Comments or suggestions: Gerard Van der Leun
Cox and Forkum If They Can't Take a Joke

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Ascerbic Web Cartoonists Bare All for Dean Esmay

If you ever wonder whether or not there's a liberal slant to the newspapers of the country, reflect that the editorial cartoons of John Cox and Allen Forkum appear in none of them. Their work is, as of this writing, unsyndicaed. Easily the equal of any editorial cartoonists found in newpapers, and superior to most, this duo remains, along with Chris Muir, one of the crown jewels of the Web; proof that this medium's ability to deliver high-quality content and a wide rage of views is now unexcelled.


Posted by Vanderleun Jul 31, 2003 8:29 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Improving the Pledge of Allegiance

We recently received the following memo from an obscure blog on We are not sure it is 100% genuine so we thought we'd share it here so that others might comment.

To: The Central Committee to Make the Pledge Good Instead of Evil and Old and in the Way.

From: Newspeak Central

Re: The Way Cool New Pledge

Dudes and Dudettes and Other Cool Persons Between Genders,

At your command Newspeak Central has spent some time reviewing the "old and in the way" Pledge of Allegiance. The result, below, is what we have -- after six months of multicultural diversity focus groups and self-criticism sessions -- come up with. It's just a start but we think it is in the right direction. We hope you give us hugs for it.

Original Bad Pledge:
"I pledge allegiance to the Flag
of the United States of America,
and to the Republic for which it stands:
one Nation under God, indivisible,
With Liberty and Justice for all.

Stinky, right? Who can say that kind of tripe with a straight face? Nobody cool, that's for sure. So we got our game face on and worked it over to a thing of beauty that MTV could make a video of once Justin Timberlake records it.

Our line and word editing and the our reasons follows;

"I " [ Too narcissistic -- Alter to 'One may or may not"

"pledge" [ Too binding, implies a commitment to something no matter what may happen to it -- Alter to "hereby loan on a revocable basis"

"allegiance " [Just far too antiquated a notion for today's fast time. Change to: "a smidgen of one's attention"]

"to the Flag" [ The Flag? You've got to be kidding. No symbols drenched in blood,

betrayal, slavery, corporate greed, unbridled lust of global domination for us. Let's change it to 'to the rainbow of diversity"]

"of the United States of America," [ No way. We are not really citizens of the USA. We're citizens of the One World!, the, dare we say it? United Cool Nations! They're the only ones that really care and care and care and care. Strike and replace with "of the United Cool Places of One World of Really Well Meaning Persons" "Nations" had to go. See below.]

"and to the Republic" [Scratch that. It was the Republican form of government that got Bush elected. The Republic is so over. We'll go for Direct Democracy where we all vote on everything, every day on the Internet! Delete and insert "and to the Ruling Elite of Technosavvy, Well-Educated, Nice People" Hey, you can't let everybody in. Most people are so uncool.]

"for which it stands:" ["Stands" is much too forthright and aggressive. We need a lighter touch here. Let's say "which it may represent sometimes"]

"one Nation" [ One? Nation? Doesn't everyone agree that the Nation-state is so over? Let's get jiggy here and substitute "many different global cultures and traditions each one just as good as yours", okay? Cool.]

"under God," [ Man, this is the Big One. This is just too much to be believed. All those billions of antiquated, superstitious, unscientific, blindly believing, stupid UNCOOL people who are cluttering up OUR planet with their foolish faith -- when they could be as smart as us and know, absolutely know, that there's nothing going on in the universe except "purposeless matter hovering in the dark!" The UNCOOL have got to be stopped and saved from their own delusion. This one is right out! Insert "under nothing but our own current ideas of what is cool as we choose to understand cool."

"indivisible," [Way too harsh, man. Too strong. Too fixed. Insert "and able to go our own ways at any time that makes us feel good."]

"With Liberty" [We like this concept. Let's flesh it out to: "With Liberty and license and free cable TV and unlimited weekend minutes."]

"and Justice" [ An obvious typo in the original. Revert to "Just Us"

"for all." [Inadvertently truncated in the original. Extend to: "for all those that agree one hundred percent with Me."

Now we've taken all those items, buffed them up, pushed them together and made them sing!

Here it is, the New and Improved "Pledge of Maybe":

"One may or may not hereby loan (on a revocable basis) a smidgen of one's attention to the Rainbow of Diversity, and the United Cool Places of One World of Really Well Meaning Persons, and to the Ruling Elite of Technosavvy, Well-Educated, Nice People for which it may represent sometimes: Many Different Global Cultures and Ethnic Traditions (each one just as good as the next), under Nothing but our own current ideas of what is Cool as we choose to understand Cool, and understanding that Me and You is Free to go our own ways at any time that makes us feel good .... with Liberty and License and Free cable TV and Unlimited Weekend Minutes, and Just Us -- meaning for all those that agree one hundred percent with Me."

You gotta agree that that JUST ROCKS!!!

Stay cool and rock on,

Joe Conason, Head Scribe,
CREEPC: Committee to Re-Elect President Clinton.

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 31, 2003 11:15 AM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
My Future Business Arrangement with Mrs. Charles Jewel Taylor of Liberia


Taylor's third wife, Jewel, is "a trained economist"... or so the sexed-up BBC tells me. Hard to credit given the below zero level of Liberia's economy under the Mr. and Mrs. Taylor regime, but there might be something in it.

Like you, I've spent endless weeks lately wondering how I, a mere mortal, can help the oppressed and unfairly criticized African despot and criminal Charles Taylor on to a happier and more fulfilling life. My answer came from his wife this morning.


Posted by Vanderleun Jul 31, 2003 9:26 AM | Comments (7)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Who says rock criticism is dead?

Teeny Bopper and Geezer Rocker do not a catchy duet make. Fresh from a recording session touting all beef patties and sesame seed buns for McDonalds, and a hard couple of weeks necking with Cameron Diaz in tony hotels from Miami to Chicago, Justin Timberlake just had to hoist a tune with Mick Jagger who obviously just don't care any longer. The crowd, however, did care:
Justin Timberlake Joins Stones At Toronto Benefit, Gets Pelted With Garbage


Posted by Vanderleun Jul 31, 2003 8:52 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
On the Arab Mind -- T.E. Lawrence

From Seven Pillars of Wisdom

"Arabs could be swung on an idea as on a cord; for the unpledged allegiance of their minds made them obedient servants. None of them would escape the bond till success had come, and with it responsibility and duty and engagements. Then the idea was gone and the work ended--in ruins.

Without a creed they could be taken to the four corners of the world (but not to heaven) by being shown the riches of earth and the pleasures of it; but if on the road, led in this fashion, they met the prophet of an idea, who had nowhere to lay his head and who depended for his food on charity or birds, then they would all leave their wealth for his inspiration.

They were incorrigibly children of the idea, feckless and colour-blind, to whom body and spirit were for ever and inevitably opposed. Their mind was strange and dark, full of depressions and exaltations, lacking in rule, but with more of ardour and more fertile in belief than any other in the world. They were a people of starts, for whom the abstract was the strongest motive, the process of infinite courage and variety, and the end nothing.

They were as unstable as water, and like water would perhaps finally prevail. Since the dawn of life, in successive waves they had been dashing themselves against the coasts of flesh. Each wave was broken, but, like the sea, wore away ever so little of the granite on which it failed, and some day, ages yet, might roll unchecked over the place where the material world had been, and God would move upon the face of those waters. One such wave (and not the least) I raised and rolled before the breath of an idea, till it reached its crest, and toppled over and fell at Damascus. The wash of that wave, thrown back by the resistance of vested things, will provide the matter of the following wave, when in fullness of time the sea shall be raised once more."

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 30, 2003 9:59 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Nick Cage and Divorce Made Stupid

Check out Dateline: Hollywood for the latest in Hollywood Dish undisturbed by fact-checking.

Actor Nicolas Cage has launched a preemptive strike on his love life.

You will remember that the Oscar winner divorced Lisa Marie Presley last November. The nasty split came less than four months after their romantic wedding in Hawaii.

It was a short-lived marriage even by Hollywood standards, although not the first to go bad for the actor. He divorced actress Patricia Arquette in 2000. Cage, who just started dating actress Angelina Jolie, filed divorce papers yesterday in a Downtown Los Angeles courtroom. "I want to make sure that when we get married and then quickly get divorced, the paperwork will already be complete," Cage told me yesterday outside the courtroom. "I have a pretty busy shooting schedule. When I get divorced again, I don't want a lot of red tape."

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 29, 2003 7:44 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Killing Fields Without Borders

Shallow Grave in Iraq

In an extended essay entitled "The War in Iraq" on the weblog of Norman Geras, Mr. Geras notes, in passing:

Here is one approximate measure of the barbarities of the Baathist regime I have just referred to. It comes not from the Pentagon, or anyone in the Bush administration, or from Tony Blair or those around him. It comes from Human Rights Watch. According to Human Rights Watch, during 23 years of Saddam's rule some 290,000 Iraqis disappeared into the regime's deadly maw, the majority of these reckoned to be now dead. Rounding this number down by as much as 60,000 to compensate for the 'thought to be', that is 230,000. It is 10,000 a year. It is 200 people every week. And I'll refrain from embellishing with details, which you should all know, as to exactly how a lot of these people died.

Had the opposition to the war succeeded this is what it would have postponed - and postponed indefinitely - bringing to an end. This is how almost the whole international left expressed its moral solidarity with the Iraqi people. Worse still, some sections of the left seemed none too bothered about making common cause with, marching alongside, fundamentalist religious bigots and known racists; and there were also those who dismissed Iraqi voices in support of the war as coming from American stooges - a disgraceful lie. [Emphasis added]

Geras then goes on to other arguments that buttress his main theme of how the Left has failed to respond well to any of the global moral issues of the last few years. It is an excellent analysis and I commend it to your attention.

However, I was struck by the gruesome mathematics of the phrase: "It is 10,000 a year. It is 200 people every week." Horrendous enough to contemplate. The small town of Laguna Beach where I live has a population of around 25,000. That would mean, in terms that I can comprehend, that every man, woman and child in this town would be wiped out in 2.5 years. And they would be killed in some of the most awful ways we can imagine, and many that we cannot.


Posted by Vanderleun Jul 29, 2003 4:50 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
An American Not In Paris

Top Ten Reasons Not to Go to France This Summer
And, no, its not the money. We have money.

10. By the time you get there it will be August which means that even the French will have left France. What do they know that you don't?
9. Islamic Terrorists pissed because French Government still dragging feet on conversion of State Religion from Catholicism to Islam. Eager to kill Americans to bring Chirac to heel.
8. No more fine art on funny French money. All boring Euros from Belgium.
7. Nouveau Beaujolais is getting old.
6. Lance Armstrong has been and gone, and the French national sport of le traffic jam leaves you uninspired.
5. The French Riviera is toast... as are four inhabitants to date.
4. Email is required by law to be called "courriel," and when you hear "You've got courriel! you want to check yourself for a body rash.
3. Jacques Chirac remains as Le Grande Fromage; too soft, too runny and too stinky for your Cheese Whiz tastes.
2. You're Jewish and American and don't care to see two sets of cemeteries and monuments defiled, thank you.
1. Dominique de Villepin's 800 page doorstop, " In Praise of Those Who Stole the Fire," will be on sale everywhere: "From the bottom of my pockets, stuck to the back of my smock, hidden in the corner of abacuses, poetry gushed out..."

Take my advice: Stay home and stay out of the gush.

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 29, 2003 4:09 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Les Etats Unis to France: "Phuque Vous"

The International Herald Tribune notes: U.S. tourists stay away from France

PARIS: The number of American tourists visiting France has dropped dramatically this year, by as much as 80 percent in the first half of 2003, the newspaper Liberation reported Monday, quoting the president of a group representing France's travel agents.

"Our colleagues across the Atlantic no longer schedule France," Balderacchi told the daily newspaper.

Balderacchi's somber assessment was countered by the Tourism Ministry, which put the decrease in American visitors at 30 percent for the first five months of 2003, attributing the decline mainly to the weak dollar.

Oh, mai oui! Le decline au cause de weak dollar. Bien sur, mon brave. Le attitude has rien to do with it. Right? Right.

Hat Tip to Roger Simon

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 29, 2003 3:36 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Dr. Leda Horticulture Among the Rose Snobs

From Dr. Leda's Journal comes this taut tale of an Obsessive Roseologist and a gaggle of roseophiles: Dr. Leda and the Rose Snobs

"Now that's Jim, our secretary," she continued, pointing to the affable looking man who was standing silently at the podium. "He's one of our most pompous spray snobs. He only sprays with restricted insecticides and over-the-counter miticides, but he won't touch any fungicides. Or maybe it's the other way around, I forget. Anyway, he's calling for a vote. "

"Harry has moved and Louise seconded that membership in our group be denied to anyone who grows fewer than 350 varieties of roses. They're our quantity snobs."

But Jim isn't saying anything," I observed.

"Well, no, he can't," she explained. "You see, Jim's also a fragrance snob. In fact, he's been aggressively lobbying the state legislature to pass a bill that would ban the sale of all non-fragrant roses. Anyway, we had a heated debate ten years ago over whether or not 'New Dawn' is scented, and as a result, he's not on speaking terms with anyone in this room."

BIO:"Dr. Leda Horticulture, O.R. (Obsessive Roseologist) aka Elizabeth Churchill, is a rosarian who worked for eight years at nurseries in the San Francisco Bay Area. She recently retired and moved to a beautiful old Victorian in southern Louisiana. If she told you how much room she has for new roses, you would hate her."

For the rest simply go to Leda's Garden.

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 29, 2003 3:01 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
This Just In...

ScrappleFace: Dem Poll Shows Neptune is Center of Solar System

Dem Poll Shows Neptune is Center of Solar System (2003-07-29) -- A poll released today by the Democrat Leadership Council (DLC) shows that 93 percent of Democrat politicians believe that the planet Neptune is at the center of our solar system.

Roughly the same number think that the sun is on "the far right" side of the solar system.

The survey also shows Democrat politicians believe...More at the amazing Scrappleface site

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 29, 2003 10:23 AM | QuickLink: Permalink

It's not nice to mess with memories... as Susan Clancy discovers in "A Bad Trip Down Memory Lane" by BRUCE GRIERSON in the Sunday Times Magazine.
The "mystique of mirrors" is reflected upon in Mark Pendergrast's book Mirror, Mirror in the Chronicle Book Review: " could he be sure that Kelley wasn't actually conjuring with the devil when the specter in the glass ordered the two men to swap wives for the night?" Which makes us think that that particular mirror was simply a few centuries ahead of its time.
"We have to honor those who had “political misgivings,” because dissent is a virtue too pure to be stained by truth. Nevermind that the end result of those “political misgivings” would have been another generation of Afghan daughters beaten with bats for winking at a cute guy. Those “political misgivings” would have assured that any young Afghan woman who stepped outside her house and asked to be educated would be whipped with 2 X 4s by the Committee for Flaming Theocracy Gynophobe Committee.

But that can’t be said. People who were wrong for the right reasons will always get a pass."
-- James Lileks
Stating the Obvious: "Stop and think, if in 2001, or in 2000, or in 1999, we had gone to war in Afghanistan to deal with Osama bin Laden, and we had tried to say it's because he's planning to kill 3,000 people in New York, people would have said, you don't have any proof of that" - Paul Wolfowitz
Get Me Rewrite! HEADLINES nobody saw coming: "Crime down, but prison costs up" - San Francisco Chronicle. "US troops in Iraq 'are terrorist magnet'" - UK Guardian. "Protestors target global trade talks" - BBC NEWS "Arab Stations Reject U.S. Criticism They Are Biased" - Reuters

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 28, 2003 11:10 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
WSJ's Bartley on the Death of Media Objectivity:

"An Agreeable Person is One Who Agrees With Me."

It is always gratifying to see my odd opinions and observations confirmed by more distinguished sources. Not that any of my insights are particularly new, they just, at times, reflect those that are in the wind. Some time back I overcame my addiction to the New York Times and took up a subscription to The Wall Street Journal. While I always find the Journal to be agreeable, it was especially agreeable this morning when it agreed with several observations I made just last week.

In today's Wall Street Journal editor emeritus Robert L. Bartley writes:

I frankly doubt that Mr. Keller will succeed in restoring objectivity or balance to the Times newsroom. Former executive editor A.M. Rosenthal, actually a conservative, had a hard enough time. Then too, the current tone and culture are the work of publisher Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr., who remains in charge at the sufferance of his family.

Last Friday, I expressed the same sentiment with less concision:

Raines may be gone, but ... the Moose still has his job.

The origin of the shrunk-wrapped mindset that controls the Times .... is to be found, as all newspapers policies are to be found, in the office of the Publisher.

.... Raines was given the boot because his actions and inaction had directly threatened the Publisher's job. It was, at the end of the day, a situation that evolved into either Howell or Pinch. In that case, adios Howell. Every time.

Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr. (aka 'Pinch') is the person responsible for the tone and the direction of the Times .... As long as he remains at the wheel, and there is no reason to believe that he will soon be gone, the Times will continue, at bottom, to reflect the attitudes and aspirations of the privileged liberal social milieu that created him.

Elsewhere Bartley notes:

The opinion of the press corps tends toward consensus because of an astonishing uniformity of viewpoint. Certain types of people want to become journalists, and they carry certain political and cultural opinions. This self-selection is hardened by peer group pressure. No conspiracy is necessary; journalists quite spontaneously think alike. The problem comes because this group-think is by now divorced from the thoughts and attitudes of readers.

While I agree with Bartley's conclusions, the cause I ascribed last Wednesday was somewhat different when I somewhat seriously proposed that the workers in Big Media suffered from industry induced ADD / HD:

The recent events here at home in the political circus that is known as "Lots of Democrats Running Around Begging to Be President," and abroad in the collective media hallucinations known as "All is Lost in Iraq Because We Won," underscore the fact that ADD has infected and taken over the media.

The terrible truth is not that so many people working in the media are biased towards wanting the United States to fail all the time and everywhere (although there are more than a few who do). That is merely one of many obvious truths about media people. No, the terrible truth is that nearly 100 percent of media professionals are infected to the marrow of their bones with ADD / HD. And not just the "stars" but the whole pack of them, root and branch.

The truth is that most revel in their ADD / HD media jobs simply because these are the only jobs and careers open to them that promise both wealth and fame.

Similar symptoms but a different diagnosis. That's why it is always good to get a second opinion. Especially one that you agree with from the agreeable Mr. Bartley.

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 28, 2003 9:34 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Lost City and the Origins of Life

The Atlantis Massif, site of the Lost City

Mysterious and haunting discoveries emerge almost weekly not from outer space but from the depths of our own oceans. One that I find especially chill inducing concerns the structures at the top of the Atlantis Massif:Hydrothermal Vent Systems Could Have Persisted Millions Of Years, Incubated Life

The staying power of seafloor hydrothermal vent systems like the bizarre Lost City vent field is one reason they also may have been incubators of Earth's earliest life, scientists report in a paper published in the July 25 issue of Science.

Discovered just 2 years ago during a National Science Foundation-funded expedition in the mid-Atlantic Ocean, Lost City has the tallest vents ever seen; the 18-story behemoth at the site dwarfs most vents elsewhere by at least 100 feet.

Water is circulated through the vent field by heat from serpentinization, a chemical reaction between seawater and the mantle rock on which Lost City sits, rather than by heat from volcanic activity or magma, responsible for driving hydrothermal venting at sites scientists have been studying since the early 1970s.

Spire of the Lost City

The daily journals of the Lost City Expedition can be found online with entries such as this one:

We drove along the cliff face for about an hour, and only saw veins, carbonate rubble, and steep slopes of serpentinite. Because of this, Debbie decided that we should go further up the cliff, to trace where the carbonate was coming from.When we reached the top of the cliff, we found a broad, flat area that was covered in carbonate, and was the probable source for the pieces we found further down the slope. We grabbed a few samples to finish our exploration to the east. Pat flew us back to Lost City, and we circled around Poseidon, the huge structure in the middle of the field. We were on the lookout for an active vent structure, called the Beehive, that the previous Alvin dive had knocked over. We managed to find the site of venting and took some water samples from this vent. Then we searched until we found the shattered remains of the Beehive. While we were doing this, I was looking out the window at Poseidon. It's so big that I couldn't see the top, the bottom, or around the corner. It is simply unbelievably huge. After I gawked at it for awhile, we still had a little time left to explore to the west of Lost City. Along the western cliff, we saw beautiful outcrops of serpentinite, topped by breccias and carbonate...

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 27, 2003 10:54 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
"The Future Will Find You Out..."


"This is something I would bring to the attention of every diplomat, politician and corporate leader: the future, eventually, will find you out. The future, wielding unimaginable tools of transparency, will have its way with you. In the end, you will be seen to have done that which you did."
William Gibson, "The Road to Oceania"

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 27, 2003 7:00 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
The God of the Sprawl

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 27, 2003 5:57 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
3 Waves a Day for 10,179 Days Straight

The Ironman and the Sea
by Bill Plaschke in today's Los Angeles Times.

