Whoops, did I just say that?

Bush at Social Security forum:

“As you — as I mentioned to you earlier, we’re going to redesign the current system. If you’ve retired, you don’t have anything to worry about — third time I’ve said that. (Laughter.) I’ll probably say it three more times. See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda. (Applause.)”

..which leads to the obvious corrolary: How many times does it take lies to sink in? I don’t know the exact answer, but I’ll bet Karl Rove does.

(And you have to wonder about an audience that applauds at this. You really have to wonder.)

Two neat websites

Let’s take a break from politics for a post, shall we? Here’s a couple random links to amuse.

1) Bohemian Drive, aka Nine Planets without Intelligent Life. This is done by a friend of a friend. I really like the style. It’s funny the difference between a comic artist that really knows art (balance, composition, anatomy, line, shading, etc.) and one who doesn’t.

2) Darth Vader’s blog. It’s just serious enough that you can read a lot of it without getting the humor.

Who provoked the Iraq war?

A recent poll showed that 49% say that W. is more responsible for starting the Iraq War than Saddam Hussein. In the run-up to the war, it was about 25%.

I’m not sure what to think of this. Bush mishandled, distorted and lied our way into this war. All the same, he wouldn’t have been able to do it if Hussein didn’t have a long history of being a sadistic filthy tyrant who wanted his name up with the real powers of the world. He spent a decade trying to shoot down American planes, playing chicken with the politicians. He was purposefully coy with the whole WMD thing. He probably felt it was better for the world to think he had them even though he didn’t. So I have a hard time with this one. It’s no secret I think that Bush is the worst thing to happen this country since… well, at least since I was born. But to say he’s more responsible than Hussein? I don’t see it.

Maybe this is just the new wave hippie liberal do-gooder Stuart Smalley in me, but can’t we say they were both responsible? It wouldn’t have happened without either of them.

Comments welcome, curious to see what others think.

At last, a limit

Ed Klein’s new book on Hillary Clinton is so foul that we’ve at last seen the limits of what conservative pundits can take. O’Reilly dismisses it. Limbaugh dimisses it. OK, some don’t know the meaning of limits, naturally, Hannity is having Klein on. (Late news: Klein contradicts himself completely on Hannity, looks quite the fool.)

Klein seems eager to prove his own stupidity:
(Klein on the Chris Matthews show)
KLEIN (6/12/05): She hasn’t gone to the middle. She hasn’t gone to the middle. She is still voting as a liberal!…

MATTHEWS: Facts! Put some facts on the table! You told me beforehand, in the dressing-room today, you said that she’s not a liberal because she doesn’t vote liberal.

KLEIN: She doesn’t vote liberal.

Great stuff. But the priceless commentary is this piece, by Sen. Patrick Moynihan’s daughter. Here’s my favorite paragraph:

Mr. Klein puts quotes around statements that were never uttered. I can confirm this because the only other persons present during this meeting were myself and our Tibetan cook, who speaks about 10 words of English. Mr. Klein has now gone on the record to say that he spent “several hours interviewing Mrs. Moynihan.” Puzzling indeed, in that Mrs. Moynihan—my mother—hasn’t seen Mr. Klein in over 20 years. I’d like to see the transcripts or hear the tapes of his on-the-record talks with Mrs. Moynihan. And it would have been difficult for him to interview Senator Moynihan, because he’s dead.

Going Nuclear

Bush promotes nuclear energy. Well, yay. The time has is long long overdue for nuclear reactors to be built. Strangely, all the regulations intended to make sure they’re safe do just the opposite. No new designs can be tried, even though we have over 50 years more technology and experience to draw on. And the cost of going through regulation hurdles is so high that it’s just not feasible to build them.

But, wait, this quote is odd! “It’s time for this country to start building nuclear power plants again,” said Bush, who noted that while the U.S. gets 20 percent of its electricity from nuclear reactors, France meets 78 percent of its electricity needs with nuclear power. Doesn’t he know everything the French do is wrong? Maybe we should introduce Freedom Fuel!

Accountability & Transparency

Speaking about the Bolton nomination, “We want more accountability and transparency and less bureaucracy, and John Bolton will help to achieve that mission,” Bush told reporters at an appearance with European Union leaders at the White House.

