Comments or suggestions: Gerard Van der Leun
Replaying the Tet: Are the Old Lies Really That Good?

The incisive and brilliantly written Belmont Club boasts the most insightful analysis of the game the large media are currently playing in:

Replaying the Tet

The leftwing media has hit upon the possible winning strategy of describing every event in the world as a setback for the Bush Administration. Both the attack by Hamas on a Jerusalem bus and the Israeli retaliatory execution of the perpetrator are portrayed as setbacks. The American acceptance of a United Nations refusal to guard its headquarters is a setback. The American attempt to improve cooperation with the UN to prevent further attacks is a humiliating admission of its indispensable legitimacy. The Afghan arrest of dozens of Taliban only proves that the threat has grown larger. Ten thousand wholly avoidable deaths due to a French heat wave illustrate the American culpability for Global Warming. Given this, it is hardly surprising that the Jews are about to be sued by the Egyptians (hat tip Across the Atlantic) for escaping during the Exodus. Yet despite the apparent inventiveness of the 'setbacks', the concept is wholly derivative. The Big Lie is a tactic as old as the Left itself. One in which they repose much confidence. In 1968 the press portrayed the disastrous North Vietnamese Tet offensive as a Communist victory and bluffed the real victors into retreating from the battlefield. Surely they can do it again?

Two problems stand in the fabulist's path. The first is that while the North Vietnamese had no ability to chase a retreating US army back to California the jihadists will almost certainly follow a withdrawing America right back to the streets of New York -- and London and Sydney. The second is the existence of alternative sources of news that make it impossible to sustain a Walter Duranty-like lie for very long. A fiction cannot be maintained when reality can make an imminent appearance. Perhaps if the Internet had never been invented by Al Gore.

People often end such an except by advising their readers to "read the whole thing." You might instead consider reading the whole site.

Posted by Van der Leun Aug 31, 2003 7:20 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Beyond Pluto: Getting Bigger All the Time

Click for Larger View
"The Kuiper belt formed more than four billion years ago when the solar system was just taking shape. Slow-moving gravel-sized debris at the solar system's edge gradually coalesced through gravitational attraction, eventually forming objects with a land area equal to large American states (a, b and c). Early in its history the Kuiper belt was a flattened disk (d), but later something—perhaps a passing star—disrupted the disk, accelerated the KBOs and sent them into more highly inclined orbits. Today the Kuiper belt is relatively thick (e), and when the fast-moving KBOs collide they break into smaller pieces (f)."

An intriguing illustration and caption from:American Scientist Online - Discovering the Edge of the Solar System (Subscription Required)

Recent discoveries suggest that planets larger than Pluto may exist in the outer reaches of our solar system.

If you were to fly a spaceship to the outer edge of our solar system, just beyond the orbit of the planet Pluto, you would eventually pass through a field of icy bodies called the Kuiper Belt. Some of these are fairly small, about the size of a house, but others are nearly half the size of Pluto, itself a Kuiper Belt Object (KBO). The KBOs are interesting for a couple of reasons: They appear to be remnants from the formation of our solar system, and they're the source of the short-period comets, those that take less than 200 years to go around the Sun.

Posted by Van der Leun Aug 31, 2003 10:21 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Walter Cronkite's 10 Point Plan to Destroy the Democrats

One of the most distressing things about our retired pundits is that they fail to retire. Just when you'd hope that somebody who made millions blathering into a camera would just finally fade away to a robe, slippers and a hot, steaming cup of STFU, here they come again telling you to "leave your delusions at the door, sit down, open up wide for a big ole' slice of truth, with a side of wisdom."

Today we have Walter Cronkite with his mind-numbing "Ten propositions for the Democrats." It would seem that Uncle Walter is yet another of those crazy aunts in the Democrats’ very crowded attic who just can't stop doling out the platitudes about what exactly is wrong with the Democratic Party these days -- other than about nine walking, talking, stump-speaking examples. Walter's got a ten-point plan.
Oh, do not ask what is it.
Let us go and make our visit:

Not the least of the Democratic Party's problems in the presidential election ahead is the electorate's confusion as to just what the party stands for.
You've just got to watch that darned electorate. Those little people. They are confused, you see, while the Democratic Party is only suffering from a "failure to communicate." It doesn't seem to dawn on Cronkite that the people may not be the least bit confused about the Democratic party and, indeed, see it for what it has become: a collection of looneys choking on the collective hairball of George W. Bush. Not a pretty sight.
If the Democratic Party is to have hope of recapturing the White House, it will be helpful if its candidates for the presidential nomination agree on some basic objectives that will clearly define the principal policies and goals of their party.
Translation: We will expect the achievement of ovine aviation soonest.
Those basic goals still would leave plenty of room for the candidates to debate how best to achieve them and to display what they have in charisma and leadership.
Certainly. Wouldn't want to cut back on that Gephardt charisma or the leadership abilities of Sharpton. Dean could keep repeating how much a man of the people he is while Keary could dazzle us with those sharp suits and the ever evolving resemblance to Abe Lincoln without the beard and with the JFK haircut.
Let me dare suggest 10 propositions to be put before the candidates.
Okay, proceed with the daringness, Walter. Let it rip. Let it all hang out. Get jiggy with it.
1. That the purpose of a powerful military and a huge defense budget is not to wage war but to preserve the peace -- on our own shores and abroad.
How an army that does not wage war preserves peace is beyond me. Perhaps they simply run military exercises in Antarctica that are televised on MTV's Real World.
However, our foreign policy and our military strength shall leave no doubt that we will answer promptly and decisively those who would challenge our democratic freedoms.
Answer promptly? How? A candygram? But it will be decisively, I guess.
Memo to Al Queda --
Hurts. Make it stop.
Your Pals, The US State Department.
P.S. Need any more mad money for those schools? Just ask.
2. That we would match defense dollars with peace dollars to promote democracy abroad, and that we would conduct our foreign affairs in such a manner that other nations would wish to emulate our example and need not be bludgeoned into accepting our leadership.
Seems to me he's calling for either an immense increase in foreign aid or a drastic reduction in defense spending -- either way he needs to focus more clearly on "deficit financing" as in ....
3. That deficit financing is bad business, and that taxes must be fairly imposed, with the heavier burden placed on those most able to contribute.
Well, you have to spend money to make money. More importantly, you have to keep yourself and your society alive and secure to make money. Wars and recessions seem to me to be the time that you need to spend more in order to get out of wars and recessions. Taxes fairly imposed? No question. Heavier burden placed on those most able? Seems to me that the top tax rate is already on those most able. I guess Cronkite's already got his estate in a trust and his heirs are covered. The rest of you need to open your wallets more.
4. That our Social Security and health services would be reformed so that no American need fear that mismanagement in Washington will bankrupt his or her pension funds, and equally that every American is guaranteed not just adequate health care but care worthy of this nation's medical profession.
No argument here. I note that stopping mismanagement in Washington has been an ongoing project for over two centuries. We're certainly due for a breakthrough. As for "care worthy of this nation's medical profession" that would be the care from Cronkite's personal doctor, I imagine. Very expensive and not easy to get an appointment.
5. That in all federal programs no excuses will be tolerated and all citizens will be treated equally as we know they were created.
I surrender! I have no idea what this means.
6. That we realize that the success, indeed the preservation, of a democracy depends on an educated citizenry, and that teachers, on education's front lines, must be paid commensurate with their responsibilities.
Teachers on the "front lines" of education. Seems that in Walter's World (tm), teachers fight and armies teach. I'd prefer to pay teachers commensurate with their work load, too. The last time I looked they got three months off in the summer, plus all legal holidays, plus two weeks at Christmas, plus another two or three weeks at winter and spring break. That would make their total time off about five months out of the year. Is an average salary of, say, $44,000 for seven months work really that terrible. Works out to a bit over 5K a month for time on the job. Plus benefits, plus a pension for life of about 80% of top money earned after 25 years. I know that even the kindergarten teachers "work ten house days," but who doesn't? I must confess I just don't get the impoverished teacher meme. Perhaps, like many of the students they teach, they could get a summer job.
7. That "no child must be left behind" is a commitment, not a campaign slogan.
Now that's a snappy slogan.
8. That our environment shall be fully protected, and that the fortunes of no industry or special interest shall interfere with that mission.
Okay, everybody out of their cars and onto bicycles. That includes you, grandma.
9. That in the pursuit of a cleaner environment and a more rational economy, the government will undertake the massive program required to develop substitute fuels that will relieve our dependence on foreign oil and diminish the environmental danger from the byproducts of fossil fuels.
Say what? So far you've got us a budget that includes a global peace funding equal to military spending, universal health care, full environmental protection of everthing, and a "massive program to develop substitute fuels. Plus we need to eliminate the deficit. Might as well tack on progams to colonize the inner planets while we're at it. We all know Walter's got a special place for space in his heart and in his head.
10. That Democrats will lock the door against the naysayers, pessimists and political cowards who will maintain that these Democratic goals are only the dreams of idealists.
Brilliant. I'm for #10 since it would ensure that the Democratic party would be reduced to about 20% of its present size and no longer be a threat to the free world.
There is nothing impractical about seeking the best for this nation's people, and the restoration of America as a beacon of freedom for the world.
I'm not clear on what the other beacon of freedom is, Walter, but then again neither are the millions elsewhere in the world who would just love to come here and bask in the light of this dim beacon. But I'm sure you'll let us know the name of that far-distant country in a future article which, I trust, will be datelined from there.

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 31, 2003 7:38 AM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Time to Withdraw the US from the US

It's a great relief that the brilliant David Warren is back on the job at ESSAYS ON OUR TIMES - - Nation-building. Where else would we get a dose of common sense like this:

Should the Americans withdraw from Detroit? While they have been able to hold Detroit since General Harrison recaptured it after the Battle of Lake Erie (in 1813), hardly a day now goes by in which there is not an ambush or a killing. The rate has been rising through Detroit's notoriously long hot summer.

If the standard is one killing per day -- the current average in Iraq is a little less than that -- then the U.S. should also withdraw from Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles. An analysis of the statistics, in proportional terms, suggests further quick withdrawals from Memphis, Dallas, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and of course, Washington, DC.

Pay no attention to the sycophantic supporters of the President, who argue that anything resembling a U.S. retreat will leave the world in chaos. These are the people who got the U.S. into the quagmire in the first place, by stepping aboard the Mayflower. They said the occupation of America would be a cakewalk. They said the Indians would dance in the streets when they arrived. Opinion is already shifting, and in New England, where people are much more angry with President Madison than with America's foreign enemies, opposition to the War of 1812 is running very high.

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 30, 2003 11:27 AM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Most Terrifying Web Offering Ever

Dave Winer continues his plot to destroy a Web that has turned its back on him. When neither tears nor stamping his foot have worked, he decides to destroy it with sheer numbing boredom: Scripting News

All the Lydon interviews through August, in one download. Behrl, Cone, Daily Kos, Dean, Fisk, Gleick, Kinzer, Powell, Preacher, Reynolds, Scarry, Searls, Sifry, Slugger, Toynbee, Volokh, Weinberger, and yours truly. Catch up in a single 203MB download; suitable for beach listening.

Suitable for beach listening if you happen to be buried in the sand up to your neck below the high waterline.

Posted by Van der Leun Aug 29, 2003 6:19 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
There are times when citizens just have to start going down to City Hall with a baseball bat and a bad attitude.

St. Paul Wants $60 in tribute

No license? No pop stand, St. Paul tells 2 youngsters

Mikaela Ziegler, 7, and her 4-year-old sister, Annika, were selling refreshments Wednesday afternoon near the State Fairgrounds when a woman approached them. But she wasn't there to buy."She said, 'You can't sell pop unless you have a license,' " Mikaela said.

That's how it came to be that an inspector with St. Paul's Office of License, Inspections and Environmental Protection shut down Mikaela and Annika's pop stand.

Their outraged father, Dr. Richard Ziegler, called City Hall for an explanation. He was told that St. Paul is cracking down on unauthorized merchants and that his daughters would be free to hawk their beverages once they obtained a $60 license.

Posted by Van der Leun Aug 29, 2003 12:53 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Sleep versus Memory

From the New York Post:

NEW YORK — With the second anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks only three weeks away, TV networks have planned nearly no special programming to commemorate the horrible events of that day.

From A Small Victory: no ordinary day

I want to remember. I never want to lose that memory of the smoky sky above Manhattan that I viewed from my office window. I want to remember Pete Ganci's wake and the sharpshooters atop my neighbor's house during the memorial service for Claude Richards, I want to remember the haunted look in my firefighter cousin's eyes and the look of despair on my father's face. I want to remember the chilling feeling of looking at a sky free of jumbo jets for days on end and the quiet, the unnerving quiet, that made those days after so surreal and chilling. I need to remember these things because to forget would be to spit in the face of every single person who died that day.

Posted by Van der Leun Aug 29, 2003 12:39 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Minim of the Day

A man with a cabbage for a head
will never want for nourishment.

-- Minims by Tom Weller

Posted by Van der Leun Aug 29, 2003 10:29 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Guns and Dope Guv of California

Something that will, no doubt, appeal to a certain subset of the California Electorate:
Robert Anton Wilson For Governor

Robert Anton Wilson is running for Governor of the Republic of California as the unofficial write-in candidate for the Guns and Dope Party.
After refusing many pleas to run for governor,I have reconsidered and now enter the raceas an unofficial write-in candidate. Afterall, why shd I remain the ONLY nut in California who ain't running?

My party, the Guns and Dope Party, invites extremistsof both right and left to unite behind the shared goals of:

--Get those pointy-headed Washinton bureaucrats off our backs and off our fronts too!
--guns for everybody who wants them; no guns for those who don't want them
--drugs for everybody who wants them; no drugs for those who don't want them
--freedom of choice, free love, free speech,free Internet and free beer
--California secession: Keep the anti--gun and anti-dope fanatics on the Eastern side of the Rockies
--Lotsa wild parties every night by gun-toting dopers

Fatal flaw: Being a write-in candidate assumes your supporters can write.

Posted by Van der Leun Aug 29, 2003 10:10 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink

Hoping We Fail: Who loses and who wins in the high-stakes poker in Iraq?
"All this hysteria and unrest should come as no surprise given the ambition of our endeavor, which is no less than a war of civilization to end both terrorism and the culture and politics that foster it. Still, let us ignore the self-interest of contemporary parties and reflect on the very scope of American audacity. In little more than three weeks, and coming on the heels of an amazing victory in Afghanistan, the American military defeated the worst fascist in the Middle East. Surrounded by enemies, and forced simultaneously to conduct the war against terrorism in dozens of countries and restore calm on the West Bank, the United States nevertheless sought to create consensual government and order under legal auspices in weeks — rather than the decades that were necessary in Japan and Germany, where elections took years and soldiers remain posted still. The real story is not that the news from Iraq is sometimes discouraging and depressing, but that it so often not — and that after two major-theater wars we have lost fewer people than on that disastrous day in Beirut 20 years ago, and less than 10 percent of the number that perished on September 11.

"It is no wonder that we have almost no explicit voices of support. Most nations and institutions will see themselves as losers should we succeed. And the array of politicians, opportunists, and hedging pundits find pessimism and demoralization the safer gambit than disinterested reporting or even optimism — given the sheer scope of the challenge of transforming Afghanistan and Iraq from terrorist enclaves and rogue regimes into liberal and humane states."
-- Victor Davis Hanson

The Utterly Admirable Goals of 2Blowhards:
"Two beyond-first-rate articles that Denis Dutton, the editor of Arts and Letters Daily, has written for the Oxford Handbook for Aesthetics are now online: "Aesthetics and Evolutionary Psychology" (here), and "Authenticity in Art" (here). One of our goals here at 2Blowhards is to help people who are eager to ditch the modernist/po-mo/decon straitjacket find threads that are more comfy, useful and sensible -- hence our championing of thinkers like Michael Oakeshott, Christopher Alexander and Nikos Salingaros, Michael Polanyi, Ellen Dissanayake, Frederick Turner, Steven Pinker, V. S. Ramachandran and others. Dutton's at the top of this list, both with articles like these and with ALD itself."
-- 2 Blowhards

"Cruz Bustamante" sounds like a porn star name
-- Bitter Sanity

Jane Galt on Tom Friedman's linguistic anomalies:
[Begin Friedman]"Let's start with mentality. We are not "rebuilding" Iraq. We are "building" a new Iraq — from scratch. Not only has Saddam Hussein's army, party and bureaucracy collapsed, but so, too, has the internal balance between Iraqi Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds, which was held together by Saddam's iron fist. Also, the reporting on Iraq under Saddam rarely conveyed how poor and rundown Saddam had made it. Iraq today is the Arab Liberia. In short, Iraq is not a vase that we broke to remove the rancid water inside, and now we just need to glue it back together. We have to build a whole new vase. We have to dig the clay, mix it, shape it, harden it and paint it. (This is going to cost so much more than President Bush has told us.) [End Friedman]

Behind this metaphor, we suspect, is the ghost of some well-meaning but incoherent sixth grade composition teacher. "Be original!" she proclaimed, and when the children bombarded her with their original, if somewhat inapt metaphors, she beamed like the sun rising over the silver-white beaches of Honolulu on a verdant spring morn.

