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Archive for September 2004

The World Moves Against Hunger, But…

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Reuters reports that more that more than 100 countries signed on to a plan to combat world hunger – $50 billion in aid, and innovative ideas like “global tax on financial transactions, a tax on the sale of heavy arms, an international borrowing facility and a scheme for marketing credit cards whose users would donate a small percentage of their charges to the cause.” But…

But the leader of the U.S. delegation, Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman, coolly dismissed it.
“Economic growth is the long-term solution to hunger and poverty,” she told the meeting.
“The report should give more attention to practical steps to sustained growth. There is too much emphasis on schemes such as global taxes to raise external resources. Global taxes are inherently undemocratic. Implementation is impossible.”

Hearts and minds, hearts and minds…

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September 21, 2004 at 12:11 am

Posted in Politics

Photographic Reinforcement of Why This Year Will be the First in Two Decades that I Do Not Attend a Single Yankee Game

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I’m not quite ready to cheer for the Sox, but the Yanks are wearing out their welcome me-wise.
Sox_france
To be quite honest, I had partial season tickets in the bleachers at Yankee Stadium the last two seasons. But I couldn’t take it anymore. Paramount among other things: the homophobic cheers that the stadium guards ignore – while they eject fans for racist slurs. If they had a uniform policy for the two (spew whatever filth you want / spew no filth at all), I wouldn’t be blaming the team for it… But…
In short, no Yanks for me this year.

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September 20, 2004 at 11:49 pm

Posted in sports

Warp Speed Debunking

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Interesting timeline of the debunking of the Bush guard docs in this week’s New York Observer. A piece by Robert Sam Anson. (Read it while it lasts on the site…)
Anyway, here’s the relevant section, “filched,” as Anson says, “from ABC’s “The Note” and the Los Angeles Times”:

At 8 p.m. last Wednesday, 60 Minutes broadcast Mr. Rather’s report, which centered on ex–Texas House Speaker and Democratic power Ben Barnes describing how he’d greased Mr. Bush’s way into the Guard (putting the lie to the longstanding claim that Dubya had made it on his own hook), and now felt bad on account. Mr. Barnes’ assistance wasn’t exactly a scoop, though that’s how Mr. Rather advertised it; in 1999, he’d told essentially the same story to the Dallas Morning News. All that was new was being on camera. Sandwiched between his recollections and White House communications director Dan Bartlett kicking them as “dirty politics,” the documents appeared, accompanied by Mr. Rather saying they’d been verified by “a handwriting analyst and document expert.” To bolster credence, there was an interview with a Texas Air Guard officer and friend of Killian’s, Robert Strong, who said the papers were “compatible” with the fella he remembered Jerry Killian being.
Not the most ringing testimony. Nor was the word of a single, unidentified, off-camera “expert” exactly open-and-shut proof. But Mr. Barnes was emphatic and—better yet—truthful. And Ben Barnes, Dan Rather said, was what the story was all about.
That’s not how it worked out.
Mr. Rather’s report hadn’t been over 10 minutes when a post appeared on the right-wing Web site FreeRepublic.com from “TankerKC,” saying the documents were “not in the style that we used when I came into the USAF … can we get a copy of those memos?”
Three hours and a little later, fat met fire with another FreeRepublic posting, this one from a blogger named “Buckhead.” He (or she—Buckhead won’t reveal his identity outside cyberspace) wrote:
Every single one of these memos to file is in a proportionally spaced font, probably Palatino or Times New Roman. In 1972 people used typewriters for this sort of thing, and typewriters used monospaced fonts. The use of proportionally spaced fonts did not come into common use for office memos until the introduction of laser printers, word processing software, and personal computers. They were not widespread until the mid to late 90’s. Before then, you needed typesetting equipment, and that wasn’t used for personal memos to file. Even the Wang systems that were dominant in the mid 80’s used monospaced fonts. I am saying these documents are forgeries, run through a copier for 15 generations to make them look old …. This should be pursued aggressively.
Here the plot starts a-thickening.
First (leaving aside how suspiciously well Buckhead puts sentences together for a righty blogger), there’s the extraordinary, yeah, boggling, knowledge of typewriting arcana. More remarkable still are the circumstances under which discernment occurred. Namely, viewing the document on a TV screen from a presumed distance of six to a dozen feet. Folks who make their living at this sort of thing rely on magnifying glasses, if not microscopes. And they don’t venture opinions unless the document’s in their puss.
Then there’s the warp speed with which Buckhead discerned monkey business. The last big document mess was the trove that conned Seymour Hersh into believing Jack Kennedy signed a contract with Marilyn Monroe agreeing to pay a hundred grand in consideration of her shutting up about their adventures between the sheets, as well as his pillow talk of owing the 1960 election to the good offices of Chicago mob boss Sam (Momo) Giancana. Their exposure (in which your correspondent had a walk-on) took weeks. And those documents were nutso on their face.

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September 17, 2004 at 12:35 am

Posted in Politics

Mazen Al-Tomaizi

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Alarabiya
Watching CNN tonight, and we get the latest report from the front. A Bradley Fighting Vehicle was attacked in Baghdad, disabled, burst into flames. (We are informed that all US personnel were successfully evacuated…)
And then this.
A crowd of people gather around the empty burning APC. Some are celebrating, some appear to simply be hanging about, watching… An Al-Arabiya reporter – a young, handsome guy – is reporting from the scene. And then, in the characteristic temporality of our time – out of nowhere comes concusion, smoke, fire. The reporter suddenly doubles over as the smoke fills the shot. A US Apache helicopter had opened fire on the crowd.
The cameraman reports later the last words of his co-worker, Mazen Al-Tomaizi:
“Seif, Seif! I’m going to die. I’m going to die.”
I rewind the program and watch it again (I have a DVR – I can do this sort of thing). I notice two things:
1) None of the people crowding around the Bradley, even standing on top of it, are visibly armed. No guns anywhere that I could see.
2) Immediately after the rocket lands, two, maybe three, drops of Al-Tomaizi’s blood dot the camera lens, my television screen. Tiny, almost invisible.

