Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist has died tonight.
The music offers further evidence of how far outside rap's usual strictures West operates. OutKast aside, mainstream hip-hop doesn't really do ambiguity or irony, but just as West's arrogance occasionally appears to be a protracted joke, Late Registration finds him in thrillingly subversive form, working in the production booth to undercut tracks' messages and shifting their meanings.-The Guardian

Kanye West’s new album Late Registration has hit the shelves and it’s clear that the producer/rapper/mini-mogul is leaving an indelible mark on music. West’s beats have either showed everything that’s right (or wrong) with rap by fusing Buppie sensibilities, a thoughtfulness that’s unusual for rap, and the hooks that are a pre-requisite for a mega-platinum career.

Kanye is willing to take on issues that extend beyond the usual rap fare. On the new album he takes on Reagan for pumping crack into black neighborhoods on the track “Crack Music”, condemns the blood diamond trade on “Diamonds From Sierra Leone (Remix)”, and takes on racial profiling in “Heard ‘em Say”. Off the wax he’s noteworthy as well. Whether it’s taking on the current President because he “doesn’t care about black people” in the wake of the fed’s tepid response to Katrina, or the rap world’s overt homophobia, it’s apparent Kanye isn’t afraid to take a stance.

Politics and style aside, what makes Kanye a singular talent is his music. As Time Magazine wrote in their recent cover article, “Jesus Walks (off of Kanye’s freshman album) is one of those miraculous songs that you hear for the first time and immediately look forward to hearing on a semiregular basis for the next 30 or 40 years.” Rolling Stone lauds the new album as well:

If this album has an emotional stunner a la "Jesus Walks," it's "Hey Mama," where West honors his mother, who had to work nights to keep on the lights. It loops a simple la-la-la vocal hook into a soul-sonic force, like Side Two of Prince's Sign 'o' the Times after aliens hacked into it. It's the best family-affair tearjerker since Ghostface's "All That I Got Is You," as West raps, "Can I cry, please?/Gimme a verse of 'You Are So Beautiful to Me.'"
Video of Kanye West's rant can be seen here.
CNN has compiled a list of administration quotes and juxtaposed them against the reality on the ground.
As always, Craigslist is demonstrating a value far beyond anyone's wildest dreams. A page with Katrina relief information can be found here.
Kanye West letting his frustration boil over last night:

"George Bush doesn't care about black people" and said America is set up "to help the poor, the black people, the less well-off as slow as possible."

Telethon host Matt Lauer backed away from Kayne's comments as quickly as possible but it's apparent that there is an OJ-esque rift in America that Katrina is exposing.

Camille Paglia is writing a little more frequently these days. It's good to have her back. Her take on Katrina and the administration's shortcomings.

What is highly surprising now is the disintegration of the administration's mask of competence and confidence, as New Orleans sinks day by day into squalor and savagery, a shocking panorama of unrelieved human suffering.


Oh, you're kidding me. You've got to be kidding me. Hat tip (as always) to Sulli, but can you belive these words from Bush today?

"The good news is - and it's hard for some to see it now - that out of this chaos is going to come a fantastic Gulf Coast, like it was before. Out of the rubbles of Trent Lott's house -- he's lost his entire house - there's going to be a fantastic house. And I'm looking forward to sitting on the porch.' (Laughter)." - president George W. Bush, today. Just think of that quote for a minute; and the laughter that followed. The poor and the black are dying, dead, drowned and desperate in New Orleans and elsewhere. But the president manages to talk about the future "fantastic" porch of a rich, powerful white man who only recently resigned his position because he regretted the failure of Strom Thurmond to hold back the tide of racial desegregation.
Apparently the members of our major media organizations have rediscovered their role. You are not publicity arms for whatever administration is in power, you are the watch dogs of our democracy. Cowards hiding behind microphones. Your collusion with irrelevance doesn't allow you to avoid the impact of your (in)decision.
A lot of you have written and asked about my lack of posting related to Katrina and the aftermath. I really don't have too much to add other than what has been discussed by others more qualified to do so. (Hurricaid is a great resource for all things Katrina).