Original it certainly is, but what does it mean? It gives us uncomfortable visions of what happens in the Friedman household when the flowers have finally gone where the woodbine twineth: there is Thomas, preparing to smash yet another wedding present on the flagstone floor (which has just been installed at great expense); there is his wife, pleading. "Tom," she says, with a voice worn hoarse by years of steady sorrow, "Tom, we don't have to break the vase. We could just pour out the water through the hole in the top."
-- Asymmetrical Information

Roger Simon is getting hungry for the good old Demonstration Days:
"I've been living in California a long time and the recent dust up about Cruz Bustamente and MECHA takes me back to the days when we were all marching for La Raza on Brooklyn (now Cesar Chavez) Avenue with Corky Gonzales and the Brown Berets and Cheech Marin was smoking some "heavy shit, man." Good times and not particularly scary times. The Chicano community was on the side of the angels and the Brown Berets never seemed as extreme as the Panthers for some reason. Maybe it was those East LA tamales (you can get great ones now at Juanito's, although some prefer La Mascota on Whittier Blvd.)"
-- Roger Simon Private Eye Scribe

Posted by Van der Leun Aug 29, 2003 9:21 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Dead Boy Walking

Every so often you see something so disturbing that you despair of the future of the human race. This pear-shaped youth's web page, the aptly named jwag's thingee is a case in point.

Setting out to prove, once and for all, that this country has entirely way too much food, the hapless master jwag decided to devour, at one sitting, a 20x20 Cheeseburger at "In-and-Out Burger." For the uninitiated, this means a cheese burger consisting of a bun and 20 beef patties glued together with 20 Slices of American Cheese.

The callow jwag's site states that he is 18 and, hence, the idea of parental supervision is out of the question. No, he is now of the age in which he is entirely responsible for his quest to become a human speed bump. God speed say I.

However, as he heads off on his quest of a coronary event the size of Manhattan, he leaves behind a photographic record (linked above) of one young man's unremitting love for his gullet. This is a service, possibly his last, to the rest of humanity since one look at his photojournal will be enough to turn the most dedicated carnivore into a raging vegetarian. Here are some "choice' excerpts:

Warning: Do not click for larger view on a full stomach.

Via Kottke

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 28, 2003 5:03 PM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Nudes of David Newman

There's a lovely selection of skillfully rendered nudes by San Francisco artist and photographer David Newman at this web gallery:Works on Paper

As Newman states:

Although I shared some of the images with friends as the works were created, this is the first time these works have been seen together on the web.
Newman, who studied with west coast masters such as Wayne Theibaud and Dave Gilhooly, but fortunately missed out on Mel Ramos, has put together an impressive selection in a wide range of mediums, all distinguished by a sinuous line. Worth more than a passing glance.

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 28, 2003 3:52 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Taking Tree Hugging to New Heights

From "Conversations with Trees" as published in the latest edition of "Gatherings: Seeking Ecopsychology."

Hey Folks: I think I just wanted to tell you about Tree. Does anyone else on the list talk to trees?
I do, I must admit.

I don't remember what first attracted me to Tree (as I imaginatively called her). I think I was just biking along, on my way home from somewhere, taking the scenic route through the park, when I saw Tree and felt like she was calling to me. So I went. I introduced myself, in the way an elf (or a "crazy" person) might.

I talked to Tree, and in response I felt the calm, rooted presence of one who silently observes much. From that day on, I would visit Tree every now and then. Sometimes I would just send a hello from the path as I whizzed by. Often I would stop, just to touch her trunk, to smell her treeness, even (I admit with some self-consciousness) to taste her bark with my tongue.

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 28, 2003 2:56 PM | QuickLink: Permalink

Photograph by Van der Leun

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 28, 2003 2:49 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Been There, Done That, Have the T-Shirt


Fresh off the rack at The Ranger Quartermaster comes an item sure to be popular among our armed forces: 72 Virgins Dating Service T-Shirt

The Ranger explains:

Yes, we're scratching the surface of 'political incorrectness' here, but war is an ugly thing - and if you're an individual whose hellbent on martyrdom by attacking America or her deployed servicemen and women we'd like to see you hooked up with 72 Virgins as soon as possible.

Found via: Darren Kaplan

Posted by Van der Leun Aug 28, 2003 1:33 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
David Warren's Question

One of the finest online essayists, David Warren is back from vacation with a troubling but perceptive essay: One-A-Day.

He notes the mounting media campaign to reverse the gains in Iraq and to convince the American people to go back to sleep. The question at the end is:

The question on my mind is thus, will the Americans funk out? And the only thing I can say for sure, is that if they do, it will be an unparalleled disaster. For 9/11 itself was the payback for the last U.S. funk-out from its responsibilities as a superpower.

He's correct.

Posted by Van der Leun Aug 28, 2003 12:19 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Update: Memo to Israel

The Memo to Israel from Palestine published here on August 22 has just been picked up by the Arutz Sheva - Israel National News

Date: To Be Determined
To: The Palestinian People
From: The People of Israel

Re: Final Notice Before the Termination of Our Relationship
(To be filed in your "Permanent Conduct Record")

As you know from our repeated meetings over many years, we have repeatedly done our best to accommodate your incessant demands regarding employment, compensation, housing allowances, health benefits, and other items of mutual interest as we have endeavored to work together on "Project Peace in the Middle East."

More at the link above.

What can I say other that I am very pleased and flattered.

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 28, 2003 11:24 AM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Lileks: Was It Something I Said?


A few days ago, in a moment of concern for James Lileks' mental stability, earlier this week I ever-so-gently chided him for his Soundtrack offerings.

"I've sampled his gift and all I can say is that, whatever other talents this man has, he won't be getting signed by DefJam records any time soon."
Today I read in The Bleat
Fire up Soundtrack and make another MP3? No, I’ve learned my lesson. You’ll get no more of those, you’ll be glad to hear.
The very first pop-cult reference that sprang into my mind upon reading those words was: "You may say to yourself, 'My God! What have I done?"

My next thought was, 'How can I make some fawning and obsequious apology in order to be forgiven, not only by Likeks, but by the untold legions of fans who were no doubt collecting his MP3s for a bootleg compilation titled "Gettin' Jiggy with BleatMaster?" I can see the plagiarized email now:

"You bastard! You vicious, heartless bastard! Look what you've done to him! He's moused his fingers to the bone to make his MP3s what they are, and you come in with your petty feeble quibbling and you grind his music into the dirt, this fine, honourable man, whose boots you are not worthy to kiss. Oh... it makes us mad... mad!"

Perhaps I could plead my long time devotion to his site, my wallowing in his Fargo pages since they reminded me of my long ago summers in Fargo with my grandparents and cousins. I could tell him that my Dad ran a filling station to and that my mother was raised in Fargo, that the McNairs are still there; that our shared roots go deep into the fine, rich mid-western loam. Pathetic. I might as well plead my belly.

Maybe I could pluck some art out of the deeper regions of his site and, by carefully cropping it, make it a kind of "homage." No. Been there, done that, have the T-shirt. He'd just sue me for compilation copyright infringement.

Knowing that Lileks views with deep suspicion anything with the word "American" in the title, I could let the site go belly up, donate the URL to Readers Digest and port everything over to LiveJournal. No, that wouldn't be enough. I'd still be hunted down by his fans and deathspammed.

No, there's no hope for me now. No way I can make amends. A promising musical career has been crushed and tossed aside by my thoughtless words. I must accept full responsibility. For my penance I have vowed to wear nothing but Dorcus Loungewear from now until the last ding-dong of doom, or until released by the better angels of Lileks' nature. Until then it is obvious I am under self-imposed house arrest. But I live in hope.

Author's Fate and a Cry for Mercy

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 28, 2003 9:05 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Ironies of the Internet, American Style

This morning these two images were presented next to each other on the Yahoo News Photo Site:

The engraved granite plaque honoring Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial where he gave his 'I have a Dream' speech nearly 40 years ago.

Workers move the Ten Commandments monument from the rotunda of the State Judicial building in Montgomery, Alabama

“I have a dream that one day the state of Alabama, whose governor's lips are presently dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, will be transformed into a situation where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today. I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together. This is our hope. This is the faith with which I return to the South. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.”
-- Martin Luther King, “I Have a Dream” -- Fortieth Anniversary on This Day

Posted by Van der Leun Aug 28, 2003 7:08 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Hold the Testosterone, Please


Yes, it is that time again. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 27, 2003 1:23 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
And Now for Something Completely Excellent...

I've noted before that Michael Totten is "the Swiss Army Knife of Online Commentators," but he really stunned me today by bringing out a whole new blade; a short story. And a brilliant short story at that. Making a clear departure from the usual content of his page, Totten takes you to South America in The Argentine's Ice Box

A wag on his comments board suggested that this might be the first example of "pundit-fiction," but I disagree. This is simply fine fiction in a new format. I know that there are short stories scattered about the Web but they are rarely readable. This one is.

The Argentine's Ice Box
A short story by Michael J. Totten

If you walk into a restaurant named Henry’s and find a man sitting alone at a table who is from anywhere outside the Patagonian desert, you’ll spot him as an outsider even if you’re an outsider yourself. It’s in the eyes, the posture, and the set of the mouth.

So when I opened the door and saw Andre in the corner with his rumpled button-up shirt, scribbling in a notebook under a pair of reading glasses, I knew I had found my companion for the evening. The bartender and other patrons flicked their eyes at me, just long enough to peg me as a foreigner, but quickly enough to show indifference. A man throwing darts by himself sized me up as he threw a bulls eye. But Andre looked at me over his glasses and raised his eyebrows. It was almost like a plea.

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 27, 2003 9:37 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Via Con Dios, Cowgirl

Died with her boots on at the end of a big life

Connie Reeves, a Cowgirl Until the End, Dies at 101

Connie Reeves, who was very likely America's oldest cowgirl, died in San Antonio on Aug. 17, 12 days after she was thrown from her horse, Dr Pepper. She was 101.

She was riding her favorite horse, a 28-year-old paint, on the morning of Aug. 5 when Dr Pepper threw her over its head. Her neck was broken, but she was not paralyzed, The Kerrville (Tex.) Daily Times reported. The Associated Press said she died of cardiac arrest.

Posted by Van der Leun Aug 27, 2003 7:51 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Hammer. Nail. Bang

John Derbyshire's lucid on Christianity in America sums up in a few paragraphs exactly what is wrong with the current kerfuffle over the monument to the Ten Commandments dust-up. In the process he puts a lot more than Moore in perspective:

There is a war on: People who hate America are working day and night to destroy us. Just a few months ago they murdered 3,000 of us, and brought down two of our noblest buildings. Manufacturing jobs are long gone, and middle-class paper-shuffling jobs are following them fast. Public-sector unions are pillaging our state treasuries to fund their 50-90 programs (retire at 50 on 90 percent of your salary). Meanwhile, trial lawyers are chewing their way like termites through the private sector. We have 13 million illegal immigrants scoffing at our laws and helping themselves to the welfare provisions that citizens have spent their lifetimes funding through taxes. Two million of us are currently in jail, and the one-eighth of our population that is black supplies one-half of those inmates. Our education systems are collapsing under absurd demands that "no child be left behind" — everyone must be above average! — and hundreds of thousands of citizens have fled those systems in disgust to school their kids at home. Our universities are in the hands of nihilist ideologues who hate their own nation, culture and ancestors. The political system has seized up, impossible-to-cut spending programs crashing head on into impossible-to-raise tax rates. Drop a cigarette butt into some power generator in Cleveland and you can shut down the northeastern U.S.A. for a day. A North Korean nuke has been smuggled across the Mexican border and hidden in a filing cabinet on the 102nd floor of the Sears Tower. (I made that up, but if it hasn't actually happened yet, it won't be long.)

And action to deal with all these problems is massively hindered by the fact that we can't even talk about them in public for fear of being branded with one of the half-dozen modern equivalents of the scarlet letter — "racist," "nativist," "elitist," "profiler," and the rest of the idiot schoolmarmish cant we hear from the guardians of our public virtue.

In short, we are going to hell in a hand basket here, and all you liberals can think of is to jab your finger in the eyes of 46 percent of your fellow citizens over some footling dubious point of Constitutional law? Just ask yourselves — please, please, ask yourselves: Is Roy's Rock really a proper target for my zeal, my energy, my passion, my money? Is my reaction to it in any kind of proportion to any harm it might conceivably do?

Posted by Van der Leun Aug 27, 2003 7:13 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
'X' Marks the Spots


'Most-wanted' posters of Saddam, dead sons released

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Coalition officials Wednesday released a new series of "most-wanted" posters for Saddam Hussein, announcing the $25 million reward for the former Iraqi leader whose image is shown next to photos of his sons, killed last month by U.S. forces.

Iraqi police and U.S. soldiers in Baghdad will distribute thousands of leaflets featuring the images, as well as other brochures offering rewards of up to $10,000 for information about anti-coalition activities, according to the Coalition Provisional Authority.

The two most-wanted posters show a picture of Saddam's face, next to images of his sons with large X's over their faces, offering up to $25 million for "any information leading to the arrest or proof of death of Saddam Hussein."

The "Coalition Provisional Authority" tag up the right side of the poster is a deft touch.

Posted by Van der Leun Aug 27, 2003 6:39 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Too Much Information

In his fawning review of a rock festival showcasing the The Mad Capsule Markets at the Fuji Rock fest, critic Craig Francis loses control of his writerly functions:

"The crowd, a slam-dancing, crowd-surfing mass, was definitely a factor in the absolute buzz of seeing this trio in action. They leapt and crashed into each other as if they had spicy hot wasabi smeared in their collective underpants."

Posted by Van der Leun Aug 27, 2003 6:25 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Kottke Takes the Space Out of Web Log

At the always fascinating and persistently brilliant :: home of fine hypertext products, Jason Kottke is out to slash the space out of "Web Log" and make the world safe for the "Weblog."

When dealing with words generated by the Internet, where people stick bits of different words together with reckless abandon, I can understand the need for high-quality newspapers and magazines to use the proper grammatical approach in dealing with compound words, hyphens, etc. At first blush, "weblog" appears to be a shortened version of "web log" which is in turn a shortened version of "World Wide Web log", in which case the usage the media has adopted would be more or less correct ("Web log" would probably be more correct). But the evidence doesn't support this...
He's right. It doesn't. Check the links for a fascinating tour into the origins of this medium. That's your assignment for today. Will there be a quiz? Are you kidding? It's August.

Posted by Van der Leun Aug 26, 2003 4:43 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Our World from Above

Click for much larger image

Funny, this is NASA's most Highly Detailed World Map to date but you still can't see any borders or nations.

This image of the world was generated with data from the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM). The SRTM Project has recently released a new global data set called SRTM30, where the original one arcsecond of latitude and longitude resolution (about 30 meters, or 98 feet, at the equator) was reduced to 30 arcseconds (about 928 meters, or 3045 feet.) This image was created from that data set and shows the world between 60 degrees south and 60 degrees north latitude, covering 80% of the Earth's land mass. The image is in the Mercator Projection commonly used for maps of the world.