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September 13, 2004 at 11:11 pm

Posted in Current Affairs

Big Surprise…

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According to today’s Financial Times (full article not on-line):

World opinion, however, is unlikely to sway American voters. A third poll of 798 Americans also released yesterday showed that 74 per cent of undecided American voters would be unaffected by global attitudes about the presidential race.

Who knew?
Also, war close to obsolete in European minds:

The two sides disagreed on the use of force – only 41 per cent of Europeans said that war could achieve just ends, compared with 82 per cent of Americans.

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September 9, 2004 at 11:51 pm

Posted in Politics

“For the Greater Good”

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Anybody else obsessively turning from whatever else you’re doing when the TIAA-CREF commercials come on. “There’s a place for us…” And this scene (in the newest iteration of the ad) of a professor guy in a huge lecture hall, out from behind the podium, hands a-punctuating his eloquent and excellent lecture.
Whoa. Little tears well up in the corners of the eyes every time I see it. Started running it during the Olympics, which was a good idea.
(For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about – maybe every one – TIAA-CREF is the company that handles retirement accounts and the like for universities and other cultural organizations and I guess the medical field as well. They just started a huge ad campaign, featuring images of teachers teaching, nurses nursing, curators curating, etc… )
It’s a facinating ad tactic, playing right in to the academics general sense that 1) he/she is in the biz for reasons way beyond the personal, mercenary and 2) that society never gives us the thanks we deserve.
But the question remains – why in the hell does TIAA-CREF need to advertise so extensively in the first place? Sort of like those defense company ads that run now and again on CNN. I understand there’s bucket of money to be made, but is CNN really the right venue to get this sort of message across?
Weird…

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September 9, 2004 at 11:31 pm

Posted in Television

Nader

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Josh Marshall cites a poll that (somewhat ambiguously) confirms what I’ve been suspecting for awhile now. Everytime they show the polls on tv with Nader included, Nader’s picking up 5 percent (more or less the same number he was hitting in 2000, when I and beaucoups of other progressives voted for him). Given the fact that none of the folks that I knew would vote for Nader now – it’s almost laughable to even think about it – I’ve been wondering if a large number of the people chiming in for him in these polls don’t actually lean Republican.
The folks who voted Reform, Perot, who are pissed about outsourcing, about Walmart stealing their family business, corporate welfare, and the like… Interesting. Maybe it should be us instead of the Shady Right Wing Groups sending Ralphie the money…

New ICR poll, conducted September 1st-5th …
With Nader, among ‘likely voters': Bush:46, Kerry: 46, Nader: 4.
Without Nader, among ‘likely voters': Bush 48, Kerry 47.
Without Nader, among ‘registered voters': Bush 46, Kerry 47.

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September 8, 2004 at 11:46 pm

Posted in Politics

“in its genes”

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Stirring post from over on Ken Macleod’s site, Early Days of a Better Nation. Some of the finest writing on-line is found on this site, and these two paragraphs speak to that. Check out the last line especially:

‘Finally, it is 1st September, and the first day of studies … For the past week … [p]arents and children … have been crowding the shops for exercise books and satchels. [...] This is a day you cannot fail to notice. The street is crowded with children in school uniform. [...] Each child is preceded and partially obscured by the bunch of flowers that will be given to the teachers.’
This is not the opening of an article on the Beslan massacre, though it could be, in every detail. It’s from a 1985 BBC book based on a BBC television series on everyday life in the Soviet Union. That celebration of the first day of the school year was a surviving ceremony of the civilization that thirteen years ago was swept away. That custom tells us, in a sense, all we need to know about the Soviet Union. (And yes, I know the rest.) This was a civilization that with all its callouses, scar tissue and war wounds, with all its congenital deformities, with all its inherited savageries, had Enlightenment inscribed in its genes.

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September 7, 2004 at 11:43 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Nicholson Baker, Checkpoint

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Interesting stuff in Nicholson Baker’s Checkpoint, toward the end. Make of it what you will.
JAY: There will be no veering. We’ve lost every war we’ve fought. Winning is losing. We lost the Second World War.
BEN: I think it’s widely agreed that we won World War II.
JAY: Well, we didn’t. It was the beginning of the end.
BEN: In what way?
JAY: We bombed all those places – we bombed Japan, right down to the islands, cities turned into grave sites. The crime of it began to work on us afterward, it began chewing on our spleens and rotting us out inside.
BEN: Ugh.
JAY: The guilt of it squeezed us and it twisted us and made us need to keep more and more things secret that shouldn’t have been kept secret. We tried to pretend that we were good midwestern folks, eating our church suppers – that we’d done the right thing over there. But it was so completely, shittingly false.
BEN: Yes, in a sense, but -
JAY: And so we lost that war. We didn’t win it. We were corrupted by it, and we became more and more warlike and secretive, and we spent all our money building weaponry and subverting little governments, poking here and there and propping up loathsome people, United Fruit. And the gangrene spread through the whole loaf of cheese.
BEN: Oh, please.
JAY: And Japan couldn’t do that. Their best people spent their days and nights thinking about how to make beautiful things, tools, machines that just felt good to hold. Which they did with such artistry. They couldn’t make fighter planes, we didn’t let them. And so they won the war. We lost (61-2).
More on Checkpoint when I get a chance….

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September 2, 2004 at 12:11 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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