Every day for 27 years Dale Webster has gone surfing. It might have been crazy for the first 20 years, but now it has gone on to be a crazy kind of deep wisdom.

Everybody knows where Dale Webster has been, and where he's going, this man who has defined himself by his refusal to be defined.

"Surfing has been so commercialized, so sold out, surfboards on runway models, surfing as a reality show," Barilotti said. "To many people, Dale has become one of the last real surfers."

As of now, there is no party planned for February. Dale Webster says he doesn't need a party. He says a life of dedication has led to a life of understanding, and that's celebration enough.

"Seeing the wave is the future," he said. "Its curl is the present. Its break is the past."You ride a great wave, you turn around, and all you see is foam, nothing to show for it, a memory."

Always the setting forth was the same,
Same sea, same dangers waiting for him
As though he had got nowhere but older.
Behind him on the receding shore
The identical reproaches, and somewhere
Out before him, the unravelling patience
He was wedded to

-- W.S. Merwin

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 27, 2003 9:56 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Good News for the Whales

An article published in Scientific American, "Genetic Analysis Revises Tally of Past Whale Populations" reports new findings that sets the vile practice of hunting whales back many decades.

A high historic whale population could have an impact on how scientists presently view the status of whales as an endangered species. The current humpback whale population of around 10,000 is roughly 50 percent of the pre-industrial whaling numbers determined from logbook records. Using the genetic analysis, however, the current population is only 4 percent of what it once was. Palumbi says that with the revised historical estimates, it could be "on the order of 50 to 100 years" before whales can again be hunted.

Let's hope that in much less than 50 to 100 years, the world will have evolved enough to make this "need" part of it's shameful past. But while we're waiting, we could use a lot more inforcement as well.

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 26, 2003 12:29 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Timetested Blogging Tips #1

Computer phone support with friends is something most of us have done more than once in our lives. Still, there are times when the mind is pushed beyond boggle.

In a recent phone conversation with my good friend -- who can cause mainframe computers to crash just by walking past the building they are in -- I tried to help him with advice that included the phrase, "Just copy and paste the information."

He replied, "Well, I don't know how to do that."

Bear in mind that he has owned comptuers since sometime in the late 1980s and has, over that time, actually hired computer tutors to come to his house and get him squared away. If you do bear that in mind, you will understand that my reaction was to sigh deeply and look to see if I could get my hands on a bottle of Stoli before going forward. In the end, I just copped out and begged off. I just couldn't do it.

Luckily, the Web came to the rescue with How to copy and paste

Once you know how to perform the copy and paste operation, your will cherish this knowledge and teach it to others. It is more useful than being able to drive stick-shift, and it will save more time than your ATM card.Here is how!

An amazing tutorial. You should save the permalink. After all, you too could need these instructions for someone near you soon.

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 26, 2003 11:48 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Earth to Democrats: Beam Down!

Majority Leader Tom Delay had some insightful advice to the current crop of Democratic Party Leaders yesterday in a speech to College Republicans Fear and Loathing in the Mother Ship

The Democrats' accusations AREN'T meant to be taken seriously. Because they're unserious people.

We're in the middle of a global conflict between good and evil and they're in the middle of a Michael Dukakis look-alike contest.

They either don't understand or don't care that this is a time for serious leadership.They're just trying to change the subject, because on the issue of Iraq, they have nothing of substance to offer: only fear, and loathing, and a motley crew of presidential contenders.

They've gone off the deep end.

Consider:Bob Graham, a respected former governor and chairman of the intelligence committee, is calling for the president's impeachment.

John Edwards, a so-called moderate compares the president to a dangerous socialist.

And Dennis Kucinich, a long-time member of Congress now calls for legislation (I love this) to ban mind control weapons in outer space.

These ideas aren't they're just weird.

Tip via LGF

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 26, 2003 11:32 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Touching Faces

One of the most moving contemporary portraits, Chuck Close's portrait of his mother-in-law, Fanny/Fingerpainting, reveals a sublime blend of technique and feeling. One which, viewed from a distance or up close, unifies his technique with his feeling -- makes that which is merely clever subordinate to that which is deeply felt.

The notes at the National Gallery of Art tell a slightly different story:

Seen from a distance, the painting looks like a giant, silver-toned photograph that unrelentingly reveals every crack and crevice of the sitter's face. Closer up, the paint surface dissolves into a sea of fingerprints that have an abstract beauty, even as they metaphorically suggest the withering of the sitter's skin with age. The fingerpaintings provide a far more literal record of the artist's touch than most abstract expressionist brushwork -- but are at the same time dictated by an abstract, distinctly impersonal system.
As usual in the manner of 'curator's notes' in contemporary exhibitions, these comments seek to involve us in the same "abstract, impersonal system" that the curator has bought into in order to achieve and extend his or her position. The notes only real role is to distance our reaction to the image that the artist has created. They say little about the emotions of the viewer and less about those of the creator.

Does anyone imagine that Chuck Close thought "I'll use fingerprints to construct Fanny's face and thereby make a broad statement about touch versus an abstract system?" Close is a clever and distinguished artist, but he works in the world of emotions. If he did not, his work would not reach from the image into the heart of the viewer.

It is a source of constant wonder to me that when so many of our better contemporary painters can be pushing deeper and deeper into the wordless realm of the human heart, our professional art establishment is fleeing from it. I'll put it down to the behavior of the "herd of independent minds."

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 26, 2003 10:21 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Fieldnotes: Reports from Irag

Links to emails and other reports filed, not by reporters, but by soldiers and other persons on the ground in Iraq:

It Ain't Necessarily So. [Army Spec Ops letter from Iraq - a must read!]

"A bunch of bad guys used a group of women and children as human shields.The GIs surrounded them and negotiated their surrender fifteen hours later and when they discovered a three year-old girl had been injured by the big tough guys throwing her down a flight of stairs, the GIs called in a MedVac helicopter to take her and her mother to the nearest field hospital. The Iraqis watched it all, and there hasn't been a problem inthat neighborhood since.

"How many such stories, and there are hundreds of them, never get reported in the fair and balanced press? You know, nada.

"The civilians who have figured it out faster than anyone are the local teenagers. They watch the GIs and try to talk to them and ask questions about America and Now wear wrap-around sunglasses, GAP T- shirts, Dockers (or even better Levis with the red tags) and Nikes (or Egyptian knock-offs, but with the "swoosh") and love to listen to AFN when the GIs play it on their radios."
The Braden Files : SITREP from Iraq

"We are fighting former regime-backed paramilitary groups, Iranian-based opposition, organized criminals, and street thugs. We have stood up governing councils from neighborhood to district to city level...."
Chief Wiggles -- Straight from Iraq

"Earlier on in the week we received word that our counter intelligence teams were being moved north. With two days notice they packed their stuff and said their goodbyes. I am really going to miss those eight guys whom I am lived and interacted with for the past three months. We have been like family, me being the dad of course. All of them are just young men under the age of thirty, whom I have a great respect for. They are some of the finest young men I have ever met, honored to call each and every one of them my son."
t a c i t u s: From a Marine

"Then, suddenly, about 9 PM, it sounds like the early days of American troops pouring in here, i.e. real-live combat: gunfire everywhere, tracer rounds visible, even illumination (a.k.a. fireworks). The people of Baghdad weren't awaiting confirmation. It was nonstop celebratory fire. The war's critics warned constantly about the uprising of the "Arab street." Well, here it was: celebrating the end of 2/3 of the triumvirate."
DoD News: Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz Briefing on His Recent Trip to Iraq

"And as we were passing the line of butcher shops, the young Army captain, commander of that company, started telling me this quite remarkable story about how there had been a problem because the butchers were dumping -- doing slaughtering on the street and dumping carcasses out in front of the butcher shops. And in order to get the problem under control, they had done a number of things, and one of them had been to organize an association of the butchers, so that they would have an authoritative institution to interact with. Of course, in the old regime, you didn't let anybody organize an association, you simply took some -- anyone who was putting carcasses on the street out and shot them! We don't use those tactics. An I kiddingly said to him, "Well, did they teach you that at West Point?" And of course they didn't. He figured this out all by himself, and the fact that they're doing this on a daily basis."

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 26, 2003 9:22 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
How is it possible to embarrass Las Vegas?

Violating his own home-grown edict of 'what happens here, stays here,' Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman has his underwear wedged over the Bambi Hoax: Vegas Presses Charges in Hoax Over Paintball-Hunting for Naked Women

This site sniffed out the Bambi Gambit last week with Internet Bites O'Reilly Back, but this wasn't good enough for the mayor of the city that runs on gambling, booze, drugs, prostitution, and all other things that make up this Adult Disneyland.

Swearing vengance on a typical Las Vegas citizen who was just trying to make a few bucks out of the gullible, Goodman said: "I'll do everything I can to see this man is punished for trying to embarrass Las Vegas."

If he keeps that up, every floor show on the Strip will have to shut down. Casinos to follow. Brothels soon after. Would the last person to leave Las Vegas kindly remember to turn out the lights?

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 26, 2003 8:22 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Praise the New York Times but Pass the Ammunition

Brooks Appointment as Columnist Gives False Hope to Sullivan, Drezner, et. al.

"Mr. [David] Brooks's appointment was announced by Arthur Sulzberger Jr., publisher of The Times, and Gail Collins, editor of the editorial page." -- New York Times Announcement

The always eloquent David Warren, reponding to the good news of the deaths of Saddam's sons, issues a timely warning:Smelling Blood [Emphasis added]

The power of the enemy does not depend on his strength, but on our weakness; not on his malice, but on our restraint.

As Daniel Pipes explained yesterday, paraphrasing Lee Harris: "Al Qaeda destroys airplanes and buildings that it itself could not possibly build. The Palestinian Authority has failed in every field of endeavor except killing Israelis. Saddam Hussein's Iraq grew dangerous thanks to money showered on it by the West to purchase petroleum Iraqis themselves had neither located nor extracted." And the ability of such enemies to regroup against a West trying to defend itself, now depends on the media's ability to hog-tie the West's legitimate political leaders....

...That is why small, but highly visible pieces of good news are crucial just now -- of which the killing of Saddam's sons would be an example. At a moment when the "liberal" media are smelling blood, let us pray it turns out to be their own.

I've always respected the power of prayer, having been a devout "Christian in Crisis Only" for a number of years, but here I fear prayer will not avail us.

Our enemies persist even though we like to think we have them on the run, and they are given aid and comfort daily by those for whom America will always come last, i.e. those whom America has made first. They are aided, not out a direct desire to help them, but out of a misplaced empathy and the distorted one-world vision of the Liberal Media Ownership. Not "Establishment," but "Ownership." The distinction is critical as we shall see.

Raines may be gone, but ... the Moose remains.

As I wrote a couple of days ago, those in the media that continue to wish for and work for the downfall of this country are the least likely to see themselves as others see them. They cannot. They exist in a bubble of mutual self-regard and congratulation that is, in the end, impervious to outside correction. They see themselves as 'patriots of the human race and citizens of the world.' They exist in the pampered realms of international ease and, being surrounded with others like themselves and their sycophants, they cannot perceive any other universe. East Side, West Side, Hamptons, Bel Air, Vail, the Colony. It is a rarified air they


Posted by Vanderleun Jul 25, 2003 12:55 PM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Big Tats Nyet!: Zero Goth Tolerance in Today's Action Army

Unlikely to be leading troops into battle

Donald Sensing's fascinating One Hand Clapping boasts an item that will bring grief to the hearts of Goths across America. Tattoos will get you barred or bounced from the Army.

I previously related that my eldest son was nearing a decision to enlist in the Army or the Marine Corps. In a conversation with the Marine recruiter, he said that they can get waivers to approve enlistment if a prospect has used narcotics or smoked marijuana, has a record of repeated arrests, or, in one approved waiver, had one leg literally pinned together with steel rods.But absolutely no waivers whatsoever are granted for a prospect who has more than six tattoos or has any tattoo that cannot be covered by the recruiter's hand. Period. It doesn't matter what the tattoo depicts - gang related, drug related, or a full-color American flag, doesn't matter.
If I were a member of the Tattoo Lobby, I'd be begging for the draft to come back.

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 25, 2003 12:03 PM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Support LGF Now


Charles Johnson's Little Green Footballs is one of the crown jewels of the American blogsphere. For years the site has been unremitting in its criticism and exposure of the global terror network. It has been especially vocal in exposing the unremitting dedication of the Palestinians' terror network to the total destruction of Israel. Accordingly the site has become a global clearing house for


Posted by Vanderleun Jul 25, 2003 10:58 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Amazing Grace: Today's the Birthday of the Hymn's Creator

"Today in Literature" reminds us that the creator of America's favorite hymn was born on this day in: John Newton and 'Amazing Grace'

Perhaps Aretha Franklin giveth what Judy Collins hath taken away. In his recent book on Newton, his hymn, and its musical life (Amazing Grace: The Story of America's Most Beloved Song), Steve Turner contrasts the night in the early 70s when Collins sang the hymn to her encounter group in order to calm things downï¿‘her record producer was present, and had her include it in her next albumï¿‘with the night Franklin recorded her live, fourteen-minute version, at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Watts. This was in "the long meter style of the Holiness churches where the tune is pulled apart wide enough to let the spirit in,"

Okay, sing it! C'mon. You'll feel better if you do. It never fails.

Amazing grace-how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind but now I see.

'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.

The Lord has promised good to me,
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.

Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
'tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

When we've been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
we've no less days to sing God's praise
Than when we'd first begun.

See, I told you you'd feel better.

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 24, 2003 5:08 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
On the Field of Life, on the Battlefield of Truth.

On Frederick Turner and American Poems in the Key of Life

The universities were thick with lies.
Ten thousand poets would betray their name
To buy the good opinion of the liars.

-- Frederick Turner

Was Frederick Turner the only one of our poets who felt a wave of revulsion sweep over him when the "herd of independent minds" that fancy themselves as 'important' American poets formed a viscous slab of drivel around opposition to the war?

It may well be the case since I am not aware of any other American poets that stood apart from this wholesale hijacking of an art form. "Poets Against the War" was an Internet driven round-up of poets hot to resist America's plan to set 25 million Omars free, and make Iraq a place where poets critical of their despot would not have their eyes ripped from their sockets and their throats cut. It was a shameful roster of poets so deeply ashamed of themselves and their work that they were willing to consign other poets in the present and future Iraq to silence, torture, and death that their hate of America in general, and George Bush in particular, might prevail. Having fattened at the table of America, they were determined to let the world know they were not at all grateful.

Little has been heard of this rag-tag gang of scribblers since the fall of the despicable regime they struggled to sustain. Indeed, only epitaph is a preening farewell note from Commandante Hamill on their web site that, while humping and pumping his own achievements, proclaims, in the mock bombast that is his signature style:

We have drawn our line in the sand. Our tools are everyone's tools: the simple words we use almost thoughtlessly every day, but use in our art with scrupulous honesty and precision. I am Confucian enough to believe that "All wisdom is rooted in learning to call things by the right name." And we poets understand why Dante put the defilers of language into the seventh circle of his Hell.
If that is true, then Mr. Hamill will understand Dante even more clearly upon his future arrival in said circle.

But not all living American poets signed on to this shameful agenda. Many simply stayed aloof or held their peace. Not a brave stance, but who would risk being tossed out of a safe sinecure just to voice a mild dissent?

Frederick Turner has been many things in his career, but mild is not one of them. From the moment of Poets Against the War's inception, Turner made it clear he was not going to join these hapless babblers when he wrote:


Posted by Vanderleun Jul 24, 2003 9:49 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
The "We Just Make It Up" Journalism Award:

Reuters Vies with BBC and the New York Times for Top Honors in Low Game

Yesterday I cited Reuters as a media outlet that exemplifies ADD/HD in that it: "Fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes." I was too kind. I should have said that it is an organization that lies and uses others to give its lies credibility.

Today's Opinion Journal features, among others, Dear Elizabeth: I Didn't Do It - "Why did Reuters put my name on a horribly slanted story?" by Deanna Wrenn. Ms. Wrenn was horrified to find that the once-truthful news organization had hijacked her name in order to put forward its own dubious agenda. Wrenn's article states:

This is from a story that Reuters news service ran this week with my byline:
"Jessica Lynch, the wounded Army private whose ordeal in Iraq was hyped into a media fiction of U.S. heroism, was set for an emotional homecoming on Tuesday. ... Media critics say the TV cameras will not show the return of an injured soldier so much as a reality-TV drama co-produced by U.S. government propaganda and credulous reporters."

Got problems with that?

I do, especially since I didn't write it.

Here's what I sent last week to Reuters, a British news agency that compiles news reports from all over the world:

ELIZABETH--In this small county seat with just 995 residents, the girl everyone calls Jessi is a true heroine--even if reports vary about Pfc. Jessica Lynch and her ordeal in Iraq.

"I think there's a lot of false information about her story," said Amber Spencer, a clerk at the town's convenience store.

Palestine resident J.T. O'Rock was hanging an American flag and yellow ribbon on his storefront in Elizabeth in preparation for Lynch's return.

Like many residents here, he considers Lynch a heroine, even if newspaper and TV reports say her story wasn't the same one that originally attracted movie and book deals...."

..... I understand that news wire services often edit, add, remove or write new leads for stories. What amazed me was that a story could have my byline on it when I contributed only a few sentences at the end--and in later versions I didn't contribute anything at all.

Ms. Wrenn is justified in her outrage, but any hopes she has for an apology or correction will have to wait for the second coming. Like the BBC and the NYT, Reuters has long been in the thrall of hacks, quacks, and the sad sacks of what passes for journalism in that agency. Our advice to Ms. Wrenn is to stop asking "Why?" and to start drawing the obvious conclusions.

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 24, 2003 9:35 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Endgame in Iraq

Haunting and, we hope, chillingly accurate: Silflay Hraka's "Denouement"

He knows. He's known now for hours, since an aide who once cringed at a glance insouciantly tossed the sweat stained notice of the end onto the desk before him and exited the room without a word.

His sons, dead, betrayed to the enemy by a man they once wronged, a man who in their arrogance they had gone to for shelter. A man who once claimed blood ties. A man who will use his new riches to buy power; who will forswear all connections to the tribe of Tikrit in future.

Just six months ago the fear of his sons covered an entire nation. Today they discovered it had shrunken so much that it no longer covered even a single household.

The Americans came for them, and first they shot the walls away, until only piles of dust lay between them and his sons. And then they shot the dust away, and his name and the last hope of his glory floated away with it.

The rest can be read here.

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 24, 2003 8:13 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Where Have All the Democrats' Cowboys Gone?

Duke? .... Or Dick?

Yesterday, one of the Democratic hopefuls, Dick Gephardt, treated America to his current view of why he's the kind of man that should be President:

"I'm seeking the presidency because foreign policy isn't a John Wayne movie, where we catch the bad guys, hoist a few cold ones and then everything fades to black."

"Diplomacy matters. Burden-sharing matters. Follow-through matters. And yes, sustaining the peace is harder, more complex and often costlier than winning the war itself. No matter the surge of momentary machismo -- as gratifying as it may be for some -- it's short-sighted and wrong to simply go it alone."

In a universe long ago and far away... In a universe that people like Gephardt would like the rest of us to forget about; a universe when the fires still raged under Ground Zero, when they still searched for and brought body parts up from the pit, the elegant and eloquent Peggy Noonan wrote on October 12, 2001:

Here's what I'm trying to say: Once about 10 years ago there was a story--you might have read it in your local tabloid, or a supermarket tabloid like the National Enquirer--about an American man and woman who were on their honeymoon in Australia or New Zealand. They were swimming in the ocean, the water chest-high. From nowhere came a shark. The shark went straight for the woman, opened its jaws. Do you know what the man did? He punched the shark in the head. He punched it and punched it again. He did not do brilliant commentary on the shark, he did not share his sensitive feelings about the shark, he did not make wry observations about the shark, he punched the shark in the head. So the shark let go of his wife and went straight for him. And it killed him. The wife survived to tell the story of what her husband had done. He had tried to deck the shark. I told my friends: That's what a wonderful man is, a man who will try to deck the shark.

I don't know what the guy did for a living, but he had a very old-fashioned sense of what it is to be a man, and I think that sense is coming back into style because of who saved us on Sept. 11, and that is very good for our country.

Why? Well, manliness wins wars. Strength and guts plus brains and spirit wins wars. But also, you know what follows manliness? The gentleman. The return of manliness will bring a return of gentlemanliness, for a simple reason: masculine men are almost by definition gentlemen. Example: If you're a woman and you go to a faculty meeting at an Ivy League University you'll have to fight with a male intellectual for a chair, but I assure you that if you go to a Knights of Columbus Hall, the men inside (cops, firemen, insurance agents) will rise to offer you a seat. Because they are manly men, and gentlemen.

