Paul Murray's weblog, with news you may have missed and my $0.02 worth on a number of topics.

"You can't make up anything anymore. The world itself is a satire. All you're doing is recording it."
- Art Buchwald

I bet you don't have a friend who's an acupuncturist

E-mail me: pmurray [at]

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Sunday, November 30, 2003
Did you hear about Stanley Kubrick and Apollo 11?
Roger Ebert answers a question about the "documentary" film Dark Side of the Moon. As entertaining as this sounds -- I wish I had seen this, because we do get the CBC here in Detroit -- the problem is that people will end up actually believing this stuff. After all, there are still people arguing that we never even went to the moon.

Friday, November 28, 2003
So much for the glorious trip to Baghdad.
Unfortunately, I expect that History Professor Juan Cole's take on Bush's secret Baghdad trip is the minority view. (via

Monday, November 24, 2003
Pay no attention to the producer behind the curtain!
Ever wonder at how articulate NPR correspondents and their interview subjects are? Well, they have a little help. (via TVBarn)

How the Democratic Party's move to primaries changed everything.
The Boston Globe explains how a little-known task force helped create Red State/Blue State America:

If region and culture divide the parties, it is not simply the legacy of the upheavals of the 1960s. It is also the legacy of a forgotten 28-member body called the Commission on Party Structure and Delegate Selection (1969 -- 72), better known as the McGovern or McGovern-Fraser commission.

The McGovern commission, chaired first by Senator George McGovern and then Congressman Don Fraser of Minnesota, ended the old boss system of choosing presidential nominees and helped create the modern presidential primary system. This led to a class shift in each party, as affluent liberals gained more power in the Democratic Party while working-class conservatives won more say in the GOP.

Perhaps most importantly, the commission changed the rationale for choosing presidential nominees: Picking a candidate who was likely to win became less important than choosing one who represented the views of primary voters and special-interest groups. Today the legacy lives on in the insurgent candidacy of quintessential "blue-state" candidate Howard Dean.

(via New Media Musings)

So, what's changed?
Hint: look up.

I've wanted to make my domain a "real" address for awhile now, but several things held me back: a desire not to screw up something that already worked, uncertainty over what to get in the way of a hosting service, and (of course) plain old inertia. When I read about an offer of free hosting for three years, with no ads and good reviews from people using it, I decided to bite. So here we are.

Next I'd like to tinker with the Recently Consumed Media sidebar. It looks seamless in Mozilla/Firebird but ugly in IE, I've discovered.

Monday, November 17, 2003
Attention readers:
If things get a little goofy here -- like you can't access this page for some reason -- it's because there are changes in the works. Please be patient, any outages should be temporary.

Too much H2O.
I honestly never thought that it was possible to die from drinking too much water (and I don't mean drowning), but apparently it is, according to this news story about a different kind of college drinking contest:
Excessive consumption of water can be fatal, causing pulmonary edema, a condition where water enters the lungs, and hyponatremia, a sodium imbalance brought on by excess fluid consumption.

The average person can consume up to 15 liters of water in a 24-hour period, but drinking too much, too quickly can swell brain cells and cause head pressure, said Dr. Greg Blomquist, an emergency room doctor at Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas.

"Lethargy, a feeling of tiredness, confusion, even a stupor or coma in the later stages can occur," he said.


And while we're on the subject, the widely claimed "you need to drink 8-10 glasses of water a day" advice doesn't hold up.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003
And speaking of people...
You may have heard the assertion that 75% of all the people who have ever lived are alive. Is this plausible? (via kottke)

Who and where is giving to whom?
Check out this interesting map that shows how US residents are donating to the current presidential candidates. (via kottke)

Friday, November 07, 2003
Bush to Congressional Democrats: Drop Dead!
The arrogance is simply breathtaking, but there it is:
The Bush White House, irritated by pesky questions from congressional Democrats about how the administration is using taxpayer money, has developed an efficient solution: It will not entertain any more questions from opposition lawmakers.

The decision -- one that Democrats and scholars said is highly unusual -- was announced in an e-mail sent Wednesday to the staff of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. House committee Democrats had just asked for information about how much the White House spent making and installing the "Mission Accomplished" banner for President Bush's May 1 speech aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003
Yet another web page the Bush Administration doesn't want you to see.
Many administrations like keeping things secret, of course, but this one is notorious for it, and there are numerous examples of them yanking pages from public web sites. The latest example is the deletion of an April 23, 2003 appearance on Nightline by the administrator of the Agency for International Development, the lead agency responsible for rebuilding the infrastructure of Iraq. As you can see in this Google cache, USAID had proudly posted a transcript of the interview. It's gone now, almost certainly because of this claim:

(Off Camera) Well, it's a, I think you'll agree, this is a much bigger project than any that's been talked about. Indeed, I understand that more money is expected to be spent on this than was spent on the entire Marshall Plan for the rebuilding of Europe after World War II.

No, no. This doesn't even compare remotely with the size of the Marshall Plan.

(Off Camera) The Marshall Plan was $97 billion.

This is 1.7 billion.

(Off Camera) All right, this is the first. I mean, when you talk about 1.7, you're not suggesting that the rebuilding of Iraq is gonna be done for $1.7 billion?

Well, in terms of the American taxpayers contribution, I do, this is it for the US. The rest of the rebuilding of Iraq will be done by other countries who have already made pledges, Britain, Germany, Norway, Japan, Canada, and Iraqi oil revenues, eventually in several years, when it's up and running and there's a new government that's been democratically elected, will finish the job with their own revenues. They're going to get in $20 billion a year in oil revenues. But the American part of this will be 1.7 billion. We have no plans for any further-on funding for this.

If you haven't been paying attention, that estimate is somewhat off.
(via Dan Gillmor)