November 15th, 2003


Phone Post: Spelling bee

846K 3:45
“Hi, everyone, this is Mark, how are you doing? I want to go and try this neat PhonePost service located at It allows me to go and call LiveJournal, leave a recording of what I've said, and have that automatically be posted to my journal. It uses Ogg Vorbis so unless you have a player configured for playing Ogg files, you're gonna want to get the codecs in order to play them. Go to for details on this.

The thing about this that interests me is not whether or not it'll work—I know (unintelligible) and it works just fine—what I'm more curious about is whether or not the service will scale. You see, LiveJournal is the only service I know so far that actually transcribes your phone calls. So that means that a user like me can make 15 calls a month and somebody over at LiveJournal will have to go and type the whole mess up for me.

Hello, transcriber, wherever you are. I know that you're out there somewhere. I hope that you're having fun with this call. I want to go and make it even more interesting for you right now by giving you a bit of a test. It's a spelling bee, in fact. Um, I'm, Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee Tournament, and I wanted to go and give you a chance to try spelling them all. I don't expect you to go and spend any extra time on this, and I don't expect you to get 'em all right, but it'll be fun for the rest of us. You know, it'll be <em>really</em> fun for the rest of us. So just give it your best shot. Okay, are you ready to begin? Here we go.

First word: perseod (ouch: <dfn>persillade</dfn>). Persillade. Dressed with or containing parsley. The guests enjoyed a sea bass in a persillade sauce.

Okay, second word: sigh-dicism. Oh, excuse me, cydicism (oops: <dfn>psittacism</dfn>). Automatic speech without thought or the meaning of the words spoken. Uh, the President's speech about the suffering of the poor Iraqis had devolved to mere psittacism.

Third word: chiaroscurist (yay!). Chiaroscurist. An artist who uses the arrangement or treatment of the light and the dark parts of a pictorial work of art. Chiaroscurist.

Um, here's a word you may have actually heard of before, but, nn, we'll see if you can spell it: triskadecaphobia (so close: <dfn>triskaidekaphobia</dfn>). Fear of the number thirteen. She had an obstinate case of triskaidekaphobia.

Okay, one, two more words now: (unintelligible). A small cannon, mounted on a swivel, which is, uh, particularly commonly used on camelback. The desert nomads were proud of their skill with the zumbaruk (oops: <dfn>zumbooruk</dfn>).

And last, lactasiphorous (oops: <dfn>laticiferous</dfn>). Containing, bearing, or secreting latex. The fembot had laticiferous nipples, which exuded a luxuriant skin-tight surface of black... of shiny black. Laticiferous. Let me try that again. A luxuriant skin-tight surface of shiny black. Yeah. Well, uh, pretty sexy word if you ask me, to mean laticiferous could have all fun connotations. Too bad you can't get it built in.

Um, hope that you had fun with the spelling bee, and see you everyone. Hope you enjoyed the call. Mm, bye.”

Transcribed by: markpasc

This just in: Rupert Murdock should be sodomized by splintery baseball bats.

This should once and for all silence those who think that Fox News is "Fair and Balanced"...

Rupert Murdoch, owner of Fox News as well as tons of newspapers across the world, threatened switching allegiances of his media holdings in Britain from the Labour Party in England to the Tory conservatives.

"We'll have to see how the Tory frontbench looks .... we will not quickly forget the courage of Tony Blair in the international sphere in the last several months, so we may be torn in our decision. So let's wait and see."

When asked "So it's no shoo-in that you'll support Labour at the next general election?" Mr Murdoch replied: "No, there's no shoo-in we'll support the Tories either." He went on to warn about the dangers of British involvement in a more economically united Europe... in other words, he threatened the British PM with a withdrawl of support if he doesn't do more or less what he dictates.

What we should be asking is whether it is right for one man -- a foriegner, no less -- to set the tone and editorial focus of huge media organizations in order to push his private political agenda. Given such outright declarations, we are kidding ourselves if we think that Mr. Murdoch isn't doing the exact same thing with FoxNews on some level.

Here's a thought... It is a known fact that newspapers and television news networks get significantly higher ratings during times of war. Given this fact, isn't it safe to say that the corporate management of large, "for profit" media conglomerates could be predisposed to support unnecessary wars?

Just asking...

Well, that didn't take long.

I posted at around 6 am this morning that US military fatalities in Iraq were close to the 400 mark... at 397, to be exact.

It's less than 24 hours later, and five more US soldiers have lost their lives in four seperate attacks, putting the tally at 402. Newspapers haven't mentioned it much yet, however. Maybe they're waiting for 500 instead.

Sometimes, it seems that only people who seem to really be counting are me, the people over at Lunaville, and Jimmy Breslin, who is a bonafide national treasure. It feels odd that most writers who I appreciate are of the same character, as if they spent their childhood years fighting tooth and nail against pit bulls in illegal betting parlours, until they found that they could parlay the same skills into a career in journalism.

Compare writers like Breslin to "tough" conservative pundits like Limbaugh, Coultier, and O'Reilly and there's no contest -- the conservatives wouldn't stand a chance. They're uniformly weak when it comes to the facts, and seemingly draw their ideas from the same cereal box. Their true power lies in the fact that they are given a exclusive, highly-controlled soapbox from which to slander others by questioning their loyalty, a la Joseph McCarthy. It's worth remembering, however, that McCarthy dug his own grave, making accusations that were so transparently false that the mere phrase "have you no decency?" hung round his neck and drove him into an early, alcohol-induced grave. This same fate can (and most likely would) happen to Limbaugh, O'Reilly, or Coultier if they ever overreached their bounds.

But for the lack of a few votes in Congress, this same fate would undoubtedly await many of those currently residing in the White House...

Are they disposable yet?!

More crappy news on the warfront. Only halfway through this month, and at 77 coalition casualties, it's shaping up to be the most lethal month in Iraq yet -- more deadly than the first month of the invasion itself.

The Bush administration is hyping their "fasttracked plan"... which, incidentally, entails more dicking around with US troops in Iraq until at least the end of 2005... and yet another US appointed/juryrigged "transitional government", with no real democracy for nearly two years. Perhaps it's worth pointing out that they've already burned through seven months, over 85 Billion dollars, and nearly 500 coalition soldiers already. Cluehammer to Bush -- the meter is running.

And even then, you'd be hardpressed to find anyone in Iraq who thinks that US forces won't try turning "postwar" Iraq into a "strategic partner", complete with military bases. I think it was turningtables who said that it sure looked like they were building US facilities to be around for a long, long time.

"There is no decision to pull out early, indeed quite the contrary..."
- Donald Rumsfeld, Nov. 14, 2003

The real problem is that the US cannot stop the attacks... ever. They will continue for decades if necessary; all the coalition can hope for is to decrease their frequency and lethality.

Ultimately, this conflict isn't just about defeating Saddam's "deadenders". It's not about defeating al-Qaeda or Syrians or Iranians or Iraqi nationalists or Iraqi Sunnis or Iraqi Shi'ite radicals or Taleban or Hezbollah. Nope. It's about defeating all of the above. US troops in Iraq might as well be wearing large, iridescent "kick me" signs on their backs, as far as that region of the world is concerned. Even if the US won over the hearts of 99% of the people, that would still leave 300,000 potential enemies in just Iraq alone, not to mention the rest of the Muslim world. You can't "win" that kind of war with any tactic short of genocide. Just ask the Israelis...