Two visualization methods were combined to produce the image: shading and color coding of topographic height. The shade image was derived by computing topographic slope in the northwest-southeast direction, so that northwest slopes appear bright and southeast slopes appear dark. Color coding is directly related to topographic height, with green at the lower elevations, rising through yellow and tan, to white at the highest elevations.

Posted by Van der Leun Aug 26, 2003 4:22 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Yes, People Will Do Anything to Be President

Howard Dean plays a harmonica
for a supporter and a group of friends l
istening by cell phone on a bus
in New Braunfels, Tex.

When this great white hope gets to my town, I'm going to meet him with a tuba, a baby and a web cam. Stay tuned.

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 26, 2003 3:05 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Hidden Agenda of Sobig

Organized crime behind Sobig?

Peter Simpson, manager of ThreatLab at Clearswift, warned that antivirus companies and the media have become so obsessed with the unprecedented numbers surrounding the prolific Sobig.F variant that the real dangers are going almost unnoticed....

"Sobig smashed all the records in terms of pure numbers, but that's not nearly the whole story," said Simpson. "This is the sixth in a series of controlled experiments. This isn't about some kiddy writing viruses in his bedroom--this is really a very sophisticated example of organized crime."

And he believes there may be far worse to come.

Posted by Van der Leun Aug 26, 2003 8:24 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
A Bleat for Help: Massive Web Intervention for Lileks Necessary

James Lileks in a Very Bad State of Mind

The Sensitive and Compassionate Bloggers of the United States of America ("SenComBlogUSA's") will recognize in James Lileks' latest Bleat a desperate cry for help. And we must, because we are Sensitive and Compassionate people, give it to him.

Yes, it is clearly a time for massive web intervention in order to save this living web treasure from himself.

The cause of his current "condition" is obvious: He needs to "spend more time with his family."

"The family’s been gone since Thursday, and today was the first day it actually seemed like they were gone; this must be what it’s like when workaholics get fired and find out that the family they last remembered as a collection of vague faces around t he Christmas tree had actually moved away several years before. Explains why the laundry was piling up, I suppose."
Constant readers will know that Lileks is the uber-family man and any extended time spent away from the wife and the Gnat causes him to go slowly mental. I've been watching this process for several days and it is not a pretty sight. The degeneration is slow at first and then becomes increasingly frightening as the days drag on. The dishes pile up, the bed goes unmade, weeds sprout through the pavement at Jasperwood, the dog starves...

His condition is now peaking:

"Got to meet some charming people; spent the first part of the cruise hanging in the front with the popular kids. By the end of the ride I was tired and I had a jackhammer headache; shouting and standing in the sun and two vodka-tonics will do that to you."
Cruising aimlessly about. Seeking to hang with the popular. Sunstroke. Mysterious headaches. Alcohol. All the elements begin to add up, don't they?
"That night Hugh, Medved, [ .... ], the Giant Swede and the Crazy Uke came over for supper, and that was . . . well, it was just very cool. As the Uke said at one point, 'what happens in Minnesota stays in Minnesota.' "
Sigh. Strange companions such as radio talk show hosts, some dealer in strange meds, a bulky Swede, and another man so disturbed as to play the ukelele. All hunkering down at Jasperwood to, perhaps, indulge in alcohol and char slabs of meat over open flames before gnawing them down in large dripping gobbets. The mind shudders and the heart goes out to Lileks.

And then, in a single sentence, we see the collapse of a great mind:

"Yes, me an writer! And a gud one! The high point of the high point!

See what I mean? I’ve hit the wall."

If only he had "hit the wall," but no, no....
" That night I watched a movie, but halfway through I got the itch to sample the dialogue and make another MP3 out of it all. My sad gift to you."
I've sampled his gift and all I can say is that, whatever other talents this man has, he won't be getting signed by DefJam records any time soon.

I suppose, like other men afflicted with the temporary loss of their family, Lileks is blissfully unaware of his slide into dementia. Because of this it is up to the "SenComBlogUSA's" to leave their screens and small rooms across the United States, spread out, locate and return his family to him as quickly as possible.

Our choice is clear. We can either rescue James Lileks from his summer vacation or we can turn the page.

Remember: The Bleat you save could be your own.

Posted by Van der Leun Aug 26, 2003 7:28 AM | Comments (7)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Way New News Cycle

Just a sample of the full page. Click on the "this" below for the full effect.

The must read comic of the day, week, month.Thanks to Cold Fury for lighting the way to The Lemon's brilliant depiction of the current news cycle.

Who needs the Onion - which is now mired to the wheel-wells in the Doonesbury fever swamp of tired old liberal orthodoxy feebly masked as satire - when you have stuff like this at the Lemon?
In case you didn't notice, he's right about The Onion as well. Too bad, they had such nice aspirations.

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 25, 2003 2:22 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Okay, Arabs are Sane and Islam is a Religion of Peace, Right? Right!

Found at the ever-so-sweet bitter sanity:

Wait, I thought "Chutzpah" was a Yiddish word...

I admit I'm really hoping that the Onion has hacked MEMRI, but if not, it seems a group of Arabs resident in Switzerland is suing all Jews because, they allege, during the Exodus they took not only themselves, but trillions of tons of gold, along with jewels, silver, and kitchen utensils (??).

Dr. Hilmi: [...] a group of Egyptians in Switzerland has opened the case of the so-called 'great exodus of the Jews from Pharaonic Egypt.' At that time, they stole from the Pharaonic Egyptians gold, jewelry, cooking utensils, silver ornaments, clothing, and more, leaving Egypt in the middle of the night with all this wealth, which today is priceless."

I believe the United States is currently shipping about $3 Billion a year to Egypt. No wonder these guys can live in Switzerland.

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 24, 2003 3:47 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Amazon Reader Reviews We Didn't Finish Reading, XVII

This one snuck by the censors at Amazon attached to Richard Pryor's Is It Something I Said?

"this is what happened. this is what happened. did u get it now???? we were always all walking around and learning from one another in search for a proponderance that made some kinda cents. then we discovered that there is no write or ron...."
We don't know about Ron, what we want to know is where is the Bozofilter when you really need it?

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 24, 2003 3:40 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Steyn Sums It Up

The waffling global mindset that caused the bombing of the UN Headquarters in Baghdad last week is nicely framed by the brilliant Mark Steyn in: Iraq is battlefield for war vs. terror

Well, that's the luck of the draw at the UN, where so far this year Libya, Iraq and Syria have found themselves heading up the Human Rights Commission, the Disarmament Committee and the Security Council. The UN's subscription to this charade may be necessary in New York, but what's tragic is that they seem to have conducted their affairs in Baghdad much the same way. Offers of increased U.S. military protection were turned down. Their old Iraqi security guards, all agents of Saddam's Secret Service there to spy on the UN, were allowed by the organization to carry on working at the compound. And sitting in the middle of an unprotected complex staffed by ex-Saddamite spies was Sergio Vieira de Mello, the individual most directly credited with midwifing East Timor into an independent democratic state. Osama bin Laden (or rather whoever makes his audiocassettes) and the Bali bombers have both cited East Timor as high up on their long list of grievances: the carving out, as they see it, of part of the territory of the world's largest Islamic nation to create a mainly Christian state. Now they've managed to kill the fellow responsible. Any way you look at it, that's quite a feather in their turbans.
The atmosphere of recrimination, cowardice and appeasement that thickens daily is also listed by Steyn:
At the moment, there's only one hyperpower (the United States), one great power (the United Kingdom) and one regional power (Australia) that are serious about the threat of Islamist terrorism. There's also Israel, of course, but Israel's disinclination to have its bus passengers blown to smithereens is seen as evidence of its ''obstinacy'' and unwillingness to get the ''peace process'' back ''on track.'' What a difference it would make if one or two other G-7 nations were to get serious about the battle and be a reliable vote in international councils. But who? France? It's all business to them, unless al-Qaida are careless enough to blow up the Eiffel Tower. Canada? Canadians get blown up in Bali, murdered in Iran, tortured in Saudi Arabia, die in the rubble of the UN building in Baghdad--and their government shrugs. Belgium? They'd rather issue a warrant for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld than Chemical Ali.
This article is not just worth reading, it is worth thinking about as well. It is unclear what it will take for the nations of the civilized world to finally pull together to eliminate the people, forces, institutions and beliefs that threaten them, but it will obviously have to be something far more terrible than we have seen to date. And it will come.

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 24, 2003 9:53 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Boy Heaven

"... still under the staircase, two CD storage units ... PlayStation games ... two shelving units with boxed NES games... most of the Sega Master System boxed games... Sega Saturn games ... stacked up to the right." ....Aieeeeeeeee!

A brilliant nine-year-old boy of my acquaintance would like nothing better than to spend the next ten years of his life in The ULTIMATE Game Room. Yes, there would be the need to resupply him with food and drink. Yes, he would have to, at widely scattered moments, dash to and from the bathroom. Yes, his studies and his opportunities for higher education and a comfortable life would vanish like the highland mist. None of this would matter. He'd grow to manhood within the confines of these walls happy as a cow in clover. Indeed, I don't think I'll show him this site for fear it will drive him to emulate "The Room of Doom." Even in this permissive day and age, you do have to protect children from some things.

Found via Muxway and just digging out from having been ruthlessly slashdotted a few days ago, The Ultimate Game Room (aka "The Room of Doom") is a shining example of what one man's unfettered obsession with video games can produce:

North wall: when you open the closet behind the hanging marquees, this is what you see. Game Gear, Arcadia, Vectrex,, books, and miscellaneous peripherals are kept in here. Note the "gun rack" on the door.

South Wall: packed in under the staircase are a PC-FX, Video Brain and some oddball peripherals. Also my Sega 32X and Atari 7800 games. under the Pac-man pillow is an Odyssey frisbee and a CD storage cabinet with PlayStation games.

West Wall: the rest of the Genesis collection is here. The monitor is dedicated to a MAME-dedicated PC with a HotRod SE arcade quality joystick. Behind the table is a complete TurboGrafx-16 HuCard collection and a portion of a complete Sega CD collection.

And so on... really something amazing to see and frightening to contemplate.

A subset of Digital Press whose purpose is summed up on the home page by:

Digital Press Online is dedicated to the "Pac-rats" among video gamers... short attention spans, library-sized collections, consoles precariously wired in spider-web fashion... Sound like you?
Well, no. But it certainly sounds like a lot of other people I know. Still, I have to confess that if I was teleported into the middle of "The Room of Doom" with a case of Jolt and a couple of roast chickens, it might be a week or two before I could find the door.

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 24, 2003 9:15 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Grokking the Code

Click to enlarge

From Chris Muir's brilliant Day by Day. If you are not following this strip day by day you need to ask yourself why.

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 24, 2003 9:05 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Arnold Up, Davis Graying Out

California Republican Bill Simon drops out of Davis recall race

LOS ANGELES – Republican Bill Simon dropped out of the gubernatorial recall race Saturday amid calls from party leaders to consolidate support behind fewer candidates, a campaign official said.

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 23, 2003 11:12 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Falling Water's Falling Down

Falling Water: Nature Has Had It's Way
with Her from Day One

Michael at the erudite and too deprecatingly named 2Blowhards is busy committing his usual heresy. In no uncertain terms he declares: Frank Lloyd Wright Is Not God

Simple question: Would you want to live in one of his houses? I wouldn't, for two main reasons.

Most important is the way a Frank Lloyd Wright house never becomes your home; instead, you move in and become the curator of one branch of the Frank Lloyd Wright museum. You're just the custodian in a monument to his genius.

For the other, I wouldn't want to be in charge of (let alone pay for) the upkeep. Wright couldn't resist trying out innovative building techniques -- which has meant in practice that many of his houses are in semi-constant need of expensive repair.

As for the art and moral values his work is celebrated for -- openness, naturalness, a casual, flowing informality -- well, let's see. His ceilings are often very low -- uncomfortably low. Why? Because he was a vindictive short man who was resentful of taller people, and he liked ceiling heights that make tall people feel uneasy. Flowing and open? Sure: his use of space is often fascinating in an aesthetic sense. But in a human sense, it works only if you subscribe to the whole package -- if you don't mess with how and where he wants the furniture placed and the light to fall. It all works together or it doesn't work at all -- which is impressive but a pain. (There's nothing quite like being locked into someone else's concept, particularly when what you want to do is kick back in the comfort of your own home.)

As far as I can tell, and from what the owners of one house told me, his buildings are about as unadaptable as buildings can be. And those long horizontal lines which we're told are such eloquent reflections of the American landscape and psyche? Well, they collect water and leak, and the water drips down into the walls, and ....

All in all an estimable estimation of a man who has, like all men, been overrated since his death. From all accounts, dealing with Wright when alive was like dealing with a man who had mistaken himself for God. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Michael also goes on to note something that I caught my attention in the Wall Street Journal: the shabby state of that most iconic of Wright buildings, Falling Water. I realize that irony is dead, but for just a moment it sprang back to life when I learned that this house was broken from the day before it was finished. The price tag to bring it back to snuff? A cool $11 million.

Oh well, I suppose it is a mere bagatelle when you think of all the photos that the house has spawned, from the same angle, year after year and decade after decade.

Falling Water seems to be eternally spared from the wrecking ball, but, if I recall the Journal’s article correctly, the same cannot be said for a number of the other 100 odd Wright homes in existence. The reason? They sit on some fine sites, but nobody wants to live in their tiny rooms any longer.

I'd score the whole thing six, six and one even for Wright. I mean, Falling Water's a nice house, but I wouldn't want to live there.

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 23, 2003 10:51 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Science Pulls Whale's Finger

"Whoa, gotta cut back on the spicy krill."

Some scientists are willing to take great risks in pursuit of their calling, but there is such a thing as going too far: Whale flatulence stuns scientists [14aug03]

IT'S one of the unfortunate consequences of being a mammal - flatulence.

And, more unfortunately for a group of whale researchers, nature took its course right under their noses - literally.

The researchers claim this is the first photograph of a minke whale letting one go in the icy waters of Antarctica. It was taken from the bow of a research vessel. "We got away from the bow of the ship very quickly ... "

Posted by Van der Leun Aug 23, 2003 9:55 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Big Machine

From the terse but always interesting Muxway "Very Big Machine"

Fair warning: the image is about 1.6 megs in size and, broadband or not, will eat your browser.

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 22, 2003 11:52 PM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Forty Flowers and a Flatbed

(Click for larger image)

FLOWERS by Katinka Matson

"For the past several years I have experimented with non-photographic techniques for creating images by utilizing input through a flatbed CCD scanner. No photographs are employed in the process."

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 22, 2003 7:33 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
The "Dangers of Second-Hand Drinking" Scientific Study Can't Be Far Off


When smoking is banned smokers don't get angry, they just get drunk-- Enter the nicotini: Smoking ban leads to tobacco-infused drink

Forget the cosmopolitan. Set aside the mojito. A new drink has emerged on trendy Las Olas Boulevard since restaurants were forced to ban smoking -- the nicotini.Call it a liquid cigarette because this drink comes complete with the nicotine rush and tobacco aftertaste found in a pack of Camels. These tobacco-spiked martinis are being served up for die-hard smokers who don't want to leave their barstools and go outside to light up.Larry Wald, the owner of the Cathode Ray Club, came up with the homemade brew as he searched for ways to help smokers cope with the new smoke-free atmosphere Florida voters ordered last fall. Soak tobacco leaves in vodka overnight, deaden the juice's harshness by adding a couple other liquors, and voilネ, the nicotini of Las Olas.

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 22, 2003 6:23 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Why You Should Pay Attention to Those Tire Recall Notices


Posted by Vanderleun Aug 22, 2003 10:34 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
On the Vulnerability of Power and Technology

In Unorthodox Thoughts about Asymmetric Warfare, published in the current edition of PARAMETERS, the US Army War College Quarterly, Montgomery Meigs writes this eerily prescient passage:

Technology plays a critical role in this new equation. Strategically, from financial markets to transportation systems to electric power grids, standards of living worldwide depend fundamentally on integrated technical systems that are susceptible to idiosyncratic threats. The operational structures upon which campaigns depend have similar attributes. These systems may have internal safeguards against failure in normal operations, but they do not have an ability to avoid catastrophic failure when they are interrupted or attacked in an unexpected, unanticipated, and peculiar way that generates cascading or accelerating effects.