Best wishes and our prayers (and hopefully some dollars too) go out to the good folks in Gulf Coast.


Whites "find" food in New Orleans and blacks "loot" food. Interesting distinction from the AP.


So now the Assn. of Christian Schools International is suing the UC system because they don't value schools that teach creationism in admissions process. The assault on knowledge and common sense continues.


Virginia Postrel has famously written about design, both in her columns and her book, The Substance of Style. She coined the term "esthetic economy", celebrating the fact that the cost of style has decreased to the point that good design has reached into the lives of more people, and perhaps more significantly, indicating a world where basic needs have been met and increasingly value being perceived from style. The esoteric nature of design discussions has taken a very serious turn over the past few weeks with a controversial redesign that is cracking wide fissures that may be too deep to repair.

The Daily Show has changed their set.

The new set both evokes and mocks the hyper-kinetic visual space of the cable news channels and at the same time is intended to create a unified atmosphere that puts funny man Jon Stewart on center stage.

"I thought it was important to get Jon more at the center of things, so that he was more clearly the epicenter of the visual set," said James Biber, an architect with the New York firm Pentagram who led the set project, "And to strip away a lot of the talk-show cues, like the couch. It's not a talk show."

The erstwhile couch is where the battle line is drawn between those who appreciate the changes and those who despise them.

The advantages of the couch format are multifold. Guests can not only be seen from head to foot, giving us a sense of their physical presence, their posture, and even their choice of shoes; they can also use the space however they want. They're free to hump the couch, as Al Green did in a Daily Show interview earlier this year, or jump up on it and make asses of themselves, like Tom Cruise on Oprah last May.

An underground campaign to bring back the couch has received support from a Daily Show correspondent, hinting at how deep the division is.

The set redesign truly is a matter of some serious thought on the part of the producers. They felt the show was changing in terms of tone and wanted to have a set that would reflect Stewart's new, more aggressive style. Pentagram was also the team that created the design elements of the widely successful book America: A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction and wsimilarlyily tasked with creating something that was evocative of an American standard (i.e. a high-school text-book) and simultaneously derisive.
Related to our discussion about lethargy in conservatism today, it's worth noting that the Weekly Standard has celebrated it's 10th anniversary. As Virginia reminds us at the Dynamist, perhaps their greatest accomplishment was lighting a fire under The National Review.
Shocking photos from Iraq but an amazing example of photojournalism from Salon. The Unseen War isn't easy to look at, but it can be considered important nonetheless.
Flickr fans are going to committ mass ID suicide to complain about Yahoo's new policy. Super!
As a man who struggles with clutter it's nice to see that wires, messy rooms, and general disarray, is actually cool.
Dell Computers, the little company that could, is struggling now that it has turned 21 and grown into a global behemoth. The business press, long Dell’s loudest and most ardent supporter, has turned on the company, gleefully chronicling a series of problems. Dell has been seen as a company whose governance has been strong and ethically, the symbol of the flattening of the global economy, and perhaps most importantly, a spectacular growth stock. A series of challenges has changed the tone and tenor of the reporting. As Dan Gross writes over at Slate:

There has been a disappointing earnings report, complaints about customer service, unflattering stock charts, and a rash of articles questioning Dell's future—Business Week had two negative Dell articles in its current issue, and the Financial Times had a critical takeout last week.

Perhaps worst of all, Dell’s stock has been mired in mediocre (certainly by Dell’s standards) returns and has had its lunch handed to it by once struggling HP over the past year.

And when it comes to bad press there are few PR teams that can manage the publicity nightmare that comes with pissing off a powerful blogger.

Flattening earnings, downward price pressures, the inherent lethargy that plagues companies of Dell’s size, and challenges associated with breaking into new global markets are all contributing to the struggles of one of the most successful companies in the history of mankind.