It is hard to be a man. I am certain of it; to be a man in this world is not easy. I know you are thinking, But it's not easy to be a woman, and you are so right. But women get to complain and make others feel bad about their plight. Men have to suck it up. Good men suck it up and remain good-natured, constructive and helpful; less-good men become the kind of men who are spoofed on "The Man Show"--babe-watching, dope-smoking nihilists. (Nihilism is not manly, it is the last refuge of sissies.)

Two distinctly opposite visions of what sort of man our country now needs. Soon enough, we'll have to decide what sort of man we want to lead us.

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 23, 2003 9:08 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink

The Short Attention Spans of Media Professionals Mean a Hyperactive Headline Glut for You

[Note: If you can't read all of this you may be infected by media-induced ADD / HD. Seek professional help.]

"If you tell someone they have a short attention span often enough, they might believe you enough to get one, but then they'll forget what channel you're on." -- TV producer, Fox News, 2002

Recently I became acquainted with a young boy, just turned nine. He's a brilliant and happy kid, but he has a problem with cleaning up and organizing his room. It isn't that he can't do it, he simply has to be told about every five minutes to continue the process. You see, in the course of picking things up to put away he discovers anew their potential to fascinate him. The Gameboy? "Oh, here's where I saved that last stage of Turoc. Let's see if I can get the flame-thrower and..." Any one of the 3,000 + Lego units? "Gee, I never did get the moon base hemi-dome set up, just let me put these 400 blocks in place and..." Books? "Sure thing and, hey, did Horton ever hatch that egg..."

On it goes until, after the sixth or seventh cajoling instruction, a path has been cleared for the vacuum cleaner. After which, he promptly begins taking everything he has put away out and strews it about the floor once again. Today's pop psychologists, addlepated educators and the marketing departments of large drug companies are hard at work trying to convince me children who behave like this have "Attention Deficit Disorder" or ADD. But I know enough to know they are obsessed, confused and greedy in about that order. What this young boy suffers from is no more than being a normal, heedless and all around great nine-year-old boy. He doesn't have ADD anymore than I have an elephant chained in my back yard. (Yes, I just checked.) What he has is a smart child's ability to multi-task beyond a normal adult's capacity. As adults we are often guilty of projecting our frailties onto the young. We forget that they are more nimble in all things than we are, and we are all too eager in this age of instant advice on any problem to ascribe to the young what is truly a malady confined to the mature.

No section of our society exemplifies this more than the denizens of Big Media whose efforts in spreading fear, uncertainty, doubt and confusion go forward daily with no signs of stopping and fewer signs of shame. Indeed, it is the media, more than any other group, that is happy to spread the myth of ADD / HD (Attention Deficit Disorder / Hyperactivity Disorder) affliction among the young. They are happy to do it because, in a very real way, it protects them from being seen as the single profession in which ADD / HD not only runs riot, but also spreads a virus that threatens the lives and happiness of millions. For many centuries it has been unfashionable in the West to kill the messenger. This convention, along with so many others in the post 9/11 world, may have to be reconsidered.

The recent events here at home in the political circus that is known as "Lots of Democrats Running Around Begging to Be President," and abroad in the collective media hallucinations known as "All is Lost in Iraq Because We Won," underscore the fact that ADD has infected and taken over the media.

The terrible truth is not that so many people working in the media are biased towards wanting the United States to fail all the time and everywhere (although there are more than a few who do). That is merely one of many obvious truths about media people. No, the terrible truth is that nearly 100 percent of media professionals are infected to the marrow of their bones with ADD / HD. And not just the "stars" but the whole pack of them, root and branch.

Before getting down to cases, let's look at the symptoms (with examples) of ADD / HD as listed at Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder or "CHADD" (for those who just can't pay attention to long names struggling to become clumsy acronyms.)

AD/HD predominately inattentive type: (AD/HD-I)
*Fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes:
* Has difficulty sustaining attention:
National Public Radio.
* Does not appear to listen:
Ann Coulter
* Struggles to follow through on instructions:
Jayson Blair
* Has difficulty with organization:
Howell Raines
* Avoids or dislikes tasks requiring sustained mental effort:
Larry King
* Loses things:
* Is easily distracted.
Foreign Press Corp in War Zone once checked into comfy hotels.
* Is forgetful in daily activities:
Fact-checkers across the media spectrum

AD/HD predominately hyperactive-impulsive type: (AD/HD-HI)
* Fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in chair:
Chris Matthews
* Has difficulty remaining seated:
* Runs about or climbs excessively:
Robert Scheer
* Difficulty engaging in activities quietly:
Fox News
* Acts as if driven by a motor:
The New York Times
* Talks excessively:
Charlie Rose
* Blurts out answers before questions have been completed:
Bill O'Reilly
* Difficulty waiting or taking turns:
Bill O'Reilly
* Interrupts or intrudes upon others:
Bill O'Reilly in a trifecta.

AD/HD combined type: (AD/HD-C)
* Individual meets both sets of inattention and hyperactive/impulsive criteria:
ABC, CBS, NBC, NPR, PBS, FOX, CNN, MSNBC, NYT, LAT, WAPO, TIME NEWSWEEK, etc. and so forth ad nauseum.

The examples above are only well-known personalities and other growths of the American Media Entity (AME). What is true for the stars above is also true for all those members of AME that labor in the mud below. They have all been infected with ADD/HD and very few are seeking to get well. What they are seeking is to become even more infected so that someday they might get some air-time or ink. Ambition in the media is so viscious because the stakes are so vacuous.

The truth is that most revel in their ADD / HD media jobs simply because these are the only jobs and careers open to them that promise both wealth and fame. Indeed, the AME has, over the years, evolved slowly into the only industry that would accept these hapless personality types as employees. Software companies wouldn't use people with ADD / HD to write programs -- with the possible exception of the Microsoft Windows team. Transportation companies run rigorous background checks and random drugs tests on current and prospective employees; this means that those who labor in the media cess pits would have to spend six months getting clean before they could even hope to drive a FedEx truck. Not likely, is it?

And would you agree to have your house designed and built by an architectural firm composed of Maureen Dowd and Anne Coulter? Not unless you were planning to live in an updated version of the Winchester Mystery House where every allegation and doorway opened into a cavern of twisted little mental passages all alike.

Media types are, by heredity and training, unemployable in any other industry you can think of except, perhaps, sanitation and politics. It takes a special kind of team to design a program that requires the talking head to say: "In Iraq today, yet another innocent, much-loved American soldier was shot in the head by a member of the Resistance. Is this another step into the deepening quagmire of an administration with yellowcake on its face? We'll interview the soldier's weeping grandmother in just a few minutes. But right now, is fast food fat food?"

One look at how the screens of the various news stations appear is enough to tell you somebody at the company has severe ADD / HD and wants to get you down into the hole that they're in: Main image in the center, logo somewhere, caption identifying current blathering expert and current 30 second issue; weather and / or time on the left; promo for some upcoming blatherfest on the right; and beneath it all the ubiquitous crawl slips by giving you a bit of this story and a chunk of that story, neither of which has the ghost of a chance of ever being explicated in any detail on the main screen. Gaze at this while there's a war on and you will have a terminal case of ADD / HD before a statue falls in Baghdad. Guaranteed.

Front pages of newspapers are little improvement these days. They've been infected by the graphics uber alles syndrome too. Above the fold or below the fold or across the fold. All these have some arcane meaning. Little graphs of infolets. Small factoids of this or that. And over all the pall of snappy fuzzed-up color photographs of the latest atrocities in Iraq, Niger, or Bakersfield attached to a few short teasing paragraphs that jump to somewhere inside where you will be forced to find the information somewhere in a sea of banal ads of all sizes and shapes for everything you do not need.

Magazines are worse still with the triumph of two magazine support departments that should never be given any power over a magazine: art directors and circulation departments.

It is well-known among magazine editors that most magazine art directors have not been able to read anything other than the figures on their expense checks for decades. Instead, magazine art directors have fallen in love with video games and transferred those elements wholesale to magazine layout and cover design. The result inside and out are pages devoted to the unrestrained display of "Pix & Fonts." Within these garish displays the actual content of the article may be discovered by the dedicated reader, but he will have to take time for lunch while puzzling it out. In this brave new world art directors depend on readers being as functionally illiterate as they are, and treat them to page after page of jumbled images and typefaces that leave the eye satiated and the brain befuddled.

Now add to this dog's dinner layout style the rise of the circulation directors who, sometime at the beginning of the 1990s were told of a study that said people like to see a lot of numbers on magazine covers. This claim was enough to enable circulation directors to palm off slumping sales on the fact that there weren't "enough numbers on the cover." Hence, you now see, especially among women's magazines, the worst offenders, covers that contain no less than three and possibly seven sets of numbers on the cover. The theory is that if there are a lot more numbers than words, the potential reader's ADD will be overpowered by the HD of the cover, and they will buy the magazine safe in the assumption that they will not be asked to read anything inside.

Talk radio on the AM dial is a classic case study in media professionals with severe ADD/HD seeking to reach out and infect the entire country. A few mind bending minutes listening to Michael Savage will establish this point with the force of a power drill being run into your ear at high speed. Then, of course, you need to stick around for the 15 commercials in three minutes that support this drivel.

"And hey, what about that web site?"

The Web is, of course, the Metropolitan Opera of Short Attention Span Theatre. You'll know you are not a part of that if you are reading this sentence. Most of those who started reading are long gone for one reason or the other. They clicked away long, long ago.

Yes, on the Web factoids, links, brief opinions, quick takes and hyperlinks that open in new windows while pop-ups bloom above, below, to the right, to the left and within you and without you are what we crave. Manic clicking is what we do and few of us are above it. Few work in the long form while many just point to the next click. And of course, for those who just can't take it any longer there is always "Cntrl-Q." Yes, it can seem like the Web, the Net, the Infospace of a Billion Lies is the ultimate source of the epidemic of ADD / HD. You could think that. I have thought that. But, as usual, I could be wrong. You too.

Seen from the surface, the Web is a vast uncountable, unsearchable and unknowable infinity of links and texts in which we see, for the first time, everything that we, as human beings, are. We see the best of ourselves and the worst of ourselves. We see the greatest works of art and the most degraded images of hate, lust and atrocity. It is the first medium in which any number can play, which has almost no economic barriers to entry, and as a result becomes, in time, the perfect mirror of our souls at this time and in this place.

The Web can be, and most often is, the most trivial of our mediums. But it is also, at some times and in some way, the corrective to all the other mediums that have gone before and still exist around us.

And while it exemplifies the symptoms and effects of ADD / HD better than any other medium, it also holds within it, like the mold on bread or the pox on the cow, the cure for what ails us. As was said once a couple of years ago, the Web can "fact check your ass." It not only can, but it does, as the media moguls with billions invested in extending their ADD / HD virus to the population at large now discover with distressing regularity.

It is one thing to scheme and struggle and manipulate your way into an executive position or an anchor's chair at a major network, it is quite another to have your performance in those roles analyzed, criticized and eviscerated within 24 hours in front of an audience of thousands of your peers and thousands of critics. Media Mogul, Anchor, or Pundit: they used to be such a cushy jobs. Jobs for life. And for a fading few they remain so, but all can see that the age of the anchor, the expert expert, and the preening pundit are drawing to a close.

It may well be that the major media outlets will stagger on. In fact it is a certainty. What has changed is that fact that not every adult in the United States is ready and willing to submit to having their attention span shortened or their activity hyped by the now creaking theories of how major media can make its money.

That Big Media still believes there is money to be made by shoveling its ADD / HD into the collective consciousness of America is manifest in the continuing race of television, radio, and magazines towards the bottom of the social barrel. But when they get there will they find the intelligent and affluent waiting to buy their sponsors' products? Or will they find themselves increasingly dependent on the mouthbreathers of Maxim magazine and applauders of Dr. Phil to chip in and do the Dew and buy the pickups that will keep their cash flow positive? That they've chosen to go for the latter is evident by the programming choices and editorial decisions that are clearer and clearer with every passing day. But sooner or later, like all those infected with addictions, they will bottom. And then they will know that they finally have to get clean. One of the great virtues of the Web is that it is hastening that day.

The smart part of their market, as the Web grows, is quite obviously moving away from Big Media on the one hand and demanding more substance on the other. This is the audience that is starved for substance, that is successful at their jobs, that is affluent, that wants information in depth and not just the latest soundbite or factoid. They are, in short, one of the prime targets for advertising, the mother's milk of Big Media.

They're not easily fooled and they have the tools, at last, to talk among themselves. In short, except for backward glances that sneer at Big Media's infection with ADD / HD they've determined to look at the prime sources, to do their own thinking, to consult a number of background documents. They've left the youth market, with its towering debt and low cash flow, to those who want to sell soda pop and infosquibs. They've become, in a very real sense, awakened from the decades of increasing ADD / HD that make up the Big Media mosaic. They've taken the admonition of Scoop Nisker (" If you don't like the news, go out and make some of your own." ) to heart. They are basing what they think and what they buy and how they feel on deeper sources than Big Media is capable of supplying.

And by the way, next year they are electing, or re-electing, a President of the United States. Odds are they'll go for a candidate who can stay the course and whose policies are not driven by the daily ADD / HD of the Big Media.

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 23, 2003 5:17 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
More Techno-Porn from Sony: The Qualia 016

MegaPixels / MiniSize / MaxiPrice

This is one of those products skillfully marketed to make most people feel bad that they could never, ever justify buying it. It's the ultimate James Bond digital camera and it sets those with high-tech fever everywhere shuddering just to look at it. Dynamism, a web site devoted to high end object lust sums up the features:

The Sony Qualia 016 is a digital camera measuring 2.72 x 0.66 x 0.94 inches and weighing 50g. In order to eliminate the blur caused by tiny movements of the hand, the 016 takes up to 4 pictures in very rapid succession and then combines them into one image.

The 016 is made from the highest quality alloy, the Bond-like Qualia 016 has a built-in .55" TFT, records in JPG or TIFF, has 4x digital zoom, and uses Sony's MemoryStick Duo to store photos (64mb stick included). The 2mpixel 1/2.7 progressive scan CCD records at 1600x1200. The Qualia 016 is sold as a kit and includes the case, flash unit, timer remote unit, video out unit, telephoto lens, wide angle lens, and battery charger.

QUAL-016 Sony Qualia 016 kit (Special order only - no returns or cancellations accepted): $3,875.00

I am especially fond of the "no returns or cancellations accepted" notion. Just like the "Joke" IRS form popular a few years back: "How much money did you make?"
( ________________ )
Send it in."

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 23, 2003 1:09 PM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Over the Top Treat of the Month

When it comes to food the American tradition has always been, "if it is worth doing, it is worth overdoing." Tauton Publishing's "Fine Cooking" is a magazine dedicated to this propostition with a ferocious intensity. Case in point is Linda Weber's The Only Peanut Butter Cookie You'll Ever Want

Short form: "For a double hit of flavor, sandwich a chocolate-flecked peanut cream between crunchy-light cookies"

Long form:

Peanut butter and a good cookie are two of my favorite things, so for me, combining them is a natural. The trouble is, the traditional round peanut butter cookie with the crossed-fork imprint never really thrilled me. So I decided it was high time to develop my own version. I knew I wanted more, and I wanted it in a sandwich cookie: crunchy-crumbly peanut butter wafers surrounding a creamy filling flecked with roasted peanuts and chopped chocolate.

For the rest and the recipe just click the link above. Warning, browsing the rest of Fine Cooking can be hazardous to your waistline.

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 23, 2003 12:26 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Value of Not Being Seen



Voice Over: Mr. Saddam Hussein of Presidential Palatial Bunker, Torture Chamber, and Children’s Mass Grave of Baghdad, Iraq, chose a very cunning way of not being seen. When we sent our army in to conquer Iraq, we found that he had gone away on a five year holiday underground somewhere in the Middle East. He had not left any forwarding address, and he had bolted and barred the entire country to prevent us from getting in. However a neighbour told us where he was.

The camera pans around and stops on a obvious looking hut, which blows up. Cut to a palace with a Iraqui Information Minister standing out front

Voice Over: And here is the Minister of Information (he blows up, leaving just his boots. Cut to a shack in the desert) Here is where he once lived (shack blows up - cut to a building) And this is where the government of Syria lived who refused to speak to us (it blows up). so did Hamas who lived here....(shot of a house - it blows up) and Osama here.....(another building blows up) and of course here.....(a series of various atom and hydrogen bombs at the moment of impact)

Posted by Van der Leun Jul 22, 2003 7:02 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Nowhere to Go but Up

Yahoo! News - Sports Photos - AP

World champion freediver Tanya Streeter swims up to the surface at a depth of 150 feet after reaching 400 feet/122 metres and breaking a new world record in the Variable Weight category of freediving Monday, July 21, 2003 off the coast of Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Streeter descended to the pre-determined depth on a weighted sled and swam to the surface without assistance.

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 22, 2003 2:03 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Canary in Big Media Coalmine

The New York Daily News reports that:Rather Ratings Crash Causes Mystify Boss

HOLLYWOOD - CBS News President Andrew Heyward admitted yesterday that he had no answers to why the "CBS Evening News with Dan Rather" continues to struggle in the ratings.

But he stood by Rather, who has been at the helm of the newscast since 1981.

The newscast runs a poor third among the networks and a few weeks ago logged its lowest ratings in at least a decade, if not ever.

"I'm frankly a little bit puzzled by it," Heyward told members of the Television Critics Association yesterday.

Could the cause be pilot error? Or could Rather be the proverbial canary?

First to fall over when the atmosphere is less than perfect
Your sensibilities are shaken by the slightest defect
You live you life like a canary in a coalmine
You get so dizzy even walking in a straight line."

- - Sting

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 22, 2003 11:20 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Old-Fashioned Requited Love

I have ransacked the encyclopedias
And slid my fingers among topics and titles
Looking for you.

And the answer comes slow.
There seems to be no answer.

I shall ask the next banana peddler the who and the why of it.

Or - the iceman with his iron tongs gripping a clear cube
in summer sunlight - maybe he will know.

- - The great American poet, Carl Sandberg, who died this day in 1967,

Via the newsletter of Today in Literature.

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 22, 2003 11:03 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Why Are We in Iraq: A Primer

Stephen Den Beste, this medium's master of the Long Form, has written what is currently the finest review of the reasons we are in Iraq, and how they fit into the War on Terrorism. His essay / outline on Iraq, Yellowcake, Liberals, Lies and Terrorism is now, for those who care, required reading. Excerpts cannot do it justice, but....

There has never been any big mystery about the overall scope of the war, the kinds of things which would have to be accomplished over decades before it would end, or the kinds of things we'd have to do in order to win it. Long time readers will recognize that the above outline is a summary of things I've been writing about ever since the attack in September of 2001, and I'm not the only one. The only people who haven't known about this big picture are those who've been in denial all this time about just how big a problem we face.

Those who are claiming that the issue of Iraqi weapons-of-mass-destruction was the one-and-only reason why we went to war in Iraq, and that the claim about uranium from Niger was the one-and-only piece of evidence used to justify it, are engaging in historical revisionism which approaches hallucination. But it's hardly surprising that they're hallucinating about this, because they also hallucinated 2 million Iraqi refugees, hundreds of thousand of Iraqi civilians killed when we carpet-bombed all the major cities, a huge uprising of the "Arab Street", a vast and palpable increase in terrorist attacks all over the world and especially against the US, and a military quagmire in Iraq including weeks of bloody street fighting in Baghdad which would result in thousands of American and British dead, and ultimately to ignominious retreat. The reason they're concentrating on this issue now is that they have no other, and in the long run it's actually going to increase their political marginalization. It's a sorry statement about them that they can find nothing else to discuss.

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 22, 2003 10:46 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Christo's 23 Miles of Gates to Open in Central Park

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into Central Park...Christo Reconsidered

The audacious and totally original artist Christo (and his fiery collaborator-wife Jeanne-Claude) are back now, with the City's approval, to install "The Gates"; their project in Central Park.

While the date isn't finally set, Christo hopes "The Gates" project will be installed as early as 2005.Christo plans to place his "Gates" along the 23 miles of Central Park's paths. Not just five or 10 or 100 but a virtual Roman legion of 7,500 gates: 16-foot-high marching metal stanchions with luminous, saffron-colored banners hanging from their crossbars, waving and billowing in the breeze.

For the complete background on this stunning project, go to The Gates Project

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 22, 2003 10:25 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Grizzly Giant

Grizzly Giant, Mariposa Grove -
33 ft. Diam. (Getty Museum)

Carleton E. Watkins
Yosemite, California,
1861Albumen print
Dome-topped: 20 1/2 x 15 5/8 in

The tree was manifestly a very fine one, but we felt disappointed in regard to the apparent size. . . . On looking more attentively and minutely at the photograph, we discovered a group of men at the base of the tree! They were so small that at first, they had escaped notice, but being once seen their effect upon the picture was magical . . . and we felt that we looked indeed upon a grizzly giant.

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 21, 2003 11:21 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Who Wants to Search When They Can Find?