The Northeast blackout of 9 November 1965 provides a useful example. At 5:16 p.m. on that day, an overcurrent relay on a transmission line from the Beck power plant outside of Toronto tripped and shut down one of six lines carrying power from that plant into the Canadian power grid that served Ontario. In 2.5 seconds -- to protect Beck’s generators from overload -- shutdowns rippled through the Canadian system, closing off the five other lines from the plant. The transmission systems in Ontario were linked to systems in New York. When the demand from Ontario went off-line, Beck’s output surged into the power grid in New York, almost doubling throughput. The overload began to surge through the US grid, threatening generation plants all over the Northeast. To protect their own generators, private utilities took their systems off-line, forcing the large public utilities to follow suit. In a total of four seconds, the Northeast went completely dark.4 The blackout represents the potential for catastrophic failure of technologically intensive systems with high degrees of interdependence. If one can find a weakness through which safety factors can be overloaded or bypassed, then manipulate the system in a self-destructive, eccentric manner, he can cause imploding, catastrophic failure.

The principle also applies in military operations. If one can attack the center of gravity of an operational system in an idiosyncratic manner with weapons or a combination of weapon systems that the opponent does not possess—or, even better, does not even understand or perceive—then the perpetrator can achieve catastrophic failure of that system, whether the target is a transportation network or an integrated command and control grid. The potential effect increases to the degree that the system is technologically intensive and functionally or geographically integrated.

And now we have a second example.

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 22, 2003 9:05 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Pattern

The intifada was unleashed during negotiations and concessions. The World Trade Center and Pentagon were bombed in a time of peace after a decade of forbearance in the face of continual affronts. The killing in Afghanistan focuses on aid workers and restorers. And the U.N. complex in Baghdad was not a casualty of war, but rather targeted during the postbellum efforts to feed, clothe, and rebuild civil society. There is a pattern here.
From:Victor Davis Hanson : Phase Three?
The enemy is growing desperate.

Who Says There's No Good News?

In the Opinion section of Salon's home page today:

"Tina Brown is on vacation "

Now if only they could get her to stay there and join her.

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 21, 2003 6:10 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
You know you are in California if...

You make over $250,000 a year and still can't afford a house.

You work 10 miles away, and it takes you an hour to drive there.

Your child's third grade teacher has purple hair, a nose ring, and is named Breeze.

It's sprinkling outside, so you leave for work an hour early to avoid all the weather-related accidents.

You can't remember ... is pot legal?

You've been to a baby shower for an infant who has two mothers and a sperm donor.

You have a very strong opinion about where your coffee beans are grown, and can taste the difference between Sumatran and Ethiopian.

You know which restaurant serves the freshest arugula.

You can't remember ... is pot legal?

A really great parking space can move you to tears.

The guy in line at Starbucks, wearing the baseball cap, sunglasses, and looks like George Clooney, IS George Clooney.

Your car insurance costs as much as your house payment.

Your hairdresser is straight, your plumber is gay, and your Mary Kay rep is in drag.

It's sprinkling out, and there's a report on every news channel about "THE STORM!"

Hey ... is pot legal?

Over 85% of the cities, towns, and streets start with San, Los, El, La, Santa, De La, or De Los.

Two overcast days in a row drive you mad.

A family of four owns six vehicles, 5 cell phones, 4 tv sets and 5 computers.

Everyone who lives here knows that hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and snowstorms are way worse than earthquakes, which are, after all, over almost as soon as you realize what's happening.

Even if the store is across the street, you drive there.

Yeah, you're sure...? pot is legal.

And finally, a question:

Q. How many Californians does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A. None. Californians cannot afford to turn on the lights.

Source: The Braden Files

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 21, 2003 1:19 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
EARTH TO UNITED NATIONS: First You Fort Up. Then You Hand Out the Wampum

“Come On Down to Crazy Kofi’s! Our Security is INSANE!”

The US just can't catch a break from the towering pile of greed and ineptitude that goes by the name of the United Nations. Following the deadly 1,000 pound car bomb attack that reduced its headquarters to rubble, one of the first orders of business from Annan was to blame the US for not stopping it. Of course, a bit later, we learn that it was the UN's own lassitude and vision of itself as a benevolent entity that doomed over 20 UN workers in the Attack on the UN in Iraq

It emerged Wednesday that amid the rubble are the remains of what would have been a concrete barrier that the UN had begun to build to prevent vehicles packed with explosives from being parked near the compound -- as happened Tuesday with devastating results. At least 20 people were killed, including two Canadians.

Building the planned 12-foot barrier earlier might have made a difference, UN officials conceded.

Oh, yes, it "might have made a difference." We thought this little lesson was learned long ago in Lebanon by the US Marines: "First you dig in and then you hand out the candy bars." Must have slipped the UN's mindset. It would seem that the UN has such a high opinion of itself as the world's primo humanitarian relief agency that it feels nobody in their right mind would harm it.

Alas, the truth is that Iraq is now home to the world's major surplus of people who are not in their right mind; people who, indeed, have no right mind at all; people whose idea of a having a good day is to kill others in massive quantities whenever possible.

Annan rejected, however, Washington's reasoning that UN officials in Baghdad had refused offers by U.S. forces in Iraq to protect the compound.

"Nobody (asks) you if you want the police to patrol your neighborhood," he said as he returned to UN headquarters after cutting short his holiday in Europe. "They make the assessment that patrol and protection is needed, and then they start, and that's what should be done in Iraq."

Let’s get this straight. According to Annan the US is at fault because it didn’t act like the cop on the block without being asked? According to other sources, the US offered security -- as referenced above -- but the UN declined because it didn’t want to be seen as abetting the victors in a war it failed to support. The UN wanted, in short, to enjoy the fruits of victory, to insert itself as a player in Iraq, but to shirk the responsibility that comes with it. By trying to have it both ways, it got neither. All it got was body bags going home to many different countries.

UN officials say the United States, as an "occupying power," is responsible under international law for providing security. But they also admit they did not want to frighten ordinary Iraqis by having their compound heavily fortified.
Yes, no sense in scaring “ordinary Iraqis” by fortifying your position in a war-zone. Those Iraqis have probably missed the decades of murder, insanity and death that have been the hallmark of their society. They’d naturally be loathe to come and get their UN handouts if they saw a truck-bomb barrier and guard posts around the building. Not for ordinary Iraquis to brave a checkpoint in search of food, water and money. Nope. Never happen. The United Nations is known to them to be a vast machine for throwing them into paper shredders and gassing their village. Best to stay far away unless the UN drapes the headquarters in balloons, colorful streamers, and bright banners declaring, in Pharsee, “Come On Down to Crazy Kofi’s! Our Security is INSANE!”

Or as spokesman Fred Eckhard so coyly put it:

"Security around our location was not as secure as you might find at the U.S. compound, and that was a decision we made so the offices were available to the people. We did not think at the time we were taking an unnecessary risk."
Another item for the vast UN filing cabinet marked “It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time.”

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 21, 2003 11:27 AM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Okay, Have It Your Way

We choose door number two:

"It is jihad until victory or martyrdom," Hamas said in a statement officially announcing its abandonment of the cease-fire.

Islamic Militant Groups Say Truce Dead After Israeli Strike

Posted by Van der Leun Aug 21, 2003 10:11 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Something Has Eaten the Northeast

The blackout as seen from mid-heaven.
Click for larger image.

Via Junkyard Blog

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 21, 2003 10:04 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Israelis, Jews, Americans, Children, Infants: All Equal to Islamic Killers

Shmuel Tabenfeld, 5 months, of New Square, New York
was killed along with his mother Goldie Tabenfeld in a
suicide bombing of a bus returning from the Western Wall
in Jerusalem on Tuesday August 19, 2003.
(Photo via LGF )

Of the 18 known dead from the bomb set off by a Palestinian killer, five were Americans. Found within this story: Palestinians Hold Meeting on Bus Bombing

Five of those killed were American citizens, a U.S. Embassy official said Wednesday.

They included Mordechai Reinitz, 47, and his son, Yitzhak, 9, who lived in the Israeli coastal town of Netanya and had dual Israeli-American citizenship, embassy spokesman Paul Patin said. Their U.S. hometown was not immediately known.

Goldie Taubenfeld, 43, and her 5-month-old son Shmuel, who were visiting from New Square, N.Y., also were killed Patin said. Taubenfeld was the mother of 13, said New York State Assemblyman Ryan Karben, whose district includes New Square.

The fifth American victim was identified as Tehilla Nathanson, 3, from Monsey, N.Y.

....Yitzhak Reinitz, 9 years old, hometown unknown .... Shmuel Taubenfeld, 5-months old, from New Square, New York .... Tehilla Nathanson, 3 years old, from Monsey, New York.

Posted by Van der Leun Aug 20, 2003 11:14 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Question of the Decade
We are told that there is a difference between extremist Islam and peaceloving normal Islam.

Judging by their behavior, Muslims are anti-West, anti-Democracy, anti-Christian, anti-Jewish, anti-Buddhist, and anti-Hindu. Muslims are involved in 20 of the 22 conflicts going on in the world: in Afghanistan, Bosnia, East Timor, India, Indonesia, Kashmir, Macedonia, the Middle East, Pakistan, Philippines, Kurdistan, Nigeria, Sudan, and Uganda.

Doesn't this mean that extremist Islam is the norm and normal Islam is extremely rare?

As posed on Think Israel

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 20, 2003 10:59 AM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Killing Father of Two

Right to left: Koran, Insect Mind, Automatic Weapon

Try to imagine, if for only a moment, the insect mindset that gibbers and crawls behind the smiling and proud face above. He's getting ready to "live the dream," to 'Just Do It,' to launch himself on "a mission from God." His calling? To strap on a belt of explosives, kiss his two children on the forehead, bid his wife goodbye, and head downtown to kill Jews. Men, women, children, infants, babes in the womb .. it is all grist to the chittering insect soul of this man and his supporters and compatriots. Who is he? Why he is a "a man of God", an exponent of the religion of submission and peace. He is the father of two children, but that doesn't stop him from viewing other chidren as just so many vermin to be exterminated.

Mask, a 29-year-old imam from the West Bank city of Hebron, blew himself up aboard a Jerusalem bus on Tuesday, killing 18 people, including five children, in an attack claimed by the Islamic militant group Hamas.

He left a wife and two children, as well as an unfinished doctorate in Islamic law.

His wife, news reports say, was pleased he had at last fulfilled his dream of martyrdom. Ah,the Occupied Mind of the Good Islamic Wife.

Belsen, Dachau, the Gulag, the Killing Fields, the Towers, Jerusalem -- they all attracted and employed men like this; men happy in their work and proud, damned proud, to be killing. They and their masters have always been the same and the only answer to their ambitions has always, in the end, been the same. These are people with whom negotiations are futile; who live only for the death of Israel and the Jews. This is their only goal. All their protestations and excuses are merely ploys to gain time and arms in order to make their ultimate extermination of their enemies complete.

And people like this are said to be "owed" a state of their own?. Really? Where? Is there a Hell deep enough for those whose conception of God's work is this?
Perhaps, on some near or distant day, when "the Road Map for Peace" has been chucked into the dumpster of history, Israel can feel free at last to seek out every individual who harbors the "dream of martyrdom" and make their dream come true.

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 20, 2003 10:15 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
We're Not in Kansas Any Longer but is...

Kansas Flatter Than a Pancake?

In this report, we apply basic scientific techniques to answer the question "Is Kansas as flat as a pancake?

While driving across the American Midwest, it is common to hear travelers remark, "This state is as flat as a pancake." To the authors, this adage seems to qualitatively capture some characteristic of a topographic geodetic survey

This obvious question "how flat is a pancake" spurned our analytical interest, and we set out to find the "flatness" of both a pancake and one particular state: Kansas.

For the startling answer and the methodology used to arrive at it, please refer to the house scientists at The Annals of Improbable Research.


Figure 1. (a)A well-cooked pancake; and (b)Kansas.

Posted by Van der Leun Aug 20, 2003 7:32 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Hot Town Summer in the City

Coney Island Crowd
by Weegee

Posted by Van der Leun Aug 19, 2003 5:37 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Make that "Goofy's Quarterly"


Always looking to keep his place as first witht the hot and steaming publishing dish, Matt DRUDGE has been fed this tasty item about the new and debased "Gentlemen's Quarterly" -- or "GQ," as the monthly is known in the rag trade. Item:

A coming edition of GQ magazine turns President Bush in to Jesus Christ -- in a full-page photo illustration!

The controversial photo is set to run with an accompanied essay titled "George W's Personal Jesus," publishing sources tell the DRUDGE REPORT. "In the beginning, there was the call...," writer Guy Lawson opens in his essay on the president's religious convictions. The photo marks a dramatic entrance for new GQ editor Jim Nelson.

We'd say it marks the panic-stricken entrance of Nelson as he feels his publisher's hot breath on his backside.

Ah, "controversy!" Where would magazines be without the carefully contrived controversy of taking two emblems of middle-America, the President and Jesus, and melding them into one image that can shock and horrify everyone living west of the Hudson River? We can hear the fevered editorial conference right now: "I need something, ANYTHING, that can convince the owners I'm cutting edge!"

"How about slamming the President and Jesus?"

"I don't know. Any Republicans or Christians working for us here at GQ?"

"Only the Dominicans in the mail room and that illegal who empties our trashcans at night."

"Screw them, they don't read. Let's get something cobbled up that we can use in an issue this Fall. I need those American Magazine Awards."

"I thought you needed the circulation of Maxim?"

"Hey, if I can think up enough whack stuff like this and shovel it into the issue, what's to stop me?"


"You're fired."

"That's okay, Bonnie Fuller just offered me the chance to stay up night after night closing her new rag in Florida. Besides, if you really had guts you'd put it on the cover."

Posted by Van der Leun Aug 19, 2003 5:05 PM | QuickLink: Permalink


by Richard Brautigan

I like to think (and
the sooner the better!)
of a cybernetic meadow
where mammals and computers
live together in mutually
programming harmony
like pure water
touching clear sky

I like to think
    (right now, please!)
of a cybernetic forest
filled with pines and electronics
where deer stroll peacefully
past computers as if they were flowers
with spinning blossoms.

I like to think
    (it has to be!)
of a cybernetic ecology
where we are free of our labors
and joined back to nature,
returned to our mammal
and sisters, and all watched over
by machines of loving grace.

Posted by Van der Leun Aug 19, 2003 3:43 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Gambling with the names of your children

Odd and Even: Lovins and Butnes

Today's leader in the weirdest name in the world contest would be Odd-Even Bustness of the dubious "Rocky Mountain Institute." His online profile lists many of Odd-Evan's achievements, but the payoff is found in:

Prior to his time at Dartmouth, Mr. Bustnes served as a corporal and patrol leader in the Norwegian Army's Special Forces. He is fluent in Norwegian, English and Spanish. A five-time Norwegian National Rowing Champion, Odd-Even was a member of the 1996 Norwegian Olympic Rowing Team and competed in the straight fours event in the Atlanta Games. Mr. Bustnes has taught ice and rock climbing and cross-county skiing in Norway and the United States. He has climbed on four continents and summited peaks up to 7,027 meters.
Bustnes' job is listed as "special aide to RMI CEO Amory Lovins." We're not quite sure what that entails, but as long as no future child is named Lovins Bustnes we'll be happy.

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 19, 2003 12:06 PM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Tales from the Blackout


Excerpts from a collection at:
As Brooklyn Slowly Drunkened (

On the street people were shadows and silhouettes, voices and fragments of bodies illuminated by moving headlights. Souls passed in darkness, voices in Spanish and English, cigarette ends bobbing from invisible mouths.

"So much for the open container law," said my neighbor, popping a can. The only noise was human, and the water-rush sound of freeways. Doors slammed, the ball bearings of passing bicycles clicked, shoe leather scraped the ground. One plane, not a dozen, moved through the black sky, the moon hanging, waxing, orange-tinted.

World New York: The Great North American Blackout 2003
All the bars were packed. People ignored the open container law and the cigarette ban with impunity, as they stood outside and packed the inside, joking and horsing around. There is a bit of a "so what?" attitude going around, but I'll see if it holds if the power does not come back on before morning.

