American Culture

Nota Bene #23

Got hot links if you want ’em.

In her New York Times article, “Ballot Box Office,” Deborah Solomon interviews Jay Roach director of “Recount,” a new film about Florida 2000: “I think men are obsolete to some extent. I was going to do a film called ‘Used Guys’ about a future where women run the world because they finally figured out that men are poisoned with testosterone and shouldn’t be allowed near anything sharp or explosive.”

Bet you didn’t know this. Aaron Glantz reports at “Eighteen American war veterans kill themselves every day. One thousand former soldiers receiving care from the Department of Veterans Affairs attempt suicide every month. More veterans are committing suicide than are dying in combat overseas.” Bet you didn’t want to know.

In “Soldier Refuses Iraq Tour, Citing ‘Stomach-Churning Horrors’,” Aaron Glantz, this time on, writes about Sergeant Matthis Chiroux, 24, who orders to deploy to Iraq: “‘As an Army journalist whose job it was to collect and filter service members’ stories, I heard many stomach-churning testimonies of the horrors of the crimes taking place in Iraq. . . For fear of retaliation from the military, I failed to report these crimes, but never again will I allow fear to silence me.'”

In her New York Times article, “U.N. Official Raises Alarms Over Killings in Afghanistan,” Carlotta Gall reports: “A special investigator for the United Nations on Thursday accused foreign intelligence agencies of conducting nighttime raids and killing civilians in Afghanistan with impunity.” The CIA and Special Forces, that is.

In his American Conservative piece, “Freedomland” — subtitled “Petraeus and Crocker pretend Iraq is a state” — military analyst William Lind writes of their joint appearance: “Couldn’t a single member of Congress have found the courage to say, ‘Excuse me, consul, but you have no clothes’?”

In “Bogus Claim, al-Maliki Stall U.S. Plan on Iran Arms” at Inter Press Service, Gareth Porter explains that the administration just can’t seem to make the case Iran is arming Iraq. “The official list of weapons captured in Karbala includes nine mortars, four anti-aircraft missiles, 45, RPGs and 800 RPG missiles and 570 roadside explosive devices. [Not] a single item of Iranian origin.”

In “Radio Free Pentagon” Ken Huber blogs on the unlikelihood of an Iran attack: “Making everyone think the administration will pull the dreaded October Surprise might just be a ruse to keep everyone from focusing on the administration’s real goal. . . . to transform the Middle East into a neo-incarnation of Cold War Europe [keeping] America entangled in a low intensity but expensive armed conflict. . . for a hundred, a thousand or a million years.”

In “Global Warming as an Eviction Notice?” at News for Real, Stephen Pizzo calls for a “five-year, peddle-to-the-metal, Manhattan Project-type R&D push for sustainable, renewable, non-polluting alternatives to oil and coal? Because, I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to spend the 30-odd years I might have left on earth watching a billion or more fellow humans getting ‘evicted.'”

In “Saying Goodbye to Air Travel” at, Richard Heinberg writes: “The airline industry has no future. Our species’ historically brief fling with flight has been fun, educational, and enriching. . . . Saying goodbye will be difficult. But maybe as we do we can say hello to greater involvement in our local communities.”

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists asks global warming pioneer Spencer Weart: “How did the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki affect climate research?” Weart replied: “It was Rachel Carson who said it was fallout that taught her about the problems that humans caused to the environment. That idea opened the door for people to consider that we might be able to change the climate itself.”

In “The new nuclear abolitionists,” also in the Bulletin, Hugh Gusterson writes: “In the mid-1990s, I recall a hydrogen bomb designer at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory telling me that he had become a nuclear abolitionist. Amazed, I asked why. ‘Because a world without nuclear weapons is one in which the United States would have complete, uncontested military dominance,’ he replied with a grin.”

At Sports Illustrated’s website, NBA commissioner David Stern talks about loud music and pyrotechnics at the playoff games: “I always bite my tongue because I say, ‘Well, maybe I’m not the demographic that likes to be assaulted by loud rap, smoke, pyrotechnics and chemicals.'” But, he adds, “they think if you turn up the loudspeaker it’s going to help them perform better even though there are babies in the building.”

In “Myth busters: Addressing three common misperceptions in the NFL,” also at, Michael Lombardi writes: “‘They have a very smart coaching staff and we have a very smart coaching staff,’ New York Jets wide receiver Laveranues Coles said prior to opening last season against the Patriots. ‘They [the coaches] basically use us as chess pieces. How they position us to play this game, that’s the main thing now. Whoever can make the adjustments the best and the fastest will probably have the edge.'”

In “Dirtiest Players in Sports History,” again at, Lang Whitaker rates NFL linebacker Bill Romanowski third. “Over his 16-year NFL career, Romanowski broke Kerry Collins’ jaw, spit in JJ Stokes’ face, kicked Larry Centers in the head, threw a punch at Tony Gonzalez, pegged a football into Bryan Cox’s groin and broke a teammate’s eye socket.” Not to mention the steroids.

But “Romo” seems to have turned over a new leaf. He has his own blog now, at which he recently wrote about a pursuit he began a year ago — meditation: “I didn’t realize the impact it would have on my life. . . . Just that very peaceful feeling you get when everything is in perfect balance.”


Rolling Stone runs a section called “Threat Assessment.” On the right end of the spectrum falls “Against us.” An example from the May 29 issue: “Dick Cheney stalls efforts to protect endangered right whale from shipping traffic.”

On the left end falls “With us.” An example” “In special election, Democrat wins Louisiana House seat held by GOP for 33 years.” But the most left “With us” in this issue is: “Taliban mortar fire disrupts Toby Keith concert in Afghanistan.” Thank goodness for small favors.

A post on Think Progress describes how McCain criticized Obama because he “approved” of negotiations with Hamas, but was discovered to have supported direct diplomacy with it in 2006.

In response, commenter Buckie Boy writes: “Grampy McSame says — My friends, back in the day we liked Hamas, we would try all kinds of food, I really like pita bread and Hamas, sometimes with bananas, now a days though people are terrorfied of Hamas, which is not how it used to be, dogs don’t like Hamas, oh no, they like coconuts, when I was on the beach I would throw a coconut and a dog would go get it. . . I think I have mashed potatoes in my pants.”