The Woz is back with a killer app.

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak to create locator network

SAN JOSE, Calif. - Apple Computer Inc. co-founder Steve Wozniak is turning his creative wheels again.Make that his Wheels of Zeus Inc. - a Los Gatos startup he founded in January 2002 to develop wireless technologies that would be "helpful to people's everyday lives." The company, which has been working in stealth mode, announced its management team Monday and unveiled some, but not much, of its product details.The company hopes to create a wireless network of location-monitoring tags and base stations to help people keep track of pets, children, briefcases, or other wayward things. The network will use a low-power, long-range radio technology - the same 900-megahertz spectrum used on many cordless phones - along with global positioning satellite technologies.

From Woz's: Wheels of Zeus | Company Overview

wOzNet also enables the wOzNet Community network that can transparently mobilize an entire community to help locate a person, pet or thing that's not where it should be. Businesses participating in wOzNet Community can provide an important public service to the community at no additional cost. And wOzNet grows organically so a community can be as large as the nation or even the world.
If you had to pick one person from the last half-century of computing who was consistently brilliant, innovative and cared deeply about the welfare of the human race, Steve Wozniak would make just about everyone's short list. If this man isn't awarded the Medal of Freedom in the next five years, something is seriously amiss.

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 21, 2003 4:33 PM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
How to Destroy the Democratic Party in One Brief Presidential Election

Memo to the Republican Party:

Let me begin by informing you that, with the single exception of Rudolph Giuliani , I have never voted for a Republican in my life. And I've voted in over 15 national elections, including the last Presidential election. This, if our current President stays the course, is about to change. As you know, I am not the only one. If I was on the fence, the last few months of carping and backbiting have pushed me off.

I have "Yellowcake" fatigue and compassion fatigue. I have post-September 11th Chronic Fatigue with Appeasers Syndrome. In short, I have so many things going on in my political nature that it is best to say, surveying the current crop of Democratic candidates for President, I have had it up to here with the whole baying pack of them.

And yet... and yet... There is a chance, a small chance, that the nation could end up with a Democrat as President after the elections, and with Democrats in control of the Congress. A victory such as this will, in the short or long run, cause the United States to lose a city of some size to her enemies.

I am unwilling to consign thousands of my countrymen to death in order to bring the current crop of Democrats back into power. Call me cynical and unsupportive of a Democrat's right to hold any sort of power at this time, but that's just the way I feel. Face it, they haven't been stepping up to the bar and making us feel very secure about the future, have they?

Therefore, I feel that it is necessary for the Republicans to take out heavy insurance on the next election. There is only one scenario that seems to me to fit


Posted by Vanderleun Jul 21, 2003 1:56 PM | Comments (18)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"Life is short but lunch is long"

What book publishing needs now is a long hard look at itself. One publisher comments in: Nothing Random

''The fact is, Random House needs to make money,'' said Gina Centrello, sounding, as she often does, both determined and defensive. Three months had passed since Olson named Centrello president and publisher of what, after some confusion, is now called the Random House Publishing Group. Centrello, 44, is small and dark and was wearing a navy pantsuit and many shiny diamonds as she picked over a lobster salad during lunch at the tony restaurant Town.

Seems to me that Random House could start making money by cutting Ms. Centrello's salary with a meat axe and swapping out tuna fish for lobster salad. You can be sure that 80% of Random House's authors last saw a lobster salad when Eisenhower was President.
UPDATE: More reactions, insights and discussion of the Times' article can be found on 2 Blowhards.

And, at the same site, you can read a superior encapsulation about how Bestseller Lists are born. It's not a pretty picture and it confirms just about everything you suspected about the New York Times.

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 20, 2003 10:43 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Bug Tracker: Your Own Personal Insect

Get Your Own "Robot Insert"

Robot insert with 6 legs. Using the tape which attached to it and input some of the simple instruction. The robot insect also come with 7 senses instored and can make its own judgement and action.

Via Muxway

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 20, 2003 10:13 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
We Like Your Blog, But Don't Give Up Your Day Job (Yet)


NEW YORK ( -- Internet advertising spending is increasing steadily and will reach or surpass $8 billion annually by 2006...

...According to Geoff Ramsey, eMarketer's CEO, search engine-based advertising and broadband connectivity are among the top trends driving the new growth in online advertising.

Yes, in only 3 (three!) years the Internet will be back in the year 2000.

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 20, 2003 9:50 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Hard Copy Notes

Ad Age notes that TV GUIDE is getting a makeover. Besides a new logo which Publisher  John Loughlin hailed as "a contemporization" that would "not radically" change it, the Guide hopes to staunch the circulation hemorrhage (off 40% in the last decade) by finding, at last, a point of view.  The new editor, Mike Lafavore, said "There was a bit of a feeling among some people that the magazine didn't really have a voice or a point of view, didn't take a strong stand on anything." A "bit" by "some?"

When is the last time you read a TV Guide for the articles? Or for the pictures for that matter? Or for the listings? Or at all? Indeed, in this age of endless TV menus at the tip of your remote, exactly what purpose does a magazine of TV listings serve? None, I'd say, except perhaps to add to George Costanza's father's collection. It'll take more than a facelift and an attitude implant to save this title from oblivion.

Ad Age also tells us that Nissan, in another effort  to capture that oh-so-fickle-"multicultural youth"-market, is starting a campaign where it will be defacing its own outdoor  billboards. Yes, the age of institutional graffiti is upon us. The True Advertising agency is the one that thought up this little stinker.

More Spam for You and More Spam for Me: An instant poll on asked where the poll voters thought marketing companies would put their telemarketing budgets after the Do-Not-Call lists took their big bite. The winner was "E-Mail" with 41% of the vote. Bet you saw that one coming.

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 20, 2003 9:39 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Of Kobe Bryant, Sports Fans, and the Role of the Role Model

Elsewhere in the cyberverse we've been talking about role models, and the latest in a long line of hoopsters who, having been given both millions and the unremitting attention of millions, somehow fail to become perfect. Shakespeare, of course, explained this as he explained everything else about the world, the flesh and the devil: "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves." Or, as one of our living poets, Paul Simon has put it:

"A man walks down the street,
He says, Why am I short of attention?
Got a short little span of attention,
And whoa, my nights are so long!
Where's my wife and family?
What if I die here?
Who'll be my role-model?
Now that my role-model is ....
Gone ...... gone,
He ducked back down the alley,
With some roly-poly, little bat-faced girl.
All along .... along ....
There were incidents and accidents,
There were hints and allegations ..... "

The Karaoke Version is here.

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 19, 2003 6:48 PM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Yellowcake Papers

Secret Cabal of Bored Headline Writers
Plots to Drive Americans Insane

Yes, only a deep national fascination with Kobe Bryant's Wandering Johnson can save us now.

Headlines gleaned from a brief search of Google News:

The Yellowcake Blame Game - Counterpunch

Let Them Eat Yellowcake - American Daily

Yellowcake-gate -- Ariana Huffington

Silliness and yellowcake - Washington Times

What Is Yellowcake, Anyway? - Slate

No Yellowcake Walk - National Review

The Yellowcake Debate - New Orleans Times-Picayune

Did Bush Add Icing to the Yellowcake? - Le Sabot Post-Moderne

Goodbye Yellowcake Toads - Velociworld

Yellowcake or Fruitcake - Balloon Juice

Have your Yellowcake and eat it too - Backporch Beer

Yellowcake Rising - Village Voice

Yellowcake Remix - Wall Street Journal

War, lies and yellowcake - This Modern World

US Administration Served Iraqi Yellowcake - Greenpeace International.

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 19, 2003 6:16 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Words Worth a View

Laguna Beach
July, 2003

Photograph by Sheryl Van der Leun

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 19, 2003 12:05 PM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Only Game in Town

Player groups can achieve incredible success
in ways you wouldn't expect, and that helps
keep real life fresh and interesting.

Gamespot always has great reviews of fascinating new games, but this week Greg Kasavin takes you to whole new levels in his brilliant review of Real Life

Real life is densely populated and features a wide variety of places to explore and activities to engage in.Real life isn't above reproach. In one of the stranger design decisions in the game, for some reason you have no choice in determining your character's initial starting location, appearance, or gender, which are chosen for you seemingly at random.

However, over the course of your character's life, you have tremendous opportunity to customize and define a truly unique appearance for yourself--not only can you fine-tune your hairstyle and hair color, but you can also purchase and wear a seemingly infinite variety of clothing and influence your body type using various in-game mechanisms. For example, if your character exercises frequently, you will appear fit and muscular. You may also choose from a huge variety of tattoos and body piercings, and later you can even pay for cosmetic surgery, though this is expensive and there's a small chance that the operation will backfire.

At any rate, real life offers a truly remarkable amount of variety in determining your character's outward appearance, and this depth isn't only skin deep. The only problem is you're relegated to playing as a human character, though the game does randomly choose one of several different races for you (which have little bearing on gameplay and mostly just affect appearances and your standing with certain factions)

Easily one of the most appealing and insightful reviews of a game in recent memory. Read it all. It might even make you want to play.

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 19, 2003 8:43 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
One Reason Why PBS Will Never Threaten Fox News

...or even HGTV.


"Paid for by Viewers Like You.'

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 18, 2003 11:28 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Question of the Day

Would you rather hear the "Bush lied in the State of the Union Speech" routine one more time, or would you rather just try self-immolation on the couch one more time? Pass me the gasoline and stand back.

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 18, 2003 11:24 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Myths of Eric Alterman

In the ideological chaos of MSNBC Eric Alterman is a kind of house liberal. Alterman's made a name and a game for himself by asserting, among many other myths of our age, that 'there is no liberal bias in the media.'

Sensible people of all stations and positions scoff at this, but there is a certain hard core of people in the media with a strong liberal bias who need to hear on a regular basis that they don't exist. Alterman is the Fool in the Liberal court. He has claimed the cap and bells and no one else may wear them.

Like many men who become good at fooling themselves about one thing, Alterman has now managed to fool himself about another. Just as there is no liberal media in the Alterverse, so is there no anti-semitism in France that is not caused by Israel. And what there is doesn't really matter very much. It makes me wonder if Alterman was paying attention during his previous life as an American Jew.

When this new Alterman view surfaced a few days ago in his oh-so-provocatively titled MSNBC blog "Altercation" (Get it?), it proved to be a bit too much for his readers and for a few of the more heavily-armed bloggers. The phrase that stuck was Eric's blithe assignment of the hate-crimes that have been rising in France to the existence of Israel. The real French had nothing to do with it. He didn't see it as a group of Islamic and French anti-Semites beating and bombing and otherwise terrorizing French Jews, but as just an unfortunate series of incidents that could be cleared up at once if only Israel would do the right thing and commit suicide.

The exchange to date is nicely encapsulated in Roger Simon's ALTERMAN ALTERCATION! in which Simon writes:

Michael J. Totten and Jeff Jarvis -- two card-carrying members of the smart squad -- are taking Eric Alterman to the woodshed for making what Jarvis calls "the moral mistake of the age: trying to rationalize hate crimes" (in this case the anti-Semitic attacks in France).

I don't read Alterman often, because he's... to be kind... not exactly a Hitchens when it comes to prose style, but the brouhaha sent me over there. Unfortunately, this confirmed my opinion. His responses to his critics (go read them if you have a lot of time on your hands) are so cliche-ridden and off target I wonder if he even believes them himself.

With Totten, Jarvis and Simon weighing in, there's not much I can do to hasten the funeral.

But the last question of Simon's set me thinking about what little I know of Alterman and his ilk from observing them over the years when I lived and worked among them in New York City.

Alterman is a type you come across often in the New York Media World - the 'pleasing ideologue.' He doesn't please everyone, he doesn't have to. He merely has to locate a patron in some postion of power who has friends in other positions of power, and please that single person. If that person is pleased than so are the others, and that's how media careers are born. Indeed, that's how many different careers are born, but we just don't have to read about them or witness them on a semi-regular basis.

With Alterman, because he has made himself as much a fixture in New York media as a faucet, is someone who will be irritating us for a long time to come. He has no shame and he won't go away because, frankly, where would he go? As such he's all too typical of the shallow pool of pundits flipping handsprings in the New York media circus.

Simon writes: "I wonder if he even believes [his opinions] himself."

My take is, and I mean this precisely, that Alterman can no longer afford not to believe them himself.

Over the past few years he's sort of stumbled into his own niche in the media ecology - the man who, when speaking of bias in the media, says "Who are you going to believe? Me or your lying eyes?"

He's become very, very good at this and many things have flowed from it, not the least of which is a steady stream of income that is larger than it was before, the sort of reptile fame that comes from being a professional denier, and no shortage of dinner party invitations from the east and west sides of town that enhance his stature and improve his prospects.

We are creatures driven by money and status or at the very least we feel their lure. Once gotten they are hard to give up and the lack of them makes them harder to resist.

Alterman discovered that there was a large built in audience for his schtick; a deep need for someone who would insist that "liberal" was "objective" until the last ding-dong of doom. He has been rewarded for it. Not richly, but enough to keep him in the game. Should he cease to play his single hit at every concert he'll risk sliding back into obscurity. Nobody likes to give up their perch even when it is covered in slime and crusted droppings as long as the feeders keep the snacks coming.

So he can't give it up and yet, who can live easily with a lie? Few. The solution is to take the lie and, in the small dark laboratory of the soul, transform it into the truth. And then believe in it regardless of all the evidence to the contrary. So he has become the most tedious of all scribes and screeders, the True Believer.

It doesn't matter that what Alterman believes is false when what he believes puts food on the table and invitations in the email box. Those things tell him that it is true.

He's not the only True Believer on the left or on the right, but he's a shining example of the con man who has finally bought what he sells.

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 18, 2003 10:31 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
An App for All Seasons

A hymn to the wonders of Movable Type by that maker of fine hypertext products Jason Kottke:

Movable Type is the new way to do absolutely everything, BTW. I use it for my weblog, my bookmarks, my grocery shopping list, and my address book. I no longer need TiVo or my email application...I run everything through MT. Going to movies these days is easy with MT. It checks my vision, does root canals, makes my travel plans, transports me back in time, and balances my checkbook. Even expensive hookers are a thing of the past with Movable Type (although it doesn't go down as often as Blogger does). Thank you MT, you've made my life worth living again!

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 18, 2003 3:49 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Pretty Cheesy: Bad Fiction Award Goes to Alabama Wife, Mother and Dragon Owner

The dark and stormy Bulwer-Lytton 2003 Results are out and are already being wheyed by those who clabber together sentences for fun and profit. The winning entry is a delicate little morsel that blends passion and fromage in equal proportions:

They had but one last remaining night together, so they embraced each other as tightly as that two-flavor entwined string cheese that is orange and yellowish-white, the orange probably being a bland Cheddar and the white . . . Mozzarella, although it could possibly be Provolone or just plain American, as it really doesn't taste distinctly dissimilarfrom the orange, yet they would have you believe it does by coloring it differently.
The great American responsible for that immortal chunk of literary limburger is Ms. Mariann Simms. Ms. Simms is a citizen of many gifts according to the press release which describes her as:
The wife of an Air Force retiree, the mother of an eight-year-old daughter and a fifteen-year-old herpetologist son, and the doting owner of an Australian Bearded Dragon, Mariann Simms of Wetumpka, Alabama, is the winner of this year's Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest.

When not stroking the beard of her Pogona vitticeps, she gardens, cooks, and runs an online interactive humor site, Like Tony Soprano, a native of New Jersey, she has lived in Alabama since her husband was stationed there thirteen years ago.

Besides becoming a household name, she will receive the contest's traditional prize, a pittance.

An international literary parody contest, the competition honors the memory if not the reputation of Victorian novelist Edward George Earl Bulwer-Lytton (1803-1873), who has just enjoyed his bicentennial. The goal of the contest is childishly simple: entrants are challenged to submit bad opening sentences to imaginary novels. Although best known for The Last Days of Pompeii (1834) and the phrase, "the pen is mightier than the sword," Bulwer-Lytton opened his novel Paul Clifford (1830) with the immortal words that the "Peanuts" beagle Snoopy plagiarized for years, "It was a dark and stormy night."

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 18, 2003 3:01 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Bloomberg to New York City: DROP DEAD

Property owners now liable for NYC sidewalks

NEW YORK—New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed into law Wednesday a provision that transfers liability for personal injuries on public sidewalks from the city to the adjacent building owner.

In addition, a companion bill the mayor signed will require property owners to carry liability insurance that provides coverage for sidewalk injuries.

Yes, yet another move by Mayor Mike to make sure that New York City never recovers from his administration.

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 18, 2003 1:06 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Portrait of the Artist As A Muse

Georgia O’Keeffe: A Portrait
1918 - Palladium print

Alfred Stieglitz
American - Born 1864, died 1946

From Gifts to the Phiadelphia Museum

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 18, 2003 9:53 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Internet Bites O'Reilly Back



Fox News Attack Irish Terrier Bill O'Reilly riled up the Internet in mid-June when he brought his "I'm Right / You're Stupid" schtick to bear in a Talking Points segment called "Sex, lies and videotape on the Internet" (Note to Bill - Headlines that reference movies are amusing only for the first five years of constant use. Beyond that you risk have a close encounter of the cliched kind).

In this typical O'Reilly blatherfest, Bill accused the Internet in general of being a cesspit of lies, child porn, lies, child rape, lies, slander, lies, libel, child molestation, and, or course, lies. All perfectly true and yet most certainly false.

The Internet is not called the "Net of a Billion Lies" for nothing. It is, without a doubt, the largest repository of lies, bias, slants, half-truths, and hoaxes ever created by the cojoined minds of all personkind. And it is only getting started.

The Net, of course, does not like to be bitten in this manner and was quick to bite O'Reilly back. Torrents of bloggers quickly 'fact-checked his ass' and blasted Bill back into the videosphere where his "And that's the fact, Jack" schtick seemed safe.

If only he had stayed there. But then, with an hour of TV to fill, and our current wars on summer recess, hourly news shows can easily strike a dry patch where the dreaded 'dead air' threatens. For these quiet months, the Internet is a TV producer's wet dream; the fountain of foolish shows everywhere.

Yes, in slightly more than a month it seems that O'Reilly utterly forgot about the Net of a Billion Lies when he showcased last week's lovely "Hunting for Bambi" hoax on his show.

The video of Bill buying into this bit of bull is still available on his site and is captioned with:

Hunting 'Bambi' Some businessmen in Las Vegas are hiring women who are then stalked by men armed with paint! Is there anything illegal about this? O'Reilly talks with Michael Burdick the creator of this game, and one of the women who works for him, who goes by the name of "Julia"
As I recall this segment (which O'Reilly stuck at the back of his hour and breathlessly promoted with the 'There Outta Be A Law" technique), "Julia" declined to share her personal details with Bill when he asked the equivalent of "Why is a cheap, hapless hooker like you doing letting herself by shot by men with paintball guns?"

And well she should have. The venerable Snopeshas today put The Bambi Hunt into the probable hoax column:

Contributing to the public's belief in this venture (a concept which has already been perpetrated at least once before, at Hunt Naked Women), is the typical non-probing coverage of it by television news outlets such as a local Las Vegas television station, KLAS-TV, and FOXNews, both of whom ran features on Hunting for Bambi (complete with footage of "hunters" in action) and proclaimed it to be real....

...In common with most web-based business hoaxes, the Hunting for Bambi site displays a curious lack of contact information. Its putative parent company, Real Men Outdoor Productions, is indeed a registered Nevada corporation, but that in itself doesn't mean much, as anyone can register a business for a small fee. (The address listed for Real Men Outdoor Productions corresponds to the address of another registered Las Vegas company, Clean Your Carpets Inc., whose corporate status has since been revoked.) Perhaps more significant is that no business address or phone number is to be found on the Hunting for Bambi site, and several readers who expressed interest in booking a "hunt" have told us their e-mail inquiries to the Hunting for Bambi folks went unanswered. Those are rather odd business practices for a legitimate company looking to book customers at $10,000 a pop. We're still investigating, but we'd be quite surprised if this scheme was hatched as anything but an attempt to sell videos.

We still don't see any convincing evidence that Hunting for Bambi has actually conducted any genuine hunts for paying customers.

Will the Factor return to this thrilling story and will Bill consume a large baked crow on camera? Will Snopes find reason to recant as naked women stagger out of the Nevada desert with large stains and larger bruises counting bundles of cash? Will the Net of a Billion Lies continue to spew out fantasies only a frantic TV news producer will believe? Stay tuned.

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 18, 2003 9:26 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Prozac Nation Star Ricci Type Cast


Addams Family Values took a shot in the jaw this month when Esquire revealed that Christina Ricci lives in fear of house plants

Christina Ricci says she suffers from a number of phobias, including an irrational fear of house plants.The actress, who is starring in the forthcoming film of Prozac Nation, told Esquire: "They are dirrrty."

"If I have to touch one, after already being repulsed by the fact that there is a plant indoors, then it just freaks me out."