Many bars stayed open late into the evening, including Enid's on Manhattan Avenue in Greenpoint. Candles lit the room, the ice bins were full, and a gambling pool had been started up. A dollar per guess: when will the electricity be restored in the neighborhood? The place was packed, and jovial, with that snow-day or rainstorm kind of giddiness you'd normally see in a schoolroom. Get-togethers planned before the blackout went on without changes. A small child-sized record player put out tinny music suited to the low-fi technological environment.

Fireland | stupid fucking electricity
And then that stupid guy who dragged out his generator and deafened the neighborhood so he could keep ESPN2 up and running. When the time comes, you will be the first I hunt for food, I thought, siphoning gas out of the Le Sabre next door.
NY Daily News: The subways: A special hell
An uptown 4 train got caught north of 34th St. with dozens of 7- and 8-year-olds from the New Settlement day care center aboard."The kids were freaking out," said Danielle Dalia, 37, a secretary for the United Federation of Teachers, who was also on the train. "They were hysterical, crying and screaming."

After about an hour, they were ordered to get off the train and walk along the tracks to 42nd St. They made it, but it was a tough haul."Everyone started getting hot," said Jennifer Romagno, 21, of Queens. "People were passing out. People started pushing."

There was also confusion and panic after the motorman pried open the doors of the L train that Ana Sorio was on and led passengers into the tunnel."You could hear the rats running around," she said. "Children were falling on top of each other. People were screaming. Old ladies were crying."

Nuri Urena, 38, clutched her 18-month-old daughter Cristina in one arm and braced herself against the tunnel wall with her free hand. A fellow rider carried her stroller."It was very dark. It was very hot. I thought I was going to die," she said.

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 19, 2003 11:33 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
What a Drag: Pentagon Nixes Saddam Pix

On the 18 the New York Post reported on the plan in Iraq to humiliate Saddam by posting flyers all around Baghdad depicting him in various "personas" culled from the wags on the Internet. Elvis and Zsa-Zsa Gabor were the leading contenders in this Web-created wave of psych-war:

"We're going to do something devious with these," Lt. Col. Steve Russell told Reuters last week, as he looked at the spoof Saddam photos taken from the Web, which may be slapped up around Tikrit as early as today. "Most of the locals will love 'em, and they'll be laughing. But the bad guys are going to be upset, which will just make it easier for us to know who they are."

Sgt. David Cade, a psychological-operations specialist, said, "It's mostly good for troop morale, but if we can put these posters up in Tikrit, and the enemy can't take them down, then at least it shows who owns the streets."

Then, in less than a day, the killjoys at the Pentagon weighed in:
Angry U.S. generals yesterday ordered an immediate halt to a plan to pepper Saddam's hometown Tikrit with bizarre computer-altered posters of the ex-Iraqi dictator dressed as Elvis - or bare-chested rock star Billy Idol.

The Pentagon feared that local commanders' plan to use the posters, depicted in yesterday's Post and that also include Saddam as a tarted-up Zsa Zsa Gabor and Rita Hayworth, would be too inflammatory. "This is not something we either approved of in advance or condoned. It was the idea of a small patrol unit of the Army 4th's Infantry Division," said a Pentagon spokeswoman.

Well, that's easy for her to say. She doesn't have to find a size 13 pump. Or a dictator in hiding for that matter.

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 19, 2003 7:29 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Escher in Legoland

Click to enlarge

Some say the world is made of quantum foam,but we know it is just made of teeny-tiny Lego's. Here's a model that proves it called: Escher's "Ascending and Descending" in LEGO

OK, here's how we did it.... We spent quite some time before we started staring at the picture and trying to decide how to go about it. The secret is that the staircase spirals up and in...
For the rest of the secret, you'll just have to go there.

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 17, 2003 7:38 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Great Timesinks of the Web #128,364

Sumertime and the surfing is easy because here you are just browsing the Web in a completely serendiptious fashion when... suddenly... there it is -- the page for which the Web was made: Virtual Bubblewrap

Bubble Wrap has been a source of fascination for people of all ages since its invention. Now, finally, there is a web page dedicated to this most entertaining packing material.
What else needs to be said? Click the link above and start popping away the next half hour of your life. (Hint: Select "Manic Mode" and be far more productive.)

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 16, 2003 2:09 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
On the Money at Capitalism Magazine

Courtesy of Cox & Forkum

From: Capitalism Magazine: Californication and the East Coast Blackout by Alan Caruba

There's a very fundamental reason for the latest blackout on the East Coast. The United States of America needs more power facilities. I'm not talking about ten thousand windmills on the coast of Massachusetts or seventy square miles of solar collectors in Vermont. I'm talking about burning coal and using natural gas. I'm talking about hydroelectric plants and, yes, nuclear-based plants. All of them gloriously producing electricity.

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 15, 2003 5:48 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Kiss Me You Mad Fool!

Click for detailed image of this romantic moment.

Photo by Paul Williamson at the
Valley Center Western Days Rodeo - 209T6459

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 15, 2003 1:42 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
It's Getting to be That Time Again

David Best's Temple of Joy
at Burning Man, 2002

Photo by David Ljung Madison

(Click for larger image)

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 15, 2003 1:28 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Running Home: Plan? There Is No Plan.

"If you can't get out when everyone's walking and cool, what you gonna do when they're running for their life and armed?"

When New York City shuts down in 9 seconds on a Thursday afternoon in the summer and millions of people hit the bricks at the same time, the very last thing you'd want to do is to tell them that it was caused by terrorism. You might, just might, "discover" it later, months later, during a closed hearing of the inevitable commission, but you do not ever want to announce it while it is happening. (Unless, of course, it is a situation in which two large skyscrapers can be seen imploding for miles in every direction. In that case, you've just got to come clean.)

The real backstory on yesterday's events is not how smoothly it went. We've been hearing that from disappointed reporters almost since the first hour. The real story is a "what if?"
What if it had been terrorism? How would that fact have altered the perceptions and reactions of millions?

Three words come to mind: fear, panic, riot.

Instead of the hundreds of thousands of people pictured walking across the bridges, we would have seen more running across the bridges in fear of their lives. Traffic, wedged as it was, would have become immovable. The tunnels to New Jersey and Long Island would have been overwhelmed by people on foot struggling to leave the city; to find refuge at home or anywhere else that was not in Manhattan. The panic, like the power failure, would have cascaded to the boroughs and the bedroom communities. The overall situation would have been a riot as big as the city itself where the stronger would seek to get to the front of the "save your life" line at all costs. Assuming you could muster the National Guard, they would be days away from controlling the situation in terms of basic logistics alone.

Too draconian a conclusion you say? Think again and add in three suicide bombings at Penn Station, Grand Central Station, and the Port Authority. You'll see sights that aren't on the Take a Bite of the Big Apple tourist agenda.

It became clear about two hours into yesterday's blackout that, despite all the money and all the time and all the studies and all the touted programs from the local and national politicians, THERE IS NO EVACUATION PLAN FOR NEW YORK CITY.

It is true that you can get a cute downloadable brochure in many languages from Ready New York, which will tell you what to put in your "Go Bag" in case you have to "Go!" but you won't find much else. There is certainly no sentence in it anywhere that says, "Be sure you have with you at all times a fully gassed up motorcycle and an automatic pistol with plenty of ammunition, because this is going to be one hairy commute."

No, as we saw yesterday, the city is prepared to cope with a massive disruption as long as there is no terrorism and hence no panic involved. Beyond that, any plan for the "orderly evacuation of New York City" is about as real as a redevelopment plan for Middle Earth.

The terrifying truth is that there is no plan that can be made to evacuate New York City. Officials can go through the motions, but I'd bet my life that any scenarios that have been run on this problem always result in a death toll somewhere north of five thousand on a good day.

The best that New Yorkers can hope for, should they come under massive terrorist attacks that paralyze the entire city and kill thousands of citizens, is that Mayor Bloomberg can be safely escorted to the downtown heliport so that he can make it to his private jet for a relaxing week at his home in Bermuda. Concerned citizens may then line the promenade at Brooklyn Heights and the other areas and buildings in which they are trapped to wish him "Bon voyage."

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 15, 2003 9:43 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Bloomberg in a Nutshell

The Man Who Thinks He's the Mayor

Bloomberg of New York by LILEKS (James) in less than 15 words:

Bloomberg: "...that hapless nanny Mayor. He's about as inspirational and reassuring as a stale blintz. "

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 15, 2003 7:40 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Self-Inflicted Terrorism Evident in Blackout

They say it is not a "terrorist incident" as the entire Northeastern part of the United States' power grid crashes. That may be as it may be, but there's no doubt that it didn't "just happen." Besides, if you do have millions of people out on the street in cities that are about to go very, very dark, you really don't need the added panic of making them think there is a bit of terrorism in the mix, do you?

You'd need to have several hours without panic just to mobilize the National Guard.

What we have here is, absent terrorism, is a case of slow and "self-inflicted terrorism." It is what is bound to happen, on any summer day, when you run a power grid that has been strangled for years by the awful NO-MEN of our society.

NO: you may not build more power plants powered by oil. We're too dependent.

NO: you may not build more power plants powered by coal. We need clean air.

NO: you may not build more power plants powered by water. We need wild rivers.

NO: you may not build more power plants powered by nuclear means. We need a radioactivity free world.

NO: you may not build more electric lines and substations. We are afraid of weird cancers.

NO: you may not charge what it is worth. We are afraid of big monopoly business.

NO, NO, NO, you may not expand supply to meet demand. Use computers to manage it. Computers down because of no electricity. Well, at least we are back to our natural state at last.

Good planning, legislators.
Nice work, Greens.
Excellent job, EPA.

The fruits of your labors are seen today on the bridges, at the edges, on the roadways, in the high-rises, and down in the subways of New York and a dozen other cities.

As a wise man once said, "Failure to make a plan is making a plan."

So far this is working according to the plans made over the decades by the NO-MEN.

And night is coming on in the East.

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 14, 2003 2:56 PM | Comments (22)  | QuickLink: Permalink
We've Come a Long Way, Hasta la Vista Baby

The original method of California Politics:

"Revolutions are matters of constant occurrence in California. They are got up by men who are at the foot of the ladder and in desperate circumstances, just as a new political party is started by such men in our own country. The only object, of course, is the loaves and fishes; and instead of caucusing, paragraphing, libelling, feasting, promising, and lying, as with us, they take muskets and bayonets, and seizing upon the presidio and custom-house, divide the spoils, and declare a new dynasty. "

by Richard Dana, "Two Years Before the Mast" who began his voyage to these shores on this day in 1834

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 14, 2003 12:21 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Rolling Stone: The Jailbait Cover

Those Airbrushed Olsens:
Twins without a navel between them

In the key of "Buy this magazine or we'll shoot the dog," Rolling Stone slams its way onto the newstands this issue with a hymn to the lust for underage girls in America. Jann Wenner's long-running love for alternate lifestyles (Plaster Casters, Replaced Septums, Gay Boyfriends) continues this week with the barely-legal article:The Sisters of Perpetual Abstinence

From the lead:

As the two enter the cafe, a pair of college-age guys give them the up-and-down. "God, they are hot," one breathes. "I'll take the one on the left, you take the other," says his pal.
The cover leaves no doubt about the theme of teenage lust with the coverline, "America's Favorite Fantasy." A bold claim to be sure, but no doubt the favorite fantasy of the editors, art directors and photographer that put together this unabashed goiter of an article.

Least bashed is the author, one Jancee Dunn, whose open fascination for these fresh youths oozes from every sentence:

The Edge! The Irony!
"The big-goggled vulnerability of children..."

In person, they have the big-goggled vulnerability of children in a Margaret Keane painting, which may in part describe their incredible appeal. They do not seem hardened by the world. They show no angry edge, no indefinable hurt. In fact, what is striking is how blessedly ordinary they seem.
We wonder if that's the sort of prose the FBI finds when it examines email between pedophiles. If not, it should inspire some.

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 14, 2003 11:02 AM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
All I Really Need to Know About Ariana Huffington I Learned at Roger Simon's Web Site

Huffington Competitor

Roger Simon, the web's finest example of what can happen when a real writer meets a blog, has put paid to Arianna Huffington's political career in a few brief well-chosen words and facts today in: Mirror,Mirror

According to today's LATimes, one-time royalist turned liberal Huffington, who "lives in an 8,000-square-foot home in Brentwood above Sunset Boulevard that is valued at about $7 million" and, as we all know, appears on television almost as often as Sponge Bob, paid $771 in federal taxes and no state income tax.

"....appears on television almost as often as Sponge Bob."

That's it. Game over for Huffington. Fish. Barrel. Bang.

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 14, 2003 10:32 AM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Action Alert: Web Still Not a Tina Brown Safe Zone

Brown's future magazine

One of life's smaller pleasures in the first decade of the 21st Century is that Tina Brown is no longer in charge of a magazine. One of the smaller irritations is that the web world has not yet become a Tina-free zone.

An appalling truth about being a sacked and disgraced magazine editor is that you can always come back as an obsessed scribe for an obsessed and bankrupt website like Salon. Tina Brown proves the point today in her ongoing report on "What I did during the years in which I spent more time with my family than they could stand."

Snappishly titled Arnold and the boys, Brown's maundering hops on the "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" commentator mania of the moment before hopping off to give Arnold and the over-the-hill mob some ragged pieces of Tina's mind:

It's great for Arnold that he has solved the problem of his third act. Now that it's clear you don't have to put years into building political credibility like role model Ronald Reagan, other rusting blockbuster stars are sure to follow. Wouldn't a run for the Senate be a better way for Kevin Costner to rinse off his murky career since the 1995 "Waterworld" disaster than hitting the road to promote his embarrassingly modest new movie? Wouldn't secretary of education be a more dignified route for Demi Moore to express her interest in the young?
Sigh. We note for the record that Brown's husband of choice, Harry Evans, slapped her into bed and matrimony when she was barely out of training bras. Or did she slap him into bed for reasons other than his boiled British charm? The record is unclear. What is known is Tina -- a dowdy cross between Princess Di and Hillary Clinton only shorter -- is nobody to start lecturing Demi Moore on mate choices.

As far as her hectoring on career choices, she's also out of her depth advising anyone with more to do with their days than her buddy Arianna Huffington.

Were I a pencil-packing editor at a staggering online dinosaur like Salon, I'd ask: "Are we really paying for this stuff? If so, get me rewrite!" and alter the copy above to something like:

It's disappointing that Tina has not solved the problem of her second act. Perhaps she should put years into building political credibility like her role model Princess Di, if she did other rusting editorial stars such as her erstwhile husband are sure to follow. Wouldn't a run for the House of Commons be a better way for Tina to rinse off her murky career since the TALK magazine disaster than uploading drivel onto to promote her embarrassingly modest writing skills? Wouldn't sucking up to Steven Den Beste be a more dignified route for Tina to express her interest in Al Gore's Internet?

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 14, 2003 8:25 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
"A shot glass of gasoline left in the tank."

"The Spirit of Butts Farm." Not quite the
same lilt as "The Spirit of St. Louis," but
as long as it gets there....

Model airplane crosses Atlantic

It didn't fly high and it didn't fly swiftly, but the "Spirit of Butts Farm" made it all the way from Canada to Ireland with a few drops of fuel to spare, a group of model airplane enthusiasts say.

They are hoping for a distance record for the flight of 38 hours, 23 minutes over 1,888.3 miles by a model plane designed by an engineer in Maryland. It weighed 11 pounds when it took off from Newfoundland.

For Dave Brown, who was at the controls for Monday's landing at Marrin Beach in County Galway, it was a great moment. "A great cheer went up when we saw it, and four minutes later I landed it in the field. It was so thrilling," Mr. Brown said in a telephone interview.

The balsa wood-and-mylar plane was designed by retired engineer Maynard Hill, 77, of Silver Spring. He launched it from Cape Spear, Newfoundland, on Saturday night.

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 14, 2003 7:38 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
10 Who Dare to Disturb the Universe


POPULAR SCIENCE finds and profiles 10 top young scientists whose work has already and will continue to change the world we live in and our understanding of the universe.