It takes a pair of giant brass ones for Bush to speaking about accountability and transparency, and he’s certainly got them.

Transparency?

  • The nomination is stalled because the Bush administration will not provide documents regarding his actions in his previous job. They would rather keep it all secret.
  • They have reversed the trend during the Clinton era of declassifying government papers, and habitually classify materials with high secret ratings, purely for political purposes. They completely ignore many Freedom of Information acts, in violation of law.
  • Their well-noted refusal to disclose who helped Cheney write the energy policy. (Though the right had no problems raking Hillary over the coals when she got outside feedback for the healthcare plan.)
  • A major roadshow on Social Security reform, spending generous amounts of political capital to promote their plan — only there is no plan. Bush has never revealed any specifics. (Hint: The plan has nothing to do with solvency, as Bush finally admitted.)

Accountability?

  • Frist openly diagnosed Terry Schiavo’s condition on the floor of the Senate, was proved absolutely wrong by the autopsy, and now claims he never said anything.
  • Secret planning for an Iraq invasion, illegally diverting funds from the Afghanistanian war to Iraq.
  • Continually promoting and rewarding those who fuck up royally, as long as they are loyal, and firing those who disagree, even when they are proved right over and over again.
  • Bush has never proposed a plan for Social Security reform, but has no problem continually attacking Democrats for having no plan. (Hint: Keeping the most successful federal program in history in it’s current shape counts as a plan.)

..and the list could easily stretch for dozens of items more.

Late breaking news: In an effort to hold themselves more accountable to the Senate, administration officials announced they may just ignore the Senate entirely.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is keeping open the possibility that President Bush will bypass the Senate to get John R. Bolton installed as U.N. ambassador temporarily if Democrats persist in holding up a confirmation vote.

White House press secretary Scott McClellan did not rule out that Bush would consider a recess appointment if the Senate does not approve Bolton’s nomination. He blamed the Democrats for “obstructing progress” by stalling a vote on Bolton.

A boring dream

Last night I had a dream. In my dream, I was eating a sandwich. It was some kind of turkey loaf. While I ate, our dog was sitting besides me looking at me the whole time. Even though I was hungry, I decided to give most of the sandwich to the dog.

I woke up for a minute, thought to myself “Giving the food to the dog… I’m a nice guy”, and went back to bed.

Dashboard Confessional

Another example of terrible user interface. The automobile dashboard. Here is the what it looks like in my car (a 95 Ford Probe):

Probe Dash

It’s pretty clear how to read it, right? Speedometer/odometer on the left, tachometer on the right.

Now here’s the dashboard of our other car (’01 Passat):
pass

Each and every time I drive this car, I get mad at the manufacturers. How hard is it to screw up a dashboard?

1) Quick how fast are you going? I don’t know, because I always look at the tachometer first. Why would they put the tach on the left? The most important thing goes on the left. It’s more important to know how fast you are going than how fast the engine is going. This isn’t a matter of opinion. Just about every country on earth reads from left to right. So the important facts go on the left.

2) Why on earth would they express the tach in hundreds of rpms, rather than the standard thousands? The only thing that does is make it so that the tach is expressed in the exact same units as the speed. It couldn’t be worse if it they had set out to intentionally confuse the driver.

Here is the dash of the rental car I happened to be driving after my accident:

Now that’s an interface! The most importan information is up front and center, and the circle is even accented to draw the eye there even more strongly. A terrifically clear font. There is zero chance of confusing one readout with another.

The Passat has another feature, that many other cars seem to share nowadays. Below is a picture of the window controls. Which way do you press a button to bring the window down?

Who the heck knows. There is no natural mapping. This is because they chose to put all the buttons on the horizontal plane of the door, rather than on the vertical door itself. And it’s not as if the icon helps matters. Can you see how that is a picture of a window? You might as well print a Magic Eye image there for all the good it does.

Speaking of icons, how about the lock buttons above the window controls? The lock picture is a picture of a key, and the unlock button is a picture of a car with a door open. At least that’s what I think, it could equally well be interpreted as a word balloon that says “Unlock here Stupid American!” in heiroglyphics.

Real World IQ Test

Today I was on an elevator. We were going down. The building has 6 floors. We stopped on the second floor. A woman got on, looked around at the five of us standing calmly, and looked at the buttons to make sure that “1” was pressed.

Think about it.