Bodies of water frighten her, too: "I won't swim in a pool by myself because I think that somehow a little magic door is going to open up and let the shark out."

Perhaps she's just method acting for the "Prozac Nation" role. Either way she needs to review her current medications.

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 16, 2003 5:31 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Kids, Don't Try This In Chem Lab


Those wild and crazy guys at Popular Science have come up with a method of making ice cream that will satisfy your need for speed. Just be careful that your hands don't shatter into little frozen gobbets, okay?

[1] Besides the liquid nitrogen, no special ingredients were used in this experiment.
[2] The non-cryogenic ingredients were combined in a mixing bowl.
[3] The nitrogen was added a cup at a time. Note the use of heavy cryo glovesthis was not an occasion for oven mitts.
[4] The concoction was stirred thoroughly and continuously to keep an unbreakable crust from forming.
[5] The ice cream was ready to eat when smooth and free of lumps.

(Bottom right)Theodore Gray is a co-founder of Wolfram Research, Inc., maker of the software program Mathematica. In his spare time he plays with elements at Periodic Table

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 16, 2003 11:58 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
"Fly not; stand still; ambition's debt is paid."

The overly ambitious Blair Hornstine's Harvard Dreaming has become her own personal Idaho.

Harvard has revoked its admission of Blair Hornstine, the prospective member of the Class of 2007 who made national headlines when she sued her school system to ensure she would be her high school's sole valedictorian.

Following a widely-publicized report that Hornstine had plagiarized material in articles she wrote for her local paper, the Harvard admissions office has rescinded her offer to attend Harvard in the fall, according to a source involved with the decision....

From Blair's winning page on the Discover Awards

Name: Blair Hornstine
Hails From: Moorestown, NJ
Working Hard At: Moorestown High School, NJ
Scholastic Status: Senior
The Digits (GPA): Over 4.0 (Gotta' love those APs!)

The College For Me: "I'm applying to Harvard, Princeton, Duke, Stanford, Cornell, Dickinson, Penn... a wide variety! But wherever I go, I'll be happy," she assures.
Potential Tuition: "About $40,000 a year."

Intended Major: "Something focusing on the law."
Dream Job: Poverty lawyer

Why I Applied: "I figured it couldn't hurt!"

What I Won: As a national winner in the category of Arts & Humanities -- a whopping $25,000 scholarship.

Winning Emotions: "I was very, very excited. I kept saying, 'Oh my God, thank you!'"

And Financially, This Means... "Considering the colleges I'm applying to (so expensive!), the scholarship is pretty meaningful."

Words of Wisdom: "It never hurts to try -- you never know what you'll win and what you won't," says Blair. "And work your hardest so you can have something to apply for!"

On My Resume:
* Co-founder (with big bro') of the eight-year-old service club, M.A.G.I.C. (Moorestown Alliance for Goodwill and Interest in the Community).

* Founder of the Tri-County Prom Dress Drive, which collects more than 200 dresses a year for girls from low-income families.

* Co-founder of the Tri-County Food Drive that collected 30,000 pounds of food for the hungry.

* State Chairperson for a Smile-A-Thon that funded cleft lip and palate surgeries for orphans in China. "It was one of the most amazing things I've ever done," she says. "I never thought I'd be able to go to China!"

* An Olympic Torchbearer in 2002. "I was so excited, I could barely sleep!"

How I Get It All Done: "There's plenty of time in the day!"

Hornstine was home tutored at no little expense to the community because she suffer, as stated in court documents, chronic fatigue syndrome.

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 16, 2003 11:19 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Perils of Punditry
In a world of daily- nay, almost hourly - journalism, where every clever man, every man who thinks himself clever, or whom anybody else thinks clever, is called upon to deliver his judgment point-blank and at the word of command on every conceivable subject of human thought, or on what sometimes seems to him very much the same thing, on every inconceivable display of human want of thought, there is such a spendthrift waste of all those commonplaces which furnish the permitted staple of public discourse that there is little chance of beguiling a new tune out of the one-stringed instrument on which we have been thrumming so long.
From James Russell Lowell's "Democracy" 6 October 1884

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 16, 2003 10:25 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Gary Snyder: "Sourdough Mountain Lookout"

From The Tao of Gary Snyder

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 16, 2003 9:27 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Big Daddy: World's Biggest Sand Dune

James M. Clash's Forbes article Namibian Giant, is not about some future draftee for the Celtics. It's a fascinating item about taking on a pile of sand so vast it can hardly be imagined.

Wait 30 million years and you get Big Daddy, one of the oldest sand dunes on the planet and thought to be the biggest. A ziggurat of red sand, Big Daddy rises 1,200 feet from the parched African earth of the Namib Desert. Above is the deepest of blue desert skies; at its base is a sea of golden, talc-like clay. The sharp contrast of the three colors reminds one of a giant Rothko painting.

Climbing Big Daddy, however, is not like climbing a Rothko, which would be a great deal easier. First you've got to get yourself to Namibia, in southwest Africa, sandwiched between Angola and South Africa. We flew 15 hours nonstop from New York to Johannesburg, connecting there to a two-hour flight to Windhoek, Namibia's capital. From Windhoek it's still another hour in a small charter plane to Sossusvlei, but the ride, with the sea of dunes undulating below, is supernaturally beautiful.

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 15, 2003 6:19 PM | Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Unfortunate Product Name of the Year


This from the swimming pool chemical companyPoolife

"Long lazy afternoons. The feel of the sun on your shoulders. That first refreshing plunge into the water. That sighting of the semi-soft floating object right after you jump. Nothing beats the confidence of knowing your pool is crystal clean and sparkling pure throughout the season."

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 15, 2003 4:47 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Chron Media Critic Out of Touch with Media

Being a TV critic for a third-rate metropolitan newspaper does not exactly call for the intellect of Superman. San Francisco Chronicle "critic" Tim Goodman demonstrates this today in PBS, CNN not so artful as dodgers. We'll let the truly dreadful play on the Dickensian reference slide as a bit of the eternal English major making a guest appearance in Goodman's psyche, but when we read

"CNN appeals to the journalist in most of us as the channel battles Fox News, which has done a wonderful job of convincing non-journalists that it is unbiased while fooling almost no one who actually gets a paycheck in this profession."
...our teeth burst into flame once again.

Here's the news, Tim, so listen up.

There is no LARGE DROOLING CLASS OF NON-JOURNALISTS (pesky creatures) tuning in Fox and being flummoxed into believing that the network HAS NO BIAS. The overwhelming majority of viewers know innately that there is a HUGE BIAS at Fox News. Indeed, that FOX is biased is a surprise to absolutely nobody with a native intelligence north of a planaria - with the possible exception of a cadre of "professional journalists" who JUST DON'T GET IT. What don't they get? They don't get that people watch FOX because they like the bias that FOX has!

In addition, they do NOT like the bias that CNN has.

The short form: FOX SI! CNN NO!

Got it? Good. Tune in my son and blather no more.

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 15, 2003 4:23 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Lubec Street

A portion of a memoir from the luminous field notes by Lisa Thompson:

Lubec Street was an almost parentless place as I remember it. The parents were in the background, feeding us, arranging overnights, buying our toys and tucking us in. The pools were cleaned, meals cooked, mortgages paid and birthday parties thrown. I remember one pool party though: a little kid was in the middle of the pool being held under by a struggling toddler. For long moments, we watched. Then my mom, glamour queen, threw off her wig and sunglasses, dove in and saved them. I remember her rigid determination, the set of her mouth. Life had prepared her for a moment like that. Ocassionally a parent would star in our world for a moment, but they always sat back down with their magazines and their drinks and their chatter so we could get on with the important commerce of neighborhoods: occupying the small spaces, the hollows under hedges, the shaded places between houses, the underwater Marco Polo worlds, places where adults didn't ever go, didn't want to know.

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 15, 2003 11:34 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Not-So-Great Generation

In a brilliant evisceration of Germaine Greer's latest attempt to garner attention, Australian columnist Miranda Devine takes note of a far more insidious bit of recent social evolution in Generation of taboo breakers are a selfish lot:

The eldest of the boomers are now 57, with crooked hips and arthritis. But they still see themselves as the rebels and the taboo-breakers, fighting against the strictures of their parents' generation. It is the young who are supposed to rebel but the baby boomers, selfish and greedy as ever, want to keep such trappings of youth to themselves, along with their groovy hair and taut skin.

Instead of moving over for the young, they expect their children to parent them, Saffy-style a la Ab Fab. Fifty is the new 15, in their minds. Hence we have almost-boomer Demi Moore, buff at 40, as she shows off her toy boy, Ashton Kutcher, 25, giving inspiration to all the Botox-laden, youth-chasing old ladies out there who insist on "growing old disgracefully", in the words of former staid gardening writer Mary Moody.....

[I]f the ultimate evolution of Western liberal democracy requires the removal of all taboos, the destruction of family life and religion, [Germaine] Greer's sanctioned pedophilia, sexualised children, and padded bras for eight-year-olds, then who wants it?

I would rather wear a burqa than have my eight-year-old child become a sex object.

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 15, 2003 10:54 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
The "Brights:" Smug, Self-satisfied and Stupid

One of the problems with smart people is they can be idea hamsters. Like little hyper-active rodents with too much wheel and not enough time, they compulsivley whip up one misbegotten notion after another. Notions that contain about the same level of inate common sense as a hamster confronted with a cotter pin in the lock of his cage.

Less than two weeks ago I came across an article by Richard Dawkins in the Guardian touting the hot new group description, "the brights." The Guardian gave a web address for this dubious new group, but wasn't bright enough to post the URL without spaces. Hence it was useless.

A brief correspondence with Dawkins assured me that the item was fixed. It was, in a small way, not too bright and Dawkins is a very bright man. But not bright enough to detect the smarm in the whole notion. Still, seeing that it was safely ensconced in Britain, that loves this sort of blather, I let it slide since it posed no clear and present danger to the United States.

But there's no keeping a stupid idea down in this confused age, and this morning, Whomp, there it was in the dreaded and dreadful New York Times. Yes, a full-on Times OP-ED blatheration entitled.... wait for it... "The Bright Stuff." (God, can we just please lose the punning headlines in the Times? Please? )

In this article by one Daniel C. Dennett ( Identified as "a professor of philosophy at Tufts University,"...and author of the wetly named, "Freedom Evolves.'') is a virtual fornication festival of the terminally unclued. It begins (with my interjections):

The time has come for us brights to come out of the closet.

No the time is at hand for you to shut up and stay in the closet to rewrite "Freedom Evolves" until it can be printed on a bumper strip.

What is a bright? A bright is a person with a naturalist as opposed to a supernaturalist world view. We brights don't believe in ghosts or elves or the Easter Bunny - or God.

Not very bright if you hope to hold elective office, but once you've got tenure you can run your mouth at any level of RPM and in any direction you wish.

We disagree about many things, and hold a variety of views about morality, politics and the meaning of life, but we share a disbelief in black magic - and life after death.

Okay, advanced Goth dating for you is out.

The term "bright" is a recent coinage by two brights in Sacramento, Calif., who thought our social group - which has a history stretching back to the Enlightenment, if not before - could stand an image-buffing and that a fresh name might help.

"Back to the Enlightenment, if not before... What a noble lineage! And to think, they're still here. Bring me the ducking stool, the stocks, and a sharpened pike for these wise guys. And as for the image-buff and the fresh name, well, who among us could not use a detailing and a rebranding?

Don't confuse the noun with the adjective: "I'm a bright" is not a boast but a proud avowal of an inquisitive world view.

Say it loud, "I'm bright and I'm proud!" Not at all that superstitious sort who woud confuse a noun with an adjective.

You may well be a bright.

The moment that the author, Dennett, seeks to get you down in the hole that he's in. 'Come, let us revel together in our shared superiority. Hand me the Unabridged Oxford Dictonary and the tub of Vaseline, you little minx.

If not, you certainly deal with brights daily.

Translation: "We're smarm, no harm, get used to it."

That's because we are all around you: we're doctors, nurses, police officers, schoolteachers, crossing guards and men and women serving in the military. We are your sons and daughters, your brothers and sisters.

I think at this point that the entire Rainbow coalition should sue to prevent this wholesale theft of their schtick.

Our colleges and universities teem with brights.

Our colleges and universities teem with the homeless, the useless, the hard-core unemployed, and schizophrenics on early release too, that doesn't mean they are places that at the top of our vacation list. Otherwise, the students wouldn't run screaming from the campus for Spring break.

Among scientists, we are a commanding majority.

Ah, the hidden lust to command. Isn't a shame that all the people who really know how to run the country and, dare I say it, the world, are stuck in labs and lecture halls?

Wanting to preserve and transmit a great culture, we even teach Sunday school and Hebrew classes.

Translation: "We transmit what we do not believe." Yup, that's a plan for world domination right there.

Many of the nation's clergy members are closet brights, I suspect.

The last few years have established that many of the nation's clergy are in the closet for many things, but inate intelligence was left out until today. However, if there's one thing the clergy of this nation needs it is more hypocrisy.

We are, in fact, the moral backbone of the nation: brights take their civic duties seriously precisely because they don't trust God to save humanity from its follies.

Sigh. What is one to do with such manifest detritus? Dennett goes on ad nauseum about his little club of closet Mensa addicts, but he never, for one iota of a scintilla of a jot, acknowledges what most really smart people know, i.e. deep down we are all stupid.

We're too stupid to get the world right after thousands of years. We're too stupid to follow the major religious instruction of the ages: Love each other as yourself. We're too stupid to quit driving SUVs, we're too stupid to earn enough money to buy an SUV. We are all of us just plain stupid, stupid, stupid.

At best, we're the "smart" monkey. And how smart can a monkey be, really?

Smart people know that. They also know enough, if they are also decent people, that running around proclaiming you are bright for some half-baked notion that you aren't getting your props as a group is just plain dumb. If you've got it, you don't flaunt it.

And as for the "brights" being "...the moral backbone of the nation: brights take their civic duties seriously precisely because they don't trust God to save humanity from its follies" ....

Jesus wept.

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 14, 2003 3:56 PM | Comments (19)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Springtime for Hasbians

"If the lipstick lesbian was the gay icon of the '90s, these days she's been replaced by her more controversial counterpart, the hasbian: a woman who used to date women but now dates men. Though (actress) Anne Heche is the most prominent example, many hasbians...are by-products of '90s liberal arts educations. Caught up in the gay scene at school, they came out at 20 or 21 and now, five or ten years later, are finding themselves in the odd position of coming out all over again -- as heterosexuals." --Amy Sohn

It's a great country, but people have just got to make up their minds.

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 14, 2003 3:48 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
When Clinton and Christopher Hitchens Rutted in the Same Quarter of the Forest

Roz Kaveney Delivers the Dish on the Hitchens Clinton Connection

A LiveJournal item by Roz Kaveney heaps up some decades-old dish on Bill Clinton and Christopher Hitchens. Kaveney declares herself no ravening fan of Clinton, but it is also clear that she doesn't currently find Hitchens to her taste at all.

The most interesting part of the long entry is her snapshot of Bill and Christopher during the time they shared Oxford and perhaps more many long years ago.

In 1968, when I arrived at Oxford as a gangling skinny Northerner with serious sexual identity problems, I went to a lot of political meetings. You could hardly not notice Hitchens - he was charismatic, and beautiful, and passionate in his denunciations of the Americans in Vietnam. You also ended up noticing a quiet bearded American called Bill something, who would periodically stand up and oppose the war, while defending his country's better angels. My memory, which may be faulty, is that, on at least one occasion, I heard them speak at the same meeting.

Hitchens has latterly claimed that they probably slept with at least one of the same people - who subsequently became a famous lesbian and feminist activist.

The problem with this is that the most likely candidates - Oxford in the late 60s was not exactly awash with such women - either never slept with one, or never slept with the other, or never slept with either.

One woman, who shared an apartment, and a girlfriend, with Clinton, claims to remember vaguely once necking with Hitchens when she was drunk.

What is the case is that they were having sexual adventures in roughly the same quarter of the forest, with the exception that Clinton was only sleeping with women.

Kaveney's had quite a life and, as she notes, "I somehow seem to know almost everyone." You might want to read the entire entry and then, perhaps, a bit more of her journal.

Found first via Kathryn Cramer.

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 13, 2003 6:24 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Flatlined: Your Education Tax Dollars Over the Years

One of the most depressing graphs in recent memory. From the Department of Education web site, via Jerry Pournelle's Chaos Manor

Pournelle thinks this graph may disappear from the Web once the DOE realizes how terrible it is. He may have a point.

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 13, 2003 5:17 PM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Jerry Pournelle Asks The Obvious Question

From Chaos Manor's Current View

So: if we are to be an empire, how shall the costs of empire be born? Why should the American people bear those costs alone?

We will need occupation forces -- tax farmers -- to do the work of governing and stabilizing and nation building. An armed Peace Corps, so to speak. Where will we get those, and how ought they to be trained? I ask seriously, because it is becoming clear that we will need them.

Any answers?

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 13, 2003 5:01 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Heft of a Continent

An excerpt from Andro Linklater's book Measuring America: How an Untamed Wilderness Shaped the United States and Fulfilled the Promise of Democracy

With neither the map nor the view from an airplane can reveal is the tension between these artificial shapes and the environment. From the Coeau des Prairies, a long escarpment marking the edge of glaciated plains in South Dakota, there is a view of squared-off prairie --- fields, farms, windbreaks, section lines --- stretching to the northern and western horizons and all obeying the survey; the sheer expanse of it is as moving and terrifying as an army on parade. Yet even on the stillest day, another power makes itself felt. The dry grasses rustle with it, and insistent pressure of the air, no heavier than breathing, that comes from far off and passes with irresistible momentum from the North to the warm South. The very gentleness of it is sobering. Out there a breeze would shake you on your feet, a storm would knock you flat. It carries the heft of a continent.
Reviewed by Robert J. Wellborn in the current issue of RALPH: The Review of Arts, Literature, Philosophy and the Humanities.

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 13, 2003 4:27 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Hi-tech Help for Johnny Depps' Pirates

Dug up out of the bit pile at Defective Yeti
with a map found at Dean's World

[Click pix for larger image]

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 13, 2003 12:11 PM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Sunday New York Times Lite

"We scan it so you don't have to."

Let's face it. You've got better things to do with a summer Sunday than wade through this hulking block of over-thought, over-wrought, over-written, and over-weight newsprint. Take a quick look here and you'll know all you need to know about this Sunday's massive emission from 43rd street.

Front Page:

Iraq Takes First Steps Towards Self-Government.
Times slightly befuddled.

U.S. Military Kills 4 in New Push Against Iraqi Resistance
Times feels that enough is enough.

Gates Aims Billions to Attack Illnesses of World's Neediest
Times still mildly peeved that Windows still sucks.

Opinions and Editorials

Maureen Dowd

The usual spew from the Times' Tower of Babble. This week she's stamping her Prada shod little foot and demanding that Bush "assuage" our doubts. Hey, Maureen, pack a Slim Jim in case you get hungry waiting for that.

Paul Bremer
The Road Ahead in Iraq — and How to Navigate It
Bremer delivers himself of predicable and highly vetted propaganda while stealing the title from Bill Gates is an obvious suck-up for a job at Microsoft when this is all over.

Editorial One
The mighty Times thunders forth about the dangers of keeping exotic pets and slaps the wrists of those who do for risking teeth, claws and Monkeypox.

Editorial Two
The mighty Times thunders forth and slaps the wrist of the Italian Prime Minister for daring to tell the truth when he said a German politician " would be good in the film role of a Nazi concentration camp guard." The Times thinks this cuts in on the Time's turf where truth is always carefully vetted before being printed.

Editorial Three
The Times is worried about the admissions rituals at Yale. This can only mean that the child of a member of the Editorial board did not make the cut.

Extra Special Op-Ed
More mush from the wimp as Jimmy Carter runs his endless cornpone mouth on what should and should not be done in Africa, with, of course the obligatory "when I did this as President" riff. The first two paragraphs of this "contribution' has reportedly induced coma among more than 4,000 readers in ten eastern states.

Last, and as always, Least:
Not to be outdone in the blather wars, the Michael Moore look-alike Frank Rich weighs in with "Ground Zero or Bust." (Gotta love the snap of that headline.)

In this stem-winder, Rich makes the observation that the rebuilding of Ground Zero is going to be a long, long New York minute. What? A New York fornication festival over Ground Zero? Who saw that coming?

Rich then veers into a semi-coherent review a new film on September 11 before his heavily-medicated hate of George Bush brings him around to a standard Richian close: "Maybe so, but the artist's vision is of New York 3021, a millennium from now. In 2003 the soaring towers of "New Manhattan City" look all too chillingly like targets for terrorists. They are, you might say, the aesthetic correlative of the president's recent taunt to those shadowy forces attacking American troops in Iraq: 'Bring 'em on.' "

Good to see Rich is still boxing his weight with the midgets.