Microfluidics: CalTech

Building a computer from a plumber's nightmare of miniature pipes.

Embedded Networks: UCLA

Her mini-networks track the forest and the trees—plus every leaf, bug, bird & dewdrop.

Tissue Engineering: Boston University

Pancreas, blood vessels or other organ on the fritz? She'll build you a nifty replacement.

Computational Origami: MIT

Paper folding as extreme mind-sport: pushing theoretical limits for the fun of it.

Cosmology: University of Arizona, Tucson

By detecting faint galaxies, he peers deep within the universe to the start of time.

Genomics: Johns Hopkins University

His maverick approach ushered in a new way to finger cancer genes.

Quantum Cryptography: National Institute of Standards and Technology

He's harnessed the bizarre quantum world and made it do his bidding.

Molecular Medicine: University of Texas, Dallas

Unlocking genetic on/off switches to fool the body into healing itself.

Geophysics: UC Berkeley

He models billion-year and minutes-long processes to grasp earth's workings.

Molecular Anthropology: U. of Maryland, College Park

From the genes of living people, she divines the story of human origins.

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 14, 2003 6:44 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Calling Andrew Sullivan!

"So, they kiss and... then what happens?"

Democratic Presidential Candidate Unclear on Gay Sex

Asked about gay marriages, Moseley Braun recalled an aunt in an interracial marriage decades ago and brought applause when she said, "I don't see any difference between interracial marriages and same sex marriages."

We're wondering about the audience as well.

[Pointer via Best of the Web

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 13, 2003 5:54 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Bedrock of the United States

Click for larger image.

Geology of the Conterminous United States at 1:2,500,000 Scale

The present Geologic Map of the United States follows the same format as the preceding Geologic Map of the United States of 1932. Ideally, both have been designed to represent the geological features that the user could find if he should visit any locality within its limits, that is, the bedrock formations that lie at the surface at that locality. In many parts of the country, especially in the arid regions of the Southwest, this is literally true. In other parts of the country there are lesser or greater departures from this ideal, owing mainly to concealment of the bedrock by surficial material.

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 13, 2003 11:39 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Rumour Speaks

Induction. Henry the Fourth, Part II.

EnterRUMOUR, painted full of tongues
"The posts come tiring on,
And not a man of them brings other news
Than they have learn'd of me: from Rumour's tongues
They bring smooth comforts false, worse than true wrongs."

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 12, 2003 7:05 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Secret Arnold Weblog Revealed

INSTAPUDIT ASKS: "HERE'S ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER'S CAMPAIGN WEBSITE. But where's the campaign blog? They're de rigeur nowadays. On the other hand, he's already got an online contribution button, so he's halfway there. . . . "

No longer. The tireless web weasels at American Digest, by exploiting a back door at the Gold's Gym Web Farm has discovered the secret blog Arnold has been keeping for some weeks. He has hidden it behind (where no one would think to look) and given it the obscure name: ELECTMEORI_LLBEBACK.COM

It would seem that he shares many of the concerns and policies of one Glenn Reynolds.

These are some choice excerpts, and, by the way, somebody get him a web designer pronto!:


WHO DIED AND MADE ME GOVERNOR? That's the question many are asking bioethicists these days, according to a story in Sunday's New York Times. It's a good question. It's not like DAVIS was especially good GOVERNOR (the ENRON MELTDOWN comes to mind as an example of this BOZO's flaws) but nowadays GOVERNORS are increasingly asked to take the place of THE FREE MARKET. And they're not BUSINESSMEN, or ABLE TO ADD TWO AND TWO. They're just officious people with graduate degrees. They've become part of an overarching POLITICAL establishment with no particular claim to legitimacy and with substantial evidence of feathering its own nest at the expense of the PEOPLE it's supposed to protect. This problem isn't unique to GOVERNORS, but they suffer from it as much as any others.

Posted 8/11/2003 11:51:07 PM by ARNOLD

MORE ON THE CONTROVERSIAL BUSTAMANTE: Ronald Bailey joins Virginia Postrel's concerns about the appointment of the highly partisan BUSTAMANTE to head CALIFORNIA DEMOCRATS' "HOLD ON SOMEHOW!" COMMISSION. As mentioned below, I agree. This is like putting NOAM CHOMSKY in charge of a commission on the ethics of INVASION. Will the press focus on BUSTAMANTE'S precommitments on this issue?

Posted 8/11/2003 02:03:37 PM by ARNOLD


SO FAR SO GOOD FOR ME, ARNOLD: Quickie polls show support for MY decision, and I'M getting a pretty substantial degree of support even from conservatives who don't really agree with ME.

Posted 8/10/2003 05:38:20 PM by ARNOLD

WHO IS A JOURNALIST? That's the question raised by MY HANDLERS.

Posted 8/10/2003 01:52:42 PM by ARNOLD
BELABORING THE OBVIOUS: According to the Washington Post, the Centers for Disease Control have released a new study saying that school violence is most common at the beginning of the academic year and in February. This is hardly news, as I HAVE BEEN SAYING THIS TO MYSELF FOR YEARS. Violence is a behavior OR A HIGH PAYING REALLY HOT SCRIPT, not a disease. AS GOVERNOR I'LL MAKE SURE THAT YOUR tax dollars ARE being spent on, say, West Nile Virus, Dengue Fever, AIDS, OR LIFECYCLES FOR THE POOR. Cure those, and let somebody else worry about behavioral problems.

Posted 8/10/2003 10:28:21 AM by ARNOLD



Posted 8/9/2003 09:33:26 PM by ARNOLD


MISSING IN ACTION -- ARGUMENTS AGAINST MY CLONE: It's hard to refute most of the arguments against MY CLONE, because most of them aren't made. Still, there are some common themes that are worth unpacking here:

1. MY CLONE doesn't work well enough. It's too dangerous and is likely to produce deformed babies.

2. MY CLONE will work too well. It will produce so many successful ARNOLDS that it will replace sexual reproduction, leading to a loss of genetic diversity, LIKE THE KENNEDY FAMILY.

3. MY CLONE will produce soulless zombie tools of the corporate power structure. No, it won't.

4. MY CLONE is "playing God." What's that? Heart transplants were once "playing God." Now they're medicine. Ditto with In-Vitro Fertilization and, long ago, vaccination. "Playing God" is a synonym for "ELECT ME NOW." (see below).

5. MY CLONE is against God's will. No, it isn't. So there.

6. MY CLONE IS unnatural. Tell it to an identical twin. LIKE DANNY DEVITO.


There may be a persuasive and well-founded case against MY CLONE, but it hasn't been made yet in THIS ELECTION.

Posted 8/8/2003 10:03:20 PM by ARNOLD

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 12, 2003 5:47 PM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Springline for Hitler

"We don't want to upset anybody. We were a bit
politically insensitive. We don't wish to make
any race unhappy about it,"

-- Deborah Cheng, marketing manager

Nazi look out of fashion in Hong Kong

12 August 2003

A Hong Kong fashion chain Tuesday withdrew a line of clothes printed with swastikas and Nazi slogans following complaints from customers and from the German and Israeli consulates.

The clothes, including a tee shirt emblazoned with a picture of Adolf Hitler, were removed from 14 branches of the fashion chain Izzue after the stores were bombarded with complaints.

Just another moment in which one understands that there really is no bottom to popular culture, no end to a global ignorance of the meaning of history, and the fact that those who cannot remember it are condemned to repeat it. Except here it would seem that they enjoyed repeating it until reality stepped in.

The only possible explanation for this vile line is that I.T., Ltd. of Hong Kong thought up, designed, manufactured and installed this "fashion statement" assuming that nobody could possibly object. After all, this is just more of the edgy, toying with history, infradig and insouciant attitude we have come to expect from the fashion industry. Isn't it?

Yes, as long as they could garner sales and attention, nothing else really trumped their 'creative expression.' One would like to think that much of this sort of thing just "happens" due to various failures of this or that educational system, but the truth is darker. It happens because, for some reason, there is a set of human beings living on the planet with no affiliation to a nation, or a shared history, or any set of values one would recognize as 'decent.' They live in the ever-transmogrifying present -- a whirl of clubs and clothes and the latest infinitely small gadgets. They are the eternal children who see no difference in last year's 'Hello Kitty" backpack and this year's T-Shirt celebrating Hitler.

The aging but "always-looking-for-the-next-young-thing" Howard Rhinegold is currently selling these groups as 'smart mobs.' As usual, he's out there on a smile and a shoeshine gilding a lump of excrement in hopes of a continuing ride on the rubber tofu conference circuit. These aren't "smart mobs" that worship whirl and symbol chaff. They're just dumb kids. They're the profoundly vapid momentmongers of our age. Since they have no sense or knowledge of the past, and since they are too intellectually lazy to create anything new, they exist only to parrot and recycle a jumble of icons in hopes that everyone will be so sotted with irony they will overlook the meaning. In the end, having no past, they will not be able to alter the future beyond what is merely fashionable.

I don't know about you, but I'm looking forward for these titans of taste to whip up some sweeping microfiber winter coats emblazoned with shots of the ovens as Belsen. That would be the edgy smart mob thing to do, wouldn't it?

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 12, 2003 1:15 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Bugged in Sinapore!

Roaches scupper domino record attempt

August 12, 2003

A Beijing woman who is attempting to break the record for the world's biggest solo domino topple has seen her efforts scuppered by marauding cockroaches.

Ma Lihua says the insects have knocked down thousands of domino tiles that have been carefully set up over the last six weeks in preparation for next week's attempt.

The 24-year-old said that one bug knocked over 10,000 tiles - which had taken a day to set up - and is fearful that cockroaches could wreak more havoc before the attempt, being staged at Singapore's Expo hall, takes place on Monday.

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 12, 2003 1:05 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Arnold Perplex Solved

That Swiss Army Knife of commentators,Michael J. Totten is working his way through "the Arnold Perplex" (tm) today in: Annoying Arnold

Totten writes:

Arnold is apparently a liberal Republican, one of those guys who could go either way but chose the GOP for whatever reason. Fine then, he's probably like my dad with bigger muscles.
That's not only a start, it is also a hint. Just, exactly, what is Arnold? In a way, I suppose we'll find out a little of that over the next two months. But, in an effort to get ahead of the curve, my theory evolved as follows.

Once the Totten effect clarified my thinking, I knew in a flash that the solution to 'the Arnold Perplex' was simple: Arnold is a "biliberal."(tm)

"What in the name of all that is politically correct is a "biliberal?" you might ask. And you'd be right to do so. The simplest way of determining the essence of "biliberality" is to contemplate another, more established American "bi," the American bisexual.

The American bisexual is a kind of human who has been around for a lot longer than his or her new running mate, the American biliberal. When we ask the Googlic Oracle (tm) about this, it sends us the answer thus:

"What is a bisexual? A "bisexual" is a person who has a sexual and/or romantic interest in people of both genders. However, a bisexual woman or man does not necessarily have lovers of both genders at the same time. "

From that it is a simple matter to transpose a few terms and create a concise definition of our term:

"What is a biliberal? A "biliberal" is a person who has a political and/or philosophic interest in policies of both parties. However, a biliberal Democrat or Republican does not necessarily hold policies of both parties at the same time."

If you reflect on the above, and compare it to the little that is known about Arnold's political views at this time, you will see that it maps perfectly.

Whether or not Arnold's political tendencies arise from his more personal sexual tendencies is beyond the scope of a page rooted in family values such as this.

I leave that to be revealed by those Divas of Dirt (tm), Bonnie Fuller and Matt Drudge.

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 12, 2003 10:14 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
More Bad News for the American Cinema

If the continuing existence of "Gigli" weren't enough to make theatre owners eat their guns, now there's the item:Francis Ford Coppola Seeks Inspiration for New Film in Brazil

Hoping to find inspiration for his first film in six years, the director of "The Godfather" trilogy just spent a week in Curitiba, a sleepy city of 1.6 million in southern Brazil known for its clean streets and efficient public transportation. "I want to create a mixture of the Roman epics of (film director) Cecil B. DeMille (news) with a modern New York," Coppola told Reuters in an interview on Sunday....

Since the release of his last film in 1997, Coppola has spent most of his time tending to his Napa Valley vineyards and his restaurant businesses -- a task he says is often more rewarding than filmmaking.

"The difference is that it takes you an hour to prepare a nice dish and it's almost always a hit," he said. "But in the movies, it takes years to make a film and, in the end, the reviews are always mixed... That's why I think it's more fun to cook and make wines."

To quote the Sundance Kid: "You just keep thinking, Butch, that's what you're good at."

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 11, 2003 5:16 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Al Gore: Overcompensating American

At the MoveOn Gore fornication festival in New York last week, handlers were so unsure about people's perception of Al that they flanked him with no less than 12, count 'em 12, American flags.

Okay, we get it, we get it.

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 11, 2003 5:10 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Ungrateful Afghans; Part XIV

The least they could do would be to cover "American Pie." -- Offbeat Photos

"One of three Afghan girls who form the group 'Burqa Band' plays the guitar while dressed in the traditional Afghan garment for women, the burqa. The group has become a surprise hit in Germany where the song Burqa Blues is played in clubs."
Note: On their tour, they're going to open for The Taliband.

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 11, 2003 4:56 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
So Deadly It Makes the Spellchecker Explode


Posted by Vanderleun Aug 11, 2003 4:50 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Yet Another Reason New York City is Broke

Cop on Seqway Patrol

Chaintua Alozie, a New York police officer, draws stares and comments as he rides a Segway while patrolling around Rockefeller Plaza. The city has 30 officers who cover their foot-patrol beats with the vehicles.
Yes, it is no longer Giuliani time in the Big Apple. Can somebody arrange to get us a video of the first Seqway pursuit where the perp darts out into traffic? Thanks.

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 11, 2003 1:50 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Buck is Back!

Goliath's Back Where He Once Belonged

The owners of a buck with some 50 to 60 tips on its antlers and worth hundreds of thousand of dollars believe they have the animal back after it was stolen four years ago. While a representative of a deer farm where the buck believed to be Goliath was found a week ago isn't conceding that the animal is the same one "Goliath's owner. Rodney Miller says he's sure it's his buck.
We're with Miller. Hard to forget a rack like that.

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 11, 2003 1:38 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
For Sale: Land and Water Yacht

I'm not sure who is lining up to buy the Terra Wind Home amphibious motorcoach, but they either have way too much extra cash or one too many islands.

Introducing the world's first luxury Amphibious Motor coach / Yacht

We have combined the best features of world class yachts and motor coachs in a revolutionary design.

Prices from the $850,000's

Oh, go jump in a lake.

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 11, 2003 1:15 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"Labels? We don't got to show you..."

"No stinkin' labels!"

From the insightful Heretical Ideas -- We challenge the orthodoxy, so you don't have to.

It seems that if you agree with issues A, B, C, then you're automatically a "liberal" or "conservative" or whatever, regardless of your feelings on issues X, Y, and Z. As a result, good ideas that comes from the mouths of someone from one of the other tribes must be immediately condemned, regardless of the merits. Somebody's political "label" becomes a useful ad hominem for two reasons. First, you can attack that person on the grounds of their label, rather than the merits of the argument. And second, if somebody from another tribe happens to agree with you, then you can say "See, even this liberal/conservative/socialist/etc. says that I'm right!"--again, without involving the merits of the argument.

I think that perhaps it's high time that intelligent persons of all political persuasions actively work to remove political labels from their tribal meaning, and get them back to what they actually should be: a useful description of someone's basical political outlook, devoid of moral approbation.

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 11, 2003 12:36 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Superman on the Radio

From a site that thinks far too much about the inner meaning of Superman, comes an unexpected bonanza, the The Many Faces of the Man of Steel - Radio Episodes

"Faster than an airplane, more powerful than a locomotive, impervious to bullets!""Up in the sky - look!""It's a giant bird!""It's a plane!""It's SUPERMAN!""And now, Superman - a being no larger than an ordinary man but possessed of powers and abilities never before realized on Earth: able to leap into the air an eighth of a mile at a single bound, hurtle a 20-story building with ease, race a high-powered bullet to its target, lift tremendous weights and rend solid steel in his bare hands as though it were paper. Superman - a strange visitor from a distant planet: champion of the oppressed, physical marvel extraordinary who has sworn to devote his existence on Earth to helping those in need!"

