John Furie Zacharias
having a bad day in a strange place
Thunderstorms Anywhere

Thunderstorms in the Imajica

 The different ways I don't like you 
 in a list that may never become organized
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JfZ making a mess of the web
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Monday, May 03, 2004
Yahoo-ey Political Opinion sites

Buy this book dammit!

I started my review of Political Opinion websites from the Yahoo directory listing, which is alphabetical, so that's the order in which they are listed here first.  The order in which they are listed is NOT a heirarchy of my preferences or recommendations. That's at the end.  I just asked myself the following seven questions concerning the web sites and tried to answer within the range I've specified.  The range of ratings is 1 to 5 and should be explanatory enough with the corresponding word descriptions I have used.  I hope my own political bias will have a lesser affect on the review of the web site by having a range of answers to mostly objective questions -- or questions, if subjective, are not really political in nature.

Rating these websites is just an exercise.  These ratings may prove to be meaningless to what you think is important.  A website could have a very narrow topical scope rating (1), have a geographic appeal or demographic audience the size of my basement (1),  be as updated as grandma's wardrobe (1), but could have a bunch of humorous political cartoons that are still funny and presented well on the site, so bookmark it (5)!

I've purposely omitted whether or not the web site should be categorized as liberal, conservative, or something in between -- I've left that up to you to decide for yourself.  I could have just as easily created a link to the Yahoo /Political Opinion/ directory listing, let you click away at them and discover like I did that half are dead web sites. I hope you find this listing helpful, useful, or interesting.  If you really like a site listed here, make a comment about it so others will know.

1. What is its scope, topically? - very narrow, limited, average, broad, very broad
2. What is its appeal geographically? - my basement, city, county, state, U.S.
3. How current is the site? - grandma's wardrobe, moldy, updated regularly, fairly recent, daily.
4. Is it interesting? - please kill me, yawnfest, not bad, pretty good, edge of my seat.
5. Is it informational?  - waste of bandwidth, within its scope, useful, very useful, bookmark it!
6. Is the site organized? - schizophrenic, junk drawer, navigable, very good, great.
7. Professional looking design? - very lame, okay, pretty good, very good, wow!

Help little kids ... buy the book!

Web Site Scope Appeal Updated Interesting Informational Organized Design
American Newspeak 2 4 2 4 3 3 2
satirical news journal celebrating the Orwellian face of the 1990s with cutting edge advances in the art of doublethink.

AmeriRoots 1 4 2 1 2 2 1
information center for conservative, reform, and libertarian grass roots politics.

ChickenHawk Database 1 4 4 4 3 5
New Hampshire Gazette feature which attempts to identify public persons who tend advocate military solutions to political problems, yet have personally declined to serve in the armed forces during wartime.

Dr. Politics 3 3 3 2 4 4 4
presents the views of Ted Rueter, a professor of political science at UCLA.

Full Disklosure 3 4 4 4 4 4
Nifty PHP-nuke message forum site for politix and some new-age topics

Newtopia Magazine 4 5 5 5 5 5 5
a modern sociological-culture review that examines how our politics and policies are reflected in arts, government, and humanities.

Quarterly Report 2 3 2 3 3 3 2
Political Commentary by James R. Audet

RealClearPolitics 3 5 5 3 4 1 2
featuring political commentary, talk show opinion, polling data, and election analysis.

The Soapbox 4 4 5 4 5 5 5
features views of the left and the right, reader submissions, and a message board.

Vague Politix 2 1 2 4 4 5 5
Fusing pop culture and politics, advocates "compassion with edge, cynicism with heart and flat-out dumb fun.

World Works Symposium 1 1 2 3 2 3 1
ongoing inquiry into how the world works (mindless political ramblings of a guy keeping a good domain name)

My overall observations and recommendations:

Definitely check out Newtopia Magazine.  Their current issue is about Culture Wars.

Definitely check out The Soapbox.  This parody of homeland security web info is very friggin' hilarious.

Pretty cool in their own special way:  Vague Politix, ChickenHawk Database, and Full Disklosure.

RealClearPolitics is informational, but just seems to be a lame ad revenue generating site.

Self-aggrandize at your own risk: World Works, Dr. Politics, Quarterly Report, American Newspeak, AmeriRoot.

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Sunday, May 02, 2004
Iraqi Prisoner torture at Abu Ghraib

It's all fun and games until your pix air on 60 minutes
As a follow-up to The Weasel-in-Chief speaks, here's some important information to consider.  As is the usual case, comments over on Plastic range from "See?  I told you America is evil" to the more useful variety.  Inevitably though, someone finds related information on the topic under discussion and I would just like to highlight some of it.

In an upcoming New Yorker magazine article, Seymour M. Hersh asks, " American soldiers brutalized Iraqi prisoners.  How far up does the responsibility go? "

If you're not aware of it, this story didn't start when 60 Minutes II aired the photos of Iraqi prisoners the other day.  Up and down the chain of command, the military has been investigating these allegations for many months.  It just came to public awareness when those pix became public.  Hersh obtained a copy of a fifty-three page investigative report by Major General Antonio M. Taguba which sheds a lot of light on this subject:

As the international furor grew, senior military officers, and President Bush, insisted that the actions of a few did not reflect the conduct of the military as a whole. Taguba’s report, however, amounts to an unsparing study of collective wrongdoing and the failure of Army leadership at the highest levels. The picture he draws of Abu Ghraib is one in which Army regulations and the Geneva conventions were routinely violated, and in which much of the day-to-day management of the prisoners was abdicated to Army military-intelligence units and civilian contract employees. Interrogating prisoners and getting intelligence, including by intimidation and torture, was the priority.