The Week in Review:

Europe back to Normal, whatever that is.
California is full of crazy people who think they can change the world unlike the news and editorial areas of the New York Times.
The United States is doing different things in Iraq and Afghanistan. Surprise, surprise.
The US is trying to kill Saddam Hussein and this is a new thing for America. Tom Powers isn't sure it is a good thing.
Some fretting about the state of American Backpacks.
Politicians are sacrificing ideology for expediency. Another shocker.
America has made mistakes in Liberia in the past. Who knew?
The past of slavery has been either paved over or forgotten. Right. Next.
The subhead for an item on James Bond actually uses both "Ubermensch" and "Psychosexual Fetish " leading one to think it is a stealth profile of the Times' publisher. A swipe at the latest MSNBC boner in hiring Michael Savage.
A burning question over Dylan's plagiarism of an obscure scholar is raised and snuffed. The oh-so-hip "Buzzwords" item sounds five tones of despair over Iraq.

New York Times Sunday Magazine:

Speed limits, yes or no?
Surfer Kelly Slater spews.
Babe shot of Ludivine Sagnier disguised as profile.
The revolting ethicist Randy Cohen takes on bird feeders.
Bill Safire discuss how "domestic diva" outdoes "home-decorating queen" when it comes to a "bogus title" for Martha Stewart.
Article: There's famine in Africa and, as usual, nobody can do anything about it.
Article: There are Iranian women who ignore their husbands, stop having sex and set themselves on fire.
Article; In China it is dangerous to work in a coal mine.
Article: No matter how discredited he becomes someone somewhere will always be putting out a new edition of the works of Sigmund Freud.
Fashion: "Proportion? Silhouette? Scale? Don't fret. Memorize these words: ''cropped,'' ''tight,'' ''slim,'' ''long,'' ''short."
Food: Jason Epstein on slow shellfish poisoning through deep frying.
Letters: If you run an article on capitol punishment, will people send you letters? The answer this week is 'Yes."

That's it. You're done. We've just given you an extra six hours in your Sunday. Use them well.

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 13, 2003 10:04 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
"Who will rid us of this turbulent priest!?"

Nader: The Church Lady for President

Just when you thought it was safe to listen to the Democratic candidates because one of them might, just might, pull off the upset of the century in the next Presidential election, Ralph Nader comes blathering back onto the national scene. It what can only be seen as a move to drive the Democratic party into the crazy place for the duration of the American experiment, this spoiler has threatened to bleed off whatever hope the Dems have for the Whitehouse like a leech on a housefly.

But that's not the bad news. The bad news is that the rest of us will have to listen to Nadar scold right, left and center for months because, well, because we're just not smart enough to elect Ralph. Still, it is a free country and Ralph has enough bozos on his bus to make him seem sexy to the cable news shows, so we'd better get used to hearing things like:

"The Democrats seem incapable of defending our country against the Bush marauders," Mr Nader told The Telegraph last week. "One benefit of me running again would be to teach the Democrats how to deconstruct the Bush regime.

To "de-con-struct" the Bush "regime?" Well, there's an example of first-rate blather on the level that will set the teeth of a crocodile on fire at fifty yards. We dimly remember the "D" word as something that tripped lightly from the lips of what passed for French Intellectuals in the 1980s. It set them apart from the rest of the world and it has kept them apart from the rest of the world. We can only hope that the continued use of this spinster schoolmarm tone will make Nader about as appealing to the American public as a two-week romantic vacation with the Church Lady.

As for the Democrats, I'm sure they are looking around for a group willing to pack Ralph Nader into the trunk of a Chevy Corvair and bury it in the nearest toxic land fill.

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 13, 2003 7:41 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Lost Worlds of the American Southwest


Hopi Maiden, 1901
by Adam Clark Vroman
The collection of Vroman's work held by the University of California, Riverside's Museum of Photography is well worth exploring.

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 11, 2003 10:28 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
DIA BEACON: An Image of Nothing

In an old Nabisco plant Warhol's shadows fall.

Dia Beacon, like an elephants' burying ground of contemporary art that was mercifully too large to be shown, squats next to the Hudson River north of Manhattan. Within rooms of dirt vie with rooms of trash in a silent contest to see which installation can be the most meaningless. Chief among these are 122 large Warhol paintings of shadows. Lynne Cooke, working in the long and strong tradition of curatorial gibberish sums these large daubs and Dia Beacon up in her Andy Warhol Essay

The shadow, which holds a seminal role in the originary accounts of both painting and photography as art forms, assumes in Warhol's depictions a paradigmatic identity: devoid of identifiable source, detached from its maker or creator, it exists in and of itself, a purposefully made image of "nothing."
Richard Kimball, in The New Criterion makes the subtext in this statement plain text in "Minimalist Fantasies"
Where is Evelyn Waugh when you need him? I mean, where is the satirist with a boot big and swift and hard enough for the collective backside of todays art world? The hour is come, Sir Walter Scott indited gloomily, but not the man. I share that gloom. There is plenty of good art being made now, but most of it goes unnoticed, all but. The big press and the big money tend to line up behind transgressive crap (the blasphemy, kinky sex, bodily effluvia brigade) or utterly vacuous crap (the blank canvas, exhibit-my-old-sneaker, I-can-count-to-three-million-and-make-you-watch-me-do-it company). I apologize, by the way, for the word crap. I think its undignified, too. I looked around for an alternative that was equally accurate, blunt, and printable. I considered merde, but it seemed a bit pretentious for the matter at hand, and besides, its French. Crap at least is short, sharp, and expressive. It has the added advantage of being apt: CRAP, n. 3. a. Worthless nonsense, The American Heritage Dictionary.

Doubtless you have heard of the Dia Arts Foundation, though probably it is not in the forefront of your consciousness. It hadnt been in the news much lately. Dia was one of the many potty ideas with roots in the 1960s that didnt get going until the 1970s, and now, like eczema or PCBs, is almost impossible to extirpate. Why Dia? Its Greek for through, as in Cant you see through this ridiculous sham? Dia was started in 1974 by a German art dealer named Heiner Friedrich and his wife, Philippa de Menil. Herr Friedrich supplied the pretension, most of it; Miss de Menila daughter of the art collectors Dominique and John de Menil, and hence an heiress to the Schlumberger oil fortunesupplied the money, lots of it. According to Kimmelman, by the mid-1980s, Dia had spent $40 million on 1,000 works of art.

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 11, 2003 9:35 AM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Value of a College Edukashun

Courtesy of Edward Tufte

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 11, 2003 9:21 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Right Way, The Wrong Way and the Chinese Army Way

Beijing's budget-conscious military police
take target practice with "unloaded' pistols.
Who says you can't restrain government spending?

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 10, 2003 8:45 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Brain Jazz Across the Decades

Image by Van der Leun

Like a circle in a spiral
Like a wheel within a wheel
Never ending or beginning
On an ever-spinning reel
As the images unwind
Like the circles that you find
In the windmills of your mind
- - Dusty Springfield, The Windmills

I try not to write too much about the nature of blogging. For one thing, I'd written way too much about online conferencing during the decade and a half when I was an active member of The Well. I wrote about it elsewhere during those years and even, with the late Tom Mandel, wrote a book about it - THE RULES OF THE NET: Online Operating Instructions for Human Beings.

Played out, burnt out, that was then this is now, goodbye to all that, so long thanks for the ASCII -- in any case, I've had my say. And since you have only so much wetware hard drive, you've got to delete whole continents of thought from time to time to make room for the new worlds that are always being discovered from the flagship, USS Mylife.

Besides, "Bloggers on Blogging" has been done to death, dragged out by the heels, nailed to the perch and backhoed into the rich byte-loam the Internet calls: "Been There, Done That, Have the Tee Shirt." Yes, all just too much inside tee-ball for me. Which means, of course, that bloggings overdue for a cutting edge Time cover sometime this summer.

But still, but still.... "Just when you think you're out, they pull you back in."

Running down my regular web scan from the toolbar this morning, I naturally clicked over to Instapundit to get a plate of fresh hot links from the Professor's buffet. Scrolling down ( and you do scroll DOWN at Instapundit) I came across this intriguing post:

I'M JUST A SOUL WHOSE INTENTIONS ARE GOOD -- but, Lord, sometimes I still get misunderstood. But not by Matt Welch, who has it exactly right.

"Ah," I thought, "the obscure store of modest self-referencing from the Professor. Must click now."

Which brought me to:Three weeks ago, Glenn Reynolds wrote a nice little Tech Central Station column about what, to him, makes good weblogs good. "

Uh-oh," I thought, "a Renyolds' column that I missed. Must click now." "You are such a tool," I remonstrated to myself as I clicked and came to this:

What's more, there's a way in which blogging, like jazz, always succeeds: if it's reflecting the feelings of the blogger, it's a success at some level, regardless of whether anyone else likes it.

On my InstaPundit weblog, which is powered by Movable Type, I can post something, think better of it moments later, and change it, or add an update in response to a reader email that comes in sixty seconds after it's posted.

"...Blogging, like jazz..."

And then, at the end of these looping hyperlinks, I remembered.

I remembered something I'd already forgotten twice. I remembered the item below that I wrote late one night on The Well, somewhere towards the end of the 1980's, about what was then called, quaintly, "online conferencing."

I'd forgotten about the item until Dan Levy brought it back to the web in the late 90s. Then I'd forgotten about it again until today when it came swimming up out of my memory like some weird collection of fragments from a file only partially recovered. Deleted, but not destroyed. And, then, thanks to the almost godlike powers of Google, I got it all back. And I found that it was still, to my mind, not that bad. A concept that might still be of use to somewhere else somewhere out there.

Like some things you write late at night in a world long forgotten it still rings true to me today when I'm caught up in the circles that I find in the windmills of our group mind.


We don't fill in a formula of departments and features every week, we're jamming.

We just make up our content on the fly. No going back. No edits. Mainlining others thoughts.

It's like an endless assortment of brain musicians high on brain jazz.

If you can type and have something to say, you can sit in and jam.

You can play. ANY NUMBER can play a number and that number is always an unknown number. But if you can play unknown numbers you can sit in on the session.

If not, you can just login and kick back and watch the others go at it.

You never know what you're going to get, or which way the next person is going to bend the thread.

You're just there, in real time, and saying, really, whatever comes into your head.

Sometimes its flat, even more often predictable, and, yes, it can get really boring, just like a lot of modern jazz.

But still, there are times -- rarer now to be sure -- when the thing just takes off

And you find yourself thinking things you never thought you'd think and saying things you never planned to say to a lot of people who are coming right back at you, jamming harder and seeing if you can all somehow take it higher.

Not to be profound, just to take it around. It's like being in a Doctor Strange intellectual groove and you've got lift off.

Have this happen a couple of time and you're hooked, man. Like me, man. I've been hooked for years, man, but it doesn't rule my life, man.

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 9, 2003 11:37 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
All American Child Abuse

One of the restrained "clients" at Baby Ink Tattoo

I'm not sure where hip parenting stops and child abuse starts these days, but Baby Ink Tattoo is clearly well over the line.

Here's how "Owner/Artist" Eric Lansford justifies his little business with a small serving of hypocrisy:

Welcome to Baby Ink, where we believe that it's never to early to start expressing your unique personality through professional, high quality body art. Baby Ink locations are non-threatening, family friendly places where people of all ages can feel calm and at ease. Although we are the ORIGINAL body art chain to cater to toddlers and children, our experienced, talented staff is glad to work on people of all ages. So whether you're 8 months or 88 years old, if you're ready for a tattoo or a body piercing-the clear choice is Baby Ink!
Ah yes, one of those "non-threatening, family friendly places" where your infant can experience hours of needle jabs, days of wounded flesh and decades of being marked for life. Wonderful. Lanford's hideous "Gallery" contains other photos of his victims. Faces are generally concealed and carefully selected to give the best impression, but this one reveals that the boy is not exactly ecstatic about 'expressing his personality' in this really sharp fashion. I wonder if the shop comes equipped with restraints other than the kids' trashed parents if the little ones object too much or too loudly.

And let's not even start trying to imagine the dementia of parents who'd bring a toddler in to be marked for life because they think it is a cool thing to do. Nothing like getting kids into the gang-banging lifestyle from the cradle.

Yes, I know that not all people with tattoos are criminals. But I also know that most criminals have tattoos.

Next time you're in San Diego, why not drop by Baby Ink Tattoo at 414 Broadway and watch this master "artist" jab a few kids?

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 8, 2003 10:46 PM | Comments (18)  | QuickLink: Permalink

Imagine ghosts, gods and devils.
Imagine hells and heavens, cities floating in the sky and cities sunken in the sea
     Unicorns and centaurs. Witches, warlocks, jinns and banshees.
     Angels and harpies. Charms and incantations. Elementals, farmiliars, demons.

     Easy to imagine all of those things: mankind has been imagining them for thousands of years.

     Imagine spaceships and the future.
     Easy to imagine; the future is really coming and there'll be spaceships in it.

     Is there then anything that's really hard to imagine?
     Of course there is.

     Imagine a piece of matter and yourself inside it, yourself, aware, thinking and therefore knowing you exist, able to move that piece of matter that you're in," to make it sleep or wake, make love or walk uphill.

     Imagine a universe-infinite or not, as you wish to picture it- with a billion, billion, billion suns in it.

     Imagine a blob of mud whirling madly around one of those suns.

     Imagine yourself standing on that blob of mud, whirling with it, whirling through time and space to an unknown destination.


Written by Fredric Brown, 1955


Posted by Vanderleun Jul 8, 2003 9:34 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Great Moments in Surfing, Malibu, 2003

Taken from the excellent Surfshooter. . The caption assures us that, "This photo is REAL. It's not a Photoshop manipulated image. It IS a Dolphin, NOT a shark."

Hey, no problem. We'll wait for you here on the beach.

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 8, 2003 8:02 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Worst Reason to Buy A Useless Product

If you are the kind of cook who owns a melon baller and a lemon zester and who wants to scare little children, you need the Octodog. Yes, this handy little item makes, in five steps, a hot dog into something that looks like an octopus. The inventor clearly feels that this will cause children to eat more hot dogs. Around my house, the boy eats, in my opinion, entirely too many hot dogs as a part of his diet. I may, in fact, buy this gruesome gadget as a means of scaring him off hot dogs for life.

But the inventor, who is obviously not a salesman on the level of a Popiel. provides a reason that is worse than his product. In answering the burning question Why Octodogs? he informs prospective buyers:

The hotdog is among the top ten items found in many lists concerning choking occurrences in young children. Pediatricians recommend slicing a hotdog linearly. The method of slicing a hotdog linearly can reduce the chances of choking during consumption. A sliced hotdog is a safer way to serve hotdogs to children. Octodogs are not only fun, but may be a safer way to serve hotdogs.
The illustration shows a stub of a hotdog with long tendrils hanging off of it. You might not choke on it, but you could choke somebody with it.

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 8, 2003 3:29 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Another Good Reason to Get US Troops Out of Korea Now

Jinro Chamjinsultro Soju

The liquor thrice-filtered with charcoal made from bamboo In Korea, Chamjinisulro is the first clean and safe soju filtered three times with charcoal made from bamboo, which is cooked at 1,000 degrees celsius. Because Chamjinisulro has been filtered twice, it has neverbeen leaving no harmful ingredients or impurities. You can enjoy pure taste without the burden of hangovers due to it's containing asparagine and affulent minerals.

Here's to er... [thunk!]

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 8, 2003 1:10 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Time to Separate Cojoined Headlines

Ellison Lashes Out At Conway; Berlusconi: 'Regret' On Nazi Gibe

We know that Conway recently called Ellison "sociopathic." but that's no reason for Ellison to "Nazi" him and that Italian guy.

From Forbes

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 8, 2003 12:16 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Pixel is turning 50

"The IAS's eminent historian, George Dyson, has rescued these forgotten images of the first pixels ever made. Source: Institute for Advanced Study, 1954"

The always lucid Andrew Zolli delivers a fascinating history of the Pixel as it apporaches its 50th Anniversary on Core 77 in Pixelvision.

Though it may seem like a more recent creation, the pixel first appeared in New Jersey in 1954, the same year that Elvis cut his first record and the transistor radio was invented. At Princeton's Institute for Advanced Study, mathematicians and engineers created the first computer graphic--and the first instance of digital typography--on a computer the size of a Manhattan apartment.

The Princetonian pixels were as primitive as one could imagine--literally the glowing filaments of the machine's vacuum memory registers--but they marked the beginning of a sea-change in how we represent and see the world. Over the next five decades, we learned to shape our pixels to better reflect the 'real' world, even as we re-fabricated the world to more closely approximate those phosphorescent dots. The pixel became both a mirror and a lens, reflecting and shaping our reality. The result is a contemporary world more closely matched to the kinds of certainties pixels alone can render.

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 7, 2003 10:04 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
And the Google Hack of the Year Award Goes to...

This just in from Dave Farber's Interesting People via Ramblings

Go to Google and type "Weapons of Mass Destruction" and then click "I'm Feeling Lucky".

Well, what are you waiting for? Just do it.

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 7, 2003 9:47 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Husbands: Don't try this at home!

... or perhaps it might be better to at least practice at home.

The usually sober Wall Street Journal lets it all hang out with today's article on To Have and to Hold: The Key To Wife Carrying Is Upside Down by Roger Thurow.

VAIKE-MAARJA, Estonia -- Take it from a world champion: The best way for a man to carry a woman is to dangle her upside down over his back, with her thighs squeezing his neck and her arms around his torso.

"That way, your arms are free to help with balance. It's more stable. There's less shifting of the weight," says Margo Uusorg. He has just carried Egle Soll, her pigtails flapping against his back, around a 278-yard oval track that includes a 3-foot-deep water trough and two hurdles of wooden logs. In just over one minute, they won the Estonian championship here, and qualified for this coming weekend's Wife Carrying World Championship in Sonkajarvi, Finland, where Mr. Uusorg is a heavy favorite to win his third world crown.

"When you carry this way," he says, "it's much easier."

I'd say that it gets easier only after you get your wife to agree to be carried in competition in the first place.

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 7, 2003 5:23 PM | QuickLink: Permalink


Ellen Petro smoking pipe

by Frank Michael Hohenberger

"Hohenberger was born in Ohio in 1876 and orphaned at five years of age. He spent his boyhood as a printing apprentice and later worked several years on newspapers in Dayton, Ohio, Louisville, Kentucky, and finally for the Indianapolis Star.

"Composing rooms and newspapers could not hold his attention. In 1917 he left Indianapolis to start a small photography business in Nashville, Indiana, concentrating on the subject matter of Brown County. The next forty-seven years were spent recording the life, customs, and scenes of the hills of Brown County, of other areas of Indiana, of Kentucky, of South Carolina, and of Mexico."

Posted by Van der Leun Jul 7, 2003 1:52 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Ebay's Law Enforcement Suckupathon Continues

Ebay's Number One Rent-A-Cop Joe Sullivan put police around the country on notice that Ebay won't ask them for anything as inconvenient as a court order when it comes to getting your personal information from the online leviathan. As reported in The Nation's recent article Buyer Beware , Sullivan announced:

If you are a law-enforcement officer, all you have to do is send us a fax with a request for information, and ask about the person behind the seller's identity number, and we will provide you with his name, address, sales history and other details--all without having to produce a court order.
Ah, those court orders. So time consuming for all involved. And besides, resisting law-enforcement might risk having law enforcement notice that not only is Ebay dominating the area of online sales, it is also clearly the leader in enabling online fraud. That would not be good. After all, depositions might cut into the time founder Pierre Omidyar spends touting the hapless Sidekick
The Sidekick (Danger hiptop from T-Mobile)This thing is so neat that I've forgotten how neat it is. The color display is really great, much better than I've seen on any other handheld. It's always connected to the network, so AOL instant messages come and go without having to tell the thing to connect. It syncs instantly to a web interface -- too bad it can't sync with my Mac via iSync. Not to mention not syncing with corporate e-mail/organizers.
... while neglecting to mention his own investment in the company that makes Sidekick.
Palo Alto's Danger, the start-up that sells a mobile device that combines e-mail and instant messaging with a phone and other features, said Monday it raised $35 million. Chief executive Hank Nothaft said initial sales through T-Mobile, the carrier that sells Danger's device under the name ``Sidekick,'' have been in the ``tens of thousands'' since the October launch.

The funding will help Danger gain additional carriers, one of which Danger hopes to announce over the next couple of months, he said. The funding came from Softbank Capital Partners, Meritech, Mobius, Redpoint, Diamondhead Ventures and other investors, including eBay founder Pierre Omidyar.

All in all a minor exercise in duplicity, but indicative of the internal hubris at Ebay which is, day by day, taking it closer to the bleak shores of Enron.

Perhaps Ebay is hoping that by playing nice and getting cozy with law enforcement that the Justice Department, from which Sullivan was hired, won't look too closely at Ebay.