Sixteen original episodes available for your Quicktime listening pleasure.

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 11, 2003 12:17 PM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Twain on Civilization


"What is a civilization, rightly considered? Morally, it is the evil passions repressed, the level of conduct raised; spiritually, idols cast down, God enthroned; materially, bread and fair treatment for the greatest number. That is the common formula, the common definition; everybody accepts it and is satisfied with it.

"Our civilization is wonderful, in certain spectacular and meretricious ways; wonderful in scientific marvels and inventive miracles; wonderful in material inflation, which it calls advancement, progress, and other pet names; wonderful in its spying-out of the deep secrets of Nature and its vanquishment of her stubborn laws; wonderful in its extraordinary financial and commerical achievements; wonderful in its hunger for money, and in its indifference as to how it is acquired; wonderful in the hitherto undreamed-of magnitude of its private fortunes and the prodigal fashion in which they are given away to institutions devoted to the public culture; wonderful in its exhibitions of poverty; wonderful in the surprises which it gets out of that great new birth, Organization, the latest and most potent creation and miracle-worker of the commercialized intellect, as applied in transportation systems, in manufactures, in systems of communication, in news-gathering, book-publishing, journalism; in protecting labor; in oppressing labor; in herding the national parties and keeping the sheep docile and usable; in closing the public service against brains and character; in electing purchasable legislatures, blatherskite Congresses, and city governments which rob the town and sell municipal protection to gamblers, thieves, prostitutes, and professional seducers for cash. It is a civilization which has destroyed the simplicity and repose of life; replaced its contentment, its poetry, its soft romance-dreams and visions with the money-fever, sordid ideals, vulgar ambitions, and the sleep which does not refresh; it has invented a thousand useless luxuries, and turned them into necessities; it has created a thousand vicious appetites and satisfies none of them; it has dethroned God and set up a shekel in His place."

- "Papers of the Adam Family"

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 11, 2003 11:29 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Hanson: The Sane Intellectual

A timely reminder from Victor Hanson as we sink back into our national slumber -- How We Collapse: The home front is more worrisome than the battlefield.

Western societies from ancient Athens to imperial Rome to the French republic rarely collapsed because of a shortage of resources or because foreign enemies proved too numerous or formidable in arms -- even when those enemies were grim Macedonians or Germans. Rather, in times of peace and prosperity there arose an unreal view of the world beyond their borders, one that was the product of insularity brought about by success, and an intellectual arrogance that for some can be the unfortunate byproduct of an enlightened society.

I think we are indulging in this unreal hypercriticism -- even apart from the election-season antics of our politicians -- because we are not being gassed, or shot, or even left hot or hungry. September 11 no longer evokes an image of incinerated firemen, innocents leaping out of skyscrapers, or the stench of flesh and melted plastic, but rather: squabbles over architectural designs, lawsuits, snarling over Mr. Ashcroft's new statutes, or concerns about being too rude to the Arab street.

Such smug dispensation -- as profoundly amoral as it is -- provides us, on the cheap and at a safe distance, with a sense of moral worth. Or perhaps censuring from the bleachers enables us to feel superior to those less fortunate who are still captive to their primordial appetites. We prefer to cringe at the thought that others like to see proof of their killers' deaths, prefer to shoot rather than die capturing a mass murderer, and welcome a generic profile of those who wish to kill them en masse.We should take stock of this dangerous and growing mindset -- and remember that wealthy, sophisticated societies like our own are rarely overrun. They simply implode -- whining and debating still to the end, even as they pass away.

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 11, 2003 10:27 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Up on the Roof

The Metropolitan Museum of Art - Roy Lichtenstein on the Roof

This Web feature is designed to complement "Roy Lichtenstein on the Roof," on view at the Metropolitan Museum through November 2, 2003. The installation comprises a selection of six brightly painted or patinated bronze and aluminum sculptures by American artist Roy Lichtenstein (1923￐1997). The works are on view in the most dramatic outdoor space for sculpture in New York City: The Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden, which offers a spectacular view of Central Park and the New York City skyline. Created in the 1990s, the six works include a group of "brushstroke" sculptures and a seventeen-foot-wide house.

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 11, 2003 9:59 AM | QuickLink: Permalink

by Carl Sandburg

I AM the people--the mob--the crowd--the mass.

Do you know that all the great work of the world is
done through me?

I am the workingman, the inventor, the maker of the
world's food and clothes.

I am the audience that witnesses history. The

come from me and the Lincolns. They die. And
then I send forth more Napoleons and Lincolns.

I am the seed ground. I am a prairie that will stand
for much plowing. Terrible storms pass over me.
I forget. The best of me is sucked out and wasted.
I forget. Everything but Death comes to me and
makes me work and give up what I have. And I

Sometimes I growl, shake myself and spatter a few red
drops for history to remember. Then--I forget.

When I, the People, learn to remember, when I, the
People, use the lessons of yesterday and no longer
forget who robbed me last year, who played me for
a fool--then there will be no speaker in all the world
say the name: "The People," with any fleck of a
sneer in his voice or any far-off smile of derision.

The mob--the crowd--the mass--will arrive then.

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 11, 2003 9:36 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
California Recall Row

They're selling applications for the election
They're painting the "Vote for Me" signs
The Cable News is crammed with pundits
It's California Carnival time.
Here comes the castrated governor
They've got him in a trance
One hand is tied to Bustamante
The other is in his pants
And the lobbyists are restless
They need someone they know
As Lady and I look down tonight
On California Recall Row

Angelyne, she seems so easy
"It takes one to know one," she smiles
And pulls on her monokini,
Barbra Streisand style
And in rolls Larry Flynt, he's drooling
"You Belong to Me I Believe"
And someone says," You're in the wrong place, Jabba,
You better leave"
And the only sound that's left
After the Special Interests go
Is Schwarzenegger sweeping up
On California Recall Row

Now the deficit's exploding
The Democrats are beginning to hide
The Letterman and Leno Shows
Are working up their monologues inside.
All except for Coleman and Gallagher
And that aging porno dame
Everybody is laying odds
Or else expecting fame
And the Terminator, he's dressing
He's getting ready for the show
He's orchestrating the Carnival
On California Recall Row

Now Arianna, she's 'neath the spotlight
She's working on her tan


Posted by Vanderleun Aug 11, 2003 9:25 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Let the Arnold Parsing Commence

One really good reason to never run for office in America is exemplified by Mickey Kaus' moment of smarmy spew today at The Dam Bursts in California - Plus: Three post-Leno recall questions.

If you were Arnold Schwarzenegger and were preparing, by your own admission, to combat womanizing rumors, would it be a good idea to describe your wife as "the greatest wife in the world ... a fantastic partner"? [Emphasis on wildly unromantic word added.] ... Just asking! ...
Say rather "Just salivating!," Mickey.

Yes, it is open season on taking apart every single statement by every single political candidate word by word in order to squeeze out every ounce of pure nonsense . We began this season with the (Where Are They Now?) Sixteen Words. Mickey's reduced sixteen to one. Way to go, Mickster!

The way I see it, this is just an intellectual's way of hopping on the mud train just before Drudge and Company pull it out of the station.

If Arnold were gay, guys like Kaus would salute his use of the word "partner."

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 7, 2003 12:37 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
On Arnold and Experience

What is is about a sudden turn of events in the political realm that brings out the shallow stupidity in the paid pundits of our fair land?

Not 24 hours into Arnold Schwarzenegger's run for the Governorship of California, the media air-waves are full of blathering commentators bemoaning the fact that Arnold has 'no political experience,' and therefore should not hold office, or even have the temerity to run.

Read my lips: "So what?"

Yes, there's a whole clot of rabble already whining about 'upstarts' that never ran for anything. You'd think that democracy requires a person to start running for office in the second year of high school, and to keep at it all the way up the political career ladder.

Last time I looked, the rules of this democracy said that any citizen at any time in any place that met the requirements for office could run for that office.

Arnold does. Ergo he may run.

Professional politicians and pundits are cordially invited to partake of a nice hot cup of STFU.

"Experience" vs. "Inexperience" is something that that awful beast, the people, will decide. With their votes. On election day. Refreshing concept, isn't it?

You do not need "experience" to win. Experience is what you get after you win.

The inevitable comparison to Jesse Ventura is a canard and a base one.

What we have here is an extremely intelligent man who is no stranger to running numerous businesses; a man who literally "built himself up" from nothing; a man who has a deeply engaging personality; a man who has a certified track record of negotiating deals with some of the most difficult people in existence, movie people; a man who, in examining the spreadsheets from numerous films is no babe in the woods when it comes to bogus accounting; a man who has no need to raise a cent from anyone; a man who is, if not sincere, better able to fake sincerity than any one of the thousand clowns that currently compose the government of California.

And, as his secret weapon, what we have here is a man that people genuinely love.

What we have here is, in short, a winner.

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 7, 2003 10:50 AM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Hardest Working Server in Show Business This Morning

A moment of silence please for the server hosting today.
Condolences can be sent to:

Administrative Contact:
Lombino, L Rebecca (LRL36)
Technical Contact:
Hostmaster, Mitchell (MR7390) hostmaster@CIMARRONGROUP.COM

during their time of trial.

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 7, 2003 9:23 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Say the Magic Word, say "Retro-gram" and it's on it's Merry Way...

My reminder Retro-Gram from Mark Twain
Writers, click image and take note.

Stop sending those free e-cards, you cheapskate, and drop some change on Retro-Gram.Com Purveyors of Internet Telegrams. These are the new and classy way to get your message across on the Web. Yes, they cost 99 cents each, but that means you'll put some effort into it. Excellent for business contacts, insults to those who have earned them, idea pitches, and (trust me on this one) people you love.

Retro-Grams are not just another e-card: they are a unique form of internet communication presented in classic style. Delivered right to your computer via e-mail, they offer authentic historical detail, and outstanding print quality thanks to Adobe Acrobat. They're fun and easy to send, and a little thrilling to get.

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 7, 2003 9:16 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Schwarzenegger Bid Brings Out Transgendered Robots, Splits CalDem Rainbow Party

Arnold Schwarzenegger announces a carnival every day

Arnold Schwarzenegger ended the suspense and said he would run in California's recall election, awarding Republicans his marquee value in their campaign to oust Gov. Gray Davis. Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein ruled out a run, labeling the election "more and more like a carnival every day.''

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 6, 2003 5:39 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
It's Never A Slow GoogleNews Day

Jeff Jarvis and other blogging vets and assorted news junkies are up in arms because it is "such a slow news day in the papers." Well, I'm here to give them a clue. Try GoogleNews. GoogleNews never heard of a slow news day. Right now, if you blast on over to GoogleNews you'll find that: (Take a deep breath):

Indonesia Sees Similarities in Bombings while Anglican Leaders Warn of Global Schism Over Gay Bishop as a Team of Seven Marines Lands in Liberia just in time because US Scientists Develop New Vaccine Against Ebola Virus, but those pesky Italians win race to clone a horse at the very same moment another person discovers an American Wedding Is Depraved which stimulates the announcement that Feinstein won't run in recall election due to the fact that Israel Frees 335 Palestinian Prisoners in response to whhich the AFL-CIO Sets stage for October meeting; Gephardt has inside track on Markets Treading Water at 9,000 Mark clearly due to US Conducts More Raids in Northern Iraq making some so angry that Indian Lawmakers Seek Ban on Sale of Two US Soft Drinks which is foolish because World Trade Center Debris May Cause Pregnant Women to Deliver Smaller Babies but, relax, we know that doesn't bother our celebrities when we learn that J.Lo and Ben Look Forward to Next Film

Whew, I'm bushed and it isn't even September 11, 2003.

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 6, 2003 4:48 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
"By His Grace, not by our deeds..."

He's Out and He's In

Here's the word from Cobb on the ordination of Gene Robinson. It seems to me that this statement is just about the last word on this issue, but of course it won't be.

What nobody seems to be dealing with is the matter of whether or not gays are welcome in parishes, or whether or not hetrosexual sex offers divine insight not otherwise attainable. It is simply rational that gays are welcome into the body of Christ and are equally worthy of salvation by dint of the fact that they possess souls. All souls are equal in the eyes of God and it is by His grace, not by our deeds that we are saved. No one becomes a priest much less a bishop who does not understand such matters and these are the matters at the heart of the issue.

What does it mean when Kobe Bryant has more defenders than Gene Robinson? I defend his ordination on principle. He is no more sinner today than he was a year ago in obscurity. What has changed is the number of people who have elected themselves qualified to pass judgement on his legitimacy as a member and a leader of the Episcopal Church.

"All souls are equal in the eyes of God and it is by His grace, not by our deeds that we are saved." Simple. Clear. True.

Someone once said, "The basic principle of Democracy is 'Everybody's in, Nobody's out." Do we really need another church in the world with a basic doctrine of "If you're Out, you can't be in?" I'd say, without a scintilla of a doubt, no.

I don't know what other members of the Episcopalian church will do, but speaking as a lapsed Episcopalian I think it is time I went back.

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 6, 2003 3:39 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Who Knew?


''Celebrity news, it's important to remember, is generally as reliable as a horoscope."

--- Simon Dumenco

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 6, 2003 10:48 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Frederic Remington: The Color of Night

"The Stampede by Lightning"
Click for larger view

The greatest American painter of the frontier, Frederic Remington, has a number of relatively unknown paintings being exhibitied at the National Gallery The focus in this show is on Remington's paintings that take place at night.

Remington's nocturnes are filled with color and light—moonlight, firelight, and candlelight. These complex paintings testify to the artist's interest in modern technological innovations, including flash photography and the advent of electricity, which was rapidly transforming the character of night. The paintings are also elegiac, for they reflect Remington's lament that the West he had known as a young man had, by the turn of the century, largely disappeared. Although immediately recognized as extraordinary works, Remington's late nocturnes have never before been the subject of an exhibition. Frederic Remington: The Color of Night gathers together for the first time the finest of these mysterious, often deeply personal paintings.

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 6, 2003 10:42 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Ben Stein's "Museum of Liberal Thought"

Howard Dean (Left) & Howard the Duck (Right)
Exhibit A in the Museum of Liberal Thought

On the road in St. Cloud, Ben Stein runs into some disgruntled collegiate Americans and has a flash of insight:

Then, a big social moment. One of the men introduced me to a group of college girls who (according to the men at the bar) had been drinking there for about four hours. They were angry, bitter women. One of them explained her gripes. It took awhile, but maybe I can boil it down. "I hate this f--king country,"she said. "I can't wait to graduate so I can leave this f_king country and move to Canada."

She didn't wait for me to ask her why. I actually was not planning to ask her why on the theory (as revealed by a famous Czech writer) that if a man comes up to you and tells you he is a fish, it is not smart to ask him to show you his gills: you know he's crazy. But as I say, she told me anyway.

"I had to borrow thirty thousand dollars to go to school here at this place, and now when I graduate, they expect me to pay it back. And how am I supposed to do that? I want to be a teacher and teachers don't get paid enough to pay it back."

She then railed about how oppressive and sexist America is and how a decent country would just give its students money instead of lending it, and that's why she hates America.

This student should really be in a glass cage at a Museum of Liberal Thought. You could put in a coin and hear her talk about how the world owes her a living and a darned good one at that. Then you could hear her talk about her oppression and exploitation, and in the meantime she would be drinking and wearing designer clothing. Then there could be Carol Moseley Braun next to her and Howard Dean next to them, and they could all be talking about how horrible America is while living off the fat of the land. Museum of Liberal Thought. Remember you heard it here first.

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 6, 2003 9:48 AM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
From My "Vile Email" Folder


This morning these subject lines in the exact order received :

"Ready to ENLARGE your penis?" -- from Roger Patel
"Grow your PENIS 2 inches in 2 days!" -- from Alison Kearney
"Want a king-size PENIS is one week?" -- from Hester Ladnert

I think I'm pleased that Roger, Alison and Hester are so concerned and solicitous, but I'm with Henry David Thoreau when he says: "Distrust any enterprise that requires new clothes."