While it’s certainly too early to write Dell’s epitaph industry watchers are wondering how the company can regain its once formidable stride.
On May 13th, the authorities in Uzbekistan opened fire on a peaceful demonstration of close to 10,000 people in the eastern city of Andijan, probably killing several hundred of them and possibly as many as 1,000. According to survivors, tanks rolled through the main square, firing indiscriminately, snipers picked off their victims from convenient buildings, and, later on, soldiers shot some of the wounded dead. That was three months ago. Since then, the European Union and America have expressed their horror at the worst massacre of demonstrators since Tiananmen Square by imposing the following sanctions on Uzbekistan:

So writes the Economist as they chastise western indifference to a regime that engaging in atrocious behavior.
Uzbekistan has enjoyed the ability to terrorize her citizens largely because of the inaction and ineffectiveness of America and the EU. The United States has offered a veiled rebuke for the attacks and has publicly claimed that it is waiting for Europe to take the lead on Uzbekistan. The EU demanded that the Uzbekistany government comply with an investigation by July 1st, “or else”. July came and went, as has August, and the EU hasn’t decided what the “or else” is to be.

Comparisons to the US and EU’s realpolitiks with Chechnya have been made. However few have argued that the west’s interests lie with Uzbekistan as it does with Chechnya.

Whether it’s kicking the US out of its military bases, slaughtering innocent protesters and forcing their “confessions”, or jailing members of the media, autocratic President Islam Karimov has enjoyed a level of international anonymity that allows a disturbing level of independence.
The Grapple in the Big Apple is set. Galloway v. Hitchens in the Iraq War debate to end all deabates. (Uh, until the next one).


If you need to get your fix of George Bush flags in poo, there's only one place to go.
Recent proclamations by doctors have renewed the debate around practices that cut to the core of what it means to be a man or a woman. On the heels of a study that says male circumcision may reduce the risk of HIV transmission by 65% the unkindest cut is once again being publicly debated. Not only are the health benefits of circumcision being questioned some claim that a lifetime of diminished sexual experience is a large price to pay for what amounts to a religious superstition. The anti-circumcision movement is growing converts and though their platform hasn’t changed much. As Emily Bazelon summarizes for Slate readers:

Circumcision is painful, irreversible surgery to which newborn boys cannot consent. Its health benefits are marginal and overstated. And far from being an extraneous bit of flesh, the foreskin is "richly endowed with specialized nerves," making it "the principal site of sexual sensation" in a man who has one.

From calls to lawmakers make genital mutilation a crime, to those who believe it’s simply a matter of educating the populace, the anti-circumcision movement is enjoying a renaissance.

Another article from a doctor is creating a stir in certain circles as well. Dr. Keith Ablow writing in the New York Times says that the relatively new practice of men joining their wives in the delivery room may need to be reexamined.

It is miraculous to see a baby's head emerge, and it can also be shocking. It is riveting to see an umbilical cord connecting mother and baby, but it can also be very disturbing. It is exciting to be asked by a doctor to cut that umbilical cord, but also potentially very frightening, even for otherwise rather fearless men.
And not every man gets over it. Several men have confessed to me that they never regained the same romantic view of their wives that they had before seeing them deliver children.

Men’s diminished sexual desire for their wives seems like an understandable, if not totally forgivable, offense, but the debate has seems to have struck a chord with many woman. As Meghan O'Rourke worte in Slate:

What was nonetheless striking about the debate was the vehemence of the hostility directed at these men. The bloggers clearly felt that the men's desire (or lack of it) was objectively wrong, like that of a pedophile or a rapist, and ought somehow to be controllable. The animus against these men reflects just how powerful even relatively new cultural norms can be—and just how conflicted are our post-feminist ideas about what kind of imaginative relationship to the body is appropriate…At the crux of the debate is one of most important and vexed questions of modern feminism: How far into our imaginations should it reach?
So now we are getting additional perspective on the monetary cost of the War on Terror (or whatever the term is today).

In constant inflation-adjusted dollars, the current conflict is the fourth most costly US war, behind World War II, Vietnam, and Korea. (See chart below.)

By the end of September, its projected military cost will be $252 billion. The amount spent on the war in Iraq ($186 billion) and Afghanistan ($66 billion) is "inching up" on the cost of the Korean War, says Steven Kosiak, an analyst at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment in Washington. CSBA provided the estimate based on government data.


Coffee is better than vegetables (sort of).