Sullivan even offered to conscript eBay's employees in virtual sting operations: "Tell us what you want to ask the bad guys. We'll send them a form, signed by us, and ask them your questions. We will send their answers directly to your e-mail."
How helpful. If only Ken Lay and Enron had a similar attitude, they might be in business today.

UPDATE: Eugene Volokh has taken me to task for this on The Volkoh Conspiracy and I am, as always, enlightened by him; indeed I'm even feeling somewhat corrected. Still, to my mind, it is more the general attitude behind Ebay than the black letter law concerns me in this instance. Volokh is quite correct in his assertion that we all want to help law enforcement put away the bad guys, but an announced standing policy of turning over any information at any time for any reason (which is how I understand Sullivan's invitiation) strikes me as being just a little too co-operative. If I was a bank with millions of financial records of businesses and individuals at my command (Ebay owns Paypal) wouldn't those people be made just a bit nervous to know that anybody waving a badge can saunter into my bank and see my account?

Then there's the issue of Sullivan volunteering the Ebay/Paypal staff to act as covert agents of law enforcement. Just this week, there's a story on the Nets of bogus Paypal email being sent around to Paypal users in an attempt to winkle some essential information out of them. If things like this are compounded with a general awareness of the willingness of the company to act as agents, it seems to me that the sometimes too-blind trust on which Paypal and Ebay and thousands of other online businesses depend is threatened. It would be one thing for a police agent, in pursuit of some sting, to pass himself off as an Ebay employee. It seems to me to be quite another to have a core of corporate 'volunteers.'

No, the core question here seems to me to be Sullivan's and Ebay's intent. To say that they Ebay stands ready to help the police combat fraud and other crimes online sounds a bit too much like Claude Raines declaring he is "...shocked, shocked to find gambling is going on here." Ebay, as a transaction mechanism, was designed to be highly scalable. It is regretable that as a business it needs to be chummy with law enforcement to scale up the control of online fraud. They might net a shark or a whale from time to time, but holes in the Ebay net let millions of minnows get clean away.

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 7, 2003 12:22 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
MSNBC just can't get Right right

MSNBC fires Michael Savage after anti-gay comments

NEW YORK (AP) — MSNBC on Monday fired Michael Savage for anti-gay comments.

The popular radio talk show host who did a weekend TV show for the cable channel referred to an unidentified caller to his show Saturday as a "sodomite" and said he should "get AIDS and die."

"His comments were extremely inappropriate and the decision was an easy one," MSNBC spokesman Jeremy Gaines said.

Earth to MSNBC:
1) The man's name is "Savage."
2) His radio show has been spewing this sort of garbage for donkey's years.
3) His opinions are not now and never were "Classified: Top Secret."
4) You can't outfox Fox.
5) If "the decision was an easy one," shouldn't sacking everyone there responsible for being so desperate as to put him on in the first place be even easier?
6) Why are you still bothering to get up everyday and broadcast?
7) I know "shame" has no meaning to a cable news network, but you might try faking it for a moment.

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 7, 2003 12:13 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Starbucks Blind to Gigantic All-American Niche Market


Starbucks' founder, chairman and "chief global strategist" Howard Schultz is on record as saying in Forbes' Starbucks' World Won't Be Built In A Day

"Unfortunately people have a very short-term horizon," Schultz said in a telephone interview. "We're building a brand, not a fad."

To prove his point, Schultz also announced that the Seattle-based company wants to eventually have 25,000 stores worldwide, with 15,000 stores outside the U.S. and Canada. The company currently has more than 6,500 stores in total, with 1,552 stores in 29 countries excluding the U.S. and Canada.

Seems to me that Schultz could stand to wake up and smell his own coffee. The future of Starbucks is not "somewhere out there," but, literally, right here at home. If Schultz really wanted to make some serious dough rather than the piddling $3.3 billion his lattes launched into American brain cells last year, he'd up his bet on America.

In short, it would extend the Starbucks brand into every American home.

Yes, I want to wake up and find my own personal Starbucks with my own personal Starbuckeroo foaming my own personal carmel latte grande in my closet every single morning. And I want one for my beautiful wife too.

Given that Starbucks' stock (Nasdaq:SBUX) - much like Barnes and Noble - can only continue to go up if they keep opening stores, and given that there are now virtually three Starbucks at every intersection in America, they have filled the street based Starbucks to capacity.

If this was a really great American company they'd want to bring the comforts of cappucino to each and every one of us, with a choice of pastry, right away, every morning. After all, you need coffee to be able to go out and get coffee.

Let 300,000,000 Starbucks bloom!

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 7, 2003 11:03 AM | Comments (14)  | QuickLink: Permalink
you bring out the boring white guy in me

From Poetry Daily comes this great American ode by Jim Daniels and dedicated to Christina Acosta.

you bring out the boring white guy in me
the Ward Cleaver in me. The Pat Boone
in me. The K-Mart in me. The Slurpee
in me. The boiled hotdog in me. The mac
and cheese in me. The Tang in me.
You bring out the Hamburger Helper
in me. You bring out the Twinkie
in me. The Cheez Whiz in me.
You bring out the bowling trophy
in me. The student council in me.
The parliamentary procedure in me.
The missionary position in me.
You bring out the canned vegetables
in me. The Jell-o in me. The training
wheels in me. You bring out
the lawn edger in me. The fast-food
drive-thru window in me. The Valu
Meal in me. You bring out the white
briefs in me. You bring out
the cheap beer and weak coffee
in me. You bring out the 15%
tip chart in me. The sad overweight
weekend golfer in me. You bring out
the ex-smoker in me. The jumper
cables in the trunk with flares
and the red flag to tie to the window
in me. You bring out the Tony Orlando
in me. The canned situation comedy
laughter in me. The elevator music
in me. You bring out the medley
of TV commercial jingles in me.
The Up with People in me.
I've come to a complete stop
at the stop sign. I've got my
emergency flashers on. My doors
are locked, baby,
I'm waiting for you.

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 7, 2003 10:27 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
How to Write A Book Proposal

For years I had a standard speech for authors in who needed to know how to write a book proposal that led to an offer to publish. As an editor and agent, they assumed I'd know. And I did. But I couldn't tell them. Instead, I gave them "the outline." I won't rehearse it here. Suffice it to say, that I could never bear to bring myself to tell them the whole sorded truth about books. They either wouldn't have believed me or it would depress them into silence.

But reality has a way of sneaking up behind idealism and mugging it in the dark night of the soul. Now M. Garrett Bauman has lifted the lid on this can of worms in Textbook Writing 101.

To win a contract, you must create a dazzling book proposal - a 10-page document that demonstrates your expertise, your ability to write simultaneously to a Harvard Ph.D. and the pimply kid slinging burgers at Wendy's, your skill in smearing a patina of innovation over crass imitation, and your firm, unbiased belief that the book will enhance the publisher's reputation as a leading-edge moneymaker. Direct your proposal and several chapters to acquisitions editors. Those people work hard to fill gaps in their catalogs, anticipate new trends, and save their butts. That final item is important because few acquisition editors survive long enough to face the consequences of their decisions. That opens the door for you to become one of their mistakes. How? By understanding Rule #3: A book proposal delicately balances truth and expectation: 10-percent truth, 90-percent fantasy.
Hapless authors in search of a publisher should spare themselves the rest of this article, others should wade in and discover that making books and making sausage are much the same thing.

[Found via the invaluable Arts and Letters Daily ]

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 7, 2003 8:42 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Man: The Final Assembly


"What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason! how infinite in faculty! in form, in moving, how express and admirable! in action how like an angel! in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the world! the paragon of animals!" - William Shakespeare

Homo sapiens Other names: man[common name]
Primeval Soup - >cellular organisms - >Eukaryota - >Fungi/Metazoa group - >Metazoa - >Eumetazoa - >Bilateria - >Coelomata - >Deuterostomia - >Chordata - >Craniata - >Vertebrata - >Gnathostomata - >Teleostomi - >Euteleostomi - >Sarcopterygii - >Tetrapoda - >Amniota - >Mammalia - >Theria - >Eutheria - >Primates - >Catarrhini - >Hominidae - >Homo/Pan/Gorilla group - >Homo - > (?)

Illustration by Tom Weller.

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 6, 2003 8:08 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Froth That Stings in That "Economic / Military Zone We Call the World

ArtForum can always be counted on to deliver a body blow to the English language numerous times in any given issue. Nick Crowe's IN PRINT does not disappoint on two counts: 1) attempting to describe the Internet in a paragraph and 2) attempting to write English without a license.

IF THE INTERNET is the froth on the waves of misfortune that are sweeping across that economic/military zone we call the world, then the sites below show that the froth can sting when the Internet originates, or makes manifest, points of cultural tension. Consider this list a reflection on just a few props within an unfolding drama, touching on geopolitics, economies, the conflicting interests of individuals and corporations, and handy, proto-nostalgic art resources to put it all in perspective.
"The froth that can sting when the Internet originates..." We just love it when Nick talks dirty like that.

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 6, 2003 8:44 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Time's Up for Slate's "Bushisms"

A joke that's tight and right the first time, gains a paunch and loses its punch on the 200th telling. It loses more if it begins to beg for a laugh. This has been the case for some time with Bushism of the Day By Jacob Weisberg at Slate , but, like a wretched old hound gone in the teeth, it is an impossible feature to put down. The most recent example thuds down onto the screen from the MSN servers:

Bushism of the DayBy Jacob Weisberg
Posted Thursday, July 3, 2003, at 7:20 AM PT
"My answer is bring them on." - On Iraqi militants attacking U.S. forces, Washington, D.C.

As with many Bushisms over the past couple of years, this one is taken wildly out of context and is, in effect, striving for an impression that misleads the reader. ( Eugene Volkoh is quite lucid about this in this comment. )

It may have been the case that the verbal entanglements of Bush were once amusing to those who believe his intelligence is far below theirs -- although why he is President and they are still stuck in their day jobs at the Latte Lenya Espresso and Opinions Bar is less clear. Now, however, there are fewer and fewer gut-busting gaffs available to Weisberg and company. Hence, the strained and stretching tone of many of the latest entries.

An astute editor, if Slate had one, would be looking to retire this aging chestnut for something a bit fresher. Alas, he could not do it. This feature has already spawned two booklets on the Amazon must-miss list and a host of frustrated liberals who log in only for their small bite of Bush bitters. So, on it will go... sort of like a newspaper being forced to run "Doonesbury" for decades after its initial force was spent.

"Bushisms" - Slate's monument to when, once upon a time, Bush seemed funny to the Democrats.

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 6, 2003 6:53 AM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Mars: Up Close and Personal

Mars at Its All-Time Finest

Sky and Telescope Magazine reminds us that:

It's not enough to describe the 2003 apparition of Mars as unique. In late August, as if beckoning us to touch its enchanting, exotic shores, the red planet will reach magnitude and will dominate the southern sky with its fiery coloration. Finally, on the night of August 26 Mars will be closer to Earth ,if by only a little, than at any time in some 60,000 years.

For those who want to see an even more amazing close-up of Mars, I recommend the stunning maps to be found at Ralph Aeschliman's Planetary Cartography and Graphics (Thanks to Michael's Web for the initial tip off.>

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 5, 2003 7:10 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Eat Tofu and Grow Dumb

Now it can be told! - The Trouble With Tofu: Soy and the Brain

Tofu Shrinks Brain! Not a science fiction scenario, this sobering soybean revelation is for real. But how did the "poster bean" of the '90s go wrong? Apparently, in many ways -- none of which bode well for the brain.

In a major ongoing study involving 3,734 elderly Japanese-American men, those who ate the most tofu during midlife had up to 2.4 times the risk of later developing Alzheimer's disease. As part of the three-decade long Honolulu-Asia Aging Study, 27 foods and drinks were correlated with participants' health. Men who consumed tofu at least twice weekly had more cognitive impairment, compared with those who rarely or never ate the soybean curd.

"The test results were about equivalent to what they would have been if they were five years older," said lead researcher Dr. Lon R. White from the Hawaii Center for Health Research. For the guys who ate no tofu, however, they tested as though they were five years younger.What's more, higher midlife tofu consumption was also associated with low brain weight. Brain atrophy was assessed in 574 men using MRI results and in 290 men using autopsy information. Shrinkage occurs naturally with age, but for the men who had consumed more tofu, White said "their brains seemed to be showing an exaggeration of the usual patterns we see in aging."

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 5, 2003 7:08 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Bubba's Rest

Photo by Wachendorfia on Fotolog.

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 5, 2003 5:11 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Patience Please, An American Empire Takes Time
"It is odd to see sophisticated observers lapse into moral equivalence-as if an elected government, with an independent judiciary and a free press, that is armed with nuclear weapons is on the same moral plane as an autocracy, with no opposition or transparency. It is not the weapons per se that cause fear, but the nature of the government that possesses them." -- Victor Davis Hanson

One of the mildly exasperating things about the plethora of news media available now is having to wade through a much more extensive swamp of fetid posturing and vain prognostications on a daily basis. The stalemate of this in the quagmire of that consumes these imposters. The disaster of beginning weakly and the hubris of winning resoundingly confounds their timorous timetables. The warnings not to be too weak in struggle nor to overbearing in victory erupt from their mouths like gouts of steam from a Yellowstone blowhole ringed round with slackjawed credulous groundlings. The endless whines about the least loss of innocence in the inadvertent slaughter of an innocent slink out of their yawps as dependably as hamsters multiplying in a cage of some kindergarten.

The war must be won in a week! If not, abject failure and the military must go to its room.

The peace must be won in a day. If not, rioters will strip the country bare and another Vietnam will spring up from the desert sands like the ghost of Christmas past.

We must pacify a foreign country and make them love us in a month, or, well, we're just not good enough or smart enough or nice enough.

The usual whining chorus starts these off-key and historically flat refrains, and, like a bad rap group with ears of tin and hearts of slush, repeats it over and over and over again until even the more clear-eyed among us starts to think, 'Humm, it's not a catchy song but since everybody seems to be playing it in heavy rotation, maybe there's something in it.'

The idea here is that repetition creates credibility. But to believe something merely because it is repeated from seemingly different angles and seemingly different sources is not, in general, a solid means by which to develop a view of the history that is now unfolding before us. No, taking something as writ because it is said... that sort of attitude is not the kind that marks the deep thinker and man of conviction and character, but only the man whose mind is a thin and fragile reed, the man who on honeydew has fed for far too long.

And yet who can blame this multitude of wafflerers among us. We've all been feeding on flesh of the honeydew for too many decades. Sweet and soft mush has been the mainstay of our cultural diet since the rise of the Monkees. Not only


Posted by Vanderleun Jul 5, 2003 4:58 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Found on the Waterfront, East River, Sept. 11, 2002

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 4, 2003 6:26 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace--but there is no peace.

Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death
March 23, 1775
By Patrick Henry

"It is in vain, sir, to extentuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace--but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!"

No man thinks more highly than I do of the patriotism, as well as abilities, of the very worthy gentlemen who have just addressed the house. But different men often see the same subject in different lights; and, therefore, I hope it will not be thought disrespectful to those gentlemen if, entertaining as I do opinions of a character very opposite to theirs, I shall speak forth my sentiments freely and without reserve.

This is no time for ceremony. The question before the house is one of awful moment to this country. For my own part, I consider it as nothing less than a question of freedom or slavery; and in proportion to the magnitude of the subject ought to be the freedom of the debate. It is only in this way that we can hope to arrive at the truth, and fulfill the great responsibility which we hold to God and our country. Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offense, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty toward the Majesty of Heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings.

Mr. President, it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the numbers of those who, having eyes, see not, and, having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth, to know the worst, and to provide for it.

I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past. And judging by the past, I wish to know what there has been in the conduct of the British ministry for the last ten years to justify those hopes with which gentlemen have been pleased to solace themselves and the House. Is it that insidious smile with which our petition has been lately received?

Trust it not, sir; it will prove a snare to your feet. Suffer not yourselves to be betrayed with a kiss. Ask yourselves how this gracious reception of our petition comports with those warlike preparations which cover our waters and darken our land. Are fleets and armies necessary to a work of love and reconciliation? Have we shown ourselves so unwilling to be reconciled that force must be called in to win back our love? Let us not deceive ourselves, sir. These are the implements of war and subjugation; the last arguments to which kings resort. I ask gentlemen, sir, what means this martial array, if its purpose be not to force us to submission? Can gentlement assign any other possible motive for it? Has Great Britain any enemy, in this quarter of the world, to call for all this accumulation of navies and armies? No, sir, she has none. They are meant for us: they can be meant for no other. They are sent over to bind and rivet upon us those chains which the British ministry have been so long forging. And what have we to oppose to them? Shall we try argument? Sir, we have been trying that for the last ten years. Have we anything new to offer upon the subject? Nothing. We have held the subject up in every light of which it is capable; but it has been all in vain. Shall we resort to entreaty and humble supplication? What terms shall we find which have not been already exhausted? Let us not, I beseech you, sir, deceive ourselves. Sir, we have done everything that could be done to avert the storm which is now coming on. We have petitioned; we have remonstrated; we have supplicated; we have prostrated ourselves before the throne, and have implored its interposition to arrest the tyrannical hands of the ministry and Parliament. Our petitions have been slighted; our remonstrances have produced additional violence and insult; our supplications have been disregarded; and we have been spurned, with contempt, from the foot of the throne! In vain, after these things, may we indulge the fond hope of peace and reconciliation.

There is no longer any room for hope. If we wish to be free--if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending--if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained--we must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight! An appeal to arms and to the God of hosts is all that is left us! They tell us, sir, that we are weak; unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house? Shall we gather strength but irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance by lying supinely on our backs and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot? Sir, we are not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. The millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston! The war is inevitable--and let it come! I repeat it, sir, let it come.

It is in vain, sir, to extentuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace--but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 3, 2003 8:27 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Old Rules of the New American Empire

From the introduction to an interview with Robert D. Kaplan at Atlanic unbound concerning his cover story for the current issue.

In "Supremacy by Stealth," his cover story for the July/August Atlantic, Robert D. Kaplan states simply that we have gotten ourselves into the business of empire. (He leaves it to others to debate the necessity or morality of such a move.) Concentrating on empire's practical side, he asks, How do we manage this world?

In order to answer that question, Kaplan has spent much of his time over the past several years traveling with the U.S. military, observing the implementation of American power on a day to day basis by Special Forces troops who work on the ground in countries around the globe. Based partly on these extensive travels, Kaplan has come up with a list of "Rules for Managing the World":
1. Produce More Joppolos
2. Stay on the Move
3. Emulate Second-Century Rome
4. Use the Military to Promote Democracy
5. Be Light and Lethal
6. Bring Back the Old Rules
7. Remember the Philippines
8. The Mission is Everything
9. Fight on Every Front
10. Speak Victorian, Think Pagan

In essence, these rules are an articulation of power on a global scale. Have the best men possible on the ground; be everywhere; use American citizensï¿‘foreign and native born; use the military to further democracy; do a lot with a little; covert means and dabbling in moral ambiguity are sometimes necessary; a country united under one name may need more than one policy; the mission cannot be forgotten or compromised; sell the product; be idealistic, but know that realism wins the day.

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 3, 2003 7:17 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Sane American

For what seems like several times a week since Sept. 11, I've been heartened and bolstered by the essays of Victor Davis Hanson. I confess that before the 11th I had never heard of him, but in the months that came after I kept running across his work and it always provided both light and insight. Hanson is one of those writers whose "signal to noise" ration is virtually all signal all the time. Hanson comes across once more this week in Victor Davis Hanson on The Surreal World of Iraq in The National Review:

Indeed, intense media scrutiny of Iraqi, not American suffering and discomfort, was the new gospel despite the clear evidence that at some danger to our soldiers we had sought to avoid hurting civilians and their infrastructure. A soldier or terrorist who had shot at Americans, been wounded, and had tossed away either his uniform or weapons was more likely to be tallied by the world's press as an unfortunate civilian casualty than as an injured combatant hurt in the hammer and tongs of battle. Under the new war, using enough force to beat soundly the enemy and convince him in the aftermath to accept defeat - or else - was seen as excessive, while the effort to mitigate the violence of fighting may have suggested to the Baathists that they had not really been beaten after all.

Not to be outdone, domestic critics of our military who had forecast "millions of refugees" and "thousands of casualties" and in week one of the war during a sandstorm had continued on with a chorus of "Stalemate," "Quagmire" and "Vietnam"; now post facto paradoxically reversed course. They suddenly played down our own soldiers' competency by concluding (in their infinite wisdom from the rear) that the Iraqi army was a paper tiger -hardly capable of waging modern war after all! In a blink of an eye their horrific quagmire became a bullying cakewalk.

In the first postbellum 100 days, the Americans lost about 60 additional lives in trying to pacify a Muslim and Arab country of some 26 million, wracked by factions, foreign agents, and plagued by thousands of former Baathist fascists who had transmogrified into drive-by shooters and assassins ; all in a post 9/11 world where it has been often difficult to distinguish "moderates" in the Middle East from complacent onlookers who were not especially sad to see two towers full of 3,000 Americans disintegrate.