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 6, 2003 9:15 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
But she didn't say "absolutely"

Gore to Speak to MoveOn

WASHINGTON - Amid talk he's being urged to jump back into the presidential race, Al Gore has arranged to speak out on Iraq to a large anti-war group at New York University on Thursday. A Gore spokeswoman insisted, "Truly, honestly, he's not planning on getting back into the race."

Actually, now that Howard Dean has invented the Internet, Gore can just, well, MoveOn.

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 5, 2003 7:44 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Gigli: The Final Insult
US theatre owners are contractually obligated to play Gigli for what may be the longest two weeks of their exhibiting lives.

From:Sony gives Gigli the flick

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 5, 2003 7:39 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Separated at Birth?

John Kerry (Left) & Lurch Kerry (Right)

Howard Dean (Left) & Howard the Duck (Right)

Al Sharpton (Left) & Al Einstein (Right)

"Dick" Gephardt (Left) & "Dick" Nixon (Right)

John Edwards (Left) & Jonathan Edwards (Right)

Bob Graham (Left) & Graham Cracker (Right)

Joe Lieberman (Left) & Joe Lieberman (Right)

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 5, 2003 9:17 AM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Making of a Magazine Icon

Click for larger image

From the Smithsonian's retrospective of the work of Philip Halsman located at:Portraits by Halsman Here we've placed two separate images together to see how a photographer's vision is translated into a magazine cover. Hard to see how Marilyn could make a "case for interplanetary saucers," but it would be hard to resist picking up this magazine to see what that case could be. After all, people only read Life for the


Posted by Vanderleun Aug 5, 2003 9:15 AM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Morning Rituals

"Morning Song of Senlin," by Conrad Aiken, who was born on this
day in 1889; it is one of the most famous poems of one of
mid-century America's most prized (Pulitzer, Bollingen, National
Book Award, and more) poets:

It is morning, Senlin says, and in the morning
When the light drips through the shutters like the dew,
I arise, I face the sunrise,
And do the things my fathers learned to do.
Stars in the purple dusk above the rooftops
Pale in a saffron mist and seem to die,
And I myself on a swiftly tilting planet
Stand before a glass and tie my tie.
Vine leaves tap my window,
Dew-drops sing to the garden stones,
The robin chips in the chinaberry tree
Repeating three clear tones.
It is morning. I stand by the mirror
And tie my tie once more....

From the newsletter of Today in Literature

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 5, 2003 8:22 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Throne of the Geek Kings


When a Starbucks table and a wi-fi hotspot just doesn't cut it any more, check out: Personal Computing Envirionments ::: MasterPeace & PeaceMaker

We're increasingly working, playing and managing our lives through a PC, so why not do it in comfort, with all your computing and entertainment technology and devices at your fingertips? Personal computing environments represent a new paradigm in human-computer interaction: Instead of setting up computers then introducing the human as an afterthought, PCE puts the comfort and productivity needs of the human first, and then orients the technology around the human.

Hey, slap in a small refrigerator and a bedpan and we'd never leave the house.

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 4, 2003 6:41 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
When You're A Blog Every Blogging Pol Looks Like a Winner

On Bloggers, Dean and the Illusion of Central Position

I'd never dis the Doc, but I can respectfully disagree with Mr. Searls. Earlier today and just below, I posted a pointer to Doc Searls and David Weinberger's insightful Internet 101 refresher. But later today, I came, via The Professor, upon a Searls prognostication on the end of the politics as we know it and the dawn of a brighter finer political day. All because of blogs!

Sigh. There's a whiff of blogshot in the air these days as, fresh from the Iraq episode, blogging is starting to feel it has real traction in the larger political and social host. And, hey, a lot of bloggers on the Left are feeling dissed and left behind after the triumph of the Warbloggers and feel, hey, it is their turn now.

Searls, like a lot of Blogworld is all het up over the fact that our pols are suddenly 'blogging like it is 1999,' or 2004, or whenever.

I discovered this morning that Tom Watson isn't the only blogging MP. Richard Allen, a Liberal Democrat representing Sheffield Hallam, has one too. Add those to the Kucinich blog and the Howard Dean jihad, and it looks like the lefties are taking the same kind of early lead in electoral politics that the warbloggers took in conversation leading up to the Iraq war.
Whoa, Doc! Just step away from the vehicle and keep your keyboard where we can see it.

The good Doctor then brings up Andrew Sullivan's nifty little squiblet that "bigness" is both bad, and, between the two parties, has got us surrounded. Alas, it is all too true. But then it is a big and complicated political world and, for a lot of things, bigness is the only answer.

I appreciate the longing for a kinder, gentler nation; for simpler times. for a world like yesterday but with broadband connections on the house. I just don't see it happening until a few very large issues spelled, for starters, "Korea," "Africa," "AIDS," "Globalism," "Global Freemarket Capitalism," "Global Terrorism," and "Global Thermonuclear War" are put to bed with visions of sugarplums dancing in their heads. Like Gay Marriage in the near and far term, Big Government is a done deal for the duration. A lot of people don't like it, but a lot more accept it than pine for its demise. And in a Democracy, numbers count.

But it is then that Searls introduces us to the real dream he is having as Pols blog on:

I sense an opening here for a practical libertarian sensibility coming to the fore, from the grass roots; from the blogs. [Emphasis added]
In this statement, I realized again that, at bottom, the Libertarian philosophy is one of the primal energy sources of the Net and that, from time to time, all things must return to it for renewal. Darpanet, Usenet, Internet, Web, Blogworld -- a continuous evolution with the same deep foundation; the same political dreams of the Founders. No, not everyone using the Net is a Libertarian. Not even close. But, at its deepest core the Net is libertarian. Why? Because much of the basic deep software on which the Net runs was written by people with a deep Libertarian bent. Not a bad thing, but a true thing. In fact the Internet, in all its manifestations, is the closest thing to a libertarian world that the libertarians are ever likely to have.

Does that mean the Libertarian dreams of the Net will ever map to the world dimensional? As much as I might like to believe that, I cannot. You might feel differently but hey, this is a libertarian space, and I do my thing, you do your thing, and if we meet a terrible beauty is born.

To return to the thought at the top of the file, when you're a blog everything looks like a post. I'm not among those whose pulse starts to race when yet another pol enters the blogrolls. I don't think it is all that significant. Why? First because it is very premature to start picking winners and losers and the reasons why. Second, because I don't think for a moment these PoliBloggers are sincere. Reasons?

Number one, they are politicians and have learned to fake sincerity from the time they ran for Junior Class President.

Number two, they noticed that Howard Dean and his Internet efforts got him some serious start-up money. Nothing like the whiff of serious money to get politicians active in anything, but just because they 'hold our hands, it doesn't mean they're going to be taking long warm showers with us until the wee hours of the morning.'

Number three: "Hey, Howard Dean is on the cover of Time and Newsweek, and Howard's a blogger, man. He gets it! He really, really gets it!"

Okay, so he gets it. I agree. And it is a wonderful thing to behold. But is Dean going to get the White House and if he does will he be the 'First Internet President, and start a ""

To the first question, "Abort, Retry, Fail."

Alas, Howard Dean, Man of the Cyberpeople, is not going to be President this time around. What we are seeing here is a classic case of peaking far, far too early. What we are also seeing is the terrible political condition known as "knowing far too much too soon" about a candidate few have heard about before. And the more you know about Howard Dean, the nicer he seems as a man and the less fit he seems as a potential president.

Presidents have to map to their times and we are not in a Mondale Moment in this country. Dean supporters, since they are heavily left-populace-grassroots-green, are caught in the delusion that drives the Left -- the delusion of a world that would be at peace if only the United States would stop trying to protect itself. Bush is betting dollars to donuts that the vast majority does not share this view. And speaking of donuts, has anyone pointed out that $7 million is chump change when you are running for President. The current ante is up in the hundreds of millions as I recall.

But hope dies hard, and when a man shows up that not only says things that make the left feel good about itself, but uses the tools of the cyberlibertarian realm in a manner that seems effective, then it is understandable that those deeply embedded in the cyberculture and Blogworld start to perceive a luminosity around a candidate that is not visible to the vast unconnected, unwired, and unconcerned multitudes.

It is axiomatic that there's a long way to go until the fateful November of 2004 and a lot can happen. It may well be that Bush can be defeated and that the Democrats can surge back and make the world safe from The Patriot Act and lower taxes. But the kind of macro-events necessary to make that happen ( massive economic downturn, abject failure of pre-emptive foreign policy, simmering sex scandal, etc...) will not have anything to do with the ability of a candidate or his cyberwranglers to type a lot of text into the entry body panel in Movable Type and hit "Save."

The Libertarians have been waiting for decades for the Internet to get big enough to elect a libertarian to a significant national office. Hasn't happened and is very unlikely to happen. Here's hoping that Blogworld won't go down the same path of hubris and find itself dead-ended in the Illusion of Central Position.

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 4, 2003 2:19 PM | Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Internet for Dummies, Redux

Doc Searls and David Weinberger take everyone back to school with:
What the Internet Is and How to Stop Mistaking It for Something Else.
The entire article is, as my source says, "interesting," but the summation reads:

The companies whose value came from distributing content in ways the market no longer wants -- can you hear us Recording Industry? -- can stop thinking that bits are like really lightweight atoms. You are never going to prevent us from copying the bits we want. Instead, why not give us some reasons to prefer buying music from you? Hell, we might even help you sell your stuff if you asked us to.

The government types who have confused the value of the Internet with the value of its contents could realize that in tinkering with the Internet's core, they're actually driving down its value. In fact, they maybe could see that having a system that transports all bits equally, without government or industry censorship, is the single most powerful force for democracy and open markets in history.

The incumbent providers of networking services -- Hint: It begins with "tele" and ends with "com" -- could accept that the stupid network is going to swallow their smart network. They could bite the bullet now rather than running up hundreds of billions of dollars in costs delaying and fighting the inevitable.

The federal agency responsible for allocating spectrum might notice that the value of open spectrum is the same as the true value of the Internet.Those who would censor ideas might realize that the Internet couldn't tell a good bit from a bad bit if it bit it on its naughty bits.

Whatever censorship is going to occur will have to occur on the Net's ends and it's not going to work very well.

Perhaps companies that think they can force us to listen to their messages -- their banners, their interruptive graphic crawls over the pages we're trying to read -- will realize that our ability to flit from site to site is built into the Web's architecture. They might as well just put up banners that say "Hi! We don't understand the Internet. Oh, and, by the way, we hate you."

Enough already. Let's stop banging our heads against the facts of the Internet life.

We have nothing to lose but our stupidity.

Ah, I love the whiff of sanity in the morning.

[Pointer via Michael's Web]

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 4, 2003 7:03 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Beach Sign for Illiterates

Photo by Sheryl Van der Leun

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 4, 2003 6:29 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Well, we told you so...

This Just In:

RIAA Opens Detention Facility for Suspected File Sharers
Huge Compound Can Handle 3 Million File Sharing Suspects and Their Supporters

Mojave, CA /DenounceNewswire/ -- 25 July 2003 -- Citing lackluster results in its aggressive Subpoena-the-Family campaign, The Recording Industry Assocation of America, or RIAA, announced today it was escalating the war against music file sharing even higher by opening its massive detention facility in the high desert of Movaje, CA. The facility, designed to indefinitely detain up to three million people suspected of illegally or even legally sharing music files on the Internet, consumes 4,000 acres of the desert region some 70 miles north of Los Angeles....

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 4, 2003 6:18 AM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Bozo Speaks: Mouth. Foot. Maher.

"Bill, how about a nice steaming
cup of STFU?"

The problem with being a bad comedian is that the more your jokes bomb, the more you start to think they are "serious ideas." Bill Maher, the man known for TV shows in which he proves again and again that he is not funny, has taken to writing "think pieces" in order to keep his hand from attacking him between bombs. His latest entry into the "Deep Thoughts of Bill is: Recalls Are for Cars, Not California Governors in which we are treated to observations like:

Now, I'm not saying that I like Davis. Being enthusiastic about Davis would be like saying your favorite food is straw.
Translation: "Please don't think I'm really this stupid."
But he fought for his country in Vietnam and won a fair election, and he's entitled to his term.
Actually, the law, Bill, states that he is entitled to his term unless he is recalled. Being a Vietnam Vet has nothing to do with it. But don't confuse yourself with a law that millions of people understand.
Maybe he's a lousy governor, but he was the one elected by voters who bothered to show up at the polls. Their efforts shouldn't be undone by disgruntled shoppers signing a petition on their way out of Target.
Yes, Bill, those pesky downmarket citizens that shop at Target. So much human detritus to those like you who shop Rodeo Drive. And they also fail


Posted by Vanderleun Aug 2, 2003 2:00 PM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Items from Toolbar Favorites

Gay Marriage a Done Deal

Michael J. Totten: Enemies of the Future

Conservatives are going to lose this fight, and they know it. Opposition to gay marriage, which was recently overwhelming, is cratering. If gay marriage isn't stopped soon it will never be stopped. And so they want to freeze the debate right now while they still have a slim majority on their side. That's cheating. It's like calling off a baseball game in the fourth inning, when your team happens to be ahead, and going home and calling it a victory.

Zen Mugging

Jumped by a Zen

Last night, walking home through a particularly shady part of Central Square, I was jumped by a Zen master! He waved a knife at me and said, "I will ask you a question. If you give an unsatisfactory answer, I will stab you four times in the chest. If you give a satisfactory answer, I will still stab you four times in the chest. However, if you do not answer, I will slit your throat. Your question is: tree-nature and branch-nature, same or different?"

From Four Quartets

East Coker

You say I am repeating
Something I have said before.
I shall say it again.
Shall I say it again?
In order to arrive there,
To arrive where you are, to get from where you are not,
You must go by a way wherein there is no ecstasy.
In order to arrive at what you do not know
You must go by a way which is the way of ignorance.
In order to possess what you do not possess
You must go by the way of dispossession.
In order to arrive at what you are not
You must go through the way in which you are not.
And what you do not know is the only thing you know
And what you own is what you do not own
And where you are is where you are not.



Posted by Vanderleun Aug 2, 2003 1:31 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Stillness

Brooklyn Heights, August 2002

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 2, 2003 9:09 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Volokh Conspiracy: Call for Art!

A great blog, "contentually" speaking,The Volokh Conspiracy has always been a bit, well, bland in terms of appearance. Now Eugene Volokh has issued a plea for help. Surely there are enough great graphic minds out in the blogsphere to give him a plethora of help. Dig deep. Volkoh does great work and, like all things, great ideas require great containers.

[Eugene Volokh, 3:37 PM]Wish list: Some people post wish lists on their blogs. Here's mine:
1. About 15 HTML color codes that I can use for each coblogger's name -- enough for the current bloggers and enough for any possible expansion -- each of them attractive, visible, not too garish, and distinguishable from all the others. (Naturally, I'd love to see this as a set of numbers, each in the proper color, so I can instantly see both the colors and the colors.)

2. A cool but not too busy header for the blog, to replace our current minimalist white-text-on-green. It might use a different font, or include some amusing graphic.

3. A nice small logo (small both in screen size and in bytes) that can become a recognizable symbol for our blog, and that people can use, if they'd like, alongside our name on blogrolls, lists, and such.

4. World peace.

Now here is the downside: Naturally, all these items involve work on your part that we won't pay you for (though naturally we'll be delighted to give you full credit), and that we may well decide not to use, simply because it doesn't resonate with us esthetically. If that makes you not want to submit anything, we perfectly well understand. On the other hand, if this gets your creative juices flowing, and you'd like to offer us your help on these ridiculously unfair terms, we'd much appreciate it.

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 1, 2003 10:46 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Road Not Taken

On this day in 1915 Robert Frost's 'The Road Not Taken' was first published in the Atlantic.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Today in Literature has several interesting anecdotes about the poem, one of which says:

Frost also described his poem in various ways: it was a satire of an indecisive friend; it was "tricky" and ironic, the speaker more egomaniac and self-mythologizer than pathfinder. One 1912 letter describes "two lonely crossroads" in "practically unbroken condition" and neither "much traveled"; Frost, walking one path, is surprised by a man who "looked for all the world like myself, coming down the other"; he expresses wonderment at "this other self," and at some meaning, "if we could but have made it out."

Posted by Vanderleun Aug 1, 2003 10:18 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
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