woozy clauses to lean on each other like drunks for support.

Colbert Round-Up: June 24, 2008

Defense lawyer using Google data to prove a community likes porn

What’s Obscene? Google Could Have an Answer - NYTimes.com

The Internet may be changing that. In a novel approach, the defense in an obscenity trial in Florida plans to use publicly accessible Google search data to try to persuade jurors that their neighbors have broader interests than they might have thought.

In the trial of a pornographic Web site operator, the defense plans to show that residents of Pensacola are more likely to use Google to search for terms like “orgy” than for “apple pie” or “watermelon.” The publicly accessible data is vague in that it does not specify how many people are searching for the terms, just their relative popularity over time. But the defense lawyer, Lawrence Walters, is arguing that the evidence is sufficient to demonstrate that interest in the sexual subjects exceeds that of more mainstream topics — and that by extension, the sexual material distributed by his client is not outside the norm.

It is not clear that the approach will succeed. The Florida state prosecutor in the case, which is scheduled for trial July 1, said the search data may not be relevant because the volume of Internet searches is not necessarily an indication of, or proxy for, a community’s values.

June 23, 2008

John McCain doesn't know how to use a computer

MotherJones Blog: John McCain Doesn't Know How to Use a Computer

On the photoshopping of Fighting Fantasy books

Mightygodking.com -- Bad habits.

Chris Bird can't resist the siren call:

Click through for a dozen more.

How to: Make Yourself Invisible to Security Cameras with a Magic Trucker Hat

The Invisible Face Mask ! - Instructables - DIY, How To, tech, outdoors - Let It Glow! Entry


Invisible Mask - video powered by Metacafe

How to: Build a Wind-Powered Yard Light

Wind Powered Yard Light - Instructables - DIY, How To, home, science - Let It Glow! Entry

Cook faces jail time for putting pubes in steak

Ex-cook faces jail after putting hair in steak - Criminal weirdness- msnbc.com

The criminal complaint said that when a manager asked a customer how his steak was, the customer said it was somewhat overdone, although he had almost finished eating it and refused an offer of a new steak.

But the manager insisted on having Kropp prepare a new steak the way the customer wanted it, medium rare, so that he could take it home.

. . .

According to the complaint, a second kitchen worker told police Kropp had put a slit in the cooked steak and pushed something inside, then stated, "These are my pubes," referring to pubic hair.

Kropp told police he put a few of his facial hairs on the steak, saying he was angry the customer sent the other steak back and thought he was "just trying to get free stuff," the complaint said.

Angel is now on Hulu

Hulu - Angel - Full Episodes streaming online for free

The first season is at least. I've always preferred Angel as a whole over Buffy. The characters tend to be more dynamic and the world is more mature. Also, as someone once said, Angel is the best Batman movie ever made.

Linked above is the best episode of season 1, wherein Angel and Wesley are called in to exorcize a home.

Is the GM Volt the car everyone is waiting for?

Electro-Shock Therapy

When one of the world’s mightiest corporations throws everything it’s got at a project, and when it shreds its rule book in the process, the results are likely to be impressive. Still, even for General Motors, the Volt is a reach. If it meets specifications, it will charge up overnight from any standard electrical socket. It will go 40 miles on a charge. Then a small gasoline engine will ignite. The engine’s sole job will be to drive a generator, whose sole job will be to maintain the battery’s charge—not to drive the wheels, which will never see anything but electricity. In generator mode, the car will drive hundreds of miles on a tank of gas, at about 50 miles per gallon. But about three-fourths of Americans commute less than 40 miles a day, so on most days most Volt drivers would use no gas at all.

Because it will have both an electric and a gasoline motor on board, the Volt will be a hybrid. But it will be like no hybrid on the road today. Existing hybrids are gasoline-powered cars, with an electric assist to improve the gas mileage. The Volt will be an electric-powered car, with a gasoline assist to increase the battery’s range.

Electric drive is as old as the automobile itself. Anyone who has ridden in a golf cart has experienced it. Compared with the fire-breathing internal combustion engine, an electric motor is simple, quiet, and clean, and it provides marvelous acceleration and torque. For a century, though, the deal-breaker has been the battery. Any battery with nearly enough power to drive a full-size car was prohibitively large and heavy, prohibitively expensive, unable to go more than a few miles on a charge, or (usually) all of the above. Only recently has the advent of lithium-ion batteries brought a full-range electric car into the realm of the practical. Even so, the battery for the Volt doesn’t yet exist, at least not at a mass-market price, and building it poses formidable challenges. Loading enough energy into a sufficiently small, lightweight package is hard (the battery isn’t much good unless it fits in the car); keeping it cool lest it burst into flames is harder; making it durable enough to last 10 years on bumpy roads is harder yet; manufacturing it in high volumes and at mass-market prices may be hardest of all.

John McCain wants Roe v Wade overturned

Feministing

How to: Start a War With David Sedaris

Michael Ian Black: Some Ways to Casually Put Down David Sedaris at Your Next Social Event Without Looking Like a Total Jerk

Say, for example, you are at league bowling night and your buddy finds himself facing an easy pick-up for a spare. Just before he bowls say something like, "Don't miss, Bob, or you might hear David Sedaris telling a long and humorous story about what a boob you are on 'This American Life.'"

At a cocktail party, a bottle of lousy champagne is uncorked. You take a swig, grimace, and say, "Send this swill back to France where David Sedaris is undoubtedly enjoying a baguette." (I admit this probably doesn't seem like much of a put down on paper, but if you say the word "baguette" with a sneer, trust me, this will be devastating.)

. . .

When referring to him, put a "p" after the "S" in "Sedaris," so that what you're saying is "Spedaris." This isn't a put down exactly; it's actually just a mispronunciation of his name, but if enough people start doing it, I have no doubt it will drive him fucking crazy.