While it may convenient and expedient to point to the obnoxious photos and blame the enlisted personnel from the 372nd MP company in them, believe me when I say that other heads are going to roll, bigger fish will fry, and perhaps even GWB may reap what he has sown in Iraq, come November.

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Saturday, May 01, 2004
Weasel-in-chief speaks

Dubya is a weasel
" I share a deep disgust that those prisoners were treated the way they were treated, " Bush said. " Their treatment does not reflect the nature of the American people. That's not the way we do things in America. "
Just when I looked forward to blogging about less serious topics, another steaming pile of shit hits the fan concerning Iraq.

I just knew this story was going to explode sometime down the road back when I watched General Kimmet field increasingly hostile questions about these allegations from the press during his briefing that is sometimes aired on C-Span and cable news.

Photos of the mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners have surfaced and were aired on CBS' 60 Minutes II show.  These photos were front page news in Europe and in the Middle East, and now they're the big story here.  Personally, I share a deep disgust with the president's foreign policy in Iraq, the mistreatment of our soldiers there, and the fact the weasel-in-chief would even comment on it.

Just to balance out the piling-on effect a story like this inevitably has,
I posted these comments over on Plastic:

Having served in the Army for several years (luckily between wars), I was curious to find out a little more about these Military Police serving in some hell-hole in Iraq. I mean think about it: being in Iraq would be bad enough, but then to be in charge of a prison there too? I'm not making any excuses for professional soldiers who may have acted unprofessionally, I'm just exploring the story a little further to get a glimpse into the possible causes for this abhorrent unprofessionalism.

In October of last year, a writer for the Army's own Stars and Stripes interviewed people from this very MP unit, so I think the article entitled,
It's a whole new world for guardsmen and reservists, no longer 'weekend warriors' may be especially useful.

A survey was taken about the morale of these weekend warriors now serving full-time in Iraq.

Ninety three percent stated that unit morale was either average, low, or very low and eighty five percent stated their personal morale was similarly as bad.

"We are second-class soldiers," Staff Sgt. Richard Thompson said in an interview. "We are away longer from our families. We are assigned to jobs we're not trained to do. Our equipment is lacking."

Personally, I served 3 years in active duty overseas and then several years as a reservist. There is a difference in the attitudes toward full-time soldiers and that of reservists and guardsmen. This is very dangerous now that our country is relying so heavily on these part-time soldiers to carry out so many operations at the same time all over the world.

Poor morale means little retention of trained soldiers. More than half of surveyed soldiers in Iraq said they would not re-enlist because of the way they were being treated themselves. If the soldiers are not being treated well, how do you think they are going to treat the apparent enemy?

"Our generals need to face the reality here," said Master Sgt. C.J. Nouse, 39, from the 372nd MP Company. "Reserve members can't possibly keep this pace up. With deployments to Bosnia and for homeland defense, our families are continuing to suffer. Does anyone care?"

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Friday, April 30, 2004
Fraggin' Friday: Q3A - Cityrush

   Shoot at bots, not your neighbors
  Click for larger image of Hack-writer's Cityrush

The first time I player-spawned on the rooftop of a building in Cityrush, I had to blink to make sure I hadn't somehow loaded Duke Nukem 3D, but I saw no Piggies with badges and felt better when I heard the familiar game voice telling me that a bot had joined the game.  The DN3D look and feel of this map is pulled off well, down to the Playboy magazine cover lying around.

While some other map authors might complain that it is just a open box map, I would point out that most real city neighborhoods are also plain box maps.  Hack-writer uses building facade textures with enough windows to create the appropriate visual scale of 1-6 story buildings in an urban fragfest.  There are also several interesting shooter_ entities, like the tank and the gun triggered to protect the Red Armor, which I haven't seen used much since Q2. The bots did well, lighting is good, there are multiple respawn locations, and player items like weapons, health, ammo, and power-ups are distributed well.

Cityrush is a break from the overly-detailed and beveled maps and this Russian Q3A map author seems to understand that gaming is just supposed to be fun.  It is a fairly simple map with a retro urban gaming theme that is fun to play FFA, but especially CTF.  It would be great for a Fraggin' Friday LAN party -- the more, the merrier.

more quake map reviews

Don't have Quake 3?
Go get it now!

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Thursday, April 29, 2004
Eminem's D12 World

If Eminem is Slim Shady is Marshall Mathers, who is J f Z?
 Click for a larger view of the   Color of Money
The infamous hip-hop rapper and our homey from the Detroit area, Eminem, has actually had a legal battle in court go his way for once.  Unbelievably, it was a decision by a United Nations arbitration court in Geneva concerning a U.K. phone company using Eminem to promote their products without his permission.

The cyber-squatting decision by the U.N. World Intellectual Property Organization means that Marshall Mathers will own the domain name "", instead of the original domain name registrar, or Visitair Ltd.

You'll remember that in another court, Eminem pleaded no-contest to the brandishing/concealed weapons charges stemming from the incident with Insane Clown PosseAnd more recently, a Detroit judge sentenced 16-year-old James Antonio Knott to more than four years for carjacking Eminem's mom, Debbie Nelson, with whom Eminem also became tied up with litigation.  Where did Em's mom get jacked?  You guessed it -- on 8 mile road.

In other happier news, Eminem's newest music with D12 world, released this week, seems to be doing well ... which is great because I really do like him and his music.  Something that went unreported about Eminem, except that I heard it from the mouth of the man who set it up:  Eminem recently spent a while backstage with a terminally ill kid and swapped hats with him.  Who made the right phone calls?  My illegitimate father, Don Imus.

One of my favorite Emimen quotes is about notoriety: " Suddenly, you're not cool no more, you're like the Kris Kross jeans or something, even if at first you're the greatest thing since sliced cunt. "

Sliced what!?  Umm (thinking) okay ... is that a new low-carb Atkins wrap from Subway Subs?

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