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 3, 2003 1:09 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Vintage Moses Wine Served as LA Bloggers Festivate

The person purporting to be Roger L. Simon, AKA ace post-operative hippy Private Detective Moses Wine, threw a wine bash last night at Duttons in Brentwood. Wine (often confused with actor Richard Dreyfus) read selections from his new "novel" Director's Cut while guests indulged themselves in jug after jug of the wine he had thoughtfully provided.

As a sign of the growing ("I crush them!") power of the Blogsphere, a self-selected group of blogistas was allowed to attend an event that was previously restricted to those in the Hollywood film community who could still read.

Given the 'liberal-in-transition' nature of the host, the evening did start with a few strange omens from the opposition.

Omen, Strange - from Opposition

While other omens from the always dubious book publishing industry were also found here and there at Dutton's Books

Omen, Dubious - Courtesy of American Publishing "Industry"

Nevertheless, the person previously known as Roger L. Simon, soldiered on in a reading that ripped the shabby chic facade of glitter and glamour off the Hollywood film industry once again, and exposed its gleaming skull promising only murder, insanity, and death. (But first ju-ju.)

Person, previously Roger L. Simon

Masses of adoring fans and bloggers not only begged for more facade ripping, but under the influence of the many fine vintage wines, began to do some bodice ripping of their own as the evening grew late.

Wines - The very special vintages of...

In all, a rare blend of literati, glitterati, bloggerati and unapprehend felons. We are happy to report that the police were not called to restore order until 3:00 AM. A tip jar for bail will be found on Roger Simon's Page.

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 3, 2003 11:37 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Rock Stars in the Front Lines of the War on Drugs

We must always be vigilant and patient.

Posted by Van der Leun Jul 3, 2003 11:15 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Midday American News Roundup

Officials Steer Clear of Deadly Fireworks Blast
FOX News - 2 hours ago
BONITA SPRINGS, Fla. Investigators were keeping their distance Thursday from the site of a fireworks blast that killed four people -- out of concern that not all of the $20,000 worth of explosives had detonated.

Said one member of the force, "Hey, you gotta watch out. That stuff could kill somebody."

'Bring 'Em On' Fetches Trouble
CBS News - 2 hours ago
"There are some who feel like that the conditions are such that they can attack us there. My answer is bring them on."

Now you know, you just know that stuff like this will twist panties from one end of the Democratic Party to the next. The only answer is... Howard Dean. Humm, perhaps this is another Bush quote that's been Dowdified and taken wildly out of context. Perhaps he actually said, "There are some among the current Democratic Party pack of stone losers who feel like the conditions inside their own hallucinations are such that they think they can attack us on giving everybody in the United States free prescription drugs on demand. My answer is 'Don't give up your day jobs.' John Kerry? Howard Dean? Al Sharpton? Bring them on"

Unrest in Iraq Poses Political Threat to Bush
Hartford Courant - 4 hours ago
The swiftly decided military conflict boosted Bush's standing in polls and strengthened his reelection prospects. But the unsettled postwar situation looms as a potential long-term political threat for the ...

Tweet! Ten yards and loss of down for dribbling down the front of your word processor when writing the news. Nomination for thumbsucker of the week award to Ronald Brownstein for leading with the words "Peace in Iraq is proving more politically dangerous for President Bush than war." Really? We hadn't noticed, Ron. Thanks for the update.

US poised to deploy troops in civil war
Bremerton Sun - 3 hours ago
You gotta love that headline. First time used since 1861.

Judge relocates Malvo trial
Salt Lake Tribune - 7 hours ago
"WASHINGTON -- Citing concerns that pretrial publicity would make it impossible to select an impartial jury, a Virginia judge Wednesday ordered the Washington-area serial sniper murder trial of Lee Boyd Malvo moved 200 miles south to an ..."

200 miles or 200 light years will make no difference in this upcoming smash hit for Court TV. But it will be interesting to see the lawyers and the clueless judge endeavor to find 12 people who never heard of the sniper murders. Perhaps they can import some prisioners in from Guantanamo. They'll have been made citizens by a repentant State Department by then.

Terror Jitters Fuel Subway , Bridge Scare
Newsday - 3 hours ago
Two days before the nation's 227th birthday, terror jitters made a comeback yesterday as two unsettling events initiated by suspected pranksters triggered massive disruptions in lower Manhattan.

Judge: FDNY Cuts Legal
Newsday - 3 hours ago
A judge yesterday upheld the city's right to eliminate six firefighting units, which included the closing of three firehouses. "

Ah yes, the city of New York hard at work reducing the size of the fire department. Got to admire the new midget mayor's dedication to finishing what the Terrorists started.

"No Problem. We've Done This Thousands of Times:" Hacker contest a low threat
Miami Herald - 9 hours ago
A loosely defined Internet challenge daring participants to crash and deface 6,000 websites in six hours has drawn the notice of the Department of Homeland Security and information officers around the country, but the purported contest ...

US fireworks dimmed by budget woes
Forbes - 20 hours ago
CHICAGO (Reuters) - "There will be a little less "rockets' red glare" across the United States this Fourth of July, as some fireworks displays have been canceled or scaled back due to local government budget troubles."

In that case, the citizens of this country will just have to take matters into their own hands, er, stumps...

Dolly Parton Welcomes Injured Eagles to Natl. Zoo
WATE - 2 hours ago
WASHINGTON (AP) -- "Two bald eagles that previously called Tennessee home are now settling in at the National Zoo in Washington."

Dolly Parton? Sort of makes you wonder where these eagles are planning on building a nest.

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 3, 2003 10:08 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the movies...

A piping stale Liz Smith column is always good for at least one item that sets my teeth on fire. That's why, for reasons of dental health, I usually avoid her. But, alas, there's always a Liz Smith speed bump lurking around the next tight curve on the Information Highway. This morning's jarring item tells us that there is, lurking in the single cell cerebellums of those who decide what movies to make, the dream of a "Dallas" movie. This shows, above all, that our long national nightmare is far from over.

LAST YEAR word came that the small screen phenom of the '80s, "Dallas," might be made into a big-screen movie. For some time we have wondered who on earth could portray such over-the-top characters as the manipulative J.R. Ewing and his tormented wife, Sue Ellen?

Now comes news that the project is inching forward, with Robert Harling of "Steel Magnolias" fame writing the script.

So what about the cast? We could definitely envision Jack Nicholson putting a manic spin on the role Larry Hagman made his own. Paul Walker, of "The Fast and the Furious" fame, might be right as the good guy, younger brother Bobby, perhaps paired with Reese Witherspoon as his wife, the sweet but strong-willed Pamela. (Patrick Duffy and Victoria Principal were the sometimes happy couple on the original TV series.)

Ah, but what of Sue Ellen, dipso deluxe, forever betrayed by J.R.? Linda Gray played this to a fare-thee-well. Thinking back on Michelle Pfieffer as the love-crazed Catwoman of the big-screen "Batman Returns" (a great and underrated performance), I bet she could nail Sue Ellen's frantic, hard-drinking glamour. (I saw Michelle looking like a million bucks, talking with Matt Lauer the other morning. She was promoting her voice-over in "Sinbad." Michelle said she might be looking next for a romantic comedy. "Dallas" won't be especially romantic or funny. But it'll be rich red meat for actors to chomp on.).

"Rich red meat for actors to chomp on." Ah, if only human sacrifice was back in fashion. I can just see the actors chowing down at the Palm. "We'll have the filet of Liz Smith, please." "And how would you like her cooked, Ms. Pfieffer?" "Don't bother. Just wheel her to the table and give Jack the axe."

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 3, 2003 8:58 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Email columnist assumes fetal position to blow his own horn

Yodeling along in the key of "taking yourself far too seriously," SfGate columnist Mark Morford has participated in one of the dreaded Poynter Interviews. Conducted by the aptly named Steve Outing, Morford indulges himself in a self-preening seldom seen outside of his own online efforts. The excerpt below is usually referred to as "the money quote," but in view of the nature of the subject matter covered I think we can, in this case, call it "the money shot:"

Q: Chronicle feature columnist Jon Carroll has always been pretty off the wall. Is it fair to say that you're further off the wall, ergo not "printable?"

A: I absolutely love Jon Carroll and have nothing but the utmost respect for his enormous talent and consistency and Jesus with a gallon of White-Out, 20 years 5 days a week and he's still the most wonderfully readable columnist going. But he is "off the wall" in a "I think my cat is a Republican" sort of way. I'm off the wall in a "You should really try this gorgeous bejeweled butt plug" sort of way. So I suppose the answer is yes.

But "not printable" No. It's definitely printable. I work very hard to make every word, every line as deliciously readable as possible. I have zero desire to be just another polysyllabic ranter, a lefty Howard Stern, orally and intellectually diarrhetic.

I want joy and funky divinity and sex and humor. I want to ignite readers, fire them up, to encourage them to be more responsible with their lives and their viewpoints and their bodies. As such, my column is very intentionally juiced by two specific energies/perspectives I don't think you'll find in any other semi-mainstream columnist or newspaper, as far as I know: spiritual fierceness and sex. These are essential. Mandatory. They are not included for shock value

It's comforting to know that Morford's gorgeous bejeweled buttplug is a mandatory inclusion. We're not exactly talking Pulitzer here, but it's a start.

More on Morford on This Page

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 2, 2003 10:17 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Might as well face it...

if things keep going the way they are, in the long run, everybody will be driving an SUV.

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 2, 2003 10:02 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Well Seen World of Bill Hocker

Eugene, Oregon 1975

"It's vain to think that you would have any interest in my photos of the places I've been, but vanity is the only excuse I offer. I like my photographs. After all the effort it's comforting to know they are available to others - much more comforting than the thought that, left on the shelf, they may become just another heirloom destined for the trash. If you like them too please let me know." - Bill Hocker

I first became aware of Bill Hocker's photography via a link on Jef Poskanzer's Industrial Archeology, a page I recommend to those with an interest in same as a central resource. In Jef's consistently terse style all he said was: "Bill Hocker's great industrial photos." I trust Jef like I trust few others online so that was enough for me.

Clicking on his link to Hocker's Industrials I was prepared for something excellent and I was not disappointed. I was not, however, prepared for the vast array of pleasures that the rest of his site has to offer.

Elegant and sparse in layout and presentation, Bill Hocker: Photographs is one of those rare sites where the visitor finds himself wandering from page to page and theme to theme with increasing pleasure. Through an all too rare meeting of taste with technical ability, Hocker's images from across many decades and through many countries, all seem as fresh as tomorrow and as solid as yesterday. Marked throughout by a quiet meticulousness and a dedication to visual acuity, this is one site you will not want to leave too soon. And one you'll want to return to as well.

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 2, 2003 1:08 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
An Ode to Lawrence Lessig

On Secondly Looking Into Lawrence Lessig's Web Site

Much have I clicked on in the realms of blather
And many drooling sites and web-rings seen.
Round many dot-gov URLs have I been
Which lawyers in fealty to the dollar lather.
Oft of one deep mosh-pit had I been told
That vulpine Lessig ruled as his demesne;
Yet did I never scan log-rolling so serene
Till I heard Lessig's blurbs blurt loud and bold:
Then felt I like some vested geek at Microsoft
When a new government agent swims into view
Or like Billions Bill when with grasping hands
He star’d at Jobs' GUI—and all his men
Look’d at each other with a wild surmise—
And planned to buy a second house in Darien.

Title= "Lessig_Forehead_Thumb"

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 1, 2003 10:57 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Traitors' Grate

This just in from Declan McCullagh's invaluable Politechbot: a thoughtful and unbiased examination of the fashion of calling this person or that person or some organization a "traitor" guilty of "treason." In it Jamie McCarthy has done a yeoman's job of bringing us up to date on this trend. Informative, but it seems to have an aura of "continuing crisis in civil liberties" underneath it all that I just can't share.

Granted Mc Carthy has done some very worthwhile searching on this issue of treason and I read his citations of blather from the right and the left with interest. Still, I found myself retroactively immune to either alarm or despair.

While I understand that the flinging about of "traitor" and "treason" is a phenomenon more closely associated with the last two years than immediately before, it all in the end strikes me as merely much of a mushiness. Indeed, those who bemoan the treason epidemic seem to be in the same category as those who tout the daily suppression of their free speech - in front of a raft of various media only too ready to lay their plaints before as many of our 300 million fellow citizens who care to listen. Tim Robbins shameless and endless bleatings in front of the National Press Club a few months back come to mind as a sterling example of the unsupressed victim of speech suppression.

In the case of "Treason" as in the case of "Free Speech," I am always left wondering how so many can concatenate the actions of the citizens of the United States with the powers reserved to the Government of the United States.

It seems to me that I can, or you can, or any person can call another a traitor, or say that his or her behavior is treasonous, at any time and on any pretext. At most the speaker risks a suit for libel or slander from his target. Thus it would seem that it is the accuser that is much more at risk here than the accused. The accuser, in this case Anne Coulter, is not - at least as far as I am aware - a lawfully empowered agent of the Federal Government. She is as free to call any individual or group a traitor as, say, James Carville would be to call Coulter a "whacked out bimbo with the political morals of a ferret and an inexplicable attraction to unbald Republicans." Not that such a southern gentleman as Carville would ever utter such a sentiment.

In like manner, those who carp about the suppression of their speech through the criticism of their fellow citizens always make me wonder what part of "Congress shall make no law..." they fail to comprehend.

As a citizen, it seems to me that I am perfectly at liberty to say:

"Declan McCullagh is an American set upon the destruction of this country by consistently filing reports that do not make it comfortable for the powers that be, and for failing to toe the Washington Establishment line in exchange for lots of free lunches with lobbyists. Because of this his web site should be shut down and he should be imprisoned for a very long time in a very small room with a television that only receives Fox News."
I can call for this daily until the sun falls from the sky, and it doesn't seem to me there's much that can be done to stop it. My speech certainly can't suppress Declan's. It may or may not stimulate agreement, but it can't operate like a restraining order or custom-fitted ball gag.

Hence I don't see from what source all the anxiety springs concerning treason and the suppression of speech. As long as these charges arise from individual or organizations with no formal ties to the government, anxiety would seem to be mere paranoia unless it helps raise money from those who are easily startled.

Should the government actively see to put someone on trial for treason, I think they would probably need more than Anne Coulter's observations and assertions. Indeed, the requirements for such a charge are spelled out in some detail in the Constitution, but I won't rehearse them here.

Likewise, should the government attempt to formally shut down Politechbot in response to something transmitted on it, it had better be something akin to childporn or a secret terrorist message embedded deep within that jpeg of Phil Zimmermann on the home page (How very clever would that be?) to avoid a firestorm of protest and the launching of 30 Habeas Corpus packing ACLU lawyers from their underground silos in San Francisco.

Yes, I know, I know about the dreaded Ashcroft, that Eldritch Horror, but I've still to get a real case of Ashcroftitus raising a rash on my brain. In so many places and at so many times, the man has shown himself to be a mere gasbag. A dangerous one to be sure, but it really isn't in what he says, it is in what he can do that counts. And if we compare his pronouncements with his actions we'll see that the former far exceed the latter. Does this mean I favor the evil Patriot Act? Heaven forfend, but that's headed for the Supreme Court with a JATO booster so we shall see what we shall see.

Does Anne Coulter command the Justice Department or the National Guard? Does Bill O'Reilly have the power to shut down the presses of the New York Times? I know it is fun to get all hot and bothered by these professional blatherers, but until such time as they meld into the Government, it might be best for every one to take a deep breath and say, with Glinda the Good Witch: "You have no power here. Begone, before somebody drops a house on you."

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 1, 2003 6:56 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
On the Move

by Thom Gunn

'Man, You Gotta Go.'

The blue jay scuffling in the bushes follows
Some hidden purpose, and the gush of birds
That spurts across the field, the wheeling swallows,
Have nested in the trees and undergrowth.
Seeking their instinct, or their pose, or both,
One moves with an uncertain violence
Under the dust thrown by a baffled sense
Or the dull thunder of approximate words.

On motorcycles, up the road, they come:
Small, black, as flies hanging in heat, the Boy,
Until the distance throws them forth, their hum
Bulges to thunder held by calf and thigh.
In goggles, donned impersonality,
In gleaming jackets trophied with the dust,
They strap in doubt--by hiding it, robust--
And almost hear a meaning in their noise.

Exact conclusion of their hardiness
Has no shape yet, but from known whereabouts
They ride, directions where the tires press.
They scare a flight of birds across the field:
Much that is natural, to the will must yield.
Men manufacture both machine and soul,
And use what they imperfectly control
To dare a future from the taken routes.

It is part solution, after all.
One is not necessarily discord
On Earth; or damned because, half animal,
One lacks direct instinct, because one wakes
Afloat on movement that divides and breaks.
One joins the movement in a valueless world,
Crossing it, till, both hurler and the hurled,
One moves as well, always toward, toward.

A minute holds them, who have come to go:
The self-denied, astride the created will.
They burst away; the towns they travel through
Are home for neither birds nor holiness,
For birds and saints complete their purposes.
At worse, one is in motion; and at best,
Reaching no absolute, in which to rest,
One is always nearer by not keeping still.

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 1, 2003 1:08 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Midday US News Digest

Tropical Storm Cuts Power to Thousands
Humm, the gulf states must not have seen this coming. Probably why they put power lines back up on the poles year after year after year...

O'Malley Led Sex Abuse Cleanups Elsewhere
What else can you ask from a priest these days?

Letter to Colin Powell on US Bully Tactics Against International Criminal Court

Dear Colin,
Hurts. Make it stop.

US Suspends Military Aid to Nearly 50 Countries
Who says big government can't cut useless spending?

Calif. Begins Fiscal Year With No Budget
Third year in a row's the charm! Perhaps it would be more accurate to say "Calif. Begins Fiscal Year with No Money."

Oh, that darned homosexual agenda
Just where is this fabled to-do list? How can we get a copy? And will it clash with our shoes?

Aimster Injunction Upheld
Courts to American Teenagers - "Download 'em while you can.

Book: John F. Kennedy Jr. and his wife were having marital problems
Yes, no matter how much you hope and how hard you pray, you will never, ever be free of learning the most trivial facts about anybody with the last name 'Kennedy' from now until the last ding-dong of doom. Marriage problems? The Kennedys? Who saw that one coming?

Va. Terror Law Allowed By Judge in Sniper Case
State of Virginia to John Allen Muhammad,yes, killing people with a long range rifle while hiding in the trunk of your car is terrorism. Wake up and smell the lethal injection.

US Doctors Back Defibrillator Use in Children
We're glad they cleared that up. But doesn't it open the door to at home child abuse? "Johnny, clean up your room or we're going to jump start you heart."

Bush Foresees Medicare Accord
Also known as the "Free Drugs for Everybody" Accord.

Wordsmiths get own 'funplex' in revised Merriam-Webster
They've jammed in 10,000 new words. Look for "D'oh," "Yo," and "Ho" to become part of the newer, funner and dumber English language.

Thousands compete to design Trade Center memorial
Great, now we can have a ten year argument about it, instead of the standard five year New York argument. And when we're done, let the lawsuits commence!

Deseret bio tests done on 6000
Nearly 6,000 members of the US military -- more than twice original estimates -- were subjected to chemical and biological warfare tests overseen by Utah's Deseret Test Center in the 1960s and 1970s. The right way, the wrong way, and the very wrong Army way.

Planned Parenthood abortions may continue for now, judge says
And the beat goes on...

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 1, 2003 9:38 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
French Tourism: Gun, Foot, Bang!

Giving the world yet one more reason not to go to France this summer, the French obsession with striking has today yielded: Performers threaten to halt 650 French festivals in support of unemployed

All France's 650 summer cultural festivals face cancellation because of a protest by performers, musicians, dancers, stage managers and technicians that is likely to halt next week's Avignon festival.

Yesterday, Avignon's artistic director, Bernard Faivre d'Arcier, who backed the demonstrators, described the protest as "a forest fire which no one knew how to put out" and forecast bankruptcies.

Theatres, films and television have also been hit by moves to bring the show business industry to a halt in a dispute over the reduction of unemployment pay for "resting" performing artists and technicians.

I love that part about "resting" performers and technicians. When I lived in New York City, we always called resting performers "waiters."

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 1, 2003 8:50 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Dire Situation

The great LILEKS Daily Bleat provides us with another sharp sketch of a modern American type today with:

But humor is irrelevant when the situation is dire. And it's always dire. It's the sort of constant direness you find in the mind of someone who drives a 10-year old Volvo with bumperstickers that say "If you want peace, work for justice" on the left side and "If you want justice, work for peace" on the right, with a faded sticker in between from a 5,000 watt progressive radio station that features New Sounds in Congolese Drumming every Sunday night before signing off with an Emma Goodman quotation.

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 1, 2003 8:10 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Sports Complex

Photo by Van der Leun

Posted by Vanderleun Jul 1, 2003 7:40 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
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